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

  1. #61
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    USS Texas & USS Arkansas vs Battery Hamburg, June 1944

    Front view of Casemate #3 (South-East) after the battle :

  2. #62
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    USS Texas & USS Arkansas vs Battery Hamburg, June 1944

    Top view of Casemate #2 (South-East) with camo net :

  3. #63
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    USS Texas & USS Arkansas vs Battery Hamburg, June 1944

    Admiral Deyo's gunfire ships departing Portland at 0430 on 25 June 1944 were :

    Group 1 :

    USS Nevada : 10 x 14"/45 guns, 16 x 5"/38 guns
    USS Tuscaloosa : 8 x 8"/55 guns, 8 x 5"/25 guns
    USS Quincy : 8 x 8"/55 guns, 8 x 5"/25 guns
    HMS Glasgow : 12 x 6"/50 guns, 8 x 4"/45 guns
    HMS Entreprise : 5 x 6"/45 guns

    + 6 destroyers (Ellyson, Hambleton, Rodman, Emmons, Gherardi, Murphy).

    Group 2 :

    USS Texas : 10 x 14"/45 guns, 6 x 5"/51 guns
    USS Arkansas : 12 x 12"/50 guns, 6 x 5"/51 guns

    + 5 destroyers (Barton, O'Brien, Laffey, Hobson, Plunkett).

    Mine Squadron 7 (US Navy) and the 9th Minesweeping Flotilla (Royal Navy) were tasked with sweeping a lane ahead of Deyo's ships, directly to Cherbourg.

    Figther protection was provided by the IX Army Air Force under General Quesada.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 17 Jun 08, at 14:17.

  4. #64
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    USS Texas & USS Arkansas vs Battery Hamburg, June 1944

    Admiral Deyo's initial plan was to engage Battery "Hamburg" with USS Nevada at long range, for Nevada's 14"/45 guns could outrange Hamburg's 240mm/40 guns (max. range of 34,700 yards with HC Mark-22 for the 14"/45 versus 29,090 yards with HE L4.2 for the 240mm/40).

    USS Texas (max. range : 23,500 yards with 14" HC) and USS Arkansas (max. range : 23,900 yards with 12" HC) would remain eastward in the blind arc of Battery "Hamburg" until it had been softened up by USS Nevada.

    Once Battery "Hamburg" silenced, USS Texas and USS Arkansas would join in, complete the destruction of the German battery and then pass through the arc of fire to join Bombardment Group 1 off Cherbourg.

    On 25 June 1944, the plan could not be executed as initially envisioned for USS Nevada was kept busy dealing with shore targets located in the vicinity of Quequeville, i.e. on the other side of the city of Cherbourg.

    USS Texas and USS Arkansas would therefore be on their own against Battery Hamburg and have to cross its arc of fire in order to join Deyo's group off Cherbourg.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 17 Jun 08, at 13:34.

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    USS Texas & USS Arkansas vs Battery Hamburg, June 1944

    The gunnery duel between Battery "Hamburg" and Bombardment Group 2 started at 1208 when USS Arkansas opened fire at request of SFCP on battery at coordinate 265270.

    Battery "Hamburg" waited until the Group came within its arc of fire and started to return fire at 1229, a three-gun salvo straddling USS Barton.

    The duel with Battery "Hamburg" ended at 1500 when Bombardment Group 2 received order to retire.

    During the engagement, USS Texas fired a total of 206 x 14" rounds, of which 112 were HC and 94 were AP. USS Arkansas fired 58 x 12" rounds, all of them AP and the five destroyers fired 558 x 5" rounds. USS Quincy also took part in the engagement from 1330 to 1410.

    According to the DANFS entry on USS Texas, the Germans straddled or near-missed Texas over 65 times. According to the Texas AAR (page 4), "one member of Repair IV counted 65 solid explosions with a probable 30 straddles."

    USS Texas was hit twice by the 240mm/40, for the first time at 1234 (FR 19 port on half-deck, dud shell discovered at 1447) and for the second time at 1316 (fire control tower). Fragments from near miss on starboard bow, which pierced plating making a hole about 2" square, are described as Hit #3 in Texas AAR.

    Other ships hit during the engagement include :

    * USS Barton, hit by a dud 240mm which ricocheted into her hull.

    * USS Laffey, hit by a dud 240mm on her port bow near the anchor.

    * USS O'Brien, hit into the after corner of her CIC (13 killed, 19 wounded).
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 17 Jun 08, at 15:27.

  6. #66
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    USS Texas & USS Arkansas vs Battery Hamburg, June 1944

    From USS Texas After Action Report dated 12 July 1944, page 9 :

    Hit #1 : Struck on top of Conning Tower 5' to port of center line and skidded across top in direction about 120 relative striking port Fire Control Tower periscope and Director #3, finally detonating against the main strut supporting Navigation Bridge resting on after edge of Conning Tower.

    Director #3 was unseated and blown into Fire Control tower injuring the Gunnery Officer and two talkers.

    Starboard periscopes in Conning Tower and Fire Control tower destroyed.

    The deck plating of the forward part of Navigation bridge was blown upwards about 4' hinging aft on main athwartship frame.

    Engine order telegraph, revolution indicators and electric steering controls shattered.

    Wiring on underside of bridge to bridge instruments severed.

    Decking buckled and many fragment holes in after part of bridge and catwalk.

    Steering compass damaged.

    One man mortally and six seriously wounded.

    Shell determined from recovered fragments to be 280mm AP.
    NB : the shell that caused the damage to USS Texas's Conning Tower was 240mm (most probably HE L4,1 with base fuze) and not 280mm AP.

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    USS Texas & USS Arkansas vs Battery Hamburg, June 1944

    From USS Texas After Action Report dated 12 July 1944, page 9 :

    Hit #2 : Ricochet hit on port bow FR 19.

    Shell entered base first, apparently travelling upwards at a 45 angle to the water, nose down.

    Hole measuring 3' vertically and 2' fore and aft made in side 16' above the waterline.

    Shell then struck overhead (underside of second deck) causing deck to buckle in Wardroom and then dropped to deck on its side.

    Knee bracket at FR 20 twisted.

    Shell did not explode.

    Shell 240mm HE, was removed in Portland and rendered safe by Bomb Disposal Officer from USNAAB, Portsmouth, England.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 17 Jun 08, at 15:26.

  8. #68
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    USS Texas & USS Arkansas vs Battery Hamburg, June 1944

    From USS Texas After Action Report dated 12 July 1944, page 4 (emphasis added) :

    That there could have been so many straddles and near misses with so few hits and consequent little damage is most amazing and lucky.
    From History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 11: The Invasion of France and Germany, 1944-1945 by Samuel Eliot Morison, pages 211-212 (emphasis added) :

    "This operation", he [Admiral Ramsay] wrote in his despatch on OVERLORD, "was carried out with skill and determination by Rear Admiral Deyo, but it is considered unfortunate that it was not found possible to adhere to the original plan, which provided for the initial neutralization of the enemy long-range batteries, as, had better fortune attended the enemy gunners, they might well have inflicted heavy damage to our ships at the relatively close range at which they were firing."
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 17 Jun 08, at 15:33.

  9. #69
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    USS Texas & USS Arkansas vs Battery Hamburg, June 1944

    From History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 11: The Invasion of France and Germany, 1944-1945 by Samuel Eliot Morison, page 210 :

    Between 1401 and 1407, Arkansas's SFCP reported Battery Hamburg to be "a mass of rubble", to which her spotting plane promptly retorted, "Maybe so, but they are still shotting !"

    The ships knew better too; and when Texas strayed back into the arc of fire of the remaining three Hamburg guns at 1447, she was greated by a furious burst of fire.
    At 1501, Admiral Deyo signaled Admiral Bryant to head back to Portland, by the same course that he had followed in the crossing.

    Texas had fired 206 fourteen-inch shells; Arkansas had fired 56 twelve-inch shells, and five destroyers had fired 552 five-inch shells at Battery Hamburg.

    The ground was scarred and furrowed for acres around, the concrete positions casemates were pocked and cracked; but only one of the four guns was out of action - that was owing to the Texas hit at 1335.
    From USS Texas After Action Report dated 12 July 1944, page 9 :

    [Damage] Inflicted on Enemy : Exact damage inflicted unknown. Plane spot reported several direct hits on casemates, but that guns kept on firing. Some enemy batteries were still firing on retirement.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 18 Jun 08, at 12:47.

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    USS Texas & USS Arkansas vs Battery Hamburg, June 1944

    From USS Texas After Action Report dated 12 July 1944, pages 10-11 (emphasis added) :

    PART V : COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Fire Control

    In order to be effective, ships fire against protected shore batteries, such as casemated guns, must be extremely accurate involving direct hits, and the maneuvering of the ship to avoid enemy fire should be held down to a minimum.

    It is believed that neutralization is highly improbable by a ship firing two-gun salvos while maneuvering radically to avoid being hit.

    It is strongly recommended that when subjected to this situation that maximum volume of fire be permitted. In this instance, the small salvos were made imperative by the need to conserve ammunition.
    Direct hits, maximum volume of fire : that should sound familiar by now, shouldn't it ?
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 17 Jun 08, at 16:02.

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    Saint-Mandrier Battery, Operation Dragoon, August 1944

    Saint-Mandrier Battery on Cap Cepet was the principal defense of the Port of Toulon and became as such one of the main targets to be neutralized by shore and air bombardments before Toulon and Marseille could be secured.

    Saint-Mandrier Battery was comprised of 4 x 340mm Model 1912 guns mounted in two twin turrets. During the German invasion of the southern zone in November 1942, two of the guns (= one turret) were sabotaged by French shipyard workers. The other pair (later nicknamed "Big Willie" by the Allies) was captured almost intact by the Germans and returned to service.

    The 340mm/45 (13.4") gun had a maximum range of 38,749 yards with the 1,268-lb Model 1924 AP shell.

    External dimensions of the gunhouse were approximately 10 feet (height) x 30 feet (width) x 40 feet (length). Armor thickness was comprised between 140mm (5.5") and 270mm (10.6").
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 18 Jun 08, at 12:05.

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    Saint-Mandrier Battery, Operation Dragoon, August 1944

    The first shots against Saint-Mandrier battery were fired by the French battleship Lorraine (8 x 13.4"/45 guns) on 19 August 1944, later joined in by USS Nevada (10 x 14"/45 guns), USS Augusta (9 x 8"/55 guns) and USS Quincy (9 x 8"/55 guns).

    Saint-Mandrier battery was taken under fire by Allied ships almost every thereafter, including :

    23 August 1944 : USS Nevada (10 x 14"/45 guns) in a gunnery duel that span over 6.5 hours, during which the US battleship fired some 354 salvos at the fort.

    24 August 1944 : USS Quincy (9 x 8"/55 guns) and HMS Aurora (6 x 6"/50 guns).

    25 August 1944 : Lorraine (10 x 13.4"/45 guns) and HMS Ramillies (8 x 15"/42 guns).

    Between 13 and 27 August 1944, it is estimated that Saint-Mandrier battery took :

    * during air bombardments : 809 bombs (500-lb and 1000-lb) totaling 550 tons.

    * during naval bombardments : 8,698 projectiles of various calibers, including about 1,400 from 8" guns or above.

    Saint-Mandrier battery fired for the first time on 20 August 1944 on [i]Emile Bertin[i] and USS Philadelphia and for the last time on 26 August 1944 on the battleship Lorraine.

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    Saint-Mandrier Battery, Operation Dragoon, August 1944

    From History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 11: The Invasion of France and Germany, 1944-1945 by Samuel Eliot Morison, page 289 :

    A careful study was made by the French ordnance experts of Cap Cepet after this nine days' effort to destroy the big battery.

    The entire rocky peninsula for almost a square mile around the batteries was scarred and holed by high-caliber naval shells, whose craters could easily be distinguished from those made by air bombs.

    One big gun had a nick in the muzzle made by a naval shell which had knocked it out, but the second was still intact.

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    Okinawa, May-June 1945

    From the History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 14: Victory in the Pacific, 1945 by Samuel Eliot Morison, page 246 :

    The total ammunition expended by ships in Task Force 54, from the beginning of the operation to 21 June 1945, was 23,210 rounds of 12" and upward, 31,500 rounds of 8" HC, 45,450 rounds of 6" HC and over 475,000 rounds of 5", including star shell. Two thirds of the 5" were expended in ships' defense against air attack, but over 184,000 rounds were in direct support of troops ashore.

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    Naval Bombardment of Saipan and Tinian, 13 June 1944

    From the Report By Special Staff Officers on Forager, Headquarters Expeditionary Troops, Task Force 56, September 1944, page 10 :

    B. Preparation Fires

    1. D Minus Two Day Bombardment

    a. This bombardment was delivered by the fast battleships and destroyers of Task Force 58, firing with plane spot.

    Special attention was given to heavy enemy installations, especially in the CHARAN KANOA, GARAPAN and AGINGAN POINT areas, the vicinity of ASLITO AIRFIELD and the points of land commanding the landing beaches.

    Heavy gun installations, power plants, barracks, the buildings of the town and installations at and near the airfield received a particularly heavy shelling.

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