The Bismarck displaced over 50,000 tons and 40% of this displacement was armour. Such armour gave the Bismarck many advantages in protection but it did not inhibit her speed – she was capable of 29 knots. Launched in 1939, the Bismarck carried a formidable array of weaponry – 8 x 15 inch guns, 12 x 5.9 inch guns, 16 x 4.1 inch AA guns, 16 x 20mm AA guns and 2 x Arado 96 aircraft. The Bismarck had a crew of 2,200.
In comparison, HMS Hood (built 20 years before Bismarck) was 44,600 tons, had a crew of 1,419 and was faster than the Bismarck with a maximum speed of 32 knots. The Hood had been launched in 1918 and was armed with 8 x 15 inch guns, 12 x 5.5 inch guns, 8 x 4 inch AA guns, 24 x 2 pounder guns and 4 x 21 inch torpedoes. However, the Hood suffered from one major flaw – she did not have the same amount of armour as the Bismarck. The fact that the Hood was faster than the Bismarck by 3 knots was as a result of her lack of sufficient armour. Within two minutes of being hit by the Bismarck, the Hood had broken her back and sunk.