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Gordon on Dreyer v. Pollen...

 
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bargami



Joined: 11 Dec 2007
Posts: 75
Location: Richmond, Virginia

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 12:53 pm    Post subject: Gordon on Dreyer v. Pollen... Reply with quote

In reading along through "Rules of the Game" I happened upon the couple of pages Gordon devotes to the relative merits and liabilities of the Dreyer and Pollen systems. Having read Brooks and become familiarized with his pro-Dreyer view I was challenged to look back through the material, including tone's detailed descriptions on the site, as Gordon comes down squarely for the "conventional wisdom," i.e that the Royal Navy selected an inferior system.

Now obviously, unlike Brooks, Gordon's book is not devoted to this subject. However, he sites the Dreyer choice as one that held back the opportunity to develop battle -initiative on the spot and tactical maneuvre battles such as Richmond, for instance, wanted, on technological grounds.

Granted I am "not" the technician here. That said, in briefly comparing the two systems in Pollen's favor Gordon seems to focus on the starting-point of the sytems, the range-finding (and keeping) apparatus. Regarding Pollen he seems to say that the great advantage lay that single rangefinder working with the gyrocompass, which could keep the range accurately and continuously while own-ship strays. As Gordon has it, the rangefinding setup of the Dreyer system couldn't handle yaw, thereby dictating a continuance of the conventional line-on-line battle.

Now "I'm" not saying this, and I've read back through tone's thoughts on this element of the question. Perhaps he or others would like to weigh in?

bargami
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tone
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Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 479
Location: Boston

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think Gordon adds anything to the debate. I really like his book, but a weak aspect of it is that he must, as a matter of course, comment on gunnery, and he simply relies on the reasoning and conclusion that is formulated by the work of Sumida. It is not really the grist of Gordon's account, and he is in the unfortunate role (as I see it) of promulgating false conclusions he has good reason to trust by virtue of the esteem they then (and almost surely still) hold.

We can only hope that more people read John Brooks's book and see the degree to which it undercuts many of the opinions embodied in the pro-Pollen works. No one has really offered a pro-Pollen book that has a solid engineering rationale for why Pollen's gear would match or exceed Dreyer's in the tests where the Royal Navy may have failed to meet acceptable standards of gunnery.

I think, BTW, when Gordon says Dreyer systems could not handle yaw, he is simply wrong (with the exception of Dreyer Mark I equipped ships). However, no one really knew that this was wrong until John Brooks pointed this out even though the fact is plainly apparent in the manuals. Friedman, in his criticism of Dreyer systems as not being "helm free" has been forced to retreat to a position that they lacked this capability because they did not maintain enemy bearing automatically. This criticism is not unlike throwing out an egg timer because it lacks support for daylight savings time. Maintaining a bearing to the enemy ship on a Dreyer table can be done manually ever 2 minutes or so, and no one would ever know that it was not perfect in the interim.

tone
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bargami



Joined: 11 Dec 2007
Posts: 75
Location: Richmond, Virginia

PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suspect you're right regarding Gordon's use of the Pollen/Dreyer controversy. He's not going into the technological question in-depth; this is one incident on a vast canvass he's painting, and accepting the prevailing view with which he's familiar also fits his point nicely, that the Royal Navy mindset was likely to resist an innovation which promised tactical progress, his primary example being signalling and the Signal Book.

And as I've read Brooks and others, I don't believe that it was "in the cards" that Pollen would lose. As I see it, the Admiralty was quite patient over several years and, initially, willing for him to succeed; "show us that it works and we'll buy it." This is whether or not you believe that his system was actually superior to that of Dreyer.

Instead, as I've said before, Pollen's personal foibles were part of his downfall. He's a businessman, yes, but he appeared to be too greedy so that the Admiralty may have felt it was being conned. And critically, if he had possessed tact and diplomacy I think he might have won. His most important potential patrons were Fisher and Wilson, and Fisher as one inclined to innovation initially very receptive. Pollen got himself into the middle of this scandal involving Reginald Bacon, years back, being sent out to spy for Fisher while serving with Beresford in the Mediterranean. Once Fisher knows this Pollen is an enemy; period.

Re. Wilson-and this maybe even worse because Wilson was First Sea Lord when matters were coming to a head-Pollen allows his opinion that Wilson was too dense to understand this technology to get back to Wilson. After this Wilson is a hostile witness, particularly when an alternative is available. What "should" Pollen have done? Regardless of his personal view of Wilson's intellect, he should have said: "only you, First Sea Lord,
have the perception to recognize the value of this innovation," or words to that effect. Tact and discretion might have made the difference.
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HMSWarapite



Joined: 27 Apr 2008
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Location: Bristol UK

PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2008 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It always stirkes me as funny that the Dreyer/Pollen debate rages on, given the general worse director control on the HSF and the higher hit rate than most RN ships. Also the spread of hit rates actross the BCS (Beatty's two and Hood's 3BCS) suggests to me that more training would have had far more effect than the difference between Dreyer and Pollen whoever you believe!
_________________
The British had long pursued the goal of 'any-elevation' loading but, having in due course achieved it, found it in practice to be wanting.
"The Big Gun Battleship main armament 1860-1945" by Peter Hodges

Name is a typo before you ask - I meant Warspite!
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tone
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2008 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HMSWarapite... I fully agree.

Now, we only need an HMSIronCuke to achieve a quorum! :)

One thing I like to point out is that the comparative success of the Germans was achieved by a system that bore a closer resemblance to the Dreyer system (by its use of multiple rangefinders) than to the Argo gear.

tone
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Harley



Joined: 23 Oct 2005
Posts: 131
Location: Great Britain

PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bargami, how are you finding "The Rules of the Game"? I've finally read and re-read the whole thing now and I'm just going through it listing what can only be called "Errors - poorly referenced" or "Statements - poorly referenced" and the list is getting rather long. Gordon's stance on Dreyer/Pollen is rather sad considering how much materiel has been published on the matter since 1996, even discounting John Brooks' work. Either he didn't bother reading it or he didn't feel convinced enough to change his mind when preparing the paperback edition.

At least my hatred of Gordon's tome has led to something constructive - I've started transcribing the British "Official Despatches" - Gordon has many good points to make about these, but I won't be happy until I'm able to cross reference everything on my computer!

Harley
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bargami



Joined: 11 Dec 2007
Posts: 75
Location: Richmond, Virginia

PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harley, I'll mention two items which struck me from "Rules of the Game:"
two lists. One is that list of "Certain Affiliations," including the masonic memberships. The other is that typical dinner seating plan for an evening at the Culme-Seymour's. Both contain almost every flag officer name with which one is familiar from 1890 through 1920. Equally conspicuous is the name which appears on neither list, that of Beatty. Although Gordon lays out many of Beatty's famous failings (while omitting others) he clearly sees Beatty as the man breaking the mold in his career path, and capable of liberating fleet tactics from signals command-and-control.

He pointedly contrasts Beatty's career with that of Evan-Thomas, which he paints as very typical with predictable consequences (his take). Whether or not I accept his concept of the Royal Navy establishment as a monolith of like-minded men of like backgrounds and even society affiliation, I certainly do not accept that Beatty was the answer.

1.) Beatty did not clearly communicate that he would expect and assume
the initiative-imperative of his BCFOs.
2.)He did not brief Evan-Thomas on these "at all" at Rosyth when he had
ample opportunity.
3.)In fact he continued to attempt to control battles by flag-signal all
through the War, and utilizing an under-qualified signals officer who,
by Beatty's admission, "lost three battles for me," and who he only
threw over after the War when Beatty was feeling the heat.
4.)As First Sea Lord he was devoted to preserving his legacy and let
down such forward "Naval Review" thinkers as Richmond (Gordon
accurately identifies the "Naval Review" founders-Richmond, Plunkett,
the Dewars- as Beattyites.).
5.)Returning to the fire-control question. Regardless of which system had
been chosen, the fleet or squadron in action had to be led with the
requirements of this technology in mind, as much as possible. Granted
this gear was new, but Brooks detailed analysis makes clear that
Beatty had minimal, if any, thought of this at Jutland, and his example
set the tone in the BCF.









So whether or not I accept Gordon's depiction of the R.N. monolith and its
resistance to progress, I do not accept that Beatty was the answer.

bargami
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HMSWarapite



Joined: 27 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tone wrote:
HMSWarapite... I fully agree.

Now, we only need an HMSIronCuke to achieve a quorum! :)

One thing I like to point out is that the comparative success of the Germans was achieved by a system that bore a closer resemblance to the Dreyer system (by its use of multiple rangefinders) than to the Argo gear.

tone


Can't edit my username I suppose (put the s back?)
_________________
The British had long pursued the goal of 'any-elevation' loading but, having in due course achieved it, found it in practice to be wanting.
"The Big Gun Battleship main armament 1860-1945" by Peter Hodges

Name is a typo before you ask - I meant Warspite!
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HMSWarapite



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Location: Bristol UK

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bargami wrote:

So whether or not I accept Gordon's depiction of the R.N. monolith and its
resistance to progress, I do not accept that Beatty was the answer.

bargami


Fully agree with you. I think the failure to brief Evan-Thomas, and the numerous mistakes on the bridge of Lion more than compensate for any 'free thinking' he might have had. I just think he was a maverick. He wasn't innovating, he was just slapdash. Unfortunately against a somewhat hidebound navy, my dog could introduce the illusion of innovation!
_________________
The British had long pursued the goal of 'any-elevation' loading but, having in due course achieved it, found it in practice to be wanting.
"The Big Gun Battleship main armament 1860-1945" by Peter Hodges

Name is a typo before you ask - I meant Warspite!
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