Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Denmark Strait, 75 Years On

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the battle of Denmark Strait, the battle in which a lucky hit from Bismarck caused a magazine explosion and the total loss of HMS Hood and all but 3 of her 1415 crew. I decided, I suspect like many other naval wargamers around the world, to mark the occasion with a refight of the battle.

Let battle commence

I used my venerable 1/3000 ship models (themselves veterans of over 30 years of gaming) and my old favourite rules, General Quarters 2. As I was playing in the wargames cabin on my 6x4 table I used centimetres for inches when measuring for gunnery and movement. So the action looks a bit compressed in the photos. We started the action at 0554. Bismarck got the range immediately and hit Hood with a 15" salvo. But unlike the real battle the hit caused only minor damage. Both British ships missed.

Early hits on Hood

At 0600 Prince of Wales hit Bismarck, again only limited damage was caused, but six minutes later Hood landed a solid hit on the German battleship, knocking out one of her 15" turrets. Worse was to come. The two squadrons traded blows with little effect, Prinz Eugen's guns ineffective against Hood's armour other than to trouble the secondary gun crews, and Bismarck's accurate gunnery deserting her for a while. Then at 0618 Prince of Wales caught Bismarck with a heavy salvo that knocked out a second turret, caused flooding forward and a second flood aft (1"A" hit, 1"H" hit and a DC critical.

The Germans close, Hood about to shift fire to Prinz Eugen

Things were looking bad for Lutjens, but his next few salvoes caught Hood and destroyed one of her 15" gun turrets. A this point it was apparent that the Germans were seeking to close the range to the British battleships with a view to conducting a torpedo attack. Hood shifted fire to Prinz Eugen. The effect was devastating, as salvo after salvo hit the German cruiser. She was stopped in the water after 12 minutes, sunk after 18. She disappeared beneath the waves at 0648.

Meanwhile, Prince of Wales concentrated on Bismarck as she passed behind the burning wreck of her smaller consort. The German battleship suffered minor hull damage as did Prince of Wales.

As the Prinz Eugen sank Bismarck shifted fire back to Hood which lost another 15" turret and suffered significant flooding that slowed her to half he maximum speed. But in the meantime Prince of Wales was closing fast on the now slowed German battleship, pumping in salvo after salvo. At 0700 Bismarck's last gun turret fell silent, she was stopped in the water by 0712 and began her final plunge to the bottom at 0718.

Bismarck stopped and sinking, in the background Hood turns back to pick up survivors

Prince of Wales checked fire and, along with Hood, moved in to pick up survivors.


  1. Fantastic. the DESIRED outcome.. :-)

  2. Did you factor in the KGV class's - Prince of Wales' - chronically malfunctioning 14" guns, David?

  3. I did, rolling each turn to see if there was a breakdown which was simulated bg a temporary one armament box loss.

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  5. Thanks for the replay it was very instructive! Interesting to hear that your WWII Naval Wargame rules are GQII (myself likewise, I admire the abstraction yet essence of the rules that I think have stood the test of time)

  6. Would appreciate your thoughts on my General Quarters II recreation of the Denmark Straits

    Please see:

    Have never got close to a historical result. Hood battered yes, but it seems just to be a "shell sink". Even with the PoW "never firing full" the Bismarck still gets pummelled.

    The stats (defensive factor and perhaps even the armour) of "The Mighty Hood" seem too good for a twenty year old ship in need of a refit .. but that is just a hobbyist view. I would honestly appreciate an industry insiders viewpoint.

    Best Wishes