Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bismarck saga -- shadowed again

At 3 p.m. The HMS Ark Royal, from Force H out of Gibraltar, launched a strike of 15 Swordfish torpedo bombers armed with torpedoes equipped with magnetic fuses.

The slow Swordfish take a long time to reach the vicinity of the Bismarck and at 4:10 p.m. they line up for torpedo runs -- at the wrong ship! The pilots hadn't been briefed that the HMS Sheffield, also from Force H, had been dispatched ahead to locate the Bismarck and was between the Ark Royal and the German battleship. The HMS Sheffield withheld fire and dodged some torpedoes, while some other torpedoes exploded on contact with the water because of faults with the magnetic fuses. The Swordfish returned to the Ark Royal, where the faulty fuses were replaced with standard contact fuses.

At 5:40 p.m. the British light cruiser HMS Sheffield, makes contact with the Bismarck and begins shadowing it at maximum radar range. Ark Royal moves closer to the Bismarck to cut down on the flying time while the third ship in Force H, the battlcruiser Renown, maintains its distance from the Bismarck. The British are unwilling to risk another battlecruiser, especially one older and weaker than the Hood, in a confrontation with the Bismarck.

At 7:10 p.m. the Ark Royal launches another strike, again with 15 Swordfish.

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