Littorio class design flaws?

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by alecsandros » Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:06 pm

Serg wrote:
It's truth. And I wonder why someone tried to prove 'poor performance' Littorio at Sirt if it is very difficult :-)
Littorio obtained 1 hit and 2 near misses, and neither is certain (they may have come from Italian CAs).
Bismarck obtained several near misses on 3 different targets, at night.
Washington sank 1 DD and may have damaged a second, at night (looks like my memory is playing tricks - I used to remember Washington engaged 2 different IJN destroyers before attacking Kirishima)
Warspite participated in the sinking of 8 destroyers
Massachussets participated obtained direct hits on several targets.

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by delcyros » Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:08 pm

SCHARNHORST & GNEISENAU together sunk two DD´s at medium range exclusively from 5.9" and 4.1" fire.

However, nobody can match up with the record of SMS WESTFALEN at Jutland, credited with the sinking of four DD´s.

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by Serg » Sat Mar 02, 2013 2:34 pm

alecsandros wrote:Littorio obtained 1 hit and 2 near misses, and neither is certain (they may have come from Italian CAs).
Bismarck obtained several near misses on 3 different targets, at night.
Washington sank 1 DD and may have damaged a second, at night (looks like my memory is playing tricks - I used to remember Washington engaged 2 different IJN destroyers before attacking Kirishima)
Warspite participated in the sinking of 8 destroyers
Massachussets participated obtained direct hits on several targets.
Have you read the page above? British DD's fired 36 torpedos (2 of them prematurely) on Littorio and all of them missed. Also accurate fire from Littorio at least affected the Kingston which was hit by 15" shell as she was about to fire torpedos. And Lively was damaged at the waterline by a 15" when she firing all 8 torpedos at the battleship. This is what the British say. So I did not see why Bismarck, Warspite, Washington, Massachussets etc were better in this aspect. Especially because they itself disabled zero, one (stationary target), two (including 1 own DD) and three DD's (one of them also stationary) respectively.

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by Serg » Sat Mar 02, 2013 2:36 pm

delcyros wrote:SCHARNHORST & GNEISENAU together sunk two DD´s at medium range exclusively from 5.9" and 4.1" fire.

However, nobody can match up with the record of SMS WESTFALEN at Jutland, credited with the sinking of four DD´s.
Who is credited Westfallen, Campbell? That interesting, definitely the casuiltes of Westfalen is a 3 DD's: Fortune, Ardent and Turbulent. But who is the fourth? Petard - no vital damage, Broke probably lost control due to hits by Rostock.

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by alecsandros » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:50 pm

Serg wrote: Have you read the page above? British DD's fired 36 torpedos (2 of them prematurely) on Littorio and all of them missed. Also accurate fire from Littorio at least affected the Kingston which was hit by 15" shell as she was about to fire torpedos. And Lively was damaged at the waterline by a 15" when she firing all 8 torpedos at the battleship. This is what the British say. So I did not see why Bismarck, Warspite, Washington, Massachussets etc were better in this aspect. Especially because they itself disabled zero, one (stationary target), two (including 1 own DD) and three DD's (one of them also stationary) respectively.
...
It's more complicated than that.
The damage Littorio delivered was at ~ 4-5 km distance, while all other battleships mentioned scored hits or kept enemy destroyers at arms length, at ranges greater than that.

Again, the tactical situation was very favorable for Littorio (with heavy escort), while Bismarck and Washington at least had exactly zero escort, and still got the job done.

Another situation would be operation Berlin, when several GErman heavy ships passed thorugh the Channell.
Several dstroyers were scrambbled to intercept, but they were taken under fire by Gneisenau, and Prinz Eugen and their escorts.
1 DD was badly damaged, and they did not score any hits on the German squadron.

And, if you like comparable weahter/visibility, thnk about Baretns Sea for a moment: Hipper straddled and repeatedly hit HMS Achates (sunk) and HMS Obedient (badly damaged), from ranges up to 16km. Lutzow also straddled and damaged Obdurate, at 15km distance in zero visibility.

how do you think Littorio, a full-sized battleship performed, considering the above situations ?

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by Serg » Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:39 pm

Lively closed range to 4 miles (7+ km), Kingston to 3 miles (5.5 km). Not surprising because visibility was about 6 miles at this moment.

Note that British DD's were not the single in the sea but have support from light cruisers.

What job was done by Bismarck and Washington? All DD's which attacked Bismarck at night were ready for action on the next day. Washington has retreated in front of the Japanese DD's than have opened a way for Tanaka's transports.

Both german cruisers used far advenced radar technique (even blind fire ability according to Mr Saxton) that help them to achive long range hits. And there are was small swell instead of extremelly rough seas at Sirt. When Italian heavy cruisers rolled as much as 12 degrees and light cruiser up to 27.
In any case I can calculate hits for comparision:
Onslow 3 hits 1 near miss;
Achates 3 hits 3 near misses;
Bramble 2 hits observed.
Hipper spent 375 203mm shells with hit rate about 3%. It it pretty good result but not better than 15" at Sirt.
Lutzov fired 86 280mm and 76 150mm shells for 2 or 3 hits & near misses - no comments :-)

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:52 am

Alex, are you sure all the hits and near misses scored by Littorio were from such short range?

Washington did not hit or near miss any of Hashimoto's destroyers east of Savo.

The US DDs were in the van ahead of Washington when they were engaged by Hashimoto's third detsroyer Ayanami as they passed to the south of Savo Island. Ayanami had circled around the west side of Savo. The lead American destroyers were hard hit by Ayanami which was hidden by the radar shadow of Savo.

Washington's radars were out of order at that time except for the CXAM which detected the approach of Nagara (this was still some time before Washington's SG began tracking what turned out to be Kirishima). The Washington could not distinguish the IJN destroyers except by gun flashes and thought they were actual shore batteries on Savo Island. Washington was firing at gun flashes. Perhaps Washington scored some hits on Ayanami along with hits from the DD's.

After Preston was hit by Nagara it fell out of line drifting to the starboard of the passing Washington. The command of South Dakota testified that they saw Washington open fire on the Preston. Washington wasn't even aware that they were firing on their own DD, and perhaps Washingtons radars were coming back on line at the time. Washington thought they were hitting an enemy destroyer. (South Dakota later opened fire on the Gwin, thinking it was an enemy cruiser, as its radars came back on line, but it missed. When the Gwin flashed its recognition lights, the South Dakota thought it was the target blowing up. This speaks to how difficult fighting at night can be.)

I don't know of any other instance of Washington shooting at destroyers. After disengaging from Kirishima, Washington didn't open fire again that night. The Washington tracked some contacts on radar which may have been IJN destroyers but Lee forbad opening fire on them because he didn't know the location of the Gwin.

Serg, Both Washington's and Bismarck's actions were at night. In the Bismarck's case the weather was also bad. The Baron reports that the seas were rough and the Bismarck’s bow was swinging back forth through an arc of 80* into a raging gale. Some of the Baron’s comments on the conditions:
The wind!...this evening, 26 May, the northwester, which developed into a real storm over night sealed our fate…the wind and the sea, which gave even the Bismarck trouble, probably handicapped the destroyers even more. With seas breaking over them and spray as high as the bridge…the seas were so heavy that we were not surprised by the long lulls between attacks…
But the British had the highest praise for the Bismarck’s shooting that night. Grenfell’s account (given to him by Vian himself) really highlights this and Vian was of the opinion that Bismarck had to be shooting by radar direction. Some examples of the Bismarck’s shooting from Grenfell’s and other accounts :

Piorun opened fire from 13,500 yards firing three salvoes. Then suddenly it was straddled by the Bismarck’s first 15-inch salvo with one shell missing by only 20 yards. The Piorun made smoke and turned away.

The Bismarck then straddled the Cossack with a 15-inch salvo. The Cossack was some 90 points away from the shooting at Piorun to the west.

Eight minutes later the Bismarck straddled a third destroyer, the Zulu. The destroyer's director was hit and put out of action with three men wounded.

20 minutes after midnight the Bismarck suddenly opened fire on the Sikh, straddling it, which was at the time shadowing the Bismarck; about 16,000 yards off Bismarck’s starboard quarter. Bismarck then altered course with its engines and broke contact for about an hour.

Three more times the Bismarck engaged the destroyers that night.

Just before dawn the at 0656 hours the Maori fire two torpedoes from 9,000 yards. Bismarck straddled it several times as the destroyer retreated at high speed.
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.

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:02 am

Both german cruisers used far advenced radar technique (even blind fire ability according to Mr Saxton) that help them to achive long range hits.
The Luetzow’s KTB is clear that the radar operator had to spot the fall of shot in one case and that the Luetzow continued to straddle its first target after it had become completely shrouded by a snow storm using radar directed fire.

However, the Hipper’s use of radar fire direction is not so clear as it turns out. I have been informed by a person in Germany about primary documents describing severe difficulties using Hipper’s radars that day. The documents reportedly indicate that Kummetz ordered that radar be used for directing fire at the beginning of the battle (0941 hours) when Hipper engaged the Achates from 14km (15,300 yards). O’Hare quotes a crewman from the Achates:
“the enemy picked us out for his early fire. We must have been conspicuous. The German cruiser got us the first time.”
However, after firing five salvoes the Hipper’s radar was knocked out by shock according to the document. Over the next 20 minutes the Hipper fired only intermitant salvos. It took until at least 1016 hours to bring the Hipper’s forward radar back online and the aft radar suffered from a severed power supply cable which was not diagnosed until after the battle.

Nonetheless, the document raises as many questions as it answers. For example, if after being brought back online the forward radar was not used for firecontrol but for sea surveillance; how come the Hipper was surprised by the arrival of Burnet’s cruisers? While at the same time it was hitting destroyers from fairly long range (“…Achates had just cleared her own smoke when Hipper reappeared to northeast. The cruiser opened fire from 14,000 yards and hit her with her first broadside”*) in poor visibility conditions with iced up optics? Kummetz reported that the optics were iced up delaying a reply against the British cruisers. If the optics were indeed iced up, and the radar was being used for surface search, then how was it directing such accurate fire against Achates and Obedient? The visibility was only 8 miles (14.8km) at about 11:30 hours according to the British. Its also interesting that the Hipper suddenly began shooting consistently (and scoring) at the Onslow just about the time the radar was brought back on line. Perhaps these are behind some of questions raised by Adm Krancke about Kummetz’s and Hartmann’s report when reviewing this battle with the Bundesmarine war college during the 1960s? But if the Hipper was shooting this well without using radar it speaks well of the German night optics.

*O’Hare pg-147 Note that German records indicate a range of 17,700 meters not 14,000 yards.
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.

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by alecsandros » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:21 am

Serg wrote:
What job was done by Bismarck and Washington? All DD's which attacked Bismarck at night were ready for action on the next day. Washington has retreated in front of the Japanese DD's than have opened a way for Tanaka's transports.
Bismarck and Washington did their job. Bismarck kept the British DDs at arms length, Washington cleared a way to Kirishima and saved South Dakota.

Littorio on the other hand, allthough heavily escorted, did not manage to stop the British torpedo attack.
Compare this to Massachussets handling of the situation at Casablanca - where all enemy ships were taken out at 10km or more.
When Italian heavy cruisers rolled as much as 12 degrees and light cruiser up to 27.
IIRC, 2 Italian destroyers sank on the way back to port due to storm damage ?

Anyway, Bismarck, Hipper and Lutzow all fought on rough seas...
Another case would be that of Scharnhorst, which damaged Sheffield and Norfolk, and 1 British destroyer at North Cape, in poor weather and heavy seas...
Onslow 3 hits 1 near miss;
Achates 3 hits 3 near misses;
Bramble 2 hits observed.
Hipper spent 375 203mm shells with hit rate about 3%. It it pretty good result but not better than 15" at Sirt.
Lutzov fired 86 280mm and 76 150mm shells for 2 or 3 hits & near misses - no comments :-)
Are you sure about the hits on Onslow and Achates ? I remember at least 4 direct hits on Onslow and at least 6 on Achates.

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by alecsandros » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:30 am

Dave Saxton wrote:.... For example, if after being brought back online the forward radar was not used for firecontrol but for sea surveillance; how come the Hipper was surprised by the arrival of Burnet’s cruisers?
...
Is it possible that Hipper would have used some kind of infra-red sighting device ?

The Baron wrote in his book:

"In spite of the darkness, I could see through my director our shadowy attackers coming nearer and nearer, twisting to attack—each time, I thought, "Now the torpedoes are hissing out of the tubes"—then drawing off".

Some would argue that he was using some sort of IR device... that could see through the night.

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by Serg » Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:36 pm

alecsandros wrote:Bismarck and Washington did their job. Bismarck kept the British DDs at arms length, Washington cleared a way to Kirishima and saved South Dakota.

Littorio on the other hand, allthough heavily escorted, did not manage to stop the British torpedo attack.
Compare this to Massachussets handling of the situation at Casablanca - where all enemy ships were taken out at 10km or more.
This is not true. I think Mr Kennedy is very respectable author to be quoted here. Bismarck pursuit p183-184:
Maori: "... when he was abeam at a range of two and a half miles, she opened fire, so at 1.21 a.m. he turned in and fired all four torpedos."
Zulu: "... at 1.37 a.m. he fired two torpedoes at two miles, and at once opened fire."
Cossack: "Three minutes later, at 1.40 a.m. ... at a range of three miles he fired three of his four torpedoes."
Sikh: "at a distance of three and a half miles fired all four torpedoes."
And final attack:
"At 3·35 a.m. Cossack, having moved to the northward of the enemy, closed in to fire her last torpedo... At a range of two miles he fired his torpedo, this time claimed no hit."
So distances were 2-3.5 nm vs 3-4 nm at Sirt.
alecsandros wrote:Washington cleared a way to Kirishima and saved South Dakota.
Washington lost her position in the channel due to agressive attacks by DD's. And Japanese transports without resistance were beached at the same night. So she did her job partially. Also as Littorio.
alecsandros wrote:Littorio on the other hand, allthough heavily escorted, did not manage to stop the British torpedo attack.
Compare this to Massachussets handling of the situation at Casablanca - where all enemy ships were taken out at 10km or more.
Why I must compare the unlimited visibility at Casablanca with visibility limited to 6 miles during DD's attack on Littorio at Sirt. Only Bismarck has similar conditions (range 13,500 yds vs 14,000 yds opening range for Littorio).
alecsandros wrote:IIRC, 2 Italian destroyers sank on the way back to port due to storm damage ?

Anyway, Bismarck, Hipper and Lutzow all fought on rough seas...
- Yes. Some british DD's also suffered damage in the heavy sea.
- This is incorrect. According to O'Hara Hipper and Lutzov fought in calm sea. Look at quote below.
alecsandros wrote: Are you sure about the hits on Onslow and Achates ? I remember at least 4 direct hits on Onslow and at least 6 on Achates.
I have two good secondary sources: '73 North' by Dadly Pope and 'Red sky in the morning' by Michael Pearson. I did check both books, they agreed about 2 direct hits and 3 near misses which caused splinter damage.
However O'Hara mentioned 3 hits (p 147/148) in final engagement with Achates.
I combined this data as 3 hits and 3 near misses. Maybe I made incorrect assumption but only primary sources would help here.
Below the drawing of Onslow from '73 North'. You might calculate how many hits she got.
Image

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by Serg » Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:44 pm

Dave Saxton wrote: The visibility was only 8 miles (14.8km) at about 11:30 hours according to the British. Its also interesting that the Hipper suddenly began shooting consistently (and scoring) at the Onslow just about the time the radar was brought back on line.
O'Hara p145 'There was a low overcast, scattered snow squalls, a calm sea and good visibility seven miles to the north and ten miles to the south.' Perhaps lookouts from british side had worst conditions.

PS Dave, when we will read your book about German radar? I hope to find many discoveries which contradicted to popular belief :-)

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by alecsandros » Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:18 pm

Serg wrote:
This is not true. I think Mr Kennedy is very respectable author to be quoted here. Bismarck pursuit p183-184:
Maori: "... when he was abeam at a range of two and a half miles, she opened fire, so at 1.21 a.m. he turned in and fired all four torpedos."
Zulu: "... at 1.37 a.m. he fired two torpedoes at two miles, and at once opened fire."
I always wandered how primary sources can be so dissimilar.
Baron von Mullencheim also mentions ranges of 3-9km during the battle with Vian destroyers, yet Grenfell's account, which Dave presented above, mentions ranges of at least 9000y.

Incidentally, the torpedo attack against such a slow ship (Bismarck wasn't doing more than 10-12kts that night), executed at ranges of 3-4km, should have obtained some hits...

Washington lost her position in the channel due to agressive attacks by DD's. And Japanese transports without resistance were beached at the same night. So she did her job partially. Also as Littorio.
Littorio's job was to attack and destroy the British convoy.
Instead, the Italian squadron was driven off by 6 destroyers. So I don't see what she accomplished, besides close protection ?
Why I must compare the unlimited visibility at Casablanca with visibility limited to 6 miles during DD's attack on Littorio at Sirt. Only Bismarck has similar conditions (range 13,500 yds vs 14,000 yds opening range for Littorio).
...
Long range hits on 3 destroyers seems very impressive to me...
It certainly is far more difficult to hit at 15km than it is at 5km...
alecsandros wrote: - This is incorrect. According to O'Hara Hipper and Lutzov fought in calm sea. Look at quote below.
I don't think so...
Hipper had a roll of up to 10*, and that's a lot for a 17000 tons heavy cruiser.

======

Serg, we're running in circles.
Your initial question was "what battleships performed better than Littorio against light forces"

I believe it's quite clear that Littorio's performance wasn't that good, but at best mediocre (1 hit and 2 probable near misses out of 181 shells fired, not including secondary artillery). The damage delivered to the British destroyers was at close range (I'll take your 7km range for Lively, but Kingston was at 5km, and this is close range for naval battles)

In similar conditions, Bismarck delivered damage to HMS Sheffield, 2 of Vian's destroyers, and that without any kind of escort.
In pitch black night, Washington sank an enemy destroyer; etc.

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by Serg » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:08 pm

Yeah, I am tired to continue discussion. It is clearly that you did not understand my arguments or my english so bad. I think to add some quotes to finish it.
alecsandros wrote:Incidentally, the torpedo attack against such a slow ship (Bismarck wasn't doing more than 10-12kts that night), executed at ranges of 3-4km, should have obtained some hits...
Kennedy p183-184: "In fact, none of the torpedoes from any of the ships hit. It have been surprising if they had. In normal conditions then the range at which a torpedo was considered to have a reasonable chance of hitting was a mile to two miles. They had been fired at ranges that varied between two miles and three and a half in conditions that were extremely abnormal, waves 50 feet high, a pitch black night, an enemy whose course and speed was erratic, whose gunfire was precise."
alecsandros wrote:Littorio's job was to attack and destroy the British convoy.
Instead, the Italian squadron was driven off by 6 destroyers. So I don't see what she accomplished, besides close protection ?
Bagnasco p221: "Things went even worse for the British. Iachino's tactic to delay the arrival of the convoy in Malta by exposing them to air arrack was not without effect and the air attacks throughout the 22nd, although unsuccessful, had caused a high expenditure of ammunition.
Contrary to plans, on the morning of the 23rd the ships were still far from Malta and that morning II Fliegerkorps resumed its attacks: Talbot and Pampas managed to reach Malta without serious problems, but Clan Campbell was sunk and Breconshire badly damaged, and the destroyer Legion suffered damage from bombs exploding close by. Up to this point these were the indirect victims of the Second Battle of Sirte, all damaged or sunk by other than naval gunfire."
alecsandros wrote:Hipper had a roll of up to 10*
Where it come from? Can you prove it?
Serg wrote: I believe it's quite clear that Littorio's performance wasn't that good, but at best mediocre (1 hit and 2 probable near misses out of 181 shells fired, not including secondary artillery). The damage delivered to the British destroyers was at close range (I'll take your 7km range for Lively, but Kingston was at 5km, and this is close range for naval battles)
Admiral Cunningham disagread (A sailor's odyssey p454): "Nor must the mistake be made of thinking the Italians were inefficient in this action. Our destroyers going in to attack were received by heavy and ACCURATE gunfire, and it was only by the mercy of Providence that many of them were not sunk and still more severely damaged."

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by alecsandros » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:11 pm

Serg wrote: Yeah, I am tired to continue discussion. It is clearly that you did not understand my arguments or my english so bad. I think to add some quotes to finish it.
All in all, I see an Italian heavy squadron which managed to damage several British destroyers, only one of which by a direct hit. Yes, the sea conditions were bad, but so they were also during Bismarck's night battle, Scharnhorst's pursuit at North Cape, and Hipper's blastings at Barents Sea. And all German ships were alone !
The only situation when a heavy squadron centered around a battleship, faced enemy destroyers in the open sea, was Casablanca. And we know that the entire French squadron was annihilated at medium to long range [allthough in much better weather]

About Hipper's roll, there is another thread on the forum, which analyses the damage Hipper suffered from Sheffield and Jamaica. The conclusion was that 152mm AP shells couldn;t get into the machinery spaces at normal obliquities, but the ship needed to have been tilted at least 10* so that compounded obliquity would permit perforation of armor layers.
Admiral Cunningham disagread (A sailor's odyssey p454): "Nor must the mistake be made of thinking the Italians were inefficient in this action. Our destroyers going in to attack were received by heavy and ACCURATE gunfire, and it was only by the mercy of Providence that many of them were not sunk and still more severely damaged."
However, fact remains that in 2 hours of combat, the Italian squadron did not sink any British ships.
It may have been the ever present dispersion problem... which affected heavy cruisers and battleships alike.

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