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Author Topic: 24 MAY 1941 BISMARCK SINKS HOOD  (Read 37 times)
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« on: May 24, 2020, 12:05:50 pm »

When they met at around 0530 at the southern end of the Denmark Strait, they were the two largest warships in Europe, and the pride of their respective nations.

HMS HOOD was over 800 feet long, capable [in her youth] of 31 knots, and armed with eight 15" guns. Built at the end of World War I, the "Mighty Hood" as she was known was Britain's good will ambassador in the inter-war years, which meant necessary upgrades were haphazard, if not ignored, and occasionally worse than before [Her bow tended to ride low in heavy seas after an up-armor on the frnt of the ship]. BISMARCK was brand new, outweighed HOOD by at least 8,000 tons [in armor], capable of 30 knots [at least], and had the second widest beam of any WW II battleship [making her a VERY stable gun platform], an was also armed with eight 15" guns.

So, at first glance, it would appear to be a meeting of equals. It was not.

HOOD was a WW I battlecruiser. Battlecruisers were designed for speed at the expense of armor. And Hood's armor, particularly her deck armor was thin. But for the outbreak of war in 1939, the Royal Navy had planned to decommission HOOD in 1941. Instead, she was either on patrol, shelling the French fleet at Mers el Kabir in 1940 or stationed with the flet at Scapa Flow. And while her main guns were the same caliber as BISMARCK's, they were 20 years older. So for every two salvos HOOD could fire, BISMARCK could fire three. And BISMARCK had a far superior fire control system.

When the Battle of the Denmark Strait began that morning, HOOD, acompanied by PRINCE of WALES [PoW, 10x14" guns], had sought to cross the German squadron's [ BISMARCK and the heavy cruiser PRINZ EUGEN, 8x8" guns] 'T'.
Because the Germans were moving faster than the British thought, that didn't happen. Whatr did happen was that the two British warships could only use their forward turrets [4 fifteen inch guns, 6 fourteen inch guns]

What did happen was that the British opened fire on the lead ship, PRINZ EUGEN, assuming she was BISMARCK [they had the same profile ], in part because the Germans, to the west were still in darker skies, with Greenland behind them.

 BISMARCK herself was unfired on for some two minutes, while PRINZ EUGEN engaged HOOD, hitting her several times[none of HOOD's seventeen salvos would strike either of the German ships].With the German fleet commander, Admiral Guenther Lutjens, refusing to engage, BISMARCK's Captain Ernst Lindemann declaimed "I'm not having my ship shot out from under my ass", and ordered BISMARCK to open fire.

BISMARCK's guns' initial salvo landed just short of Hood's bow. By the third salvo, she straddled HOOD. At that point, Vice Admiral Lancelot Holland ordered a turn to port, in an effort to bring HOOD's rear turrets into action [PoW had been ordered before the action to conform to HOOD's movements]. As HOOD was turning, BISMARCK fired her fifth salvo.

One shell hit near 'X' turret , plunged through the deck, and exploded in the main powder magazine. It is surmised that the fire resulting [there was a column of fire at least several hundred feet high observed from PoW] raced forward through the ventilation system, and touched off the forward magazine. In any case, HOOD exploded, broke in two pieces [PoW had to swerve around her], and sank, leaving only three survivors out of a crew of over 1,400.

BISMARCK then turned her attention to PoW, hitting her at least seven times. Despiute mechanical difficulties with her guns [there were civilian workmen on the ship], PoW scored several his on BISMARCK, including one in a fuel bunker that contributed to BISMARCK's eventual demise.

BISMARCK herself eluded the British for two more days, before being found, and torpedoed from planes from ARK ROYAL. Her rudders jammed, she was forced to sail back toward the British. Engaged by some nine British ships, including the battleships RODNEY [9x16" guns], and KING GEORGE V [10x14" guns], BISMARCK was reduced to a flaming wreck, and scuttled.

You can get more with a smile, a handshake and a gun than you can with a smile and a handshake - Al Capone
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