What is it with the new generation of military analyst weirdos and anime girls?


It’s unhealthy and it’s wrong to want to bang the Bismarck.

Everything in this video is largely historically accurate but the anime girl thing has to STOP!

In the video, the narrator discusses the decision that was made for Bismarck to continue its mission after the Battle of the Denmark Straits. He admits that from a strategic standpoint, Admiral Lütjens was right.

I disagree, I think criticism of Admiral Lütjens is in this instance, warranted.

Operation Rhine was fundamentally flawed, to begin with. Using a battleship as a commerce raider is like using Barrett .50 as a squirrel rifle. It will work as such, sure, but the cost per gun (or even per round) is a vast waste of resources. For the same price, you could arm your friends family, and neighbors with enough small caliber varmint guns to kill every squirrel in the neighborhood.*

Bismarck’s sister ship, Tirpitz, also went on commerce raiding duty and sank a grand total of no ships. Tirpitz spent the entire war being constantly short of fuel before she was finally sunk by land-based bombers. She was an abject waste of fuel, men, and equipment.

Admittedly, you could say the same thing about the Kriegsmarine having any battleships at all, ever. It needed to be built around coastal defense and commerce raiding. The argument has been made that Kaiserian Germany, a largely land-locked power, never had need for a dreadnaught fleet in the first place. If Wilhelm II had ignored Mahan and his English blood, Britain might well have stayed out of WWI, which MIGHT have gone a long way to keep America genuinely neutral.

Regardless, thanks to Enigma, Admiral Lütjens’ orders to evade contact during Operation Rhine’s breakout failed before they got anywhere near the Denmark straights. After the Hood was destroyed the nature of the strategic situation changed.

Colonels and Captains can get away with “I was following orders.” Generals and Admirals are there to interpret orders not blindly obey them. They are there to think strategically.

Hood wasn’t just any ship. She was the pride of the Royal Navy, who had been calling the shots on the world’s oceans for a long time. People today can’t quite understand how people felt about battleships back then. Carriers are just too industrial to carry the imagination the same way the battle wagons did. Those castles of steel were sleek and beautiful, your brain could just barely manage to wrap itself around their terrible power but a carrier’s power is an intellectual exercise without emotion. In the last days of the corrupt and collapsing Ottoman Empire, Turkish schoolchildren were happily saving pennies to help purchase their country’s first modern dreadnaught. When Churchill seized it at the outbreak of WWI, the Turks were so enraged they allied with Germany. Battleships were understandable to the average man on the street, so it was easy for the average man’s pride to get caught up in them as a symbol of the nation.

And Germany’s symbol of the nation had just blown the British symbol in half.

The nature of the strategic situation had changed. Bismarck was now far too valuable in terms of national morale to risk being lost on convoy raids. Hood’s destruction was an earth-shaking morale blow to the UK’s public. A commitment of resources well outside those needed to “sink the Bismarck,” was entirely predictable, it didn’t matter who the British PM was. That said it was Churchill.

Lütjens should have ordered the pursuit and destruction of HMS Prince of Wales, then turned on Suffolk and Norfolk. If they flee, don’t chase them. Then radio Berlin saying that Operation Rhine has failed, and if he was politically adept tack on a statement that Hitler would like. “Jutland is Avenged,” or something, just give Goebbels anything to work with because he’s your new best friend.

Then hightail it back to Kiel.

Public morale counts in war. In May of 1941, Britain was still standing alone. If the pride of the Royal Navy was destroyed and Hood’s murderer escaped like a thief in the night, the effect would have been palpable (although admittedly not war-winning).

In Germany, the effect would likely have been to make Hitler waste resources on a big ship navy when least he should have. Although, with the navy in high favor they could well have won the bureaucratic fight and had the Graf Zepplin finished and put to sea before the end of 1942. For whatever good a first-generation carrier would have been to Germany.

My view is that Lütjens should have preserved Bismarck if at all possible after the sinking of Hood.

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