What sunk the Bismarck update on biulding errors.

As I read more of the surviving information on the design and construction of the Bismarck, I find that I have to rethink my conclusions of what caused the sinking of the Bismarck

What I mean by the 'cause' is that I no longer believe that one single event can be blamed for it. Nor were all of these 'events' limited to the time the ship spent at sea.

One of the first 'design faults' I thought were involved was the seeming common design faults in a number of major German surface warships was the stern collapsing after a torpedo hit.

As the stern section was missing from the wreck, this seemed to make senses. Except that it is clearly evident that the hole punched into the tiller flat was still attached to the wreck. 

Alas no apparent link here,although going on published damage reports that the stern, overall, may have suffered from extensive design weakness, the stern did not collapse completely. The differences between what happened to the other ships I.E.  The Lutzow and Prince Eugene. were as a result of been hit by larger 21" torpedos from subs which had larger warheads which caused  even more damage. 

Mind you the damage caused completely wrecked equipment stationed in the stern and there is nothing to suggest that the stern would not have likewise suffered a similar collapse as the stern's overall design was suspect too say the least.       

Once the rudders were jammed at 15 deg the drag caused by this position just added to the speed loss. The dual rudders caused marked speed loss when large correction angles were applied.

Up to 19 knot loss of top speed for full rudder deflection according to other published information .

Here a wicked thought  for you: By applying full rudder to avoid the torpedo did the Captain doom his ship? How further back would have been the hit if the the ship had been going faster?

So what are the events that when added up to the loss of the Bismarck?

In my own opinion the following go some way to explain what happen.

Event 1.

Was the decision to use the major units of the German Navy as lone { single) ships as 'Commerse Raiders' a political idea and not by design?

The usual 'accepted idea' is both; The only problem with this is that the Nazi Party was not in power when the 'Pocket Battleships' were designed. Building may have started close to the time that the Nazi party came to power but what influence it had on the end result beyond what  is considered the source of the political decision on the use of the vessels. The initial political influence was to try and circumvent  Treaty of Versailles.

Further the aborted Z-Plan clearly indicates that the top brass while accepting the general idea of  using their major combatants as lone wolfs from time to time, this was forced unto them by the early start to hostilities and not by any naval design as the plan still called for limited fleet operations.

This political decision to send the Bismarck out without her sistership was the first operational event or error' that lead to the loss. You have to remember that to that point the German battleships operations always involved TWO battleships at all times. Interesting point to consider is it not?

Event 2.

This event occurred during construction of this ship and involved the lack of ongoing supply of the special welding rods used to weld the new armor types together. {source been "The Armor of German Warships" edited Siegfried .}

This inability to supply enough rods to complete the welding requirements of the construction lead to the suggestion that the riveting  of internal armor structures of the ship and the some if not all attachments to the major hull frames.

I decided to review what evidence I may have to either support, or not, this surprising information 

I own a book that clearly shows that some of the  internal hull frames are riveted so this at least supports the limited use of rivets. 

The shortage of welding rods also explains the gapes in the welded seen on the internal partitions / walls / bulkheads. 

The suggestion been that only fully welded armor on the ship was the upper 50-80 mm of horizontal Armored sea-deck.The rest varies between welding and riveting. 

Most other essays either assume or allow a assumption to be inferred that since Ww and Wh armor could be welded, it was. so the claim that the Bismarck was the first Battleship to be 90% WELDED CONSTRUCTION could be now be up for debate.  

The armored torpedo bulk heads were ALL riveted..
This is a Major construction event/error that lead to the loss of  one of the boiler rooms and a critical loss of  speed that prevented the Bismarck from passing the u-boat screen waiting for her and from reaching air cover.
It does go explain something that always had that 'feeling'  I got  when reading this information, a feeling that something is not right here; I am missing something here.

I explain further here.
It is the'accepted thought' that this torpedo bulkhead never failed  because they are still in place and is generally considered 'sound'  today. To consider it sound is clearly incorrect as internal flooding did occur to wit the internal bulkhead failed to do what is was designed to stop.

As documentary evidence shows that the bulkhead is still 'in position', the failure has to be in the rivets that held the plating together.Most probable cause was the flexing or bowing of the armor plate while holding back the explosive force.

Even if the rivets were made of Ww armor( I have no evidence either way) the armor has very poor shearing properties listed, so the 'flex' would have cut through the rivets as the plates tryed to slide apart in flex no matter the what the rivets were made from.
 I would gladly accept any independant evidence supporting ,or not ,this theory. 

Event 3.
Is purely political in nature and can be laid totally at the feet of Herr Herman Goering. By not allowing the production of naval aircraft, he denied the German naval surface forces any chance or hope of competing with the British any limited fleet operations If you ever wonder about which critical decisions that lost the war for Germany?

This would rate in the top five.The others being invading Russia, starting the war early,and giving into paranoid racist policies that ultimately turned the world against them.The other is the fault of the people themselves for not realizing that Hitler's ideas were too'good' ( in their eyes) to be true.

In part using modern physico babel you could say that they were ,as a population, de-humanized by their collective experiences of WW1 lead ultimately the total war experienced in WW2; ie they were a product of the WW1 and inhuman acts of WW2 were a forgone conclusion. Although this maybe one explanation, I do not hold to the defense of insanity of any individual, let alone the population of Europe in General in 1930-40's.

That right 'Europe' including eastern Europe.The ethnic & religious groups and others with 'anti social' behaviors suffered from  persecution well before WW1 timeline. Hitler's mob just took it to the most horrifically efficient method divisible to mankind.

Although the above events had their effects on what happened the single most obvious fault here that made ALL Battleship design 'defective weapons platforms' was the Washington Naval Treaty. When you limit a weapons design, you limit the designs ability to fight and survive in battle.  

To the victor goes history.

Why write about the Bismarck? After all countless historical accounts that have been written about her (this I know because I have read or watched almost all of them in the last 33 years.) The answer lies in part from my love of military history and mostly in my belief in history to be a recording of what happened as accurately as possible with complete impartiality by the author or in simple terms a truthful account and not one based on propaganda or biased personal beliefs.


When it comes to writing about the Second World War impartiality pretty well has gone out the door, and the truth depends largely on the writer's background and political leanings.


The saying “To the victor goes history” is the main problem. How many, justifiable at the time, military actions by the Allied forces which are still celebrated today, with no mention of the innocent civilian deaths, would have, and were considered war crimes at Nuremberg if the defeated side had been responsible for the action?    


I avoided the internet for many years as there is no control between the definitions of fiction and non-fiction. This held until I realized that in reading my way thru the complete naval section of my states main reference library (that took 2.5 years) and four different local libraries ( still ongoing when I get a chance ); I have found so far, only one book that gave a nearly total impartial look at armored ship development since 1800's to present day ( at time of its writing).


The rest are full enough of bias, misleading statements on technical information and performance to the point the authors could be classified as at worse, bald faced 'B-S' artists, too somebody been captured by their military training and their Country’s propaganda..


Here are some of the points I would like to use to prove the above position.


"The Bismarck was an update Bayern design"{ as this is stated by so many none can claim it, nor would any self respecting historian want to in the context it is usually applied!}. 

True but not in the negative as it is usual context, and shows just how little the authors who propagate this idea actually know about design and engineering such ships over a long period of time and I  actually wonder if they understand anything they are writing about sometimes. 

It is common practice in engineering to improve on a design in the next model. It is exactly what from the inception of the  Dreadnought type classification means .


 The background design information from the designers is still known today and clearly shows that the design started from , in the first instance, too improve on previous design or, in the rare instance, evolve into something new and not seen before, then the tradition forces come into play based on the traditional naval practices.


It is like a blood line in the controlled breeding of animals, the Rottweiler of Roman times looks nothing like the Rottweiler of the modern day, but they are still of the same breed. 

Maybe the historians should look at the traditions of naval operations, Treaties etc. and their effects negative or positive on the end designs that were constructed before using this argument or to weather or not the German senior officers had the right training to operate mentally correctly in battle environment .

It is said that a German elite army formation was capable of continuing a battle after the loss of all of its officers were killed as everyone knew what the goal was down to the last lowly private. This model is based on a Prussian model and this same said model was the basis of the Naval colleges in Germany. 

From all  the evidence from the WW1 this ability to think for yourself directly lead to the 1918 mutinies.It is equally obvious that attempts to correct this from occurring in the WW2  had taken place with limited success.

It is also clear to my mind that there existed a hesitation or some amount of lack of ability to make decisive command decisions. Also a complete lack of ability not to transmit the hopelessness of the situation to their men below them.    


It has no meaning and is a totally superficial statement as they  ARE ALL BASED ON EARLIER DESIGNS. I do not think people who think this is a vital piece of information know anything about the process of designing something over a period of time; always IMPROVING THE SAME BASIC DESIGN. i.e.: Dreadnought, pre-dreadnought, armored cruisers, ironclads, ships of the line, if you see what I mean.


Therefore if ALL DESIGNS are BASED IN SOME PART TO PRECEDING DESIGNS . The positives or negatives are all across the board and cannot be used to belittle any particular design.


I have one challenge for all of you historians out there. Where is your IMPERICAL data to back up the statements that the armor arrangement and quality of the armor of the Bismarck was inferior or 'old hat’?  Empirical means actually tested and proven under real world i.e.; battle, conditions.


This limits you to battles involving actual sinking of battleship by battleships while in battle. There are only 8 artillery battles in WW2 between battleships, 5 in Atlantic and 2 in the Pacific and a couple of inconclusive meetings in the Med.  


If you further refine the argument down to battles that involved a 'modern' battleship is involved ( that been launched and completed after 1936 ) you have only 1 battle in the pacific and 5 in the Atlantic.


You have to discount the French designs as they were either not 'completed' at the time of  battle, or not at sea at the time of the battle, which leaves you with 3 battles in the Atlantic and 1 in pacific.


The battles themselves are not important as the performance of 'Floating Gun Platforms'( FGP) involved. This is the design term for the operational theory behind the battleship designs. You should add to this Unsinkable F.G.P. for the actual 'Ideal' Design description for these ships but we are NOT discussing THE IDEAL WORLD OF SCIENITIFIC DESIGNS per say.


Obviously you have to MAINTAIN buoyancy and MAINTAIN gun operations and to do both you use armor and internal hull design to achieve this. These two requirements need to be compromised between each other as they have, in some ways, opposite effects on the each other in the overall design.


Now take the damage report of the USS South Dakota . The one hit on the inclined main belt (near B turret ) by itself caused the shipping of some 3,000 tons of water into the PRIMARY buoyancy of the ship, there were also numerous stress fracturing in the outer skin of the ship . Primary buoyancy is maintained by the outer skin and secondary buoyancy by the torpedo protection zone/area.


Design reports on the USS Iowa class states that ten torpedo hits (five a side) would threaten overall buoyancy of the design. It should be noted that the side protection was designed to resist 600 lb warhead torpedoes while the long lance was some 200 lbs heaver.


This issue was only fixed in some way by the addition of horizontal support beams between the main belt and outer skin of the ship. The Wisconsin was the only one to have this fix before the end of WW2 and the rest sometime after the end.


So while the American designs were effectively immune to penetration of the side armor of the armored cathedral, thus protecting the guns, this come with a direct negative effect of maintaining buoyancy of the raft as it allowed for damage in what was thought to be a less important area of the ship. This is the basis of the ‘All or Nothing principle’ adopted by the U.S.

Oh by the way they were the only nation to adhere to this principle over the course of a complete design phase. The rest either tried it out in one design and dropped it from future designs or only ever used it after heavy modification of the original premise.  


The Bismarck armor arrangement is designed more to protect the overall floatation than the gun operation, thereby protecting the gun operations by maintaining primary buoyancy. According to Herr Breyer the designer of the ship wanted a deeper main armor belt but was limited at the time to treaty limits which are the real reason for the demises of the Battleship.  The compromise here is of course the damage that results upper internal decks areas above the Armored Cathedral are potentially quiet high but are not to the internal structure of the main armored cathedral itself. This arrangement shows the difference clearly, where as the American design was based on the principle of NO armor for areas of the ship where damage would be acceptable, The German way was to still armor the area, even if damage was unavoidable.


It should be noted that the Bismarck had the greatest percentage of total hull weight in armor and this was only surpassed by the Yamato a completely different Class of Dreadnought; i.e. been the only example of a ‘Super-Dreadnought” to be completed. The USS Montana class would have been the first U.S.A. 'super'. Neither the Iowa class or the HMS Vanguard can be considered 'supers' as both were based on earlier 35,000 ton treaty ships. They were a class onto themselves as 'fast' dreadnoughts that replaced the battle cruiser,but neither in the class of the Yamato.

I personally loosely classify the Bismarck,Iowa and the Vanguard as 'fast' 45,000 ton treaty battleships.Add to this the modern Italian and French designs.


I say potentially here, as to date, the latest studies of the wreck of the Bismarck show that there are few penetrations of the upper belt armor and the deck penetrations were torpedo hits on a listing sinking ship.


 The only  complete structural failure of armor was the turret armor of Bertha when a 16' shell hit which it was more or  less expected as the ship was not designed to combat the Rodney or Nelson.


Here is an interesting side light in that most battleships armor was designed to withstand battle with themselves to be proofed over specific ranges using the ballistic data of their OWN cannons.  Immune zones were set this way as no reliable data for the enemy’s canons were available.


Getting back to the Amour arrangements; by design, one thirds of the side belt was below the waterline to protect to a certain depth against torpedo attacks, the success or failure of which is clearly documented so maintaining the Primary buoyancy which means at the time secondary buoyancy is not brought into question. In practice this may have gone up to ½ the belts height.


What is secondary buoyancy you may ask? It is percentage factor of the residue buoyancy left after the ship is damaged in areas DESIGNED TO ALLOW DAMAGE and letting in water. Primary buoyancy is the normal or initial buoyancy the design has before any battle damage occurs ; This is protected by what ever armor arrangement that is designed NOT TO ALLOW DAMAGE


With the USA going with a inset main belt, called a internal armored raft, this is not an option any more for the protection of the primary buoyancy as the main belt is inside the hull at and  ends below the water line. Therefore flooding will most likely occurs with ANY DAMAGE and in turn reducing and eventually the destroying the primary buoyancy at the outset and bring into the damage control equation the need for secondary buoyancy.  


Another statement is made that the extra length of barrel and super heavy shell developed for the Iowa class matched the Japanese 18' shell and gun performance. This is only true at point blank range and as you move out the heavier Japanese shell's momentum takes over to when you have plunging fire the 18 inch shell is superior simply because of the greater shell weight.


By and by although combining the main belt with the armored torpedo bulk head was new to American designers, the use of an inset sloped armored belt was originally used in the HMS Nelson and Rodney in 1923.


Now here is an interesting question for you; why only do it once and never again? At least two other completed designs were launched after and one other design was completed but never laid down, so why drop for a earlier version of the idea, especially considering the supposed improvements?


It was a surprise to me when I read that little or no testing before the war was done to on hydrodynamic studies on underwater explosion in near misses, or torpedo hit, or the fact that shell could be a near miss and still penetrate the hull armor or torpedo protection zones.


Majority of this study was completed after 1950 or after the designs were finalized and in most cases, no longer considered a functional weapon.


Let us look at the torpedo protection system.

Remember little or no studies were done on why the explosive force of a torpedo seemed to project itself into the target's hull before the various ship designs were finalized.


What studies were conducted before 1940 happened after the designs that were approved for construction.


Think about it this way. You have the hull side as the centre barrier keeping the water out and on other side you have the force (or weight) of the sea on one side and hull structure the other. Suddenly introduced into this is the explosion so now you have all the weight of the sea pushing the explosive force into the hull.


As already stated, very little empirical testing on the science of what caused the damage when a torpedo exploded. There seemed to be three basic designs used; the torpedo bilge (or external protection system outside the main hull and belt), thus adding to primary buoyancy. The internal protection system behind and below the main belt ( the most common in modern designs ), no addition to primary buoyancy,  and the external/internal  system with the protection zone outside the main belt but inside the hull structure itself and again no addition to primary buoyancy  but a reduced effect too the secondary buoyancy as there is a primary resistance to hull damage .


The exception here is the Yamato and the North Carolina, that tried various combinations of the torpedo bilge outside an inclined external armor belt extending down to an inclined armored torpedo bulk head inclined at the same angle and butted together to stop sub surface penetration by shell fire and damage by torpedoes. On the outside was the external torpedo bilge. Apparently the Japanese did complete extensive test on sub surface penetrations as part of the overall hull structure, but only in regard to shell fire and ,again after construction, as the American did conduct tests on the South Dakota protection system, only to find it less effective than the North Carolina design and too late to modify the Iowa design. It should be noted ultimately the Japanese system was a failure as well due to too stiff hull design{ IE no ability to take shock damage. Something that can be laid at feet of all the systems as all fail this aspect of design).  


All warships used same types of protection within the protection zone, armor plate, empty void, filled void etc .


The empty void works in the same way as 'spaced armor' in land battle tanks; Very effective and is exactly the same principle used in horizontal armor in nearly all modern designs of battleships.


What Armor plate is used has to be carefully chosen as harder the plate, the more brittle of the plate and cracking often occurred allowing in water or riveted which sheared on explosive loading.


The filled void is the most interesting and in my mind the most misunderstood theory used. This idea resulted from days after Jutland where full coal bunkers were found to resist the passage of shells and help contain any explosion and thereby support the armor defense.


This finding somehow translated too oil filled bunkers or water filled sealed bunkers. The theory work along the lines that as solids, i.e.: coal, was incompressible solid thus resisted any compression forces experienced, like that supplied by cannon shell.


Far enough nothing wrong with this basic theory. Now everyone knows that liquid in a sealed container is likewise incompressible as long the container remains SEALED.


The other side of this theory is hydrodynamics and the completely different transfer of energy from the shock wave by solids compared to liquids.


The basic difference was that a solid will ABSORB a majority of the energy via its crystallized structure and the strong bonds between its particles. 


  Where as a liquid has neither the crystal structure nor the strong bond between various particles and it this reason that liquids in this situation will transfer the energy / shock wave is actually amplified. The amplification occurs under the same principles that sound waves increase in velocity in water.


I have my self carried out scaled down tests and have proven beyond any doubt in my mind that this is what happens. The container simple exploded (solid shot only used), the seams would rupture or at the very min imum there was a huge amount of damage to what would be a interior structure wall.


I have the same question for you the readers. Why if the Iowa’s are the best of the best etc, did the Montana class revert back to the North Carolina style of  EARLIER SYSTEM OF PROTECTION? Why did the British not carry on with the internal armored belt after 1923?

Because as it was found out by American when they tested the design that it was leak in torpedo protection, allowed too much damage from both torpedoes and deflected shells, so therefore endangering overall buoyancy and repairing any damage was overly complex & a time consuming exercise.

Further poof that a internal raft system was defective in underwater protection was shown in the sinking of the two japanese super-dreadnoughts,  OK it took a lot of hits to sink these ships but they both still 'founded' under power.Eventually they had no reserve buoyancy left to maintain flotation of the hull.

The only real difference here between the modern Japanese and American design was in the material used and the layout of the horizontal armor.

Interestingly it should be noted here that the common practice of reporting the horizontal armor as one thickness only which suggests one layer of armor was only ever true on board the Yamato class and only in particular areas. Nearly all designs utilized a 'bomb' deck to set off the delayed action fuses in AP shells/bombs. This 'bomb' deck varied in construction either been armored or of standard construction steel.    


The Vanguard was a better sea boat (it handled high sea state better) and she was only an extended kgv class hull. I would love to see what the damage would be if a long lance torpedo hit the bow area  of the Iowa, as I believe it may well have broken off. The flexing of the bow in high seas scared the crap out of the sailors who slept up forward and probably could not maintain formation with the super carriers in the 1980’s in these condition unless the formation was accompanied by slower supply ships.


Going on with this critic of the Iowa class, the extra length of barrel in the main gun sounds effective in a ship to ship action being able to lob a shell at any range past 30km is wasted powder. The Maximum recorded hit on a functional Battleship under the way was approx 26,700 yards or 24,414 meters and that was thought to be a lucky shot ( one in eight shells fired? ).


A more important finding is the fact that Amour performance may have varied between sister ships as there were three suppliers of amour plate and one ship the Missouri was found to have extensive de-lamination of the A class main amour belt in 1980’s which could lead to massive scaling when in battle, so the battle worthiness of this particular ship is questionable from the out set due to poor Armor quality control.


To make any of the modern 16’’ battleships effective in shore bombardment, reduced charges were used.


Let’s get something very clear here the only reason the North Carolina class was not retained were because.


1. / they lacked the speed required to stay with the carriers , and


2. / they did not have the space to be flagships.



   They were just as capable in shore bombardment as the Iowa class and as the Iowa class end up in the company of the lpd & lsd classes etc the extra couple of knots would not be need and except for the super carriers there seems to be the accepted idea that there is no need to protect against modern torpedoes as the ships today are not a size required to make this possible so the defects in both designs in under water protection would not be a valid consideration.


I am not blind to the faults of the Bismarck.


Her design was weak on structure in the stern ( a fault all major German ships had ).

While all the modern testing of the hull welds were done ( that right x-ray of welds and removal of section of completed welds), internal weld seems not to beef up to the same standards (based on reviewing the limited internal photos of the ship during construction the lack of special welding rods lead to the inferior practice of riveting to be used .The lack of accurate radar units. 


Pictures of finished but not fitted out internal compartments inside the armored cathedral show clearly that the welds did not extend completely from the roof to the floor. Gapes clearly show up.


Wh, Ww, Kca,n, sts25 (Special Treated Steel) all terms to describe the armor used in this ship. I gather from what I have read that there are some disputable facts banded about. Disparaging comments on Krupp works not updating their Kc armor, yet clear evidence show the Krupp works show that they did. Whatever the case may be imperial tests in Battle show that the main belt was up to the task. Wh was clearly equivalent to class A armor if not slightly better been completely weldable and Ww does not seem to have an allied equivalent.  


The lack of effective fire control radar was amazing as very effective AA radar sets, FuMg 62

were  more accurate and although tested first in 1939 (the fomos23 was first tested 1935) too late for the Bismarck maybe but due to the traditional inter service rivalries it was not fitted until after 1943-44.


What was fitted was capable of rang finding so reducing the reliance on ranging shots. From what I have read the Germans Ships only required, at best, three ranging shots, wear the usual was at least 4 to 5 at a minimum.


Now let us look at the reporting of horizontal armor across the board there is incorrect specification listing of armor thickness. The Iowa’s horizontal armor is reported as one thickness only when effect it was over two deck and if you consider the sea deck as part (officially it is considered), three decks, not one.


Before we go any further we need to look at the different style of arrangements. There were two styles used, amour on one deck or spread over usually two decks sometimes three.


 The KGV class had one armored deck directly below the sea deck of 5.88 inches (149.352mm) and over the magazines a three layer system was used by adding above the 5.88 inches a sea deck/ weather deck of 1.25 inches (31.75mm) and a splinter deck below the 5.88 inches of 1.5 inches(38.1mm) thickness. All being laid on .5inch (12.7mm) construction steel deck

Combined equals 219.202mm to149.352mm all amour is cemented type.


Vanguard had 6.4inches (152mm) to 2.5 inches (64mm) in identical arrangement to KGV.


The Iowa had a sea/bomb deck of 1.45inch , a main armored deck of 5.78 inches to 4.76inches (147mm to 121mm )  and a splinter deck of 5/8 inch class a.( interestingly sometime listed as sts) main is  laid on 1.25 inches (31.75mm) sts construction steel.

Combined equals 8.4874 inches to 7.46378 inches (215.59mm to189.58mm)


The North Carolina was over three decks sea/bomb deck 1.45 inches (37mm), main/second deck  5.518 inches (140mm) to5 inches (127mm)  and a third/splinter deck .62 inches(16mm)

Which when combined equaled 7.588 inches (192.735mm) to 7.07 inches (179.578mm).


South Dakota combined (three decks) 6.1 inches (154.94mm) to 5.8inches (147.32mm).


The Japanese Yamato had both types except no deck above main armor deck of 226.5 mm (8.92 inches) to 200mm (7.9 inches) one deck above not armored.


The Bismarck had a sea deck of 80 to 50 mm ( 1.9685 inches to 3.1496 inches) one deck of standard construction steel 25mm thick and a turtle back main armor deck of 120mm to 80mm (4.7244 inches to 3.1496 inches). The question of a construction layer been present is not answered as you would think that no construction steel needed to be used as all armor used was weld able.

Combined equals 200mm+ (7.874 inches) to 130mm (5.118 inches) note the + as this section is sloped so increasing effective thickness

See above paragraph titled in part 'design errors' at top of this web page for meaning of this error  and possible cause of failure. 


There is no doubt that the rivets failed to hold the plates together were the cause of the leaks.


I actually read this pdf file before finding out about the use of rivets and it took a bit of time to mentally review the facts and statements I had already read to connect the dots.          


Answer.  The shortage of welding rods was the reason, they had to compromise the design to finish on time. It also explains the dodgy welds mentioned earlier on in this essay.


The points here is to show by comparison to designs built after 1937,  that the horizontal armor arrangement of the Bismarck was not dated, was in line with other modern designs and was in fact with the use of weld-able armor (where it was welded as it seems that where Wh at 50mm thickness was welded, greater thickness where riveted and Ww was only riveted ) was more advanced as it removed the need of a construction layer below the armor plate this allowed for a percentage increase in weight of armor over structural weight of the hull in overall terms and secondly the extra armor on the upper deck and vertically above the main belt where common in other design and eye witness accounts from the British stated that KGV 14” shell were actually bouncing off the side armor at point blank range! and therefore were not the ‘shot traps’ as is suggested by some.


It seem to me that the stern was  constructed  in almost separate way. 

The armored sea deck of 50mm Wh armor did not extend over the stern, instead a thinner 12.7mm construction steel was used to construct the stern section to suspend the heavy turtle back style steering protection so actually no armor from the cathedral was welded to the stern armor. 

This separation of two different types of steel is very problematic when latter faced with bending moments and sheering forces when explosions occur. 

I note here that layer of welded Wh vertical armor extended past the armored cathedral to both the stern and bow, the stern is said to be a 'separate' construction by some authors.

Which is in itself not that unusual as sometimes due to vibration the stern of some ships ( Titanic for one) connected via a anti vibration joint. Not to say this is the cases here.


Now I could go on and a showing the short falls in any design of battleship made except that it would be easier to point out that all modern post 1928 battleships are defective designs that are a series of compromises due to limitation set by politicians and other seemingly unconnected problems.


As soon as you set limitation on warships you allow a designed Achilles heal to exist and that allows for development of weapon systems that can exploit that Achilles heal and sink the vessels.


Now I know some may argue that the Yamato was not limited and that is true in a one sense until you look back at the designs that were cancelled before it and the fact that some 'traditional' design ideas that had been dropped by other countries were still used by Japanese designers.

One essay/book states the designers used a longitudinal bulkhead completely separate each half of the ship, making for a overly  complex damage control system that required damage control parties to go up and over this bulkhead to get from one side to the other.

I am as yet to find any independent confirmation of this from other sources. 


One of the first planned British designs after the ww1 was to displace 49 ,000 odd tons, the American battleships weighing 43,000 ton a position that was only reached during ww2.


It could be argued that without limitation we may have seen vessel approaching 100,000 tons by the time of ww2.


It makes you think that the Washington treaty may have made it economic possible for ww2 to start and without it the world we know today would not exist. Instead of having a cold war in the decades after the WW2 which was in the end a war of apposing economic systems, it could have happened earlier with very different results maybe.

It may be an interesting in a theatrical hyperbole to guess at what may have been: I will leave that to another time and a another type of essay go down that journey it would probably give me a headache in the end.


What would be good would be to investigate the inter service rivalries that still exist today, the traditional “stick-in-the-mud” thinking, the institutional hatred by various political parties for the different arms of defense (one party favoring the air force over navy etc).


The idea that suppliers can screw as much money as they can out of the public purse make huge profits and put the lives of the men and women who risk their lives protecting our freedom at risk with sub-standard equipment so they make a bigger profit.


One other factor was the lunacy of the major personalities in charge. From starting wars ill prepared forces that believed that they had another 4 to 6 years to be ready.


For the some of the conditions in the last paragraph existed inside ALL the major players during WW2 and were responsible in no small part to the defeat of Germany. Not a bad thing to happen to the enemy but what would say if it happened to your side? If it was your son or daughter been killed due to some paranoid penny pinching war profiting entity doing what come naturally?


It seem to get a truer picture of what happened you need to get as many sources of information and then proceed to cross check with empirical data and eyewitness account and sieve through the assumptions that have no bases in fact and only accept what can be confirmed by this cross checking

My personal opinion is the a lot of authors have a habit of jumping to half formed conclusions and running with it without bothering to have a firm background knowledge of historical events. 

There seems to be just as many faults with the historians as there were with the designs of battleships.

On a side issue. The economics of modern conventional warfare is no longer viable long term option as when a conflict goes 'hot' the economies of all participants head towards bankruptcy in pretty quick order.

This has lead to a new kind of warfare; Asymmetric warfare. The new name state sponsored terrorism. Except that some groups have found independent sources to fund their perverted ideas. .     


David 09.07.2013 20:12

The reason riveting was used on certain areas was not because of a shortage of welding rods. That is incorrect. It was because of engineering protocols.

jason 09.07.2013 23:38

Email address included on contact page now forgot to included in setup wops !

Jason 09.07.2013 23:19

Great! I need to place a discussion page on the site to allow more detailed discussions.

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Latest comments

19.05 | 15:01

Good point! I was thinking Helo pads but never got around to it. The design thought been why not have full port or base resources including dry dock and repair

19.05 | 11:44

Why is there no airport on top of the base?

03.04 | 13:07

Just found your site-very cool. Also agree with your views regarding government decision processes, all about looking after their arse after they're booted out

19.01 | 08:39

Detailed answers on blog page.