Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
tnemelckram
Member
Posts: 101
Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:45 am

Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by tnemelckram » Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:31 am

Hi RF and All!
An 8 inch gun cruiser - Detmers loses? Well if it was HMS Australia with Burnett in command, identical scenario, what do you think? Bigger target = better chance of both of Kormoran's torpedoes hitting......
I admit that my statement about if you change anything (such as heavy cruiser instead) was a sort of zen-based thing. In other words, Detmers skillfully wrung about all the luck he was going to get out of a situation that was so delicately balanced that if you change one thing then Detmers just has to run out of luck!

Although I agree with you and others who say that the pre-war US heavy cruisers would have clearly been best, I'll take a stab at how a County Class might have also been enough to change the balance. I didn't research this very well but perhaps it's some food for thought and things worth a closer look.

1. The recent Sydney Report notes that among the defects in Sydney was concentration and exposure of the all the communications wires etc, in unarmored tubes. It appears that Komoran's first salvo took full advantage of this and operationally killed Sydney. Perhaps Counties had better protection for these things or disbursed it better.

2. I did see that the Counties' bridge platforms where the command, control and communications were centered (including the leadership's living brains) had thicker armor than the Leanders (not much, I think maybe 1 and 1/2 inch vs. 3/4 inch). Off the top of my head it appears neither can be said capable of stopping a 6 inch round. But one is still measurably better than the other, and may have provided enough additional protection to leave something intact or somebody alive and make a crucial difference in the amount of CCC remaining after the first salvo.

3. The CCC spaces on the Counties' bridges looks to be considerably larger and would require the first salvo to destroy, and kill people all over, an appreciably larger area to totally disable CCC.

4. As to the torpedo damage, perhaps the Counties were better subdivided or otherwise more able to take the blow and still float. Not only tat, but the key seems to be the disabling of the CCC on the first salvo, not the torpedo hit, given that Sydney continued to float afterward and could have fought and maybe even survived if CCC was not disabled first.

5. But it sure looks like there was no difference in the weak turret armor between the two classes.

If I'm going to argue appreciable differences, I have no choice but to agree that that the greater bridge armor on the New Orleans class really would certainly make a difference! It certainly would offer a real increase in CCC protection against 6 inch shells.

You said you have your own thoughts on what happened and I'd like to offer a few of my own to kick around. Some might seem far-fetched but Sherlock Holmes said that when you rule out the probable what remains must be considered no matter how improbable. Note that Nos. 1 and 3 fall on the side of tending to absolve Burnett, except for the strict liability that comes with the doctrine of general command responsibility.

1. Burnett suddenly takes ill during the chase, and before the approach becomes so close. The XO is in his battle station in the rear secondary control and unable to effectively and timely take hold of the reins. So command suddenly and at the worst time falls on number three whose battle station is on the bridge vice Burnett, and who also happens to be an idiot.

2. Burnett and the rest of the command staff on the bridge are so busy arguing about which of the competing paths to follow (seize prize, assume it's a raider, make sure it's not friendly) that they loose track of what they are actually doing. The Sydney report discusses the conflict between these goals and the resulting inconsistency on the operational orders and doctrine for such situations. Burnett prior to taking command had a desk job that involved him directly in these matters and perhaps he knew too much and saw too many choices instead of one clear route. I can't recall what the report said about prize money and perhaps this wasn't a possibility, but if it was, then perhaps this potential financial interest would cloud judgment.

3. Some critical CCC component fails at the worst possible time, just before Sydney passes the point of no return. A critical positioning or firing order is not transmitted from the bridge.

4. A mutiny! (Now I'm really stretching it)

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

Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by RF » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:54 am

I don't think that a mutiny, officers being idiots or Burnett being taken ill at the critical moment are credible explanations.

As I have said, on the evidence available on the chronology and content of the signals from Sydney to Kormoran, which offer the only clues as to the line of thought as Sydney approached Kormoran, suggests Burnett believed at first he was dealing with a Dutch ship. Only on close approach did he become suspicious - too late.
Now nobody I am aware of has critically cross-examined this line of evidence in an attempt to bebunk it. Certainly not the enquiry. I wonder why?
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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

Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by RF » Wed Jan 20, 2010 9:11 am

tnemelckram wrote:
....but Sherlock Holmes said that when you rule out the probable what remains must be considered no matter how improbable.
But this is not the Hound of the Baskervilles or some murder mystery dreamed up by an author into umpteen convulutions to spice up the suspense.

This is a straightforward naval action involving the loss of a ship which should not have happened. It is very easy to make explanation far more complicated than it actually is. Evidence is available to account for the close approach of Sydney. The evidence of the signal communications referred to in my previous post. The fact that other Allied warships in WW2 approached disguised German ships to ranges of up to 500 yards on several occassions, some of these close encounters came after the loss of Sydney. These close encounters happened because none of the senior officers involved were suspicious of the German vessels, their disguise was accepted without even proper challenge. What surprises me is not that Sydney was sunk, but that this didn't happen to these other Allied ships as well - and it would have done if the German ships so encountered were hilfskreuzer instead of lightly armed or unarmed blockade runners.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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

Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by RF » Wed Jan 20, 2010 9:24 am

tnemelckram wrote:
1. The recent Sydney Report notes that among the defects in Sydney was concentration and exposure of the all the communications wires etc, in unarmored tubes. It appears that Komoran's first salvo took full advantage of this and operationally killed Sydney. Perhaps Counties had better protection for these things or disbursed it better.

2. I did see that the Counties' bridge platforms where the command, control and communications were centered (including the leadership's living brains) had thicker armor than the Leanders (not much, I think maybe 1 and 1/2 inch vs. 3/4 inch). Off the top of my head it appears neither can be said capable of stopping a 6 inch round. But one is still measurably better than the other, and may have provided enough additional protection to leave something intact or somebody alive and make a crucial difference in the amount of CCC remaining after the first salvo.

3. The CCC spaces on the Counties' bridges looks to be considerably larger and would require the first salvo to destroy, and kill people all over, an appreciably larger area to totally disable CCC.

4. As to the torpedo damage, perhaps the Counties were better subdivided or otherwise more able to take the blow and still float. Not only tat, but the key seems to be the disabling of the CCC on the first salvo, not the torpedo hit, given that Sydney continued to float afterward and could have fought and maybe even survived if CCC was not disabled first.

5. But it sure looks like there was no difference in the weak turret armor between the two classes.
What you have to look at are the effects not just of a first salvo, but the effect of sustained rapid fire from a variety of guns, not just 5.9 inch shells but anti-tank guns with AP rounds, cannon and heavy machine guns, with the concommitant blast, shrapnel, flames and smoke as well as the direct hits.
Do these other class of warship offer better protection from sustained assault at point blank range, where their main armament guns are trained off target? Remember that it took eight Kormoran main armament salvoes - not one - before Sydney's turrets C and D were able to return fire directly at Kormoran.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by Bgile » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:09 pm

There were no "anti-tank guns" on Kormoran, and as far as I know, the only AP shells were a limited few for the 5.9" guns.

I don't know why Sydney's after turrets took so long to hit Kormoran. She was a point blank range. They were aimed almost directly at that ship. That is why there are holes in the face plates of turrets.

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by lwd » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:12 pm

Bgile wrote:There were no "anti-tank guns" on Kormoran, and as far as I know, the only AP shells were a limited few for the 5.9" guns.....
AA guns and AT guns are pretty much the same. I've seen some postings that indicate she had some AP rounds for at least one 37mm gun. IE AT ammo.

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by Bgile » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:39 pm

lwd wrote:
Bgile wrote:There were no "anti-tank guns" on Kormoran, and as far as I know, the only AP shells were a limited few for the 5.9" guns.....
AA guns and AT guns are pretty much the same. I've seen some postings that indicate she had some AP rounds for at least one 37mm gun. IE AT ammo.
No, they are not. They have similar ballistics, but as far as I know, there were no AP rounds for the 3.7 cm/L83 SK C/30 used in German naval vessels. In any case, they wouldn't have done much against the armored portions of even Sydney. My readings of the battle make no mention of such ammunition, unless I've missed something you can point out to me. I'd be happy to be corrected, but I don't see what effect it would have had. Quite the contrary, since it's less effective against most anything except tanks at a few hundred meters.

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by lwd » Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:52 pm

http://www.bismarck-class.dk/hilfskreuzer/kormoran.html
lists
1 x 75mm (Removed) 1 x Twin 37mm Flak, 2 x 37mm Army Anti-Tank guns, 5 x 20mm Flak

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by Bgile » Wed Jan 20, 2010 9:31 pm

lwd wrote:http://www.bismarck-class.dk/hilfskreuzer/kormoran.html
lists
1 x 75mm (Removed) 1 x Twin 37mm Flak, 2 x 37mm Army Anti-Tank guns, 5 x 20mm Flak
OH, MY! I plead ignorance!

tnemelckram
Member
Posts: 101
Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:45 am

Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by tnemelckram » Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:52 pm

Hi RF and All!

Sydney is a fascinating although tragic subject because the lack of survivors from her gives rise to a probably insoluble mystery. I'm replying to two of RF's able and knowledgeable points.

1.
"What you have to look at are the effects not just of a first salvo, but the effect of sustained rapid fire from a variety of guns . . . ."
RF, I'm not sure I agree. I think the 2009 report expressly finds that the first salvo hit the two level bridge, instantly incapacitating the entire command staff, destroying all CCC there, including the gun director on top, taking with it the ability to steer and maneuver the ship, the ability for the ship to fight effectively at all, and to coordinate or even undertake damage control. That report also says that one of the defects previously noted in Sydney was that without director control, the alternatives of group or local main battery control were meaningless and ineffective and in fact practically never used. The secondaries and torpedoes would also be beyond effective control and probably effective use at that point. If it does not say so expressly, this is the entire thrust of the report - the first salvo decided Sydney's fate; Sydney's subsequent hits on Komoran were lucky and made despite these overwhelming problems with the weapons used.

So I think that any comparison of how a County would have fared has to center on what effect the first salvo of 4-6 6 inch shells to the bridge would have had on the County. No doubt it would be ugly, but would it be as ugly as what happened to Sydney? Given that Sydney was still afloat, and that another of the defects noted was the exposure of the communications and other control lines from the bridge in unarmored spaces, the more precise question would be what effect would it have on subsequent damage control?

2.
"I don't think that a mutiny, officers being idiots or Burnett being taken ill at the critical moment are credible explanations.

As I have said, on the evidence available on the chronology and content of the signals from Sydney to Kormoran, which offer the only clues as to the line of thought as Sydney approached Kormoran, suggests Burnett believed at first he was dealing with a Dutch ship. Only on close approach did he become suspicious - too late."
I'm in total agreement here with RF. This is the most likely and most sound explanation. And I'll cheerfully withdraw my three alternative explanations that RF listed.

But that leaves my fourth alternative - that some critical CCC component failed at the worst possible time, just before Sydney passes the point of no return. For example, at the critical 10,000 yard range juncture, Burnett gives an order to heave to or otherwise move the ship as needed to maintain both that range and the pursuit. At this worst possible moment, some part of the steering mechanism fails and Sydney keeps charging straight ahead at full pursuit speed through 10,000 yards. It takes a while to assess the situation and by the time that is done the range is say 6,000. In the meantime Detmers (who we can all agree was nobody's fool that day) realizes that his only way out first requires closing the range as much as possible and then giving Sydney a "big surprise", so he stops to give Sydney every opportunity to get as close as possible while it looks like he is meekly complying and stopping. At 6,000 yards Burnett finally gets a full report on the steering malfunction, realizes that the only way to keep the range at a maximum is to stop engines. He orders this, Sydney's engines are stopped, but Komoran is already stopped, and Sydney's momentum causes it to drift to within the fateful and crucial 1,500 yard range anyway. At this point we can pick up with Detmer's version of what happened.

This explanation is less likely that yours. But it's not all that far fetched when you consider that yours includes a Burnett screw-up of such a magnitude that it is also rather hard to accept. IIRC The 2009 Report notes that it is hard to believe that Burnett would make such a mistake but like you (and I), has to settle on some Burnett screw up as the most likely explanation.

I think the Report also shares with you and I a reluctance to reach a conclusion that calls Burnett's competence into question when the most viable explanation at hand unfortunately requires just that. All I'm trying to do is propose something that although less likely, would also be plausible and not so damning to Burnett. Just to make us all feel a little better if nothing else!

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by Bgile » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:25 am

San Francisco was involved in an exchange with IJN Hiei at the first battle of Guadalcanal and took many hits from the latter. Her bridge was hit, the captain killed, and she continued to reply in kind.

I really doubt Kormoran is going to do any better than Hiei did.

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by lwd » Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:19 pm

Bgile wrote:
lwd wrote:http://www.bismarck-class.dk/hilfskreuzer/kormoran.html
lists
1 x 75mm (Removed) 1 x Twin 37mm Flak, 2 x 37mm Army Anti-Tank guns, 5 x 20mm Flak
OH, MY! I plead ignorance!
to be fair other sites give other armament. This is the most detailed I've found so I tend to favor it but wouldn't be too surprised if it were not correct.

User avatar
Gary
Senior Member
Posts: 706
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:37 pm
Location: Northumberland

Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by Gary » Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:33 pm

I think Hiei was using AP ammo on San Francisco, so they probably passed right through the ship before exploding.

I dont think the Kormoran had any AP 5.9inch shells, I think they would have all been HE?
I really cant see a County class faring much better than Sydney, I think you'd need a much better armoured ship (Zara or San Francisco) to survive such a mauling.
God created the world in 6 days.........and on the 7th day he built the Scharnhorst

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by Bgile » Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:55 pm

Gary wrote:I think Hiei was using AP ammo on San Francisco, so they probably passed right through the ship before exploding.

I dont think the Kormoran had any AP 5.9inch shells, I think they would have all been HE?
I really cant see a County class faring much better than Sydney, I think you'd need a much better armoured ship (Zara or San Francisco) to survive such a mauling.
Hiei was using 14" bombardment ammunition against San Francisco. She also hit her a number of times with her secondary battery, which I believe was 6". The 6" battery would have used whatever ammunition they thought was appropriate for a CA target. There was quite a bit of fragmentation damage to the ship in any case. San Francisco was very heavily damaged, but not taken out of action.

Kormoran had a few 5.9" AP shells, and those were what was used to penetrate Sydney's 1" turret face armor. They seem to have failed to penetrate her belt armor, which I believe was 4".
I don't think Sydney's belt armor was penetrated at all, but it was hit a number of times.

tnemelckram
Member
Posts: 101
Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:45 am

Re: Swap Sydney with Zara or New Orleans

Post by tnemelckram » Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:56 am

Hi All!

I just watched an Australian account about the search for and finding of the Sydney on YouTube. This is a serious matter for those who lost family and for that nation and n not an appropriate place for shoddy scholarship, including my own. I just re-read the 2009 Inquiry report and Kormoran,p according to Detmers, maintained 15 knots throughout while Sydney approached at 30 knots. My above hypothetical assumes that Komortan stopped and is invalid. As corrected it should read as follows:

But that leaves my fourth alternative - that some critical CCC component failed at the worst possible time, just before Sydney passes the point of no return. For example, at the critical 10,000 yard range juncture, Burnett gives an order to heave to or otherwise move the ship as needed to maintain both that range and the pursuit. At this worst possible moment, some part of the steering mechanism fails and Sydney keeps charging straight ahead at full pursuit speed through 10,000 yards. It takes a while to assess the situation and by the time that is done the range is say 6,000. In the meantime Detmers (who we can all agree was nobody's fool that day) realizes that his only way out first requires closing the range as much as possible and then giving Sydney a "big surprise". (BEGIN EDIT) He realizes that Sydney is going twice his speed, 30 vs. his 15 knots, and will soon close on Komoran. He gives Sydney every opportunity to get as close as possible while he looks like he is meekly fumbling around trying to complying with Sydney's signals (END EDIT). At (BEGIN EDIT) 5,000 yards (END EDIT) Burnett finally gets a full report on the steering malfunction, realizes that the only way to keep the range at a maximum is to stop engines. He orders this, Sydney's engines are stopped, but Komoran is (BEGIN EDIT only going half as fast (END EDIT) so Sydney's momentum causes it to drift to within the fateful and crucial 1,500 yard range anyway. At this point we can pick up with Detmer's version of what happened.

Post Reply