Naval Firepower - Battleship Guns and Gunnery in the Dreadnaught Era, Norman Friedman

Naval Firepower - Battleship Guns and Gunnery in the Dreadnaught Era, Norman Friedman


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Naval Firepower - Battleship Guns and Gunnery in the Dreadnaught Era, Norman Friedman

Naval Firepower - Battleship Guns and Gunnery in the Dreadnaught Era, Norman Friedman

Battleship gunnery was one of the most complex problems faced by every navy during the era of the big gun battleship. In order to make effective use of the powerful guns on their ships the gunnery officers had to be able to hit one moving target from another moving target at ever increasing ranges, and when both ships could be manoeuvring. In order to achieve this it was necessary to accurately measure the speed, distance and direction of movement of the target ship, the speed and movement of the firing ship and then predict where the target ship might be by the time the shell arrived. At extreme range a shell could be in the air for more than a minute and a half, so the target ship could move a significant different and make dramatic changes of course.

Over the course of the half-century covered in this book the technology of fire controlled dramatically increased in complexity. Range finders appeared early, as did devices to calculate the rate of change in distance and bearing. By the First World War warships contained some of the most complex mechanical calculating machines yet developed and by the Second World War they contained some of the most advanced mechanical computers. Despite attempts to increase the level of automation involved the control rooms required large numbers of staff, many of them highly skilled.

Friedman has thus taken on a rather difficult task - attempting to explain in an understandable way the development of some of the most advanced technology of the first half of the Twentieth Century - and to a great extent he succeeds. On occasion I had to re-read a section to make sure I had understood the concepts being explained, but that is only to be expected when examining such a complex topic. Friedman explains the principles behind the problems and the technology developed to solve them, thankfully without going into any mathematical detail. The explanations are supported by simple diagrams, while the accounts of the technology are supported by plans showing the layout of the individual machines and later of the complex control rooms that held them.

It quickly becomes clear that gunnery control was one of the most important aspects of warship design in the big-gun era. Without the machines being described here long range gunnery would have been almost impossible, and the limits of the various solutions in use at different times had a major impact on naval tactics. This is a fascinating account of a complex but crucial aspect of naval warfare during the two world wars, and will be of great value to anyone interested in that subject.

Chapters
1 - The Gunnery Problem
2 - Range-keeping
3 - Shooting and Hitting
4 - Tactics 1904-14
5 - The Surprises of War 1914-18
6 - Between the Wars
7 - The Second World War
8 - The German Navy
9 - The US Navy
10 - The US Navy at War
11 - The Imperial Japanese Navy
12 - The French Navy
13 - The Italian Navy
14 - The Russian and Soviet Navies
Appendix - Propellants, Guns, Shells and Armour

Author: Norman Friedman
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 320
Publisher: Seaforth
Year: 2013 edition of 2008 original



ISBN 13: 9781591145554

Norman Friedman

This specific ISBN edition is currently not available.

For more than a half a century the big gun was the arbiter of naval power, but it was useless if it could not hit the target fast and hard enough to prevent the enemy doing the same. Because the naval gun platform was itself in motion, finding a 'firing solution' was a significant problem made all the more difficult when gun sizes increased and fighting ranges lengthened and seemingly minor issues like wind velocity had to be factored in. This heavily illustrated book outlines for the first time in layman's terms the complex subject of fire-control equipment and electro-mechanical computing.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

NORMAN FRIEDMAN, a prominent American naval analyst, is the author of more than thirty major books, including the new fifth edition of The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems.


Naval Firepower: Battleship Guns And Gunnery In The Dreadnought Era

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Contents

New York was the first of two planned New York-class battleships, though construction on her began after her sister, Texas. She was ordered in fiscal year 1911 as the first class of battleship in the United States Navy to carry the 14-inch/45-caliber gun. [3] [4]

She had a standard displacement of 27,000 long tons (27,000 t) and a full-load displacement of 28,367 long tons (28,822 t). She was 573 ft (175 m) in length overall, 565 ft (172 m) at the waterline, and had a beam of 95 ft 6 in (29.11 m) and a draft of 28 ft 6 in (8.69 m). [2]

She was powered by 14 Babcock & Wilcox boilers driving two dual-acting vertical triple expansion reciprocating steam engines, with 28,000 shp (21,000 kW), with a maximum speed of 21 kn (39 km/h 24 mph). She had a range of 7,060 nautical miles (13,080 km 8,120 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h 12 mph). [2]

Armor on New York consisted of a belt from 10 to 12 in (250 to 300 mm) thick. Her lower casemate had between 9 and 11 in (230 and 280 mm) of armor, and her upper casemate had 6 in (150 mm) of armor. Deck armor was 2 in (51 mm) thick, and turret armor was 14 in (360 mm) on the face, 4 in (100 mm) on the top, 2 inches on the sides, and 8 in (200 mm) on the rear. Armor on her barbettes was between 10 and 12 inches. Her conning tower was protected by 12 inches of armor, with 4 inches of armor on its top. [2]

Her armament consisted of ten 14-inch/45-caliber guns which could be elevated to 15 degrees, and arrayed in five double mounts designated, from bow to stern, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. The class was the last to feature a turret mounted amidships. [5] [6] As built, she also carried twenty-one 5-inch (127 mm)/51-caliber guns, primarily for defense against destroyers and torpedo boats. The 5-inch guns were poor in accuracy in rough seas due to the open casemates mounted in the hull, so the 5-inch armament was reduced to 16 guns in 1918 by removal of the least useful positions near the ends of the ship. [7] The ship was not designed with anti-aircraft (AA) defense in mind, but two 3-inch (76 mm)/50 caliber AA guns were added in 1918. [5] [8] She also had four 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, 1 each on the port side bow and stern and starboard bow and stern, for the Bliss-Leavitt Mark 3 torpedo. The torpedo rooms held 12 torpedoes total, plus 12 naval defense mines. [9] Her crew consisted of 1,042 officers and enlisted men. [2]

New York was laid down on 11 September 1911, in New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn. [10] The New York class was constructed under new labor laws that limited the working hours of her construction crews. It was also stipulated that each ship cost less than $6,000,000, excluding cost of armor and armament. [11] She was launched on 30 October 1912, and commissioned on 15 May 1914. [2] The fifth ship to be named for New York State, she was sponsored by Elsie Calder, the daughter of New York politician William M. Calder. [10] [12] The fourth New York, an armored cruiser, was renamed Rochester, to free the name for this battleship, [13] and was later scuttled in Subic Bay in 1941. However, the wreck site for that ship, which has become a popular recreational dive site, is still commonly referred to as USS New York. [14]

Under the command of Captain Thomas S. Rodgers, [10] New York headed straight for Veracruz following its commissioning. [2] She was designated flagship for Rear Admiral Frank Friday Fletcher in July 1914, commanding the fleet occupying and blockading Veracruz to prevent arms shipments from arriving there to support the government of Victoriano Huerta. The United States occupation of Veracruz ultimately ended and New York resumed her shakedown cruise along the East Coast of the United States. [12] She also undertook several goodwill duties, and in December 1915 she held a high-profile Christmas party and dinner for several hundred orphans from New York City, at the suggestion of her crew. It later became a tradition on the ship to help the underprivileged when possible, earning it the nickname "Christmas Ship." Following this duty, she undertook a number of training exercises off the Atlantic coast. [15]

World War I Edit

Following the United States' entry into World War I, New York, under the command of Captain Edward L. Beach, Sr., became flagship of Battleship Division 9 (BatDiv 9), commanded by Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman. [16] She was sent to reinforce the British Grand Fleet in the North Sea, arriving at Scapa Flow on 7 December 1917. The ships of the U.S. fleet were assigned to the 6th Battle Squadron in the Grand Fleet, the American ships joined in blockade and escort. [17] In December 1917, New York and the other U.S. battleships took part in several gunnery exercises. New York scored the highest score of the ships for her main battery, with an accuracy of 93.3 percent. [18] Ultimately the New York was the best performer in these exercises, the only ship rated as "excellent" while many of her sisters received mediocre performance reviews. [19]

She did not fire any shots in anger during the war, but does get credit for sinking an enemy vessel. During one of her escort missions, the convoy she was escorting came under two different attacks by German U-boats. [15] On the evening of 14 October 1918, as New York led a group of battleships into the Pentland Firth, she was rocked by a violent underwater collision on her starboard side, followed shortly after by another to the stern that broke off two blades on one of her propellers, reducing the ship to one engine and a speed of 12 kn (14 mph 22 km/h). It was immediately clear to the men on board that she had struck an underwater object, but the depth of the channel meant it could not have been a shipwreck. Commanders concluded that New York must have accidentally collided with a submerged U-boat. [20] They agreed that the submarine had rammed its bow into the ship's side, then been struck moments later by the ship's propeller. [21] In their opinion, the damage would have been fatal to the German craft. [22] Postwar examination of German records revealed that the submarine lost may have been UB-113 or UB-123. [23] This strange—and accidental—encounter marked the only time in all of Battleship Division Nine's service with the Grand Fleet that one of its ships sank a German vessel. [23]

Badly damaged by the loss of a propeller, the ship sailed to Rosyth under heavy escort for repairs on 15 October. At 01:00 the next morning, a U-boat launched three torpedoes at the damaged vessel, all of which passed ahead of her. [22] Unlike in previous cases, sufficient evidence existed to suppose that this torpedo attack was not a false alarm—a number of officers and men aboard New York clearly saw the wakes of the torpedoes in the full moonlight, and a submarine was spotted in the immediate vicinity by a patrol shortly after the attack. [23] [Note 1] Ironically, the battleship's wounded condition is possibly what saved her: although standard procedure was to steam at 16 kn (18 mph 30 km/h), New York could make only 12 kn (14 mph 22 km/h) on her one operable propeller. Due to this, historian Jerry Jones believes that the U-boat captain misjudged the ship's speed. With no further damage, however, the battleship arrived safely at a drydock in Rosyth. As she was lifted clear of the water, a large dent commensurate with a submarine bow was found in her hull. [23]

New York was also frequently host to foreign dignitaries, including King George V of the United Kingdom and the future Edward VIII, as well as then-prince Hirohito of the Empire of Japan. [17] The ship was of great interest to other European powers, as it was in many cases a first chance to see an American dreadnought up close. [15] She was on hand for the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet on 21 November 1918 in the Firth of Forth, several days after the signing of the Armistice, after which she returned to the United States briefly. [25] She then served as an escort for George Washington, carrying President Woodrow Wilson, on his trip from the United States to Brest, France en route to the Versailles Peace Conference. [25]

Interwar period Edit

Arriving back in the United States in 1919, she began to undertake training and patrol duties, including at one point to the Caribbean with a number of other U.S. ships. [25] During this year, she also saw a refit in Norfolk Navy Yard where five 5-inch guns were removed and three additional 3-inch/50 caliber AA guns were added, bringing the total to five. [26] The secondary battery was reduced to sixteen 5-inch/51 caliber guns. [27] In late 1919, she sailed to the Pacific Ocean and joined the newly formed United States Pacific Fleet. [17] She continued to conduct training and patrol duties in the Pacific until the mid-1930s when she was transferred again to the Atlantic, and began operating out of the North Atlantic, with the exception of several occasional trips to the West Coast of the United States. [25]

In 1926 New York was considered obsolete compared with other battleships in service, so she steamed to Norfolk Navy Yard for a complete refit. While several other battleships in service, including Utah and Florida were converted to training ships or scrapped, New York and Texas were chosen to be overhauled to increase their speed, armor, armament, and propulsion systems as allowed by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. [25] An additional 3,000 long tons (3,000 t) were added to her for defense against aerial targets and submarines. The number of 3-inch AA guns was increased to 8, and six of the 5-inch guns were relocated to new casemates on the main deck. The torpedo tubes were removed at this time. Her 14 Babcock & Wilcox coal-fired boilers were replaced with six Bureau Express oil-fired boilers and the twin funnels were trunked into one, aft of the forward superstructure. Tripods were fitted in place of lattice masts, and atop the forward tripod a control tower was installed. A tower was built amidships that contained additional fire control to backup the system on the foremast. A new aircraft catapult was installed atop turret Number 3, and cranes were installed on either side of the funnel for boat and aircraft handling. Additional deck protection was added, and her beam was widened to 106 ft (32 m). She was fitted with anti-torpedo bulges. However, these bulges made maneuvering harder at low speeds, she rolled badly, and her gunfire accuracy was reduced in rough seas. [26] On 4 September 1928, she left for short-range battle drills with Arizona, and from 7 to 10 November the ships traveled to San Francisco together with Pennsylvania. [28] On 3 April 1929 she undertook anti-aircraft practice with Arizona, and then the two ships and Pennsylvania steamed for Cuba, where they stayed until steaming for Hampton Roads on 1 May. [29]

She remained with the Pacific Fleet training as part of the series of Fleet Problems until 1937. That year she was selected to carry Admiral Hugh Rodman, the President's personal representative for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and New York took part in the Grand Naval Review of 20 May 1937 as sole U.S. Navy representative. [30] In 1937, eight 1.1-inch (28 mm)/75 caliber AA guns in two quadruple mounts were added to improve the light AA armament. New York was fitted with XAF radar in February 1938, including the first United States duplexer so a single antenna could both send and receive. [31] This made her the second ship to be outfitted with radar after the destroyer Leary. The tests conducted on New York led to similar radars being installed on the Brooklyn-class and St. Louis-class cruisers as well as newer battleship West Virginia. For several years, she served primarily as a training ship for midshipmen and newly enlisted sailors. [30]

In September 1939, New York joined the Neutrality Patrol, safeguarding sea lanes in the North Atlantic, and served as flagship with the Atlantic Squadron, later redesignated the United States Atlantic Fleet, for the next 27 months. [32] In July 1941, she protected a convoy of U.S. troops moving to garrison Iceland. [30] She was in the midst of a refit on 7 December 1941, when the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, sinking many of the battleships in the U.S. Pacific Fleet and bringing the United States into World War II. [33]

World War II Edit

With the outbreak of war, New York ' s overhaul was sped up and completed four weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She returned to duty escorting cargo and troop ships to Iceland and Scotland. She continued on patrol duty for the next year. [33] In her first series of escorts, she left Norfolk 15 February, arrived in New York 16 February, Nova Scotia 21 February, and Iceland 2 March, returning to Norfolk on 27 March. She left there on her second patrol 24 April and arrived at New York the next day, Nova Scotia 2 May, Newfoundland 5 May, and Iceland 10 May, returning to New York on 20 May. The next day she left for a third escort, arriving again at Nova Scotia on 2 June and Scotland on 10 June, returning to Norfolk on 30 June. [34] [35] Following these three escort missions, she put in for overhaul in Norfolk. The secondary battery was reduced to six 5-inch (127 mm) guns and the anti-aircraft armament was increased to ten 3-inch/50 caliber guns, 24 40 mm (1.6 in) Bofors guns in quadruple mounts, and 42 20 mm (0.79 in) Oerlikon cannons. [27] She departed Norfolk on 12 August and arrived the next day at New York. From there, she escorted a convoy to Nova Scotia where she remained until 22 August, then departed for Scotland where she was from 31 August to 5 September. She returned to Norfolk on 15 September. [36]

New York saw her first major action during Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942. She left Norfolk on 23 October in order to join the Allied fleet. [36] Attached to the Southern Attack Group, on 8 November, New York and the cruiser Philadelphia, screened by six destroyers, attacked Safi harbor in Morocco, supporting landings by the U.S. 9th Infantry Division's 47th Infantry Regiment, and defended the transports Cole and Bernadou which came under attack by 130-millimeter (5.1 in) shore batteries at Point De La Tour. [33] New York fired several salvoes with her 14-inch (360 mm) guns, with one of them striking the base of the battery and ricocheting into a bunker, destroying the range finder and killing the battery commander and neutralizing the battery. [35] Other shore batteries were destroyed by Philadelphia ' s guns and aircraft from escort carrier Santee. New York remained on station until the port was secure, then steamed north to support the Center Group off Fedhala and Casablanca, specifically to deal with the threat of the Vichy French battleship Jean Bart, but by the time she arrived, that battleship had been disabled by Massachusetts and other Vichy French ships had been driven off by Brooklyn and Augusta. New York remained on off the coast of North Africa until the beaches were secure, then retired on 14 November. [37] She had expended a total of sixty 14-inch (360 mm) rounds. [38] She returned to Norfolk on 23 November. [36] [35]

New York next returned to convoy patrol. [39] She escorted two convoys to Casablanca from the United States during late 1942, leaving Norfolk on 24 November and in New York from 25 November to 12 December, Casablanca from 24 to 29 December, and back in Norfolk on 12 January 1943. She left Norfolk on the second escort on 26 February, in New York from 27 February to 5 March, in Casablanca from 18 to 25 March, and back to New York from 5 April to 1 May. [36] In 1943 she was selected for a refit to become a main battery and escort training center. [37] She arrived in Portland, Maine on 2 May, where she remained until 27 July. [36] During her fourth and final refit in early 1943 her anti-aircraft battery was increased to ten 3-inch/50 caliber guns, forty 40 mm and thirty-six 20 mm guns. Improved fire control was added as well, and this ultimately increased her displacement to 29,340 long tons (29,810 t) standard and 34,000 long tons (35,000 t) full-load. [26] She returned to Norfolk on 2 August 1943. [36] She was used to train crews from the US Navy, US Coast Guard, and Allied navies on the 14-inch/45 caliber gun, the 3-inch/50 caliber gun, and the 20 mm and 40 mm guns, primarily because many newer ships used these weapons. Between July 1943 and June 1944 about 11,000 enlisted men and 750 officers trained on her in this capacity. [37] However, the duty lowered morale among the crew and a large number of requests for transfer were put in. [36] Following this duty, she was sent to the US Naval Academy and undertook three consecutive midshipmen cruises ferrying a total of 1,800 midshipmen from Annapolis to Trinidad [40] between June and August 1944. [41]

Pacific theater Edit

Selected to return to action in the Pacific Theater [42] in late 1944, she transited the Panama Canal on 27 November, and arrived in Long Beach, California on 9 December, breaking down at least once along the way and losing an observation plane in bad weather. [41] She conducted refresher training off Southern California in December 1944 and January 1945. New York departed 12 January and rendezvoused with Idaho, Tennessee, Nevada, Texas, and Arkansas, forming a support force for the invasion of Iwo Jima. New York lost a blade off her port screw just before the invasion began [40] and briefly put in for temporary repairs at Eniwetok from 5 to 7 February. She returned to the group, which was near Saipan, on 11 February. Together, they arrived at Iwo Jima on 16 February and began the pre-invasion bombardment. [41] During the three days of shore bombardment that followed, New York expended 6,417 rounds, including 1,037 14-inch rounds. One of her salvoes struck the primary ammunition dump on the island, causing "the most spectacular secondary explosion in the campaign." [40] She retired from the area on 19 February and arrived at Ulithi on 21 February. [41]

After a permanent repair to her port propeller at Manus from 28 February to 19 March, she rejoined Task Force 54 at Ulithi on 22 March [43] in preparation for the invasion of Okinawa. Joined by Maryland, Colorado, and West Virginia, the fleet of battleships began its bombardment of Okinawa on 27 March. [42] Providing shore bombardment, and later naval artillery support for ground forces, New York was on station for 76 consecutive days, during which she expended 4,159 rounds of 14-inch ammunition and 7,001 rounds of 5-inch ammunition. [40] [27] She was subjected to a kamikaze attack on 14 April which destroyed one spotting plane on its catapult, but the Japanese aircraft crashed 50 yd (46 m) from the ship and New York received only superficial damage, suffering two men injured. [38] She was detached on 11 June, her gun barrels having been worn out by fire, and proceeded to Pearl Harbor to have her guns relined in preparation for the invasion of mainland Japan. [44] She stopped by Leyte on 14 June and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 1 July. [43] She was in the harbor on 15 August, the end of the war. [44]

During World War II, New York spent 1,088 days with the Atlantic Fleet from December 1941 to November 1944, and 276 days with the Pacific Fleet. [38] She expended a total of 53,094 rounds of all types totaling 3,548.9 short tons (3,219.5 t), traveled 123,867 mi (199,345 km), spent 414 days underway, and consumed 22,367,996 US gal (84,672,080 l 18,625,253 imp gal) of fuel oil. [45]

Post-war Edit

Following the end of the war, New York entered the Operation Magic Carpet fleet, leaving Pearl Harbor on 2 September and arriving at San Pedro on 9 September with a load of veterans embarked. She then proceeded to New York City to take part in Navy Day celebrations. [43]

Selected as a test ship for Operation Crossroads, she was used in nuclear bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in July 1946 with about 70 other ships, surviving both the Able and Baker tests. Following these tests, she was towed to Pearl Harbor to study the effects of the bomb blasts on her. On 6 July 1948, she was towed out to sea and used as target practice, and was sunk by several naval aircraft and ships. [44]


Naval Firepower - Battleship Guns and Gunnery in the Dreadnaught Era, Norman Friedman - History

John Lambert was a renowned naval draftsman, whose plans were highly valued for their accuracy and detail by modelmakers and enthusiasts. By the time of his death in 2016 he’d produced over 850 sheets of drawings, many of which have never been published—until now.

The Royal Navy didn’t invent the submarine—but in 1914, Britain had the largest submarine fleet in the world, and at the end of World War I it had some of the largest and most unusual of all submarines—whose origins and designs are all detailed in this book. During the First World War they virtually closed the Baltic to German iron ore traffic, and blocked supplies to the Turkish army at Gallipoli. They were a major element in the North Sea battles, and fought the U-boat menace.

During World War II, US submarines were known for strangling Japan, but lesser known is the parallel battle by British submarines in the Mediterranean to strangle the German army in North Africa. Like their US counterparts, interwar British submarines were designed largely with the demands of a possible Pacific War, though that was not the war they fought. The author also shows how the demands of such a war, fought over vast distances, collided with interwar British Government attempts to limit costs. It says much about the ingenuity of British submarine designers that they met their requirements despite enormous pressure.

The author shows how evolving strategic and tactical requirements and evolving technology produced successive types of design. British submariners contributed much to the development of anti-submarine tactics and technology, beginning with largely unknown efforts before World War I. Between the wars, they exploited the new technology of sonar (Asdic), and as a result pioneered submarine silencing, with important advantages to the US Navy as it observed the British. They also pioneered the vital postwar use of submarines as anti-submarine weapons, sinking a U-boat while both were submerged. Heavily illustrated with photos and original plans and incorporating much original analysis, this book is ideal for naval historians and enthusiasts.


The British Battleship 1906-1946 Kindle Edition

Norman Friedman has once again produced a wonderful book, but you need either the two books by R.A.Burt on British Battleships, or the Oscar Parkes volume before you tackle this one ! It's not an easy read although the photos make it a delight to skim .
Friedman’s book is mainly a continuous narrative and does not always cover each ship or class individually but in context his theme is ”The British Battleship “ and not “British Battleships”. Individual ship alterations for example tend to be covered by very extensively captioned photos rather than tabulated detail.

Having said that, what do you get ?

A very fine selection of photographs, well reproduced on glossy paper, comprehensively and informatively captioned . Most are of a good size , although some of the smaller ones sometimes make it difficult to see the features that the caption points out . Most are uncredited. Many very familiar, but this is inevitable as they usually the best available. A large number are unusual detailed views and the captions explain much that is new to most of us, including me.

A good number of plans and diagrams. Many of these are something of a disappointment, being reproduced too small and, in some cases, printed far too light to be easily interpreted. As most of these are by the acknowledged masters, Dave Baker, Allan Raven , John Roberts and George Richardson, this is a pity. The cross-sections showing armour layout of each class by John Roberts are however excellent and printed to perfection.

A colour section in the middle of the book has a selection of “as fitted” Admiralty profiles, most as fold-outs. The two single page ones, with profiles presented vertically are frankly a waste, being too small to be of use . The two double page ones are a slight improvement
The two three page spreads are considerably better and are fairly easy to work with. These cover Princes Royal, Iron Duke, Repulse and Renown. The single four page spread of Valiant is literally breathtaking, a clear super-detailed masterpiece of the draughtsmans art, and the publishers efforts to get as near perfect a reproduction as possible . The National Maritime Museum have excelled themselves on this rendering of a huge ungainly original. A real joy !

An initial section on “Technology“ which covers the general development of : The Bridge , The Guns, Fire Control, Armour , Torpedoes , Underwater Protection and Fuel . This provides a good background to the chronological developmental chapters that follow

The main portion of the book is followed by: -
42 pages of Footnotes, each page being labeled with the exact pages to which they refer, a very welcome addition that makes life so much easier.
A Bibliograpy - mostly National Archives ADM series and Ships Covers references and a sprinkling of secondary sources
Tabulated details of Battleship data, concentrating on the various design stages of each ship or class, including abortives
A Chronological list of ships by class giving the basic dates of laying down, launch, completion (tricky this one) and decommissioning, and ultimate fate.

An index is provided. It conveniently differentiates between text, photos and plans for each ship's name but fails to provide references to many other things. For example the Chatham Float has several mentions in the text and a diagram, but no entry in the index. A photo caption on page 193 refers to "de-capping device covers". The only reference to "de-capping" in the index is under "Shells - decapping " and sends you to page 194 - which has no reference ! There is a full explanation of this device, in the book elsewhere but it takes some finding.
There are several errors in the ships references also. Improving the index would make this far more user-friendly as a reference book .

I’m delighted to find that Seaforth have abandoned the ultra small print that slightly marred their previous classic, David Hobbs “British Aircraft Carriers”.

As a first or sole choice, this should not be the book on British Battleships to buy.
But for everyone else, a great purchase with much new information and interpretation. Another Friedman classic, although not as controversial as his "Fighting the Great War at Sea "
Highly Recommended


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Like most of Norman Friedman's works this is a well researched and authoritative book which however is not for the technologically faint-hearted. The rapid development of a new technology such as aircraft and their weapons required a comprehensive rethink of gunnery and the complex problems a rapidly moving aircraft could cause in terms of aiming and shooting them down. Friedman goes through all this in detail with ample illustrations. I think what emerges is the destruction of fallacies such as conservative RN officers. etc because it is perfectly obvious that given the length of time for a weapons system to be developed and deployed, aircraft and their tactics were developing faster than anti-aircraft guns could be deployed. All navies to some extent were caught flat foot especially by dive bombing.

The answer turned out to be a layered defence of aircraft under radar guided fighter control as an outer layer and then various weapons medium and short range to take on those that got through. The development of this system and it associated combat information centres and directors is well described by Friedman. I must confess to having to stop and think and reread passages of text in order to work out exactly how it all worked.

So if you want a quick fix on WWII read some popular texts if you like me look forward to in depth technical histories ones that you will read and reread over the years this is a good book.

Norman Friedman's work needs no introduction and this fine book continues his high standards. However it must be said that being a narrative history rather than a catalogue of weapons and directors makes it a somewhat difficult task to use as a reference book.

The Royal Navy and the U S Navy are covered in full detail, but the Axis and other navies have less information. The post 1945 period is confined to 15 pages only.

The good points
- The photos and other illustrations are superbly reproduced and numerous. Gloss paper has helped. The drawings from official manuals are particularly useful.
- The extended captioning of the photos is extremely good.
- The general text information and the 68 pages of footnotes are superb and introduces subjects and detail never covered properly before. For example the concise coverage of the RN Rocket and UP weapons is the best I've seen. Also little gems such as the fact the USN was able to install more AA weapons on their ships than the RN in the Pacific due to a deliberate policy of using boats brought to forward bases specifically for warship use, rather than carrying them on each warship. The British used valuable deck space carrying bulky, heavy, boats
- The text size, although small, is larger than the previous Seaforth offering, Hobbs " British Aircraft Carriers ", a blessing to those of us with reluctant eyesight.

The bad points
- There is only one Appendix, Gun data, which is by no means complete.
I feel very strongly that the book would have been greatly improved if a full listing of directors could have been provided, with a small photo/drawing of each. This could have been referenced to the pages in the main text and enabled quick identification of items seen in photos in other books.
- The Index is slightly erratic in coverage .


The continued badhistory of Neil deGrasse Tyson: This time, it's the slightly esoteric field of WW1 naval fire control

It's the 8th of December 1914. The German East Asian Squadron, commanded by Admiral von Spee has just crossed the Pacific ocean, seeking to avoid the Allied control of the oceans, and return to Germany. They've defeated a British squadron under Admiral Craddock off Coronel in Chile, and are now approaching the Falkland Islands, hoping to destroy the British coaling station there. Unfortunately for them, the Falkland Islands are better defended then they think. A strong British squadron, including two battle cruisers, and commanded by the excellently named Doveton Sturdee, had arrived at Port Stanley the day before, having been despatched as a result of the defeat at Coronel. Von Spee retreats, but the faster and better-armed British battlecruisers are able to chase down and destroy his two armoured cruisers, while the remainder of the British squadron hunts his light cruisers. While doing so, the British battlecruisers fire off nearly their entire ammunition stocks, whilst scoring only a few hits. Why this terrible accuracy?

If you're Neil deGrasse Tyson, writing here for the Natural History Magazine, the answer is, at least in part, the Coriolis force:

But in 1914, from the annals of embarrassing military moments, there was a World War I naval battle between the English and the Germans near the Falklands Islands off Argentina (52 degrees south latitude). The English battle cruisers Invincible and Inflexible engaged the German war ships Gneisenau and Scharnhorst at a range of nearly ten miles. Among other gunnery problems encountered, the English forgot to reverse the direction of their Coriolis correction. Their tables had been calculated for northern hemisphere projectiles, so they missed their targets by even more than if no correction had been applied. They ultimately won the battle against the Germans with about sixty direct hits, but it was not before over a thousand missile shells had fallen in the ocean.

While this is a great story, it's quite inaccurate. Firstly, British battlecruiser gunnery at the Falklands was better than their accuracy in the Northern Hemisphere. I'm somewhat uncertain about deGrasse Tyson's numbers for hits - as her entire crew was lost, we don't have good hit estimates for Scharnhorst, but about 50 12in hits were scored on Gneisenau. It doesn't seem likely that only 10 hits were achieved on Scharnhorst, given reports of the destruction wreaked aboard her by the British ships, so the hit rate was likely closer to 75-100 hits for 1000+ shells fired. Even if we take deGrasse Tyson's 60 hits as a given, it's still a better hit rate than achieved in the North Sea. For example, at Dogger Bank, the British battlecruiser hit rate against their German counterparts was closer to 2%, compared to the 6% he claims for the Falklands. Even the Germans didn't do that much better at Dogger Bank - their hit rate was 3.5%. At Jutland the hit rate was closer to that claimed for the Falklands, roughly 5%. However, part of the reason for the poor accuracy in the North Sea battles was that they were fought at longer ranges than the Falklands, though this was somewhat compensated for by improved fire control equipment.

Secondly, the British didn't use pre-calculated tables to control their fire at the Falklands, as deGrasse Tyson seems to imply. The main British fire-control system of WW1 was called the Dreyer Table, but this wasn't a table of numbers. Instead, it was an early electro-mechanical computer, which took in a whole heap of inputs, including your speed and course, and that of your target, and spat out a firing solution. This was a quite primitive system, and didn't take into account the Coriolis force at all. However, any discussion of the Dreyer Table isn't really relevant to the Falklands. Neither British battlecruiser had a working Dreyer Table aboard. Instead, they used salvo firing to direct fire onto the target. This was a technique where the ship's armament was fired at the target sequentially. The fall of shot from the first shells to land were used to adjust the aim for the next guns to fire. If the shells fell short, the range would be increased. If they fell past the target, the range was reduced. Once the target was straddled - shells from the same salve fell over and short simultaneously - the ships would switch to full broadside fire. This technique basically ignores the Coriolis effect, which is a constant, systematic effect for ships steaming on a constant bearing (as they did at the Falklands). It's also worth remembering that the RN ships had been carrying out gunnery practice the day before the battle, from which any effect on gunnery from incorrect calculation of the Coriolis effect would have been noted and corrected for during the battle.

Finally, the other issues with gunnery absolutely dwarfed the Coriolis effect at the Falklands. Commander Dannreuther, the Gunnery Officer for Invincible, wrote in his report on the battle:

Primary Control from Fore Top was used throughout. At times the control was very difficult as we were firing down wind the whole time and the view from aloft was much interfered with by gun smoke and funnel smoke Range Finders were of little use and any form of range finder plotting was impossible owing to the difficulty of observation and high range. In fact as far as this particular action was concerned it would have made no difference if the ship had not had a single Range Finder or Dumaresq or any plotting outfit on board

During the latter part of the action with the Gneisenau (she) continually zig-zagged to try to avoid being hit, altering course every few minutes about two points either side of her normal course. This alteration of course could not be detected by Range Finder or by eye and continual spotting corrections were necessary. The rate being fairly high and changing every few minutes from opening to closing I found the only effective means was to keep the rate at zero and continually spot on the target. By this means we managed to hit her now and again.

The Falklands were, for the Royal Navy, proof that its peacetime assumptions about gunnery were completely false, and that its peacetime gunnery practices hadn't adequately prepared it for wartime engagements.The battle was fought at ranges far beyond what the RN expected to engage at, with British rangefinders proving insufficient for the task. Gunnery practice in peacetime was carried out at low speed. High speeds introduced serious gunnery problems. The vibrations from the ship's engines shook rangefinders, making them even less useful. The coal-fired ships produced serious amounts of smoke when steaming at top speed. Aboard Invincible, only her A turret had an uninterrupted view of the German ships, with the remainder of her turrets, and her foretop only catching intermittent glances. As Dannreuther notes, this had a significant effect on his ability to direct fire. The trailing Inflexible had even worse problems, as she had to deal not only with her own smoke, but that of Invincible. The British had assumed that, like them, the Germans would not zig-zag in order to obtain the best possible firing solution. As it happened, the Germans did take such evasive action, spoiling the British gunnery. In at least one case, shells missed completely because the spotters mistook the bow and stern of one of the German cruisers, causing shells to fall far behind her. All of these problems were so much bigger than the Coriolis effect at the battle - scatter due to the Coriolis effect was only

15-30m. These effects were causing scatters in the region of hundreds of meters.

Fighting the Great War at Sea: Strategy, Tactics and Technology, Norman Friedman, Seaforth, 2014

Naval Firepower: Battleship Guns and Gunnery in the Dreadnought Era, Norman Friedman, Seaforth, 2014

Castles of Steel, Robert K. Massie, Pimlico, 2005

The Great War at Sea: A Naval History of the First World War, Lawrence Sondhaus, Cambridge University Press, 2014

Dreadnought Gunnery and the Battle of Jutland: The Question of Fire Control, John Brooks, Routledge, 2005


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Comments:

  1. Saeger

    It's the scandal!

  2. Bayley

    In my opinion, he is wrong. I'm sure. Write to me in PM, speak.

  3. Tern

    Won't you give me the minute?



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