MAY 27, 1941: The British Navy sinks the massive German battleship Bismarck, ending Adolf Hitler’s hopes for a resurgent German surface fleet and sparing Atlantic shipping lanes the devastation the ship would have wrought on the open ocean. The pride of the German Kriegsmarine, the 41,000-ton Bismarck had sunk the battlecruiser HMS Hood at the Battle of the Denmark Strait on May 24 but sustained heavy damage. On May 26 torpedo bombers from HMS Ark Royal encountered Bismarck as it sped towards France and crippled her steering system, leaving her vulnerable to the final assault by three British warships the next day. Facing certain defeat, Bismarck’s commander Johann Lütjens ordered her scuttled. More than 2,000 German sailors lost their lives.