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Bismarck Ship : Was Bismarck The Most Sophisticated Battleship Ever Made?

Bismarck Ship : Was Bismarck The Most Sophisticated Battleship Ever Made?

Bismarck Ship : Was Bismarck The Most Sophisticated Battleship Ever Made? First laid down in 1936, the German battleship Bismarck was to be the most powerful battleship ever constructed, designed to rule the seas.

A sister ship of similar design was also commissioned by Germany’s Kriegsmarine, named the Tripitz, on the same year.

The Bismarck was first to be launched on February 14th, 1939, under the command of captain Ernst Lindermann. Lindermann had served as captain for the ship’s single combat mission in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Bismarck had simply whopping & jaw dropping specifications. Bismarck had a displacement of41,700 tonnes when it was launched. And an additional 8,600 tonnes when it was fully loaded and supplied.

At the time of its conception, the displacement greatly exceeded the maximum displacement of battleships decreed by the Washington regime during the interwar period, which limited battleships to a displacement of 36,000 tonnes.

 A view of the German battleship Bismarck firing on a merchant ship in the north Atlantic.  (Credit: Keystone/Getty Images)
A view of the German battleship Bismarck firing on a merchant ship in the north Atlantic. (Credit: Keystone/Getty Images)

The ship measured 251 meters long and had a beam of 36 meters, and with its three steam turbines the Bismarck could reach speeds of 30 knots, generating 110,450 kilowatts.

At full capacity the Bismarck had a crew of 2,065, including 103 naval officers onboard.

The 8 main guns on the ship were of 15 inch calibre, and were supported by 56 other secondary and anti-aircraft cannons.

Bismarck’s guns at the bottom of the ocean

4 seaplanes were also aboard, which could be launched using a double-ended catapult directed on the port and starboard sides of the ship. The Bismarck was also equipped with advanced radar and rangefinders to aid in finding and fighting enemies. Extensive armor was used to protect the battleship, with the thickest portions being used on the four main turrets and belt of the Bismarck.

Bismarck’s rudder under construction

The first and final combat mission of the Bismarck, codenamed Rheinübung, began on the 23rd of May. The Bismarck, along with the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, were ordered to make a daring dash through the Denmark strait and into the Atlantic Ocean. Although this maneuver was meant to go undetected, the two massive naval vessels were spotted by the Royal Naval and the Battle of Denmark Strait soon commenced.

The German battleship Bismarck, seen from the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, shortly before the two ships parted ways after the Battle of the Denmark Strait on 24th May 1941.

The HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales, as well as supporting ships were sent to engage the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in naval combat. Early on May 24th, the battle officially began when the Hood opened fire on Prinz Eugen.

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HMS Hood

Although the German ships were able to score some minor hits on the British ships. A critical shell was fired by the Bismarck on her fifth salvo.

A 15-inch armor-piercing shell penetrated the Hood’s thin deck. The shell ignited a propellant storage and causing a massive explosion that effectively snapped the ship in half.

After eight minutes of fighting, the Hood had disappeared under the waters, taking 1,419 sailors with her.

HMS Hood vs Bismarck : The Royal Navy’s Tragedy on the High Seas

The Prince of Wales had also sustained significant damage. And was forced to retreat, but not without putting three shells into the Bismarck.

The damages Bismarck suffered had caused an oil leak in the vessel. And a massive trail of oil followed wherever the ship sailed.

Bismarck’s forecastle

Following the sinking of the Hood, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered a massive effort to sink the Bismarck. Swordfish biplanes equipped with torpedoes were launched from the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious to hunt the Bismarck, and despite being extremely outdated one of the nine torpedoes managed to score a hit. This torpedo caused further damage and forced the Bismarck to run without two boilers, reducing the vessel’s maximum speed to 16 knots.

Although the Bismarck was able to disappear from the sights of the Royal Naval for a short period of time after this engagement.

Bismarck was found once again by Swordfish planes from the carrier HMS Ark Royal.

Another two torpedoes landed hits on the Bismarck, the second causing major damage to the port rudder and locking the vessel in a 12 degree turn to port.

English battleship HMS Rodney built in 1922 which sank the german ship Bismarck in 1941. (Credit: Apic/Getty Images)
English battleship HMS Rodney built in 1922 which sank the german ship Bismarck in 1941. (Credit: Apic/Getty Images)

With the Bismarck crippled. The Royal Navy’s ships began to sail towards the stricken ship and opened fire late in the evening of May 26th, 1940. The HMS King George V led the task force against the Bismarck. And after being hit multiple times the order was given to abandon ship.

Painting of the Bismarck about to go under after being finished off with torpedoes from the cruiser Dorcestshire.

In conclusion, by 10 AM of May 27th, the mighty Bismarck was scuttled and sunk. More than 2,000 of the sailors aboard perished with the vessel.

Furthermore, the crew of the Bismarck being rescued by the Royal Navy
Moreover, German submarines approached, thus forcing British forces to abandon the men in the water.
German Battleship Bismarck : A Brief History

Was Bismarck The Most Sophisticated Battleship Ever Made? Written by Tony Cao