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Operation Rhine destroys British Home Fleet

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  • Operation Rhine destroys British Home Fleet

    After sinking HMS Hood and critically damaging HMS Prince of Wales, Admiral Lutjens commited his first in a long list of mistakes by breaking off action. While Bismarck did suffer minor damage both before and during the battle she was still capable of dealing with the Prince of Wales and Walkers cruisers. Upon sending them to the bottom, Luthens resumes course to raid convoys, only to be attacked by aircraft from the carrier Victorious. After beating off this raid, he orders his ships to change course to follow the withdrawing aircraft. The Bismarck catches up with Victorious after she recovers all her aircraft and is making steam to rejoing Admiral Tovey's Home Fleet. The steal flight deck lets Victorious survive just long enough for her to see the King George V and Repulse appear on the horizon. This next battle proves much tougher on Bismarck, the KG5 is in better shape than the Prince of Wales was, but the Repulse has even thinner armor that the Hood. Bismarck suffers enough damage that it has to retire, but another two british capital ships are sent to the bottom. Bismarck manages to get under friendly air cover before Force H can intercept her, and the German U-Boat that comes up between Renown and Ark Royal still has enough torpedoes to cripple both.
    "America has gone to hell since John Wayne died". - Al Bundy

    "One finger is all any real American needs"

    "A gesture is worth a thousand words - but you usually only need two"

  • #2
    WOW

    That's a lot of ifs

    I can see the continued engagement.

    I can see the Victorious scenario. It was a very very close thing the Swordfish got the rudder.

    Repulse and KG5. More iffy. Bismark is having to fight 2 more ships after taking on and destroying 2. This is going to be extremely trying on the gun crews and damage control parties. I can see the Repulse going down, but Bismarck is going to be racing flat out to get away from KG5.

    Ark Royal and the Uboot, now we're starting to get a bit extreme. I think Bismarck was doomed from the start, but you're right, she could have done a good deal more damage than she did.
    Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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    • #3
      IF is half of life, and at least half of my alternate thread

      I chose not to include a number of other ifs, because I did not want to write a book here. I imagine both Bismarck and KG5 would be badly damaged and would have to break off and head for the closest ports. I through in the U-Boat out of pity for its commander, coming up between two enemy capital ships without torpedoes...
      "America has gone to hell since John Wayne died". - Al Bundy

      "One finger is all any real American needs"

      "A gesture is worth a thousand words - but you usually only need two"

      Comment


      • #4
        The Bismarck is already down by the bow and taking on water, while leaving an oil slick after her first engagement with Hood and POW. Further battle damage would only compound the problem. There is another added problem as well. That shell damage to Bismarck's forward fuel tanks will only continue to get worse while it remains unrepaired, especially if running at a high rate of speed.

        I too agree that Bismarck should have finished off the Prince of Wales, but that's just the fortunes of war. Captain Lindeman vs. Admiral Lutjens.
        "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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        • #5
          Originally posted by john bryan View Post
          I too agree that Bismarck should have finished off the Prince of Wales, but that's just the fortunes of war. Captain Lindeman vs. Admiral Lutjens.
          Bismarck's mission was to disrupt and sink the vital supplies crossing the Atlantic, engaging heavy units of the Royal Navy wasn't.
          If the Bismarck had attempted to 'finish off' the POW it could have lead to significant damage to the Bismarck, damage it couldn't afford to risk in an ocean full of Royal Navy Battleships.

          Lindeman's decision might disappoint armchair generals like ourselves, but from the point of view of the mission he had been given, it was the only one he could take.

          Comment


          • #6
            confrontations to good to pass up

            Since neither the Bismarck or Prinz Eugen suceeded in finding any convoys, why not just take out the ships you can find, and clear the way for follow up missions.

            Between equipment problems and battle damage the Prince of Wales was an easy kill.

            The Victorious' Air Group had little experience in combat, and the carrier would not have lasted long against 15" shells

            The damage the Bismarck sustained, while troublesome, was not critical as long as she stayed with Prinz Eugen, and made for port.

            As long as she made it to friendly air cover before she could be caught by Force H, the scenario is plausible.
            "America has gone to hell since John Wayne died". - Al Bundy

            "One finger is all any real American needs"

            "A gesture is worth a thousand words - but you usually only need two"

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by mojo loco bell 99 View Post
              Since neither the Bismarck or Prinz Eugen succeeded in finding any convoys, why not just take out the ships you can find, and clear the way for follow up missions.
              Lindeman was, of course, unaware of what would happen in the future, and even if they had managed to sink both the British battleships, the carrier, and the two cruisers following her it wouldn't have made the slight difference to the chances of success of any follow up missions, the Royal Navy will still dominate the Atlantic.

              Between equipment problems and battle damage the Prince of Wales was an easy kill.
              Hindsight.
              Lindeman was unaware of what damage the POW had suffered, all he knew was that the POW had turned away.
              For all he knew, she could have been attempting to lead the Bismarck towards other RN heavy units

              The Victorious' Air Group had little experience in combat, and the carrier would not have lasted long against 15" shells
              She was 120 miles away. The claim that the Bismarck could have followed the Swordfish is nonsense, the top speed of the Bismarck was around 30 knots, the cruising speed of a Swordfish without a torpedo was 120 mph.
              Lindeman will also have been fully aware that RN aircraft carriers normally didn't travel alone

              The damage the Bismarck sustained, while troublesome, was not critical as long as she stayed with Prinz Eugen, and made for port.
              Indeed, they had just scored a stunning success against the British Navy, taking additional risks outside of her mission is just foolhardy

              As long as she made it to friendly air cover before she could be caught by Force H, the scenario is plausible.
              But what you suggest merely reduces the chances of them reaching this goal, for little worthwhile gain to the German war effort.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
                The Bismarck is already down by the bow and taking on water, while leaving an oil slick after her first engagement with Hood and POW. Further battle damage would only compound the problem. There is another added problem as well. That shell damage to Bismarck's forward fuel tanks will only continue to get worse while it remains unrepaired, especially if running at a high rate of speed.

                I too agree that Bismarck should have finished off the Prince of Wales, but that's just the fortunes of war. Captain Lindeman vs. Admiral Lutjens.

                That's an understatement. The bow hit flooded almost 1500 tons of water into [Bismarck's bow. Lutjens was forced to reduce speed because of the risk of further structurial damage and progressive flooding. Another PoW hit had taken out one generator room and let over 500 tons of water into the torpedo defense system.
                From the German's perspective PoW was essentially undamaged and still at full fighting capacity. They had no way to know about the gunnery problems or the effects of their hits on this ship at the time.
                Finishing off PoW would have risked Bismarck being further damaged, possibly heavily or, even crippled. With more RN vessels on the way along with several heavy cruisers nearby the Germans were left with few options but to try and make port at that point.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Okay, taking down the POW would have been easy, running down those two cruisers far less so, unless Prinz was cut loose, and you might not get her back if you do.

                  It might have been possible to take out that carrier, Scharnhorst and Gniesenau had done it the year before. However, all of this dashing around and shooting would have worn down the men and depleted ammo to the point where even Lutjens would have seen the light and retired to Norway. Meeting two more battle ships of any kind would be enough for any German sailor to "get religion" if he made it out alive.


                  Anyhow.... the final tally; the British loose two battleships, one or two Cruisers, a carrier and some escorts around that carrier. On the German side, the only two Surface units capable of operations in the mid-Atlantic outside of Brest are going home for repairs, possible for several months.

                  Result for 1941; Scharnhorst and Gniesenau have to got it alone, if they go out at all. They have a better chance, but how much can they do?

                  1942 and later; with US entry into the war, deployment of surface raiders will be more and more diffucult. Unless the Graf is sent out to cover them, even a German force of two battleships (Tirpitz is now ready) and two battlecruisers (assuming they can go) is a serious threat, but still one that can be met with a good chance for yet another stalemate.

                  How's that?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mojolocobell99 View Post
                    After sinking HMS Hood and critically damaging HMS Prince of Wales, Admiral Lutjens commited his first in a long list of mistakes by breaking off action. While Bismarck did suffer minor damage both before and during the battle she was still capable of dealing with the Prince of Wales and Walkers cruisers. Upon sending them to the bottom, Luthens resumes course to raid convoys, only to be attacked by aircraft from the carrier Victorious. After beating off this raid, he orders his ships to change course to follow the withdrawing aircraft. The Bismarck catches up with Victorious after she recovers all her aircraft and is making steam to rejoing Admiral Tovey's Home Fleet. The steal flight deck lets Victorious survive just long enough for her to see the King George V and Repulse appear on the horizon. This next battle proves much tougher on Bismarck, the KG5 is in better shape than the Prince of Wales was, but the Repulse has even thinner armor that the Hood. Bismarck suffers enough damage that it has to retire, but another two british capital ships are sent to the bottom. Bismarck manages to get under friendly air cover before Force H can intercept her, and the German U-Boat that comes up between Renown and Ark Royal still has enough torpedoes to cripple both.

                    Let's just play this a bit different:

                    Lutjens decides to finish PoW. Ok. Bismarck tries to close and the British decide not to run. The batle ends with PoW DIW and sinking. Bismarck has suffered additional damage to various areas and is reduced to 20 knots top speed. Additionally, two-thirds of her ammunition is gone for the main battery in the PoW fight.
                    The two British cruisers try and help PoW adding to Bismarck's damage. The main director is gone as well and both cruisers evade after taking some damage.
                    Bismarck's crew manages to get he back up to 24 knots but that's the best she can now do with damage. Stumbling on the Victorious battle group the escorts lay smoke and the carrier runs at 30 knots away. Victorious then launches strikes against Bismarck who responds with what's left of her AA battery. But, a couple of torpedoes find their mark.
                    A now crippled Bismarck is doomed once again.

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                    • #11
                      Something thats been forgotten: Bismarck didn't refuel in Bergen and even before the swordfish strike that crippled its rudder was down to about half tanks. For Bismarck to do anything other than run to port requires a mid-sea refuel.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                        Let's just play this a bit different:

                        Lutjens decides to finish PoW. Ok. Bismarck tries to close and the British decide not to run. The batle ends with PoW DIW and sinking. Bismarck has suffered additional damage to various areas and is reduced to 20 knots top speed. Additionally, two-thirds of her ammunition is gone for the main battery in the PoW fight.
                        The two British cruisers try and help PoW adding to Bismarck's damage. The main director is gone as well and both cruisers evade after taking some damage.
                        Bismarck's crew manages to get he back up to 24 knots but that's the best she can now do with damage. Stumbling on the Victorious battle group the escorts lay smoke and the carrier runs at 30 knots away. Victorious then launches strikes against Bismarck who responds with what's left of her AA battery. But, a couple of torpedoes find their mark.
                        A now crippled Bismarck is doomed once again.
                        The POW had already sufferd critical damage and mechanical failure, her fight was neglegible and Walker's attempt to screan her would have cost him his life. The Victorious' attempt to strike at Bismarck failed, and no further attempts were made at night, which is when she was caught and sunk. Now the Bismarck would be heading for France, which is when she stumbles on Tovey. The success there depends largely on whether or not Prinz Eugen was detached. If luck favored the Germans a repeat of the Denmak straight couuld occur.
                        "America has gone to hell since John Wayne died". - Al Bundy

                        "One finger is all any real American needs"

                        "A gesture is worth a thousand words - but you usually only need two"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Here is another nighmare scenario . Bismarck retuens to Hamburg for r epairs . 10 days later she sails with Tirpitz ,Hipper & Prinz Eugene in company. From Brest the 2 BC's there sail . That could really rip up the trans Atlantic convoy system.
                          For the recors thwe BCs at Brest were far from available, Tirpitz was in
                          the midst of work ups.

                          "To all who serve , have or will serve , Thank You"

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                          • #14
                            Hmmm... The Scharnhorst & Geisneau did sortie and raid. They were credited with 115,000 tons displacement sunk. Sounds impressive?

                            During 1941 25,500,000 tons cargo were sucessfully docked in the UK.

                            1,979,000 tons cargo were sunk by all causes.

                            Thats just a hair over 5% of the total docked or delivered.

                            Ok, so the Scharnhorst & Geisneau accounted for a bit over 55,000 tons each. Thats displacement not cargo, but I dont have a method for conversion so will give the Germans a freebie here.

                            So:

                            "Bismarck retuens to Hamburg for r epairs . 10 days later she sails with Tirpitz ,Hipper & Prinz Eugene in company. From Brest the 2 BC's there "

                            ....ammounts to six ships x55,000 tons = 330,000 tons sunk. That brings the losses for the year up to 6%?. Thats assuming all six net their quota and none are sunk or damaged.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                              Hmmm... The Scharnhorst & Geisneau did sortie and raid. They were credited with 115,000 tons displacement sunk. Sounds impressive?

                              During 1941 25,500,000 tons cargo were sucessfully docked in the UK.

                              1,979,000 tons cargo were sunk by all causes.

                              Thats just a hair over 5% of the total docked or delivered.

                              Ok, so the Scharnhorst & Geisneau accounted for a bit over 55,000 tons each. Thats displacement not cargo, but I dont have a method for conversion so will give the Germans a freebie here.

                              So:

                              "Bismarck retuens to Hamburg for r epairs . 10 days later she sails with Tirpitz ,Hipper & Prinz Eugene in company. From Brest the 2 BC's there "

                              ....ammounts to six ships x55,000 tons = 330,000 tons sunk. That brings the losses for the year up to 6%?. Thats assuming all six net their quota and none are sunk or damaged.
                              Tirpitz wasn't fully functional and Bismarck would need a sizable amount of time in drydock to make repairs from the shell damage. Prinz Eugen never saw Hamburg until after the channel dash of 1942.
                              "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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