By LIEUTENANT COLONEL HAROLD A BIVINS
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Additional resources for An annotated bibliography of naval gunfire support
France immediately ordered one of the new battleships which she was allowed under the Washington Treaty; this, the Dunkerque, was designed with a speed (twenty-nine knots) high enough to catch the 'pocket battleships' and a main armament (eight 13-inch guns) sufficient to outgun them. The 'pocket battleships' were soon acknowledged to be a triumph of German technology and ingenuity. This triumph was based on three elements: weight-saving techniques, like the use of welding which saved about fifteen per cent of the hull weight; the application of and the understatement of the displacement which in fact was at least twenty-five per cent greater than the announced displacement of 10,000 tons.
Even non-vital damage might have forced the raider to abandon her cruise, while serious damage could have made smoke from the long journey home perilous. Hostile cruisers were especially to be avoided, for although they might not be able to destroy the German ship they could still shadow her. (In fact the British cruisers sent to various areas to find this raider were ordered attack by night, and fire to shadow by day and Spee's tactic was to use her spotter find sailing alone. ) The Graf aircraft when dummy at high some kind of disguise funnel, a tripod mast painted on her control tower, or an extra wooden gun The freighter's officers usually thought she was a French ship until she closed up and, turning, showed her silhouette.
One of the torpedoes damaged the Achilles' heel of all battleships, the steering, and this was decisive. S. S. King George V. An early shot struck the control tower, killing key officers and dislocating the fire control system. After this the Bismarck's gunfire be- came inaccurate and the British could safely one hour and fifty minutes of action the Bismarck sank. Only about 115 of her crew were picked up by the close the British, range. who After did not linger to look for more in U-boats were in the vicinity.