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Thread: Modernized Iowa Class versus Essex WWII Carrier Class

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    Modernized Iowa Class versus Essex WWII Carrier Class

    I don't like to usually sit and debate the ship vs. ship scenario, but I am interested in anyone's opinion who wishes to give it. This is a clearly hypothetical question. But given that the Iowa class were constructed in WWII, how well do you think one of them (which ever one) after its 1980's modernization would hold up to an full assault from the air wing of an American Essex Class carrier from WWII? Especially what everyone thinks how the 20 mm Phalanx Close-in Weapon System (CIWS) would perform against the airplanes of the period? Phalanx CIWS was designed as a last ditch weapon against missiles and fixed wing aircraft.
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    I don't like these kind of comparison games. It is either too one-sided or too arguable and can make enemies out of friends.

    Comparing a WW II carrier to a modernized Iowa is mixing apples with oranges. You mention the CIWS. The four R2D2's with attitudes were designed for incoming missiles of 550 mph plus. How fast can a Hellcat or Corsair go?

    I have seen a CIWS shoot a thin target tow wire into pieces. A co-worker testified to seeing a CIWS shoot two 76mm shells out of the sky. I think even dropped bombs would be duck soup to the robot gun.

    What planes that didn't get shot down would have to look for someplace else to land. Never mind the 16-inch guns. If the carrier is within range of the Harpoons two skimmers and two pop-ups would turn that flat top into a flaming hulk.

    If beyond range of a Harpoon, you have the bigger, deadlier and longer range Tomahawks.

    No, it's just not fair to compare modern weaponry to half-century old technology. It would be like imagining time travel where an M 41 Walker Bulldog tank goes back into time to January of 1815 and holds the left flank of the American defenders at the Battle of New Orleans. That's why the British lost over 2,000 men and we lost only 71.

    Yeah. I already wrote that story many years ago but never sent it in because about that time Playboy came out with a story of a modern Infantry squad going back to the Civil War with their M-1 Garands. Also Rod Serling came out with a TV episode of an M-2 Stuart tank going back to the Battle of the Little Big Horn. I didn't want to be accused of copy-catting.

    All of these possibilities are strictly exercises of one's imagination and have no practical use at all. However, it is fun to think what might happen such as if you sent the Nimitz back into time to December 6, 1941 to stop the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

    Ummm, wait a minute. They already made a movie of that didn't they?
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    I appreciate you responding to my question. I agree with what your saying with the comparison, let me try and make a bit more sense of my question.
    A couple of years ago I had the chance to go to Camden, NJ and see the USS New Jersey, I have wanted to go aboard a battleship since I was a boy, it was a great experience. But I was left afterwards with some questions.
    I'm trying to understand as much as I can about the Phalanx CIWS capabilities, which have been on different class ships also; but I am most interested in the Iowa Class.
    Everything I have read says CIWS was designed as a last ditch weapon for missiles and fixed wing aircraft. And I know it wasn't designed in WWII but I am trying to get a complete understanding of the weapons capabilities. And am curious how a weapon like this would perform against older much slower aircraft of WWII. I just choose an Essex class shipís planes for an example, but any aircraft of the period is expectable. The book I have states the Hellcats had a max speed 386mph and Corsairís of 417 mph max.
    So can Phalanx CIWS perform well against slower targets, I have also read that the US navy is beginning to phase this weapon out.
    Also you said "If the carrier is within range of the Harpoons two skimmers and two pop-ups would turn that flat top into a flaming hulk." I have read about the Harpoon weapon system but I am a little confused by what you mean by two skimmers and two pop-ups?

    Thanks help
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    Quote Originally Posted by talshiar View Post
    I have read about the Harpoon weapon system but I am a little confused by what you mean by two skimmers and two pop-ups?

    Thanks help
    Harpoons have two terminal attack options available to them. As I understand it, they always approach in sea-skimming mode, but their terminal phase can either continue a level approach, possibly with maneuvering to avoid countermeasures, or it can "pop up" and make a diving attack. Helps to confuse the defenders, make them defend more places at once, plus it can help defeat passive protection systems designed for sea skimming missiles.

    As for Phalanx, it's an incredible system, but I wonder what its max range is? Seems like torpedo bombers might be able to keep outside the danger zone, maybe even dive bombers, too. Not to mention the possibility of the Phalanx running out of ammunition. It seems to me that a massed attack from an Essex carrier might be able to simply overwhelm the admittedly limited air defense systems of the modernized Iowas. Whether they would actually be able to destroy the battleship is an open question, however. The Iowas were very well protected ships, and the Yamatos were remarkable examples of the extraordinary damage advanced battleships could take.

    As for the threat to the carrier, if they manage to knock down the targeting systems available to the battleship, helicopters and UAVs, the battleship ain't got much chance of hurting the carrier. Assuming no outside help from subs or aircraft, of course.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RustyBattleship View Post
    Yeah. I already wrote that story many years ago but never sent it in because about that time Playboy came out with a story of a modern Infantry squad going back to the Civil War with their M-1 Garands. Also Rod Serling came out with a TV episode of an M-2 Stuart tank going back to the Battle of the Little Big Horn. I didn't want to be accused of copy-catting.
    Should have sent it in anyway.

    And don't forget the book where the CSA is rearmed with AK-47's.

    Quote Originally Posted by RustyBattleship View Post
    However, it is fun to think what might happen such as if you sent the Nimitz back into time to December 6, 1941 to stop the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
    Got the limited edition DVD.

    An A-list cast starring a movie that manages to rise above it's B-movie feel.

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    Hey shouldn't talshiar be spelled Tal Shi'ar?
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    Yes, the 20mm Vulcan/Phalanx CIWS is being phased out with more accurate and deadlier gun systems. But for the technology available to us in the 70's and 80's they were the Cat's Pajamas.

    The sub-bases were even designed to take the 30mm Goal Keeper should it be adopted by the Navy. Just in case.

    The programmed firing program of a Vulcan/Phalanx was to open fire at 1,850 meters or 2,000 yards which is one sea mile. It acquires the target several miles out however, and I have watched them (on the New Jersey and Missouri) track a target very stealthy, like a sniper waiting to ambush, before opening up at 50 shots per second.

    The reason for restricting it to such close range (though it can be programmed to fire at more distant targets) is to conserve on ammunition. The rotary magazine only holds around 900 rounds so that's only 18 seconds of firing.

    The Goal Keeper was programmed to open up at 3,000 yards. Newer anti-missile weapons are designed to reach out even further.

    The Rotating Airframe Missile (RAM) was designed to fire two missiles within a couple of seconds of each other. Their RADAR target acquisition was only a 30 degree cone so one would fire low and the other would fire 30 degrees above so it could cover a missile whether it was a skimmer or did a pop up to dive on the ship. It was very interesting watching the demonstrations put on by General Dynamics. The only misgivings I had was where to put the monstrosity on a FFG-7 class Frigate.
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    How many SAM's did the Iowa class carry? Seems like the big threat would be the Duantless and Helldivers coming damn near straight down on top of the ship.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    How many SAM's did the Iowa class carry?
    Except for some Stingers, none.

    A modernized Iowa (hell, any era Iowa) would have been hideously vulnerable to a typical 1943-1944-style air attack by the USN.

    Just ask Yamato and Musashi

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    Hey shouldn't talshiar be spelled Tal Shi'ar?
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    Not on Star Trek.

    Thanks for the info everyone
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    Except for some Stingers, none.

    A modernized Iowa (hell, any era Iowa) would have been hideously vulnerable to a typical 1943-1944-style air attack by the USN.

    Just ask Yamato and Musashi
    Hmmm figured all that seoncdary armament with proximity fuses would ahve given them the enge in 44-45 but lacking that armament in the 80's....

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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    Except for some Stingers, none.

    A modernized Iowa (hell, any era Iowa) would have been hideously vulnerable to a typical 1943-1944-style air attack by the USN.

    Just ask Yamato and Musashi
    Yamato and Musashi did not have ultra rapid-fire Gatling guns of deadly accuracy. Their secondary AA batteries only had flash shields, not armor. They were enormous and beautiful ships but had a number of design flaws that made them vulnerable to mass torpedo attack.
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    How high can the CIWS point, how high can they shoot? A dive bomber coming donw almost on top of the ship and dropping its bomb at a couple thousand feet seems like a threat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    How high can the CIWS point, how high can they shoot? A dive bomber coming donw almost on top of the ship and dropping its bomb at a couple thousand feet seems like a threat.
    The Vulcan/Phalanx CIWS can elevate to 85 degrees and down 15 degrees.

    The most amazing thing I saw of them was on one of New Jersey's gunnery trials where they had different aircraft make passes at or alongside the ship. The CIWS is not to open fire on anything that is NOT coming at us (a problem we had in earlier tests in the 70's). A jet aircraft came in about 30 degrees off our Port bow to cross over the ship as if on a standard strafing or bombing run.

    I was standing on 05 level just forward of both forward CIWS mounts 21 and 22 and right between them.

    Mount 22 (Port) acquired and opened fire (actually just recycling dummy rounds much to the relief of the pilots). As the plane crossed over the main deck, Mount 21 (stbd) swung around and douoble teamed the plane.

    If this was for real, the next order would be, "Sweepers. Man your brooms. Clean sweepdown fore and aft of all bits and pieces of aircraft".
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    Quote Originally Posted by RustyBattleship View Post
    Yamato and Musashi did not have ultra rapid-fire Gatling guns of deadly accuracy.
    What I meant was, a 1943-1945 USN air attack would have consisted of hundreds of aircraft.

    I don't think that even a pair of Iowas working together had enough CIWS ammo to deal with such a huge scale attack.

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