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Dreadnought Project Simulations
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Harley



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

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the response JS. Very informative for so few words. What French materiel can you recommend on the subject of French Gunnery and Rangefinding?
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JspencerCE



Joined: 03 Jan 2006
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 3:08 am    Post subject: extar info Reply with quote

Richelieu had 3 guns in turret 2 replaced by 3 guns from Jean Bart. These were guns 5 7 and 8.

Between February and May 1941 she was fitted with a D.E.M (Detection Electro-magnetique or radar in US parlance). This may be considered a search instrument and could detect aircraft above 1500 up 80km away.

Jean Bart carried the 1937 modele conjugateaur mixte (1937 FC table). The "mixte" term means that it could be used for AA computations. It is almost certain that Richelieu had the same and would be a fair bet for Dunkerque and Strasbourg.
For the 152mm, JB had the 1940 model, which was later replaced by the tachymetric 1947 model that was also used to direct the new 100mm guns that she recieved.

I could not find details of which Dreadnoughts carried which models of FC tables (certainly they all had the various 1914-16 developments - which is not actually a specific model). Most recieved many improvements in the 1920s. One Bretagne even briefly played with RPC for training but not for elevation (vickers FTP prove to be more reliable). I also now that many Pre-Dreads carried various 1914-16 instruments but do not know which vessel had exactly what.
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JspencerCE



Joined: 03 Jan 2006
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 6:03 am    Post subject: Sources Reply with quote

Hi Harley,

I'll reply with a list later (at work and would be quoting off the top of my head).

There is a 3 volumn set covering from 1910-40 written by the engineers themselves. It does not say which ship had what, and generalises the developments. The overall opinion of the gear is that it was dammed good stuff which ensured that the Marine National remained in a first class position throughout the epoque concerned (with some comparison, I would say that France was as good as any between 1914-20, probably the best 1920-30, loosing ground in the 1930s and from 1936 onwards starting to drop behind especially with AA and reliable RPC).

Service opinions of the gear differ slightly and for that I am building a collection of books concerning the warships themselves. For example for cruisers, Emile Bertin, never carried the RPC gear, while the 7200 tonnes 6 inch gunned cruisers which followed, had RPC but preferred to use FTP for actual gunnery. The rapidity, duality and flexibilty of the do everything of the 1936 model FC table did not fully meet expections (surface FC was fine, but the AA component left something to be desired, being rather like the RN HACs tables in terms of plot and not tachymetric at all. This coupled with 6 inch and a not so perfect RPC leads to obvious conclusions). But the 3 volumn set thinks that this gear was smashing! A world beater....

This book set is actually VERY hard to find. Most marine libruaries do not carry them (being considered non-naval!!) and therefore you need scientific libruaries to find a copy. Worse still there is no ILL in France.

John S
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JspencerCE



Joined: 03 Jan 2006
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 7:49 am    Post subject: RFs Reply with quote

For RFs, the French started off with coincidence Barr & Stroud (first noted in a 1907 information document after a French visit to the UK - this is personal research).

They continued with these until the late 1920s whereby we see Zeiss Stereoscopic devices coming into use. By 1939, most Coincidence devices had been replaced by Stereoscopic ones.

There does not appear to be many French opinions on the subject as far RFs are concerned, although we do see a tendence to creep towards bigger and bigger RFs for greater and greater ranges. Overall the size of the RF vaired from ship to ship and gun to gun - as one would expect.

John S
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JspencerCE



Joined: 03 Jan 2006
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually I should point out that for the late 1920s, you will find ships being completed with both types of RF. So to say that by 1930 Stereo RFs were replacing Coincidence ones would not be entirely correct.

By 1937 however we do see a big trend to removing the latter and replacing them with the former.

John S
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Adrian Dobb



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

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John

I have another question for you.

One aspect of the Courbet and Bretagne classes I find curious is the original limited 12 degree elevation of the main armament which consequently limited the gun range of even the 13.4 guns to less than most if not all German 11" gun mountings (13650 yards Fr 12" & 15580 yards 13.4"). I think all navies, perhaps understandably, underestimated the ranges at which actions might be fought, but the French seem to have been the worst case.

I wonder, was this just a function of the gun mounting design or was there a design/combat philosophy behind it perhaps that all decisive fighting would take place at mid to short ranges? In either case how does this relate to early French FC development?

Lastly though possibly related I'm under the impression (although this may not be correct) that the French pre-dread designs favoured long high powered guns, for accurate shooting in the final days of firing by gun sights. Being perhaps 5 cals longer than contemporary RN designs. I know this is not true for the dreadnoughts but again I'm wondering if this legacy (if true) ties in somehow?

Adrian
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JspencerCE



Joined: 03 Jan 2006
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 3:18 am    Post subject: decisive range Reply with quote

Hi Adrian,

Too close a range would be correct, for I recently un-earthed a scientific book from 1909 which showed an expectation of still fighting battles at 6000 metres!

I am almost certain that gunnery it self was directed from the blockhouse at this time (certainly most pre-dreads completed from 1895 had a purpose built blockhouse for gunnery). By 1910 (maybe even 1907), most would have had calculators and range clocks by this time.

By 1914, it was clearly realised that ranges were going to be much longer which lead to a little dismay!

The French did consider all big gun designs for the Danton's, but desided that the greater weight of fire of the mixed armament was better. This was probably influenced by the 6000 metre fighting range. In fairness, in 1907 the French thought that the Invincibles would have had mixed batteries (mis-information?) and for the RN, salvoe firing was still more theory than practice.

John S

(P.S Harley forget to bring in the titles of books).
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Adrian Dobb



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

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 11:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks John

Quote:
By 1914, it was clearly realised that ranges were going to be much longer which lead to a little dismay!


Hmmm sacre bleu - one can imagine!!!

From what you sat re the Danton's (which are another case in point) it sounds as if the French did just stick to pre-'all big gun' concepts for just a little to long. Given the pace of change I guess it could have come down to a matter of being just a few months behind. Once a design was finalised, the kit ordered and building underway, you could end up locked into a design and methodology for years.

Adrian
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JspencerCE



Joined: 03 Jan 2006
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 12:29 pm    Post subject: In hindsight... Reply with quote

In hindsight it is quite easy for us to say they were left behind. At the time the influences on choices are different.

If we take Danton vs Dreadnought as a case, we should note (and this is acknowledged in 1907 French reports) that the British had far faster firing 12 inch gun turrets (off the top of my head say 45 secs for a Danton 12in, 30 for Dreadnought). The only way they to match her firepower was by having powerful secondaries. (Broadside weight per minute between the two is greater for a Danton).

The RN had much Russo-Jap war information to work with (which the French probably lacked or interpreted differently - another question). This was a time where Salvo firing was a theory amongst 100s of new bright ideas (many of which never got off the ground, others just simply were not the best method like Dreyer vs Pollen for example).

The French may have been thinking along traditional lines (get in close and create a melay) which is another question.

That of Dreadnought is better documented (and perhaps re-interpreted). It has been said that Fisher was more interested in the economy of the design (cheaper to run than a pre-dread). Other data shows that he wanted the fastest big gun (initailly 10in replaced by 12in after developments). Some shoots showed the 6in to be useless while others probably contracdicted this. It was a mess of data. But with hindsight we can say Dreadnought was the best solution to the problem.

It has been said that most French 1880s pre-dreads were unstable compared to British ones (thanks to theories from Froude etc...). But if you saw the number of calculations that went into one (I have), they were designed under scientific rules even if those rules were probably not quite acurractly formed yet.

I would not say the French were backwards about going forwards, but the results of a long analysis (and when you read a committe report comparing designs, it is long) probably produced the wrong ship.
These reports tending to rate each ships offensive power, defensive power and other features. It was entirely scientific if it somewhat lacked that overall out of the box thinking.

To some up, it was really is a tug of do you trust one man in charge or a committee? History shows that some times one mind really does think better than many and vice-versa!

John S
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Adrian Dobb



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

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not much there I'd disagree with John.

Im not so much ctiticising French options as trying to figure out why, particularly as other navies had already taken or were taking the plunge.

I'm surprised about the weight of a Danton's broadside vis a vis Dreadnought. It does make sense though as long as the fight wasn't going to be at long range. But even taking account of hindsight and the conflicting evidence, it still seems an odd decision - laying down the class a year or so after Dreadnought. There were other similar designs with heavy secondary or intermediate batteries but I think they all pre-dated or were at least contemporary to Dreadnought.

Adrian
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Harley



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

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, as far as "Mixed Armament" goes the Royal Navy had already tried that idea with the Lord Nelson and Agammemnon hadn't they? Mixture of 12" and 9.2" - not quite Pre-Dreadnought yet certainly not a Dreadnought, and they were finished around the same time as Dreadnought herself. The French must have felt that no-one would dare fight a battle beyond the envisaged 6000m, and the fact that during the Great War major French Warships were mainly engaged with shore bombardment in their sphere of Operations (Mediterranean, Aegean, Adriatic). Which ever way, it was an interesting conclusion, even though tactically it suited the actions fought by the Armee Navale.
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JspencerCE



Joined: 03 Jan 2006
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 3:49 am    Post subject: more info Reply with quote

Harley, a good reference (which dates from the 1950s) is Historique de la Conduite de tir dans la Marine 1910-40 by M.Peira. Be warned an excellent French dictionary is next to useless in translating terms!

Adrian, I realise my thought sharing may have been a bit forthright even degrading - this was not my intention. Like you I have been trying to see the logic of the decisions they make. Sometimes we can search all we want in the achives and arrive easily come to a conclusion that maybe they were not aware of this or that factor which would have proved vital etc...

Anyway I can only think of two factors what may have swayed their choice for Danton:
1) Firstly they had only become aware of range finders in 1907 (we know that the Japanease used them against Russia a couple of years before so maybe other nations were aware earlier of this vital advance). Of course being aware of such an item and having knowledge to experience of using such an item are two very different things..... (In that era, people did not buy products unless they really believed they would benefit from them).

2) A Danton Dreadnought would be on the recieving end of 50% more shells than she could deliver. I would consider this a decisive influence at 6000 metres!

Overall I agree that they made the wrong decision, but the Danton's were considered good ships in service.
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Adrian Dobb



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

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John

Firstly I have no problem with your reply. On the contrary it has got me thinking.

After further thought and date checking I'm happy to revise what I said about the Dantons being an 'odd' choice.

A) Having read a bit more of Brooks this morning - and considering where RN FC thinking was in 1907, in what was a one dreadnought world, French ideas appear just a little conservative rather than necessarily wrong or out of date.

B) The Westfalen's were laid down at about the same time as the Danton's, on similar tonnage and also without turbines. They may well have appeared initially at least to be of similar fighting quality - and any calculation of broadside weight made against the Dreadnought would equally apply against them.

C) Part of what I said above was wrong. The Austro-Hungarian Radetzkys were laid down in 1907-8 and though handsome ships were a pair of 9.4" down on the Dantons.

D) The Dante Alighieri wasn't laid down till June 1909. Until then the French Dantons would easily have generated more fire power than any of the existing Italian battleships (though they may not have been able to catch all of them)!

E) Lastly I mention the comparable ships of the triple alliance powers as in 1907 tensions in Europe were growing. Great britain was recceeding as a future potential French adversary while the Triple alliance powers were becoming the ones for France to measure her strength against. Looked at this way I now think the six French ships stack up quite nicely in the world of 1907-8.

Its a shame they took four years or so to build by which time things really had changed.

Adrian
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JspencerCE



Joined: 03 Jan 2006
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 9:25 am    Post subject: YQVW Reply with quote

Adrian,

The good thing about this discussion is that it certainly got me thinking!

From memory, I believe that the story of the Westfalen's seems delved into 12in (ok 300 mm) designs before settling on 11in. I could be wrong (it has been a long time since I looked at my German book on the subject, and my German is virtually non-existant unlike my French).

Another point, the Danton's did have turbines (he says from memory) and this could have an influence from Dreadnought (although they also had good old expansion engines too).

I would say that it is also a shame that faster firing big gun turrets were not sooner. IIRC there were mixed calibre designs (super Dantons?) for the following Courbets - but here Dreadnoughts won the day!
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Adrian Dobb



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

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right you are, the Dantons did have turbines which puts them ahead of quite a few other ships. Apologies for misrepresenting that, unbelievably I thought I had checked on this but obviously hadn't as my source quite clearly says Parsons turbines.

Don't just judge a book by its cover!!!
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