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Radar Directed Ship to Ship Gunfire


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#1 Slipdigit

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 02:24 PM

I understand that in daylight, capital ships, specifically battleships, identified their gunfire from other ships by dyes added to their ammunition. The spotters watched for splashes with "their" color to adjust their fire. This is all fine and dandy in daylight conditions, but how did it work at night?

Take, for instance, Surigao Strait. After Jess Oldendorf formed his battleships and crusiers across the entrance to the strait, how did the gunners distinguish their hits and misses from other the other ships, as they were using radar to direct their fire and radar doesn't "see" colors?

Five battleships fired and I don't know how many of the 8 cruisers did, but I suspect all them got off shots and all in the dark of night.

How did they know who's was who's?

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#2 lwd

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 02:49 PM

They clearly didn't all the time. At least one US DD was hit by friendly fire in that battle. Timing the fall of shot might give a clue and the size of the return might allow distinguishing between 8" and BB caliber splashes. Note the liberal use of "might".

#3 Jerome

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 07:28 PM

The whole idea does not sound terribly feasible to me; either the dye would have had to be incorporated into the shell at the factory level - a logistical nightmare I would think; or for the big guns, a bag of dye would have had to be loaded after the shell and before the powder - which would make some very pretty muzzle blasts!!
However, since I know squat about Naval Gunnery, I will ask my local expert next week and see what he says.

#4 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 09:34 PM

Both the US Mk 3 and Mk 8 FC radars have sufficent resolution in "Precision Sweep - Normal" mode to actually detect individual shell splashes. For an individual ship they can generally pick theirs out simply be observing which splashes appear parallel (or nearly so) to the display on the radar system. Splashes from other firing ships will follow a line that is at some angle to the display. The size of the echo gives a clue to the size of the round too.
The splashes themselves are distinguishable by their not being as bright a return as the target itself. A decent operator can distinguish as small a variance in splash position in the above mode of operation on a Mk 8 of +/- 2 or 3 mil in bearing and +/- 30 yards in range. A good operator could reduce this to +/- 1 mil (or about .005 degrees) in bearing and +/- 15 yards in range.

#5 Jerome

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 11:39 PM

Wow - had no idea the radar was that good

#6 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 12:45 AM

Unfortunately, I currently have no way to put up pictures out of Navpers 16116-B Naval Ordnance and Gunnery to show just how simple the radar picutes really are. The system is described in that manual in excrutiating detail.
I looked quickly to see if this book was posted on some site on the internet but apparently it isn't. Although, several book sites listed it as worth between $250 and $400. Apparent score for me!

#7 OpanaPointer

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 01:52 PM

Thomas J. Cutler's The Battle of Leyte Gulf, 23-28 October 1944 discusses the fire control issue at Suriago. In the pipeline we have the After Action Report for the desron that attack the Southern Force after the PTs went in.

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#8 Tiornu

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 02:39 PM

Gene Slover may have the NavPers volumes on his site:
GS-USN-PAGE
I don't recall instances of ship's confusing each other's radar-directed salvoes, but it was common to lose the target within the salvoes. That's where we get all those action reports about targets disappearing from the radar and presumably sinking.
I believe all the navies that used dyes had the packet inserted under the ballistic cap. The Japanese, Americans, British, and French all used dyes. The French included a small explosive to aid in night spotting.

#9 Slipdigit

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 03:16 PM

Thanks guys, I appreciate your info.

Best Regards,  
JW :slipdigit:

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#10 OpanaPointer

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 10:27 PM

Gene Slover may have the NavPers volumes on his site:
GS-USN-PAGE
I don't recall instances of ship's confusing each other's radar-directed salvoes, but it was common to lose the target within the salvoes. That's where we get all those action reports about targets disappearing from the radar and presumably sinking.
I believe all the navies that used dyes had the packet inserted under the ballistic cap. The Japanese, Americans, British, and French all used dyes. The French included a small explosive to aid in night spotting.

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors mentions the Japanese dye frequently, plus there is talk about the fire control problems the Japanese had at the Battle of Taffy 3. Very good read, BTW. The author uses a lot of first-person info and the After Action Reports. (The AARs for Taffy 3 are also in the pipeline for Hyperwar.)

"One of our King Tigers could take five of your Shermans, but you always had six of them."


WWII Resources. Primary sources.
The Myths of Pearl Harbor. Demythologizing the attack.
Hyperwar. Hypertext history of the Second World War.
Pearl Harbor Attack Message Board
Veteran: USN, 1969-1989

#11 Tiornu

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 11:20 PM

"They're shooting at us in Technicolor!"

#12 OpanaPointer

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 12:55 AM

"They're shooting at us in Technicolor!"

"Damn it, boys, they're getting away!"

"One of our King Tigers could take five of your Shermans, but you always had six of them."


WWII Resources. Primary sources.
The Myths of Pearl Harbor. Demythologizing the attack.
Hyperwar. Hypertext history of the Second World War.
Pearl Harbor Attack Message Board
Veteran: USN, 1969-1989

#13 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 03:31 AM

Here is an online picture of what the US late war fire control radar on larger (cruiser / battleship) ships would look like to the operator.

CHAPTER-20-G

Scroll down about two or three pages to see the displays. While those shown are for the later Mk 8 mod 3 and Mk 13 they are identical to the wartime Mk 8 system as far as the displays go.
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#14 Slipdigit

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 04:33 AM

Here is an online picture of what the US late war fire control radar on larger (cruiser / battleship) ships would look like to the operator.

CHAPTER-20-G

Scroll down about two or three pages to see the displays. While those shown are for the later Mk 8 mod 3 and Mk 13 they are identical to the wartime Mk 8 system as far as the displays go.


Thanks Terry, that page makes good sense.

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors mentions the Japanese dye frequently, plus there is talk about the fire control problems the Japanese had at the Battle of Taffy 3. Very good read, BTW. The author uses a lot of first-person info and the After Action Reports. (The AARs for Taffy 3 are also in the pipeline for Hyperwar.)

Yes, I highly recommend the book. One of the men written about lives in the area, I've given consideration to contacting him to see if would be interested in talking to me.

Best Regards,  
JW :slipdigit:

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