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Call_of_the_Mastodon

A question about crew's battle stations

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I have a quick question about AA gunners' positions during battle.  I'm thinking of late-war US battleships that were massive AA platforms in particular.  If a ship encountered an enemy task force that had surface warships as well as air cover, would the AA gunners be at their stations if it was possible that the ship would also be engaging surface targets?  I can't imagine that the 20mm gunners would be on their stations on deck if there was the possibility of the main battery firing.  Thanks for any info anyone has!

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Unless the mounts were dual purpose such as some 127mm mounts, then AA gunners wouldn't have normally be shooting at surface warships. No from my under standing gunners wouldn't be out on deck but in shielded AA mounts ( again like the 127mm) when the main battery was firing.

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it's.....debatable.

DDs and CAs could have manned their AA guns while their main batteries fired. In some cases, the 40mm and 20mm were fired at the superstructure of enemy ships.

BB guns had a larger concussion blast then CA guns though. On the Yamato, no unshielded mount AA guns were manned while the main battery was in operation.

 

As for the US BBs, it might be situational. If there is no possibility of aircraft attack, then you would not need your AA guns manned. But there were several cases of a Kamikaze sneaking in unnoticed. It is possible that if your main guns were busy firing on the port side, the starboard side AA guns might be manned. Obviously the AA guns on the turret may not be manned during main battery fire.

 

It's an interesting question as in the event of a major fleet action (BB vs BB) in WW2, aircraft would be taking part on both sides. You would want your AA guns ready to go, but you also have to shoot back at the enemy ships.

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1 hour ago, Panic512 said:

Unless the mounts were dual purpose such as some 127mm mounts, then AA gunners wouldn't have normally be shooting at surface warships. No from my under standing gunners wouldn't be out on deck but in shielded AA mounts ( again like the 127mm) when the main battery was firing.

Unless the mounts were enclosed they wouldn't even man them unless there was threat of air power which would not normally happen when engaged with enemy surface combatants. The one exception of air power actually attacking during a surface action was the Action off Samar and the pilots concentrated on the ships that they knew the US didn't have there, the cruisers and BB's.

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Thanks for the replies guys, I am going to try to research this a bit further because it's something I've wondered about for a while.  I toured the North Carolina a few weeks ago and seeing all the 20mm mounts forward of the main turrets along the bow got me wondering about it.  They must have had a way to deal with simultaneous air and surface action but I'm not sure what the protocol was.  I have seen footage of AA gunners on deck  right next to the 5"/38 turrets when they were firing, that couldn't have been pleasant!

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1 hour ago, Call_of_the_Mastodon said:

Thanks for the replies guys, I am going to try to research this a bit further because it's something I've wondered about for a while.  I toured the North Carolina a few weeks ago and seeing all the 20mm mounts forward of the main turrets along the bow got me wondering about it.  They must have had a way to deal with simultaneous air and surface action but I'm not sure what the protocol was.  I have seen footage of AA gunners on deck  right next to the 5"/38 turrets when they were firing, that couldn't have been pleasant!

The compression wave from 16 inch guns could strip the flesh straight of a sailors arm.

The first time the Yamato fired her guns with full charge, the blew quiet a few deck mounted AA guns clean of the ship.

When the Missouri was firing her main guns, there were was only ever two human beings on deck - A spotter at the bow and one at the stern, with not much more than their heads sticking up above deck level.

I would suggest in general surface actions combined with significant air attacks would be avoided simply to stop the wrong ships being bombed by the wrong planes.

 

 

Edited by MG1962

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30 minutes ago, MG1962 said:

The compression wave from 16 inch guns could strip the flesh straight of a sailors arm.

The first time the Yamato fired her guns with full charge, the blew quiet a few deck mounted AA guns clean of the ship.

When the Missouri was firing her main guns, there were was only ever two human beings on deck - A spotter at the bow and one at the stern, with not much more than their heads sticking up above deck level.

I would suggest in general surface actions combined with significant air attacks would be avoided simply to stop the wrong ships being bombed by the wrong planes.

 

 

The muzzle blast would be incredible!  Didn't Washington blow her own seaplane off the catapult when firing over the stern?  I remember my grandfather, who was a WW2 Navy vet, telling me that even being on deck 1,000 yards away from the battlewagons on the firing line was like being punched in the chest.  

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38 minutes ago, Call_of_the_Mastodon said:

The muzzle blast would be incredible!  Didn't Washington blow her own seaplane off the catapult when firing over the stern?  I remember my grandfather, who was a WW2 Navy vet, telling me that even being on deck 1,000 yards away from the battlewagons on the firing line was like being punched in the chest.  

Yeah I am not a 100% sure how far the effect would reach. Most of my knowledge comes from a conversation back in the late 80s with the gun captain of Y turrent on the Missouri. He also informed me his turret had the nick name of the Gadhafi gun lol  

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1 hour ago, Call_of_the_Mastodon said:

The muzzle blast would be incredible!  Didn't Washington blow her own seaplane off the catapult when firing over the stern?  I remember my grandfather, who was a WW2 Navy vet, telling me that even being on deck 1,000 yards away from the battlewagons on the firing line was like being punched in the chest.  

I know there is a picture of the Vittorio Veneto's wrecked seaplane form her own fire.

 

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Take a look 4 minutes into this documentary on the making of 'In Harms Way' and note the reactions of John Wayne and Kirk Douglas...

Those are 8" guns of the St. Paul (Baltimore Class)

 

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2 hours ago, AVR_Project said:

Take a look 4 minutes into this documentary on the making of 'In Harms Way' and note the reactions of John Wayne and Kirk Douglas...

Those are 8" guns of the St. Paul (Baltimore Class)

 

That's some great footage!  You can actually see the muzzle blast ripple their shirts during the second shot.  I also remember my grandfather telling me that the 5" guns were more painful to be around than the big guns as their report was more of a sharp crack vs. a big rumble.

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18 hours ago, Call_of_the_Mastodon said:

  I have seen footage of AA gunners on deck  right next to the 5"/38 turrets when they were firing, that couldn't have been pleasant!

I read in a book on the Iowa-class were it quoted a crew member talking about the guns firing. He compared the 16in guns to being hit by a mattress, where as the 5in would hit you like a bat.

 

It also gave an instance where an Admiral or Captain sitting in the bridge chair was tossed from it by the unexpected firing of a 5in gun.

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All personnel not involved in an action are assigned to DCP's, excluding the assorted gun mount captains. Cant speak for the US Navy, but in the Can and UK navies the bosuns mates(chief bosun would be the coxswain, highest ranking non commissioned officer on the ship) were in charge of DC and would comb out the action stations not directly involved in the existing combat situation to form up fire teams.

Every sailor is trained in fighting fires and flooding. I still remember standing shoulder deep in freezing Bay of Fundy water that was pumped into a box as we trained at flooding control....some memorable quotes

"You f..... idiots are gonna stay in that room all night until you get this right"

"Drain the room, do it again....f...... morons are gonna freeze to death if you dont get this soon"

"F.... it, you all drowned, drain the room and do it again"

Fun times....lol

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On 8/1/2018 at 2:03 PM, Lord_Slayer said:

it's.....debatable.

DDs and CAs could have manned their AA guns while their main batteries fired. In some cases, the 40mm and 20mm were fired at the superstructure of enemy ships.

 

  Not surprising- a 20mm Oerlikon round could easily punch through a DD's superstructure or hull plating- like a hot knife through butter.    Guys were injured and killed in WWII from friendly fire by AA gunners on nearby ships.  I recall reading about a Commodore during Okinawa getting his head blown off where he sat in his chair on the bridge of a DD by 20mm shells from one of our AA LST's.  It was a mess, that's for sure - CIC got it, too.

  I don't see why they wouldn't- if only to force the gunners on the enemy ship to keep THEIR heads down.   Strafing by .50 cals from fighters was pretty effective- why not 20 and 40mm?

  Having recently toured the USS The Sullivans, and seeing how thin the plating really is- I don't doubt it for a second.  There really is no safe place to hide on a Fletcher- if you get hit, someone's getting effed up!   Heck, the 5" turrets are just a thin 1/4" plate...  I doubt they'd stop a .50 cal round, if you were being strafed.   You could tear one of those ships apart with a bunch of AA guns, if you were close enough.   I doubt you'd sink it- that's what the 5's are for- but you'd cause massive casualties and bust up a lot of stuff.  (which is just as bad, if you're ON that ship)

  Today's ships aren't any more protected.  Now GETTING that close with an aircraft is MUCH MUCH more unlikely, but if you did, you could deal a devastating amount of damage with just your guns.  That's why fast attack craft are so dangerous.

  The decks of Yamato were an absolute bloodbath from all the strafing, according to some reports.  And all our pilots had was .50 cals.

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That makes a lot of sense, Fletcher.  I have a book on PT boat operations in WW2 and it was pretty common practice for them to rake DD decks with their .50's and 20mm to keep the gunner's heads down during torpedo runs, as well as wrecking spotlights.  A regular ball round from a .30-06 will punch through 1/4" plate no problem, a round from a .50 cal would probably barely slow down if it hits plate that thin!

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