Battleship guns against land targets

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Battleship guns against land targets

Postby paul.mercer » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:14 pm

Gentlemen,
A lot has been said about the impact of battleship sized shells i.e 14/15/16" against other ships, what sort of impact would they have against the German Gun emplacements such as those at Normandy? (I believe that Rodney also shelled gun emplacements in the Channel Isles) Would a 14/15/16" penetrate such thick concrete?
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Re: Battleship guns against land targets

Postby Bgile » Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:02 am

paul.mercer wrote:Gentlemen,
A lot has been said about the impact of battleship sized shells i.e 14/15/16" against other ships, what sort of impact would they have against the German Gun emplacements such as those at Normandy? (I believe that Rodney also shelled gun emplacements in the Channel Isles) Would a 14/15/16" penetrate such thick concrete?


Yes, but the problem is it would require a direct hit, which was very difficult to achieve using normal fire control procedures. I can remember a report about an instance where a US battleship in the Pacific even used individual guns fired at close range by the gunner in the turret to hit bunkers. Direct engagement with a 16" gun.
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Re: Battleship guns against land targets

Postby Gary » Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:13 am

Large calibre naval guns were great against Tanks - you didnt even need a direct hit - a near miss was enough to wreck one.
I heard a tale where a Swordfish pilot claims he saw a 15 inch shell from HMS Renown demolish a row of houses like they were a pack of cards (I'm guessing it was the Genoa bombardment?)

Are there any documneted cases (or aftermath pictures) of 14/15 or 16 inch guns busting through concrete bunkers?
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Re: Battleship guns against land targets

Postby frontkampfer » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:07 pm

One of the US battleships at Normandy (i forget which one) scored a direct hit on one of the german bunkers. The shell went through one of the Fc plotting rooms killing everyone inside.
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Re: Battleship guns against land targets

Postby José M. Rico » Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:57 pm

Regarding Normandy- considering the massive naval bombardment, I find it amazing how many German bunkers and defenses survived to welcome the landing troops.

Pointe du Hoc. Omaha Beach. Craters still seen today.
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Re: Battleship guns against land targets

Postby lwd » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:32 pm

That is an impressive photo.
This page give some details of the Normandy fire support plan and execution:
http://www.bb35library.usstexasbb35.com ... mandy.html
This page mentions:
http://www.museumstuff.com/learn/topics ... Resistance
The old battleships HMS Ramillies and Warspite and the monitor HMS Roberts were used to suppress shore batteries east of the Orne; cruisers targeted shore batteries at Ver-sur-Mer and Moulineaux; eleven destroyers for local fire support.

and totaly OT but something I hadn't seen before and was a bit surprised by
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In regards to Revenge:
http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/guides/Re ... e__History
Her next action of note was as a fire support vessel for the Normandy landings on the 06th June 1944, here her first task was the 6” gun battery at Benneville, in this engagement she knocked out all six guns, In an ironic moment she had had all but eight of her secondary 6” guns removed, designed to repulse torpedo boat attacks which were judged no longer a risk she fired on two attacking German destroyers which fired five torpedoes at her, thankfully all missed. On the evening of the 06th June she returned to Portsmouth to restock her ammunition, she returned on the 08th and destroyed another gun battery Throughout June Ramillies provide fire support to troops ashore , usually radio directed, she hit concentration of enemy armour, troop concentrations and another attack by German torpedo boats On the 10th June she shelled a railway junction at Caen at her maximum gun range, on the 11th June she destroyed a large number of enemy tanks massing to counter-attack then returned to shelling Caen railway junction. On the 15th June she was shelled by a mobile artillery battery which hit her twice injuring one of her crew, she simply moved out of range and carried on with her many bombardment tasks during which she fired just over 1000 rounds of 15” – the highest number of heavy shells fired by an RN ship in a single duty August 1944 saw her providing fire support to the allied landings in southern France, this time the German gun batteries at the port of Toulon were her target.

In regards to Arkansas
http://www.acepilots.com/ships/arkansas.html
The ship entered the Baie de la Seine on 6 June, and took up a position 4,000 yards off "Omaha" beach. At 0552, Arkansas's guns opened fire. During the day, the venerable battleship underwent shore battery fire and air attacks; over ensuing days she continued her fire support. On the 13th, Arkansas shifted to a position off Grandcamp les Bains.

On 25 June 1944, Arkansas dueled with German shore batteries off Cherbourg, the enemy repeatedly straddling the battleship but never hitting her. Her big guns helped support the Allied attack on that key port, and led to the capture of it the following day. Retiring to Weymouth, England, and arriving there at 2220, the battleship shifted to Bangor, on 30 June.
...
On 14 August, Operation "Anvil" the invasion of the southern French coast between Toulon and Cannes, began. Arkansas provided fire support for the initial landings on 15 August, and continued her bombardment through 17 August.

Considerably more on Texas at http://www.historycentral.com/navy/battle/Texas2.html
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Re: Battleship guns against land targets

Postby José M. Rico » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:42 pm

lwd wrote:That is an impressive photo.

Yes, it is.
The German fortifications apparently survived the naval and air bombardment, and the US Rangers had to come in to do the job before the main landing forces arrived that morning.
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Re: Battleship guns against land targets

Postby lwd » Wed Jan 05, 2011 4:20 pm

In the link above (http://www.bb35library.usstexasbb35.com ... mandy.html)
it mentions:
The initial bombardment commenced at 0550, against the site of six 155mm gun, atop Point du Hoe. When TEXAS ceased firing at the Point, at 0624, 255 14" shells were fired in 34 minutes for a rate of fire of 7.5 shells a minute. This was also the longest sustained period of BB35 firing in WWII. The The high point provided a commanding field of fire to hurl shells on the invasion. 225 men of the 2ND Ranger Battalion were to scale the cliffs of Point du Hoe immediately after the bombardment ceased. Once captured the rest of 2ND Battalion and the 5th Battalion were to follow. The Ranger mission was to destroy the guns.

Pilot error on the landing craft caused a late arrival at the cliffs. Because the rest of the Ranger force did not receive the prearranged signal from atop the cliffs, they assumed the assault failed and went ashore on Western Omaha. The late assault start also lost the element of surprise. The Germans were ready when the Rangers started their climb. In the face of murderous fire, the Rangers had no where to go but to cliff top. The crest was reached and they began to push in. The guns were not in the prepared position but hidden in nearby woods and were ready to fire. The decimated Rangers captured and destroyed the guns.


I wonder if the trees mention are the ones that appear at the left edge of the photo or if the tree line has changed.
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Re: Battleship guns against land targets

Postby tommy303 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:51 am

Generally speaking, the USN was loath to use APC in shore bombardment as the shells were costly and not always available for replenishment. Battleships assigned to shore bombardment generally carried mostly HC in the case of the 16-inch or HC and the 14-in bombardment base fuzed Mk9. HC could be fitted with both nose and base fuzes, or against hardened targets with a nose plug and base fuze. The bombardment Mk9 was something akin to a base fuzed HE or SAP shell without a cap or windscreen. Neither would have had the penetrative power of APC, and in many cases, shore bombardment was often conducted using reduced charges to lessen barrel wear, so often very stoutly built concrete bunkers could withstand multiple hits.

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Re: Battleship guns against land targets

Postby RF » Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:46 am

José M. Rico wrote:
lwd wrote:That is an impressive photo.

Yes, it is.
The German fortifications apparently survived the naval and air bombardment, and the US Rangers had to come in to do the job before the main landing forces arrived that morning.


But this is nothing new - in purely land warfare with army artillery WW1 demonstrated that even the most intense and concentrated barrages simply failed to knock out the defenses. The Somme in 1916 for example.
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Re: Battleship guns against land targets

Postby Keith Enge » Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:55 am

You didn't need heavy concrete bunkers; the Japanese proved that coconut logs would suffice. After Tarawa, the US conducted tests to see why the pre-battle bombardment hadn't been more effective. They built their own versions on Hawaii and subjected them to a variety of naval gunfire. They found that APC was almost totally ineffective, usually the shell just buried itself and didn't explode (unlike armor, the logs didn't provide the sudden deceleration needed to set off the detonator). HE shells would destroy the target but required the unlikely direct hit; the coconut log bunkers swallowed up the shrapnel of near misses very well. The log bunkers also were very hard to see, even by troops ashore let alone by planes overhead or ships offshore. The other problem of shore bombardment was the flatness of the shell's flight. You had to be reasonably close to be accurate but, with high velocity naval guns, that meant a very flat trajectory. This wasn't ideal for shore bombardment, it took only a small hill or ridge to make forces on the other side immune to naval gunfire. Instead, you needed something like a mortar or howitzer to lob shells over the obstruction. As the war moved on, the pre-battle bombardment was recognized as having a limited effect especially when the Japanese decided not to oppose the landings strongly but rather dig in inland. Naval gunfire was useful during the battle, mainly for interdiction (preventing the enemy from moving up reserves, etc). If the enemy did move and so expose himself, they then became viable targets for naval guns. An example of this is the great effect of naval guns against German tanks at Salerno and Anzio. These guns, however, weren't battleship guns but cruisers and destroyers. These had the rate of fire to spread shells over a large area; for interdiction, a lot of small shells is much better than a single much larger shell. We must remember that even a small naval gun like a 4 or 5" gun is a large gun in land warfare terms (the famous German 88 is only 3.5").
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Re: Battleship guns against land targets

Postby RF » Fri Jan 21, 2011 7:04 pm

Bsaically the same reason that the Stukas were ineffective at Dunkirk - the bombs largely remained unexploded in the soft sand. But of course the US military wasn't there to see...
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Re: Battleship guns against land targets

Postby tommy303 » Fri Jan 21, 2011 7:49 pm

Ordnance, whether bombs or shells would explode in sand or cinders, but would tend to bury themselves in so deeply before detonation took place, that the sand or cinder medium would absorb the majority of the blast and splinter effect, thus greatly reducing the casualty causing potential of the round in question.

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Re: Battleship guns against land targets

Postby guesser » Sun Jul 29, 2012 8:15 am

I read recently that the 2700 lb US superheavy AP shell could penetrate 23 ft of reenforced concrete, which would be devistating even if it didn't explode.
Watching the Military channel I listened to a German defender at Normandy stating that they felt confident in their effect on the attacking forces until the naval artillary started landing in their area. Another story I read had US landing forces stating that they felt helpless against the attacking German armor falling on them but that the German armor was but a slow easy target for the 6" cruisers offshore.
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