Battlewagon/Cruiser questions

Joined: July 4th, 2010, 6:26 am

March 3rd, 2016, 7:40 pm #1

At least two historical accounts I can recall state that firing the main armament of a BB/CA often caused cracks in welds, tiles, broken this and that, etc. Interestingly the two accounts I can recall from memory are of Royal Navy vessels from WWI and WWII.

I presume that RN vessels were no more or less-prone to the laws of physics than were other vessels, but I don't find mention of the same thing in USN or IJN references or histories. Were they simply not mentioning something obvious, or were there particular design 'issues' that RN vessels were prone to?

Second question: when engaging surface targets, did BBs and CAs clear personnel from lighter AA weapons in proximity to the vessel's main guns?


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Joined: August 24th, 2007, 11:14 pm

March 4th, 2016, 1:14 pm #2

No, US battlewagons merely rendered themselves hors de combat by knocking out their own electrical systems
You can lead a leftard to knowledge, but you can't make them think
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Joined: March 15th, 2004, 8:39 pm

March 5th, 2016, 3:21 pm #3

When any nation's battleship fired their main armament, various things were broken or bent due to the overpressures. Radars, especially in the early years of WWII, were prone to having tubes (valves) broken. On British battleships with wing mountings, cross-deck firings would damage the adjacent superstructures, so much so that it was generally prohibited except under actual battle conditions. Perhaps this is what you are remembering.

USN battleships would clear the AA guns only in the areas immediately around the main guns. There are many photographs showing USN ships during shore bombardment missions where the midships AA guncrews were watching the big guns fire. On the other hand, during the Naval Battle for Guadalcanal, the AA crews of South Dakota were withdrawn into the superstructure, where many of them were killed from Japanese shellfire. I'm not aware of USN cruisers clearing AA guncrews during main battery shoots, but I suppose that it could have happened.
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Joined: April 12th, 2009, 6:07 pm

March 8th, 2016, 10:24 pm #4

I knew a couple of sailors who served on the Wisconsin during Desert Storm. According to them firing 16" would occasionally break something, but generally firing the main battery required a field day of the ship afterwards, due to all the dust/paint chips knocked out of the overhead! Loose equipment/office stuff were also commonly knocked to the deck if they weren't secured for sea during firing.
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Joined: July 8th, 2007, 8:30 pm

May 16th, 2018, 3:48 pm #5

From what I recall at least one reason the US decided not to go with 18" guns was the overpressures created by the muzzle blast.  They were such that the additional strengthening of other parts of the ship resulted in significant weight penalties.  May have gotten that wrong though since it's been a while.
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Joined: January 6th, 2014, 9:49 pm

August 3rd, 2018, 3:03 am #6

Firing would cause overpressure and a certain amount of shock, but I wouldn't expect cracking and noticeable structural damage unless there's design defects. I could see it possibly being an issue in Nelson/Rodney since weight control was so huge in their construction (leading to possibly overlight structures) but I'd expect that to have been fixed pretty early on in service. 
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