Posted by Don Murphy on February 19, 2012, 11:05:26, in reply to "Well to be fair, everyone except subs has claimed the Fuso and her sis"
National pride also plays in to it. Bismarck sunk without a major kill? Embarrasment. Eugen's crew were the more experienced and sadly, they were under the most fire. They were in real danger of a hammering. Ted Brigg's book brings out something that is rarely discussed: RN fire on Eugen. 15" fire is 15" fire. It takes no prisoners and it's misses are as painful as it's hits. A "straddle" against a cruiser size target is gonna kill people and knock stuff out. We rarely discuss it. |
While everyone focusses on Lindemman and Lutjens arguing over whether Bismarck would break off or join in, the reality of Eugen was that Hood was walking tons-o-steel in to her coordinates. Remember, Hood had the finest crew in the known world. Britannia ruled the waves and Hood *WAS* Britannia. Plus, if you look at Hood's first two turns, they put two of her turrets out of action, meaning she could only bring four guns to bear on Bismarck. This means that EARLIER she had eight guns on Eugen. That's scary shite!
Unlike the RN, the Germans had no leadership formational rules, meaning that one ship's skipper (or task force commander) didn't control the other ship's movement. Remember the controversy where Rodney "broke the line" to engage Bismarck? That's what it is all about - all RN ships doing what the flag leader says. The Germans had no such rules. So Eugen was free to say "holy shit, we're coming under fire, break left..." Had Eugen stayed where she was, all eight Hood guns would have easily hit Bismarck as well. Tedd Briggs also recounts something else we forgot. Hood wasn't stupid. Hood knew via flag and plain old radio that POW's guns were useless.
So doors were opened, hatch fouling was allowed to permit Hood's eight guns to do the work of both ships. Hood knew POW's ten guns were out of action. Vickers tech reps/workers who's career's were not on the line, had no problem regailing to their superiors how POW sailed with her guns aimlessly pointing skyward. Briggs also bears that out even going so far as to quote a nearby gun captain as yelling "why won't you bastards fire?!"
Ludovik Kennedy's "Pursuit" puts POW's bridge hit as coming after Hood's explosion. POW was trailing Hood to starboard which means she was further from Bismarck than Hood which was behind Eugen. For Eugen to have shot over Hood and hit POW is impossible. Firstly, she couldn't have seen through the Hood's pall of smoke and fireball. No way. Bismarck, trailing behind, would have seen POW silouetted against Hood's fireball. Easy peasy. The fact that she only got of four 15" rounds says how much farther POW was away from Hood. So if Bis could only get off four out of either, it's doubtful any of Eugen's 8"ers could have done better.
Plus, let's also consider armor penetration. If we're saying Eugen is the culprit then that means that POW's armored citadel was penetrated by a measly-ass 8 inch shell. Tsk tsk Vickers. Someone's ass would have been hanging from a noose in London's Marble Arch. Only a 15 incher could have punched through that and gone out the other side. Remember, this wasn't plunging fire against thiner roof armor, this was full on side impact. An 8 incher from above, maybe. Not from the direct side. That's asking too much from an 8 incher.
Plus, plunging fire is what Eugen was doing against Hood for a variety of reasons. It's possible the Eugen *COULD* have guessed at Hood's thin deck armor. I doubt it. I think the plunging was for the simple fact that Hood was shooting from farther away. Hood was hitting Eugen's area of water with ease. Eugen was having to plunge to get the range. So if Eugen had to use plunging fire against Hood, there's no way she could have done a straight horizontal shot on POW which was further behind. The shells would have hit the water.
Leach's potential courtsmartial (or at worst, sacking) comes from discrepancies from several sources. Briggs in his book shows POW's one and only full salvo coming at the beginning of shooting at Eugen. Eugen's logs echo that. Bismarck's gunnery officer in his book doesn't give POW credit for any gunfire at all. Why? Possibly because he was on the phone (not the eyepiece) awaiting Lindemann's relayed instruction to start fire. He wouldn't have been watching the battle until after he hung up. To make this worse on him, the phone is at the bottom of the director housing. So he couldn't realistically have watched while waiting.
All accounts show British realization that they are firing at the wrong target early early on. It only takes minutes for Hood to shift fire and at that time, as per all accounts, she straddles Bismarck. Were POW to have been in the fight, her salvo would have struck Bismarck. This is what prompts the Hood officer's hateful remark against POW. POW's failure was not like South Dakota's at Savo. POW's failure was mechanical. They were able to jury rig the twin turret (as per Leach) and they got off a salvo just as Hood fired her last complete (pre sinking) salvo.
Vickers tech as per Kennedy's "Pursuit" says they only got the number one gun from the forward turret to fire. So POW goes from having one ten gun salvo to having a two gun salvo to having a one gun shot. Hardly impressive and really lucky to have that solitary 14 inch round hole Bismarck's fuel tank. And like Eugen's relationship with Bismarck, POW would also have been firing ahead of Hood. No way. Too far.
Eugen's logs in "Death Of The German Navy 1939 - 1945" show a straddle from Hood's last complete salvo and a solitary splash aft of that, which would have been POW's lone shell. Prior to logs returning to the UK, Tovey and Churchill know via Enigma that Bismarck has a hole in her bow tanks. Bismarck has no earthly idea where it came from either. The Brit 15's were firing well within their envelope and Bis does take shrapnel damage mid-ships. So it's possible that Hood's last complete salvo put the hole in Bis's bow.
Everyone gives Hood's X and Y turret a final shot as she's turning over but even if the trigger was pulled just as she turned, the shells aren't going anywhere near Bismarck's bow. Final analysis?
1. Bismarck fails to hit Hood and hole's POW's bridge. KM command gives Hood's death to Bismarck out of pride. Pride of KM sinks pride of RN. Great copy.
2. Eugen fails to hit POW and hole's Hood's boat deck. KM command gives POW's bridge hole to Eugen.
3. POW fails to hit anything. Admiralty gives Bismarck's tank hole to POW out of embarrassment and out of fear for Leach's life. Rank and file RN is angry. Tovey is under pressure to hang Leach from Churchill who feels that POW should have rammed Bismarck and gone down fighting as well. "If the cream of the RN went down, he should have followed her." Based on this hatred, Leach is a pariah and volunteers for the British version of Ten-Go which was the sending of POW and Repulse to Singapore. All reports say that he survived the bombing and deliberately went down with POW, only to have his body float to the surface where it was found.
All in all an interesting 1941.