Shipborne aircraft - Walrus and Arado AR196 - Lost Opportunities?

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

Moderator: Bill Jurens

Michael L
Member
Posts: 63
Joined: Sun May 28, 2023 11:28 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Shipborne aircraft - Walrus and Arado AR196 - Lost Opportunities?

Post by Michael L »

Please note I found the following information about Bismarck’s Arados on the ‘Luftwaffe zur see’ website:
http://www.luftwaffe-zur-see.de/Seeluft ... hr1941.htm
27.05.41.
Ar 196 A2 – T3+IH
Ar 196 A2 – T3+AK
Ar 196 A4 – T3+DL
Ar 196 A2 – T3+MK
Floatplanes listed as, total loss with the sinking of the Bismarck. The names of the eight crewmen are also provided.
This is evidence that the Bismarck sailed on her maiden voyage with four Arado AR196s. I respectfully submit that one can assume that all four aircraft were serviceable at the time Bismarck sailed.
Michael L.
User avatar
Herr Nilsson
Senior Member
Posts: 1578
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Germany

Re: Shipborne aircraft - Walrus and Arado AR196 - Lost Opportunities?

Post by Herr Nilsson »

IIRC the pressure line on Bismarck was repaired, but the catapult was warped. I assume that they tried to use the starboard catapult, but the torpedo hit from Victorious in that area had damaged it. The port catapult was possibly unusable due to the list.
Regards

Marc

"Thank God we blow up and sink more easily." (unknown officer from HMS Norfolk)
Michael L
Member
Posts: 63
Joined: Sun May 28, 2023 11:28 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Shipborne aircraft - Walrus and Arado AR196 - Lost Opportunities?

Post by Michael L »

Rather than explore the line of inquiry regarding how the British did not launch any of their capital ship and cruiser borne Walrus afloat planes, I would like to change the direction of the discussion to what if KGV did launch it’s Walrus as noted by Admiral Tovey in his Despatch/Report of 5 July 1941:
48. The enemy's courses west of south were being covered by SUFFOLK and, to a lesser extent, by NORFOLK and PRINCE OF WALES. KING GEORGE V worked across to the south-westward to cover a southerly course, allowing for an increase of speed by the enemy. Consideration was given to flying off the Walrus from KING GEORGE V to search the perimeter astern of the ship and so cover a south-easterly course of the enemy; but the swell was such that the sacrifice of the aircraft would almost certainly result, and I did not wish to expose KING GEORGE V to U-boat attack whilst picking up the crew. Subsequent analysis shows that such a search might possibly have located the BISMARCK.
In order to explore the ‘what if’, or ‘what might have been’ of a Walrus detecting Bismarck, I will start a new Post Subject titled:
Hypothetical: The British detect Bismarck with a ship-borne Walrus at 0900 on 25 May 1941.
Steve Crandell
Senior Member
Posts: 954
Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:05 pm

Re: Shipborne aircraft - Walrus and Arado AR196 - Lost Opportunities?

Post by Steve Crandell »

I would presume that the outcome would have been the same; just a bit sooner. That doesn't seem as interesting to me as what actually happened.
Michael L
Member
Posts: 63
Joined: Sun May 28, 2023 11:28 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Shipborne aircraft - Walrus and Arado AR196 - Lost Opportunities?

Post by Michael L »

Would the outcome have been the same?
I agree that strategically the Allies would still have won the Second World War.
But tactically could the Bismarck have escaped this encounter in May 1941?
By 1945 virtually every German capital ship had been targeted and dealt with.
Only the ‘Lucky Prinz Eugen’ survived, to become a ‘test dummy’ in the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb experiments.

I think that the reality of the Bismarck Saga is a script worthy of any great writer; enthralling in its action, drama, suspense, complete with tragedy and triumph. To quote Wellington, "the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life."

But there is part of me that believes that if the battle had been brought on earlier, deeper in the Atlantic Ocean, the issue of his ships running short of fuel for Admiral Tovey would have presented him with some hard decisions. Would Admiral Tovey have immediately given battle with KGV and Repulse, like Admiral Holland did with PoW and Hood two days earlier. Repulse was running on empty:
At 1000 hours in approximate position 54N, 36W REPULSE, who was short of fuel, detached for Conception Bay, Newfoundland. Because of shortage of fuel REPULSE could only steam at 8 to 10 knots. https://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chron ... epulse.htm
Would Admiral Lutjens accepted battle or would he have tried to run south, again.

The possibility of Bismarck alluding the British was real. Just as the Sinking of HMS Hood was attributed by some as a ‘lucky shot’, so too, the sinking of the Bismarck came about due to a ‘lucky torpedo hit’.

I understand that discussing hypotheticals is not to everyone’s liking. And that some hypotheticals are far from being credible. But, there is something about the hypothetical I am proposing here that, IMHO, makes it plausible.
User avatar
wadinga
Senior Member
Posts: 2467
Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2005 3:49 pm
Location: Tonbridge England

Re: Shipborne aircraft - Walrus and Arado AR196 - Lost Opportunities?

Post by wadinga »

Hi Michael L

From Ellis' report on Suffolk's operations in ADM 534/509
During the turn at 0325 the wind, now force 6, carried away the securing gear of the controls of the only aircraft on board, which was on the catapult, causing damage necessitating extensive repairs which took some days to complete. The aircraft was thus wholly unserviceable at a time when it might have been of decisive value.
From Tovey:
Consideration was given to flying off the Walrus from the King George V to search the perimeter astern of the ship and so cover a south-easterly course of the enemy; but the swell was such that the sacrifice of the aircraft would almost certainly result,
My underlining. From these reports it seems clear both these vessels had one aircraft only. As ship's AA armament and gun crews got larger, fitting everything aboard became more of a problem and often weight was saved by landing these aircraft which could only really be used in calm conditions.

Tovey's report also includes the following:
The Bismarck was shadowed continuously by aircraft from the Ark Royal for the rest of the day and excellent reports were made. Particular credit is due to the crews of these aircraft whose part, though unspectacular and often forgotten, is as important and frequently as dangerous as that of the aircraft which attack with torpedoes.
I think this shows the C-in-C was well aware of the value of aircraft for search and shadowing and would have used them if possible, but I suspect getting an aircraft onto a catapult and launching it successfully in high winds and waves is not as easy as getting it off the deck of an aircraft carrier.

If there was an occasion where a commander might have asked a crew to set off on a "suicide mission" it seems to me that sending an Arado to drive off or shoot down the shadowing Catalina or Swordfish, that would be it. This would be a clear and achievable objective, rather than heading off on a search mission "into the brown" which might very well be fruitless and give the crew little chance of survival.
I think that the reality of the Bismarck Saga is a script worthy of any great writer
Well I 100% agree, it is the most fascinating story I have somewhat obsessed by for decades but.......

Would a great writer have had his German commander break radio silence and transmit a long-winded and unnecessary report, apparently badly coded and therefore sent several times thus signposting his position when secrecy was absolutely necessary? Would he have the British, having been given this golden chance, fumble it through the C-in-C's insistence that his staff were better than shoreside D/F specialists? Would the British Admiralty let the C-in-C charge off in the wrong direction for hours whilst ignoring their own specialists' conclusion? And lastly would such a work of fiction have some of the most experienced torpedo plane pilots in the FAA attack the cruiser that had accompanied them for months, thinking it was a single funnelled German battleship?

I suspect if an outline incorporating so many unlikely circumstances were submitted to a publisher, it would be flat out rejected as implausible. :D

This website with Mr Rico's fantastic archive pages and the contribution of many experts and repositories of arcane knowledge like Herr Nilsson has brought to light fascinating detail to the real story of the Bismarck Chase.

For instance
IIRC the pressure line on Bismarck was repaired, but the catapult was warped. I assume that they tried to use the starboard catapult, but the torpedo hit from Victorious in that area had damaged it. The port catapult was possibly unusable due to the list.
Bismarck had two latticework catapults mounted athwartships which were deployed as an extension on a sort of railway track to project some metres clear of the side. So without deploying these units there was no way to really "test" the catapult system. Now the insignificant torpedo hit scored by Victorious' inexperienced crews becomes more significant, not the shell hit on the boat. The portside beam hit by PoW caused the flooding which may have eventually caused the list noted by the Baron although he denied the midship turrets were taking it green, my mistake (on rereading). He also confirms it was the starboard catapult and it had taken full power to turn the ship to get the catapult facing into the wind, ready for take-off.

Looking at plans, a tall, spindly cradle rose up from the catapult probably 2-2.5 metres which had locating points on top which presumably required the suspended aircraft to be accurately lowered into place. Probably very difficult if not impossible during a high speed chase in heavy seas with gale force winds.

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
Michael L
Member
Posts: 63
Joined: Sun May 28, 2023 11:28 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Shipborne aircraft - Walrus and Arado AR196 - Lost Opportunities?

Post by Michael L »

Hello wadinga.

The evidence does show that Suffolk and KGV only had one Walrus embarked. But Tovey could have used Repulse's Walrus.

My compliments on a nice piece of lateral thinking. Using the Arado AR196 as a pseudo fighter/interceptor.
Wikipedia:
Arado AR196.
Maximum speed: 332 km/h (206 mph)
Range: 1,080 km (670 mi)
Service ceiling: 7,010 m (23,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 6 m/s (1,200 ft/min)
Guns: 1 × 7.92 mm (0.312 in) MG 81Z machine gun (Observer)
1 × 7.92 mm (0.312 in) MG 17 machine gun
2 × 20 mm (0.787 in) MG FF/M cannon
Catalina.
Maximum speed: 196 mph (315 km/h)
Cruise speed: 125 mph (201 km/h)
Range: 2,520 mi (4,060 km)
Service ceiling: 15,800 ft (4,800 m)
Rate of climb: 1,000 ft/min (5.1 m/s)
Guns: 3 x .30 cal (7.62 mm) machine guns (two in nose turret, one in ventral hatch at tail)
2 x .50 cal (12.7 mm) machine guns (one in each waist blister)
Swordfish.
Maximum speed: 143 mph (230 km/h, 124 kn) with torpedo at 7,580 lb (3,438 kg) and 5,000 ft (1,524 m)
Range: 522 mi (840 km, 454 nmi) normal fuel, carrying torpedo.
Endurance: 5 hours 30 minutes
Service ceiling: 16,500 ft (5,000 m) at 7,580 lb (3,438 kg)
Rate of climb: 870 ft/min (4.4 m/s) at 7,580 lb (3,438 kg) at sea level
Guns: 1 × fixed, forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun in upper right fuselage, breech in cockpit, firing over engine cowling
1 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis or Vickers K machine gun in rear cockpit.
The Arado was noted for being able to defend itself, on the record as having shot down a Spitfire.
The Arado easily outmatched the Swordfish. Taking down a Catalina would have been a more difficult task, but not impossible.

Identifying that there were problems with the catapult earlier might have given them time to make repairs so that at the eleventh hour an Arado could have been launched taking the War Records (and film of the sinking of the Hood) off to Brest.

I agree a Publisher would have likely rejected the book, but a Hollywood Movie Producer would have jumped at the script :lol:

Kind regards, Michael L.
Michael L
Member
Posts: 63
Joined: Sun May 28, 2023 11:28 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Shipborne aircraft - Walrus and Arado AR196 - Lost Opportunities?

Post by Michael L »

Note that HMS Hood had it's catapult and floatplanes removed circa 1932/3 and HMS Ramilles' removed in 1939.
Steve Crandell
Senior Member
Posts: 954
Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:05 pm

Re: Shipborne aircraft - Walrus and Arado AR196 - Lost Opportunities?

Post by Steve Crandell »

When stating that Bismarck had greater range than KGV are you taking into account that Bismarck's forward tanks were inaccessible due flooding caused by the forward hit by PoW? Also, some of the midships storage was contaminated by the PoW hit below the belt amidships.
Michael L
Member
Posts: 63
Joined: Sun May 28, 2023 11:28 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Shipborne aircraft - Walrus and Arado AR196 - Lost Opportunities?

Post by Michael L »

Hello Steve Crandell.
I don't recall stating "that Bismarck had greater range than KGV" in this Post Subject.
I have stated it in another Post Subject titled 'Hypothetical: The British detect Bismarck with a ship-borne Walrus at 0900 on 25 May 1941.'
The figures I cited there were as follows:
Wikipedia.
KGV
5,400 nmi (10,000 km) at 18 knots (33 km/h).
Bismarck
8,525 nmi (15,788 km; 9,810 mi) at 19 knots (35 km/h).
Based on these figures Bismarck had over a 50% range advantage.
But to answer your question, my statement was with respect to the two classes of ships. Bismarck had a greater range and endurance than KGV.
I have not taken taken into account the damage sustained by Bismarck. I admit to making the bold assumption that the damage sustained did not a affected a quater to a third of the Bismarck's fuel.
Can you provide me with a reference that identifies how much (quantity or %) of Bismarck's fuel was inaccessable or contaminated?
Kind regards, Michael L.
Steve Crandell
Senior Member
Posts: 954
Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:05 pm

Re: Shipborne aircraft - Walrus and Arado AR196 - Lost Opportunities?

Post by Steve Crandell »

Michael L wrote: Mon Jun 19, 2023 1:31 pm Hello Steve Crandell.
I don't recall stating "that Bismarck had greater range than KGV" in this Post Subject.
I have stated it in another Post Subject titled 'Hypothetical: The British detect Bismarck with a ship-borne Walrus at 0900 on 25 May 1941.'
The figures I cited there were as follows:
Wikipedia.
KGV
5,400 nmi (10,000 km) at 18 knots (33 km/h).
Bismarck
8,525 nmi (15,788 km; 9,810 mi) at 19 knots (35 km/h).
Based on these figures Bismarck had over a 50% range advantage.
But to answer your question, my statement was with respect to the two classes of ships. Bismarck had a greater range and endurance than KGV.
I have not taken taken into account the damage sustained by Bismarck. I admit to making the bold assumption that the damage sustained did not a affected a quater to a third of the Bismarck's fuel.
Can you provide me with a reference that identifies how much (quantity or %) of Bismarck's fuel was inaccessable or contaminated?
Kind regards, Michael L.
No; sorry I don't know and I don't think I've seen it published. IIRC Bismarck did not take advantage of the opportunity to top off her tanks in Norway, and the German ships ran at greater than their economical speed for most of their movement from Norway to the encounter in Denmark Strait. Also, Prinz Eugen had a nominal cruising range of 6,800 nm and she was apparently getting seriously short of fuel without receiving any significant damage at Denmark Strait.
User avatar
wadinga
Senior Member
Posts: 2467
Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2005 3:49 pm
Location: Tonbridge England

Re: Shipborne aircraft - Walrus and Arado AR196 - Lost Opportunities?

Post by wadinga »

Hi All,
My compliments on a nice piece of lateral thinking. Using the Arado AR196 as a pseudo fighter/interceptor.
Well it's not that original TBH, the Baron says it was contemplated on Bismarck's bridge, when the Catalina was spotted, but rejected as a one-way mission. With twin 20mm cannon it would have chewed up a Catalina, provided it did not hide in the clouds.

As an example of a battleship floatplane being used take Warspite at the Battle of Cape Matapan when her Swordfish was launched, homed in the Albacore strike on the Italian Fleet and finally was recovered by crane from the water whilst Warspite was steaming at no less than 18 knots, was then refuelled and ready to launch again within the hour. However the kicker with regard to applying this experience to to the Bismarck operation is that the sea was absolutely flat calm and there was hardly any wind. I can't speak with confidence about Japanese floatplane usage in the Pacific but they were a little less careful with human life in their forces, many being keen to end up celebrated in the Yasukuni shrine.

The damage to Bismarck's starboard catapult was clearly not obvious and if they just checked available pressure on the system, maybe it looked fine. It seems to me that only by loading the weight of the aircraft on it and running it out to its deployed position could the crew have discovered the fault earlier. This detail brought to light by Herr Nilsson :clap: :clap: :clap: contradicting the "Common Knowledge" that the disabling of the catapult was by splinters (wooden?) from the service boat hit 10-15m away, is the kind of remarkable new information which often comes to light on this excellent website.

As an aside there have been long and speculative arguments about Bismarck's fuel endurance, with/without the flooding and damage from the bow, and beam shell hits and Victorious' torpedo strike. However I humbly submit no-one can know. No Bismarck class vessel had ever operated in Atlantic swells where more power was necessary to maintain a given speed whilst plunging through long period waves and the consumption would vary from trials in the comparatively calm Baltic. Once her bow was damaged, her trim was down by the bows with props relatively shallow and overall draught increased, her speed through the water for given revolutions and hence power and consumption would be different again.

What we do know is that Bismarck operated at higher than economic speed for much of her voyage and much slower later on when concern about fuel supplies was apparently a significant factor in Lutjens' decision making.

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
dunmunro
Senior Member
Posts: 4392
Joined: Sat Oct 22, 2005 1:25 am
Location: Langley BC Canada

Re: Shipborne aircraft - Walrus and Arado AR196 - Lost Opportunities?

Post by dunmunro »

Michael L wrote: Mon Jun 19, 2023 12:05 am Hello wadinga.

The evidence does show that Suffolk and KGV only had one Walrus embarked. But Tovey could have used Repulse's Walrus.

My compliments on a nice piece of lateral thinking. Using the Arado AR196 as a pseudo fighter/interceptor.
Wikipedia:
Arado AR196.
Maximum speed: 332 km/h (206 mph)
Range: 1,080 km (670 mi)
Service ceiling: 7,010 m (23,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 6 m/s (1,200 ft/min)
Guns: 1 × 7.92 mm (0.312 in) MG 81Z machine gun (Observer)
1 × 7.92 mm (0.312 in) MG 17 machine gun
2 × 20 mm (0.787 in) MG FF/M cannon
Catalina.
Maximum speed: 196 mph (315 km/h)
Cruise speed: 125 mph (201 km/h)
Range: 2,520 mi (4,060 km)
Service ceiling: 15,800 ft (4,800 m)
Rate of climb: 1,000 ft/min (5.1 m/s)
Guns: 3 x .30 cal (7.62 mm) machine guns (two in nose turret, one in ventral hatch at tail)
2 x .50 cal (12.7 mm) machine guns (one in each waist blister)
Swordfish.
Maximum speed: 143 mph (230 km/h, 124 kn) with torpedo at 7,580 lb (3,438 kg) and 5,000 ft (1,524 m)
Range: 522 mi (840 km, 454 nmi) normal fuel, carrying torpedo.
Endurance: 5 hours 30 minutes
Service ceiling: 16,500 ft (5,000 m) at 7,580 lb (3,438 kg)
Rate of climb: 870 ft/min (4.4 m/s) at 7,580 lb (3,438 kg) at sea level
Guns: 1 × fixed, forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun in upper right fuselage, breech in cockpit, firing over engine cowling
1 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis or Vickers K machine gun in rear cockpit.
The Arado was noted for being able to defend itself, on the record as having shot down a Spitfire.
The Arado easily outmatched the Swordfish. Taking down a Catalina would have been a more difficult task, but not impossible.

Identifying that there were problems with the catapult earlier might have given them time to make repairs so that at the eleventh hour an Arado could have been launched taking the War Records (and film of the sinking of the Hood) off to Brest.

I agree a Publisher would have likely rejected the book, but a Hollywood Movie Producer would have jumped at the script :lol:

Kind regards, Michael L.
in early 1942 Tirpitz launched two Ar-196s against Victorious' recon Albacores, and IIRC, one interception was made which resulted in damage to the Albacore.
Post Reply