Friday night movie: Sink the Bismarck! (1960)

Here’s tonight’s movie:

IMDB mean rating: [7.4/10]

IMDB median rating: [7/10]

Description:

In 1939, the Nazi Germany’s largest and most powerful battleship, Bismarck, is launched in a ceremony at Hamburg with Adolf Hitler attending. The launching of the hull is seen as the beginning of an era of German sea power. Two years later, in 1941,British convoys are being ravaged by U-boats and surface raider attacks which cut off supplies which Britain needs to continue the war. In May, British intelligence discovers the Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen are about to break into theNorth Atlantic to attack convoys.

The man assigned to coordinate the hunt is the Admiralty’s chief of operations, Captain Jonathan Shepard (Kenneth More), who has been distraught over the death of his wife in an air raid and the sinking of his ship by German ships commanded by Admiral Günther Lütjens (Karel Štěpánek). Upon receiving his new post, Shepard discovers Lütjens is the fleet commander on the Bismarck. Shepard’s experience of conflict with the German Navy and his understanding of Lütjens allow him to predict theBismarck‘s movements. Shepard is aggressive to his staff but comes increasingly to rely on the coolness and skill of his assistant, WREN Second Officer Anne Davis (Dana Wynter).

Below are the combatants.

The German battleship Bismarck:

The Bismarck (click for larger image)
The Bismarck (click for larger image)

The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal:

HMS Ark Royal (click for larger image)
HMS Ark Royal (click for larger image)

I had some fun on Thursday night watching military documentaries, which is one of my favorite things to do. In addition to watching a documentary about my beloved Challenger 2 tank and a clip on reactive armor, I found this documentary on battleship evolution from World War 1 to World War 2, and this documentary on the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck and this documentary on the German battleship Tirpitz. The documentary on battleship evolution even mentioned Army Air Service Brig. Gen.  Billy Mitchell, the air force pioneer who warned American military planners that battleships were being eclipsed by aircraft carriers. And he was right about that, though no one listened to him. No one, that is, except one Douglas MacArthur! If you watch nothing else, click through and read the story of Billy Mitchell and how he bravely spoke out in favor of air power, and took his lumps for it.

So why did battleships become extinct? Well, you can get a lot more range and striking power out of several squadrons of bombers and torpedo bombers than you can out of 16 or even 18 inch guns. In fact, you’ll see the torpedo bombers of the HMS Ark Royal face off against the Bismarck in the movie. Today, naval warfare is conducted with surface-to-surface missiles like the Tomahawk and the SS-N-27 Sizzler, etc. as well as air-to-surface missiles fired from land and carrier based strike aircraft. The range of these missiles is far greater than the range of the deck guns on any battleship. However, there is work being done on rail guns which may force a return to conventional deck guns, especially for operations like shore bombardments where you want to use cheaper munitions!

Happy Friday!

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