Bismarck had a double blind search system, very similar to the later Midway. When the British player tried to locate the Bismarck, he did it by calling out the areas that he had ships in. If the Brits and the Bismarck shared an area, you went to the zone cards, and handed the German the zone cards for the areas you didn't have ships in. The Search Board was composed of Areas, similar to Midway, but with only four search zones per Area. There were also four search zone cards, to be used if you were successful in locating the Bismarck within one of the areas. As an example, if the Norfolk and Suffolk were in A6, Zone B, and the German reported that he was also in A6, the Brit would hand over zone cards for A,C, and D, and if you shared a zone, you would go to the Battle Board, if the Brits had capital ships in that zone. If you had only cruisers, as in the above example, the Brits would evade the Bismarck, and the turn would basically end.
First turn, the Bismarck gets a "bonus" move, representing the additional time it took to raise steam. British ships are scattered all over the board.
Each turn, after the search is over, the German roll on a table, and if no battle takes place, ther German has to roll on a table. Roll a one and the Bismarck gets 2 pts for sinking a convoy. Roll a 2-6, and the Bismarck still has to reveal its location.
If the British have battleships in the same area and zone as the Brits, play moves to the Battle board. The Bismarck is placed in the middle of the board, and the British enter from the direction that they came from (east, west, north, south). The British moved first, and the Bismarck can then counter. (All ships moved only one square on the battle board.) The combat system is an early adaptation of a miniatures system. Ships were represented on a hit record pad, with Bow, Stern, Secondary Armament (both port and starboard), and midships hit boxes. Hits were rolled on a table, one for long distance, one for short, and were delivered to either stern turrets, bow turrets, secondary armaments, or midships boxes. A ship without any of the type of boxes received a midships hit instead. When all midships hit boxes are filled, the ship is sunk. Combat is based on whether you can fire only bow, only stern, and/or secondary armaments boxes at the enemy ship. This is based on the ship orientation. Cross the other guy's T, and you can fire a full broadside. Marked boxes can not fire.
Victory is based on points. Pts. are earned for sinking ships, sinking convoys, or entering port after enough time has passed.
This description is based on a review that Soltan Gris (me) did of the 1962 version of Bismarck.