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Dreadnought Battlecruiser Doctrine
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jwduquette1



Joined: 20 Dec 2005
Posts: 90

PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Massie in Castles of Steel puts the relative hit percentages for Dogger Bank at:

RN BCs: slightly less than 2%
German BCs: slightly more than 3%

The difference between the often cited “superior” German Gunnery and “mediocre” RN gunnery is not really that great. Only a few hits more will substantially alter the 2% hit percentage, as would a few misses drastically alter the 3% hit percentage figure.

At the moment I can only think of the Lion – which I think was hit 16 or 17 times, and Seydlitz which I think was hit 3 times.

For example, let’s assume the RN scored say 10-hits during Dogger Bank. That would imply they fired some 500-shells. The difference between the RN’s “mediocre” gunnery at Dogger Bank, and the High Seas Fleet “excellent” gunnery equates to another four hits on the part of the RN. Moreover if the RN BCs had scored 14-hits or 15-hit in the above example, than they would have been shooting on par with the Germans. To me this is perhaps luck as much as anything. 10-hits out of 500 shells fired as opposed to 14 or 15 hits out of 500 shells fired.

Best Regards
JD
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Horsa



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 4:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another factor to consider in the great gunnery debate is that Beatty's battlecruisers didn't get anywhere near as much gunnery practice as Jellicoes Grand Fleet. I've heard two reasons cited for this

1. Beatty's base at Rosyth was close to Edinburgh, and therefore civilians, who would not take kindly to massive naval guns "breaking the windows" . No such problem at Scapa Flow .

2. Jellicoe had been Head of Naval Ordinance ( not sure of exact title) and so you would expect a particular interest in naval gunnery. His gunnery drills at Scapa were thoroughly executed.

Most of the actions in the North Sea involved Beatty's BCs so history had more opportunity to record the "mediocre gunnery" of the RN.
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rubberboot



Joined: 06 Nov 2005
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Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jellicoe was also part of Lord Fishers commitee on the development of the HMS Dreadnought. Both Jellicoe and Percy Scott served under Fisher on the HMS Excellent in the Mediterranean fleet, so both were proponents of long gunnery, with Scott inventing the "dotter" and pushing for the "salvo" firing and spotting the shells onto target.

Plus, Beatty seamed to be more involved with looking good than being good. After Jutland, he was quick to put all the blame on Jellicoe for losing contact with the High Seas fleet, so his image wouldn't be tarnished.

Glenn
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Harley



Joined: 23 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as I'm concerned Beatty's utterance of "There's something wrong with our bloody ships today." is indicative of a man trying to shift the blame from himself whilst the Battle of Jutland was still raging! That Beatty bacame one of the longest serving First Sea Lords after tarnishing Jellicoe's good name and creating so much scandal irks me still nowadays.
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Adrian Dobb



Joined: 13 Nov 2005
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Location: Devon, UK

PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are alot of good points here to comment on, and I found Tone's link on the Iowa mishap particulary informative. The effect of ramming home the charges to far or fast and compacting the propellant is a new idea to me.

I want to comment on the propellant further but I'd like to say something further on the BCF's gunnery here.

I haven't read Massie's Castles of Steel (yet!) and as you say JD slightly less than 2% and slightly more than 3% doesn't sound much. But if looked at another way thats a 50% greater hit rate for the Germans at Dogger. If Hipper's boys had achieved 1% more they would have doubled Beatty's ships. Given the small number of hits per rounds fired I think that 1% is significant, though at the time difficult to measure. Also I wonder if the British figure includes hits gained when demolishing the stricken Blucher when she was a very much easier target.

At the outset of action at Jutland it seems clear now that almost all Beatty's BC's made serious errors overestimating the range considerably. Much has been said before about the disadvantageos light conditions etc. Perhaps the only way to properly anticpate and mitigate these problems would have been through experience for the operators which could only really have been got through regular training and exercise.

I agree with Horsa's point regarding the poorer facilities but that was something Beatty as head of the BCF should have put right. There was evidence the BCF's gunnery was lacking but no one seemed prepared to admit it and Jellicoe was unable or unwilling to demand it. Gordon goes so far as to say that Beatty only really agreed to the exchange of 3BCS and 5BS so he could get his hands on the QE's.

Lastly (and I should check this but I'm hurrying) Tiger's gunnery contribution at both battles was abyssmal (achieving 0 hits at Dogger?), if I'm right she may as well not have been there. Its particulary poor as she was the best of the BC's but it seems indifferently crewed by whoever could be got together to commission her at the outbreak of war. The time should have been set aside to properly work her up, get key personnel in etc. I don't think New Zealand was much better at Jutland - perhaps it was the Maori skirt!

Adrian
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jwduquette1



Joined: 20 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Adrian Dobb wrote:
Also I wonder if the British figure includes hits gained when demolishing the stricken Blucher when she was a very much easier target.


This is a good point. One that's been rolling around the back of my head while contemplating the lint accumulation in my navel. If the RN gross hit percentage reported by Massie includes the close range feeding frenzy around Blucher, than the hit percentage during the action -- excluding hits on Blucher -- would have been abysmal indeed for the RN BCs. As I recall Blucher scored only two or three hits during her demise. So her influence upon the final German percentile would be minimal. Hmmm…
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tone
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Surely, claiming 3% as being "only 1% better" than 2% is bad logic. It is 50% more hits taking place. That's not to say that the one shooting 3% is sure to win the battle, but he is unlikely to lose a decisive battle.

Having worked in speech recognition app development, you see the same lack of appreciation demonstrated again and again when people blink when offered a new recognizer that is 99% accurate over their present one which delivers 98% accuracy. The innumerate will think this is less than 1% better accuracy and how much could that matter, but the ones who understand what these number measure will realize that the new recognizer is 100% better in that it is wrong half as often as the predecessor. In this case, as success has established predominance, the error rate is the statistic that truly measures satisfactory performance.

But in the gunnery, the relevant deflators to consider, as you've suggested, are whether some subset of the shots tallied were against dead-duck, already-beaten targets at short ranges, as these shots do nothing to win the battle -- they merely cash in a victory won by a few earlier hits.

I think Campbell tries to omit shots thrown into Weisbaden, Defence, etc in at least an alternate shot tally.

And, just as sanely, one must consider that the considerable advantage a 3% shooting force will have over a 2% performer might not indicate that his overall skill/equipment advantage is of this same degree. Environmental factors of lighting, smoke, etc all come into play. That is, were Hipper's boys 50% better than Beatty's guys? One thing is sure -- only two contests were run, and if Beatty's men were equal to their opponents, they were well snookered.

tone
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jwduquette1



Joined: 20 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm…innumerates. I think I’ve just been insulted ;). You certainly can turn a phrase – I’ll give you that.

What I was suggesting with my previous post is actually rather the opposite of how you have interpreted it. Assuming all else is equal in terms of perfect range estimation, no visibility issues, etc, etc, etc. I was suggesting luck could be at play. Inherent shot dispersion in and of it self could account for the difference between 2% and 3% hits on point targets. Not much that gunnery training is going to do to over come this. That is assuming the hit percentage reported by Massie was not heavily skewed by hits registered on the Blucher. However, I suspect that the 2% hit percentile is in fact skewed by Blucher as was suggested by Adrian. Unfortunately without a break down of the actual data, it’s difficult to say for certain if this is or isn’t the case.

Best Regards
JD
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2006 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JD - no offense intended. I had skimmed the thread and did not note that any had really suggested that 3% was not a signficant betterment atop 2%. Truly sorry. I wasn't answering a given poster in my comment.

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Adrian Dobb



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm interested to hear if people think there was a problem with the BCF's gunnery at both engagements. As can probably be seen from above I think there was, though a whole sackful of other issues complicate any conclusion.

In the USN gunnery thread the RN FC system was discussed and I think the general consensus was that though there may be aspects that could have been better (optics?), any gunnery deficiencies were not due to fundamental failings in the the system or equipment.

It therefore seems that the determining test is whether or not the Grand Fleet units (using the same system) enjoyed any greater success in hit rates at Jutland. Without checking any statistics in Campbell (who if you believe Gordon is flawed anyway), I would suggest they did. In two limited opportunities in pretty poor visibilty conditions those dreadnoughts that could engage did give the HSF some very hairy moments. The circumstances were very different to those facing Beatty at the outset of the action, but would it be fair to say that the GF's gunnery performed in the circumstances as good as could be expected, whereas the BCF's gunnery did not?

It also seems significant to me that the two exchanged formations 5BS and 3BCS also shot quite well - both having been exposed to Jellicoe's gunnery discipline. Again you could point instead to the longer base range finders that the 5 BS benefitted from etc. However for me there are just to many aspects of the BCF performance that need an explanation, as it were. I guess I'm wagging an accusing finger at Beatty - do we need a new Beatty thread or is this just nonsense?

Adrian
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hard to speak in strongly conclusory tones, I think. The GF shot fairly well (certainly the Iron Duke did well), but their shooting also reflects the tremendous vagaries of the day (or of any day):

1. their range was shorter
2. not all GF ships had the same opportunity (e.g.: I think it was Erin who did not shoot at all because she could not see anything!)
3. their fire was opened, in many cases, as soon as targets could be found. The derivatives in range and bearing that are the grist of plotting-based FC don't even play a part under such circumstances (if one were hoping to use their overall performance as evidence for or against Dreyer or Argo gear).
4. Probably a billion other points

I am not great at pulling together a lot of data, but I think it would be fun to create a database of individual ships and their shooting. For instance, I'd be keen to see how many shots were fired by the ships ahead and astern the one dreadnought who never fired her guns.

tone
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Harley



Joined: 23 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From my flu-ridden house, a question;

I have heard it said in Beatty's defence that target practice was impractical in the Firth of Forth due to the built-up nature of the area (Rosyth, Queensferry, Edinburgh, Inverkeithing &c.). Just what exactly did the RN need for target practice? Was it something which had to be performed close to land or was it possible to undertake firing practice at sea?

It might be a simple question demanding a simple answer, but I find it difficult to believe that even us Brits would limit battle practice so as not to disturb anyone across the Firth.

Simon
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think proximity to cities was as much a concern as that they lacked protected waters (from submarines) in which to conduct these practices. They certainly did not want to offer the enemy free potshots while battleships paraded on a firing line.

Scapa Flow has huge contained water spaces large enough for firing at great range, and yet a few bottlenecks make it defensible and (largely) safe.

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jwduquette1



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I went back through Massie’s chapter on Dogger Bank. There are several conundrums regarding the gunnery statictics. Granted Massie is a good and fun read, but perhaps not the best source for an ultra in depth assessment.

That all said, here are bits that don’t seem to all fit together:

Pg: 417 "Castles of Steel" has sort of a break down on gunnery.

First the Germans.

Massie indicated they fired 976 shells of 11-inch and 12-inch caliber. He says SMS Battlecruiser’s hit ratio was 3.5%.

The break down appears to be as follows:

Lion was hit 16 times by 11-inch or 12-inch shells, and once by an 8.2-inch shell from Blucher

Tiger was hit 6 times by 11 or 12-inch shells

Indomitable was hit by one 8.2-inch shell from Blucher

DD-Meteor was hit and damage by a heavy shell during a torpedo run on Blucher. I assume this was an 8.2-inch shell from Blucher (see pg 413). However the text is not explicit on this bit; this may have been an 11-inch or 12-inch shell hit.

On Pg 413 Massie indicates no other RN DDs or CLs were hit during the battle.

3.5% of 976 shells implies 34 hits by 11-inch or 12-inch caliber shells. The above totals are either:

16 + 6 + 1(assuming Meteor was struck by a 11” or 12” shell) = 23 hits
or
16 + 6 (assuming Meteor was struck by an 8.2” shell from Blucher) = 22-hits

By my count there is 11 or 12 hits missing from 11-inch or 12-inch caliber shell catagory. That is assuming the 3.5% hit ratio is correct.

Royal Navy

Massie indicates 1150 shells of 12-inch or 13.5-inch caliber were fired. He says the RN hit ratio by the Battlecruisers (including hits on Blucher) was “less” than 2%.

The break down appears to be as follows:

Seydlitz was hit 3 times by 13.5” shells. Two from Lion and one from Tiger.

Derflinger was hit 3 times by 13.5” shells. One each from Lion, Tiger and Princess Royal.

New Zealand & Indomitable apparently fired only on Blucher during the battle. There is no direct indication as to the number of times Blucher was hit.

Less than 2% of the 12-inch and 13.5-inch shells hit -- what does this mean. If “less than 2%” means 1.9% than there should be about 22-hits scored. If “less than 2%” means 1.8% than there should be about 21-hits by 12-inch & 13.5-inch shells -- etc etc. Presumably this implies that Blucher was hit 15 or 16 times by 12-inch & 13.5-inch shells.

It seems easy enough to write-off the missing shells hits in the Royal Navy’s tally as strikes on Blucher.

However, the German hit totals are harder to resolve. Even if we toss in the Bluchers hits, and assume the 976 shells of 11-inch and 12-inch caliber actually includes 8.2-inch shells expended, we are still left with only 25-hits from 8.2” through 12” caliber. I’m guessing that the 3.5% hit ratio reported for the German Battlecruiser’s is actually supposed to have been 2.5% hits, and includes the 8.2” through 12” caliber shells – i.e. 25-hits divided by 976 equals 2.5%. However is there a further error here? Massie’s specifically says the 976 shell count was for 11” and 12” calibers. Was the 8.2” caliber shell count supposed to have been included in the 976? In other words, did Massie leave out the number of 8.2” shells expended, but still included the 8.2” shell hits in the 2.5% (which was than mistakenly reported as 3.5%)? Or; Did Massie simply not describe all of the German 11” and 12 caliber hits during the battle?

Regards
JD
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice work, JD -- stuff like this is never fun to sift through but at least here it's not thankless: THANKS!

I would imagine right off that Massie left out information. He had a lot of ground to cover, and his scope was not to provide an NJM Campbell retrospective of Dogger Bank.

I may go through and make a new thread with some data on Jutland, and we can pool our materials and make a web page. I really want to tie some of Campbell's data in with the reports made in the Despatches to see if there are correlations between the conditions reported and results obtained.

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