US Battleships

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
paul.mercer
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US Battleships

Postby paul.mercer » Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:20 pm

Gentlemen,
We have discussed the possible outcome of various RN battleships against either Bismarck or Tirpitz, also of pitting an Iowa class against them. At the latter part of the war I believe the US had some of their battleships stationed in Scarpa Flow, in the opinion of you experts, other than the Iowas, what US battleships (if any) had the capability of tackling (or at least had a sporting chance) of dealing with either of the two German ships on a one to one basis?

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Re: US Battleships

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:53 pm

No.
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Re: US Battleships

Postby delcyros » Sun Jul 03, 2011 6:02 pm

The NORTH CAROLINA and SOUTH DAKOTA both had a chance to tackle TIRPITZ on a one-on-one base, owing to their very potent 16in/45 barrels with particular emphasize on deck penetration. Probably other as well. Imagine WASHINGTON wouldn´t be present at Guadacanal and this engagement would end up with SOUTH DAKOTA beeing sunk by KRISHIMA, something nobody would expect, isn´t it?

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Re: US Battleships

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:17 pm

Not a single US battleship has the capability to fight Bismarck on a one to one basis. The 38 mm upper deck would not work to produce yaw nor pre detonate the incoming 15" shells whislt Bismarck's space arrayed armor with scarp and 50 mm upper deck will give her more protection against the US 16" shells. Also we know for a fact that the South Dak's sloped internal belt is not ideal for a close knive fight in the North Sea against Bismarck. Maybe the North Carolina can have a chance because their belt was external... maybe.
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Re: US Battleships

Postby Seekanone » Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:30 pm

Why does any engagement against Tirptiz and Bismarck 1) have to be in the North Sea and 2) have to be at close range (inside 20,000 yards)? USN battleships were designed for combat outside of 30,000 yards or ideally, about 26,000 yards.
The 2,700 lb US 16inch/45 shell would hurt both T and B at that range and at 20,000 yards achieve side belt penetration.
I think SoDak would have a better chance against the Germans than NC due to the fact that the SoDak was protected against the US 16/45 while NC against the US 14/50. The German 15/52 could have hurt NC at normal battle ranges but needed to be closer than 20,000 to hurt SoDak.
SoDak could have defeated either German while either German could have taken North Carolina. Either engagement would have been a near thing and sinking by gunfire alone would not have been likely in any case. :clap:

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Re: US Battleships

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:58 pm

As a matter of fact evidence has been brought to this forum that the US doctrine was to fight at closer ranges than academically acepted in these discussions. I think the gunnery manual from USS Massachussets was the hint on this. Also, talking about USS Massachussets, we also know for a fact that these were seriously wet ships. Getting out of the US and passing through a moderate seas this same Massachussets had serious problems with winds and water getting into the ship.
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Re: US Battleships

Postby Byron Angel » Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:41 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:As a matter of fact evidence has been brought to this forum that the US doctrine was to fight at closer ranges than academically acepted in these discussions. I think the gunnery manual from USS Massachussets was the hint on this. Also, talking about USS Massachussets, we also know for a fact that these were seriously wet ships. Getting out of the US and passing through a moderate seas this same Massachussets had serious problems with winds and water getting into the ship.



..... Karl,

Forgive me for saying this, but repeated waving of a single report relating to the experience of a single battleship on a single occasion, as if it represents a final verdict on the seakeeping qualities of American battleships across the board, makes no sense whatsoever. These very same ships quite satisfactorily voyaged tens of thousands of miles across both the Atlantic and the Pacific, riding out typhoons in the Pacific and storms of every sort in the Atlantic, over three and a half years of war. Perhaps someone might be able to catch me out on this point, but I cannot recollect any engagement in which the seakeeping qualities of any US battleships ever detracted from their performance.

With respect to US Battleship fighting doctrine, I'm not sure what the present day discussion on this site has concluded, but official USN doctrine, as issued to the US Pacific Fleet in Nov 1944, was for battleships to open fire upon suitable targets at 32,000 yards in good daytime visibility conditions; open fire range at night was given as 18,000 yards (largely dictated IMO by the distance at which FC radar could spot battleship caliber fall of shot), although US battleships actually opened fire somewhat in excess of that range at Surigao Strait.

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Re: US Battleships

Postby lwd » Tue Jul 05, 2011 2:15 pm

I would argue that any battleship could fight "Bismarck on a one to one basis". The odds of success will however vary considerably. IMO the US "fast" battleships would all have at least an even and probably a somewhat better than even chance of coming out ahead. The standards would have less than an even chance of victory but they would still have one. Depending on just when the conflict takes place (ie what equipment is on board) could be vary significant for the older ships. Timing would also impact crew competency if that's included in the mix as well.

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Re: US Battleships

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:36 pm

Byron,

The Massachussets "incident" only adds up to a series of questions raised by Norman Friedman, Raven & Roberts and even Garzke & Dullin plus some of our "own" forum people that had done extensive research on this regard. Just as a factic epilogue we had South Dak's performance at II Guadalcanal. Let's remember that we have no evidence, whatsoever, of these vessels engaging at their extreme range and hitting, if not by saturation as happened at Suriagao (in which not a single of these vessels were present anyway). We know that Scharnhorst, Warspite, Bismarck, PoW & DoY were hitters, that's all.
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Re: US Battleships

Postby alecsandros » Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:04 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote: Byron,

The Massachussets "incident" only adds up to a series of questions raised by Norman Friedman, Raven & Roberts and even Garzke & Dullin...

Hi Karl,
My impression is that most of the WW2 battleships were wet ships, especialy when deep-loaded; KGV and Littorio class are the first that come to mind. And the Scharnhorst's weren't exactly "dry" either.

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Re: US Battleships

Postby OpanaPointer » Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:54 pm

Hornfischer's new book details USS Washington's engagement with Japanese battleships in the Solomons. Fought at near max range with radar controlled gunnery. The KMS ships, if caught at night, would have a problem with the USN BBs, I think.

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Re: US Battleships

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:25 am

OpanaPointer:

Hornfischer's new book details USS Washington's engagement with Japanese battleships in the Solomons. Fought at near max range with radar controlled gunnery. The KMS ships, if caught at night, would have a problem with the USN BBs, I think.


I will say that you need to read Dave Saxton's and Thorsten Wall's posts on this precise subject and you will find that your statement needs to be corrected. There was no great technological advantage in favor of the allies naval radars in comparison to the germans' .


Alex:
And the Scharnhorst's weren't exactly "dry" either.


Correct with the Scharnhorst. I do believe that in some old thread, using Garzke's comments, I came to the conclusion of Scharnhorst not being one of my favorites at all. When "wet ship" is used I always thought in the Twins and Hood. According to Bruce Taylor this wetness was a major problem in this vessel. As a matter of fact the South Dak's problems caught me by surprise because in addition to all their flaws this was one that I do not expect.
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Re: US Battleships

Postby Tiornu » Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:47 am

Hornfischer's new book details USS Washington's engagement with Japanese battleships in the Solomons. Fought at near max range with radar controlled gunnery. The KMS ships, if caught at night, would have a problem with the USN BBs, I think.

Actually, Washington's gunfire was at short to medium range as it was all within the visibility limits on a dark night. Washington's radar could be used for gunfire bearing data, but not if you wanted to be really accurate.

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Re: US Battleships

Postby 19kilo » Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:27 am

OK so the US battleship would have been a sitting duck and been sunk. Why then did the Germans lose? If Tirpitz was sunch an unbeatable monster, why did the Germans hole her up in a Fjord for most of her life?!

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Re: US Battleships

Postby Byron Angel » Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:31 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:Byron,

The Massachussets "incident" only adds up to a series of questions raised by Norman Friedman, Raven & Roberts and even Garzke & Dullin plus some of our "own" forum people that had done extensive research on this regard. Just as a factic epilogue we had South Dak's performance at II Guadalcanal. Let's remember that we have no evidence, whatsoever, of these vessels engaging at their extreme range and hitting, if not by saturation as happened at Suriagao (in which not a single of these vessels were present anyway). We know that Scharnhorst, Warspite, Bismarck, PoW & DoY were hitters, that's all.



..... Karl, you make it sound like the ship was an ocean-going deathtrap. This report you cite described MASSACHUSETTS her way south through a Force 6 gale (40-50kph winds) and Sea State 4 (4 to 5 meter waves) in February off Cape Hatteras directly on her starboard beam. Look up the nature of Cape Hatteras in winter in terms of ocean navigation. MASSACHUSETTS did not alter course to put the weather on her bow or quarter and accepted consequences in order to reach the Panama Canal as soon as possible. Ships do not put gale force weather directly on their beams unless they have a really important reason to do so. The proof in the pudding is that MASSACHUSETTS navigated from Oran to Japan across the Atlantic and the Pacific over three years of war. Have you ever heard of her or her sisters ever being compromised operationally in any way by their seakeeping qualities? I have not.

AS far as engagement ranges are concerned, let's lay all the cards on the table here. Your original argument was that US BB's didn't really intend to fight at long ranges in daytime which their designs suggested; however, published USN doctrine as of 1944 strongly suggests otherwise. That having been said, no WW2 battleship ever succeeded in hitting anything at all at ranges over 26,000 or so yards. Precious few ever even opened fire in real anger at over 30,000 yards. What evidence we do have at hand for US BB gunnery performance is that US WW2 battleships, old and new, proved themselves able to fight efficiently at night at ranges up to 20,000+ yards. The old USS battleship WEST VIRGINIA at Surigao Strait scored a first salvo straddle and consistent immediate hitting on an evading (albeit already damaged) YAMASHIRO in the dark at ranges in excess of 20,000 yards and completed her destruction in rather short order. WASHINGTON's performance at Second Guadalcanal is too well known to bear repeating; she scored about 20 hits in five minutes of actual fire at about 8,000 yards. By way of contrast, BISMARCK's daylight engagement with HOOD only took place between approximately 14,000 and 22,000 yards and she only hit at ranges under 20,000 yards.

What does it all mean? I have no idea. But it ought to give one reason for pause before categorically anointing any ship as an official and unsurpassable sacred cow.

Strictly my opinion of course.


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