Ten hours away from homeland...Bismarck!

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Elmas, Sep 6, 2016.

  1. Elmas

    Elmas Active Member

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    #1 Elmas, Sep 6, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2016
    I’m aware that History is not made with” what’s" and "if’s” but let’s assume that Bismark could arrive at a distance of, say, something like 400 km from French coast, instead of 400 nm, point in which the battleship was sunk.

    Could you think that Luftwaffe in that case could have been able to mount a decisive protecting action with her against the RN?
     
  2. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Would that be within range of RAF Coastal Command?
     
  3. pinehilljoe

    pinehilljoe Member

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    IF Bismark had made to within range of land based fighter cover, and IF the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine cooperated, and IF there were enough fighters, then its not hard to imagine the Swordfish being intercepted and Bismark making it to Brest or St. Nazaire. And once within the air cover radius, I think Admiral Tovey would have thought twice about exposing KGV and Rodney. I don't know how many Fighter Groups were stationed on the West Coast of France.
     
  4. Denniss

    Denniss Active Member

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    RAF would have also thrown lots of fighters into the region to protect their ships and bombers. Maybe even additional bombers.
     
  5. soulezoo

    soulezoo Active Member

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    ^^^ Perhaps. But I think it would have boiled down to what each side would deem expendable (bug smashers) and that much less so (capital ships).

    If the Bismarck was in range of fighters, I believe they would have thrown everything in the sky to protect the Bismarck. This was not just another ship, but a big piece of national pride. Much like the Hood was.

    Cooperation between the services be damned, I can envision Hitler personally ordering the protective cover necessary. Even if unrealistic.

    I think the Bismarck makes it to Brest under those circumstances. But at what cost? Even if the Bismarck survives this run, I still believe its fate is sealed much like the Tirpitz.
     
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  6. pinehilljoe

    pinehilljoe Member

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    #6 pinehilljoe, Sep 7, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2016
    Admiral Tovey wrote afterwards he though Bismark going Brest, within range of the RAF a much better alternative to being in the open Atlantic.

    As far as the level of expendableness, depending on the account you read, Winston was ready to order Tovey to continue the chase even if it meant towing KGV home.

    I think Ludovic Kennedy's Pursuit, is one of the best on the chase of the Bismark. The book is exciting, the real life story is as good as any fiction you could write, you can't make that stuff up.
     
  7. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    If Bismark had made it to a French port I wouldnt care for the lives of the locals within a 10 mile radius, the RAF and FAA would probably throw everything that could fly at the port.
     
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  8. Elmas

    Elmas Active Member

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    I was wondering about how effective could be the Luftwaffe attacking a battleship force, middle 1941.

    FW-200? Their bombs, effective for a merchant ship, could be nothing more than a pinprick for a battleship.

    He -111 bombers? War had proved that to hit a ship from a flying level above 3000 ft was pure lottery, even if the battleship was thigtly secured with cables to a pier.

    Torpedo bombers of any kind? Had Luftwaffe torpedo-bombers in 1941? AFAIK, no.

    Ju-87? Without a fighter cover, probably an easy prey even for Fulmars even if, ( if....) they had sufficient range to find the target.

    Ju-88? Maybe....

    Probably, considering all this, Luftwaffe hurried up in developing He-293 and Fritz-X.
     
  9. pinehilljoe

    pinehilljoe Member

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    #9 pinehilljoe, Sep 8, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2016
    You are right, with planes the Luftwaffe had in May 1941, it may have been hard to sink a battleship or battle-cruiser. The only British Capital ship losses due to aircraft during the War were sunk by Japanese, who had torpedos in the strike force. All European losses were U-Boats or Gunfire (Hood and Glorious).

    This is not to say KGV and Rodney were unsinkable, if enough Stuka's and JU-88's attacked.

    In the words of RADM Jocko Clark, to sink a ship you have to let water in.
     
  10. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    A Channel Dash with 3 ships.
     
  11. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Regarding the Ju87's ability to sink a warship, refer to the Battle of Crete.
    HMS Warspite (battleship) was damaged
    HMS Gloucester (cruiser) was sunk
    HMS Fiji (cruiser) was damaged
    HMS Orion (destroyer) was damaged
    HMS Dido (destroyer) was damaged
    HMS Juno (destroyer) was sunk
    HMS Greyhound (destroyer) was sunk
    HMS Kasmir (destroyer) was sunk
    HMS Kelly (destroyer) was sunk
    HMS Herward (destroyer) was sunk

    As far as Luftwaffe strength at the time of the hunt for the Bismark, there was a significant strength in the area that could have come to the Bismark's aid.

    At the moment, I only have units on hand by late 1940 (Battle of Britain time period), not for spring '41, but gives a good idea of what was available.
    Based at Brest:
    III./JG53 - primarily Bf109
    Stab KG40 - Ju88
    I./KG40 - Fw200

    Nearby bases and distances from Brest:
    Lannion - 52 miles (84km)
    II./StG2 - Ju87

    Dinan - 111 miles (178km)
    II./JG53 - Bf109

    St. Malo - 114 miles (184km)
    Stab StG2 - Ju87
    I./StG2 - Ju87

    Rennes - 131 miles (211km)
    I./JG53 - Bf109
     
  12. pinehilljoe

    pinehilljoe Member

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    Agreed but no Capital ships sunk. When the Fritz-X was introduced, the Roma became first Capital sunk by the Luftwaffe. Warspite was hit and not fully repaired, but did serve at Normandy.

    In either case, with Bismark leaking oil and down by the bow from the hit by PoW, heading to Brest, its not hard to think ADM Tovey would stayed out of air range with KGV to fight another day.
     
  13. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Yea, no Capital ship was sunk, but that Royal Navy force was mauled and it's effectiveness completely reduced.

    If the Luftwaffe were tasked with protecting the retreating Bismark as she approached the coast, I imagine that the pursuing Royal Navy would have run the risk of a similar mauling.

    I also understand that the RAF and FAA would have challenged the Luftwaffe, but consider that the Luftwaffe had considerable assets in the area AND the Bismark was the pride of Germany, they would have most likely devoted a great deal of energy to save her.
     
  14. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    British ships were doing OK at Crete til they ran out of ammo.

    British claims: 22 claimed destroyed, 11 probably destroyed and 21 damaged
     
  15. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    At Crete were the British ships free to maneuver at speed in open sea or were they somewhat constrained by being near the Island shore?
    Destroyers are not that hard to sink, no armor and thin hull plates to spring with near misses. Not much for compartmentalization either. Bears little relation to sinking battleships, even old ones. 550lb GP bombs can cause serious damage to the top sides and perhaps cause underwater damage with near misses but require multiple hits, very near misses.
    How far were the German planes from the British ships at Crete and the British had about zero aircover. German bombers would only have escorting 109s within a few hundred miles of France. Without escorts it becomes a weather dependent gamble if the German bombers can find the British ships without British fighters finding the German bombers. .
     
  17. RCAFson

    RCAFson Well-Known Member

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    It's very doubtful that Me109s could provide escort out to 400km and they never did that in the Mediterranean. The only fighter escort would likely have been Me110s, and the Fulmar had good success against the Me110.
     
  18. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Bismarck was stopped 12 hours out from French Ports, roughly 300 miles from port.



    [​IMG]


    LW resources were actually fairly limited in western France and earmarked for co-operation with DKM in Rheinburung. JG26 was transferred to Brittany the last week of March 1941 to provide fighter aircover for Luftflotte 3. There about 15 Ju-88 LR fighter a/c aircraft set aside to support upcoming naval operations. The main strength of LF 3 was JG2, but the Luftwaffe saw fit to bolster fighter strength in that area for the navy. JG26 had few chances for combat from April through the end of May while on standby for the Navy. On the 26th (or was it the 27th but the 26th is recorded) of May the 1st Gruppe JG26 flew to its limit of 100 miles out to sea to provide CAP for Bismarck, before they were then recalled.

    If Bismarck had made it to aircover, it would still be largely a matter of luck as to whether she could escape the trap set for her. The airstrikes carried out by the Ark Royal, both those that were successful and those that were not, were delivered well after sunset, in conditions of half light and poor weather the LW day fighter forces would have really struggled to have any effect. If the weather were better, or the critical period was a daylight affair the LW could mount an effective aircover operation, provided the range was not too great.

    Over Crete, the specialist anti shipping units of the LW were concentrated and were effective, especially against the RN units that moved to the northern side of the island. as a generalisation, the RN was able to hold off the LW until ammunition ran low, or they remained within primary ranges for too long into the daylight. but the keys to the success in Merkur was the small range, the large numbers of aircraft and the specialist training of the air units involved. the general air force units had only very limited success over crete. in Brittany during Rheinburung, there were a few specialist anti shipping units, but the majority of units were general air force units. one could not expect near the success that the LW achieved over crete at the same time. This is borne out, incidentally, by the effort needed to sink the mashona, who like much of the RN after the battle was forced to cut through waters within LF3 range and were attacked repeatedly. despite the effort, Mashona was the only.
     
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  19. pinehilljoe

    pinehilljoe Member

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    From what I have read about ADM Tovey , he was like Air Marshall Dowding, doing what was right. Once Bismarck was within air cover, I doubt he would have put KGV into danger from the Luftwaffe. KGV was the only fully operational warship the RN had that could match Bismarck ( PoW still had workers from Cammel Laird on board during the engagement, not all guns were operating) . Given KGV was low on fuel, he would have returned to England, regardless of the Admiralty.

    Like Dowding shortly after winning a victory, he was reassigned to a back water billet, in Tovey's case to CinC of the Nore. When Wake-Walker was accused of not be aggressive during the engagement, Tovey defended him and offered to pull down his flag and speak at the inquiry. (From Pursuit by Ludovic Kennedy)
     
  20. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Was there any discussion about using the Bismark as bait to draw U Boats or others into a rescue mission?
     
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