Who fires first wins ?????

General naval discussions that don't fit within any specific time period or cover several issues.
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RF
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Who fires first wins ?????

Postby RF » Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:52 pm

One aspect of military history (and not just naval history) is that there are so many instances of commanders firing the first shot in a battle, campaign or war and going on to lose the said conflagration.
I was wondering if indeed in a majority of cases at all levels of conflict the aggressor or person who fires first ends up the loser.
It certainly is the case in both world wars - Austria, Germany, Turkey, Bulgaria in WW1, Germany, Italy and Japan each in WW2; the Boer War in 1899, the US Civil War in 1861, the Chaco War in 1929.
Individual battles I can think are Hastings (1066), Bannockburn (1314),
Edge Hill (1642), Naseby (1645) and Sedgemoor (1685). Indeed that last battle listed was lost because the first shot fired was accidental, giving away a nightime surprise attack to half asleep defenders.

Even on Rheinubung the same theme appears to apply, with Bismarck firing the first shots (at Norfolk). It happened at the Battle of the River Plate, at Midway, at Barents Sea etc.

The main exceptions I can think of are completely mis-matched forces where the aggressor is the only possible winner, but even here reverses can happen, such as at Little Big Horn (1876), Isandlwana (1879) and Adowa (1896).

Any thoughts anyone?
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Postby Coyote850 » Thu Feb 21, 2008 5:28 pm

I think it all depends on the ships, commanders and circumstances involved. At the battle of Savo (Guadalcanal) the Japanese fired first and kicked the living snot out of the allied cruisers.

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Re: Who fires first wins ?????

Postby lwd » Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:49 pm

RF wrote:.... The main exceptions I can think of are completely mis-matched forces where the aggressor is the only possible winner, ...

This seams to fit the Battle of Samar except for the results. Who fired first at Tushima? How do you judge Jutland? I think there were a couple of night actions where the forces were fairly well matched at least on paper but the side that fired fist won. Cape Esperance perhaps? or Kula Gulf? The US fired first at Vella Gulf and clearly won 6 to 4 is a big lead but .... Much the same can be said of Empress Augusta Bay.

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RNfanDan
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Postby RNfanDan » Fri Feb 22, 2008 3:57 am

I think the issue of who fires first then loses, goes to the long-standing dictum that the attacker must vanquish, but the defender must merely survive. The onus is always on the side of the attacker, to both survive as well as overcome his chosen foe.

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Postby lwd » Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:23 pm

So the Nowaki won when it was engaged by Iowa and New Jersey? I could argue that either way.

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Postby Bgile » Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:20 pm

In submarine combat, the sub almost always wins when it gets to fire first.

In air to air combat, your opponent is usually destroyed if you can shoot effectively before he sees you.

In modern tank combat, the one who gets of the first accurate shot usually destroys his opponent.

If an infantry force can ambush their opponent they usually win.

There were a number of night engagements in WWII where the force which fired first inflicted so much damage on their opponents that the battle was pretty much over.

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RF
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Postby RF » Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:56 pm

I suppose that the dictum of who hits first wins was amptly demonstrated at the Denmark Strait battle, and again to a lessor extent in Bismarck's final battle three days later.
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RF
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Postby RF » Mon Feb 25, 2008 2:01 pm

Bgile wrote:
If an infantry force can ambush their opponent they usually win.


One outstanding exception here - the Battle of Sedgemoor, 1685, where the ambush went spectaculary pear-shaped and actually ended up with troops on their own side being ambushed as cavalry charging in dense fog failed to notice they were 180 degrees off course!!!!!
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Postby Ramius » Sun Mar 16, 2008 2:46 am

Ha Ha Ha :lol: :lol: :lol:
I haven't heard of that one yet!!!!!!!!!!
:lol: Ha :lol: Ha :lol: Ha :lol:
That's like being told one thing, and then doing the exact opposite action!!!

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RF
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Postby RF » Tue Mar 18, 2008 2:10 pm

It wasn't really the cavalry's fault - it was night, dense fog, flat featureless countryside - they simply couldn't see what was happening.
But the person who ordered the charge - the Duke of Monmouth - ultimately lost his head for it, on London's Tower Hill.
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Postby RNfanDan » Tue Mar 18, 2008 2:30 pm

RF wrote:I suppose that the dictum of who hits first wins was amptly demonstrated at the Denmark Strait battle, and again to a lessor extent in Bismarck's final battle three days later.


Then again, this is countered by Kirishima getting the jump on the USN in a night action, initially pounding their opponent until USS Washington entered the stage.

This action supports the position that the attacker must both survive and overcome the defender--neither of which, Kirishima was ultimately successful at doing.

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Postby Bgile » Tue Mar 18, 2008 7:14 pm

RNfanDan wrote:
Then again, this is countered by Kirishima getting the jump on the USN in a night action, initially pounding their opponent until USS Washington entered the stage.

This action supports the position that the attacker must both survive and overcome the defender--neither of which, Kirishima was ultimately successful at doing.


Actually I believe the US opened fire first, on Sendai.

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Re: Who fires first wins ?????

Postby celticmarine10 » Fri Mar 18, 2011 2:17 am

Geez thats almost scary. As Fieldmarschall Rommel said "I have found again and again that in encounter actions, the day goes to the side that is the first to plaster its opponent with fire. The man who lies low and awaits developments usually comes off second best.
Guess this is only true for the Panzers! :wink:
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neil hilton
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Re: Who fires first wins ?????

Postby neil hilton » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:17 am

It all really depends on the accuracy of the fire control system be it the idiot squeezing the trigger or a computer that actually has a decent chance of hitting first time. Thats true for tactical level engagements but if you include the political level then you start entering the reasons for war (casus belli) and considerations of morality and 'politics by other means' etc. Thats chaos theory territory.
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neil hilton
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Re: Who fires first wins ?????

Postby neil hilton » Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:30 am

I can think of examples from both points of view.
Trafalgar, the French and Spanish fired first and lost. Agincourt and Crecy where the English fired first and won.
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