USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

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Steve Crandell
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USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Steve Crandell » Sat Feb 15, 2014 4:14 am

There is an interesting discussion going on at navweaps about this battle.

A link was pointed out which points to Mr. R. Lundgren's analysis of the damage to Kirishima and South Dakota. His is one of the few (the only?) treatments which draw extensively from Japanese sources. I think it's interesting, and Mr. Lundgren contributed to the thread on page 8.

Here is the link to the analysis: http://www.navweaps.com/index_lundgren/ ... ndgren.htm

And here is the thread: http://warships1discussionboards.yuku.com/topic/24931

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by alecsandros » Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:06 am

... This has been debated here several times,
I am one of the skeptics. First of all, nobody knows if that is Kirishima lying on the bottom, and not Hiei.

Then, even if it is Kirishima, who would believe Japanese officers declaring 20+ 16" hits, trying to save their a*** after yet another battleship scuttling in 2 days ?

Also, taking Kirishima's dimennsions, and Washington's artillery power, when one does the math, he gets that the 16" shells that would have hit Kirishima's hull, even at the widest portion of her beam, would probably exit on the other side, thus creating 1 entry and 1 exit hole (2 holes per hit).

Finaly, firing 200+ 5" shells and 75 16" shells from 7km, it makes sense that more 5" hits would be recorded. Lundgren however believes the contrary.

Washington's own battle report mentioned "8 or 9" 16" hits on Kirishima, and over 40 5" hits.

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Steve Crandell » Sat Feb 15, 2014 2:23 pm

alecsandros wrote:... This has been debated here several times,
I am one of the skeptics. First of all, nobody knows if that is Kirishima lying on the bottom, and not Hiei.

Then, even if it is Kirishima, who would believe Japanese officers declaring 20+ 16" hits, trying to save their a*** after yet another battleship scuttling in 2 days ?
Have you read the articles? Kirishima was not scuttled. She lost stability and sank while attempting to offload her crew onto a destroyer, which was almost hit by her superstructure.
Also, taking Kirishima's dimennsions, and Washington's artillery power, when one does the math, he gets that the 16" shells that would have hit Kirishima's hull, even at the widest portion of her beam, would probably exit on the other side, thus creating 1 entry and 1 exit hole (2 holes per hit).
USN AP shells had .035 second delays. How would they pass through the ship, given fuse activation on impact with armor? Even ignoring decapping and yaw effects.
Finaly, firing 200+ 5" shells and 75 16" shells from 7km, it makes sense that more 5" hits would be recorded. Lundgren however believes the contrary.

Washington's own battle report mentioned "8 or 9" 16" hits on Kirishima, and over 40 5" hits.
How would Washington know how many hits she achieved in the middle of a dark night? No one was ever accurate about that. One thing we do know is that 16" straddles at that range should have resulted in more hits than claimed, given the size of the target and the known dispersion of the shells. 20 is a more likely number at that range.

You do know Washington was firing only four 5" guns at Kirishima, right? And that she would have been badly obscured by Washington's main battery splashes? With all the destruction going on, I don't think there is any way to determine the number of 5" hits in any case.

Maybe I need to reread the article. I am under the impression that the number of hits was from Japanese testimony, and that Hornfischer also claims 20 in "Neptune's Inferno".

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by alecsandros » Sat Feb 15, 2014 10:52 pm

... The article is riddled with inaccuracies. A 16" shell would retain ~ 600m/s after passing through the light armor of Kirishima.
With their fuze delay, the shells would travel ~ 21 meters before detonating, which is more than the beam of Kirishima in the parts were she was hit (according to the drawings attached in the article). The sketches that show heavy shells perforating 145mm of armor and than exploding imediately after it are nonsense.

Perhaps a few shells did not work as designed, but saying that all 16" shells fired by Washington exploded prematurely, and that against plates of armor equal to those of a WW2 heavy cruiser is rather poor research.

In Japan, it was believed that a battleship would require about 20 heavy shell hits in order to be sunk. So if the officers would go home and say they were hit by 8 or 9 shells, they would probably have some problems, especialy as Hiei was lost only 2 days earlier from remarkably poor damage control.

Morrison wrote Kirishima was scuttled before day break.

20 shell hits from 75 fired is good in Bruce Willis movies perhaps. Rodney fired over 350 shells against hte Bismarck, for probably less than 30 hits. OVer 200 of those were fired at ranges of 10km or less (sometimes 3km !). Yes, the sea was rough, but on the other hand the target was doing no more than 7kts, not 25kts as the Kirishima that night.

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Steve Crandell » Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:40 am

According to Wiki Krishima's belt was 200mm to 280mm, and barbettes were 250mm, with 230mm turrets.

Where did you get your information? Pre rebuild?

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by alecsandros » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:44 am

No, it's from mr Lundgren's article :)
Kirishima was not hit in the thickest portions of her belt.

Kirishima's armor was also of WW1 vintage, and thus it probably had some 10-15% less resistance than contemporry WW2 battleship armor. In other words, it was probably comparable to a Yamato plate of 85-90% it's thickness.

I don't know what hapened that night, but for lack of better evidence, I tend to stick with Washington's action report.
Perhaps there were a few more (probably underwater) 16" hits, or near misses which caused the hull to rupture and let water in.
But 20 shells or more is just to much, IMHO.

Eye-witnesses from the "victim" are seldom reliable, as the shock and confusion that reign aboard such a heavily hit ship make memories unreliable. NOt to mention the possibility of making them up alltogether for fear of retaliations when back in Japan.
[Hiei\s survivors also claimed they were hit by "hundreds" of shells; South Dakota;s crew members also mentioned "about 100 topside hits"; etc. ]

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by alecsandros » Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:23 am


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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Steve Crandell » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:43 pm

I do accept the point that it's unlikely the barbette hit was AP. An 8" AP buried it's nose in SD's belt armor and I would expect a 14" AP to penetrate a barbette unless it hit at an angle and then it would be likely to ricochet.

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Byron Angel » Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:31 pm

Sorry, Alecsandros, but I cannot accept your arguments that the report from the damage control officer of Kirishima must be considered unreliable.

[ 1 ] The engagement range of 8,000 to 8,500 yds only relates to the first period of firing by Washington. The second period, actually slightly longer in duration, was conducted at approximately 9,000 and 13,000 yds.

[ 2 ] The likelihood of physical inspection commonly mistaking 5in AA Common (a notoriously unsatisfactory performer) shell hits for 2700 lb 16in AP hits sorely taxes both logic and credulity.

[ 3 ] For Horishi's claim of forty 5in hits from 107 shells fired to be accepted, one must be prepared to believe that a 5in/38 under secondary bettery control was 3x more accurate between 8500 and 13000 yards than a 16in/45 under main battery control.

[ 4 ] The damage survey cited by Lundgren was done well after the conclusion of the battle, after the cessation of fire and withdrawal of the Washington. The surviving recorded survey details of the inspection were preserved and largely corroborated by fellow officers also present aboard Kirishima on the day. One of those officers was actually Horishi's immediate commander.

[ 5 ] A 16in/45 2700 lb AP projectile striking the equivalent of a 3in vertical plate at 9,000 yards would carry a post-impact residual velocity of 1800 ft/sec and theoretically travel approximately 63 feet after fuze initiation before exploding, assuming perfect fuze action and no further obstruction or deflection of the projectile's progress through the ship (such as intervening water, a gun mount, machinery or an armored deck). Allowing for a typical 30deg target inclination to line of fire, a projectile detonation about 55 feet inboard of the ship's side could be theoretically anticipated. Hits scored in the second phase of fire struck with a much greater target inclination (approaching 90deg at the end). An examination of the 16in hit locations given by Lundgren suggests that those hits that might potentially have passed through Kirishima in unexploded condition must have been few indeed.

B

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by alecsandros » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:17 pm

... I am also sorry, but the idea that Washington obtained ~ 30% main battery hits firing between 7-12km while Rodney obtained ~ 10% while firing most of her ordnace between 3-9km against a non-manouvreing, 7kts target, can not be taken seriously.

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by alecsandros » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:22 pm

All the points that you raised above are , unfortunately, not substantiated, just as Lundgren's article - which , btw, is not supported by any hard evidence. Hiei's sailors also had plenty of hours to assess their damage, and still they got home with reports of hundreds of heavy shells hiting her.

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Thorsten Wahl » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:42 pm

The american fuzes(at least one) possibly did not operate as designed, as ther was a (probable) hit wich fixed a rudder position as Kirishima starts circling past 0106 when Kirishima presented her stern to Washington.
roughly calculated the travel distance through water must be in the order of ~50 m considering AOF beeing ~5 degrees
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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Steve Crandell » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:43 pm

alecsandros wrote:... I am also sorry, but the idea that Washington obtained ~ 30% main battery hits firing between 7-12km while Rodney obtained ~ 10% while firing most of her ordnace between 3-9km against a non-manouvreing, 7kts target, can not be taken seriously.
Statistically, 20% hits is what one would expect at that range given the trajectory and dispersion of the 16"/45 gun. We don't know how many hits Rodney made on Bismarck because many of them were just re arranging the wrecked superstructure.

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Byron Angel » Sun Feb 16, 2014 10:05 pm

alecsandros wrote:All the points that you raised above are , unfortunately, not substantiated, just as Lundgren's article - which , btw, is not supported by any hard evidence. Hiei's sailors also had plenty of hours to assess their damage, and still they got home with reports of hundreds of heavy shells hiting her.

..... Alecsandros, not to put too fine a point upon things, but are you not basing your position (nine 16in hits) upon observations made from four to six sea miles distant at night in the midst of a pitched battle by parties who, at one point, ceased fire because they thought Kirishima had sunk?

Your disregard for the reference material upon which Lundgren has based his work, material which originated with officers who were physically aboard the target ship and inspected the damage, is based upon what exactly? Is it simply a visceral unwillingness to accept the possibility that Washington made 27 pct hits instead of a statistically predicted 20 pct against a non-maneuvering target taken by surprise at <10,000 yards? Allow me to refer you to the Battle of Jutland, where Iron Duke scored eight hits upon Konig out of 43 rounds fired in 4min 50sec at 12,600 yards (19 pct hits with ballistically less capable guns, without benefit of radar ranging, and at a considerably greater average engagement range).

As for Hiei's experience on the preceding night, please refer me to any Japanese survivor accounts stating that Hiei was hit by hundreds of HEAVY shells. I have never encountered such a claim. I do not, however, discount the idea of hundreds of hits. Considering the number of ships and the many rapid fire guns (even light AA) firing at her that night, many at ranges of 2,000 yards or less, and hundreds of hits is not impossible to accept as a possibility.

B

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Dave Saxton » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:41 am

Steve Crandell wrote: I would expect a 14" AP to penetrate a barbette.
Not if it was de-capped.
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