Swordfish and the Bismark

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Seawitch

Airman 1st Class
145
12
Dec 17, 2006
London
www.seawitchartist.com
Hi all
Dramatic footage of Kamikazi's being shot down all over seems a stark contrast to the Swordfish raids on the Bismark....they sometimes came back without loss, and in the end struck the blow that doomed that Battle cruiser.
But what does that tell us more about.....the Bismark or the Swordfish?
 
The Swordfish did not have to deal with fighters, picket ships, better radar and the larger US Navy formations so not demeaning the Swordfish guys I'll assume they are glad they did not attack the US Navy in 45
 
The story I've heard is the Bismark's anti-aircraft guns were tracked to a director that could not track the Swordfish because they were flying below the lower level of the tracker's speed limit. Put simply, the Swordfish flew too slow for the German's to track them.

Could be BS, but it's the story I've heard. Seems they would still be vulnerable to hand held weapons (20mm or 7.62MG fire).
 
Have to agree with PB, if swordfish ever had to face the defences of a USN Carrier task force like the Kamikaze's did, I'm pretty sure they would have met the same fate. Saying that I believe those Swordfish crews were some brave men, taking on Battleships in old obsolete bi-planes would require nerves of steel.
 
You are quite right guys against more modern aircraft the Stringbags did tend to always come off worse conversely as Seawitch pointed out there lack of speed gave them some advantages It is true that the Bismark's AA gunnery control was not rated for aircraft that flew at such low speeds as the Swordfish (around only 80-90 knots at torpedo launch speed) but that still left all of the weapons fired through open sights (20mm 40mm etc) able to take on the aircraft.
Taranto was one of those occasion that showed used in the right conditions and with the element of surprise (and a determined crew) even out moded aircraft could punch way above there capabilities conversely badly deployed (the channel dash) it was a sitting duck for more modern machines.
One thing that the lack of speed gave the Stringbag, was a very stable weapons platform even when used for dive bombing with a limited dive speed of only 200knts doing anti tank duties in north Africa made the plane surprisingly effective.
Also when posted to the Woolworths carriers on convoy work having such a slow stooging speed made them really useful anti submarine aircraft.
The overall shipping kills made by these out of date aircraft was amongst the highest or any plane during the war and that includes the most up to date planes of the day so although there are lots of threads on this site that ask for opinions as to the best bomber,fighter etc best does not always equate to most effective.

Just as an add on here are 2 pieces of fabric from one of the Swordfish used in the film Sink the Bismark the signatures are 4 guys who took part in the actual Bismark raid
D.A.Bunce, Lt P.D.Gick, PO L.D Sayer Lt Cdr P.B.Meadway
 

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Hi All
Well, i bet they were glad they weren't attacking the American Fleet in '45, perhaps I should have asked environment as well as Swordfish or Bismark.
The account of the Bismark's air defence system amazes me.
Such a modern ship built to face an enemy who had only one Torpedo plane that could engage it anywhere........the Swordfish.
Somebody should have been shotz!:shock:
 
Shotz, HELL, sunk! Oh wait, that's what happened, never mind. I watch that movie about once every two months, along with The Dam Busters and BoB, just to hear Merlins.
 
If I remember rightly, didn't either the navigator or gunner one one of them have to hang out the aircraft and whack a faulty release mechanism loose? I love the story of the Swordfish, there is just something so British about it, how something that shouldn't have even been on the front line managed so much
 
WAY off topic, but something. A few years ago, we used to have a superb airshow locally, featuring a crapload of Mustangs, Fifi the B-29, a huge array of Texans, lots of other stuff, too, Jugs, Corsairs, you name it. When pulling into the parking lot, a finger four of Mustangs flew over, all those Merlins just purring like well-fed lions. That's about right, too, Chuck Yeager, Pete Petersen and two others from the 357thFG were in those Mustangs! Yowsers! I talked to them later, got Petersen to autograph his book for me.
Then the airshow got some big corporate sponsor and it got all commercial, went to Hell, too.
 
Interesting little snippet Joe.
I don't know how accurate the time fuses where (obviously nowhere near as good as PF's and not relevant to your post) anyone got any info on there accuracy.

If I remember rightly, didn't either the navigator or gunner one one of them have to hang out the aircraft and whack a faulty release mechanism loose? I love the story of the Swordfish, there is just something so British about it, how something that shouldn't have even been on the front line managed so much

Ive never heard about that NC
Read in The Swordfish story a couple of incidents One where an AA round passed between the Navigator and the Gunner and took out the floor. and another when the aircraft returned despite having a cylinder head shot off (good job it wasn't an inline)
 
Interesting little snippet Joe.
I don't know how accurate the time fuses where (obviously nowhere near as good as PF's and not relevant to your post) anyone got any info on there accuracy.
I read that these fuses made a big difference in AA and were a well kept secret for many years.
 
I read that these fuses made a big difference in AA and were a well kept secret for many years.

I'm not surprised it was a secret FBJ very clever stuff. I've always thought the US ordnance was amongst the best (specially propellant technology) ,tho I suppose it would have only been a matter of time before a dud was studied by the enemy and its secrets learned.
 
Just be glad the Germans didn't have them. Their AA was lethal already and can you imagine what would have happened to those tight daylight bomber formations.

Nightmare
 
If I remember rightly, didn't either the navigator or gunner one one of them have to hang out the aircraft and whack a faulty release mechanism loose? I love the story of the Swordfish, there is just something so British about it, how something that shouldn't have even been on the front line managed so much
I remember the person involved here being interviewed on a documentary.
I'm sure it was actually a case of him leaning over the side and banging the side of the aircraft to tell the pilot to drop the torpedo in what was a rough sea....the ideal time to lay a Torpedo then is when it will fall into the trough between two waves, and visibility wasn't too good, hence the antics to overcome.

Seawitch
 
I remember the person involved here being interviewed on a documentary.
I'm sure it was actually a case of him leaning over the side and banging the side of the aircraft to tell the pilot to drop the torpedo in what was a rough sea....the ideal time to lay a Torpedo then is when it will fall into the trough between two waves, and visibility wasn't too good, hence the antics to overcome.

Seawitch

That was shown on the Air Combat series on the History Channel. I seen it as well.
 
Times hadn't changed much in the RN. When dropping a depth charge from a Lynx the crewman used to lean out and set the depth with a key in the back of the charge. There was a remote way of doing this but it sometimes failed so we used to stick to the old fashioned manual method.

I expect (hope) things have improved today but it goes to show what used to happen.
 
This is kinda OT, but i was just thinking about the Channel Dash, and more specifically, fighters versus ships.

Hypothetically, could a fighter score a lucky hit on a battleship?

No bombs, just cannons.

What would they have to hit to cripple a battleship/heavy cruiser? Any ideas?

er, flame away of course: I know next to nothing about ships, and I can't help wondering :oops:
 

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