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Heavy cruisers versus a battleship

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  • IDonT4
    replied
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
    I think you are off on the distance. That would be well within visual range and it was daylight when both ships were sunk.
    The PoW at the time carried the following radars aboard:

    Type 279 air search
    Type 284 FC for 14" battery (2 sets)
    Type 282 FC for 40mm pom poms (4 sets)
    Type 271 surface search
    Type 285 FC for 5.25" battery (4 sets)
    I think you miss understood me. Force Z and the IJN Malayan covering force were, at one point, 5 miles from each other the night before Force was sunk. Force Z did not detect them because the Type 271 surface search radar was not operational.

    The Type 284 was used at Denmark straight to good effect. The Hood had signalled PoW at the start of the action that her 284 set was out and that they were using their 271 for ranging and that PoW should keep their 284 sets off to not interfer with the Hood's set. After Hood went down PoW got alot more accurate with her fire.

    This is true but only because the US had less experiance with radar than the British had at the time and because in the early battles they were generally using SC for detection. That set was optimized for air search not surface search and when the proper SG sets were employed the Japanese got creamed and often surprised.
    Different admirals have different levels of experience with radar. For the USN, Admiral Scott had a much better understanding than Admiral Callaghan did. This understanding was the difference between victory and defeat. However, I am not talking about a hypothetical RN admiral with excellent understanding of how radar should be employed. I'm talking about Admiral Phillips and Force Z.

    What is Admiral Tom Philipps experience with radar?
    Has he demonstrated aptitude for its use in his past commands?
    Has Force Z trained sufficiently to fight at night?

    Admiral Ozawa and the forces under his command did.

    The USN did learn how to outfight the Japanese at night, but it took a while and cost many lives. In the opening months of the Pacific War, the Japanese owned the night thanks to their training, tactics, and the long lance. Those are fact. In my hypothetical scenario in the opening days of the Pacific War, I don't see Force Z winning a night engagement, even with radar.

    This much is true. But trying to hit just two ships even in line ahead is iffy at those ranges. The Japanese often put alot of 'fish' in the water for very few hits.
    The Japanese did manage to get hits at those ranges though. The hit rate was about 6 percent of fish fired. They only need one hit to seriously damage a large ship though. Remember, the PoW was sunk by 4 torpedoes, which had a smaller warhead than the long lance.

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  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    Originally posted by IDonT4 View Post
    You are correct. A few things though:

    1.) HMS Prince of Wales did carry radar. However, this set was broken during her last sortie. The night before she was sunk, force Z actually was within 5 miles of the Japanese covering force. Both sides passed each other.
    I think you are off on the distance. That would be well within visual range and it was daylight when both ships were sunk.
    The PoW at the time carried the following radars aboard:

    Type 279 air search
    Type 284 FC for 14" battery (2 sets)
    Type 282 FC for 40mm pom poms (4 sets)
    Type 271 surface search
    Type 285 FC for 5.25" battery (4 sets)


    2.) Even with the radar working, old school admirals like Admiral Phillips would know how to properly employ them to the maximum effectiveness.
    The Type 284 was used at Denmark straight to good effect. The Hood had signalled PoW at the start of the action that her 284 set was out and that they were using their 271 for ranging and that PoW should keep their 284 sets off to not interfer with the Hood's set.
    After Hood went down PoW got alot more accurate with her fire.

    3.) Even with surface search radar, Japanese look outs can detect US ships before the US radar can acquire them. The first battles of Guadalcanal show this.
    This is true but only because the US had less experiance with radar than the British had at the time and because in the early battles they were generally using SC for detection. That set was optimized for air search not surface search and when the proper SG sets were employed the Japanese got creamed and often surprised.

    4.) The RN is totally unware of the Japanese torpedo doctrine, nor would they know the capabilities of the long lance. The torpedo has an effective range of 20,000m travelling at 48 knots and 32,000m at 40 knots.
    This much is true. But trying to hit just two ships even in line ahead is iffy at those ranges. The Japanese often put alot of 'fish' in the water for very few hits.

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  • IDonT4
    replied
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
    One problem with that Don, both PoW and Repulse have both surface search and fire control radars fitted...

    A night battle favors the British as both ship's crews have experiance using the fitted radar in battle.
    You are correct. A few things though:

    1.) HMS Prince of Wales did carry radar. However, this set was broken during her last sortie. The night before she was sunk, force Z actually was within 5 miles of the Japanese covering force. Both sides passed each other.

    2.) Even with the radar working, old school admirals like Admiral Phillips would know how to properly employ them to the maximum effectiveness.

    3.) Even with surface search radar, Japanese look outs can detect US ships before the US radar can acquire them. The first battles of Guadalcanal show this.

    4.) The RN is totally unware of the Japanese torpedo doctrine, nor would they know the capabilities of the long lance. The torpedo has an effective range of 20,000m travelling at 48 knots and 32,000m at 40 knots.

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  • TacCovert4
    replied
    Another thing to keep in mind Don, is that the torpedo launch point is at either 12,000yds or 15,000yds (depending on if the 7 miles are statute or nautical). At that point all of the Japanese ships would be eminently visible to the British warships, and within range of all primary and secondary guns. Now they could bump that launch point out to 30,000 or even 40,000 yards, but doing so would give the British ample time to maneuver clear, even if they weren't actively avoiding torpedoes.

    Also note that the British ships would likely turn INTO such an attacking force, as the Mogamis are not really cut out to duel with the PoW and Repulse, and the Brits would want to get it over quickly by saturating them with firepower before superficial hits to the British ships racked up damage.

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  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    One problem with that Don, both PoW and Repulse have both surface search and fire control radars fitted...

    A night battle favors the British as both ship's crews have experiance using the fitted radar in battle.

    Leave a comment:


  • IDonT4
    replied
    Here is my take on this scenario.


    Admiral Ozawa did not like it. He preferred the fleet to be together but orders were orders. It had been an hour since he received orders to take his fleet away from Japanese covering force and the protection of the big guns of the battleships Haruna and Kongo. Though smaller, his force was still formidable consisting of his flagship, the heavy cruiser Chokai, all 4 Mogami heavy cruisers, the light cruisers Sendai and Kinu, and 6 destroyers. His orders were to find Force Z and delay it long enough for the Haruna and Kongo to join battle.

    At 3 am, a lookout spotted the white bow waves of two large warships, 10 miles to starboard. Immediately, the order rang out for battle stations. Seasoned sailors raced towards their post quickly, an exercised they have done countless of times that it has become muscle memory. Admiral Ozawa tasked a destroyer to investigate these two warships, the Kongo and Haruna were still out there and he did not want to risk friendly fire. Just in case, he reconfigured his formation into three line-ahead formation, each line lead by a heavy cruiser, with leading the middle formation.

    The destroyer approached to within 3 miles of the unknown ships and turned on her identification lights. Her challenge was answered with a hail of gun fire that set her immediately ablaze and listing. However, her funeral pyre illuminated Force Z. With the enemy identified, the three cruiser formation immediately turned right for a torpedo attack, and at 7 miles out launch their long lance torpedoes. Force Z, answered first with a firing illumination rounds from one of the 4 destroyers and the guns of the Repulse and the Prince of Wales.

    The British draw first blood, the Chokai was hit, a 14 inch shell smashed her bridge killing Admiral Ozawa and his staff. The executive office, taking command, turned the ship port and leave the battle line on fire. The remaining Japanese cruisers fired on the two British capital ships, their 8 inch shell hitting their mark but only doing superficial damage to the British battleship. On the Repulse, however, a hit ignited a magazine of her secondary batteries that sent out a fountain of flame taller than the ship.

    Then the long lance torpedoes found their mark. On the bridge of the Repulse, the Captain Tenant busy with the engagement heard four loud crunch and knew what it meant. Lacking the torpedo blisters and internal compartmentalization of a battleship, she was doomed. Captain Tenant knew this immediately and order the ship to be abandoned.

    The Prince of Wales did not fair better. A lucky torpedo hit right where her outer port propeller shaft exited the hull. This single torpedo hit had a devastating effect, causing an 11.5 degree list to port and denied her much of her auxiliary electrical power, which are vital for internal communications, ventilation, steering gear, and pumps.. Another three long lance hit her.
    After their initial torpedo run, the surviving Japanese ships steamed at flanked speed away from the battle. They made contact with the Kongo and Haruna and told them were the enemy fleet was and the two fleets merged. In the morning, the Japanese force came upon a capsized Prince of Wales on her death throes. The Repulse was nowhere to be seen, sinking the night before. The surviving RN destroyers steamed for Singapore with the survivors.

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  • IDonT4
    replied
    Originally posted by Mostlyharmless View Post
    More seriously, Japanese strategy envisaged the 2nd Fleet cruisers and destroyers fighting their way through the USN screen and launching torpedoes in a night attack before the decisive battle. In a pre-radar world, it is not obvious that this would completely fail although one would need good dice to predict the result.
    The battle of Java Sea and the naval battles of Guadalcanal show the effectiveness of Japan's torpedo strategy. This was compounded with the USN lack of information regarding the Long Lance Torpedoes capability and Japan's meticulous night fighting training.

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  • IDonT4
    replied
    Tac,

    Your analysis is very good and shows a plausible scenario of how a cruiser would win. Plausible, yes bit highly unlikely. For a heavy cruiser to win, it needs a lot of luck or change the tactic of how the cruiser operate...as the Japanese did.

    Leave a comment:


  • TacCovert4
    replied
    @ Carl:

    I agree, that the Heavy Cruiser's greatest asset wasn't sheer power of each round, but a combination of power and ROF. According to some quick research on NavWeaps.com, all of the major Heavy Cruiser guns could fire at 4 rounds per minute practical maximum (some had a 6 RPM theoretical max that was never achieved conclusively). Compare this to BB main guns which fired at a more sedate 2 RPM maximum.

    -----

    Before I start my analysis, I'll first note a few things. 1) The British guns had range and angle information, but no test data for penetration. I would infer from that that either the British did not publish test data, or that more likely the British did not consider it to be important. Any 8" shell hitting a heavy cruiser or similar would likely penetrate the armor provided the hit was at a practical range. 2) I could have put a lot of other BBs in the preceding post of mine. But I chose the three I did in order to show three different philosophies, states of modernization, and attempting to use ship types that saw service in which they could have engaged or been engaged by heavy cruisers. The Iowas were a bit late to the game, the Yamatos didn't get out all that much, and there were a host of British ship types so I picked one there. Plus, it's more interesting to use comparisons amongst ships that were more likely to come head to head, rather than against ships that were highly unlikely to ever see direct gun combat (such as an American CA and the Yamato). The Kongos were utilized more and put more at risk, so they represent the Japanese in this comparison. 3) Interestingly, only the American gun had even some data on deck penetration. Without deck data on the other two guns, I'm finding it makes it hard to determine stuff. 4) It seems that 10,000yds or so is what was considered a 'practical starting' range for the data we do have. Inside of 7,000yds or so I'm sure penetration starts to really shoot up, but we also have to consider that under 10,000yds the secondary and primary batteries of a Battleship are unlikely to miss and will quickly render a cruiser little more than flotsam. 5) This comparison is presuming that causing surface fires would not destroy or otherwise cripple a battleship, and that all components necessary to keep the ship afloat, fight with main armament, and maintain some level of propulsion would be protected by at least one of the armor values shown.

    From the raw data, we can see that the South Dakota class are proof against penetration from all three guns so long as the range is close enough to prevent deck hits. While there is limited data on the penetrative power of a deck hit from all three, the data we do have, which is for the most powerful gun (the US one) shows that the South Dakota would likely be proof to all 8" gun hits. In short one could riddle the unarmored superstructure points, but never penetrate the conning tower, the turrets, the deck, or the belt, and the SD would be able to sail away under its own power, and fight the ship the entire time.

    From the raw data, we can see that the KGV would not lose main guns to any 8" hits, but the deck is likely vulnerable in places (the 136mm is 'maximum', and there are areas of lesser protection, but the location of same was not noted) to hits from outside of 24,000yds by the US gun, though maybe not by the Japanese gun. The big weakness is the lower belt. A small target, but easily penetrated at relatively close range by all three of the guns.

    The Kongo is the oldest of the three, the preceding two being 1930s designs while the Kongo is a 1910 design. Her biggest weakness is obviously the deck armor at all ranges that shells can hit it with effect, and it appears that the US gun could pierce this deck in places at a range of approximately 19,500yds, an progressively increase damage potential out to 27,000yds, where the shells are capable of piercing the deck at any point. The belt and turrets are similarly vulnerable at ranges between 10,000 and 15,000yds, while the barbettes are only vulnerable at 10,000yds or less. This is only to the American gun. At none of those ranges could the Japanese gun penetrate (with the possible exception of long range hits on some of the deck armor), and the British gun can be expected to split somewhere in the middle between these two examples.

    In conclusion, the US 8" gun is capable under certain sets of circumstances (getting in around 10,000yds, or firing plunging shots at long ranges of 26,000yds plus) of not only causing superficial damage to, but actually sinking a Kongo-Class BB (ok, really a BC, but it was called a BB) through shellfire alone. The US 8" gun is also capable of causing penetrations to, and possibly sinking the KGV. The other guns are not as capable, and their chances of causing more than superficial damage are much lower.

    But the answer to the question is, YES. A Heavy Cruiser, under the right set of circumstances, COULD sink some classes of Battleship through the use of shellfire alone. In the reverse of a BB's armor setup, the cruisers will get more and more effective the FARTHER they are from the BB, when their shells can hit the deck instead of the belt. If the cruisers must fight inside the envelope where their shells will strike the belt, they should close to absolute point blank range and do so in a group, to get in close enough where their light guns can penetrate the belt.

    The preferred method for doing this sort of operation would be a night attack using radar directed gunnery. Obviously, you'd be best not to close in where your guns can penetrate the belts or other major components, but rather to lay off at extreme range where you can utilize your high rate of fire to drown the ship in a deluge of shells early on, with the purpose of disabling the main targeting systems. Then you follow up with extreme range bombardment to penetrate the decks and cause fires which will eventually become uncontrollable and cause the ship to sink.

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  • Roddoss72
    replied
    Anything is possible, imagine say the unlucky battleship coming under fire from a heavy cruiser and the 8" shell hits the superstructure and deflects downward and penetrates the main magazine and detonates and the whole ship goes kaboom.

    Never rule out the lucky shot.

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  • Mostlyharmless
    replied
    We could cheat by having the Des Moines class as the cruisers or including Alaska class cruisers (dives for cover) amongst the cruiser force. I think that I had a pocket battleship failing in an attempted Sealion post at http://counter-factual.net/upload/showthread.php?t=9046 (dives for cover again).

    More seriously, Japanese strategy envisaged the 2nd Fleet cruisers and destroyers fighting their way through the USN screen and launching torpedoes in a night attack before the decisive battle. In a pre-radar world, it is not obvious that this would completely fail although one would need good dice to predict the result.

    Leave a comment:


  • At ease
    replied
    Please note, before the thread goes too far, that I said this:

    My point of my 2 previous posts in this thread, in rebuttal to TAG's earlier post, is that 8" shells are more than capable of inflicting grave damage to much heavier opponents.

    These shells might not sink a much better protected opponent, but armour cannot be everywhere and therefore much damage can be inflicted to the extent that, as was seen at the River Plate action and in Bismark's last, they can be fundamental in rendering an opponent helpless.

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  • Half Pint John
    replied
    The only US cruiser class to have torpedo tubes by the beginning of WW 2 is the Atlanta AA cruisers.
    When were tubes removed?

    I found this while looking.

    With the termination of hostilities, PORTLAND played a significant role in the Japanese surrender ending World War II Though overshadowed by the ceremonies aboard battleship MISSOURI in Tokyo Bay, documents were signed at the same hour on the decks of the PORTLAND in Truk Lagoon, Caroline Islands. There, Vice Admiral George D. Murray received Lt. General Shinzaburo Magikura, commander of the 31st Japanese Army; Vice Admiral Chuichi Hara, Commander of the Japanese 4th Fleet and Mr. Alhara, Japanese civilian south-seas government representative, aboard Murray's flagship the USS PORTLAND. There they signed documents surrendering all territories under their control.

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  • Carl Schwamberg
    replied
    I was told many years ago by a retired naval gunnery officer that the volume or weight of metal a cruisers guns could put out was as important as penetration. He said the object of the gun system designers of the interwar years was to squeeze the maximum sustained volume of fire out of a cruisers batter. He had a bunch of technical data that of course I cant rmember after 36+ years.

    Hornsfischer refers to this vis USN cruisers in 'Neptunes Inferno'

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  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
    Wrong.

    USN some heavy cruisers had torpedo tubes. Pensacola Class and the Northampton Class had torpedo tubes. Later classes did not. All RN cruisers had tubes except for a couple in the London Class. All the heavy's of the Free French navy had tubes. All CA's of the IJN had tubes.
    The only US cruiser class to have torpedo tubes by the beginning of WW 2 is the Atlanta AA cruisers. These were initially retained because of the small caliber of the main battery.

    In any case, cruiser torpedoes (with the exception of the Japanese) are available in very small numbers. A cruiser, again the Japanese being the exception here) would also have to close to near point blank range to deliver an effective spread. That would pretty much doom it if the BB's main battery was even partially intact.

    The biggest problem is that the battleship can out range the cruisers and that it has a greater hit probability out to cruiser range gunfire than the cruiser(s) do in return fire at that range. That is, at say 20,000 yards the BB has a greater hit probability than the cruisers do.

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