Could the Luftwaffe covered Bismarck?

Admiral Beez

1st Lieutenant
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When Admiral Lütjens broke radio silence, allowing Bismarck’s heretofore lost pursuers to renew the chase, Bismarck was closing for France. When HMS Ark Royal’s Swordfish made their critical rudder hit, Bismarck was about 300 nautical miles (560 km; 350 mi) west of Brest, France. Was it possible for the Luftwaffe to provide fighter cover?

Per Wikipedia, at max cruise the Bf 110 had a range of only 460 nautical miles. So, it would have been a one way trip. Were there other aircraft, perhaps a Ju 88 fighter variant? Ark Royal won’t be expecting fighter cover, so her Fulmars might not show.
 

Shortround6

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Per Wikipedia, at max cruise the Bf 110 had a range of only 460 nautical miles.
Quit using Wikipedia unless you double check it.
Nobody was going to fly around for an hour and 1/2 at max cruise.

A Bf 110C could do around 680 miles at economical cruise clean, which is pushing things. very little time on station or reserve.
However there some Bf 110Ds around (without the horrible belly tanks) that would hold a pair of 66imp gal drop tanks or even a pair of 198 Imp gal drop tanks.
Question is if any were around at the time or if all of them had flown off to the eastern/Mediterranean fronts (some of the Long Ranges Ds were used in May in Iraq).

300NM from Brest is only about 345nm from Plymouth and about 50miles less from Lands end.
The RAF had started issuing Beaufighters to CC in April but that squadron was based in Malta.

100NM west of Brest is about 160 NM from Plymouth.

Basically the British could also have put a lot of not very suitable aircraft in area.

FW 200 vs Martin Marylander?
 

WARSPITER

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Oct 23, 2007
Any German aircraft would have had to fly outside / around British fighter range in the first place.

They would also have to find Bismark and/or the RN units to be able to make themselves useful.

The JU-88 fighter variant which had been used in Poland was indeed very thin on the ground and
was different to later production aircraft which retained the gondola and were modified on the
production line as needed. Numbers were very low so probably a non starter anyway.

Condors and Dorniers could have been sent but whether they could keep the RN at bay to give Bismarck
time to escape is highly doubtful.
 

GrauGeist

Generalfeldmarschall zur Luftschiff Abteilung
Any German aircraft would have had to fly outside / around British fighter range in the first place.
The Luftwaffe bases on the eastern coast of France could largely operate without interference by British fighters, though there would have been the chance of encountering British multi-engine patrol aircraft.
 

Admiral Beez

1st Lieutenant
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I think you're right. How close does Bismarck need to get for Luftwaffe cover to be feasible? Even with a list and tons of flooding onboard Bismarck was apparently running for Brest at over 25 knots. Had Lutjen's maintained radio silence or the FAA been less lucky and not disabled her rudder, Bismarck would be over a hundred miles closer to Brest in four hours time.
 

DerAdlerIstGelandet

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I think you're right. How close does Bismarck need to get for Luftwaffe cover to be feasible? Even with a list and tons of flooding onboard Bismarck was apparently running for Brest at over 25 knots. Had Lutjen's maintained radio silence or the FAA been less lucky and not disabled her rudder, Bismarck would be over a hundred miles closer to Brest in four hours time.

Expect a one word response back… ;
:D
 

Macandy

Senior Airman
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Aug 6, 2017
At best, the Luftwaffe might have got a few JU-88's or Fw200's over the scene - and, the ability of the Luftwaffe to interfere with Royal Navy warships able to operate at speed, with searoom to freely manoeuvre was 'limited' to put it politely.

End game : Bismarck still get sunk, but now with some Luftwaffe happy snaps to record the event.
 

Thumpalumpacus

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At best, the Luftwaffe might have got a few JU-88's or Fw200's over the scene - and, the ability of the Luftwaffe to interfere with Royal Navy warships able to operate at speed, with searoom to freely manoeuvre was 'limited' to put it politely.

End game : Bismarck still get sunk, but now with some Luftwaffe happy snaps to record the event.

What if they found Force H rather than Bismarck? Do Swordfish poke holes in the rudder?
 

Admiral Beez

1st Lieutenant
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Oct 21, 2019
Toronto, Canada
What if they found Force H rather than Bismarck?
That would be something. Fw200 spots HMS Ark Royal to the south of Bismarck, reports back to base, likely pursued by Fulmars. A half dozen torpedo-armed JU-88s are sent out to attack the carrier. If those rudder-jamming Swordfish can be stopped, Bismarck will make it Brest, joining the repairing Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Lutzow and soon to arrive Prinz Eugen.

And then what? Bismarck along with the four heavies above will become target #1 for RAF Bomber Command. A non-lethal torpedo hit in May 1941 on Ark Royal might allow her to escape being sunk off Gibraltar that November.
 

FLYBOYJ

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Remember folks - there wasn't much cooperation between Goring and Dönitz.

 

Thumpalumpacus

1st Lieutenant
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Feb 5, 2021
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That would be something. Fw200 spots HMS Ark Royal to the south of Bismarck, reports back to base, likely pursued by Fulmars. A half dozen torpedo-armed JU-88s are sent out to attack the carrier. If those rudder-jamming Swordfish can be stopped, Bismarck will make it Brest, joining the repairing Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Lutzow and soon to arrive Prinz Eugen.

And then what? Bismarck along with the four heavies above will become target #1 for RAF Bomber Command. A non-lethal torpedo hit in May 1941 on Ark Royal might allow her to escape being sunk off Gibraltar that November.

Yeah, the ripples go in all directions. But the German ships are still going to be bombed mercilessly, as in actual timeline.
 

WARSPITER

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Oct 23, 2007
Remember folks - there wasn't much cooperation between Goring and Dönitz.

This is an important point. Due to the rivalry for resources and lack of cooperation little emphasis was given to a luftwaffe torpedo bomber
other than older biplane types until 1941. Heinkel 111 and JU-88's were not modified to carry torpedoes until early 1942. There was no possibility
of sending a twin engine torpedo delivery plane that far out to attack the British ships because there was no twin engined plane available that could
do it. Probably why they didn't.
 

Shortround6

Major General
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That would be something. Fw200 spots HMS Ark Royal to the south of Bismarck, reports back to base, likely pursued by Fulmars. A half dozen torpedo-armed JU-88s are sent out to attack the carrier. If those rudder-jamming Swordfish can be stopped, Bismarck will make it Brest, joining the repairing Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Lutzow and soon to arrive Prinz Eugen.
This assumes you actually had Ju-88s with torpedoes. One source says the Ju-88 didn't start using torpedoes until 1942.
Assumes Ju-88s in small numbers can actually hit the carrier and or assumes the British AA was as ineffective as the Bismarck.
Warspiter was faster ;)
 

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