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  • KGV vs Bismark

    Prince of Wales, KGV's sister ship was forced to flee in the battle of Denmark Strait. However she had an inexperienced crew and suffered from mechanical break downs especially the jamming of A turret due to not being fully complete.

    How would KGV have fared one on one against Bismark with KGV having an experienced crew and all the mechanical glitches fixed.
    "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

  • #2
    Had PoW been fully operational it is likely she would have severely damaged the Bismarck. As it was PoW scored several hits on Bismarck before breaking off the action due to problems with her turrets. She also broke off due to fuel condition.

    At Bismarck's final battle the KGV and Rodney pummeled the Bismarck into ineffectiveness in a matter of about 15 minutes and silenced her guns in under 30.

    The KGV class as a whole was at least as effective gunnery-wise as the Bismarck and had the advantage of more tubes. The Germans would normally fire half salvos of 4 rounds each to get a shorter time between salvos but this gives a short latter.
    The Germans also have a poor radar set in Seetakt for ranging and no search set to back that up.

    The KGV's at the time have a surface search set, an air search set that can be used for surface search in a pinch, and fire control radar available.
    They fire (typically) 3 split salvos of 4, 4 and 2 (two from each turret at a time with the 2 gun firing a separate salvo in between). This gives them equal ladders and better ranging than the Bismarck. That means the British are likely to get on target and stay on target faster than the Germans are.
    Historically, this part of the two ship's ability was about equal but with the British having more tubes more hits are likely. There is nothing different in terms of what a 14" and a 15" gun does to an enemy battleship when it hits in real terms. Either gun scoring a solid hit will do serious damage to its opponent and a half dozen solid hits or there about will finish either ship pretty much.
    So, it comes down more to getting on target, staying on target, and getting those half dozen hits.
    The British are more likely to do that with their better radar and larger number of tubes firing but it isn't a certainty.
    Two on one battleship actions almost always end in favor of the side with two. At Denmark Straight it went the other way for once.

    Comment


    • #3
      I would note that Prinz Eugen was present.....and did play a role both in firing a few salvoes (with various accounts of effectiveness), and providing some confusion in the early salvoes as to which ship actually WAS Bismarck.

      I'd put the odds at Denmark Strait between the heavies as 2:1.5 rather than 2:1. Simply because PE did some damage, and PE created confusion that allowed Bismarck possibly an additional salvo or two that they wouldn't have had otherwise.
      Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

      Comment


      • #4
        KGV had the same problems,

        Originally posted by Surrey View Post
        Prince of Wales, KGV's sister ship was forced to flee in the battle of Denmark Strait. However she had an inexperienced crew and suffered from mechanical break downs especially the jamming of A turret due to not being fully complete.

        How would KGV have fared one on one against Bismark with KGV having an experienced crew and all the mechanical glitches fixed.
        In short, Adm. Tovey sent out two squadrons to actively search and confront Bismarck. The pairings were intentional, with the exception of Renown, which unfortunately was with Ark Royal and Force H, they were the only ones with sufficient speed to realistically intercept Bismarck. PoW was paired with Hood under Home Fleet 2IC Holland, and KGV was paired with Repulse, released from a troop convoy escort by the Admiralty, under Tovey – Rodney was actually on convoy escort. It could be argued that when it came to a big gun duel, the stronger pairing of the two actually found Bismarck, and this pairing could have theoretically enjoyed the same result as Tovey did when he finally caught up to Bis., it just didn’t work out that way.

        PoW and KGV:

        14"/45 (35.6 cm) Caliber Gun Mark VII X 10

        2,400 fps (732 mps) with 1,590 lb. (721 kg)
        AP Shell

        Rate of Fire 2.5 rounds per minute.

        Note also, while much is made of PoW’s “newness”, and gun/turret machinery breakdowns, KGV also suffered from the same problems, and did so in the confrontation with Bis. days later, she was at an estimated 60% effectiveness for much of the battle – KGV arguably has no advantage over PoW.

        Hood:

        15"/42 (38.1 cm) Caliber Gun Mark I X 8

        2,458 fps (749 mps) with 1,938 lb. (879 kg) 6 crh AP Shell
        2,467 fps (752 mps) with 1,920 lb. (871 kg) 4 crh AP Shell


        Rate of Fire – every 25 seconds or over 2 rounds per minute

        Repulse was pretty much the same, except for having only 6 guns, and the unmodernized Mark I mount could only elevate to 20’, compared to Hood’s Mark II’s 30’.


        With improvements in terms of armour penetration these guns were actually better than the Nelson's 16" (40.6 cm) guns at long ranges and were superior to the King George V 14" (35.6 cm) guns at all ranges.


        Rodney:

        9 x 16"/45 cal Mk 1 X9
        2,048lb (later 2,375lb) projectile at a muzzle velocity of 2,614fps to a range of 39,800 yards. Broadside weight was 18,432 (later 21,375) pounds.


        The 16-inch Mk I high velocity gun was never as successful as the previous 15-inch Mk I. The 15-inch Mk I used a heavy low velocity shell to achieve its hitting power, the 16-inch Mk 1 used a relatively lighter shell at a higher velocity. This however gave the barrels a short life of only 180 charges and a loss of accuracy as the barrel wore.
        Modifications were made to improve the 16-inch Mk I but it never was as reliable or as accurate as the 15-inch Mk I.
        If the guns gave problems so did the the triple mounting; modifications being needed to the rollers due to excessive ware, and overly complex shell handling arrangements.
        The mounting compared unfavourably to the 15-inch MK I mounting. The 15-inch mount allowed the guns to be fired every 25 seconds, the 16-inch MK I every 45 seconds.

        In comparison:

        Bismarck fired a 15” 1,764 lbs shell 2.4 shots/minute/gun X8
        Prinz Eugen fired an 8” 276 lb shell at a rate of 4.5 shots/minute/gun X8




        What does this mean? Theoretically PoW and Hood together fired a much heavier weight of salvo than could Bismarck and Prinz Eugen, and KGV and Repulse. Also theoretically PoW and Hood together could fire at a higher more effective rate than KGV and Rodney did, which actually sank Bismarck, and take note, Bismarck did not hit either of them. In Bis.'s case it was Rodney that scored the lucky hit early in the engagement, a hit limiting Bis.’s fire control, Bis. had straddled Rodney previously, after which Rodney had her own fire control problems, but by that time range wasn’t an issue. Theoretically, Hood had a greater probability of achieving that telling hit on Bis., than Rodney did, and of not even taking a hit from Bis. in the process.

        Such is fate - Hood’s luck ran out, days later, so did Bismarck’s.
        "I am Groot"
        - Groot

        Comment


        • #5
          Why didn't Hood have Repulse or Reknown with it?
          They had speed comparable to Hood and similar guns, and were already broken-in. P.O.W. was none of the above.
          I know the chaos of war shuffles things around, but you would think that the BCs would have been grouped together. Even with the usual maintenance cycle, one of the two should have been able to travel with Hood most of the time.
          "Why is the Rum gone?"

          -Captain Jack

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post
            Why didn't Hood have Repulse or Reknown with it?
            They had speed comparable to Hood and similar guns, and were already broken-in. P.O.W. was none of the above.
            I know the chaos of war shuffles things around, but you would think that the BCs would have been grouped together. Even with the usual maintenance cycle, one of the two should have been able to travel with Hood most of the time.
            They were on different deployments. Bear in mind that the two KGVs and the three battlecruisers were the only ships that had the speed to intercept the raiders. Grouping them together made little sense. It's worth bearing in mind that Hood was more than capable of dealing with Bismarck and was extremely unlucky to suffer the fate she did. Splitting the fast capital ships was correct since with the issues of range and refuelling should the raiders slip past one grouping there would be another that stood a chance to intercept.

            On a side note I think it was unfortunate that HMS Tiger was scrapped rather than modernised as she would have made a useful companion for HMS Hood as well as overmatching all German vessels apart from Bismarck and Tirpitz! But that's me going off on a tangent.
            Signing out.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
              They were on different deployments. Bear in mind that the two KGVs and the three battlecruisers were the only ships that had the speed to intercept the raiders. Grouping them together made little sense. It's worth bearing in mind that Hood was more than capable of dealing with Bismarck and was extremely unlucky to suffer the fate she did. Splitting the fast capital ships was correct since with the issues of range and refuelling should the raiders slip past one grouping there would be another that stood a chance to intercept.

              On a side note I think it was unfortunate that HMS Tiger was scrapped rather than modernised as she would have made a useful companion for HMS Hood as well as overmatching all German vessels apart from Bismarck and Tirpitz! But that's me going off on a tangent.
              The Bismarck website contains this interesting chart:

              British Forces Deployed against Bismarck during Operation "Rheinübung"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by CarpeDiem View Post
                The Bismarck website contains this interesting chart:

                British Forces Deployed against Bismarck during Operation "Rheinübung"
                That tallies with the info I've gleaned from a variety of sources. This map should help a little
                Signing out.

                Comment


                • #9
                  .... and to complete the picture

                  Signing out.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Bismark was not an invincible super battleship. For example, her anti-aircraft defence was very weak with some directors not fitted, two different types of 10.5 cm guns with different ballistics, so that the directors could not accurately aim both types, and only semi-automatic 3.7 cm guns.

                    However, a well informed bookmaker would give odds that Bismark would defeat any other single battleship available in May 1941 because her main armament gunnery was significantly better. Even on 27th May, with an exhausted crew, unable to keep a constant course and only able to bring four guns to bear, she straddled Rodney with her third four gun salvo before either Rodney or KGV straddled her and Bismark's straddles had low dispersion. Rodney was simply very lucky to have escaped serious damage that morning. She opened fire at 8.47 and hit Bismark at 9.02 immediately silencing at least one of the only two turrets firing. KGV only hit Bismark later.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                      They were on different deployments. Bear in mind that the two KGVs and the three battlecruisers were the only ships that had the speed to intercept the raiders. Grouping them together made little sense. It's worth bearing in mind that Hood was more than capable of dealing with Bismarck and was extremely unlucky to suffer the fate she did. Splitting the fast capital ships was correct since with the issues of range and refuelling should the raiders slip past one grouping there would be another that stood a chance to intercept.

                      On a side note I think it was unfortunate that HMS Tiger was scrapped rather than modernised as she would have made a useful companion for HMS Hood as well as overmatching all German vessels apart from Bismarck and Tirpitz! But that's me going off on a tangent.
                      Repulse was the weakest RN capital ship still in service at the outbreak of WW2, whereas her sister Renown had been extensively modernized, to produce a fast, adequately protected, capital ship, which actually put the wind up both Scharnhorst & Gneisenau off Norway in 1940. A similar rebuild of Repulse would have had much to recommend it. At the time of the Bismarck action, she had just arrived in the Clyde with the old carrier Argus and the troopships Emperor of Japan & Monarch of Bermuda. I suspect Tovey took her with him simply because she was there & available, and could certainly have dealt with Prinz Eugen, rather than because of any confidence in her ability to tackle Bismarck, even in company with KGV! Renown of course, was Somerville's flagship and, with Ark Royal & Sheffield, a key element of Force H.


                      I quite agree with you about Tiger. I have often thought that she would have been a more valuable asset in WW2 than one of the old, slow, R Class battleships which were retained. She had many features in common with Kongo, although, as the last coal fired capital ship in the RN, her modernization would have had to have been pretty extensive. Nevertheless, she was a far more battleworthy ship than her predecessors the Lions.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Marmat View Post
                        <SNIP>

                        What does this mean? Theoretically PoW and Hood together fired a much heavier weight of salvo than could Bismarck and Prinz Eugen, and KGV and Repulse. Also theoretically PoW and Hood together could fire at a higher more effective rate than KGV and Rodney did, which actually sank Bismarck, and take note, Bismarck did not hit either of them. In Bis.'s case it was Rodney that scored the lucky hit early in the engagement, a hit limiting Bis.’s fire control, Bis. had straddled Rodney previously, after which Rodney had her own fire control problems, but by that time range wasn’t an issue. Theoretically, Hood had a greater probability of achieving that telling hit on Bis., than Rodney did, and of not even taking a hit from Bis. in the process.

                        Such is fate - Hood’s luck ran out, days later, so did Bismarck’s.
                        It was an 8" shell from HMS Norfolk @ 0859hrs(not a shell from HMS Rodney) that put Bismark's(forward) fire control out of action.

                        That may be true to some extent. However, this did not prevent Norfolk from being in the forefront of the engagement with Bismarck 3 days later. It was a very early shot by Norfolk(0859 hrs) in the final engagement that took out Bismarck's forward fire control director, impairing her ability to return fire. This hit was achieved at the same time that PoW and Rodney were firing. In this engagement Norfolk is being used, and to the full - Table 4-6 pp 240 http://books.google.com.au/books?id=...orfolk&f=false Another hit from Norfolk at 0900 disabled the forward starboard 150mm turret and permanently trapping its crew inside. Norfolk fired 527 8" shells at Bismarck in this engagement (table 4-5). Cruiser Dorsetshire also engaged later and fired 254 8" shells. The upper citadel belt was pierced many times by 8" shells.
                        The link is to:

                        Battleships: Axis and Neutral Battleships in World War II
                        By William H. Garzke, Robert O. Dulin
                        (contributors to http://www.navweaps.com/)

                        http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...0&postcount=28
                        Last edited by At ease; 08 Jan 14, 16:39.
                        "It's like shooting rats in a barrel."
                        "You'll be in a barrel if you don't watch out for the fighters!"

                        "Talking about airplanes is a very pleasant mental disease."
                        — Sergei(son of Igor) Sikorsky, 'AOPA Pilot' magazine February 2003.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Doveton Sturdee View Post
                          ...snip...
                          I quite agree with you about Tiger. I have often thought that she would have been a more valuable asset in WW2 than one of the old, slow, R Class battleships which were retained. She had many features in common with Kongo, although, as the last coal fired capital ship in the RN, her modernization would have had to have been pretty extensive. Nevertheless, she was a far more battleworthy ship than her predecessors the Lions.
                          And we all know that a Kongo class ship can defeat a South Dakota at night

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Here: A recount of all battleship on battleship actions in WW 2:

                            http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com...ceactions.aspx

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                              Here: A recount of all battleship on battleship actions in WW 2:

                              http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com...ceactions.aspx
                              That was interesting, thanks for sharing.

                              In return, this little analytical piece about the Denmark Strait battle sheds some interesting light on the decisions of Admiral Holland.

                              http://www.hmshood.com/history/denma...it/holland.htm
                              Signing out.

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