Park Engineering

 John Park, 32 the Loaning, Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, Strathclyde, Scotland, U.K. ML1 3HE

       mobile 0781 8618547

 "e" mail jpark8@btinternet.com (click on this to send me an "e" mail)
 
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Over 400 hits failed to sink the Bismarck around May 27 1941. The Germans planned to use the Bismarck to attack allied ships en route from Britain to America.

She was one of the biggest battleships ever built, but the Bismarck only completed one offensive operation before she sank below the waves. Launched by Germany in early 1939, the Bismarck was to break into the Atlantic and attack allied ships en route from Britain to America.  Detected near Scandinavia she managed to destroy HMS Hood, which only made her pursuers keener to destroy her.  Hit three times, she suffered a major oil leak, and it was Swordfish planes that did the damage, having taken off from the carrier HMS Ark Royal. Suddenly her crew couldn't steer the giant vessel -- as our ships again bombarded her again on the morning of May 27, 1941, the Germans decided to scuttle her.   The Chief Engineering Officer, tried to order his men to open her watertight doors, and everybody else to abandon ship, but his telcom system and he sent a messenger, who never returned.  In the event, he did it himself, and heard the demolition charges detonate as he fled.     Still, more than 400 hits from British ships failed to make the massive vessel sink.  When she eventually did, the Brits' attempts to save Germans from the sea were interrupted when someone thought they spied a U-boat nearby, and many hundreds perished. It would be the summer of 1989 before the Bismarck's wreckage was finally located at the bottom of the sea -- she'd struck an under water volcano and slid down a mountain. If you think of the ease with which she'd sunk HMS Hood, one of our best ships, she would definitely have wrought havoc far and wide.      The propaganda value and the moral boost it gave the allies was monumental, and Winston Churchill was extremely satisfied to see the last of the Bismarck.  Admiral Sir John Tovey, commander of the British Home Fleet, admitted "The Bismarck had put up a most gallant fight against impossible odds, worthy of the old days of the Imperial German Navy, and she went down with her colours flying"  Sadly there was nothing gallant about the German reaction, as they focussed more U-bolts, which would attack unprotected shipping mercilessly.   But, deep down, the loss of such a ship -- famous before she was even launched for her seeming invincibility -- hurt them deeply. All the more incredible, then, to think that the quaint-sounding Fairy Swordfish was generally viewed as obsolete, only to strike the deadliest blow!  Known lovingly as the Stringbag, it looked less than fearsome but, as the Bismarck found, packed a horrendous punch with her torpedoes.   Armed with new radar and air-to-surface rockets, the Swordfish became deadly all over again, and it's replacement plane didn't fair well.  They stopped making them in 1944, but many a German shipbuilder must have wondered what on earth these little planes have about them.  We've never seen a ship like the Bismarck again, or for that matter, a plane like the Swordfish, our David who sank a German Goliath.                   

 

to be continued