Sink the Bismarck
Aerial Warfare Collection • 47m
After the devastating loss of HMS Hood, the Royal Navy became solely focused on one objective, sinking the Bismarck. The flagship of the German Kriegsmarine had not survived completely unscathed from the initial exchange with the Hood and HMS Prince of Wales. It had suffered one blow. A shell had pierced her armour towards the bow, severing the connection between Bismarck's forward fuel tanks. She was now hemorrhaging fuel, leaving a trail of oil behind her.
Despite this fact, Bismarck was still able to out outmaneuver her pursuers and head straight for the port of Brest in northern France, where she would be protected by an air umbrella of Luftwaffe aircraft. It was only on the 26 May, that she was finally sited by a Catalina flying boat flown by Ensign Leonard B. Smith. The Royal Navy would have to act fast as Bismarck was less than 800 miles away from the port.
Tasked with immobilising the Bismarck were a squadron of British Swordfish torpedo bombers. After a one-in-a-million torpedo strike, dropped by pilot Kenneth Pattisson, hit the German flagship and jammed her rudders, the momentum shifted heavily in favour of the British. Now incapable of reaching Brest, it was up to the tailing British battlecruisers HMS King Geroge V and Rodney to sink the pride of the German Kriegsmarine.
Featuring Andrew Choong, curator at the National Maritime Museum, naval historian Nick Hewitt and Angus Konstam, author of 'Hunt the Bismarck'. Presented by Dan Snow.
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