Superbattleship Yamato: the movie

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Udet, Dec 21, 2006.

  1. Udet

    Udet Banned

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    Sorry, found a thread dealing with the same issue.
     
  2. Udet

    Udet Banned

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    Trying to find a purpose for the opened thread is that i want to comment something regarding the Yamato.

    The parts of the movie as one can find them using "youtube" show a horrific carnage of the Yamato crewmen manning the anti-aircraft batteries of the battleship.

    I am not basing my comments on what is shown in a movie; the PTO ain´t my specialty and have neither found nor read any articles or interviews made to those few Yamato crewmen that survived the attack that could illustrate or explain what i´d like to know.

    On a website, i found that as the war progressed, and in view of the aerial power of the U.S. carrier fleets, the japanese increased the number of anti-aircraft guns to a real huge number, with "more than 150 guns".

    On wikipedia i can read that by 1945, when she met her end, Yamato had (impressive):

    24 × 12.7 cm (12×2)
    162 × 25 mm AA (52×3, 6×1) -51 triple-mounts!!-
    4 × 13 mm AA (2×2)

    So we talk about nearly 200 anti-aircraft guns. Attacking an "area" that is nearly 800 ft long protected by some 200 AA guns seems like quite a dangerous task.

    One can read that during such hopeless final battle, the US Navy lost only 10 planes! Provided they were all destroyed by Yamato´s AA fire, as she was joined by a small fleet comprised by 1 light cruiser and 8 destroyers that too carried AA guns, so as far as i know, it is not even know for sure if all 10 Navy planes were shot down by Yamato´s guns.

    What could possibly explain such low losses from the part of the attackers?

    If i recall correctly the 25mm/60 AA gun onboard Yamato -the most numerous AA gun she had, triple mounted-, was clearly inferior in performance to the 40 mm Bofors used in the U.S. Navy, but still seems hard to comprehend how come the Navy lost such a small number of planes.

    Finally, one can read the large vessels of the U.S. Navy could bring down huge numbers of japanese attacking planes. How is this explainable? Do they referr to a large number of Navy vessels putting an AA wall thus being capable of shooting down large numbers of attackers, or were they capable of achieving such goal individually?

    Please note that i am not suggesting Yamato was capable of finding her way through in the circumstances we do know for April 1945, rather my question is why did the Yamato AA fire proved so inaccurate.

    Cheers!
     
  3. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    And Udet, the movie snippet also shows Yamato using her large turret mounted guns too. Lanc noted that this was not only possible, but of fairly common occurrence. Not the shoot the water to make water spouts to deter torpedo runs, but shoot fused shells for airburst effect.

    Anyone ever heard of this for 16in and 18in guns? That just seems ludicrous to me for some reason. [No offense, Lanc]
     
  4. Udet

    Udet Banned

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    Yes, i noticed that part of the ship using the main battery against the aircraft...so you think that in reality the Yamato never fired her 18-in. at the oncoming enemy formation?

    As shown on the movie snippet, well it would seem like firing the main guns at the formation shown there approaching to target in kind of a "tight" flight would have as main purpose the scattering of the flight rather than scoring direct hits, something "similar" to what the Luftwaffe did during 1944 launching 21cm rockets at the boxes of USAAF heavy bombers with much sucess, but i would not know for sure in the case of Yamato.

    But do you have any views on why Yamato´s AA fire proved so inaccurate?
     
  5. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The Japanese had developed a heavy caliber "cluster" shell for the 18" guns. When detonated, it threw off a bunch of 20mm (maybe 25mm?) shells for a shotgun effect.

    I dont think it was effective though.

    Trivia for you all...... IJN doctrine called for the use of the main battery's to fire into the attacking aircraft, not so much to hit anything, but to let the rest of the fleet know the direction of the attacking planes. It was an "attention" getter.
     
  6. superpumper

    superpumper New Member

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    Gentlemen, having a large number of guns does not mean effective protection. You must have directors. They had guns but no fire crontrol. The Atlanta Class CL AA cruisers had the same problem with their 5" guns. They had 16 guns but only 2 directors. Unless mounts went into local control they could only engage 2 targets at a time and going into local control was a last ditch operation that you didn't want to do because it affects the accuracy of the guns. I think the proximity fuse and radar fire control had a lot to do with the number of aircraft the US Navy shot down in the later war. The USN had the same problem later in the war. They had light weapons everwhere they could but could not provide enough directors for all the weapons because of space and weight.
     
  7. Udet

    Udet Banned

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    syscom: thanks for the info. Interesting point!

    superpumper:

    Well, assuming that in fact the Japanese did not have fire control for their AA batteries is that i have some comments to share:

    What could the possible use of AA fire control can be when you have the sky above you full of enemy planes, following different directions, flying at several altitudes and speeds, manouvering, diving upon you, straffing, climbing after having delivered bombload...?

    This would not seem to apply only in the case of Yamato´s last battle, but as well in the case of the U.S. Navy when attacked by waves and waves of kamikazes off the coast of Okinawa, in the battle Yamato was sent to intervene.

    AA fire control seems functional when (i) the attack has not yet commenced, or (ii) if already commenced the number of attacking planes is relatively small. Functional when the enemy aircraft are still approaching you, allowing you to have your AA guns prepared to welcome the enemy with the most accurate fire possible, but once hell got unleashed and they are all over the place attacking you and in the numbers faced by the U.S. Navy off Okinawa or by Yamato?

    How exactly would it work?
     
  8. Smokey

    Smokey Member

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    25mm/60 AA

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Udet

    Udet Banned

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    Yes, i had seen the technical drawing of that gun.

    Still i would like to read the opinions of guys fond of the PTO regarding the questions i am making here.
     
  10. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Udet, remember that the number of AA guns on a ship was not the true measure of effectiveness.

    The caliber of the guns and the number of directors is often far more important.

    The 20mm and 25mm guns of both the USN and IJN turned out to be useless in destroying aircraft at ranges that would inhibit a successfull attack. The 40mm bofors had the virtue of throwing out so many shells that inevitably some of them would hit its target before it could drop its bomb or torpedo. But that required lots and lots of 40mm guns.

    Once a couple of torpedo's and bombs hit the Yamato, then the numbers of unprotected AA mounts would diminish, further compounding the AA defenses.

    Further, the AA gun directors proved to be quite unreliable under shock loads. In 1944 when the Musashi was initially attacked in the PI, a couple of bomb (or torpedo) hits damaged the computing gears and rendered the director inaccurate. Suposedly, the engineer who designed the director was on the ship and totally disheartened and disgusted that his creation was so fragile.
     
  11. Udet

    Udet Banned

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    Thanks for the info syscom.

    I think i understood your point; as you pointed out i can read the 40mm bofors would not stop firing while the Japanese 25mm guns had to cease firing when changing the cartridge (as it is by the way shown on the movie parts at youtube).

    But syscom, my question remains unanswered, do you think it was possible to have something like AA fire directors when the enemy planes were attacking in huge numbers flying over you and all around the area, with smoke, explosions and splashing all over the place? So every AA battery on board was receiving fire direction instructions? It might sound ignorant, but i still fail to understand how fire directors could function under the circumstances i am describing here.

    Seems like lots of pairs of eyes could be the most adequate of the operating methods?
     
  12. k9kiwi

    k9kiwi Member

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    I remember a web site, I will try and dig it up tommorow that discussed the impact of proximity fuses for the USN and the dramatic increase in kills performed with this shell, both from 5" and 40mm Bofors.

    Will see if I can find it.

    Udet.

    The usual method on larger ships was for three or 4 director towers controlling sectors of sky and sections of guns on the ship.

    On the US ships, anything from one local radar station controlling 3 to 4 gun tubs, up to a controller tower running one quarter of the ship.
     
  13. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    At some point, the number of attacking aircraft would completely overwhelm the number of directors and it would become essentially every gun "for itself".

    Thats what happened with the Yamato.

    Remember too.... the fire control was still a slow elctro-mechanical computer that usually had the firing solution after it was too late to do anything.
     
  14. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    I think, we had a comparable discussion with my friend Syscom sometimes ago. AAA is a numbers game. This is true but as pointed out by superpumper, without controll it´s worth is limited at best. However, even with best FC (yamato had FC but only for the 5"ers) and with VT-fuzed shells (Yamato had none), You cannot hope to stop a confident air attack once the number increases over squadron strength. In Yamato, this problem is even worsed because despite having quite a useful large AAA gun (the 5") but due to it´s low muzzle velocity, it also featured a low ceiling and effective range figure, all other guns were point defense. At the range the effective firing begins, the attacking aircraft is less than 30 seconds away from Yamato and less than 10 seconds from torpedo release point. Without centralized Firecontroll, the fire will be distributed and thus, less effective. The general state of Yamato´s AAA was also decreasing rapidly due to the overcrowded placings. A single bomb hit can be nasty on the superstructures (a single bomb knocked out 28% of the port AAA in her final engagement) as will be strafing from planes. The defense of Yamato was simply overwhelmed by sheer numbers. That also might be a reason for the low US loss figure (I am aware of two US losses beeing credited to Yamato´s AAA, only).
    To be fair it must be said that no warship of ww2 could have survived such a massive air attack. The japanese planes often lacked fuel protection and were easier to destroy than the more rugged designed US Avengers. The internal protective layout of Yamato was some of the best ever executed but against repeated hits, every armour should be expected to fail and the area covered by this protection is comparably small.
    In the end, Yamato would have done better with fewer but better protected AAA and a decent AA-firecontroll but the outcome is not likely to change.
     
  15. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Just to backup the statement by Lanc and Sys here is a quote from a Beaufort bomb aimer who took part in a torpedo strike against a Japanese convoy which comprised 2 cruisers, 4 destroyers and 4 transports bound for Lae. the attack was carried out by 100 sqn RAAF on the 9th Jan '43.
    "(Flt Lt) John Mercer went in first at 1943 and dropped his torpedo but no result was seen and we followed about a minute later. As we approached the ship, which had been alerted by John Mercer's attack, it was running at full speed across our path and firing everything it had in our general direction, including its main heavy armament to set up splash barrages in front of us."
    (No.6 OTU, Base Torpedo Unit, and RAAF Beaufort Torpedo Operations by John Lever.)
    So as can be seen as Lanc and Sys said, the IJN did infact use its main guns in this manner.
     
  16. superpumper

    superpumper New Member

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    Udet, by having guns under director control hopefully you engage the most threatening target and quickly destroy it and move to the next etc, etc. Yes you can have more targets then you can engage but it's something like take as many with you as you can. The later AA guns on US ships had local radar fire control such as the 3" 50's which replaced the 40 mm on later US ships such as the CLAA USS Wooster. I believe was so mass attacks could be better engaged if the directors were overwhelmed.
     
  17. Udet

    Udet Banned

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    Delcyros, syscom and superpumper:

    Thank you very much for the information. It is all very interesting and has certainly helped me in understanding a bit more.

    Delcyros, only 2 US planes shot down by Yamato´s defensive fire?? Unveliable...from where did you get such number? As you may have noticed, i did mention Yamato was being escorted by a small fleet of 1 light cruisers and 8 destroyers which too carried AA guns...but only 2 planes brought down by the giant...i mean, i can believe it although extremely difficult.

    So in the end, my original thoughts remain valid: no matter how sophisticated you AA fire control directors can be -or the lack thereof-, in view of the kind of attacked endured by Yamato you will find yourself doomed.

    As i said, i have never believed Yamato could have made it through in view of the circumnstances she faced during that time.

    See the case of both HSM Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, and escorting vessels...i am not aware of the possible number of japanese planes that attacked them but we talk about two capital ships who were sent straight to the bottom. Anyone can share details on whether both ships were fitted with AA fire directors, and the quality of such gear?

    Cheers!
     
  18. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    The use of major calibre guns in AAA role was not uncommon. Bismarck fired some rounds against swordfishs in their final, Tirpitz fired at max. elevation time fuzed HE shells as kind of "Barrier"-firing and several japanese ships used their main guns in the same manner. All have something in common: It´s just a spectacular view but little else. The japanese even designed a special major calibre round for AAA use of main guns:
    Type 3 Common incendiary shrapnel round (sankaidan) intended for AA use. Fuzes for these were set in the shell handling room with fuze protectors used to prevent damage before loading. Type 3 Common may have made up as much as 40% of the outfit by 1944.
    As were most Japanese warships, the Yamato and Musashi were provided with a special anti-aircraft incendiary shrapnel shell officially designated as "3 Shiki tsûjôdan" (Common Type 3) and supposedly nicknamed "The Beehive," but this could be apocryphal. This round weighed 2,998 lbs. (1,360 kg) and was filled with 900 incendiary-filled tubes. A time fuze was used to set the desired bursting distance, usually about 1,000 meters (1,100 yards) after leaving the muzzle. These projectiles were designed to expel the incendiary tubes in a 20 degree cone extending towards the oncoming aircraft with the projectile shell itself being destroyed by a bursting charge to increase the quantity of steel splinters. The incendiary tubes ignited about half a second later and burned for five seconds at 3,000 degrees C, producing a flame approximately 5 meters (16 feet) long.

    The concept behind these shells was that the ship would put up a barrage pattern through which an attacking aircraft would have to fly. However, these shells were considered by US Navy pilots to be more of a visual spectacular than an effective AA weapon.
    Japanese 46 cm/45 (18.1") Type 94
     
  19. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Fascinating.

    Reminds me of the Japanese operations where high altitude aircraft dropped phosporus bombs on waves of B-29s. Don't know the effectiveness of these either, but was left with the impression that they were not too terribly feared by the B-29 crews.
     
  20. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Delc, thanks for the link.
     
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