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Thursday, October 07, 2004

This is coolbert: The hunt for the German battleship Bismarck has been immortalized by movie, song, and book.

The hunt and eventual destruction of the Bismarck was noteworthy on a number of fronts.

It was most noteworthy with regard to secret weapons.

Every secret weapon available at the time to the British was employed in the hunt and the battle to sink the Bismarck. These secret weapons included ship-borne radar, Ultra intelligence, and magnetic arming torpedoes.

Ship-borne radar on the British battleship Prince of Wales was just in it's infancy. Had just been installed and had not been field tested at the time. This was hoped to give a real advantage to the British during inclement weather so common in the North Atlantic, or during hours of darkness also so common in the northern latitudes. And the radar on the Prince of Wales was put to good use. In tracking and following the Bismarck after the disastrous encounter between the Bismarck and the HMS Hood. The Prince of Wales did not dare close on the Bismarck for fear of being sunk too. The mission after the sinking of the Hood was to track and follow and report. This the Prince of Wales did successfully for a necessary period until other means could be brought to bear.

Ultra intelligence from intercept and decryption of secret messages from the commanders of the Bismarck [Admiral Lutjens and Captain Lindemann] to German HQ provided valuable intelligence to the British. Both with regard to the position and course of the Bismarck after the Bismarck had eluded the prince of Wales, and also with regard to the damaged condition of the Bismarck. The Bismarck had been damaged in it's engagement with the Hood, and needed repair,. This intelligence allowed the British to deduce the most likely course of action the commanders of the Bismarck would take.

Magnetic arming torpedoes were used for the first time in the encounter with the Bismarck by British Swordfish torpedo planes. These planes were sent aloft with the magnetic arming torpedoes [would arm when in close proximity to the ferrous material [steel] of a large ship such as the Bismarck]. Rather than detonating upon contact, just being in proximity was enough to set the torpedoes off. These torpedoes were used with effect eventually upon the Bismarck, causing damage to the rudder and causing the ship to sail in a circular pattern, rendering the ship more or less helpless.

Bringing all your secret weapons to bear on one target in one battle for the destruction of one ship is an indication of how much importance the British placed on sinking the Bismarck. An endeavor that was successful!



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