HMS Hercules

From the birth of the Dreadnought to the period immediately after the end of World War I.
Byron Angel
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Re: HMS Hercules

Postby Byron Angel » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:46 pm

Ersatz Yorck wrote -
"Studies of hit rates at Jutland does not really support the oft stated belief that a ship not under fire would fire with greater accuracy than a ship not under fire, at least not in the short perspective."

Contemporary service opinion disagreed. Battle orders of both Jellicoe and Beatty, as well as Admiralty doctrinal guidelines, all emphasized the necessity of leaving no opponents unfired upon - even to the extent of dictating that some vessels split their fire in the case of numerical inferiority versus the opposing battle-line. USN doctrine was similar. Shooting was much easier when not under fire or, by implication, not under effective fire. I think it is worth keeping in mind, though, that the good benefits of undisturbed gunnery are derived not only from a failure of the enemy to target one's ship, but also from an inability of the enemy to target your ship and also from an inadequacy of the enemy to deliver effective fire upon you. In the opening phase of the "Run to the South" 1SG benefitted (IMO) enormously from (a) errors in the distribution of the BCF's fire, and (b) poor BCF opening gunnery which was far off target and left the German ships effecively unmolested for some crucial minutes. On the other side, much of 3BCS's good shooting against 1SG can be laid down to the fact that 1SG could neither see 3BCS nor reply to its fire in the first half of that action due to poor visibility conditions. The GF battle-line enjoyed a similar and even more pronounced visibility advantage in its engagement with Scheer's battle-line. Whatever the cause, the advantage of shooting without interruption by opposing gunfire was considerable.

Strictly my opinion of course.

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Ersatz Yorck
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Re: HMS Hercules

Postby Ersatz Yorck » Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:52 pm

In theory yes, but practice does not seem to bear this out, at least not in the short term. For example, in the run to the south, the ship initially left unfired on, the Derfflinger, did not shoot very well during the inital phase.

Converesely, purely mathemathically, at least one of the British ships must have been left unfired on, as the Germans had five battlecruisers to six British, but this apparently did not translate into any accuracy advantage.

At Dogger Bank, the Moltke was similarly left unfired on, but Derfflinger and Seydlitz scored the most hits during this period.

During the later stage at Jutland in the engagements with the main fleets an BCS3, the British did indeed shoot better than the Germans, but not because they were not fired upon effectively, but because visibility favored the British. The case of BCS3 kind of proves the point, as soon as the Germans could see to fire, they had no problems at all dispatching the Invincible in matter of minutes, despite the Lützow being herself very hard hit at the time.

I fully agree that there are good theoretical grounds for believeing that a ship left undisturbed by enemy fire should be able to fire more accurately, and this might very well be the case, but empirical evidence simply does not seem to bear this out, at least not in the short term.

In the long term, it is quite apparent that gunfire accuracy does degrade over time in an engagement, very clearly evidenced by the 1st scouting Group at Jutland, but wheter this is caused by fatigue or accumulation of damage or equipment failures is hard to say.

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Re: HMS Hercules

Postby Byron Angel » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:19 am

Ersatz Yorck wrote:In theory yes, but practice does not seem to bear this out, at least not in the short term. For example, in the run to the south, the ship initially left unfired on, the Derfflinger, did not shoot very well during the inital phase.


..... See von Hase regarding Derfflinger's early ranging difficulty, which was due to an initial drill error on the part of the FC party. Once sorted, Derfflinger proceeded to score 3 hits on Princess Royal between 1558 and 1600 hrs, 3 hits on Queen Mary between 1621 and 1626 hrs, then another 3 hits on Princess Royal between 1627 and 1632 hrs. That makes 9 hits in 34 minutes of action, including two target shifts. Derfflinger was not hit at all during the Run to the South, which suggests to me that not only was she unfired upon through 1617 hrs, but she was also never under any really effective fire from the BCF during this period of the battle.


Conversely, purely mathemathically, at least one of the British ships must have been left unfired on, as the Germans had five battlecruisers to six British, but this apparently did not translate into any accuracy advantage.


..... Fair comment on this point. Rather than split his fire, Marholz (gunnery officer on Von der Tann) opted to concentrate his full battery on Indefatigable and leave New Zealand unattended.


At Dogger Bank, the Moltke was similarly left unfired on, but Derfflinger and Seydlitz scored the most hits during this period.


..... It is true that Moltke was unfired upon during the entire Dogger Bank engagement, but I'm not sure where you are getting your hit figures. Campbell credits Moltke with having scored "at least 8 or 9" of the 22 hits made upon Lion and Tiger.


During the later stage at Jutland in the engagements with the main fleets an BCS3, the British did indeed shoot better than the Germans, but not because they were not fired upon effectively, but because visibility favored the British. The case of BCS3 kind of proves the point, as soon as the Germans could see to fire, they had no problems at all dispatching the Invincible in matter of minutes, despite the Lützow being herself very hard hit at the time.


..... I suggest that you are perhaps jumping to an unwarranted conclusion here in attributing the success of the British battle-line solely to better visibility conditions. While it is true that the GF had much the better visibility in the two battle-line engagements, it is also true that the German ships were almost completely blind and unable to target any British ships. Hence, the ships of the British battle-line were also effectively unfired upon. The same argument can be made in connection with the engagement between 3BCS and 1SG.


I fully agree that there are good theoretical grounds for believeing that a ship left undisturbed by enemy fire should be able to fire more accurately, and this might very well be the case, but empirical evidence simply does not seem to bear this out, at least not in the short term.


..... While it is fair to say that the empirical evidence is not absolutely categorically consistent in every case (viz New Zealand), too much evidence (at least as I see it) and professional opinion (see Chatfield's comments after Dogger Bank, for example) exists for me to accept this as an unproven theoretical case. We must therefore agree to disagree on this point, I think.


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RF
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Re: HMS Hercules

Postby RF » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:07 am

Re Byron's post at the top of this page:

Then there is of course the performance of POW during the DS battle - which apparently hit Bismarck prior to coming under fire but not whilst under fire after Hood was sunk.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Ersatz Yorck
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Re: HMS Hercules

Postby Ersatz Yorck » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:15 pm

Byron Angel wrote:
..... See von Hase regarding Derfflinger's early ranging difficulty, which was due to an initial drill error on the part of the FC party. Once sorted, Derfflinger proceeded to score 3 hits on Princess Royal between 1558 and 1600 hrs, 3 hits on Queen Mary between 1621 and 1626 hrs, then another 3 hits on Princess Royal between 1627 and 1632 hrs. That makes 9 hits in 34 minutes of action, including two target shifts. Derfflinger was not hit at all during the Run to the South, which suggests to me that not only was she unfired upon through 1617 hrs, but she was also never under any really effective fire from the BCF during this period of the battle.


I have read von Hases account, but the top scorer in hit percentage among the German Battlecruisers was the Lützow! And the Derfflinger was only unfired upon in the initial period, not for the entire battle. She recieved roughly as many hits as the Lützow all in all. So, rather inconlusive I would say.


..... It is true that Moltke was unfired upon during the entire Dogger Bank engagement, but I'm not sure where you are getting your hit figures. Campbell credits Moltke with having scored "at least 8 or 9" of the 22 hits made upon Lion and Tiger.


Indeed, Moltke scored 8 hits, and Seydlitz, continually under fire and heavily hit and damaged also scored 8 hits, exactly the same number of hits!

Byron Angel wrote:
During the later stage at Jutland in the engagements with the main fleets an BCS3, the British did indeed shoot better than the Germans, but not because they were not fired upon effectively, but because visibility favored the British. The case of BCS3 kind of proves the point, as soon as the Germans could see to fire, they had no problems at all dispatching the Invincible in matter of minutes, despite the Lützow being herself very hard hit at the time.


..... I suggest that you are perhaps jumping to an unwarranted conclusion here in attributing the success of the British battle-line solely to better visibility conditions. While it is true that the GF had much the better visibility in the two battle-line engagements, it is also true that the German ships were almost completely blind and unable to target any British ships. Hence, the ships of the British battle-line were also effectively unfired upon. The same argument can be made in connection with the engagement between 3BCS and 1SG.



I suggest that if one side has a visibility advantage, that side is likely to score more hits, whether they are fired upon or not.

While I agree with the logic, I cannot see that the available empirical evidence points clearly to an unengaged ship having an advantage in practice. Admittedly, the amount of data is not overwhelming, and other factors surely play a part, but that was my original point.

Ersatz Yorck wrote:Studies of hit rates at Jutland does not really support the oft stated belief that a ship not under fire would fire with greater accuracy than a ship not under fire, at least not in the short perspective. Other factors seem to play a much larger part.

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Re: HMS Hercules

Postby Byron Angel » Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:01 pm

It is certainly true that a visibility advantage is of great proven advantage. But it is also true that, in a case where the visbility differential is so pronounced that side A is unable to see or target its opponent, side B is effectively unfired upon. The two factors are often intertwined, as was the case at Jutland with 3BCS and the battle-line actions, and IMO it is not justifiable to confer all the gunnery advantage to visibility alone.

It is also fair to say that the fact of being unfired upon does not deterministically confer a crushing advantage in and of itself. And, at least in so far as our small selected sample size suggests, it may at times not be materially evident in certain cases. Nevertheless, broad contemporary service opinion deemed it an important advantage.

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tone
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Re: HMS Hercules

Postby tone » Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:35 am

I find the reports on director firing informative, and worth recording on my wiki for sure (provided I remember to do so).

While Fawcett and Hooper is chatty, the detail provided is fairly convincing. What role did the speaker have on board?

Does Yate's provide a source for his account?

tone

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Re: HMS Hercules

Postby Byron Angel » Sat Feb 09, 2013 2:21 am

tone wrote:I find the reports on director firing informative, and worth recording on my wiki for sure (provided I remember to do so).

While Fawcett and Hooper is chatty, the detail provided is fairly convincing. What role did the speaker have on board?

Does Yate's provide a source for his account?

tone




Hi Tone,

Yates cites "True Glory" by Max Arthur.

Re Fawcett & Hooper, I know there is a cross-reference lurking somewhere that identifies the parties offering their recollections,


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Re: HMS Hercules

Postby MikeBrough » Tue Apr 02, 2013 8:38 pm

RF wrote:With those wing turrets it looks the last of the line for WW1.

Note from the photobucket album the very tall mast, soaring above the crows nest.


Apologies for resurrecting an old thread. Just finished reading an article about the 13.5-inch guns and how the new turrets were just too heavy to mount on the wings: the strain on the ship's hull was just too much. After the Colossus class, everything was on the centre-line.

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Re: HMS Hercules

Postby Byron Angel » Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:05 am

MikeBrough wrote:
RF wrote:With those wing turrets it looks the last of the line for WW1.

Note from the photobucket album the very tall mast, soaring above the crows nest.


Apologies for resurrecting an old thread. Just finished reading an article about the 13.5-inch guns and how the new turrets were just too heavy to mount on the wings: the strain on the ship's hull was just too much. After the Colossus class, everything was on the centre-line.



..... I think that the demise of wing turrets was a consequence of the decision to abandon the pursuit of "all-round" fire.

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Re: HMS Hercules

Postby MikeBrough » Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:30 pm

Byron Angel wrote:
..... I think that the demise of wing turrets was a consequence of the decision to abandon the pursuit of "all-round" fire.

B


There seems to be a bit of a chicken-and-egg-itis about this.

If the bigger guns hadn't been so heavy, I think the Brits would have been happy to continue with wing turrets. Carrying 5 turrets, of which 4 could bear on each beam and 3 could bear ahead was quite attractive. Until super-firing (and not just super-imposing) became possible, RN battleships still only had 8 guns on the beam and 2 guns for ahead firing (a significant decrease in capability).

True, super-imposed turrets decreased the armour requirements but, if the weight-on-the-wings hadn't been such a problem, I suspect the Brits would have tried to add a couple of wing turrets to Neptune!

I can't find this subject covered in sufficient depth in any of the literature. I can find histories and encyclopedias covering the various layouts but nothing covering the challenges that the various navies and designers were actually trying to address at the time. Does anyone know of a suitable source?

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Re: HMS Hercules

Postby Byron Angel » Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:27 am

MikeBrough wrote:
Byron Angel wrote:
..... I think that the demise of wing turrets was a consequence of the decision to abandon the pursuit of "all-round" fire.

B


There seems to be a bit of a chicken-and-egg-itis about this.

If the bigger guns hadn't been so heavy, I think the Brits would have been happy to continue with wing turrets. Carrying 5 turrets, of which 4 could bear on each beam and 3 could bear ahead was quite attractive. Until super-firing (and not just super-imposing) became possible, RN battleships still only had 8 guns on the beam and 2 guns for ahead firing (a significant decrease in capability).

True, super-imposed turrets decreased the armour requirements but, if the weight-on-the-wings hadn't been such a problem, I suspect the Brits would have tried to add a couple of wing turrets to Neptune!

I can't find this subject covered in sufficient depth in any of the literature. I can find histories and encyclopedias covering the various layouts but nothing covering the challenges that the various navies and designers were actually trying to address at the time. Does anyone know of a suitable source?



..... Have you checked Hovgaard's "Modern History of Warships"?

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Re: HMS Hercules

Postby MikeBrough » Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:23 am

Byron Angel wrote:..... Have you checked Hovgaard's "Modern History of Warships"?

B


Thanks, Byron. I checked that book out on Google Books and I was suddenly whisked back 40 years. I remember reading that book in the reference library in Dundee back in the 70s. Reference libraries in the UK were (are?) different from lending libraries in that you can only reference the books on site and you're not allowed to take the books away. I remember sitting in that old Victorian building one scorchingly hot afternoon and working my way from cover to cover. I found the way the author treated the pre-Dreadnought and post-Dreadnought ships as a contiguous group quite enlightening. I suspect we all have a tendency to split those ships into 2 separate groups - a 1906 revolution instead of an ongoing evolution. To see carriage-mounted muzzle loaders discussed in the same detail and as part of the same timeline as the 15" guns on the QEs put some things into context for me.

The book goes some of the way towards what I'm looking for but, as I recall, it doesn't cover the reasoning behind the decisions or drivers of the times. I suspect I might need to look at some of the ships' covers or some of the recordds of the various naval proceedings. Time to trawl my way through http://www.naval-review.org/tblcont.asp. Oh, what a chore :D

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Re: HMS Hercules

Postby Byron Angel » Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:59 am

MikeBrough wrote:
Byron Angel wrote:..... Have you checked Hovgaard's "Modern History of Warships"?

B


Thanks, Byron. I checked that book out on Google Books and I was suddenly whisked back 40 years. I remember reading that book in the reference library in Dundee back in the 70s. Reference libraries in the UK were (are?) different from lending libraries in that you can only reference the books on site and you're not allowed to take the books away. I remember sitting in that old Victorian building one scorchingly hot afternoon and working my way from cover to cover. I found the way the author treated the pre-Dreadnought and post-Dreadnought ships as a contiguous group quite enlightening. I suspect we all have a tendency to split those ships into 2 separate groups - a 1906 revolution instead of an ongoing evolution. To see carriage-mounted muzzle loaders discussed in the same detail and as part of the same timeline as the 15" guns on the QEs put some things into context for me.

The book goes some of the way towards what I'm looking for but, as I recall, it doesn't cover the reasoning behind the decisions or drivers of the times. I suspect I might need to look at some of the ships' covers or some of the recordds of the various naval proceedings. Time to trawl my way through http://www.naval-review.org/tblcont.asp. Oh, what a chore :D



..... Reference libraries in the States operate in similar fashion, although it has proven possible for some mysterious reason to snag interesting books from time to time through our inter-library loan program. it just struck my BTW that Oscar Parkes "British Battleships" might be worth a look.

I take your point re the Naval Review archive website. I too have spent many an hour merrily downloading all manner of fascnating material.

B


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