the main armament of the General Belgrano

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paul.mercer
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the main armament of the General Belgrano

Post by paul.mercer » Thu Jan 07, 2021 10:39 am

Gentlemen,
Just looking up the main armament of the Argentinian cruiser General Belgrano it states that she carried no less than 15 x 6" guns, i can only find a very indistinct photo of the ship, so I wonder how these guns were distributed on what was described as a 'light cruiser' of only twelve and half thousand ton full load?

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Re: the main armament of the General Belgrano

Post by dunmunro » Sun Jan 10, 2021 10:03 am

paul.mercer wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 10:39 am
Gentlemen,
Just looking up the main armament of the Argentinian cruiser General Belgrano it states that she carried no less than 15 x 6" guns, i can only find a very indistinct photo of the ship, so I wonder how these guns were distributed on what was described as a 'light cruiser' of only twelve and half thousand ton full load?
Belgrano was a Brooklyn Class cruiser, the former USS Phoenix:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooklyn-class_cruiser

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marcelo_malara
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Re: the main armament of the General Belgrano

Post by marcelo_malara » Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:23 pm

Three triple turrets on the bow and two triple ones on the stern.


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Re: the main armament of the General Belgrano

Post by paul.mercer » Thu Jan 14, 2021 10:47 am

Gentlemen,
Many thanks as always for your replies, I found the links that you sent very interesting, she must have been quite a powerful ship in her day.
Paul

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Re: the main armament of the General Belgrano

Post by marcelo_malara » Sat Jan 16, 2021 1:51 am

Sure she was...in her days. In 1982 she was but the shadow of that, her machinery was so noisy that Conqueror could hear her at a distance of 60.000 yards, her max speed was limited to 18 kt, and, could never find data supporting this, I am sure that her main armament, what all the complexities of the hoists, interlocks, etc...would be far slower than a broadside every 10 sec.

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Re: the main armament of the General Belgrano

Post by paul.mercer » Mon Jan 18, 2021 10:11 am

Thanks for the info Marcelo,
What about the crew when she last sailed, were they fully trained or just reservists put into a tired old ship and told to do their best?

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Re: the main armament of the General Belgrano

Post by marcelo_malara » Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:00 pm

Paul, let me tell you some background.

The Argentine armed forces were then composed of:

-officers and NCO who assisted for 3/4 years to the corresponding military college/school

-troop, which were composed from drafted civilians 18 years old. The drafted troops received about 2 months training, serving for about 10/12 months more, with little or no more training in the serving period.

Due to the highly technical nature of a ship, the proportion of officers/NCO to drafted troops was far higher than in an infantry unit of the Army. Nevertheless, you may know than since 1930 the Argentine armed forces were involved in a series of coups and military dictatorships (the last of which was the one that took the decision for war) that surely had degraded the military side of the profession. The last years before the war, since 1976, the armed forces had been involved too in a different kind a war, fighting the Cuban/Soviet supported leftist guerrilla.

So, I am sure the training in general was quiet poor, do not get fooled by the heroics tales you may found in the web.

In the sinking two errors had been commit by the Argentine fleet. First was the renouncing of using active sonar, on the grounds that the ships would be more detectable. Anyway, as I stated previously, Conqueror followed the noise of Belgrano´s Task Group machinery to about 60.000 yards, so would the use of active sonar had worst this? Second mistake, at the moment of the torpedoing, both escorting destroyers were on the unengaged side of the cruiser, why this has been so I could not find out. For sure, it there would have been a destroyer on either side, and they would have been using active sonar, Conqueror would not have been allowed to come to the point blank range of 1400 yards.

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Re: the main armament of the General Belgrano

Post by paul.mercer » Wed Jan 20, 2021 10:24 am

Once again, many thanks for the info Marcelo, that was very helpful.
Paul

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Re: the main armament of the General Belgrano

Post by HMSVF » Sun Jan 31, 2021 12:50 pm

marcelo_malara wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:00 pm
Paul, let me tell you some background.

The Argentine armed forces were then composed of:

-officers and NCO who assisted for 3/4 years to the corresponding military college/school

-troop, which were composed from drafted civilians 18 years old. The drafted troops received about 2 months training, serving for about 10/12 months more, with little or no more training in the serving period.

Due to the highly technical nature of a ship, the proportion of officers/NCO to drafted troops was far higher than in an infantry unit of the Army. Nevertheless, you may know than since 1930 the Argentine armed forces were involved in a series of coups and military dictatorships (the last of which was the one that took the decision for war) that surely had degraded the military side of the profession. The last years before the war, since 1976, the armed forces had been involved too in a different kind a war, fighting the Cuban/Soviet supported leftist guerrilla.

So, I am sure the training in general was quiet poor, do not get fooled by the heroics tales you may found in the web.

In the sinking two errors had been commit by the Argentine fleet. First was the renouncing of using active sonar, on the grounds that the ships would be more detectable. Anyway, as I stated previously, Conqueror followed the noise of Belgrano´s Task Group machinery to about 60.000 yards, so would the use of active sonar had worst this? Second mistake, at the moment of the torpedoing, both escorting destroyers were on the unengaged side of the cruiser, why this has been so I could not find out. For sure, it there would have been a destroyer on either side, and they would have been using active sonar, Conqueror would not have been allowed to come to the point blank range of 1400 yards.

How watertight would a 40 year old warship be? With age does a ship potentially become more leaky ( perished seals, degraded structure, ill fitting watertight doors etc)?

Also I've always assumed that the catastrophic hit was aft. Was ARA General Belgrano hit in the worst possible place?


The only reason I ask is that, given that WW2 vintage Mk8's were used - and that she was a (there or thereabouts) WW2 design, she possibly could have survived the attack?


Best wishes HMSVF

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Re: the main armament of the General Belgrano

Post by marcelo_malara » Sun Jan 31, 2021 5:07 pm

I am not sure she would have survived with a better trained crew. AFAIK the aft impact killed most of the victims of the sinking, because the torpedo exploded just below the crew quarters when most of the crew was at rest. The other impact sectioned the bow just forward of A turret. May be in the Pacific or in the Mediterranean, with quiet seas, she had more possibilities, but in the South Atlantic, with heavy winds and boarding seas, that was not easy.

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Re: the main armament of the General Belgrano

Post by HMSVF » Mon Feb 01, 2021 12:04 am

marcelo_malara wrote:
Sun Jan 31, 2021 5:07 pm
I am not sure she would have survived with a better trained crew. AFAIK the aft impact killed most of the victims of the sinking, because the torpedo exploded just below the crew quarters when most of the crew was at rest. The other impact sectioned the bow just forward of A turret. May be in the Pacific or in the Mediterranean, with quiet seas, she had more possibilities, but in the South Atlantic, with heavy winds and boarding seas, that was not easy.

Thanks for the reply Marcelo!

My gut instinct is that the hit forward though spectacular looking wasn't fatal (hence the famous picture of her sinking by the stern), I've always wondered why however why she sank as result of the hit aft. As you point out the crew quarters were hit. I did a little bit of internet surfing and there is more than one account that states that her watertight doors were open. To me (as an amateur) makes sense as you wouldn't expect a light cruiser hit by a WW2 era torpedo to sink. Had it been a 'tigerish' which exploded under the keel...

Then yes. The ship wasn't designed for that kind of weapon.

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Re: the main armament of the General Belgrano

Post by marcelo_malara » Mon Feb 01, 2021 3:32 am

The hit forward...would not be different that the many suffered by USN cruisers that lost their bows courtesy of the Japanese Long Lance torpedo. These severed bows occurred at a structural discontinuity both internally an externally, externally because of the end of the armoured belt forward of A turret´s magazines, internally because of side voids not extant forward of the said magazine, should not have caused the lost of the ship unless one made her sail at medium to high speed, what would collapse the bulkhead.

The hit aft. Regrettably here in Argentina it is difficult to access official records as you can get from the British side directly from the Internet. So I can´t be sure if there was a comission tasked with investigating the lost of the cruiser. Your reasoning seems correct, one torpedo hitting aft could not have damaged more than two compartments, and that supposing the torpedo hit on the very bulkhead separating them, in any other case no more that one should be open to the sea. So, a lost bow and one or two flooded compartment should not have sank the ship.

Let me try to find the most official version I can find.

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Re: the main armament of the General Belgrano

Post by paul.mercer » Mon Feb 01, 2021 10:33 am

Hi Marcelo,
Thanks again for your informative comments. I find it difficult to believe that two torpedoes would not be capable of sinking the ship, particularly if the watertight doors may have been left open or they hit in the 'wrong' place. But there have always been rumours (although denied by the RN) that the torpedoes used were the new 'Tiger Fish' which would certainly made a difference, on that point I also find it difficult to understand (or believe) why the RN would send one of their best subs into battle equipped with WW2 armament if the new torpedoes were available..

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Re: the main armament of the General Belgrano

Post by Steve Crandell » Mon Feb 01, 2021 2:55 pm

I think the newer torpedo had some bugs which hadn't been entirely worked out.

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