Royal navy A.A.gunnery.

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by starling, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. starling

    starling Member

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    #1 starling, Aug 14, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012
    Hi all,of all the major belligerent ww2 Countries,did the royal Navy have the "worst"Anti Aircraft Gunnery.? Thankyou ,Starling.
     
  2. kettbo

    kettbo Member

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    #2 kettbo, Aug 14, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012
    Are you talking Gunnery as in shots fired to shots hit? gun direction? over-all capability?

    What period are you asking because overall things got better for them with more AAA weapons, DP mounts 5" and below, more RFC.
    Early war old school ideas and small fitment of AAA weapons. For example prewar DDs had a single AAA gun 4" and some auto cannon, late war classes had twin or single DP mounts (when available) with TDC and RFC and VT/Proximity fusing. Larger ships got better AAA suites during overhauls or repairs. Some of the early war commissioned capital ships had the 5.25" gun and later strong 40mm close-in AAA

    Early on I'd have to say the RN was POOR, like most everybody else in late 1939/1940.

    o The USN had the 5"/38 most in DP mounts initially and the 40mm coming into service in vast numbers '42/43. Pretty good equipment then add VT fusing and RFC, becomes very good compared to others.
    o IJN 127mm were DP in most of the newer classes, all the new build stuff and heavy units that were modernized. Decent weapon, useful ROF. Just lacking in RFC direction most of the war. Big shortfall was the 23mm AAA close in armament lacked the range and killing power needed
    o The Germans had secondary weapons then heavy AAA which was old-school. Smaller warships slightly better than most others early war AAA outfit. The later 37s were capable, quad 20s were lethal if you took hits, twin 20s useful. Again, RFC and TDC not up to the USN in their 1944/45 standard.


    Think quantity and quality. Anti Air defense thinking and weaponry was primitive at the beginning of the war. Little plane on ship action in the past for the threat analysts to develop defense concepts and weapons. Throughout the war, more weapons added, thus more rounds shot upward means more planes shot down or damaged, or distracted. Add central control, then improved control, then Radar Fire Control. VT fusing made "Close" count for those who had it.
     
  3. starling

    starling Member

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    Thanks for that fine eloquent answer,cheers.Starling.
     
  4. starling

    starling Member

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    Hey guys,Did any major R.N.units,BB's or C.V's recieve anti aircraft "refits",whilst in U.S.shipyards.?thanks,Starling.
     
  5. starling

    starling Member

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    Hey guys,so would you say that late war(let's say in the P.T.O),that the R.N.was on a par with U.S.Navy.? Obviously the guns themselves were different in the main D.P.weapons,but was the Radar,etc nearly equal.Thanks,Starling.
     
  6. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Royal Navy gunners typically overclaimed at a rate of 4 or 5 to 1, hardly surprising when every gun within a mile might be firing on the same target.

    Shipboard anti aircraft defence is a last resort and the least effective of the so called "three layers".

    The first defence is interdiction of enemy airfields or carriers to prevent their aircraft taking off to attack your ships or to destroy them before they can do so.

    Second is fighter protection provided by a task forces air group to prevent aircraft getting within efective range of your naval assets.

    Steve
     
  7. RCAFson

    RCAFson Well-Known Member

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    In 1939, the Royal Navy had the most advanced naval AA gunnery systems of any navy. Take a look at the design and AA weapons systems of HMS Renown and HMS Valiant in 1939 and compare them to any other foreign ship in 1939.

    Renown had 4 HACS Mk IV directors controlling 20 4.5in (10 x 2) DP guns and 24 (3 x 8 ) 40mm pom-poms each with it's own director and 16 .5in MGs (4 x 4). No other navy had any thing even close to this level of AA firepower backed up by full director control.

    In 1940 the battleship K.G.V. introduced the Mk IVGB director, 4 of which controlled her 16 x 5.25in DP guns, plus she had 4 MK IV pom-pom directors controlling 32 40mm pom-pom guns and KGV also had type 279 radar which gave KGV radar ranging for aerial targets. Again this was far superior to anything else afloat, in terms of AA capability.

    In 1941 the KGV class battleship, Prince of Wales, went into service with no less than 9 AA FC radars including 4 x type 285 which provided ranging for her 4 HACS Mk IVGB directors, which controlled the 5.25in guns, and 4 x type 282 radars which provided radar ranging for her 4 Mk IV pom-pom directors. PoW was so far ahead of the field in terms of AA control, that she simply had no rivals in any other navy - the Axis navies never developed AA FC radar. The USN did not begin to fit AA FC radars to their ships until early 1942, and they only managed that because of UK and RN technical assistance.

    I recently read a fascinating book called "Flagship to Murmansk" by Robert Hughes which gives a very vivid account of RN AA gunnery aboard the AA cruiser, HMS Scylla.
     
  8. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    #8 fastmongrel, Aug 22, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2012
    Not true the German Navy had AA FC radars and they were no better or worse than Allied equivalents just not fitted to enough ships.

    German Radar of World War II
     
  9. RCAFson

    RCAFson Well-Known Member

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    The only mention, in the above article, of of AA FC radars actually fitted to a ship was this set, fitted to Tirpitz:
    Tirpitz at that point was just a floating gun battery.
     
  10. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    im afraid i dont agree with this. Westermann has done an exhaustive study on AA effectiveness, which shows that for high level strategic bombers , it was about as effective as your 'second tier' of defence (the land based equivalent at least). What you are saying is not without some basis....there was gross overclaimimg, but then so too was there overclaiming in the air as well.

    The other thing is that AA effectiveness should not be measured on the kill rates achieved. Its primary mission was always to affect accuracy rather than kill things, and ther is strong evidence to support the notion that the RN was quite good at that.

    The RN was unfortunate in that it did not have a great director control system until later in the war, and its failure to produce a widespread DP for DDs cost it dearly early on. this makes a bit of a nonsense the claim that "every gun within a mile of the target would open up at the atackers. Light AA was really only effective for the target ship and one ship adjacent, since the TDs were often at least 700 yds and effective range of weapons like the oerlikon about 400 yards, over open sights.

    Ive read somewhere (will try and pinpoint the source), that in 1942 the average ammunition expenditure per kill was about 2500-3000 rounds for the RN. At the same time USN ammunition expenditure per kill was about 1500 rounds per kill. In late 1944 that same USN study estimated the average rounds per kill was down to 500 rpk.
     
  11. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    I think that should average rounds per claim. Kills is another matter some claims for certain ships are so extraordinary that it is laughable they must have shot down every single attacker if the claims were true.

    Your right that the main mission of AA is to keep the ship floating and fighting, knocking a plane down is a distant second if your sinking. it took the proximity fuse, gun stabilisation, stabilised radar and automatic fire control to start killing planes in big numbers, before 1944 it didnt matter how good your fire control was it still relied on humans making judgements which is always going to cause errors particulary if an action is a long one. It didnt matter if you had the USN Mk 37 director or the RN Mk IV the problem of hitting a moving plane from a moving ship with a fire control and gun system that was at best stabilised in 2 planes and initially aimed by the Mk1 eyeball was such that most fire was little more than undirected untimed barrage fire.

    Before 1944 most Destroyers would have been better off landing there heavy DP guns and AA fire control and shipping lighter Low Angle main guns with as many gyro aimed automatic weapons as could be fitted and manned.
     
  12. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Quite a number of years ago I read a book authored by a retired British Admiral about the RN during WW2. I am a great admirer of the RN. Read every one of C S Forester's books and one of my favorite books in my library is "Castles of Steel" by Massie. My favorite naval battle to read about is Jutland. In the WW2 book by the Brit Admiral, he said that the RN, on the whole, had very poor AA because of poor director performance.

    Another subject I would like to put some perspective on is the armored flight decks of the RN CVs and the efficacy thereof. The RN lost four CVs in WW2, three by subs and one by surface action. The US lost four CVs in WW2, one by sub and three from bombs and torpedos. I have read thoroughly about the actions where the US CVs were lost and I question strongly that the CVs would have been sunk without the torpedo hits. I am not sure that it is therefore provable that the armored flight decks were necessary along with their drawbacks. The torpedos were the ship killers and the armor on flight decks could not protect from them as evidenced by Courageous, Eagle and Ark Royal.
     
  13. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    This is of course a complex subject but there can be little doubt that in many ways the RN were the most advanced AA at the start of the war. The converted Merchent AA vessels were as good as the best warships around, the old WW1 cruisers were often converted to AA vessels, some old WW1 destroyers were converted to escort vessels with a comprehensive AA complement. The first dedicated AA cruisers were being builts and early BB's were being equipped with a heavy AA defense.

    Few would deny that the serious mistake was not giving DD's a DP main weapon indeed 6 x 4in DP would have been better than the 4 x 4.7 LA normally carried.

    However the USN with the 5in DP and proximity fuse combined with the latest directors were by far the best. The RN had HMS Delhi equipped with this combination and wanted these fitted to all RN destroyers ( I think it was 60 sets) but the US couldn't supply these as the USN had priority.

    For the last 12-18 months of the war with the quad 40mm the USN had the best AA outfit
     
  14. kettbo

    kettbo Member

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    #14 kettbo, Aug 22, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
    from British vessels lost at sea in World War 2 - major warships

    just the ones that sank, lots more damaged by aircraft

    EDIT 23 AUG
    Battleship (somehow I deleted this off the list)
    PRINCE OF WALES (35,000t, 31/3/41), sunk by Japanese torpedo-aircraft, E coast of Malaya, December 10, 1941 (Casualty List)


    Battlecruisers

    REPULSE (33,250, 1916), sunk by Japanese torpedo-aircraft, E coast of Malaya, December 10, 1941 (Casualty List)

    Monitor

    TERROR (7,200t, 1916), bombed (22nd) and sunk off Derna, Libya, February 23, 1941

    AIRCRAFT CARRIERS

    Fleet carriers

    HERMES (10,850t, 1924), sunk by Japanese aircraft off Ceylon, April 9, 1942 (Casualty List)



    CRUISERS


    CALCUTTA (AA ship, 4,200t, 1919), sunk by aircraft bombs during evacuation of Crete, June 1, 1941 (Casualty List)

    CORNWALL (10,000t, 1928), sunk by Japanese dive bombers, Indian Ocean, April 5, 1942 (Casualty List)

    COVENTRY (AA ship, 4,290t, 1918), sunk by dive bombers, E Mediterranean, September 14, 1942 (Casualty List)

    CURLEW (AA ship, 4,290t, 1917), sunk by aircraft bombs, off Ofotfiord, Norway, May 26, 1940 (Casualty List)

    FIJI (8,000t, 17/5/40), sunk by aircraft bombs during evacuation of Crete, May 22, 1941 (Casualty List) Note, sunk by Bf109s and Ju88s

    GLOUCESTER (9,600t, 31/1/39), sunk by aircraft bombs during evacuation of Crete, May 22, 1941 (Casualty List)

    SOUTHAMPTON (9,100t, 1937), sunk by dive bombers, E of Malta, January 11, 1941 (Casualty List)


    *** YORK (8,250, 1930), lost at Suda Bay, Crete after damage on various dates by explosive motor boats and aircraft, May 22, 1941


    Cruiser minelayers

    LATONA (2,650y, 4/5/41), attacked by aircraft, E Mediterranean, October 25, 1941 (Casualty List)


    DESTROYERS

    AFRIDI (Leader, 1,870t, 1938), sunk by aircraft bombs, off Norway, May 3, 1940

    BASILISK (1,360t, 1931), sunk by aircraft bombs, off Dunkirk, France, June 1, 1940

    BEDOUIN (1,870t, 15/3/39), sunk by aircraft torpedo, Central Mediterranean, June 15, 1942

    BOADICEA (1,360t, 1931), sunk by aircraft torpedo off Portland, English Channel, June 13, 1944


    BRAZEN (1,360t, 1931), sunk by aircraft off Dover, S England, July 20, 1940


    CODRINGTON (Leader, 1,540t, 1930), bombed and sunk in Dover Harbour, S England, July 27, 1940

    DAINTY (1,375t, 1932), sunk by aircraft, off Tobruk, Libya, February 24, 1941

    DARING (1,375t, 1932), sunk by U-boat torpedo off Duncansby Head, N Scotland, February 18, 1940

    DEFENDER (1,375t, 1932), sunk by aircraft bombs, off Sidi Barrani, Egypt, July 11, 1941


    DELIGHT (1,375t, 1933), bombed and sunk off Portland, S England, July 29, 1940


    DIAMOND (1,375t, 1932), sunk by aircraft bombs during evacuation of Greece, May 27, 1941


    GRENADE (1,335t, 1936), sunk by aircraft bombs, in Dunkirk Harbour, France, May 29, 1940



    GREYHOUND (1,335t, 1936), sunk by aircraft bombs during battle of Crete, May 22, 1941


    GURKHA (1,870t, 1938), sunk by aircraft bombs, off Stavanger, Norway, April 9, 1940

    HAVANT (1,400t, 1939), sunk by aircraft bombs, off Dunkirk, France, June 1, 1940


    HEREWARD (1,340t, 1936), sunk by aircraft bombs, off Crete, May 29, 1941



    IMPERIAL (1,370t, 1937), sunk by own forces after being bombed, off Crete, May 29, 1941
    oops!

    INGLEFIELD (Leader, 1,530t, 1937), sunk by aircraft, glider-bomb,off Anzio, W Italy, February 25, 1944

    INTREPID (1,370t, 1937), sunk by aircraft, in Leros Harbour, Dodecanese, September 27, 1943


    JACKAL (1,760t, 13/4/39), sunk by aircraft, E Mediterranean, May 12, 1942

    JANUS (1,760t, 5/8/39), sunk by aircraft torpedo off Anzio, W Italy, January 23, 1944


    JUNO (1,760t, 25/8/39), sunk by aircraft bombs during battle of Crete, May 21, 1941


    KASHMIR (1,760t, 26/10/39), sunk by aircraft bombs during battle of Crete, May 23, 1941

    KEITH (Leader, 1,400t, 1931), sunk by aircraft bombs, off Dunkirk, France, June 1, 1940


    KELLY (Leader, 1,760t, 23/8/39), sunk by aircraft bombs during battle of Crete, May 23, 1941


    KINGSTON (1,760t, 14/9/39), sunk by aircraft bombs, at Malta, April 11, 1942

    KIPLING (1,760t, 22/12/39), sunk by aircraft, E Mediterranean, May 11, 1942


    LANCE (1,920t, 13/5/41), sunk by aircraft bombs, at Malta Subsequently salved, April 9, 1942

    LIVELY (1,920t, 20/7/41), sunk by aircraft, E Mediterranean, May 11, 1942


    MASHONA (1,370t, 30/3/39), sunk by aircraft bombs, N Atlantic, May 28, 1941


    NESTOR (On loan to RAN, 1,760t, 12/2/41), sunk by aircraft bombs, E Mediterranean, June 15, 1942

    PANTHER (1,540t, 12/12/41), sunk by aircraft bombs, Scarpanto Strait, Dodecanese, October 9, 1943

    QUENTIN (1,705t, 15/4/42), sunk by aircraft torpedo, W Mediterranean, December 2, 1942


    TENEDOS (1,000t, 1919), sunk by aircraft during attack on Colombo, April 5, 1942


    VALENTINE (Leader, 1,090t, 1917), bombed, grounded and abandoned in River Scheldt, Belgium, May 15, 1940

    VAMPIRE (On loan to RAN, 1,090t, 1917), sunk by aircraft bombs, E of Ceylon, April 9, 1942



    WATERHEN (On loan to RAN, 1,100t, 1918), sunk by aircraft bombs, off Sollum, Egypt, June 29, 1941

    WESSEX (1,100t, 1918), sunk by aircraft bombs, off Calais, France, May 24, 1940


    WHITLEY (1,100t, 1918), damaged by bombs, beached between Nieuport and Ostend, Belgium, May 19, 1940

    WILD SWAN (1,120t, 19), sunk by aircraft bombs, Western Approaches, June 17, 1942

    WREN (1,120t, 1923), bombed and sunk off Aldeburgh, Suffolk, E England, September 27, 1940


    WRESTLER (1,100t, 1918), damaged beyond repair by mine off Normandy, June 6, 1944


    WRYNECK (1,100t, 1918), sunk by aircraft bombs during evacuation of Greece, May 27, 1941

    ZULU (1, 870t, 6/9/38), sunk by aircraft bombs, E Mediterranean, September 14, 1942


    cut off lesser units for space consideration


    Hipshot: Lack of AAA, AAA ammo, and gunnery control lead to massive losses through 1942
    Losses in the Med were severe
     
  15. RCAFson

    RCAFson Well-Known Member

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    #15 RCAFson, Aug 23, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
    Let's consider a few examples from May of 1941. Fiji and Gloucester were detached from the main fleet that was covering Crete, and in so doing were exposed to wave after wave of Nazi bombers, until both ships finally ran out of ammo, and the Luftwaffe was able to close in for the kill:
    So Fiji was using radar directed AA to defeat the attacks, at a time when the USN didn't have any radar FC of any kind. Fiji and Gloucester were overwhelmed by massive numbers of aircraft, until they simply ran out of ammo...and that doesn't sound like ineffective AA to me.

    Mashona and Tarter had 6 x 4.7in guns controlled by by a FC computer and HA Director and a twin 4in gun aft, she also had a 4 barrel pom-pom and either 20mm guns or additional quad .5in MGs.

    Mashona was in company with Tarter, and here's a summary of the action that led to her loss:
    So we have a series of lengthy attacks, that led to one of the two destroyers being hit; again this doesn't sound like ineffective AA. Rather, it seems that the Luftwaffe kept their distance, and relied upon shear weight of numbers to score hits against RN's ships that were dispersed and open to attack by overwhelming numbers of aircraft - I don't see any other navy doing better in the same time frame, and I'm actually pretty sure that they would do worse, since no other navy had as much AA firepower per ship or the same level of FC technology as the RN in May 1941.
     
  16. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Go ask any current Naval commander how he would like to operate in the Med within 30 miles of the airfields of 2 major powers. He would probably go a bit green round the gills and ask you to change the subject. There is a long line of critics of the Royal Navy (including myself with my 20/20 hindsight) but what other Navy could have operated in the Med and not lost a similar number of vessels.
     
  17. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    This might be of interest. Its a summary of a decoded Luftwaffe Enigma message Aug 1940
     

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  18. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    I have a Janes, 1945 ( not an original) and a 1942 Janes(original) When you look at the war loss section, it is staggering how many British vessels went down. Probably the most dangerous British type to serve on in WW2 was the armed merchant cruiser. Very sad.
     
  19. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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  20. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately I cant find much reliable estimates of RN ammunition expenditure for each kill. some sources suggest or estimate about 1000 rounds per kill, but that seems pretty optimistic. From the look of it, I think we are going to have to look at random or typical enagements to get a representative sample....where the ammunition expenditure is known, and the number of kills is also known. Anyone got any examples like that?
     
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