Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

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paulcadogan
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Re: Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

Post by paulcadogan » Tue Feb 09, 2016 3:29 am

Cag wrote:Hi All,
Sorry to post again but had another thought regarding the local control salvoes. Salvo 18 would have fired either Y1 or Y4 as Y2 and Y3 are out of action. Then we are saying that in the first local control salvo, salvo 19 Y1 and Y4 fired together which means a first delay in between 18 and 19 due to Y1 or Y4 re loading correct? Then we have a second delay whilst either Y1 or Y4 fires in salvo 20?(Y3 still out of action) If this is so why didn't Y1 also fire in salvo 20 as the delay allows a reload? This had made my brain hurt so much I've gone cross eyed!
Best wishes
Cag.
Hi Cag and Alberto,

If it's any help, watching the battle film, the single shells from salvos 20 and 21 fall only 18 seconds apart which suggests to me that they could have been from the same reload cycle.

Could they have been deliberately separated by the turret officer in order to fire a salvo pair?? OR, one may have taken a little longer to load, and rather than wait, he fired the one that was ready, then the other as soon as it was loaded?

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

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Re: Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

Post by Cag » Tue Feb 09, 2016 11:46 am

Hi All,
Hello Paul, any help is very much appreciated as I'm starting to get a twitch! Your suggestion is a distinct possibility, the only puzzle is that the PoW gunnery action report states that Y3 gun was out of action from salvo 15 to 20, that implies that it fired in salvo 21 otherwise it would have stated that, like Y2, it was out of action from from a certain salvo onwards, implying it did not fire again. The nature of the loading cycle for the 14 inch was different to, for example, the way that the guns on Bismarck were loaded, shells and charges on the German guns came from the shell and cordite rooms in the trunk on a hoist directly to the gunhouse and into position between the guns, they were then moved to traversers behind the guns to be rammed into the breech. Such a mechanism on a quad turret would mean the lower trunk of the turret being very wide and heavy, therefore a lower central hoist brings 4 shells and 2 sets of cordite charges for each gun to a working chamber beneath the gunhouse where they are rammed into traversers and traversed across the room (ie if the guns were on the fore to aft line the traversers would be moving to port and to starboard) to line up with four gun loading cages which are in line with the breeches of the four guns. This means that if a failure occurs in the shell handling room, ie the shell ring, then theoretically there are still available charges and shells in the traversers, main hoist or gun loading cages to supply the gun. If we go with your suggestion we should now have had a delayed salvo 19 of two shots, a delay for reloading, a single shot salvo 20, and a separated single in salvo 21 plus the now available Y3 gun which did not fire, which bring us back to having a shell up the spout without firing, it's a puzzle!
Best wishes,
Cag.

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Re: Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

Post by alecsandros » Tue Feb 09, 2016 1:12 pm

... Regarding firing rate, it may well be that there were troubles on board all 4 ships that we don't know about.

93 rounds in 14 minutes for Bismarck and 156 for Prinz Eugen looks kind of low (and remember that initial 3 minutes "silence" interval for German guns... that we can only speculate about... WIth that included, we get 93 rounds per 17 minutes, or 0.68 spmpg for Bismarck.)

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Re: Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

Post by Cag » Tue Feb 09, 2016 2:31 pm

Hi All,
Personally IMHO I think Alecsandros is right, as problems have the potential to occur in any ship at any time.
I have delved into the phrase 'Teething troubles' which seems to crop up quite a bit and I hope may add on to an excellent previous post about it. The phrase seems to have been in use in the thirties in the Royal Navy especially surrounding the problems with the 8 inch County Class guns and the 16 inch Rodney/Nelson guns (Especially ammunition supply etc). Rather than give the other services a chance at more money from the Government pot, and so as not to aggrivate a public, who was spending millions of taxpayers pounds on these ships, and also not to give away potential devistating information to any future enemy, these, some quite serious, problems were termed 'teething troubles' which I agree is a very misleading term (But then it was intended to be). Luckily for the Counties and the Rodney and Nelson these problems were given the neccessary time to be 'ironed out' in the inter-war period as for the KG V and PoW it was a different matter as the guns were ordered in 1936 and were expected to be in action as soon as the ships were free from dockyard hands (Thanks to an outbreak of war), or in the case of PoW whilst these hands were still on board. Antonio and Alberto are correct that Captain Leach, a gunnery officer, previously worked in the Department for Ordnance (Small calibre AA procurement I think), but would have been aware of the teething trouble phrase from interwar service, especially in HMS Cumberland, a County class cruiser. Using it again in his report may have been deliberate and all those who read it would have recognised the term and understood exactly what it really meant?
Best wishes
Cag.

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Re: Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Tue Feb 09, 2016 3:32 pm

Alecsandros wrote: "Regarding firing rate, it may well be that there were troubles on board all 4 ships "
Hi Alec,
Hood did have problems (many witnesses are even uncertain whether the aft turrets fired at all; for sure they did not for the whole battle despite that fact that they were theoretically not wooded since the beginning of the action). Also we have the mysterious annotation "Hood out of action" in the Gunnery Report of PoW at 5:56 (when no German shell had probably hit yet).

Regarding the other ships, I don't see any dramatic problem and I just remark a normal "battle conditions" RoF : PoW had a good, constant RoF (1,895 salvo/minute as per her GAR) until in central control despite a "lower" output (75%), PG had a 2.8 RoF average (I guess 3, 3.5 max in rapid fire) and a good output (85%) despite a fore gun out of action and Bismarck fired just in line with PoW (1,86 average, possibly a bit more than 2, 2.5 max, when we exclude the time of her turns) with a good or very good output (83% or 89% depending on salvos count).
Both German ships fired at less than half of their theoretical RoF (the one of their gun/turret specifications), that for me is more than acceptable in a real combat situation (in line with PoW practical RoF delivered at DS).

Also, please consider that the Baron was the third GO on board and even years later he would have remembered and referred of any "abnormal" problem in the fire, while he seems to point out a very good performance. Same for the GO's of PG that didn't speak about problems (except the fore gun one).

Bye, Alberto
Last edited by Alberto Virtuani on Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

Post by alecsandros » Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:22 pm

Hello Alberto,
Prinz Eugen's log mentions average salvo interval of 25 to 28 seconds, or 2.2 to 2.5 shells per minute, compared to a 4 to 5 rounds per minute rate of fire of her guns... It also mentions 156 rounds expended.

Bismarck's log mentions 93 shells expended in action versus Hood...

While there is the probability that all was fine on both PE and Bismark, and that's what they could do given the circumstances, I wouldn't rule out intermittent "problems" (for lack of a better word) during the 14 (or 17) minutes battle...
This is because both ships had good geometry - all main turrets available to fire throughout the engagement... They also had several high-tech (for the time) location devices - 2 x Fumo27 radars + GhG listening device on Prinz Eugen, plus the optical instruments of excellent quality; 2 x Fumo27 radars + optical instruments on board Bismarck. So I would expect more iron in the air...

They were doing battle in a very auspicious position - crossing the T, with all systems functional (or so we know)... So Prinz Eugen could relatively easy track Hood out to 32km with her GhG... and from 25km on her radars... This is exemplified rapidly by the fact that Prinz Eugen straddled the target immediately at 21km... Consequently, Bismarck also straddled immediately at 20km... proving to us that at least some of the location instrumets available functioned very well... and provided accurate and timely information for the gunnery crews.

Now... at 21km Hood already straddled. Time 5:56... 4 minutes until catastrophic explosion. German ships cross the T, guns blazing. At 5:57 the Baron says Schneider ordered rapid fire... Still.. until 6:00 only 5 or 6 complete salvos are fired from BIsmarck, or about 1 salvo/minute... Prinz Eugen fired 11 salvos in 5 minutes (6 to Hood, 5 to Prince of Wales)...

So... my propositions would be:
- Bismarck's and Prinz Eugen apparently low rate of fire came from:
> limitations caused by director firing (waiting for all guns to loaded, etc)
> limitations caused by intermittent visibility of the target and consequently observing fall of shot... Wind was blowing towards Hood... It was blowing away own turret smoke and funnel smoke... So perhaps for intervals of up to 5-10 seconds, target couldn't be discerned... and neither splashes of water around them...
> mechanical or human errors on board the ship during firings, like the ones mentioned in AVKS
> own ship doing manouvres to confuse enemy fire, and holding own fire while effectuating manouvres
> a desire for economy of 380mm rounds, which would be required in the future.
> a comination of 2 or more factors ...

Cheers,

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Re: Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

Post by Cag » Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:43 am

Hi All,
I must congratulate Alecandros for his work on the gunnery situation on all ships on the 24th May, and agree with Alberto that the rates of fire can be termed as 'as expected for normal battle conditions' for all sides. However it must be with a caveat. PoW had 74 guns that should have fired and lost 19, plus another 3 in the local control salvoes which, although I have no doubt will be debated, could be described as 'dramatic problems'? Added to which if we are saying that in those last three local control salvoes the normal salvo firing proceedure, that had been operating in Y turret since salvo 9 had broken down, and double firing and delays due to waiting for the reloading of guns that had previously been fired, instead of the aforementioned steady salvo firing, would this then mean that we are vindicating Captain Leach's decision to turn away due to problems with the guns, enthusiastic but inexperienced crews, and showing a lack of a proper working up period?
Best wishes
Cag.

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Re: Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Feb 10, 2016 12:53 pm

Cag wrote: "PoW had 74 guns that should have fired and lost 19, plus another 3 in the local control salvoes which, although I have no doubt will be debated, could be described as 'dramatic problems'?"
Hi Mr.Cag,
I agree that an output of 74% is not outstanding, however it has to be compared to 85% PG and 89% (or even 83% depending on the salvos count) for Bismarck. Not a dramatic difference. The salvos were fired (while in central control) in a way that does not highlight any specific mechanical or training problem as the intervals between the salvos are quite homogeneous, even when the ship heeled for the hard rudder corrections to avoid Hood remains. The RoF was more then comparable with BS one. The problems in Y turret after the turn away cannot be considered as decision factors as Leach already had taken the decision.

Bye, Alberto
Last edited by Alberto Virtuani on Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

Post by Cag » Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:24 pm

Hi All,
Thanks Alberto I quite agree, although the Y turret problems developed at salvoes 11 and 12 according to the GAR. If we look at the gun failures between salvoes 1-18, is it the case that Y2 would have missed 3 alloted salvo firings and Y3 missed 2. We know A1 gun missed 8 alloted slavo firings, A2 missed 1 and A4 missed 2. That makes 16, according to the GAR 'B Events during the 1st action' A and Y turret shell ring rammers fouled brackets, but only in A turret did the fouling stop shells being rammed (The turret having to train to unfoul the ring) which means we have three missing gun failures, most probably in A turret which, at the risk of being acused of defending Captain Leach, was the one visible from the compass platform (A total of 14 failures in A turret?). I presume that as a gunnery officer this would have been noticed by Leach? Leach, I also presume, would have been aware of problems in the turrets prior and during the action (Maybe even with Y turret from salvoes 11 and 12) but would not have been aware of any on the German side (Which I agree must have been happening, also onboard Hood too!) which from his point of view would have been doing quite well, hits on Hood and then her subsequent explosion. Would this also suggest that output is as important as salvo rate, and, despite Commander McMullens report, all was not well with the guns?
Best wishes
Cag.

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Re: Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:10 pm

Cag wrote:"Would this also suggest that output is as important as salvo rate, and, despite Commander McMullens report, all was not well with the guns?"
Hi Mr.Cag,
I do agree with your analysis (even if the expert here is Duncan for the mapping of the failures, so he can possibly confirm whether he can move the 3 failed shots to A turret).

I don't doubt that Capt. Leach was aware, since he declared the ship "combat ready", that the guns and the turrets did have "teething problems". Possibly he was not fully confident in his weapon since the mission had started.
He could also have noticed a loss of output in A turret (on the other side turret B, the most close to the Compass Platform was working 100% perfect...) even if I think he was more concentrated to follow Hood wake and orders (e.g. he declared he was looking at Hood when she exploded) than to time his own salvos (and notice a good RoF....) and count the actual number of shots fired.
This task was with the GO as well as the final word about the state of the guns, and McMullen did never communicate him any problem, even sending him the "unusual"(to say the least) message when he disengaged.

Bye, Alberto
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Re: Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

Post by Cag » Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:44 pm

Hi All,
Again Alberto I agree with you, I feel that Captain Leach would have had to have been aware of his ships performance as he had signed for her and was his responsibility and to use an old phrase 'The buck stopped with him'. Commander McMullen does state in his Imperial War Museum interview that he was 'annoyed' at his shoot being interupted prompting his 'unusual' order, but if we look at the cold hard facts, 14 failures in one turret, does not stack up that with the statement that the 'guns were ok'. If we are able to accept that Bismarck and Prinz Eugen had failures, which most including myself have throughout this thread, and also accept that, although both German ships were in a better state of crew preparation than PoW, they were still an inexperienced and green crew, and if we are willing to accept normal failures in HMS Hood, despite the crew having been in commission from 1939 and being in combat at Oran, it is hard for me to understand the problem of an inacceptrance of the same thing, green crew, natural AND mechanical problems with turrets, lack of crew training etc, in PoW? In defence of McMullen PoW had had more sub calibre firing than full calibre, this involves a 6 pounder gun being inserted in the 14 inch breech, these were QF weapons and hand loaded, firing these did not benefit the cordite or shell handling rooms, the working chamber crew, not even the gunhouse crew were of benefit as the shells were loaded by hand, the only benefitiary was the gun control team and if, as you suggest, Captain Leach's focus was on Hood etc, McMullen's focus, thanks to these sub calibre firings, was on hitting Bismarck and conversely not what problems the turret crews were having.
Best wishes
Cag.

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Re: Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Feb 10, 2016 4:14 pm

Cag wrote: "it is hard for me to understand the problem of an inacceptrance of the same thing, green crew, natural AND mechanical problems with turrets, lack of crew training etc, in PoW"
Hi Mr.Cag,
I can assure you that do accept that PoW gunnery had problems. What I don't is that these problems were so severe at 6:01 that even the Captain on his bridge was able to judge better than the GO about the need of an immediate disengagement for this reason. As said, RoF was very good (in line with German ship), number of hits was even better (until Hood avoidance maneuver) and the output % "just" a 10% lower than German ships.....

Bye, Alberto
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Re: Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

Post by dunmunro » Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:41 pm

Alberto Virtuani wrote:
Cag wrote: "it is hard for me to understand the problem of an inacceptrance of the same thing, green crew, natural AND mechanical problems with turrets, lack of crew training etc, in PoW"
Hi Mr.Cag,
I can assure you that do accept that PoW gunnery had problems. What I don't is that these problems were so severe at 6:01 that even the Captain on his bridge was able to judge better than the GO about the need of an immediate disengagement for this reason. As said, RoF was very good (in line with German ship), number of hits was even better (until Hood avoidance maneuver) and the output % "just" a 10% lower than German ships.....

Bye, Alberto
PoW's radars were not providing ranges. PoW's secondary armament was not functioning. PoW was rapidly closing the range to where she was leaving her immune zone and would face a hail of medium calibre shells. The GO was concentrating solely on his task of directing 14in gunfire and not on the overall situation. Mcmullen's statements regarding the battle were made 3 decades after the fact and his memory seems to have been a bit hazy.

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Re: Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

Post by dunmunro » Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:55 pm

Alberto Virtuani wrote:
Cag wrote:"Would this also suggest that output is as important as salvo rate, and, despite Commander McMullens report, all was not well with the guns?"
Hi Mr.Cag,
I do agree with your analysis (even if the expert here is Duncan for the mapping of the failures, so he can possibly confirm whether he can move the 3 failed shots to A turret).

I don't doubt that Capt. Leach was aware, since he declared the ship "combat ready", that the guns and the turrets did have "teething problems". Possibly he was not fully confident in his weapon since the mission had started.
He could also have noticed a loss of output in A turret (on the other side turret B, the most close to the Compass Platform was working 100% perfect...) even if I think he was more concentrated to follow Hood wake and orders (e.g. he declared he was looking at Hood when she exploded) than to time his own salvos (and notice a good RoF....) and count the actual number of shots fired.
This task was with the GO as well as the final word about the state of the guns, and McMullen did never communicate him any problem, even sending him the "unusual"(to say the least) message when he disengaged.

Bye, Alberto
I did review this and the only ambiguous shot that might be assigned to A turret was Y3, salvo 13. The GAR states that:
On several occasions the shell ring rammers fouled the brackets on the hinge trays for No. 11 interlock. Shell could not be rammed until the bearing of the turret was changed. This also occurred in "Y" but did not prevent ramming. (my bolding)
I noted the above but I also noted the very rapid closure rate and I assumed that the turret bearing was changing rapidly enough that it didn't cause any salvos to be missed. It may have added a few seconds to the loading cycle, but the guns were still loaded when the salvo was fired (this is another advantage of alternate gun salvo firing as it gives a longer loading cycle).

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Re: Tirpitz sails on part of Rheinubung

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Feb 10, 2016 6:17 pm

Dunmunro wrote: "PoW's radars were not providing ranges. PoW's secondary armament was not functioning. PoW was rapidly closing the range to where she was leaving her immune zone and would face a hail of medium calibre shells. The GO was concentrating solely on his task of directing 14in gunfire and not on the overall situation. Mcmullen's statements regarding the battle were made 3 decades after the fact and his memory seems to have been a bit hazy."
Hi Duncan,
thanks (again) for your analysis on the PoW GAR.

Yes, you are right. However, in his first report, Capt.Leach did not mention any of these reasons. He said (incorrectly.....) that he had only 3 main guns in action when he decided to disengage. :shock:
Even in his (very different) final report, where there is no mention at all of the guns actually in action, he never listed any of your above reasons, therefore either he was not aware of them or he considered them as very minor ones...... :think:


I also don't agree at all with your judgement on McMullen's memory when I listen at his interview, but this is subjective, I think. Based on the above report, Capt.Leach's memory, when writing their three different versions, looks much more hazy, already in 1941.......

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

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