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Bundesarchiv Bild 193-04-1-26, Schlachtschiff Bismarck.jpg
Bismarck in 1940
Career (Germany) Kriegsmarine Jack
Name: Bismarck
Namesake: Otto von Bismarck
Ordered: 16 November 1935
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Laid down: 1 July 1936
Launched: 14 February 1939
Commissioned: 24 August 1940
Fate: Sunk, cause disputed, 27 May 1941 in the North Atlantic, at 48°10′N 16°12′W / 48.167°N 16.2°W / 48.167; -16.2
General characteristics
Class and type: Bismarck-class battleship
Displacement: 41,700 tonnes standard
50,900 tonnes full load
Length:

251 metres (823.5 ft) overall

241.5 metres (792.3 ft) waterline
Beam: 36.0 metres (118.1 ft) waterline
Draft:

9.3 metres (30.5 ft) standard

10.2 metres (33.5 ft) full load
Propulsion:
  • 12 Wagner high-pressure boilers;
  • 3 Blohm & Voss geared turbines 150,170 shaft horsepower (111.98 MW);
  • 3 three-blade propellers, 4.70 metres (15.42 ft) diameter
Speed: 30.1 knots (34.6 mph; 55.7 km/h) during trials (one work claims a speed of 31.1 knots (35.8 mph; 57.6 km/h) [1]
Range: 8,525 nautical miles (9,810 mi; 15,788 km) at 19 knots (22 mph; 35 km/h)
Complement: 2,092: 103 officers 1,989 men (1941)
Armament:
  • 8 × 380 mm/L52 SK C/34 (15 in)(4×2)
  • 12 × 150 mm/L55 SK-C/28 (5.9 in)(6×2)
  • 16 × 105 mm/L65 SK-C/37 / SK-C/33 (4.1 in)(8×2)
  • 16 × 37 mm/L83 SK-C/30 (1.5 in)
  • 12 × 20 mm/L65 MG C/30 (0.79 in)
  • 8 × 20 mm/L65 MG C/32 (8×4) (0.79 in)
Armour:
  • Belt: 145–320 millimetres (5.7–12.6 in)
  • Deck: 110–120 millimetres (4.3–4.7 in)
  • Bulkheads: 220 millimetres (8.7 in)
  • Turrets: 130–360 millimetres (5.1–14 in)
  • Barbettes: 342 millimetres (13.5 in)
  • Conning tower: 360 millimetres (14 in)
Aircraft carried: Arado Ar 196 A-3, with 1 double-ended catapult
Bismarck at her commissioning

The German battleship Bismarck was one of the most famous warships of the Second World War. The lead ship of her class, named after the 19th century German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, Bismarck displaced more than 50,000 tonnes fully loaded and was the largest warship then commissioned.[2]

Bismarck only took part in one operation during her brief career. She and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen left Gotenhafen (Gdynia) on the morning of 19 May 1941 for Operation Rheinübung, during which she was to have attempted to intercept and destroy convoys in transit between North America and Great Britain. When Bismarck and Prinz Eugen attempted to break out into the Atlantic, the two ships were discovered by the Royal Navy and brought to battle in the Denmark Strait. During the short engagement, the British battlecruiser HMS Hood, flagship of the Home Fleet and pride of the Royal Navy, was sunk after several minutes of firing. In response, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill issued the order to "Sink the Bismarck,"[3] spurring a relentless pursuit by the Royal Navy.

Two days later, with Bismarck almost in reach of safer waters, Fleet Air Arm Swordfish biplanes launched from the carrier HMS Ark Royal torpedoed the ship and jammed her rudder, allowing heavy British units to catch up with her. In the ensuing battle on the morning of 27 May 1941, Bismarck was heavily attacked for almost two hours before sinking.[4][5]

Contents

Building and commissioning

The design of Bismarck was begun in the early 1930s, following Germany's development of the Deutschland class "pocket battleships" and the Scharnhorst class warships.[A 1] Bismarck was planned to be the prototype for other battleships envisaged under Plan Z, like the H class. Bismarck's keel was laid down at Blohm and Voss' shipyard in Hamburg on 1 July 1936. Launched on 14 February 1939, the battleship was commissioned on 24 August 1940 with Kapitän zur See Ernst Lindemann in command.[citation needed]

At Bismarck's commissioning, she was the largest warship to date. Under Plan Z, she was intended to be part of a fast battleship squadron for a main battle line of larger subsequent battleships. However, with the outbreak of war in 1939 and the increased demands on the German armament industry, Plan Z was no longer practical. As a result, Bismarck was used as a commerce raider. She was reasonably well suited for this, being faster than any of the Royal Navy battleships; her endurance qualities, which were quite good for their period,[6] were also better than any of British battleships that might give chase. Being a good fighting ship with many innovations, and a formidable opponent for any heavy unit in the Allied navies,[6] Bismarck could engage any enemy battleship escorting an Allied convoy on reasonably equal terms and her range of weaponry could cause devastation to any undefended convoy.[citation needed]

Senior officers

Operation Rheinübung

Breakout into the Atlantic

Map of Operation "Rheinübung" and Royal Navy operations against the battleship Bismarck

Bismarck completed preparations for her Atlantic sortie in the Bay of Danzig, refuelling almost to capacity and leaving the port of Gotenhafen (now Gdynia) on her first and only mission, codenamed Rheinübung (Rhine Exercise) in the early hours of 19 May 1941. She was accompanied only by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen. Other capital ships, including the battlecruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst, that were to have participated in the sortie were unavailable because of mechanical problems and war damage. Moreover, plans to use Bismarck's sister ship, Tirpitz, were shelved because she had not yet finished sea trials. Despite these setbacks, the mission went ahead under the command of Admiral Günther Lütjens. The Germans had various objectives: destroy as much Allied shipping as possible and force the British to suspend convoys, even temporarily; compensate for their weak submarine presence in the Atlantic; divert British naval forces from the Mediterranean to reduce the risks of the planned invasion of Crete and to allow supply and reinforcement to Rommel's Afrika Korps in Libya; and to wear out British warships forced to extended patrols. For the first part of the journey, as far as Norway, the route from the Baltic was chosen in preference to a North Sea breakout via the Kiel Canal.[8]

The British had learned from Ultra intelligence (deciphered Enigma code messages) about German air surveillance of the Denmark Strait and the Royal Navy's home base at Scapa Flow, as well as the April 1941 delivery of charts for the Atlantic to the Bismarck. (However, the British decrypted no Enigma messages from or to the Bismarck squadron during Rheinübung.) British radar-equipped heavy cruisers, able to refuel in Iceland, were sent to patrol the Denmark Strait. Unequipped to refuel battle squadrons at sea, the Home Fleet awaited a firm sighting report before its ships deployed. On May 20, 1941, the Swedish seaplane-cruiser Gotland encountered and tracked the German battle group steaming north-west past Göteborg. A Norwegian officer in Stockholm learned of the sighting from a Swedish military intelligence source and informed the British naval attaché, who promptly radioed the Admiralty: "Most immediate. Kattegat today 20th May. At 15.00 two large warships escorted by three destroyers, five escort craft, ten or twelve aircraft passed Marstrand course north-west 2058/20th May 1941. B-3 repeat B-3". "B-3" indicated uncertainty about the report's validity, since this information was more precise and timelier than anything the naval attaché had obtained in a year at his station.[9]

Alerted by this report, at 03.30 on 21 May the Admiralty requested air reconnaissance of the Norwegian coast. A Spitfire reconnaissance aircraft pilot Flying Officer Michael Suckling [10][11] found and photographed Bismarck in a fjord (Grimstadfjorden, near Bergen) at 13.15 [1], less than two hours after Bismarck and Prinz Eugen had arrived.[12] With this hard information[13], the British Home Fleet despatched the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Hood towards Iceland. Cruisers covered other approaches to the North Atlantic.[citation needed]

Some books about the Bismarck mention a sighting report supposedly radioed by Norwegian agents on 20 May and acknowledged by the British. This story apparently originated in the 1967 book The Greatest Gamble.[14] No evidence, either direct or circumstantial, supports this story. British and Norwegian authorities deny that secret agents were involved before or during the Bismarck operation,[15] and that the Norwegian resistance had radio or other ability to communicate swiftly with Britain and Sweden in May 1941. Radio links between Britain and the Norwegian resistance were established in 1942.[16]

Both German ships had intended to refuel in Bergen but while Prinz Eugen did so, Bismarck failed to. This was later to have very serious consequences for Bismarck, especially as she had sailed from Gotenhafen with tanks less than brimful and had already used up about one-ninth of her full load during the voyage to Norway. Lütjens knew that an oiler, the Weissenberg, was waiting for him in the Arctic at least a day's sailing away. It was strange that, even with this information, he did not take this opportunity to refuel Bismarck for what could be a hazardous voyage. Moreover, his decision to stop in Bergen overturned any previous decision to head straight for the Arctic and the Weissenberg. It also wasted a day and exposed him to detection by British air surveillance.[17]

At 19:45 on 21 May Lütjens put out to sea, detaching his destroyer escort early on 22 May. Heading north, then north-west at 24 knots (44 km/h), the German fleet made good and largely uneventful progress across the Norwegian Sea towards Greenland and the Denmark Strait between Iceland and Greenland, the gateway into the Atlantic. This circuitous course was against Group North's recommendation to steam directly for the Atlantic between Iceland and the Faeroe Islands. It was also too far south to make a rendezvous with the Weissenberg to refuel Bismarck. Nevertheless, while in waters to the north of the Arctic Circle, Bismarck and Prinz Eugen remained undetected by British air reconnaissance, which was too far south. With a mind on convoy-raiding, Lütjens was hopeful of an easy breakout into the Atlantic, aided by foggy weather, but his plans were to be frustrated.[18]

Aerial reconnaissance under clouds by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy on 22 May ascertained that the Bismarck had sailed from Bergen. With this intelligence the Home Fleet Battle Fleet, including the battleship HMS King George V and the aircraft carrier Victorious, put to sea. The Battlecruiser Squadron already bound for Iceland was ordered to cover the Denmark Strait. A bombing raid on 22 May by the RAF proved fruitless, as the Germans had already left.[19]

On the evening of 23 May, the German force was detected by the heavy cruisers HMS Suffolk and Norfolk that had been patrolling the Denmark Strait in the expectation of a German breakout. The rival ships exchanged fire and Norfolk had a near miss when a German shell bounced off the water and struck the bridge of the ship but did not explode nor inflict any casualties. The heavily outgunned British cruisers retired to a safe distance and shadowed the enemy while their own heavy units drew closer. However, Bismarck's forward radar had malfunctioned as a result of the recoil from her heavy guns firing during this skirmish, and Lütjens was obliged to order Prinz Eugen to move ahead of Bismarck in order to provide the squadron with forward radar coverage. This decision later confused the converging British forces as to the identity of each German ship, their silhouettes being similar.[20]

Battle of the Denmark Strait

Bismarck as seen from Prinz Eugen, firing at HMS Prince of Wales during the Battle of the Denmark Strait, shortly after the sinking of HMS Hood, 24 May 1941.

At approximately 05:30 on Saturday 24 May, as the German squadron was about to leave the Denmark Strait, Prinz Eugen's hydrophones detected the presence of two additional ships some distance to port.[21] By 05:45 both were in sight, although the German force had not yet identified the enemy force. It turned out to be a British battle-group comprising the new battleship Prince of Wales, and the ageing battlecruiser Hood, under the command of Rear Admiral Lancelot Holland. Prince of Wales had only recently been completed and was still being worked up (indeed, she sailed to meet Bismarck with about 100 civilian workers still on board completing her fitting-out). Hood had been built as a battlecruiser and modified to give her protection more like a battleship, but still had relatively weak deck armour. The Germans were not surprised that they had been detected by British ships, but that they would turn out to be capital ships was an unexpected development.[citation needed]

At 05:49 Holland ordered fire to be concentrated on the leading enemy ship, Prinz Eugen, believing it to be Bismarck.[22] Fortunately for the British, the captain of Prince of Wales was soon to realise the error and changed his target. Holland amended his order on the correct ship to be engaged but this did not reach Hood's gunnery control before the first salvo. Hood fired the first shots of the battle at 05:52, in daylight, followed very soon afterwards by Prince of Wales. The range to the German ships was c. 12.5 miles (20.1 km). The first salvo from Hood landed close to Prinz Eugen, causing minor shell splinter damage near the aft turrets.[22]

More than two minutes went by without a reply from the German ships, before Captain Lindemann ordered fire to be returned on the lead British ship. This was Hood, which the Germans had identified only when the British squadron made a turn towards them at 05:55. This manoeuvre was undertaken, it appears, in an attempt to place themselves in the "zone of immunity", an area inside which both plunging fire, in particular, and direct enemy fire is relatively ineffective. Closer in, Hood would be less vulnerable and the advantage of superior German gunnery control would be lessened. The disadvantage was that, during the dash, eight of the eighteen British heavy guns could not be brought to bear.[23]

Both Bismarck and Prinz Eugen opened fire on Hood, at a range of 11 miles (18 km). The early gunfire from the German ships was very accurate and within two minutes Hood had been hit by at least one 8-inch shell from Prinz Eugen. It struck the British ship near the mainmast and caused a large fire which Hood's crew tried to bring under control. Prinz Eugen hit Hood three times during the engagement.[24] However, Bismarck had also been hit by Prince of Wales, causing a fuel leak from the forward tanks; therefore Lütjens ordered his cruiser to switch its guns towards Prince of Wales, which his own secondary guns were now targeting. Bismarck survivor Baron Burkard von Müllenheim-Rechberg initially claimed that the hits on his ship were scored by Hood with her third salvo. However, it is equally likely that these hits were scored by Prince of Wales, as it is clear that Hood was targeting Prinz Eugen for the majority of the battle and that the order to change target to Bismarck saw most of her salvoes fall between the enemy ships, hitting neither.[25][26] At 05:54 the range was down to 22,000 yards (20 km), at 05:57 it was down to just 19,000 yards (17 km). Bismarck then fired a fourth salvo which was slightly long and astern of Hood. At the same time Holland had ordered "2 Blue", a 20-degree turn to port. Before the ship began a turn to port Hood fired a fifth salvo at 05:59:30.[27]

Prince of Wales turning to avoid the sinking Hood.

At 06:00 Hood, which was in the process of turning to port to bring her full weight of armament to bear on Bismarck,[28] was hit amidships by at least one shell from Bismarck's fifth salvo at a distance of under nine miles (16,500 yards). Very shortly afterwards observers on both sides saw a huge jet of flame race skywards, followed by a rumbling explosion that split the huge ship in two. Splinters rained down on Prince of Wales, 400 yards (370 m) away. Hood's stern rose and sank shortly before the bow, all within three minutes. Admiral Holland and 1,415 crewmen went down with the ship. Only three men (Ted Briggs, Bob Tilburn, and Bill Dundas) survived. They were rescued about two and a half hours later by the destroyer Electra. The British Admiralty later concluded that the most likely explanation for the loss of Hood was a penetration of her magazines by a single 15-inch shell from Bismarck, causing the subsequent catastrophic explosion. Recent research by submersible craft suggests that the initial explosion could have been in the aft 4-inch magazine, followed by the aft 15″ magazine and that it may also have spread to the forward 15-inch magazines via the starboard side ammunition passage.[citation needed]

Prince of Wales had to turn towards the German fleet to avoid hitting the wreckage left by the flagship and was hit a number of times by gunfire from both German ships. Still, her own gunfire had caused damage to Bismarck. The British battleship turned away, laying smoke, her aft turret firing briefly under local control. She had received seven hits (three of them from Prinz Eugen) and mechanical failures had caused intermittent problems with her main guns and her aft turret jammed as she turned away.[29]

The death of HMS Hood; a smoke cloud fills the sky above Hood's position, just after the ship exploded

At 06:03 Prinz Eugen, which at that point had fired 183 20.3 cm shells, reported propeller noises to starboard, bearing 279° and 220°. Bismarck and Prinz Eugen were forced into emergency manoeuvres and sighted a Sunderland flying boat shortly afterwards.[30] Although Captain Lindemann wanted to chase Prince of Wales and "finish her off", Admiral Lütjens ignored his suggestions since delay risked the possibility of encountering other heavy enemy ships. In a battle lasting less than 20 minutes Bismarck and her consort had seen one enemy capital ship destroyed and another withdraw, an action almost unknown in the Royal Navy.[citation needed]

At 08:01 Bismarck made the following transmission to Group North:[30]

Sections XIII-XIV. Electric plant No. 4 broken down. Port No. 2 boiler room is making water but can be held. Maximum speed 28 knots (52 km/h). Denmark Strait 50 nautical miles (93 km) wide. Floating mines. Two enemy radar sets recognised. Intention: to put into Saint-Nazaire.

Faulty intelligence had led the Germans to believe that Prince of Wales was not yet ready for action, therefore reports from Bismarck referred to her as King George V, the first of that class, which had been active for some months.[23]

Despite the jubilation on board Bismarck, the battleship was not safe. The British knew her position, her forward radar was out of action and she had received three hits, one of which caused water to leak into and contaminate fuel oil in storage. From then on, Bismarck had to reduce speed to a maximum of 20 knots (37 km/h) to conserve fuel. Lütjens eventually decided that he would have to head for the French coast (the dry-dock in Saint-Nazaire) for repairs, while ordering Prinz Eugen to continue commerce raiding alone. The British continued to shadow her, Prince of Wales having rendezvoused with Norfolk and Suffolk. To enable his consort to escape, Lütjens turned on his pursuers and forced them to turn away, thus allowing Prinz Eugen to steam on out of British radar range. The plan was to be executed on the signal "Hood". Lütjens first attempt failed. However at 18:14 a second attempt succeeded, the two German ships parted and Bismarck signalled "Good hunting".[30]

The chase

Determined to avenge the sinking of Hood, the British committed every possible unit to hunt down Bismarck. During the early evening of 24 May an attack was made by a small group of Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers from 825 Naval Air Squadron of the aircraft carrier Victorious. One hit was scored resulting in a single fatality (Bismarck's first); however, the blast caused only superficial damage to Bismarck's armoured belt. The effect of the attack reopened the Bismarck's earlier "wounds:" the collision mats which had been used to block further flooding in the bow region had come loose, due to constant jarring from evasive action and the firing of the anti-aircraft guns. The packing of the damaged bulkheads was also loosened, leading to the complete flooding of the forward port boiler room, which was abandoned. This caused the bow to go down further. Lütjens ordered speed to be reduced to 16 knots (30 km/h) while the mats were repaired.[31]

For some time Bismarck remained under long-distance observation by the British. At about 03:00 on 25 May, the ship took advantage of her opponents' zig-zagging and performed an almost three-quarter clockwise turn behind her pursuers to escape towards the east and then south-east. Contact was lost for four hours; however, perhaps in awe of British radar capabilities, it appears that the Germans did not realise their good fortune. Lütjens, for reasons that are unclear but possibly believing that Bismarck was still being tracked (despite a communication sent by Group West telling him the opposite),[32] transmitted a half-hour radio message to HQ, which was intercepted thereby giving the British time to work out roughly where he was heading. However, a plotting error made on board King George V, where Admiral John Tovey, commander of the British Home Fleet, was leading the pursuit, incorrectly calculated Bismarck's position and caused the chase to veer too far north. Bismarck was therefore able to make good time on 25/26 May in her unhindered passage towards France and protective air cover and destroyer escort. By now, though, fuel was becoming a major concern to both sides.[citation needed]

The British had a stroke of luck on 26 May. In mid-morning a Royal Air Force Coastal Command Catalina reconnaissance aircraft from 209 Squadron, which had flown over the Atlantic from its base on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland across Donegal through a small air-corridor secretly provided by the Éire government,[33] spotted Bismarck (via her oil slick) and reported her position to the Admiralty. From then on, the German ship's position was known to the British, although the enemy would have to be slowed significantly if heavy units hoped to engage it out of range of German aircraft protection. All British hopes were now pinned on Force H, whose main units were the aircraft-carrier Ark Royal, the battlecruiser Renown and the cruiser Sheffield. This battle-group, commanded by Admiral James Somerville, had been diverted north from Gibraltar.[citation needed]

In atrocious weather conditions at 19:25 that evening, Ark Royal launched its Fairey Swordfish for another attack. The first wave mistakenly targeted the Sheffield that was by now shadowing the quarry. Although precious time was lost by this incident, it proved beneficial to the British in that the magnetic detonators on the torpedoes used against Sheffield were seen to be defective, and for the following attack on Bismarck were replaced by contact detonators. In a final attack, almost in darkness at 21:05, a hit by a single torpedo from a Swordfish of 818 NAS (piloted by Sub-Lieutenant John Moffat) jammed Bismarck's rudder and steering gear.[34] This rendered Bismarck virtually unmanoeuvrable, increased her list to port and left her able to steam only in a large circle in the general direction of King George V and Rodney, two frontline battleships that had been in pursuit from the west. After extensive and unsuccessful efforts to free the jammed rudders, the fleet command finally acknowledged their, by now, impossible position in several messages to naval headquarters. Lütjens promised that the ship would fight until the last shell was spent. The cost to the attacking British had been five Swordfish aircraft damaged, one beyond repair.[35]

Throughout the night of 26/27 May Bismarck was the target of incessant torpedo attacks by the Tribal-class destroyers Cossack, Sikh, Maori and Zulu, with the Polish Piorun. Bismarck inflicted some damage on the British destroyers. Aboard Zulu a sub-lieutenant in the gunnery control tower lost a hand to shell splinters when a shell landed on the destroyer's forecastle, but did not explode. Cossack had its radio antenna sheared off by a shell.[36] The constant harrying tactics of the British helped wear down the morale of the Germans and deepened the fatigue of an already exhausted crew.[citation needed]

Both Ark Royal and Renown had a lucky escape during the night. The British ships were unaware they had come within firing range of Kapitänleutnant Herbert Wohlfarth's U-556 submarine, which had earlier exercised with Bismarck in the Baltic,[37] with Bismarck being referred to as the submarine's "big brother".[38] However U-556, returning from a combat patrol, had spent all its torpedoes. U-556 continued to shadow the British forces, reporting their position and guiding other U-boats to the area.[citation needed]

Sinking

The final battle, 27 May 1941. Surrounded by shell splashes, Bismarck burns on the horizon.

Around 08:00 on 27 May, Rodney and King George V closed to within 21 nautical miles (39 km) of Bismarck, with their enemy well illuminated by the morning sun in the background. At this point visibility was only 10 nautical miles (19 km) and the sea state at 4-5. High winds were blowing in 320 degrees from the North West at a force of 6-7.[39]

Rodney steered to the north so that her gunfire would work the length of Bismarck, while King George V took the side. They opened fire at 08:47. Bismarck returned fire, but her inability to steer and her list to port affected accuracy. Her low speed of seven knots made her an easy target, and she was soon hit several times, with heavy cruisers Norfolk and Dorsetshire adding their firepower. At 09:02 an 8-inch (200 mm) shell from Norfolk hit the main gun director, killing the gunnery officer, Adalbert Schneider, who had been awarded the Knight's Cross in the early hours of the same morning for his part in sinking Hood. At 09:08 a heavy shell from Rodney hit both of Bismarck's forward turrets, Anton and Bruno,[39] disabling the latter; this was followed by another salvo which destroyed the forward control post, killing most of the senior officers.[40] The aft turrets, Caesar and Dora, continued to fire locally. At 09:21 Dora was knocked out. The crew of Anton managed to fire one last salvo at 09:27. At 09:31 Caesar fired its last salvo and was then knocked out.[39] This salvo straddled Rodney jamming the ship's torpedo tubes. Bismarck's salvoes throughout the battle were directed at Rodney, the older ship (perhaps in the hope of achieving a success similar to Hood). When Admiral Guernsey observed this, he remarked: "Thank heavens she's shooting at Rodney".[41] The closest Bismarck came to threatening King George V was when von Müllenheim, under local fire control, zeroed in on the enemy but had his director blown away by a direct hit before fire could be directed at the British battleship. Within 44 minutes, Bismarck's heavy guns were all silent. Rodney now closed to point-blank range (approximately three km) to pound the superstructure, while King George V fired from further out.[citation needed]

Survivors from Bismarck are pulled aboard HMS Dorsetshire on 27 May 1941

Bismarck continued to fly her ensign. With no sign of surrender, despite the unequal struggle, the British were loath to leave Bismarck. Their fuel and shell supplies were low, a demonstration of how difficult it was for a battleship to sink a similar unit, even in an unbalanced engagement. However, when it became obvious that their enemy could not reach port, Rodney, King George V and the destroyers were sent home. Norfolk had no torpedoes left, so Dorsetshire launched three 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes at comparatively short range, which may have hit Bismarck. The battleship's upper works were almost completely destroyed but her engines were still functioning, although Johannes "Hans" Zimmermann, a boiler room stoker who survived, confirms that salt water had entered the boiler feed lines causing the engineers to reduce speed to seven knots, fearing an explosion,[42] and the hull appeared to be relatively sound; therefore, rather than risk her being captured, survivors have said the order to scuttle and then abandon ship was given. Many of the crew went into the water, but few sailors from the lower engine spaces survived. As Captain Lindemann was presumed killed with all officers after the bridge was hit by a 16-inch (410 mm) shell, it is unclear whether he could have given the order to scuttle. Some of the survivors, though, strongly maintain they saw him going down alive with his ship.[citation needed]

Bismarck slipped below the waves stern-first at 10:39 that morning. Unaware of the fate of the ship, Group West, the German command base, continued to issue signals to Bismarck for some hours, until Reuters reported news from Britain that the ship had been sunk. In Britain, the House of Commons was informed of the sinking early that afternoon.[43] Dorsetshire and Maori stopped to rescue survivors, but a U-boat alarm caused them to leave the scene after rescuing only 110 Bismarck sailors, abandoning the surviving crew in the water. The next morning U-74, which had heard sinking noises from a distance, and the German weather ship Sachsenwald picked up 5 survivors. 1,995 of the ship's crew of 2,200 died.[44]

In all, 2,876 shells of various calibres were fired by the British ships; approximately 300-400 hit. Of the total fired, 714 were heavy-calibre 14-inch (360 mm) and 16-inch (410 mm) shells from two battleships, about 80 of which hit Bismarck, but only few shells penetrated its armour.[45]

After the sinking, Tovey wrote in his memoirs: "The Bismarck had put up a most gallant fight against impossible odds, worthy of the old days of the Imperial German Navy, and she went down with her colours flying".[46] The admiral had wanted to say this publicly but the Admiralty informed him: "For political reasons it is essential that nothing of the nature of the sentiments expressed by you should be given publicity, however much we admire a gallant fight".[47]

War diary

At 07:10 on the morning of the final battle, Lütjens, with Bismarck now doomed, requested that Group West send any U-Boat in the area to retrieve the ship's war diary.[39] U-556 was now low on fuel and had passed its shadowing duties and communication with Group West to U-74 which had just arrived, albeit damaged by depth charges and unable to fire torpedoes. U-556 was underwater when Lütjens sent out the request to retrieve the war diary. An earlier attempt to send the diary via the Arado Ar 196 float aircraft had also failed, due to the damage the catapult had received from Prince of Wales at the Denmark Strait battle (the Arado was dumped overboard and its floats pierced to ensure it sank).[48] However, by this point (08:00) it was far too late for a U-Boat to reach Bismarck.[citation needed]

Role of the Luftwaffe

The Luftwaffe came under heavy criticism from Hitler for failing to help Bismarck on the morning of her final battle. Luftflotte 3 had been apprised of Bismarck's intentions as early as May 24 and its units, mainly equipped with Heinkel He 111s, could have been positioned to help the ship. On May 26 Bismarck was within 700 miles (1,100 km) of the French coast (as reported by Flying Officer Dennis Briggs flying a Catalina of No. 209 squadron).[49] An attack by the He 111s, with a maximum range of 1,750 miles (2,820 km), could have slowed down Ark Royal and prevented the Fairey Swordfish attack which crippled Bismarck. In the event the Luftwaffe appeared over the battle area an hour after Bismarck had sunk. 17 Kampfgeschwader 28 He 111s attacked Ark Royal but their bombs missed. Only 218 sorties were flown by the Luftwaffe in support of Rheinübung with KG 100, KG 1, KG 54 and KG 77. The only casualty of these raids was the destroyer Mashona, which was sunk by Kampfgeschwader 77 on 28 May off the west coast of Ireland.[50] A Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor had sighted Rodney but was unable to communicate the position accurately without radar, reporting her as 200 miles (320 km) further from the French coast than was the case. Thus a possible chance for the Luftwaffe to attack the British battleship was lost. Meaningful missions did not start until 03:00 on May 27, by which time Bismarck's fate was sealed.[51]

Discovery of the wreck

First discovery by Robert Ballard

CG images of Bismarck from several angles as painted for Operation Rheinübung. The swastika (1), an identification for pilots while the ship was in home waters, was painted over prior to the operation.

The wreck of Bismarck was discovered on 8 June 1989 by Dr. Robert Ballard, the oceanographer also responsible for finding the Titanic. Bismarck rests upright at a depth of approximately 4,791 m (15,700 ft),[52] about 650 kilometres west of Brest, France. The Bismarck struck an extinct underwater volcano, which rose some 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above the surrounding abyssal plain, triggering a 2 kilometre (1.25 mile) landslide. Bismarck slid down the mountain, coming to a stop two-thirds down.[53]

Analysis of the wreck not only showed extensive damage to the superstructure by shelling and some minor damage to the hull by torpedo hits, but also suggested that the Germans scuttled the ship to hasten its sinking. This has never been proven by marine investigators but is confirmed by survivors. Ballard has kept the exact location of the wreck a secret to prevent other divers from taking artefacts from the ship, a practice he considers a form of grave robbing.[52]

On discovering the wreck, it was found that the whole stern had broken away; as it was not near the main wreckage and has not yet been found, it can be assumed this did not occur on impact with the sea floor. The missing section came away roughly where the torpedo had hit, raising questions of possible structural failure.[54] The stern area had also received several hits, increasing the damage caused by the torpedo. This, coupled with the fact the ship sank "stern first" and had no structural support to hold it in place, suggests the stern became detached at the surface. In 1942 Prinz Eugen was also torpedoed in the stern, which subsequently collapsed. This prompted a strengthening of the stern structures on all German capital ships.[55]

Second expedition

A second, Anglo-American, Bismarck expedition in 2001 was funded by a British TV channel. The team used the information that Bismarck was resting at the foot of the only undersea volcano in that area to locate the wreck. Using ROVs to film the hull externally, the team concluded that the ship sank due to combat damage, having received numerous artillery and torpedo hits. Expedition leader David Mearns claimed significant gashes were found in the hull: "My feeling is that those holes were probably lengthened by the slide, but initiated by torpedoes".[56]

James Cameron expedition

The documentary film Expedition: Bismarck (2002), directed by James Cameron and filmed using smaller and more agile MIR submersibles, reconstructs the events leading to the sinking of Bismarck. These provided some interior shots of Bismarck for the first time, which were transmitted on the National Geographic Channel (NGC). His findings were that there was not enough damage below the waterline of the ship to confirm that she was actually sunk by shells and torpedoes. In fact, upon close inspection of the wreckage, it was confirmed that none of the torpedoes or shells penetrated the second layer of the inner hull. Cameron put forward a theory to explain the large gashes observed by the Anglo-American expedition: he suggested that Bismarck suffered a "hydraulic outburst" when it hit the bottom. Cameron said the belt held, but inner forces caused the sides to bulge out and break in places. Cameron sent small ROVs into the gashes and into the ship's interior. Twice they came upon torpedo holes at the ends of long gashes. But upon sending the tethered robots even deeper into the ship it was discovered that the torpedo blasts had failed to shatter its armoured inner walls. All that was destroyed was an outer "sacrificial zone" of water and fuel tanks that German engineers had created to absorb torpedo hits and keep interior spaces flood free. "The inner tank walls are untouched by any explosive force", "So the armor worked." Cameron concluded that the torpedoes caused "no significant flooding".[56]

Ballard's third expedition

The third survey found no underwater penetrations of the ship's fully-armoured citadel. Eight holes were found in the hull, one on the starboard side and seven on the port side, all above the waterline. One of the holes is in the deck, on the starboard side of the bow. The angle and shape indicates it was fired from Bismarck's port side and struck the starboard anchor chain. The anchor chain has disappeared down this hole.[57] Six holes are amidships, three shell fragments pierced the upper splinter belt, and one made a hole in the main armour belt.[58] Further aft a huge hole is visible, parallel to the aircraft catapult, on the deck. It is unclear whether this was a result of an internal magazine explosion due to a shell penetration of the ship's armour. The submersibles recorded no sign of a shell penetration through the main or side armour that could have caused this; it is likely that the shell penetrated the deck armour only.[59]

Huge dents showed that many of the 14 inch (356 mm) shells fired by King George V bounced off the German belt armour.[60] Interior ROV footage showed that the "terrible destruction" the Anglo-American expedition reported was in fact to the torpedo bulges, which were designed to absorb the energy of torpedoes and plunging shells. Underneath the torn bulge sheeting, the ship's 320 mm (12.6 inch) thick main belt armour appeared to be intact. It cannot be confirmed by Ballard that the shell holes pictured in Bismarck's armour were full penetrations.[citation needed]

Furthermore Ballard's expedition revealed there were no signs of the implosions that occur when air-filled compartments succumb to outside water pressure. This suggests that Bismarck's compartments were flooded when the ship sank, supporting the scuttling theory.[61]

The American expedition's final conclusions were strikingly different from the findings of the Anglo-American team; they estimated that Bismarck could still have floated for at least a day when the British vessels ceased fire and could have been captured by the Royal Navy, a position supported by the historian Ludovic Kennedy.[62] Ballard found the hull sound, adding: "we found a hull that appears whole and relatively undamaged by the descent and impact".[62] They concluded the direct cause of sinking was due to scuttling: sabotage of engine-room valves by her crew, as claimed by German survivors.[citation needed]

Criticisms of ship's design

Preston claimed that the design was an enlarged reworking of the World War I Bayern class battleships and retained old-fashioned features particularly in respect of the armour layout, regarded as outdated by the Royal Navy and United States Navy.[63] Authors like Jack Brower[64] or William H. Garzke and Robert O. Dulin have claimed this is not true in their books The Battleship Bismarck and Battleships: Axis and Neutral Battleships in World War II: "This...resulted in some speculation that the Bismarck-class battleships were mere copies of these older ships. This is false; the new ships had to be faster and have more protection, range and firepower; and the percentages allocated to armour protection, firepower and propulsion were not the same as Bayern. The triple-shaft arrangement and the distribution and calibre of the main armament were the only major similarities."[65][66]

The low location of the main armour deck, in the same position as that in WWI ships, left the two decks above the armour deck exposed to plunging fire and bombs; British and American ships reduced the exposed area by positioning the main armour decks one deck higher.[63] The Bismarck class battleships were designed to fight in the North Sea and the North Atlantic. In these waters poor visibility, especially during the winter, meant relatively short ranges of engagement, typically 10-15,000 m, were expected; the emphasis was, therefore, on close-range protection.[64] The dual armoured decks were chosen by the Kriegsmarine to guarantee that shells and bombs burst upon contact with the upper armoured deck, rather than penetrating deeper into the ship's vitals.[67]

Some communication systems, including her main damage-control centre and fire-control rooms, were beneath the main armoured deck, and the cables from bridge and rangefinders were routed through the three armoured shafts between these stations and the rooms beneath the main armoured deck.[68]

The provision of both a secondary armament of twelve 5.9-inch (150 mm) guns and the inclusion of a separate battery of sixteen 4.1-inch (100 mm) high-angle (anti-aircraft) guns was also criticised on the grounds that fitting two types of weapons required more deck space and weight than the dual-purpose secondary armaments of Allied ships, which could engage both air and surface target, required only one size of secondary ammunition, and simplified fire-control.[69] The use of dual-purpose armament might possibly have increased the number of anti-aircraft guns but might have weakened the ship's defence against destroyer attacks, which German naval experts deemed more important.[70] The sixteen 4.1-inch (100 mm) AA guns gave good performance early in the war, but against newer and better aircraft types it became necessary to convert the 5.9-inch (150 mm) guns for dual-purpose use against both surface and aerial threats.[70]

References in the Wehrmachtbericht

The following broadcasts by the Germans were not accurate. The Bismarck did not shoot down any British aircraft, and it did not sink or significantly damage any enemy destroyer. The destroyer referred to in the report was HMS Mashona, sunk by the Luftwaffe on 28 May.

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Saturday, 24 May 1941 Wie ebenfalls durch Sondermeldung bekanntgegeben wurde, stieß ein deutscher Flottenverband unter Führung des Flottenchefs Lütjens im Seegebiet um Island auf schwere britische Seestreitkräfte. Nach einem kurzen schweren Gefecht versenkte das Schlachtschiff "Bismarck" den britischen Schlachtkreuzer "Hood", das größte Schlachtschiff der britischen Flotte. Ein weiteres Schlachtschiff der neusten englischen "King George"-Klasse wurde beschädigt und zum Abdrehen gezwungen. Die deutschen Seestreitkräfte setzten ohne Verluste ihre Operation fort.[71] As also mentioned in a special report, a German task force under the leadership of chief of fleet Lütjens encountered, in the sea area of Iceland, heavy British sea forces. The battleship "Bismarck" sank the British battlecruiser "Hood", the largest battleship of the British fleet, after a short and heavy battle. A further battleship of the newest English "King George" class was damaged and forced to retreat. The German sea forces continued their operation without loss.
Wednesday, 28 May 1941 Wie schon gestern bekanntgegeben, wurde das Schlachtschiff "Bismarck" nach seinem siegreichen Gefecht bei Island am 26. Mai abends durch den Torpedotreffer eines feindlichen Flugzeuges manövrierunfähig. Getreu dem letzten Funkspruch des Flottenchefs Admiral Lütjens ist das Schlachtschiff mit seinem Kommandanten Kapitän zur See Lindemann und seiner tapferen Besatzung am 27. Mai vormittags der vielfachen feindlichen Übermacht erlegen und mit wehender Flagge gesunken.[72] As reported yesterday, the battleship "Bismarck", after its victorious battle near Iceland, was on 26 May hit by a torpedo from an enemy aircraft and left unmanoeuvrable. True to the last radio message from chief of fleet Admiral Lütjens, the battleship was defeated by overwhelming enemy forces and sank with flag flying together with its commander Kapitän zu See Lindemann and its brave crew, on 27 May before noon.
Thursday, 29 May 1941 Das Schlachtschiff "Bismarck" schoß am Abend des 24. Mai fünf britische Flugzeuge ab, versenkte in der Nacht zum 27. Mai einen der angreifenden feindlichen Zerstörer und schoß einen weiteren in Brand.[73] The battleship "Bismarck" shot down five British aircraft on the evening of 24 May sank an attacking enemy destroyer on the night of 27 May and shot up another until it burned.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The Scharnhorst class ships were described both as battlecruisers (by the British Royal Navy) and battleships (by the German Kriegsmarine and US Navy)

References

  1. ^ Jackson 2002, p. 24
  2. ^ "Bismarck Technical Data and Battleship Comparison; retrieved 14 November 2009
  3. ^ Channel 4 - Hood v Bismarck - History - The Battles
  4. ^ von Mullenheim-Rechberg, B., Battleship Bismarck, a survivor's story; new improved edition. Annapolis: United States Naval Institute Press (1990). ISBN 978-0870210969, pp. 246-76
  5. ^ "The Final Battle (A desperate fight against impossible odds)"; retrieved 27 November 2009
  6. ^ a b Garzke and Dulin, p. 303
  7. ^ "Bismarck's Officer Corps"; retrieved 14 November 2009
  8. ^ "Bismarck - The History - Operation "Rheinübung" (Part One)"; retrieved 14 November 2009
  9. ^ Denham, Henry (1985), Inside the Nazi ring, New York: Holmes & Meier, pp. 82–86, ISBN 0841910243, OCLC 241662312 11517567 241662312 
  10. ^ Coastal Command, 1942, Mr A.H.A St George Saunders, Stationary Office, London.
  11. ^ Coastal Command at War, 1943, Squadron LeaderTom-Dudley Gordon, Jarrolds Publishers, London.
  12. ^ Hinsley, F. H.; with E. E. Thomas, C. F. G. Ranson (1979), British Intelligence in the Second World War, 1, New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 339–41, ISBN 0521229405, OCLC 5420123 71381777 78886126 123166558 5420123 71381777 78886126 
  13. ^ http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/official/adm234/adm234-509tovey.htm
  14. ^ Hansson, Per; translated by Maurice Michael (1967), The Greatest Gamble (Translated from the Norwegian Det Største Spillet © Gyldendal Norsk Forlag A/S 1965; translation © George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1967), W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, pp. 6–10 
  15. ^ McLachlan, Donald (1968), Room 39, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, pp. 147, ISBN 0297761153, OCLC 463107 
  16. ^ Salmon, Patrick (editor) (1995), Britain and Norway in the Second World War, London: H.M.S.O, pp. 129–39, ISBN 0117012327, OCLC 243823854 32729981 33044363 185470038 243823854 32729981 33044363 
  17. ^ Barrett 1991, pp 284-285
  18. ^ Barrett, 285
  19. ^ Tovey, Admiral Sir John (1941), ADM 234/509: Sinking of the 'Bismarck', 27 May 1941, http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/official/adm234/adm234-509tovey.htm 
  20. ^ "Operation Rheinübung: Bismarck's Atlantic Sortie - To the Denmark Strait"; retrieved 14 November 2009
  21. ^ "The Pursuit of Bismarck & the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, Part 2 - Face-to-Face with a Legend; retrieved 14 November 2009
  22. ^ a b Chesenau 2002, p. 156
  23. ^ a b "The Pursuit of Bismarck & the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, Part 2 - The Battle of the Denmark Strait; retrieved 14 November 2009
  24. ^ Doubt had been cast on whether or not Prinz Eugen struck Hood, citing that Hood was not her target. However, Prinz Eugen's Gunnery Officer, Paul Schmallenbach, rejects this, confirming Eugen's target was also Hood: Chesneau 2002, p. 156
  25. ^ "Bismarck survivor reports" (pdf). kbismarck.com. http://www.kbismarck.com/archives/survivor-reports.pdf. 
  26. ^ "The Battle of the Denmark Strait". hmshood.com. http://www.hmshood.com/history/denmarkstrait/bismarck2.htm. 
  27. ^ Chesneau 2002, pp. 156-158
  28. ^ Chesenau 2002, p. 180: During the filming of Hood's wreck, the rudder was positioned 20 degrees to port, indicating Hood had already begun to execute the "2blue" order
  29. ^ ADM 234/509: H.M.S. Prince of Wales' Gunnery Aspects of the "Bismarck" Pursuit,. http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/official/adm234/adm234-509guns.htm. 
  30. ^ a b c Jackson 2002, p. 90
  31. ^ "Operation Rheinübung: Bismarck's Atlantic Sortie - Attacked by Swordfish Torpedo Planes"; retrieved 14 November 2009
  32. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 103 - "Bismarck: Germany's Greatest Battleship reveals her secrets" title
  33. ^ BBC - WW2 People's War - World War Memories of an Ulster Childhood
  34. ^ "The The Times 25th June 2009". London. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article6572317.ece. 
  35. ^ The Story of the Torpedoing of the Bismarck
  36. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 117. Bismarck: Germany's Greatest Battleship reveals her secrets
  37. ^ Jackson 2002, p. 49
  38. ^ The Special Bond between the Bismarck and U-556
  39. ^ a b c d Jackson 2002, p. 91
  40. ^ Pictures of the Bismarck's bridge
  41. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 125
  42. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 118. Bismarck:Germany's Greatest Battleship reveals her secrets
  43. ^ "War Situation"; retrieved 8 December 2009
  44. ^ Bismarck's Crew: Ship's Complement bismarck-class.dk
  45. ^ Bismarck's Final Battle
  46. ^ Muller et al. 2003, p. 419: Tovey's report of 5 July 1941; Home Fleet No. 896 (H.F 1,325); 5 July 1951; PRO, ADM 234/509,8
  47. ^ Muller et al 2003, p. 419
  48. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 122-123 Bismarck: Germany's Greatest Battleship surrenders her secrets title
  49. ^ Jackson 2002, p.48
  50. ^ de Zeng et al. Vol 1 2007, p. 252
  51. ^ Jackson 2002, pp. 50-52
  52. ^ a b Ballard 1990, p. 221
  53. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 216
  54. ^ Ballard 1990, pp. 177-178
  55. ^ Ballard 1990, pp. 214-215
  56. ^ a b Sinking of the Bismarck New York Times
  57. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 194
  58. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 214
  59. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 191
  60. ^ Jackson 2002, p. 85
  61. ^ Jackson 2002, p. 88
  62. ^ a b Ballard 1990, p. 215
  63. ^ a b Preston 1977, p. 105
  64. ^ a b Brower, 2005. p. 16
  65. ^ The 38 cm (15 in) guns mounted on Bismarck were of newer and more advanced design with longer barrels, and had significantly greater range: 36,200 m versus 20,400 m than the older guns. See Gröner, pp. 30, 35
  66. ^ Garzke & Dulin 1990, p. 204
  67. ^ Garzke and Dulin, pp. 283–285
  68. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 25-26. Bismarck: Germany's Greatest Battleship reveals her secrets
  69. ^ Preston 1982, p. 105
  70. ^ a b Garzke & Dulin 1990, p. 297
  71. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, p. 538, 540
  72. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, p. 542
  73. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, p. 544

Bibliography

  • Ballard, Robert D. (1990). Bismarck: Germany's Greatest Battleship Gives Up its Secrets. Toronto: Madison Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7858-2205-9. 
  • Ballard, Robert D. (1990). The Discovery of the Bismarck. Toronto: Madison Publishing. ISBN 978-0-3405-2976-8. 
  • Baron von Mullenheim-Rechberg, Burkhard (1980). Battleship Bismarck, A Survivor's Story. Annapolis: United States Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0870210969. 
  • Barrett, Corelli (1991). Engage the Enemy More Closely: The Royal Navy in the Second World War. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-02918-2. 
  • Brower, Jack (2005). The Battleship Bismarck. Annapolis: United States Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1591140501. 
  • Chesneau, Roger (2002). Hood - Life and Death of a Battlecruiser. London: Cassell Publishing. ISBN 0-304-35980-7. 
  • de Zeng, H.L; Stanket, D.G; Creek, E.J. Bomber Units of the Luftwaffe 1933-1945; A Reference Source, Volume 2. Ian Allen Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-1-903223-87-1
  • Garzke, William; John Dulin (1990). Battleships: Axis and Neutral Battleships in World War II. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-8702-1101-0. 
  • Gröner, Erich (1990). German Warships: 1815–1945. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870217909. OCLC 22101769. 
  • Jackson, Robert (2002). The Bismarck. London: Weapons of War. ISBN 1-86227-173-9. 
  • Muller, Rolf-Dieter; Bernhard R. Kroener (2003). Germany and the Second World War: Organization and Mobilization in the German Sphere of Power, Wartime Administration, Economy, and Manpower Resources 1942-1944/5. IV. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-1982-0873-0. 
  • Preston, Antony (1977). Battleships 1856-1977. ISBN 0-7271-0183-8. 
  • Preston, Antony (1982). Battleships (Warships). Hollywood: Lifetime Books. ISBN 0-8119-0462-8. 
  • Rico, José M. (2004). The Battleship Bismarck. The Complete History of a Legendary Ship. KBismark.com. 
  • Roberts, John (2001). The Battlecruiser Hood. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-900-x. 
  • Admiralty report CB 04039(2) Immune zone analysis of Tirpitz, KGV, Nelson, and QE

Further reading

  • Bercuson, David J. and Herwig, Holger H. The Destruction of the Bismarck (Stoddart Publishing, Toronto, 2001) ISBN 9780773733251
  • Bonomi, Antonio. Stretto di Danimarca, 24 maggio 1941, "Storia Militare" magazine, December 2005.
  • Breyer, Breyer, Battleships and Battlecruisers 1905-1970 (Doubleday and Company; Garden City, New York, 1973) (originally published in German as Schlachtschiffe und Schlachtkreuzer 1905-1970, J.F. Lehmanns, Verlag, Munchen, 1970).
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 (in German). München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 1985. ISBN 3-423-05944-3.
  • Elfrath, Ulrich and Herzog, Bodo. The Battleship Bismarck: A Documentary in Words and Pictures Schiffer; Atglen, Pennsylvania; 1989) (originally published in German as Schlachtschiff Bismarck, Ein Bericht in Bildern und Dokumentation, Podzun-Palles Verlag, Friedberg, 1975).
  • Forrester, C.S. Hunting the Bismarck (first published by Michael Joseph Ltd in 1959) OCLC 2280633
  • Hansson, Per (1965). Det største spillet. Oslo: Gyldendal. 
  • Jackson, Robert. The Bismarck. Weapons of War: London, 2002. ISBN 1-86227-173-9
  • Kemp, Paul J. Bismarck and Hood: Great Naval Adversaries (Arms and Armor Press, London, 1991) ISBN 9781854090997
  • Kennedy, Ludovic. Pursuit: The Sinking of the Bismarck (London, 1975) ISBN 9780006340140
  • Mulligan, Timothy P. "Ship-of-the-Line or Atlantic Raider? Battleship "Bismarck" between Design Limitations and Naval Strategy", The Journal of Military History 69:4 (October 2005), 1013-1044.
  • Preston, Antony (2002). The World’s Worst Warships. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-754-6.. 
  • Rhys-Jones, Graham. The Loss of the Bismarck: An Avoidable Disaster (Cassell & Company, London, 1999) ISBN 9780304353149

External links

Coordinates: 48°10′N 16°12′W / 48.167°N 16.2°W / 48.167; -16.2


File:Bundesarchiv Bild 193-04-1-26, Schlachtschiff
Bismarck in 1940
Career (Germany) File:War Ensign of Germany
Name:

Bismarck

Namesake: Otto von Bismarck
Ordered: 16 November 1935
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Laid down: 1 July 1936
Launched: 14 February 1939
Commissioned: 24 August 1940
Fate: Sunk, cause disputed, 27 May 1941 in the North Atlantic, at 48°10′N 16°12′W / 48.167°N 16.2°W / 48.167; -16.2
General characteristics

Class and type: Bismarck-class battleship
Displacement: 41,700 tonnes standard
50,900 tonnes full load
Length: 251 metres (823.5 ft) overall
241.5 metres (792.3 ft) waterline
Beam: 36.0 metres (118.1 ft) waterline
Draft: 9.3 metres (30.5 ft) standard
10.2 metres (33.5 ft) full load
Propulsion:

  • 12 Wagner high-pressure boilers;
  • 3 Blohm & Voss geared turbines 150,170 shaft horsepower (111.98 MW);
  • 3 three-blade propellers, 4.70 metres (15.42 ft) diameter
Speed:

30.1 knots (34.6 mph; 55.7 km/h) during trials (one work claims a speed of 31.1 knots (35.8 mph; 57.6 km/h) [1]

Range: 8,525 nautical miles (9,810 mi; 15,788 km) at 19 knots (22 mph; 35 km/h)
Complement: 2,092: 103 officers 1,989 men (1941)
Armament:

  • 8 × 380 mm/L52 SK C/34 (15 in)(4×2)
  • 12 × 150 mm/L55 SK-C/28 (5.9 in)(6×2)
  • 16 × 105 mm/L65 SK-C/37 / SK-C/33 (4.1 in)(8×2)
  • 16 × 37 mm/L83 SK-C/30 (1.5 in)
  • 12 × 20 mm/L65 MG C/30 (0.79 in)
  • 8 × 20 mm/L65 MG C/32 (8×4) (0.79 in)
Armour:
  • Belt: 145–320 millimetres (5.7–13 in)
  • Deck: 110–120 millimetres (4.3–4.7 in)
  • Bulkheads: 220 millimetres (8.7 in)
  • Turrets: 130–360 millimetres (5.1–14 in)
  • Barbettes: 342 millimetres (13.5 in)
  • Conning tower: 360 millimetres (14 in)
  • Aircraft carried:

    Arado Ar 196 A-3, with 1 double-ended catapult

    The Bismarck was a German battleship and one of the most famous warships of the Second World War. The lead ship of her class, named after the 19th century German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, Bismarck displaced more than 50,000 tonnes fully loaded and was the largest warship then commissioned.[2]

    Bismarck took part in only one operation during her brief career. She and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen left Gotenhafen (Gdynia) on the morning of 19 May 1941 for Operation Rheinübung, during which she was to have attempted to intercept and destroy convoys in transit between North America and Great Britain. When Bismarck and Prinz Eugen attempted to break out into the Atlantic, the two ships were discovered by the Royal Navy and brought to battle in the Denmark Strait. During the short engagement, the British battlecruiser HMS Hood, flagship of the Home Fleet and pride of the Royal Navy, was sunk after several minutes of firing. In response, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill issued the order to "Sink the Bismarck,"[3] spurring a relentless pursuit by the Royal Navy.

    Two days later, with Bismarck almost in reach of safer waters, Fleet Air Arm Swordfish biplanes launched from the carrier HMS Ark Royal torpedoed the ship and jammed her rudder, allowing heavy British units to catch up with her. In the ensuing battle on the morning of 27 May 1941, Bismarck was heavily attacked for almost two hours before sinking.[4][5]

    Contents

    Building and commissioning

    The design of Bismarck was begun in the early 1930s, following Germany's development of the Deutschland class "pocket battleships" and the Scharnhorst class warships.[A 1] Bismarck was planned to be the prototype for other battleships envisaged under Plan Z, like the H class. Bismarck's keel was laid down at Blohm & Voss' shipyard in Hamburg on 1 July 1936. Launched on 14 February 1939, the battleship was commissioned on 24 August 1940 with Kapitän zur See Ernst Lindemann in command.[6]

    At Bismarck's commissioning, she was the largest warship to date. Under Plan Z, she was intended to be part of a fast battleship squadron for a main battle line of larger subsequent battleships; however, with the outbreak of war in 1939 and the increased demands on the German armament industry, Plan Z was no longer practical. As a result, Bismarck was used as a commerce raider. She was reasonably well suited for this, being faster than any of the Royal Navy battleships; her endurance qualities, which were quite good for their period, were also better than any British battleships that might give chase.[7]

    Senior officers

    • Fleet Commander: Admiral Günther Lütjens (for Unternehmen Rheinübung)
    • Captain: Kapitän zur See Ernst Lindemann
    • First Officer: Fregattenkapitän Hans Oels
    • Navigation Officer: Korvettenkapitän Wolf Neuendorff
    • Chief Engineer: Korvettenkapitän Dipl-Ing Walter Lehmann
    • First Gunnery Officer: Korvettenkapitän Adalbert Schneider[8]

    Operation Rheinübung

    Breakout into the Atlantic

    File:Rheinuebung
    Map of Operation "Rheinübung" and Royal Navy operations against the battleship Bismarck

    Bismarck completed preparations for her Atlantic sortie in the Bay of Danzig, refuelling almost to capacity and leaving the port of Gotenhafen (now Gdynia) on her first and only mission, codenamed Rheinübung (Rhine Exercise) in the early hours of 19 May 1941. She was accompanied only by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen. Other capital ships, including the battlecruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst, that were to have participated in the sortie were unavailable because of mechanical problems and war damage. Moreover, plans to use Bismarck's sister ship, Tirpitz, were shelved because she had not yet finished sea trials. Despite these setbacks, the mission went ahead under the command of Admiral Günther Lütjens. The Germans had various objectives: destroy as much Allied shipping as possible and force the British to suspend convoys, even temporarily; compensate for their weak submarine presence in the Atlantic; divert British naval forces from the Mediterranean to reduce the risks of the planned invasion of Crete and to allow supply and reïnforcement of Rommel's Afrika Korps in Libya; and to wear out British warships forced to extended patrols. For the first part of the journey, as far as Norway, the route from the Baltic was chosen in preference to a North Sea breakout via the Kiel Canal.[9]

    The British had learned from Ultra intelligence (deciphered Enigma code messages) about German air surveillance of the Denmark Strait and the Royal Navy's home base at Scapa Flow, as well as the April, 1941, delivery of charts for the Atlantic to the Bismarck. (However, the British decrypted no Enigma messages from or to the Bismarck squadron during Rheinübung.) British radar-equipped heavy cruisers, able to refuel in Iceland, were sent to patrol the Denmark Strait. Unequipped to refuel battle squadrons at sea, the Home Fleet awaited a firm sighting report before its ships deployed. On May 20, 1941, the Swedish seaplane-cruiser Gotland encountered and tracked the German battle group steaming north-west past Göteborg. A Norwegian officer in Stockholm learned of the sighting from a Swedish military intelligence source and informed the British naval attaché, who promptly radioed the Admiralty: "Most immediate. Kattegat today 20th May. At 15.00 two large warships escorted by three destroyers, five escort craft, ten or twelve aircraft passed Marstrand course north-west 2058/20th May 1941. B-3 repeat B-3". "B-3" indicated uncertainty about the report's validity, since this information was more precise and timelier than anything the naval attaché had obtained in a year at his station.[10]

    Alerted by this report, at 03.30 on 21 May the Admiralty requested air reconnaissance of the Norwegian coast. A Spitfire reconnaissance aircraft, pilot Flying Officer Michael Suckling,[11][12] found and photographed Bismarck in a fjord (Grimstadfjorden, near Bergen) at 13.15 [1], less than two hours after Bismarck and Prinz Eugen had arrived.[13] With this hard information,[14] the British Home Fleet despatched the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Hood, escorted by a number of destroyers, towards Iceland. Four cruisers were to cover the approach to the North Atlantic via the Denmark Strait and the Iceland-Faeroes Gap.[15]

    Some books about the Bismarck mention a sighting report supposedly radioed by Norwegian agents on 20 May and acknowledged by the British. This story apparently originated in the 1967 book The Greatest Gamble.[16] No evidence, either direct or circumstantial, supports this story. British and Norwegian authorities deny that secret agents were involved before or during the Bismarck operation,[17] and that the Norwegian resistance had radio or other ability to communicate swiftly with Britain and Sweden in May 1941. Radio links between Britain and the Norwegian resistance were established in 1942.[18]

    While Bismarck's operational orders did not require her to refuel in Bergen (Prinz Eugen did so through necessity),[19] the battleship failed to take on extra fuel despite spending an entire day in Grimstadfiord. This was later to have very serious consequences for Bismarck, especially as she had sailed from Gotenhafen with tanks less than brimful and had already used up about one-ninth of her full load during the voyage to Norway. Lütjens knew that an oiler, the Weissenberg, was waiting for him in the Arctic at least a day's sailing away. It was strange that, even with this information, he did not take this opportunity to refuel Bismarck for what could be a hazardous voyage. Moreover, his decision to stop in Bergen overturned any previous decision to head straight for the Arctic and the Weissenberg. It also wasted a day and exposed him to detection by British air surveillance.[20]

    At 19:45 on 21 May Lütjens put out to sea, detaching his destroyer escort early on 22 May. Heading north, then north-west at 24 knots (44 km/h), the German fleet made good and largely uneventful progress across the Norwegian Sea towards Greenland and the Denmark Strait between Iceland and Greenland, the gateway into the Atlantic. This circuitous course was against Group North's recommendation to steam directly for the Atlantic between Iceland and the Faeroe Islands. It was also too far south to make a rendezvous with the Weissenberg to refuel Bismarck. Nevertheless, while in waters to the north of the Arctic Circle, Bismarck and Prinz Eugen remained undetected by British air reconnaissance, which was too far south. With a mind on convoy-raiding, Lütjens was hopeful of an easy breakout into the Atlantic, aided by foggy weather, but his plans were to be frustrated.[21]

    Aerial reconnaissance under clouds by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy on 22 May ascertained that the Bismarck had sailed from Bergen. With this intelligence the Home Fleet Battle Fleet, including the battleship HMS King George V and the aircraft carrier Victorious, put to sea. The Battlecruiser Squadron already bound for Iceland was ordered to cover the Denmark Strait. A bombing raid on 22 May by the RAF proved fruitless, as the Germans had already left.[22]

    On the evening of 23 May, the German force was detected by the heavy cruisers HMS Suffolk and Norfolk that had been patrolling the Denmark Strait in the expectation of a German breakout. Norfolk, which had strayed too close to the German ships, came under fire briefly from Bismarck's heavy guns which quickly found the range and straddled the target.[23] Norfolk had a near miss when a shell from Bismarck bounced off the water and struck the bridge of the ship but did not explode nor inflict any casualties. The heavily outgunned British cruisers retired to a safe distance and shadowed the enemy while their own heavy units drew closer. However, Bismarck's forward radar had malfunctioned as a result of the recoil from her heavy guns firing during this skirmish, and Lütjens was obliged to order Prinz Eugen to move ahead of Bismarck in order to provide the squadron with forward radar coverage. This decision later confused the converging British forces as to the identity of each German ship, their silhouettes being similar.[24]

    Battle of the Denmark Strait

    [[File:|right|thumb|Bismarck as seen from Prinz Eugen, firing at HMS Prince of Wales during the Battle of the Denmark Strait, shortly after the sinking of HMS Hood, 24 May 1941.]] At approximately 05:30 on Saturday 24 May, as the German squadron was about to leave the Denmark Strait, Prinz Eugen's hydrophones detected the presence of two additional ships some distance to port.[25] By 05:45 both were in sight, although the German force had not yet identified the enemy force. It turned out to be a British battle-group comprising the new battleship Prince of Wales, and the ageing battlecruiser Hood, under the command of Rear Admiral Lancelot Holland. Prince of Wales had only recently been completed and was still being worked up (indeed, she sailed to meet Bismarck with about 100 civilian workers still on board completing her fitting-out). Hood had been built as a battlecruiser and modified to give her protection more like a battleship, but still had relatively weak deck armour. The Germans were not surprised that they had been detected by British ships, but that they would turn out to be capital ships was an unexpected development.[26]

    At 05:49 Holland ordered fire to be concentrated on the leading enemy ship, Prinz Eugen, believing it to be Bismarck.[27] Fortunately for the British, the captain of Prince of Wales was soon to realise the error and changed his target. Holland amended his order on the correct ship to be engaged but this did not reach Hood's gunnery control before the first salvo. Hood fired the first shots of the battle at 05:52, in daylight, followed very soon afterwards by Prince of Wales. The range to the German ships was c. 12.5 miles (20.1 km). The first salvo from Hood landed close to Prinz Eugen, causing minor shell splinter damage near the aft turrets.[27]

    More than two minutes went by without a reply from the German ships, before Captain Lindemann ordered fire to be returned on the lead British ship. This was Hood, which the Germans had identified only when the British squadron made a turn towards them at 05:55. This manoeuvre was undertaken, it appears, in an attempt to place themselves in the "zone of immunity," an area inside which both plunging fire, in particular, and direct enemy fire is relatively ineffective. Closer in, Hood would be less vulnerable and the advantage of superior German gunnery control would be lessened. The disadvantage was that, during the dash, eight of the eighteen British heavy guns could not be brought to bear.[28]

    Both Bismarck and Prinz Eugen opened fire on Hood at a range of 11 miles (18 km). The early gunfire from the German ships was very accurate and within two minutes Hood had been hit by at least one 8-inch shell from Prinz Eugen. It struck the British ship near the mainmast and caused a large fire which Hood's crew tried to bring under control. Prinz Eugen hit Hood three times during the engagement.[29] however, Bismarck had also been hit by Prince of Wales, causing a fuel leak from the forward tanks; therefore Lütjens ordered his cruiser to switch its guns towards Prince of Wales, which his own secondary guns were now targeting. Bismarck survivor Baron Burkard von Müllenheim-Rechberg initially claimed that the hits on his ship were scored by Hood with her third salvo; however, it is equally likely that these hits were scored by Prince of Wales, as it is clear that Hood was targeting Prinz Eugen for the majority of the battle and that the order to change target to Bismarck saw most of her salvoes fall between the enemy ships, hitting neither.[30][31] At 05:54 the range was down to 22,000 yards (20 km); at 05:57 it was down to just 19,000 yards (17 km). Bismarck then fired a fourth salvo which was slightly long and astern of Hood. At the same time Holland had ordered "2 Blue", a 20-degree turn to port. Before the ship began a turn to port Hood fired a fifth salvo at 05:59:30.[32]

    File:Sinking of HMS
    Prince of Wales turning to avoid the sinking Hood.

    At 06:00 Hood, which was in the process of turning to port to bring her full weight of armament to bear on Bismarck,[33] was hit amidships by at least one shell from Bismarck's fifth salvo at a distance of under nine miles (16,500 yards). Very shortly afterwards observers on both sides saw a huge jet of flame race skywards, followed by a rumbling explosion that split the huge ship in two. Splinters rained down on Prince of Wales, 400 yards (370 m) away. Hood's stern rose and sank shortly before the bow, all within three minutes. Admiral Holland and 1,415 crewmen went down with the ship. Only three men (Ted Briggs, Bob Tilburn, and Bill Dundas) survived. They were rescued about two and a half hours later by the destroyer Electra. The British Admiralty later concluded that the most likely explanation for the loss of Hood was a penetration of her magazines by a single 15-inch shell from Bismarck, causing the subsequent catastrophic explosion.

    Prince of Wales had to turn towards the German fleet to avoid hitting the wreckage left by the flagship and was hit a number of times by gunfire from both German ships. Still, her own gunfire had caused damage to Bismarck. The British battleship turned away, laying smoke, her aft turret firing briefly under local control. She had received seven hits (three of them from Prinz Eugen) and mechanical failures had caused intermittent problems with her main guns and her aft turret jammed as she turned away.[34]

    File:Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1998-035-05, Schlachtschiff Bismarck,
    The death of HMS Hood; a smoke cloud fills the sky above Hood's position, just after the ship exploded

    At 06:03 Prinz Eugen, which at that point had fired 183 20.3 cm shells, reported propeller noises to starboard, bearing 279° and 220°. Bismarck and Prinz Eugen were forced into emergency manoeuvres and sighted a Sunderland flying boat shortly afterwards.[35] Although Captain Lindemann wanted to chase Prince of Wales and "finish her off," Admiral Lütjens ignored his suggestions since delay risked the possibility of encountering other heavy enemy ships. In a battle lasting less than 20 minutes Bismarck and her consort had seen one enemy capital ship destroyed and another withdraw.

    At 08:01 Bismarck made the following transmission to Group North:[35]
    Sections XIII-XIV. Electric plant No. 4 broken down. Port No. 2 boiler room is making water but can be held. Maximum speed 28 knots (52 km/h). Denmark Strait 50 nautical miles (93 km) wide. Floating mines. Two enemy radar sets recognised. Intention: to put into Saint-Nazaire.

    Faulty intelligence had led the Germans to believe that Prince of Wales was not yet ready for action, therefore reports from Bismarck referred to her as King George V, the first of that class, which had been active for some months.[28]

    Despite the jubilation on board Bismarck, the battleship was not safe. The British knew her position, her forward radar was out of action and she had received three hits, one of which caused water to leak into and contaminate fuel oil in storage. From then on, Bismarck had to reduce speed to a maximum of 20 knots (37 km/h) to conserve fuel. Lütjens eventually decided that he would have to head for the French coast (the dry-dock in Saint-Nazaire) for repairs, while ordering Prinz Eugen to continue commerce raiding alone. The British continued to shadow her, Prince of Wales having rendezvoused with Norfolk and Suffolk. To enable his consort to escape, Lütjens turned on his pursuers and forced them to turn away, thus allowing Prinz Eugen to steam on out of British radar range. The plan was to be executed on the signal "Hood." Lütjens' first attempt failed; however, at 18:14, a second attempt succeeded. The two German ships parted and Bismarck signalled "Good hunting."[35]

    The chase

    Determined to avenge the sinking of Hood, the British committed every possible unit to hunt down Bismarck. During the early evening of 24 May an attack was made by a small group of Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers from 825 Naval Air Squadron of the aircraft carrier Victorious. One hit was scored resulting in a single fatality (Bismarck's first); however, the blast caused only superficial damage to Bismarck's armoured belt. The effect of the attack reopened the Bismarck's earlier "wounds;" the collision mats which had been used to block further flooding in the bow region had come loose, due to constant jarring from evasive action and the firing of the anti-aircraft guns. The packing of the damaged bulkheads was also loosened, leading to the complete flooding of the forward port boiler room, which was abandoned. This caused the bow to go down further. Lütjens ordered speed to be reduced to 16 knots (30 km/h) while the mats were repaired.[36]

    For some time Bismarck remained under long-distance observation by the British. At about 03:00 on 25 May, the ship took advantage of her opponents' zig-zagging and performed an almost three-quarter clockwise turn behind her pursuers to escape towards the east and then south-east. Contact was lost for four hours; however, perhaps in awe of British radar capabilities, it appears that the Germans did not realise their good fortune. Lütjens, for reasons that are unclear but possibly believing that Bismarck was still being tracked (despite a communication sent by Group West telling him the opposite),[37] transmitted a half-hour radio message to HQ, which was intercepted thereby giving the British time to work out roughly where he was heading; however, a plotting error made on board King George V, where Admiral John Tovey, commander of the British Home Fleet, was leading the pursuit, incorrectly calculated Bismarck's position and caused the chase to veer too far north. Bismarck was therefore able to make good time on 25/26 May in her unhindered passage towards France and protective air cover and destroyer escort.

    The British had a stroke of luck on 26 May. In mid-morning an RAF Coastal Command Catalina reconnaissance aircraft from 209 Squadron, which had flown over the Atlantic from its base on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland across the Donegal Corridor, a small air-corridor secretly provided by the Éire government,[38] spotted Bismarck (via her oil slick) and reported her position to the Admiralty. From then on, the German ship's position was known to the British, although the enemy would have to be slowed significantly if heavy units hoped to engage it out of range of German aircraft protection. All British hopes were now pinned on Force H, whose main units were the aircraft-carrier Ark Royal, the battlecruiser Renown and the cruiser Sheffield. This battle-group, commanded by Admiral James Somerville, had been diverted north from Gibraltar.[39]

    At 19:25 that evening, in atrocious weather conditions, Ark Royal launched its Fairey Swordfish for another attack. The first wave mistakenly targeted the Sheffield that was by now shadowing the quarry. Although precious time was lost by this incident, it proved beneficial to the British in that the magnetic detonators on the torpedoes used against Sheffield were seen to be defective, and for the following attack on Bismarck were replaced by contact detonators. In a final attack, almost in darkness at 21:05, a hit by a single torpedo from a Swordfish of 818 NAS (piloted by Sub-Lieutenant John Moffat) jammed Bismarck's rudder and steering gear.[40] This rendered Bismarck virtually unmanoeuvrable, increased her list to port and left her able to steam only in a large circle in the general direction of King George V and Rodney, two frontline battleships that had been in pursuit from the west. After extensive and unsuccessful efforts to free the jammed rudders, the fleet command finally acknowledged their, by now, impossible position in several messages to naval headquarters. Lütjens sent one last defiant message: "Ship unmanoeuvrable. We fight to our last shell. Long live the Fuhrer". The cost to the attacking British had been five Swordfish aircraft damaged, one beyond repair.[41]

    Throughout the night of 26/27 May Bismarck was the target of incessant torpedo attacks by the Tribal-class destroyers Cossack, Sikh, Maori and Zulu, with the Polish Piorun. Bismarck inflicted some damage on the British destroyers. Aboard Zulu a sub-lieutenant in the gunnery control tower lost a hand to shell splinters when a shell landed on the destroyer's forecastle, but did not explode. Cossack had its radio antenna sheared off by a shell.[42] The constant harrying tactics of the British helped wear down the morale of the Germans and deepened the fatigue of an already exhausted crew.[43]

    Both Ark Royal and Renown had a lucky escape during the night. The British ships were unaware they had come within firing range of Kapitänleutnant Herbert Wohlfarth's U-556 submarine, which had earlier exercised with Bismarck in the Baltic,[44] with Bismarck being referred to as the submarine's "big brother;"[45] however, U-556, returning from a combat patrol, had spent all its torpedoes. U-556 continued to shadow the British forces, reporting their position and guiding other U-boats to the area until forced to abandon the Bismarck and return to Lorient as he was running low on fuel.[46]

    Sinking

    [[File:|right|thumb|The final battle, 27 May 1941. Surrounded by shell splashes, Bismarck burns on the horizon.]]

    Around 08:00 on 27 May, Rodney and King George V closed to within 21 nautical miles (39 km) of Bismarck, with their enemy well illuminated by the morning sun in the background. At this point visibility was only 10 nautical miles (19 km) and the sea state at 4-5. High winds were blowing in 320 degrees from the North West at a force of 6-7.[47] Rodney steered to the north so that her gunfire would work the length of Bismarck, while King George V took the side. They opened fire at 08:47. Bismarck returned fire, but her inability to steer and her list to port affected accuracy. Her low speed of seven knots made her an easy target, and she was soon hit several times, with heavy cruisers Norfolk and Dorsetshire adding their firepower. At 09:02 an 8-inch (200 mm) shell from Norfolk hit the main gun director, killing the gunnery officer, Adalbert Schneider, who had been awarded the Knight's Cross in the early hours of the same morning for his part in sinking Hood. At 09:08 a heavy shell from Rodney hit both of Bismarck's forward turrets, Anton and Bruno,[47] disabling the latter; this was followed by another salvo which destroyed the forward control post, killing most of the senior officers.[48] The aft turrets, Caesar and Dora, continued to fire locally. At 09:21 Dora was knocked out. The crew of Anton managed to fire one last salvo at 09:27. At 09:31 Caesar fired its last salvo and was then knocked out.[47] This salvo straddled Rodney jamming the ship's torpedo tubes. Bismarck's salvoes throughout the battle were directed at Rodney, the older ship (perhaps in the hope of achieving a success similar to Hood). When Admiral Guernsey observed this, he remarked: "Thank heavens she's shooting at Rodney."[49] The closest Bismarck came to threatening King George V was when von Müllenheim, under local fire control, zeroed in on the enemy but had his director blown away by a direct hit before fire could be directed at the British battleship. Within 44 minutes, Bismarck's heavy guns were all silent. Rodney now closed to point-blank range (approximately three km) to pound the superstructure, while King George V fired from further out.[50]

    File:HMS Dorsetshire Bismarck
    Survivors from Bismarck are pulled aboard HMS Dorsetshire on 27 May 1941

    Bismarck continued to fly her ensign. With no sign of surrender, despite the unequal struggle, the British were loath to leave Bismarck. Their fuel and shell supplies were low, a demonstration of how difficult it was for a battleship to sink a similar unit, even in an unbalanced engagement; however, when it became obvious that their enemy could not reach port, Rodney, King George V and the destroyers were sent home. Norfolk had no torpedoes left, so Dorsetshire launched three 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes at comparatively short range, which may have hit Bismarck. The battleship's upper works were almost completely destroyed but her engines were still functioning, although Johannes "Hans" Zimmermann, a boiler room stoker who survived, confirms that salt water had entered the boiler feed lines causing the engineers to reduce speed to seven knots, fearing an explosion,[51] and the hull appeared to be relatively sound; therefore, rather than risk her being captured, survivors have said the order to scuttle and then abandon ship was given. Many of the crew went into the water, but few sailors from the lower engine spaces survived. As Captain Lindemann was presumed killed with all officers after the bridge was hit by a 16-inch (410 mm) shell, it is unclear whether he could have given the order to scuttle.

    Bismarck slipped below the waves stern-first at 10:39 that morning. Unaware of the fate of the ship, Group West, the German command base, continued to issue signals to Bismarck for some hours, until Reuters reported news from Britain that the ship had been sunk. In Britain, the House of Commons was informed of the sinking early that afternoon.[52] Dorsetshire and Maori stopped to rescue survivors, but a U-boat alarm caused them to leave the scene after rescuing only 110 Bismarck sailors, abandoning the surviving crew in the water. The next morning U-74, which had heard sinking noises from a distance, and the German weather ship Sachsenwald picked up 5 survivors. 1,995 of the ship's crew of 2,200 died.[53]

    In all, 2,876 shells of various calibres were fired by the British ships; approximately 300-400 hit. Of the total fired, 714 were heavy-calibre 14-inch (360 mm) and 16-inch (410 mm) shells from two battleships, about 80 of which hit Bismarck, but only a few shells penetrated its armour.[54]

    After the sinking, Tovey wrote in his memoirs: "The Bismarck had put up a most gallant fight against impossible odds, worthy of the old days of the Imperial German Navy, and she went down with her colours flying."[55] The admiral had wanted to say this publicly but the Admiralty informed him: "For political reasons it is essential that nothing of the nature of the sentiments expressed by you should be given publicity, however much we admire a gallant fight."[56]

    War diary

    At 07:10 on the morning of the final battle, Lütjens, with Bismarck now doomed, requested that Group West send any U-Boat in the area to retrieve the ship's war diary.[47] U-556 was now low on fuel and had passed its shadowing duties and communication with Group West to U-74 which had just arrived, albeit damaged by depth charges and unable to fire torpedoes. U-556 was underwater when Lütjens sent out the request to retrieve the war diary. An earlier attempt to send the diary via the Arado Ar 196 float aircraft had also failed, due to the damage the catapult had received from Prince of Wales at the Denmark Strait battle (the Arado was dumped overboard and its floats pierced to ensure it sank).[57] However, by this point (08:00) it was far too late for a U-Boat to reach Bismarck.[46]

    Role of the Luftwaffe

    The Luftwaffe came under heavy criticism from Hitler for failing to help Bismarck on the morning of her final battle. Luftflotte 3 had been apprised of Bismarck's intentions as early as May 24 and its units, mainly equipped with Heinkel He 111s, could have been positioned to help the ship. On May 26 Bismarck was within 700 miles (1,100 km) of the French coast (as reported by Flying Officer Dennis Briggs flying a Catalina of No. 209 squadron).[58] An attack by the He 111s, with a maximum range of 1,750 miles (2,820 km), could have slowed down Ark Royal and prevented the Fairey Swordfish attack which crippled Bismarck. In the event, the Luftwaffe appeared over the battle area an hour after Bismarck had sunk. 17 Kampfgeschwader 28 He 111s attacked Ark Royal but their bombs missed. Only 218 sorties were flown by the Luftwaffe in support of Rheinübung with KG 100, KG 1, KG 54 and KG 77. The only casualty of these raids was the destroyer Mashona, which was sunk by Kampfgeschwader 77 on 28 May off the west coast of Ireland.[59] A Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor had sighted Rodney but was unable to communicate the position accurately without radar, reporting her as 200 miles (320 km) further from the French coast than was the case. Thus, a possible chance for the Luftwaffe to attack the British battleship was lost. Meaningful missions did not start until 03:00 on May 27, by which time Bismarck's fate was sealed.[60]

    Discovery of the wreck

    First discovery by Robert Ballard

    File:Bb
    CG images of Bismarck from several angles as painted for Operation Rheinübung. The swastika (1), an identification for pilots while the ship was in home waters, was painted over prior to the operation.

    The wreck of Bismarck was discovered on 8 June 1989 by Dr. Robert Ballard, the oceanographer also responsible for finding the Titanic. Bismarck rests upright at a depth of approximately 4,791 m (17,500;ft),[61] about 650 kilometres west of Brest, France. The Bismarck struck an extinct underwater volcano, which rose some 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above the surrounding abyssal plain, triggering a 2 kilometre (1.25 mile) landslide. Bismarck slid down the mountain, coming to a stop two-thirds down.[62]

    Analysis of the wreck not only showed extensive damage to the superstructure by shelling and some minor damage to the hull by torpedo hits, but also suggested that the Germans scuttled the ship to hasten its sinking. This has never been proven by marine investigators but is confirmed by survivors. Ballard has kept the exact location of the wreck a secret to prevent other divers from taking artefacts from the ship, a practice he considers a form of grave robbing.[61]

    On discovering the wreck, it was found that the whole stern had broken away; as it was not near the main wreckage and has not yet been found, it can be assumed this did not occur on impact with the sea floor. The missing section came away roughly where the torpedo had hit, raising questions of possible structural failure.[63] The stern area had also received several hits, increasing the damage caused by the torpedo. This, coupled with the fact the ship sank "stern first" and had no structural support to hold it in place, suggests the stern became detached at the surface. In 1942 Prinz Eugen was also torpedoed in the stern, which subsequently collapsed. This prompted a strengthening of the stern structures on all German capital ships.[64]

    Second expedition

    A second, Anglo-American, Bismarck expedition in 2001 was funded by a British TV channel. The team used the information that Bismarck was resting at the foot of the only undersea volcano in that area to locate the wreck. Using ROVs to film the hull externally, the team concluded that the ship sank due to combat damage, having received numerous artillery and torpedo hits. Expedition leader David Mearns claimed significant gashes were found in the hull: "My feeling is that those holes were probably lengthened by the slide, but initiated by torpedoes".[65]

    James Cameron expedition

    The documentary film Expedition: Bismarck (2002), directed by James Cameron and filmed using smaller and more agile MIR submersibles, reconstructs the events leading to the sinking of Bismarck. These provided some interior shots of Bismarck for the first time, which were transmitted on the National Geographic Channel (NGC). His findings were that there was not enough damage below the waterline of the ship to confirm that she was actually sunk by shells and torpedoes. In fact, upon close inspection of the wreckage, it was confirmed that none of the torpedoes or shells penetrated the second layer of the inner hull. Cameron put forward a theory to explain the large gashes observed by the Anglo-American expedition: he suggested that Bismarck suffered a "hydraulic outburst" when it hit the bottom. Cameron said the belt held, but inner forces caused the sides to bulge out and break in places. Cameron sent small ROVs into the gashes and into the ship's interior. Twice they came upon torpedo holes at the ends of long gashes. But upon sending the tethered robots even deeper into the ship it was discovered that the torpedo blasts had failed to shatter its armoured inner walls. All that was destroyed was an outer "sacrificial zone" of water and fuel tanks that German engineers had created to absorb torpedo hits and keep interior spaces flood free. "The inner tank walls are untouched by any explosive force", "So the armor worked." Cameron concluded that the torpedoes caused "no significant flooding".[65]

    Ballard's third expedition

    The third survey found no underwater penetrations of the ship's fully-armoured citadel. Eight holes were found in the hull, one on the starboard side and seven on the port side, all above the waterline. One of the holes is in the deck, on the starboard side of the bow. The angle and shape indicates it was fired from Bismarck's port side and struck the starboard anchor chain. The anchor chain has disappeared down this hole.[66] Six holes are amidships, three shell fragments pierced the upper splinter belt, and one made a hole in the main armour belt.[67] Further aft a huge hole is visible, parallel to the aircraft catapult, on the deck. It is unclear whether this was a result of an internal magazine explosion due to a shell penetration of the ship's armour. The submersibles recorded no sign of a shell penetration through the main or side armour that could have caused this; it is likely that the shell penetrated the deck armour only.[68]

    Huge dents showed that many of the 14 inch (356 mm) shells fired by King George V bounced off the German belt armour.[69] Interior ROV footage showed that the "terrible destruction" the Anglo-American expedition reported was in fact to the torpedo bulges, which were designed to absorb the energy of torpedoes and plunging shells. Underneath the torn bulge sheeting, the ship's 320 mm (12.6 inch) thick main belt armour appeared to be intact. It cannot be confirmed by Ballard that the shell holes pictured in Bismarck's armour were full penetrations.[citation needed]

    Furthermore, Ballard's expedition revealed there were no signs of the implosions that occur when air-filled compartments succumb to outside water pressure. This suggests that Bismarck's compartments were flooded when the ship sank, supporting the scuttling theory.[70]

    The American expedition's final conclusions were strikingly different from the findings of the Anglo-American team; they estimated that Bismarck could still have floated for at least a day when the British vessels ceased fire and could have been captured by the Royal Navy, a position supported by the historian Ludovic Kennedy.[71] Ballard found the hull sound, adding: "we found a hull that appears whole and relatively undamaged by the descent and impact".[71] They concluded the direct cause of sinking was due to scuttling: sabotage of engine-room valves by her crew, as claimed by German survivors.[citation needed]

    Criticisms of ship's design

    File:Bundeswehrmuseum Dresden
    Model at Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr

    Preston claimed that the design was an enlarged reworking of the World War I Bayern class battleships and retained old-fashioned features particularly in respect of the armour layout, regarded as outdated by the Royal Navy and United States Navy.[72] Authors like Jack Brower[73] or William H. Garzke and Robert O. Dulin have claimed this is not true in their books The Battleship Bismarck and Battleships: Axis and Neutral Battleships in World War II: "This … resulted in some speculation that the Bismarck-class battleships were mere copies of these older ships. This is false; the new ships had to be faster and have more protection, range, and firepower; and the percentages allocated to armour protection, firepower, and propulsion were not the same as Bayern. The triple-shaft arrangement and the distribution and calibre of the main armament were the only major similarities."[74][75]

    The low location of the main armour deck, in the same position as that in WWI ships, left the two decks above the armour deck exposed to plunging fire and bombs; British and American ships reduced the exposed area by positioning the main armour decks one deck higher.[72] The Bismarck class battleships were designed to fight in the North Sea and the North Atlantic. In these waters poor visibility, especially during the winter, meant relatively short ranges of engagement, typically 10-15,000 m, were expected; the emphasis was, therefore, on close-range protection.[73] The dual armoured decks were chosen by the Kriegsmarine to guarantee that shells and bombs burst upon contact with the upper armoured deck, rather than penetrating deeper into the ship's vitals.[76]

    Some communication systems, including her main damage-control centre and fire-control rooms, were beneath the main armoured deck, and the cables from bridge and rangefinders were routed through the three armoured shafts between these stations and the rooms beneath the main armoured deck.[77]

    The provision of both a secondary armament of twelve 5.9-inch (150 mm) guns and the inclusion of a separate battery of sixteen 4.1-inch (100 mm) high-angle (anti-aircraft) guns was also criticised on the grounds that fitting two types of weapons required more deck space and weight than the dual-purpose secondary armaments of Allied ships, which could engage both air and surface targets, required only one size of secondary ammunition, and simplified fire-control.[78] The use of dual-purpose armament might possibly have increased the number of anti-aircraft guns but might have weakened the ship's defence against destroyer attacks, which German naval experts deemed more important.[79] The sixteen 4.1-inch (100 mm) AA guns gave good performance early in the war, but against newer and better aircraft types it became necessary to convert the 5.9-inch (150 mm) guns for dual-purpose use against both surface and aerial threats.[79]

    References in the Wehrmachtbericht

    The following broadcasts by the Germans were not accurate. The Bismarck did not shoot down any British aircraft, and it did not sink or significantly damage any enemy destroyer. The destroyer referred to in the report was HMS Mashona, sunk by the Luftwaffe on 28 May.

    Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
    Saturday, 24 May 1941 Wie ebenfalls durch Sondermeldung bekanntgegeben wurde, stieß ein deutscher Flottenverband unter Führung des Flottenchefs Lütjens im Seegebiet um Island auf schwere britische Seestreitkräfte. Nach einem kurzen schweren Gefecht versenkte das Schlachtschiff "Bismarck" den britischen Schlachtkreuzer "Hood," das größte Schlachtschiff der britischen Flotte. Ein weiteres Schlachtschiff der neusten englischen "King George"-Klasse wurde beschädigt und zum Abdrehen gezwungen. Die deutschen Seestreitkräfte setzten ohne Verluste ihre Operation fort.[80] As also mentioned in a special report, a German task force under the leadership of chief of fleet Lütjens encountered, in the sea area of Iceland, heavy British sea forces. The battleship "Bismarck" sank the British battlecruiser "Hood," the largest battleship of the British fleet, after a short and heavy battle. A further battleship of the newest English "King George" class was damaged and forced to retreat. The German sea forces continued their operation without loss.
    Wednesday, 28 May 1941 Wie schon gestern bekanntgegeben, wurde das Schlachtschiff "Bismarck" nach seinem siegreichen Gefecht bei Island am 26. Mai abends durch den Torpedotreffer eines feindlichen Flugzeuges manövrierunfähig. Getreu dem letzten Funkspruch des Flottenchefs Admiral Lütjens ist das Schlachtschiff mit seinem Kommandanten Kapitän zur See Lindemann und seiner tapferen Besatzung am 27. Mai vormittags der vielfachen feindlichen Übermacht erlegen und mit wehender Flagge gesunken.[81] As reported yesterday, the battleship "Bismarck," after its victorious battle near Iceland, was on 26 May hit by a torpedo from an enemy aircraft and left unmanoeuvrable. True to the last radio message from chief of fleet Admiral Lütjens, the battleship was defeated by overwhelming enemy forces and sank with flag flying together with its commander Kapitän zu See Lindemann and its brave crew, on 27 May before noon.
    Thursday, 29 May 1941 Das Schlachtschiff "Bismarck" schoß am Abend des 24. Mai fünf britische Flugzeuge ab, versenkte in der Nacht zum 27. Mai einen der angreifenden feindlichen Zerstörer und schoß einen weiteren in Brand.[82] The battleship "Bismarck" shot down five British aircraft on the evening of 24 May sank an attacking enemy destroyer on the night of 27 May and shot up another until it burned.

    See also

    Battleships portal

    Notes

    1. ^ The Scharnhorst class ships were described both as battlecruisers (by the British Royal Navy) and battleships (by the German Kriegsmarine and US Navy)

    References

    1. ^ Jackson 2002, p. 24
    2. ^ "Bismarck Technical Data and Battleship Comparison; retrieved 14 November 2009
    3. ^ Channel 4 - Hood v Bismarck - History - The Battles
    4. ^ von Mullenheim-Rechberg, B., Battleship Bismarck, a survivor's story; new improved edition. Annapolis: United States Naval Institute Press (1990). ISBN 978-0870210969, pp. 246-76
    5. ^ "The Final Battle (A desperate fight against impossible odds)"; retrieved 27 November 2009
    6. ^ von Mullenheim-Rechberg, p. 80
    7. ^ Garzke and Dulin, p. 303
    8. ^ "Bismarck's Officer Corps"; retrieved 14 November 2009
    9. ^ "Bismarck - The History - Operation "Rheinübung" (Part One)"; retrieved 14 November 2009
    10. ^ Denham, Henry (1985). Inside the Nazi ring. New York: Holmes & Meier. pp. 82–86. ISBN 0841910243. OCLC 241662312 11517567 241662312 
    11. ^ Coastal Command, 1942, Mr A.H.A St George Saunders, Stationary Office, London.
    12. ^ Coastal Command at War, 1943, Squadron LeaderTom-Dudley Gordon, Jarrolds Publishers, London.
    13. ^ Hinsley, F. H.; with E. E. Thomas, C. F. G. Ranson (1979). British Intelligence in the Second World War. 1. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 339–41. ISBN 0521229405. OCLC 5420123 71381777 78886126 123166558 5420123 71381777 78886126 
    14. ^ http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/official/adm234/adm234-509tovey.htm
    15. ^ ["Tovey's Dilemma http://www.hmshood.com/history/denmarkstrait/bismarck1.htm]
    16. ^ Hansson, Per; translated by Maurice Michael (1967). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator The Greatest Gamble (Translated from the Norwegian Det Største Spillet © Gyldendal Norsk Forlag A/S 1965; translation © George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1967)]. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York. pp. 6–10 
    17. ^ McLachlan, Donald (1968). Room 39. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. pp. 147. ISBN 0297761153. OCLC 463107 
    18. ^ Salmon, Patrick (editor) (1995). Britain and Norway in the Second World War. London: H.M.S.O. pp. 129–39. ISBN 0117012327. OCLC 243823854 32729981 33044363 185470038 243823854 32729981 33044363 
    19. ^ von Mullenheim-Rechberg, pp. 112-13,
    20. ^ Barrett 1991, pp 284-285
    21. ^ Barrett, 285
    22. ^ Tovey, Admiral Sir John (1941). "ADM 234/509: Sinking of the 'Bismarck', 27 May 1941". http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/official/adm234/adm234-509tovey.htm 
    23. ^ [von Mullenheim-Rechberg, pp. 131-32
    24. ^ "Operation Rheinübung: Bismarck's Atlantic Sortie - To the Denmark Strait"; retrieved 14 November 2009
    25. ^ "The Pursuit of Bismarck & the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, Part 2 - Face-to-Face with a Legend; retrieved 14 November 2009
    26. ^ Kennedy
    27. ^ a b Chesenau 2002, p. 156
    28. ^ a b "The Pursuit of Bismarck & the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, Part 2 - The Battle of the Denmark Strait; retrieved 14 November 2009
    29. ^ Doubt had been cast on whether or not Prinz Eugen struck Hood, citing that Hood was not her target. However, Prinz Eugen's Gunnery Officer, Paul Schmallenbach, rejects this, confirming Eugen's target was also Hood: Chesneau 2002, p. 156
    30. ^ "Bismarck survivor reports" (pdf). kbismarck.com. http://www.kbismarck.com/archives/survivor-reports.pdf. 
    31. ^ "The Battle of the Denmark Strait". hmshood.com. http://www.hmshood.com/history/denmarkstrait/bismarck2.htm. 
    32. ^ Chesneau 2002, pp. 156-158
    33. ^ Chesenau 2002, p. 180: During the filming of Hood's wreck, the rudder was positioned 20 degrees to port, indicating Hood had already begun to execute the "2blue" order
    34. ^ ADM 234/509: H.M.S. Prince of Wales' Gunnery Aspects of the "Bismarck" Pursuit,. http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/official/adm234/adm234-509guns.htm. 
    35. ^ a b c Jackson 2002, p. 90
    36. ^ "Operation Rheinübung: Bismarck's Atlantic Sortie - Attacked by Swordfish Torpedo Planes"; retrieved 14 November 2009
    37. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 103 - "Bismarck: Germany's Greatest Battleship reveals her secrets" title
    38. ^ BBC - WW2 People's War - World War Memories of an Ulster Childhood
    39. ^ von Mullenheim-Rechberg, p. 175
    40. ^ Wade, Mike (24 June 2009). "The Times 25th June 2009". London. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article6572317.ece. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
    41. ^ The Story of the Torpedoing of the Bismarck
    42. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 117. Bismarck: Germany's Greatest Battleship reveals her secrets
    43. ^ Ballard 1990[page needed]. Bismarck: Germany's Greatest Battleship reveals her secrets
    44. ^ Jackson 2002, p. 49
    45. ^ The Special Bond between the Bismarck and U-556
    46. ^ a b Blair 1996, p. 291.
    47. ^ a b c d Jackson 2002, p. 91
    48. ^ Pictures of the Bismarck's bridge
    49. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 125
    50. ^ "The Final Battle (A desperate fight against impossible odds)"; Kbismarck site, retrieved July 2010
    51. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 118. Bismarck:Germany's Greatest Battleship reveals her secrets
    52. ^ "War Situation"; retrieved 8 December 2009
    53. ^ Bismarck's Crew: Ship's Complement bismarck-class.dk
    54. ^ Bismarck's Final Battle
    55. ^ Muller et al. 2003, p. 419: Tovey's report of 5 July 1941; Home Fleet No. 896 (H.F 1,325); 5 July 1951; PRO, ADM 234/509,8
    56. ^ Muller et al 2003, p. 419
    57. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 122-123 Bismarck: Germany's Greatest Battleship surrenders her secrets title
    58. ^ Jackson 2002, p.48
    59. ^ de Zeng et al. Vol 1 2007, p. 252
    60. ^ Jackson 2002, pp. 50-52
    61. ^ a b Ballard 1990, p. 221
    62. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 216
    63. ^ Ballard 1990, pp. 177-178
    64. ^ Ballard 1990, pp. 214-215
    65. ^ a b Sinking of the Bismarck New York Times
    66. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 194
    67. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 214
    68. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 191
    69. ^ Jackson 2002, p. 85
    70. ^ Jackson 2002, p. 88
    71. ^ a b Ballard 1990, p. 215
    72. ^ a b Preston 1977, p. 105
    73. ^ a b Brower, 2005. p. 16
    74. ^ The 38 cm (15 in) guns mounted on Bismarck were of newer and more advanced design with longer barrels and had significantly greater range: 36,200 m versus 20,400 m than the older guns. See Gröner, pp. 30, 35
    75. ^ Garzke & Dulin 1990, p. 204
    76. ^ Garzke and Dulin, pp. 283–285
    77. ^ Ballard 1990, p. 25-26. Bismarck: Germany's Greatest Battleship reveals her secrets
    78. ^ Preston 1982, p. 105
    79. ^ a b Garzke & Dulin 1990, p. 297
    80. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, p. 538, 540
    81. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, p. 542
    82. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, p. 544

    Bibliography

    • Ballard, Robert D. (1990). Bismarck: Germany's Greatest Battleship Gives Up its Secrets. Toronto: Madison Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7858-2205-9. 
    • Ballard, Robert D. (1990). The Discovery of the Bismarck. Toronto: Madison Publishing. ISBN 978-0-3405-2976-8. 
    • Baron von Mullenheim-Rechberg, Burkhard (1980). Battleship Bismarck, A Survivor's Story. Annapolis: United States Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0870210969. 
    • Barrett, Corelli (1991). Engage the Enemy More Closely: The Royal Navy in the Second World War. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-02918-2. 
    • Brower, Jack (2005). The Battleship Bismarck. Annapolis: United States Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1591140501. 
    • Chesneau, Roger (2002). Hood - Life and Death of a Battlecruiser. London: Cassell Publishing. ISBN 0-304-35980-7. 
    • de Zeng, H.L; Stanket, D.G; Creek, E.J. Bomber Units of the Luftwaffe 1933-1945; A Reference Source, Volume 2. Ian Allen Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-1-903223-87-1
    • Garzke, William; John Dulin (1990). Battleships: Axis and Neutral Battleships in World War II. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-8702-1101-0. 
    • Gröner, Erich (1990). German Warships: 1815–1945. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870217909. OCLC 22101769. 
    • Jackson, Robert (2002). The Bismarck. London: Weapons of War. ISBN 1-86227-173-9. 
    • Muller, Rolf-Dieter; Bernhard R. Kroener (2003). Germany and the Second World War: Organization and Mobilization in the German Sphere of Power, Wartime Administration, Economy, and Manpower Resources 1942-1944/5. IV. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-1982-0873-0. 
    • Preston, Antony (1977). Battleships 1856-1977. ISBN 0-7271-0183-8. 
    • Preston, Antony (1982). Battleships (Warships). Hollywood: Lifetime Books. ISBN 0-8119-0462-8. 
    • Rico, José M. (2004). The Battleship Bismarck. The Complete History of a Legendary Ship. KBismark.com. 
    • Roberts, John (2001). The Battlecruiser Hood. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-900-x. 
    • Admiralty report CB 04039(2) Immune zone analysis of Tirpitz, KGV, Nelson, and QE

    Further reading

    • Bercuson, David J. and Herwig, Holger H. The Destruction of the Bismarck (Stoddart Publishing, Toronto, 2001) ISBN 9780773733251
    • Bonomi, Antonio. Stretto di Danimarca, 24 maggio 1941, "Storia Militare" magazine, December 2005.
    • Breyer, Breyer, Battleships and Battlecruisers 1905-1970 (Doubleday and Company; Garden City, New York, 1973) (originally published in German as Schlachtschiffe und Schlachtkreuzer 1905-1970, J. F. Lehmanns Verlag, Munchen, 1970).
    • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 (in German). München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 1985. ISBN 3-423-05944-3.
    • Elfrath, Ulrich and Herzog, Bodo. The Battleship Bismarck: A Documentary in Words and Pictures Schiffer; Atglen, Pennsylvania; 1989) (originally published in German as Schlachtschiff Bismarck, Ein Bericht in Bildern und Dokumentation, Podzun-Palles Verlag, Friedberg, 1975).
    • Forrester, C.S. Hunting the Bismarck (first published by Michael Joseph Ltd in 1959) OCLC 2280633
    • Hansson, Per (1965). Det største spillet. Oslo: Gyldendal. 
    • Jackson, Robert. The Bismarck. Weapons of War: London, 2002. ISBN 1-86227-173-9
    • Kemp, Paul J. Bismarck and Hood: Great Naval Adversaries (Arms and Armor Press, London, 1991) ISBN 9781854090997
    • Kennedy, Ludovic. Pursuit: The Sinking of the Bismarck (London, 1975) ISBN 9780006340140
    • Mulligan, Timothy P. "Ship-of-the-Line or Atlantic Raider? Battleship "Bismarck" between Design Limitations and Naval Strategy", The Journal of Military History 69:4 (October 2005), 1013-1044.
    • Preston, Antony (2002). The World’s Worst Warships. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-754-6.. 
    • Rhys-Jones, Graham. The Loss of the Bismarck: An Avoidable Disaster (Cassell & Company, London, 1999)
    • Ballard, Robert D. "Exploring the Bismark" (Ashton Scholastic Pty Limited 1994) ISBN 9780304353149

    External links

    Coordinates: 48°10′N 16°12′W / 48.167°N 16.2°W / 48.167; -16.2








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