More on KGV Class main armament problems

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alecsandros
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Re: More on KGV Class main armament problems

Post by alecsandros » Wed May 29, 2019 7:23 pm

@Wadinga
During second action, Prince of wales fired 12 salvoes (of 4 to 5 guns each) totalling 48 ordered shots, of which 41 shots actually fired, and 7 shots misfired.

We can not compare that to Prinz Eugen on a per shell basis, because the battleship and cruiser used different shells, in terms of weight, guns, etc. (You would need about 7 x 203mm shells to equal the weight of 1 x 356mm shell).

We can observe, though, the firing efficiency on each ship - and that was around 85% when the ships were firing in a (roughly) steady course and having (roughly) all guns available to fire.

What is put forward usually - the 75% output obtained by PoW during first action - which is not a bad output anyway - was obtained in a given context. The context was: poor attack geometry (aft turret masked for first 9 salvos, leaving 2 turrets to fire, implying salvos of 3 + 3 shots (instead of 5+5), seaspray obscuring sights for forward rangefinders, water drenching the crew of turret A, 3 course changes that changed the firing solution)*

PS: As I said before, in my opinion, Prinz Eugen was a new untested ship, suffering from insufficient training and lacking combat experience. 85% for 14 minutes of fire is not remarkable and is no proof of high efficiency.
In this order of thoughts, I would add that , according to my memory, Prinz Eugen outputted 103 shells out of 108 ordered, during the firing against British destroyers attempting torpedo attacks in the Channel Dash...

===

*Actual conditions in turret "A", during first battle with battleship Bismarck, according to Prince of WAles GAR:

While steaming at high speed, large quantities of sea water entered "A" turret round the gun ports and through the joints of the gunhouse roof. It became necessary to rig canvas screens in the transverser space and bale the compartment.
[...]
Throughout the engagement the conditions in "A" shell handling room were very bad; water was pouring down from the upper part of the mounting. Only one drain is fitted and became choked; with the result that water accumulated and washed from side to side as the ship rolled. The streams above and floods below drenched the machinery and caused discomfort to the personnel. More drains should be fitted in the shell handling room and consideration given to a system of water catchment combined with improved drainage in the upper parts of the revolving structure. Every effort is being made to improve the pressure systems and further attempts will be made as soon as opportunity occurs to improve the mantlet weathering, but a certain amount of leaking is inevitable.

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Re: More on KGV Class main armament problems

Post by paul.mercer » Wed May 29, 2019 8:09 pm

Gentlemen,
Re this post by alecsandros:
Throughout the engagement the conditions in "A" shell handling room were very bad; water was pouring down from the upper part of the mounting. Only one drain is fitted and became choked; with the result that water accumulated and washed from side to side as the ship rolled. The streams above and floods below drenched the machinery and caused discomfort to the personnel. More drains should be fitted in the shell handling room and consideration given to a system of water catchment combined with improved drainage in the upper parts of the revolving structure. Every effort is being made to improve the pressure systems and further attempts will be made as soon as opportunity occurs to improve the mantlet weathering, but a certain amount of leaking is inevitable.

Was this not a similar problem that DoY had at North Cape and if so it is surprising that this was not altered?

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Re: More on KGV Class main armament problems

Post by alecsandros » Wed May 29, 2019 8:23 pm

paul.mercer wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 8:09 pm
Was this not a similar problem that DoY had at North Cape and if so it is surprising that this was not altered?
I don't think the turrets could be made water proof, no matter how much they tried. All navies had trouble with that.

Prince of Wales was attacking head on, and had much trouble coming from geometry of the attack in itself.

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Re: More on KGV Class main armament problems

Post by paul.mercer » Wed May 29, 2019 8:34 pm

Thanks again alecsandros,
It must have bee bloody miserable for those poor chaps in the forward shell rooms.

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Re: More on KGV Class main armament problems

Post by dunmunro » Wed May 29, 2019 8:37 pm

paul.mercer wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 8:09 pm
Gentlemen,
Re this post by alecsandros:
Throughout the engagement the conditions in "A" shell handling room were very bad; water was pouring down from the upper part of the mounting. Only one drain is fitted and became choked; with the result that water accumulated and washed from side to side as the ship rolled. The streams above and floods below drenched the machinery and caused discomfort to the personnel. More drains should be fitted in the shell handling room and consideration given to a system of water catchment combined with improved drainage in the upper parts of the revolving structure. Every effort is being made to improve the pressure systems and further attempts will be made as soon as opportunity occurs to improve the mantlet weathering, but a certain amount of leaking is inevitable.

Was this not a similar problem that DoY had at North Cape and if so it is surprising that this was not altered?
AFAIK, no KGV class and no WW2 RN battleship had a turret incapacitated through adverse weather flooding, and that includes DoY pursuing Scharnhorst at North Cape.

Both S & G lost forward turret function through sea water flooding on several occasions and the USN had problems in this regard as well:

http://www.researcheratlarge.com/Ships/ ... amage.html (see paragraph 4)

The RN engineered their turrets to function when wet.

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Re: More on KGV Class main armament problems

Post by wadinga » Thu May 30, 2019 9:18 am

Fellow Contributors,

Although Alecsandros has attempted to present his own figures in a different form, it is based IMHO on serious misapprehensions.

We can not compare that to Prinz Eugen on a per shell basis, because the battleship and cruiser used different shells, in terms of weight, guns, etc. (You would need about 7 x 203mm shells to equal the weight of 1 x 356mm shell).
Is this meant to mean that heavier shells mean large guns are intrinsically less efficient and more likely to break down? A firing cycle is a firing cycle, and if PG drops to 85% in 150 shells/firing cycles it is far more reliable than PoW who reaches the same state in only 41 shells/firing cycles, or in the morning 75% in 55 shells/firing cycles.

Does this:
What is put forward usually - the 75% output obtained by PoW during first action - which is not a bad output anyway - was obtained in a given context.
Mean that he has at last abandoned support for A & A's assertion (cowardly Leach panics) and accepts that in the "given context" of being alone against two effectively firing apparently undamaged ships, one of which supposedly almost hit him personally only 50 seconds after destroying Hood Leach's decision to withdraw temporarily was a good one?

The attempt to equate PG's state of readiness with PoW is invalid, she had plenty of preparation time in the Baltic, quite likely many crew members had combat experience coming from the sunken ships of the Norwegian Campaign, and the 1942 firing example equally holds no water. PG had been nailed to the dock by the RAF for nearly a year so she had less recent seatime and operational experience than in 1941.

All the best

wadinga
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Alberto Virtuani
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Re: More on KGV Class main armament problems

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Thu May 30, 2019 10:00 am

Hello everybody,
"if PG drops to 85% in 150 shells/firing cycles it is far more reliable than PoW...."
It is 10% less reliable in the same situation, not "far"...

Re. speculations about PoW failures increase during the battle: B turret "power" problem was solved and Y3 gun was back in action, thus no drop in output during the engagement (excluding the A1 gun that represented basically a constant 10% loss of output out of a total 25%).


Bye, Alberto
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Re: More on KGV Class main armament problems

Post by alecsandros » Thu May 30, 2019 10:04 am

@Wading
I'm writing this from my cell phne, in the hospital.

The percentage of misfires for Prinz Eugen can't be plotted on the time axis because there are no data for that. The KTB says one turret missed 13 consecutive salvos, indicating some sort of a jam or other mechanical problem. Other 2 turrets missed one salvo each, and the fourth turret had one gun that missed several shots.

Whle the 13 salvos are not placed on the time axis, we can assume a time segment of 6 to 7 minutes (or at least 4 to 5 minutes if 3 salvos per minute are considered for a certain time segment) (again based on PG's KTB), or half of combat time, in which tat turret was not operational.

This shows that 157 of 184 is not a cumulated error . The drop in output manifested long before the end of combat.

Further to this, having 93% vs 85% output is a fact , as well as the crew's 9 months more knowledge of the ship .

'Combat training' in the Baltic , caused or brought to light a long stream of problems , that were still unresolved in May 1941.

---

A battleship firing 41 heavy shots of 48 ordered is a good output (85%).

IIRC 85 to 90 percent efficiency is what RN gunnery practice for battleships obtained in 1938 and 1939 for Rodney and QE classes (Rodney was around 85 and QE around 90), during TRIALS.

Equalling trial output in a real combat is a good account, IMHO.

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Re: More on KGV Class main armament problems

Post by alecsandros » Thu May 30, 2019 10:08 am

@Wadinga
while not thining Capt Leach was a coward, I do not consider his decision to disengage as a 'good' one.
A better option would have been steadiyng at 20km from the enemy and pounding away with his 5 working heavy guns.
But with the info he possesed at 6:00, that's what he thought was best for the ship (and crew).
My opinion.

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Re: More on KGV Class main armament problems

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Thu May 30, 2019 10:32 am

Alecsandros wrote: "a better option would have been steadiyng at 20km from the enemy and pounding away with his 5 working heavy guns"
Hi Alec,
I fully agree on the tactic you suggest.

Re. the number of available guns what you say is correct in case we accept that the shell ring would have jammed even in case of a "smooth" turn to port to open range instead of as a result of the hard turn to disengage....

In case the smooth turn would not have caused the problem (generated by the heavy roll of the ship), PoW would have had 8 or 9 working guns (depending on the time needed to recover Y2) to engage Bismarck from a more convenient distance.


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

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Re: More on KGV Class main armament problems

Post by alecsandros » Thu May 30, 2019 12:33 pm

Alberto Virtuani wrote:
Thu May 30, 2019 10:32 am
Hi Alec,
I fully agree on the tactic you suggest.

Re. the number of available guns what you say is correct in case we accept that the shell ring would have jammed even in case of a "smooth" turn to port to open range instead of as a result of the hard turn to disengage....

In case the smooth turn would not have caused the problem (generated by the heavy roll of the ship), PoW would have had 8 or 9 working guns (depending on the time needed to recover Y2) to engage Bismarck from a more convenient distance.


Bye, Alberto
Absolutely agree.

More to this, a steadying out of Prince of Wales, and exchange of salvoes, would probably cause Norfolk and Suffolk to open fire as well.

But we've been in this discussion before. All in all, after the loss of the Hood, the British squdron lost the initiative, and the officers in command took very prudent measures.

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Re: More on KGV Class main armament problems

Post by HMSVF » Thu May 30, 2019 12:50 pm

alecsandros wrote:
Thu May 30, 2019 10:08 am
@Wadinga
while not thining Capt Leach was a coward, I do not consider his decision to disengage as a 'good' one.
A better option would have been steadiyng at 20km from the enemy and pounding away with his 5 working heavy guns.
But with the info he possesed at 6:00, that's what he thought was best for the ship (and crew).
My opinion.

Alec,

Hope you are ok !? Look after yourself.

With the benefit of hindsight, your thoughts do make sense. I would say that you deal with hand you are given at the time in the circumstances you perceive. We have the benefit of being able to look back and say “of course if they had only done x,y,z things would have been different” (however we don’t know whether they would have been better or worse as that enters the world of theory and opinion).

With our 78 years of hindsight could we have done better in a simulation. I would hope so

Was Leach a coward? I don’t think so. I think he was in a participant in an action where if it could go wrong,it did.
Having been in quite a few positions where life/death decisions are made over the years I can tell you that it’s never like it is in training or simulations.


Get better soon


Hmsvf

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Re: More on KGV Class main armament problems

Post by alecsandros » Thu May 30, 2019 2:36 pm

It's a difficult situation to observe,
but don't make it hindsight please.
Capt. Leach was there under orders. Was he under orders to disengage after loss of Hood ?
Who was second in command after Holland was gone ? Did Capt. Leach receive orders to disengage from the second in command or not ?

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Re: More on KGV Class main armament problems

Post by HMSVF » Thu May 30, 2019 5:00 pm

alecsandros wrote:
Thu May 30, 2019 2:36 pm
It's a difficult situation to observe,
but don't make it hindsight please.
Capt. Leach was there under orders. Was he under orders to disengage after loss of Hood ?
Who was second in command after Holland was gone ? Did Capt. Leach receive orders to disengage from the second in command or not ?
We don’t know whether standing off and entering 20 km exchange would have been better. We cannot know because it never occurred. It may have gone better, it may not. Would it depend on Lutjens playing ball? Would he wish to fight a prolonged action? Would he stick to his strategic goals? We cannot know. If not hindsight? Speculation?

The dead have no reply. We don’t really know what was going through Leach’s mind on 24/5/19 and due to his death 7 months later we have very little to go on. His son saw him briefly in Singapore prior to his death of Kuantan where apparently they talked about the progress of the war and the threat of Japan. Whether Henry Leach had and kept correspondence from his father ? Who knows. I would expect that the censor would have had to be busy if he had written down the level of detail wanted on here.


I have no problem with maps being re charted and times being altered by seconds or minutes. If what I have understood from Mr Jurens that this is in this case exceptionally difficult if at all possible and that the best that might be achieved is a level of probability (apologies to Mr Jurens if I have misunderstood). Regardless, it shows a lot of work and dedication.

Where I do find it concerning is when you have a jump from historical reconstruction of resources that may not have been reviewed or available prior... To cowardice.


Personally I think you have to be 100% sure before you call somebody a coward.I very much doubt that when McMullen (however “furious” he was at the time) thought that he was a coward. I don’t think Henry Leach when commenting on the aftermath would be entirely happy with his words being construed as evidence of his fathers cowardice. I suspect both would be mortified at the thought that there accounts would be used in such a way. If a person thinks that is not the case then they certainly don’t understand the British.

A couple of years ago I read on here that there was nothing wrong with the guns of POW. We know seem to have moved along to an acknowledgement that this was, but this was a known problem with the KGV class ( though I’ll never understand why the RN could build a perfectly good twin mounting but not a triple or quad. I believe that it took 10 years to iron out The Nelson class issues to a point where they were considered reliable). We have seen official DNC documents stating the issues being dismissed in favour of a report written by the manufacturer. One is apparently “valid” the other apparently not. Why is this is the case? What is the motive behind it? The truth ? Who’s truth? Pro British or Pro German. The proposed thesis IMHO is certainly in the latter camp.

There seems to be an idea that the British see Denmark Strait as anything else but a disaster. I don’t think that anybody has ever claimed that it wasn’t. What has been vigorously debated is the thesis that has been pushed forward as fact, when in actuality it’s interpretation. You see it day in day on here. You could can see a document that states that there was no problem with the “hydraulic actuating thingumajig” but neglects to point out that there was with the “electrical conducting thingymewotsit”.

You say tomato I say tomato. On and on it goes.






I would put best wishes but I suspect I’m just wasting my time...

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Re: More on KGV Class main armament problems

Post by alecsandros » Thu May 30, 2019 5:32 pm

HMSVF wrote:
Thu May 30, 2019 5:00 pm
We don’t know whether standing off and entering 20 km exchange would have been better.
It is not about working better, it's about doing the correct thing according to tactical situation and orders. As it was, Leach was simply extremely lucky that day, firstly by not being killed on the spot by a shell that killed 9 other officers on the bridge, and secondly because the enemy had to reduce speed to 22, later to 16kts (later to 12kts) in order to effectuate emergency repairs, offering invaluable time for PoW to re-approach, and for Victorious to close to attack range.

With the information available to Leach at 6:00 ( enemy undamaged , steaming at 28kts South, while Prince of WAles was damaged and steaming at 27kts East), the enemy was simply left to roam the central Atlantic - as with the parameters then existing (Tovey at 400nm East , steaming at 27kts), there was simply no interception possible .

The dead have no reply. We don’t really know what was going through Leach’s mind on 24/5/19 and due to his death 7 months later we have very little to go on. His son saw him briefly in Singapore prior to his death of Kuantan where apparently they talked about the progress of the war and the threat of Japan. Whether Henry Leach had and kept correspondence from his father ? Who knows. I would expect that the censor would have had to be busy if he had written down the level of detail wanted on here.
Leach gave ample explanation in his report to Tovey, quoting firstly "teething troubles" on his main artillery, but we now know that , during the second action, Prince of WAles was outputting at the same efficiency as Prinz Eugen was. There were no teething troubles to be blamed, or not blamed too harshly: the geometry and water poruing into turret A caused substantial problems.
A couple of years ago I read on here that there was nothing wrong with the guns of POW. We know seem to have moved along to an acknowledgement that this was, but this was a known problem with the KGV class ( though I’ll never understand why the RN could build a perfectly good twin mounting but not a triple or quad. I believe that it took 10 years to iron out The Nelson class issues to a point where they were considered reliable). We have seen official DNC documents stating the issues being dismissed in favour of a report written by the manufacturer. One is apparently “valid” the other apparently not. Why is this is the case? What is the motive behind it? The truth ? Who’s truth? Pro British or Pro German. The proposed thesis IMHO is certainly in the latter camp.
All ships had problems with their guns.

Bismarck had substantial problems with her main artillery, as described in AVKS/March-April 1941. Where they checked by mid-May ? We do not know. Prinz Eugen outputted at 85%. Hood clearly shot badly.

In other places, contemporary battleships outputted between 80 to 90% efficiency, and that includes trials.

So no, Prince of Wales wasn't far off from "normal" operting output, and if someone reads carefully her GAR of May 24th, one finds 85% efficiency for second engagement, AND a clear phrase indicating that , due to the huge efforts put up by the crew, only minor errors occured during firings and operations.

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