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Thread: What battleship had the best main gun loading system?

  1. #1
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    What battleship had the best main gun loading system?

    My question is this, of all the BBs in action during WW2 and beyond, who had the safest, reliable, user friendly system?

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    Resident Curmudgeon Military Professional Gun Grape's Avatar
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    Safest would probably be Bismark. Semifixed ammo.

    Best loading system I would go with Richelieu. Could be loaded at any angle

    Best protection has to go to Yamato

    Reliable, toss up but I'd argue for the South Dakota class
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  3. #3
    Defense Professional RustyBattleship's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadow01 View Post
    My question is this, of all the BBs in action during WW2 and beyond, who had the safest, reliable, user friendly system?
    Due to the problems we had with the loading systems on the USS Mississippi (BB-41) in 1924 when turret II exploded and killed 48 men, ORDALTS (Ordnance Alterations) were written, corrected, revised, re-written, thrown away, re-written again, etc. until a list of changes installing safety interlocks were developed. Only some of them could be applied to the Mississippi's gun design and it had another turret explosion in 1943 during bombardment operations of Makin Island.

    However, all of this study of safer ways of ammunition handling and installation of several kinds of safety interlocks was applied to the South Dakota, North Carolina, Iowa & future Montana class Battleships. In 1924 and the early 30's, we were still on "friendly" terms with Germany and Japan. The Germans applied very similar ORDALTS to the Bismarck class and the Japanese applied them to the Yamato class (there's a You Tube around the net somewhere that shows a highly detailed animation of how the Yamato class guns were loaded -- very similar to ours).

    Armor design surrounding the powder magazines also played a crucial part. The destruction of the USS Arizona was due to an armor piercing bomb making it way down to the powder magazine. Similarly the HMS Hood went down when her magazine exploded as her deck armor had not yet been upgraded as the lead ship of her class (King George V).

    The deflagaration incident on the USS Iowa in 1989 is still a mystery. As the Naval Architectural Project Leader for the Battleships I was tasked to come up with a repair procedure. So I know WHAT happened but I still don't know HOW and I do not want to get into a debate on it. Getting too old and cranky nowadays.

    But in a nut-shell, America's three FAST classes of Battleships, the German's Bismarck class and the Japanese Yamato class had the best ammunition handling and loading mechanisms as well as properly designed armor around them. There may have been some detail differences in them, but generally they were all the same.

    The closest an American fast class Battleship came to having its powder magazine blow was when a Japanese Long Lance torpedo hit the USS North Carolina (BB-55). One of my co-workers(Don Wolcott) was a Marine surving aboard the ship at the time and was at his 40 mm gun station back aft when the torpedo hit. But it hit below the armor belt yet with enough explosive power to break open any other interior bulkheads. Don said that crewmen up in that area saw some of the powder cannisters start to flash open -- but the water came in so fast it put out any fire and potential explosion.

    Sort of an odd way to use damage as part of your protective system. Obviously it wasn't designed that way, but it worked.
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    YAMATO-Turret-Gaston - YouTube

    Here's a video I found. Question. What's the advantage of an open gun house?

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    Defense Professional RustyBattleship's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DocHayes View Post
    YAMATO-Turret-Gaston - YouTube

    Here's a video I found. Question. What's the advantage of an open gun house?
    What open gun house? The video is a CGI of how Yamato's guns were loaded. Almost identical to our Fast Classes of Battleships. In a three gun turret, there are heavy partition bulkheads between each gun and with a transverse hulkhead behind. But the entire turret is fully enclosed in armor.
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    Resident Curmudgeon Military Professional Gun Grape's Avatar
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    here is the training film for the 16/50 firing cycle

    Its called Tourist Season. So why can't we shoot them?

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    To me it seemed like the guns were open more like this
    Battleship guns - YouTube

    And less partitioned off.

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    Defense Professional Dreadnought's Avatar
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    The video you are watching is a British design. Simular to the USN design pre Pearl Harbor and before the USN started building BB's again.

    When the USN built the North Carolina class they boxed them in with bulkheads and seperated them via transitional bulkheads from the gunroom proper. All following USN designs utilized the same design for safety.

    The Japanese (14" & 16") from Kongo forward were also given flashtight bulkheads between the gun and gun loading hoists in the working chambers.
    Last edited by Dreadnought; 23 Jul 13, at 03:09.
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    Defense Professional Dreadnought's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DocHayes View Post
    YAMATO-Turret-Gaston - YouTube

    Here's a video I found. Question. What's the advantage of an open gun house?
    First off, the creator of that video should have done his homework. Yamato and Mushashi's guns were not loaded like that. Especially the piston type ramming gear. They like the USN utilized the chain type ramming gear as their hydraulic stoke was about 5 seconds faster then the piston type and Yamoto/Musashi 's breech did not operate like that.
    Last edited by Dreadnought; 23 Jul 13, at 02:01.
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  10. #10
    Defense Professional RustyBattleship's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gun Grape View Post
    here is the training film for the 16/50 firing cycle

    I sort of like the last part of the narrator's script, "It is better to give than to receive."
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  11. #11
    Defense Professional Dreadnought's Avatar
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    IMO, France's Richelieu cannot be evaluated since they had more problems then anything during and after WWII until finally rectified later so it cannot fit any of the catagories.
    Last edited by Dreadnought; 23 Jul 13, at 03:38.
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  12. #12
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    rate of fire Bismarck class 38 cm
    at loading angle ~24 sec
    at 15 degrees elevation 30 sec
    at 30 degrees elevation 35 sec

    interval ammunition feed <20 sec

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