USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

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Dave Saxton
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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Dave Saxton » Mon Feb 24, 2014 1:03 am

Visual observation was not very good, see points O and P in the Reccomendations section of the action report. A few of the times that they were able to see the effect of fire on target they reported seeing "main battery projectiles exploding." Now this is odd considering the MB was firing AP.
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.

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Byron Angel » Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:05 am

Dave Saxton wrote:Visual observation was not very good, see points O and P in the Reccomendations section of the action report. A few of the times that they were able to see the effect of fire on target they reported seeing "main battery projectiles exploding." Now this is odd considering the MB was firing AP.

..... Dave, the gunnery officer reported excellent results spotting fall of shot both short and long via range-finder. He also reported that Kirishima was successfully optically tracked for deflection purposes throughout the engagement. Based upon that, I don't think that it makes sense to say that gun flashes and the offhand use of binoculars from the director tower means that "visual observation was not very good". Perhaps visual observation wasn't PERFECT, but it was quite satisfactory from the point of view of the gunnery officer's report.

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Rick Rather
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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Rick Rather » Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:15 am

For how much of the engagement was Kirishima illuminated by searchlights?
Was this during the time Washington was firing main battery at her?
To what extent did searchlights & star-shells provide illumination that was (for practical purposes of optical ranging & tracking) comparable to daylight conditions?
Did South Dakota engage Kirishima with main battery?
:?:
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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by alecsandros » Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:30 am

Byron Angel wrote:
The aggregate results 14/45, 14.50 and 16/45 main batteries in the Advanced Day Battle Practices of 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940 and 1941 gave an accuracy score of19.3 pct. Considering the inclusion of the 14in results, this correlates very closely to the prediction for 15,000 yards. 27 pct hits under actual battle conditions at 8,500 yards is easily within reasonable parameters.
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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by alecsandros » Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:33 am

Steve Crandell wrote: Frankly I don't know how they would actually spot a 16" AP hit. There would be a small impact flash where it went through armor, but I don't see why they would see any flash from a burst since they would have been behind armor. This is something that confuses me about trying to spot AP shell hits.
They counted the number of water columns around the target. If they fired 3 guns and saw 3 columns, they would consider none of the shells hit. IF they would see 2 water columns, they would consider 1 hit (if it wasn't a misfire of course). This was standard procedure for all major navies of the time.

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by pgollin » Mon Feb 24, 2014 7:49 am

.

It is entirely pointless to compare WW2 training/exercise firing rates and accuracy with real life.

.

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Byron Angel » Mon Feb 24, 2014 12:40 pm

alecsandros wrote:
Byron Angel wrote: The aggregate results 14/45, 14.50 and 16/45 main batteries in the Advanced Day Battle Practices of 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940 and 1941 gave an accuracy score of19.3 pct. Considering the inclusion of the 14in results, this correlates very closely to the prediction for 15,000 yards. 27 pct hits under actual battle conditions at 8,500 yards is easily within reasonable parameters.
From your chart -
2.65 minutes x 9 guns x 0.50 hpgpm ( 8,000 yds) = 11.9 hits
2.75 minutes x 9 guns x 0.30 hpgpm (10,000 yds) = 7.4 hits
Total 19.3 hits

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Byron Angel » Mon Feb 24, 2014 12:41 pm

pgollin wrote:.

It is entirely pointless to compare WW2 training/exercise firing rates and accuracy with real life.

.

Well ..... except when the engagement conditions actually parallel a training shoot, which I would argue was the case here.

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Steve Crandell » Mon Feb 24, 2014 1:37 pm

pgollin wrote:.

It is entirely pointless to compare WW2 training/exercise firing rates and accuracy with real life.

.
The USN rate of fire might have been slower in actual combat before WWII, when ranges were artificially short, but as the war progressed shoot ranges got a lot longer.

There are all sorts of examples of ships achieving higher firing rates in actual combat that they did in training. There are also examples of ship that achieved the same accuracy.

If you achieve a straddle, shell placement in the straddle will be the same as it was in training. It's a matter of probability. You are more likely to achieve a first round straddle in actual combat if you trained to do that.

Also, training shoots were often used, not surprisingly, to train people. For example, USN ships fired fewer shells per salvo in training because it was cheaper that way. That often resulted in guns in succeeding salvos being at different temperatures. In actual combat they tended to fire full salvos. They also simulated casualties to fire control equipment during the shoot. They often rotated inexperienced personnel into positions on succeeding salvos. For these reasons, they would often do better in actual combat than in training.

It is common knowledge that if a ship does well in training and fleet competition (like Renown) that she will also tend to shoot better than other ships in actual combat.

Rates of fire in actual combat were often higher than in training. Again due to the training process slowing things down and the need to economize in training.

So no, it's not pointless to compare the two.

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by alecsandros » Mon Feb 24, 2014 1:43 pm

Byron Angel wrote:
alecsandros wrote:
Byron Angel wrote: The aggregate results 14/45, 14.50 and 16/45 main batteries in the Advanced Day Battle Practices of 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940 and 1941 gave an accuracy score of19.3 pct. Considering the inclusion of the 14in results, this correlates very closely to the prediction for 15,000 yards. 27 pct hits under actual battle conditions at 8,500 yards is easily within reasonable parameters.
From your chart -
2.65 minutes x 9 guns x 0.50 hpgpm ( 8,000 yds) = 11.9 hits
2.75 minutes x 9 guns x 0.30 hpgpm (10,000 yds) = 7.4 hits
Total 19.3 hits

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The important mention to make is that we do not know the spgpm figure of the night firings. Most likely it was higher than the one achieved by the USS Washington in the real battle.

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Steve Crandell » Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:20 pm

alecsandros wrote:The important mention to make is that we do not know the spgpm figure of the night firings. Most likely it was higher than the one achieved by the USS Washington in the real battle.
Why? In training they often fire more slowly than in actual combat.

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by alecsandros » Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:35 pm

Steve Crandell wrote:
alecsandros wrote:The important mention to make is that we do not know the spgpm figure of the night firings. Most likely it was higher than the one achieved by the USS Washington in the real battle.
Why? In training they often fire more slowly than in actual combat.
Concentration firing meant all ships were firing at maximum possible rof, with each ship output, spmpg and hpmpg being measured and compared to her consorts. Nominal rof for the triple turrets of 16" was 2 spmpg. Washington delivered 1.35 spmpg.

In trials conditions, the " average ' for continous rapif firing was 2,5 spmpg ( averagr for all the heavy guns of the ship ), at close range.

Note that the 22 hits claim is above average trial results and also implies each 3-gun salvo had 1 hit which is pretty difficult for Washingtoms spotters to fail to observe ( especialy as the kirishima was illuminated eith starshell)

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Steve Crandell » Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:56 pm

alecsandros wrote:Concentration firing meant all ships were firing at maximum possible rof, with each ship output, spmpg and hpmpg being measured and compared to her consorts.
I think you are referring to exercises during WWI, where the targets were very close, and they were scored primarily for rate of fire. This didn't happen in WWII. The fleet was never able to conduct practice shoots together and practice was usually carried out by one ship by herself. In any case, the old (WWI style) practice was proven to be almost meaningless in actual combat so it was discontinued.

Where did you get Washington's spmpg? How was it calculated? Was the check fire in the middle counted? That seems very slow to me. West Virginia, with a slower firing cycle, fired 12 full salvos in 8 minutes at Surigao Strait. That is 1.5 salvos per minute, and most of them were 7 or 8 guns, meaning they waited for the slowest gun on the ship. It's hard to believe Washington would fire so slowly in that situation, but stranger things have happened.

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by alecsandros » Mon Feb 24, 2014 4:12 pm

No, that was the way trials were conducted in the 30s and 40s.
75 shots / 5.5 minutes / 9 guns = 1.51 spmpg ordered, and probably 67 actualy fired.

More specifically, from Washington's action report:

In the second phase target had been tracked by radar ranges and bearing and later by optical train. Fire was opened at 8,400 yards and a hit was probably obtained on first Salvo and certainly on the second. Fire was rapid, on one turret ready light, for about 2 minutes 39 seconds, firing about 39 rounds. It was interrupted for 1 1/2 minutes due to an erroneous report that target was sunk, and resumed for 2 minutes and 45 seconds, during which time 36 rounds were fired. A total of 75 rounds was fired on this target which was believed to be the KIRISHIMA. Star shell illumination was used on this phase after about the second salvo, 62 rounds being fired.

According to the best data available, overall SPGPM was 1.30 and 5 guns had 1.8 average. Fire discipline was excellent.
Last edited by alecsandros on Mon Feb 24, 2014 4:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: USS South Dakota at Guadalcanal

Post by Dave Saxton » Mon Feb 24, 2014 4:44 pm

Another interesting thing about the action report is the level of training reported for Washington's gunnery crews. Only one night gunnery drill had ever been conducted and that was 10 months previous. The last time any gunnery drill had been conducted was 6 months previous.
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.

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