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67 years old, still a Newbie & WWII Pacific Battleship ground forces support

Discussion in '☆☆ New Recruits ☆☆' started by SSGHawk, May 24, 2017.

  1. SSGHawk

    SSGHawk New Member

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    About me:
    Over 40 years ago I left the Army Reserve as a Staff Sgt.with a nick-name of Hawk; hence my handle here. Never heard a shot in anger but was nearby when some clowns had accidental discharges that easily could have killed one of us. One of those clowns had a very nasty series of 'accidental' falls that night (consistent with their attitude) and was transferred out of the unit the following morning.

    Considered myself pretty tough-and in excellent health according to my Doctor-for my age until I turned 65. Apparently, my warranty expired on that birthday and a number of things fell apart. On 6/5/17 I will have the third surgery in about 18 months and then will only have three surgeries more to go.

    I'm from Dallas Texas. Love to go to my deer lease a couple times a month and hunt feral hogs by myself day or night. but my health has put that on the shelf for a while. Funny, but I had always planned to rappel off a 150 foot cliff at the deer lease during my 65th year just to show that I still could. Things did not work out that way but it still is on my bucket list and I plan on being around for many years. I doubt that the cliff will go anywhere.

    I am really into Coleman lanterns and have several hundred including a number near the 100 year old mark.My wife and I will celebrate our 47th anniversary this year and the kids have been on their own and very successful over 20 years; our 'baby girl is 42. Our only Grandchild is age 10, an excellent student and a star in every sport he plays. Although I played chess in college, the kid legitimately beat me at age four. He out ran me at age three and earned and has retained the nick-name "Rocket."

    My question:
    After hours of searching. I found this forum that I hope can help me understand why so many of our marines and soldiers had to die or be wounded physically or mentally trying to break the Okinawa Shuri line on places like Sugar Loaf when I have read that:
    • The Japanese troops were dug in many, many yards below ground under Sugar Loaf and other connected underground strong points,
    • I understand that Sugar Loaf was little more than the size of two football fields.
    • Possibly one or two dozen AP shells into that area would two football fields plowed up 30 feet deep.
    • While Sugar Loaf and other strong points were not on any map the Marines leadership darn sure knew they were there.
    • The US battleships in the battle could fire armor piercing shells that could penetrate 20-30 feet of "reinforced concrete",
    • The battleships had aerial spotters and
    • The accuracy of the 16" guns apparently was +/- 250 yards or better.
    Never been near a 16" firing off but can still remember the pressure on my chest any time that I was anywhere near an M48 tank firing its main gun.

    It is a real puzzle to me that the underground strong points were not completely destroyed using 16" armor piercing shells. And if the shells did not destroy everything, wouldn't 10 to twenty hours of a constant mix of 16" AP and HE shells every few minutes left the remaining living combat ineffective in no shape to return to their bunkers, assuming their bunkers were still usable.

    What am I missing here?

    SSGHawk
    You can call me Sgt., or Hawk or whatever just not "Sue".
    “God Bless those who voluntarily go into harms way on our behalf whether wearing Camo, Blue or Red. And also Bless those who wait at home each night not knowing if............."
     
  2. Denis Caron

    Denis Caron New Member

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    Hey Hawk,

    Great intro. I'm an ex-solider as well, so I can somewhat relate to your stories, although 'accidental falls' were taken out before I got in.

    Unfortunately, I dont have an answer to your question. There must be something we're missing. Im interested to see what others opinions are.

    Cheers,
    Denis
     
  3. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    In Australia we would call you "Staff" (short for Staff Sgt) - So I hope I can call you Staff...G'day and welcome aboard!
    Just off the top of my head im thinking the trajectory may have been too flat for a good penetration shot...but that would mean calling in air support to drop bunker busters then wouldn't it?
    USMCPrice and others are pretty knowlegable on these subjects so I hope they will be along soon...Sleepy time for them now I think.
     
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  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Hawk, the AP shells were designed for use against ships' armor. They could penetrate a foot or so of armor plate and explode inside a ship. But those bunkers were under yards of rock. The Japanese chose the locations carefully, being fully mindful of the USN's floating artillery.

    BTW, I'm a 66 yo retired E-7, USN, myself. Hang in there, some of us are too fucking tough to kill.
     
  5. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Further on this subject: The recent MOAB bombing didn't penetrate the mines, it overpressured them, creating tons of air pressure in the holes. We didn't use a MOP (Massive Ordnance Penetrator) because the rock over the caches was too thick.
     
  6. rprice

    rprice Member

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    This issue is addressed in detail in Okinawa: The Last Battle, published by the Center Of Military History in 1948...

    "The American forces had brought to bear against the enemy their great superiority in armor and self-propelled assault guns, the weight of massed artillery, and supremacy in the air over the scene of battle. Added to all this was something new to warfare. The continuous presence of the tremendous fleet, aligned on the enemy's flanks, provided the ground forces with the constant support of its great mobile batteries, capable of hurling a vast weight of metal from a variety of weapons ranging from rockets to 16-inch rifles.
    ...

    "Literally, the Japanese were enveloped by fire power, from the ground in front, from the air above them, and from the water on their flanks-fire power and explosives the like of which had never before been seen in such concentrated form in so restricted an area. Surely, all this fire power must have pulverized the Japanese positions and rendered the enemy incapable of prolonged resistance. But it had not. The enemy was denied freedom of movement, but even 16-inch naval shells as they penetrated the surface concrete or coral and exploded sounded like ping-pong balls to those who were kept deep underground."

    Chapter X: Tactics And Tactical Decisions
    Okinawa: Tha Last Battle
     
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  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Welcome aboard.

    In partial answer to your question. I think the 250 yard accuracy comes from the 1987 shoot described here:
    USA 16"/50 (40.6 cm) Mark 7 - NavWeaps
    Note that that was with 16"/50 caliber guns rather than 16"/45s it also was with modernized fire control some propellent improvements and possibly a single gun. I suspect the CEP for a 16" 45 was a bit more during WWII. Also worth noteing that many of the fire support battleships were armed with 14" guns. As a rule of thumb I believe 3% of range was considered a pretty good CEP for the time. AT 20,000 yards this would translate into something like 600 yards. Of course the dispersion pattern especially at close range would not be circular.

    Here are some pages for the 16" 45
    USA 16"/45 (40.6 cm) Mark 6 - NavWeaps
    USA 16"/45 (40.6 cm) Mark 5 and Mark 8 - NavWeaps

    And the 14" guns:
    USA 14"/50 (35.6 cm) Mark 7, Mark 11 and Mark B - NavWeaps
     
  8. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron  

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    Welcome to the forums!
     
  9. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    And the rest to just too danged ugly...
     
  10. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Welcome SSGHawk Good intro and glad to see you join us.

    I had similar issues when I turned 40. I went blind and my blood pressure became an issue. A few years ago, my doctor told me I would 30 lbs, I could get off of BP meds. So, I did. Unfortunately, my BP didn't get the memo
     
  11. YugoslavPartisan

    YugoslavPartisan Drug

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    Welcome! Quite an interesting and unique introduction.
     
  12. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I've asked that bunch of baboons do my autopsy.

    I don't like baboons.
     
  13. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow Patron  

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    Welcome to the Forum, Hawk. Nice intro.
     
  14. SSGHawk

    SSGHawk New Member

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    Gentlemen,
    Thanks very much for the warm welcome.from an impressive group of guys. I thank you all for your service..

    I am pretty sure that getting old really sucks but...............I often can't really remember, particularly when I take all the medicine that I am suppose to take...

    Thanks for the great links. Chapter 10 was great and I am saving the rest of the book for when I have time to read it cover to cover..

    I am an accountant and not an engineer but the armor penetration information provide in the links sure seems no where near comparable to 30 feet of reinforced concrete. (An urban legend?). The 600 yards dispersion certainly makes sense at distance and close in the diversion was probably more in the line of fire rather than circular.. I understand that from close range the trajectory was pretty flat. I am wondering if they fired many 16"-14" AP rounds supporting the troops. Most of what I have read talks about ground level or near ground level explosions; sounding like HE rounds.Somewhere I read that the Navy wanted to conserve the AP rounds for sea battles which certainly has some merit. Is there any kind of historical record of what shells type, quantity and whether fired from close in or far enough away to have plunging fire?

    I watched a video prepared by the Navy and they made it sound like they won the battle, pointing particular areas of Okinawa that they helped clear; but no mention of AP or plunging fire The video (Actually a film that was contemporaneously prepared) did not jive with the casualty figures I have seen.

    Wouldn't the AP round's particularly fired at distance in plunging fire, have penetrated anything at least 10 feet deep. Wouldn't enough of those plunging AP rounds pretty much scramble everything 10 feet deep thing effectively blocking the underground passage ways?

    There is no question the the Navy at Okinawa certainly earned their chops in my eyes-and then some-with the suicide pilots..I just wish thatt something could have been done by someone to just turn everything near the Suri line into pebbles 10 feet deep..

    Regards and improved health to all.
    Hawk or Staff or Sarge;, just not Sue..
    "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."Winston Churchill.
    . .
     
  15. rprice

    rprice Member

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    Hawk,
    In that same book, look in the Index for Table No. 9 Ammunition Expended by the U. S. Navy in the Ryukyus Campaign, March-June 1945 (Number of Rounds Fired). It does not show any AP rounds being used (and does not include bombs or rockets). We can never know how effective this fire was against the bunkers, caves and tunnels of the Suri line, but I suspect it did a lot of damage. Imagine what Tenth Army's casualties would have been without it.

    Also, the navy's guns provided flanking fire against the Suri Line. Many of the Japanese positions were exposed to it, but many were defilade and would have survived no matter how many shells were fired.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2017
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  16. SSGHawk

    SSGHawk New Member

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    Very good. Thank you Sir.
     

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