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Cruiser comparison

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

  1. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    "super heavy" shells, class first introduced, weight change (AP except for 5")

    16" 45/50, North Carolina - 2240 > 2700
    12" 50, Alaska - 870 > 1140
    8" 55, Baltimore - 260 > 335
    6" 47, Cleveland - 105 > 130
    5" 54, Midway - 55 > 70, 55lb was the 5" 38, believe this is for AA Common shell

    A rough rule of thumb for weight of modern shells is the cube of bore diameter in inches divided by 2. Thus for 8" 8x8x8/2 = 256lb. In the runup to WWI the Royal Navy started a trend of heavy shells, about 10-12% larger than previous. The first example was the 13.5" Mark II whose AP weighed 1400lb compared to 1250lb for the Mark I. Most capital ship main armament of WWII fell into this category*, in some cases ships were refitted to fire heavier shells. As you can see, the USN super heavies were about 30% above "normal"; as far as I know they were fairly unique - anyone?

    * ironically the exception was the German 15" 47 as mounted on Bismarck, which fired a 1760lb shell while British, French, and Italian 15" were 1920-1950lb.
     
  2. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Taking this in a new direction for a moment....

    The British and to a lesser extent Japanese made some seriously bad mistakes in their cruiser designs with regard to certain critical systems.

    The first of these was the electric power system.
    The British opted to retain a all DC electrical supply using nothing but steam driven turbogenerators. They neglected to install any backup diesel generators as the US did on their ships. Instead, emergancy power was to be provided from a bank of batteries.
    The Japanese followed British practice up through the middle 30's when they began to switch to 220 and 450 VAC 3 phase systems like the US Navy was using. They also generally provided a combination of steam turbogenerators and diesel generators for electrical power but, didn't install specific emergancy diesels and relied, like the British on a battery power bank for emergancy power.
    The result of this was often RN cruisers on taking a torpedo hit or two in their main spaces rapidly lost all electric power followed by a loss of steam (due to loss of control systems) that left the ship dead in the water and without the means to fight the damage.
    Compounding this, both navies relied almost exclusively on steam driven firepumps and ejectors (a special kind of pump for flooding) for damage control. This meant that a loss of steam put the firemain out of service and left the ship with little means to fight or control flooding.
    Probably one of the most glaring examples of this is the loss of the Town Class cruiser Manchester to a single torpedo hit. This cruiser got hit in one engine room. The flooding spread to several boilers causing the loss of steam. Progressive flooding became uncontrollable and all electric power was lost shortly afterwards. The ship had to be abandoned and sunk as it was clear that it was beyond saving at that point having a serious list and most of the main spaces partially or completely flooded.

    Another problem the choice of DC had was with the proliferation of electronics on ships. Most radar and other electronics required some or all AC power. This required the British to install special motor-generator sets on their ships to provide such power. The weight of these motor-generator sets was sufficent to cause concerns about stability and the need to find other weight that could be removed from the ship to compensate.

    A Japanese mistake was the use of ring busses on many non-capital ships. This made the electric system more vulnerable to damage as main cabling was run through compartments on each side of the ship rather than more towards the centerline. On large ships this wasn't a problem. On a cruiser it generally led to more damage to the electric system from fragments than a single main bus cable and radial load sourcing would have.

    Well, enough for now. As you can see, it often isn't just guns, armor and, speed that determine the efficency and survivability of a ship. It is alot of things generally overlooked that do.
     
  3. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    That's some very good info.
     
  4. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    T.A.Gardner, great post.

    Very true and this is the sort of thing I was looking for when I started the thread.

    Carronade,
    Thanks for the info on the heavy shell. Especially for explaining it in a manner that clarifies the data.
     
  5. John @ WEM

    John @ WEM Member

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    As has been pointed out, IJN night-fighting training & tactics--and certainly their optics and use of specially-selected lookouts--were superior early on. USN training for night-fighting in constricted waters was largely non-existent. US commanders did not fully understand or trust the capabilities of radar--witness Scott putting HELENA & FLETCHER at the rear of his column in November, his failure to open fire early when he had the advantage even though HELENA had been tracking targets accurately for nearly 30 minutes (IIRC), and his order to cease fire when he thought he was firing on friendly ships, even though radar had the clear picture. Add to this the USN's use of high-flash powder that gave IJN gunners & torpedomen clear target references, and....

    It wasn't until the USN learned to get its torpedoes in the water first and wait for them to arrive before opening gun fire that things began to change. And even then, some did not learn. My uncle was serving in SELFRIDGE when she lost her bows to a "Long Lance" and CHEVALIER was sunk at Vella Lavella in October 1943, in yet another case--even that late--when the IJN got their fish in the water first and the USN relied on gunfire.
     
  6. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Go to the upper right of the thread and rate the thread.
     
  7. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    Ok, it's got a pretty good beat, and it's easy to dance to!

    *ducks and runs*
     
  8. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    John, if your uncle had any of his memoirs written down, that would make some great reading!
     
  9. John @ WEM

    John @ WEM Member

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    Would that he had, and would that I'd gotten him to talk more about it when he was still around. He was a "snipe", and was one of the salvage crew that managed to get her back to Noumea, and ultimately to Mare Island. At that point he was transferred to USS St. George (AV-17) and was aboard her when she was kamikazeed at Kerama Retto during the Okinawa campaign. His main recollection of serving in St. George was being complimented by the Captain for keeping the engineering plant going.
     
  10. Kevin Kenneally

    Kevin Kenneally Member

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    I believe the comparison of cruisers must encompass all types of cruisers used in WWII.

    Each class of cruiser had unique attributes that helped each side fight. I personally liked the Japanese cruisers (CA & CL). They were built to "fight"; with little or no comfort for the crews.
     
  11. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    One thing I have yet to see mentioned is the survivability of the US ships. I think the best (and most extreme) example would be the USS New Orleans, who lost something like 20% of the ship when her forward magazine blew in the Battle of Tassafaronga. Still she made it back under her own power.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Great pictures! As long as the watertight bulkheads held, it was somewhat of a blessing to have the damaged or flooded part separated from the ship. There were even a few cases of ships having both bow and stern blown off and surviving:

    HM destroyer Jackal
    Japanese destroyer Suzutsuki or maybe Fuyutsuki
    and if I recall correctly, one of the small British cruisers, maybe a Dido class
     
  13. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Yeah. I agree. She lost all the way back to her #2 turret.

    Some more U.S. Cruisers that lost their bows to Japanese surface actions and survived.
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  14. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    John@WEM wrote:
    Very good points.
    I think that the U.S. had the better cruisers. The Japanese developed a superior weapons system (the Long Lance), developed tactics to maximize it's effectiveness against their most likely opponent, and trained it's officers and men to an extremely high level of competance in the execution of these tactics. I think their great weakness was in their senior leadership. Time after time they'd gain the advantage through their tactics and abilities, but failed to capitalize on their advantage to complete the victory.

    Some good info on the Long Lance from www.Combinedfleet.com:

    "At the outbreak of the war, the Japanese Navy possessed some of the world's finest torpedoes, including the fabled Long Lance. The quality of these weapons was no accident, but rather the result of Japan's intensive efforts during the 1920's and 30's to make good the shortcomings of her battle fleet. Laboring as she did under the unfavorable 5:5:3 ratio of capital ships imposed by the Washington Naval Treaty, Japan would most likely be at a disadvantage in any Pacific conflict with the United States. She also knew well enough that the U.S. modeled its fighting doctrine on the famous 'Plan Orange', which called for an advance of the American battle fleet across the Pacific to relieve the Phillipines. It was anticipated that at some location in the Western Pacific a decisive battle would be fought. In Japan's view, some means must be found to offset its disadvantage in capital ships before this battle occurred, or its inferior batle line would be destroyed by the American force. Torpedo tactics and night combat were seized upon as one way to whittle down the American battle line as it made its way across the Pacific. Accordingly, Japan worked diligently to develop the tactics needed to implement this new doctrine, and also to create the weapons with which to carry it out. The result was that Japanese torpedoes showed a steady progression of improvements throughout the 1930's, culminating in the devlopment of the famous 'Long Lance' in 1935. Designing and perfecting the Long Lance required solving some extremely difficult technical problems, most of which centered around the usage of pure oxygen as a fuel (rather than compressed air). Compressed air is nearly 77% nitrogen, which is useless for combustion, and also contributes to the visibility of the torpedo by leaving a bubble track on the surface. The usage of pure oxygen promised far greater power and propulsive efficiency, but it came with certain costs. The most glaring of these was how to use pure oxygen safely aboard a ship or submarine, given its inherently inflammable nature. Premature detonation of the torpedo upon firing was also a problem. However, the Japanese overcame these hurdles. Further, through meticulous live-testing of their weapons against ship targets, they perfected a warhead detonator that was rugged and reliable (The U.S. Navy's BuOrd could certainly have taken a lesson or two here). The resulting weapon, the Type 93 torpedo, was fantastically advanced in comparison with its Western counterparts, possessing an unequaled combination of speed, range, and hitting power. This weapon, coupled with the flexible battle tactics practiced by Japan's cruisers and destroyers, led to victory after victory in the early stages of the war. Only as American radar and gunfire control became increasingly sophisticated would the Japanese advantage in night battles begin to disappear, and even then a Long Lance-armed Japanese destroyer was still a thing to be feared."

    I was reading some Navy Damage Records on Fleet Carriers a while back. One statement stuck in my mind. It said that all U.S. Fleet Carrier losses could be directly attributable to torpedoes. They mentioned several ships like Bunker Hill and Franklin that took enormous damage from bombs and kamikaze's but survived. It went into how torppedoes figured into each loss by ship, I don't have the material handy right now, and really don't want get off-track by going into the carrier losses right now, maybe an idea for a future thread.:)

    As far as U.S. Cruiser losses here's a list of their attributable losses.

    CA-29 Chicago-30Jan43-Battle of Rennell Island-Torpedo
    CA-30 Houston-01Mar42-Battle of Sunda Straight-Torpedo/GunFire
    CA-26 Northampton-30Nov42-Battle of Tassafaronga-Torpedo
    CA-35 Indianapolis-29Jul45-Phillipine Sea-submarine Torpedo
    CA-34 Astoria-09Aug42-Battle of Savo Island-Torpedo/GunFire
    CA-39 Quincy-09Aug42-Battle of Savo Island-Torpedo/GunFire
    CA-44 Vincennes-09Aug42-Battle of Savo Island-Torpedo/GunFire
    CL-50 Helena-06Jul43-Battle of Kula Gulf-Torpedo
    CL-51 Atlanta-13Nov42-Battle of Guadalcanal-Torpedo/GunFire
    CL-52 Juneau-13Nov42-Battle of Guadalcanal-Torpedo

    You also made a good point when you wrote:
    During the Battle of Kolobangara, the allied ships spotted the Japanese by radar at a range of 20 miles at 01:00 on 13 July. The Japanese force had been aware of the Allied ships for almost two hours. How?
     
  15. Spaniard

    Spaniard New Member

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    The Fact that The USS Honolulu and the USS New Orleans was still floating after that and made it bak to port is amazing.
    Nice pictures on all the posts.
     
  16. John @ WEM

    John @ WEM Member

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    IIRC, by spotter aircraft. After Savo, USN cruisers sent their aircraft ashore when sortieing for night actions. The IJN, OTOH, used theirs for spotting and illuminating. I believe it was IJN cruiser aircraft that located and identified the Allied force.
     
    Gromit801 likes this.
  17. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    At Kolombangara the Japanese were using a new device that detected the impulses from American radar. I'm not sure what they called it, but it had a range far greater than the radar did. I did an essay on the battle a while ago that mentions it.
    http://www.ww2f.com/naval-warfare-pacific/23835-battle-kolombangara-july-1943-a.html
     
  18. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    mikebatzel wrote:

    Thanks for the info on the device. Also for the link to the very good essay by you. In that thread you asked if anyone read them. This is another good reason for you to post them, as a reference material for discussions. Well done.

    John @ WEM wrote:

    That's what I assumed, but Mikebatzel gave us definative answer. However, Japanese spotter aircraft did play a role in many of these engagements, you often read of them dropping flares to illuminate the American ships. Why does it appear that the Japanese made more and better use of their float planes than the U.S. did, during this time period?
     
  19. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    It's all in the doctrine in which they were employed. As you mentioned, the Japanese would use these planes to drop flares over Allied fleets for attempted night time bombings, or for gathering composition, course etc. The effectiveness of this waned as US superiority in radar increased throughout the war. US gunners did not need to see the target to destroy it.

    The Japanese used their available float planes, launched from cruisers, as spotters and reconnaissance purposes for the fleet. On the other hand the US used bombers launched from carriers for scouting purposes. Don't get me wrong, PBY's were also used heavily for scouting, but usually from Island bases that extended the search radius of the carriers. The thinking was that by using bombers, the US also had a striking ability superior to Japanese scouts.

    The fallacy of depending on cruiser float planes for scouting for enemy fleets was exemplified at Midway, when Tone's plane was launched late. It would be that plane that discovered the American Task Force. Had it been a group from a carrier, the problems encountered in launching the plane could have been rectified within minutes by bringing up another plane, pilot, or both.

    US cruisers could also launch float planes, but for the most part they were used in ASW patrols rather than reconnaissance roles.
     
  20. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    I would like some confirmation of a Japanese radar detection device. They certainly didn't have one in 1942 at the times of Java and Savo.
     

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