[Maybe once when WWarspite hit Giulio Cesare at 24km]
Talking about facts, probabilities and ideas, which are all seperate things. Facts, few actions/hits at long range. Probabilities, hits are few and far between at long range. ( More so for some than others.) The idea is that it is advantagious for the ship with the best FCS to open fire as soon as possible is based on the idea that eliminating major enemy units that can not be replaced is such that the expenditure of ammo cost is insignificant compaired to the potential gains.
The facts, as far as I know, are that there were only 3 occasions when battleships fired > 30km during WW2:
- Prince of Wales and Bismarck slugging it out in the evening of May 24th, at ranges ~ 30km. They fired at least 80 heavy shells in total, scoring exactly ZERO hits.
- Yamato firing against CVE Gambier Bay during battle of Samar, at ~ 32km, scoring ZERO hits.
- New Jersey and Iowa firing ~ 40shells against IJN DD Nowaki, at ~ 32-34km, in Fev 1944, scoring ZERO hits.
An agressive captain with perfect intel and on perfect weather would probably open fire close to maximum possible range (as was the case of Iowa shooting Nowaki). However, such events occur very rarely (the weather can be a major problem), and actualy hitting anything at such ranges is ... very unlikely...