Could the Hood *possibly* Have Whipped the Bismarck?

Some other threads that may be of interest.





Ref Blazing Saddles:

Gang Applicant: … Rape, arson, murder, and rape.
Gang Boss: You said “rape” twice.
Gang Applicant: I like rape.

Apparently we like Bismarck :wink:

Interesting. I’ll bet the first-hit advantage has come about over the years, as warships have become deadlier. A wooden ship of the line could absorb 100 cannonballs and still fight and sail. A 20th century BB could do the same after 10-20 hits, or a couple torpedoes. A modern destroyer would be mission killed by a single Harpoon or Exocet hit.

Regarding the Nelson’s all-fwd main armament. A Nelson wasn’t likely to be running away. It would be a serious threat to any axis BB, and too slow to get away.

I read a book recently on the history of fire-control computers – big ol’ gangling mechanisms with rotating-plate integrators – and, amazingly, they actually did improve chances of hitting the target.

One of the things the book mentioned was “standard” battle computations, where you simplified things to single numbers. In naval miniatures gaming, it’s sort of like fixing all die-rolls to be 3.5s. In such a “standard” game, the Hood loses…but harms Bismarck.

(LSLGuy – oh, no doubt about it, the Rodney/Nelson configuration is flawed. I just like it because it’s distinctive, and vaguely pretty. One of the secrets of Battleship Fandom – we think these big bruisers are lovely! Anyone remember wishing for the “Battlewagon” toy battleship for Christmas?)

Someone told me that shells with a diameter higher than 10 inches, weighing more than 1,500 pounds, and moving faster than 2,000 fps, are sufficient to smash the most heavily armored battleship (the Yamato, or the South Dakota pound-for-pound). It’s the “overmatch” principle according to him.

Whether he’s right or not, I must say I like American battleship designs. Very practical, very robust. And if one of the three cornerstones of battleship design (armor, speed, firepower) has to be dropped, they will invariably choose to let go of speed. The Iowas appear to be the only exception.

That said, my favorite American battleship is a pre-Washington Treaty ship, the USS New Mexico, Moves only 24 knots max. But it’s armored as hell. And its 12 14-inch guns can pound the Bismark silly.

I always thought HMS Nelson looked vaguely science fictiony, but I like it:


I think the best-looking battleship remains IJN Kongo, though.

@Trinopus: Battlewagon was sure on my list a couple of years! And yes, HMS Nelson is really cool in a retro-futuristic way.
@Elendil_s_Heir: Here’s your science fictiony battleship. And yes, it does resemble HMS Nelson.

It also vaguely resembles another unarmed but nevertheless really cool bit of SDMB science fiction:

Cool model.

I think Space Battleship Yamato looks more like some other actual battleship than HMS Nelson. Now, if only I could remember its name…

I think HMS Hood was certainly at a disadvantage versus the Bismarck. But I do not think it was a big disadvantage.

Hood was not armored well which the deck plunging shot from Bismarck showed all too well (IIRC she was due for a refit to up-armor her). But that was a lucky shot and in naval warfare one of them is all you need. Hood was an older design and suffered for it.

Both ships were a legitimate threat to the other. It came down who landed a devastating shot before the other. I think Bismarck had the advantage here with better optics for range finding.

But remember these shells were massive and devastating. One would not kill a ship but it would certainly nerf their effectiveness.

Bismarck landed a lucky shot. No one expected that to happen. Lucky shots count though. If it stretched to a real slug-fest I still think the Bismarck would have come out on top but that is splitting hairs. Both ships would be damaged and need to return to port for repair.

As to plan-view hull shape of course it resembles its namesake and other WWII-era battleships of all nations. But it also has all heavy armament forward and a very aft-mounted superstructure which is quite unlike those same WWII battleships.

Prince of Wales sustained another underwater hit from a shell which lodged in the hull and failed to explode (and caused consternation when the ship was dry-docked)

Yes, and PofW achieved a mission-killing hit on Bismarck: the hit forward contaminated fuel, which forced Bismarck to head for base.

Also worth noting, almost any operational damage for Bismark was a disaster becuase the Nazis never understood the concept of global power projection - you can;t just have noce big shiny ships, you need ports, facilities, fuel, engineering facilities and protection for it all, and you need it all over the world.

Also worth noting, there is more than one way to cripple the ability of a major warship, if this battle had lasted any appreciable time - which was a likely outcome, Bismark would have used up most of her main armanent ammo, which would have effectively have neutered her.

As an example look at Graf Spee - she was engaged by three cruisers with much more modest weaponry, she inflicted severe damage but did not sink them. For many years the debate was centred around why she did not simply come out of Montevideo and sink the badly damaged cruisers, she had suffered only very minor damage and certainly nothing that would have prevented her from crushing the British squadron.

Turns out that she had pretty much used up all her main armanent - she only had enough ammo left for a few salvos and then she was screwed - not enough to take on three cruisers and her secondary armanent would not have cut it, not even to take on one cruiser.

IMO, the Germans understood the need for global ports, and was acquiring them, but lost them all at the end of WW1.

Agreed, the Graf Spee was doomed. Damaged and down to her last third of ammo, she faced Achilles, Ajax, and Cumberland, which was more powerful than Exeter. They were waiting in advantageous position, knowing where the Spee was, with advance warning of her every move. Also, the Brits had ‘leaked’ false info that Renown was also present. Captain Langsdorff was correct to order scuttling.

That’s awfully simplistic. Shell sizes evolved from 12 inches on Dreadnaught (the game changer) through 13 and 14 onto 16 for most navies, 18 for Japan. If the ship designers in the US, UK, Germany, Italy, France, and Japan all did this when 12 inches would do, they were foolish – and I don’t think they were foolish.

I’ll 2nd what DesertDog said, a 10” gun would not penetrate the main armor of any WW2-era battleship.
After the war, the USN tested a turret faceplate intended for the 3rd Yamato class BB. They determined that the USN 16”, firing a 2700 pound shell at 2500fps, would not penetrate the Japanese plate at any range.

??? At the Washington Navy Yard, there’s a giant hunk of Japanese armor plate from the Shinano, (which was going to be a BB until the IJN decided they needed a carrier instead), with an equally giant hole in it from a 16 inch AP shell. Test details here.

Edit timed-out.

And nevermind. Punching a hole at 0 degrees oblique is a lot different than punching it at the 30-40 degrees inclined to normal that it was actually installed at. As the conclusion of my cite states, in agreement with @Capn_Carl

That said…impact velocity of ~2000 fps is a lot different than 25-2700 fps MV for those rifles, and I’m not sure the penetrative effects scale linearly with velocity. IOW, even with the armor plates inclined, and their effective thicknesses increased, I’m not sure that a point blank engagement (like Washington sneaking up on Kirishima) wouldn’t result in a first round penetration of that armor.

The 45 degree inclination does more than increase the effective thickness. It forces the axis of the projectile to leave the direction of travel; so the round “face” of the shell isn’t the only portion that is punching through the armor. The shell is slightly skewed and must punch a larger hole than if it was 0 degrees.

I was curious about the loss in velocity at 8000-9000 yards, where Washington opened fire. With a brand new gun, the velocity would be about 1900 fps at impact. The higher velocity 16” on an Iowa would impact at 2100 fps at that range.

When discussing angled armor, remember the guns are not lasers. Naval gunfire is generally low-angle, unlike land artillery fire that is often high angle, or mortar fire that’s always high-angle.

But nevertheless, at a range of 8-9K yards ~= 5 miles, the shell is going to be striking the ship at some angle below the horizon. Lacking ambition to Google up a ballistics chart I’ll WAG it at 5 or 10 degrees.