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TheGreatBlasto

By what year would the Bismarck class have been considered outdated?

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Let's pretend that both she and Tirpitz saw action over the entire war. At what point would BBs with a measly eight 15-inch guns been considered outdated and inferior designs?

Asking because I have read and heard hundreds of people describe Biz as the most advanced and powerful warship in the world at the start of WWII.

 

:cap_yes:

 

 

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8 minutes ago, TheGreatBlasto said:

Let's pretend that both she and Tirpitz saw action over the entire war. At what point would BBs with a measly eight 15-inch guns been considered outdated and inferior designs?

Asking because I have read and heard hundreds of people describe Biz as the most advanced and powerful warship in the world at the start of WWII.

 

:cap_yes:

 

 

I have read both it was amazing and it was out dated when it was built.

I wonder if looking at stats and gun sizes is some what less important than an actual situation.

Ships never engaged 1v1 Bismarck v Hood being a lone exception.  There are always supporting ships, weather, commanders and so on.

Captain Evens defeated the entire IJN fleet.  You cannot win that battle in a video gane or a Graff.

 

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2 minutes ago, jags_domain said:

I have read both it was amazing and it was out dated when it was built.

 

So Bismarck is a swordfish secretly in disguise?

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2 minutes ago, eMercody_Viveleny said:

1940-1941 I suppose. Freedom botes would give biscuit a hard time.

that was the year the uss iowa was laid down,exactly the year bismarck was completed.1940

basically dead on arrival???

Edited by Cruxdei

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10 minutes ago, Koogus said:

So Bismarck is a swordfish secretly in disguise?

I watched many documentary about Biz being put dated. When it set sail.

The Swordfish basically sinking the Biz.  Does matter how great a new a ship is when something as outdated as the Swordfish is?

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I am not an expert on the topic but as far as I know Bismarck and Tirpitz were neither the technological marvels some believe nor bad ships. However, ultimately I think they would have been outdated at the same time as most of the other BBs which was when it became clear that CVs and guided missile cruiser could do all the work for cheaper.

A few things to point out about Bismarck: They were the first capital ships to be designed in Germany after WWI, as the Scharnhorsts were based on modified WWI designs they still had. So, a lot of things other navies had figured out by the 30s the german navy had still to develop and a lot of lessons needed to be learned.

For example, the turrets only carry to guns each, but are very large in comparison to other ships of the time and even earlier. This was due to the designers never really figuring out how to efficiently deal with the ammo trunks from the magazines (i.e. placing them behind the guns instead of next to them), making the turrets large and heavy for the firepower they had. Also, the displacement for the amount of firepower, range, and speed is really not that impressive compared to for example the South Dakotas, indicating further inefficiencies in the design. The armor layout and the steel used are also a bit outdated, since engagement distances were increasing and the armor scheme was designed more for close to medium range while being susceptible to plunging fire.

There are other quirks that are interesting such as the machinery system, radar and fire control, etc.

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When the CV became the main force projector so December 7, 1941.

Edited by BrushWolf
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19 minutes ago, TheGreatBlasto said:

Let's pretend that both she and Tirpitz saw action over the entire war. At what point would BBs with a measly eight 15-inch guns been considered outdated and inferior designs?

Asking because I have read and heard hundreds of people describe Biz as the most advanced and powerful warship in the world at the start of WWII.

 

:cap_yes:

 

 

Early in WW2 the carrier replaced the BB's king of warships. No BB could escape that fact. The refit in the 1980's of the Iowa class BB's was not without controversy.  Some in the USN wanted to funds to go to other projects.

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13 minutes ago, TheGreatBlasto said:

Let's pretend that both she and Tirpitz saw action over the entire war. At what point would BBs with a measly eight 15-inch guns been considered outdated and inferior designs?

Asking because I have read and heard hundreds of people describe Biz as the most advanced and powerful warship in the world at the start of WWII.

 

:cap_yes:

 

 

Well, she was outdated before she was laid down. Various elements of her design can be traced straight back to WWI German Dreadnoughts and Battlecruisers. Her armor was also tailored around a short range engagement, so she would have been useful up until the early 50's in the Baltic against the Russians but little else.

Her basic layout was a major drawback, with her 8 guns in 4 turrets consuming much of her deck space, and her aircraft facilities wiping out even more. The 3 screws and narrow stern were also a major drawback. Also, she's a effectively a treaty battleship that didn't keep the weight in check.

As far as advanced, some of her fire control equipment was terrifyingly modern, copies and adaptations of which served the Russian fleet into the 70's and 80's. Bismarck had early transistors, as opposed to the more common vacuum tubes, with the durability and thermal benefits that come with them. They were big, so size and weight weren't there yet. Bismarck, much like most German ships, had fire control equipment for more weapons than most navies provided. Not really advanced, but there was a lot of it.

A lot about Bismarck is a myth based on blowing up HMS Hood, RM Littorio was commissioned 3 months before Bismarck, and was a far better designed and more capable ship in all aspects. HMS King George V was commissioned about a month later, and while not quite as large, was also a far better designed, and overall more useful ship.

 

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42 minutes ago, TheGreatBlasto said:

Let's pretend that both she and Tirpitz saw action over the entire war. At what point would BBs with a measly eight 15-inch guns been considered outdated and inferior designs?

Asking because I have read and heard hundreds of people describe Biz as the most advanced and powerful warship in the world at the start of WWII.

 

:cap_yes:

 

 

1935.

So, before they were built.

ALL battleships were obsolete once aircraft became capable of delivering sufficient ordinance weight to significantly damage capital ships.

This became clear around 1940/1941...but the capability existed since the mid-1930s.

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31 minutes ago, jags_domain said:

I have read both it was amazing and it was out dated when it was built.

I wonder if looking at stats and gun sizes is some what less important than an actual situation.

Ships never engaged 1v1 Bismarck v Hood being a lone exception.  There are always supporting ships, weather, commanders and so on.

Captain Evens defeated the entire IJN fleet.  You cannot win that battle in a video gane or a Graff.

 

That was Bismarck and Prinz Eugen V/s HMS Hood and HMS prince of Wales, not really one on one either

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21 hours ago, jags_domain said:

Ships never engaged 1v1 Bismarck v Hood being a lone exception.  There are always supporting ships, weather, commanders and so on.

The Battle of the Denmark Strait is often portrayed as a dramatic showdown between Bismarck and Hood, but there were other ships involved in the battle. Bismarck and Prinz Eugen were engaged by Hood and Prince of Wales. The heavy cruisers Suffolk and Norfolk were also shadowing the German force and if the battle had commenced according to Admiral Holland’s original plan they would have been in position to join the battle as well, being tasked with engaging Prinz Eugen while the two larger ships focused on Bismarck.

Edited by Nevermore135
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30 minutes ago, SgtBeltfed said:

As far as advanced, some of her fire control equipment was terrifyingly modern, copies and adaptations of which served the Russian fleet into the 70's and 80's. Bismarck had early transistors, as opposed to the more common vacuum tubes, with the durability and thermal benefits that come with them.

AFAIK the fire control was modern, but not the best as the wavelength was insufficiently large to gain a complete firing solution just by radar, also they did not employ PPI screens (the radar we all know from movies), making tracking of multiple targets very difficult, hence the abundance of independent systems. Also, if I remember correctly Bismarck more or less destroyed her Radar with the first salvo due to vibrations during the Battle of the Denmark strait. I would be really interested in where you found that point about the transistors, as those were only discovered in 1947/48 I believe and definitely not during WWII?

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The US Navy and the IJN had already outdated the ship. And if the British Navy had not wasted the time on the KGV class they would have outdated it. 

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they were capable enough,  with slight flaws. she is amoung the top three classes of BB's for a reason. but with CV's provign them selves she likely  been done after the war if germany won.

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1 hour ago, TheGreatBlasto said:

Let's pretend that both she and Tirpitz saw action over the entire war. At what point would BBs with a measly eight 15-inch guns been considered outdated and inferior designs?

Asking because I have read and heard hundreds of people describe Biz as the most advanced and powerful warship in the world at the start of WWII.

 

:cap_yes:

 

 

Measly? The Prince of Wales entered that fight vs Bismarck with Hood at 600 yards close order. Which was mistake number one. Number two was firing on Prinz Eugen which was assumed to be bismark. By the time Wales Commodore realized a problem, one of his plot directors shifted target right. If you built say 15 feet thick of ordinary steel wall, the so called 15 inch AP round probably will penetrate it. The fortunate issue is smart fusing. By the time the shell felt that it hit something it takes a little time to detonate. The Wales were not shaken down having just been rushed to sea too new. Her guns Jammed, turrets jammed, machinery jammed and when only two were shooting the Wales was forced to turn away.

 

It does not matter because Wales was sunk off Singapore by about 70+ torp bombers and dive bombers with another ship near Singapore. There was Buffalo fighters on call but due to fumbling and other screwups they never got the word and only too late, just enough to show up as the one last BB rolled over to sink as they circled. Both ships had incredibly crappy air defense. And it was Churchill's Mistake to send them to the far east like that.

I don't really buy totally into the quality of the bismarck. It was very strong armor. Even underwater photos and videos of her 3 miles down show that she resisted incoming fire very well. If you wanted to point at a BB that has good armor, I would look towards the South Dakota Class. One was with Washington when the SD lost electric power for 8 minutes. She sat there and took a hammering from two Japanese BB's One of which, the Kirishima was reduced by Washington in about 9 minutes to a blazing junkyard afloat. A outright kill of a enemy BB in combat. It would be very hard to find another example. Washington had been shaken down and specifically expert trained in radar gunnery par excellence for her time.

But pick any modern cruise missile or anti ship weapon. You can sink the Washington in a few minutes sad to say. The armor is insufficient. What you need is composite, reactive and a form of powered armor to resist modern weapons able to slice through the old BB's like butter.

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There are any number of dates that can be argued, but the very concept of the Battleship/Battlecruiser as a capitol ship was already obsolete by the time the war started, Bismarck included.  It just wasn't recognized yet.

Dec 10, 1941: Two British Capitol ships, HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales, were sunk under combat conditions while under way at sea, from air attack.

Dec 7, 1941: A date which shall live in infamy.

May 27, 1941: Bismarck herself was lost, in no small part due to air attack.

Nov 11-12, 1940: 21 Swordfish bombers from HMS Illustrious disabled half the Italian battle fleet at their moorings in Taranto, for a loss of two aircraft.

Jul 21, 1921: Captured SMS Ostfriesland was sunk in an aerial bombing demonstration led by Gen Billy Mitchell of the US Army Air Corps.

 

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Like the B-52 bomber, the Bismarck is a fighting PLATFORM.

It is dependent on crew training, technology, and quality of workmanship in design and building.

I'd say they would be completely obsolete by 1989.  At this point, precision guided penetrating weapons became available to anybody who could afford them.

Obsolete means there is nothing they can do - that something cheaper can do better.

Carriers didn't make Battleships obsolete.  The job just changed.
Until the advent of High Speed Jets, Proximity Fuses suddenly made carriers Obsolete.
In 1945, if the US carriers attacked the US Battleships, their planes would be wiped out.
And so at the end of WW2, we came full circle, unwilling to risk carrier aircraft when Japan reverse engineered and started making VT fuses.

So we were sending in the Battleships to do close bombardments.  And we continued doing that into the 1990s.

Planes are expensive, you know.

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28 minutes ago, shinytrashcan said:

. The armor layout and the steel used are also a bit outdated, since engagement distances were increasing and the armor scheme was designed more for close to medium range while being susceptible to plunging fire.

Please tell me you are not basing this assessment on mechanics in a cheesy video game....

What kills me about all the armchair commandos on this forum and others like it is how many people, after reading a book or two (and in hindsight, to boot) or watching a documentary, or (shudder) play a stupid naval themed arcade game,  suddenly seem to know so much more about ship design and armor profiles than the naval architects and construction bureaus that actually drafted, designed, and built the ships. Granted, your disclaimer made it clear you or not an expert, so this isnt a slight against you.

Here's the universal truth about designing and building a warship: it is a constant tug of war between ideals and practicals as it is physically impossible to build a warship with the highest speed, the best armor protection, and the most powerful guns on a given hull...and keep it within a realistic tonnage. Construction bureaus need to balance designs in accordance with current naval doctrines, factor in space for future upgrades and growth  to prevent premature obsolescence, and strive for the most bang for the buck with hard limits on physical dimensions and fiscal limits.

Bismarck was a modification of a WW I design...she's a follow on of the Bayern class. In that respect, she was, in the context of WW II developments, still born and obsolete when she was laid down. Its worth remembering though that, due to Versailles, the WNT, and the Anglo_German NT, the KM had a serious dearth of operational battleship design studies. They lacked the concrete experience of building a class, noting capabilities and limitations, and correcting known issues in subsequent classes as the RN did with the R class/ QE class or the USN with progressive modifications to the Standards. The KM obviously never got the chance to explore modern capital ship design and development thw way other navies did.  There is an old adage, "you fight with what you have, not with what you want" that was very appropriate for the WW II KM. 

Bismarck's armor profile was completely acceptable for the doctrine that the KM had carried forward from the Great War. They expected a fight at short to medium ranges in the North Sea against a quantitatively superior RN, in the often poor visibility of that arena.  Remember that BB hit rates in the period hovered around 3-4%, unlike what we see in this ridic arcade game. The designers looked at established trends and designed their armor profiles to meet the most likely engagement scenarios. Was her armor  vulnerable to plunging fire? Not really, because, at the time,  there really wasn't a threat that could deliver accurate plunging fire at range. Going further, EVERY nations battleships were vulnerable to the possibility of plunging fire because your deck armor was considerably thinner than your belt armor.  Again, ship design is about trade offs, and designers factored in acceptable risks in their armor schemes. So,  on that basis, Bismarck outmatched anything the RN could field, arguably even the KG V class, if you factor in gun quality/reliability, fire control, and armor.

You also mentioned ammo hoists behind the guns vice beside? The reason ammo and powder hoists were aligned beside the guns, rather than behind, is simple physics. The projectiles and powder on battleship caliber weaponry was simply too heavy to move by hand efficiently any other way. How long would it take to get the six powder bags loaded on to the tray and rammed home if the powder cars came up behind the gun? Too long. The parallel alignment was far more efficient, and again something that would have be determined through study rather than being an arbitrary decision. You'll note that most of your secondary weapons, 5"/38, 5"/25 etc etc had ammo and powder trunks to the rear...because propellant and projectile were easily man handled. 

As far as over-sized turrets...not hardly. you do realize these weapons were huge, right? The US 16"/50 was 66 feet long. The KM 15"/47 was 58 feet long. Aside from length, consider you need to have enough space to elevate the weapon to (post 1930) 35 degrees or more.  If you've ever been inside the turret of a battleship....over-sized is not the word to describe them. 

Had the war been delayed long enough to gather data from Bismarck, Tirpitz, S & G, and the Z plan put in motion...you likely would have seen the KM pop out some more modern and effective battleship designs based on past experience.

Just my take.

Happy Hunting!

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Bismarck was obsolescent when designed. She is substantially heavier than the 1930s USA battleships that have heavier firepower. A lot of this is due to an antiquated armor scheme built around ranges that no longer existed and a battle Germany would never fight

For that matter - as Bismarck is a gross violation of Naval Treaty displacement- the USA 1920 South Dakota has 50% more guns, close to twice the broadside weight, and more practical armor. It's only not as fast. 

Bismarck would never be truly ineffective unless fighting something like Montana, but its quite inefficient for size.

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By 1943 she would have been outgunned and become irrelevant. If she had survived to 1944 she probably would have been an AA platform.

 

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Bismark was pretty much obsolete when she was launched. The writing was already on the wall for the BB, CVs were the clear way forward.

Let's ignore CVs for a minute, theater and political concerns dictated that Bismark was still very relevant where and when she was (stick her in the Pacific at the same time and she's far less of a threat). Bismark was definitely near the top of the BB food chain. That's not because the Germans were just better, it's mostly because the Germans blatantly ignored the Naval Treaty, while their main opponents, the British, were notorious sticklers for it (mostly because they couldn't afford any kind of arms race that would come from breaking it). The RN had several designs that would have completely outclassed the Bismark (or anything aside from the Yamato for that matter). The QEs and Rs were of course mostly obsolete despite modernizations. The KGVs just didn't have the hitting power. That left the Nelsons. With great protection and firepower they outclassed Bismark in everything but speed. So essentially as far as the RN was concerned the two ships Bismark couldn't beat she could run away from. Now the RN was finally gearing up for the Lion class which would have been superior had they been built.

The USN had just put the NCs in service. They were a bit slower, and lacked protection. In a fight the NC has an edge, but it's probably more down to other variables as to who wins that fight.

Basically the Germans got a jump on everyone because they decided early on to ignore the treaty. So they got a couple years on the Allies, who kicked their own BB programs off partly as a result of the treaty breaches. The RN would start on the Lions, but switch to CVs. The USN, being the US, simply did both. South Dakota (better protected than the NCs), followed by the Iowas and Montanas (though the latter weren't built). 

So when would the Bismark stop being a main line unit? That's hard to say as 15" is always a threat, and the Germans had very different ideas than the Allies. But the arrival of the NCs would remove the single ship advantage Bismark would have (though she could still run away). In terms of a ship that could hands down beat the German in almost any condition you have to wait for the Iowa in 1943 (I think Iowa was protected against 15" shells). Of course the real threat to Bismark was aircraft. Remember it was only fortunate timing that the RN couldn't get a fleet carrier out from Scapa to chase Bismark. Had that been possible that story probably ends a lot differently. Assuming Bismark doesn't sortie (or isn't sunk) all the RN has to do is keep a fleet carrier (or borrow one from the US) around, backed up by a few capital ships and Bismark is obsolete. And of course sailing anywhere near the HMS Great Britain is just asking for the RAF to pay you a little visit.

Now obsolete mean unable to fulfill the original role. Like the old USN standards were obsolete as they could never stand in line of battle or escort CVs (though they did manage the line of battle thing one last time). But Bismark and Tirpitz were never going to stand in line of battle with the RN. Jutland had put paid to any hope of the Germans ever winning a fleet engage with the RN, the RN simply outnumbered them. Bismark may have been better than any single RN ship, but not 3 BBs, 1 CV, a CB, and multiple cruisers and DDs. The Germans planned for surface raiders. Pick off convoys and individual capital ships. Had Bismark come across one of the old R class with a convoy it wouldn't have been pretty. For that role Bismark was overkill. Gneis and Scharn were far more efficient surface raiders. Surface raiding isn't a viable concept, as the Germans proved in both wars, but for that purpose the Bismark would have remained a huge threat for a long time. Eventually she would have been found and sunk by overwhelming force, but it doesn't take much to terrorize merchant shipping.

So when would she have been obsolete? As a class, BBs were obsolete by then. There would be a few engagements, but the carrier was clearly the way forward, and it would be completely dominant in within a year. Midway showed for certain that CVs were the ship of the future, so I'd say 1942 at the latest. In reality, she was obsolete on launch.

In terms of going to toe to toe with the RN, that was never going to happen, 1 or 2 BBs ain't going to take on the entire RN.

Versus other ships, probably 1943 with Iowa, though the Nelsons and NCs were all equal opponents, though she could outrun them.

In terms of her designed purpose, probably never, she would always be a threat to merchant shipping. Though sortieing any later simply results in even more forces being thrown at her. So she'd always be a threat, it would just get easier and easier to deal with her.

 

Remember, Bismark got lucky. The initial force should have been two BBs backed up by a full CV. Timing dictated no CV was immediately available, and Hood was the first ship on scene, because the RN had forgotten what happens to CBs in line of battle.

Also, Bismark armament would always be a threat. 8 15" were what the last BB ever built had installed (though not by choice). Remember getting hit by a 15" shell is never good no matter your armor, and Bismark did have excellent fire control. Yes, 16" was pretty much the standard at the time (except the British, who stuck to 14" because it wouldn't be the British if they weren't doing something weird their own reasons), but it's kind of like getting hit by a train, it doesn't matter if it's 15 or 20 cars long, you're still probably dead.

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