Battleship Bismarck the best according to wwwkbismarckcom


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Sopas Gero

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I have read that the German battleship Bismarck was the most powerful battleship of her time. Literally as taken from www.kbismarck.com : "the Bismarck was the largest, most powerful, and for many, the most beautiful warship afloat."

I have already read many things about the Bismarck on www.kbismarck.com (which by the way is a superb website) but, I was wondering how did the Bismarck compared with other battleships and if she was really the most powerfull of them all. What are your opinions?

Thanks
 

Adam Leet

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May 18, 2001
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I've always been under the impression that the IJNs Yamato and Musashi were more powerful than Bismarck in many respects, from armor protection to weaponry. Let's face it, you cannot argue with 18" guns versus 15". Yamato also had one extra in that category, and I'm sure she also had more lesser heavy-caliber weapons.

Sure, Bismarck was far more beautiful, but if I wanted to have a Jutland-type engagement, I'll stick with the Japanese.


Adam
 
M

Marko

Guest
Welcome sopas,

The Bismark was a wonderfull battleship. Sure the Jap boats had more armour, but the thing is that Bismark was more hi-tech, she was simply more 'easier' and better to use. She was very expensive to make too. The wood that was used on her deck is one of the best, and expensive. The armour was thick enough to with stand great ammounts of explosive. I mean look at all the attempts to sink her, if they didnt get her rudder, she would have floated. She sure was a beauty too, i was always fascinated by her.
 

Dave Moran

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Apr 23, 2002
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Marko - check out Warships1.com . Their site often discusses the Bismarck, and the discussion boards tend to split about whether she was the greatest battleship ever built - or whether she was the most over-rated battleship ever built.

Quick precis, if I may be so bold.

In her favour - she was fast, heavily armed, sank the Hood and tied up the Royal Navy for a week as they tried to catch her. She proved very diificult to sink - a great many shell hits, several torpedoes and, possibly, scuttling charges set off by her own crew.

Points against -

(1) She was actually an updated WW1 design ( the SMS Baden ), enlarged to achieve 30 knots. This is shown by her poor disposition of armour - the belt of armour around her waterline was too low, her armoured deck likewise. what effect did this have ? Well, it made her communications sytems and fire control systems very vulnerable to battle damage. It is notable that in her final battle, whilst it was difficult to sink her, she was put out of action rather too easily - her guns lost main fire control early in the action, and had to switch to local control ( ie from within the turret ) - with consequent loss of accuracy

(2) Her steerage system was easily disabled - that torpedo from Ark Royal's swordfish jammed the rudders hard over, which meant that over her last night she went round in one big circle, with the crew unable to disengage the rudders at all.

(3) Her build quality was debatable - her stern fell off, due to it being butt welded on to the rest of the ship. This was a common fault in WW2 German warships - Prinz Eugen's also fell off when she was torpedoed in 1942, and Lutzow nearly lost hers in 1940.

(4) Her anti aircraft armament was poorly laid out, and there were areas where the ship had no AA guns that could be brought to bear. She also wasted displacement with two separate systems for anti-ship and anti-aircraft secondary armament - when most other navies had moved to dual purpose AA/ AS armament ( cf Prince of Wales )

(5) Poor armour layout is also shown by the results of her first battle - she had to head for Brest when a shell from Prince Of Wales blew a hole below the waterline forward, reduced her speed and put her down by the head.

On the whole, she was a good first attempt by a German design team that had lost out on several years advances in battleship technology. She had her faults, and her good points - but all warship design is a compromise, and her designers made different compromises to those of other navies.

And she was a beauty.
 

Don Tweed

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Mar 30, 2006
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Just watched "The Battle of Hood and Bismarck" last night on PBS.
Fantastic show!!!
Ted Briggs was allowed to push the button to release the plaque honoring his fellow shipmates.
I am sure this has been on before since they found her over a year ago, but I had never seen it. There were details about the Bismarck that I had never seen nor heard of before.
When she hit the bottom, she slid over 2 miles down the volcanic slope she was over!!!
Blew me away!!!
They also photographed 3 to 4 torpedo hits in her hull and stated that even if the crew had set off the scuttling charges, she was already doomed!
I cannot even begin to grasp what it must have been like on her deck in those final few hours,
salvo after salvo slamming into her from all directions!
And the 700 or so men left behind because of U-boat warnings, very sad.
Yet, the Hood is even more of a sad tale.
They say there were 2 explosions on Hood.
The aft explosion firestorm raced forward below decks and ignited the forepart magazine.
Looking at the films of the wreck this scenario seems to be correct.
Over 4,000 men on 2 ships,lost. How very sad.
Just my thoughts, Don
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Dave pretty much covered the ground on the virtues and vices of the Bismark's design. It might be fair to say she was one of the most powerful battleships in the Atlantic at the time, but more powerful vessels existed long befor she was built. The Americans for example had the 16" guns in their newer ships and the British had the 16" guns on the Nelson and the Rodney.

The 15" weapons on the Bismark were themselves slightly updated versions of a World War One design as was the hull.

While the Bismark may not have been the biggest and the baddest, there was still the concern of the sort of threat she could have posed to convoys had she managed to get loose on the North Atlantic, and this didn't end with her destruction as the Tirpitz was still around. This ship tied up quite a few assets until the RAF finally managed to do her in.
 
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Jeremy Watson

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I don't care what anybody says, one of the best ships of all time(not counting Titanic)is the Mighty Mo(U.S.S. Missouri)!!!
 

Adam Leet

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May 18, 2001
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Meh, I'd class Missouri along with the other Iowa-class battleships as some of the most powerful battleships, considering there weren't any significant differences between the four.

Still, Yamato and Musashi take my vote, though Bismarck and Tirpitz get honorable mention for advanced technology and appearance.


Adam
 
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Jeremy Watson

Guest
You are intitled to your opinion, but I still think the mighty Mo is still one of the best. Thanks for voicing your opinion, you know you battle ships.
 
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Mr Watson, You don't have to be so mean to people. A simple "I think that the Mosurri was the best ever. Not "I don't care what anybody says." This is how people start arguments, so I'll just leave it at that. This is constructive criticism, not a complaint.
 
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John Meeks

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And wouldn't it be so pointless to start a fight over this one?

The truth is, of course, 'Bismarck', 'Tirpitz', 'Musashi', 'Yamato'(and I agree with Adam, by the way...)'Missouri' - and pretty much every other 'state of the art' battleship were all very impressive vessels....

...but 'Dinosaurs'!

The ultimate weapons in the sea war of WWII were the submarine and the aircraft carrier.

America was able to reverse the fortunes of war in 1942, not with battleships (a large number having been put out of action at Pearl Harbor) - but with carriers!

Sure, the great battleships were amazing beasts...

...but essentially, pointless...!


Be gentle with me...

John M
 
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Jeremy Watson

Guest
I didnt mean it like that. sorry about the mix up.


-titanic1912
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Battleships pointless? Hardly, and I would think you would find any number of survivors of the Pacific island hopping campeign who would gladly state otherwise, to say nothing of the Marines at Inchon and the groundpounders in Vietnam who literally owed their lives to 16" gun firepower. Let's not forget the carrier groups which depended on the awesome firepower of their anti-aircraft batteries for their very survival!

In fact, the USS New Jersey was so effective in Vietnam that the North Vietnamese demanded that the ship be decommissioned befor they would return to the peace talks. Unwisely as it happened, the U.S. government gave in to the demands.

These ships were never widely used in their intended role, but as gunfire support platforms, they more then proved thier worth. The Iraquis learned this lesson the hard way in Desert Storm.
 
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Sopas Gero

Guest
Thanks a lot for your answers. They have been very helpful.
 
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John Meeks

Guest
Michael ,

Hmmm. Yes you do have a point - and I agree that my choice of words was rather strong, after all, this was a transitional period in this regard - but you also, sort of made my point when you said "These ships were never widely used in their intended role, (my italics) but as gunfire support platforms, they more than proved their worth."

I think we all know what their intended role was...and the scenario had been overtaken by technology; but they were able to contribute nevertheless, - accepted. However, does this justify us building anything in the hope that it might, by chance, prove to be useful doing something....?

In other words...why aren't we all screaming for more battleships?

Best Regards,

John M
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Actually, the Marines at least were screaming for more battleships during the Vietnam conflict. Those who owed their lives to the New Jersey were hoping that more would be brought out of mothballs. Unfortunately, it never happened. A real shame as a lot of targets that could have been taken out with minimal risk...and expence...with the 16" guns had to be engaged at far greater risk with aircraft, and with the losses that went along with the deal.

I might point out that aircraft carriers were not used as originally envisaged either. It was expected that they would serve as mobil bases for scouting aircraft for the battle group. Fortunately, some very forward thinking officers saw the potential of these ships and planned for it.

As to the naval gunfire support mission, it's still there and nothing exists today which can do it as effectively as the battleships. For this reason, these ships never lacked for supporters even today, especially among the ground pounders. There are, however, several problems with bringing back the existing hulls.

•There are only two available that are in any sort of condition where they could be recommissioned.
•The hulls are very old. While they don't have a lot of years of active service, the fact remains that such old vessels are a bear to get spare parts for.
•Two hulls would be problematic for any sort of deployment cycle as one would always be in refit or the early stages of workups and would be unavailable if a crisis were to spring up out of nowhere. (Look how fast the thing with Iraq got going! We were lucky that both the Missouri and the Wisconson were available)
•These ships are large, manpower intensive and very expensive to run.
• While a modern class of ship could be built that would be more cost effective to operate, there still remains the problem of research, development, testing, and evaluation that would in and of itself be very costly.

Building a new class might be a good idea, but the politicians who hold the purse strings will clearly see otherwise. All in all, I think it's a safe bet that no more battleships will ever be built.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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There is a connection between battleships and Titanic -- steel.

Today, there is no doubt that Titanic broke apart in the process of sinking. This discovery came as a surprise to many people primarily because of the British Board of Trade conclusion that it sank intact. My suggestion is that the BOT report deliberately lied about the breakup for reasons of British national security.

Prior to WW-I steel was a key component in the arms race between Britain and Germany. Specifically, the problem was developing battlship steel that could withstand plunging shot descending from a high parabolic tragectory. Every time the steel improved, a better projectile came along.

Titanic was supposedly built of the best steel that British mills could roll--"battleship steel." The breakup of the ship was likely viewed as an indication of some problem with this best-of-British-mills steel plate. National security would obviously have been jeopardized if the Germans discovered this...

Battleships were nothing more than updated ships o' the line. They were intended to fight fleet actions gun-to-gun the way Nelson fought the French fleet at Trafalger. Slugging it out with broadsides had been possible in wooden ships because oak and pine could absorb enormous punishment and still float. Captured wooden enemy ships were often rebuilt and used in the victorious navy's fleets.

Steel able to sustain plunging fire has proven an elusive goal. Time after time, a large steel warship has been destroyed by a single plunging enemy shot. Curiously, the names that come to mind are all British -- Rodney, Hood, etc--built from battleship steel made in the same manner as that of Titanic.

The Russians discovered this at Tsu Shima when virtually their whole fleet was sunk by a superb Japanese fleet.

Later, during WW-I, the Battle Of Jutland has been called "inconclusive" by many historians, but it proved one thing--plunging shot is devastating to steel warships. The British lost 6,784 sailors, 3 battle cruisers, 3 cruisers and 8 destroyers. The German fleet lost 3,099 men from 1 battleship, 1 battle cruiser, 4 light cruisers, and 5 destroyers.

British battleship steel was demonstrably inferior to German armor at Jutland, a possible link to the BOT coverup of the fact that Titanic broke apart.

During WW-II, the Japanese realized that a falling bomb was exactly the same as plunging shot in terms of its impact on armor plate, and they proved it at Pearl Harbor. American warships, incidentally, were built of steel virtually identical to that from British mills.

As far back as 1911 when Titanic was launched, German mills were rolling superior steel. The quality of German steel was shown at Jutland and proved conclusively by the battleship Bismark during WW-II. Bismark survived an enormous number of direct and plunging "hits" from British battleships. Yet, it remained a fighting ship until scuttled by its crew.

Other than Tsu Shima and Jutland, there have never been major engagements of battlwagons. I believe that naval high commands have always known the ugly truth about battleships, that they cannot fight gun-to-gun fleet actions without horrific losses.

My belief is that nations continued to build battleships not for use in sea battles, but for the "big stick" impression of power that they gave. Not only were battleships intimidating, but they gave the homefolk a sense (albiet false) of security.

--David G. Brown
 

Dave Moran

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Apr 23, 2002
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Dear David G Brown
I have great respect for your many years of experience, let me pu that on record, but I regret that I must take up certain, only certain, of your above comments

(1) That Bismarck remained a fighting ship until scuttled by her crew - this is a point of some contention to this day, wherever two or three naval historians gather together they will disagree about what finally sank the Bismarck. However, whatever may have ultimately sank her, she was destroyed as a fighting ship very early on in the battle - her fire control was destroyed and her bridge may, I will admit to the use of the word may, have been destroyed - it is certainly the case that her bridgework is riddled with holes. That was caused by the gunfire of HMS Rodney ( 16 inch guns ) and HMS King George V ( 14 inch guns ).

One could even argue that as a fighting ship she was ' mission destroyed ' as soon as POW but that hole in her bows.

However, we can agree to disagree as to what finally sank her - she was a very tough ship and it is my personal belief after many years of research that the scuttling charges let more water into a brave ship that was already going down ( after all, there is a hole near the catapult that bears a striking resemblance to a torpedo hole, which must have come from the cruiser ( Devonshire or Dorsetshire I always get the two mixed up ) which means that her decks were already awash to some extent and she had a very heavy list )

Phew

(2) Most Battleships were designed to stand up to one another - the estimate was that 20 heavy calibre ships would be necessary to put any battleship under - and it took at lot more than that to sink Bismarck, to be sure. Now, the ships that blew up at Jutland were battlecruisers - and were unlike battleships, being less well armoured. Again, why these ships exploded is a matter of some debate - it is likely that their turret armour was penetrated because it was thinner than normal rather than any fault in the steel. However, it is also probable that poor ammunition handling practice on the part of the RN was a major contribution - basically, the stuff was lying about outside the protective system waiting to be exploded.

(3) Plunging fire was a killer - although Hood may have been unlucky - and was only really factored into designs after WW1 - and even then there was a lot of guess-work.

I don't think that the big nations continued Battleship building just for ' Big Stick' / ' showing the flag' purposes - there were sound reasons to believe that BBs were a reasonable investment - in, say, 1938 when a lot of these ships wre first designed, it was by no means certain that aircraft posed a threat to battleships. Of course, by the end of 1941 when POW / Repulse went down off Malaya, this was a more dubious position.

How then to explain the fact that even after that event, not only Britain but other nations including the USA continued to complete existing ships, and even plan new ones- the British in 1946 intended to build the Lions, the Americans kept the Iowas in service, and the Soviets began the Stalingrad class as late as 1953.

Well, I would suggest, because there was still a role for them - hunting down other battleships in all weathers ( for example, no carrier played a part in sinking the Scharnhorst in 1943 ), and it amy be belived by some that, adequately protected from air attack, the battleship still had a place.

Ultimately, however, the carrier could do the jobs better - but that required the evolution of better all- weather strike planes, search radar, and the like.

However, I apologise for taking up so much of your time, and that of the other mebers of this board. If you feel my conclusions are wrong, please feel free to put foward your own, as i will enjoy hearing them

Warmest regards

Dave Moran
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Dave Moran -- Thanks for a wonderful post. It was anything but a waste of your time writing or mine reading. My hope had been to stir up some discussion and you responded with what in the publishing trade is called "a good read."

My point was supposed to have been about the quality of the steel rolled by mills in Britain and Germany. This quality difference seems to have played a role at Jutland and in the Bismark saga. The race between gun makers and steel mills in the last part of the 19th and early part of the 20th century is documented. And, the quality (or lack thereof) of domestic steel was involved with both British and German national security during those years.

Ergo, I suspect there was some concern in the Admiralty over reports that Titanic came asunder as it sank. It is the only explanation that makes sense to me for the BOT report being so wrong about the breakup. After all, a large percentage of the eyewitnesses said the ship came apart.

This is just my speculation, but the E-T forum seems an ideal place to try out ideas.

-- David G. Brown
 

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