Jump to content
You need to play a total of 20 battles to post in this section.
Commissar_Carl

Successful Ships vs Successful Designs

47 comments in this topic

Recommended Posts

Members
199 posts
4,590 battles

Originally, this was going to be a thread where I complained about part of a article by Norman Friedman. I'll attach it Here but it basically says that the Atlanta's were more successful designs than the Dido's. My initial response is great skepticism. The Dido's took part in many more surface engagements than the Atlanta's, and typically came out on top in them. The only time that the Atlanta's had a surface combat, both were lost.

Obviously, this is a very, very reductive and skewed view on the two classes. Atlanta and Juneau were probably put into the worst surface engagement imaginable, and at the end of the day more Dido's and Bellona's were sunk than Atlanta's and Oakland's. 

But it did get me thinking. When you get right down to it, the Atlanta was at least as successful a design as the Didos, with both having similar strengths and weaknesses, and Atlanta coming out ahead by virtue of the excellent 5"/38 twin mounts and having a little more displacement to play with. To my mind though, the Dido's were much more successful ships.

Which leads to the discussion. What ships were fantastic designs that really were not successful, or designs that were mediocre, but the ships had great combat records?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2,564
[REVY]
Members
8,422 posts
6,118 battles
12 minutes ago, Commissar_Carl said:

What ships were fantastic designs that really were not successful

USS South Dakota springs to mind.  Lost power when it mattered most and embarrassed itself at Guadalcanal, despite being an efficient design.

18 minutes ago, Commissar_Carl said:

designs that were mediocre, but the ships had great combat records?

Maybe the CV conversion ships like Kaga, Akagi and HMS Eagle?  Any conversion will suffer a significant loss in efficiency at being a carrier but being around at the start of WWII gave them impressive combat records.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4,791
[KWF]
Members
6,404 posts
7,154 battles

I think by success in that case Friedman means how well they were able to fullfill the intended role they were assigned. Atlanta class cruisers with proximity fuzes must have definitely been better suited at their AA role compared to the 5.25in of Dido class, which from what I understand were more suited towards surface targets.

Also other factors like fuel efficiency, crew conditions, reliability could play their role.

By fantastic designs one that springs to mind is Algerie, as she was considered excellent for her time. Her only claim to fame was a single escort mission, then being scuttled along with the rest of the French fleet at Toulon.

 

  • Cool 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2,564
[REVY]
Members
8,422 posts
6,118 battles
46 minutes ago, Commissar_Carl said:

What ships were fantastic designs that really were not successful

Now that I think on it, many of the WWII French ships were excellent designs that had ignominious careers.  Le Fantasque-class were the fastest in the world.  The Mogadors were even more powerful. Algerie was excellent.  The Dunkerques and Richelieu especially were decent.  The French Navy built for quality because they had the quantity of the Royal Navy on their side, but it was all let down by the French Army and BEF.

  • Cool 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1,180
[PISD]
Members
1,921 posts
6,338 battles
12 minutes ago, Sventex said:

Now that I think on it, many of the WWII French ships were excellent designs that had ignominious careers.  Le Fantasque-class were the fastest in the world.  The Mogadors were even more powerful. Algerie was excellent.  The Dunkerques and Richelieu especially were decent.  The French Navy built for quality because they had the quantity of the Royal Navy on their side, but it was all let down by the French Army and BEF.

Well, they also had the Duquesne that were pretty much the worst heavy cruiser design, and their Contre Torpilleur were fast, but the size of small cruiser (Mogador is almost as big as Arethusa) with poor gun handling.

 

 

For OP question: 

Yamato looks like a well design ship that face situation that she was not made to handle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Members
199 posts
4,590 battles
42 minutes ago, warheart1992 said:

By fantastic designs one that springs to mind is Algerie, as she was considered excellent for her time. Her only claim to fame was a single escort mission, then being scuttled along with the rest of the French fleet at Toulon.

 

 

27 minutes ago, Sventex said:

 Algerie was excellent.

Oh, didn't even think of Algerie. Thats probably the best interwar cruiser and it did diddly squat.

30 minutes ago, Sventex said:

The Mogadors were even more powerful.

 

13 minutes ago, Karstodes said:

Well, they also had the Duquesne that were pretty much the worst heavy cruiser design, and their Contre Torpilleur were fast, but the size of small cruiser (Mogador is almost as big as Arethusa) with poor gun handling

I have to agree with respect to Mogador with Karsten. The gun mounts on that ship are pretty abysmal and really let it down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1,180
[PISD]
Members
1,921 posts
6,338 battles

For the well design ship with poor career: British Battlecruiser before Jutland. They were well design to hunt cruisers, but not so much to face capital ships.

  • Cool 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3,942
[SYN]
Members
9,036 posts
16,349 battles

Dido Design Shortcomings

I generally agree with Friedman, that from a pure design success perspective the Dido's did not do as well as the Atlanta class. Though I disagree on some of his reasons. His article is overall quite basic and dated and to be honest he always seems better sticking to design than operational history - for instance his claim that the armored decks of the RN carriers were a boon against Kamikaze attacks - though often repeated - doesn't bear up to scrutiny.

Compared to the Atlanta Class my criticisms of the Dido's would be:

  1. Size, and trying to do too much with too little tonnage
  2. The main armament of 5.25in guns
  3. Propensity to capsize due to top weight, the longitudinal bulkheads along the boiler rooms and internal design defects
  4. Lack of diesel generators for emergency electrical power generation

 

Size

Like their contemporaries the Fijis, these ships came out badly overweight. Designed for 5,450 tons, Naiad was completed at 5,677 tons. The 220 tons of approved additions included extra light armament, heavier main machinery, electrical increases, and larger complement. By the end of 1941 another 72 tons had been added without compensation: radar, RPC for pompoms, internal degaussing, SA gear, Asdic, etc. - Friedman, Norman. British Cruisers: Two World Wars and After. Pen & Sword Books.

Size does matter and the greater heft of the Atlanta is considerable. A percentage increase in tonnage on a warship usually has a disproportionate impact on capabilty as there are many 'fixed' costs of construction. As a 5,450t standard vs. 6,600t Atlanta the Dido is about 17% smaller, but more than 17% less capable. The limited growth margin is an issue for long-term longevity with the class very difficult to upgrade post-war and accorded very low priority for various reasons, though it's safe to say that given huge cuts if you have more Fiji/Town class than you can afford, the Dido's are going to fall behind. The lack of size and then growth due to radar etc. also compromised reserve stability margins which were already very tight.

The design with triple-superfiring 5.25in's meant unavoidable superstructural height with a wheelhouse looking over the top which clashed with the core design element of small silhouette for night actions - something addressed with the 'Batch II' ships.

The 5.25in

Unfortunately, the original design of the gunhouse was cramped and the heavy projectile and cartridge cases resulted in a lower rate of fire than expected. "A" turret in the early Dido class cruisers was prone to jamming with some thirteen separate incidents being reported during 1940-41, including that of HMS Bonaventure while engaging the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper in December 1940. These problems were mainly the result of the light construction methods used on most Treaty-limited ships, which in this case allowed the bow to flex in heavy weather or during high-speed turns. This was rectified in the early ships by stiffening the bow section and by more careful attention to the detail fitting work required for installation of the mountings. - Navweaps

Given their ancestry, these were hardly single-purpose anti-aircraft cruisers. Low-angle fire was far too important in their conception. The 5.25in calibre was chosen not because it made for good anti-aircraft fire, but because it was good for stopping destroyers and lightly-armoured cruisers. The Royal Navy considered the 4.5in gun, with its lighter and handier shell, a more ideal heavy anti-aircraft weapon – which is why it armed British aircraft carriers. - Friedman, Norman. British Cruisers: Two World Wars and After. Pen & Sword Books.

Nor did the 5.25-inch mounting meet expectations, with an operational firing rate of only eight rounds per minute and training and elevating capabilities too slow for effective anti-aircraft fire. For all that, the class had a fine record in the Mediterranean in particular and many an air attack was broken up by barrages of heavy if not especially accurate fire. Daniel Morgan, Bruce Taylor. U-Boat Attack Logs Seaforth Publishing.

For the 5.25in guns the core concept is a compromise, and I think unfortunately in the wrong direction. In the overall event being attacked from the air was far more probable than from the sea (note no Dido lost or seriously damaged by surface attack) and the 80lb projectile and design of the Dido was focused on anti-surface. The fact that an 80lb projectile was hard to handle was pretty well understood in the RN at that point, so it was entirely an 'informed decision'. In the close-ranged night actions against Italian convoys that the Dido's did very well in it's not clear to me that the additional hitting power of the 5.25in over say a 4.5in or 5in gun had was of great value against unarmored merchantmen or destroyers. Having a broadside of 14, faster-firing guns would certainly not be a disadvantage at that range in an Atlanta. Certainly British 4.7in destroyer guns worked fine. Against for instance the Italians at Sirte or Hipper from Bonaventure at long range the 5.25in rarely (if ever) hit, and I can't think of any occasion where an enemy cruiser was hit by one, in the event the hitting power went to waste.

The overall concept of the weapon is impressive - you get 800lb of anti-surface broadside while the similarly sized Arethusa gets 672lb (though better penetration), and the same 800lb anti-aircraft while an Arethusa gets just 140lb from 2x2 4in against planes per volley.  The execution with a cramped gunhouse (unnecessary) reduced rate of fire in an overall 'unforced error'.

The AA record of the Dido class is mixed, although none were lost to air attack except Spartan to a (unforeseeable at the time) glide bomb attack, several were badly damaged and their record shooting down aircraft was mixed. Raven & Roberts' British Cruisers of WWII notes that the five AA conversions of the C-class plus Delhi shot down 31 aircraft, or an average of 5.16 each of which Carlisle accounted for 11. The 15 Dido's are credited with 16 shoot-down including 5 by Dido herself, an average of about 1 each. The Arethusa class Penelope was also a high scorer with seven shot down. To shoot down an aircraft, like murder takes means, motive and opportunity, and we can assume that all ships were pretty equally well motivated, leaving the outcome down to means and opportunity. Given opportunity varied so much - all of the Dido class entered combat after the C class AA ships, and several only came into service late war - you can take or leave the outcome.

 

Capsize

image.thumb.png.f51b2f5254dea0a34a650522c3a4ffba.png

Of those torpedoed near the aft boiler room, Bonaventure, Naiad, Hermione and Charybdis capsized rapidly as did Spartan, hit by a guided bomb in the same area. Only Cleopatra survived, thanks to excellent damage control. Brown, David K.. Nelson to Vanguard: Warship Design and Development, 1923–1945 (Chatham's Distinguished Design) (pp. 201-202). Pen & Sword Books.

At 2005 torpedoes were seen passing ahead and astern of Naiad but a third struck amidships at Frame 99, the bulkhead separating the Forward Engine Room and ‘B’ Boiler Room aft. An immediate list of ten degrees to starboard increased to twenty degrees as both compartments flooded. Orders were passed to seal off all internal doors and the flooding was temporarily contained while efforts were made to extricate those inside. Here the design faults of the Dido class began to tell, for though men were saved through manholes illegally cut into the top of these and other compartments by the Senior Engineer, Lt (E) Louis Le Bailly, it had not been possible to make similar provision for other machinery spaces. This meant that trapped men either drowned or were forced to open doors onto adjoining passages, thereby compromising the watertight integrity of the entire ship.

Cdr Roy Dowling RAN was later to testify that all accessible watertight doors were closed as a matter of course, but subsequent orders to seal internal doors were not thought to have reached both ends of the ship and at least one was unclipped to permit escape. A further design omission was the lack of an emergency diesel generator. With the four dynamos either destroyed or lacking steam power, efforts at damage control were therefore hampered by a complete failure of electrical power together with a breakdown in Naiad’s telephone system as she continued her list to starboard. Naiad’s fate was sealed by the flooding of one or both of the wing spaces abreast ‘B’ Boiler Room, water spreading along the ship via the cable passage. Together with the inrush of water from the speed of the ship, this caused the collapse of the bulkhead separating that space and the After Engine Room, an event that brought Naiad onto her beam ends at around 2030, twenty-five minutes after the attack. The order was immediately passed to abandon ship, much of the crew having gathered on the upper deck. Naiad capsized and sank by the stern a few minutes later, her bows rearing up against a starry Mediterranean sky. Daniel Morgan, Bruce Taylor. U-Boat Attack Logs (Kindle Locations 13316-13330). Seaforth Publishing.

Unfortunately, as well summarized by D. K. Brown the Dido's had a significant Achilles' heel with the combination of their small size and the machinery arrangement which caused rapid and pronounced listing and capsize after torpedo damage in particular anywhere near 'B' boiler room. While this problem was shared by other British cruiser designs, with Arethusa class Penelope sinking very quickly and Galatea too to similar damage, the combination of the small size of the Dido and the design defect meant it was particularly devastating. The Fiji class for instance shared the issue, but at 8,000t or more tended to survive torpedo damage far better. Arguably the Dido had little if any better resistance than a destroyer to similar damage.

Diesel Generation

A further design omission was the lack of an emergency diesel generator. With the four dynamos either destroyed or lacking steam power, efforts at damage control were therefore hampered by a complete failure of electrical power together with a breakdown in Naiad’s telephone system as she continued her list to starboard. Daniel Morgan, Bruce Taylor. U-Boat Attack Logs. Seaforth Publishing.

British interwar designs tended to have lower total power generation onboard, and to make heavy use of turbo (i.e. steam) generators where steam would spin dynamos. This meant that the electrical system was susceptible to being knocked out if the boiler rooms were damaged. Loss of electrical power meant loss of pumps, lighting, telephones - generally the things most useful to saving the ship in the event of heavy damage. While far from limited to the Dido class this was a general British design shortcoming which they certainly suffered.

 

Conclusion

Were the Dido's a successful design?

I'm not sure, they were usually fairly good at 'turning up' which is most of life and war is about according to an old saw. On the downside they were less than optimized for their eventual war and role, and the size/longitudinal bulkhead was simply a shortcoming it's hard to defend with hindsight. They were better in concept than in execution in my view, but small cruisers were very much in the minority by the time they were built. The only contemporaries are the significantly larger Atlanta, and the Japanese Agano class which was fairly disastrous in execution (only a single 3in AA gun to a broadside and recycled 6in guns from WWI).

I think they were generally 'good enough' they lacked the absolute worst design flaws possible - poor seaworthiness, reliability or shorter than anticipated range. Their weapon systems were functional if not ideal.

 

 

6 hours ago, Commissar_Carl said:

What ships were fantastic designs that really were not successful, or designs that were mediocre, but the ships had great combat records? 

Mediocre design but good combat record potentials:

Admiral Hipper - Admiral Hipper was cursed with unreliable and balky turbines, breaking down at sea more than she should and spending a whole year in mostly machinery refit 1941-1942 while still a young ship. She was widely criticized as pretty weight inefficient, using massive tonnage for compromised protection and moderate firepower. On the plus side her raiding record was respectable and her gunnery usually very effective.

Ark Royal - The Ark Royal design was extremely inefficient in hangar and elevator layout, which hugely compromised effective aircraft handling capacity. It was also over engined for the design and could have been completed with greater torpedo protection. The design of the uptakes to the boiler rooms contributed to her loss, as did lack of independent power generation. On the plus side her war role was generally successful with the Bismarck strike to her credit as well as lots of Mediterranean work with Force H, and work off Norway.

The North Carolina Class - The Washington and North Carolina commissioned in May 1941, but vibration issues meant that until August they were advised to keep below 23kt, a tremendous shortcoming for a 'fast' battleship. Imagine the impact of the British being unable to run PoW and KGV at more than 23kt in the pursuit of the Bismark! The vibration issues were never really solved and the ships underperformed at speed, frequently managing only 26-27kt on trials. They were certainly among the slowest Treaty Battleships. Nonetheless combat performance in non-glamorous AA and shore bombardment roles and with Washington kicking the snot out of Kirishima was overall at least creditable.

Hunt Class Destroyers - The original 23 Hunt Class destroyers were badly mis-designed and on completion were found to be dangerously unstable, requiring the removal of 1/3 the main guns, reduction of superstructure and a 50 ton ballast addition. The ships also had questionably effective stabilizers included to improve their AA gunnery. On the plus side however the Hunt's fought hard and well wherever they were deployed, were instrumental to Malta Convoys and generally gave sterling service.

 

Fantastic design, not successful:

Richelieu Class - One of the best balanced Treaty Battleships with good firepower, speed and protection - on paper. Badly let down by rushed construction and small niggling features that could have been addressed, and ultimately consigned to a mostly port-bound career acting as punching bags for various British and American forces.

La Gallisonierre and Algerie - Widely regarded as some of the best Treaty cruisers, yet with a combat record (outside of a brief fight with HMAS Australia) of practically nothing.

Every Japanese Battleship except the Kongo's - For their era's frequently tremendously powerful ships, often (Fuso, Ise, Nagato) with significant rebuild investments, yet being held back for the 'Decisive Battle' they achieved nothing, Mutsu blew up un-assisted, most of the remainder achieved next to nothing, Nagato survived as a cripple, Ise and and Hyuga were turned into disabled pseudo catapult ships. Yamato and Musashi turned into carrier-bait. Fuso and Yamashiro were practically seal clubbed at Surigao Strait by ambushing destroyers and an angry US fleet.

  • Cool 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12,860
[WOLF3]
Members
30,987 posts
26,039 battles

I had read somewhere that there was a bit of "rivalry" i.e. a bunch of fighting, between the crews of Battleships Washington and South Dakota.  It stemmed from events of the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, i.e. SD's electrical failure, Kirishima, and Washington, etc.

 

The damage SD took meant she eventually had to go back to the USA for repairs.  When she got home to America, she was credited for sinking Kirishima, not Washington, and this was going on with the media.  Of course, Washington's boys didn't take kindly to that and fights would occur between the crews of the two ships.  And for as many crewmen that make up a Battleship, that's a lot of guys to be brawling out in town.  Supposedly bad enough that the USN had to stagger liberty so that the two crews were not off at the same location together at the same time. 

  • Funny 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2,564
[REVY]
Members
8,422 posts
6,118 battles
10 hours ago, HazeGrayUnderway said:

I had read somewhere that there was a bit of "rivalry" i.e. a bunch of fighting, between the crews of Battleships Washington and South Dakota.  It stemmed from events of the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, i.e. SD's electrical failure, Kirishima, and Washington, etc.

 

The damage SD took meant she eventually had to go back to the USA for repairs.  When she got home to America, she was credited for sinking Kirishima, not Washington, and this was going on with the media.  Of course, Washington's boys didn't take kindly to that and fights would occur between the crews of the two ships.  And for as many crewmen that make up a Battleship, that's a lot of guys to be brawling out in town.  Supposedly bad enough that the USN had to stagger liberty so that the two crews were not off at the same location together at the same time. 

I thought South Dakota was a secret, only referred to as "Battleship X", was that what they were fighting over?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12,860
[WOLF3]
Members
30,987 posts
26,039 battles
2 hours ago, Sventex said:

I thought South Dakota was a secret, only referred to as "Battleship X", was that what they were fighting over?

Secret to the American people but not to members of the service.  SoDak was getting credit when she did literally nothing but be a target while Washington bailed her out and blasted Kirishima.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1,918
Alpha Tester, Alpha Tester
11,451 posts
1,963 battles

Arguably, in terms of design, Fiji would be a closer analogue, as both were design to the 8,000t limit of the Second London Naval Treaty.   

Conversely, the result is probably the same, the Atlanta is a better design, but the Fiji were more successful ships. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2,076
Alpha Tester
6,680 posts
3,338 battles
On 3/26/2021 at 5:19 PM, Commissar_Carl said:

The Dido's took part in many more surface engagements than the Atlanta's, and typically came out on top in them. The only time that the Atlanta's had a surface combat, both were lost.

Something to keep in mind: The Atlanta class were specifically built as anti-aircraft cruisers, unlike the Dido class which was meant for surface action. At the Battles of the Eastern Solomons and the Santa Cruz Islands, respectively, they inflicted irreparable losses on the IJN's supplies of aircraft and (most importantly) experienced pilots. Because of their specialization, it could be said that in a surface engagement such as the Battle of Friday the 13th, the Atlanta and Juneau were actually out of their element, which would have been a contributing factor as to why they were both lost.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Members
199 posts
4,590 battles

@mofton ok, a lot of great information to digest, but I got some quibbles. I don't know if the small size of these ships was a big issue. Having something between a fiji and a destroyer gave the royal navy a lot of extra flexibility, and  having the didos more than doubled the small cruisers available. Even on their small displacement they packed in a lot of capability, and even when they had to land turrets or other things to modernize effectively, so did the Atlanta's.

The 5.25 I think was the right call for the time. Planes at the time the ships were being drawn up were much less capable so having a more surface oriented gun probably seemed like the right call. The issues with the gunhouse and rate of fire i really can't defend, and I am disappointed that a shell never connected with a cruiser so that its ballistics could be better discerned.

When you talk about capsizing, is the issue that the buoyancy imbalance from those wing compartments would cause the ship to be lost when it really had enough buoyancy to stay afloat, or is the issue that one torpedo in the machinery spaces causes the ship to be lost. If it's the first, ok. If it's the second, yep, That's a problem, but not one unique to the dido's. As best as I can tell 2 dido's were hit by a single torpedo in their machinery spaces. Cleopatra walked it off, Naiad did not. 2 Atlanta's were torpedoed in their machinery spaces. Juneau walked it off (the first one anyway), Atlanta sunk (after half a day, so better than Naiad). Did the Atlanta's do better here? Yes. Did they do much better? I don't think so.

Dido not being equipped with backup generators is inexcusable, and the royal navy paid through the nose for that. 

In all, I think that Dido's were kinda successful designs. Sure they had issues, but they were issues that were shared with other ships and remedied in a few cases by wartime modifications. If the Atlantas were more successful, I'd say its just because the 5"/38 is a champ of a gun, not necessarily because any other part of the design was superior to Dido.

18 hours ago, HazeGrayUnderway said:

I had read somewhere that there was a bit of "rivalry" i.e. a bunch of fighting, between the crews of Battleships Washington and South Dakota.  It stemmed from events of the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, i.e. SD's electrical failure, Kirishima, and Washington, etc.

 

The damage SD took meant she eventually had to go back to the USA for repairs.  When she got home to America, she was credited for sinking Kirishima, not Washington, and this was going on with the media.  Of course, Washington's boys didn't take kindly to that and fights would occur between the crews of the two ships.  And for as many crewmen that make up a Battleship, that's a lot of guys to be brawling out in town.  Supposedly bad enough that the USN had to stagger liberty so that the two crews were not off at the same location together at the same time. 

You ever run into a story fantastic enough that you don't want to check it, you just want to believe?

1 hour ago, mr3awsome said:

Arguably, in terms of design, Fiji would be a closer analogue, as both were design to the 8,000t limit of the Second London Naval Treaty.   

Atlanta was designed to be a destroyer leader/aa screen like Dido. Fiji was designed to be a town class on 8,000t. They are not good analogues, especially when Atlanta displacement is less than 7000t standard.

18 minutes ago, 1Sherman said:

Something to keep in mind: The Atlanta class were specifically built as anti-aircraft cruisers, unlike the Dido class which was meant for surface action.

The Atlanta's were meant to lead destroyer flotilla and be fleet screens, like Dido. They ended up being great AA ships, and that was one of the capabilities, but that was not the chief design parameter. Atlanta's were supposed to be able to fight surface actions, its a shame that their one surface combat was such a cluster

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2,076
Alpha Tester
6,680 posts
3,338 battles
2 hours ago, Commissar_Carl said:

The Atlanta's were meant to lead destroyer flotilla and be fleet screens, like Dido.

Nope. In Neptune's Inferno, James D. Hornfischer refers to the Atlanta class as anti-aircraft cruisers on several occasions, even using the designation CLAA for them. You really going to try to refute one of the best books on the naval campaign at Guadalcanal ever written?

  • Boring 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2,076
Alpha Tester
6,680 posts
3,338 battles
On 3/26/2021 at 5:47 PM, Sventex said:

USS South Dakota springs to mind.  Lost power when it mattered most and embarrassed itself at Guadalcanal, despite being an efficient design.

She did end up being an excellent distraction so that the Washington could sneak up on the Kirishima and get a Dev Strike, though.

On 3/26/2021 at 5:47 PM, Sventex said:

Maybe the CV conversion ships like Kaga, Akagi and HMS Eagle?  Any conversion will suffer a significant loss in efficiency at being a carrier but being around at the start of WWII gave them impressive combat records.

Don't forget USS Saratoga.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Members
199 posts
4,590 battles
8 hours ago, 1Sherman said:

Nope. In Neptune's Inferno, James D. Hornfischer refers to the Atlanta class as anti-aircraft cruisers on several occasions, even using the designation CLAA for them. You really going to try to refute one of the best books on the naval campaign at Guadalcanal ever written?

Sure, if it is not right. The Navy says that it was designed to be a flotilla leader. The navy also classified the follow on Juneau class as CL, and those lost all ASW capability and torpedoes, making them more of a AA cruiser than the Atlanta's. The only ships that are really 100% aa cruisers that served in the war were the British C Class AA conversions, because they did not have a anti surface capability. Atlanta was designed with that capability in mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2,076
Alpha Tester
6,680 posts
3,338 battles
1 hour ago, Commissar_Carl said:

 Atlanta was designed with that capability in mind.

As a secondary purpose. Even if they wanted a DD leader, by Guadalcanal what they had were CLAAs.

  • Boring 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3,942
[SYN]
Members
9,036 posts
16,349 battles
16 hours ago, Commissar_Carl said:

@mofton ok, a lot of great information to digest, but I got some quibbles. I don't know if the small size of these ships was a big issue. Having something between a fiji and a destroyer gave the royal navy a lot of extra flexibility, and  having the didos more than doubled the small cruisers available. Even on their small displacement they packed in a lot of capability, and even when they had to land turrets or other things to modernize effectively, so did the Atlanta's.

The 5.25 I think was the right call for the time. Planes at the time the ships were being drawn up were much less capable so having a more surface oriented gun probably seemed like the right call. The issues with the gunhouse and rate of fire i really can't defend, and I am disappointed that a shell never connected with a cruiser so that its ballistics could be better discerned.

When you talk about capsizing, is the issue that the buoyancy imbalance from those wing compartments would cause the ship to be lost when it really had enough buoyancy to stay afloat, or is the issue that one torpedo in the machinery spaces causes the ship to be lost. If it's the first, ok. If it's the second, yep, That's a problem, but not one unique to the dido's. As best as I can tell 2 dido's were hit by a single torpedo in their machinery spaces. Cleopatra walked it off, Naiad did not. 2 Atlanta's were torpedoed in their machinery spaces. Juneau walked it off (the first one anyway), Atlanta sunk (after half a day, so better than Naiad). Did the Atlanta's do better here? Yes. Did they do much better? I don't think so.

Flexibility's an interesting point, the Dido class did give the RN some numbers which are useful, and the price point is fairly interesting, about £3m a shp vs. about £750k for a JKN class destroyer, or about £600k for a cheaper destroyer.

The capability is varied, you lose out on some things to destroyers and Fiji's. On the plus side your AA is better than either. The survivabilty to shells and bombs was much better than a destroyer, but torpedoes were problematic. Overall the restraints of Treaties and the needs for various ships meant trades had to be made. It's interesting that they never fought with major fleet units in a surface action in the end.

It's hard to separate the right call for the 5.25in from hindsight. In 1936 if my choice was to build either 10 Dido class with 5.25's, 10 with 4.5's or 10 more Arethusa's it would be easy to plump for the compromise (i.e. 5.25in Dido) choice. That said there is a grey zone where having slightly better guns isn't worth much if your director control system isn't up to the job. The surface FCS for the Dido and rangefinder length was not particularly good at all.

All else being equal, a ship that capsizes will capsize and sink much sooner than one that takes an equal amount of water onboard but remains on an even keel. As you list you will tend to take on more and more water faster, and the point at which nothing can be done comes much sooner. Therefore the extreme listing probably caused avoidable losses. In addition heavy immediate listing makes the damage control response significantly more difficult, just physically walking along a 15' slope is more challenging. When very heavy the list also tends to increase casualties as escaping is harder and harder.

The problem with the BEBE arrangement in RN cruisers lay in the wing spaces alongside the after boiler room. The heel produced by flooding one of these spaces was very small and thought acceptable. However, a torpedo explosion in this area would flood three main spaces and the nearer wing compartment. This would greatly reduce the stability of the ship and the heel from the buoyancy of the intact wing opposite would probably capsize the ship. Five cruisers torpedoed in this area and Spartan hit by a large guided bomb all capsized, mostly very quickly. Cleopatra was torpedoed and went to a large angle but was saved because there were standing orders to counterflood without further instruction if the heel exceeded a certain angle [thought to be 15']. Brown, David K.. Nelson to Vanguard: Warship Design and Development, 1923–1945 (Chatham's Distinguished Design) (p. 413). Pen & Sword Books. Kindle Edition.

 

The first Juneau hit was a 1,080lb Type 93 warhead, the hit on Cleopatra was from an Italian submarine torpedo with about a 600lb warhead. The location with Juneau hit near the forward fire room is fairly comparable. Given Juneau was hit by a bigger blow she absorbed it about as well, I don't like to think about a Type 93 hitting a poor Dido, Leander and Hobart suffered badly and were larger and without the same Achilles' heel in the case of Leander.

The Atlanta certainly survived a lot longer than Naiad, and on an even keel, but her demise was also materially assisted by the 10-20 estimated 8in shell hits from San Francisco, which although overpenetrating would have added perforations to flood, and killed a large number of the crew who could otherwise have assisted. Again a bigger Japanese torpedo, but a bigger ship. Aside from the 8in gunfire casualties I'd expect Atlanta to have overall suffered far fewer casualties from the direct damage and later sinking.

The interesting thing is that this source has Cleopatra actually not hit near the aft boiler room, so I'm not sure if flooding wasn't mentioned or not. Certainly 80ft of plating damage I don't think would reach the starboard boiler wing space, yet most sources say they counter flooded.

image.thumb.png.3e828e6aba97bf1cb0912de5a0709903.png

18 hours ago, Commissar_Carl said:

Atlanta was designed to be a destroyer leader/aa screen like Dido. Fiji was designed to be a town class on 8,000t. They are not good analogues, especially when Atlanta displacement is less than 7000t standard.

They are both different takes on the 'what to do with an 8,000t cruiser limit'. The British went to try and squeeze a 9,500t Town class into 8,000t, the US looked at doing similarly but with what they wanted out of a 6in gun cruiser decided it wasn't worth it, wanted the heavy AA battery and voila, the Atlanta's.

4 hours ago, 1Sherman said:

As a secondary purpose. Even if they wanted a DD leader, by Guadalcanal what they had were CLAAs.

Hornfischer is a great read, but he's really going for a good narrative and description of events rather than digging deep into inter-war US design or ship classifications. The US Naval Heritage History Command entry for Atlanta:

https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/a/atlanta-cl-51-iii.html

Sums them up pretty well, they were designated CL rather than CLAA and had several uses in mind, though they weren't fitted as a destroyer leader. That said there aren't many enemy aircraft to take the 'AA' role against in the night action at Guadalcanal where they were employed in a way not widely outside their design.

  • Cool 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Members
199 posts
4,590 battles
1 hour ago, mofton said:

It's interesting that they never fought with major fleet units in a surface action in the end.

 

Second Battle of the Sirte? Just because the Italians refuse to engage doesn't mean it isn't a fight with major fleet units.

As for the capsizing issue, I goofed. I forgot that USS Reno got torpedoed in the machine spaces. It lost all power, but didn't sink and got towed to safety. Score for the Atlanta's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3,942
[SYN]
Members
9,036 posts
16,349 battles
1 minute ago, Commissar_Carl said:

Second Battle of the Sirte? Just because the Italians refuse to engage doesn't mean it isn't a fight with major fleet units.

As for the capsizing issue, I goofed. I forgot that USS Reno got torpedoed in the machine spaces. It lost all power, but didn't sink and got towed to safety. Score for the Atlanta's.

My meaning there was fighting against rather than 'with' the surface forces at Sirte.

They did fight against a battleship and larger units, but weren't integrated into a British fleet in the way envisioned: battleships doing battleship things, Dido's helping destroyers fight off destroyers and leading torpedo attacks etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Members
2,845 posts
15,096 battles
On 3/26/2021 at 5:19 PM, Commissar_Carl said:

Originally, this was going to be a thread where I complained about part of a article by Norman Friedman. I'll attach it Here but it basically says that the Atlanta's were more successful designs than the Dido's. My initial response is great skepticism. The Dido's took part in many more surface engagements than the Atlanta's, and typically came out on top in them. The only time that the Atlanta's had a surface combat, both were lost.

Obviously, this is a very, very reductive and skewed view on the two classes. Atlanta and Juneau were probably put into the worst surface engagement imaginable, and at the end of the day more Dido's and Bellona's were sunk than Atlanta's and Oakland's. 

But it did get me thinking. When you get right down to it, the Atlanta was at least as successful a design as the Didos, with both having similar strengths and weaknesses, and Atlanta coming out ahead by virtue of the excellent 5"/38 twin mounts and having a little more displacement to play with. To my mind though, the Dido's were much more successful ships.

Which leads to the discussion. What ships were fantastic designs that really were not successful, or designs that were mediocre, but the ships had great combat records?

As someone said, Atlanta's were to be scouts/flotilla leaders. The 5in/38 were really more anti-destroyer weapons then anti cruiser weapons.

Yes, 2 Atlantas were lost at Guadalcanal.

Atlanta was hit by a torpedo, as well as Japanese shells and 8in shells from San Francisco. She survived till daylight, but it was deemed impossible to save her and she was scuttled.

Juneau was also hit by a torpedo, but she was able to get underway and was withdrawing with the other damaged US ships. She was torpedo'd again by a Japanese submarine and detonated.

So while they did not have a good showing during the battle (no American ship did), Atlanta is the only one that was truly disabled by the battle. Juneau, while damaged, did mostly leave the area and fell victim to a submarine post battle.

Of the 8 Atlantas built, only 2 were lost.

16 Didos were completed, with 5 lost.

 

As for fantastic designs that were not successful ships:  HMS Dreadnought.

She was a revolutionary design. She was the literally namesake of an entire type of ship that was the main weapon of fleets until the 1940s.

But the actual ship herself never fired her guns in anger and her only kill was a submarine ram.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Members
199 posts
4,590 battles
12 minutes ago, Lord_Slayer said:

But the actual ship herself never fired her guns in anger and her only kill was a submarine ram. 

but wasn't that submarine ram dope?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2,564
[REVY]
Members
8,422 posts
6,118 battles
8 minutes ago, Commissar_Carl said:

but wasn't that submarine ram dope?

Even Titanic's sister ship could do that.

old-reliable-hmt-olympic-craig-tinder.jp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×