The Yamato that got away

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Dave Saxton
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The Yamato that got away

Post by Dave Saxton » Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:06 pm

Found this interesting tidbit in the patrol records of U.S.S. Halibut. Cruising on the surface during the late afternoon Jan 17 1944, and part of a group of two additional Gatos 6 miles apart, patrolling the warship traffic lanes between Japan and Truk, Halibut sighted a hull down ship with a large pagoda foretop. They began tracking with radar switched on for short periods, and as it got closer it was positively identified as a Yamato Class battleship. No escorts were as yet seen or indicated by radar.
Here was an almost ideal situation: the pride of the Japanese Navy advancing, seemingly unaware that three hungry wolves lay in wait ready to expend every one of their 68 remaining torpedoes. If any one of us could hit her and damage her enough to slow her down, we were strong enough to penetrate any screen she might have and would keep slinging torpedoes into her hull until she sank....doctrine called for Halibut to attack first and then become the trailer while the other boats went in. However we were further off her track and if she continued zigzagging on base course 270* she would pass between Haddock and Tullibee (no less than 6,000 yards from either's position).... Suddenly just after nightfall, our periodic radar sweeps showed the range opening up drastically....we watched helplessly as her radar pip weakened and faded from the screen. Calling Tullibee and Haddock by radio we learned that neither had made contact. It was clear that our opposing skipper was clever and capable. He could not have detected our small ships at night by sight or by radar at which we held our massive target. The intermittent probing of three high powered radar beams had alerted him...(Galantin pg149)
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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paulcadogan
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Re: The Yamato that got away

Post by paulcadogan » Wed Mar 04, 2015 3:34 am

So close and yet so far.....

Reminds me of the experience of the U-46, commanded by Lt. Engelbert Endrass in the Bay of Biscay on June 22, 1940. There in his sights was the pride of the Royal Navy, the Mighty Hood and the pride of Britain's carrier fleet and Germany's favourite propaganda target - the Ark Royal! They were on their way to Gibraltar to form Force H.

Endrass maneuvered to fire a spread of torpedoes at the Ark from a favourable position - nothing happened! No explosion, no creaking noises of a sinking carrier, no counter-attacking destroyers.

A simple course change at a fortuitous moment had saved the Ark from possible disaster....

The British never knew a thing.
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

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aurora
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Re: The Yamato that got away

Post by aurora » Sat Mar 21, 2015 2:44 pm

On 22 Jun 1940, U-46 observed one carrier, identified as HMS Illustrious (87), with two destroyers during a Force 11 storm in grid BE 6378. Endrass fired a salvo of three torpedoes at the carrier and heard a detonation. ???? :? :?

The carrier was in fact HMS Ark Royal (91) (Capt C.S. Holland, RN), accompanied by HMS Hood (51) (Capt I.G. Glennie, RN) and two destroyers, en route to Gibraltar. The carrier was neither hit nor damaged.

Source : Uboatnet.com

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Dave Saxton
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Re: The Yamato that got away

Post by Dave Saxton » Sat Mar 21, 2015 11:33 pm

June 1940 was just at the point that the Germans got their faulty torpedoes sorted out. In addition to this carrier, there was quite a set of capital ships that got away, that would have been either sunk or seriously damaged. These included Hood, Rodney and Nelson, and most regrettably for the German destroyers, Warspite. In fact U-25 fired an entire torpedo salvo under Nelson from only 800 meters with all torpedoes failing to detonate. The British remained unaware. (probably G7Es instead of G7As).

Their were two main problems with the German torpedoes at that time. One, they ran too deep, a problem known and covered up by the TVA from 1936. The TVA didn't worry too much about them running too deep because they had full faith in their magnetic pistol (MZ). But, two, the magnetic pistols that worked perfectly in Kiel Bay only worked reliably there and not really any place else.

After the torpedo failures came to a head during the Norway Operations, having failed against both the Warpite, and the British destroyers that had penetrated the fjords at Narvik, Court of Inquiries followed, and several high ranking officers lost their jobs. It was a huge scandal, according to Bekker the biggest controversy in the history of the Kriegsmarine. After July 1940 the Germans torpedoes finally became lethal weapons.
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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aurora
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Re: The Yamato that got away

Post by aurora » Sun Mar 22, 2015 12:44 pm

As Davw said-a commission was set up in mid-April to investigate the case thoroughly. The commission came out with a comprehensive report in late July, which placed a considerable blame on the Torpedo Department. The TD, it was found, had supplied the boats with the new magnetic firing pistol with four-blade propellers before it had undergone the necessary trials. Consequently, the personnel of the Torpedo Experimental Institute responsible for that SNAFU were court-martialed and sentenced to prison terms.

Although the negligence of the Institute had been established, it was not until February 1942 that the U-Bootwaffe got to the heart of the matter.

On January 30, the crew of U-94 made a little extra effort and conducted an on-board examination of their torpedoes amidst the Atlantic. They thus discovered an excess pressure in the torpedoes' balance chambers, where the hydrostatic valve controlling the depth at which the 'fish' ran was located. When they radioed back their findings, the Inspector of the Torpedo Department ordered a check on board all submarines in port. Half of the torpedoes were found to have the same problem, and the mystery of the torpedoes' deeper-than-set-depth run was finally fathomed. The results of this and later investigations were summed up into a Memorandum by Grand Admiral Raeder on Feb 9, 1942.

But what was this higher pressure in the chambers due to? According to Dönitz's memoirs, the higher than normative pressure (the normative was atmospheric) in the chambers was due to the "frequent releases of compressed air which are essential when [the boat] [is] proceeding submerged" (92). During long periods of submersion, a considerable excess pressure thus accumulated. One can't help asking, hadn't the constructors foreseen such a problem? They had, indeed. Normally, no excess pressure should have accrued. However, many balance chambers were found not to be airtight - they had leaks. This discovery, added to magnetic influence from the Norwegian fjords, largely explained the stupendous failure of the boats during Operation Hartmuth, for many of them had remained submerged for as long as 20 hours daily. After the final computations were made, it was found that between 30 and 35 % of the torpedo attacks during the Norwegian campaign had been failures.

In December 1942, well into the war, a new, improved magnetic pistol was introduced which also functioned on contact. It proved very efficient. Until then, writes Dönitz, "the effectiveness of our torpedoes was no greater than it had been during the First World War" (94). Indeed, inter-war naval doctrine called for a single torpedo that would be able to break the back of even a battleship. In fact, far more money was spent on big gunnery research than on torpedo improvement, with the result that when the war broke out, the torpedo that the Navy required existed only in the minds of the complacent Torpedo Department and the Torpedo Experimental Establishment - the monopoly producer and tester of the torpedoes, respectively. Had they had more competition from private industry, we would have had a better torpedo, to put it in Dönitz's words.

Later into the war, in an analysis of torpedo performance in the period January-June 1942 (Paukenschlag and the apex of U-boat activity in American waters - the richest single harvest of the whole war), it was estimated that only 40% of the ships had been sunk by a single torpedo during that period, while the rest had either required two or more, or had escaped after one or multiple hits. In light of the more than two million tons of shipping actually sunk (a third were tankers), it is easy to imagine what could have been the outcome had the U-boats been armed with the weapon they really needed.

Together with the introduction of the new magnetic pistol torpedo, two more innovations were pioneered into the Kriegsmarine, which effectively surpassed any previous German torpedo as well as any Allied countermeasures. The first innovation in U-boat weaponry was a torpedo that, after running a specified distance, began circling. This was quite useful, especially against convoys since the circling run increased the torpedo's chances to pick up another ship if it missed its original target.

The second novelty, delivered to the Navy in September 1942, was the acoustic torpedo, which steered directly at the noise of the target's propellers. It was an extremely useful weapon, because it could be fired from any angle, now matter how narrow a broadside the target presented. This also meant that the U-boats finally had a reliable weapon to fight destroyers, and indeed a number of successes against the latter were eventually scored.

The torpedo crisis was thus ultimately brought to an end, though by that time it was too late. In July 1942, the Allied shipbuilding capacity for the first time surpassed the U-boats' rate of sinking (which was then particularly high). The U-Bootwaffe never caught up again. :clap: :clap:


aurora
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Dave Saxton
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Re: The Yamato that got away

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Mar 22, 2015 3:11 pm

The depth control problem was largely due to dried out seals for the balance tanks as the torpedoes sat in inventory after construction. (the depth problem for the USN torpedoes was from a entirely different cause btw). The torpedo designers had designed a spring that kept the depth control errors within 50 cm, but this depth control spring had not been deployed, once again from bureaucratic incompetence, prior the Norwegian operations. So if the torpedo used an contact pistol (AZ) it would likely run under the target. If it had a magnetic pistol it would still likely not detonate as it ran under the target.
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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