Long Range Gunnery

Guns, torpedoes, mines, bombs, missiles, ammunition, fire control, radars, and electronic warfare.
Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: Long Range Gunnery

Post by Bgile » Fri Jun 18, 2010 6:15 pm

Please note that manual is for BB59, and doesn't agree with Adm. Lee's Doctrine. Each formation leader is free to deviate from either as he sees fit.

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Long Range Gunnery

Post by lwd » Fri Jun 18, 2010 6:32 pm

From the information provide we don't know who wrote it, when, and how widely it was to be applied.

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Supporter
Posts: 3097
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: Long Range Gunnery

Post by Dave Saxton » Sat Jun 19, 2010 2:08 am

kgbudge wrote:David Saxton,

I'm puzzled by your statement that the Mark 2 Mod 2 and the Mark 3 Mod 2 were identical except for lobe switching, and should have the same detection range.

Yes that is true, a larger effective antenna size will increase antenna gain and that will increase range. However, although the shape of the horns differs, it is impossible to guage much difference, if any, in apetures. There doesn't appear to be a significant difference from the photos at least to me. But you make a good point.

Most types of lobe switching usually results in less range compared to max signal. It's not likely that a similar set with lobe switching will have greater range than one without.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: Long Range Gunnery

Post by alecsandros » Sat Jun 19, 2010 12:00 pm

Here's a link:

http://www.ijnhonline.org/volume1_numbe ... ne.doc.htm

It's a paper concerning US BB doctrine in the between 1930-1941.
You'll find many usefull information, including test firing at 35.000-38.000y and the findings which the tests offered.

It seems practical range of engagment was set at <28.000y for this time frame.

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Supporter
Posts: 3097
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: Long Range Gunnery

Post by Dave Saxton » Sat Jun 19, 2010 3:52 pm

Good find Alex. I notice several elements that carried over to the 1945 doctrine. The document is submitted by gunnery officers Walker, Odening, and Mitchell, and approved by Capt Warlick in 1945. It is inconceivable that BB59 would formulate it's own doctrine incongruant with contemporary USN doctrine in general, or that of the US battleships operating in the Pacific, or its flag commander. In the Employment section it notes that this doctrine is formulated to be "simple and flexable" and "intelligent and based on war experience gained to up that point". It was also written as it reads, with the capablitites of the Mk8Mod2 radar in mind.

A central governing principle throughout, which obviously would be congruant with general USN doctrine and Adm Lee in 1945, is the requirement to visually identify the enemy before firing on him. (note that Lee followed the doctrine at GCII in Nov 1942 as well) This is obviously the result of the advent of radar firecontrol capabilities, but reflects the dangers realized, based on experience gained, of blindly firing based on radar only tageting data. It's interesting that at Philippine Sea, Adm Lee declined the possibility of a night battle because of the problems of confusing the identity of the enemy (Muir page 50). Radar actually presented a more difficult question of what and whom do the abstract electronic pips represent? This was a new problem that the introduction of capable radar firecontrol in turn introduced to naval warfare.

This was the problem that caused the Germans to loose the Battle of the Barents Sea on New Years Eve 1942. The Capt. of Luetzow declined to open fire at the ideal moment, because the identity of the radar derived targets remained ambiguous. Had he been more certain of the targets identity, Stange would have destroyed the convoy, and this battle would have gone down in history as a smashing German victory, made possible by advances in radar directed gunnery.

Another reflection of combat experience gained by 1945 was the reccomendation to avoid fire concentrations. The problem of confusing what splashes belonged to which guns made this concept entirely impractical. It was of course impossible to determine which splashes are actually yours, and hence determine correct MPI and make corrections from a radar return, with multiple ships firing on the same target, circa 1945.

In conditions of daylight and good visibility fire beyond 27,000 yards could be employed if another warship or an air spotter could visually identify the enemy as the doctrine states.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: Long Range Gunnery

Post by Bgile » Sat Jun 19, 2010 4:34 pm

So you guys apparently believe that:

1. There was no improvement in US battleship gunnery between 1921 and 1945.
2. If you outnumbered the enemy you should send some of your ships away because concentration was a bad idea.
3. Oldendorf broke the rules at Surigao because he couldn't see the enemy when he opened fire.
4. US Gunnery doctrine became more restrictive in 1945 than in 1921, reflecting an actual reduction in perceived capability.
5. British capability was perceived to be better in 1941 than US capability in 1945, since PoW opened fire on Bismarck at greater than 28,000 yds in the 2nd engagement.
6. Iowa and New Jersey clearly violated the rules at Truk by firing on Nowaki at 35,000 to 39,000 yds.
7. There was only a minor difference in day and night gunnery, since Oldendorf was apparently permitted to open fire at 26,000 yds at Surigao but wouldn't have been allowed to fire at greater than 28,000 yds in daylight.
8. All the practice shoots done at much greater than 28,000 yds were pointless and a waste of time, since no one was ever going to actually do that in battle.

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: Long Range Gunnery

Post by alecsandros » Sat Jun 19, 2010 6:51 pm

Bgile wrote:So you guys apparently believe that:

1. There was no improvement in US battleship gunnery between 1921 and 1945.
2. If you outnumbered the enemy you should send some of your ships away because concentration was a bad idea.
3. Oldendorf broke the rules at Surigao because he couldn't see the enemy when he opened fire.
4. US Gunnery doctrine became more restrictive in 1945 than in 1921, reflecting an actual reduction in perceived capability.
5. British capability was perceived to be better in 1941 than US capability in 1945, since PoW opened fire on Bismarck at greater than 28,000 yds in the 2nd engagement.
6. Iowa and New Jersey clearly violated the rules at Truk by firing on Nowaki at 35,000 to 39,000 yds.
7. There was only a minor difference in day and night gunnery, since Oldendorf was apparently permitted to open fire at 26,000 yds at Surigao but wouldn't have been allowed to fire at greater than 28,000 yds in daylight.
8. All the practice shoots done at much greater than 28,000 yds were pointless and a waste of time, since no one was ever going to actually do that in battle.
Hi Steve,
Don't be so grumpy.

1) Yes there was.

2-3), 6) The doctrine isn't Moses code of law, so it can be adjusted by the commanding officers in case of need.

4), 8) No, it just became more down to earth. After practice firing at 35.000 and 38.000k, the admirals realized it wasn't any good. Also, this was a doctrine for all battleships... something in general...
Naturaly, more advanced units, such as the Iowa's, could engage the enemy differently, especialy after receiving the late-1944 radars. But other units, with lesser quality guns, shells, fire control and stability, would be ill advised to brake the rules.
At least this is what I understand from these papers...

5) The capability existed for both USN and RN. However, the 40+ shells fired by PoW for no hits shows that, in fact, the Royal Navy was far from being a long range hiter at that time (the war proved teh RN didn't want to pursue this course of action anyway).

7) In late 1944, good radars made night battles more easy. The link I provided shows US BB doctrine 1930-1941. David wrote about 28k being extreme range in 1945 also.
This isn't as definitive as you try to make it look. "Extreme range" doesn't mean "impossible range". It marks, however, a boudnary of expected hit probability. Taking into account the costs of the APC shells and re-boring of the guns, coupled with potential refits to the superstructures after muzzle blasts, it is only logical to asume that the high command wanted the most possible hits/fewest possible shots fired... And, naturaly, a somewhat shorter engagement range than the one actualy possible.

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Supporter
Posts: 3097
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: Long Range Gunnery

Post by Dave Saxton » Sat Jun 19, 2010 6:56 pm

It doesn't matter what you or I believe, but what the documentation indicates. This is 1945 doctrine based on war experience, so pre-1945 actions may not have been governed by the same guidelines. But even if the USN 1945 guidelines were or were not in effect previously, previous American actions were generally in accordance with them anyway. In these cases of US ships firing at extreme ranges or at night, the identity of the enemy had already been determined to a reasonable extent by: previous combat action, by air spotters, other warships, and additionally by being cleared through the CIC. Hence WV waited for the CIC to determine that friendlies had cleared and permission to fire on the radar targets granted.

The USN allowed the on scene commanders to use their own judgement, as long they could justify their decisions. If its obvious that the target is the enemy the on scene commander should be given some lattitude. A culture that restricted the decisions of on scene commanders, by Hitlers no unnessary risks policy for example post Bismarck, is exactly what handicapped the KM.

Oldendorf's group also needed to wait until the range (at least 26k) had closed enough to provide a better hit %, given the need to ration AP ammunition.

It's interesting that 18,000 yards, or the boundry to "moderate range" (in the 1945 guidelines as well), is 50% the max range of the guns. 21,000 yards or the boundry to long range is 58% the max range of the guns. This most likely has to do with the unalterable fact that hit % is significantly greater at around 50% or less the max range, compared to plus ~50% the max ballistic range. This fact is governed by ballistics and not firecontrol.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: Long Range Gunnery

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:48 pm

6. Iowa and New Jersey clearly violated the rules at Truk by firing on Nowaki at 35,000 to 39,000 yds.
It is obvious that this is the biblical episode in which all the USN gospel (in this forum but not within the USN itself) rests. Dave Saxton brings about a USN gunnery document, and because it do not abide the gospel then is questioned. Is like to have Moses being questioned by the Pope because the prophet tells us something that contradicts some dogma.

On the other hand lwd questions the document itself by asking that he doesn't know who write it. If you see any US Armed Forces manual they do not have a signature like: William Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde or Robert McNamara. These manuals are written by a bureau and approved by a committee or comision, and each revision is stated in the front page. It a shame that, in this particular case, the manual do not fit the perceptions brought to the amateur naval world (in which ALL of us are included) fifteen years ago and defended with Inquisitional faith by the navweaps site.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: Long Range Gunnery

Post by Bgile » Sat Jun 19, 2010 9:00 pm

Dave Saxton wrote: Oldendorf's group also needed to wait until the range (at least 26k) had closed enough to provide a better hit %, given the need to ration AP ammunition.
Actually in Oldendorf's case the Mark3 ships couldn't acquire the target at 26,000 yds, let alone further. He was also planning to wait for the destroyers to complete their torpedo attacks before firing. In the actual event I think he waited until 24,000 yds and finally opened fire because the cruisers (he was on one of them) were down to around 15,000 yds range. As it was, at least one of the destroyers was hit by US cruiser fire.

I'm sorry I got so sarcastic ... really no place for that in a good discussion. Thanks for the reasoned replies to my unreasonable comments.

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Long Range Gunnery

Post by lwd » Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:04 pm

Reading through the document posted above, http://www.ijnhonline.org/volume1_numbe ... ne.doc.htm
I notice plenty of support for long range engagements. Certainly target ID was important but that was becoming less of an issue by 45 with the combination of the various recon sources and good ship to ship comms.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: Long Range Gunnery

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:12 pm

Silence has engulfed this thread. I wonder why... :think:
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: Long Range Gunnery

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sun Jun 27, 2010 11:15 pm

Well, it seems that's it, isn't it?
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: Long Range Gunnery

Post by alecsandros » Mon Jun 28, 2010 5:38 am

I guess it is.
The problem is far to complex to be tackled on the forum.

There should be conferences about this.. Practical long range shi-to-ship gunnery..

Brad Fischer
Member
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2005 4:48 pm
Location: USA

Re: Long Range Gunnery

Post by Brad Fischer » Sun Oct 10, 2010 10:10 pm

I’ve skimmed through this thread a bit and bgile is correct regarding USN doctrinal thinking regarding battleships gunfire. ComBatPac’s official gunnery doctrine for PacFlt’s battleships (Gunnery Doctrine and Instructions, Battleships, U.S. Pacific Fleet 1944) is very explicit about open fire instructions, expected battery employment and even gives a vignette on probable employment for day and night action. The document would supersede any individual ship departmental document; this generally isn’t a problem since most documents, including Massachusetts’ doctrine is based on a type commander’s doctrine. Incidentally I have yet to see any individual departmental document that gives explicit instructions as Gunnery Doctrine does. This includes other commands such as ComCruPac and ComDestroyer’s own gunnery doctrine.

It should be pointed out that this document was penned and signed by VADM Lee who was not only ComBatPac for the majority of the war but also ComBatLine for 3rd/5th fleet as well. I’ve discussed this (and other doctrinal documents) with Trent Hone and others on their interpretation of the document intent as well as what Lee might have been expected to do during his time in command of PacFlt’s battleships. It’s clear that the USN and indeed Lee’s intent was to exploit the superiority in long range gunfire. When one read’s Gunnery Doctrine and compares this to the mosaic of data that came out of BuOrd and other commands during the 1943-1944 timeframe regarding radar and gunnery it is not surprising that Lee choose this path. What is interesting is that it is clear that many of the procedures that are listed in Gunnery Doctrine were already in place well before the document’s official distribution. Here are some salient points that are relevant to this discussion:

In the General (introduction) section the document mentions that “this doctrine is written particularly for the present gunnery installations of battleships No. 55 and later, and for the ultimate gunnery installations of battleships No. 48 and earlier.” This of course represents the Mark 38/34 GFCS with Mark 8 radars and automatic train/gun laying via receiver regulators.

In the Main Battery section it details several interesting points. One it the emphasis of hitting first as it can “infliction vital and possibly disastrous damage upon the enemy, but by disruption of his armament…”

3130 Open Fire Instructions

3132. In the absence of signals or other compelling reasons to the contrary, battleships are expected to open fire on suitable targets at a range of 32,000 yards during good visibility in the daytime, and at a range of 18,000yds at night.”

3230 Spotting

Instead of quoting directly the passages which is fairly voluminous I’ll paraphrase to save some time. This section addresses the point that previous (i.e. optical spotting) procedures are outmoded with radar spot. All radar spots will be direct and first salvos will be to hit the target. Ladders may be advisable at “depending on the quality of range and the accuracy of information of ACTH.” I should note that I’m surprise that Massachusetts’ recommends ladders with radar ranges. Of the 3 individual ship doctrine I’ve seen or have they’re the only ones expecting to use ladders with radar ranging. Ladders are recommended for long ranges if radar ranging is unavailable.

3500 Day Action

This is one of the previously mentioned vignettes. This section discusses how a day action should be expected to be carried out for battleship main batteries. The most pertinent point is that opening fire would probably opened at extreme ranges and range closed to maximum reliable radar spotting range. This of value is dependent upon prevailing conditions and would probably be determined by observing the spots coming in from Spots I and II. Gun Doctrine describes this as between 27-32kyds. Our research indicates this is closer to 35Kyds with large salvos (6-9 guns).

This section indicates, not surprisingly, the fire would be opened by signal from OTC but if there was no received signal “…ships will open fire in accordance with the doctrine set forth in paragraph 3130.” I.e. no later than 32,000yds.

3600 Night Action.

Due to the more complex problem, the night action vignette is larger than day action; most of it detailing variances from day action. The most important point as it relates to this discussion is that fire would probably be opened at maximum effective radar spotting range and the range closed to “about 25,000yds to facilitate deflection spotting.”

The above should indicate the general tactical thinking of USN’s battleships and at least Adm. Lee. Obviously not all officers would have followed this doctrine to the “T”; it’s designed to give the OTC the flexibility to use his own judgment. I do think that too much emphasis is being placed on the range nomenclature. Those range bands came into use in the early 30s and are really only relevant to signaling, promulgation of battle plans; things of those nature.

My opinion is that long range would have been very effective but not under all circumstances. Certainly against another battleship or battleline, particularly during a day action is the most optimal conditions for successfully employing that tactic. Night action against screening units and or light ships that are maneuvering or on a fine target angle is a much more difficult gunnery problem and it is unlikely to have been nearly (if at all) successful tactic. The RN AFCT Mk X was the next logical step for dealing with the latter situation although the era of guided missiles were starting when it was introduced.
In the context of certain scenarios, such as dealing with Yamato as outlined above I think too much emphasis is being placed on certain technical aspects (nuts and bolts). Certainly all things being equal having more armor and displacement/protected buoyance is desirable but rarely were such aspects truly decisive. For instance armor buys a ship time, it doesn’t buy invulnerability and when facing a more numerous opponent who can hit at least as good as you (in actually probably much better) all it may do is delay the inevitable.

It is certainly fun to speculate how such actions may have unfolded. My belief is that both lines would have opened fire in the mid to low 30s. It’s open to interpretation on whether Lee or another OTC would have chosen to stay at these long ranges but my guess is that the ranges would have dwindled down to the mid to high 20s before one side broke off action (or attempted to). By 1944, however, even if the Japanese had won a decisive engagement, their forces were unlikely to have escaped and in the end their remaining fleet was like more armor: they were only delaying the inevitable.

Brad Fischer

Post Reply