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Cost of the Director Systems
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hmsvanguard



Joined: 17 Dec 2008
Posts: 5
Location: Chertsey, Surrey

PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2008 5:49 pm    Post subject: Cost of the Director Systems Reply with quote

Hi all,

This is my first listing on the forum on this excellent website. I am looking into the Admiraltys preparations in the run up to WW1 and fire control and gunnery in general is an area I am very interested in. The extremely specific question I have is that does anyone out there have or has seen a book/article/web page that lists the costs of fitting Scotts director system into the Grand Fleet? Two contracts to fit directors were placed with Vickers in 1913 but I have been unable to find out the cost of the contracts. Sudima, Freidman and Campbell all give extensive details of costs of argo clocks, rangefinder systems et al but no sign of the director system itself. This information is going to be used as part of an argument against the volume of Dreadnoughts and battle cruisers being brought vs the possiblility of using money from just one being cancelled to actually get all the existing ships fully equipped with the latest FC systems and to develop an effective armoured piercing shell - which would have increased the efficacy of the fleet considerably and arguably more than one more platform. Just for the record I'm doing an MA 15000 word dissertation on this topic!
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi -- in advance of any concrete answer, I will say that one argument bandied about recently has been one to counter Scott's caterwauling by illustrating how very intensive the acquisition and fitting cycle was for the Vickers directors once the design had been perfected and made reliable. The issue was not so much one of expense as of time -- waiting for a suitable design to coalesce, from BB down to DD, as well as overhaul time for the ships in question.

Can someone tell me whose book(s) I am hacking to shreds in making that statement?

Oh, and I should add, it behooves me to ask what sources you've checked to date, and which you have access to (i.e., at the repository level -- Kew, Portsmouth, etc)

tone
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hmsvanguard



Joined: 17 Dec 2008
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Location: Chertsey, Surrey

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the quick reply. Ref cost I agree that part of thre delay in fitting post 1913 was the start of WW1 and the fact that it took months to fully fit the system. Ref the resources checked I have spent hours going through the 200 or so books in the JSCSC library, along with many of the specialist articles held there. Should this forum prove fruitless I aim to go to Kew (10 miles away but it will take tens to hundreds of hours to find this one specific itme of information), or indeed Hansards as it was likely mentioned in Parliament. I have gone through the entire From Dreadnought to Scapa Flow series, Sumidas book, Brooks, the buiography of Percy Scott, Campbells and Tennents books on Jutland, Conways series on capital ships up to WW2 and many many others! I was wondering if anyone had read any book or article that had this type of information in it, then they could guide my research!!

I would have loved to see you presentation to the JSCSC - the lunchtime seminars now are a little dry for my taste - still so is the advanced command and staff course! Thanks again.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am looking over John Brooks article "Percy Scott and the Director" in the 1996 edition of Warship.

One immediate idea that occurs to me is to inquire with Vickers. They have a photographic archive, and may have considerable archives of contractual and technical writing.

This article is the basis, I think for my allusion to modern, unbiased study showing that Percy Scott's stance that the Royal Navy was slow to embrace his invention is at least overstated. I think it fair to state that Brooks's view is that the director was aggressively fitted at breakneck pace once a suitable design was arrived at. Indeed, he indicates that ships were being fitted without even making a dockyard call (though I think a dockyard visit was highly desireable when setting up the tilt correctors).

OH OH OH -- here is a figure!

from 1914-1918, an approximate cost of the director fitting program (including 149 sets in mere destroyers) was 1,762,004 pounds. A Queen Elizabeth battleship cost 2,685,799 pounds.

At its peak, the program employed 360 men at Vickers Erith, 800 at Wolseley, 107 at Vickers Barrow and 140 more fitting the systems to ships. Those figures do not include men employed by subcontractors (there were at least 5 main ones, including Elliott Brothers and Ross).

His Table 1 shows director installation totals and a running tally from 1910 to end of 1916.

His sources (I've culled these):

published:
Scott: '50 years in the RN'
Padfield: "Aim Straight" and "Guns at Sea"
Sumida: IDNS

PRO:
ADM 1/7761 Inventions of Capt Percy Scott
ADM 1/8330 Notes on Director Firing
ADM 116/611 Scott's Aiming Apparatus
ADM 137/293 'Notes on Director Firing' in Grand Fleet Gunnery and Torpedo Orders

Privately held:
Craig Waller Papers (courtesy of Commander Michael Craig Waller)
Letters from Scott to Arthur Craig

Naval Library, MoD:
'Fire Control in HM Ships' in Technical History and Index, 1919

Churchill College, Camb:
Cap T Hughes-Onslow, "Fire Control", 1909 PLLN 1/5


edit: our friend Simon Harley suggested this website as a means of searching Hansards:

http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/sittings/1910s
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have more precise data on the source that provided the basis for the John Brooks article.

Quote:

Admiralty, Technical History Section, 'Fire Control in H.M. Ships', TH23 in Technical History and Index, a Serial History of Technical Problems dealt with bu Admiralty Departments.

There are copies of this in the Admiralty Library, Portsmouth and in TNA/PRO (ADM 275/19).


It's worth stressing that John Brooks's article in the 1996 Warship is entirely worth procuring for seeing his own analysis.

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feld



Joined: 19 Aug 2009
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Location: Norfolk, Virginia, United States of America

PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:09 am    Post subject: Re: Cost of the Director Systems Reply with quote

hmsvanguard wrote:
Just for the record I'm doing an MA 15000 word dissertation on this topic!

hmsvanguard,

I, for one, would be delighted to read this thesis if it can be shared.

V/R
feld

P.S. Please forgive the thread necromancy of this, my first post.
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Harley



Joined: 23 Oct 2005
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Location: Great Britain

PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 5:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Cost of the Director Systems Reply with quote

hmsvanguard wrote:
Hi all,
This information is going to be used as part of an argument against the volume of Dreadnoughts and battle cruisers being brought vs the possiblility of using money from just one being cancelled to actually get all the existing ships fully equipped with the latest FC systems and to develop an effective armoured piercing shell - which would have increased the efficacy of the fleet considerably and arguably more than one more platform. Just for the record I'm doing an MA 15000 word dissertation on this topic!


I could have sworn that I replied to this; apparently not.

I would expect then your dissertation to go into great detail on the development, manufacture and proofing of shells, coupled with the administrative oversight of the procedures involved by the Ordnance Board and the Royal Navy.

Simon
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hmsvanguard



Joined: 17 Dec 2008
Posts: 5
Location: Chertsey, Surrey

PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 3:47 pm    Post subject: The Dissertation is over Reply with quote

Thanks all for your assistance with my research. I spent a valuable week looking through the archives at Kew whilst reading Brooks' article in Warship (the 1996 volume was extremely difficult to get hold of with neither the IWM or the Staff College at Shrivenham having a copy- thanks heavens for the Naval Museum at Portsmouth), his original thesis and the article ping pong he played with Sumida.

At the last minute my title was changed by the Staff College Authorities to assessing the merits and failings of the Admiralty looking at therun up from 1907 to the end if WW1 (to deconflict it from Gordons excellent book). Obviously gunnery was a key issue and my original premise that cancelling a Dreadnought to upgrade the existing fleet was flawed in that Naval Dockyards could not complete the work in time once the efficacy of the director fire control was proven, though more ships could have been upgraded prior to the war if it had been deemed the highest priority and not been resisted by some in the Admiralty.

The one unique and interesting fact that I came across during my extensive research regards the increase in gun calibre vs the fragility of the APC shell. The DNO pushed to establish initially thew 13.5 and then the 15 inch guns to maintain firepower superiority over the German higher pressure 11 and 12 inch weapons but in doing so they reduced the muzzle velocity, amking the shells less likely to wobble in flight and thus be more accurate and also, more importantly, reduce barrel wear. At the same time other parts of the DNO were aware of the failure of the majority of the British large-calibre APC sheels when they struck at angles above 20 degrees. Thus by lowering the muzzle velocity, the DNO were aware that to achieve the same distance, greater gun elevation would be needed, producing a steeper impact angle and thus the result would be more shells breaking up when fired at along range, which was the British Fleet premise at the time. The shell fragility was noted in the 1912 proof firings against HMS Edinburgh. Thus 2 sections of the (very small) DNO worked in isolation to reduce the primary gunnery capability of the WW1 British Capitol ship fleet, a capability that had led ship designers to sacrifice armour- which directly led to several ships being sunk at Jutland.

The College will not release my dissertation (which looks at the areas of Admiralty work at Capital ship design, the response to the submarine and torpedo threat, command and control and some other areas) but I do have an early draft copy if anyone is interested in reading it!

Anyway keep up the good work on the interesting website and expect somemore posts now I have some spare time.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you've not yet found "Admiralty, Technical History Section, 'Fire Control in H.M. Ships', TH23", I realized I have it.

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Harley



Joined: 23 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would be extremely interested in looking at a draft of your work, please.

Simon
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Iain



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like a look as well.
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NewGolconda



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thus 2 sections of the (very small) DNO worked in isolation to reduce the primary gunnery capability of the WW1 British Capitol ship fleet, a capability that had led ship designers to sacrifice armour- which directly led to several ships being sunk at Jutland.

Not sure I can agree with this either.

On lethality of guns, the primary measure of their lethality is the relationship between accuracy (dispersion) and danger space (defined by the trajectory). The slower, heavier projectiles introduced before WWII did have slightly loopier trajectories than the equivalent calibres with light shells and high mv, but the difference is not that marked - the heavier shell holds its momentum well despite the low initial velocity. At realistic battle ranges the difference is not much more than a degree or so, and compared to the previous guns of smaller calibre these low mv heavy shell guns in fact have a considerable ballistic advantage.

With the British AP shells the issue is not just cap toughness, breaking up at high obliquities etc. To be really effective, an AP shell has to not only penetrate intact, but then burst high order reliably and with delay. This combination was by no means common - indeed the first naval AP shell which could be set to meet all three requirements to some degree were the British 1918 Greenboys (see their superlative performance in the Baden trials).

The German 1914 shells were good, tough body, hard cap, stable filler - but the task of reliably fusing TNT with delay was a very difficult one. At Jutland - many of their shells worked quite well, but there was a a high dud rate, one hit on Tigers X barbette penetrating the gun house, lying between the two guns, and the guns able to be fired again 7 minutes after the hit with the shell still lodged between them. The German SAP was even worse, a very high dud rate with the 12in SAP that Lutzow hit Lion with so many times.

Even if you improve the toughness of British shell walls and fit hard caps before WWI, to get a really effective shell you still need to find a stable filler and an effective delay fuze (becomes more difficult the more stable the filler).

See "Riddle of Shell" series in Warship.

Another minor mod that can have a potentially major effect is the shell windshield. British 12in shells used a 2 crh head up to WWI, and 4 crh shells, with considerably improved ballistics were re issued in 1914/15, and the 13.5 and 15in shells used a 4 crh shell.

When you compare the ballistics of the 15in gun with 4crh and 6crh (modernised battleships post 1938) its obvious there are major advances that were made in the lethality (danger space size) and angle of fall (penetration) with the change. A British 1939 memo (again on the flag officers site) ranks this upgrade as more important than the 30 deg elevation.

The first British shells with this sort of form were the "light" 16in shells of the Nel/Rod in 1927 - but I believe the US was fitting 7 crh windshields around the beginning of WWI.

A 6 crh shell gets you a low mv, long range, good accuracy, shallow angle of fall and hence a large danger space and simpler penetration. Its pretty much a free lunch.
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hmsvanguard



Joined: 17 Dec 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NewGolconda. Thanks for the reply. I have read riddle of the shells in Warship and the original thesis from Brooks and all of Sumidas works (luckily I was at Military College so did not have to purchase all of them!)

I agree with many of your points but personally I still believe that the break-up issue was a major handicap facing British gunners. Agreed a penetrating shell has to detonate inside at the correct distance to generate the greatest damage mechanism...however....the shell breaking up on impact stopped penetration completely (thus the pictures of German ships with stacks of large calibre shell segments on their decks after Jutland). A sheering shell breaks up and the momentum (the physical damage mechanism) is lost. Whilst not being a sea weapons expert, I am am expect in air delvered weaponry and a 1000lb bomb striking obliquely will not penetrate even a lightly armoured target, it will ricochet or break up, even at low impact angles, the physics is the same for naval shells.

The point is that even with poor fusing, a low order detonation of the pyrotechnic contents of a shell inside a confined space (the inside of a compartmented balleship/battlecruiser) would produce catastrophic consequences (the same principle behind modern fuel air explosives and their overpressure effects). Thus by not penetrating due to the break up issue, the shells failed to deliver their full kinetic effect and due to the lyddite and fusing issues, they also failed to deliver their chemical explosive effect.

My point is not that British shells in isolation were poor, as you state German shells were not much better, but they were better. Thus German hits on the more lightly armoured British Battlecruisers produced suitably devastating effects whereas British hits were mainly ineffective and the more heavily armoured German ships were far more capable of absorbing damage.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I posted Vanguard's recent draft of his paper at http://dreadnoughtproject.org/friends/vanguard

I'm sure he'd love some comment and discussion. I offered him some feedback: some very minor corrections, some challenging remarks, and some ideas that I'm sure were off the mark. That's my average!

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Harley



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I realise that this was a draft of your paper. I could comment on all of it, but I will confine my comments to page 5 as an example:

Page 5.

“The under-armoured British battle cruisers also proved to be poor gunnery platforms”

You cite the example of New Zealand. The shooting record of one ship out of the nine of her type which saw action, in one out of two major engagements. It proves nothing.

Repetitive quoting from Conway's doesn't help your case – the statement “The first German battle cruiser built under the 1907-8 programme, was a considerably better fighting ship than any of the six British 12-inch battle cruisers.” is idiotic in the choice of the word “fighting”. It may have been a better ship, but to say it's automatically a better fighting ship fails to take into account doctrine on the use of the ship and her crew.

“The continued procurement of battle cruisers, even after the introduction of the vastly more combat capable fast-wing Queen Elizabeth class battleships, was a mistake as naval studies had shown the fast wing battleships were far more combat capable.”

The Government refused to sanction the construction of any more battleships after the 1913 programme. Despite being labelled “freaks” by Jellicoe, the Repulse and Renown gave the Battle Cruiser Force twelve extra fifteen-inch guns to replace the losses of Jutland. The Germans knew what fifteen-inch guns could do to their ships, the perceived shell defects aside.

“Many senior Royal Navy gunnery officers had believed that weight of fire was one key element of suppressing enemy forces and to increase the rate of fire, magazine anti-flash doors were left open and a larger number of bagged cordite charges were stored in the shell room than should have been there, to allow for faster firing.”

Name names. How many is “many”? How senior is “senior”? Cordite charges in the shell room? Cordite cartridges were stored in or in the vicinity of the magazine in battleships and battle cruisers. Shells were stored in the shell room. Therefore no cartridges should have been in the shell room whatsoever. Presumably you are referring to the increase in shell and cordite allowances, which naturally led to over-crowding. it's worth noting that in these ships the "magazine anti-flash doors" were the magazine doors themselves, with only the small space of the handing room between the magazine and the trunk to the working chamber and gun house.

“Thus if an enemy shell did penetrate a turret or barbette, the explosion surged down the shell delivery tubes, passed the open anti-flash doors and lit the numerous silk-bagged charges, causing an explosion, which almost always led to the loss of the ship; this flash-door practice was common across the fleet and should have been spotted in the official inspections and this practice also suggests the Admiralty’s operational inspection system was flawed.”

Which anti-flash doors are you referring to? By the “Admiralty” are you referring to the Naval Ordnance Department or the Department of the Controller? Or perhaps the Naval Stores officers who supplied the ships with shell and cordite.

The whole “Technical Innovations” section on battleship design is deeply flawed. Designers did not dictate the layout of the ships they designed – the specifics were laid down by the Board of Admiralty with the advice of the Director of Naval Construction - then the men of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors designed the ship. Often the layout was dictated by political and financial constraints as much as operational requirements. Overrunning to page 6, any cursory examination of the era will suggest that fire-control received a lot of attention from 1900 to the outbreak of war.

Simon
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