Rn vs IJN (3 Viewers)

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The effect of the Treaties needs taken into account in looking at capital ship numbers because they reshaped everything. The 3 major fleets were halved, and a 10 year building holiday imposed (extended to 31 Dec 1936 in the 1930 Treaty). Given the age and the rapid pace of capital ship development pre-WW1 it cut out a lot of dead wood and stopped another naval race like that in the lead up to WW1, which only the USA could afford. But it meant capital ship fleets of the size of WW1 would never be seen again. (At Jutland the RN fielded 37 capital ships and Germany 27) And with numbers limited different nations had different attitudes to preserving them, which affected operations in WW2.

Britain
1922 Washington cost the RN 20 capital ships immediately (plus 4 G3 on order but not laid down). That left 21 pre-Jutland capital ships plus Hood. Then in mid-1920s another 4 went to be replaced by the 2 Nelrods.

1930 London cost another 5, leaving the 15 Britain entered the war with.

USA
1922 Washington cost the USN 17 ships in service plus 13 under construction. That left a fleet of 15 pre and 3 post-Jutland ships. Total 18.

1930 London cost another 3, to leave the 15 they had in 1939.

IJN
Japan lost 10 plus 14 under construction or yet to be laid down under Washington. Her fleet then stood at 8 pre and 2 post-Jutland capital ships.

1930 London cost another battleship reducing the numbers to just 9 (Hiyie or Hiei was reactivated 1937-41 after Japan left the Treaty system).

France & Italy were allowed to keep 7 & 6 old pre-Jutland ships through this period. Italy in particular had financial problems that saw her reduce her capital ship numbers to just 4 by 1930. The concession they won at a Washington allowed them to each build 70,000 tons of new Battleships from 1927, a concession they retained under the 1930 London Treaty that led to the Dunkerques & Littorios.

Germany was limited by the Versailles Treaty to 8 old pre-Dreadnoughts (6 active & 2 in reserve) which were supposed to be scrapped as new construction of limited size entered the fleet. 4 were scrapped 1931-36 as the Panzerschiff entered service.

Then we have the 1930s rush to renew the capital ship fleets. But increasing size, cost and complexity forced a limitation on numbers again.

But despite the reduction in numbers the capital ship remained the king of the fleet for all navies until at least 1942. Its advocates continued to see it having a place beyond 1945. Britain continued to design Battleships into the post war years, as well as plan further modernisations, as well as completing the delayed Vanguard in 1946, until financial reality struck and the pre-KGVs went to the breakers 1948/49. The US recommenced work on BB-65 & 66, the Iowa class Illinois & Kentucky in Jan 1945 but neither was completed postwar. That despite having cancelled the Montana class in July 1943. France took Jean Bart in hand postwar and completed her to a modified design.
 
The RN was also far ahead of the USN in night fighting training and technology. Radar was icing on the cake of the RN's intensive night action training.

I will add another link to this dissertation which carefully explains how far behind the curve the USN was in terms of night fighting:

The Evolution of the U.S. Navy into an Effective Night-Fighting Force During theSolomon Islands Campaign, 1942 - 1943


This is a very interesting paper, thanks for posting.
 
One thing which could definitely make a surface night action between RN and IJN interesting is that the RN could deploy radar carrying Swordfish at night, and make night torpedo attacks. Same option potentially amid bad weather like squalls, which were very common in the Pacific.
Earlier in the thread the book 'British Cruiser Warfare: The Lessons of the Early War 1939 -1941' was mentioned. I purchased it and heartily recommend it. There is a lot of detail of how Radar and its use in action developed over this period. The following is an example, that shows what could be achieved in early days.

On the 9th November 1941 Force K encountered an Italian convoy and the Aurora using a type 284 radar which was linked to low angle gunnery system that controlled the ships 6in main armament.

The first target was a destroyer before radar controlled fire was opened at 5,700 yards. Aurora fired at seventeen targets, some more than once. Of the total number:-
a) twelve targets were fired at using the 284 set. Ten of these were hit with the first broadside, one broadside was out for line and one was short.
b) five were engaged optically, one was a hit, one was a probable hit, one was short, two missed completely.

There can be no doubt that this was an exceptional result but if the UK could average half of this performance across the board, then the IJN would have a real problem.
 
But despite the reduction in numbers the capital ship remained the king of the fleet for all navies until at least 1942. Its advocates continued to see it having a place beyond 1945. Britain continued to design Battleships into the post war years, as well as plan further modernisations, as well as completing the delayed Vanguard in 1946, until financial reality struck and the pre-KGVs went to the breakers 1948/49. The US recommenced work on BB-65 & 66, the Iowa class Illinois & Kentucky in Jan 1945 but neither was completed postwar. That despite having cancelled the Montana class in July 1943. France took Jean Bart in hand postwar and completed her to a modified design.
Our buddy Drach has a vid on that:


View: https://youtu.be/WStdZfpVyCY?si=kDWOkUNVC3QjxbTe
 
Earlier in the thread the book 'British Cruiser Warfare: The Lessons of the Early War 1939 -1941' was mentioned. I purchased it and heartily recommend it. There is a lot of detail of how Radar and its use in action developed over this period. The following is an example, that shows what could be achieved in early days.

On the 9th November 1941 Force K encountered an Italian convoy and the Aurora using a type 284 radar which was linked to low angle gunnery system that controlled the ships 6in main armament.

The first target was a destroyer before radar controlled fire was opened at 5,700 yards. Aurora fired at seventeen targets, some more than once. Of the total number:-
a) twelve targets were fired at using the 284 set. Ten of these were hit with the first broadside, one broadside was out for line and one was short.
b) five were engaged optically, one was a hit, one was a probable hit, one was short, two missed completely.

There can be no doubt that this was an exceptional result but if the UK could average half of this performance across the board, then the IJN would have a real problem.

There can be no doubt that this was an exceptional result but if the UK could average half of this performance across the board, then the IJN would have a real problem.

Well, seeing as the RN were not able to average half of this performance against the rest of the German and Italian naval fleets throughout the rest of the war (speaking of night-fighting ability only) I wouldn't be so sure that the Japanese navy would be such a soft touch to defeat.
 
Agreed. Those that are actually interested in the night fighting capacities of the RN rather than pontificating that the British were bad at because they were ...British, should read this:
After the failure at Jutland the RN became very interested in night fighting. In 1929 they introduced the ALR plotting table to increase situational awareness. This was very successful and actually displayed the position of the ship via a circle on light on the plotting paper an advanced technique for the time.

In 1925 The Naval War Manual stated "If contact between capital ships has not been made during the day or if the day action has been indecisive, the Admiral will decide whether or not to seek to seek a night action between ships..."
Admiral Chatfield became commander of the Mediterranean fleet on 1930. He wrote "that night fighting will be our great opportunity in the next war. We would surprise the enemy by our proficiency."
Admiral Cunningham commanding the destroyers in the Med from 1934 to 36 practiced night expecises even resulting in a collision between Echo and Encounter as well as many close calls.
Admiral Drax in 1932 " It is fundamentally wrong that officers should afraid of or be taught to avoid, night action."
In 1937 the Amtaey issued a silent film on controlling night torpedo firing based on the results of an exercise.
The combined fleet maneuver of March 1934 showed that the RN was very serious about night fighting and had developed a significant capability:
"With his battleships deployed on a line-of-bearing to keep their "A" arcs open , Fisher closed on the Blue forces until, at a range of just under seven thousand yards he ordered simultaneous illumination by star shell and searchlight. The effect was devastating and there was never any doubt on either side that that Fisher would have achieved the complete destruction of the of the Blue main body with little loss."
The revised Battle Instructions of 1934 stated "nights action between heavy ships ....must be taken advantage of when circumstances require." The Royal Navy was the only navy in the world that entered WWII with the expectation that their battle fleet would fight at night. The Japanese did expect their Kongos to fight at night but not their battleships.
I haven't had a chance to post the actual record of the Royal Navy in night battles in the Mediterranean, but is spectacular to say the least.

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Liguran Sea was actually fought by the Kriegsmarine after Italy surrendered.

This is total domination. Note the heavy losses in Italian merchant vessels which was the objective of most of these battles. Also note the Regia Marina torpedo boats were actually small destroyers similar in size and capability to the RN Hunt class.
The battle of Cape Passero is particularly spectacular British victory

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sTUrrCW1U0
The RN vs Kriegsmarine was also heavily in favor of the RN. The Battle of the Barents Sea stands out as an example of RN destroyers preventing a superior force from attcking a british convoy.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4PJhqiX2QE
The battle of the North Cape was another example of RN capabilities at night and in appalling weather conditions. Incidentally, although it is impossible to know for sure, HMS Saumarez was likely responsible for some of the torpedo hits which slowed down the Scharnhorst enough for the Duke of York to catch her. This was the same ship that took part in the sinking of the Haguro.
 
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+ Taranto and Cape Matapan, off the top of my head.
Taranto was aircraft only, launched at max range from off the Greek coast.

But sadly it was not all good news for the RN in its night surface actions in WW2, particularly in the English Channel.

9/10 July 1943 3 Hunt class destroyers attacked a convoy protected by 5 minesweepers managing to sink only one minesweeper. In turn the Hunts were attacked by T-24 & T-25 (Type 39 "Elbing" class torpedo boats - small destroyers) and came off worst. All the Hunts were damaged, Melbreak badly, while the German TB escaped with splinter damage.

Then from 5/6 Sept 1943 to 22/23 Oct 1943 the RN ran 10 Operation Tunnel sorties along the French Coast from Cherbourg to Brest. These used a mix of Hunt class and fleet destroyers and half included a cruiser. Only 2 engaged the enemy and neither represented success for the RN.

3/4 Oct 2 fleet & 3 Hunt were sent to attack a coastal convoy. Instead 4xT39 found them. In the following confused action the 2 fleet destroyers were damaged (partly blue on blue & partly enemy) while the Germans suffered splinter damage only.

22/23 Oct 2 fleet & 4 Hunt destroyers and the "Toothless Terror" Dido class AA cruiser Charybdis were again sent to intercept a convoy but instead ran into 5 T39 TB, who succeeded in getting the drop on the British force. The result was the cruiser Charybdis torpedoed & sunk, the Hunt, Limbourne, torpedoed and scuttled. The cause was a mix of things - poor planning at short notice, recent changes of command in some ships, CO of the operation in Charybdis had no experience of these operations as his ship had been operating in the Med and on the Gib convoy routes immediately prior to this assignment, disparity of speed amongst the RN ships, the "right" equipment was spread amongst the ships and communications were poor.

Operations began again in Jan 1944, with another 12 Tunnels through to the end of April 1944 of which only 2 met the enemy. These all involved the big Tribal class and after 4/5 Feb the Hunts were dropped. The ships also had the opportunity to work together regularly and practice Night Encounter Exercises. Better support was available from Coastal Command & Coastal Forces. Success came with the final Tunnel on 26/27 April when the cruiser Black Prince and 4 Tribals set out to intercept a convoy. This time the German commander made a mistake and his 3xT39 ran into the RN force. The T29 was sunk and the other 2 damaged. The T24 & T27 we're intercepted a couple of days later by the Tribals, then involved in another operation. T24 was sunk and T27 driven ashore for RAF to complete her destruction.

These operations set the scene for the more successful operations in the Bay of Biscay between June & Aug 1944.

From the German perspective, they had the advantage of their coastal radars being able to track the RN warships. And the routes used by the RN warships pretty much had to follow defined paths to avoid minefields and coastal gun batteries. And there were ports into which convoys could seek shelter if detected.
 
It amazes me how much more effective the German torpedo boats were than the US ones, even after the USN torpedoes were more or less fixed
 
I agree Taranto is impressive across the board. It's interesting that prior to the raid, they used a Maryland for recon flown by this remarkable guy


The ability of the Swordfish (and Albacores) to attack at night and in fowl weather are definitely a significant asset for the RN.

One wonders if the IJN could have engaged them with aircraft like F1M.

However, in the many defeats of the Italians, with all due respect both to the RN and to the great nation of Italy, they were clearly a step behind during WW2. Both the US and the UK won many battles against the Italians, whose navy among other dire problems with leadership, kit, training, etc. was seriously plagued with a lack of fuel to operate.

Against the Germans the RN record (day and night) is much more mixed. I think the IJN is much closer to the Germans in capability ship for ship, maybe superior. And they had a lot more ships, plus a real carrier force.

I notice that excellent paper on the painful development of night combat capability by the USN notes that the IJN had the best optical and night detection kit in the world.

It was very interesting to learn from that paper that the IJN spent so much time, so aggressively training for night combat with their smaller ships (CA, CLs and DDs and smaller) because they had been limited to the number of battleships they could build by those 1930s treaties and had fewer than the US and RN. Everyone was still thinking of that epic fleet battle that never really happened.

But the result was a phenomenal degree of discipline, skill and general competence in night actions.

I was also interested to note, that in the very first night victory by the IJN at Savo Island, they both used ship launched recon aircraft to spot the US fleet, and then used them to drop flares behind the US cruisers to successfully illuminate them for attack.

The USN also had two radar equipped ships, but failed to use them properly or to communicate effectively.
 
However, in the many defeats of the Italians, with all due respect both to the RN and to the great nation of Italy, they were clearly a step behind during WW2. Both the US and the UK won many battles against the Italians, whose navy among other dire problems with leadership, kit, training, etc. was seriously plagued with a lack of fuel to operate.

The RM was probably the branch of the Italian armed forces that did best during WWII. And on paper at least the surface fleet was arguably more than a match for the KM, despite the Italian economy being a fraction of the size of the German.

Of course they had some major issues like the shell dispersion issue with their big guns, poor night fighting capability, and a quite serious lack of fuel as you mention.

Despite these issues, the RM was no walkover. They fought one of the most powerful navies in the world for control over the Med for several years. Yes, they were defeated in many battles, but won others as well.
 
The RM was probably the branch of the Italian armed forces that did best during WWII. And on paper at least the surface fleet was arguably more than a match for the KM, despite the Italian economy being a fraction of the size of the German.

Of course they had some major issues like the shell dispersion issue with their big guns, poor night fighting capability, and a quite serious lack of fuel as you mention.

Despite these issues, the RM was no walkover. They fought one of the most powerful navies in the world for control over the Med for several years. Yes, they were defeated in many battles, but won others as well.

I think they had a great deal of potential, but the lack of fuel had many knock-on effects beyond just not being able to sortie their fleets out from harbor to fight - they also weren't able to train much or shake out the flaws in their otherwise good kit. It takes a lot of missions to really shake out a naval fleet and figure out what needs to be fixed, what needs to be improved, what needs to be replaced or augmented. And who needs to be replaced or augmented in terms of officers and NCOs etc. Which crews need more training, which tactics need to be adjusted.

I agree they did have some pretty good kit, for example their torpedoes were quite good and though they were somewhat antiquated / obsolescent, they had some quite effective torpedo bombers like the SM.79 which posed a real threat to any ships operating in the Med, at least for a while. Their land based fighters were also excellent / world class once Alfa Romeo started license production of the DB 600 series engines.

The Italians also didn't look nearly as bad as is assumed on land either, some formations in their armies were almost good. Under German leadership (and backup from German aircraft and artillery) they did pretty well in several battles, (particularly certain units like Ariete, Fologre and Nembo, Trieste and Celere etc.). And yet, both the British and American armies were able to defeat them on numerous occasions, when the same forces struggled against the Germans. I think the Regia Marina did not have the chance to live up to it's potential, nor could it (either on a ship for ship basis, or in aggregate, even though they had a lot more ships) rival the Kriegsmarine in the real world, again largely because of the fuel problem. They also were not sufficiently modernized for example with AA and ASW capabilities.
 
The Italians were clearly very, very smart. They had, and continue to have, some of the most skilled and creative designers in the world. And their soldiers were just as brave as any other. They suffered from having been under fascist leadership ten years longer than Germany had, since the 1920s, and too many people in their senior leadership had their jobs on the basis of loyalty to 'El Duce' rather than for competence. The Italian troops were often put into terrible situations in the war, and the Italian leaders made repeated strategic errors in the lead up to war and during it's early years, which is why the Germans were repeatedly bailing them out.

I suspect that the Germans themselves would have looked a lot more like Italy if they had been under Nazi rule since 1922.
 
I think they had a great deal of potential, but the lack of fuel had many knock-on effects beyond just not being able to sortie their fleets out from harbor to fight - they also weren't able to train much or shake out the flaws in their otherwise good kit. It takes a lot of missions to really shake out a naval fleet and figure out what needs to be fixed, what needs to be improved, what needs to be replaced or augmented. And who needs to be replaced or augmented in terms of officers and NCOs etc. Which crews need more training, which tactics need to be adjusted.

I think this is a really good point. The fuel shortages meant that sailors couldn't be kept up to snuff. We see an analogous thing happening with the Luftwaffe over NW Europe, where fuel shortages lead to a fall-off of front-line skills for lack of training.
 

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