Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

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Wello
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Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

Postby Wello » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:26 am

Morning all,

I have a query in relation to turret terminology that's been nagging me for a while.

I have come across the terms ‘triple turret’ and ‘triple gun’. They seem to be used interchangeably in a few sources and also appear to mean different things. For example I’ve seen triple gun being used to mean there were ‘three barrels in the one turret’ but also used to mean there were ‘three turrets on the ship’ (I suspect the later is wrong).

I am trying to ascertain if the Yamato’s main armament consisted of three turrets, each containing three ‘barrels’ that could be individually elevated/depressed. Or if the barrels in each turret were ‘linked’ so that they elevated and depressed as one.

I have a suspicion that, if the ‘barrels’ can be elevated/depressed independently, they were called guns. In which case a ‘triple gun turret’ would imply that the turret housed three individual guns that could be elevated/depressed independently.

However if it is described as a ‘triple turret’ it leaves a little bit of ambiguity as to whether or not they were linked.

I’m relatively new to all this, so perhaps I’m getting things muddled.

There is the famous photo of the Yamato being fitted out, that shows one barrel of one of the main batteries elevated whilst the other two are level. However, as this is during construction, it’s not very concrete as evidence. All other photos I have found of the Yamato (and Musashi) show all the barrels/guns at the same level of elevation. I’m not sure if that is because they were linked, or if it was just the IJN being neat and orderly.

So, I guess my question is, what are the definitions surrounding turret configurations?

Any advice appreciated.

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Re: Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

Postby northcape » Fri Mar 22, 2013 3:13 am

not too sure about definitions, but from my knowledge the french richelieus (and perhaps the dunkerques?) were the only modern (post-dreadnought) battleships which had jointed guns. meaning, in their quad turrets the guns were paired, such that two guns had to be elevated simultaneously to the same inclination. all other ships had individually mounted guns.

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Re: Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

Postby tommy303 » Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:11 am

Yamato's main guns were installed in three-gun, armoured gun houses, the latter being commonly, but incorrectly termed turrets. The term triple or twin gun turrets generally refers to a turret or gun house in which the guns are in common cradles and elevate or depress as a single unit. Three gun or double gun turrets have guns in individual cradles or sleeves capable of being elevated independently. The French quad turrets were more properly double twins in which the guns in each pair elevated together, but could be elevated independently of the other pair. There was, somewhat unusually in the French arrangement, a slight amount of individual gun adjustment in each pair.

In the USN, triple-gun turrets were abandoned after the Pennsylvania class battleships (Pennsylvania and Arizona); all subsequent battleships built for the USN had three gun turrets.

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Re: Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

Postby Wello » Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:35 am

Thank you Tommy303 and Northcape,

That has pretty much confirmed what I suspected.
Also, I just stumbled across a webpage with definitions by Tony DiGuilian.

It suggests that the USN use "two gun/three gun" to describe arrangements where the guns are individually sleeved and thus able to elevate independently of the others, whilst "Twin/triple" is used if they share a single cradle and move in tandem.

Which is what you guys have advised. It does go on to note that other nations do not necessarily use these distinctions. Which may be where the ambiguity has crept in.

Thanks again for the prompt replies!

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Re: Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

Postby northcape » Fri Mar 22, 2013 4:16 pm

tommy303 wrote: The French quad turrets were more properly double twins in which the guns in each pair elevated together, but could be elevated independently of the other pair. There was, somewhat unusually in the French arrangement, a slight amount of individual gun adjustment in each pair.


There is this photograph (in G&D) of Richelieu (~1943) where the second (or third) barrel is elevated above all other barrels, obviously indicating the residual individual gun adjustment.

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Re: Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

Postby RNfanDan » Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:40 pm

tommy303 wrote:Yamato's main guns were installed in three-gun, armoured gun houses, the latter being commonly, but incorrectly termed turrets.
In what way is it incorrect to describe Yamato's three-gun mountings as "turrets'? Their training and laying functions were fully powered, served, and loaded, whereas "mountings" were typically not served and loaded by dedicated hoists and loader/rammer machinery. Perhaps I misunderstand this distinction?

To answer part of the original question, YES, each barrel of Yamato's 18" turrets was capable of individual elevation. A very widely-circulated photo of the ship shows the quarterdeck of Yamato during her fitting-out, complete with workshop/shed nearby, with one barrel at or near its maximum elevation, while the other two lie much more level.

Thanks in advance for clarifying any misunderstanding as noted above...

Dan
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Re: Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

Postby Wello » Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:22 pm

Thanks for the info RNFanDan.

I had seen that photo with just one of the barrels elevated, but thought it may have just been an anomally during construction (having absolutely no idea how you put together a gun that size).

It's a shame the Japanese were so thorough in their destruction of naval records after the war. Likewise, it's a shame all of the Yamato class were sunk, I'd have loved to walked that deck.
Then again, even if they survived the war, I'm pretty sure the allies would have sent them to the bottom as part of their weapons testing program anyway.

I've not been on ANY battleship unfortunately (only ever been on the HMAS Diamntina... which is a long way from a battleship). Not much opportunity down here in Oz.
And most of my holidays are spent in Japan. Likewise, not many battleships for tourists over there. But the Yamato museum in Kure is pretty cool.

Anyway, I digress.

Thanks for the info.

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Re: Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

Postby tommy303 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:44 am

In what way is it incorrect to describe Yamato's three-gun mountings as "turrets'? Their training and laying functions were fully powered, served, and loaded, whereas "mountings" were typically not served and loaded by dedicated hoists and loader/rammer machinery. Perhaps I misunderstand this distinction?


In general terms, a turreted ship carries its main armament in an armoured structure which revolves on a fixed turret ring which is part of the actual structure of the ship's deck. A fixed hoist, which did not revolve with the turret brought ammo from lower quarters to a handling room just below the turret. Ready-use ammo was carried in the turret, and when it was necessary to replenish, the turret had to be trained to a fixed replenishing position. Later on, to speed up rate of fire, an upper hoist revolving with the turret was incorporated to permit any angle of train reloading (the 5-inch dual purpose turrets on American battleships and cruisers are good examples).

A ship carrying its armament en barbette has the guns mounted on a gun platform carried within an armoured barbette or redoubt. Originally, the loading arrangements were fixed within the barbette and did not revolve with the gun platform, and the guns had to be trained back to a fixed loading angle to reload. In early barbettes, the guns were unprotected and fired over the top edge of the armoured barbette. Later on, when it was realized that any angle of train loading would help speed up the rate of fire, loading arrangements and controls were moved to the gun platform and an armoured gun house was incorporated to protect the guns and their crews. The rotating structure now included the gun house, hoists, and machinery platforms all contained and revolving within the barbette. Prior to and after WW2 it was common in the USN to find ships which carried their main armament in barbette mounted gun houses and secondary guns in turrets.

Today, the terms gun house and turret are very blurred and probably synonymous due to usage.

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Re: Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

Postby Rick Rather » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:17 am

Must not.... give... wedgie!
Just because it's stupid, futile and doomed to failure, that doesn't mean some officer won't try it.
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Re: Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

Postby tommy303 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:44 pm

The main thing to remember is that in a ship whose armament is en barbette, the gun platform, its associated gun house, hoists, and machinery platforms all rotate within the armoured cylinder of the barbette. This extends, usually, deep into the ship as far as the armoured deck. In a turret ship, the turret revolves on a fixed turret ring, with no barbette extending below.

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They stood and Earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned these defended;
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Re: Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

Postby paul.mercer » Mon Apr 22, 2013 8:31 pm

Gentlemen,
Is it true that the Yamato's had about 25" of armour on the face plate of their turrets, if so, surely this would be completely inpenetratable?

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Re: Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

Postby Rick Rather » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:21 am

tommy303 wrote:The main thing to remember is that in a ship whose armament is en barbette, the gun platform, its associated gun house, hoists, and machinery platforms all rotate within the armoured cylinder of the barbette. This extends, usually, deep into the ship as far as the armoured deck. In a turret ship, the turret revolves on a fixed turret ring, with no barbette extending below.


This official training film disagrees with your limited definition.
Just because it's stupid, futile and doomed to failure, that doesn't mean some officer won't try it.
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Re: Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

Postby tommy303 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:04 pm

We are getting into the foggy realm of semantics at this point, and American English and the Queen's English diverged long ago then converged again after WW2. Even US manuals refer to barbettes and turrets, as for that matter do post WW2 British manuals. Still the original definitions were as I stated.

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Re: Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

Postby tommy303 » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:09 am

As I said much earlier, the definitions are now so blurred as to be virtually meaningless, but at the time of WW2 and before, the terminologies were more clearly delineated.

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Re: Gun turret definitions (Yamato)

Postby Rick Rather » Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:19 am

tommy303 wrote:As I said much earlier, the definitions are now so blurred as to be virtually meaningless, but at the time of WW2 and before, the terminologies were more clearly delineated.


Understood. FWIW, I always wince when I here people use the terms "slack-off", "decimate" or "quantum leap", since the original meanings are nearly the exact opposite of what common usage would have you believe.

The usage I have always (for as many decades as I have been studying naval ships) seen for turrets refers to the entire rotating structure which might consist of just the gunhouse (the part visible on deck) - such as on USS Monitor - or go down several decks as shown in the aforementioned training film. Barbettes, as I have seen the term used on naval ships, refers to the non-rotating cylinder or "sleeve" in which the below-deck portions of a large turret rotate.
Just because it's stupid, futile and doomed to failure, that doesn't mean some officer won't try it.
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