Command Ceneters joint operations

Discussions about the history of the ship, technical details, etc.
Celticmarine
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Command Ceneters joint operations

Post by Celticmarine » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:06 pm

Hey all,
Questions about the way the Command centers operated.
The foretop I know had the revolving 10,5 m Rangefinder, the forward a 7 m and the aft the 10,5.
Who actually directed the fire from the turrets? The foretop had the more powerful rangefinder, so would they calculate the shot then send orders to the respective command who would push the button to fire?
Just a bit confused about the process in firing.

On another note, reading about the Graf Spee, the navigation bridge was where alarms were controlled and from there would send orders to the helmsman below in the conning tower. Was this the same aboard Bismarck? In thi case the conning tower being the forward command above the bridge?
I presume the admirals bridge was just for observation?

Thanks for the help. It's the smaller details that I love.
Thank you for all replies,

Celtic :D

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tommy303
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Re: Command Ceneters joint operations

Post by tommy303 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:00 am

In general terms, the three low angle artillery command posts--forward, foretop, and after posts were equipped with multiple three man gun directors, under command of a gunnery officer who might either take direct charge of the active director or exert control from the spotting periscope. The forward artillery post was normally in control of the secondary armament while the control of the main battery was exercised from the foretop. The after command post was a reserve should one of the other posts be knocked out of action or if the main battery fire had to be divided between multiple targets.

Deep inside the ship, below the armour deck were the main and secondary calculating centers which in British terminology were called transmitting stations. These housed the analog fire control computers which calculated and passed on the gun train and elevation data to the gun turrets. Actual firing of the guns could be done from the director, the transmitting station, or by the individual gunlayers in the turrets, with director or transmitting station firing being the normal methods while firing by gunlayer was normally used when the guns were firing under local control.

In Bismarck, the navigation bridge was one level below and slightly forward of the conning tower and its surrounding combat bridge gallery. In combat, the direction of the ship was exercised from the combat bridge, either from the open gallery or the armoured conning tower. The admiral's bridge on the tower mast housed the fleet signal and command center as well as the admiral's observation gallery and it was from here that the admiral directed his squadron.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood and Earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned these defended;
And saved the sum of things for pay.

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Re: Command Ceneters joint operations

Post by Vic Dale » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:35 am

The command center could be established at any one of a number of positions. The Navigating Bridge, the Admiral's Bridge the forward and after gunnery control positions and there would be a number of emergency steering positions around the ship. In Battle fires might obscured the view from one position, so the Captain would move to a position from which he had a better view, or, as in the case of PoW when the compass platform was hit, the Captain moved into the lower command position.

Captain Langsdorf fought Graf Spee from an open position, because of the way the British cruisers were coming at him. He chose the open position because it afforded a better view despite it being unprotected. He was wounded as a result.

In Bismarck, the normal place from which to fight the ship would be the command center beneath the forward rangefinder. it is heavily armoured and has all the fighting instruments ready in place. There are a number of periscopes and all the instruments the Captain would need to fight the ship. If that position was hit and put out of action, he could move to the Admiral's bridge, the foretop, or he could move aft. With just a microphone or a telephone he could muster his communications and continue the fight. Some positions would have just a compass and a telephone and if the phones were out of action a chain of men would be set up to pass messages.

For the action in the Denmark Strait and for the last action, Lindemann would have been in the forward control position and the Admiral will have been on his own bridge. That way one was available if the other was knocked out. The Commander would establish himself in another part of the ship, as would the First Lieutenant. Command could be moved or it could be passed between Senior Officers.

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tommy303
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Re: Command Ceneters joint operations

Post by tommy303 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:37 am

The Graf Spee's bridges were somewhat reversed from Bismarck's. The normal navigation bridge and wheel house were in the lower portion of the massive tower mast and afforded a good view for normal peace time or non-combat navigational situations. The conning tower, with its heavy armour and the foreward artillery command post was lower and the view was more restricted. Although it only had splinter proof shielding, the navigation bridge in the tower mast was actually a much better place to direct the ship from in action, with orders being passed to the conning tower by telephone. In the event, Langsdorff, I believe, directed the ship from the foretop gallery surrounding the foretop artillery command post.

The arrangement in Bismarck was somewhat better, with the combat bridge and the conning tower being higher in the superstructure. Lindemann could, of course, direct the ship from any suitable station he chose, but his normal combat duty post was on the combat bridge, either in the armoured conning tower or on the open gallery around it (Brinkmann, during the action against Hood chose to direct his ship from the open gallery around the conning tower, rather than from within the conning tower).

Commander Oels, the executive officer and second in command under Lindemann, had his action station in command central below the armoured deck. From this position he was able to monitor ship systems and damage control. This put him in an ideal position to keep the captain informed of damage and status.

One point that is often overlooked is the fact that the navigational portion of the conning tower was actually quite cramped. Most of the heavily armoured structure was taken up by the foreward artillery command post from which control of the secondary guns was exercised. The navigation portion occupied a horseshoe-shaped extension wrapped somewhat around the front of the elevated artillery post. There was enough room for a combat chart table, the captain, helmsman, a couple of communication ratings, and a watch officer and warrant officer to assist the captain, man the engine room telegraphs, and keep the combat chart updated.

As a consequence, it is unlikely that the Fleet Commander was present with Lindemann during the action; Luetjens would likely have stuck to his combat station on the admiral's bridge. Although the position was unprotected, except perhaps against splinters, it was sufficiently roomy to house the admiral's staff, fleet radio room and information center, and it afforded a good all-round view superior to any he would have on the combat bridge. In any event, it would have been unwise for the admiral to be in the same place as the captain as that would increase the odds of them being taken out by a single hit.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood and Earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned these defended;
And saved the sum of things for pay.

Celticmarine
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Re: Command Ceneters joint operations

Post by Celticmarine » Fri Aug 09, 2013 5:20 am

Thank you Mr. Tommy and Mr. Vic for your long replies. It's much clearer now.

Mr Tommy, that 'Command Central', that was from where damage control was stationed correct? Phone lines and runners to and from different areas to ascertain the Bismarcks situation?

One last question, the Magazines - I presume they were located directly beneath the main turrets, who worked in them?

Can't thank you enough,

Celtic :D

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tommy303
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Re: Command Ceneters joint operations

Post by tommy303 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:12 am

The main battery magazines were located below the Panzerdeck on the upper platform deck around the cartridge handling room. Cartridges were passed from magazines to the handling rooms by means of flash proof scuttles and were then loaded into the hoists in the revolving trunk in the center of the handling room.

Shells were stored in shell rooms located on the middle platform deck below the magazines. Once more handling rooms were situated around the main trunk housing the shell hoists. When the shell hoist was raised to take shells up to the gunhouse, the shell hoist took the cartridge hoist with it. The magazines, shell rooms, and handling rooms were manned by officers and other ranks from the ordnance department and were specially trained in the operation of the complicated machinery and the handling of shells and propellant charges.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood and Earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned these defended;
And saved the sum of things for pay.

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Re: Command Ceneters joint operations

Post by Vic Dale » Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:07 am

Hi Tommy.

The Admiral's Bridge had two parts to it, just as the navigating bridge had the armoured command center above it. Lutjens would have been in the armoured tower behind and slightly above the unarmoured bridge. I believe there are observation slits visible just above the bridge.

In Scharnhorst the Admiral's Bridge was open and the Admiral's Command Center was in the tower behind it. I believe that is the reason Gneisenau's enclosed Admiral's bridge slopes down at the sides, so the observation slits are not obscured.

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Herr Nilsson
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Re: Command Ceneters joint operations

Post by Herr Nilsson » Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:37 am

Wasn't it just splinter protected?
Regards

Marc

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tommy303
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Re: Command Ceneters joint operations

Post by tommy303 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:34 pm

Yes, splinter protection only. The view from within the admiral's shelter inside the mast must have been terrible though as there are only three, I think, vision slits in the foreward part comprising the admiral's shelter. The aft portion at that level was the admiral's chart room.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood and Earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned these defended;
And saved the sum of things for pay.

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