Notso hotso a configuration when trying to run away and deliver large caliber fire against your pursuers.
I also wonder how much having a visually distinctive configuration makes you a preferred target. A rule of thumb in the infantry is that the guy wearing the non-typical uniform gets shot at first. If nothing else, back in the days of visual ship recognition, by being the weird-looking one you’re giving whoever you’re up against certainty about their opponent and her capabilities earlier rather than later.
Backing off that topic to the thread in general …
I recall back in the 1980s reading an article in USNI’s Proceedings about ship combat statistics. I’d link to it but I don’t recall enough tidbits to search effectively. The article may well have been a couple of decades old even then.
But the punchline is that through analysis they found that the combat power of a ship, any ship, declines exponentially on the number of hits it’s taken. Vital hits increase the coefficient more than do minor hits, but the number that really matters is hits absorbed; the rest is just noise.
With the result that between evenly matched vessels the first side to score a hit almost always wins. And for an under-matched vessel, getting the first hit alone is often enough to even the odds, while first two hits may well give a huge advantage. Whether two hits is decisive or the underdog needs three depends mostly on how over/under the match-up was at the outset.
Any given battle will unfold as it may, so the statistics may not play out with these two particular ships at this particular place and time. But it’s sure the way to bet. And therefore is sure the way for fleet commanders to deploy and spend their ships.
Obviously having a greater range of effectively aimed fire than the other guy is the ideal way to ensure you get that extremely valuable first hit. And to some degree, better aiming can trade off for greater kinematic range.
But who gets the first hit still has a large element of luck: who’s got the more alert, effective crew & CIC? Who sees who first versus the weather? At what angles? Bow on has a firing disadvantage against broadside, but broadside is easier to see in the first place. etc.
My bottom line as to Hood vs Bismarck: With enough luck, of course they could have whipped the Bis. All they needed was a couple of early shots to land while Bis’s missed or were never fired.