Bismarck (ship)

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The Bismarck was a German battleship of World War II

The German battleship Bismarck was one of the most famous warships of World War II. It only sailed for one mission, Operation "Rheinübung", before sinking in the Atlantic Ocean. Nearly 3500 seamen lost their lives in the battle which lasted around 8 days.

Description[change | change source]

A computer model of the Bismarck

The whole ship with all the oil reserves weighed 53165 tonnes. It was about 250 metres (820 ft) long and 36 m (118 ft) wide.

The ship had eight big guns: 38 cm (15.0 in) cannons, called the heavy artillery. There were 12 smaller 15 cm (5.9 in) cannons, and several anti-aircraft FLAK cannons too.

It had very thick armour, even for warships today. The thickest plating was around the heavy artillery, where the metal was 36 cm (14.2 in) thick.

Operation "Rheinübung"[change | change source]

The journey of the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen are in red, and the British ships are in yellow

First the Bismarck had to reach the open sea. This because it was a huge battleship few other ships would be able to get close enough to attack without being destroyed, so it could control a large area of sea.

The first problem the Bismarck had was how to pass the British Isles. It took the way near the Fjords of Norway. There it met the other German ship Prinz Eugen. Both ships reached the open sea in the Denmark straits. The Royal Navy's battleships HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales were sent to sink the Bismarck. The "Hood" lost this battle. The "Hood" was more than a ship for the British military leaders. It was kind of a myth. So the British Navy sent a large number of ships to hunt the Bismarck. There were some cruisers, many battleships and some aircraft-carriers. There was a very dramatic hunt, because the Bismarck was damaged but escaped from the nearest British ships.

Finally the Bismarck was found by a some aircraft from one of the ships, and its rudder and propeller were broken by the torpedoes they carried. then the British battleships, HMS King George V and HMS Rodney moved down to their shortest range (3km) and fired straight into the ships towers, one 16 inch shell hit the bridge and killed the captain and the German admiral. Now the Bismarck could not move, send radio or fight back due to its fire control taking a direct hit, and it was already taking on water due to its dual with HMS Hood, and the abandon ship order had been given so all the of the British ships, except two cruisers to pick the German sailors, left the Bismarck. But they had to leave lots behind because a U-boat (U49) had been sent to find and take the Bismarcks log book back to Germany. With the risk of the Bismarck being captured, her sailors seriously damaged her, and she sank at 10:39. Over 2000 men went down with her.