Bismarck vs. Iowa

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
Bgile
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Post by Bgile » Tue May 16, 2006 9:52 pm

hi Ned,

I want to first deal with the long range advantage you rightly IMO attribute to an Iowa class BB. According to my source, the mark 8 FC radar was not capable of ranging on a target more than 30 kyds away, so that is the effective range limit for fire more accurate than that of Bismarck. Otherwise, they both have to use optical ranging. Bismarck can fire that far, so you can’t assume she can’t fire back. Still, I give Iowa the edge for radar and much heavier shells in a long range engagement.

If I’m wrong about the FC range (one account gives New Jersey firing at 38 kds under radar control) and should Bismarck decide not to engage at long range, she just has to chase salvoes and Iowa probably can’t hit her, because the shells take about a minute or more to reach the target at extreme range. Add another 20 seconds for correction to the next salvo, and it’s impossible to predict where Bismarck is going to be when the shells get there. When Iowa runs out of ammunition the battle is over. If Bismarck decides to maintain a more or less steady course and shoot back, then we have the advantage to Iowa.

The destruction of Hood doesn’t really relate to this topic, but the latest and most generally accepted theory of her demise doesn’t involve penetration of her deck armor at all. It involves penetration of her relatively thin upper belt into an after engine room, with the shell detonating there and fragmentation penetrating into a 4” magazine, detonation of which causes sypathetic detonation of the after 15” magazine.

Finally, you can find deck and armor layout of Bismarck elsewhere on this site and a number of other sites. They all agree. It is quite clear the Bismarck had two main battery plots, one forward and one aft, and both were below both armor decks with armored connecting trunks to the directors.

Of course none of the directors themselves could withstand even cruiser fire, a weakness in common with the Iowa class and all contemporaries I’m aware of. They were just too high in the ship for heavy armor to be practical.

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marcelo_malara
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Post by marcelo_malara » Tue May 16, 2006 10:15 pm

Marcello - I'd take it as a given that AOTS is more authoritative than my source. However, the section described there as "control station" is IMO ship control, not fire control. As you yourself noted, the fire control directors were unarmored, which is my point.
From AOTS Bismarck: "Target data for range, bearing and inclination were relayed to the main gunnery target solution room (TS) on the MIDDLE PLATFORM DECK compartment XV. A reserve position was located aft in compartment VII. The reserve was similar to the main position, but ommited the shore bombardment computer."
Obviously the middle platform deck is located BELOW the main armoured deck. Besides I think there is no battleship with the control station (or transmitting station, if you want to call it that) ABOVE the armoured deck, there is no advantage in that and a lot of disadvantages.
The directors cannot be armoured, because they are too high in the ship. Besides, they are full of sensible equimpent and the antennas and rangefinders optics are still exposed, so that a shell that didn´t penetrate would surely render the position useless, that is why there are three of them. This is a problem with all battleships and warships in general, from all countries, with radar or without, and it is the same now: radar antennas are still exposed, or you believe that the modern cuppolas like- radomes are armoured?

Hood was armoured to the latest fashion when she was built, she was far superior to her forerunners. I repeat here a part of a previous posting by myself:

The forecastle deck on Hood is 32 mm near the fore turrets, 51 around funnels and 32 mm again behind.
The upper deck is 19 mm below the forecastle and and 51 and 26 behind it.
The main deck is more complex yet: 37 mm on boilers and machinery, 51 mm on the slopes, and 51/76 over magazines.
The lower deck (that exists only fore and aft of boilers and machinery) is 51 mm over magazines.
So for example the magazines had 177 mm over them (32+19+76+51), the boilers 108 (51+19+37) and the machinery 89 (32+19+37).

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Karl Heidenreich
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Wed May 17, 2006 3:55 pm

Just for the record, a previous posting in which I stand to classified Hood as a Fast Battleship instead of a Battlecruiser. In that same thread there is some consensus about it. This is to support the idea that Hood + PoW were, on paper, a mighty match to the "poorly designed Baden heir" Bismarck and a cruiser. Just for the record.
There is another data that supports the idea of the reclassification of Hood as a Fast Battleship instead of Battlecruiser:

Armour comparison with other British Warships:

Hood
Main Belt: 305 mm
Upper Deck: 32 mm
Armoured Deck: 50 mm
Turrets: 130-380 mm
Protected lenght: 65%
Speed: 31 knots

KGV Class
Main Belt: 350-375 mm
Upper Deck: no!
Armoured Deck: 150 mm
Turrets: 150-324 mm
Protected lenght: 60%
Speed: 28 knots

Nelson Class
Main Belt: 355 mm
Upper Deck: no!
Armoured Deck: 160 mm
Turrets: 185-405 mm
Protected lenght: 50%
Speed: 23 knots

As as you can see, the weak point of the Hood, as we already know, is the Armoured Deck which is 3 times thinner than the KGV or Rodney. But all the other features are the same or of a bigger scale. Let´s take the protected lenght: it is a larger percentage than that of KGV (slightly) or the Nelson. The astounding characteristic is that KGV and Nelson class ships (both classified as Battleships) didn´t have armour at their upper decks, meanwhile Hood (a "Battlecruiser") did have armour on that deck.
The main belt armour was slightly thinner than that of the other two ships, but of the same scale. I do remember that Tirpitz main belt armour was very similar to this (But we must agree that the quality and mechanical properties of the Krupp steel were different from the British ones).
The main factor that make apart the BBs from the BCs is the relation "armour-speed" (the factor that created the BCs in first place) being the BC armour lighter to ensure higher speeds: "Outgun smaller vessels and outrun armoured ones".
Using, again, the speed as the element of classification we can see that Hood, in it´s overall characteristics was a Fast Battleship instead of a Battlecruiser.
Best regards
The idea that has been around in certain circles is that Bismarck was, in fact, an inferior Battleship in comparison with all her contemporaries. So much more against the might of an "Invincible" Iowa Class BB. I believe this is due to two factors:
1. An historical factor.
- That Bismarck accomplished herself the blowing of a legend like Hood. In that case is better to explain the fact with negative attributes of the victim (in consequence regarded as a more inferior ship in comparison to her foe, etc. etc.) And that it was pure luck: Adalbert Schneider hit the lottery. Her gunnery expertise was inconsequential.
- That Bismarck, later, had to be hunted down by every floating vessel the enemy had. One lone ship against several fleets and flotillas. This to the point that ships like Ramilies were forbidden to engage Bismarck on a one against one basis. That doesn´t speak too well of the hunters but to the game.
2. An expert criteria.
- Nathan Okun´s famous article in which the Bismarck is laveled as the one with the weakest side protection of any WWII BB. That´s the same article that supports the idea that the Richelieu was one of the great BBs in WWII, despite the fact she didn´t fight a single battle. This remainds me that Iowa never fought against another BB in her career, neither.
So, as I said before: Bismarck stand her chances, as she historically did, against any WWII BB. Again, and I´m not going to denied it, Iowa stands with stronger capabilities than the German vessel.
I´ll end by quoting Bgile
If I’m wrong about the FC range (one account gives New Jersey firing at 38 kds under radar control) and should Bismarck decide not to engage at long range, she just has to chase salvoes and Iowa probably can’t hit her, because the shells take about a minute or more to reach the target at extreme range. Add another 20 seconds for correction to the next salvo, and it’s impossible to predict where Bismarck is going to be when the shells get there. When Iowa runs out of ammunition the battle is over. If Bismarck decides to maintain a more or less steady course and shoot back, then we have the advantage to Iowa.
Best regards.

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Gary
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Post by Gary » Wed May 17, 2006 5:18 pm

Nathan Okun´s famous article in which the Bismarck is laveled as the one with the weakest side protection of any WWII BB.

:think:

Thats codswallop and I think the webmaster of the said site knows it.

At short range, Bismarck was practically invunerable due to her side protection.
A floating fortress in other words
God created the world in 6 days.........and on the 7th day he built the Scharnhorst

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Karl Heidenreich
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Wed May 17, 2006 5:26 pm

Gary,

just open Combined Fleet ( http://www.combinedfleet.com ) and then the "Guns´n´Armor" section of the main menu. There you can found Okun´s article and all that Nihon Kaigun´s administrator derived from it.

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Post by Bgile » Sat May 20, 2006 12:42 am

Gary wrote:Nathan Okun´s famous article in which the Bismarck is laveled as the one with the weakest side protection of any WWII BB.

:think:

Thats codswallop and I think the webmaster of the said site knows it.

At short range, Bismarck was practically invunerable due to her side protection.
A floating fortress in other words
My, I think he upset you! :)

I understand where you are coming from, but invulnerable isn't the word I would use. Her machinery and magazines were almost invulnerable to close range shells fired from the sides, but the ship obviously could and did become a floating wreck under close range shell fire. She was quite vulnerable to shells fired through the bow or stern armor, her turrets could be readily penetrated, directors knocked out, all areas above the lower deck pulverized, etc.

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Karl Heidenreich
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Mon May 22, 2006 4:40 pm

Bgile wrote:

"My, I think he upset you! :)

I understand where you are coming from, but invulnerable isn't the word I would use. Her machinery and magazines were almost invulnerable to close range shells fired from the sides, but the ship obviously could and did become a floating wreck under close range shell fire. She was quite vulnerable to shells fired through the bow or stern armor, her turrets could be readily penetrated, directors knocked out, all areas above the lower deck pulverized, etc. "


But man: any Battleship built (Iowa, Vanguard, KGV, Yamato, Ise, Richelieu, South Dakota, etc. etc. etc.) exposed to the same punishment the Bismarck had to endure would had end being a floating wreck herself! :!: :!: :!:
Bismarck, with her steering disabled, the fire control affected by this, doing only 7 knots, and ALONE, was surrounded and attacked by KGV (10 x 14"), Rodney (9 x 16") and several cruisers and destroyers (a complete fleet). More than 2,000 shells were fired to her. If only a quarter of those shells hit the Bismarck we had that aprox. 500 shells (plus torpedoes) punished the German ship. Do you think that Iowa or KGV exposed to the same situation and punishment (being damaged and surrounded by several ships) would had performed better?
Let me doubt it: Hood, Barham, Royal Oak, Prince of Wales and Repulse (to quote only a few of the allied battleships sunk in WWII) went down with less damage, punishment and ordeal than Bismarck. And we´ll never know about the Iowas because they never fought a single battleship against battleship combat and spent their careers surrounded by enormous screens of cruisers, destroyers, subs and having supreme air cover. They were never alone risking themselves.
But being this an Hypothetical Scenario Forum I can ask which chances of perfoming better than Bismarck (not winning the battle of course!) an Iowa could do with one big shell hit in the forecastle making water and a torpedo hit at her rudders, a speed of 7 knots, unable to steer, and being surrounded by the some equivalent ships... Yamato and Nagato? No, let´s strike out the Yamato: Nagato and Mutsu, some three or four cruisers, three or four destroyers and an Aicraft Carrier? Could then the Iowa not end being a floating wreck? Sunk in, what, half an hour, one hour, five hours?
Bismarck did fine because she was a very fine combat tested ship in a situation that even the enemy admiral qualified as being "against all odds".

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Gary
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Post by Gary » Mon May 22, 2006 5:17 pm

Hi Karl.

You are correct.

None of the new US battleships were tested in a gunnery duel where they recieved multiple major calibre hits.

Iowa was a fantastic ship that any admiral would be proud to have under his orders but she was never exposed to the dangers or the extremities that Bismarck was.

What did Bismarck have in the way of Back up?

Prinz Eugen.................and thats about it :cool:

What did Scharnhorst have as back up (Not including the Channel dash)?

Gneisnau....................and thats about it.

German ships didnt have the luxury of having multiple escort vessels like the USN Battleships had.

I'm not knocking the South Dakota class but in theory - you would expect Bismarck to be able to withstand more punishment due to her much larger size.
God created the world in 6 days.........and on the 7th day he built the Scharnhorst

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Post by Bgile » Mon May 22, 2006 10:42 pm

Karl, Gary,

What you have said in your last posts was undoubtedly correct, but how does that justify a statement that Bismarck's armor made her invulnerable?

I still don't see how anyone can claim that.

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Gary
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Post by Gary » Mon May 22, 2006 10:48 pm

Hi Bgile

What Karl and I are trying to say is that Bismarcks Vitals were almost invunerable from a fatal hit in short range North Atlantic combat (which is what Bismarck was designed for)

None of the new USN battleships had a 4" slope behind their armour belt.

If you assume that Bismarck is fully operational - your battleship probably isnt going to be able to put a shell into Bismarcks vitals but are your ships vitals as "invunerable" as the German monsters at shorter ranges?

Probably not
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Post by Bgile » Tue May 23, 2006 12:17 am

No, but "my" battleship can penetrate Bismarck's turrets and barbettes at any range that hits can be obtained, and the reverse is not true.

I'm well aware of the Bismarck's armor scheme, and I never disputed the fact that the vitals can't be penetrated at close range.

In any case I'm beginning to repeat myself and I should stop. :)

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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue May 23, 2006 3:25 pm

I´m not stating that Bismarck is invulnerable: I´m stating that no battleship (or battlecruiser or any kind of vessel for that matter) is invulnerable. Also I argue that Bismarck did pretty well, a lot better than all the allied battleship fleet considering the facts and enviorment. That´s all.
Best regards.

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Post by Bgile » Tue May 23, 2006 4:05 pm

Gary wrote:Nathan Okun´s famous article in which the Bismarck is laveled as the one with the weakest side protection of any WWII BB.

:think:

Thats codswallop and I think the webmaster of the said site knows it.

At short range, Bismarck was practically invunerable due to her side protection.
A floating fortress in other words
Sigh. This is what I took issue with. "practically invulnerable". That's all.

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Re: Bismarck vs. Iowa

Post by Mejis19 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:21 am

A comment on the hypothetical cruiser battle above: (Baltimore v. Admiral Hipper) Yes Baltimore could likely defeat Hipper in a gun battle due to superior armor. But that isnt necessarily the whole story. Gun duels are battleship thinking, and Hipper, like WWII Japanese cruisers, wasnt meant to be a miniature battleship. Hipper had 12 torpedo tubes (to Baltimore's none) and a stout secondary battery. A torpedo attack from Hipper would be a more appealing tactic than gunfighting Baltimore. For the results of a battle like that to a WWII U.S. cruiser, look to Savo Island or Tassafaronga

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Re: Bismarck vs. Iowa

Post by RF » Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:00 am

Welcome to the forum Mejis19.

However your comment about Hipper having a''stout secondary armament'' deos requiresome qualification, as the 10.5 cm guns would make little impact on Baltimore. I can agree with you on the torpedoes. The other factor in this is the quality of the shooting, Hipper's record is quite good, and on that basis I tend to favour the Hipper.
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