Jutland: 95 years already!

General naval discussions that don't fit within any specific time period or cover several issues.
frankwl
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Re: Jutland: 95 years already!

Post by frankwl » Mon Jul 25, 2011 11:57 pm

Hi, I have no idea where to post this question but Jutland seems appropriate. I have read in a few places that Anthony Pollen's fire control system could have made a difference to the Royal Navy, especially the battle cruisers but have no idea how or why. Does anyone know what that fire control system was supposed to do? And could it have done it given a chance? After all, the Brits weren't stupid about fire control, they apparently brought doughty (and politically courageous) old Admiral Sims, USN, up to speed.

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tommy303
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Re: Jutland: 95 years already!

Post by tommy303 » Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:54 pm

That is actually Sir Arthur Pollen. There probably wasn't really all that much to choose from between Pollen's and Dreyer's systems. Dreyer used Pollen's plot and Argo range clock as part of his system, but the basics were his. The two systems pretty much came up with the same results, just by different means--Dreyer used a dual system where by ranges and bearings were plotted separately, whereas Pollen's used a single rangefinder to take both range and bearing. The Dreyer was probably slightly better at that in so far as it could utilize the averages of several different rangefinders rather than depend on just one and its operator. There were other minor differences, but the upshot of the decision to adopt Dreyer's table as opposed to Pollen's was the result of Pollen's inability to stop tinkering with his invention. The admiralty wanted something that worked ASAP, and Pollen was too prone to making changes, much like an artist that was unable to say a painting was finished.

In the event, Pollen did sell his system to the Imperial Russian Navy and according to German reports, the fire control system worked very well. The Germans also felt that the British Dreyer system was very effective as well. Interest in Pollen's work was also exhibited in the USN, and after the war some of his developments were incorporated into US fire control experiments which ultimately led to the adoption of the Ford Range Keeper. In the Royal Navy, the Dreyer table was developed as far as it could be through the various Marks, before the Navy turned to developing the more sophisticated and Pollen-like Admiralty Fire Control Table. One could say the advantage of the Pollen system was it could be continually developed, becoming something rather different from what it had been at the start, while the Dreyer was eventually a dead end. I don't think having the Pollen system as it stood in 1914-16 would have made a difference at Jutland.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood and Earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned these defended;
And saved the sum of things for pay.

Byron Angel
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Re: Jutland: 95 years already!

Post by Byron Angel » Wed Jul 27, 2011 2:33 am

Both the Pollen and Dreyer FCsystems were theoretically sound, but were betrayed by several factors. First was the inability of the data acquisition devices (range-finders and inclinometers), upon which both FC systems relied, to provide sufficiently accurate information. Second was the uncooperative habit of targets to maneuver evasively if they found themselves under accurate fire, which immediately negated whatever plot had had been developed. At bestthe Pollen and Dreyer systems were only able to provide momentary periods of accurate fire control, when all the planets were properly aligned. By mid-WW1, service opinion was largely that plotting was of limited utility and that good spotting was the best guarantee of hitting.

A final aside with respect to the Ford/Pollen issue - Pollen had at one time been given to believe that the Ford Range-keeper had plagiarized certain aspects of his Argo FC system. But he later concluded after investigation that, although the two systems shared certain features, the Ford Rangekeeper had simply been developed along parallel lines. Pollen consequently never pursued legal recourse in the US.


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frankwl
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Re: Jutland: 95 years already!

Post by frankwl » Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:57 pm

Thank you, tommy303 and Byron Angel. I'm still learning you're never too old to learn. And it's fun.

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Re: Jutland: 95 years already!

Post by Djoser » Fri Jul 29, 2011 9:59 am

Also, Pollen was a really rotten salesman.

I think we are underestimating how potent an enemy the Germans remained until 1918. Operation Michael might have been a failure in the end, but it gave quite a shock to the Allies at first--hardly something a nation as close to defeat as some have proposed could do.

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Re: Jutland: 95 years already!

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:22 pm

Djoser:
I think we are underestimating how potent an enemy the Germans remained until 1918. Operation Michael might have been a failure in the end, but it gave quite a shock to the Allies at first--hardly something a nation as close to defeat as some have proposed could do.
Correct. :ok:
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

frankwl
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Re: Jutland: 95 years already!

Post by frankwl » Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:29 am

For a starving nation fighting a war where battalions died for a few yards of mud Operation Michael was breathtaking, more so than the more famous Battle of the Bulge a generation later.Given more clearly defined political goals it could have changed world history. We think of the Germans as stodgy and methodical but they learn quickly, maybe about storm troops from Brusilov, maybe from their own experience, but when put into practice the tactic was devastating. Mind you, the operation also proved out the utlimate resilience of the British tommy.

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Re: Jutland: 95 years already!

Post by RF » Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:31 pm

This off thread, but a key point of Operation Micheal is that it failed. Yes the Germans used new tactics with troops largely withdrawn from Russia - but the attack post break through was poorly directed and petered out. Efforts were wasted in similar attacks eleswhere on the front until the Germans burn't themselves out and left the initiative to the British.
Note also that Operation Michael had one other major flaw - the Germans didn't develop and use tanks on a large scale.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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