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Video offers new insight into Battleship turret conditions and operations

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by Dracula, Mar 31, 2018.

  1. Dracula

    Dracula Member

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    Every once in a while you run across new videos of how old technology worked. I ran across this video and it made my claustrophobia start kicking in, even while I'm sitting in a fairly large open room. Enjoy.

     
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  2. Half Track

    Half Track Active Member

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    Thanks for posting that, I found it to be very interesting.
     
  3. gaweidert

    gaweidert New Member

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    Thank you for showing this.

    My father was a gun captain on the USS Washington throughout the entire war. When the Navy announced that they were going to bring back a battleship during the Vietnam War my father got all excited and said that he'd train them to do it right. The crew on the Washington got so good that they could fire the 16" guns every 14 seconds. The spec is to be able to fire the guns every 30 seconds. It takes a well coordinated team to run a turret, Training was constant no matter how experienced the crew was, During WWII most positions in the navy were frozen until the war was over so if you were on the shell flats, you stayed on the shell flats.

    The sailor who runs the rammer does it all by feel. The shell is seated full forward. Then three bags of powder loaded then 3 more. No click stops on this. The cause of the turret explosion on the Iowa was the ram being sent too far forward. This heated the powder to the point of explosion. When news of the accident was broadcast, my father's first comment was "Over ram."

    During WWII the USS Mississippi suffered a turret explosion. It also suffered one in 1924 during a training exercise.
     
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  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Not sure if it's Gene's video above or not (can't get to it right now) if not or if you are interested in more details you may want to check out his page at:
    www.eugeneleeslover.com
    or one of the pages hanging off of it. Having trouble getting there as well right now so may not be completely correct.
     
  5. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

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    It's cool to hear from the relative of the USS Washington's crew. I've always been fascinated with that ship. Her fight with the Kirishima off Guadalcanal has all the aspects of an ancient epic. Everything hung in the balance, the battle could be either lost or won on that one night. If the Japanese came through and bombarded Henderson field it might all be over for the Marines. Halsey sent in the last ships he had, four destroyers and two battleships and the Japanese were stopped.

    "Washington was now the only intact ship left in the force. In fact, at that moment Washington was the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet. She was the only barrier between Kondo’s ships and Guadalcanal. If this one ship did not stop 14 Japanese ships right then and there, America might lose the war." -excerpt from the Historynet article linked below.

    Stirring stuff, it it doesn't make the hairs stand up on your arms you ain't got no warrior blood coursing through your veins!

    -USS Preston (DD–379) a Mahan class destroyer sunk-USS Walke (DD-416) a Sims class destroyer sunk-USS Gwin (DD-433) a Gleaves class destroyer badly damaged and retired from the battle-USS Benham (DD-397) the lead ship of the Benham class destroyers, bow destroyed (she lost everything forward of the bridge) and sunk the next day near Guadalcanal while retiring to Espiritu Santo.

    So his destroyers are sunk or severely damaged, South Dakota is out of action, he's cruising towards the enemy at 26 knots through a glass calm sea, burning ships, sailors in the water. But the sailors in the water still have fight left in them, as Washington sails past, cutting life rafts loose for the sailors from the sunken ships, those sailors cheering the Washington on as she heads into the fight!

    "Commander Ayrault, Washington‘s executive officer, clambered down ladders, ran to Bart Stoodley’s damage-control post, and ordered Stoodley to cut loose life rafts. That saved a lot of lives. But the men in the water had some fight left in them. One was heard to scream, ‘Get after them, Washington!’"
    -excerpt from the Historynet article linked below.

    Your Dad was one of those sailors when they were real men!

    I used to visit the USS North Carolina (Washington's sister ship) all the time as a kid, loved that boat. I think the two ships that should have been saved before all others were the USS Enterprise and the USS Washington, what a memorial they would have made!

    Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal: Turning Point in the Pacific War | HistoryNet
     
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  6. gaweidert

    gaweidert New Member

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    The USS Washington was offered to the state of Washington as a museum piece but the state declined the offer. The North Carolina was saved in part by school kids starting a collection to save the ship. I took my parents there in 1980. My father gave us a great tour of the ship. Once we got to the galley he stopped and said "They got two ice cream makers! Well we always did call her The Showboat".

    I have a relic from the night when the Washington sunk the Kirishima. During the battle both of the ships Kingfisher planes were damaged, One was beyond repair. As my father was part of the Third Division, that part of the ship was their responsibility. So as they were cleaning up the planes debris he took a small piece of fabric from one of the control surfaces of one of the planes. He wrote on it:

    "Mighty P40
    First Battle
    Guadalcanal
    November 15, 1942"

    I have no idea what "Might P40" means. It is about the only relic form the battle that you can see today.

    My future father in law was one of the Marines on Guadalcanal that night. He remembered the night battles well. They could see the flashes from the guns, the explosions from the hits and sometimes sparks trailing the shells as they sucked burning powder along with them. Then when all was quite, they had no idea who won and what would happen next. My father may have helped save my father in laws life that night.

    There was a lot of bad blood between the crews of the Washington and South Dakota after the battle, The crew of the Washington felt that the South Dakota had turned tail and abandoned them. Then the captain of the South Dakota wrote an article for either time of life entitled Battleship X where he gave his ship all the credit for the victory and sinking several vessels it never did. It got so bad that crews from the two ships could not be given shore leave at the same time due to fights breaking out. Admiral Lee had to come down hard on both crews to stop the brawls.

    My father told me how upset a lot of the sailors who had served long and hard in the Pacific War when the Missouri was chosen at the ship that the surrender ceremonies would be held on. In their eyes she was a Johnny come lately to the war. They wanted a ship like the Enterprise or better yet, one of the battleships sunk at Pearl Harbor then raised and returned to duty. They really wanted to twist the knife in the corpse of the Empire of Japan. The Missouri was probably chosen because Truman was from there.

    Photo of my dad's souvenir.


    upload_2018-5-10_19-19-28.jpeg
     
  7. Toffels

    Toffels New Member

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    Thank you for posting that. That was a fascinating video.
     
  8. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Cool!

    Iowa's sister ship New Jersey actually has a turret open for a tour like in the video. It's called the Turret Two Experience and is separate from the standard tour. As you might expect, they specify that people have to be physically able to climb ladders, squeeze through hatches, etc. New Jersey is in Camden NJ right across the Delaware River from downtown Philadelphia.

    The narrator mentioned that the short video of ammunition loading was for the British 15" turret, a WWI era design. One difference from the Iowa turret is that the shells were stored below the powder. Shell storage actually helped protect the ship. Heavy metal shells are less vulnerable to explosion or fire than powder cartridges. Placing the shell room below the powder magazine was intended to reduce the chance of a torpedo or mine explosion setting off the powder.

    By WWII the greater dangers were considered to be plunging shells (at longer ranges than expected in WWI) or aerial bombs, so the shell rooms came to be placed above the magazines as in the Iowa. The last British battleship ever built, ironically named Vanguard, used four WWI era 15" twin turrets which had been removed from the battle cruisers Glorious and Courageous when they were converted to aircraft carriers. Vanguard had the shell rooms above the magazines, but the turrets had been designed for the opposite arrangement, so there had to be an additional handling room and an extra step in the loading drill.
     
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  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Just remembered something I had meant to include in the previous post. In the movie Pearl Harbor, the fatal bomb which hits the Arizona lands in a shell room, and a horrified sailor watches for several seconds while a spinner on the bomb winds down. None of this is accurate of course, but I suppose the producers wanted the audience to recognize shells as things that go boom, which might have not have been clear with stacks of metal or canvas cylinders (unless they tossed in an earlier scene where someone mentioned them being powder charges).
     

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