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Thread: 16-in Guns vs Hard Targets : A Reality Check

  1. #136
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    Saint-Mandrier Battery, Operation Dragoon, August 1944

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    Last edited by SW4U; 03 Dec 17, at 03:20.

  2. #137
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    Saint-Mandrier Battery, Operation Dragoon, August 1944

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  3. #138
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    Saint-Mandrier Battery, Operation Dragoon, August 1944

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  4. #139
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    Saint-Mandrier Battery, Operation Dragoon, August 1944

    Additional details on the design of the battery :

    1) Following the cancellation of the Nomandie-class battleships in 1922, the 340mm Model 1912 guns were used for coastal artillery, railway artillery or spares for the Bretagne-class battleships.

    2) The gunhouses of the Saint-Mandrier battery were designed specifically for coastal defense purposes. Special attention was given to roof armor plates (270mm thick) to provide adequate protection against plunging fire and/or air bombardment. As a result, the rotating structure (@ 1,500 metric tons) was twice heavier than naval twin turrets of similar caliber.

    3) After the need to engage targets at long range was confirmed by the examination of the Austrian Prinz Eugen battleship surrendered to France at the end of WW1, it was decided to give the guns an unusual +50 degrees elevation, providing a maximum range of 38,749 yards (35,432 meters) with the 1,268-lb Model 1924 AP shell.

    4) Construction of the battery started in 1928 and was completed in 1934-1935. Turret C (K-20 for the Germans) was built 42 meters above water level and Turret F (K-21 for the Germans) was built 60 meters above water level. Each turret was installed on a two-level underground foundation. Level 1 was 8.5 meters underground, and was protected by a 5-meter thick reinforced concrete roof and 5-meter thick reinforced concrete side walls. Level 2 was 13.0 meters underground, and was protected by a 1-meter thick reinforced concrete roof. Both levels were 3.5 meters high.

    5) The turrets were located 400 meters apart and were connected together by a tunnel.

  5. #140
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    Saint-Mandrier Battery, Operation Dragoon, August 1944

    Additional details on the battery during WW2 :

    1) The battery remained under French command until the invasion of the Free Zone by the Germans on 27 November 1942 (Operation Anton). The battery was subsequently placed until Italian command until the capitulation of 8 September 1943, by which time the Germans took control.

    2) During the invasion of the Free Zone, the guns of Turret F were successfully sabotaged by their French crew, but the guns of Turret C suffered only minor damage and remained operational.

    3) After the Kriegsmarine took over in 1943, it was decided to repair Turret F with guns salvaged from the scuttled battleship Provence. After being relined at the Ruelle arsenal, the guns were re-installed in Turret F and fire-tested on 13 August 1944. Turret F (now designated K-21) was subsequently declared operational on 15 August 1944, but only the right gun was operational, the left gun awaiting further repair to its sabotaged recuperator.

    4) Allied air bombardment was carried out from 15 August to 20 August 1944. In the afternoon of 16 August 1944, Turret C (K-20) was hit by one 2,000-lb bomb, which started a fire in the right compartment of the turret. Because of the damaged inflicted, the Germans decided to sabotage the left gun on 17 August 1944. This was concealed from allied air reconnaissance, and Turret C (K-20) remained under heavy air and surface bombardment until 27 August 1944.

    5) Naval gunfire followed suite from 20 August to 27 August 1944. Turret F (K-21) nevertheless remained operational until German surrender on 28 August 1944. Its right gun fired 218 shells until the evening of 26 August 1944, keeping Allied warships beyond 16,400 yards (15,000 meters).

    6) The Allies dropped a total of 809 bombs against the Saint-Mandrier Battery : 393 on Turret C (K-20) and 416 on Turret F (K-21).

    7) Allied warships fired 1,532 shells from 8" guns or above : 880 against Turret C (K-20) and 652 against Turret F (K-21). USS Nevada contributed a total of 260 x 14" shells (188 AP rounds + 72 HC rounds), all of them presumably against Turret F. Lorraine fired a total of 128 x 340mm rounds.

    (source : La Colline des Tourelles Perdues by Capitaine de Frégate BREHIER, published in Cols Bleus 1780, 3 December 1983).
    Last edited by SW4U; 06 Dec 17, at 01:10.

  6. #141
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    Saint-Mandrier Battery, Operation Dragoon, August 1944

    Some concluding remarks :

    1) Saint-Mandrier Battery is the only battleship-type turret coastal battery to see heavy action against aerial bombing and naval gunfire. Battleship-type turret coastal battery combines large-caliber guns, heavy armor protection and small size.

    2) Not only was a direct hit difficult to achieve, but the turrets were largely impervious to 14"/45 gunfire fired from 28,000 yards (10" penetration against side armor and 5" penetration against deck armor). Likewise, the 5-meter thick reinforced concrete foundations were largely immune to 14"/45 gunfire fired from 28,000 yards, i.e. an angle of fall of about 28-30 degrees.

    3) Saint-Mandrier Battery was also the only coastal battery engaged with the same type of gun it had, i.e. the 340mm Model 1912. While I don't have the exact details of battleship Lorraine's gunfire, it's very likely that, much like USS Nevada, she fired at Saint-Mandrier from near maximum range of her 340mm guns, i.e. about 29,000 yards (26,600 meters), and there's no reason to believe that the 340mm Model 1924 AP shell would have done better than the 14" Mark-16 AP shell.

    4) While I have no details on HMS Ramillies' gunfire, I suspect she also fired at Saint-Mandrier from near maximum range of her 15"/42 (i.e. 28,700 yards @ 20° QE using super charges or 26,000 yards @ 20° QE using standard charges). At such distances, the turrets would remain largely impervious to the 1,938-lb APC shell (10" penetration vs side armor and 4" penetration vs deck armor).

    As controversial as this thread's title may sound (and it certainly seems to have been worded to this effect), the Saint-Mandrier Battery pretty well illustrates why such hard targets as coastal artillery have proven so resilient to battleship gunfire, during WW1, WW2 and after.
    Last edited by SW4U; 06 Dec 17, at 02:22.

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