Repair This! A HMS Repulse Timeline

Chapter 1
04:30 24 May 1941

Captain Tennant stared worrisome at the spray and mist washing over the bow of his battlecruiser, the venerable HMS Repulse, or “Repair” as her crew had taken to calling her. Just ahead of them, leading the way, somewhere in the mist was the newly commissioned King George V class battleship, Prince of Wales. And “new” couldn’t have been more of an understatement when it came to PoW, the bloody paint was more or less still drying, her crew was new and inexperienced, and there was bound to be mechanical hiccups along the way, in fact civilian shipyard workers were embarked on her, hoping to iron out any mechanical gremlins along the way. Even though she was new, Admiral Holland had decided to make her his flagship, after some convincing from Admiral Tovey, and a bit of pleading from Tennant, who convinced him that Repulse, was arguably the less capable warship, having thinner belt and deck armor and somewhat less firepower (even though she did have a higher caliber, 6x 15 inch guns to PoW 10x 14inch ones) of the two.

Silently though he was cursing the luck that had fallen upon him, HMS Hood or King George V should be here, not Repulse. Even Repulse's sister ship, Renown, having received a more comprehensive refit would be far better suited for this engagement. Alas, Hood was escorting convoy WS8B and King George V, flagship of Admiral Sir John Tovey was still 300 to 400 miles (480 to 640 km) away as of this morning and Renown was with Force H. Thus Repulse and PoW would have to try and stop Bismarck, or at least slow her down. There wasn’t any doubt in Tennants mind they would achieve that objective, it was just a matter of whether he and his ship would still be around to witness the end of it.

At 05:35, lookouts on Prince of Wales spotted the German ships 17 mi (15 nmi; 27 km) away. The Germans, already alerted to the British presence through their hydrophonic equipment, picked up the smoke and masts of the British ships 10 minutes later. At this point, Holland had the options of joining Suffolk in shadowing Bismarck and waiting for Tovey to arrive with King George V and other ships to attack, or ordering his squadron into action. He chose the latter at 05:37. The rough seas in the Strait kept the destroyers' role to a minimum and the cruisers Norfolk and Suffolk, having not been properly informed by Holland of his battle plans, were too far behind to actively participate. Thus Repulse and PoW would have to take on the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. At 05:53 Prince of Wales opened fire with her 14 inch guns, quickly followed by Repulse roughly a minute later. Already however, trouble was coming home to roost for the PoW’s. One of her forward 14 inch guns unfortunately became unserviceable. Nonetheless though she kept firing her now, 9, 14 inch guns. At 05:56, the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen’s opened fire, Captain Lindemann, refusing to have his brand new battleship “shot out from under his arse”. Initially there was some confusion on which ship to shoot, with Repulse being initially identified as a unmodernised Queen Elizabeth class. Nonetheless, Bismarck decided to target the PoW first, feeling that the more modern and better armed and armored warship should be dealt with. Prinz Eugens target was Repulse respectively.

Aboard Repulse, Captain Tennant saw the muzzle flashes of the German warships and muttered to himself “shit, now we’re in for it”.
 
It's always interesting to see how different people approach the Denmark Strait in alternate history scenarios given how "poisoned" the battle is in the public consciousness due to Hood being lost so quickly. Personally I'd love to see Eugen get pasted by 14" and 15" shells, that ship had no reason for getting away unscathed as it did. If Tennant's crew can shoot like he helms a ship, it should be an interesting fight.
 
Having Norfolk and Suffolk close enough to engage Prinz Eugen, would I think have chafe the battle of the 'Denmark Strait' completely IMHO and would make an interesting POD in its own right.
 
Repulse was the top shooting ship of the RN and even though she only has 6 x 15" guns she should shoot better than Hood. The only problem is her gunnery computer it's an old model that takes time to compute a firing solution if either she or the target make big course changes.

If Repulse finds the range she is going to poke big damaging holes in Bismarck but a German 15" hitting basically anywhere doesn't end well.
 

perfectgeneral

Donor
Monthly Donor
If she "survives" this would they bother repairing her? It would be cheaper to replace her with a Lion class or Vanguard. If anything.
 
Chapter 2
At 06:00, Holland ordered his force to turn once again to port to ensure that the aft main guns on both Repulse and Prince of Wales could bear on the German ships. During the turn a salvo from Bismarck came roaring in and promptly straddled PoW. With one of the shells impacting and promptly starting a fire among the boat deck on the aft superstructure. The damage was concerning but definitely non fatal. The next several hits would not be so fortunate. About 5 minutes later at 06:06, the aft 14 inch turret took a direct hit, putting it out of action, completely negating Holland's reason for the turn in the first place. Captain Leach promptly ordered for the aft magazine to be flooded, shortly before a 15 inch shell slammed into the forward superstructure.
The PoW was designed with a “Queen Anne mansion” superstructure, which was lighter then previous superstructure designs (like the one on Repulse) and did away with a traditional conning tower since no self-respecting RN officer would dare use such a vile and cramped space. The “Queen Anne mansion”, being lighter and less armored was designed to withstand shell splinters or bomb shrapnel at best. It was never designed or built to absorb a 15 inch shell. Captain Leach and Admiral Holland were among the few survivors from the hit, the latter being knocked unconscious. Finally a 3rd shell came in and took out the aircraft catapult, which was probably one of the least concerning hits at the time. Even though the damage looked bad, it was non-fatal, at least in the immediate time being. PoW was still more or less watertight and her machinery was still intact and sound. Nonetheless, Captain Leach ordered to make smoke and turn away.

Meanwhile PoW was lashing out with her main armament, but was suffering from serious gunnery issues and intermittent failures with the main armament was making returning effective fire difficult. Nonetheless, she managed to score 4 hits. One shell struck roughly amidships, destroying the commander's boat and putting the aircraft catapult out of action. The second shell passed through the bow from one side to the other without exploding. The third struck the hull underwater and burst inside the ship, flooding a generator room and damaging the bulkhead to an adjoining boiler room, partially flooding it. The fourth scored a hit on aft superstructure, destroying the rangefinder and FuMO 23 Seetakt radar. And this was not considering the hits from Repulse.

Captain Lindemann, seeing that the PoW was damaged and possibly “sinking”, then ordered all fire shifted to Repulse. Soon 6x 15 inch guns on Bismarck (Repulse scoring a direct hit on Cäsar turret) opened fire on Repulse. Repulse courageously charging forward and covering PoW’s retreat.

Prinz Eugen had been firing on Repulse, and had scored a hit on the compass platform (with splinters and debris raining down onto the bridge). Another hit smashed into the bow and detonated, taking out the chain locker and finally a 3rd hit destroyed the starboard triple barrel 4 inch mount. Lastly another shell had hit the forward superstructure causing a fire to break out. In return, Repulse, which was one of the “crack gunnery” vessels in the RN, had scored 3 hits on Bismarck, one shell knocking out Cäsar turret, the other impacted amidships and detonated along the belt. The last one struck the stern and seemingly, passed straight through w/o detonating.

Aboard Repulse the situation was grim. PoW looked badly damaged, after having taken a beating from the Bismarck, and with Admiral Holland indisposed and Captain Leach in not much better condition, Captain Tennant had to take command of the situation and fast. He was effectively now chasing splashes and maneuvering erratically, banking on the hope that the Bismarcks gunners wouldn’t aim twice at the same spot. The Repulse was a Battlecrusier through and through and using her speed and maneuverability was an advantage not to pass up. Not that it mattered since the Germans' aim had been very, very accurate. Within minutes, Bismarck's salvos were straddling Repulse. Captain Tennant briefly considered taking on Bismarck and Prinz Eugen, but several consecutive hits from both ships put an end to that reasoning. 2 more hits from Prinz Eugen came roaring in and smashed the aft superstructure and took out the tripod mast. The second hit the midship superstructure and made a real “mess of things” but nothing a month or so at drydock couldn't fix. The next hit was from Bismarck, a 15 inch shell screeched in and smashed into Repulse underneath near where the starboard triple 4 inch once was. The shell sliced through the thin deck armor belt before detonating deep inside Repulse's machinery spaces. Promptly knocking out 3 forward boiler rooms. With both steam and speed reduced, Captain Tennant ordered to make smoke and retreat, before another pair of 8 inch shells from Prinz Eugen came in. One struck just aft of amidships and started a fire among the boats and 4inch AA gun magazine, the other impacted harmlessly on the rear 15 inch turret, however the hit did jam the gun, at least temporarily. Bismarck also straddled the Repulse 1 more time but the only damage was some shell splinters. While retreating Repulse fired twice more from her two forward turrets straddling Prinz Eugen with shell splinters but causing no real damage.
With the British retreating, Lutjen likewise ordered the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen to disengage. Lindemann briefly argued to finish off the British, after all PoW was seemingly on her death knell and Repulse, while being less damaged overall, was no match for the Bismarck one on one, let alone w/ Prinz Eugen backing them up. However, Lutjens overruled Lindemann and sailed onward, while damage control teams went to work.
 
Repulse was the top shooting ship of the RN and even though she only has 6 x 15" guns she should shoot better than Hood. The only problem is her gunnery computer it's an old model that takes time to compute a firing solution if either she or the target make big course changes.

If Repulse finds the range she is going to poke big damaging holes in Bismarck but a German 15" hitting basically anywhere doesn't end well.
Not a whole lot of maneuvering by B and PE for first salvos
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If she "survives" this would they bother repairing her? It would be cheaper to replace her with a Lion class or Vanguard. If anything.
The RN needs ships, even with Bismarck and maybe Prinz Eugen out of the equation the Kriegsmarine still has Tirpitz and other capital ships that while probably couldn't challenge the RN on a 1v1 basis, could still pose a threat to convoys.
 

Garrison

Donor
The RN needs ships, even with Bismarck and maybe Prinz Eugen out of the equation the Kriegsmarine still has Tirpitz and other capital ships that while probably couldn't challenge the RN on a 1v1 basis, could still pose a threat to convoys.
They have ships, they can absorb the loss of PoW and Repulse, if the Kriegsmarine loses Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in one day Hitler will probably make good on his threat to scrap the remaining surface ships. They got insanely lucky with Hood, any other day or combo for the RN and either PE or Bismarck aren't going home, or possibly both.
 
Chapter 3
With the German warships disengaging and the British following likewise, the battle initially seemed inconclusive. However as damage control and assessment got underway on the Bismarck, it was apparent that the Repulse and PoW had caused some serious damage. The first major hit was from PoW that had struck the area near the boiler room, which had also damaged Bismarck's forward fuel tanks. The 2nd major damaging hit was the loss of Bismacks rear superstructure radar, leaving only the forward one operational. The floatplane catapult was also wrecked but in this weather launching the Arado was not really on anyone's mind. Repulse’s hits were also damning as well. Caesar turret was badly damaged and jammed out in the position in the direction when Bismarck was engaging Repulse. The second damaging hit was the initially harmless hit to the stern. Although the shell had passed through and seemed harmless (minus flooding) the effect of a 15 inch shell flying through the stern and being in places a 15 inch shell had no reason to be, had evidently damaged something. Damage control teams were still conducting an assessment but initial reports were stating that “interesting” (to say the least) mainly being vibrations were occurring when traveling above 26 knots. Also the rudder was slow to respond, suggesting that the steering gear may be damaged as well. Overall it seemed apparent to Admiral Lutjens and Captain Lindemann that they had come off worse for wear.

Aboard PoW, the RN damage control teams were racing to bring the ship back up to fighting shape. The rear 14 inch turret was out of commission, a fire from a direct hit by Bismarck ensured that. Admiral Holland, having regained consciousness, was still evidently concussed and despite insisting to remain on the bridge, was eventually convinced to retire to belowdecks, but not before issuing the order to continue to shadow Bismarck and Prinz Eugen and to re-engage if conditions were favorable.

Aboard Repulse, repairs to the damaged forward boilers were currently underway, although a more thorough repair and quite possibly an overhaul and refit for the old girl would probably be done once back at port. The rear 15 inch turret, having taken a hit from PE was now free to traverse again and damage control parties were hastily putting out the fire at the 4 inch AA ammo and boats. By now the 2 county class heavy cruisers, Suffolk and Norfolk had joined up with the battered yet intact PoW and Repulse.
 

Driftless

Donor
Now the real question is, would the RN re-engage or would they continue to just shadow Bismarck?

Both sides are aware they've hit the other, correct? But neither knows the level of damage they've caused to their opponents. I'd guess the RN first shadows then tries to reengage, maneuvering for as favorable posistion as possible. If the Bismark shows that top speed is unsustainable, that too may change the calculations.
 
Now the real question is, would the RN re-engage or would they continue to just shadow Bismarck?
I'm guessing that they shadow for a while.

With Bismarck slowed to 26 knots it feels like the British have absolute control on if a battle happens.

I'd say the British shadow as long as their reinforcements are coming fast and Bismarck is slowed.

If Bismarck accelerates to 28 knots the British dive in straight away imo.

As long as Bismarck is slowed and there's no fear of escape there's opportunity for reinforcements to arrive.

Tovey with KGV and probably Vixtorious were about 400 miles south at 4:30. Engagement started at 6:00 and may have lasted another while. Its probably 7:00 or so in the last post. Bismarck was probably going south towards engagement so the distance is narrowing.

Once you get to 200 miles Victorious can probably launch swordfish attacks.

My view is Bismarck slowed, carrier attack coming relatively soon. Shadow for now.

Probably attack immediately afterwards. Depending on if any further reinforcements are likely to be able to join up.
 
Now the real question is, would the RN re-engage or would they continue to just shadow Bismarck?
The RN achieved their mission. They mission killed BISMARCK and protected the sea lanes. No need to look for a fair fight. Shadow, harass and wait for the rest of Home Fleet to pile-on is my prediction. And if there can be an airstrike or three from either ICELAND or VICTORIOUS, that would be logical as well.
 
The RN achieved their mission. They mission killed BISMARCK and protected the sea lanes. No need to look for a fair fight. Shadow, harass and wait for the rest of Home Fleet to pile-on is my prediction. And if there can be an airstrike or three from either ICELAND or VICTORIOUS, that would be logical as well.
There's definitely a calculation to be made.

Word of God needs to weigh in on the fuel status of both ships.

Historically Repulse was with Tovey and had to withdraw early on the 25th due to fuel. If that occurs here then the British may want battle before that.

Victorious got the first air strike on Bismarck at 10pm on the 24th. If a slowed Bismarck means Victorious gets an airstrike off earlier I could see airstrike or two then battle if Repulse had any fuel concerns.

If there are no fuel concerns the calculation changes again. Maybe there's a wait for KGV to join the party.
 
There's definitely a calculation to be made.

Word of God needs to weigh in on the fuel status of both ships.

Historically Repulse was with Tovey and had to withdraw early on the 25th due to fuel. If that occurs here then the British may want battle before that.

Victorious got the first air strike on Bismarck at 10pm on the 24th. If a slowed Bismarck means Victorious gets an airstrike off earlier I could see airstrike or two then battle if Repulse had any fuel concerns.

If there are no fuel concerns the calculation changes again. Maybe there's a wait for KGV to join the party.
Repulse has whatever fuel status Hood had prior to when she sunk. So give or take some fuel for time spent in Battle of Denmark Strait.
 
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