Bismarck recovers its steering

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RNfanDan
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Bismarck recovers its steering

Post by RNfanDan » Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:41 am

In an interesting but wholly unfounded hypothesis, what are the odds that Bismarck---its steering somehow finally recovered during the night of 26/27 May---would have remained loitering in the patch of ocean where, next morning, Tovey's battleships would appear, and deliver their coup de grace?

More to the point, with its steering recovered, what would have prevented the ship from taking full advantage of its opportunity to get away?
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paulcadogan
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Re: Bismarck recovers its steering

Post by paulcadogan » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:00 pm

Obviously with functional rudders there would have been an immediate about face and beeline for France as fast as her engines (and fuel) would carry her...

However, if the miraculous repair took place during the night, and Vian's destroyers were able to keep in touch, there still might be the possibility of a night action with Tovey if KGV and Rodney were close enough.... Tovey would have been forced to move in despite the risks.
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Thorsten Wahl
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Re: Bismarck recovers its steering

Post by Thorsten Wahl » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:39 am

Main task of the destroyers as happend was to bother Bismarck and creating favorable conditions for the next day.

I am convinced that in the case of recovering steerability and heading towards france, the british destroyers had undertaken attacks at all cost.
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Re: Bismarck recovers its steering

Post by alecsandros » Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:13 am

Thorsten Wahl wrote:Main task of the destroyers as happend was to bother Bismarck and creating favorable conditions for the next day.

I am convinced that in the case of recovering steerability and heading towards france, the british destroyers had undertaken attacks at all cost.
Almost certainly...
But perhaps Bismarck could obtain 24-25kts and, given the storm, the destroyers couldn't close the range at all ?

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Ersatz Yorck
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Re: Bismarck recovers its steering

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:21 pm

Another interesting question is how would functioning steering have affected the battle, supposing now that there is a battle? It would undoubtedly have helped the Bismarck, but how much?

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RNfanDan
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Re: Bismarck recovers its steering

Post by RNfanDan » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:35 am

Well, it depends largely upon what course is taken--- if to the south and the Iberian Peninsula, Bismarck may have forced the British (especially Tovey) to break away for lack of fuel. He (Tovey) had already issued a "no-engage" order for Renown; HMS Rodney would likely have remained a stronger threat but, with her slow speed, seems unlikely to have brought Bismarck to action. Ark Royal still had her torpedo planes, but what they could have done is anyone's guess?

A direct run to St. Nazaire was another option but, again, I think Bismarck could have shaken its pursuers and bought enough time to enable assistance to reach the area. Having apparently lost at least two of its three bow anchors (one was left behind at Gdynia, I believe) the ship may have remained at sea long enough for the poor weather to abate and calmer seas could have been negotiated more easily, what with the hole in the bow still leaking.

Just thoughts....
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Re: Bismarck recovers its steering

Post by Byron Angel » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:35 pm

..... I agree with RNDanFan's assessment. A recovery of reliable steering control returns all sorts of capabilities to Bismarck - not least of which is her ability to steam at speed. At that point, weather and British fuel state would dictate what might be able to catch her. And what are the chances of a Swordfish attack turning up the Queen of Spades yet again?

Re absent anchors, I'm sure that the enterprising German harbormaster of St Nazaire could arrange some tugs to coax her right into a snug pierside berth.

B

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RF
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Re: Bismarck recovers its steering

Post by RF » Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:41 pm

paulcadogan wrote:Obviously with functional rudders there would have been an immediate about face and beeline for France as fast as her engines (and fuel) would carry her...
However, if the miraculous repair took place during the night, and Vian's destroyers were able to keep in touch, there still might be the possibility of a night action with Tovey if KGV and Rodney were close enough.... Tovey would have been forced to move in despite the risks.
If we mean here that Bismarck regains FULL steering ability then Lutjens would turn towards France and with a minimum speed of 19 knots then Rodney would not be able to catch up and engage. Tovey could try to catch up with KGV and perhaps Renown, but now the equation changes - without the nine 16 inch guns of Rodney and with the Luftwaffe coming into closer range there is the propect of not only Bismarck escaping but the British taking substantial damage in return.
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RF
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Re: Bismarck recovers its steering

Post by RF » Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:46 pm

Thorsten Wahl wrote:Main task of the destroyers as happend was to bother Bismarck and creating favorable conditions for the next day.

I am convinced that in the case of recovering steerability and heading towards france, the british destroyers had undertaken attacks at all cost.
Given the accuracy of Bismarck's fire during that night, if Bismarck regained FULL steering capability then the British destroyer attacks become suicidal - closing the range with a now fully mobile target that can comb torpedo tracks and take advantage of the broadside presentation when torpedoes are fired. There is a risk of a torpedo hit - but surely not on the rudders !?!
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RF
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Re: Bismarck recovers its steering

Post by RF » Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:47 pm

alecsandros wrote: But perhaps Bismarck could obtain 24-25kts and, given the storm, the destroyers couldn't close the range at all ?
Bismarck would not even need that speed, especially after daybreak...
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Re: Bismarck recovers its steering

Post by RF » Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:50 pm

RNfanDan wrote:Well, it depends largely upon what course is taken--- if to the south and the Iberian Peninsula, Bismarck may have forced the British (especially Tovey) to break away for lack of fuel.
Surely there would be no debate on the part of Lutjens and his staff about the course to follow..... they would close France on the most direct route in order to get under Luftwaffe air cover and the support of U-boats coming out of the French ports as quickly as possible.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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