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Stupid question about wires

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Many ships of various era have cable/ wire going from the main mast to the turret, bow, stern, secondary mast...

 

I got 2 question: what was the goal of those cable, outside of drying clothes? If the earlier one may have to do with tripod mast stability, I doubt that they were there for similar reason for the Yamato. Are they communication wire?

 

second: in combat, wouldn’t they get blow apart quickly by the main gun blast/ aa fire? 

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The wire cables on some of the ships that are up high on mast and stacks are communications antennae. Older radios needed the com wire as high as possible to send and receive communications out to sea beyond the horizon. Today, we use frequencies that can transmit over the entire globe on HF, VHF and UHF in addition to satellite communications. 

 

Ryan. U.S. Navy 22 years.

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My father was a Radio Operator for the Army after he fought in WW2 (we will all enlist again.. in a pigs a__hole we will)...

We are talking about TRANSMITTING radio waves.

There are two modes of transmission using any frequency band, and strategic reasons for your selection.  There were Sky-waves, Ground-waves, and several bands with their unique transmission capabilities.  These bands were only effective during various weather and ionosphere related conditions - both sending and receiving.

Strategically, you wanted your transmission to only reach your intended receiver..  You didn't want it bouncing around all over the world from London to Calcutta.

Radio silence was also required when at sea, so you shouldn't be doing radio checks every 30 minutes - obviously.

So if Captain hands Johnny Radio man a message to be sent, it needs to be encrypted and sent at a radio band capable of reaching the intended target.

What frequency bands are available depends on Ionosphere, interference from the Sun, Interference from solar flares.  You will hear folks saying the 30 meter band is down (that's wavelength).
Hambands4-web_color_11x17_9-22-17 (arrl.org)
 

And FINALLY AN ANSWER to your question...   Why all the wires?  A ship needs to communicate.  In those days, there were no satellites, soooo...  Radio...  You need antennas for every band - both sky-waves for long distance and Ground-waves for ship-to-ship.

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Unlike today, back then, each radio had to have it's own antenna.  Due to the inefficiency of electronics back then, to get enough of a received signal in particular, you needed a very large (read long) antenna to gather more signal strength.  Placing the antenna high up on the ship and away from its structure helped with that as well, particularly with transmission. 

In part, antenna length had to be at least one half the frequency of the signal to be received in length and old radio sets transmitted on meter-length bands.  So if you had say a 10 meter radio band it required at least a 5 meter long antenna and one 10, 15, or 20 meters (multiples of the frequency) would do even better.

In some cases you might see circular pieces along these cables.  Those were antenna spreaders to allow multiple parallel runs of antenna cable to be made.  Some times you can make out small balls along one of these cables.  Those are insulators used for various purposes like keeping the wires separated or to insulate them from conducting surfaces that would interfere with the signals.

In addition, signal flags were still used regularly so on the superstructure there would be a number of vertical ropes that look like cable for hoisting signal flags.

Up through roughly the 1940's many ships also still had wire bracing for masts, particularly lighter pole masts to keep them in place and from toppling or flexing.

Today, with modern electronics, antenna sizes have shrunk and one antenna can serve to receive or transmit multiple signals to multiple pieces of communications equipment.

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Y_Nagato said:

second: in combat, wouldn’t they get blow apart quickly by the main gun blast/ aa fire? 

As others have answered the first one in great detail, I'll answer the second - which is No/Only if somebody is incredibly stupid and screws up. As an example

img07810-jpg.440656

Trace the wires to where they'd be on the top down view - pretty much no AA gun can even point toward them. On most ships those wires are right over the exact center of the ship - the one spot that AA guns actually can't cover on most ships for safety/operational reasons. They are also well away from the heavy main battery and most angles in which the blast wave could hit them and even if they were while they may appear thin on that drawing, that the real life counterparts are at least as thick as a mans arm or in to 'Mr. Unisverse Arnold' type of thickness and would actually have some give as well so they would not be wrecked by main gun fire or secondary gun fire. 

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8 minutes ago, WanderingGhost said:

As others have answered the first one in great detail, I'll answer the second - which is No/Only if somebody is incredibly stupid and screws up. As an example

img07810-jpg.440656

Trace the wires to where they'd be on the top down view - pretty much no AA gun can even point toward them. On most ships those wires are right over the exact center of the ship - the one spot that AA guns actually can't cover on most ships for safety/operational reasons. They are also well away from the heavy main battery and most angles in which the blast wave could hit them and even if they were while they may appear thin on that drawing, that the real life counterparts are at least as thick as a mans arm or in to 'Mr. Unisverse Arnold' type of thickness and would actually have some give as well so they would not be wrecked by main gun fire or secondary gun fire. 

 

In that case yes, but look at the Yamato: dcig36k-bee7e0bc-e829-4b19-bcb4-28d6575c05c7.thumb.png.3723ab64fa6a6d2a7023fadf8f3ee3ed.png

 

 

 

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So they could do things like this.

image.thumb.png.99aea7678f424ead71e00f870d31ade6.png

image.png.3f3147401527b9c7ee4fbfa9e8786f4c.png

We did that in a couple of ports for some reason. It looked cool.

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21 minutes ago, Y_Nagato said:

 

In that case yes, but look at the Yamato: dcig36k-bee7e0bc-e829-4b19-bcb4-28d6575c05c7.thumb.png.3723ab64fa6a6d2a7023fadf8f3ee3ed.png

 

 

 

Again, the AA guns aren't actually in position to really hit the wires - pretty much ever AA gun ever only goes about 85 degree elevation max, and even then not all of them do that, and they don't have full 360 degree rotation. And while yes, those wires are around the main battery, you again come to how thick they are - these are not cheap things from Radio Shack that a light breeze will snap, you could probably stop a WWII fighter with them. There's also the fact that rarely, if ever, did ships, especially Battleships, actually fire their guns over the deck like we tend to do in game. Namely due to the shockwave the guns would cause and damage the ship itself, why even when you do see a ship 'firing forward' that isn't maybe a DD with a 5"/38 it's actually got the guns angled over the side to protect the ship from damage - so those lines wouldn't really be in the blast anyway, other than the outer edges where again, they are thicker and meant to move some. 

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32 minutes ago, Y_Nagato said:

 

In that case yes, but look at the Yamato: dcig36k-bee7e0bc-e829-4b19-bcb4-28d6575c05c7.thumb.png.3723ab64fa6a6d2a7023fadf8f3ee3ed.png

 

 

 

For most ships, it's not actually that safe to fire the main guns directly over the bow or stern, especially at low elevation. Muzzle blast does lots of bad things, it can tear up bulwarks on deck, the decking, and even interior bulkheads should the blast go down the hawspipes into the chain lockers.

There's also issues with the smoke and debris from firing the guns, if you fire ahead, you'll have a cloud of it above the forecastle, which the ship will sail through and you'll end up with it in the optics. Same with pointing the range finders forward when running at speed in weather, the lenses will end up coated in salt water. Firing over the side will allow the ships forward motion to keep the optics clear.

Lastly, there's the difference between how ships fight in game, and how they functioned in life. In game, fighting bow in is common, in real life, ships went nearly broadside because you were more likely to miss in range than deflection, so it made you a smaller target. That's also why ships have the heaviest armor on the flanks, as opposed to tanks that usually have the most on the front.

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Even some aircraft had such things.  When I worked on KC-130s for the USMC, they had those wires running quite a bit of the length of the plane, from the top of the forward fuselage to the vertical stabilizer.

kc-130-cobrgr2.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

2579115.jpg?v=v40&f=1&nofb=1

I worked in Electric Shop at the time but radar, comms was the responsibility of Com/Nav Shop.  Because I had a manlift license, Com/Nav borrowed me a few times specifically to help them change out some of those wires / antennae when they went bad.  I always wondered what they were and when I was helping my friend change out one of them, he said they were antennae.  I can't remember all the details.  This was around 1995.

The models of KC-130 I worked on were the F, R, and T models, which were pretty old at the time.  Especially the F models in the fleet, I remember seeing plates in the flight station showing the acceptance date of the early 1960s.  We had a few old birds flying that I recognized their numbers when watching Vietnam War documentaries on the Siege of Khe Sanh.  Old planes with old technology.  The newer J models are a different thing altogether.

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway

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16 hours ago, Sovereigndawg said:

So they could do things like this.

image.thumb.png.99aea7678f424ead71e00f870d31ade6.png

image.png.3f3147401527b9c7ee4fbfa9e8786f4c.png

We did that in a couple of ports for some reason. It looked cool.

As the Chief Engineer, I hated up and over lights..  Pain in the [edited].

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