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H.M.S. HOOD / SINKING OF A BATTLESHIP / BISMARCK

. . but now one bond unites us all - to wage war until victory is won, and never to surrender ourselves to servitude and shame, whatever the cost and agony may be. This is one of the most awe-striking periods in the long history of France and Britain. It is also beyond doubt the most sublime. Side by side, unaided, except by their kith and kin in the great Dominions and by the wide Empires which rest beneath their shield, the British and French peoples have advanced to rescue not only Europe, but mankind from the foulest and most soul-destroying tyranny which has ever darkened and stained the pages of history. Behind them - behind us - behind the armies and fleets of Britain and France - gather a group of shattered States and bludgeoned races: the Czechs, the Poles, the Norwegians, the Danes, the Dutch, the Belgians - upon all of whom the long night of barbarism will descend, unbroken even by a star of hope, unless we conquer, as conquer we must; as conquer we shall.
Winston Churchill
I should like to pay the highest tribute for the most gallant fight put up against impossible odds
Admiral Tovey - (After the sinking of the Bismarck) - 27th May 1941.
How sleep the brave, who sink to rest, By all their country's wishes blest! . . . . By fairy hands their knell is rung, By forms unseen their dirge is sung.
William Collins 1746
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Royal Navy L.S. & G.C., G.VI.R., 1st issue (M.36757 E. H. Hawkins, Shpt. 2. H.M.S. Hood) extremely fine, Rare and an emotive Second War casualty.

Ernest Harold Hawkins was killed in action on 24 May 1941, whilst serving as a Shipwright 1st Class aboard H.M.S. Hood when she was sunk by the battleship Bismarck. He was aged 35, son of Ernest Loney Hawkins and Ada Winifred Rose Hawkins; husband of Liv Borgny Hawkins, of Cosham, Hampshire. Commemorated by name on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.
"Indeed I do not think we should be justified in using any but the more sombre tones and colours while our people, our Empire, and indeed the whole English-speaking world are passing through a dark and deadly valley.
Winston Churchill. Speech given in the House of Commons, January 22, 1941
The story of battle cruiser Hood has its beginnings in 1915, roughly a year into the First World War. The British Admiralty had begun considering designing a "next generation" warship...a follow-on to the Queen Elizabeth class. So it was, that in the Autumn of 1915, they instructed the Director of Naval Construction (DNC), Sir Eustace Tennyson-d'Eyncourt, to prepare design proposals for a new experimental fast battleship.

The goal of Sir Eustace's designers was to envision something decidedly superior to the current generation of ships. A number of key wartime deficiencies and problems common to many warships had been observed. The most prevalent of these were the combination of low freeboard and high draught- Due to increased war time loads (extra provisions, personnel, fuel and ammunition), many vessels were operating at heavier weights than originally planned. The extra weight caused potentially serious problems: ships now sat so low in the water, that in rough seas, secondary armament batteries (usually mounted in rows "cut" into the hull sides) were frequently awash. This often made the guns unusable and significantly detracted from a vessel's firepower potential. It also contributed to poor sea keeping, as notable quantities of sea water would penetrate the hulls around the gun battery openings, resulting in even more weight to deal with. The resulting high draught seriously degraded some vessels' abilities to operate in shallow waters. Accordingly, the designers were told to ensure that the new vessels incorporated the necessary features of high freeboard, high-mounted secondary armament and shallow draught. Additionally, the ships had to make in excess of 30 knots and use the new 15" main gun system.

A Change of Plans
Between the fall of 1915 and early 1916, multiple battleship designs (differences/variations in length, beam, draught, armour, machinery and performance) were prepared. About this time, the requirement was changed at the behest of Admiral Jellicoe, from that of a fast battleship to a large battle cruiser. This change was influenced in part by recently confirmed reports of German plans to construct a new class of "super battle cruisers." The vessels of the Mackensen class, if completed, would be impressive specimens: they would displace between 30,000 - 35,000 tons, be capable of speeds approaching 30 knots and would boast a powerful armament headed-up by 13.78" main guns. In typical German fashion, these vessels would also have very good armour protection. Simply put, the Mackensens would clearly out-match any of the British battle cruisers in service at that time. This was clearly unacceptable to the Royal Navy.

A Design is Chosen
In February/March 1916, the Admiralty narrowed the choice down to two very similar designs by designer E.L. Attwood. These were further developed and evaluated until April 1916, when the better of the two designs was chosen. The ship was to be large- 860 feet in length, with a displacement of @36,000 tons. The long graceful hull, coupled with light armour and small tube boilers would permit the vessel to reach speeds up to and possibly exceeding 32 knots. In short, the ship would be large, light, fast and pack a fearsome punch- the ultimate battle cruiser.

In April 1916, the Admiralty placed orders for three vessels of the so-called New "Admiral" class: Hood, to be built by John Brown & Company Ltd, at Clydebank, Howe, to be built by Cammell Laird & Company, Ltd and Rodney from Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company, Ltd. Sometime later, a fourth ship, Anson, was contracted from W.G. Armstrong, Whitworth & Company, Ltd.

Influence of Jutland
On 31 May 1916, the great naval battle at Jutland took place. Although the British achieved a strategic victory, they had paid a high price: three battle cruisers were lost with appalling loss of life- H.M.S. Invincible (the very first battle cruiser and the command ship of Admiral Sir Horace Lambert Alexander Hood descendant of the great naval Hoods), Queen Mary and Indefatigable were all destroyed by massive explosions- plunging German shells had easily penetrated their scant deck and turret armour and detonated their magazines. Another battle cruiser, H.M.S. Lion, was nearly lost as well. Only quick thinking and excellent damage control (magazine flooding) saved her. After investigating these tragedies, it became abundantly clear that the key problems had been the lack of adequate armour protection, poor flash/fire proofing and unstable cordite. It also became clear that unless modified, the new Admiral class design would suffer from the same flaws as its predecessors.

The design was gradually altered to include what was felt to be the necessary improvements. In addition to increased armour/protective plating, there were also armament changes/upgrades (addition of above water torpedo tubes, changes to the main gun mounts, etc.). The increased weight spread along the slender hull would subject the vessel to great stress. As such, it became necessary to incorporate additional reinforcements for strengthening purposes. By August 1916, the "final" design had at long last been approved. Hood's box keel was finally laid on 01 September 1916.

Battle Cruiser or Fast Battleship?
The completed ship was quite impressive- very fast, very large and very beautiful. She was not without her problems however: Due to the many increases in her armour/protective plating, she was much heavier than originally planned. The extra weight forced her to sit substantially low in the water and increased her draught. As a result, in heavy seas, or even at high speed in relatively calm seas, her quarterdeck was frequently awash. Because of this, she had a well-deserved reputation as being one of the wettest ships in the Royal Navy. The situation only worsened over the years as Hood's displacement steadily increased. It was at its worse in her final years due to the significantly increased wartime loads she was forced to carry.

Due to her extreme size, superb speed, large calibre armament and somewhat "larger than life" legend, she is often referred to (by modern day historians) as being not necessarily the last British battle cruiser, but the world's first true modern "fast battleship." This view is understandable when one compares Hood's protective armour and weaponry to contemporary battleships such as the Queen Elizabeth class...Hood was indeed a better armed and better protected ship. Of course, when one compares her armour/protective arrangement to those of the true fast/modern battleships that appeared in her latter days, it is clear that she was just a "super battle cruiser." Indeed, she always held an official designation of battle cruiser- the Admiralty knew full-well of her potential armour deficiencies.

So why, if she wasn't really a battleship, did the Admiralty employ her as one during the Second World War? Largely because of a lack of big gun resources. Her reputation was also a key factor...due to her somewhat inflated legend, she was widely feared the world over. Of course, that very same legend may have impaired the Admiralty's judgement as well...she had been the "Mighty Hood" for so long that many may have actually thought her invincible. In the end she proved just that...invincible, but not in definition or the true sense of the word. She was "invincible" in that when she was lost, she proved to be another H.M.S. Invincible...the first battle cruiser, and one which was lost in a manner horribly similar to that of Hood, the last (British) battle cruiser.
We did not intend to fight enemy warships...but we took up the fight. The crew have behaved magnificently. we shall win or die.
Admiral LŠ­tjens - Commander of the Bismarck's Naval Squadron - 25th May 1941

HMS Hood photographed from Prince of Wales on 23 May 1941, racing to intercept the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen.

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Map of the effort to attack the Bismarck. The Hood's sinking is the the upper left-hand portion of the picture.

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Commissioned as German U-570 on 15 May 1941.
The German submarine U-570 was captured by Britain on 27 August 1941 in the North Atlantic south of Iceland, in position 62.15N, 18.35W, after being damaged by a British Hudson aircraft (Sqdn. 269/S). She was towed to Thorlaks-hafn, Iceland and salvaged.

She was commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Graph on 19 September 1941. HMS Graph was decommissioned from active service in February 1944. Graph was lost on 20 March 1944 when she ran aground on the westcoast of the Island of Islay, Scotland.

Showing comparative sizes, the Graph is pictured here (outboard), with Storm middle and Thrasher left, alongside HMS Forth, Holy Loch, June.

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A U-Boat being forced to surface.

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In the early morning of 24 May the German task force maintained a course of 170º at a speed of 27 knots. Prinz Eugen was still in the lead and the Bismarck in her wake.
The German task force was shadowed by the heavy cruiser Suffolk (distance more than 25.000 meter). The heavy cruiser Norfolk approached from East (distance more than 33.000 meter).

Yet unknown to the Germans, the Hood and Prince of Wales approached from south-east (240º) at a speed of 28 knots.




At 0515 the hydrophones on Prinz Eugen detected the noise of ships from port side to the south-east. This information was immediately signaled to the Admiral aboard Bismarck, who ordered lookouts on both German ships to scan the horizon in that direction. Lütjens had not received any new intelligence from the German Naval High Command regarding the disposition and movements of British naval units, so he could only speculate as to the nature of the ship or ships detected by the Prinz Eugen.

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At 0532 the Germans changed course to 220º keeping the speed at 27 knots.




At 0535 the British (Prince of Wales) observed unidentified smoke in the horizon.




At 0537 Prince of Wales sighted the German squadron at a distance of 34.700 meter (38.000 yards) bearing 335º. An enemy identification radio report was issued.

At the same time Prinz Eugen, which was still ahead of Bismarck, spotted a "suspected light cruiser" on port side at distance of 34.100 meters (37.300 yards).

The British task force had been steaming on a course of 240º (west by south-west) at 28 knots, while the German squadron was steering a course of 220º (almost directly south-west). The two forces were on almost parallel courses with only a 20º angle of convergence. At this angle of convergence, the rate of closure was about 283 meter (310 yards) per minute. This meant that the British squadron would not be within effective range for another 15 minutes (or not until 0552) if both squadrons maintained their present course. Since the British squadron had a slight lead over the German ships, they could take advantage of this and bring the issue to a head sooner.

The British squadron (Hood and Prince of Wales) turned 40° to starboard and was now on course 280°.




At 0541 Norfolk got visible contact with the German squadron too, distance 15 Nautical Miles which is 27.780 meters (30.393 yards) and issued a report. She was approaching the German ships from east.
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At 0543 Hood released an updated interception radio report about the German units. The report mentioned the enemy at 17 Nautical Miles, which are equal to 31.484 meters (34.446 yards) at bearing 337°.

Prinz Eugen spotted another unit (later identified as the Hood), estimated distance 39.300 metes (42.997 yards). They were plotted to be about 20º forward of the port beam, which gave them a slight lead on the German squadron. The smoke obviously came from British warships brought on by the shadowing cruisers' sighting reports, but what type of ships were they? In all probability, they were two more cruisers called in to reinforce the Suffolk and Norfolk in their surveillance role. While this would not be a serious threat to the German squadron, it could make it more difficult for the Germans to shake off their pursuers.

Lütjens was under standing orders to avoid combat with British warships, unless it was necessary to attack Allied merchant ships carrying war supplies to the British Isles.


At 0547 "ALARM" sounded on Prinz Eugen.


At about 0549, 12 minutes after the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen were first sighted, the range had closed to nearly 24.000 meter (26.000 yards) and Holland was getting close to giving the order to open fire on the German ships. He realised the vulnerability of the Hood to plunging fire at long ranges, so he wanted to pass through the critical zone of vulnerability as fast as possible. He therefore gave the order for his squadron to make a 20º turn to starboard on a new course of 300º towards the enemy.

The Germans were still not able to positively identify the British ships, but based on their speed, the possibility that they might be older battleships that could be easily outmanoeuvred rapidly disappeared. The Germans were still clinging to the belief that the British ships were two additional cruisers sent to reinforce the ones that had been trailing the German squadron during the night, but even this dream was slowly evaporating. As the British ships came closer, it also seemed unlikely that cruisers would deliberately close the range with a battleship. If Captain Brinkmann on the Prinz Eugen had known earlier and for certain that the ships were Hood and Prince of Wales, he would have dropped out of the line, for German Fleet orders expressly forbade cruisers to engage capital ships. In the British ranks there was confusion too, caused by the similarity of Bismarck's and Prinz Eugen's silhouettes. It seemed that assuming that Bismarck must be the leading ship, Holland signalled to Prince of Wales, "Stand by to open fire. Target left-hand ship".
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At 0550 distance from Prinz Eugen to Norfolk was 26.000 meters (east), Suffolk was 30.000 meters (north) and Hood and Prince of Wales was 25.000 meters (south-east).


At 0552-0553, as the range approached 22.800 meter (25.000 yards), British Vice-Admiral Holland gave the order to open fire against the leading German ship, bearing 337°. Due to similarity in the ships profile between Bismarck and Prinz Eugen, Vice-Admiral Holland apparently believed the leading ship was Bismarck. He was unaware that the German ships had changed position earlier.

On the Prince of Wales they had identified the rear ship as being the Bismarck. Captain Leach on the Prince of Wales decided to ignore the order from Vice-Admiral Holland Holland on the Hood. Leach was hoping that the gunners on the Hood would realise their error and shift their fire to the correct target. Huge columns of water erupted around the Prinz Eugen as the Hood's first salvo arrived. A few seconds later, the Bismarck had a similar experience as Prince of Wales' shells landed near her. This finally ended any uncertainty as to the type of British ships approaching. Only the heavy guns of capital ships could produce the blasts seen as the British ships opened fire on the German squadron, and create the gigantic water spouts caused by their shells exploding in the sea. Their angle of approach still made it difficult to see any distinguishing features of the British ships and therefore they could still not be positively identified.



At 0553 distance from Prinz Eugen to Norfolk was 25.000 meters (east), Suffolk was at 30.000 meters (north) and Hood and Prince of Wales was about 22.000 meters (south-east).
The Prince of Wales opened fire with 1st salvo from 22.800 meters (25.000 yards) against Bismarck (Artillery Officer McMullen on Prince of Wales had properly identified the Bismarck as being behind Prinz Eugen). The first salvo was too long.After the initial salvo by each of the British ships, their gunners waited until the tell-tale splashes indicated the fall of shot. The Prince of Wales' gunners made the appropriate corrections and soon fired a second salvo at the Bismarck from 23.764 meters (26.000 yards). Salvo again too long.

On Hood they had still not realised they were not engaging the correct ship and fired another salvo at the Prinz Eugen. Holland was anxious to inflict as much damage as he could on the Bismarck before she could reply with her own guns, but his error in continuing to fire at the wrong target was allowing Bismarck to escape possible damage from Hood's 15in guns.

Norfolk entered the scenario from east, distance 25.000 meters.
Suffolk was far away on north, distance 29.000 meters.

Bismarck was speeding up and got ready to respond fire. Schneider on Bismarck asked for permission to open fire. No answer. Prince of Wales was firing her 2nd salvo on Bismarck (PoW plot 23.764 meters or 26.000 yards) another over, speed still at 28 knots.

Müllenheim-Rechberg at the Bismarck aft fire control position had been ordered by Admiral Lutjens to watch carefully the 2 British cruisers, Suffolk and Norfolk. Lütjens suspected they would join the battle soon
At 0554 Vice-Admiral Holland ordered the British force to make a 20º turn to port, returning it to its previous course of 280º. Admiral Holland recognized his mistake and ordered to change target to the ship on the right which was the Bismarck following Prinz Eugen.

Prince of Wales fired the 3rd (22.278 meters (24.375 yards)) and 4th (21.570 meters (23.600 yards)) salvo on Bismarck, both over.

Hood fired 3rd salvo now finally on Bismarck. This one to find the range.

Norfolk entered the scenario from east at 25.000 meters.
Suffolk was far away on north at 29.000 meters.

Prinz Eugen's 1st Artillery Officer (Kapitän-Leutnant) P. Jasper estimated the distance to the British squadron (Hood and Prince of Wales) to be 21.000 meters (22.975 yards).

Prinz Eugen still hold the fire waiting for permission to open fire.

On Bismarck Kpt zur See (Captain) Lindemann said that he would not see his ship being shot at without responding the fire and gave the order to "OPEN FIRE".




At 0555 Prinz Eugen opened fire from some 21.000 meters.

At this time the distance from the Germans to Norfolk was 24.000 meters (east), Suffolk was 29.000-30.000 meters (north) and Hood and Prince of Wales was some 21.000 meters (south-east).

Both Bismarck and Prinz Eugen used to shoot first A+B turrets and after a while C+D turrets, a "Ripple-Firing" methodology.

Bismarck fired 2 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D) (or the 1st full salvo), obviously on Hood. It was ahead on Hood's bow to starboard. Prinz Eugen fired 2 semi-salvos too (A+B and C+D) so 1st salvo for her as well to Hood. The second semi-salvo hit the Hood and draw first blood, causing fire on mid-ship aft.

Prince of Wales fired her 5th salvo, distance 20.199 meters (22.100 yards), which was over and 6th salvo at 19.331 meters (21.150 yards). The 6th salvo hit the Bismarck for the first time.

Hood fired her 4th salvo at Bismarck.

Norfolk entered the scenario from east at 24.000 meters.

Suffolk was far away at north at 29.000 meters.
At 0556 both Bismarck and Hood had suffered hits already. Hood was on fire from hit received by Prinz Eugen 1st salvo.
Bismarck got a hit (1st) from Prince of Wales 6th salvo on the bow, oil started to leak and sea water entered fuel deposits. Bismarck started to leave an oil track behind her.Bismarck fired 2 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D) or the 2nd full salvo on Hood, that fell betweeen Hood and Prince of Wales.Prinz Eugen fired 4 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D, A+B and C+D) so 2nd and 3rd salvo to Hood.Prince of Wales fired her 7th salvo from 18.120 meters (19.825 yards) and 8th salvo from 18.325 meters (20.050 yards) at Bismarck, both over.Hood fired her 5th and 6th salvos at Bismarck, the ship was on fire at midship aft due to a hit from Prinz Eugen.Norfolk entered the scenario from east at 23.000 meters.

Suffolk was far away on north at 29.000 meters.




At 0557 the battle continues. Bismarck still accellerated to try to catch up on Prinz Eugen to place the cruiser on the lee (starboard) side, but Prinz Eugen was still well ahead.

Bismarck fired 2 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D) or the 3rd full salvo on Hood and this time hit the Hood.

At this point the port side 150 mm secondary guns on Bismarck started to fire at Prince of Wales being at proper range, around 18.000 meters.

Prinz Eugen fired 4 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D, A+B and C+D) so 4th and 5th salvo against Hood.

Prince of Wales fired her 9th salvo from 16.680 meters (18.250 yards) at Bismarck and hit the German battleship.

Meanwhile Prince of Wales' secondary armament 133 mm (5,25 inch) starboard guns opened fire on Bismarck too.

Hood fired her 7th salvo at Bismarck.

Norfolk entered the scenario from east at 22.500 meters.

Suffolk is far away on North at 29.000 meters.


At 0558 Admiral Lutjens ordered Prinz Eugen to switch target from Hood to Prince of Wales and Kpt Ltnt Jasper executed it accordingly. He stated on his report that Bismarck and Prinz Eugen crossed the lines of fire to shoot at each given target.

Prinz Eugen was still well ahead of Bismarck and Hood ahead of Prince of Wales.

Bismarck fired 2 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D) or the 4th full salvo on Hood. Meanwhile she received a second hit from Prince of Wales 9th salvo. The shell hit under waterline midship broke several compartments causing some flooding.

Several compartments were damaged, generator and engines had problems and oil deposits were broken, a serious hit.

Prinz Eugen fired 4 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D, A+B and C+D) so 6th salvo on Hood. The 7th salvo was fired at Prince of Wales to find range.

Prince of Wales fired her 10th salvo from 15.675 meters (17.150 yards) and 11th salvo from 15.629 meters (17.100 yards) at Bismarck, both too short.

Hood fired her 8th and 9th salvo at Bismarck, after having being hit by Prinz Eugen and on fire in the aft position. Now being hit by Bismarck, the fire developed also midship close to the main tower.

The RAF airplane Sunderland Z/201 (Pilot Flight Ltnt R.J. Vaughn) coming from Iceland would soon arrive to the battle scene and clearly reported this.

Norfolk was now to the east on the horizon at 22.000 meters.

Suffolk still on the horizon north-west, but out of the dispute still at 29.000 meters.




At 0559 Prinz Eugen now zero-ed/restarted quickfiring on her target which was now Prince of Wales (see Jasper report) while Bismarck received fire from both Hood and Prince of Wales. Bismarck still fired at Hood.

Late at this minute Admiral Holland ordered another 20° turn to port from 280° to 260° course for both Hood and Prince of Wales and both ships started to execute the order accordingly.

The British RAF airplane Sunderland Z/201 (Pilot Flight Ltnt R.J. Vaughn) passed above Hood and reported the 2 places on fire.

Bismarck fired 2 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D) or the 5th full salvo on Hood. This hit probably from C+D late in the minute (fired from 15.700 meters) sunk the British battlecruiser.

Prinz Eugen fired 4 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D, A+B and C+D) so 8th and 9th salvo at Prince of Wales from 16-17.000 meters.

Prince of Wales fired her 12th salvo from 15.629 meters (17.100 yards) and 13th salvo from 15.035 meters (16.150 yards) at Bismarck. 12th salvo was short, but 13th salvo hit Bismarck for the 3rd time.

Hood fired her 10th salvo at Bismarck, the last one with the fully efficient ship.

Norfolk manouvres to close at 21.500 meters

Suffolk still on the horizon but out of the dispute at 28/29.000 meters.
At 0600 Hood received the fatal hit and exploded. This was probably the last semi-salvo (C+D) from Bismarck of the 5th salvo. After Hood exploded it was divided on 2 pieces, while it started to sink, the forward turrets (A+B) fired for the last time.

The British ships were just making the turn when this occurred.

The RAF airplane Sunderland Z/201 (Pilot Flight Ltnt R.J. Vaughn) now moved toward the German ships. Bismarck started to shoot at the aircraft with her anti-aircraft guns.

Bismarck fired 2 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D) or the 6th full salvo on Hood. The salvo was already planned and could not be diverged so it went out to where Hood had been.

At this point Bismarck received the 3rd hit from Prince of Wales 13th salvo. The damage occurred midship, small boat/catapult, then the shell went outboard.

Prinz Eugen fired 4 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D, A+B and C+D) so 10th and 11th salvo against Prince of Wales.

Prince of Wales fired her 14th salvo from 14.898 meters (16.300 yards), 15th salvo from 13.710 meters (15.000 yards) and 16th salvo from 13.801 (15.100 yards) at Bismarck, all of them fell short.

Norfolk turned to port after Hood exploded, doing so it reduced closing rate distance to the German ships. Now it was 21.000 meters from them.

Suffolk still on the horizon but out of the dispute at 28.000 meters (30.600 yards).



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At 0601 Hood was sinking, Prince of Wales had to change course quickly, turning to starboard in order not to hit the remains of the British battlecruiser.
Kpt Ltnt Jasper saw in the rangefinders that Prince of Wales turned towards him. Kpt zur See Brinkmann on Prinz Eugen asked Kpt Ltnt Reimann to launch torpedoes at Prince of Wales which was now well into launching range.

Bismarck now changed target to Prince of Wales that now was under fire from both German ships and was forced to turn towards them, closing distance.

The RAF airplane Sunderland Z/201 (Pilot Flight Ltnt R.J. Vaughn) returned to the clouds due to heavy anti-aircraft fire from Bismarck.

Bismarck fired 2 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D) or the 7th full salvo at PoW to acquire range from less than 15.000 meters.

Prinz Eugen fired 4 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D, A+B and C+D) or 12th and 13th salvo at Prince of Wales from 14.500 meters.

Prince of Wales fired her 17th salvo from 12.887 meters (14.100 yards) and 18th salvo from 13.253 meters (14.500 yards) at Bismarck, both too short.

Hood started to sink and the stem was high in the air.

Norfolk was still closing in on the German ships being 20.500 meters from them.

Suffolk still on the horizon but out of the dispute at 28.000 meters (30.600 yards), north of the Germans.



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Bismarck switches targets to Prince of Wales after Hood blows up.

At 0602 Hood was still sinking. Prince of Wales turned around the remains of Hood under close and heavy fire.

Bismarck started to make a turn to starboard to avoid potential torpedo from the RAF airplane. The Sunderland Z/201 (Pilot Flight Ltnt R.J. Vaughn) just disappeared into the clouds.

During this turn Bismarck crossed Prinz Eugen track and was now moving on Prinz Eugen's starboard.

Bismarck fired 2 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D) or the 8th full salvo against Prince of Wales and scored a big hit (1st) on the compass platform from 14.000 meters.

Prinz Eugen fired 4 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D, A+B and C+D) or 14th and 15th salvo to Prince of Wales.

Kpt Ltnt Reimann had not launched any torpedo yet and at this point she was 14.000 meters from Prince of Wales, well within launching range and with the enemy ship in clear difficulties (not even shooting anymore).

Prince of Wales didn't fire anymore now, the 1st hit received from Bismarck had almost killed everybody on the compass platform. The ship was in clear danger.

Hood had almost totally disappeared under the sea, some remains floated around.

Norfolk opened fire (3 salvos) but the shells fell short to Bismarck, from 20.000 meters (21.800 yards).

Suffolk still on the horizon but out of the dispute at 28.000 meters (30.600 yards).


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At 0603 Hood was sunk. Prince of Wales was in clear danger and both Prinz Eugen and Bismarck kept firing on her from a very close distance now down to 14.000 meters or even less.

Prince of Wales started to develop a smoke screens to try to make it more difficult for the fire from the German units.

Also the German ships heavy flak (105 mm) guns on port side are shooting at Prince of Wales now.

Bismarck crossed Prinz Eugen track and now sailed west on Prinz Eugen's starboard.

Prinz Eugen still followed original track and now, being within torpedo launching range in more than a couple of minutes, missed the clear chance to launch a set of torpedo against Prince of Wales. The hydrophonic system intercepted a noise on bearing 220° that was assumed to be a torpedo launched against Prinz Eugen which prepared to turn to starboard.

PoW started to make a 160° fast conversion on her port side trying to disengage quickly and released some smoke screens to protect herself.

Bismarck fired 2 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D) or the 9th full salvo to Prince of Wales and scored again from 14.500 meters on the British ship's stern under the waterline (2nd hit) and put the 133 mm secondary fire control direction out of action on the starboard side (3rd hit).

Prinz Eugen fired 4 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D, A+B and C+D) so 16th and 17th salvo at Prince of Wales scoring a hit (1st) on the stern under waterline, but did not launch the torpedoes even that it was 14.000 meters from her.

Prince of Wales now tried to react, firing (1st salvo) with Y turret (back) by using local control, shell splashes not very close to Bismarck.

Hood was completely gone leaving only 3 survivors in some rafts.

Norfolk ceased fire from 20.500 meters.

Suffolk still on the horizon but out of the dispute at 28.000 meters (30.600 yards).


At 0604 Prince of Wales was still in huge difficulties and both Prinz Eugen and Bismarck kept on firing on her, but now, due to the aircraft alarm on Bismarck and the torpedo alarm on Prinz Eugen, both German ships had turned hard to starboard loosing firing range and now sailing away from her.

In addition the smoke screen slowly started to be effective, partially covering the Prince of Wales.

Distance increased (more than 14.000 meters), German ships fire was now less accurate and Prinz Eugen has not launched any torpedo against Prince of Wales. The most difficult moment was over. Instead of being under killing fire from a very short distance by both enemy ships and maybe targeted by torpedo, now she has a chance to escape sailing south-east.

Bismarck was on Prinz Eugen's starboard and both German Ships was sailing a western course now, increasing distance to Prince of Wales.

Prinz Eugen had just sharply turned to starboard too.

Bismarck fired 2 semi-salvos (A+B and C+D) or the 10th full salvo at Prince of Wales and scored the last of her 4 hits from 15.500 meters on the British ship, it hit the Walrus aircraft crane.

Prinz Eugen fired 2 semi-salvos (A+B) and C+D) so 18th salvo at Prince of Wales after having adjusted range due to the 1st sharp turn and scores again from 14.500 meters for the last time 2 hits (2nd and 3rd), again on the stern and on a 133 mm turret ammunition deposit, the shell did not explode.

Prince of Wales kept firing (2nd salvo) with Y turret (aft) on local control, shell splashes not very close to Bismarck.

Hood was gone.

Norfolk now sailed south-west following and shadowed the German ships from 21.000 meters.

Suffolk still on the horizon but out of the dispute at 28.000 meters (30.600 yards).



At 0605 Prince of Wales was now much safer at 15.000 meters from Prinz Eugen and 16.000 meters from Bismarck. The distances increased progressively.

The developing smoke screen now even more covered the British ship.

Fire from German ships was now less and less accurate. Bismarck was on Prinz Eugen's starboard.

Bismarck fired 2 semi-salvos (A+B) and C+D) or the 11th full salvo against Prince of Wales.

Prinz Eugen fired 2 semi-salvos (A+B) and C+D) so 19th salvo against Prince of Wales. Then it had to adjust range again due to another sharp turn.

Prince of Wales kept on firing (3rd salvo) with Y turret (aft) on local control, shell splashes not very close to Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowed the German ships from more than 21.000 meters.

Suffolk still on the horizon but out of the dispute at 28.000 meters (30.600 yards).



At 0606 Prince of Wales was now at more than 16.000 meters from Prinz Eugen and 17.000 meters from Bismarck.

Smoke screen increased at Prince of Wales aft.

Fire from German ships was now less and less accurate. Bismarck started a turn to south coming back closing distances to Prince of Wales again.

Bismarck fired 1 semi-salvo (A+B) or the half- 12th full salvo to Prince of Wales.

Prinz Eugen fired 2 semi-salvos (A+B) and C+D) or 20th salvo at Prince of Wales than had to adjust range due to the sharp turn, after these shots the A+B turrets of Prinz Eugen stopped firing because of the bearing.

Prince of Wales had ceased fire.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowed the German ships from more than 21.000 meters.

Suffolk still on the horizon but out of the dispute at 28.000 meters (30.600 yards).



At 0607 Prince of Wales was now more than 17.000 meters from Prinz Eugen and 18.000 meters from Bismarck, smoke screen increased.

Fire from German ships was now less and less accurate and intense. Bismarck was sailing south and kept on firing slowly now.

Prinz Eugen passed on Bismarck's starboard side, just in front of Bismarck going south and issued another torpedo alarm.

Bismarck fired 1 semi-salvo (C+D) or the half-12th full salvo against Prince of Wales.

Prinz Eugen fired 2 semi-salvos (C+D) and C+D ) or 21st salvo to Prince of Wales, Kpt Ltnt Jasper had just passed control to aft firing control and stopped shooting with front turrets (A+B) or after the 28th semi-salvo on Prince of Wales.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowed the German ships from 21.500 meters.

Suffolk still on the horizon but out of the dispute at 28.000 meters (30.600 yards).


At 0608 Prince of Wales was now more than 18.000 meters from both Prinz Eugen and Bismarck and smoke screen protected her retreat.

Fire from German ships was now less and less accurate and intense. Bismarck was sailing south, crossing Prinz Eugen's track and kept on firing.

Prinz Eugen was now on Bismarck's starboard, for the first time she was not the closest German unit to the British battleship.

Bismarck fired 1 semi-salvo (A+B) or the half- 13th full salvo to Prince of Wales.

Prinz Eugen fired 2 semi-salvos (C+D) and C+D) or 22nd salvo to Prince of Wales.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowed the German ships from 21.500 meters.

Suffolk still on the horizon but out of the dispute at 28.000 meters (30.600 yards).


At 0609 Prince of Wales was now more than 18.500 meters from Bismarck and 19.000 meters from Prinz Eugen and now the smoke screen started to cover entirely the British battleship.

Fire from German ships was now less and less accurate and intense and it would soon end.

Bismarck was heading south and preparred to overtake the Prinz Eugen.

Prinz Eugen received the order not to overshoot Bismarck that was passing Prinz Eugen's line of fire and immediately after she received the order to cease fire.

Bismarck fired 1 semi-salvo (C+D) or the half- 13th full salvo at Prince of Wales, then ceased fire.

Prinz Eugen fired 2 semi-salvos (C+D) and C+D) or 23rd salvo to Prince of Wales, then ceased fire.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowed the German ships from 21.500 meters.

Suffolk still on the horizon but out of the dispute at 28.000 meters (30.600 yards).

Bismarck's commander, Captain Ernst Lindemann wanted to finish off the Prince of Wales. Lütjens realised that to pursue the Prince of Wales would be contrary to his standing orders to avoid any engagement with enemy naval units except those defending Allied convoys. He also had to consider that any pursuit could lead the German squadron closer to other British naval units that were undoubtedly on their way to intercept the Bismarck, risking the lives of his ships and crews on a venture that had been expressly forbidden.
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At 0610 The battle was over. All ships had ceased fire.

Bismarck had received 3 hits from Prince of Wales.

Prince of Wales had received 7 hits (4 from Bismarck and 3 from Prinz Eugen).

Prinz Eugen had not suffered any damage.

Norfolk and Suffolk had not been targeted by the German ships.

Prinz Eugen was speeding up to her maximum speed to take the lead on Bismarck.

Again was the RAF Sunderland Z/201 (Pilot Flight Commander R.J. Vaughn) airplane to come out of the clouds from the portside abaft Prinz Eugen which immediately reacted with an aircraft alarm and opened fire with her anti-aircraft guns, meanwhile the German cruiser increased speed to 32,5 knots.
Prinz Eugen was on Bismarck starboard side again after the second crossover heading south.

Bismarck was sailing south as well just after having ceased fire at 18.500 meters from Prince of Wales.

Prince of Wales was still covered by her smoke screen at 18.500 meters from Bismarck and 19.000 meters from Prinz Eugen.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 21.500 meters.

Suffolk was far away on north at more than 28.000 meters (30.600 yards).




At 0611 Prinz Eugen was still shooting with anti-aircraft guns.

Prinz Eugen was on Bismarck starboard side going south.

Bismarck was sailing south as well.

Prince of Wales was still covered by her smoke screen at 19.000 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 21.000 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 28.000 meters (30.600 yards).




At 0612 Prinz Eugen was still shooting with anti-aircraft (flak) guns.

Prinz Eugen was on Bismarck starboard side going south.

Bismarck was sailing south as well.

Prince of Wales was still covered by her smoke screen at 20.000 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 21.000 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 28.000 meters (30.600 yards).




At 0613 Bismarck started turning to starboard to re-connect on Prinz Eugen wake and take a course 220° again to South.

Prinz Eugen was on Bismarck's starboard side going south on a 220° course.

Bismarck was turning to starboard to take again Prinz Eugen's wake.

Prince of Wales was still covered by her smoke screen at 21.000 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 21.000 meters.

Suffolk was far away on north at more than 28.000 meters (30.600 yards).




At 0614 Suddendly another torpedo alarm occcurred while Prinz Eugen was still shooting with her anti-aircraft guns.

Prinz Eugen turned to starboard, doing torpedo avoidance manouvers.

Bismarck was still sailing a western course almost 270° following Prinz Eugen.

Prince of Wales was still covered by her smoke screen at 22.000 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 21.000 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 28.000 meters (30.600 yards).




At 0615 Prinz Eugen was still shooting with anti-aircraft guns and making fast speed manouvres turning again to starboard.

Prinz Eugen turned again to starboard doing torpedo avoidance manouvers, now sailing north-west.

Bismarck was still sailing a western course, almost 270° and was approaching Prinz Eugen's track again.

Prince of Wales was still covered by her smoke screen at 23.000 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 21.000 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 28.000 meters (30.600 yards).




At 0616 Prinz Eugen was still shooting with her anti-aircraft guns and now sailed north-west towards Suffolk.

Bismarck still sailed a western course, almost 270°, and again crossed Prinz Eugen's track.

Prince of Wales was still covered by her smoke screen at 24.000 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 21.500 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 28.000 meters (30.600 yards), but seemed to be aware that Prinz Eugen was coming against her.




At 0617 Prinz Eugen was still shooting with her anti-aircraft guns and still sailed north-west towards Suffolk.

Bismarck still sailed a western course, almost 270°, and now was in the middle of Prinz Eugen previous semi-circle manouvre track.

Prince of Wales was still covered by her smoke screen at 26.000 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 22.000 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 27.000 meters (29.540 yards) but now seems be aware of Prinz Eugen coming on her.




At 0618 Prinz Eugen was still shooting with her anti-aircraft guns and now turned hard to port to start a semi-circle and come back to a south 220° course and re-join Bismarck.

Bismarck still sailed a western course almost 270° and now was behind the last track of Prinz Eugen, decreasing her speed.

Prince of Wales was still covered by her smoke screen at 27.500 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 22.500 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 26.000 meters (28.446 yards), but now started the procedure to engage Prinz Eugen with fire.




At 0619 Prinz Eugen was still shooting with her anti-aircraft guns and now turned hard to port again to close the semi-circle and take a south 220° course to take the lead on Bismarck.

Bismarck still sailed a western course almost 270° and was still slowing down.

Prince of Wales was still covered by her smoke screen at 29.000 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 22.500 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 27.000 meters (29.540 yards) but now started firing 1st broadside towards Prinz Eugen (assuming target been at 19.400 yards, of course a mistake by his Radar).




At 0620 Prinz Eugen now ceased firing with anti-aircraft guns and kept on going south-west with 220° course to take the lead on

Bismarck, speed was now at 30,5 knots, no response to Suffolk fire.

Prinz Eugen increased speed compared to Bismarck that slowed down, to take lead of the German squadron.

Bismarck was still sailing a west course but started a slow semi circle to get behind Prinz Eugen again, still slowing down and Prinz Eugen passed ahead off her stem.

Prince of Wales came out of the smoke screen and fired some salvos from more than 30.000 meters (32.800 yards). They fell short of the German ships.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 23.000 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 28.000 meters (30.600 yards) but now fired 2nd broadside towards Prinz Eugen.




At 0621 Prinz Eugen kept on going south-west at 220° course to take the lead with her forward working radar.

Prinz Eugen increased speed to take lead of the German squadron, still no response to Suffolk fire.

Bismarck slowed down and executed a semi circle to get behind Prinz Eugen again. No response to Prince of Wales fire.

Prince of Wales ceased fire and restarted making smoke at 31.500 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 23.000 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 28.000 meters (30.600 yards) but now fired 3rd broadside towards Prinz Eugen.




At 0622 Prinz Eugen kept on going south-west at 220° course to take the lead.

Prinz Eugen increased speed to take lead of the German squadron, still no response to Suffolk fire.

Bismarck executed a slow semi circle to get in the wake of Prinz Eugen again, still slowing down.

Prince of Wales was covered by her smoke screen at 33.000 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 23.500 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 28.000 meters (30.600 yards) but now fired 4th broadside towards Prinz Eugen.




At 0623 Prinz Eugen kept on going south-west at 220° course, sailing 30,5 knots.

Bismarck executed a slow semi-circle to take Prinz Eugen track again, still slowing down around 26 knots.

Prince of Wales was covered by her smoke screen at 34.000 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 23.500 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 28.000 meters (30.600 yards) but now fired 5th broadside towards Prinz Eugen, short by 10.000 meters.




At 0624 Prinz Eugen kept on going south-west at 220° course to take the lead sailing 30,5 knots.

Prinz Eugen increased speed to take lead of the German squadron.

Bismarck executed a slow semi-circle to take Prinz Eugen track again, still slowing down around 26 knots.

Prince of Wales was covered by her smoke screen at 35.000 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 23.500 meters.

Suffolk was far away on north at more than 28.000 meters (30.600 yards) but now fired 6th broadside toward Prinz Eugen, then fire ceased.

An aircraft was noticed by Suffolk (Sunderland Z/201) coming from the enemy ships position.




At 0625 Prinz Eugen kept on going south-west with 220° course now adjusted exactly to 220° and takes the lead sailing 30,5 knots.

Prinz Eugen increased speed to take lead of the Bismarck now it has close to 2.000 meters advantage on Bismarck.

Bismarck was almost done with his semi-circle to take Prinz Eugen back track again, and now restart speeding up to 27 knots.

Prince of Wales was covered by her smoke screen at 36.000 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 23.000 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 29.000 meters (31.700 yards) now silent again.




At 0626 Prinz Eugen kept on going south-west 220° course sailing around 30 knots.

Prinz Eugen was now leading the German squadron again with around 2.000 meters advantage on Bismarck.

Bismarck was done with is semi-circle and takes Prinz Eugen back track, speeding up to 28 knots.

Prince of Wales was covered by her smoke screen at 37.000 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 23.000 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 30.000 meters (32.800 yards).




At 0627 Prinz Eugen kept on going south-west 220° course sailing around 30 knots.

Prinz Eugen was still leading the German Squadron, distance 2.000 meters to Bismarck.

Bismarck was now in the wake of Prinz Eugen, speeding up to 28 knots.

Prince of Wales was covered by her smoke screen at 38.500 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 23.000 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 31.000 meters (33.900 yards).




At 0628 Prinz Eugen kept on going south-west 220° course sailing around 29 knots.

Prinz Eugen was still leading the German Squadron, distance 2.000 meters to Bismarck.

Bismarck was now on Prinz Eugen back track, speeding up to 28 knots.

Prince of Wales was covered by her smoke screen at 39.500 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 22.500 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 32.000 meters (35.000 yards).




At 0629 Prinz Eugen kept on going south-west 220° course sailing around 29 knots.

Prinz Eugen was still leading the German Squadron, distance 2.000 meters to Bismarck.

Bismarck was now on Prinz Eugen back track, speeding up to 28 knots.

Prince of Wales was covered by her smoke screen at 40.000 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 22.000 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north and issues a report on German ships been 18 Nautical Miles / 33.300 meters (36.000 yards) on bearing 240° from her.




At 0630 Prinz Eugen kept on going south-west course 220°, speed around 29 knots.

Prinz Eugen was still leading the German Squadron, distance 2.000 meters to Bismarck.

Bismarck was now in Prinz Eugen's wake, increasing speed to 28 knots.

Prince of Wales was covered by her smoke screen at 41.500 meters from Bismarck.

Norfolk still sailed south-west following and shadowing the German ships from 21.500 meters.

Suffolk was far away to the north at more than 33.300 meters (36.000 yards) and started a circle turn to keep her distance from the German Squadron.

A Goodwill World Tour for the Hood and the Royal Family.

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Bow Ensign hoisted on Commission of the Bismarck.

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Picture of hood from two views

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Bismarck

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