Second Battle of Denmark Strait 20-05-1941
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The Atlantean Version:
1941 Saw the Battleships Ares, Hera, working out of Scapa Flow to help close the gaps into the Atlantic. In company with the British battleships Majestic and King George V, the four battleships were providing distant cover over the Greenland Strait and the Iceland-Faeroes gap. The cruiser Norfolk reported contacts to the north, which resolved into four ships. The four Allied battleships headed northwest to intercept. The four ships, identified as Ludendorf, Bismarck, Moltke and Prinz Eugen. Inclement weather forced the grounding of aircraft, so the command went out "Form Battle Line" and the four Allied battleships headed off to intercept at 25 knots. The Norfolk was still in radar contact so the Allied forces new to the inch where the Germans were.
Dawn broke with low ominous skies and misty rain sweeping across the ships. Admiral Holland sat in his command chair, and waited, he knew the Germans were there 20 miles away and coming closer, they were just not visible yet. Fire orders had been given and the Allied ships were in position to cross the Germans 'T'. The latest squall blew past and an indistinct shape came out of the mist 12 miles away, 15 seconds later a second ship appeared, "Here they come" was the Flag Captains comment. The German ships opened fire and changed course to the west to bring all their guns to bear. Admiral Holland ordered "Open fire", and the four Allied ships fired on their targets. Ares and Hera had been given the battlecruiser Moltke and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen as their targets. At 23,000 yards the shooting was good from both sides. An early strike by the 12 gun Majestic roared down on the Ludendorf putting out of action the C & D turrets. Bismarck was firing well and hit the Ares several times, starting fires in the hangar area. Hera's third broadside hit the forepart of the Moltke knocking out the A & B 12" turrets and while the fatal damage was not visible two minutes later the fore part of the Moltke blew away leaving a hulk to be finished off by the Norfolks torpedoes. It was at this point that the Bismarcks fifth salvo came in on the Ares, passed through the deck armour and destroyed the turbine room. Ares speed bled away and the battle moved swiftly away. Hera switched targets to the Prinz Eugen which then being hit twice from Hera's 14" guns, was ordered by Admiral Lutjens to break away and make its own way to a port in France. This left the two German battleships facing the three Allied ships. The Majestic now proved why its 12 gun armament was so good, with six of 12, 15" shells hitting the Ludendorf. The shells put the undamaged A & B turrets out of action leaving the Ludendorf with no main armament to defend itself with. Admiral Lutjens had been killed and the Flag Captain ordered Bismarck to break away and act independently, the Ludendorf also turned to give Bismarck cover, sacrificing the Ludendorf to allow the Bismarck to escape. Admiral Holland ordered the Hera to go back and cover the damaged Ares, just in case Bismarck or Prinz Eugen came across the crippled ship. Majestic and KGV finished off the Ludendorf and set sail after the Bismarck through the heavy weather. The faster German ships escaped into the heavy weather, Radar was unable to pick them up either.
The Hera took the crippled Ares in tow and escorted by cruisers and destroyers made it back to Scotland where repairs to the turbines could be undertaken.
Aphrodite, Ark Royal and the rest of Force H are ordered north to try to intercept the Bismarck, the remaining German battleship from the Denmark Strait battle. The Bismarck is sighted and kept under observation while the Ark Royal and Aphrodite launch an air strike force to attack, they would have one chance before night fell. The number of aircraft (70+) overwhelm the Bismarcks air defenses and hit it with three torpedoes and five bomb hits. The one torpedo hit that sealed the Bismarck's fate hit the screws and rudder, jamming the rudder over so that Bismarck was steaming in circles. The combined force of battleships (HMS Majestic, HMS King George V, and ANS Hercules) find Bismarck next morning and sink it.
Only the Prinz Eugen escapes to Brest on the French Coast.
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