Another Bismarck sortie

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Wordy
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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by Wordy » Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:42 am

RF wrote:
Wordy wrote:Personaly I think this would be a bad idea.

If all the Kreigsmarine capital ships sailed in a task force then I'd imagine it would be easier for the Royal Navy to counter than the twins and BS/PE/GZ operating independantly. The RN would be well aware of what was going on and would have the ships in place to counter them, so the German squadron at the Denmark Strait
]
Why the Denmark Strait?

You are overlooking that the RN would be in exactly the same situation as it was for the start of Rheinubung in the third week of May 1941.
The Germans have a choice of four (and if you add in the English Channel, five) entrances to the Atlantic coming from the Baltic Sea. All four entrances have to be covered which was why Tovey had to split his forces into Hood/POW and KGV/Repulse/Victorious and still have to rely on a cruiser line to gain initial contact with the Germans to identify which route is being used. And with Rheinubung Holland still came close to missing interception with Lutjens altogether. There is no guarantee that the cruiser line will detect German warships breaking out, even with radar.

The essence of my argument is that the RN would be unable to concentrate a force against all the German ships that would be capable of destroying them - the Germans would have a much greater initiative and freedom of action than under Rheinubung and the RN would be even more defensive, particulary with convoys to protect against battleship and carrier attack. This quite apart from the fact that the RN capital ships need to guard against attack from planes operating from carriers as well.
Doesn't have to be the Denmark Strait, was just using it as one of the possible route they could've took.

From what I can gather Tovey didn't use anything like the whole home fleet for the BS/PE task force, but given that he'd be facing all 4 German capital ships then he'd have absolutely everthing at sea waiting for them. Icluding Force H which (hopefully) would have been recalled back to Britian in time.

Of course it might not have worked and the German's might've got into the atlantic which would mean the RN would be in a bit of a pickle, But if I were Tovey I'd have everything at sea, including old/slow ships as this would be his 1 big chance.

I'm just musing really, I don't think that Tovey wouldn't use absolutely everything he had at his disposal.
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Wordy
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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by Wordy » Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:50 am

RF wrote:
Wordy wrote:
KGV & POW to counter BS, Hood, Repulse & Norfolk to counter the twins, Suffolk & Dorsetshire to counter PE, Victorious against Graf Zepplin.
That is entirely contingent on the German forces being located and the RN being able to intercept - rather more difficult than when just one German ship is involved.

Even with this formation you have overlooked Tirpitz, which in company with Bismarck would defeat the two KGV's. Repulse and Norfolk versus Scharnhorst and Gneisenau would be interesting... the twins would adopt Harwood's tactics at the River Plate battle and tackle Repulse on opposite flanks. Either Repulse splits its fire or one of the twins gets free target practice. As for Norfolk the German ships have up to 12 of their 5.9 inch guns available until Repulse is dealt with.

Suffolk and Dorsetshire could deal with Prinz Eugen, but at a cost of weak cruiser lines to guard the Atlantic entrances but more crucially the Atlantic convoys become deprived of vital heavy cruiser escorts. And if Lutzow and Admiral Scheer are operating further afield then heavy cruiser forces will be needed to guard against them.

Victorious against Graf Zeppelin? I think you would need Ark Royal as well.

As for Force H - well an enterprising German High Command might prod the Italians into making moves that could suggest that Vittorio Veneto would move into the western Med, with a threat of running past Gibraltar into the Atlantic - another threat the RN would have to guard against.

Rodney? Too slow. Best used as a convoy escort.
I didn't mention Tirpitz as it wasn't mentioned in the OP, so it would be POW & KGV against the Bismarck.

You've missed out HMS Hood, if she didn't receive a lucky hit like at the DS she would tip the balance in the RN's favour in which ever engagement she took part in, be it against the twins or Bs (and Tirpitz is he/she is present).

I've mentioned Force H because lets be honest, the proposed German task force would be a much bigger threat than anything going on in the med, stopping this task force would be almost critical to keeping Britian in the war. Besides Italy was running short of fuel and I'm sure Adm Cunningham would've loved the chance to be even more aggressive with the Mediteranian Fleet in Keeping the RM's attention.

Like I said in earlier posts this would be 'it' for the RN and I can't imagine anything less that everything been thrown at the Germans.
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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by alecsandros » Fri Oct 11, 2013 10:07 am

Wordy wrote:
I'm just musing really, I don't think that Tovey wouldn't use absolutely everything he had at his disposal.
... He used everything he had available against Bismarck, and just barely managed to take her down.

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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by RF » Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:50 pm

Wordy wrote: Of course it might not have worked and the German's might've got into the atlantic which would mean the RN would be in a bit of a pickle, But if I were Tovey I'd have everything at sea, including old/slow ships as this would be his 1 big chance.
They would be in a pickle after being at sea for a week without interception - they would have to return to port to refuel, while the Germans wouldn't need to with their special tanker supply ships. This again illustrates the difficulty in a long Atlantic sortie - the only viable long term action the RN could take for quick results is to hunt down the supply ships, but with forces of this size available these supply ships can get some degree of cover...
I'm just musing really, I don't think that Tovey wouldn't use absolutely everything he had at his disposal.
Churchill would go ballistic and have him sacked if he didn't....
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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by RF » Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:08 pm

Wordy wrote: You've missed out HMS Hood, if she didn't receive a lucky hit like at the DS she would tip the balance in the RN's favour in which ever engagement she took part in, be it against the twins or Bs (and Tirpitz is he/she is present).
Thats true. But she would still be vulnerable against the Bismarck's.
I've mentioned Force H because lets be honest, the proposed German task force would be a much bigger threat than anything going on in the med, stopping this task force would be almost critical to keeping Britian in the war. Besides Italy was running short of fuel and I'm sure Adm Cunningham would've loved the chance to be even more aggressive with the Mediteranian Fleet in Keeping the RM's attention.
Its not just the Italians in the Med but the activities of Rommel, Kesselring and the Luftwaffe as well. Malta is the key point which would tie down Cunningham.

If Hitler had strategic vision he would have delayed Barbarossa until Britain was finally defeated - which would mean massive Luftwaffe reinforcement in the Med and all out bombing of Malta while Rommel gets say an extra panzer division to threaten the Suez Canal.

Now the problem for Churchill is whether the Atlantic threat becomes so serious that he is prepared to abandon the whole Med theatre including Egypt and the Suez Canal, together with a another threat, that of Spain entering the war and attacking Gibraltar with German support - and then the Germans acquiring from the Spanish airfields in the Canary Islands and in Galicia where long range Focke-Wulf bombers can operate in support of KM Atlantic operations. And of course the Canaries would have Heer forces stationed there to bolster the Spanish ground forces in case the British decide to raid or invade...

Multiple threats eleswhere makes the KM operations in the Atlantic even more potent - even not having the USSR as an ally would have a dehabilitating effect on British morale and resolve. If the Med is given up by the British then Hitler and Mussolini can get all the oil they need and more from the oilfields of Saudi Arabia, Iraq - those consequences I think would force the British to stay in the Med...
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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Oct 20, 2013 2:09 pm

RF wrote:
Wordy wrote: You've missed out HMS Hood, if she didn't receive a lucky hit like at the DS she would tip the balance in the RN's favour in which ever engagement she took part in, be it against the twins or Bs (and Tirpitz is he/she is present).
Thats true. But she would still be vulnerable against the Bismarck's.
...
I don't think the fatal hit vs Hood was as much lucky as it was inevitable. With Bismarck having zeroed in on the target right at the outset and firing for effect; it was just a matter of time, especially once Holland comes to parallel course and reduces the target angle at those ranges. At those ranges a Bismarcks guns can slice right through the belt protection.

The risk actually applied to the POW too, and the POW could have meant the same fate in that circumstance if not for the wisdom of Leach.

Fighting with the Hood or any of the older battle cruisers presents a conundrum. Fighting at short range against a fully functional Bismarck is almost suicidal, but fighting at long range isn't really an option because of the battle cruisers' weak deck protection. At least with a KGV the deck protection is good to 30km battle range. The problem with fighting with a KGV at say 25,000 yards then becomes; can the 14" artillery seriously hurt a ship like Bismarck which also has good deck protection.

On the other hand the crippling torpedo hit to Bismarck's rudders is in no way inevitable. That was pure luck.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by paul.mercer » Sun Oct 20, 2013 3:52 pm

[quote="Dave Saxton"][quote="RF"][quote="Wordy"]
Fighting with the Hood or any of the older battle cruisers presents a conundrum. Fighting at short range against a fully functional Bismarck is almost suicidal, but fighting at long range isn't really an option because of the battle cruisers' weak deck protection. At least with a KGV the deck protection is good to 30km battle range. The problem with fighting with a KGV at say 25,000 yards then becomes; can the 14" artillery seriously hurt a ship like Bismarck which also has good deck protection.

Gentlemen,
Re the abouve question, I would have thought that at 25000yds it would be 'plunging fire' which could do serious damage to Bismarck even if her main decks were not penetrated, it seem to me that any ship is vunerable to damage to her upperworks, particularly the bridge, range finders, radar and possibly the turrets and guns, after all it appears that one of Bismarcks turrets was knocked out by a hit which damaged the rotating mechanism - this may have been a 16" from Rodney, but it could also have been a 14" from KGV. It has been suggested many times before that one does'nt have to sink a ship to put it out of action so if a KGv has all it's guns functioning and can keep on target and obtain numerous hits from her 10 guns then to my thinking it is quite possible Bismarck will be badly hurt - of course, it would also depend on how many hits the KGv got in return!

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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by RF » Sun Oct 20, 2013 5:31 pm

Dave Saxton wrote: On the other hand the crippling torpedo hit to Bismarck's rudders is in no way inevitable. That was pure luck.
While I also think it was a lucky hit it is the case that stern hits by torpedoes are not that rare - of the four ships involved in the DS battle no less than three of them came to grief from stern torpedo hits, two of them terminally. The POW ultimately fell victim to the Japanese, the Prinz Eugen had its stern blown off in 1942.
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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:12 pm

I would have thought that at 25000yds it would be 'plunging fire' which could do serious damage to Bismarck even if her main decks were not penetrated, it seem to me that any ship is vunerable to damage to her upperworks, particularly the bridge, range finders, radar and possibly the turrets and guns, after all it appears that one of Bismarcks turrets was knocked out by a hit which damaged the rotating mechanism -
The Rodney hit did not occur from anywhere near 25,000 yards. It took Rodney 18 salvos to find the range. By that time the range was well less than 20,000 yards. Probably closer to 15,000 yards.

At longer ranges any modern ship is safer until it finally crosses that threshold where the horizontal protection can be defeated. Two things happen; the shells arrive at less velocity and at a less favorable striking angle vs the vertical protection, but they still can't defeat the horizontal protection. Bismarck was no more vulnerable to "plunging fire" than any other modern battleship. The turrets roofs are safe from perforation out 30km.

Another factor happens as the battle range increases: It becoming less and less likely that any hits at all will be scored. Bismarck in 1941 with its superior radar and flatter trajectory ballistics will be more likely to score long range hits than the British ships though.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by paul.mercer » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:34 pm

]Thanks for that Dave,
I think that my point re damage to upperworks range finders ,bridge radar etc. may still be valid. I know we have has this Bismarck v KGv senario played out on this forums before and if I remember correctly the result was both ships badly damaged and making for home as neither had the ultimate capacity to sink each other. The trouble as far as Bismarck was concerned is that if she was badly damaged she would have had a very difficult time getting to a safe port as she would have had a large part of the RN out to get her, whereas a KGV would not.

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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by alecsandros » Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:59 am

paul.mercer wrote:] I know we have has this Bismarck v KGv senario played out on this forums before and if I remember correctly the result was both ships badly damaged and making for home as neither had the ultimate capacity to sink each other.
No.
They both had this capacity, but the more likely scenario would be that KGV would be badly damaged, and Bismarck would run away, with moderate damage of her
own - damage which might decrease her chances of getting back to base.

Bismarck was simply a more effective weapon of naval war.

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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by Tom17 » Mon Nov 11, 2013 7:56 am

If Britain had intelligence (Ultra) regarding this sortie taking place, Would the RAF/FAA and Coastal Command have reinforced their northern airfields, Iceland and Shetland bases with more maritime search (Hudson, Sunderland, Catalina etc.)and strike aircraft (Beaufort, Blenheim, Beaufighter, Swordfish etc.)
If the sortie is delayed to include Tirpitz (Autumn '41) would Furious and Formidable be available (a little early for DOY to be included)?
Tom

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Re: Another Bismarck sortie

Post by alecsandros » Mon Nov 11, 2013 1:41 pm

... If the mission was executed during the Arctic night or twilight, the maritime search aircraft would have been nearly useless, and so would be the strike aircraft, both land-based and carrier-based.

Formidable was badly damaged in the Mediteranean, and under repairs until late 1941.Furious was undergoing a refit from Sept 1941 to Apr 1942.

--
Certainly the Home Fleet would have tried to put together as many capital ships as possible - but if properly planed, the German mission could realy have had some success (i.e. scattering a few convoys). As it was though, with 1 single battleship sent in a period with plenty of daylight time, the chances were slim...

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