Alternative version: could the German battleship Bismarck survive in May 1941

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Alternative version: could the German battleship Bismarck survive in May 1941

In May 1941, in its first and last raid, the battleship Bismarck was destroyed - pride fleet Third Reich. But could things have turned out differently for the monstrous warship?

On May 24, 1941, a German formation consisting of the battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen was moving through the Denmark Strait. Their target was British transport ships in the Atlantic Ocean.



At 5:35 a.m., a British detachment consisting of the battlecruiser Hood and the battleship Prince of Wales established visual contact with the Germans. During the ensuing battle, Hood was sunk by a well-aimed hit from a German battleship, which was an extremely painful loss for the British.

In turn, the Bismarck suffered damage to the fuel line, which caused a fuel leak and sea water to enter the ship. In this situation, the German command decides to split the naval group. Thus, the cruiser Prinz Eugen continued the raid, and the battleship Bismarck went to France occupied by the Third Reich for repairs and refueling.

It was from this moment that the British hunt for the pride of the German fleet began.

On the morning of May 26, a British reconnaissance aircraft tracked the Bismarck along an oil trail on the water. Throughout the day, British aircraft made a number of unsuccessful sorties, but at 20:47 the battleship was attacked by 15 Swordfish aircraft and, as a result of being hit by one of the torpedoes, suffered damage to the steering gear, losing the ability to maneuver.

On May 27, the British battleships Rodney and King George V, as well as the cruisers Norfolk and Dorsetshire, came within striking distance of the Bismarck. During a fierce battle, the practically immobilized German battleship was sunk.

But what if the Bismarck and the Prinz Eugen had not separated in the Denmark Strait, but had sailed to France together?

According to experts, the ships would definitely have been able to fight off the British air attack. Moreover, the British squadron that caught up with them on May 27 would most likely have initially concentrated fire on the less armored German cruiser, which would have given carte blanche to the battleship.

Probably, the Bismarck would have emerged victorious from this battle, and the Prinz Eugen would have been sunk. But there is no guarantee that the German battleship would have reached France, since, left without cover, it could become a victim of the next British attack.

However, in this scenario his chances of survival would be much higher.

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  1. +4
    6 June 2024 12: 02
    But what difference would it make when it was sunk, immediately or a little later? The British would have tormented him anyway, one way or another, Tirpitz is an example of this.
    1. 0
      6 June 2024 12: 06
      The fate of German submarines is an even better example of this.
    2. 0
      8 June 2024 06: 51
      Well yes, there is no difference. Tirpitz was sunk in 44, which means Bismarck will be sunk at the same time.
      Those. Bismarck's existence distracts 2 more English battleships.
      It is possible that the Germans will carry out a repeat operation - Bismarck, Tirpitz, Scharankhorst, and 2 hippers (Gneisenau and Zeppelin - there are doubts).
      1. 0
        8 June 2024 09: 37
        In Brest they would have sunk him, they would not have tolerated him
        Quote: Sergey Zhikharev
        Bismarck's existence distracts 2 more English battleships.

        Do you care about 2 British battleships?
        They will increase supplies of ch.z. Persia and all...
        1. 0
          10 June 2024 15: 39
          Somehow the ShiG was not sunk in Brest. And if they set the target specifically on the Bismarck in Brest, then that means fewer attacks on other objects of German industry.
          It depends where these 2 British battleships are taken from. Maybe they will weaken the Mediterranean, and the Italians will take revenge
  2. 0
    6 June 2024 12: 04
    Alternative version: could the German battleship Bismarck survive in May 1941

    Why should he survive? To sink more civilian ships, especially those carrying much-needed materials, supplies, food, weapons and equipment to the USSR, finally?
    The fascist must die, preferably in as many numbers as possible! am
    1. +2
      6 June 2024 12: 12
      To please fleet lovers in the future.
  3. Eug
    +1
    6 June 2024 12: 12
    I have seen consideration of such an option as cutting off a jammed rudder blade. I don’t remember the nuances, but the majority was inclined to think that if this could be done quite quickly, then Bismarck would have had a good chance of getting to Brest.
    1. +1
      6 June 2024 13: 02
      There was a council where it was decided that if the jammed rudder was removed by explosion, the stern might fall off. At the same time, the ship became completely uncontrollable. True, he was uncontrollable even without this attempt.
  4. +7
    6 June 2024 12: 16
    God level analytics.
  5. +2
    6 June 2024 12: 17
    Once such a booze started...as a more alternative option, the author can offer the following modeling: what would be the effect if "Eugen", "Bismarck", "Scharnhorst, "Scheer", "Hipper", "Tirpitz" - were sent to help the Japanese?

    Large ships of that time for an alternative history are like playing a study in chess. Solve a problem.
    The parameters of the “figure” are clear, tactics and strategy in each water area, as well as the conditions of the “game” are calculated.
    I'm not being ironic, in all seriousness.
    By the time Doenitz appeared, when the Kriegsmarine strategy changed, most of the battleships and cruisers were still afloat, and their role in the European theater of operations was already small, if not insignificant.
    Therefore, a decisive step to use them also suggested itself.
    1. 0
      6 June 2024 12: 24
      By the time Doenitz appeared,

      What do you mean?
      1. 0
        6 June 2024 12: 28
        This meant his assumption of the post of commander in chief. Taking on a new position is almost always a certain carte blanche for action.
        And Doenitz had such carte blanche in 1943.
        1. 0
          6 June 2024 15: 38
          Doenitz tried to use this “chance” as best he could. The result was the death of the Scharnhorst while attempting to attack the convoy heading to Murmansk.
          1. 0
            6 June 2024 16: 10
            Chance and carte blanche are different words. I didn't say anything about "chance".
            And he spoke about a complete change in the theater of operations for large ships of the Reich.

            Even U-boats were not always lucky enough to “take aim” at “toothy” convoys.

            Hitler was of little sanity, but sometimes he was convinced.
            Perhaps Doenitz took the initiative to send battleships to the Pacific and could do this.
            Help for the Japanese in the Pacific could be unexpected, and thus effective. If only the fuel problem could be solved, as suggested here. We could get something in return from the Japanese.

            And the Axis’ goal would not be so military,
            how political, psychological:
            force the United States to strengthen the Pacific theater of operations,
            to the detriment of the European future.
            Our allies discovered the second front later, that
            Hitler was prolonging his agony. And the psycho didn’t need any more.

            This is an analogy from chess: a heavy rook moving quickly
            on the opponent's side, sharply limits his attacking ardor.
            Kriegsmarine battleships are rooks, and they were used as knights,
            in a limited field filled with protected pawns and bishops.
            1. 0
              6 June 2024 16: 32
              Perhaps Doenitz took the initiative to send battleships to the Pacific and could do this.
              Help for the Japanese in the Pacific could be unexpected, and thus effective.

              Well, in some ways, but I doubt its effectiveness, the Americans would have killed him, and very quickly, so that others would be embarrassed. They have already proven that they can do it.
              1. +1
                8 June 2024 06: 53
                So, the Bismarck sinks at 41m, the Tirpitz at 44, and the Yamato at 45. That is. The Americans would have quickly sunk the Bismarck sent to the Japanese in 45. Yes, much faster than the British...
    2. +1
      6 June 2024 12: 25
      The Japanese had even more problems with fuel
  6. +1
    6 June 2024 12: 28
    If only grandma had wheels; it would not be a grandmother, but a tram! But seriously, history does not know the subjunctive mood.
  7. +1
    6 June 2024 12: 29
    In fact, Bismarck had a chance to survive only if he maintained radio silence and returned to Trondheim.
    It was actually impossible to intercept a battleship cruising by air in the weather conditions in the polar region. However, Lütjens' ambitions outweighed Lindemann's common sense.
    At the same time, I will propose a topic: if Lutyens decided to finish off the Prince of Wales with a combined artillery and torpedo attack of two ships, could this have happened?
    1. 0
      6 June 2024 15: 42
      Actually, the Bismarck was not caught in the Arctic region. And when they were torpedoed, he walked quickly. And the weather was disgusting. Suffice it to say that one wave of Swordfish could not catch up with the Bismarck. Catch up with a battleship in a stormy sea! And the same weather did not prevent the landing of a torpedo.
      And from the attack of the "Prince" it would be unknown what else happened. There, in the background, there was still a strong cruiser detachment. Yes, and “Bismarck” also received its own. But the Germans didn’t have any English flavor.
      1. +1
        6 June 2024 15: 51
        So they intercepted him in the Atlantic on the way to Saint-Nazaire. And if after the battle in the Denmark Strait he had returned through the polar waters, he would not have been found at all. There was no aviation there.
        As for the Prince of Wales, there is, of course, an afterthought here. After the lapel, he had two fourteen-inch guns left in the elevated tower. The speed is approximately equal to the speed of Bismarck. With driving fire it was possible to continue hitting the superstructures with high-explosive shells, and the Eugen Bird could be attacked with torpedoes. Even a partial loss of speed for the Prince of Wales meant certain death.
  8. 0
    6 June 2024 17: 53
    Why did the British shoot at the Eugen, leaving the Bismarck unattended? ... in general, the construction of two super-battleships left Germany without resources that could be spent on the production of approximately 3000-3200 T-4 tanks ... these three thousand tanks on the Eastern Front could have led to the success of the Barbarossa plan by September 1941 ... Barbarossa would not have won the war with the anti-Hitler coalition, but it delayed the end of WWII by several years.
    1. 0
      6 June 2024 18: 02
      Why did the British shoot at the Eugen, leaving the Bismarck unattended? ... in general, the construction of two super-battleships left Germany without resources that could be spent on the production of approximately 3000-3200 T-4 tanks ... these three thousand tanks on the Eastern Front could have led to the success of the Barbarossa plan by September 1941 ... Barbarossa would not have won the war with the anti-Hitler coalition, but it delayed the end of WWII by several years.

      About Eugen - bravo. Fire is always directed at the most dangerous target.
      About the T-4 - a myth. There was enough steel for tanks in Germany, but in 1940 (the construction of Bismarck was completed, and all the steel was in use until the end of 1939), the Pz-IV was not a priority, but was generally planned to be replaced by a new tank of 20 conventional tons. And this “four” would not have moved anything, they produced it out of desperation, and the maximum possible production corresponds to approximately 6000 cars per year. Against 15000 T-34s this is rather weak.
      1. +2
        6 June 2024 18: 06
        these are just assumptions :-)) ... since those resources that would not have gone to the construction of battleships would not have jumped into the tanks themselves :-) production capacities were needed ... 48-caliber guns ... engines ...
        1. +2
          7 June 2024 15: 45
          Quote: Alexander Igorevich Rifeev
          these are just assumptions :-))

          Certainly. And you have every right to them. But it’s not tanks that fight, it’s people armed, among other things, with tanks. Thus, if you look at the number of tanks that could be built instead of Bismarck and Tirpitz, it turns out to be a lot, but if you count, for example, how many tank divisions could be created instead of these two LKs, the result will be much more modest. Not to mention the fact that for these divisions it would be necessary to take trained officers and soldiers from somewhere else.
    2. 0
      8 June 2024 06: 56
      Because the British got confused/mistaken
      Ogain and Bismarck have a similar silhouette - both have 4 towers, one chimney, two masts.
    3. 0
      8 June 2024 07: 16
      The ri was mixed up, since the two ships have the same silhouette - 4 towers, one chimney, two masts.
      In the video (this video), it can also be assumed that the British were confused. But this is already a stretch
  9. +3
    7 June 2024 00: 48
    There is always debate about this. Firstly, Hitler is guilty of ordering the ships to be “save”, which constrained the commanders in their decision to fight. Secondly, Bismarck was supposed to go to the Atlantic with his brother LK Tirpitz, but he did not complete the BP course. Due to being hit by an AvB while docked in Brest, the LKs Scharnhorst and Heisenau were put out of action and were unable to take part in the campaign. (Initially the plan was as follows—Scharnhorst and Gneisenau leave French ports, and Bismarck and Tirpitz leave German ports and simultaneously break into the Atlantic Ocean.) The place of Tirpitz was taken by Prinz Eugen, which reduced combat power of the OBK.
    Thirdly, in the battle in the Denmark Strait after the sinking of Hood, English. LK "Prince of Wales" received 7 (!) hits and hobbled along with KR "Saffocles". Saffocles, having the latest radar, constantly kept radar contact with Bismarck and monitored him. Lutzow did not give the command to finish off the Englishman, which was undoubtedly a mistake! The Germans did not pursue the Kyrgyz Republic, although they could have sunk it. Then Bismarck would definitely have gone to the Atlantic.
    Regarding the successful attack by Swordfish from Ark Royal. On Bismarck, anti-aircraft artillery control posts were out of order! ZOS was beaten by eye!!! The jammed steering wheel needed to be undermined, but the mechanic did not do this, for fear of flooding the aft compartments. A ship without a rudder could be controlled by machines. That’s what he tried to do, but the jammed steering wheel made it very difficult.
    Bismarck fell slightly short of the line of action of the German submarines. Moreover, one of the boats saw English. ships, but she no longer had torpedoes! Behind the line of German submarines English. NK would not go. And there the German coastal aviation would have covered the LoC.
    Luttsov hung on the TLG for more than an hour, the British took bearings of Bismarck’s place. Therefore, it was difficult to save him - the admiral played for the English TOVI!!!
    But everything could have been different...
    1. +4
      7 June 2024 16: 00
      Good day! hi
      Quote: Boa constrictor KAA
      Luttsov did not give the command to finish off the Englishman

      Lutyens :)
      Quote: Boa constrictor KAA
      which was undoubtedly a mistake!

      I think so myself, but in fairness, Lutyens had reasons for this. He did not know where the British were and how many there were, his battleship was damaged and could not give full speed, while following Wells he could run into superior British forces.
      But in general, Lutyens was simply bound by orders and was afraid to take risks.
      Quote: Boa constrictor KAA
      Then Bismarck would definitely have gone to the Atlantic.

      as far as I remember, damage to the fuel tank in any case put an end to the ocean voyage
      Quote: Boa constrictor KAA
      On Bismarck, anti-aircraft artillery control posts were out of order! ZOS was beaten by eye!!!

      Not quite so - if my sclerosis does not lie to me, out of 4 posts there were 2 in service, and two more also worked, but were of a land type with limited functionality
      Quote: Boa constrictor KAA
      The jammed steering wheel needed to be undermined, but the mechanic did not do this, for fear of flooding the aft compartments.

      Müllenheim-Rechberg dwelled on this issue in particular - in fresh weather it was impossible to place a charge outside the case, and an internal explosion... no one could calculate its consequences.
      It was felt that such an attempt would deprive the ship of the opportunity to make a final stand, and that the chances of success were illusory. The Germans did not kill their battleship instead of the British
      Quote: Boa constrictor KAA
      Behind the line of German submarines English. NK would not go. And there the German coastal aviation would have covered the LoC.

      Unfortunately, Bismarck simply physically could not go to the coast of France. They went to the open sea, towards the KVMF - the winds and currents were such that the ship was somehow steered in that direction, and they were not in a drift to take the fight.
  10. +1
    7 June 2024 07: 16
    I would like to give credit to the author for his scientific research. Namely, the discovery of a new class of ships. "Battleship" is a new word...
    1. +2
      8 June 2024 08: 07
      this is not the funniest thing... some authors writing on naval topics use the term - speed... so many knots per hour :-)
  11. +1
    8 June 2024 12: 56
    It is quite strange that the designers did not see the extreme vulnerability of battleships from the stern. Such superbly protected ships with a huge number of all kinds of armored partitions, with thick armor belts, anti-torpedo boules could not do anything in the event of bending of the rudders from being hit by torpedoes or destruction of the propeller shaft drive pipes. Bismarck and Hay died for a long time in circulation, and Prince of... from their shafts, which, due to torpedo hits, crumbled into pieces and tore apart the waterproof partitions. If it were possible to reset the rudders, the ships would leave controlled only by the propellers. The shafts could also probably technically be hidden under the armor...
  12. 0
    17 June 2024 17: 50
    It's amazing that no one in the know even knows that Bismarck was actually going IN THE OPPOSITE direction! As you know, in order to go to Brest, Bismarck had to go in an easterly direction, but in fact, before her death, this German battleship was going WEST!
  13. 0
    19 June 2024 18: 26
    Quote: Cartalon
    God level analytics.

    battleship...