Why didn't Bismarck deploy the Arado 96?


Forum Staff
Apr 2010
T'Republic of Yorkshire
I don't know if Fulmars accompanied the Swordfish. If they did, I doubt the Arado would have even reached altitude.
Mar 2019
My thinking was that the ones that Bismarck carried might have been armed with some MGs. You have a better understanding of the different models of the AR 96 than I do.
Spotter planes were always built as light as possible. Only so much weigh a catapult can throw at a reasonable speed. Once they knew the plane would not be used on ships they could increase the weight. Hence the guns and such being added.
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Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
Stockport Cheshire UK
Even if they had wanted to, the Bismarck's crew could not have launched her aircraft, the catapult had been damaged at the Battle of the Denmark Strait.
As for Fulmars, the Swordfish attackers from HMS Victorious did have an escort of 6 Fulmars when they attacked, but for the Swordfish from HMS Ark Royal there was no escort, possibly due to the extreme weather conditions on launching.
Dec 2014
It's also worth remembering that there was quite literally a gale (wind strength 7 - 9) blowing from the north west. The Swordfish struggled to get airborne in the face of strong winds, which would have made a catapult launch extremely hazardous.


Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
Stockport Cheshire UK
And the Germans knew this?

And how long did it take to launch?
The Bismarck had little to no warning of the Swordfish attacks, so it would have been virtually impossible to launch the Arado before the Bismarck had to take evasive action against the attacks
Dec 2013
IIRC during the exchange of fire in the Battle of Denmark Strait a stray piece of shrapnel had hit one of the air lines to the catapult preventing it from building up enough pressure to launch the Arado 96. I think I remember this because before the last battle the German admiral tried to send his log and account of events leading up to what he knew was to be the last battle for the Bismarck using the Arado but they couldn't launch it.