Kongo and Haruna

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by renrich, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    I have read that the IJN BBs Kongo and Haruna were sent late in 1941 to the Malaya area to support landings there and to cope with any British capital ships in the area. The Repulse and Prince of Wales were sunk by Japanese air in that area. If those two had not been sunk and had encountered the Kongo and Haruna, an engagement between them would have featured four British designed dreadnoughts with three of them being built in England. Assuming equal amounts of escorts, in a surface engagement, which force would have most likely prevailed?
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    KGV class battleship quad turrets were notorious for malfunctions. For instance HMS Prince of Wales turrets malfunctioned during the engagement with KM Bismarck. If they malfunction again the RN is going to be embarrassed when their state of the art battleship designed during 1935 gets blown out of the water by a pair of Japanese battlecruisers designed during 1910.

    If POW main gun turrets function properly the ship should win this fight without breaking a sweat.
    - Newer model 14" guns more powerful then those on the pre-WWI Japanese BCs.
    - POW is a battleship. It has much heavier armor then the Japanese battlecruisers.
    - The 25 year newer POW has numerous detail improvements resulting from newer technology.

    HMS Repulse.
    A WWI era eggshell armed with hammers in the finest Jacky Fisher tradition. A WWII heavy cruiser armed with 8" main guns would stand a reasonable chance of shooting it to pieces.

    HMS POW is the more dangerous threat so it will probably attract most Japanese attention. If HMS POW main gun turrets function properly then HMS Repulse has little to worry about. Otherwise it is toast.
     
  3. starling

    starling Member

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    Hey guys,hope you don't mind me blundering in here.Concerning the H.M.S.Prince of Wales' guns and gunnery systems,I'd like to add that perhaps the gunnery of the H.M.S.Duke of York should be looked at during the battle of the north cape,it worked out just right for her.I think we should assume that the guns and gunnery aboard the H.M.S.Prince of Wales,was somewhat better than when she faced the Bismarck and prince Eugene,those 14in guns were o.k.As I understand ,the H.M.S.Duke of York later helped the U.S.battleships in bombarding the Japanese home islands,later in 1945,although I don't know if her main armament worked well.Cheers,Starling.
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    A newer ship with a couple more years to fix turret bugs. The crew had ample time to work up to peak efficiency.

    HMS POW turrets malfunctioned during May 1941. The ship received significant battle damage too. Were all the technical flaws fixed only 7 months later (i.e. December 1941)? How good was the crew? It was green as grass during May 1941. After yard time to repair battle damage HMS POW was employed as a yacht to transport PM Churchill to North American. During September 1941 HMS POW was assigned to Force H in the Mediterranean. During October 1941 HMS POW departed for Singapore. That doesn't allow much time for testing and modification of main gun turrets. Nor does it allow much time for crew training except what can be accomplished while conducting combat operations.

    I'm not saying HMS POW wasn't fully operational during December 1941. Neither would I assume it was. We need to see the historical engineering report filed just before POW departed for Singapore.
     
  5. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Starling, the whole purpose of this forum is to get info and opinion from other people so welcome.

    Ok, the IJN two ships were rated as BBs because they had been extensively remodeled twice since their initial launch and they had better protection, especially against torpedoes.

    Advantages- British- six 15 inch guns plus ten 14 inch modern guns against sixteen old model 14 inch guns. Much better protection for the POW although overall the Repulse not as well protected as the IJN ships.

    Advantages- IJN- Both ships can make 30 knots whereas POW can only make 27 knots, Repulse can make 30 knots. IJN BBS armed with 21 inch torpedo tubes.

    Here is the fly in the buttermilk for the RN. Both forces are going to have DDs for escorts. At this stage of the war it is doubtful if the RN has a lot of knowledge about the IJN torpedo doctrine or capabilties. In a night surface engagement, one or both RN BBs might fall victim to those deadly DD's 24 inch, high speed, long range torps. In a daylight engagement the danger would be less but still a big problem for the RN. I would say that at night the IJN has the advantage and in daytime the odds are about even.
     
  6. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    A real problem in trying to evaluate naval engagements between just a couple of ships is that real engagements seemed to hinge on incredible amounts of luck. Who hit who first and where. Magazine explosions aside even a few hits seemed to degrade the 'hittee' to a greater extent than most wargames would give credit for. Fire control seemed to more fragile/susceptible to nearby hits than most navy's planned for and if the fire control goes to pot early in the battle the outcome, baring another lucky hit or two,is a forgone conclusion. The more ships involved the more such hits average out but with just one or two heavy ships per side a few early hits can influence the rest of the battle.

    I believe the British 14" mounts suffered from break downs all their life but improved as time went on and the POW vs the Bismark being a particular low point, Builders construction crews still being on board (?).
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I agree. However HMS POW was so well armored that it's unlikely to blow up from a couple shell hits. Like KM Bismarck the POW will probably absorb dozens of large shell hits before it dies.

    Calling the Kongo class a battleship doesn't make it so. They had BC scale armor even after modernization. HMS Repulse armor was even thinner. All BCs have the potential to blow up early on if hit by dreadnought size shells.

    I've always wondered why Japan sent a pair of BCs to this potential fight. They should have sent the two Nagato class battleships. Even the older Fuso class battleships would have been a better choice.
     
  8. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    #8 renrich, Jun 29, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2012
    Janes 1942 rates the Kongo class as BBs as well as my "Fighting Ships of WW2" by Westwood. I will take their word for it. They did have lighter armor than many other BBs but debating whether they were BBs or BCs is splitting hairs and not worthwhile. Haruna and Kongo were what they were. Short of the lucky hit though, BBs and BCs were remarkebly resistant to shellfire. I think that Kirishima took about 30 hits before sinking. At Jutland Lion took 12 hits from heavy guns, Tiger 17, Princess Royal 9 and Warspite 13 and did not sink and could still steam and Fight although Warspite was sent to the bench.

    I expect that the Japanese sent the two what they considered BBs because they were so much faster than the other BBs. Those ships could not catch Repulse or POW and would be at a severe disadvantage. The Japanese seemed to have favored speed and gun power over armor, especially in their CAs.

    Incidently, on Tully's Imperial Japanese Navy online data base page it definitely says that the Kongos were rerated as BBs after reconstruction. Very interesting web site. I wonder why when the Kongos were reconstructed, they did not remove the six inch guns and use the weight for more armor? I understand after the Hiei was sunk, the steering compartment was lined with concrete and a couple of six inchers removed.
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The difference is simple. Battleships are armored to protect vs dreadnought size shells. Battlecruisers are not.

    Armor penetration @ 20,000 yards. WWII era AP shells.
    510mm. Italy 381mm/50. Main guns for Vittorio Veneto.
    509mm. USN 16"/50. Main guns for Iowa class battleships.
    419mm. German 38cm/52. Main guns for KM Bismarck.
    297mm. British 15"/42. Main guns for HMS Repulse.
    285mm. British 14"/45 Mk VII. Main guns for HMS POW.

    Unfortunately I couldn't find armor penetration data for the older 14"/45 main guns of the Kongo class. However with modern shells I suspect it wasn't too much less then the newer British 14"/45 Mk VII.

    Armor belt thickness.
    410mm. IJN Yamato.
    370mm. HMS POW.
    350mm. KM Scharnhorst.
    350mm. Vittorio Veneto.
    320mm. KM Bismarck.
    307mm. U.S.S. Iowa.

    Now for the battlecruisers.
    229mm. USS Alaska.
    229mm. HMS Repulse. As of 1939. Was 152mm during WWI.
    203mm. IJN Kongo. As of 1939.
     
  10. barney

    barney Member

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    "Battleships and Battle Cruisers 1905-1970" by Breyer lists both Kongo and Haruna as BC.
     
  11. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    What a bunch of nit pickers! I will take Janes and the other sources' word but so what? You can call them whatever you want to. The question is what would be the outcome if the POW and Repulse and escorts met Kongo and Haruna and their escorts. If the discussion is all about whether to call the ships BBs BCs or ox carts then let us get the moderators to close the thread.
     
  12. barney

    barney Member

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    #12 barney, Jun 30, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2012
    The protective upgrades to these vessels consisted of the fitting of torpedo bulges and strengthening of horizontal armor. Vertical armor remained unchanged from commissioning. So, still BC.

    These vessels were intended as escorts for fast aircraft carriers.

    On the night of November 14-15 a sister ship, the Kirishima, took an estimated 20 heavy hits and a plastering of 5 inch, and although she was sinking, no magazine explosion and only about 200 killed in action. So, these were fast and surprisingly tough ships.

    But, I have to agree with what was written above; the IJN's torpedo attack (or lack thereof) would most likely determine the outcome of this hypothetical contest.
     
  13. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    It appears to me torpedoes were decisive for sinking both KM Bismarck and KM Scharnhorst. In fact I have my doubts whether HMS Duke of York's 14" shells could have sunk the heavily armored KM Scharnhorst. The RN clearly know how to conduct a torpedo attack and RN torpedos were reliable.
     
  14. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    #14 renrich, Jun 30, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2012
    According to Tully's website ( he is co author of Shattered Sword)

    Japanese Type 93 Torp
    24 inch diameter
    1080 pounds of explosive
    20000 meters @ 48 knots
    32000 meters @ 40 knots
    40000 meters @ 36 knots

    American Mark 15
    21 inch diameter
    825 pounds of explosive
    13700 meters @ 26 knots

    At least some of the Kongos had additional deck armor added during remodeling.

    A lot different torpedoing a ship already badly damaged and practically dead in the water and one moving and fighting. The Exeter fired torpedos at Graf Spee with no effect. A lot of dead American sailors because of those IJN torps.
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The British Navy did not use American torpedoes.

    British Torpedoes of World War II
    21" Mark IX. Used on most RN DDs and cruisers.
    11,000 yards @ 36 to 41 knots (newer torpedo lots were faster).
    722 lbs TNT or 805 lbs Torpex (newer torpedos had Torpex).

    This reliable torpedo is perfectly capable of inflicting serious damage on large warships. KM Scharnhorst received multiple torpedo hits while underway.
     
  16. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The Scharnhorst could not have been moving very fast or the DDs could never have caught her as the seas were very heavy. The Duke of York could only make 17 knots in them. The DDs fired a total of 28 torpedos with probably four hits. Then the CLs obtained 2 more torpedo hits and then the DDs obtained 6 more. Yep those British torps were deadly. Two of the salvo of six torpedoes which sank the Wasp missed and hit the BB North Carolina between five and seven miles away, tearing a hole 32 by 15 feet in her port bow and sank the DD O Brien.
    One wonders how many Type 93s would have been needed to sink an already badly beat up Scharnhorst? Surely not twelve!
     
  17. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Since this is very much a what if question, I'll throw something else in the mix between the Kongo/Haruna and Repulse/Prince of Wales. The other large warship that was to accompany the two British vessels as part of Force 'Z' was the carrier HMS Indomitable, newly commissioned and sent to Singapore via the Caribbean, where, on entry to the harbour at Kingston Jamaica, she struck the Palisadoes Reef at the harbour bar, which rendered her inoperative; she was sent to the USA for repairs, so missed the sinking of the two ships by the Japanese.

    If Indom was there at the time that the Repulse and Prince were attacked, it would have added another element to the mix, particularly if the Japanese battleships were present (according to my copy of Siegfried Breyer's book Battleships and battlecruisers 1905 - 1970; "The fitting of torpedo bulges reduced their speed and from 1930 onwards they are therefore classified as senkan = battleships" - pedant :)).

    On an historical note, Singapore wasn't the last time that Indomitable escaped a probable fate; the ship was sent to Ceylon after her repairs and in early April 1942 was sent out on patrol to intercept a Japanese carrier group led by Adm Chuichi Nagumo and comprising five carriers, four fast battleships, cruisers and destroyers. Her torpedo bombers were readied, but the ship was not sent after the Japanese. She missed the bombing of Colombo on the 5th April by Japanese carrier aircraft. On that day the cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire were sunk.

    A few days later the carrier Hermes and destroyer Vampire were also sunk by Nagumo's aircraft. I read an account by a crewmember of the Indomitable once and the guy couldn't understand why they didn't intercept the Japanese, although it turned out that the Japanese task force was far superior in numerical size than the British ships in the region, which also included the battleship Warspite and carrier Formidable. According to this guy's account, Adm Somerville with held the British carrier because he wanted to prevent the inevitable.

    Sir John Somerville was commander of the Eastern Fleet, which comprised Indom, the carrier Formidable and the battleship Warspite had Singapore as his base for awhile, but left once the situation became untenable, although at that time his ships were elsewhere, both Formidable and Warspite had undergone repairs in the USA after bomb damage in the Mediterranean and were sent to the Eastern Fleet in February and March '42. So had the Warspite and Formidable not been damaged in the Med, they would have probably ended up in Singapore too. Just a thought.
     
  18. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    If Indomitable had been with POW and Repulse, unless the IJN could have gotten air cover for Haruna and Kongo, the odds would have been on the British side unless the battle took place at night. The Japanese had developed their torpedo doctrine and the weapons, tactics and night optics especially for night engagements as they expected to be outnumbered in a war with the US. Air strikes against the two IJN BBs if they had no air cover might have been lethal just as those against POW and Repulse were although it is doubtful that the air group from Indomitable would be as numerous or proficient as the Japanese air.
     
  19. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    I agree, it would have been an interesting one to try and guess an outcome. Probably losses on both sides. Add to this the Buffalos sent to provide top cover for the Repulse and Prince but headed in the wrong direction because the ships had changed course away from their original rendezvous point and you have a bit more of an even fight against the torpedo bombers (although on another thread there is a war raging about whether the Buffalo was effective or not :().
     
  20. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Well, there is effective against the Zero at altitude and there is effective against G3M level bombers and G4M torpedo bombers at a few hundred feet. :)

    The insistence on radio silence to point of not telling your land based air where you are is not one of the brighter decisions of the battle.
     

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