Hood Gunnery on May 24

Discussions about the history of the ship, technical details, etc.

Moderator: Bill Jurens

Steve Crandell
Senior Member
Posts: 697
Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:05 pm

Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by Steve Crandell » Sun Jul 05, 2015 2:07 pm

I don't think the RF on Hood's CT was 30 feet, was it?

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7605
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by RF » Sun Jul 05, 2015 6:24 pm

paulcadogan wrote:
So...my speculation is that either the shift of target order never reached Hood's gunnery personnel, and if it did, those that took over control once the spotting top was taken out were almost firing blind....

But that's all we can do.....speculate!
Unfortunately yes, all we can do is speculate.

In the circumstances discussed in this thread my impression is that Hood's gunnery wasn't that bad. What upsets the proverbial ''applecart'' is that Hood opened fire on Prinz Eugen instead of Bismarck; I often wonder how the course of the battle would have developed if Hood had targeted Bismarck, and especially if Hood had landed a heavy hit on Bismarck instead of the close shell splashes on Prinz Eugen.

It has been suggested that Holland may have deliberately have Hood target Prinz Eugen to prevent the cruiser escaping and in turn then attacking convoys on its own. Certainly this is a consideration - but the main aim was to stop Bismarck which was a far more dangerous threat than a Hipper class cruiser, and given Hood's vulnerability to German fire I would have thought that degrading Bismarck's firepower would be the absolute priority.
The orders given by Holland prior to the battle were for the two capital ships to fire as one unit, on one target. Firing orders given on the run in were to concentrate fire on the left hand ship (Prinz Eugen), orders which were corrected once Hood opened fire to switch one target right. This suggests to me that Holland did not order Hood to fire intentionally on Prinz Eugen but on the lead ship in the belief that was Bismarck.
That firing order correction in my view would never have reached Hood's gunnery personnel ... they would be dead from the hit on the spotting top (my impression is that the hit was from Bismarck's fourth salvo rather than the third) and those that would take over would have insufficient time to do anything before the final, fatal hit.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

dunmunro
Senior Member
Posts: 3983
Joined: Sat Oct 22, 2005 1:25 am
Location: Langley BC Canada

Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by dunmunro » Sun Jul 05, 2015 6:35 pm

I have added notes in square brackets explaining, AFAIK, the signals (from a earlier post):

Ships: Hood 1

Prince of Wales 2

Time Signal

'0103 - 0543 Preliminary testing

'0544 2 v 1 PP GCW ? 43 [ to PoW from Hood time check on Gunnery control frequency....]

v 2 IMI X [ from PoW repeat exercise...]

0546 2 v 1 PP GCW 0548 [ to PoW from Hood time check on Gunnery control frequency at 0548]

V 2 R [from PoW received]

0548 2 v 1 PP GCW 0550[ to PoW from Hood time check on Gunnery control frequency at 0550]

V 2 R [ from PoW received]

0550 2 v 1 GCW 0550 [ to PoW from Hood Gunnery control frequency 0550.... this may be when the clocks are synchronized]

2 INT GCW [PoW Interogatory Gunnery control frequency]

v 2 GCW [from PoW gunnery control frequency...]

'0551 2 GIC [ PoW gunnery concentration]

(approx)

2 v 1 GIC [to PoW from Hood gunnery concentration]

v 2 R [ from PoW recieved]

'0552 2 v 1 GOB - 1 [ to PoW from Hood fire at left hand German ship bearing 337d]

(approx)

R [ received]

-------------- Nil more heard -------

No intercommunication of ranges.

V/S F.C SIGNALS [visual signal Fire Control ]

'0550 GSB 337 - L1 [Fire at left hand German ship bearing 337d]
http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/off ... #fcsignals



All the signals with "PP" and "GCW" in them refer to attempts to synchronize clocks between Hood and PoW; it appears that the attempt was not successful, as the signal for success is 'GWC" but this may have been omitted.

Information from B.R. 791 Wireless Signalling Instructions, Admiralty 1944.

No ranges were transmitted from Hood or PoW but Hood's last FC radio signal was transmitted at 0552. I suspect that at 0556 PoW either gave up on receiving further data or Hood's radio ceased to transmit (carrier wave ceased).

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by alecsandros » Sun Jul 05, 2015 8:22 pm

paulcadogan wrote:
But think about it....if Bismarck was 3000 yards astern of PG when Hood opened fire and it was realized they were under attack by capital ships, how long would it take her to accelerate to 30 knots? That takes significant time for a big ship. Even if she was at 30 knots at 0552, a closing rate of 3 knots is painfully slow, about 100 yards gain per minute - certainly not a frightening speed! Unless it is true that PG was in fact maneuvering to avoid being hit, allowing the big ship to close a little faster.

If Lutjens wanted to protect PG quickly, he could have ordered he to turn away as German operational protocol dictated.

Also, recall that Skipwith, PoW's main spotter, saw no splashes in Bismarck's vicinity other than those of his own ship, and Schmalenbach said Hood fired at PG for the entire time - even specifically noting the orientation of her main guns (not sure how accurate that might be at that distance!).
... We know that Hood/PoW were identified as "cruisers" on board Prinz Eugen, but we do not know the identification on board Bismarck.
The Baron Von Mullencheim wrote that the 2 ships were visible at 5:45... Given the rate of approach, and approach angle of the 2 new ships (new aside from Suffolk and Norfolk), Luetjens could have foreseen a battle - wether against cruisers or battleships , I do not know.
My impression is that Bismarck started accelerating at 5:45 or earlier, with the intention of taking the lead, and offering a more difficult FC solution for enemy guns and torps. (because it is harder to project the future point of a target moving at 30.5kts than a target moving at 27kts). What we do not know is if Prinz Eugen reduced speed during this interval, in order to allow the big brother to take the lead. Speed reducing could be done either by slowing down the engines, or, more likely in this circumstance, by making a sinusoidal movement.

In this view, the Bismarck could approach the PRinz at a realy fast rate, but exactly how fast would depend on the Prinz's actual path...

User avatar
Alberto Virtuani
Senior Member
Posts: 3607
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:22 am
Location: Milan (Italy)

Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Sun Jul 05, 2015 8:46 pm

@Dunmunro:
Hi Duncan, thanks for posting the signals from Hood and PoW and viceversa. It is very interesting !

You mention a last message at 5:52 from Hood to PoW. Was this message the one instructing PoW to shift target to the right ? If yes, do you have the text ? If not, do you have any idea how the message to switch target was transmitted to PoW ?



@Alecsandros:
Hi Alec, I do think you can be right, as the mere speed delta would not fully justify the distance decrease that can be seen in the photos taken on board PG just before the battle and during it. I guess PG was changing course to avoid to be straddled and this would explain also why Hood was unable to hit her.

However, in this case we should recognize that PG gunnery was simply outstanding hitting Hood before BS at least once (if not twice) and PoW 4 times (vs 3 BS hits) while almost continuously changing course..... :clap:



@Paul Cadogan:
Hi Paul, the fact that someone in the spotting top said "We're firing at the wrong ship" doesn't mean that Holland did not intentionally open fire on PG. I imagine that Holland did not discuss his strategy in detail during the action with everybody in the ship and someone could have believed his strategy was just an error and even said this words.

Another thing is the counter-order given to Hood Gunnery Dept to shift target. Who said this order was ever given ? Is it Ted Briggs himself ? Do you have the exact words referred to this Holland's counter-order for Hood gunnery ?


Bye, Alberto
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

"There's always a danger running in the enemy at close range" (Adm.W.F.Wake-Walker)

User avatar
paulcadogan
Senior Member
Posts: 1100
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 4:03 am
Location: Kingston, Jamaica

Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by paulcadogan » Mon Jul 06, 2015 2:40 am

dunmunro wrote:I have added notes in square brackets explaining, AFAIK, the signals (from a earlier post):
Ahhh! Those signals! Of course!! I stand corrected..... I assumed it was the range data being refered to.

Correction though -
dunmunro wrote:0552 2 v 1 GOB - 1 [ to PoW from Hood fire at left hand German ship bearing 337d]
That's the shift target RIGHT signal.
RF wrote:The orders given by Holland prior to the battle were for the two capital ships to fire as one unit, on one target. Firing orders given on the run in were to concentrate fire on the left hand ship (Prinz Eugen), orders which were corrected once Hood opened fire to switch one target right. This suggests to me that Holland did not order Hood to fire intentionally on Prinz Eugen but on the lead ship in the belief that was Bismarck.
My speculation is that Holland was unsure which ship was Bismarck so at the last minute changed his mind and divided his ships fire. There was no time for explaining the strategy change to Leach.

Hood did not come under fire for almost 3 minutes after she opened fire - plenty of time for a shift of target order, issued at 0552, to reach her gunners. My suspicion is that it was NOT directed to Hood's gunners at that time, only later when it was definitively determined which enemy ship was Bismarck.

Ted Briggs account: (Here you go Alberto)
Suddenly a report from the spotting top made Holland realize he had blundered. "We're shooting at the wrong ship. The Bismarck's on the right not the left." .......Holland seemed hardly perturbed and in the same monotonous voice said "Shift target to the right."
Again my speculation would be that the intonation of the report could have been "WE'RE shooting at the wrong ship". Briggs insists in his book that the target correction was made and he saw Hood's shells falling around Bismarck - but how could he have known for sure? He could very well have seen PoW's fall of shot.
Steve Crandell wrote:I don't think the RF on Hood's CT was 30 feet, was it?
Yes Steve, it was. Prior to her March 1941 refit, she had a 15-footer on the spotting top director which was removed when her 284 radar apparatus was installed, but the conning tower director had a 30 footer - as did her turrets.
hms-hood.jpg
hms-hood.jpg (53.89 KiB) Viewed 3812 times
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

User avatar
Antonio Bonomi
Senior Member
Posts: 3800
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 10:44 am
Location: Vimercate ( Milano ) - Italy

Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by Antonio Bonomi » Mon Jul 06, 2015 4:47 pm

Hello everybody,

two more things ... that can be interesting .... another Norfolk witness and Dundas ... telling us precisely when the Hood spotting top was hit during the engagement.

Here Lieutenant Royds of HMS Norfolk :
Hood_firing_Royds.jpg
Hood_firing_Royds.jpg (106.62 KiB) Viewed 3777 times
... and here William Dundas from Hood ( from Tedd Briggs book ) :
Dundas_recollection.jpg
Dundas_recollection.jpg (118.19 KiB) Viewed 3777 times
Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

Steve Crandell
Senior Member
Posts: 697
Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:05 pm

Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by Steve Crandell » Mon Jul 06, 2015 9:21 pm

Thank you Paul; that's impressive. I don't think I have noticed that range finder before. It's an exception to the British practice of having 15' director rangefinders, although that wasn't in the fore top.

User avatar
paulcadogan
Senior Member
Posts: 1100
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 4:03 am
Location: Kingston, Jamaica

Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by paulcadogan » Tue Jul 07, 2015 2:46 am

Steve Crandell wrote:Thank you Paul; that's impressive. I don't think I have noticed that range finder before. It's an exception to the British practice of having 15' director rangefinders, although that wasn't in the fore top.
You're welcome Steve, but it was not unique to Hood. Repulse and Renown (prior to her reconstruction) also had 30 foot RF's on their conning tower directors. It was battleships - QE's and R's - that only had 15 footers on their CT's.

@ Antonio:

Dundas testimony really serves to support my contention that it was Bismarck's third salvo that caused the spotting top hit. He, like the British official records, was incorrectly attributing the boat deck hit to Bismarck's third salvo, which straddled. But we know that it was PG's second that caused the hit. (Bismarck's straddling "third" which, based upon the Baron's writings, was more likely the base salvo of the 400 m bracket ordered by Schnieder, the "long" salvo being an "over"). For Dundas, the salvo that hit the spotting top was incoming after the one that hit the boat deck - so for his count, it was Bismarck's fourth...whereas it was more likely to be her third.

Also recall that other witnesses record Bismarck's fourth as being a close short on Hood's starboard side - so it did not straddle.

Paul
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

Steve Crandell
Senior Member
Posts: 697
Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:05 pm

Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by Steve Crandell » Tue Jul 07, 2015 3:08 pm

I think the KGVs had 15' RFs on their directors also.

The one that hit Hood's spotting top would have been an "over" from the German point of view.

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Supporter
Posts: 3100
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by Dave Saxton » Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:27 pm

Steve Crandell wrote:I think the KGVs had 15' RFs on their directors also.

The one that hit Hood's spotting top would have been an "over" from the German point of view.
Or about the first standard deviation long if it was On or just short, based on the Mossbrooker and Murray paper and the July 1984 New Jersey shoot plots.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

User avatar
paulcadogan
Senior Member
Posts: 1100
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 4:03 am
Location: Kingston, Jamaica

Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by paulcadogan » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:16 am

Steve Crandell wrote:I think the KGVs had 15' RFs on their directors also.
Oh yes, I was referring to the old BB's of the same vintage as the BC's with similar basic forward superstructure layout. The 30 ft RF's on the CT directors were unique to the 3 BC's it seems. Sorry...should have been clearer.
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

Steve Crandell
Senior Member
Posts: 697
Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:05 pm

Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by Steve Crandell » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:24 am

Dave Saxton wrote:
Steve Crandell wrote:I think the KGVs had 15' RFs on their directors also.

The one that hit Hood's spotting top would have been an "over" from the German point of view.
Or about the first standard deviation long if it was On or just short, based on the Mossbrooker and Murray paper and the July 1984 New Jersey shoot plots.
If German salvo spreads were on the order of 400m at that range, I don't think hitting something 120 feet (my guess - the Iowa main spots were about 125 feet above the water) above the mpi point would put it only 200 m over. Anything else would be outside normal gun parameters for that ship.

dunmunro
Senior Member
Posts: 3983
Joined: Sat Oct 22, 2005 1:25 am
Location: Langley BC Canada

Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by dunmunro » Wed Jul 08, 2015 8:33 am

Steve Crandell wrote:I think the KGVs had 15' RFs on their directors also.

The one that hit Hood's spotting top would have been an "over" from the German point of view.
The first two KGVs had 15ft duplex RFs, but the last three had 22ft RFs (don't know if they were duplex).

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Supporter
Posts: 3100
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: Hood Gunnery on May 24

Post by Dave Saxton » Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:21 pm

Steve Crandell wrote:
If German salvo spreads were on the order of 400m at that range, I don't think hitting something 120 feet (my guess - the Iowa main spots were about 125 feet above the water) above the mpi point would put it only 200 m over. Anything else would be outside normal gun parameters for that ship.
I took some measurements. A shell passing through the Hood's fighting top would strike the water about 100 meters beyond the center line of the ship at those ranges. Given the target angle it would have struck the water not far off the port side aft of midships. The standard deviation of the Iowa class 16"/50 at those ranges is ~80 yards for range and about 9 yards for deflection. The dispersion of the 15"/52 is somewhat less but I would not expect the standard deviation to be radically different. Standard deviation by definition takes into account outliers though. The MPI could have been ~120m over, slightly over, on, or even slightly short.

* The Iowa main spots are 116 feet.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

Post Reply