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How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centuries"?

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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by tlb   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 4:20 pm

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Theemile wrote:It was just Billy Mitchell whose crystal ball was the clearest (and it still took 20 years and dozens of lost Battleships to bring everyone around.).

kzt wrote:No, he was wrong too. High level bombing didn't work. The hit rate was well under 1%. Dive bombing worked somewhat, but torpedo bombers were what killed capital ships.

At Midway, the torpedo bombers were just a distraction and it was the dive bombers that damaged the Japanese carriers. But there were other attacks where the torpedoes did the job (such as the British attack on the Italian base of Taranto or the Japanese sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse).
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by kzt   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 4:28 pm

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tlb wrote:
Theemile wrote:It was just Billy Mitchell whose crystal ball was the clearest (and it still took 20 years and dozens of lost Battleships to bring everyone around.).

kzt wrote:No, he was wrong too. High level bombing didn't work. The hit rate was well under 1%. Dive bombing worked somewhat, but torpedo bombers were what killed capital ships.

At Midway, the torpedo bombers were just a distraction and it was the dive bombers that damaged the Japanese carriers. But there were other attacks where the torpedoes did the job (such as the British attack on the Italian base of Taranto or the Japanese sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse).

If you can arrange for your opponents to have no deck armor and cover the decks with fueled aircraft and piles of ordinance, well, yes. 500 pound bombs will work.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by Jonathan_S   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 4:53 pm

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kzt wrote:
Jonathan_S wrote:It's just that reality (in this case the reality of war) gets a final veto on your pet theories and doctrine. And so if a military has descended into wrongheadedness it can be very hard to work your way back out without a major disruption to awaken them to their wrongheadedness -- and war is the last and most painful of those possible awakenings.

RMN doctrine was really fond of battle cruiser raids into the rear. When they tried them against the Peeps they got slaughtered. But generally they had fairly sound doctrine and adopted fast when reality bit them in the ass.

I'm not sure they always got slaughtered -- but they definitely had at least or or two go really bad; and in general don't appear to have been as effective as expected.

But I'm not sure how much of that lack of effect was because 'raid got chewed up' and how much was 'defenses were too heavy and we aborted rather than face them'.

But yes, Haven seemed to have more effective rear area defenses (included their security/coercion BBs) -- than Manticore seemed to have expected. (And of course once pods came into play on both side that just got worse because you could cheaply cover key infrastructure with enough orbital pods to drive off a BC squadron or two)


Still, you're right that Manticore didn't get all their pre-war planning and equipment perfect either.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by kzt   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 5:04 pm

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Jonathan_S wrote:
Still, you're right that Manticore didn't get all their pre-war planning and equipment perfect either.

Yeah, now that you mention it, I think David said something like that. They didn't work, but the Peep PoV character who talked about blowing one up was not typical.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by Jonathan_S   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 5:09 pm

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Theemile wrote:David, of course, was reflecting historical arguments from the end of the age of sail/early days of Steam in the books. The historical Jeune Ecole argued for torpedo boats against expensive battleships in the years leading up to WW I. In an era without heavy warfare, the political admirals will rise to the top and young thinking will be stymied - sometimes for good, sometimes not.

The problem with a lot of these "hard counter" type units is not working out how the enemy will react to mitigate or counter the counter.

Ok, torpedo boats were part of what made it too dangerous to operate battle fleets close to a hostile coast -- witness the UK's distant blockade of Germany in WWI. They judged a close blockage too dangerous in the face of torpedo boats and coastal submarines. And attempting it would have been even more dangerous to the fleets of battleships that existed just before the introduction of the torpedo boat.

But very quickly battleships were built or refit with quick firing anti-torpedo boat guns, and the navies with big battlefleets diverted some money into longer ranged small escorts able to help break up and drive off torpedo boat attacks (the torpedo boat destroyers; which then morphed into destroyers). So the danger of torpedo boats was largely mitigated and they were no longer particularly effective at countering a balanced battlefleet. So, now what do those Jeune Ecole navies do?




Of course the other issues with historic torpedo boats is their short range and poor sea keeping; meaning they might serve to keep someone else's 1890s fleet from parading off your coast during reasonably good weather. But in poor weather they're far less effective, and if you ever decide you need to project power then all the money you sunk into those short range defensive craft does you no good. OTOH I believe the Jeune Ecole advocated for cheap numerous torpedo boats for defense and fast powerful cruisers for commerce raiding and force projection.

And then in reaction to the later you got the first battlecruisers; far larger and more expensive than anybody's cruisers but with their speed, firepower, and range, designed to run down and destroy those raiding cruisers. (And in turn more powerful better defended 2nd gen BCs were built to counter the 1st gen BCs -- except now they were too expensive to generally be allowed to go haring off commerce raiding). But the enemy always reacts; and you should be trying to look a couple potential reactions ahead, not just congratulating yourself on developing the perfect "hard counter" to their existing capabilities.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by Jonathan_S   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 5:26 pm

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kzt wrote:
Theemile wrote:It was just Billy Mitchell whose crystal ball was the clearest (and it still took 20 years and dozens of lost Battleships to bring everyone around.).

No, he was wrong too. High level bombing didn't work. The hit rate was well under 1%. Dive bombing worked somewhat, but torpedo bombers were what killed capital ships.

At least until guided weaponry was developed. Something like the Fritz X could finally let a level bomber have a reasonable chance of crippling or killing a capital ship that was underway and maneuvering. (At least until folks worked out and deployed jammers to disrupt its command link)


For ships that weren't maneuvering though...
* There was the captain of the Japanese destroyer Mutsuki in Oct '42 who opted to remain lying along side helping the crew of the disabled transport Kinryu Maru -- he discovered the hard way that a B-17 with a good (or lucky) crew could hit a stationary ship; even a fairly small one like a destroyer.

* And of course at Pearl Harbor over half the Kate torpedo bombers in the first wave were equipped as level bombers with a heavy armor piercing bomb. I believe 8 of 49 such bombs hit their battleship targets; so over a 16% hit rate. (And one such is credited with the destruction of the battleship Arizona)

But yeah, in hindsight it should have been easy to crunch the numbers to look at the dead time between committing to the bomb drop and when it would impact, and then how far a warship could maneuver in that time. That would show that when dropped from sufficient height to be safe from light AA and for your bombs to have sufficient velocity to pierce armor than there was plenty of time for the ship to change where it would be and so not be where you'd aimed the bomb. Precision bombing of moving targets from high altitude is a matter of pure luck (until, as I said, you get guided munitions)
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by tlb   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 6:18 pm

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Theemile wrote:It was just Billy Mitchell whose crystal ball was the clearest (and it still took 20 years and dozens of lost Battleships to bring everyone around.).

kzt wrote:No, he was wrong too. High level bombing didn't work. The hit rate was well under 1%. Dive bombing worked somewhat, but torpedo bombers were what killed capital ships.

tlb wrote:At Midway, the torpedo bombers were just a distraction and it was the dive bombers that damaged the Japanese carriers. But there were other attacks where the torpedoes did the job (such as the British attack on the Italian base of Taranto or the Japanese sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse).

kzt wrote:If you can arrange for your opponents to have no deck armor and cover the decks with fueled aircraft and piles of ordinance, well, yes. 500 pound bombs will work.

There are some very heated arguments about this on the internet; this is the most rational statement that I found:
I think you can make a case for either aircraft with stats from battles and combat missions but the problem is in the details. Many books use the Midway action as a source to prove that the dive bomber was better. The problem is in the details. The Japanese carriers were not prepared for the dive bombers and fuel plus ordnance was still in the hangar when the bombs struck. That is just a matter of luck. That does not mean the dive bomber was better. The US Navy was partial to dive bombers for many reasons. Their dive bomber was faster, more maneuverable and more reliable than their torpedo bombers and its torpedoes. The Navy during the interwar period realized through testing and wargames that you do not have to sink a ship, just mission kill it. It took more to refurbish a ship than it did to replace it, especially for the Japanese navy. In a fleet there are more destroyers, transports, cruisers etc. that a far more vulnerable to dive bombers than battleships. Carrier were very fragile weapons and could be mission killed rather easily as Coral proved. The British used their torpedo bombers to good use because of a good torpedo. The German's used their twin engine bombers as torpedo bombers but were partial to the dive bomber. The Japanese Navy, due to its strategy of attrition for our fleet as it came across the Pacific and their superior torpedoes were always partial to the torpedo bombers and they performed well except that most of the best crews were killed due to lack of fighter support.

There many reasons why both are excellent weapons. The USN used its dive bombers as scouts, ASW, and low level fighter support against torpedo bombers. They were also effective against land based targets during island hopping. Again, it how you use it and the results that will matter. Both weapons are effective.

As for deck armor on carriers, that is the result of national policy: the US did not have it and the British did. Only as the war progressed did the US and Japanese incorporate deck armor in new construction. American torpedoes and torpedo bombers also got better as the was progressed.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by Fox2!   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 11:21 pm

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tlb wrote:As for deck armor on carriers, that is the result of national policy: the US did not have it and the British did. Only as the war progressed did the US and Japanese incorporate deck armor in new construction. American torpedoes and torpedo bombers also got better as the was progressed.


All of the pre-war/early war American torpedoes, whether air-dropped or sub or ship launched, had the same basic problems, as they originated in the same shop in BUORD.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by tlb   » Mon Nov 14, 2022 11:52 pm

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tlb wrote:American torpedoes and torpedo bombers also got better as the war progressed.

Fox2! wrote:All of the pre-war/early war American torpedoes, whether air-dropped or sub or ship launched, had the same basic problems, as they originated in the same shop in BUORD.

As I said; once the bureau finally admitted there was a problem, the torpedoes did get better. However it would have been nice if they had brought dereliction of duty charges against those that refused to accept that torpedoes were failing and maybe shot a few of them.

The weapons boards also refused to accept that Japanese surface ship torpedoes had the range that they did (as a result of using compressed oxygen instead of air). However that did bite some Japanese ships that caught fire, when the pure oxygen got involved.
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Re: How to avoid "they haven't fought a real war in centurie
Post by Jonathan_S   » Tue Nov 15, 2022 12:30 am

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tlb wrote:As for deck armor on carriers, that is the result of national policy: the US did not have it and the British did. Only as the war progressed did the US and Japanese incorporate deck armor in new construction. American torpedoes and torpedo bombers also got better as the was progressed.

Or rather the US put the armor deck of their carriers below the hanger, rather than as the flight deck. Though they admittedly used lighter armor as well.

The Yorktown-class carriers had IIRC 1.5" of armor on their protective deck below the hanger; while the Essex-class had a 1.5" armored hander floor with another 1.5" protective deck below that; contrast that the British Illustrious-class had 3" of armor on their flight deck. And while the Essex class wasn't in service at the start of the war the design was already basically locked down and the lead ship had been laid down 8 months prior to Pearl Harbor -- so major features like their armor layout predated any lessons the US might learn from its own combat experience)

And the US had studies in the lead up to the Yorktown-class, and again in the lead up to the Essex which included design sketches with armored flight decks; in order to judge the tradeoffs required. The US decided that given their most likely battlefields that the tradeoffs to get an adequately thick armored flight deck were just too large for them to accept on a treaty limited displacement. (20,700 or 27,100 tons respectively) It wasn't until the far, far, larger Midways (45,000 tons) that they felt they could get an armored flight deck in addition to everything else they wanted.
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