tnemelckram wrote:Hi All!
Although this topic has elements of a hypothetical scenario, I decided to put it here because it seems that most of the issues involve either technology, mechanics or construction logistics..
A. It's December 1940 and it is clear to the US that the s h i t is going to hit the fan in about a year. So the question becomes whether the Big 5 should all be taken in hand and given the most expedient modernization possible. This has to be done in 6-9 months so they are all available when the time comes but there are severe limits to what can be done because of the same time constraint. Taranto has made it clear that the biggest challenge facing these ships, which their design and previous small upgrades did not take into account, is aircraft attack. There is ample past experience in exercises showing that this is a real risk even when the ships are moving so Taranto triggers clarification of minds in this regard. Taking all five ships in hand is a risk but FDR's political skills can be counted on to minimize it.
B. So here's the way I see it:
1. Speed - Based on what I've read everywhere here I think we most or all agree that the biggest problem is the speed but this involves major time consuming work to replace the power plants so that has to be rejected.
2. Protection - For the same reason, I think we most or all agree that the protection is competitive and adequate. Once again, upgrading this would be excessively time consuming but unlike the speed issue there is no compelling reason to take valuable time to improve protection.
3. Main Armament - For the same reasons, I think we likewise agree that the main batteries are competitive and adequate so there is no compelling reason to monkey with it.
4. Secondary Armament and Fire Control - This seems to be real issue. I think the single best, simplest and fastest thing that could be done this quickly is to upgrade these in the manner that was done after Pearl Harbor to four of them (except Colorado).
They don't have casement mounts like their predecessors so removal and closure (which seems like major work) is not required. Just remove the existing open single 5 inch 51 calibers and replace them with the much beloved and (later proven) dual purpose 5 inch 38 calibers two per enclosed turret. This probably will require some structural retrofitting to add space to base them on (EDIT TO ADD: along with cutting routes for and installing higher capacity shell hoists from the existing 5 inch magazines). Then Cram as much secondary 40 and 20 mm as possible into the remaining open spaces on deck or by adding retrofitted "tub's" for them attached to the superstructure. Compared to major reconstructions, this seems to be relatively minor, easily accessible outside work.
Granted, the late 1940 state of the art in fire control might not compare to what they historically received in 1943. But some radar is better than no radar. Add the best surface/air search and FC control radar then available, remove spotting tops and substitute the best available directors atop the superstructure. Retrofit cables through the best available route in the existing conning towers to some some space inside the citadel that is converted into a rudimentary CIC. Again, this seems to be relatively minor work.
But here's the key - there does not seem to be enough time to cut down the superstructures to open up AA fire arcs as was done in the historic modernizations. That is major work. So this problem has to be lived with in the interest of expedience.
C. So I offer this up for the collective wisdom of the Board to kick around. While not intending to limit the questions, some I have about my idea are:
(1) Are all components of this work relatively easy from a mechanical and logistical point of view and something that could be done to all five in 6-9 months? Or will there be problems with some or all of them? For example, how hard is it to install the 5/38 turrets, secondary AA tubs or directors? I assume there would be no problem with the things to be removed.
(2) Will the work I propose not to do create prohibitive problems (i.e., not reducing the superstructures)?
(3) To what extent was the new technology adequate and readily available in December 1940? I assume the twin turret 5 inch 38 DP is not a problem because it was being installed on the North Carolinas and other new construction. But I seem to recall some discussion about inadequacies in the lighter AA mounts at the time. The radar, directors and CIC could be problematic in whole or part..
The only practicle solution is to mount tonnes of light AA guns and the newest FC Predictor systems.
To do that you remove most of the intermediate caliber guns to save top weight and make room for the light AA guns.
Top speed is not required in the least. Except for only one or two instances, it was not used in combat durring the war. Steam plants take way to long to change power settings, 20-45 minutes to go from cruising to combat speeds and then there is the terrible effect on fuel economy!
Protection has to built in when the boat is designed, not possible to add in any practicle way after. I know about torpedoe bulges, but they were failures and way to expencive.