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USN gunnery performance at Empress Augusta Bay.

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by USS Washington, Apr 20, 2015.

  1. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Perhaps so, but the pictures I saw showed the Nitto Maru in relatively calms seas. A destroyer could've been sent to rake it with smaller guns before wasting 900 shells on it. Of course if you look at it as such, the incident did reveal that the gunnery skills on the Nashville was lacking did indeed need to be honed a bit before seeing other action in the PTO. Well, we won the war anyway, so all is well.
     
  2. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    Well said! :salute:
     
  3. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Small point, the destroyers were left behind with the oilers, and the carriers made the final run in screened only by two cruisers each. Still it does seem that Nashville could have closed in and made sure of her shots rather than firing off about 1/3 of her 6" ammo.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    She likely opened fire ASAP and closed as she fired. The hope was to destroy the vessel or at least her radio before she signalled that she spotted the USN vessels. As it was I believe I read that she got a message off.
     
  5. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Not from what I gather. AFAIK, the Nitto Maru had already started transmitting before the Nashville opened up. The range is usually given as 9,000 yards, when the first spotting salvos were fired, with Nashville eventually closing to 4,500 yards. The Nashville was also firing in rough seas, as the little Nitto Maru often disappeared from view as she went into the troughs of waves. The problem of sinking the unarmored Nitto Maru was also compounded by the fact that the USS Nashville was only carrying 6-inch armor piercing rounds and no HE rounds(which would have been far more effective against such a target). The action lasted from 0750 hours when the commence firing order was given, until 0823 hours when the Nitto Maru sank.
     
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  6. Takao

    Takao Ace

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  7. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    At the battle of the Sibuyan sea on October 24th '44, it seemed that during the air attack on Kurita's center force most of our strike aircraft focused on the battleship Musashi(absorbing 20 torpedoes, 17 bombs, and 18 near-misses before going down), while the rest of the Japanese task force escaped with some damage. I feel that, just as better fire distribution would have helped us get more hits on Omori's ships at Empress Augusta, distributing some of the ordnance that went to Musashi on the rest of center force might have inflicted more damage on them, given the number of aircraft we threw at Kurita, he should have got hammered worse than historically.
     
  8. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    At the time, the Yamato class was a mostly unknown quantity, so there was no way for the Americans to know how much it would take to sink one of these monsters. Still, the did find out, and learned a valuable lesson. For when it came the Yamato's turn, the American's focused their torpedo attacks on her port side. Thus, the Yamato sank with roughly half of the torpedo hits necessary to sink Musashi.
     
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  9. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    That is true, and since Yamato and Musashi were such large targets of opportunity, I guess you would expect the pilots to pile on them, that being said, there was still the other battleships and cruisers that should have got hit harder.
     
  10. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    You know I recall a thread on NavSource hypothesizing cancelling the Iowa-class Battleships in favor of the Alaskas, well later in the thread some members were suggesting that radar-directed fire control may not have been as big of an advantage as always believed, citing that we should have done better at Tassafaronga and Kolombangara as a result, though they didn't seem to take in account the tactics that the USN used in those battles as well as our inexperience in using radar, and after the discussion in this thread, I also suspect that maybe over-concentrating our fire on the first target detected may have also been a contributing factor as well, giving the other Japanese ships time to mount a counter-attack. Anyone else's thoughts on this?
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    There was a tendency to concentrate fire on the biggest or brightest target. Subs and DDs used radar for torpedo launches and didn't seam to have this problem although the subs would have been alone for the most part. Iowa's shooting vs Nowaki IMO shows the true value of radar controled guns though. Nowaki may have gotten out unscathed but for some possible splinter damage but most of the salvo's would have hit a battleship in her position and she was using every trick in the book to evade especially as she had no hope of returning fire given that the range was in excess of 35,000 yards. New Jersey didn't do quite as well from what I recall so training and skill were clearly factors. The problem may have been that the admiral really didn't have direct access to the radar plot and someone to interpret it for him. Ideally he would have designated different targets for each of the ships.

    Wiki does say this about the battle as well:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Empress_Augusta_Bay
    So if they are maneuvering to avoid both torpedoes and flares that could affect their fire control as well. There's also an open question as to how many hits they actually got. Given that the IJN CL sank who was counting? Remember that at one point it was thought that Kirishima may have only been hit 9 times by Washingtons main battery while latter analysis indicates it was likely hit over 20 times. Likewise it was often stated that SoDak was only hit by one battleship caliber round where later analysis indicates it was likely at least 3.
     
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  12. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Yes, that is true, but look at the big picture. The first three strike waves against the Musashi have not visibly effected her much. Although, she is down by the bow, her list has been corrected, and the battleship is still steaming at 20 knots. You also have to remember that not all of the many aircraft attacked Musashi, but various other ships as well. Even after the 5th wave, Musashi is still making 16 knots, although damage control efforts will soon reduce this to the low teens.

    Looking at the battle with decades of hindsight, it is easy to say that they should have done this, or should have done that. But, I can only imagine what the pilots of the fifth wave thought as they watched the Musashi steam ahead appearing to have suffered only light on medium damage.


    Sorry for th elate response...Missed this the first time around.
     
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  13. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    Sorry, sometimes I tend to neglect the wider scope of things, I meant no disrespect to those pilots, they were certainly giving their all in that battle and they inflicted damage upon center force, I just feel the overall results didn't do them justice.

    I agree, hindsight does tend to influence the the way we see things that happened a long time ago. Those pilots must have been baffled and frustrated at seeing the Musashi still afloat and underway on her own power despite the punishment they inflicted on her.

    No problem, I should've quoted your post when I replied, as you would've been notified.
     
  14. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    Well said lwd, sometimes I don't understand how some people come to conclusions such as the effectiveness of radar-fire control being overrated, there are often other factors that cause battles to go the way they do.
     
  15. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Most probably base their case on the many early night surface battles when the US had not yet refined radar to the degree that they attained later in the war. As these battles show, Command & Control was more of a factor in the success or failure in battle than was radar fire control.

    For instance, how many times have we been over the USN fault of all ships concentrating on the largest radar blip...
     
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  16. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    Yes true, the first night action off Guadalcanal(Nov.13th-14th) in particular was arguably command & control at its worse for the USN.

    Almost to the point of ad nauseam. :p
     
  17. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    When did admirals start relying on radar for their view of the battle rather than personal observation from the bridge? That's a pretty significant step. I suspect the carrier admirals were in the lead in this regard due to the arial battles often taking place well out of sight.
     
  18. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    Admiral Lee at second Guadalcanal(Nov.14th-15th)? I believe he was one of the main proponents of radar, so I suspect he would have fully relied on it.
     
  19. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    IIRC, he was quite favorable to the use of radar, helped quite a bit by Washington's excellent gunnery division. Unfortunately, for him and Washington, Bureau of Ships had decided that the best place for the Washington's new SG radar was on it's foremast, just underneath the sky control station - which created an 80-degree blind spot aft. The gun boss, Harvey Walsh, and Captain Davis pleaded their case, but to no avail(later it would be moved to the top of the foremast, so that it had a clear 360-degree range). This misplacement would lead to Ching's confusion as to the location of South Dakota at Guadalcanal and was the reason she delayed opening fire on Kirishima for several minutes.

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    Well that was a foolish decision on the Bureau of Ships, had they mounted the Washington's radar set in a better spot, SoDak might have been spared a few minutes of hell. Just curious, what date was that picture taken?
     

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