The end of the battleship

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I've a nice book about the Iowa class battleships, and Jane's book on all battleships built since Dreadnought. Went on a nice tour of the New Jersey moored at Camden, NJ across the river from Philly a few years ago. My preparatory reading allowed me some "self-guided" viewing of the various areas open to the public on the New Jersey. Talk about one massive machine!! By the early 80s it had been refitted with cruise missiles and Phalanx air defense equipment, and of course retained its nine 16" guns

In reference to SaparotRob's citing costliness in personnel and resources, I can't speak for the New Jersey's post WW2 deployment during the Korean and Vietnam wars, but it's my understanding that during its Lebanese war deployment in the early 80s, the New Jersey had to be accompanied by an entire carrier group to provide air cover, as well as further offensive capability. That's costly in personnel and resources. It's a big target.

If you ever have a chance to visit any of the Iowa-class battleships (Iowa, Missouri, New Jersey, Wisconsin) or any other museum battleships like the Texas, do it.
U.S.S. Olympia is moored right across on the opposite shore. I stood on Olympia's deck and saw U.S.S. New Jersey. From the era of the pre-dreadnoughts to the last of the super dreadnoughts. I'm afraid I was the only there who got it.
 
Part of the difficulty of assessing exactly when battleships became obsolete is the fact that they were powerful weapons with powerful guns and even though aircraft carriers appeared during the Great War and British admirals were already calling for the removal of battleships from the fleet, the type represented one of those weapons that was still capable of altering the regional balance of power throughout and to a small degree after WW2. The major powers could afford both carriers and battleships, and despite the naval treaties between the wars reducing the size and number of battleships the type remained a staple because of potential arms races - look at the mini arms race taking place in South America between Chile, Brazil and Argentina. The Battleship, for all its burgeoning obsolescence prior to WW2 was a prestige symbol, and after the war, with carriers having ascended to take the type's throne, as has been mentioned, the value of big guns was not to be underestimated, to the extent that the Soviet Union continued with, if not completed battleship designs post-war, as well as launching several heavily armed big gunned cruisers. It wasn't really until the ascendency of surface-to-surface missiles that the power of the big gun really became superfluous. Destroyers, carriers and frigates are vulnerable to aircraft; that hasn't changed.
 
Again, we're viewing Mitchell's acheivement from 21st century eyes, with the full knowledge of how things have come to pass in the past 100 years.

Mitchell foresaw the potential of the airplane as an offensive weapon in the age when a nation's power was measured by their battleships and the aircraft was mostly thought of as a fragile novelty.

It's irrelevant that the Ostfreiseland was outdated and it's irrelevant that it was stationary.

The bottom line, was Mitchell's proposal that he could sink the ship with bombers was met with skepticism and almost outright mockery. When he sank it, he infuriated the Navy, he embarrassed his boss (Gen. Perishing) and angered President Coolidge.
So much so, he was demoted and sent to Texas as an aircraft inspector.

So in the end, he was 100% right. Aircraft came of age and was a deciding factor in the next war (WWII) where more capital ships were sunk by aircraft than by any other means.
 
Assuming you're talking about dreadnoughts, Jutland comes to mind, and it goes into the early part of WWII. I think both Pearl Harbor and the fate of Force Z were the big wake-up calls for the Gun Club, but there were slugfests both before and after those events (Bismarck before, Washington vs Kirishima and Surigao Strait afterwards, though the latter was more a mugging than a battle.)

I don't think it can really be pinpointed to one event, but 1941/2 marked the change, it seems to me.


Sure, in some circumstances, but they'd be very expensive to build or rebuild, and then operate, while the guns themselves suffer limits that modern guided weaponry don't.

Building a new class of BBG would probably get killed off early in the procurement process from a cost/benefit analysis.



All of the above.
Washington vs. Kirishima- Willis Lee, gold medals in the 1920 Olympics for team rifle and pistol shooting and knew radar perhaps better than the operators themselves nailed Kirishima in a night battle that may have saved Guadalcanal from being taken over by the Japanese. Washington, Idaho and some DD's were I believe the only remaining USN assets afloat.
 
A Martini Henry can hit a non moving target at 500 yards.

Therefore we should make it standard rifle for NATO.

That's pretty much in a nutshell what the Mitchell test was. It is not the basis for military adoption.

Forget the absolute and look at the shades of gray.

In football, in Inglaterra, we say can they do it on a wet rainy night in Stoke. The inference is that under perfect conditions then you can be a superstar but try it under less ideal circumstance and let's see how the rubber meets the road.

Werner Von Braun waxed lyrical about rockets and what they can do. And yes they did exactly 100% what Braun said they would do.

Didn't help Adolf in the bunker though. Beware of visionaries for they will bring doom.
 
The Wright Brothers proved that powered, controlled flight was possible by doing it.

Columbus proved you could sail westward and reach land by doing it.

Some brave soul went up to a large beast, pulled on the dangly things and proved that they did indeed provide milk.

The point being, someone has to be the first to prove a theory, even if it upsets the set thinking of the day.
 
But let's say the US Navy agree and scrap all capital ships in 1922.

And the British fleet turn up on the east coast. Every row boat battleship the lot.

Let's see Mitchell theory in action!

It's nonsense. Absolute nonsense.

It like the British saying jets in the 1930s and scrapping all props. So by 1940 all you have is prototypes and wish dreams and sun beams.

And to say Mitchell is right in 1945 is no good if Yamato in 1942 is 10 miles away and you are in a tanker totally undefended.

All those guys who were big on blimps and zeppelins and them the future. And not so much.

Another good example is the French and the Lebel. The Lebel was going to be replaced by some super duper self loading rifle but by 1914 it never was. And so French went into the war with the Lebel. The fact the French was 200% right in the 1950s is not doing the French soldier any good.
 
Nobody is saying "scrap all Capital ships", but the thinking of the day was that Battleships were floating fortresses, impervious to any pesky flying machine.

This was the same archiac thinking that assumed the "bomber will always get through" and it's no coincidence that the B-17 was called a "flying fortress".

So let's consider how things may have turned out if Mitchell either failed OR was forbidden to conduct his theory (which almost happened anyway).

How would bomber doctrine been shaped and how would it have affected hybrid bombers (dive-bomber, torpedo-bombers)?

Light bombers for ground attack had already been used in the Great War to good effect as well as fighters/scouts strafing shipping - so it was literally a matter of time before someone went up to that beast and tugged on the udders.

It just happened to be Mitchell.
 
U.S.S. Olympia is moored right across on the opposite shore. I stood on Olympia's deck and saw U.S.S. New Jersey. From the era of the pre-dreadnoughts to the last of the super dreadnoughts. I'm afraid I was the only there who got it.
My photos of the Olympia on that same trip:
 

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Battleships became obsolete in their last role once laser guided smart bombs were shown to work, initially in Vietnam but most convincingly in the First Gulf War. Up to then, the Marine Corps felt that battleships were desirable as they could drop a one ton shell accurately on an enemy position without the risk of bombs falling on their own position.
 
How effective was high altitude level bombing against warships?

Probs not.

The idea of the B-17 would be to attack fleets of ships off the coast.

Did it succeed?

Sink a battleship? Battleships are UNSINKABLE! Can you name a single battleship or even big gun capital ship sank? I can't.

Not one. Apart from the ones that did sink.
 
What annoys me that at the end of WW2 it was kamikaze that was the most effective anti shipping weapon.

And Mitchell didn't see that! His crystal ball must have been cloudy that day!

I can say that projectile weapons will be replaced by energy weapons and that man will walk on Mars.

I am a genius.

Problem with Kamikaze that the promotion prospects suck ass.
 
Mitchell provided a sort of proof-of-concept, but the structure of the experiment meant that it was pretty much useless in terms of doctrine as well as tactics. Of course bombs can and do sink ships, but even 20 years after Mitchell's experiment, there was no way to put the idea into practical effect. The same tactics against maneuvering warships did little aside from moving some water around.

In a sense, using -17s for skip-bombing is a tacit admission that using high-level bombers to sink ships under power and moving at sea was a woefully-inefficient way to put ordnance on target against a moving ship. Ever the practical general, Kenney's support of the shift in tactics bespeaks a need to make those heavies more useful for anything more than raising spouts in the water.

As such, it cannot be fairly said that skip-bombing proved Mitchell right, in practice.
 
The fact that USA, Italy, Japan, UK, Germany, France and lesser power powers like Sweden and Spain had big gun ships after the Mitchell test proves they weren't buying it either.
Well, Sweden and Spain didn't build any new big guns ships, they just didn't scrap the ones they had which a a somewhat different thing.

Most of those navies didn't learn much from the Mitchell test and AA equipment was both slow in coming and of very scanty proportions for almost a decade and half after the Mitchell tests. Makes it rather hard to figure out what the naval staffs were responding to.
 
We gonna play a game. The Mitchell test isn't clown shoes but a true scientific test and the results are been processed by clever men smoking pipes and nodding approvingly when someone says a good point.

So a battleship has been sunk by air power. What are the learning points?

Air power in 1921 is pathetic but it may improve in future and certainly within the lifetime of a battleship. So how do we combat air power?

More flak guns. Escorts with flak guns and perhaps some form of air power of our own to challenge enemy air power. So the learning point here is that we need battle groups which offer support. So the carrier and flak ships is a vital part of this new concept. Battleships that are unescorted are vulnerable to air power. Just as they are vulnerable to mines and torpedoes.

Next is that bombs that hit the ship did nothing. So we need armour piercing bombs that can go through deck armour. And battleships that can withstand armour piercing bombs as somebody somewhere may have also thought of this also.

Ships can be severely damaged by underwater explosion and so we really need to double down on this. Although the sinking of HMS Audacious makes this Numero Uno priority anyway due to mines and torpedoes. So more clever torpedo bulges and better torpedoes as well.

And there we have it. Not battleships are obsolete but that we need better battleships that operate as part of a team.

The odd thing about air power against ships is that it was poor for a lot of the inter war period and then suddenly wasn't. We see this especially in the USN when every mm of deck space in 1945 had a Bofors on it.

My point of using Sweden and Spain was to highlight the international concept of sea power was universal.
Everyone had the same idea of big gun ships charging into thier own Trafalgar. You cannot beat the heroic aspect of that.
 
Mitchell provided a sort of proof-of-concept, but the structure of the experiment meant that it was pretty much useless in terms of doctrine as well as tactics. Of course bombs can and do sink ships, but even 20 years after Mitchell's experiment, there was no way to put the idea into practical effect. The same tactics against maneuvering warships did little aside from moving some water around.

In a sense, using -17s for skip-bombing is a tacit admission that using high-level bombers to sink ships under power and moving at sea was a woefully-inefficient way to put ordnance on target against a moving ship. Ever the practical general, Kenney's support of the shift in tactics bespeaks a need to make those heavies more useful for anything more than raising spouts in the water.

As such, it cannot be fairly said that skip-bombing proved Mitchell right, in practice.
When you get a chance, give this a read:
Battle of the Bismarck Sea
 

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