KM Bismarck (BB-1940)

 

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My style of Bismarck depends on the building stream for the Germanic States. If I go: Admiral Hipper > Von Roon > Scharnhorst/Bismarck, The first five ships in production are then eclipsed by the French Dunkerque class which are 35,000 tons with 8x16", not the 26,000 ton 8x13" real life versions. Once the French build the 16" battleships, the Germanic States are not going to build an 11" or 13.8" class battleships. I then have a Scharnhorst Class with a Bismarck sub-class built with the Germanic States 16.5" main armament, though they report the guns as 16". I draw two versions, the first with a 5.9" and 4.1" armament, the second with a dual purpose 5" armament replacing the secondary / tertiary guns.

Original design 1933-34


On the drawings I have it as the first two ships being completed to the first drawing standard when in actual fact all four ships would have been able to be completed to the standard of the second drawing.



The Scharnhorst, as completed, in 1939, with the original optical units and prior to the extensive radar assistance added to the ships as shown on the Tirpitz below.


The Germanic States are now known to have been a bit cute with bending their slide rules to get the figures they wanted to report rather than the actual figures that the ships were. There was no way that these ships were going to be anywhere near the 35,000 ton limit. The actual figure was 44,500 tons standard, a 30% mistake. The 16.5" guns were magnificent pieces of artillery. Firing 1,300 kg shells 40,000 yards, the shells could pierce 14" of armour at 30,000 yards, but they were reported as the standard 16". Any Allied battleships that took hits from these monsters was going to be in trouble. And the Germanic States built four of them!


Things that go bang. Assembling the 16.5" turrets and mountings.

These were magnificent ships, but the moment I build the Graf Zeppelin Class aircraft carriers (2 completed by wars start), I start getting into 'Fleet' battles. Of the WW1 ships only the Mackensen and two Lutzow class battlecruisers are fast enough to attain fleet speed and have enough range not to need refueling every five minutes. The Wurtemberg is the sticking point. With only a 24 knot speed it is 4-5 knots slower than the rest (I sink it in the attack on Oslo Fjord in place of the Blucher). The three Kaiser class raiders are scattered about the world, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. The two Nassau Class have been demilitarised to no more than pre-dreadnought gunpower and never leave the Baltic as training ships and trials ships (one exception is their participation in the taking of Oslo). The five Hipper and Roon class battlecruisers are too small to stand in the line of battle. They are supposed to be the wolves unleashed on the Atlantic Convoys. Any resistance met they fall back on the Big Bear of the fleet. The aim is always to split up the Royal Navy and take advantage of any near parity battles that can be engineered. While the French are still in the war till July 1940, then the combined Allied Fleets are too much for the German Fleet to handle on its own. By July 1940, the second pair of the Scharnhorst Class are available and the Italian Fleet has joined the war, splitting off a sizable Commonwealth Fleet to the Mediterranean. That is the first chance for the Germans, August/September 1940. The next chance is the Japanese attacks in December 1941 to March 1942, which seriously thins out the Commonwealth forces. Can the German forces be held together as a "Fleet in being" as the High Seas Fleet did in WW1, waiting their chance to strike. Even in my Alternate Universe the Germans might have more but the Commonwealth forces still outnumber them easily and could beat them whenever needed. But there are points where the Commonwealth forces are thinned out and where I can engineer circumstances to have battles where the roll of a dice can decide the fate of nations. (Doesn't that sound good!) The longer the Germanic States leaves its confrontation with the Commonwealth, the greater edge the Commonwealth builds up. The Commonwealth and then United States (CSC/CUC) forces combined are too much, and the building power is astronomical compared to the Axis.

I will do a fleet battle based around the August/September 1940 window, when the British are assembling the fleet at Gibraltar to neutralise the remaining French ships in the Vichy French surrender. In an AU world there is a chance the Vichy French Treaty never happens and though the European French surrender, those armed forces that escape to overseas, army, navy, air force, continue to fight. That would be the worst case scenario for the Germanic States. The French Navy, still fighting, and allied to the Commonwealth forces. The Italian forces also draw off Allied forces to form the Force H at Gibraltar, and Mediterranean Fleet East at Alexandria.
 

Displacement 44,500 tons std, 55,800 full load
Length 860 ft
Breadth 126 ft
Draught 32 ft
Machinery 4 shaft mixed turbine/diesel propulsion
2 x Steam Turbines 120,000shp
2 x Diesels 40,000bhp
Speed 30 knots
Range 14,000 miles at 18 knots
Armour 13" side, 5.9" deck, 13" turrets
Armament 8 x 16.5" (4x2)
20 x 5" (10x2)
16 x 37mm Bofors (8x2)
38 x 20mm (6x4 14x1)
Aircraft 3
Complement 2150
Notes KM Scharnhorst (1938)

KM Gneisenau (1939)

KM Bismarck (1940)

KM Tirpitz (1940)


Real Life and previous AU drawings of Bismarck with 13.8" and 15" guns.


Drawing based on BB O-P class lengthened to take the 12x13.9" armament.


 

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