The Bismarck battleship was a German warship that served in World War II. It was launched in 1939 and played a major role in the early years of the war.

The ship was named after Otto von Bismarck. Bismarck was a German statesman who served as the first chancellor of the German Empire from 1871 to 1890.

The Bismarck was one of the largest and most powerful battleships ever built. With a displacement of over 50,000 tons and an armament of eight 15-inch guns.

In this article, we will discuss the history of the Bismarck battleship, its guns, battles, weight, and length, and its sinking.

Design and Construction

The Bismarck battleship was designed by the German shipbuilding company Blohm & Voss. This was in response to the Treaty of Versailles, which limited the size and number of ships Germany could build after World War I. The ship was laid down on July 1, 1936, and launched on February 14, 1939.

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The Bismarck was named after Otto von Bismarck, the founder of the German Empire. It was one of the largest and most heavily armed battleships of its time. With a length of 823 feet, a beam of 118 feet, and a displacement of 50,300 tons when fully loaded.

The ship was powered by three steam turbines and twelve oil-fired boilers. This gave it a top speed of 30 knots. The Bismarck had a crew of 2,200 officers and men and was equipped with an advanced fire control system that allowed it to accurately aim and fire its guns at long ranges.

Armament of the Bismarck

The Bismarck battleship was armed with eight 15-inch guns mounted in four turrets, two forward and two aft. The guns were capable of firing a 1,870-pound shell up to a range of 21 miles. The ship was also equipped with twelve 5.9-inch guns, sixteen 4.1-inch guns, and sixteen 1.5-inch guns for close-range defence.

The sleek design of the Bismarck seen here in 1940. She was to be tested by the Royal Navy in gunnery however.

The ship’s main armament was considered to be one of the most powerful of any battleship at the time. The guns were accurate and had a high muzzle velocity, which gave them a greater range than many other battleship guns of the era. The Bismarck’s advanced fire control system allowed the guns to be aimed and fired accurately at long ranges.

The Bismarck battleship was also equipped with an extensive torpedo defence system. This included a torpedo bulkhead and a series of watertight compartments designed to limit flooding in the event of a torpedo hit.

Battles of the Bismarck

The Bismarck’s first and only major engagement was the Battle of the Denmark Strait. The battle took place on May 24, 1941. The battle occurred when the Bismarck and another German battleship, the Prinz Eugen, were spotted by British cruisers while attempting to break out into the Atlantic.

Map showing Bismarck’s first, and last, battle.

The British fleet, consisting of the battleships HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales, engaged the Bismarck and the Prinz Eugen. During the battle, the Bismarck fired several salvos at the Hood, hitting it twice and causing it to explode and sink within minutes. The Prince of Wales and the Bismarck then engaged in a fierce gun duel, with both ships sustaining damage.

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The Bismarck was hit several times and suffered serious damage to its fuel tanks, which caused it to slow down. The ship was then pursued by the British fleet, which included several cruisers and destroyers. The Bismarck was eventually hit by torpedoes from British aircraft and was disabled. The crew then scuttled the ship and it sank on May 27, 1941.

HMS Hood

HMS Hood was a British battlecruiser that was built during the early 20th century. Commissioned in 1920, the ship was the pride of the Royal Navy and was widely regarded as one of the most powerful and advanced warships of its time. However, its impressive reputation would be short-lived, as the ship would be sunk in battle just over two decades after its launch.

Construction and Design

The design of HMS Hood was heavily influenced by the lessons learned during World War I. The Royal Navy recognised the need for a ship that could outrun and outgun any enemy vessel. To this end, the Hood was designed to be fast, heavily armed, and well-armoured.

HMS Hood seen here in 1924 was the pride of the Royal Navy. She would sink with only 3 survivors.

The ship’s armament consisted of eight 15-inch guns, arranged in four turrets. These guns were capable of firing shells that weighed nearly a ton and had a range of up to 32 kilometres. The Hood’s armour was also among the thickest of any ship in the world at the time, with a belt that was over 300 millimetres thick and deck armour that was over 100 millimetres thick.

The Hood was also designed to be fast, with a top speed of nearly 32 knots. This speed was achieved through the use of four steam turbines, which generated a total of 144,000 horsepower.

Service History

HMS Hood was commissioned into the Royal Navy on May 15, 1920. Over the next two decades, the ship would serve in various locations around the world, including the Mediterranean, the Far East, and the Atlantic. During this time, the Hood became a symbol of British naval power and was widely regarded as one of the most impressive warships in the world.

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In 1939, as tensions between Britain and Germany were escalating, the Hood was assigned to the Home Fleet, which was tasked with defending Britain’s coastline from attack. However, the Hood’s impressive reputation would be put to the test just two years later, in one of the most famous naval battles in history.

The Battle of the Denmark Strait

On May 24, 1941, the Hood and the battleship Prince of Wales were ordered to intercept the German battleship Bismarck, which was heading towards the Atlantic to attack British convoys. The two British ships engaged the Bismarck in what would become known as the Battle of the Denmark Strait.

The Hood and the Prince of Wales initially had the upper hand in the battle, with the Hood’s guns scoring several hits on the Bismarck. However, the Bismarck’s return fire proved to be devastating.

One of the Bismarck’s shells hit the Hood’s deck, causing a massive explosion that ripped the ship in half. The Hood quickly sank, taking with it all but three of its crew members.

A dramatic painting of HMS Hood sinking with HMS Prince of Wales in the foreground.

The sinking of the Hood was a devastating blow to the Royal Navy, which had lost one of its most powerful warships in just a few minutes. The sinking also had a significant impact on the morale of the British people, who had seen the Hood as a symbol of their country’s naval might.

Loss of the Hood

The HMS Hood was a true marvel of naval engineering, designed to be the ultimate symbol of British naval power. Its impressive armament, thick armour, and remarkable speed made it one of the most formidable warships of its time.

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However, despite its impressive reputation, the Hood would ultimately be sunk in battle. It would become one of the most tragic losses in British naval history.

The sinking of the Hood was a turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic. It demonstrated the vulnerability of even the most advanced warships to enemy fire. However, it also served as a rallying cry for the British people, who were inspired by the bravery and sacrifice of the ship’s crew.

Sinking of the Bismarck

The sinking of the Bismarck battleship was a significant event in World War II. After the ship was disabled by torpedoes from British aircraft, the crew attempted to repair the damage and make the ship seaworthy. However, the British fleet continued to pursue the Bismarck, and it was eventually cornered by several British ships.

A truly remarkable photo of HMS Rodney firing on Bismarck, which burns on the horizon.

British ships opened fire on the Bismarck, causing it to sustain further damage. The ship’s guns were also disabled, and it became clear that the crew would not be able to save the ship. On May 27, 1941, the Bismarck’s crew scuttled the ship, and it sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Of the 2,200 crew members on board the Bismarck, only 118 survived the sinking. The loss of the Bismarck was a significant blow to the German Navy, as it was one of their most powerful and advanced ships.

Legacy of the Bismarck

Despite its short service life, the Bismarck battleship remains one of the most famous and iconic warships in history. Its advanced design and heavy armament made it a formidable opponent, and its sinking was a major event in World War II.

HMS Dorsetshire picks up sailors from the Bismarck. These were the lucky few.

The sinking of the Bismarck also had a significant impact on the war effort. The loss of such a powerful ship was a major blow to the German Navy, and it caused them to shift their focus away from battleships and towards submarines.

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In the years since its sinking, the Bismarck has been the subject of numerous books, films, and documentaries. Its legacy as one of the most powerful and advanced battleships in history continues to capture the imagination of people around the world.

The Bismarck battleship was one of the most powerful and advanced warships of its time. Its heavy armament and advanced design made it a formidable opponent, and its sinking was a major event in World War II.

Finding the Wreck of the Bismarck

The wreck of the Bismarck was discovered on June 8, 1989. The discovery of the Bismarck‘s wreck was made by oceanographer Robert Ballard, who is also known for his discovery of the wreck of the Titanic. The Bismarck was found resting approximately 600 miles west of Brest, France, at a depth of about 4,800 meters (15,750 feet) below the surface of the North Atlantic.

Ballard’s expedition used sophisticated underwater technology, including a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) named Argo, to locate and explore the wreck. The discovery provided valuable insights into the ship’s final moments and the battle that led to its sinking. The exploration of the Bismarck wreck also helped to confirm details of the historical record, showing extensive damage from both the battle and its impact with the ocean floor.

Read the full story about the quest to find the wreck of the Bismarck Here.

The finding of the Bismarck has since been followed by additional expeditions that have further documented the wreck and provided more details about the ship’s structure and the battle damage it sustained. These explorations have contributed to a deeper understanding of World War II naval history and the technological advancements of the time.