77 years ago today, May 27, 1941, the German battleship Bismarck was sunk in the North Atlantic. The aircraft that had incapacitated the Bismarck and allowed British ships to move in and deliver the final blows to the Bismarck was the Fairey Swordfish. The Swordfish, known as the "Stringbag", was a seemingly outdated aircraft when World War 2 broke out, but the reliability of the plane and its ability to take off and land on early British carriers led It to be utilized throughout the war. The Bismarck started out its combat career with the sinking of the HMS Hood on May 24. This angered the British and spurred a hunt to destroy the German ship. On the night of May 24, a Swordfish from HMS Victorious damaged the Bismarck, slowing the ship. On the aircraft carrier Ark Royal, 15 Swordfish were readied and the aircraft took off in brutal conditions. The Swordfish attacked what they thought was the German cruiser Prinz Eugen but the ship ended up being the British cruiser Sheffield. The Sheffield was able to avoid the attack and the Sworfish returned to the carrier. The Sheffield then caught sight of the Bismarck and sent out reports as she shadowed the ship. The Swordfish were rearmed and the determined crews took off once again in the brutal weather, bound for their second attempt at damaging the Bismarck. The Swordfish passed over the Sheffield once again this time using it as a way-finder. Upon seeing the Bismarck, the crews spilt into 5 groups of 3 and the aircraft moved in for their attack. The rough sea made it hard for the German gunners to hit he plane as the ship rose and fell and the harsh winds pushed the planes sideways creating another challenge for the gunners. The Swordfish were able to score 3 hits on the Bismarck with their torpedoes. 2 torpedoes hit forward of the aft turret and did little damage but the third scored a hit that crippled the steering system. The British battleships King George V and Rodney moved in to serve the finishing blows to the damaged ship.
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