Launched Feb. 14, 1939 and named for former German chancellor Otto von Bismarck
the fearsome Bismarck
was the most powerful ship in the Nazi navy but had a short career on the seas. A sighting of the massive battleship in May 1941 from reconnaissance aircraft sent the British navy into immediate action.
Two British battleships, the Prince of Wales
engaged the Bismarck
soon after making contact near Iceland. The Bismarck
sank the Hood
in a matter of minutes and then escaped into the open ocean. It was spotted by British aircraft a day later and hit by a torpedo that damaged its ability to maneuver. The Bismarck
made for the French coast but was under bombardment from British ships throughout the night and in the morning (May 27) three ships, the King George V
, the Rodney
, and the Dorsetshire
teamed up to first cripple and sink the mighty war ship.