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Cruiser comparison

Discussion in 'Ships & Shipborne Weaponry' started by USMCPrice, Apr 3, 2010.

  1. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

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    The thread on "What is the most interesting US Warship class in WW2?" raised additional questions in my mind about U.S. Cruisers in comparison with those of other countries.
    thread here:http://www.ww2f.com/weapons-wwii/40485-what-most-interesting-us-warship-class-ww2.html

    Here's the question. Cruisers played an important role in the naval battles in the Solomon's, the Japanese appeared to have more success than the U. S. Navy did. Why? Was it due to superior training of the Japanese Navy? Was it superior Cruiser design? Superior weapons systems, like the Long Lance or superior tactics?
    I tend to think it was not inferior cruiser design. I think our guns and fire control were on par with and in many cases exceeded that of the Japanese. They did possess an advantage in the excellent Long Lance torpedo but I don't think it was the deciding factor. I tend to think it was mainly due to superior training and night fighting tactics.

    How would British cruisers have fared in the same situation? How would U.S. Cruisers and sailors have fared against the German Navy?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Great topic! The Japanese in the Solomons did most of their torpedo work with destroyers; Savo Island was an exception, based mainly on the ships they had available when the Americans landed on Tulagi and Guadalcanal. The South Pacific had been a bit of a backwater for the IJN; except for Mikawa's flagship Chokai, the ships he pulled together were the oldest and smallest of their types in the IJN and some of the oldest and smallest in the world, including his lone destroyer, the WWI-vintage Yunagi. They did a very creditable job pulling off a victory, with some help from shortcomings on our side. On that occasion they did not need the range of the Long Lance, they were able to get in close before firing.

    The other major cruiser action for the Japanese, Cape Esperance, ended up being a debacle, largely due to chance putting them on the short end of crossing the T.

    The main problem for the US was not ship design but tactics. We continued to believe that gunfire from the "battle line" would dominate, even in night actions, and a few cases like Cape Esperance nourished the misconception. Our DDs were locked into formation with the cruisers, and they achieved little until they were allowed to operate more independently in late 1943.

    British cruisers were roughly comparable to ours, but they had emphasized night tactics more in the interwar years, having found themselves deficient in that area back at Jutland. Their cruiser-destroyer forces were generally enterprisng and aggressive in night actions, notably in the Mediterranean. Their small light cruisers like the Arethusa class were particularly useful. I hadn't thought about it until now, but I could see them doing better than we did against the Japanese, say on occasions like Tassafaronga.

    US ships and sailors would have had a bit of a learning curve to surmount against the Germans or Italians also, but I doubt it would have been as painful as on-the-job training against the Japanese.

    The only modern US cruisers to carry to carry torpedos were the Atlantas, also intended for the small cruiser role which included leading destroyers. It was a common assumption that such ships needed torpedos, but it seems a bit odd to me, precisely because they would be in company with destroyers - the flotilla leader's own torpedos would be a small addition. My thought is that the leader ought to provide capabilities not resident in the led, most obviously additional gunpower. Of course the case of the Atlantas was a bit confused since they mounted the same 5"38s as our DDs!

    The development of US and British cruisers shows the navies' different philosophies and missions. The first treaty generation comprised 10,000-ton 8" gun "tinclads" like the County and Northampton classes, not so much because they were considered ideal cruisers as because the intended upper limit became the "industry standard". The RN in particular was more interested in numbers of cruisers, envisioning as many as 70 to conduct its worldwide missions. This became apparent in the next generation. We built seven 10,000-ton New Orleans class and sought to make them the best possible fighting ships. Experience had shown that it was possible to squeeze in considerably more armor than in earlier designs. The RN by contrast built about 77,000 tons of 6" cruisers, twelve ships total, Leander through Arethusa classes.

    Incidentally, our first 8" cruisers were designated CLs rather than CAs. This reflected their light armor; CA at that point was reserved for the old armored cruisers from the early 1900s, several of which remained in service through the 1920s. It was also reminiscent of the old protected and armored cruiser designations, which might be of comparable size, armament, and appearance but were distinguished by their level of protection. The London Treaty of 1930 established a distinction between 6" (actually 6.1"/155mm) and larger ships and also imposed tonnage limits. At this point the obsolescent armored cruisers were retired and the CA designation applied to all 8" ships.
     
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  3. ickysdad

    ickysdad Member

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    Torpedoes on IJN cruisers sank more of their own ships then they did of their enemies.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The Japanese had a superior doctrine and had trained extensively for night actions. IN that regard their superior optics probably accounted for more than their supperior torpedoes. Indeed they had a fair amount of problems with them and there was a tendency to use that range which tended to result in few hits.
     
  5. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    You forgot the cruiser action around Java, and the destruction of the ADBA fleet by Japanese cruisers.
     
  6. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    And the Komandorski :D

    The destruction of the ABDA command was actually a series of battles not all of which included cruisers.
     
  7. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    Yes, quite true, though from my reading it would be safe to say the Cruisers did the heavy hitting in those battles (with the exception of Balikpapan).

    And yes, the DD's launching Type 93's certainly was an issue (sank four of their own in Bantam Bay trying to take out the Houston).

    But IMHO, it was mostly cruiser battles.
     
  8. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The original post referenced the Solomons, but cruisers played a major role in the destruction of the ABDA forces. At Java Sea they sank Java and De Ruyter, and I've seen the hit on Kortenaer credited to Haguro also, even though destroyers fired over one hundred Long Lances in the daylight phase of the battle. Subsequently cruisers sank Exeter and her consorts, and Mikuma and Mogami engaged Houston and Perth, though supported by destroyers; this was when Fubuki scored her "own goals".
     
  9. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    I would say that the Japanese had more success with destroyers and torpedoes than the US did. Their cruisers performance was lack luster in most cases outside of a few cases of torpedo attack.

    With destroyers the Japanese had a far better weapon in the Long Lance torpedo, something the US was unaware of initially, and in their tactics particularly at night to use it.

    Compounding this was a slowness on the USN's part to appreciate the advances in electronics they had at their disposal, particularly radar. US tactics didn't help either. The US expected the gun to be the decisive weapon. Task Force commanders therefore lined up their ships in a single tight column for control and to maximize firepower from their guns. A single line with destroyers tied to the cruisers meant a decreased chance of amicide or confusion on targets. The US also expected to fight at 10,000 + yards... thought to be relatively safe from torpedo attack....
    The US thinking was that the cruisers would cripple the enemy with gunfire then the destroyers could close later in the battle and finish off the cripples at close range with torpedoes.

    The Japanese by contrast opened the battle with their destroyers (and cruisers when they were present) launching a massive barrage of torpedoes. They would then hold gunfire until the torpedoes hit home and finish the battle with gunfire.

    In the close waters of the Solomons the later was the better set of tactics initially; assuming the Japanese could attain surprise.

    I will add this: US cruisers proved far tougher targets to take down than British or Japanese ones did. The US didn't lose a single cruiser during the war (discounting the Ohama class) to a single torpedo hit. Most took three or more to finish. Both the British and Japanese lost a number to single torpedo hits. Both also lost cruisers to aerial attacks that a US cruiser would have survived. The Savanah is a good example. She took a single Fritz X 2000 lb bomb that detonated in the forward magazines. Yet, she survived and was still capable of limping out of the battle area. That bomb in similar circumstances would likely have sunk any British or Japanese cruiser.

    Another area where the US had a marked superiority in their cruisers was in their AA suite. The 5"/25 and 5"/38 with Mk 33 or 38 directors proved much better than their competition in the heavy AA gun department. Provision of 20mm and 40mm gave them an excellent medium and light gun battery.
    The Japanese in particular were let down by bad equipment. Their 25mm was obsolesent by 1942 and all but obsolete by 1944. Their heavier guns were let down in large part by the awful Sanshiki AA shells. These were far less effective, even if much more spectacular in appearance when detonated, than other navies AA common rounds.
     
  10. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    discounting the Omaha class?? None of them were lost, mainly due to our policy of not using them in intense theaters like the Solomons. They were certainly vulnerable; Raleigh almost foundered from a single aerial torpedo at Pearl Harbor, and Marblehead came close to succumbing to a couple of light bombs.

    The two small cruisers we did lose, Atlanta and Juneau, took heavy punishment.

    True that the British and Japanese lost a number of cruisers to single torpedos, but we should note that the USN did not operate ships as small as the Nagaras, Didos, etc.
     
  11. ickysdad

    ickysdad Member

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    In defence of the Raleigh ships like the BB California would have succumbed to just a couple of torpedoes do to the surprised in harbor nature of their attacks.
     
  12. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

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    What is your opinon on arming the Brooklyns with 15 x 6"/46's instead of 8" guns? How did their firepower and effectiveness compare with an 8" gunned cruiser?
     
  13. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    With the right AP, and of course winning the race to get in range before the larger gunned cruiser smacked them, I would think they could be very effective just from mass steel in the air.

    By the same thinking, an Atlanta class with AP, if they could get inside the reach of the larger guns, could play hob with another cruiser. 16 5"/38's? Be like a 5" machine gun, lol.
     
  14. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

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    Good point Gromit801! I was thinking in terms of mass and penetration ability. I never thought about decreased range.
    Well from what I can find the 6in/46 had an 130lb AP round and range of 14.5 miles. The 8in/55 had an 260lb AP round with a range of 18 miles. So double the weight per round and an additional 3.5 miles range. I don't know how important the additional range was in real world conditions but I can see the difference in mass per shell countering any increase in ROF with the 6".

    CA 24/25
    10x8"x260lb=2600lb
    CA 26to31; 33/35; 32/34, 36to39, 44; 45
    9x8"x260lb=2340lb
    CL 40to43, 46to50
    15x6"x130lb=1950lb
     
  15. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    If we factor in that the 6" fired roughly twice as fast as the 8" (8-10 rpm vs. 3-5) we have around 3900lb equivalent for the Brooklyn. The CLs were also better armored than many of the treaty 8" ships. As usual it depends on the specific situation, but most WWII surface actions were night battles at ranges where the 6" were fully effective.

    The Atlantas with fourteen 5" on the broadside had a 770lb broadside (55lb shell), but their rate of fire was almost twice as fast again, 15-20 rpm.
     
  16. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

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    Very good point. Here are the adjusted figures. I've also included a figure using the mean rate of fire. Rate of fire would vary from gun to gun and turret to turret based upon the proficiency of the crews, turret captain and gun chiefs, so an average would probably be the most useful figure.

    CA 24/25
    10x8"x260lb=2600lb ROF 3-5 Rounds per min, 7800 to 13000, 10400 avg.
    CA 26to31; 33/35; 32/34, 36to39, 44; 45
    9x8"x260lb=2340lb ROF 3-5 Rounds per min, 7020 to 11700, 9360 avg.
    CL 40to43, 46to50
    15x6"x130lb=1950lb ROF 8-10 Rounds per min, 15600-19500, 17550 avg.

    There is a really big difference in the number of pounds of shells sent downrange. The greater number of rounds would also increase the probability of achieving a critical hit. This means a Brooklyn, on average, could fire an 87.5% greater weight of shells per minute than most U.S. 8" cruisers.

    In order to get a good comparison between the Atlanta's and the other cruisers you'd have to factor in the secondary battery as well as main battery. All these cruisers mounted various numbers of 5"/38's and/or 5"/25's.
     
  17. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    In order to get a good comparison between the Atlanta's and the other cruisers you'd have to factor in the secondary battery as well as main battery. All these cruisers mounted various numbers of 5"/38's and/or 5"/25's.

    Good point! <Homer Simpson voice> d'Oh!

    On one occasion during prewar gunnery practice, Savannah was logged firing 138 6" shells in one minute, better than two per second, slightly more than 9/minute/gun. That's 17,940lb of ordnance; one more would have put it over nine tons. An observer said it looked like a fire hose spraying the target.
     
  18. lwd

    lwd Ace

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  19. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

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    lwd wrote
    I used Carronades figures:
    He is normally very accurate, but your figures are from a good source also. I think the discrepency can be explained by the different turrents mounted. The 8" Mk14 gunhouse, and the 8" Mk15 and Mk12 turrets. In the Mk14 all guns had to be trained in unison, if you had a slow gun it slowed the whole turret down, because all needed to be up to train and fire. (or it could be fired with less than all three guns up, but then you're firing one or more fewer tubes than you could be firing). In the Mk 15 and 12 the guns could train independantly so the faster guns didn't have to wait on the slower ones, thus higher ROF. However, the MK14 was used on the bulk of the cruisers we are discussing so, if my supposition is correct, your ROF figures would be the most usefull.
    The thing about using your figures is they give the 6' cruisers an even bigger edge in lbs. of shells fired per minute. Same results only more pronounced.
    We haven't included the Baltimore's because they came along after the surface battles we are discussing. Had they been available at the time, there is no doubt they'd be the dominant cruiser. IMHO, they were by far the best wartime cruiser class.
    Here's a revised table using your ROF data:
    CA 24/25
    10x8"x260lb=2600lb ROF 3-5 Rounds per min, 7800 to 13000, 10400 avg.
    ROF 3-4 Rounds per min, 7800 to 10400, 9100 avg.
    CA 26to31; 33/35; 32/34, 36to39, 44; 45
    9x8"x260lb=2340lb ROF 3-5 Rounds per min, 7020 to 11700, 9360 avg.
    ROF 3-4 Rounds per min, 7020 to 9360, 8190 avg.
    CL 40to43, 46to50
    15x6"x130lb=1950lb ROF 8-10 Rounds per min, 15600-19500, 17550 avg.
     
  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I looked it up to see when the "super heavy" round came in and for what vessels. It is worth noting that some US guns exceeded the published rate of fire. In particular the 5"38 occasionally got up over 20 rounds per minute in actual combat. This was apparently achievable with a well trained well rested crew.
     

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