The Dreadnought Project Forum Index The Dreadnought Project
Naval History in the years 1890-1920
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   Reg1sterReg1ster 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

USN fire Control
Goto page 1, 2  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The Dreadnought Project Forum Index -> Discussion
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Ade D
Guest





PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2005 11:36 am    Post subject: USN fire Control Reply with quote

Hi Tony and everyone

I like the site, and particularly the Dumaresq and Fire Con videos.

I wondered if anyone has any detail on the USN system of the era for fire control. Most of the literature concerns the Jutland fleets and makes comparisons thereof. I'd like to know what the USN approach to the problem was. Was there an American Dumaresq equivalent like the Germans had and how integrated was the whole system? It would be nice to rate the British and German gunnery performance against third parties. The Imperial Russian Navy seem to have got very good at gunnery after defeat in 1904/5 but again I don't know any details of their system.

Ade D
Back to top
rubberboot



Joined: 06 Nov 2005
Posts: 32
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2005 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A good book to get is "guns at sea" by Peter Padfield. It covers from basicly the first guns at sea (cannons) to post WW 2. Also covers fire control in the USN. The fathers of US firecontrol was Rr Adm. Bradley Fiske, and Rr Adm. William Sims. Fiske Faced so much stubborness and ridicule, He was starting to think he was insane. Sims, who met Capt. Percy Scott (father of British fire control) while he was a Lieutenant, wrote scathing reports on US gunnery which led to the US adopting Scott's "dotter" method of training.

The first fire control units in the USN were built by Ford Instrument Company, based on British equipment aquired in 1913. The book I've listed is out of print and I had to get mine online through ABE used books.

hopefully this helps
Glenn
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Yahoo Messenger
Ade D
Guest





PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 10:58 am    Post subject: USN fire con Reply with quote

Thanks Glenn

I have previously come across the Padfield book. I'll see if I can dig out a copy from somewhere locally if only for this section.

I have Percy Scott's 'Fifty years in the Royal Navy' which I confess I haven't yet read, but which does refer to his meeting Sims, first in Hong Kong in 1901. The two seem to have shared similar views - and remained in contact. I wasn't aware of this or indeed of Sims early career which Scott outlines, though I suspect from a partisan(good mates) point of view. Thanks for the clues.

The book I really want get hold of is Sumida - in defence of Naval Supremacy. It's rarer than hens teeth, but I do have a few photo-copied pages including prints of some of the RN kit.

Ade D
Back to top
tone
Site Admin


Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 479
Location: Boston

PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So good to see some discussion developing. Can I entice you to register on the BBS Ade D? I thought I had insisted upon that step, but must have been confused by the settings panel.

An expensive but wonderfully detailed book out just this year is John Brooks's Dreadnought Gunnery at the Battle of Jutland: The Question of Fire Control. I will add it to my sources page soon. I'd suggest buying from Amazon.co.uk (Amazon.com has been slow to gain access to copies from the small print run).

Though I only have a photocopy which I've not fully read yet, Sumida's book is an essential library element -- particularly alongside Brooks's. The reason is that "Dreadnought Gunnery" has sadly had to preoccupy itself with addressing points the author feels Sumida has overstated and which have long been accepted as dogma. Controversy surrounds many of the points, but the best reason for the pairing is NOT to dwell on bitter arguments about "who said what and why", but to learn more about gunnery -- at least that it my take!

tone
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address
Adrian Dobb



Joined: 13 Nov 2005
Posts: 41
Location: Devon, UK

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 3:39 pm    Post subject: Fire Con Reply with quote

Tone

I hope the discussions keep going and more start up.

You can entice me to register, and I have. Though I'm not convinced I'm properly logged on tonight. Technology eh!

I wouldn't disagree with you from I have heard regarding Sumida. But as you say every contribution on this subject is valuable. Another book on Jutland to read!! I'm not complaining.

Do you know from which side of the pond Brooks is from. I attended a talk about two years ago by a chap from Kings College London, I think, on this sort of topic. His main points were from memory that the Argo clock wasn't all Sumida claims it to have been, and that Beatty lost fire superiority at the outset of the action by charging in a disorderly tally ho style at the foe. This causing his fire control no end of problems, while Hipper leisurely allowed his gunners time to crunch the numbers and settle down to the task.

If it wasn't the same chap it was a good talk.

Ade
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
tone
Site Admin


Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 479
Location: Boston

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Do you know from which side of the pond Brooks is from. I attended a talk about two years ago by a chap from Kings College London, I think, on this sort of topic. His main points were from memory that the Argo clock wasn't all Sumida claims it to have been, and that Beatty lost fire superiority at the outset of the action by charging in a disorderly tally ho style at the foe. This causing his fire control no end of problems, while Hipper leisurely allowed his gunners time to crunch the numbers and settle down to the task.

If it wasn't the same chap it was a good talk.


Brooks is from the right side of the pond, which is to say your side, and you doubtless heard John Brooks speak then (his dissertation from KCL was on this subject).

I owe Prof Sumida and the Pollen camp a full review to bring my understanding of the alternatives to the RN's methods and contracts up to speed, but honestly I'm more interested in Dreyer and Argo equipment than I am with academic/political controversy. With a partial understanding of Argo principles and a fairly complete one of Dreyer-ite methods, I find a lot of strengths in the Dreyer gear relative to Pollen equipment.

I'd draw up the comparison thusly, though this is imperfect owing to both kits being amenable to various shades of employment, most notably Argo gear which was fairly divisible into separate clock and plotting equipment modules. Moreover, each exists in rapidly evolving marks, so this is going to be approximate at best and many would debate the points.

Argo

+ Superior construction of both plotting table and clock

+ Clock is internally well-integrated and therefore compact

+ Clock was amenable to further outward options of what plotting equipment to use

+ reliable variable speed drive for generating a continuous range reading

- Plotting was "true course plotting" which was costly to achieve with mechanical reliability and not close enough to the ballistic solution.

- Amenable only to a single rangefinder as input.

- In addition, I believe this required the rangefinder to simultaneously take bearing cuts. I'm sure this received special attention, but the criticality of ensuring the greatest number of range cuts possible with the minimum of distraction

- Both Clock and Argo rangefinder were not truly helm-free; they could tolerate yaw from a perfect course, but when significant maneuver was occurring, operators had to disengage gyros.

Dreyer

+ supported use of multiple range finders -- the plot helped human eyes apply the critical filtering task of discarding outliers metraying systematic or operator errors of estimation.

+ plots were "rate plots", putting observed compass bearings vs time on one sheet and range cuts, continual range hypothesis and continual gun range vs time onto another. This starts everyone out much nearer the problem at hand than does true course plotting (particularly as regards range and its rate). Pollen's plotting gear did not make extraction of these vitals nearly as fluid for the operators.

+ helm-free from the very beginning -- gyrocompass inputs continually applied changes in own course to the dumaresq. To considerable degree at fighting ranges, changes in range rate and deflection caused by these maneuvers could be tracked continually (or even automatically carried through in the Mark IV Dreyer tables with their electrical dumaresqs)

+/- somewhat sprawling in appearance and therefore large. Seen the other way around, this made them amenable to modular rethinking, as in the Mark II with the Argo clock replacing the dumaresq and its range clock.

- construction not always to the highest standards

- disc-and-roller variable speed drives inferior to Argo's disc-and-ball method (whether its inferiority was a problem in practice is a point of contention between those so inclined!)


That's a nutshell -- maybe someone will disagree. What makes the debate that surrounds this so extremely pointless are these factors:

1. The Germans shot very well at many points in the war, relying on methods of plotting and calculation resembling those of 1906 in the Royal Navy.

2. The extreme difficulty of obtaining sufficient range cuts in action to make ANY calculation sound. While I am inclined to agree with John Brooks that the Dreyer was superior in times of poor visibility owing to its ability to allow any of several RFs to contribute data, no computer device will do very well when given little input of shoddy quality (some RN dreadnoughts at Jutland reported, "No useful ranges were obtained" when asked to submit their Dreyer plots).

tone
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address
Adrian Dobb



Joined: 13 Nov 2005
Posts: 41
Location: Devon, UK

PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is fantastic stuff - though I admit as I'm more historically minded than technical, crunching the numbers makes my head hurt a little. I have to go away and think about this and watch your movies again which breath life into the process.

I'm sure you are right that it was Brooks I saw: I remember the point about the Argo not being truly helm free, though it did look the part compared to the Heath Robinson style nature of the Dreyer equipment.

Returning to comparison between the main naval powers, from what I know the Germans took more readings from more range finders than in the RN, but as you say all plotting was done manually, except in so far as they used a Dumaresq equivalent as an aid. Therefore its logical that they would go with the ladder system of range finding as there's was more of an estimation and correction system than the more mechanical and scientific methods adopted by the RN. Does this square with what you or others know/think.
If so I've often felt this may be a factor in explaining why after flying starts German gunnery seemed to deteriorate, i.e due to everyone becoming even more tired than they might otherwise have been.

Adrian
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
tone
Site Admin


Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 479
Location: Boston

PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am not really good at getting my mind about all the factors of equipment, methods of use, and firing ladders etc, and what was used by whom and when. There's just too much to get at, and you occasionally find longstanding misapprehensions creeping in (e.g.: IIRC, at Jutland, the Brits felt the Germans were firing double salvoes or ranging ladders at the outset, but the Germans seem to say they were not doing so... most debate that we encounter is done in English and so the Brits are taken as correct even though their perspective is the one more apt to be incorrect given that they were under fire and judging the actions of the shooters who directly disagree with them. I'm sure all incoming fire appears rapid!)

The aspect I think is overlooked is how little information was at hand by which to judge gunnery. The Germans outshot the RN during the critical portion of the engagement, and therefore shrill pronouncements are made on British methods, equipment, tactics and training. At no time is serious weight given to the vastly better visibility enjoyed by the Germans during this part of the contest -- a factor mostly environmental and in only a small part a product of Beatty's approach to battle.

After the run to the north, the Grand Fleet outshot the HSF. This is predominantly part of the conditions that totally reversed (and THEN some) the previous bias in visibility that colored the run to the south. But seldom do you hear much praise being sung for the fire control of the GF when operating under conditions of failing but adequate visibility.

I feel too many starkly certain conclusions have long been drawn and that this mires clear and fair analysis. Each camp has fiery anecdotal evidence to draw upon (a story of Dreyer inspecting the TS of a ship to find its Dreyer table in almost total disassembly, of Dreyer tables being operated simply as a semi-automated plotting machine with no rate on the range clock, or of the suspicious failure of many dreadnoughts to remit their range plot charts after the battle, etc).

Was the Dreyer table a success? I'm sure it failed in instances. I'm sure some commanders lacked confidence in it for one reason or the other. I'm sure some simply felt more comfortable with methods they felt they'd succeeded with in practices before their table was fitted, and quietly resorted to it in action, employing their table slightly to hardly. But if this were the case, and lacking sufficient explanation for reasons why the Dreyer table in question would not have offered superior results, I am inclined to feel such incidents are either overstated in prevalence or that those failing to make fullest use of a functional Dreyer table were cheating themselve of their best understanding of the firing scenario.

tone
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address
Guest






PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find this site absolutely fascinating. It is very difficult to make judgements on the effectiveness of Dreadnought fire control 90 years on. As someone who spends a lot of time at sea I know how hard it is to spot another vessel, identify it and get some idea of its distance off using eyeball mark 1. This is not easy even with the assistance of modern optics when it is many miles away. Even with modern computer and radar controlled fire systems a NATO destoyer from a nameless navy completly missed the target and nearly hit the towing vessel in the not too distant past. Go back 90 years and with the technology available long range naval gunnery was a marvellous science. My grandfather who served with the Grand Fleet used to tell me he was amazed when they did hit the target. Interestingly he firmly believed that they hit many more times than they were given credit fore or the evidence showed on 31st May. When you think that a large ship 10 miles away can be hidden by your thumb held outstreched it brings it into context. Optics in the Great War were not up to the standard of modern optics. Coatings etc that much improve the image quality were in their infancy, the demands of Naval gunnery being a factor in that developement. German Zeiss rangefinders were propably superior to Barr and Stroud coincidence equipment, but I believe(Barr & Stroud) they were easier to use in the stress of battle. I have read that German shooting started well then gradually deteriated whilst British shooting tended to improve as the action progressed. The shooting of Beatty's ships was poor, but not only did they have the handicap of poorer visibilty but they lacked gunnery practice something Jellicoe was concerned about. In fact the Germans commented upon the accuracy of the 5th BS shooting and the shooting of Hood's 3rd BCS was excellent Invincible propably ensuring the fate of Lutzow. These units together with the battle fleet at Scapa had the advantage of being able to conduct full calibre practice shoots which the BCF were not able to. The Germans of course could carry out regular practice in the comparitive safety of the Baltic. Practice makes perfect. Sorry for such a rambling e-mail but it is such an interesting subject.
Back to top
Adrian Dobb



Joined: 13 Nov 2005
Posts: 41
Location: Devon, UK

PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 5:46 pm    Post subject: Fire Con Reply with quote

I'd tend to agree with all the comments made in the previous post, though qualified below. Its good to hear from someone with hands on practical experience, it helps to keep thinking on the subject grounded in reality.

I don't know about everyone else but the more I know about the fire control aspect, the less I feel I know anything!!

Regarding Tone's points above I agree its easy to get mired in all the controversies and forget whats what, what (!!!) with all the contradictory 'evidence' and analysis. On reflection maybe Tone's right and the main difference in the gunnery performances at Jutland is down to the visibility conditions. Even so as the Germans were using an essentially different system to the British I think its reasonable to try an understand what the pro and cons were in their solution - and ask if it did offer them any advantages on the day.

Overall I'd say the British were adopting the solution that was the way to go, but that doesn't mean it was the one that offered the best solution on the day. The mechanised approach hadn't yet been fully proven and further development was still needed.

Adrian
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
tone
Site Admin


Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 479
Location: Boston

PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It certainly is hard to reach concrete conclusions, but easy (and fun) to voice some general opinions and offer rationale.

I really lack a mind ordered enough to hold all anecdotes from all sources and reach a true conclusion as to how well the Royal Navy's systems served her gunners in action. I can, however, state that its general qualities impress me particularly as compared to their automation of principles developed in previous years (graphical analysis methods). I have a particularly high regard for rate-plotting vis-a-vis true-course plotting, and a profound respect for a design which so well suited to displaying data from a variety of sources as this was necessary when their scarcity and low quality obliged their observers to see "through" the holes to come up with the best statistical estimate of their nature (well, at least to come up with a value and a single derivative).

The Germans might have been better served by their rangefinders, or by an automated meaning of ranges taken from a number of instruments, or maybe by their spotting, or their different protocols for finding the range, etc, etc, etc. But I feel the biggest advantages they had when they made their good shooting as compared to her opponent were attributable to advantages she enjoyed in

1. superior visibility conditions
2. degree and freshness of practice at gunnery
3. shells which largely performed as they should in fusing and penetration

These three, in decreasing order of importance, put more of her shells on target, and the vulnerability of those targets to sudden loss to such hits was a secondary element of the argument.

That is to say, my take is that Germany did great work with fire control means (at least as were found belowdecks) substantially less helpful than the Royal Navy possessed, and their superior performance during the run to the south would likely have been more pronounced had Beatty's ships been relying on true-course plotting informed by a single rangefinder at a time as a purely Argo outfit would have had it.

Had the three items listed been on a par, the Germans, I feel, would have felt they too would like Dreyer tables (or Dreyer tables Mark II with the Argo clock), perhaps with a mixed outfit of coincidence and stereoscopic rangefinders. But perhaps I am selling short the value of simplicity of the German methods?

Can someone tell me this -- unless I am failing to remember shell strikes, why did the Germans not hit the British at all during the Run to the North? True, the range was perhaps opening and it was a little later, and perhaps the relative wind carried funnel smoke in an unhelpful manner. Presumably, the compass bearing was largely the same. But how profound was the change in gunnery hitting between the Run to the South and that to the North and why was this so?

tone
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address
Weird Guy



Joined: 26 Apr 2005
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2005 3:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All I really know about old American gunnery is that they seemed to play catch up with the British RN quite often.

In particular they copied a lot of things for American submarines from the British. For instance depth control at periscope depth. The USN used to struggle with it, requiring an officer to watch the gauges as well as the two planesmen, and it was tiring work to keep the attention level up and constantly working. Then they coppied the Royal Navy and had the front planesman just watch the depth gauge and use his control to keep the depth where they wanted it, and the rear planesman tried to keep the boat level. After they did that the boat pretty much stayed at periscope depth by itself with no real need for anybody to worry about it. At least until nuclear engines and high speeds changed things that is.

It wouldn't surprise me one bit if the USN coppied the Royal Navy fire control.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Guest






PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2005 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can someone tell me this -- unless I am failing to remember shell strikes, why did the Germans not hit the British at all during the Run to the North? True, the range was perhaps opening and it was a little later, and perhaps the relative wind carried funnel smoke in an unhelpful manner. Presumably, the compass bearing was largely the same. But how profound was the change in gunnery hitting between the Run to the South and that to the North and why was this so?

tone[/quote]
During the "Run to the South" the Germans made about 44 hits.According to Cambell in "The Run to the North" between 1654hrs and 1815hrs.Lion, Tiger, Barham,Warspite and Malaya were all hit. I think he states 15 12" hits and 3 11" hits.In the same period Lutzow, Derfflinger,Seydlitz,Konig,Grosser Kurfurst and Markgraff suffered 18 15" hits and 1 13.5" hit. During this period the Germans were suffering fearfull damage. Beatty was out of range of Hipper's ships from 1715 to 1740.I think,if I am correct the Germans made their hits at the start of the period we are talking of,their gunnery then tailed off. The Germans also on the whole had the worst of the visibilty.The German rangetakers would have been faced with a "grey mess".One of the problems at sea in poor visibilty is everything seems to go monochrome,grey sea,grey sky,grey ships.Very hard to get accurate range readings no matter how good your optical equipment. Funnel and cordite smoke was to some extent blown towards the German ships and this would have added to their difficulty.They also had a difficult gunnery problem to solve.Namely they were pursuing a slightly faster foe which created an opening range and an unfavourably changing deflection plus they were under heavy fire and even the misses would be throwing up huge waterspouts which interfered with their aim.It may be that with the pressure they were under their rangetakers who were highly trained specially selected men with aptitude for the task were becoming ragged at the edges.In a modern warship key personel are in the Combat Info Centre. They have radars and computers to keep them informed and there are others,officers and senior ratings to keep the lid on the excitement.At Jutland the Germans were extremely excited as they thought they had got part of the Grand Fleet ripe for destruction this excitement infected evevryone from the top to the bottom.In such cicumstances errors creep in and people see what they want to.Incorrect information can be passed and assumed to be correct.So put all these factors together, poor visibilty, being hit and the human element under exterme pressure you may find an answer.As regards American fire control I think it lagged behind the RN until the Americans integrated radar into their FC systems when it became second to none.
Back to top
Harley



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

PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 8:37 pm    Post subject: Re: wrong Reply with quote

To anyone in the know. Is there such a thing as a definative tome on Fire Control and Gunnery as used by the navies around the golden age of the battleship (if there ever was one), or is it a case of collecting lots and lots of expensive books and manuals?

Last edited by Harley on Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:59 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address MSN Messenger
sonofdavros



Joined: 29 Nov 2005
Posts: 6
Location: Dorset, UK.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harley, I just found this pdf, from the excellent HMS Hood site. It seems to have a lot of good stuff in it.

http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/official/adm186/adm186-339.pdf

P.S. And that previous "poster" is an advertising bot.

[edit] P.P.S. Ah, wrong Hood site - that one is no longer available, but the pdf is - having read more, it goes into great detail about gunnery tactics of the RN - really worth a read.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The Dreadnought Project Forum Index -> Discussion All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group