Battleship Bismarck – A Design and Operational History, William Garzke Jr, Robert O Dulin Jr and William Jurens, with James Cameron

Battleship Bismarck – A Design and Operational History, William Garzke Jr, Robert O Dulin Jr and William Jurens, with James Cameron

This is a very detailed book, both in the scope of what it covers and in the detail provided for each topic. We get a detailed examination of German warship construction between the wars, tracing the development of the pocket battleships and Scharnhorst classes and what impact they had on the Bismarck. This is followed by an equally detailed account of the German Navy’s main operations before the start of the Bismarck’s one war mission, with a particular focus on the performance of the larger German warships. Each mechanical problem and each bit of battle damage is mentioned and its impact on operations examined.

Once the Bismarck’s cruise begins the level of detail remains equally high. The fate of the British battlecruiser Hood is covered in more detail than in some books on the Royal Navy. Every salvo fired by the main guns of the ships involved in both of the battles is covered, every known or suspected gun or torpedo hit on every ship is examined. A very convincing attempt is made to establish exactly how the Bismarck was damaged, using a combination of British accounts, the memories of the survivors and the evidence from the dives to the wreck site.

This is one of the most impressive books on an individual warship that I’ve ever read, covering its topic in truly exhaustive detail, and not just covering the Bismarck, but also her opponents. The final fight is covered in minute detail, with a great deal of attention paid to why the vast amount of British gunfire took so long to put her into a sinking condition and why she eventually did sink, including a loo at the controversial issue of if she was sunk or scuttled (coming to the entirely convincing conclusion that the answer was both).

This is physically a very large book- A4 in size and unusually thick, but it is also one of the most densely packed books I’ve read – all in all it’s a very impressive achievement. 

Chapters
1 – The Origins of the Battleship Bismarck
2 – BismarckJoins the Kriegsmarine
3 – German Naval Developments
4 – Prelude to Operation Rheinubung
5 – The Royal Navy in 1941
6 – Operation Rheinubung Commences
7 – Bismarck’s Norwegian Interlude and the British Reaction
8 – Prelude to Battle
9 – Contact!
10 – The Destruction of HMS Hood
11 – Aftermath
12 – Decisions
13 – Torpedo Attack by Victorious Aircraft
14 – BismarckStrives to Escape
15 – Discovery
16 – The Fateful Torpedo Attack
17 – Crippled
18 – The British Torpedo Attack
19 – The Final Battle: Prelude
20 – The Final Battle: 0847-0930
21 – The Final Battle: 0930-1021
22 – The Final Battle: Commentary
23 – Survival and Aftermath
24 – The Wreck
25 – Reflections
26 – Research

Author: William Garzke Jr, Robert O Dulin Jr and William Jurens, with James Cameron
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 610
Publisher: Seaforth
Year: 2019


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