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Posted on Tuesday, May 29 - 2007

" The Bismarck, probably Germany’s most famous battleship in World War Two, was sunk on May 27th 1941. The Bismarck had already sunk HMS Hood before being sunk herself. For many, the end of the Hood and Bismarck symbolised the end of the time when battleships were the dominant force in naval..."

The Bismarck, probably Germany’s most famous battleship in World War Two, was sunk on May 27th 1941. The Bismarck had already sunk HMS Hood before being sunk herself. For many, the end of the Hood and Bismarck symbolised the end of the time when battleships were the dominant force in naval warfare, to be replaced by submarines and aircraft carriers and the advantages these ships gave to naval commanders. The Bismarck displaced over 50,000 tons and 40% of this displacement was armour. Such armour gave the Bismarck many advantages in protection but it did not inhibit her speed – she was capable of 29 knots. Launched in 1939, the Bismarck carried a formidable array of weaponry – 8 x 15 inch guns, 12 x 5.9 inch guns, 16 x 4.1 inch AA guns, 16 x 20mm AA guns and 2 x Arado 96 aircraft. The Bismarck had a crew of 2,200.

In comparison, HMS Hood (built 20 years before Bismarck) was 44,600 tons, had a crew of 1,419 and was faster than the Bismarck with a maximum speed of 32 knots. The Hood had been launched in 1918 and was armed with 8 x 15 inch guns, 12 x 5.5 inch guns, 8 x 4 inch AA guns, 24 x 2 pounder guns and 4 x 21 inch torpedoes. However, the Hood suffered from one major flaw – she did not have the same amount of armour as the Bismarck. The fact that the Hood was faster than the Bismarck by 3 knots was as a result of her lack of sufficient armour. Within two minutes of being hit by the Bismarck, the Hood had broken her back and sunk. On May 18th, 1941, the Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen slipped out of the Baltic port of Gdynia to attack Allied convoys in the Atlantic. Grand Admiral Raeder had already had experience of large warships attacking convoys at sea. Ships such as the Graf Spee, Admiral Scheer (both pocket battleships), Hipper (a cruiser) and Scharnhorst (a battle cruiser) had already been at sea but had found that their power was limited by the fact that they were so far from a dock/port that could carry out repairs if they were needed. Such a difficulty meant that mighty ships such as the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were loathed to take on a convoy if that convoy was protected by any naval ship...

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