RM Vol 3: For a World without Boundary – Chapter 21-5: The Hunt for Bismarck (Part 5)
Phew~! I’m back at last! Thankfully, the newest chapter has been 2/3 done, hence I finished it swiftly enough! My health is a lot better now (for my non-Patron, I took a case of heavy food poisoning a few days back), still feeling parch constantly but hey, it’s a stark improvement. As for the newest chapter…
Yggdra blessed me for I spend more time brainstorming and researching than actually writing the thing. It’s almost 3700 words long (on Pa-treon)! Well, not that long relative to the actual record holder of this story but still, I think that is one of the most research intensive chapter I have ever written. And it was hella fun!
As such, I surely hope you all enjoy the new chapter (on Patreon and here), they’re as descriptive as possible for you to imagine the scenes. Like, I think I’mma have the dream about ships being crushed soon enough lol
Yuki at Sea series 2 (Two pictures in total, possible Webnovel censoring so head over to Scribble if you can’t see them)
The second battle between the Reichsmarine and the Royal Navy starts with the HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk sailing ahead at flank speed, their intention is clear in that they are trying to create a crossfire, cutting off the path forward of the RMS Bismarck and RMS Prinz Eugen. And as the pair of County-class heavy cruiser is making headway, the capital ships of the Royal Navy squadron, the HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales, immediately steers hard starboard, sailing at best speed towards the Bismarck herself.
While this maneuver is generally frowned upon, it makes it so that only the front turrets of their capital ships can fire, Vice Admiral Holland doesn’t have much of a choice. The capability of the newer Reichsmarine vessels has been largely unconfirmed, words floated around that they’re paper tigers but with no concrete evidence, the Royal Navy has given Home Fleet the explicit order to force them to show their hands. For all intents and purposes, getting to know your enemy firsthand is a good thing. But it’s also ill-advised when you only have word-of-mouth and unconfirmed spy reports as your baseline to act on. The missing Fifth Destroyer Squadron could act as a consequence of carrying out this nonsensical order and the total collapse of their radio system is nothing but an ill-omen. The state of the sea is also a troubling matter, a storm is approaching and the waves aren’t as calm as they used to be. It will no doubt hamper their ability to score accurate hits.
Nonetheless, orders are orders, and as a Vice Admiral of the Erusean Royal Navy, Holland will see it through. This means that Holland has no choice but to seize this chance when Bismarck is left with only a singular escort, and to engage in open combat, even though the fear of the unknown is biting at his ankle. To minimize the risk, Holland can only bank on closing the gap, making it so that Bismarck can’t perform plunging fire with its 380mm guns (If you believe what the Royal Navy intelligence said). Even if the report about her caliber is false, the Bismarck is still confirmed to have 12 guns in three quadruple turrets. That’s an obscene amount of firepower nonetheless and the Hood and Prince of Wales are sailing straight into it.
After the first maneuver was done by vessels of the Royal Navy, more specifically those of Holland’s Capital Squadron, Admiral Tallulah responds by ordering Bismarck’s CIC to work on firing solutions for not one, not two, but three vessels at the same time. Having complete faith in the technological advantage and the honed experience of months, even years, at sea of Bismarck’s crew, Tallulah believes that they can achieve a feat that will go down into history.
To hit, and even sink three sea-faring targets, coming at them in three different directions, at a distance of roughly 20 km away.
“CIC reporting: A-turret is aiming at the heavy cruiser Suffolk, bearing 290, range of 21 km and slowly increasing. B-turret is aiming at the battlecruiser Hood, bearing 189, range of 19 km and closing. C-turret is aiming at the battleship Prince of Wales, bearing 180, range of 20 km and closing. All main guns are locked on targets, secondary turrets are locked onto the heavy cruiser Norfolk. Prinz Eugen reported laying her guns on battlecruiser Hood… All stations reporting combat is a go.” The XO stationed in Bismarck’s CIC reported.
Smirking dangerously while crossing her arms, standing close to the viewing port of the bridge just so that she can see the 17-inch, 432mm gun turrets of the Bismarck in action, Admiral Tallulah says charmingly with her bewitching mermaiden voice. “Didn’t you say something about welcoming our peers with a salvo? Well, let’s not keep them waiting any longer, shall we?”
With a confident shout, Tallulah commences another reckoning period for the Royal Navy. “FIRE!”
Per the Lady Admiral’s command, turrets A to C unleash Hell in the middle of the ocean. The shockwaves from the collective firing of all twelve 432mm gun barrels warp the visual signature of the Bismarck along her length as plumes of smoke and waves of water are blasted outward of her hull. Each gun in the three 4-gun turrets of the Bismarck launched a superheavy Armor Piercing, Capped, Ballistic Capped shell, weighing 1400 kg a piece, and at a muzzle velocity of 840 m/s thanks to the 57 calibers long barrel. The combination of these impressive numbers has given birth to an astounding kinetic force behind each of Bismarck’s AP shells. And as a result, at a distance that can only be described as the point-blank range for the Belkan battleship, the superheavy shells easily overmatched the fore-end armor platings of the battlecruiser Hood and battleship Prince of Wales, which mind you, is 26mm of protective casing made by the leading naval experts of the Royal Navy.
Of the eight shells that were fired at the Erusean capital ships, five hits true with the other three splashing fragments onto their hulls when hitting the water. The HMS Hood is the first to receive major damages, having her bow penetrated, with the 432mm shell armed and exploded internally, thus eviscerating the upper portion of her bow. A second shell punched through her thinner starboard superstructure armor from the front before making contact with the vessel’s deck armor. The ballistic cap of the 17-inch superheavy shell prevented deflection at an otherwise acute angle, making it so that the round penetrated the deck plating and exploded near the engine compartment. The subsequent damaging blast knocked out half of Hood’s propulsion and almost collapsed the ship’s second funnel as the anti-air rocket launcher turret of the Hood was sent sky-high, having been in the unfortunate position of being above where the shell detonated. A serious fire outbreak was then confirmed below deck, with Hood taking in water to her bow as she was sailing through the waves with her nose literally peeled open like a banana. Sailors in the affected areas were either outright dead or were dying due to being set alight as a consequence of the superheavy shells exploding. Casualties were numerous and Vice Admiral Holland had no choice but to order the Hood to come to a crawling speed, lest they take in more water than they should be. And it’s not like they could keep their speed of 28 knots either, a preliminary report from the engine compartment hadn’t painted a pretty picture for them all.
As for her compatriot, the Prince of Wales, the larger ship took 3 hits, with each causing a set of debilitating effects. The first superheavy shell completely ignored the protection of Wales’ B-turret, penetrating squarely through the front turret plate and in the middle of the turret’s two 356mm guns. After that, the shell detonated inside the gun compartment, knocking out the B-turret outright, collapsing a gun barrel onto the roof of the A-turret, and damaging its targeting system. The second shell punched through the observation post, snapping it in half, before hitting and over-penetrating the second funnel. It was, however, armed successfully and detonated in an airburst manner just behind the secondary tower with its firing directors. The explosion destroyed the delicate machinery and also the life vessels moored atop the superstructure. The last shell landed in between the two secondary 133mm turrets off to the port side of the ship, bypassing the barbette armor and going straight in for the ammo stowage of the dual-purpose guns. The ensuing ammo detonation, secondary as they might be, was serious enough that the smaller turrets were launched into the sky by two pillars of blueish flame. The spread of the fire was so fast that some of the crew were set aflame in mere seconds, a few of them elected to jump overboard in a vain attempt to put out the fire, not even thinking about how they would even live with the consequences of such an action later. But perhaps the most devastating damage of all for the Prince of Wales was the fact that her Captain and XO were killed when the first shell eliminated the B-turret. The pair and a few others were unlucky enough to stand outside the protective casing of the conning tower, much too slow to escape the shelling from the Bismarck. In a way, they died a stupid death just so that they could get a clearer look at Bismarck through the usage of a long-range telescope, mounted outwardly of the conning tower.
And when you thought the situation of this Royal Navy Capital Squadron couldn’t get any worse, well, that’s where you’re wrong. HMS Suffolk, in her attempt to cut across Bismarck in a T-bone maneuver, had flashed the Bismarck with her perfect broadside. Had it been any other vessel, scoring a perfect hit on a cruiser at a distance of 21 km, and in her first salvo at that, would have been nigh impossible. Yet, RMS Bismarck is anything but normal for anything short of the 30 km range is target practice in front of her guns. That’s the blessing of a modern fire control system for you. But of course, Bismarck can still use her guns to engage targets past 30 km, though the efficiency of such is known only to Yggdrasil herself. On a side note, an accuracy test was conducted with Bismarck’s main guns engaging a battleship-sized target at extreme range and in calm weather. Over five days, with an extremely low hit rate, Bismarck fails to sink the target ship, demonstrating that a ship, armed with the most powerful guns and the best possible technology, could not fire accurately at an enemy ship while remaining out of range of an enemy with a similar technological level (This enemy is hypothesized to be the Imperial Japanese Navy). The Reichsmarine soon learned that shell dispersion was not something fire control, no matter how advanced, could solve.
Back to the topic at hand, Suffolk is gone, reduced to atoms. The four 432mm superheavy shells scored direct hits on her beautiful broadside, served on a silver plate. The hits to the citadel completely eliminated her structural integrity as the shells exploded center mass. The combined blast of not just the four shells, but also the fuel to run the Suffolk and her stowed munitions, was nothing short of a volcanic eruption in the middle of the ocean. Black smoke and flame billowing out into the sky as what’s left of her hull sink beneath the surface in less than a minute. The Suffolk is lost with all hands. Many have tried to find her wreck years later, but to be honest with you all, what’s even left to find?
And while Vice-Admiral Holland’s squadron is still rearing from the devasting opening move of the Bismarck, the Belkan vessels aren’t about to let it up just yet. Bismarck starts unleashing a withering hail of shells from her secondary 150mm turrets on the hastily evading Norfolk. And despite the long travel times measuring in seconds for the smaller calibers, the sheer amount of rounds in the air, thanks to the autoloading systems, ensure that many High Capacity explosive shells hit true despite the ongoing maneuver of the Norfolk. Despite her supposed protection against light cruiser caliber guns, Norfolk is being pummeled into a smothering mess as her superstructure is set on fire. Hell, the entire ship is blackened due to the obscene amount of hits the Bismarck’s secondaries are scoring on her. With her sister ship all but disappeared into the bottom of the ocean and Norfolk herself coming under threat of being burned to death, her Captain is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Either trying to attack a beast of a battleship in vain or saving what’s left of his vessel. The Norfolk’s Captain makes the only sound decision at the moment, to abandon his task and get the Hell out of Dodge. He is willing to face court martial for his dereliction of duty but the lives of his men are much more important.
With the Norfolk slowly limping out of range, Admiral Tallulah chooses not to beat the battered dog, at least not yet. Instead, she orders the secondaries to target the Hood. And together with the eight 203mm aboard the Prinz Eugen, they start setting off fires and incapacitating the weakly protected secondary armaments of the Hood. Slowly but surely, they’re overwhelming the damage control party of the Royal Navy flagship.
Left with no other choice now that closing the distance has backfired on him so badly, Vice Admiral Holland orders the front turrets to fire at will. That they have but the outcome left much to be desired as all four 381mm fall short of the Bismarck. The damage to Hood’s stability has been severed, causing her guns to go off the rail by at least a kilometer. The gunnery station will try to compensate for the dispersion but Holland isn’t hopeful that they will be able to do that in time. The fact that the Prince of Wales has also been silent all the while doesn’t contribute much confidence to Holland. The Royal Navy battleship is still reorganizing its command structure while fighting off the growing internal fire. Holland has instructed his XO to help coordinate the firefighting effort aboard Wales from the Hood with little to no obvious effect. At this rate, Wales will be lost due to intensive fire rather than being struck again by Bismarck.
Suffice to say, the situation is very, very dire for the Royal Navy Squadron. And with communication gone, they’re on their own with the beast that is the Belkan Reichsmarine.