Wehrmacht History 1935 to 1945


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Bismarck Battleship

Service Data

In Service: 24 August 1940 to 27 May 1941

Production Data

Ordered: 16 November 1935
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Construction No: 509
Laid down: 1 July 1936
Launched: 14 February 1939
Commissioned: 24 August 1940

Technical Data

Type: Battleship
Class: Bismarck

Displacement: 41,700 tons standard. 50,300 tons full load
Length: 251 m
Beam: 36 m
Draft: 9.9 m
Propulsion: 12 × Wagner high pressure 3 × Blohm & Voss geared turbines producing up to 150,170 hp
Propellers: 3 blade propellers, 4.70 m in diameter
Speed: 30.01 knots
Range: 8,525 nautical miles 19 knots
Crew: 2,200 men and officers
8 × 38 cm L/47 SK C/34 range 36,200 m
carried 940 to 960 rounds
12 × 15 cm L/55 SK C/28 range 23,000 m
carried 1,800 rounds
16 × 10.5 cm L/65 SK C/33
carried 6,720 rounds
16 × 3.7 cm L/83 SK C/30
carried 32,000 rounds
12 × 2 cm MG L/64 C/30
carried 24,000 rounds
Armour Belt 145 to 320 mm, Deck 50 to 120 mm,
Bulkheads 220 mm, Turrets 130 to 360 mm,
Barbettes 342 mm, Conning tower 360 mm,
Aircraft: 6 × Arado Ar 196 seaplanes
Operators: Kriegsmarine

Other: Battleships


The German battleship Bismarck is one of the most prominent warships of the Second World War. The lead ship of her class and named after the 19th century German chancellor Otto von Bismarck, The Bismarck was the largest warship then designated. Her claim to celebrity came from the Battle of the Denmark Strait in May 1941 during which the battlecruiser HMS Hood, flagship of the Home Fleet and pride of the Royal Navy, was sunk. In response, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill issued the order to Sink the Bismarck.


24 August 1940
The Bismarck is commissioned.

19 May 1941
Operation Rheinübung (Rhine Exercise) The Bismarck left the port of Gotenhafen and was accompanied by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen and escorted by the destroyers Z23, Z24, Friedrich Eckoldt, Hans Lody. for commerce raiding in the North Atlantic.

21 May 1941
The Bismarck and Prinz Eugen are spotted by a British reconnaissance plane while at Bergen, Both ships leave Bergen before British bombers can attack them.

22 May 1941
The Bismarck detaches destroyer escort

23 May 1941
The Bismarck and Prinz Eugen are detected by the heavy cruisers HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk, that had been patrolling the Denmark Strait. The British ships are able to shadow the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen during the night.

HMS Hood24 May 1941
At 6 am, the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Hood open fire on the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. After exchanging fire, the HMS Hood magazines explodes and splits the ship in two. HMS Prince of Wales is hit several times, The Bismarck and Prinz Eugen head for Brest, France.

24 May 1941
The Prinz Eugen parted company with Bismarck to carry on commerce raiding.

24 May 1941
Later that day, the Bismarck is attacked by group of Swordfish torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious. One torpedo hit but no damage.

26 May 1941
After being detected by planes from the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, Swordfish torpedo bombers attack the Bismarck and a torpedo destroys the rudder. The ship is unable to control its course.

26 to 27 May 1941
During the night, several British and Polish destroyers HMS Cossack, HMS Sikh, HMS Maori, HMS Zulu, and the ploish destroyer ORP Piorun, attack the Bismarck with torpedo's but archived no hits.

27 May 1941
The Bismarck is unable to control its course and is at the mercy of the British battleships HMS Rodney and HMS King George V. After two hours the Bismarck is a burning wreck and her crew scuttle her


Ernst Lindemann
Takes command on 24 August 1940
Ends command on 27 May 1941


Bismarck picture 2

Bismarck picture 3

Bismarck picture 4

Bismarck picture 5

Bismarck picture 6

Bismarck picture 7

Bismarck picture 8

Bismarck picture 9

Bismarck picture 10

HMS Prince of Wales

HMS Hood

HMS Ark Royal aircraft carrier picture 1

HMS Ark Royal aircraft carrier picture 2

HMS Rodney

HMS King George V

Film Footage Gallery

This clip shows the Bismarck Battleship being launched from the shipyard Blohm & Voss in Hamburg on 14 February 1939.

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by Ed Hosch 30/08/2010

Bismark was a beautiful ship.I just wonder what kind of career she would have had if she had not been hit by a lucky torpedoe in the rudder.


German Warships, 1815-1945: Major Surface Vessels.
ISBN-10: 0851775330

German Warships, 1815-1945: U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels.
ISBN-10: 155750301X

German warships of the Second World War.
ISBN-10: 0668040378

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