Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

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kevin32422
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Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

Post by kevin32422 » Mon Sep 24, 2012 3:31 pm

Suppose the Bismarck closes in to finish off the Prince of Wales at this time however the Norfolk and Suffolk close in to enage and assist the Prince of Wales any taker to offer a opininon on what happens next?

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RF
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Re: Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

Post by RF » Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:53 am

This issue has been debated at very great length in some of the older threads on the forum.

A few members felt that Bismarck should have sunk the POW, assisted by some torpedo hits on the part of Prinz Eugen.

However the dynamics of what would be a prolonged action would mean that Bismarck would be exposed to further damage, and additionally the PE would be exposed to damage if it has to close with POW for a torpedo strike.
Indeed the vulnerability of the PE does become a major consideration if Norfolk and Suffolk do become involved. Additionally there were six destroyers escorting Hood/POW who had been left someway behind during Hollands final run in, and the risk of torpedo attack from these six could be crucial in the Germans having to break off the action.

Overall I think it is unlikely the POW would have been sunk.

Another variation postulated in the old threads is having Tirpitz in place of the PE, or together with PE. In that scenario the Germans have much greater firepower but even here getting POW to sink by gunfire alone would be difficult. More likely is that if Norfolk/Suffolk got involved is that the Germans would simply turn on them and sink them, leaving a badly damaged but still floating POW behind them.
In that scenario it has also been suggested that Bismarck would head back to Norway instead of going for France.
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Re: Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

Post by paul.mercer » Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:02 pm

Gentlemen,
As RF states, this question has been debated many times and I would agree with all he says about the risk to Bismarck and PE from further damage both from PoW and the two cruisers, a risk Lutyens could not afford to take.
Also, PoW still retained her top speed which although marginally slower than Bismarck would probably been enough for her to get away, let us not forget that Bismarck had taken a fairly severe hit on her bows from which she shipped about 2000 tons of water which would not only bring the bow down but quite possibly interfere with her shooting as she would only be able to bring the two forward turrets to bear in a stern chase against PoW. It is also known that Bismarck had to slow down to effect repairs, so under the circumstances I think Lutyens made the correct decision as he could see that there was little hope of catching, let alone destroying PoW without posing a considerable risk to his ship.
After all, his remit was to attack convoys, not engage in ship to ship combat against another battleship and I feel that if he could have avoided Hood and PoW he would have done so.

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Re: Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

Post by alecsandros » Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:58 am

paul.mercer wrote:Gentlemen,

After all, his remit was to attack convoys, not engage in ship to ship combat against another battleship and I feel that if he could have avoided Hood and PoW he would have done so.
Hi Paul,
Indeed, the mission was about destroying convoys, not engaging battleships.
However, with the element of surprise being lost, and with heavy British units already engaging, my impression remains that Lutjens could have struggled a little bit more against PoW... Especialy as the range got down to 13km at one point... And Y turret was jamed...
Norfolk and Suffolk were very far away (22 and 30km), and the destroyer escort only arived at Hood's sinking place at about 8:00, so a good 2 hours after the battle...

[this isn't to say Bismarck should have engaged in a 2 hour long chase; just that it could have tried more, at the critical moment - some 15-20 minutes of pursuit could have damaged PoW extremely bad... ]

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Re: Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

Post by RF » Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:30 am

paul.mercer wrote: After all, his remit was to attack convoys, not engage in ship to ship combat against another battleship and I feel that if he could have avoided Hood and PoW he would have done so.
German Fleet orders were crystal clear on this - only engage battleships if absolutely necessary in convoy attack, otherwise avoid engagement with enemy warships altogether unless the action was forced on them with no means of escape or breaking off. In a two to one scenaario which the DS battle was (with cruisers expressly forbidden to engage battleships) the import of such orders cannot be clearer. Remember that Captain Brinckmann's failure to pull out of line and hide behind Bismarck was commented upon by SKL staff in their review of the action.
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Re: Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

Post by alecsandros » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:12 am

RF wrote:
paul.mercer wrote: After all, his remit was to attack convoys, not engage in ship to ship combat against another battleship and I feel that if he could have avoided Hood and PoW he would have done so.
German Fleet orders were crystal clear on this - only engage battleships if absolutely necessary in convoy attack, otherwise avoid engagement with enemy warships altogether unless the action was forced on them with no means of escape or breaking off. In a two to one scenaario which the DS battle was (with cruisers expressly forbidden to engage battleships) the import of such orders cannot be clearer. Remember that Captain Brinckmann's failure to pull out of line and hide behind Bismarck was commented upon by SKL staff in their review of the action.
YEs RF,
But the engagement was already under way, and "heavy damage" was presumed to have been caused to "KGV" during the battle. Thus, the explanation of a pursuit would have been obvious.
In retrospect, it was the same lack of aggressiveness that led to the loss of battle of Barents Sea, cancellation of operation Rosselsprung, etc.

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Re: Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

Post by RF » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:51 pm

Without the restrictions of those Fleet Orders and instead having the freedom of action that Lutjens' predecessor Admiral Wilhelm Marschall wanted then I think a continuation of the action was justified, given that the German battle observers should have noticed that not all of POW's guns were firing together, especially if it was believed that the Home Fleet C in C was on board.
It would have been an opportunity to take out not just Hood but another British capital ship capable of matching or nearly matching Bismarck for speed. In terms of the commerce war it would make future operations easier if POW or the supposed KGV was sunk ot put out of action for at least a year.

We shall of course never know what would have been the outcome if Lutjens had ordered his captains to pursue POW. From the German perspective, given that Bismarck was lost three days later anyway, the outcome wouldn't have left them in a worse position than they were.
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Re: Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

Post by alecsandros » Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:23 pm

So true...

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Re: Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

Post by Thorsten Wahl » Mon Oct 15, 2012 6:06 pm

the great what if seem to me ,what could have been happend when Bismarck and Prinz Eugen didnt change their courses by the mostly possible false torpedoalarm. I would expect, that POW canot retreat that quickly from the battle area, as it was done.
On the other hand ther was moderate own damage recognizable. Was it worth risking more damage as POW would probably sustain a high target angle as far as possible.
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Re: Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

Post by alecsandros » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:45 am

Thorsten Wahl wrote:the great what if seem to me ,what could have been happend when Bismarck and Prinz Eugen didnt change their courses by the mostly possible false torpedoalarm. I would expect, that POW canot retreat that quickly from the battle area, as it was done.
On the other hand ther was moderate own damage recognizable. Was it worth risking more damage as POW would probably sustain a high target angle as far as possible.
YEs, that alarm came at the worst possible timing - when BS was consistently straddling and hiting PoW.

Funny that there were 3 false torpedo alarms sounded by PE in 24 hours...

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Re: Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

Post by RF » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:56 am

alecsandros wrote:
Funny that there were 3 false torpedo alarms sounded by PE in 24 hours...
Why? Prinz Eugen also picked up the screws of Hood/POW before they were sighted but didn't report them specifically as capital ships.

The sonar and sound equipment on board Eugen was obviously very sensitive, as evidenced by the interest shown in it by the US Navy when the ship was in their possession. You have to take into account the matter that the German crew manning this equipment had no prior substantive battle experience with this equipment and so misreports such as quoted have to be expected. In the whole career of Prinz Eugen the DS battle was its only surface ship battle engagement.
KM surface ship serious and prolonged engagements with other surface ships were very rare events.....

Indeed the only occasion of a KM ship repeatedly getting into a scrap with other ships was the hilfskreuzer Thor on its first cruise.
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Re: Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

Post by alecsandros » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:58 am

RF wrote:
alecsandros wrote:
Funny that there were 3 false torpedo alarms sounded by PE in 24 hours...
Why? Prinz Eugen also picked up the screws of Hood/POW before they were sighted but didn't report them specifically as capital ships.
I remember redeaing this in the reconstructed Bismarck log...

Indeed, there was little battle experience in the KGM...

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Re: Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:38 am

RF wrote: ...In the whole career of Prinz Eugen the DS battle was its only surface ship battle engagement.
KM surface ship serious and prolonged engagements with other surface ships were very rare events.....

Indeed the only occasion of a KM ship repeatedly getting into a scrap with other ships was the hilfskreuzer Thor on its first cruise.
Not really.

Apart form the DS battle Prinz Eugen was in action against British destroyers during the channel dash.

You mean repeatedly getting into a scrap during the same sortie? The Bismarck was in action on at least five distinct occasions during her sortie (Norfolk, POW & Hood, POW, Destroyers and final sinking).
Last edited by Ersatz Yorck on Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:11 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:42 am

alecsandros wrote:
Indeed, there was little battle experience in the KGM...
An interesting tidbit is that the French navy fought as many battleship vs battleship actions against the allies as the KM!

French: Mers el Kebir, Dakar, Casablanca.
KM: Denmark Straits, Bismarcks last battle, North cape.

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Re: Bismarck closes in to finish off Prince of Wales

Post by alecsandros » Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:11 pm

Ersatz Yorck wrote:
RF wrote: ...In the whole career of Prinz Eugen the DS battle was its only surface ship battle engagement.
KM surface ship serious and prolonged engagements with other surface ships were very rare events.....
Apart form the DS battle Prinz Eugen was in action against British destroyers during the channel dash.
That's still very little experience...
You mean repeatedly getting into a scrap during the same sortie? The Bismarck was in action on at least five distinct occasions during her sortie (Norfolk, POW & Hood, POW, Destroyers and final sinking).
Indeed, but I don't know how important the "number" of engagement is , as they were so rapid and often that the crew didn't have time to rest, and thus I doubt any experience was accumulated between the first salvos fired against Norfolk on the 23rd of May and Bismarck's final sinking on the 27th...

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