• Who wins this epic battle?

  • '21 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    The third voting option depends heavily on the factors of “intercepted where, under what circumstances, in what year, and with what other naval forces nearby?”, so for simplicity’s sake let’s just assume a straight duel on an otherwise empty ocean (which is unrealistic, but practical for the purposes of analysis).  Speed-wise, the two ships were an even match.  In terms of armament, Hood heavily outgunned Scharnhorst in terms of caliber (15-inch guns versus 11-inch), though it should be noted that the German main guns were proportionally longer than Hood’s (54.5 calibers versus 42) and thus had a higher muzzle velocity.  In terms of armour, straight comparisons are tricky because the thickness distribution was different, but on the whole Scharnhorst was more heavily armoured than Hood.  Keep in mind that Scharnhorst and her sister had been designed to be up-gunned to 15-inch weapons, and were given armour proportional to that caliber (which is the standard battleship design formula).  In their 11-inch configuration, they were over-armoured in relation to their main guns; Hood, conversely, followed the standard battlecruiser design formula of being under-armoured in relation to its main guns.  So basically, it looks like an even match overall in terms of the ships themselves.  The deciding factor would probably have been the skill and tactics of the officers on both sides.

  • '17 '16 '15

    epic battle is right 🙂

    The Hood’s guns would have greater range I believe ? Not certain. Did the Scharnhorst carry torpedoes ? Not sure about that either but don’t recall hearing that they did. I know DDs in most navies did but the larger capital ships Idk.

    Anyway tempted to go with #3. Perhaps I should brush up on their capabilities : )

    Just saw Marc’s post. So longer guns perhaps the Germans may have had the range afterall ? Know Bismark was supposed to have excellent fire control so maybe the Scharnhorst as well


  • @barney:

    epic battle is right 🙂

    The Hood’s guns would have greater range I believe ? Not certain. Did the Scharnhorst carry torpedoes ? Not sure about that either but don’t recall hearing that they did. I know DDs in most navies did but the larger capital ships Idk.

    Just saw Marc’s post. So longer guns perhaps the Germans may have had the range afterall ? Know Bismark was supposed to have excellent fire control so maybe the Scharnhorst as well

    In the engagement with HMS Glorious during Operation Weserübung, Scharnhorst struck HMS Glorious at a range of approximately 24,200 m (26,500 yd), one of the longest recorded hits in the history of naval gunfire. There is also some debate that it may have been an 8" hit from Prinz Eugen that doomed the Hood, not a 15" hit from Bismarck.

  • '21 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @barney:

    Just saw Marc’s post. So longer guns perhaps the Germans may have had the range afterall ? Know Bismark was supposed to have excellent fire control so maybe the Scharnhorst as well

    This gets into the area of ballistics and armour penetration, which is a complex subject.  The 3 books on WWII battleships by Garzke and Dulin include tables which give the muzzle velocity, range and armour penetration performance of major WWII naval guns, along with a discussion of the subject which makes the point that the best equations in this area are empirically derived, i.e. extrapolated from observed results, rather than being based purely on theoretical considerations, given that the theoretical considerations are so numerous and complex.

    One convenient way of looking at the subject is to compare tank main guns with battleship main guns.  Both are designed for armour penetration (AP), but they work in very diferent ways.  Basically, tanks fire a comparatively light AP shell at very high speed in a straight-line trajectory over short ranges, whereas battleships fire a much heavier AP shell (weighing as much as a Volkwagen in some cases) at a comparatively lower speed in a curved trajectory over ranges which are about ten times longer .  The force of a shell’s impact against the target’s armour (whose composition, slope and thickness are further variables) can be calculated using the straightforward formula f = m x v^2, i.e. by multiplying the shell’s mass by the square of its velocity.  That’s the easy part.  The complicated part is that, due to air resistance, the value of f changes in between the time the shell leaves the muzzle and the time it hits the target, and that the change is affected by the weight, density and shape of the shell.  The reason tank guns fire a light shell at very high speeds is that, over short distances, emphasizing speed delivers better results than emphasizing mass because the speed component of the f formula is a square function, whereas the mass component isn’t a square function.  Over longer distances, however, the speed of a shell drops off significantly, whereas its mass remains constant…so over long ranges, emphasizing mass rather than speed delivers better results.

    German battleships and battlecruisers (and German tanks like the Panther, for that matter) tended to have proportionally longer barrels than their Allied counterparts, which increased muzzle velocity but also, unfortunately, wore out the barrel liners more quickly.  In the case of naval combat, another complicating factor is the distance at which the opposing commanders (or rather, the commander who has the fastest ship, since he can decide on the range of the engament) choose to fight.  At relatively close range, the guns fire on a shallow ballistic curve, which tends to produce hits on the vertical (side) armour of the enemy; at longer ranges, the guns fire on a high ballistic curve, which tends to produce hits on the horizontal (deck) armour of the enemy.  This is where the distribution of armour on each ship comes into play.  If I’m not mistaken, Hood’s deck armour was relatively thin, and I think that a deck hit is in fact what led to her loss in 1941.

  • '17 '16 '15

    Good points Marc. I believe velocity wasn’t that great on the Sherman and that the Brits put a longer barrel on it for that reason

  • '22 '21 '20 '19 '18 '17

    @barney:

    Good points Marc. I believe velocity wasn’t that great on the Sherman and that the Brits put a longer barrel on it for that reason

    Not to derail this thread completely, but Shermans were never meant to fight tanks and that had something to do with the design - to include the length of the main gun barrel.

    -Midnight_Reaper

  • '22 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '12

    1 good hit from Hood and Scharnhorst is down for the count.

    Hood also had torpedoes, although I do not think they were ever used.

  • '22 '21 '20 '19 '18 '17

    @Karl7:

    1 good hit from Hood and Scharnhorst is down for the count.

    Hood also had torpedoes, although I do not think they were ever used.

    With the thinness of the Hood’s armor, I think that the opposite is also true: 1 good hit from Scharnhorst and Hood is down for the count. I think this one would have come down to which one drew blood first. I’m tempted to say that the Royal Navy would be good in that regard, but then you can point to the actual fate of the Hood and say: that wasn’t true at least once.

    -Midnight_Reaper

  • '21 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Karl7:

    Hood also had torpedoes, although I do not think they were ever used.

    I’m not aware of any cases of a battleship ever torpedoing another battleship, and as far as I know torpedoes tubes came to be regarded as a superfluous feature in the more modern battleship designs.  In the Bismarck / KGV / Rodney engagement, for example, the cruiser Dorsetshire was called upon to finish off Bismarck with torpedoes, but to my knowledge the two British battleships did not carry out such an attack themselves.  An earlier version of the same phenomenon was the pre-WWI fashion for battleships to be armed with rams…a misguided idea which arose from a faulty analysis of the Battle of Lissa in 1866.  Rams eventually went out of style when it was realized that they were sinking more friendly ships in peacetime accidents than enemy ships in wartime combat (though, oddly enough, the battleship Dreadnought did end up scoring history’s only recorded kill of a submarine by a battleship when it rammed and sank a German U-boat).

  • '21 '20 '18 '17

    The rams were quite useful against one’s own ships, during training exercises they caused several total losses;

    To quote the comprehensive and all knowing WIK;

    “The scale of Hood’s protection, though adequate for the Jutland era, was at best marginal against the new generation of 16-inch (406 mm) gunned capital ships that emerged soon after her completion in 1920, typified by the American Colorado-class and the Japanese Nagato-class battleships. The Royal Navy were fully aware that the ship’s protection flaws still remained, even in her revised design, so Hood was intended for the duties of a battlecruiser and she served in the battlecruiser squadrons through most of her career. Late in her career, Hood was outclassed by the armour and protective arrangement of World War II-era fast battleships, but few available “big gun” vessels could match Bismarck’s speed, and in 1941 the Admiralty included Hood among the ships sent to engage the German battleship”

    “Hood’s armour scheme…was angled outwards 12° from the waterline to increase its relative thickness in relation to flat-trajectory shells. This change increased the ship’s vulnerability to plunging (high-trajectory) shells as it exposed more of the vulnerable deck armour. 5,000 long tons (5,100 t) of armour was added to the design in late 1916, based on British experiences at the Battle of Jutland, at the cost of deeper draught and slightly decreased speed.”

    “To save construction time, this was accomplished by thickening the existing armour, rather than redesigning the entire ship”

    These facts address the flaws in the Battlecruiser concept, which they often refer to as “An Eggshell with a Sledgehammer” (also applied to AFVs before reactive armor) which was that the ever increasing weight of armor could not ever dynamically complete with improvements in shell and gun because a technological advance was needed to create a plausible defense.  Instead, they just kept trying to tack on, revise or add more armor, which only made the ships slower.

    While extreme-range gunnery is fascinating, as others here mentioned, “ranging” or finding the OPTIMAL range for hitting is more important than theoretical range, during actual pitched fighting many shells were expended (esp. by Royal Navy) emphasizing rate of fire and saturation of an area rather than truly “aimed” fire.    This is where speed comes in, because the faster ship can pick the range it prefers, then maintain that range throughout the combat, whereas the slower, heavier, better protected ship probably could not.

    In addition, Hood was new and advanced in 1920 but outdated and worn out in 1940.    The kind of ammo explosion that sank her is common in tank ATGM hits, a “cookoff” where any ammo or fire can cause a runaway event,  igniting fuel and then more ammo, causing a “deflagration” (ie total, immediate, loss).

  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    Honestly, what happened to the Hood was probably one of the luckiest shots of the war.

    If we were to relive that same historical battle 10 times, I highly doubt we would see that one shot outcome again.

  • '22 '21 '20 '19 '18 '17

    @Gargantua:

    Honestly, what happened to the Hood was probably one of the luckiest shots of the war.

    If we were to relive that same historical battle 10 times, I highly doubt we would see that one shot outcome again.

    Oh, I’m sure that there are alternate universes out there where Hood was sent to the breakers in 1948, the “Hero of the Battle of the Denmark Strait”. It’s just that the one we share isn’t one of them. Let’s just say that 1941 wasn’t a good year to be sailing on Royal Navy capital ships…

    -Midnight_Reaper

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