Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

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Gary
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Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by Gary » Sun Dec 27, 2009 12:05 pm

Hi to all.

We all know of HMAS Sydneys fateful engagement with Kormoran at very short range.
This is maybe me clutching at straws but do you think a Zara or a New Orleans class would have survived if they had been in Sydneys place?
Let us assume that the Italian/American Captain makes the same error that Sydneys did and closes in.
Could a Zara or a New Orleans have lived to tell the tale in those circumstances?

The Japanese couldnt seem to kill the San Francisco with heavier ordanance - LOL

Opinions please
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by Bgile » Mon Dec 28, 2009 3:05 pm

I don't know very much about Italian cruisers, but New Orleans' turret faces probably couldn't have been penetrated by Kormoran's shells. There might have been three turrets shooting back in local control instead of just one, and 260 lb shells instead of 100 lb shells. New Orleans also had a 5" secondary battery which would have been hard to put completely out of action because there were four guns in each side of the ship. I don't know how the light guns compared ... this depends on when it occurs.

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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by RF » Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:28 am

The decisive factors in the destruction of Sydney were that Kormoran fired first at point blank range, those first few shots took out the bridge and gunnery control, and that the Sydney was also torpedoed (the ultimate cause of the ship eventually sinking). Essentially the Sydneys' command function was degraded instantly so that it couldn't fight back effectively. As Sydneys' guns had also been trained off target there was hardly any chance of a fightback at all. The vulnerability of the Kormoran was shown in that it took only one shell hit to cause the loss of that ship.

In the same situation I could imagine Zara being blown out of the water. New Orleans had enough firepower to quickly dispose of Kormoran, which had 300 mines on board and thus extremely vulnerable to return fire. The engagement between Pinguin and Cornwall would have had a closer resemblance there.

There nearly was an opportunity for an American cruiser to approach a hilfskreuzer, when Michel sighted Trenton at extreme range in the South Pacific during August 1943. The American ships' radar was picked up by the Germans and Captain Norton in the Trenton recorded the radar trace in the ships log but didn't explain why it wasn't investigated. Had Trenton, which obviously wasn't suspicous at the presence of a supposed merchant ship, closed to take a look at Michel, well almost anything could have happened......
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Gary
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by Gary » Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:09 pm

I could imagine Zara being blown out of the water

I dunno.....

Zara was rather well protected for her size and the armour was well distributed.
I think the only area where New Orleans beats Zara for armour is the turrets.

The vulnerability of the Kormoran was shown in that it took only one shell hit to cause the loss of that ship

Exactly, either ship can still doom Kormoran.

The torpedo hit on Sydney was somewhere just forward of A turret, I suppose the question should be asked as to how well Zara/New Orleans would have withstood a hit in such a location.

Intresting to note that Historically, Captain Detmers recieved the Knights Cross, the XO and gunnery officer both recieved an Iron cross 1st class whilst the remainder of the crew all got the 2nd class with the noteable exception of the sailor who was manning the starboard 37mm gun, he was awarded a 1st class.
Anyone know what the 37mm gun sailor did to deserve the extra award? :think:
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Gary
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by Gary » Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:33 pm

Hi RF, Bgile and anyone else intrested

Heres a CGI "re-construction" with some input from a serving RAN officer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQwDAeoD-40
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by Bgile » Tue Dec 29, 2009 2:38 pm

RF wrote:The decisive factors in the destruction of Sydney were that Kormoran fired first at point blank range, those first few shots took out the bridge and gunnery control, and that the Sydney was also torpedoed (the ultimate cause of the ship eventually sinking). Essentially the Sydneys' command function was degraded instantly so that it couldn't fight back effectively. As Sydneys' guns had also been trained off target there was hardly any chance of a fightback at all. The vulnerability of the Kormoran was shown in that it took only one shell hit to cause the loss of that ship.

In the same situation I could imagine Zara being blown out of the water. New Orleans had enough firepower to quickly dispose of Kormoran, which had 300 mines on board and thus extremely vulnerable to return fire. The engagement between Pinguin and Cornwall would have had a closer resemblance there.

There nearly was an opportunity for an American cruiser to approach a hilfskreuzer, when Michel sighted Trenton at extreme range in the South Pacific during August 1943. The American ships' radar was picked up by the Germans and Captain Norton in the Trenton recorded the radar trace in the ships log but didn't explain why it wasn't investigated. Had Trenton, which obviously wasn't suspicous at the presence of a supposed merchant ship, closed to take a look at Michel, well almost anything could have happened......
As I understand it, Sydney's guns were pointed directly at Kormoran but elevated slightly to shoot over her. That is why there were holes in the front of the turrets and not the sides. I believe Cornwall also had only very thin turret armor. Obviously a larger ship would be able to absorb one torpedo hit better in general.

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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by lwd » Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:51 pm

On the other hand my understanding is that a second torpedo just missed forward so a larger ship might potentially take a second torpedo.

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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by Bgile » Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:16 pm

lwd wrote:On the other hand my understanding is that a second torpedo just missed forward so a larger ship might potentially take a second torpedo.
Well, the torpedo that hit her did so in the bow.

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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by dunmunro » Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:28 am

Gary wrote:Hi to all.

We all know of HMAS Sydneys fateful engagement with Kormoran at very short range.
This is maybe me clutching at straws but do you think a Zara or a New Orleans class would have survived if they had been in Sydneys place?
Let us assume that the Italian/American Captain makes the same error that Sydneys did and closes in.
Could a Zara or a New Orleans have lived to tell the tale in those circumstances?

The Japanese couldnt seem to kill the San Francisco with heavier ordanance - LOL

Opinions please
Kormoran's 5.9" guns did not have AP ammo. They did have based fuzed HE, which had a limited ability to penetrate armour but which could not penetrate Sydney's 4" belt armour even at the very close range at which the engagement was fought. I would suspect that any cruiser with 3" or better turret armour would have been able to destroy Kormoran very quickly even if taken by surprise as per Sydney.

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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by RF » Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:10 am

Bgile wrote:
As I understand it, Sydney's guns were pointed directly at Kormoran but elevated slightly to shoot over her.
Detmers account is clear - the only reply salvo from Sydney was a wide.

The turrets were trained on Kormoran at a slight offset obviously to bracket the ship. So the holes in the frontplate of turret B as shown in the photographs of the wreck are consistent with this.
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by RF » Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:14 am

Gary wrote:
Exactly, either ship can still doom Kormoran.
A merchant ship could have sunk Kormoran with its stern gun - as the Benarty nearly did with Pinguin, except that the British gunner failed to insert the fuse.....
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by RF » Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:17 am

Gary wrote: Anyone know what the 37mm gun sailor did to deserve the extra award?
He manned the ex-Heer 37 mm gun that had AP ammunition. His orders were to target Sydney's bridge and gunnery control, effectively destroying the Australian cruisers command function.
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by hammy » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:17 pm

There is still a bit of confusion about the protection offered by the "turrets" in British cruisers .
They are better described with the term "Gunhouses" , as actually , these were mostly there to keep the crews out of the weather and wind and spray , and to protect the works from the elements .
If there was weight to spare , then they were made "splinterproof" , but there was little effort or spare displacement to make them Armoured as such .

Action at Jutland with HMS Chester demonstrates the perils of "splinters" to crewmen .
One of two light cruisers , modified "Town" designs building for Greece or Turkey , (I forget which) and taken over in 1914 , these were armed with the new 5.5 inch gun made by Coventry Ordanance Co ( later fitted to Hood ) which in their first export guise had a curved shield which did not protect the legs and feet of the guncrews , who accordingly suffered many casualties from fragments of steel flying about .
( among them 16 year old John Cornwell , mortally wounded but remained at his post , whom the Boy Scouts V C is named after)

If you look at the pictures of Exeter after her bout with Graf Spee , or HMS Orion after she was bombed during the evacuation of Crete you can see clearly the lightweight nature of these structures .

The armour belt in Sidney , as standard in British Light cruisers was a strip protecting the fore and aft magazines and all else between them , higher in the waist to shield the propulsion machinery . The only other protection was a dab over the steering gear and a bit of splinter protection around the control positions and bridge .
Sydney's captains big mistake was to get into close range , where the German gunners could hardly miss , even with a popgun like the ex-army 37mm .
Court martial , had he lived .

As regards Zara or New Orleans , as Heavy cruisers , armoured accordingly , then they would prove far harder to destroy , but you could do damage to a battleship if she is silly enough to come close to you and lay there gawping and not fully prepared for a fight .
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Gary
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by Gary » Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:29 pm

I believe Cornwall also had only very thin turret armor

None of the British 8 inch cruisers were wonderfully armoured
The 6 inched Edinburghs were the best of the bunch

The Cornwall/Pinguin action started when Pinguin suprised the British with a burst of 5.9 inch shellfire, one of which burst into a pantry.
That normally wouldnt have been too big of a deal for a ship such as Cornwall except that the main electric cable passed through there and it was damaged by sharpnel.
The electricians managed to get it working again pretty quick (no doubt with the Captain screaming at them to hurry the hell up :lol: )
With power restored, the superior 8 inchers roared to life and planted Pinguin with a salvo that busted into her Mine storage compartment.
BOOM, that was the end of the Pinguin
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Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by yellowtail3 » Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:47 pm

A New Orleans prob would have fared better, being a much more powerful ship. As others have pointed out... three armored turrets, better armor generally. The secondary of 5"/25cal was quick-firing, could be trained manually.

And a New Orleans was tough; here's one minus a bow, and another that survived having her forward magazine detonate, after they cut loose all the debris:
Image

Image
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