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  • Bismarck gets loose

    What if the Bismarck had slipped her pursuers and gotten into the Atlantic. Let's assume this happened and that the Bismarck is forced, knowing the British are pursuing, further West towards Greenland where she is searching for a convoy out of Halifax (for example).

    In doing so the Bismarck sights an HX slow convoy and starts to close on it. A report comes in that two battleships are now on the horizon just beyond the convoy. The battleships are Idaho and New Mexico.

    Would Lutjens have attacked the convoy and risk a battle with the USN or would he have withdrawn?

  • #2
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
    What if the Bismarck had slipped her pursuers and gotten into the Atlantic. Let's assume this happened and that the Bismarck is forced, knowing the British are pursuing, further West towards Greenland where she is searching for a convoy out of Halifax (for example).

    In doing so the Bismarck sights an HX slow convoy and starts to close on it. A report comes in that two battleships are now on the horizon just beyond the convoy. The battleships are Idaho and New Mexico.

    Would Lutjens have attacked the convoy and risk a battle with the USN or would he have withdrawn?
    The US didn't start escorting convoys until the autumn, Bismark wad sunk in the spring. Don't think the Americans would have done anything more than report Bismark's position. I don't think US ships rules of engagement would have allowed them to respond unless attacked themselves.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutrality_Patrol
    "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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    • #3
      TAG are you wanting a fight between Bismarck vs. Idaho and New Mexico?

      I would like to see a discussion on that if anyone doesn't mind.
      The First Amendment applies to SMS, Emails, Blogs, online news, the Fourth applies to your cell phone, computer, and your car, but the Second only applies to muskets?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Hida Akechi View Post
        TAG are you wanting a fight between Bismarck vs. Idaho and New Mexico?

        I would like to see a discussion on that if anyone doesn't mind.
        I'd like to hear people's views on such a match up.

        Could Bismarck get to the convoy before the American battleships and if so what sort of damage could she do before breaking off the engagement?

        Another question occurs - if at that stage of the war the rules of engagement were so restrictive, would the USN captains stick to them or would they interpret them as Nelson or Beatty would have done and if so would they face the high jump for doing so?
        HONNEUR ET FIDÉLITÉ

        "Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won." - Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Hida Akechi View Post
          TAG are you wanting a fight between Bismarck vs. Idaho and New Mexico?

          I would like to see a discussion on that if anyone doesn't mind.
          That is the idea here. After all, it is actually a remote possibility that it could have happened.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Dogsbody67 View Post
            I'd like to hear people's views on such a match up.

            Could Bismarck get to the convoy before the American battleships and if so what sort of damage could she do before breaking off the engagement?

            Another question occurs - if at that stage of the war the rules of engagement were so restrictive, would the USN captains stick to them or would they interpret them as Nelson or Beatty would have done and if so would they face the high jump for doing so?
            For the US the Atlantic was "Just short of war" in the USN's eyes. USN ships had already attacked U-boats on repeated occasions. U-203 on 20 June 1941 tried unsuccessfully to get into a firing position and torpedo the USS Texas near N 53, W 27.

            Here we have two powerful US BB's that are too slow to pursue the Bismarck if she breaks contact. The choice is the Bismarck engages the battleships to attack the convoy or runs without firing on either.

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            • #7
              Bismarck's rules of engagement would have been to run - 2:1 odds were not in its favour. However, if the intel was faulty and Lutjens thought there was only one battleship protecting the convoy...

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              • #8
                American registered merchantmen were in British convoys prior to the USA's formal entry into the war.

                I would think it impossible for the USN BB's to stand-by IF a USA merchant vessel was under attack within a larger British convoy!

                Regards
                "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

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                • #9
                  Would Bismarck still have Prinz Eugen with her at that time, I can't remember if they were to go their separate ways or not.
                  The First Amendment applies to SMS, Emails, Blogs, online news, the Fourth applies to your cell phone, computer, and your car, but the Second only applies to muskets?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                    That is the idea here. After all, it is actually a remote possibility that it could have happened.
                    Idaho and New Mexico would through out a lot of weight at Bismarck if she (he? do Germans use "she" when referring to their ships?) stayed to fight. Before the discussion about the fight really begins, I'll throw in my opinion that Bismarck, if deciding to engage, will quickly disengage after a few salvos.
                    The First Amendment applies to SMS, Emails, Blogs, online news, the Fourth applies to your cell phone, computer, and your car, but the Second only applies to muskets?

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                    • #11
                      Bismarck would run. First, she wouldn't want to get into a 2:1 punchup. Secondly, she wouldn't want to draw the US into the war. Third, the Germans weren't known for showing aggression with their major units unless they had the advantage. The only advantage the Bismarck had was speed. The 24 14in guns of the American ships had the clear advantage.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by johns624 View Post
                        Bismarck would run. First, she wouldn't want to get into a 2:1 punchup. Secondly, she wouldn't want to draw the US into the war. Third, the Germans weren't known for showing aggression with their major units unless they had the advantage. The only advantage the Bismarck had was speed. The 24 14in guns of the American ships had the clear advantage.

                        Consider as well the personality of the Bismarck's admiral, Lutjens.

                        When he had commanded Scharnhorst & Gneisenau on their raiding mission of 22 Jan. to 22 March, 1941, he sank 22 ships in total.

                        However, every time he encountered a convoy with a battleship escort, he immediately followed his orders and avoided an engagement.

                        On 8 Feb., HX 106 was saved by the presence of the obsolete battleship Ramillies,

                        On 22 February, he encountered OB286 as it was dispersing, and sank five ships.

                        On 8 March, he came across SL67 (58 ships) but fled from the old battleship Malaya,

                        and on 15 March he finally got lucky, sinking 16 ships from HX114 before HMS Rodney arrived, at which point he departed.

                        In other words, had Lutjens spotted battleships with a convoy when he was commanding Bismarck, he probably wouldn't have bothered to identify them, but would vanish at speed, in accordance with Kriegsmarine standing orders.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by johns624 View Post
                          Bismarck would run. First, she wouldn't want to get into a 2:1 punchup. Secondly, she wouldn't want to draw the US into the war. Third, the Germans weren't known for showing aggression with their major units unless they had the advantage. The only advantage the Bismarck had was speed. The 24 14in guns of the American ships had the clear advantage.
                          If it does come to a fight I think the US BB's would overwhelm the Bismarck. The two are the most recently modernized US battleships. They have 5 to 6" of deck armor and a 13.5" belt. The 14" 50 cal guns aboard are accurate and fire a heavy AP round for their size. They also have a 3 to 1 advantage in tubes.
                          Disadvantage the two have is they are somewhat overweight from their refit and tend to be very wet ships. They also have their main fire control systems about 15 to 20 feet lower than most BB of that period. On the other hand they do have the latest US systems installed.

                          As for the Prinz Eugen, if still present I would expect one or two US CA present too as there usually were with the two BB on Atlantic patrol. There would also have been 6 to 8 DD with the formation.

                          While I think the Bismarck would run in such a situation, the question becomes would the US pursue, maintain contact, and let the British know where she was?
                          It also becomes one afterwards of how the US and British press at the time would characterize the encounter.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Doveton Sturdee View Post
                            Consider as well the personality of the Bismarck's admiral, Lutjens.

                            When he had commanded Scharnhorst & Gneisenau on their raiding mission of 22 Jan. to 22 March, 1941, he sank 22 ships in total.

                            However, every time he encountered a convoy with a battleship escort, he immediately followed his orders and avoided an engagement.

                            On 8 Feb., HX 106 was saved by the presence of the obsolete battleship Ramillies,

                            On 22 February, he encountered OB286 as it was dispersing, and sank five ships.

                            On 8 March, he came across SL67 (58 ships) but fled from the old battleship Malaya,

                            and on 15 March he finally got lucky, sinking 16 ships from HX114 before HMS Rodney arrived, at which point he departed.

                            In other words, had Lutjens spotted battleships with a convoy when he was commanding Bismarck, he probably wouldn't have bothered to identify them, but would vanish at speed, in accordance with Kriegsmarine standing orders.
                            Sorry to hijack this thread, but what if Lutjens is more aggressive in those earlier meetings with old BBs, what would have been the result then?
                            From Devastation - Knights Twilight Warhammer 40,000 Quest
                            Rear Admiral Sander Van der Zee, Commander of Dutch Far East Theatre
                            "There is never enough firepower!"

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Senorankka View Post
                              Sorry to hijack this thread, but what if Lutjens is more aggressive in those earlier meetings with old BBs, what would have been the result then?
                              The Idaho and New Mexico would have likely blown the Bismarck out of the water. They had between them a 3 to 1 advantage in heavy battery and can fire 6 round half salvos versus 4 round half salvos for the Bismarck.
                              The Bismarck is also a much larger target than the two. It is likely that the US gets on target first but even if they don't they will extract more damage once they do. Also, unlike Hood they are not poorly armored and unlike PoW they don't have machinery issues with their armament.

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