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Another 'what if', Bismarck vs North Carolina

Who wins round 1, the 'ideal conditions' battle?  

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  1. 1. Who wins round 1, the 'ideal conditions' battle?

  2. 2. Who wins round 2, the night battle?

  3. 3. Who wins round 3, the stormy battle?

  4. 4. Who wins overall?


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They're both tier 8 in this game, but how would they compare in real life?

Bismarck would be in her as-sunk, 1941 configuration. North Carolina would be in her 1941 configuration as well.

This will go over three 1v1 rounds:

  • Ideal conditions: midday battle, clear weather, calm ocean, both ships start outside eachother's gun range
  • Night battle, clear weather, calm ocean, both ships start outside eachother's gun range
  • Rainy / stormy weather, rough seas, around storm force 5 beaufort, both ships start outside eachother's gun range

For these battles we'll assume no escort ships and no help from eachother's respective airforces. We'll assume they both know the other is around, but not exactly where.

Things like ammunition (NC would have the Mk 8 superheavies at this time period IIRC), fire control (German early war radar was pretty good IIRC, was the USN early war radar up to par?), armor (Bismarck is ridiculously tough), secondaries (Bismarck advantage) and damage control (NC advantage? Maybe? I dont know for sure) would all come into play.

Spoiler

Personally I'm giving Bismarck a very, very slight advantage overall based on optics / radar, secondaries and armor even over NC's incredibly destructive Mk 8 superheavies, but neither ship is going to come out of this smelling of roses, and pot luck could easily swing it in either ship's favor. Basically, whoever's left floating after these theoretical battles would need serious drydock time before she's ready to set sail again, is what I'm predicting.

 

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When you say win, I am assuming one is required to sink the other.  To that end, they will hammer at each other until they run out of ammo.

Both have working spotter planes, so there could actually be some brief air-battles - with the heavier German Arado plane winning.

The same has been simulated time and again between the Iowa and Yamato, with only occasional lucky sinkings.

The reality of winning is not the actual battle, but the damage control efforts that follow.

The effort to save the Shokaku after the Coral Sea was similar to the effort to save the Franklin after a Kamikaze attack.

The Lexington and Tiaho could have each been saved by better damage control.

Most ships were scuttled as a result of encroaching enemy.  One failure was the US efforts to scuttle the Hornet.  This was left to the Japanese surface ships to finish off.

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The question is who is commanding the north Carolina? If it was Willis Augustus Lee, then the NC wins every time.

 

1. Clear weather conditions:

The NC would hold an advantage due to higher caliber shells. Bismark would probably be have better accuracy in daylight conditions. I see a draw here short of a lucky hit. If NC was using radar fire control, advantage NC.

 

2. Night time battle:

The NC would win this one due to radar fire control.

 

3. Storm conditions

Same reason as #2.

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As much as I like the German war machines I think USN Navy had to be more war ready.  But like AVR says above, I suspect that they would have hammered each other until they ran out of ammo.  If you look at how many rounds the Bismarck actually took it's astonishing. 

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2 minutes ago, WhiteRecon said:

If you look at how many rounds the Bismarck actually took it's astonishing. 

She was 'out of the fight' long before the last shell was fired thouhh.

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Seems like more people believe in the NC in all situations :P.

I do hope people considered this:

Capture2.PNG.1fd5efed96a8a34b304ed9e514e640ea.PNG

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15 minutes ago, Silver_kun said:

Seems like more people believe in the NC in all situations :P.

I do hope people considered this:

Capture2.PNG.1fd5efed96a8a34b304ed9e514e640ea.PNG

RPC wasn't reliable until later 1942 when The NC got it's Mark 4 system.

Up till then, it was using CXAM-1 - which was it's AA radar used to locate surface ships.  This was not directly linked into it's fire-control system.

All the Bismarck needs to do to upset this manual system would be to use it's WASD.

Anyway, here are the specifics...

"Both North Carolina and Washington, designed prior to radar, were originally fitted with many fire-control and navigational optical range-finders. The former lasted until 1944, when it was replaced by a Mark 27 microwave radar—though it was supplemented by a Mark 3 main armament fire control radar. The range-finders were removed in favor of additional 20 mm guns sometime between the end of 1941 and mid-1942. In addition, the ships were commissioned with two Mark 38 directors and were originally fitted with a CXAM air search, two Mark 3s and three Mark 4 secondary armament.[7]

By November 1942, North Carolina had an additional Mark 4 and a SG surface search radar added. The normal battleship configuration was present aboard North Carolina in April 1944, with SK and SG radars (air and surface search, respectively), a backup SG, and Mark 8s to direct its main battery. All of the Mark 4s remained for the secondary battery, and one of the older Mark 3s was still present, possibly as a backup for the Mark 8s. An SK-2 dish replaced the older SK radar and Mark 12s and 22s superseded the Mark 4s in September of that year. Aside from never receiving an SK-2, Washington was the recipient of similar upgrades.[7]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina-class_battleship

Edited by AVR_Project
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@AVR_Project Thanks for the information, I appreciate it. It was a good post.

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9 minutes ago, WhiteRecon said:

As much as I like the German war machines I think USN Navy had to be more war ready.  But like AVR says above, I suspect that they would have hammered each other until they ran out of ammo.  If you look at how many rounds the Bismarck actually took it's astonishing. 

Yeah, but that was at close range.  North Carolina is going to start shooting from a long way out, and even though accuracy isn't as good, you don't need many plunging 16" Super Heavies to wreck anything that ever floated. 

Bismarck has weak turret armor and iffy radar.  NC is better everywhere except side armor, and from long range that's not going to matter. 

US Navy doctrine was to open up at 30,000 yards.  They expected only about 1.4% accuracy at that range, which sounds terrible but let's look at that further:
1.4% hits in say, 10 rounds.  At 2 rounds per minute, that's 5 minutes of shooting.  1.4 hits.  So in 15 minutes of shooting NC scores 4.2 hits at 30,000 yards or 17 miles. 

That is going to be devastating to any ship.  Results can be anywhere from Hood-like to severe flooding, and all points in-between, just depending on where the shells hit. 

This is merely an average.  What if NC is especially lucky, and lands a few more?   What if she's not and lands only one, or none until they get closer?


There's a lot of luck involved no matter what.   But the odds favor the North Carolina.  

And what would Bismarck's accuracy be at long range?  Would they even bother shooting?    It took 5 salvos to hit Hood at a much shorter distance.   North Carolina is going to be shooting at Biz from almost twice that distance.  

Bottom line is, whoever gets the first critical hit is going to win, and odds favor The Showboat.....then again, the odds favored the Royal Navy at Denmark Strait, too.....but sometimes the underdog has their day.   Fight that one 10 times and the RN wins 8-9 times.  But in real life, you only need it to be that one time.  

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28 minutes ago, WhiteRecon said:

As much as I like the German war machines I think USN Navy had to be more war ready.  But like AVR says above, I suspect that they would have hammered each other until they ran out of ammo.  If you look at how many rounds the Bismarck actually took it's astonishing. 

Taking rounds and being beaten aren't the same thing.

You don't need to blow your enemies BB up to have won.  The minute the opponent becomes ineffective or incapacitated, you are the winner.  Threat is eliminated.  Send in your destroyers to pick up survivors and sink it with torps, no need to waste barrel life.  

 

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Who ever gets the first bloody nose wins, thats it. The NC was built to protected from 14" shells since it was the most common enemy shell for the Japanese and the Germans used some of the best optics in the world at that point. Neither one had radar linked to their fire control but most likely the fight would have start by who ever got into sight first. Germans also used a proven firing technique that allowed them to range their targets faster which, if I recall correctly, the USN used a similar style to the RN. In all though it would come into the first serious hit would win and the Germans have seriously good luck in that regards. Day time fight leans to the Bismark

 

As for night time fighting I have to give it to the Bismark again because they have shown they have superior night time fighting abilities, to a point the RN avoided night time fights with them

 

As for storms, it will come down to put luck but I would lean to the USN because of the fire control computer they used, it takes into account the ship rolls and such

 

My home state is the home to the NJ and I live in NC and only a hour away from the Show Boat and as much as I love them, in 1941 the Bismark had the advantage in a 1v1 fight

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1 minute ago, WhiteRecon said:

Right, but it was floating- hah.

I suspect that after they run out of shells, the two ships would ram each other and fight it out with small arms.

Compliment: 

Bismarck: 103 Officers / 1962 enlisted

North Carolina: 114 Officers / 2195 enlisted

That is...  those who survived the artillery bombardment.  I favor the Turtle-Shell myself.

Personal Armament and Marine combat complement -- not specified. 

In 1941, the Germans are more experienced and prepared for small arms combat.

If it is near Christmas, they might hold a soccer match on the rear deck of the North Carolina to decide the battle. 

Too bad the US didn't play soccer very well at the time.

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1 minute ago, AVR_Project said:

I suspect that after they run out of shells, the two ships would ram each other and fight it out with small arms.

Compliment: 

Bismarck: 103 Officers / 1962 enlisted

North Carolina: 114 Officers / 2195 enlisted

That is...  those who survived the artillery bombardment.  I favor the Turtle-Shell myself.

Personal Armament and Marine combat complement -- not specified. 

In 1941, the Germans are more experienced and prepared for small arms combat.

If it is near Christmas, they might hold a soccer match on the rear deck of the North Carolina to decide the battle. 

Too bad the US didn't play soccer very well at the time.

Given the time period Baseball was popular in both countries so this could have all been settled by the great past time

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53 minutes ago, WhiteRecon said:

As much as I like the German war machines I think USN Navy had to be more war ready.  But like AVR says above, I suspect that they would have hammered each other until they ran out of ammo.  If you look at how many rounds the Bismarck actually took it's astonishing. 

This.

I would give the edge to the Bismarck in every battle, albeit a slight edge with too many variables to ponder.

If you read the account of a survivor of the Bismarck you can see this ship took epic destruction on her decks but was nowhere near sinking. The RN wrecked the ship but did not sink her. She was scuttled by the crew:

Quote

"I was there to the last moment you know, and even so when I was swimming in the water, I was 100 feet away there was not a hole in the hull from all the torpedoes. They shot 71 torpedoes and 12 hits. Not one came through."

 

From:

 

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Just now, Stauffenberg44 said:

This.

I would give the edge to the Bismarck in every battle, albeit a slight edge with too many variables to ponder.

If you read the account of a survivor of the Bismarck you can see this ship took epic destruction on her decks but was nowhere near sinking. The RN wrecked the ship but did not sink her. She was scuttled by the crew:

 

From:

 

That`s interesting to know.

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Don't worry guys, I simulated this in Atlantic Fleet. The answer is whoever I command.

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I'd say it'd be a draw with both night and stormy conditions.  The opening fire range would make a huge difference.  Bismarck does have radar and the 1941-42 radar on North Carolina isn't so overwhelmingly great it would confer some massive advantage to the US ship.

For stormy weather neither ship is an ideal sea boat for heavy seas.  They'd likely have to close range to offset the pitching and rolling of the ship some otherwise fire from either is likely to be more dispersed and who gets a lucky hit first would really gain the advantage.

At night the North Carolina has the advantage of SG radar which is vastly superior to Seetakt as a surface search set.  The Bismarck's Seetakt are fixed in position and require the fire control crew to rotate the rangefinder turret to look in different directions with it.  The SG is a 10cm or 3cm microwave set with a 360 degree sweep and PPI display.  That's going to make it finding Bismarck much easier than Seetakt will be for finding North Carolina.

In ideal conditions it really depends on who gets their salvos to generate hits first.  A half dozen solid hits and either ship is likely to be sufficiently wrecked to be impotent, or nearly so.  For example, if either ship loses primary fire control, they're pretty much doomed.  Local fire control from the turrets can't hit $h!+, not to mention the lower position of their rangefinders puts the horizon at maybe 10 miles at most, probably more like 8, so the other ship can stand off and cripple their opponent without too much fear of retaliation.

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1941, so no radar fire-control for NC. Bismarck wins.

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1 hour ago, Stauffenberg44 said:

This.

I would give the edge to the Bismarck in every battle, albeit a slight edge with too many variables to ponder.

If you read the account of a survivor of the Bismarck you can see this ship took epic destruction on her decks but was nowhere near sinking. The RN wrecked the ship but did not sink her. She was scuttled by the crew:

 

From:

 

That's [edited].  That's a sailor who was proud of his ship talking, not the truth. 

Bismark was absolutely sinking.  The scuttling only made it sink faster.  She was listing and if left alone, would have sunk. 

And the fact of the matter is, if your enemy beats you to the point where you feel your only option is to abandon ship and scuttle....they sank your Battleship.   

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1 minute ago, Murotsu said:

 

For stormy weather neither ship is an ideal sea boat for heavy seas.  They'd likely have to close range to offset the pitching and rolling of the ship some otherwise fire from either is likely to be more dispersed and who gets a lucky hit first would really gain the advantage.

 

1

 

I don't know about NC, but the Bismarck was an exceptionally stable gun platform, even in heavy seas.

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2 minutes ago, Murotsu said:

I'd say it'd be a draw with both night and stormy conditions.  The opening fire range would make a huge difference.  Bismarck does have radar and the 1941-42 radar on North Carolina isn't so overwhelmingly great it would confer some massive advantage to the US ship.

For stormy weather neither ship is an ideal sea boat for heavy seas.  They'd likely have to close range to offset the pitching and rolling of the ship some otherwise fire from either is likely to be more dispersed and who gets a lucky hit first would really gain the advantage.

At night the North Carolina has the advantage of SG radar which is vastly superior to Seetakt as a surface search set.  The Bismarck's Seetakt are fixed in position and require the fire control crew to rotate the rangefinder turret to look in different directions with it.  The SG is a 10cm or 3cm microwave set with a 360 degree sweep and PPI display.  That's going to make it finding Bismarck much easier than Seetakt will be for finding North Carolina.

In ideal conditions it really depends on who gets their salvos to generate hits first.  A half dozen solid hits and either ship is likely to be sufficiently wrecked to be impotent, or nearly so.  For example, if either ship loses primary fire control, they're pretty much doomed.  Local fire control from the turrets can't hit $h!+, not to mention the lower position of their rangefinders puts the horizon at maybe 10 miles at most, probably more like 8, so the other ship can stand off and cripple their opponent without too much fear of retaliation.

 

I wouldn't dismiss local fire control entirely.  USS Washington's turrets were able to get an accurate solution on Kirishima at night.  It was verified by the main FC, of course, but if needed the fire would have been just as accurate.   Granted, that's close range, but Biz isn't going to stand off at 15+ miles and shoot at North Carolina.   That's not what she's designed for.  Biz is going to have to weather the storm while she tries to get in closer.

Another fact to consider is that German capital ship radars tended to be very fragile.  They got knocked out in just about every battle in WW2, so I don't think I'd rely on them as an absolute.  

 

Also of note is optics:  People like to say that German optics were either "the best" or "some of the best".....well, so were the US Navy's.  In fact, vs. Kirishima, Washington was using her optics for the final firing solution, not radar.  They were using radar and comparing it to the optical firing solution, but radar wasn't quite fully trusted at that point, and they used optics.   That was at night, so I'd say US optics were just fine.  There's not going to be any advantage to the Germans in the optics department, and they have a distinct disadvantage in the RFC department. 

Battle comes down to, who gets the accurate firing solution first, and starts rapid fire to put rounds on target?  After that, it's up to Lady Luck as to how many of them hit.

Odds in this area go to the North Carolina. 

 

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In 1941 and without the highly wanked over USN FC radar, Bismarck is going to win. The North Carolina class battleships were having very heavy vibration issues in 1941, so they are in no real state to fight. 

 

Bismarck is at a disadvantage due to her lacking in pure number of guns, turret armor and all of the distributed medium thickness armor though. She is more susceptible to being mission killed than NC.  

 

Spoiler

5a1b2b285e9c9_ncvb1.png.70fa966e26c9c6ae4bfed1a5eb10cccf.png

Spoiler

5a1b2b2f52f20_ncvb2.png.24e8b7d12903dd7e00eeae4e74ca7f9f.png

Spoiler

5a1b2b37b87d3_ncvb3.png.242a49ce3abb3556c020fa89598e2daa.png

Excerpts are from U.S. Battleships: An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. 

Edited by Dunk_Master_Flex
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People, seriously, sit down and look at the numbers. Bismarck has almost all the advantages. And remember, this is 1941, so no fancy radar for the Americans.

 

Bismarck Pros

 

- Bigger (requires more water to sink)

 

- Superior Hull armor protection at normal combat ranges (By their own calculations, the USN didn't give the 16"/45 a chance in hell of penetrating Bismarck's vitals within 21km (25km for magazines). Plunging fire isn't a thing below 30km in most cases so extremely thick deck armor doesn't matter all that much in a surface engagement.)

Spoiler

KMEG43B.png?1

 

 

- Superior Fire-Control (German fire-control in the early years of the war, like 1941, was the best in the world. Very few experts argue against this fact. The combined effectiveness of the superb Zeiss 3 optical rangefinder and the Seetakt radar could not be rivaled until the Allies developed Blind-Fire radar in 1942. Look at every single naval engagement between the Germans and the Allies up until 1943, the German always hit first.)

 

- Superior ROF (The German 15" guns was designed for a rof of 3.3rpm and was guaranteed a sustained rapid-fire rof of no less than 2.3rpm which is already superior to the 16/45s max rof of 2rpm.)

 

- Better secondary firepower (Even the 10.5cm guns outrange the 12.7cm guns on the NC, nevermind Bismarcks 15cm guns. On top of that, she has more guns as well. Secondary guns cant be counted on for penetrating armor or doing massive amounts of damage, but they can knock out lightly-armored/unprotected radar mounts and rangefinders and the like.

 

- Faster (Speed gives Bismarck the capability of forcing NC to fight if things are going her way, and also gives her the option of running away if things are getting too hot (though a stern chase would take a couple hours). It also gives Bismarck the ability to dictate range.

 

- German ships never stored ammunition in barbettes (this means that Bismarck won't go boom if her lightly armored turrets and barbettes are penetrated by NC's big guns.)

 

 

 

NC Pros

 

- Bigger guns

 

- 1 more gun

 

- Excellent turret armor (her only real advantage over Bismarck)

 

 

 

NC having 1 more gun and bigger guns are partially offset by Bismarck's superior rof and the fact that Bismarck can consistently penetrate NC's vitals from within 20km (remember that NC cannot pen Bismarck's vitals from within 21km and that Bismarck has the ability to dictate range) However, Bismarck's turret armor is absolutely atrocious and NC's turrets are superbly protected. It is entirely possible for NC to disarm Bismarck (though this will take some time, remember that it took POW, Rodney, and friends 40 minutes to destroy all of Bismarck's heavy turrets. NC is on her own for this scenario) Its also worth noting that during 1941 NC was still dealing with horrible vibrations at high speeds.

 

 

To conclude, as others have said already, the victor will likely be the ship that hits first and hits the most often. All measurable data point to Bismarck hitting first and certainly hitting more often. The Zeiss 3-Seetakt duo just cannot be beaten in 1941, even if the USN rangefinders aren't all that bad themselves. Throw in the Bismarck's superior rof and its just overkill at this point. Unless you force the combatant to fight beyond 30km (which is unrealistic in every sense of the word), NC just doesn't have enough clear benefits to offset Bismarck's many benefits over NC.

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5 minutes ago, dseehafer said:

- Superior ROF (The German 15" guns was designed for a rof of 3.3rpm and was guaranteed a sustained rapid-fire rof of no less than 2.3rpm which is already superior to the 16/45s max rof of 2rpm.)

 

- Better secondary firepower (Even the 10.5cm guns outrange the 12.7cm guns on the NC, nevermind Bismarcks 15cm guns. On top of that, she has more guns as well. Secondary guns cant be counted on for penetrating armor or doing massive amounts of damage, but they can knock out lightly-armored/unprotected radar mounts and rangefinders and the like.

 

I agree with everything besides these two points. Bismarck never achieved that fire rate in actual combat (not even close), as can easily be viewed from the Denmark Strait where she "fired a total of 91 rounds during her thirteen minutes of firing at the Denmark Strait battle, which is actually less than one round per gun per minute (according to Navweaps). 

 

Secondary armament will likely not play a factor what so ever in the typical battleship engagement range.

Edited by Dunk_Master_Flex

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