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

  1. #46
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    USS Iowa and NJ vs Mili Island, 18 March 1944

    (see posts #8, #10, #11 and #12).

    Battleship New Jersey: An Illustrated History by Paul Stillwell :

    Pages 51-52 :

    Rear Admiral Willis A. "Ching" Lee, Jr., was on board the Iowa in overall command of the Mille Striking Group, while Rear Admiral Hustvedt remained in the same ship and had command of the two-battleship bombardment unit. The striking group arrived off Mille on the mroning of 18 March [1944]. (...)

    All went well until the two ships got in to 19,000 yards. Then, more than two hours after the battleship bombardment started, pinpricks of light began flashing on the beach. The Japanese had waited until the American ships got within range of their 6-inch guns, - transported to Mille after being captured from the British at Singapore -, and then opened fire themselves. Splashes were soon straddling rhe New Jersey. The Japanese had the right bearing but were off in range. (...)

    Inside turret two [of USS New Jersey, Lieutenant Oscar Gray had his periscope trained forward on the Iowa when he saw two flashes as enemy projectiles hit the sistership, causing minor damage on her port side. (...)

    The situation on board the Iowa was an unusual one. Even though Admiral Lee was senior to Admiral Hustvedt and in overall command of the operation, he did not have tactical command of the battleship formation. (...)

    Lee may have offered suggestions, because Frank Pinney, then assistant gunnery officer in the Iowa, remembers that Lee told the ship's captain that he should clear out to save his save and ammunition for more worthwhile targets than those on Mille.

    Being damaged on an easy practice run was surprising and led Lieutenant Harry Reynolds of the New Jersey's engineering department to summarize the operation by saying :

    "We looked silly at Mille."

  2. #47
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    Iwo Jima, February-March 1945

    From Closing In : Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima by Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret), Marines in World War II Commemorative Series, page 8 :

    (emphasis added)

    The other issue was related and it concerned the continuing argument between senior Navy and Marine officers over the extent of preliminary naval gunfire. The Marines looked at the intelligence reports on Iwo and requested 10 days of preliminary fire. The Navy said it had neither the time nor the ammo to spare; three days would have to suffice. Holland Smith and Harry Schmidt continued to plead, finally offering to compromise to four days. Turner deferred to Spruance who ruled that three days prep fires, in conjunction with the daily pounding being administered by the Seventh Air Force, would do the job.

    Lieutenant Colonel Donald M. Weller, USMC, served as the FMFPAC/Task Force 51 naval gun fire officer, and no one in either sea service knew the business more thoroughly. Weller had absorbed the lessons of the Pacific War well, especially those of the conspicuous failures at Tarawa. The issue, he argued forcibly to Admiral Turner, was not the weight of shells nor their caliber but rather time. Destruction of heavily fortified enemy targets took deliberate, pinpoint firing from close ranges, assessed and adjusted by aerial observers. Iwo Jima's 700 "hard" targets would require time to knock out, a lot of time.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 04 Jun 08, at 21:59.

  3. #48
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    Iwo Jima, D-Day, 19 February 1945

    History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 14: Victory in the Pacific, 1945 by Samuel Eliot Morison :

    Pages 39-30 : Battleship Nevada became the sweetheart of the Marine Corps. Her skipper, Captain J.L. ("Pop") Grosskopf, an old gunnery officer and a ruthless driver, had set out to make his battleship the best fire support ship in the Fleet, and did.

    Nevada, when firing her assigned rolling barrage about 0925, found that her secondary battery could not penetrate a concrete blockhouse and turned over the job to her main battery. This damaged a hitherto undisclosed blockhouse behind Beach RED 1, blasting away its sand cover and leaving it naked and exposed. At 1100 this blockhouse gain became troublesome; the battleship then used armor-piercing shells, which took the position completely apart.

    At 1512 Nevada observed a gun firing from a cave in the high broken ground east of the beaches. Using direct fire, she shot two rounds of 14-inch, scoring a direct hit in the mouth of the cave, blowing out the side of the cliff and completely destroying the gun. One could see it drooping over the cliff edge "like a half-extracted tooth handing on a man's jaw."
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 04 Jun 08, at 22:44.

  4. #49
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    Iwo Jima, D-Day, 19 February 1945

    Comparative ammunition expenditure in D-day bombardments at Iwo Jima 19 Feb. and Okinawa 1 April 1945:

    Iwo Jima :
    16-inch : 1,950 rounds
    14-inch : 1,500 rounds
    12-inch : 400 rounds
    8-inch : 1,700 rounds
    6-inch : 2,000 rounds
    5-inch : 31,000 rounds

    Okinawa :
    16-inch : 475 rounds
    14-inch : 1,325 rounds
    12-inch : 175 rounds
    8-inch : 2,100 rounds
    6-inch : 3,000 rounds
    5-inch : 36,260 rounds

    Sources : Adm. Turner's Report for the two operations. See Col. Donald C. Weller USMC, "Salvo-Splash!" U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings LXXX (1954) 1018-1021, for technical aspects of the naval bombardment.

    Cited in History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 14: Victory in the Pacific, 1945 by Samuel Eliot Morison, page 35, footnote #4.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 04 Jun 08, at 22:45.

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    US Naval Gunfire Support in the Pacific, 1943-45

    History of the U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II, Volume V : Victory and Occupation by Benis M. Frank and Henry I. Saw, Jr, Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps 1968 :

    Pages 672-674 : What this meant was that in order to reduce casualties, - especially during the assault phase -, enemy emplacements would have to be destroyed rather than just neutralized. This concept was a complete reversal of naval gunfire doctrine to that time.

    Another significant lesson learned about naval gunfire support at Tarawa was "the vital necessity of reducing the time lag between the lifting of fires and the touchdown of the leading wave in order to reduce the opportunity of the defender to recover from the shock of the bombardment..."

    (snip)

    Following Tarawa, naval gunfire doctrine was thoroughly reappraised. As pointed out earlier, one conclusion reached was that while area fire could be employed for neutralization in the prelanding period on the morning of a D-Day, it could not effectively destroy enemy gun positions and well-constructed defenses.

    In order for NGF to perform its primary task, it was vital that support ships "deliver prolonged deliberate destructive pinpoint fire against known or suspected difficult targets." Accordingly, gunfire support vessels, including battleships, would have to move in close to the beaches.

    At Kwajalein, NGF was delivered at constantly closing ranges, down to 1,800 yards. Samuel Eliot Morison quotes a conversation that allegedly occurred on the task force flagship bridge after Admiral Turner had given orders for the fire support ships to close the range:

    CO of a battleship : 'I can't take my ship in that close.'

    RADM Turner: 'What's your armor for? Get in there!
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 04 Jun 08, at 23:29.

  6. #51
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    Vietnam

    Viet Cong and NVA Tunnels and Fortifications of the Vietnam War by Gordon Rottman :

    Page 43 : The hills, ridges, and gorges around Khe Sanh were saturated by fighterbombers and B-52 "Arc Light" strikes. Thirty-five B-52 sorties delivered over 1,000 tons of bombs every 24 hours, with cells of three bombers arriving every one to three hours. Between nine and 12 "Mini-" and "Micro-Arc Lights" were delivered nightly consisting of up to two hundred and sixty 4.2in., 105mm, 155mm and 175mm rounds plus fifty-six 500 lb. bombs into small areas. (...)

    After the siege was lifted, patrols investigated former enemy-held areas to study the effects of this massive firepower. (...)

    The bomb damage inflicted on the fortifications, though, was surprisingly light. Hits from 750 lb. and 1,000 lb. bombs, with their crater lips only 6-10ft. from bunkers, left them intact. Walls and roofs did not even collapse. There were few indications that concussion killed or seriously disabled occupants.(...)

    Fighter-bombers aiming at the center of mass of multiple positions often had a marginal effect. One example is a triangular 12.7mm AA machine gun position. A 750 lb. or 1,000 lb. bomb landed directly in between the three pits, creating a 20ft.-diameter, 10ft.-deep crater; the pits were 36-60ft. apart and remained unscathed. There were 2-3-man fighting / living bunkers within 10ft. of 38-ft. diameter, 18-ft. deep craters - and the bunkers still survived.

  7. #52
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    Vietnam

    As we've seen earlier (see post #45), spotters in Vietnam reported that the crater produced by a 16" bullet (1,900-lb HC projectile with PD Fuse) is comparable with the hole made by a 750-lb GP bomb.

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    Royal Navy Monitors

    From Big Gun Monitors by Ian Buxton, page 244 :

    Despite their impressive firepower, it was always recognized that the monitors were not of themselves able to disprove the old dictum about ships versus forts :

    Nothing has occurred to invalidate the maxim based on the experience of centuries that ships cannot engage properly armed and well designed shore defenses with any hope of success unless the strength and equipment of the fort is greatly inferior to the armament carried by the ships. (The Gunnery Manual, Vol.1, 1922, ADM 186/171)
    The introduction of aircraft spotting did a little to even-up the odds against the ship due to its relative degree of vulnerability; a single hit could sink a ship, but near-direct hits on each main gun positions were necessary to destroy a fort's fighting ability permanently.

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    HMS Erebus vs Battery Goldbrunner, September 1944

    Battery "Goldbrunner" at Clos-des-Ronces was one of the main batteries defending Le Havre harbor and became as such one of the main targets for shore and air bombardments as 1 Corps closed in on Le Havre in August 1944.

    Battery "Goldbrunner" was comprised of 3 x 170mm K18 guns, - two of which in R688-type casemates -, R674-type ammunitions bunkers and one L411-type searchlight :

    * The 170mm/50 (6.79") K18 gun fired a 138-lb HE projectile and had a maximum range of 32,370 yards.

    * Dimensions of the R688-type casemate were approximately 28 feet (height) x 62 feet (width) x 63 feet (depth). Each casemate required 1,750 cubic meters of concrete.

    * Dimensions of the R674-type ammunition bunker were approximately 14 feet (height) x 25 feet (width) x 25 feet (depth). Each bunker required 230 cubic meters of concrete.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 16 Jun 08, at 22:21.

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    Shipwreck

    You do realize that you are having this discussion with yourself, don't you?
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
    Mark Twain

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    HMS Erebus vs Battery Goldbrunner , September 1944

    HMS Erebus was a British monitor specifically designed during World War 1 to conduct shore bombardment missions. The class had 2 x 15"/42 Mark-1 guns in a two-gun turret.

    During the action against Battery "Goldbrunner", one of Erebus's 15"/42 gun was out of action for it suffered an in-bore explosion on 6 June 1944 due to a faulty fuze in the US-made 15" HE projectile.

    The HE 6crh shell fired by the 15"/42 Mark-1 guns was introduced in 1938, had a weight of 1,938 lbs and a bursting charge of 130 lbs (Shellite).
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 16 Jun 08, at 22:22.

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    HMS Erebus vs Battery Goldbrunner, September 1944

    From Big Gun Monitors by Ian Buxton, page 171 :

    Following a week at Portsmouth, Erebus was ordered across to bombard Le Havre at the same time as 1 Corps closed in, the latter's artillery being insufficient to reduce the defences.

    She positionned herself close to a buoy 12 miles north-west of the port, opening fire at 1132 on 5 September. After seven rounds, the Germans returned fire, shell splashes being observed nearby. At 1155, she was hit on the port bulge forward of the turret, taking a list of 3 degrees.

    The shell was from the enemy's 170mm battery, which had three modern guns covering the seaward sector with a range as great as Erebus' guns, 32,000 yards. As the enemy firing continued, Erebus made smoke and moved farther out of range, and then returned in Portsmouth for repairs.

    She was temporarily patched up and returned to bombard Le Havre on the 8th. She opened fire at 1300, firing ten rounds before the enemy retaliated. Despite firing 'Window', Erebus was hit with the second salvo in the port bulge abreast the engine room. (...)

    On the 10th, RAF bombers attacked the Le Havre batteries, as they had been doing for several days, then Erebus opened accurate fire from a position 12 miles south-west, followed by Warspite further north.(...)

    From 1015 onwards, Erebus put 112 rounds into her targets, the spotting fighters reporting about thirty as hits. Erebus remained unmolested by the shore batteries as she was outside their principal training sector, although Warspite was given some attention.(...)

    Le Havre surrendered on the 12th, the British Corps Commander signalling his thanks to the bombarding ships for their support.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 16 Jun 08, at 22:22.

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    Okinawa, April-May 1945

    Naval Ammunition Expenditures (in rounds) through 20 May 1945 :

    16" HC : 3,700
    14" HC : 12,550
    12" HC : 2,700
    8" HC : 25,800
    6" HC : 36,700
    5"/51 HC : 17,600
    5"/38 AAC : 247,000
    5"/38 Star : 31,500
    5"/25 AAC : 56,100
    5"/25 Star : 15,570

    EQUIVALENT IN TONS : 26,990


    Naval Ammunition Expenditures (in rounds) 17 May -21 June 1945 :

    16" HC : 510
    14" HC : 4,300
    12" HC : 0
    8" HC : 7,050
    6" HC : 11,650
    5"/51 HC : 2,000
    5"/38 AAC : 99,525
    5"/38 Star : 13,150
    5"/25 AAC : 14,925
    5"/25 Star : 4,500

    EQUIVALENT IN TONS : 7,500


    Source : History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 14: Victory in the Pacific, 1945 by Samuel Eliot Morison, page 166.

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    USS Texas & USS Arkansas vs Battery Hamburg, June 1944

    Located on a hill near Fermanville, 6 miles east of Cherbourg, Battery "Hamburg" was the most powerful German strongpoint on the Cotentin peninsula.

    As such, it became one of the main targets taken under fire by allied warships during the drive on the vital port of Cherbourg in June 1944.

    Battery "Hamburg" was comprised of 4 x 240mm SK/L40, protected by armored shields and by reinforced concrete casemates. The 240mm/40 (9.4") fired 330-lb HE projectiles and had a maximum range of 29,090 yards.

    Clustered around the casemates were 6(?) x 88mm and 6 (5?) x 20mm antiaircraft guns.

    Layout of Battery "Hamburg" here.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 16 Jun 08, at 22:49.

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    USS Texas & USS Arkansas vs Battery Hamburg, June 1944

    Aerial view of Casemate #4 (North-East) after the battle.

    The gun was originally protected on each side by two vertical concrete wall.

    The left-hand wall is the only one visible on the photo. The right-hand wall was destroyed by the Germans so as to increase the traverse of the 240mm/40 gun and allow it to fire inland.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 16 Jun 08, at 23:04.

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