Littorio class design flaws?

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alecsandros
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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by alecsandros » Wed Mar 06, 2013 7:22 am

Dave Saxton wrote:Indeed that is another possibility which can not be dismissed. It's more lkely that if they assumed radar contacts (assuming they had them) were not a threat, it would be because they assumed they were German destroyers, or destroyer. Eckoldt had been left behind to deal with Bramble and would be expected to return shortly. The Eckoldt affair is another example of the difficulties enccountered by both sides that artic twilight.

The Eckoldt thought Sheffield and Jamacia were Hipper and Luetzow and was inocently attempting join the formation. The British radar did not detect the approach of Eckoldt at all. The cruisers reversed course and then suddenly there was a German destroyer in perfect torpedo launching position. If Eckoldt had known they were enemy cruisers it could have likely sunk them both. Instead the British blew it out of the water, while Eckoldt asked Kummetz in vain over the radio to quit shooting at it.
Indeed, maybe they thought they were not a threat.
I understand there were 6 German destroyers in the area - with Eckhdolt only one of them. Where were the other 5 ?

P.S.: Did Hipper possess only 1 single radar set at the time ?

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by Dave Saxton » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:10 pm

P.S.: Did Hipper possess only 1 single radar set at the time?
Hipper had two, but the aft set was out of order during the whole battle due to a broken power supply. The FuMB equipment was also almost useless for warning against 50cm and 10cm radar.
I understand there were 6 German destroyers in the area - with Eckhdolt only one of them. Where were the other 5 ?
Two, Beitzen and Z29, were with the Hipper following off the port and starboard quarters. The other three were with the Luetzow to the south. The Germans were prevented from using their destroyers aggressively because of the IFF problems. Earlier in the morning Kummetz had recalled his destroyers so he could use the Hipper's artillery against the British without getting his own destroyers mixed up with the enemy's destroyers. Likewise, Stange kept his destroyers on a tight leash for the same reason.

The reason Stange had hestitated was also because he could not be sure that radar contacts were not Hipper and German destroyers. IFF problems was the reason the battle turned into a fiasco for the Germans. Kummetz and Stange could have sent in their destroyers, but then they would have had to have then kept their cruisers out of the battle to avoid accidently sinking their own destroyers. There was also the possibility that the destroyers would in turn end up attacking each other and other German warships in the confusion.

Bringing this back to the effectiveness of Littorio and escorts at 2nd Sirte: bad weather usually favors the convoy defender -not the attacker. The danger to heavy ships from destroyer attack under cover of bad weather and/or darkness is much greater.

The Germans had radar capable of blind fire and surface search available, but that was largely negated by the IFF problems, and the Italians had no effective radar at all.

The British at Barents Sea also had no effective IFF, and Jamacia's radar was also knocked out by the shock of firing its own guns. However, the British by virtue of tactical cirumstance did not not need IFF to identify the enemy. That was the diffence between victory and defeat in that case.
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 phil gollin » Wed Mar 06, 2013 7:37 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:
Bringing this back to the effectiveness of Littorio and escorts at 2nd Sirte: bad weather usually favors the convoy defender -not the attacker. The danger to heavy ships from destroyer attack under cover of bad weather and/or darkness is much greater.
Why should bad weather usually favour the defenders ?

In general the attackers will have larger ships (which "should" be more weatherly).

The weather at the time of the attack was a mild gale (British destroyers had no problems) and the light was fine (until the Italians wasted it).

.

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by Dave Saxton » Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:23 pm

phil gollin wrote:Why should bad weather usually favour the defenders ?

In general the attackers will have larger ships (which "should" be more weatherly).
Because it:
1) Greatly increases the risk of heavy ships getting torpedoed. This causes the heavy ship to be handled much less aggressively, which reduces its offensive effectiveness. For example, all the British destroyers had to do was feint torpedo attacks to force Kummetz to turn away.

2) It deceases the effectiveness of a heavy ship's primary asset of heavier and longer range firepower. Blind fire radar capability could in theory flip this around by allowing the heavy ship to bring its firepower to bear from a safer distance under cover of the weather, but only if the commanders can be reasonably sure that they are firing at what they want to be firing at. In practice such certainty is difficult to attain. Radar doesn't tell you for sure what the contact is, or who it belongs to. If one has IFF capability one must take the leap of faith that if it doesn't respond to IFF interogation that it must be the enemy. But what if it is a nuetral? Is it a destroyer, a steamer, a friendly with faulty IFF, or a phantom contact? Any uncertainty can cause the tactical commander to not take that leap of faith, as in the case of KsZ Stange, for example.

3) It reduces the situational awareness of all tactical commanders; which greatly affects the ability to formulate an effective plan of attack. I believe it makes things more difficult for an attacker more than for a defender in most cases, but maybe I'm wrong.
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 Serg » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:19 pm

Well, only Hurricane produced some discomfort to British destroyers :-)
Torpedo attack.
15. Such attack presented CONSIDERABLE difficulties owing to great pall of of smoke, the FALLING VISIBILITY and the rising wind (force 6) and sea (44) at this time...
Report on operation M.G.1 (signed) Philip Vian.

BTW Vian did not believe in the possibility of an enemy attack without battleship. Or maybe he did not present opinion of the 'RN'?:-)

The roll about 10 degrees and above had affected the train mechanisms of heavy turrets. Italians could fire only at the top of the roll (with exeption of Littorio).

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by phil gollin » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:08 pm

.

Dave,

you are mixing up the Arctic with the Med.

---------

Serg,

The British Destroyers were going into. out of and through the smokescreen - which had a major effect on visibility,

Vian did actually state the possibility of all three Italian options succeeding.

The RN heavy ships firing procedure was similar to the Italian, the only effect was a possible slight delay in salvo times.

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by Serg » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:51 pm

What difference between Barents sea and Sirt?

- Smoke also help them to close range for torpedo attack. If I understand correctly Vian wrote about daylight visibility.

- Seems Vian contradicts to itself. When and where he state it? Maybe when he mistook Italian cruisers for battleships or when he multipled the
enemy cruisers :-)

- It is unlikely, look at difference in ammunition expenditure.

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by phil gollin » Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:08 am

.

A smokescreen is an artificial tactical device of limited size and duratation (unless renewed). It was a tactic that navies knew about and practiced both using and defeating (there are pictures of Italian's doing so).

Vian believed that the Italians had three viable options ALL of which could be successful, the whole force going around one end being the most dangerous.

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by alecsandros » Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:50 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:
P.S.: Did Hipper possess only 1 single radar set at the time?
Bringing this back to the effectiveness of Littorio and escorts at 2nd Sirte: bad weather usually favors the convoy defender -not the attacker. The danger to heavy ships from destroyer attack under cover of bad weather and/or darkness is much greater.

The Germans had radar capable of blind fire and surface search available, but that was largely negated by the IFF problems, and the Italians had no effective radar at all.
...
Perhaps...
Did Warspite possess any radar at Narvik ?

Regardless, not having integrated radar fire control was a very serious problem by 1942, and it only adds to the many problems that plagued Littorio class.

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by alecsandros » Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:53 pm

Serg wrote:What difference between Barents sea and Sirt?
Barents Sea: 2 German cruisers + 6 destroyers sank 1 DD and 1 trawler, and damaged 3 other destroyers (2 badly).
Sirte: 1 battleship + 3 cruisers + 7 destroyers barely managed to damage 3 British destroyers (2 badly).

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by Dave Saxton » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:17 pm

alecsandros wrote:Did Warspite possess any radar at Narvik ?
No. Warspite had no radar in 1940. Most British warships had no radar until late 1941. The British did not deploy, operationally, surface range finding radar until 1941. The British (and the USN) did not have intergated lobe switching surface firecontrol radar until 1942. Moreover, even during 1942 the most advanced radars were were only available for new construction as they were in short supply. Centimetric surface search sets were given mostly to ASW ships as a priority, so many fleet destroyers had to make due with the poor performing Type 286. Many large warships which already had radar of at least one type such as Type 279, had to wait until other warships which had no radar at all were fitted until their turn came around again to receive upgrades.

Early radar, with the exception of late war Seetakt, was useless in enclosed waterways like fjords. The resolution for range of many early radars may exceed the width of the fjord, and a minimum range usually exceeds 500 meters. Even during 1982 in the Falklands, modern British flak radar was rendered useless in harbor.
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 » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:33 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:
alecsandros wrote:Did Warspite possess any radar at Narvik ?
No. Warspite had no radar in 1940. Most British warships had no radar until late 1941. The British did not deploy, operationally, surface range finding radar until 1941. The British (and the USN) did not have intergated lobe switching surface firecontrol radar until 1942. Moreover, even during 1942 the most advanced radars were were only available for new construction as they were in short supply.
Yes, but they proved essential during the battles for Casablanca, second GUadalcanal, NOrth Cape, Surigao Strait...
My impression is that advanced radar was an absolute necessity to mantain parity in a naval battle.
Without it, especialy in poor visibility, there were very little chances for even very powerfull battleships to engage and to win a confrontantion with a radar-equipped adversary...

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by Serg » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:39 pm

phil gollin wrote:Vian believed that the Italians had three viable options ALL of which could be successful, the whole force going around one end being the most dangerous.
What's your source? I can’t trust such claims without quote. Vian wrote 'it was thought unlikely that he [enemy] would attempt a night attack after having his battleship damaged by torpedo.' Seems he belive that such attack will be unsuccessful, even if enemy had 6 cruisers ('enemy disposition ... was 4 cruisers (probably two 8-inch and two 6-inch) ... battleship and 2 cruisers were farther to the eastward...')

My opinion that 2 8” cruisers and 1 6” cruiser with 4 destroyers not enough to deal with 5 light cruises and 11 fleet destroyers even during daytime. They have advantage in the case of long range fire but for decisive result they must to close range where the enemy in turn had advantage. However the question lay in estimation of enemy strength by Parona. He claimed to have followed Iachino's orders in the event he found himself faced by stronger forces. As Italian version says: “In realtа, in questa prima fase del combattimento, non si capisce bene il perchй di questo gioco a rimpiattino dell'Ammiraglio Parona che con i suoi tre incrociatori, di cui due pesanti, aveva una ben decisa superiorità sui quattro incrociatori leggeri che aveva di fronte, superiorità in calibro ed in gittata anche se non in numero di pezzi. Ciò non si spiega se non con una interpretazione limitata dei già restrittivi ordini ricevuti di 'mantenere il contatto con il nemico senza impegnarsi a fondo', ordine dato in precedenza dall'Ammiraglio Jachino, quando ancora non era ben certo dell'entità delle forze inglesi che aveva di fronte.” (Incrociatori pesanty classe Zara by Elio Andó)
“In fact, at this early stage of the battle, it is difficult to understand the sense of hide-and-seek game of Admiral Parona with his three cruisers, two of which are heavy, who had a decisive superiority on the four light cruisers that had faced, superiority in arms and in range though not in number of pieces. This can not be explained except by a narrow interpretation of the already restrictive instructions (maintain contact with [superior] enemy without engaging) in the order given earlier by Admiral Iachino, when he [Parona? Serg] still wasn't quite sure of the strength of British forces.”

PS Seem the first 'revisionist' version had founded in 1964! Donald Macintyre, former naval officer, wrote that Iachino 'had partially achieved his aim'' (Battle for the Mediterranean).

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by Serg » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:22 pm

Back to topic. Seems to be the 381mm excessive dispersion the myth. Dispersion problems mentioned only in 1941 and only for 152mm.

(Bagnasco & Toro The Littorio class p203-204)
Summer 1941 gunnery exercises.
"In July, with Vittorio Veneto re-entering squadron service, 9th Division was able to resume formation exercises that had ceased in October of the previous year. On the afternoon of 21 July the division was engaged in daylight practice, and on the night of the 21st/22nd engaged in night firing practice. The daylight exercise called for a series of 381mm rounds at Charge 2 (for Vittorio Veneto at Charge 3), three series of 152mm at Charge 1 and three series of 90mm anti-aircraft at Charge 2 firing against a towed target sleeve, and launching floatplanes to observe the results of the firing. Night firing consisted of a series of 381mm shoots at Charge 3 (Charge 1 for Vittorio Veneto) and a series of 152mm shoots at Charge 3 with illuminating rounds. The X Destroyer Flotilla (Maestrale, Grecale and Scirocco) also took part in the exercise as escorts, while the XV Destroyer Flotilla (da Mosto and da Venazzano) were in the antiaircraft and anti-submarine watch role. Exercise results were satisfactory with regard to the effectiveness of illuminating fire and procedures for night firing by the main guns. On the other hand, during the daylight shoots some rounds failed to fire due to equipment malfunctions, but not enough to cause concern. During the shoots Littorio had one failed 381mm round and experienced a slight problem with closing the breech block on the left-hand gun of Number 3 turret due to failure of the screw threads to mesh, but the breech block was easily closed manually; in addition, a 90mm round failed in gun number 6 due to seizure of the manual ammunition handling equipment. During the 381mm firing series Vittorio Veneto had five failed rounds of out of fifty-eight fired, three of which were due to the projectile jamming between the ammunition rack and the loading hoist, and two due to defective functioning of the fail-safe mechanism between the ammunition ready rack and the projectile carousel. The three series of 152mm shoots had nineteen failures: one because of delayed loading due to the malfunction of a loading hoist; nine in Turret 3 due to a breakdown in the electrical system of two hoists and delay in switching to manual operation, and nine through misinterpretation of orders. In the third series of 90mm shoots there were six failures in Number 4 gun due to a defective remote firing control. The dispersion patterns of the 152mm salvos at Charge 1, due essentially to defective high-explosive ammunition, were of greater concern.
For these reasons the exercise was repeated on 4 August under similar conditions, but using ammunition from the same lots rather than taken from different lots and suppliers. This time the dispersion patterns were decidedly smaller, falling within acceptable limits."

Gunnery exercises in the 1942 and 1943 also did not mention the excessive dispersion.

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Re: Littorio class design flaws?

Post by alecsandros » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:15 pm

Serg wrote:

Gunnery exercises in the 1942 and 1943 also did not mention the excessive dispersion.
That may be so,
but pictures from battle of Matapan clearly show dispersion of at least 500-600y for 3-gun salvos fired by Veneto.
Range was about 22km, target was cruiser HMS Gloucester....

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