Was the battleship Bismarck really the best of its time?

Discussions about the history of the ship, technical details, etc.

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Steve Crandell
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Re: Was the battleship Bismarck really the best of its time?

Post by Steve Crandell » Tue Aug 18, 2020 1:27 pm

Just a couple of comments about light AA rates of fire:

The 40mm Bofors as used by the USN was, according to Navweaps, capable of 80 to 90 rounds/min sustained fire. That was given as a British claim. A good loader could achieve about 24 rounds (120 rounds/min) without the gun stopping. I don't think a German loader could keep up with that loading one round at a time.

The Phalanx is a "bolt on" system and doesn't have deck penetration. It has a drum magazine attached to the mount.

Thorsten Wahl
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Re: Was the battleship Bismarck really the best of its time?

Post by Thorsten Wahl » Wed Aug 19, 2020 6:19 pm

Whatever the validity of the claims by ships' AA, some of the Swordfish were destroyed or damaged by JG 26 Fw 190 fighters which had to attack from astern, and lower their landing gear in order to fly slow enough to "draw a bead".
Scharnhorst was also attacked by Swordfishes in this case 1 aircraft was shot down by Scharnhorst; 3 were downed by fighters.


..............................
practical ROF of handloaded 3,7 cm SK C/30 40 - 55 shots per minute
according Handbuch für Admiralstabsoffiziere für an Bord befindliche Geschütze
as well as MDV 700 MDv 700 Seekriegsanleitung\Heft 3c LV Küste
Meine Herren, es kann ein siebenjähriger, es kann ein dreißigjähriger Krieg werden – und wehe dem, der zuerst die Lunte in das Pulverfaß schleudert!

HMSVF
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Re: Was the battleship Bismarck really the best of its time?

Post by HMSVF » Wed Aug 19, 2020 9:50 pm

Thorsten Wahl wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 6:19 pm
Whatever the validity of the claims by ships' AA, some of the Swordfish were destroyed or damaged by JG 26 Fw 190 fighters which had to attack from astern, and lower their landing gear in order to fly slow enough to "draw a bead".
Scharnhorst was also attacked by Swordfishes in this case 1 aircraft was shot down by Scharnhorst; 3 were downed by fighters.


..............................
practical ROF of handloaded 3,7 cm SK C/30 40 - 55 shots per minute
according Handbuch für Admiralstabsoffiziere für an Bord befindliche Geschütze
as well as MDV 700 MDv 700 Seekriegsanleitung\Heft 3c LV Küste
A telling statistic. As much as I'm fascinated by battleships and early 20th century naval history...

If I wanted to stop aircraft from attacking my squadron I'd want aircraft. Preferably lots of them. You have to admire the German pluck for Operation Cerebrus but it has British cock up written all over it. That's not to take anything away from the brave German crews or their ships, they rolled the dice and came through, but honestly? Sending 3 premier warships through a 26 mile wide stretch of water should have ended up with 3 vessels scoured over by scuba divers 70 years later.

6(?) Swordfish was a tragically laughable response and a complete waste of talented crews.

novicebutnice
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Re: Was the battleship Bismarck really the best of its time?

Post by novicebutnice » Thu Aug 20, 2020 7:24 am

Steve Crandell wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 1:27 pm
Just a couple of comments about light AA rates of fire:

The 40mm Bofors as used by the USN was, according to Navweaps, capable of 80 to 90 rounds/min sustained fire. That was given as a British claim. A good loader could achieve about 24 rounds (120 rounds/min) without the gun stopping. I don't think a German loader could keep up with that loading one round at a time.

The Phalanx is a "bolt on" system and doesn't have deck penetration. It has a drum magazine attached to the mount.
I don't think that the performance of the 37mm gun's had too much of an effect on the overall outcome of the Swordfish attack.

I base this on the report of the US South Dakota during the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands:

" the 5-inch, 1.1-inch, and 40 mm guns had difficulty tracking targets through the low clouds. The 20 mm guns, with their shorter effective range, were not hampered by the reduced visibility and accounted for two thirds of the aircraft South Dakota shot down, according to the ship's after action report"

One thing I don't recall reading in this thread is how the pilot (John Moffat) who dropped the torpedo that crippled Bismarck had by happenstance been assigned to AA duty on the Ark Royal

And had experienced first hand how hard it was to train the guns on very low aircraft, using this knowledge is why he knew to fly so low, and could get quite close, whereas the other pilots dropped their torpedo's at long range (due to the accurate AA fire)

Don't get me wrong the 37mm guns fitted to Bismarck were pretty much useless from my point of view, and should have been replaced by the 3.7 cm Flak 18/36/37

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wadinga
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Re: Was the battleship Bismarck really the best of its time?

Post by wadinga » Thu Aug 20, 2020 10:18 am

Fellow Contributors,

Ploughing through the complex nomenclature of the German 37mm gun in Skiwiot's German Naval Guns I think the retention of the SK C/30 model, which was really a "quick firing gun" (Schnell Kanone) rather than an automatic cannon was because the Kriegsmarine was convinced of the overwhelming virtue of a triaxial gyro stabilised mount carrying all the crew as well. Redesigning the complex package to incorporate the Flak 36 or 37 which did feature a multi-round loading clip was evidently not considered feasible. Hence in 1940/41 Bismarck and Prinz Eugen were outfitted with the slower firing, manually loaded gun on the Dopp L C/30 mount.

While the Reichsmarine, later Kriegsmarine, was convinced of the requirement for 37mm stabilisation from 1930 onwards, in the Royal Navy such complex gyro-stabilised mounts were only developed after 1940 when Dutch warships with the Hazemeyer Bofors mount were evaluated. Even when the British STAAG mount was produced, the majority of light AA mounts were simpler, relying on the trainer and layer's co-ordination to compensate for vessel motion as well as target motion.

In German ships, later, when the Bofors-derived 4cm Flak 28 was introduced, largely replacing the SK C/30 model, they seem to be be fitted without the complex gyro-stabilised mount.

For novicebutnice, thanks for joining the conversation. It should be remembered that an aircraft carrier's AA armament is carried relatively high off the water as the flight deck is an obstruction to sky arcs, so John Moffat's experience does not necessarily apply to Bismarck. In the Sodak example, I don't see that 20mm gunners can see through cloud better than any other kind, however they and their hand controlled weapons can probably react faster to momentary glimpses of a target.
practical ROF of handloaded 3,7 cm SK C/30 40 - 55 shots per minute
according Handbuch für Admiralstabsoffiziere für an Bord befindliche Geschütze
as well as MDV 700 MDv 700 Seekriegsanleitung\Heft 3c LV Küste
Once again Thorsten brings hugely valuable contemporary information, but I personally still struggle to envisage how one loader and one ammunition carrier (standard crew per gun) could possibly feed 55 shells individually into the breech in one minute, ie very nearly one per second, continuously. Are we looking at a rate achieved for a few seconds only, extrapolated up to a rate per minute? Official reports sometimes include information the receiver wants to hear, rather the actuality.

Formula One pit crews can change all four tyres in 2 seconds, but that does not mean they can change 30 tyres in a minute? :D

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

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