Expedient Big Five Upgrade - December 1940

Warship design and construction, terminology, navigation, hydrodynamics, stability, armor schemes, damage control, etc.
lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Expedient Big Five Upgrade - December 1940

Postby lwd » Tue May 11, 2010 2:10 pm

alecsandros wrote: ...I guess the USN wasn't considering fire control as an important element to upgrade, since they actualy hypothesized battling at ranges of 32-34km with accuracies of 3-5%. ...

Do you have a source for this? From what I'm familiar with the US doctrine invisioned engagements in the 25,000 to 28,000 yard range. Engagements at the ranges you mention are only possible with radar or arial spotting and the latter. The former didn't exist in 1940 and the latter was somewhat problematic. I think the Japanese doctrine did call for engagements at longer ranges with arial spotting and they practiced it to at leasts some extent however the practice may have lead them to unreasonably high expectations.

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: Expedient Big Five Upgrade - December 1940

Postby Bgile » Tue May 11, 2010 2:11 pm

I don't know why it would be that Japanese fire control would be better than US fire control in any given year. There was a propaganda motif that the Japanese had poor eyesight. There is now an idea in some quarters that they had better optical rangefinders than other countries because they made nice binoculars. I've not seen any actual comparison of optical rangefinders that would bear that out. As far as I know, optical rangefinder accuracy was largely dependent on the length of the rangefinder and the optical quality of the rangefinders of all countries was similar. Until the Yamato class, the really long base rangefinders were located in main battery turrets, and this made it impossible to use them for 30,000 yd + gunnery because they weren't high enough above the water.

I don't see any reason to believe that Japanese long range gunnery would have been more effective than US long range gunnery in the 1930s. In both cases aircraft spotting would have been necessary. One limitation would be that the oldest US battleships didn't have the necessary gun elevation. Not sure which Japanese ships did. I believe all of the "Big Five" did.

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Expedient Big Five Upgrade - December 1940

Postby lwd » Tue May 11, 2010 2:30 pm

Bgile wrote:I don't know why it would be that Japanese fire control would be better than US fire control in any given year.

Indeed this article http://www.navweaps.com/index_tech/tech-086.htm certainly doesn't support the supperiority of Japanese fire control. I have read that they generally had supperior optics and generally somewhat larger ones than the equivalant US ships. This latter would be most significant at night.
I don't see any reason to believe that Japanese long range gunnery would have been more effective than US long range gunnery in the 1930s. In both cases aircraft spotting would have been necessary. One limitation would be that the oldest US battleships didn't have the necessary gun elevation. Not sure which Japanese ships did. I believe all of the "Big Five" did.

I didn't mean to imply that they would if you got that from my posting. The do appear to have practiced it a bit more than the US so I guess it might be infered. However wartime experiance showed that it didn't work especially well in combat where the Japanese had gotten the impression from their practice/test shoots that it would work quite well.

On the availability of 5"38 mounts the following has some interesting info: http://www.navweaps.com/index_tech/tech-087.htm
In particular in July 1940 the USN had a total of 8 dual 5"38 mounts installed! 300+ single mounts but only 1 on a battleship!?

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: Expedient Big Five Upgrade - December 1940

Postby Bgile » Tue May 11, 2010 2:44 pm

lwd wrote:On the availability of 5"38 mounts the following has some interesting info: http://www.navweaps.com/index_tech/tech-087.htm
In particular in July 1940 the USN had a total of 8 dual 5"38 mounts installed! 300+ single mounts but only 1 on a battleship!?


Your point is well made, but a minor quibble: There were a fair number of destroyers with 5"/38 twin mounts at that time, but they weren't really DP mounts. They didn't have the high elevation guns and integrated hoist/fuse setters, etc that the modern twin mounts had.

However, as you point out there were single 5"/38s that could have been used. The enclosed single mount was used on USS Wichita, and both those and the open mounts would have been available for battleship use. In fact I think they eventually were used on some of the old battleships which lacked the weight margin for the twin mounts. I think even those may have eventually coalesced into a small number of twin mounts (4?) late war.

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Expedient Big Five Upgrade - December 1940

Postby lwd » Tue May 11, 2010 3:11 pm

Bgile wrote:
lwd wrote:On the availability of 5"38 mounts the following has some interesting info: http://www.navweaps.com/index_tech/tech-087.htm
In particular in July 1940 the USN had a total of 8 dual 5"38 mounts installed! 300+ single mounts but only 1 on a battleship!?


Your point is well made, but a minor quibble: There were a fair number of destroyers with 5"/38 twin mounts at that time, but they weren't really DP mounts. ....

Indeed. Their are tables in the site mentioned for both single purpose and DP mounts and I took the numbers from the DP mount table and forgot to mention that. Thanks for the catch.

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 3986
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Contact:

Re: Expedient Big Five Upgrade - December 1940

Postby alecsandros » Tue May 11, 2010 3:30 pm

lwd wrote: Do you have a source for this? From what I'm familiar with the US doctrine invisioned engagements in the 25,000 to 28,000 yard range.

HI,
I first read about it in some of your older posts. I remember you had several links there... I can't look for them right now, unfortunately.

As for IJN doctrine - as I said multiple times, those men were away with the fairies. 12% hit ratio at 32km :kaput:

yellowtail3
Senior Member
Posts: 408
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:50 pm
Location: North Carolina, USA

Re: Expedient Big Five Upgrade - December 1940

Postby yellowtail3 » Tue May 11, 2010 4:14 pm

Bgile wrote:I don't see any reason to believe that Japanese long range gunnery would have been more effective than US long range gunnery in the 1930s. In both cases aircraft spotting would have been necessary. One limitation would be that the oldest US battleships didn't have the necessary gun elevation. Not sure which Japanese ships did. I believe all of the "Big Five" did.

I doubt the Japanese navy had better fire control setup on their BBs than the USN. Most of the USN line was modernized in the 30s, getting better everything - engines, armor, guns, TDS, the list goes on. All USN BBs after New York/Texas had 30 degree elevation, and could reach out over 30K yards (that is, further than anyone was likely to hit anything). All had improved guns, new (heavier) shells, and updated fire control equipment. The hulls might have been twenty-plus years old, but the equipment was pretty recent.
Shift Colors... underway.

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: Expedient Big Five Upgrade - December 1940

Postby Bgile » Tue May 11, 2010 4:42 pm

yellowtail3 wrote:All USN BBs after New York/Texas had 30 degree elevation, and could reach out over 30K yards (that is, further than anyone was likely to hit anything).


I don't remember where the division was, but I don't think that's true as initially constructed. I'm thinking the New Mexico class was the first to have 30 deg elevation, but I can't remember and I'm not in a position to look it up right now.

tnemelckram
Member
Posts: 101
Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:45 am

Re: Expedient Big Five Upgrade - December 1940

Postby tnemelckram » Tue May 11, 2010 5:31 pm

Hi RF!

What you say is correct, but I think it was only one half or part of the US thinking in December 1940 when the proposed decision would be made. I chose the following from your Post to frame my response.

. . . . if the US strategy is to engage on a battleship war.
. . . . . . .
Where the analysis falls down is on the spatial and logistical aspects of waging a global war as opposed to an individual front basis


Having watched the other combatants for a year and a half, I think the US still wasn't sure what kind of war they would be facing 12/40, carrier or battleship. You had the black and brown shoe debate in full swing. You can see concerns over the Big 5 and other standard's vulnerability to air attack in the links from Friedman U Battleships that I posted on the prior page. They had authorized or were building 12 new BBs to complement the existing 12 or so Standards in the battleline and at the same time 25!!! new Essex class (Christ, so many of both they couldn't even finish them all!) So you give the good historical reasons why my analysis actually falls down, and I don't doubt that your response was what the carrier guys were thinking in December 1940. But they were unsure, so they were wisely "preparing to fight the last (battleship) war" and "preparing to fight the next war that's looking like a carrier war" at the same time. So I think an expedient modernization of the Big 5 would have been a big part of one side of this hedging of bets.

yellowtail3
Senior Member
Posts: 408
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:50 pm
Location: North Carolina, USA

Re: Expedient Big Five Upgrade - December 1940

Postby yellowtail3 » Tue May 11, 2010 7:19 pm

Bgile wrote:
yellowtail3 wrote:All USN BBs after New York/Texas had 30 degree elevation, and could reach out over 30K yards (that is, further than anyone was likely to hit anything).


I don't remember where the division was, but I don't think that's true as initially constructed. I'm thinking the New Mexico class was the first to have 30 deg elevation, but I can't remember and I'm not in a position to look it up right now.

You're right, not in initial construction. But by the mid-30s, ALL USN BBs with 14" guns had 30 degree elevation, and improved guns. Exceptions were Texas/New York, which had lower elevation (20, I think).
Shift Colors... underway.

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7477
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Expedient Big Five Upgrade - December 1940

Postby RF » Wed May 12, 2010 12:38 pm

tnemelckram wrote: So I think an expedient modernization of the Big 5 would have been a big part of one side of this hedging of bets.


I would not disagree with that.

But spatially the Pacific theatre was vastly greater than the war in the west......a great wide open ocean, broken only by islands, most of them tiny, whereas in the west the sea areas were far more constrained by land masses, particulary the Med, and no direct battleship engagements of any significance to your date.
Even in 1940 it should be obvious to US naval leaders that the carrier offered greater flexibility and operational radius than battleships in the Pacific.

One little known fact of WW2 is that Japan, at the point of maximum conquest, dominated/occupied an area seven times greater than that conquered by Hitler at his maximum. And the majority of the Japanese conquest covered the open Pacific.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
Kyler
Senior Member
Posts: 382
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 10:49 am
Location: Evansville, IN U.S.A.
Contact:

Re: Expedient Big Five Upgrade - December 1940

Postby Kyler » Wed May 12, 2010 7:16 pm

The topic is very interesting but I do find one flaw in the discussion pertaining to AAA.

By Jan 1940, the influence of later events involving aircraft against BB’s had yet to be fully understood. So naval thinking at that time was there was not
the need for such large AAA capabilities on BB's. Only until after 1941 did that rationalization come forward. So the idea of the USN emphasizing AAA capabilities is to forward thinking because the threat from carrier aircraft had yet to be fully realized.
"It was a perfect attack, Right Height, Right Range, Right cloud cover, Right speed,
Wrong f@%king ship!" Commander Stewart-Moore (HMS Ark Royal)

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Expedient Big Five Upgrade - December 1940

Postby lwd » Wed May 12, 2010 7:30 pm

The counter arguement to this is the Iowa class design was completed in 1938 and featured a very impressive AAA suite.

Neoconshooter
Member
Posts: 33
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:20 pm

Re: Expedient Big Five Upgrade - December 1940

Postby Neoconshooter » Sun Dec 02, 2012 8:35 pm

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.


Return to “Naval Technology”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest