Drawing 1. This is how the Bismarck looked right after being commissioned in August 1940. At this time the battleship was not completed yet. The three rotating domes for the rangefinders, the four after 10.5cm SK C/33 mountings, and the two 2 cm Flak C/38 quadruple mounts on both sides of the foremast over the searchlight platform had not been installed yet.
Drawing 2. Bismarck in December 1940, after finishing her first set of trials in the Baltic. Sometime in October-November 1940, while at Gotenhafen, the two 10.5 meter stereoscopic base rangefinders were installed over the foretop and after command posts. The anti-aircraft battery was still not complete and the four aft 10.5 cm SK C/33 twin mounts of the new C37 model were installed accordingly.
Drawing 3. Bismarck's appearance from March to May 1941 during the sea trials in the Baltic Sea. The battleship was painted with this camouflage pattern during the winter of 1940-1941 while in Hamburg. This included three angled black and white stripes over the hull and superstructure, with the ship's ends in dark grey and false white waves. For aerial recognition, swastikas on red banners were painted on the stern deck and breastworks, and dark grey was applied to the top of the main and secondary batteries.
Drawing 4. The Bismarck as she looked when entering the Korsfjord in Norway on 21 May 1941.
The cutters, yawls, and dinghies on both sides of the upper main deck were removed before the start of Operation Rheinübung.
The bow anchor on the stem was removed as well together with the jackstaff and the flagstaff in the stern.
Drawing 5. The Bismarck in May 1941 as she looked during Operation Rheinübung after leaving the Korsfjord in Norway. The black and white stripes of the hull were painted over while in Korsfjord on 21 May 1941. The Swastikas on the decks and the top of the main and secondary turrets were painted over on 22 May.1) This is how the Bismarck looked like during the engagement with the battle cruiser Hood.
Drawing 6. Although it is doubtful since there is not any photographic evidence or definitive confirmation, this is how the Bismarck could have appeared on 26-27 May 1941. The battery crews were ordered to paint the top of the turrets yellow (RAL 1003) in the morning of 26 May.
1) See Bismarck's War Diary (KTB) 1307 hours on 22 May 1941.