Beauty & the Beast

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
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Wordy
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Beauty & the Beast

Post by Wordy » Wed Jun 26, 2013 1:34 pm

Yes I am of course talking about a Littorio against the Bismarck.

On a clear, calm, sunny day. Both have a well trained crew and the problem with the Italian shells has been resolved.

From what I can tell Bismarck is better armoured but I know the 15/50cal on the Littorio class is supposed to be the most powerful 15" gun deployed in WW2.

Personaly I'm going for the Bismarck(can only see 1 or 2 one on one's where it's an underdog) but feel the Italians have a great chance to win.
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paul.mercer
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Re: Beauty & the Beast

Post by paul.mercer » Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:36 pm

I suppose it comes down to fire and range control, Littorio had 9x15" and as you say supposedly the most powerful of WW2. Although Bismarck may have the heavier armour if Littorio has decent rangefinders that are at least the equivelant to Bismarck and gets on target quickly I would probably put my money on her. Given a British Captain and crew I would definitely bet on Littorio.
I suppose I'm now going to get hammered by Bismarck fans!

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Re: Beauty & the Beast

Post by alecsandros » Thu Jun 27, 2013 5:21 am

paul.mercer wrote:I suppose it comes down to fire and range control, Littorio had 9x15" and as you say supposedly the most powerful of WW2. Although Bismarck may have the heavier armour if Littorio has decent rangefinders that are at least the equivelant to Bismarck and gets on target quickly I would probably put my money on her. Given a British Captain and crew I would definitely bet on Littorio.
I suppose I'm now going to get hammered by Bismarck fans!
:D :D :D

Hi Paul,
Littorio was a very powerfull ship. The problems she experienced , AFAIK, were poor artillery quality and insufficient freeboard, making her a very wet ship.

The armor array on board Littorio was very complex and , insofar as naval battles go, extremely difficult to defeat.

Other than that, speed and manoevreability appear to have been good.

So, provided the Italians managed to correct the dispersion and rate of fire problems , and perhaps add some usefull gunnery radars, I guess Littorio may have been a very dangerous opponent for Bismarck.

But without those improvements, I don't think she stood much chances against the German battleship.

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Nelson Ott
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Re: Beauty & the Beast

Post by Nelson Ott » Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:32 pm

What about her rangefinding equipment? Was it equivalent or, at least, close to the German or British counterparts?

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Re: Beauty & the Beast

Post by Mostlyharmless » Sat Jun 29, 2013 7:56 pm

The difficulty is trying to understand the problems of the dispersion of salvos from Vittorio Veneto and perhaps Littorio. There is a photograph of a salvo falling near HMAS Perth at Matapan at http://www.perthone.com/pmat.html which shows the dispersion. However, Littorio was much more effective at 2nd Sirte and someone once mentioned on another forum that according to the Navweapons site, the two “sister ships” had differently constructed guns. By contrast to at least VV, Bismarck's gunnery was fairly impressive. German accuracy suggests that Littorio would only win if Britain and Italy were allied and Littorio was accompanied by HMS Norfolk.
ps. There is an analysis of Littorio's protection against Bismarck's shells at http://www.combinedfleet.com/okun_biz.htm. It is quite satisfactory if not perfect. I always tend to class Littorio with North Carolina as having similar protection and focus on a powerful armament (with a different choice of vertical versus horizontal penetration). However, Littorio was faster and North Carolina better protected against torpedoes.

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Re: Beauty & the Beast

Post by alecsandros » Sat Jun 29, 2013 8:19 pm

Mostlyharmless wrote:The difficulty is trying to understand the problems of the dispersion of salvos from Vittorio Veneto and perhaps Littorio. There is a photograph of a salvo falling near HMAS Perth at Matapan at http://www.perthone.com/pmat.html which shows the dispersion. However, Littorio was much more effective at 2nd Sirte and someone once mentioned on another forum that according to the Navweapons site, the two “sister ships” had differently constructed guns.
... a big problem was different supply of APC shells. The Italian manufacturers did not manage to produce same quality of shells, thus dispersion could be different from shell to shell and to salvo to salvo.
relatively simple problems, such as firing the middle gun in the turret slightly later than the other 2, by using delay coils, was only solved in 1942 for all ships in the class.

Veneto's dispersion at Matapan was horrible (600y at 22km for 3-gun salvos), and Littorio still did not hit anything, from hundreds of shells fired, ( except HMS Kingston, which got to 5km from the battleship ).

ps. There is an analysis of Littorio's protection against Bismarck's shells at http://www.combinedfleet.com/okun_biz.htm. It is quite satisfactory if not perfect.
... the analysis is far from being complete.
In the mean time, a lot of info concerning space array armor has surfaced, and it is possible that Littorio would have a near-impregnable vertical protection system.

However, just like in Bismarck's case, everything above the main armor belt is fully vulnerable to enemy's 15" gunfire [including con tower, turrets, control positions, funnels, sensors, etc]
I always tend to class Littorio with North Carolina as having similar protection and focus on a powerful armament (with a different choice of vertical versus horizontal penetration). However, Littorio was faster and North Carolina better protected against torpedoes.
In my opinion Littorio has much stronger vertical protection - that 70+10 + 280mm armor array could stop allmost any shell, if it were properly built.

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Re: Beauty & the Beast

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Jun 30, 2013 2:27 pm

Nelson Ott wrote:What about her rangefinding equipment? Was it equivalent or, at least, close to the German or British counterparts?
I don't think Littorios firecontrol was in the same classification as the German in terms of typical capability. I would classify the German FC in with the late war American FC.

The optics themselves may have been more or less as accurate but how effectively could the range measurement be used by the overall system and how well did the accuracy of the guns themselves allow that to be applied?

By the time Bismarck became operational, radar ranging was well established by the Germans. According to articles written on USN radar ranging; the typical range accuracy of optics was 1% of the range, while the accuracy of radar was 0.1% of the range plus a tolerance of +/- X yards. Here Bismarck holds a significant advantage. Bismarck's radars were accurate to within 50 meters at ranges exceeding 30km. (the max range vs surface ships was about 30km circa 1941, but such accuracy was confirmed in 1940 tests against other targets at ranges exceeding 50km).

Littorio (but not VV) was equipped with a Gufo radar by March 1942. (By then German warships had been given blind fire capability) The Gufo in 1943 had a range of 35km to a battleship but the range accuracy varied from 100 meters to 200 meters and the resolution for range was 600 meters. 600 meter range resolution would make radar spotting virtually impossible. It did not offer any blind fire capability.
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Re: Beauty & the Beast

Post by Vic Dale » Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:04 pm

On the day, it would come down to how well each ship was fought.

Any ship which takes a succession of heavy hits is going to suffer, regardless of the armour fit or the velocity of it's own guns. Very often it is near misses short which do the most telling damage, as they are the ones which may produce hits below water and if freeboard is lowered on the engaged side, due to flooding, it makes a mess of the stated strength of deck and turret roof armour.

A ship with a list is also very hard to fight, since certain evolutions are timed for stable moments during the natural roll of the ship and at certain degrees of list, guns and rangefinders may cease to train. Loading cages may not run properly and if in a heavy seaway, a sudden lurch on the list can cause shells to roll off shell rings, and fall out of cages. Also the feel of just a 6 degree list is disorienting even to experienced seamen used to a heavy and rapid roll. Bismarck and PoW both suffered 9 degree lists from single heavy shell holes in wing compartments midships. Two or more such hits could cause very serious problems and might slow the rate of fire.

So it all comes down to the ship which can hit and keep hitting and not for nothing did Admiral Beatty lay down this principle as the mark of a good fighting ship.

A Littorio determined to fight is perfectly capable of hitting a Bismarck which is equally determined to fight, so wind, light, and speed will set the tone and consistent servicing of the guns with good spotting will do most of the rest. Nine guns Vs 8 might just make the difference and those shells of the Littorios packed a heavy punch.

If such an engagement was on equal terms, both ships would be a terrible mess after an hour or so and survival might depend on good damage control.

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Re: Beauty & the Beast

Post by alecsandros » Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:07 pm

Vic Dale wrote:
A Littorio determined to fight is perfectly capable of hitting a Bismarck which is equally determined to fight, so wind, light, and speed will set the tone and consistent servicing of the guns with good spotting will do most of the rest. Nine guns Vs 8 might just make the difference and those shells of the Littorios packed a heavy punch.
That depends on Littorio's guns, shells and fire control systems.

IF they were the ones historically available in 1941-1942, a 3-gun salvo would have a 600y dispersion at 22km. COmpare that to Bismarck historycal 150y dispersion for 4-gun salvos at 20km.

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Re: Beauty & the Beast

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:22 pm

Who is beauty and who is the beast? :think:

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Re: Beauty & the Beast

Post by Byron Angel » Fri Aug 02, 2013 1:23 am

Bagnasco & de Toro ("The Littorio Class") indicate that dispersion of the 381/50 was broadly on a par with the main battery battleship guns of other contemporary navies up to ranges of 20-21,000 meters. Figures from various gunnery practices between 1938 and 1941 show distances between the fall of the shortest and longest shells were around 250-350 meters at 20,000 meters. Dispersion increased dramatically, however, as range grew beyond 22,000 meters (the worst value recorded was 500 meters, IIRC). Bismarck's tight salvo patterns were characteristic of German interest in small dispersion that certainly dated back to WW1 and perhaps even prior to that.

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Re: Beauty & the Beast

Post by paul.mercer » Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:54 pm

Gentlemen,
Personally I would put my money on the German ship because I think their fighting capabilities and crew training would be far better than the Italians.
I realy don't think the Italian ship could have lived with either Bismarck or Tirpitz, particularly if they started getting hit at regular intervals.

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Re: Beauty & the Beast

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:50 am

paul.mercer wrote:Gentlemen,
Personally I would put my money on the German ship because I think their fighting capabilities and crew training would be far better than the Italians.
I realy don't think the Italian ship could have lived with either Bismarck or Tirpitz, particularly if they started getting hit at regular intervals.
This might be based more on feeling than technical facts, but the Littorios seem rather brittle. The Roma was sunk by just two bomb hits (yes, guided bombs, but still only two hits), I have trouble imagining any other battleship sinking from just two bomb hits.

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Rick Rather
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Re: Beauty & the Beast

Post by Rick Rather » Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:26 am

Ersatz Yorck wrote:
paul.mercer wrote: I have trouble imagining any other battleship sinking from just two bomb hits.
Image
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Ersatz Yorck
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Re: Beauty & the Beast

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:15 pm

Yeah, but the Arizona suffered four hits and three near misses. Of course it only takes one bomb in the right location to set off a magazine, but still...

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