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Sanshiki shells?

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by Kai-Petri, Jul 15, 2005.

  1. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Were these ever used BTW?

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    "San Shiki" (the Beehive) Model 13 - Japan's Most Unusual Anti-Aircraft Shell

    This remarkable anti-aircraft shell was designed to be fired from the 18-inch guns of the super battleship Yammamoto. The idea was pursued as Japanese capital ships could almost never count on friendly air cover and were forced to provide their own defense against allied aircraft. Called "San Shiki" (the Beehive) Model 13 the round weighed 2,998lb (kg) and was filled with 900 incendiary tubes (of rubber thermite) and 600 steel stays. A time fuze was set before firing that went off at a predetermined altitude causing the explosive and metal contents to burst in a cone extending 20 degrees forward, towards the oncoming aircraft. Instantly after detonating, the shell itself was destroyed by a bursting charge, increasing the quantity of steel splinters. The incendiary tubes ignited about half a second later and burned for five seconds at 3000 degrees C, producing a flame about 16ft (m) long.
    Although quite impressive the weapon when used was a failure ruining several of the battleship's main guns and barely effecting the swarm of attacking allied aircraft.

    http://www.ww2guide.com/flak.shtml
     
  2. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Actually, AA shells are a common design and manufactured for all larger Japanese naval guns. I have more info on it but will have to dig it out.
     
  3. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The "San Shiki" seems to have been some kinda miracle weapon so I´m not sure what all it should include here. Read on Yamato and it seems the Japanese were expecting (?) the chance to use it on those US planes. Seems it did not work or maybe never used at all...

    Quite a lot of articles in the net but some say these were never used and some say the opposite...

    [ 16. July 2005, 02:26 PM: Message edited by: Kai-Petri ]
     
  4. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    The 3 Shiki shell is common to all large caliber Japanese naval guns. It was often refered to as a "common fragmentation incendary" shell. The 20cm round for example weighed 125.86kg and used the 91 Shiki head time fuze. It had 255 incendary "pieces" in it. Maximum altitude was 10,000 meters with a flight time of 55 seconds. There was a 2kg burster charge in the base of the shell.
    The shell worked much like a shrapnel round. The burster broke the shell open scattering the incendary charges ahead of it in an approxmately 13 degree cone. The charge also ignited the quick match in each incendary which, in turn, ignited the incendary material. Maximum effective distance from the initial burst was about 1000 meters with a 100 meter diameter dispersion.
    The 12cm shell had a 10 degree dispersion with a max diamter of 54 meters with 66 pieces.
    The Japanese thought these rounds were very effective as an antiaircraft round. US pilots found them more spectacular than effective.
    The myth that these shells ruined the gun barrels in just a few rounds is purely that...myth. These rounds were fired from, as I have said, many different calibers of Japanese Navy gun and were used throughout the war.
     
  5. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    OK!

    Thanx alot T.A.!
     
  6. Paul Wagner

    Paul Wagner New Member

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    FYI, Wikipedia disagrees, to a point.

    See here: San Shiki (anti-aircraft shell) - Wikipedia

    And the pertinent quote: "Even though the 3 Shiki tsûjôdan shells comprised 40% of the total main ammunition load of the Yamato-class battleships by 1944, they were rarely used in combat against enemy aircraft.[4] The blast of the main guns turned out to disrupt the fire of the smaller antiaircraft guns. In addition the copper drive bands of the rounds were poorly machined and constant firing was damaging the gun rifling;[5][6] indeed, one of the shells may have exploded early and disabled one of Musashi's guns during the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea."
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Weren't they the rounds used by the IJN battleships that shelled Henderson?
     
  8. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    My understanding was this was a direct fire shell much akin to a glorified shotgun shell which required a line of sight. Henderson Field needed indirect, plunging fire to reach and HE shells could crater runways as well.
     
  9. Paul Wagner

    Paul Wagner New Member

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    Again, see: San Shiki (anti-aircraft shell) - Wikipedia

    Yes, san shiki shells were used in the Henderson Field bombardment by the Kongo and Haruna -- so these would have been 14 inch san shiki shells, not 18.1 inch shells.
     
  10. Paul Wagner

    Paul Wagner New Member

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    Yup, you are right, to a point. In reading about the sanshikidan shells, the fuses could be adjusted (supposedly, when aerial attack versus the Yamato reached a certain level, the captain ordered the anti-aircraft shells primed with a 1 second delay to the fuses, meaning they'd explode a mere 1000 yards away versus American torpedo bombers!).

    I would think that if you set the fuse longer, then indirect bombardment fire on an airfield would be possible. According to the Wiki article: "The Sanshiki anti-aircraft shell were used for shore bombardment during the Battle for Henderson Field....Kurita's force—consisting of the battleships Kongō and Haruna, escorted by one light cruiser and nine destroyers—approached Guadalcanal unopposed and opened fire on Henderson Field at 01:33 on 14 October. Over the next 83 minutes, they fired 973 14 in (360 mm) shells into the Lunga perimeter, most of them falling in and around the 2,200 m² area of the airfield. The bombardment heavily damaged the airfield's two runways, burned almost all of the available aviation fuel, destroyed 48 of the CAF's 90 aircraft, and killed 41 men, including six CAF aircrew."

    San Shiki (anti-aircraft shell) - Wikipedia
     
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  11. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    They could be used in both, direct and indirect fire, as the fuse time and bursting arc were known quantities. As such, the shells could cover a wider area than HE. The incendiary/shrapnel shells would be much more effective at damaging/destroying aircraft. While HE shells were better for disabling the runways. Thus, the plan was to use a both shells to permanently cripple Henderson.
     
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  12. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    As T A Gardner pointed out many years ago, these shells were not limited to just the 18.1s of the Yamato class, but were issued in all the main types of IJN guns, down to 4.7-inch, although, IIRC, the 4.7 came later, and was a Type 4 sanshiki, as listed over on the NavWeaps website.
     
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  13. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    Thanks for the clarification gentlemen. I had not studied these types of shells closely and when mentioned in what I did read often dismissed them as largely ineffective in actual combat use, reducing the 'main' guns into a crude shotgun.
     
  14. rprice

    rprice Member

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    At the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, on November 13, 1942, two Japanese battleships, Hiei and Kirishima, were loaded with the sanshiki shells in preparation for a bombardment of Henderson Field. When they encountered the American cruisers they fired these rounds instead of wasting time reloading with more appropriate ammunition. Two 14" shells hit the USS San Francisco. Both passed through the captain's cabin and deflected off of the barbette of the #2 turret before exploding. The Buships damage report describes the shells:

    "The nature of the fourteen inch projectiles which struck the SAN FRANCISCO is of interest in connection with the fires. Reference (c) reports that fragments recovered from hits five and six indicated projectiles slightly larger than fourteen inches. They were of incendiary type with a heavy base and thin (3/8") walls. The cavity was apparently filled with an explosive charge and a large number of small (3" x 1") safety-fused incendiary cylinders filled with powdered aluminum and magnesium. Apparently the explosive charge detonates, sets safety fuses afire, and scatters incendiary cylinders over a wide area. This started fires in many inaccessible places. There was no evidence of a base plug, and it is probable that the projectile had a nose fuse with a fuse adapter for nose loading. The 5" S.T.S. barbette armor defeated them easily. It was fortunate for SAN FRANCISCO that neither of these shells was armor piercing."

    1440181693848.jpg

    The report is fascinating. It describes each of the 45 shell hits on San Francisco...
    USS San Francisco CA38 War Damage Report No. 26
     
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