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What Exactly Made IJN Optics Better at Night?

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Short: the IJN trained a lot for night battles and didn’t cared about casualties and damage that can come with it. The USN considered it for to dangerous. 

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7 minutes ago, Erebthoron said:

Short: the IJN trained a lot for night battles and didn’t cared about casualties and damage that can come with it. The USN considered it for to dangerous. 

Pretty much this.  Plus the IJN were involved in combat, or preparing for it, long before the USN began any type of serious training.  Lot of the US military were in peacetime cost-cutting mode following WWI.  Typically training, especially live fire training, gets cut out of the budget pretty early. 

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They copied German Zess binoculars and improved on them specifically for night operations. Their lookouts were better trained than ours and could use those night glasses to great effect.

In early night surface actions, the Japanese always saw their targets long before they were spotted, allowing them to set up devastating torpedo attacks.

Once radar became common on US ships and the men trained to use it effectively, the advantage swung to the US side and the Japanese were never able to counter it.

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Was it not that they just practiced this more?  Also how did they improve on Zess binos?  

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There is more to an optic than just how many times it enlarges the picture. There is also the diameter of the objective.

This diameter also indicates how well your optic will serve you in darker scenarios.

There's a rule of thumb for binoculars, let's take two glasses as examples. A 8x56 (A) and an 8x40 (B). Both will enlarge the picture eight times, but latter has a smaller objective.

Now we make the calculation for both glasses.

(A): (56/8)^2=49
(B): (40/8)^2=25

So, as the rule of thumb says, the first binocular will be a lot better in the dawn/darkness.

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14 minutes ago, SireneRacker said:

There is more to an optic than just how many times it enlarges the picture. There is also the diameter of the objective.

This diameter also indicates how well your optic will serve you in darker scenarios.

There's a rule of thumb for binoculars, let's take two glasses as examples. A 8x56 (A) and an 8x40 (B). Both will enlarge the picture eight times, but latter has a smaller objective.

Now we make the calculation for both glasses.

(A): (56/8)^2=49
(B): (40/8)^2=25

So, as the rule of thumb says, the first binocular will be a lot better in the dawn/darkness.

Yep the diameter helps you collecting light but of you have no idea what to look for it will not help you. There are two good books that show the Guadalcanal nightbattles from both sides: Neptune‘s Inferno for the USN and Japanese Destroyer Captain for the IJN. The second book shows also how much the Japanese underestimated radar in the later years. Same as the German navy. While they know that the British had radar they belived it was inferior.

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1 hour ago, Erebthoron said:

Short: the IJN trained a lot for night battles and didn’t cared about casualties and damage that can come with it. The USN considered it for to dangerous. 

 

Interestingly enough, the RN trained for night CV ops right from the get-go.

 

I'm assuming not actual combat at night, but the ability to take off and land in the dark gives you a bigger window during the day for strikes

Edited by Skpstr

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1 minute ago, Skpstr said:

 

Interestingly enough, the RN trained for night CV ops right from the get-go.

They got a few years more of naval tradition and experience under their belt. I blame this. The IJN also know that they have to fight against an enemy that will be superior in numbers. So they dedicated their strategy around decisive battle and reducing the numbers of the enemies ships with torpedos. Hence this explains ships like the Shimakaza. 

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1 hour ago, Erebthoron said:

Short: the IJN trained a lot for night battles and didn’t cared about casualties and damage that can come with it. The USN considered it for to far too dangerous. 

FTFY

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I knew the main answer would be a lot of night training, however, thank you to all the others who went into more specific detail. Interesting reasons.

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