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Questions on French quadruple turret and French Battleship Jean Bart in action

Discussion in 'Ships & Shipborne Weaponry' started by Erich Raeder, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. Erich Raeder

    Erich Raeder Member

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    Hello everyone,
    I have a couple of questions about the French Battleship Jean Bart and other French Battleships during WWII.
    1. Was the two quadruple turrets a successful design?
    In Grand Admiral Raeder’s Memoirs he writes that “French ships, with their eight 33-cm guns mounted forward in two quadruple turrets would presumably outclass the nine 28-cm guns mounted in three triple turrets in our ships. After careful target tests we believed that our guns, with specially designed high-explosive, armor piecing shells, would be fully effective against the armor of the French ships. In addition our triple turret guns could be fired more rapidly than the French quadruple turrets, lastly our ordnance specialists doubted that the French could fire full salvos from their quadruple turrets without suffering serious structural damage.”
    In the book “The Iowa Class Battleships” by Malcolm Muir it says that “French designers adopted the radical solution of placing big guns in two quadruple turrets to concentrate both offensive and defensive weights.”
    2. Does anyone know any instances in which the quadruple turret was used in combat?
    Alsoin the book “The Iowa Class Battleships” by Malcolm Muir it says that in 1942 during Operation Torch the French Battleship Jean Bart in Vichy service “stood up fairly well to the 16” gunfire from USS Massachusetts”, until its turrets where knock out.
    3. How would a French Battleship like the Jean Bart have done in combat against, say the Bismarck or Tirpitz?
     
  2. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Unfortunately the Jean Bart was still under construction at Saint Nazaire when the Germans reached the harbor and it waited until the last moment before it left the combat zone under heavy enemy fire (it was damaged by a Luftwaffe attack) . It nevertheless reached Casablanca but only ONE of the famous turrets you mention had actually been assembled and fitted and no other one was available in North Africa. As a result it went to battle with a single turret and without the AA guns which had also been disembarked to protect the city. Had it been fully operational , it could have been quite a match , but this did not happen.... until 1955 because it was not repaired unti lthe end of the war due to lack of supplies and money .
    It was later used against the Egyptians at Suez in 1956 .
    You may also find useful information by checking her sister ships carrer the Richelieu in Indochina. (1945-1954).
    BTW: In my collcetion I have tally caps from both ships.
     
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  3. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    Erich, I cannot help much but am sending a link to a battleship comparison site. It is not scientific but interesting nevertheless; It includes the Richelieu, Bismark, Iowa, South Dakota, Yamato and Victoria Veneto as well as king George V. Fun site.

    Battleship Comparison

    Gaines
     
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  4. Erich Raeder

    Erich Raeder Member

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    Thanks for the posts both of you
     
  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    You might want to look at the combat experiance of the Dunkirque as well. I believe she took a 15" hit from Hood to the top of one of her turrets. I think half was still operable. The French design seperated the turret into two halves. As for Jean Bart fortunatly she wasn't ready for sea. If she had been the 16" round that went high order in her secondary magazine might have proven catastrophic. She did shoot well that day from what I've read.
     
  6. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    this was indeed a deffect of the Jena Bart and the Richelieu and the late rversion was modified to remedy to that weak spot.
    It was even considered to turn her into a carrier after the war, but building a new one was cheaper so the idea was abandonned.
     
  7. Sentinel

    Sentinel Member

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    I've heard that the Richelieu couldn't fire an effective full broadside.

    Apparently the main guns were so close together that the shockwaves of the shells interfered with each other's trajectories, making them inaccurate. So it could only fire two guns at once in each quad turret.
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    They weren't alone in that. At least some of the US triple turrets had the same problem. The fix was known prewar. One simply installed delay coils that seperated the firings by a small fraction of a second.
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    A source that those of you interested in this may find interesting if you aren't familiar with it already:
    France 380 mm/45 (14.96") Model 1935 and Model 1936
    In paraticular it states:
    Note that further down it lists the barrel life as 200 rounds so this doesn't sound like the original dispersion was all that bad. The following suggest that Dunkirque had a worse problem in that regard.
    France 330 mm/50 (13") Model 1931
    If we compare to the US 16"/50 at:
    USA 16"/50 (40.6 cm) Mark 7
    In a test 1987 the US was able to get the pattern size of these guns down to 200m at somewhat longer ranges but that was with substantial improvements in a number of areas. The center gun of these turrets also had a delay coil but the pattern size above was achieved by only firing one gun from each turret. The delay by the way was also .06 sec.
    I suspect if France had not fallen most of the problems associated with these guns would have been fixed by some time in 41 if not earlier.

    Shouldn't this be in the naval subforum by the way.
     
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  10. Sentinel

    Sentinel Member

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    Thanks for all that detailed information, lwd!

    This subforum is called "Ships & Shipborne Weaponry", so your post seems quite appropriate here.
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Initially it was up one level. Someone agreed and it got moved here but I can't edit that out of my post anymore. :)
     
  12. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    As far as the Jean I believe she was stationary which is a huge factor.
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    A huge factor in what?
    If you are talking about Mass hitting her it might have been if Mass could have seen her.
    If you are talking about her recieving even more damage then yes being tied up at a pier helped.
    If you are talking about her shooting, if she had been operational and had not only 8 guns instead of 4 but secondaries as well then she would likely have scored a number of hits.
     
  14. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Interesting comment in the article on the 330mm, that the two quad turrets were estimated to be 27.6% lighter than four twins. To put it another way, 8 guns in two quads are a bit lighter than 6 guns in twins.
     
  15. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    being stationary makes her a easier target. Even if the Mass cant see her, there had to be spotters or did they fire blind
     
  16. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    IIRC, the Big Mamie had two spotting Kingfishers aloft, but one was shot down. She had suffered a radar casualty from the concussion of her big guns, so radar fire control was nil. IIRC, she relied almost exclusively on her spotting aircraft, since the Jean Bart was often obscured by smoke and land. The cruisers Wichita and Tuscaloosa also had spotting aircraft aloft.
     
  17. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    From what I recall the spotting aircraft couldn't really get to close and the combination of smoke and such made spotting difficult. It almost amounted to blind fire. Which is one reason the engagment may have been at longer ranges than was recorded in the histories (they tend to site the distance when fire was opened and not the corrections and movement). Mass was credited with sinking or at least hitting a number of cargo vessels in the harbor as well but from at least one source I read they weren't really the target they just got in the way of rounds meant for Jean Bart. So no even though stationary Jean Bart was not an easy target and indeed if she had been at sea steaming in a straight line per BB doctrine she might have been an easier target.
     
  18. Vinny Maru

    Vinny Maru Member

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    IIRC there is the front end of a 16 incher that hit the Jean Bart welded to the deck of the Massachusetts as she is displayed at Fall River.
     

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