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Michael_200061

Bismarck myth : Raider? or Ship of the line?

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In the beginning of the 1930s, the German navies primary target were the French, Pols, and the Vodka drinkers (Tea drinkers were buddies during that time).

The German strategies were

1.To draw away french warships and keep them occupied with raiding the Atlantic.

2.Defence of German coast lines, preventing French interference of the Baltic sea.

 

The first strategy should be executed by raiding vessels, while the second completed by "Ship of the line" type capital ships

But for the Germans, they never made up their mind and these two elements were always entangled with each-other. Therefore we should not define the German navy with standards of other world navies.

 

The Bismarck class predecessors were the well known Scharnhorst class

To cleared this common misunderstanding, Scharnhorst were always a battleship, or Schlachtschiff 

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Then the tea drinkers made it a bit confusing for us by calling it a battle-cruiser, but i would stick to the original style

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Back to the topic, 

Scharnhorst were built to do both of those missions mentioned above:

1. As ship of the line and fight the French Dunkerque class battleship

2. Have some sea-going capability to do raids in the Atlantic

 

Year 1934, June. The German Intel officer  in Italy  had a bit too much beer and claim Italy would but a 35000 ton battleship with 35cm guns, to counter such situation, the German draw up the Bismarck plan. Looking at its statistic, we can see it is similar to the Scharnhorst role: To fight Dunkerque and do some little raids.

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This is the original plan of 33cm guns.

 

The German navy though this plan was a bit crapand want the designers to increase the speed. 

Designers: Ve can not do dez unless we go above 35000 tonz or take off the armour

 

The navy agreed to go above 35000 tons and use a heavier motor to gain a higher speed,

While the designers believe a lighter turbine could achieve such goal and can also mount the a bigger 35cm gun as well.

 

So the final conclusion was :

eight 35cm guns

steam boilers-turbine

39400tons

or 40700 tons with motors

 

1935- Jan

A different Intel officer in France forgot his morning work coffee and sent another faulty report back to Germany:

The Snail eaters are going to gang up with the Italians and built a 35000 tons battleship as well!

 

The German Navy wet themselves a little and decided to mount a 38cm gun on Bismarck, however the high command refused and wanted to stick with the 35cm.

 

!935- June

The intel officer who should have been fired months ago sent another faulty info back to Germany:

Snail eaters are not going to mount 34cm guns on their new toy boat this time, they are sticking with the old 33cm

 

We can see, if not for Hitler, Germans would have built a 40000 ton 35cm gun laughing stick

 

As the diesel engines were crapand the German navy overestimate the performance Steam turbines, Scharnhorst and Bismarck did not use the diesel engine seen on the Deutschland class. Even in 1934, the German navy playing their simulation expect Scharnhorst to hunt French convoys around north Africa.

 

However after Bismarck already began construction. The German realised that the steam turbines were not as good as they expected in 1936 October, and could on reach half of the original range ( originally : 14000 miles) . And the Germans EXCLUDED it form raiding missions in their simulations war games. Thats why the H class battleship were mounted with diesel engines again!

 

The German navy abandoned Bismarck's role as a raider, and instead use it as a defensive ship of the line, covering other- raiders vessels to storm in to Atlantic. 

But as British became a threat to Germany and the success in French, the original battle plans the German had were all screwed up. And Bismarck were FORCED, to do what it is not suppose to, and meet her fate.

 

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After 1938, after Britain become a threat. The German made clear of their raider ideas and reconsider Bismarck's role

What they need for raiding were the O class, fast and Lightly  armoured vessels

Bismarck were not fast enough, and had poor range. If it was caught by a Battle cruiser and similar foe, it would be very hard to run away in one piece if damaged during battle, therefore it is best for her to stay close to the coast and be defensive.

A raider must be go on a raid for 4 weeks and maintain combat capability for 1 month without resupplying.

 

Conclusion;

What was Bismarck's job?

Fight the French, as well as some do some raiding. But as the German found out she cant go that far, they gave up the raiding job and focus on Coastal defence.

Who was Bismarck's imagined enemy?

French battleships (Mainly the Dunkirk, and include 14inch treaty battleships as well)

Why was the design not as good as it could be?

The original plans were not that great, and the Germans kept changing their demands for speed and bigger gun sacrificed the "not bad" armour scheme in the original plans.

 

 

Document used: (The German high command decision to use 35cm guns)

Marinekommandoamt, "Niederschrift uber den Vortrag beim Chef der Marineleitung bezuglich panzerschiff D, E und F am 1.4.1935" in T1022/2191/PG33564

 

 

 

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Very interesting. Although iirc the Germans were always looking for ways to gain an advantage against the British navy.

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You keep saying 35cm guns.. but Bismarck was originally designed to have 33cm guns. It even says so in your own picture. Honest typo I'm guessing?

 

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1 hour ago, Doomlock said:

Very interesting. Although iirc the Germans were always looking for ways to gain an advantage against the British navy.

 

Indeed. Much of her armor layout was designed specifically with the 15" rifles of the R-class in mind. While France was certainly the main target foe, to say that they ignored Great Britain altogether would be false.

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13 hours ago, dseehafer said:

 

Indeed. Much of her armor layout was designed specifically with the 15" rifles of the R-class in mind. While France was certainly the main target foe, to say that they ignored Great Britain altogether would be false.

Thats correct, thats why i mentioned "14 inch treaty battleships ", but originally France is a much bigger threat than britain.

 

13 hours ago, dseehafer said:

 

You keep saying 35cm guns.. but Bismarck was originally designed to have 33cm guns. It even says so in your own picture. Honest typo I'm guessing?

 

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Yup, a slight typo, it should be "the original plan was 33 cm, then the final prototype switch to 35, then 38 when hitler ordered it"

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