Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

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Re: Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

Post by alecsandros » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:54 pm

paul.mercer wrote: put a fully refitted Rodney with a good crew against Bismarck and I think the result would be a very battered if not sunk, Bismarck. In any case as I have said before, Lutyens is not going to risk a fight with such a powerfully armed ship if the does'nt have to, he will use his speed and make a run for it.
While I agree with the last part, I can not agree with the first,
Bismarck showed remarkably well shooting throughout Rheinubung (Norfolk - straddled, splinters on board, Hood - straddled repeatedly and sunk; POW - straddled repeatedly and damaged, Sheffield- straddled repeatedly, damage and casualties, 3 of the 4 DDs straddled, splinters on board, Rodney - straddled, KGV - straddled), while Rodney needed 15 minutes to get the range of a target moving at 7kts....

Tirpitz also showed very well shooting qualities, and this is first and foremost in any naval engagement.

That Bismarck might be hit is a possibility, while Rodney getting plastered and sunk in very few minutes is a probability. [the 2 are realy not comparable to much. Bismarck's rangefinders and radars showed exceptional accuracy, and the salvo patterns were no more than 120 meters wide for 4-gun salvos at 20km. In the mean time, Rodney produced 300 meters patterns for 3-gun salvos , at 15km... Rate of fire was up to 3 shells/minute/gun for Bismarck firing at up to 20km, while Rodney could probably manage 1.5 shells/minute/gun at the same distance. An what about stability as a gun platform ? Responsiveness to manouvres ? Built-in redundancy ?]
===
And again, if the damage of the 16" shells over Bismarck are an issue: imagine Rodney instead of Bismarck , and Bismarck and Tirpitz instead of Rodney and KGV, and imagine how would Rodney look like after a meager 15 minutes of fire over her.

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Re: Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

Post by RF » Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:50 pm

Ersatz Yorck wrote: The Germans knew that a battleship would never be able to sink as many merchant ships as the submarines did.
But that proposition was never put to trhe test. Put a real battleship against a convoy HX 84 with a morning attack I would imagine by evening the tonnage sunk would approach or exceed 200,000 tons. That would be a better performance than a wolf pack.

One other advantage a surface raider had over submarines was the apprehension of merchant ship crews for POW camps and the capture of ships and cargo for despatch back home.

. It was the same thing with all German surface raiders, from Hilfskreuzer to Battleships, the primary mission was not to sink stuff, and certainly not warships, the mission was to be there and disrupt shipping through their very presence.
Absolutely right. But the most successful raiders still sank far more than the average U-boat.
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Re: Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

Post by RNfanDan » Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:57 pm

Bismarck's magazines apparently contained an abnormally high percentage of "dud" shells; good for punching holes and knocking things about, but not what is needed to terminate the threat of an enemy battleship in rapid order. The one which struck PoW bridge did not explode correctly, nor did the one which was later removed from her hull in drydock. IIRC, at least one of the Prinz Eugen's 8-inch projectiles snuck through, whizzed round a compartment but failed to detonate.

Since these shells were from the same immediate stockpiles as those fired at Hood, one must consider the likelihood that Rodney and KGV, if they were to have been hit, would have at least some dud shells as well. Hitting is one thing...failing to explode removes much of a projectile's potential destructive power.

The disparity you suggest with your comment,
"That Bismarck might be hit is a possibility, while Rodney getting plastered and sunk in very few minutes is a probability..."
is...IMHO, optimistic.
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Re: Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

Post by alecsandros » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:08 pm

RNfanDan wrote:Bismarck's magazines apparently contained an abnormally high percentage of "dud" shells; good for punching holes and knocking things about, but not what is needed to terminate the threat of an enemy battleship in rapid order. The one which struck PoW bridge did not explode correctly, nor did the one which was later removed from her hull in drydock. IIRC, at least one of the Prinz Eugen's 8-inch projectiles snuck through, whizzed round a compartment but failed to detonate.
... The German 15" APC shell had the fuze-delay of about 0.050 seconds, thus requiring 0.05 seconds before exploding, after suffering sufficient deceleration to activate the fuze. "Sufficient" probably meant passing through at least 50-80mm of KC n/A plate , or equivalent. With Prince of Wales con with little to no armor, it is normal that the shell would not fuze and thus would not be able to explode. But, even if it would have been fuzed, the 0.050 seconds delay combined with the impact velocity of probably at least 470m/s would imply a trajectory of 0.05 x 470 = 23,5 meters before detonation, which was way out of Prince of Wales con tower...

The underwater hit below Prince's belt did come from a dud. However, it probably became a "dud" after impacting the water.

The 3rd hit, that passed thorugh Prince's funnell, also did not explode, for the same reason described above, and only caused damage by splinters.

There was also probably 1 hit on Hood's compass platform, that went all the way through it and exited on the other side without exploding - again the relative merits of not having thick armor plating everywhere...

[as a side note, 2 of Prince of Wales shells also did not explode - the 1st through hit the forecastle, which exited on the other side and impacted the water, and the 3rd hit, which hit the aircraft crane and went further after that..]

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Re: Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

Post by Thorsten Wahl » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:44 pm

From battle summary No 5
38. Commencement of action, 0847,27

The Rodney opened at 0847, her salvo sending a column of Water 150 ft. into the air. The King George V followed a minute later. The Bismarck replied at 0850 after turning to open A arcs. The German salvo was short. The third or fourth (at 0851) straddled and nearly hit, but the Rodney manoeuvered successfully to avoid them and the nearest fell 20 yards short. Her Captain remarks that the complete freedom of action allowed to him by the Commander-in-Chief facilitated this action. The Norfolk, which was flank marking 22,000 yards to the northward, joined in at 0854 but the target was not clearly visible and she opened fire without obtaining a range.

Observers state that the German gunnery was accurate at first, but commenced to deteriorate after 8 or 10 salvoes. Our own hits were difficult to identify owing to the use of armour-piercing shell, but the first one is reported to have been scored at 0854 by the Rodney's third(comment ?!!!) salvo. Both British battleships made small alterations of course away from the enemy shortly after opening fire, the King George V to increase her distance from the Rodney and the latter to open her A arcs. Thenceforward they maneuvered independently although the Rodney conformed to the Flagship's general movements. The Bismarck's secondary armament came into action during this phase and the Rodney joined in at 0858.
At 0902 the Rodney saw a 16-in. shell the Bismarck on the upper deck forward, apparently putting the fore turrets out of action.
(and forward artillery control room)


The battle started with courses of the british ships directly towards Bismarck, with high approaching velocities. Distance at open fire slightly above 20 kyard. At this distance no barbettearmor and armor on conning towers installed on battleships could prevent penetrations compltely and electronical and optical sensors couldnot withstand impacts and splinters of major naval projectiles.

Bismarck could only bring 4 guns into battle at the first salvos. Bismarck heeled considerably from the beginning and could not steer a steady course. Furthermore Tovey's shipps were approaching from northwest, with the visibility advantage for the british ships.
Nevertheless Bismarck was able to straddle Rodney apparantly somewhat before the british ships and force Rodney to change its courseto avoid further straddles. (Rodney was a head on target, 2 impacts at the heigth of the bridge(according to the Baron) must be a straddle -short 20 feet in front of the target would otherwise produce a submerged hit.)

The first noted noted detoriation of Bismarcks shooting seem to be related to the hit at around 08.54.
Until 09.12 all three artillery control stations went offline by hits.
as the Baron was firing against KGV the last 4 gun salvo was seen as a straddle.

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fuze delay of Bdz 38 was 0,03 - 0,04 sec.

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just for the record, Bismarcks artillery technical training was not completed as mentioned in the AVKS report and other technical reports.
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Re: Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

Post by alecsandros » Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:17 am

Thorsten Wahl wrote: but the first one is reported to have been scored at 0854 by the Rodney's third(comment ?!!!) salvo.
Hi Thorsten,
this was a misconception; more recent analysis, published in Warship inernational IIRC, showed Rodney first straddled with her 18th salvo, at about 8:58
There were no hits on Bismarck until 8:59, as can also be deduced from the Baron's account.

The deterioration of Bismarck's fire starting at 8:52 -8:54 apparently coincides with the course changes the Rodney and KGV executed.
Why this deterioration - we will probably never know.

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fuze delay of Bdz 38 was 0,03 - 0,04 sec.
But weren't the 20.3cm, 28cm and 38cm shells of the same family ?
I remember the 28cm had fuze delays of 0.050 seconds. This was highlighted at the battle of River Plate, when some of Graf Spee's APC shots passed through Exeter and Ajax without exploding. British examination of projectiles pointed to a fuze delay of 2x their own fuze delays (which were ~ 0.025sec)

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Re: Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

Post by MikeBrough » Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:08 am

RF wrote:Absolutely right. But the most successful raiders still sank far more than the average U-boat.
That statement made me sit up. It seems a tad unfair to compare the best surface raiders with the average U-boat but, still...

I can't find a summary of surface raiders tonnages sunk but I believe the Scheer had the best record among the capital ships. I think his record was still below that of the best U-Boats (U-48, 103, 123 etc).

Were the smaller raiders and the merchant raiders any better?

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Re: Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:28 am

RF wrote:
Ersatz Yorck wrote: The Germans knew that a battleship would never be able to sink as many merchant ships as the submarines did.
But that proposition was never put to trhe test. Put a real battleship against a convoy HX 84 with a morning attack I would imagine by evening the tonnage sunk would approach or exceed 200,000 tons. That would be a better performance than a wolf pack.
It is not that easy to sink merchants going in all directions. Hipper attacked the undefended convoy SLS 64 and sank seven ship totalling 32,176 tons (several more were damaged though, and some of the scattered ships were subsequently sunk by uboats). In this case, when chasing fleeing merchants, Bismarck would hardly sink more ships than a heavy cruiser, though two ships would of course be a considerable advantage. So I would say that 200,000 tons sunk by a raider in a convoy attack appears very optimistic. And any kind of escort, however weak, would allow more merchants to escape.

One should also note that Hipper used up a substantial part of her ammo and fuel in this engagement and went straight back to Brest afterwards, so even the most successful operation without any damage to the radier still has the potential to remove the raider as a threat.

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Re: Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:43 am

MikeBrough wrote:
RF wrote:Absolutely right. But the most successful raiders still sank far more than the average U-boat.
That statement made me sit up. It seems a tad unfair to compare the best surface raiders with the average U-boat but, still...

I can't find a summary of surface raiders tonnages sunk but I believe the Scheer had the best record among the capital ships. I think his record was still below that of the best U-Boats (U-48, 103, 123 etc).

Were the smaller raiders and the merchant raiders any better?
I think the auxilary cruiser Atlantis was the most successful German surface raider all categories. She sank or captured ships totalling about 160,000 tons. That is still far below the most successful uboats. See: http://www.uboat.net/ops/successful_boats.htm

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Re: Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

Post by alecsandros » Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:57 am

Ersatz Yorck wrote: It is not that easy to sink merchants going in all directions. Hipper attacked the undefended convoy SLS 64 and sank seven ship totalling 32,176 tons (several more were damaged though, and some of the scattered ships were subsequently sunk by uboats). In this case, when chasing fleeing merchants, Bismarck would hardly sink more ships than a heavy cruiser, though two ships would of course be a considerable advantage.
.... I don't want to quibble,
but Bismarck was using 800kg HE shells vs 122 kg HE shells of Hipper.
And the battleship had 36 guns usable against surface targets, with optimal ranges of 20km (8x38cm), 11km (12x15cm) and 8km (16x10.5cm), while the heavy cruiser could use 20 guns, with ranges of 17km (8x20,3cm) and 8km (12x10,5cm)...

In short, Bismarck could do much, much more damage in the same amount of time...

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Re: Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

Post by RF » Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:55 pm

Ersatz Yorck wrote: ). In this case, when chasing fleeing merchants, Bismarck would hardly sink more ships than a heavy cruiser, though two ships would of course be a considerable advantage. So I would say that 200,000 tons sunk by a raider in a convoy attack appears very optimistic. And any kind of escort, however weak, would allow more merchants to escape.
Don't forget that Bismarck has much more punching power than a cruiser, with a longer reach. Equipped with scout aircraft, an attack on a convoy like HX 84 in an early morning would be an easy massacre; the AMC would be closed by Bismarck and sunk in minutes without the two hour standoff used by Krancke; the battleship can then use its main guns to pick off the bigger targets and then go after the remainder. Destruction of twenty plus ships within 10 hours would be entirely feasible.
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Re: Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Sun Jun 09, 2013 8:19 pm

RF wrote:
Ersatz Yorck wrote: ). In this case, when chasing fleeing merchants, Bismarck would hardly sink more ships than a heavy cruiser, though two ships would of course be a considerable advantage. So I would say that 200,000 tons sunk by a raider in a convoy attack appears very optimistic. And any kind of escort, however weak, would allow more merchants to escape.
Don't forget that Bismarck has much more punching power than a cruiser, with a longer reach. Equipped with scout aircraft, an attack on a convoy like HX 84 in an early morning would be an easy massacre; the AMC would be closed by Bismarck and sunk in minutes without the two hour standoff used by Krancke; the battleship can then use its main guns to pick off the bigger targets and then go after the remainder. Destruction of twenty plus ships within 10 hours would be entirely feasible.
But HX 84 was approached by Scheer in the evening, not morning, so I fail to see the comparison. And both Hipper and Scheer had scout aircraft as well, so how does that change things?

Yes, Bismarck has far more hitting power than Scheer or Hipper, and that will of course be an advantage, but I am not sure it will be all that decisive when trying to chase down merchants fleing in all directions. And Scheer and Hipper have something Bismarck lacks - torpedoes. Hipper used torpedoes to sink some of the merchants in SLS 64.

And with an average merchant size of 5000 tons, 20 ships will not make 200,000 tons anyway.

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Re: Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

Post by paul.mercer » Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:56 pm

alecsandros wrote:
paul.mercer wrote: put a fully refitted Rodney with a good crew against Bismarck and I think the result would be a very battered if not sunk, Bismarck. In any case as I have said before, Lutyens is not going to risk a fight with such a powerfully armed ship if the does'nt have to, he will use his speed and make a run for it.
While I agree with the last part, I can not agree with the first,
Bismarck showed remarkably well shooting throughout Rheinubung (Norfolk - straddled, splinters on board, Hood - straddled repeatedly and sunk; POW - straddled repeatedly and damaged, Sheffield- straddled repeatedly, damage and casualties, 3 of the 4 DDs straddled, splinters on board, Rodney - straddled, KGV - straddled), while Rodney needed 15 minutes to get the range of a target moving at 7kts....

Tirpitz also showed very well shooting qualities, and this is first and foremost in any naval engagement.

That Bismarck might be hit is a possibility, while Rodney getting plastered and sunk in very few minutes is a probability. [the 2 are realy not comparable to much. Bismarck's rangefinders and radars showed exceptional accuracy, and the salvo patterns were no more than 120 meters wide for 4-gun salvos at 20km. In the mean time, Rodney produced 300 meters patterns for 3-gun salvos , at 15km... Rate of fire was up to 3 shells/minute/gun for Bismarck firing at up to 20km, while Rodney could probably manage 1.5 shells/minute/gun at the same distance. An what about stability as a gun platform ? Responsiveness to manouvres ? Built-in redundancy ?]
===
And again, if the damage of the 16" shells over Bismarck are an issue: imagine Rodney instead of Bismarck , and Bismarck and Tirpitz instead of Rodney and KGV, and imagine how would Rodney look like after a meager 15 minutes of fire over her.
I can see where you are coming from, but as I said you are comparing a fully battleworthy Bismarck against a tired ship going to have a major refit, with a scratch crew.
It is like people trying to compare yesterdays sporting heroes against those of today, the possibilities for discussion are endless, but I still think that a new Rodney would beat a new Bismarck, given crews of equel ability. But if Bismarck had been able to manouver properly at even a reduced speed during the final battle I do not reckon she would have got away from Rodney without being severely damaged. I'm afraid all of this goes back to other threads which seem to suggest that German ships had invincible armour, better guns and better rangefinders and could blow any British warship out of the water because British ships were weak, badly armed and armoured etc. etc. I know this has been debated before, but I would back a fully operational(with all guns fully working) KGv class against Bismarck, not to sink her perhaps, but to disable her enough to allow the accompaning destroyers to finish her with torpedoes.

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Re: Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

Post by alecsandros » Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:22 am

paul.mercer wrote: I can see where you are coming from, but as I said you are comparing a fully battleworthy Bismarck against a tired ship going to have a major refit, with a scratch crew.
It is like people trying to compare yesterdays sporting heroes against those of today, the possibilities for discussion are endless, but I still think that a new Rodney would beat a new Bismarck, given crews of equel ability. But if Bismarck had been able to manouver properly at even a reduced speed during the final battle I do not reckon she would have got away from Rodney without being severely damaged. I'm afraid all of this goes back to other threads which seem to suggest that German ships had invincible armour, better guns and better rangefinders and could blow any British warship out of the water because British ships were weak, badly armed and armoured etc. etc. I know this has been debated before, but I would back a fully operational(with all guns fully working) KGv class against Bismarck, not to sink her perhaps, but to disable her enough to allow the accompaning destroyers to finish her with torpedoes.
I understand,
and certainly Rodney could have fared better than she had that day.
One important mention to make is that Bismarck's crew was also far from being fully worked up, with only minimal artillery training done before Rheinubung, and in their own captain's words "fully prepared for peace time operations".

Naturaly the Rodney wasn't a floating bathtub with guns, and she was not a certain victim to the Bismarck. And, to be honest, in a naval battle the weirdest things can and do happen.

She had her strengths, but in comparison with the German Bismarck class battleships, she was lacking badly, and in a direct confrontation with fully worked up crews, and similarly competent officers, and presuming all systems on board funcitoning correctly, it is my honest opinion that the Rodney would not have much chances [no more than Hood].

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Re: Bismarck vs. Rodney: hand to hand?

Post by RNfanDan » Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:09 pm

alecsandros wrote:She had her strengths, but in comparison with the German Bismarck class battleships, she was lacking badly, and in a direct confrontation with fully worked up crews, and similarly competent officers, and presuming all systems on board funcitoning correctly, it is my honest opinion that the Rodney would not have much chances [no more than Hood].
:negative:

With all due respect to Alecsandros, the above statement is untenable.
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