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About MM2ss

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  1. MM2ss

    Pre-Dread Battleship vs WWII Cruiser

    Of course an IJN cruiser with long lances...
  2. Yes and no really. The hulls undergo repetitive stresses of differing kinds. Assuming no major failures (brittle fracture, grounding resulting in lots of damage, collisions, shell fire, etc.) the main one you start to look at is hull fatigue. Fatigue reliability is usually expressed in terms of how many years of service you can expect. Fatigue related failures are based on cyclic stresses. A given number of cycles can cause a crack, a given number of cycles over that causes crack propagation, then a number of cycles beyond that level results in final failure. You also have to account for corrosion effects in this process (corrosion thins the material...unless it is pitting corrosion which essentially bores a hole instead). That means you have a "use by" date, but that date is variable based on the operational conditions the ship faces. One that is carefully maintained, operates in a low corrosion environment and was built to last will have a far greater lifespan than a thin hulled ship that is constantly at sea, does not receive proper maintenance and is exposed to a highly aggressive corrosion rate in its' environment. The other part of the effective lifespan of a ship is the need to keep up with current technology. There comes a point where it is not financially reasonable to upgrade a warship to modern levels of capability. At that point you are looking to replace it. If we look at warships as a whole, around 30 years is a reasonable "lifespan" for most pre-WWII ships. By that point they were outclassed and showing signs of wear. More modern ships facing a less strenuous life (they are not getting bombed and shot on a regular basis currently) coupled with more modern maintenance practices you can have longer lifespans. The Navy aims for 50 years for the CVN's. Enterprise made it, Nimitz is expected to be replaced in 2022. As I recall, the 688 class submarines have a projected lifespan of 40 years (with a mid-point refueling for the reactor). The Ticonderoga class CGN's had projected service lives of 35 years. The thing that projected lifespan looks at is hull fatigue leading to micro cracks to cracks and ultimately to failure. The Navy doesn't want to operate ships to the failure point. Thus, they have "service lives". The hulls are inspected regularly and the service life of a particular hull may be extended if it is still in good enough shape (kind of like milk doesn't magically turn bad on the use by date, you check it and might get several more days out of it). Similarly, if an inspection turns up severe problems the hull may be retired far earlier than the projected service life (the kids left the milk on the counter in August with no AC, it was bad by the time you got home from work, throw it out). So while there is not a fixed "use by" date, there are estimates of about how long a ship can be expected to serve.
  3. A good "rule of thumb" is that you can assume a 25-30 year service life for large warships. One should also remember that the 1920's edition of the South Dakota class was an attempt to start moving away from the "standard battleship" as it featured a modest increase in speed (23 knots as I recall). The general theory on replacing ships depends on the end goal as well. It may be a maintenance situation where you just want to keep the fleet at a given strength (one for one replacement for example, we retire a Delaware and replace it with a Colorado class vessel). You may be aiming to increase the strength of the fleet in which case you might retire an older vessel or class and replace it with a newer, more capable and more numerous class. You can also get to the point you are looking at reducing fleet strength (intentionally say due to financial issues or because of treaties) in which case you might retire more ships than you build. The big thing in Naval fleet maintenance is that you have to consider not only age, but capabilities. Some older ships remained capable of working with the fleet at a desired level and so could be kept longer and/or modernized to keep up, often for less than the cost of building a new ship. So there was no set schedule of "we will replace these ships every X years" (unless a treaty or law specified when such action could be taken). Lastly, triple expansion steam engines. Nothing wrong with them, turbines are just smoother (less vibration) and allow for greater speeds to be achieved. We built the Liberty ships with triple expansion engines until late in the war as I recall. They are cheaper and faster to make than turbines. But the things are damned reliable and reasonable efficient. The engines should not have represented a problem had she been raised and returned to service.
  4. MM2ss

    Nuclear Power: An Incomplete Guide

    There are lots of differences in those...I will try to keep this short and mostly non-technical where possible. Chernobyl: The design of the reactor made it a bit more dangerous than say pressurized water reactors (PWR) in use in many other places. Chernobyl used graphite as a moderator. When the water boils off, the reactor increases power level. In a PWR that uses water for both cooling and moderating neutrons boiling the water off will lower the power level of the reactor. The reactor at Chernobyl also had badly designed control rods. Normally, control rods act to absorb neutrons and thus lower the power level of the reactor when they are inserted. The rods at Chernobyl were too short and the lower parts of the rods were made of graphite, only the upper part of the rod acted to power down the reactor, the lower part could actually increase the power level by acting as a moderator. That poor design was then coupled with poor standards and practices... The people running the reactor were not doing so in a safe and reliable manner... Essentially it was a design problem and a people problem. Three Mile Island: This was almost entirely a "people problem". The operators ignored the procedures for running the plant starting with the secondary system. That resulted in a loss of feedwater incident. That then resulted in a reactor SCRAM, which functioned properly to shut down the reactor. However, you still have "decay heat" that must be removed, and there was still no feedwater being sent to the steam generators, thus core temperatures continued to rise. Eventually, auxiliary pumps switched on automatically. This should have prevented the partial core melt-down that eventually happened...but the operators had closed the valves from the auxiliary pumps, thus no water was sent to cool the core. Closing those valves was another violation of procedure... As core temperature and primary pressure continued to rise, eventually a pressure relief valve activated, releasing pressure (and water) from the primary system (water going to the core). That is called a "loss of coolant" casualty, and is a bad thing. Poor operating practices then resulted in the operators not treating the situation as a loss of coolant casualty because they decided to focus on one particular indication instead of looking at all their instruments. Like I said, basically a partial melt-down due to human error and hubris. Fukushima: Mostly a design issue. The earthquake and tsunami caused some damage and the design worked in part. The reactors SCRAMed as designed, which is good. Unfortunately, the tsunami knocked the backup generators off line so there was no sustained cooling of the core. The risks were known and the plant was not designed to properly deal with the natural threats it had to face. Thus, you had core melt-downs and a huge contamination problem. Moving from the faulty design specs, you then had poor responses in place for dealing with such a situation (poor communications, not alerting the public to what they needed to do, etc.). Mostly a design problem and they ignored multiple studies about the risks. Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Intentional use of nuclear weapons. They worked as designed and did what they were supposed to do... These weapons held substantially less nuclear material than a working reactor and operate in a different manner. You want an uncontrolled chain reaction when using a nuclear bomb. In a reactor you want to have full control. Habitability: The three sites of the reactors still have tremendously high radiation levels and that is not going to change anytime soon. There is a bunch of nuclear material there and most of it has long half-lives. The substantially smaller amount of nuclear material used at the bombing sites is another matter. There is also the matter of where the nuclear events took place. The bombs were airbursts, the reactors were at ground level. With the bombs the particulate was largely dispersed before it got to the ground and there was very little of it (14 pounds of PU239 and 141 pounds of U235). The reactors instead can have thousands of pounds of nuclear material... Some estimates say that Chernobyl reactor number four had as much as 180 TONS of fuel... That is why Chernobyl may be uninhabitable for more than 300 years yet but Hiroshima and Nagasaki are already at or near normal radiation levels and safe to reside in.
  5. My memory may be faulty, but if I recall my history and books correctly, the first shot from the Victory at Trafalgar was a 68 pounder carronade loaded with a ball and a keg of musket shot. The first broadside, as I recall was either double or treble shotted as well. So one firing could conceivably do far more damage on that first broadside than subsequent firings.
  6. MM2ss

    Pre-Dread Battleship vs WWII Cruiser

    That was sort of the point I was getting at. Even "obsolete" weapons can be effective in the right situations. Of course, if a WWII era cruiser wanted to shell Fort Sumter, they would be better off parking at say 10,000 yards making the fort nothing more than a target. But if a lightly armored vessel did get into range of the old guns, they could do damage. The same applies to the WWII cruiser vs. pre-dreadnought scenario. If the pre-dreadnought can get into effective range it could kill the cruiser. If the cruiser outranges the pre-dreadnought (true in cases of low elevation pre-dreadnoughts) the cruiser holds the advantage. In the first Battle of Fort Sumter, as I recall, at least one of the guns were also mounted as a mortar, I think it was a 10" smoothbore, but I would have to check my sources. If so, it gat Major Anderson a potential range of just over three miles. I would also note that in the fort vs. cruiser situation another obsolete weapon at Sumter would have been far more useful than the old Civil War era guns, Battery Huger had two 12" M1888 guns. Those had a range of about 20,000 yards as I recall.
  7. MM2ss

    Pre-Dread Battleship vs WWII Cruiser

    The difference is that not all battleship guns are created equal. Many pre-dreadnoughts use guns with lower calibers and less elevation than latter battleships even when the diameter of the shell was the same size. I will use Royal Navy 12" weapons as an example. 12"/25 Mark II: Colossus, Conqueror and Collingwood classes. 12.5 degree max elevation, range 9,400 yards. 12"/25 Mark III, IV, V: Colossus, Conqueror and Collingwood classes. 13 degree max elevation, range 9,400 yards. 12"/35 Mark VIII: Majestic and Canopus classes. 13.5 degree max elevation, range 14,860 yards. 12"/40 Mark IX: Formidible, Duncan, London and Edward VII classes. Various mountings, elevations were: 13.5, 20 and 30 degrees. Ranges were 15,000. 21,000 and 26,500 yards. 12"/45 Mark X: Dreadnought and several other classes. 13.5 degrees, 18,850 yards. 12"/50 Mark XI: St. Vincet, Neptune and Colossus classes. ~13 degrees, 20,000 yards. 12"/45 Mark XIII: Agincourt. 16 degrees, 20,400 yards or 13.5 degrees and 18,850 yards (sources are not certain about the maximum elevation it seems). As you can see, a 12" gun is a 12" gun, but they are not all equal...to really throw a wrench into the works I will now ad an American 12" gun... 12"/50 Mark 8, Alaska class... 45 degrees elevation, 38,500 yards range... Now the Alaska was a "Large Cruiser" (There are two ways to fulfill the 'battlecruiser' mission, make a weekened battleship that trades armor for speed or make a really big cruiser that didn't have that much armor to start with). I'd say the Alaska wipes out any pre-dreadnought it wants to. On the other hand a Cleveland is not going to bother a pre-dreadnought too much by itself. Could pre-dreadnoughts be effective? Yes, in the right situations. They cannot force an engagement however and most cruisers would just keep range with their greater speed and call for reinforcements. A pre-dreadnought would be better used as fire support than anything else really. It would slow the fleet down or be left behind. It lacked the range to stand off and pound a cruiser or enemy battleship of WWII vintage. It lacked the armor scheme and active defenses to protect itself in a WWII environment as well. But shelling a coastline or something like that? It would be plenty good enough. In the unlikely event it did end up having to fight enemy surface units, it would be at a huge disadvantage (generally fewer guns, generally slower rate of fire, generally lower max elevations and thus shorter range, generally less damage potential due to lighter shells at lower velocities with smaller bursting charges). But it could do "OK" in some scenarios. The Schleswig-Holstein and her sisters were some of the best pre-dreadnoughts designed in my opinion. But they were pulled from the front line in WWI after Jutland for a reason... They became second tier vessels and that would be the best they could hope for without being completely rebuilt. For most pre-dreadnoughts, those lacking substantial main battery elevation capability, a WWII era 8" gun cruiser could kill them off while staying out of range. (20,000 yards for a 12" gun vs 30,000+ yards for an 8" gun of the WWII period)
  8. MM2ss

    Pre-Dread Battleship vs WWII Cruiser

    I would say "it depends". For a pre-dreadnought to be able to kill something it must first catch or corner the target. WWII cruisers would have a very large speed advantage (19 knots to 32 knots in the S-H vs Exeter matchup). The pre-dreadnought cannot dictate the terms of the engagement and the cruiser is free to keep out of range and radio for reinforcements. In a knife-fight scenario (the pre-dreadnought gets the drop on the cruiser somehow or the cruiser decides to get in real close) the pre-dreadnought could conceivably kill the cruiser in just a few salvos. Then there is the matter of what other matchups could happen. Exeter is really a very sad heavy cruiser in many respects. The S-H is one of the better pre-dreadnoughts out there. When one considers the low elevation of the main guns on most pre-dreadnoughts, they would fair poorly against WWII era cruisers. In the right conditions, with one of the better pre-dreadnoughts the pre-dreadnought could take out a cruiser. However, in the right conditions a cruiser could also take out many of the pre-dreadnoughts that were once in service as well. The fun thing about Naval warfare is that obsolescence does not always mean useless or hopelessly outclassed. A shell striking a ship is a shell striking a ship, regardless of the age of the design of the gun, shell and ship. It then becomes a matter of force applied. If the force is great enough, the armor will be damaged or breached. If the force is not great enough, the armor will protect the vessel. For a slightly wild example, here is a set of pictures of a piece of armor that was fired at with a 15" Dahlgren smoothbore muzzle loading cannon (a US Civil War era weapon). Now, that does not mean to imply that an old muzzle loading cannon would be effective against a WWII era vessel. But again, in the right situation one could do some serious damage...so if the Germans parked a cruiser beside Fort Sumter and some really crazy malcontents had the knowledge of how to do so, they could put lots of holes in that cruiser. (Note, I know that the Dahlgren XV's were not mounted at Fort Sumter, but it is used to a hypothetical where an obsolete weapon could be used, but I don't have access to any information about the performance of Columbiad guns against armor plate.)
  9. MM2ss

    Losing steering?

    The scary part is that there are even more ways than that to lose steering to various degrees. Obviously a rudder being damaged or destroyed. Damage to the steering gear. Loss of hydraulic power (you have now steering then). Hits to the conning tower (you have to shift to local control, it is less precise). Loss of comms (meaning you have to use other means to get the directions to whoever is doing the steering, local or remote). Loss of electrical power (results in a loss of hydraulic power by killing your pumps if they are electrical) from damage, blown fuses, shorts, breakers popping, etc. Loss of steam power (if you have steam powered pumps) from any of a number of causes (boilers hit, pipes ruptured, valves stuck, relief valves tripping, etc. The thing to remember in the real world is that you might have as many as three places you can conduct steering from, the conn, the bridge and local controls. Depending on what is damaged and how you may see reduced steering or a complete loss of control. Same goes for controlling speed on steam powered ships, you have throttle controls in various places, so long as you have comms you can use one of the others to control your speed...unless it is a loss of steam or the throttle valves themselves are rendered inoperable.
  10. MM2ss

    Worst design flaw you can think of?

    As already mentioned, you get some issues from the superposed turrets. Higher center of gravity (less stable), cramping the lower turret (less efficient) the top turret interferes with the lower turret when firing, the top turret moves with the lower turret. Using a second barbette and turret means you have a bigger ship to start with and the barbette moves a great deal of weight lower down in the ship. The turret is also able to move independently of the others. With very low rates of fire the superposed turret has some theoretical benefits, as you can keep putting metal on target with the medium caliber weapons while reloading the mains, but as soon as improved ammunition handling allowed for greater rates of fire from large caliber weapons the intermediate caliber superposed turret became nothing but a waste of weight.
  11. MM2ss

    Worst design flaw you can think of?

    There are exceptions to every rule. I seem to recall the Polish had a few air to air victories as well, but in general and all other things being equal the aircraft then becomes the deciding factor.
  12. True enough, my point was that "accuracy" in regards to the musket is often misunderstood by most folks. They are "inaccurate" at long range, but in close, you can reliably hit a man sized target. That the ball hit where it did and took the path through the body that it did might be luck, but hitting a man at that range with a musket was not some great feat, it was well within the capabilities of the weapon system.
  13. MM2ss

    Worst design flaw you can think of?

    In fairness to the Swordfish, most torpedo bombers did not fair well when they got jumped by fighters. As I recall, only four or six Devastators made it back to the US carriers at Midway, the rest were lost. The IJN Kate's didn't do well when jumped by fighters either... In air combat you need to be have speed, maneuverability and survivability. If the enemy has more of those than you, you tend to get shot down. If you have more of those factors in your favor, the edge goes to you. Unfortunately for torpedo bombers, they tend to be slower and less maneuverable than fighters, meaning the enemy will shoot you down unless you have an escort.
  14. MM2ss

    Worst design flaw you can think of?

    There have been so many bad designs over the years...it makes it really hard to pick just one. The Indiana class battleships were pretty terrible, pointing the main battery to the broadside induced a substantial list in the ship and reduced the maximum effective elevation to about 5 degrees or so...plus the clamps were weak and broke, allowing the mounts to move in heavy weather (stability problem there) and originally they lacked bilge keels which further reduced stability. The Kearsarge class was pretty bad as well. The double stacked turrets were bot a great idea and the large port openings in them resulted in some professionals stating that a shot fired into the ports could easily reach the magazines. That was topped off by the ships having a low freeboard. The Virginia class ships had the unfortunate mixed battery of 12 and 8 inch guns...in superposed turrets... Going further back in time one could point to the Mary Rose and the Vasa...
  15. Muskets are a funny thing in regards to accuracy. There is also very little data on their accuracy that adheres to modern concepts of accuracy. The "Brown Bess" musket was claimed to have a "battle range" of 200 yards. At that range, a line of infantry often saw hit rates as high as 20%...against targets simulating an opposing line of infantry. That is not a very good hit rate by modern standards and against individuals the hit rate would be much lower. Which is why battles often features the lines at ranges of 50 yards or less, where hits were much more common and individual targets could be picked by skilled shooters. "The Rifle-Musket vs. The Smoothbore Musket, a Comparison of the Effectiveness of the Two Types of Weapons Primarily at Short Ranges." by Stanage did a bit of research that helps us out more than the vague terms of "battle range" and "decisive range". He compared the M1861 Springfield (.58 cal.) rifle-musket to a .69 cal. smoothbore musket. At 100 yards the 1861 achieved a hit rate of 96% (48 of 50), the M1842 .69 cal. smoothbore with ball achieved a hit rate of 74% (37 of 50) and the smoothbore with buck and ball achieved a hit rate of 72% (for the balls, 36 of 50) and 53% (for the buck shot, 150 pellets fired) At 200 yards the 1861 achieved a hit rate of 74% (37 of 50), the M1842 .69 cal. smoothbore with ball achieved a hit rate of 36% (18 of 50) and the smoothbore with buck and ball achieved a hit rate of 36% (for the balls, 18 of 50) and 20.3% (for the buck shot, 150 pellets) At 300 yards the 1861 achieved a hit rate of 46% (23 of 50), the M1842 .69 cal. smoothbore with ball achieved a hit rate of 14% (7 of 50) and the smoothbore with buck and ball was not recorded, the accuracy must have been near zero... At 500 yards the 1861 achieved a hit rate of 24% (12 of 50). No smoothbore data at all was recorded. At 100 yards or less you were actually better off firing a smoothbore with buck and ball than just ball or a rifle-musket as far as your chances of hitting a target go. At 200 yards you are better off with buck and ball than ball alone, though from there on out the rifle-musket is far superior to both. At under 100 yards, while the rifle is an almost certain hit, the smoothbore is still a very creditable threat in the hands of a trained shooter. Now the fun part, I have a 1777 Charleville dragoon musket reproduction. At 50 yards I don't miss a 12" target. At 100 yards, well I should be firing buck and ball...because I am closer to a 35% hit rate. So at sub-100 yards the musket is actually very accurate if the shooter is steady. Being up in the rigging or on a fighting top accuracy would drop substantially, the stress of battle would also reduce accuracy and I am willing to bet that I have far more target practice than any French soldier, sailor or marine from the 1700's. Still, even assuming an under trained shooter in battle on a moving platform firing at a moving target, the shot is not nearly as "lucky" as some might think, if he fired 5 times, at least one would be highly likely to hit. One can do the same with modern firearms. The rifle musket out to 200 yards is pretty dang good... Anything under that and a trained shooter can compete with any modern weapon in terms of accuracy. More than that and the newer weapons start to have a huge edge in accuracy.