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USS Arizona question

Discussion in 'Ships & Shipborne Weaponry' started by harolds, Nov 27, 2016.

  1. harolds

    harolds Member

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    When you look at pictures of the Arizona (and those of her class) you see the two tripod masts, on top of each is a large three-story structure. I know they're called "fighting tops" but I've never read exactly what went on up there. These are large structures, much larger than was needed for look outs or even observing shell splashes. They couldn't have been well armored since the weight would have made the ship exceedingly top heavy. So, what functions were performed up there and how many men manned these things?
     
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    They were for observers and range finders. The tops got them out of the clouds of smoke and being high gave them more range of vision than would be had on the bridge.
     
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  3. Slipdigit

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

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    There were also several .50 call mgs up there, for AA purposes.
     
  4. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    Harolds, I ,too, have long wondered why they were so big given their job. We laugh about computers providing too much information some of the time, it seems that many spotters could do the same :)

    On a similar note, speaking of spotting shot, did all navies add dyers to their shells to aid it observing. I only recall seeing colored splashes from the Japanese and was it effective ? It would seem so if several ships were firing but rarely see it mentioned.

    Gaines
     
  5. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

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    The US did also, not sure if all navies did, but would assume so.
     
  6. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Opana,

    The range finders were on the bridge, on the gun directors and on the turrets. I don't think they were in the fighting tops. While I agree that the elevation got them out of the smoke and gave them the ability to see far, I don't see why they needed two three storied structures just for observation.

    Yes, Slipdigit, there were four 50 cals. on top of the rear structure (main mast).
     
  7. Dave55

    Dave55 Member Patron  

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    Do you know how the water was colored? That must have been kind of tricky. Seems it would take a large amount of dye to produce noticeable color in huge water columns. Different ships on the same side would also have to use different colors from one another in order to spot their own shots, right?
     
  8. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The US, British, French, and Japanese all did. Not sure about other navies.
     
  9. Rantalith

    Rantalith Member

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    Here is what I found when researching for several books I have yet to write.

    This is for when the USA modernized their BBs in the 1930s.

    The crows nest had a three level structure.

    The circular level at the top held the main battery director.

    The next level down had the spotting positions for the main battery

    The third level down was sided, and contained the controls (directors) for the secondary (anti-DD) battery

    If I could figure out how to post pics, I would do so
     
  10. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    1 Mark 20 Main Battery gun director was located in the top level of each tripod mast, this was the standard gun director of the time.
     
  11. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Ok, Takao, but what were the directors for just aft of the forward superstructure and on the sides? The illustrated drawing I referenced labeled these as the main battery directors. They seem to be somewhat armored. Was this a redundancy thing?
     
  12. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Those were the high-angle anti-aircraft gun directors. I think they were able to substitute as main battery directors in emergencies, but am not certain.

    The best illustrated drawings of the Arizona is her "Booklet of General Plans" found here:
    http://www.researcheratlarge.com/Ships/BB39/BOGP/
     
  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    There were hand-held range-finders up there, for use before the main range finders came into play and as a last resort bit of gear. I saw one at the Washington Navy Yard.
     
  14. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Chemicals added to the explosives at the manufacturers, IIRC.
     
  15. harolds

    harolds Member

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    If I read those plans correctly, the directors just aft of the bridge were indeed the 5" AA directors. I hope the men who manned those fighting tops weren't prone to sea sickness!
     
  16. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Hornfischer, in his new book The Fleet at Flood Tide references the difference in color.

    "The Minneapolis lashed out at the overmatched Katori, which was engulfed by blue splashes from Minneapolis and orange ones from the New Orleans."
    P. 43
     
  17. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner) Patron  

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    There was a PBS program on the Arizona last week that featured one of the remaining Arizona survivors. He was in one of the 5" directors during the attack.
    http://www.pbs.org/program/pearl-harbor-into-the-arizona/
     
  18. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    My favorite explanation of seasickness: "If I could get just a little bit better I could die."
     
  19. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Yeah, very few left. The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association has officially disbanded and passed their archives along to the Pearl Harbor Historical Association.
     
  20. ResearcherAtLarge

    ResearcherAtLarge Member

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    Keep in mind that there were TWO sets of 5" guns. The lower level casemate guns on the forecastle deck (most refer to it as the main deck since it's larger than the aft deck, but truthfully the aft deck was the main deck) were 5"/51 mounts originally designed as anti-torpedo boat weapons. They were cumbersome and could not elevate worth anything to take on aerial attackers. The 5"/25s on the deck above (technically superstructure deck but colloquially the 'boat deck') had shorter barrels so they could be moved quicker and a different mount so they could be elevated. Don Stratton was in the Mk19 Director, which was different than the directors in the fighting tops for the 5"/51 guns.
     

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