Discussion in 'What If - Other' started by dasreich, Aug 16, 2002.
Logistics and Germany's lack of a real navy.
It appears this thread just won't stay on topic.
I rarely potter onto Naval threads as I still have some trouble with even the basics of shipborne warfare, but thought I'd share this Erudite commentary from the anonymous as anyone dahlhorse that I noticed on Youtube.
And to think we've been told that 'being rude' is so unbecoming of a US veteran :
YouTube - Broadcast Yourself._sink the Bismarck.
So no preconceptions or blind preference/prejudice for the German ship in the face of other's reasoned interpretations at all there then .
Apologies Navy-blokes for again somewhat distracting this interesting thread ... I was just giggling so much I felt I had to share.
Though of course, this part's just not funny:
Hood's Roll of Honour
Interesting find there, Von Poop.
Another good discussion on the subject at another forum. I think we are seeing a pattern here, boys.
KBismarck.org - Naval Discussion Forums • View topic - Bismarck class turret protection
Indeed, we seem to be. It appears that Dahlhorse has bitten on the "Bismarck: greatest battleship ever" line and swallowed the hook. There may have been "super battleships" but Bismarck certainly wasn't one of them, quite a few of her contemporaries would have had reasonable chances of defeating her in single combat, and a few were clearly superior. He also seems to be somewhat biased against British military achievements.
To get back to the original thread; Bismarck vs. Yamato, it's a rather silly thread for two reasons. First, there is no historical reason to believe such a battle would ever happen, second, even if this very unlikely event did come about, the known limitations of both ships make conjecture about them pretty much a matter of which factors one wants to emphasize with no way of direct and quantifiable comparison. Both ships took a lot, but by no means unprecedented, punishment before sinking. Both ships were functionally out of the fight before they actually sank, and both ships were unable to accomplish much against their enemies in their final battles. The respective navies would have been far better served by some alternative classes oif ships than the Yamato or Bismarck.
I'd suggest that this thread has exceeded it's shelf life, why don't we close it?
LOL dahlhorse's discussion skills just doesnt seem up to par with most here it seems LOL.
Here's another good example of his rebuttals.. Can you guess the subject?
you really are stupid monkey aren't you thomasuras dumb ass!
YouTube - Broadcast Yourself
First, thank you all for this very enlightening discussion. I think that there is something inherent in human nature that makes us wonder, "What would happen if the best squared off against the best." It somehow appeals to the simpler side of our nature to want to see a straight up, heavy-weight fight, with no other contributing factors. Of course, in history, that is rarely, if ever, the case.
Now, I don't know much about the technical details of naval architecture and design, let alone naval weapons systems, and least of all capital ships; however, in reading this thread (and yes, I've read the entire thread to this point), I have noticed that we are "wrapped around the axle (or prop shaft)" on a few issues. I will list them below, and hopefully we can use these things as some focal points for the discussion going forward:
1) How do we factor in the threat of various ships, as perceived by various nations/statesmen?
-Well, if we look quite simply at actions such as Ten Go or Bismarck/Tirpitz, we would think that they were such a huge threat that they had to be stopped. With Yamato, there probably was a genuine threat, but only if the plan for it to beach itself and fight as a shore battery were accomplished; however, that is not fighting as a battleship, let alone as a BB vs. BB. In the case of Tirpitz, clearly Churchill was scared crapless by it. But let's look at Churchill - here's a guy who "grew up" during The Great War, was Lord of the Admiralty, and who thought navally as someone who grew up in an age when Capital Ship=BB. The great arms race in the early part of the 20th Century was capital ships, and that's his frame of reference. As for Bismarck, sure it would have done damage to some convoys, but it would have been confronted sooner or later RN forces, so why wait until some precious supplies have been sunk to do it? Also, there is the post Hood factor of revenge.
2) There has been much made about range.
-I can't offer any insight here, but I think that the discussion needs to focus around:
A) At what range would these ships have engaged each other? These duels weren't planned for high-noon on main street, so what is the scenario that we are proposing here? Are they going to square-off, broadside, facing in opposite directions, at 20k yards, on calm seas, at dawn, facing East-West, in May of 1941?
B) Assuming that these two nations were at war with each other, and they agreed to settle their differences in a single sea battle between Yamato and Bismarck, what setting would they have chosen?
3) Accuracy & Damage
-Again, I have no insight here, but given that some assumptions are made about #2, then:
A) Wouldn't this be a quantitative answer? Do we not know, from history, which ships (and their crews) had what accuracy rates at what ranges, and so on and so forth?
B) Do we also not know, quantitatively, from history, how much armor each ship had, how much damage each ship was capable of doing with the shells that they carried, and so on?
4) Other factors
I think that what we are really after here is, "Which is the better (deadlier) ship?"
-We have to assume that both ships are fighting fully supplied
-That there is no air, shore fortress, or escort vessel support
-That both crews have been fully trained on all of the ships systems as they sit (e.g., Yamato's crew has been fully trained on fire fighting, in so far as Yamato's systems allow them to fight fires; Bismarck's crew has been trained on the use of radar in fire control, in so far as their radar is integrated with their fire control systems)
5) As far as the condition of each ship at the bottom, who cares? They both sunk. They only questions are:
A) Did Yamato blow up because of her design or because the crew short-cut safety procedures during the battle, such as happened at Jutland?
B) Did Bismarck sink due directly to enemy action, or was he scuttled to avoid capture?
Here is what I propose:
For whatever reason, Nazi German and Imperial Japan went to war. Hitler and Tojo sat down over some Beer and Sake one night in Rome and the conversation went like this:
Hitler: "I want to kick your ass so that I can move on to kicking Stalin's ass."
Hirohito: "I want to kick your ass so that I can move on to kicking Roosevelt's ass."
Hitler: "Yeah, but if we slug it out, then it will be a pyrrhic victory - regardless of which one of us wins (which will be us, by the way, since we are the master race and cannot lose), we'll be sufficiently weakened to not tackle our next enemy."
Hirohito: "I gotta tell you Adolf, when you're right, you're right (except for the part about the Master Race, because everyone knows that we are directly descended from god...myself especially so...and that Western society is decrepit and corrupt), but what can we do about it?"
Hitler: "How about you and I square off in a drinking contest in Munich this Oktober?"
Hirohito: "Awesome...do they have steins of sake there?"
Hitler: "No...I can see where that would pose a problem..."
Hirohito: "Yeah, besides, as Divinity, I cannot really be seen in public with a mere human like you."
Hitler: "Yeah, nor can I been seen in public with a member of the inferior race, like yourself."
Hirohito: "Agreed, neither of us can be seen in public with each other. So how about we each pick a champion to represent our nations?"
Hitler: "Great! I choose one of my Panzer tanks."
Hirohito: "Nah, that won't work, our tanks are small, like everything else...how about a Naval engagement?"
Hitler: "[Thinking that he's got an ace up his sleeve with Bismarck] Well, you know, you're an island people, so that's really holding the fight in your back yard...but I'll tell you what, out of friendship, I'll agree to that."
Hirohito: "[Thinking that Yamato/Musashi are the be-all and end-all of capital ships] Well Adolf, I appreciate that, and it won't be forgotten. So let's each pick one battleship, deal?"
Hitler: "Sure thing, 'Showa.' I have one that was commissioned not too long ago, we call it a 'He,' and he's called 'Bismarck'."
Hirohito: "And we've got one that'll be coming on line soon, it'll be called Yamato. I'll even have her commissioning moved up just for this fight. But one question, where shall it be, when, etc.?"
So, by this point, Adolf has had a couple too many steins of lager, and Hirohito a bit too much sake himself, so they defer to Donitz and Yamamoto:
Yamamoto: "Really Karl, can you believe these two?"
Donitz: "I tell you Isoroku, sometimes I think that my mother was right and that I should have taken up a respectable trade, like piano tuning...being at the whim of these politicians is crazy!"
Yamamoto: "Well, we're agreed, but we are sailors, and a job is a job, so what do we do?"
Donitz: "I propose that we meet in the North Sea, at midnight, when the wind is up, at 10,000 yards."
Yamamoto: "That's just not going to work for us...how about 30,000 yards somewhere in the South Pacific, at high-noon?"
Just then, Chester Nimitz enters the room:
"Hey fellas, I heard about what's going on, and I have thought about it a bit. Here's what my boss's boss Frank wants me to do: he wants me to have you guys hurry up and get this thing settled in a way that neither of you have any excuses afterwards, because when this is done, we need to get on with fighting both of you. So here's what we propose..."
-Gulf of Mexico, outside of hurricane season, when the seas and dead calm and the winds are still, and sufficiently offshore.
-The action begins high-noon, when the sun or night won't be a factor.
-Bismarck sets up to the South, pointed West, with her broadside facing North.
-Yamato sets up to the North, pointed East with her broadside facing South.
-They are 20,000 yards apart, exactly.
-Both ships are steaming in opposite directions, on exactly parallel courses with opposite headings.
-A small raft is rigged up with a flare, and is set exactly in the middle of the two vessels, and will fire the flare when both vessels are directly opposite from each other.
-Both vessels are fully fueled, fully armed, at peak operational status, and are fully crewed with crews who have been fully trained themselves, including actual combat experience.
-Differences in naval doctrine between IJN and DKM will not play a factor. Both captains follow a standard tactical doctrine, as adapted to the quirks of their own vessel. In any case, they use whichever tactics are optimal for their vessels.
-The engagement continues until one vessel is sunk or rendered dead in the water and unable to fire primary armament.
-Both vessels have all of their 1941 capabilities in terms of radar, fire control, armament, etc.
So, based on all of those assumptions, and using known variables (rate of fire, fire accuracy, speed and maneuverability, shell damage capability, armour, damage control capabilities, and anything else important that I missed:
That's easy, no one.
Yamato was not commissioned until December 16, 1941, and was still working up well into May, 1942. The IJN didn't consider Yamato operational until May 27, 1942. If such a fight were to take place in 1941, it would most likely be between the Bismarck and Mutsu. My money would be on the Mutsu.
You indicated that Hirohito would just have the Yamato's commissioning "moved up". Such things just don't happen. The IJN knew it would soon be in a war with the US and was pushing the completion and commissioning of Yamato as much as was humanly possible; it still took until May, 1942 to get her ready for combat, and even then her gunners were not well trained.
Further, the range you specified heavily favors Yamato; At 20,000 yards Bismarck's guns can penetrate neither Yamato's belt nor her deck armor. In other words, Yamato is in her immune zone versus Bismarck's guns, but Yamato's guns can easily penetrate Bismarck's belt. Since the two ship designs were optimized for totally different conditions, there is no way to specify "fair" conditions; the best course would be to designate a large patch of open ocean with the ocean chosen at random, and let the two ships hunt for each other until they made contact.
I believe the Yamato would still have the edge, simply because of her size and her heavier armor gives her a useful immune zone against Bismarck's much lighter guns. According to Nathan Okun, ARMOR PROTECTION OF KM BISMARCK by Nathan Okun 9/6/91 a comparison of the Bismarck's armor scheme with the penetration values of several of it's possible opponents shows that while the Bismarck's sloped armored deck was practically proof against penetration by any battleship, the trade-offs necessary to buy this protection exposed Bismarck to serious liabilities in potential combat situations. These liabilities actually more than offset the value of the sloped deck armor and made the Bismarck vulnerable to crippling damage that other battleships were more or less immune to.
Well then the whole things is ridiculous, isn't it, because Bismarck was sunk before Yamato was commissioned...so what's your point exactly? The entire reason for this section of the forum is to create hypothetical "What If?" situations (HINT: That is where the "What If?" name for the section comes from).
OK, pardon my attempt to try to create a scenario, you're obviously not willing to play along. My point was simply to specify that the ships would fight given the technology that was in place around the time of their commissioning (time being a 1-2 year period since technology takes time to develop, engineer, and implement effectively), but since Yamato wasn't commissioned until after Bismarck was sunk/scuttled, that's not really possible. My point was simply to assume that the state of things like radar and fire control technology was a 1941 levels, rather than to have Yamato's at 1944/45 levels while Bismarck's was at 1940/41 levels.
If you want to be nit-picky about it, the whole scenario could have never happened, so why was this thread even started? The whole concept is silly - the Germans and Japanese didn't trust each other, but war between them was far from imminent anyway (especially since they both had so many common enemies). So if you're going to nit-pick things like commissioning dates, you might as well go after the fact that war between those to nations was even less likely than moving up the commissioning date of Yamato; but if we're going to debate it (and isn't that what the "What If" section is all about?) then you have to distort reality a little bit (or a lot bit) to create a scenario that flies in the face of history.
So then change the parameters to being that either Bismarck didn't try to get out to the North Atlantic and survived to fight Yamato after she was commissioned, or that she escaped the North Atlantic unharmed and instead proceeded to the Gulf of Mexico for her showdown with Yamato and waited there until Yamato was ready with a trained crew (all while being left alone by the rest of the world), or that Yamato's keel was laid down sooner than it actually was and therefore that she was finished and thus commissioned sooner, or that the Starship Enterprise beamed Tirpitz out of that Norwegian fjord and dropped it in the Gulf near Yamato. Whatever you like.
Whatever scenario makes you happy, the point was to compare the two ships on even external terms in a hypothetical battle scenario. So thank you for at least directing the second half of your response to that topic.
I also do not think that your situation of the two ships "hunting" for each other is relevant, because I don't think that this thread is about their location capabilities, but rather their combat effectiveness once an engagement has begun on as even terms as possible. That might be an interesting scenario in its own right, the hunting scenario, but I don't think that this thread's history has gone that way so far.
Now, you indicate that that (creating approximately even external conditions) is not possible, because they were designed different, to operate optimally under different conditions. That may be so, but is that then not a factor in their fighting ability in a BB vs. BB engagement? If Yamato is capable of engaging and doing damage at 20k yards, and Bismarck can engage but not do damage at 20k yards, then is that not the answer right there?
So then, we have 1 opinion regarding calm seas and still winds, 20k yards, mid-day, 1941 technology.
3 Scenarios (besides the above):
1) Same orientation relative to each other (directly parallel courses, steaming at flank speed in opposite directions, with no action - no salvos, no engine room or helm changes - beginning until the broad-sides are dead even, as indicated by the launching of the flare) the range is reduced to say 12,000 yards. Calm seas & winds, high sun, clear skies.
2) Same orientation, 12k yards, calm seas & winds, clear skies, but dead of night with a new moon. Is an engagement even possible under these circumstances?
3) Same orientation, 12k yards, heavy seas & moderate winds (20 knots) w/heavy rain (but not bad storm conditions). Again, is an engagement even possible under these conditions?
And, for all of those scenarios, at what maximum distance relative to Bismarck's guns does Yamato's immune zone end? So what happens if we change those scenarios to say 15k yards, or 17 or 18k yards? What happens if we go the other way and reduce it to say 10k or 7k or 5k yards?
Sorry, but I just love pointing out the absolute absurdity of most of these silly "what-if's". They are mostly posed simply to allow the war-gamers amongst us to have their fun setting favorite fighting units against each other when no real possibility of any such fight ever taking place exists. It was you who picked the 1941 time frame presumably in an attempt to make things as "fair" as possible. I merely pointed out that Yamato was still to be completed and her crew trained in 1941, and therefore couldn't possibly have taken part in any fight in 1941, "fair" or otherwise, while the Bismarck was on the ocean floor by the start of 1942. It's distorting historical reality "a lot" to posit a fight between these two ships and any conclusions, therefore, are pretty meaningless.
I mentioned that procedure because any attempt to make things "fair" by dictating time of day, range at contact, weather, sea state, visibility, etc. inevitably favors one ship or the other. The only "fair" way to set up a fight is to pick an area where conditions might favor either ship, and then let the conditions be dictated by random luck based on when the ships find each other. BTW, being able to detect enemy ships is a very important factor in a ship's combat ability.
Despite your supposition that we know enough about the "quantitative answers as to each ship's accuracy, armor, hitting power, etc., we really do not know anything about the real factors that historically decided battles between capitol ships. At any range you care to posit, either the Yamato or Bismarck might get the first hits, and those were usually the most important ones. In other words, it's a matter of which ship had the most "luck" on any given day. If either ship was able to knock out the other's main FC, the battle would pretty much be over. At 12,000 yards, that might even be accomplished by a secondary battery hit. On the other hand, at 30,000 yards, it's entirely possible that neither ship could hit the other. There are just too many variables involved in naval gunnery contests to predict what might happen between two opponents that are anywhere near evenly matched.
Even though I think the Yamato, simply because of her size, would definitely have the edge over what was really a rather mediocre design like the Bismarck, I also have to admit that the Yamato, historically, was a very poor gunnery ship and seldom was able to hit what she was shooting at. Yamato's armor was also questionable, but Bismarck would have to hit Yamato in exactly the right place to take advantage of the known defects. What it comes down to, no matter what scenario you pose, is random luck, what is the point of arguing about which ship might have been the luckiest on any given day, particularly since both ships now reside on the ocean floor?
Do we really have enough information to say this? How many rounds/salvos did Yamato fire and how many straddles did she obtain?
now where did i read that? they never tried firing a salvo from the yamato's main guns. the article said the japanese weren't sure the ship's structure could take the vibration.
Yes, but in a section titled "What If?" then the whole point is to speculate. I picked 1941, as I wrote earlier, simply to dictate the state of the technology (radar, tactics, etc) to be used, for no other reason. Since the enter thing is fantasy, I don't see the point in nit-picking that one factor.
Also, regarding a ship's location capabilities, that is obviously a factor in a real-life scenario, and would be something good to test for if/when someone cares to try to model a scenario for it; but again, the theme of this thread has seemed to be regarding armament and actual fighting capability once an engagement has started, not who has the better search radar, and so on. In actuality, if you want to be realistic about it, doctrine seems at time to have favored BB's acting as part of task groups (acting carrier escort roles, etc), where their ability to locate the enemy was tied to factors well beyond their own design and construction.
I agree and disagree. I read T.A. Gardner's article (to which he posted a link earlier in this discussion) which summarily reviews WWII's BB to BB actions and their outcomes. Besides the lack of straight-up 1 vs. 1 BB fights and besides the lack of a situation without at least one party having some element of tactical surprise and initiative, his conclusions point out quite properly the factors that tend to influence the outcome of a battle, such as: who detects the enemy first and therefore is able to go in to action first (which is not a test of in-engagement fighting capability, which is what I believe that people who have participated in this thread are trying to get at), who has supporting vessels, and so on.
The point is that even when you level the playing field as much as possible with respect to external variables, there is a fair amount of chance involved in determining the outcome of such an engagement. So there I agree with you.
What I disagree with is that such a fact renders us unable to draw a conclusion about the likely outcome of an engagement. In any sporting event, for example, there is a great deal of luck involved in the outcome. Even the most lopsided matchup has a chance of ending in favor of the underdog on any given day.
So acknowledging that chance is a major factor doesn't render the exercise completely useless; rather, like anything, it shifts the discussion to focus on a a probable outcome. If the design of one ship's armour stops directly perpendicular impacts by not glancing impacts, and we know that, on average a certain # of shots impact the armour perpendicularly vs. in a glancing fashion, then we can derive some probabilities of damage. The same is true if we know that a certain percentage of German shells failed to detonate, even when lodged in the target, and so on.
Therefore, we are able to create a model that dictates what is likely to have happened, without making any judgment on any one particular day, or battle, or what have you. If the heads side of a quarter is very slightly heavier than the heads side, then out of a hundred flips of that coin it might wind up heads-up 51 times and tails up 49 times - we certainly can't say what any one flip will do, other than to say that it favors a heads-up outcome very slightly, maybe 51 times out of 100.
The same is true here. How much of a factor is luck? How much better is one ship vs. the other, if at all, to be able to shift the balance just a little bit, so that if the model was run 100 times we know that one ship would win 51% of the time, or maybe 52%, and so on - what is that %, in fact?
That is the entire point of modeling a scenario.
Regarding your "let them find each other scenario," then that only tests one variable, and given T.A. Gardner's findings, it does not test the other factors. If you were going to test two gunfighters in the old West to see who had better reflexes, who had a better weapon, who was more accurate, and so on, you certainly wouldn't start them at opposite ends of town and tell them to find each other, because that in almost no way tests those things - it would test a totally different set of things, and that's what you're proposing.
You say that letting random luck dictate the outcome is fair, but it is not, precisely because the outcome depends so much on who detects who first, who plots a firing solution first, and who fires first. That does not test what people are looking for here. The fact that one ship fights better in one set of conditions and the other in a different set of conditions doesn't matter. That is why you model the scenario for those different conditions, if that matters to you.
For example, certainly there is some range at which Yamato becomes susceptible to Bismarck's fire. If, at that range, Yamato's guns give her a big advantage, then there is the answer. I doubt very much that there is a range over which Yamato's guns are effective against Bismarck while Bismarck's are ineffective against Yamato's, and under which Bismarck's guns are effective against Yamato but Yamato's ineffective against Bismarcks. There must be some overlap there.
Or are you proposing that there is no set of conditions under which both ships would be fighting in their designed operational conditions?
I think we do. The Yamato's own TROM mentions poor results of her various gunnery exercises. And we have no conclusive evidence that she ever was able to hit any other surface target. Her TROM claims a hit on a US carrier at the beginning of the Battle of Samar, but the time claimed for the hit was long before any US ships recorded any damage from Japanese shellfire.
It's my understanding that throughout her career Yamato conducted just five gunnery practices and fired a total of something on the order of 65-70 practice rounds. This was way below the numbers of practice rounds fired by battleships in other navies and far too few to properly train her gunnery crew.
What-if scenarios are supposed to include some explanation of exactly what events changed history so that a heretofore impossible historical encounter suddenly becomes possible. Neither the original poster, nor T.A, Gardener, nor you have included any such explanation. So, a Bismarck-Yamato battle in 1941 remains impossible; I'm not interested in some war-gamer's personal fantasy featuring his two favorite battleships, I'm interested in history and why it might have occurred differently.
As T.A. Gardner pointed out, being able to detect an enemy first is crucial to any battle; it is the ship that gets the first hits that usually wins. At the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the ability to detect the enemy while remaining undetected was the deciding factor in the battle between Washington and Kirishima. So the scenario I suggested is actually more realistic and a better test of the real-world capabilities of battleships than the artificial "duel" you concocted. It is also a better test of the crew's training and skills which cannot be divorced from a battleship's overall performance.
Which is my point precisely. Battles between battleships happened so infrequently that there are too few samples on which to base any conclusions. Even stating probability ratios based on paper comparisons is highly problematical. T.A. Gardner is on record as believing the Bismarck would have a "substantial edge" in a battle with the Yamato, but then he hedges his bet by saying it would probably be decided by whichever ship gets the first hits (which is why the "hunting" scenario is a better test of fighting ability). There are just too many factors with a wide set of variables. German shells had notoriously poor fuses, but Japanese shells had poor performance against armor due to being optimized for underwater trajectory where they were more likely to do serious damage. How many hits could Yamato expect to register above water and how many where the underwater trajectory feature could become a factor? We don't know. How would Bismarck's supposedly superior underwater torpedo defenses fare against underwater shell hits (which possess a different damage dynamic than torpedoes). We don't know. How much damage could Bismarck's relatively light AP shells do against Yamato's armor which was designed to protect against much heavier shells? We don't know.
How many hits could Yamato be expected to register against Bismarck at any given range? We don't know. How many German shells could we expect to have properly functioning fuses? We don't know. What was the maximum range at which each ship could spot shell splashes? we don't know (and it would largely be a function of the prevailing visibility since both ships' radar was more or less useless for such a task). Exactly where would each ship take hits (if any)? We don't know.
All of these are factors which could very easily prove crucial in the battle and we know the answers to none of them, so what conclusions can we draw? Battleship battles are single events, you can't run them over and over to develop probability ratios. The best you can do is build "models" taking into account every known factor right down to barrel wear, and crew fatigue, but the very best models I have seen are only approximations and leave out a number of imponderables any one of which could very easily tilt the balance.
Of course there is, but no one knows exactly what those ranges are. Even shell trajectories, projectile velocities, armor penetration tables, and numerous other "paper" values are simply approximations. Nathan Okun, an acknowledged expert on such matters, hastens to caution his readers that his tables and calculations only "approximate" real world performance. So immune zones are theoretical constructs only. The only real test, and the only way to draw valid conclusions about the outcome of a battle, is to stage it in the real world. Anything else is just so much hot air with the proponents of each side emphasizing the factors they think favors their own favorite.
That's under discussion over on the IJN board right now. What appears to have happened is she got a first salvo stradle on White Plains. Smoke was observed so a hit was claimed. It probably coincided with the carrier making smoke so no hit but still good shooting.
That is a rather telling point and a lot of the practice appears to have been early in her career from what I remember so when might be significant. Not sure how much if any sub caliber practice she had.
A straddle is still speculation. There's no independently verifiable evidence for either a hit or a straddle. This has also been the subject of threads on the Navweaps board at least twice in the last couple of years. No consensus appears possible, but no one has ever posted creditable evidence of the Yamato ever hitting a surface target with her main battery. From circumstantial evidence in original IJN documents, including Ugaki's diary, it appears that even within the IJN, Yamato's gunnery was not highly regarded.
There are some interesting entries in Yamato's TROM regarding her early gunnery exercises;
"30 March 1942:
Inland Sea. Admiral Yamamoto observes while Captain Takayanagi conducts more armament trials at a range of 23 miles. They are judged a failure. Both Takayanagi and his gunnery officer are upbraided because YAMATO's gun aimers manning the main rangefinder misread the horizontal settings."
Teething problems and training deficiencies are not unusual on new ships, but these seem to have been recurring problems throughout her career. Yamato had apparently spent most of the month of March, 1942, on gunnery training.
Inland Sea. Training and gunnery practice."
Clearly, it had not been enough, and Yamamoto, who had already transferred his flag to Yamato, transferred it back to Nagato until the end of May, 1942. In the meantime, Yamato went back to gunnery training;
Inland Sea. Training and gunnery practice. "
Three months should be enough time to turn even a green crew into good gunners, if not experts.
"19 May 1942:
Departs Kure for battle training. The new light carrier JUNYO, under Captain (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Ishii Shizue (former CO of KASUGA MARU), almost sidewipes YAMATO."
"23 May 1942:
Returns to Hashirajima."
"27 May 1942:
YAMATO is deemed operational."
There is some suggestion in Ugaki's Diary that Yamaoto was simply exasperated by the lack of progress in Yamato's proficiency and declared Yamato "operational" so she could be included in the Midway operation for which she departed on 29 May, 1942. This cannot be confirmed, however.
At any rate, accoring to her TROM, Yamato's next gunnery exercises do not occur until two years later, in May, 1944;
Tawi Tawi, YAMATO and MUSASHI participate in joint gunnery drills at ranges of almost 22 miles."
These conclude just before the Battle of The Philippine Sea, at which Yamato is credited by some Japanese sources with shooting down at least one aircraft with her main battery guns. Unfortunately, the aircraft is Japanese. This is the only verifiable recorded "success" for her main battery guns.
Yamato due to fuel shortages, spends the next three months near Singapore, conducting "training" with other fleet units, there is no indication whether this included gunnery training.
"17 July 1944:
Arrives at Lingga. Remains in the vicinity for three months conducting training with the MUSASHI and other fleet units."
Yamato apparently recieves no further gunnery practice before she is sunk in 1945. Although she was used as a "hotel" for high ranking naval officers at Truk, and performed what was probably her most useful duty as a transport, there seems to have been no urgency in the IJN to make sure that her gunnery crew remained, or even became, proficient.
My personal theory, for which I have not been able to find any confirming evidence, is that the IJN was loathe to allow the Yamato to participate in live-fire gunnery exercises because, like many battleship's guns, her main battery rifles had a combat "life" of olny 150-200 esr. After that new barrels would have to be provided. Yamato's 18" rifles, unlike other battleship guns could not simply be relined, complete new barrels had to be manufactured, and there were no spare barrels for the Yamato's and Musahi's guns except the nine barrels (two of which were used for test purposes) intended for the Shinano. Manufacturing new barrels for either ship would have been a costly and time-consuming process, and would have meant the ship in question would be out of commission for some time.
One thing is certain, the Japanese fire control on Yamato is far inferior to the German system on Bismarck. The German system had most of its data feeds done automatically as was practice in the late 30's by the US and Britain. The Japanese system still relied almost totally on manual inputs and the system overall is far less sophisticated in its operation.
http://www.fischer-tropsch.org/prim...Reports/USNTMJ-200F-0023-0085 Report O-31.pdf
I think the term you are looking for is "RPC" which stands for "Remote Power Control". Essentially, this meant that the gun director and associated components automatically control the laying of the guns without manual intervention by the gun crew. This method of communicating firing data to the guns is not only much faster, reducing the time between the determination of a firing solution and the actual firing of the gun, but is also far less prone to introducing human error into the process. The US Navy was the first to develop RPC and almost all of it's combatant ships had RPC capability at the beginning of WW II. Britain was a year or two behind, as was Germany. Japan's Navy never did implement a complete RPC system for it's warships. Thus you are correct that The Yamato's FC was less sophisticated than Bismarck's, however, in 1941, the difference was not all that great as some firing data in the German system was still manually input at that time.
Yamato's gunnery woes were almost certainly attributable more to crew training issues than inferior technology.
I am an American but reading this statement made me have to join to respond to this.
Sorry about the Hijack
I am a proud American but sometimes we need to be honest with ourselves.
The British don't run like sissies. They were certainly not sissies in the American Revolution. The USA could have easily lost that war and we seem to forget that we had some help. We forget the French that contributed greatly. There was Poles such as General Casimir Pulaski. Germans did fight no both sides. There were Native American as well.
The USA had help and it was not against a bunch of sissies. The Brits were fighting far from home supported by wooden sailing vessels and had other obligations elsewhere.
I would say the British while they made some mistakes (doesn't almost everyone) fought smart and hard. To run and regroup is not being a sissy, it is fight smart and fighting to win.
The Brits were not sissies in the 1700's, they were not sissies in WW1, they were not sissies in WW2, and they are not sissies now.
This is coming from a proud American. Sheesh.