Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by zeppelinair, Sep 6, 2014.
80lb shell on a DD by hand........ ask the KM what's that like .
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Give me 5 of these, instead and I'll trade you the 2 NCs and 3 of the Standards at the LNT conference.
Just as an ATL discussion point, I would have skipped the 5.25s and gone 12 cm type line of development to match or duplicate the US 5/38 DP project. Limited time, limited money, the RN already know about the dive bomber threat and they were pioneers with torpedo planes. Someone please explain to me WHY they did not understand that they needed an all azimuth bearing director and an ergonomic designed gun-house to go with the already proven RN destroyer gun?
He talks fighters, but listen to what he says about the RN and air defense.
Ok my take on RN Medium guns........
In November 1923, the Admiralty issue a request for DDs 4.7"/43 (12 cm) Mark VII is chosen and fitted to HMS Amazon.
Trials after her commission in May 1927 show that the four guns fail to be able to fire at the speed required in anything but calm conditions due to the heavy fixed round 76 lbs (34.5 kg).
A new gun is designed in about 1928 4.7"/45 (12 cm) QF Mark IX that resolves these issue with a seperatly loaded shell and case and also increase to a Muzzle Velocity of 2,650 fps (808 mps) to match the older 4.7" guns.
This gun was available and then used for arming the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal and sisters in early 30s and then for the battleship rebuilds of the BCs and QE class....
I am not convinced that the 5.25 could not have been made to work eventually, but like many "curious" RN decisions, maybe a different approach should have been applied especially at the procurement and engineering ends of the process.
I think you are potentially holding it to far too high a standard ........ 5"/38 is regarded as the best DP wepon in the world for a reason , it just happened to be built by the richest country in the world, with the biggest industry, with the most peacetime to get ready.....
Everybody had serious problems in at least one area and I would not actually rate RN fleet air defence as that bad on average compared to everybody else in say 1939?
HAA - not great but no worse than most countries and HAA wasn't really great until VT shells anyway....
LAA - quite good, a different 40mm would be better but 2pdr isn't that bad (IJN 25mm, USN 1.1" etc) and they had at least as many of them as most other nations......
Fighters - Not capable of challenging 1st rate land forces and becoming obsolescent soon to be made worse by BoB, but USN/IJN are not great at this point if you look at whats in actual service...
It was very interesting particularly the bit about War games in the 30s driving strategy and development but he lost me at the bit where he goes all slade and worth on armoured carriers finishing with a slightly snidey comment about how Illustrious was bombed by 'a' Stuka and spent 11 months in dry dock (blokes a Naval Historian?) and then is equally dismissive about how the USN was impressed with how she stood up to damage when she was being repaired in Norfolk and then he being dismissive of that claiming an Essex was tougher with 2 armoured decks lower in the hull. Blokes been sniffing something - I suspect it's Slade and Worth Powder. For me the video ended at that point.
I've spent about a half year on this very topic, looking at USN and RN arguments. It is inconclusive. It depends on what a navy wanted and what it did. Britain's flock of enemies were "interesting" from an airpower standpoint and the environment in which the RN fought its fleet actions and the nature of those fleet actions dictates the RN viewpoint on how it did, why it did it and how successful it was.
I will say this much. No RN aircraft carrier took the kind of battle damage that Shokaku did in its career and survived as long as a first line unit. The USS Franklin took that kind of damage and she was done, finito,. kaput. So let us not joust about armored flight deck or armored hanger deck. We have to await the RN internal house history before we know for sure if Friedman is smoking hemp and blowing smoke at us.
About HMS Glorious, Friedman is 100% correct. That never should have happened. Everyone senior who survived it and bore command responsibility should have been court martialed on the British side. But then Pearl Harbor never should have happened. Or the action off Tricomalee or the Force Z disaster or Badung Strait or Savo Island or Java Sea. I mean nobody, not even the Japanese, look good in those named events in retrospect.
The point I'm trying to make is not to center on that old haberdashery and chest thump, but to look at what can be verified from the records we have. RN FAA did suffer from aircraft procurement issues, an RAF disconnect with how navies work and a severe shortage of trained FAA pilots in 1942. That can be gleaned from actions in April 1942 in the Indian Ocean. Shortly thereafter it was the USN's turn in the barrel. After the USNAS pilot cadre was slaughtered at Coral Sea and Midway, the USN suffers the same exact thing the RN FAA showed in the Indian Ocean, but Friedman glosses over how the USN replacement fliers operating from American flattops flung into the Solomon Islands campaign are so green that 80% have had exactly 1 or 2 traps aboard their mother ships in their syllabus. I think that OJTing your way to victory in the carrier actions there is kind of stupid; almost as terrible as the amateur USN surface fleet performance. BUT THE USN ADMIRALTY was better there and then than the RN had done in the Indian Ocean or ever could do against the IJN at the time. It is all a matter of perspective and of circumstance. I am a lessons learned kind of guy. The RN first team was in the Med or the North Atlantic.
It, therefore, is not a criticism of anyone to cite from the record that Kamikazes bounced off British armored decks for the same exact reason they bounced off American armored decks. Steel works rather well against planes that interfere with the proper penetrating efforts of the SAP bomb attached to it. Wood is not so good. Something that both British and American naval fanbois forget is that the plane makes a dandy retarding agent against bomb penetration-especially at a 15-30 degree shallow dive angle which was the kamikaze norm.
I do note from the record that when it came to hull hits, (torpedoes and side strikes) American hulls seemed to have been stiffer and the shock mounting for internal systems a bit better. That was a wartime choice of each navy and is not a criticism. British warships in the emergency programs were expected to be RN attrition units, for the duration of the war, so were framed lightly appropriately to get them off the weighs in a hurry. USN units were still overbuilt built as if they would see 20 years active service. Nutty, I think, from each other's viewpoint, but each navy had its cogent reasons.
Ref your Shokaku comment - she might have taken more damage across her career but not in one go - and I'm not surprised she survived both 'dedeckings' as she was carrying more armor than an Illustrious class just in different places - but far worse aviation tanks which ultimately doomed her - although I think I am right in saying no ship in WW2 survived more than 3 torpedoes in a single battle (some certainly lingered) so its likely she was doomed anyway from the 3 or 4 fish USS Cavalla gifted her with.
HMS Glorious - forgetting she was a man o war as Adm Pound said. Yep. In a war zone without a lookout let alone a standing patrol with half her boilers unlit (she was low on fuel apparently). I have no words. What is even worse is that the British Decryption teams while not actually decoding the messages, were that familiar with them that they worked out that the twins were about but the message/warning was not cascaded. It was still being debated in parliament as recently as 1999.
I am not of the school that decrys one deck type over the other - I believe that both type were the right design for each navy - with the Essex IMO being the best. But Essex was not about in 1940-42 and the Essex Pez dispenser didn't start delivering them to battle in numbers until late 43 and into 44/45. So what actually bothers me about that chap is comparing a treaty limited 23,000 ton ship designed in 1935 to fight in Littoral waters around Europe to an non treaty limited 28,000 ton one designed for a far different environment that was able to incorporate many of the early lessons of the war. Not to mention carrying Hellcat and Avenger with all the lessons of radar!
If the British had the choice to fight Pedestal with 3 Essex class carriers or not, I am quite sure I know what the answer would be.
My only criticism of the Yorktowns and the Essex was that the Yorktowns were too few and the Essex's too late - for me Wasp should have been a 4th (3rd?) Yorktown and Essex ordered as a Yorktown along with Hornet (at the very least to match the Shokaku class) - and that's on the US Government of the day.
I have posted a thread before exploring the USN having 4 or 5 Yorktowns by mid 42.
You should read the Shokaku's ship's bill after Coral Sea. It makes Yorktown's after action report (same action) look like a cakewalk. It was a miracle that Shokaku made it past Luzon to get to Kure.
Coral Sea (^^^)
Coral Sea (^^^)
Santa Cruz (^^^) about 28 October 1942 roughly six months after Coral Sea.
Coral Sea (^^^)
lMakes an interesting comparison to Illustrious after her own battle damage.
Album of Shokaku damage photos
I guess the point is that Illustrious took a similar beating that Shokaku took at Coral Sea and took 11 months to fix. Shokaku was combat ready in 2 months; but had to sit in home waters for a new batch of pilots and replacement crew to be trained to acceptable "standards". However one may criticize the IJN for this decision (Could have used Shokaku survivors to fill out Zuikaku and sent her to Midway for example.), the "myth" that Japanese carriers were easy to sink has to be dispelled. Cavalla had to hammer Shokaku with five late war working Mark XIV fish during the Philippine Sea of which we can only confirm three hit from Japanese accounts to kill this bird farm. No British carrier could have survived two, and probably no US carrier either unless you want to count Hornet which needed seven. You had to use torpedoes. Nothing else worked. The only reason the four Midway kills were scuttle kills was that the Japanese knew, like we did, that when the hanger goes up into a blowtorch like Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu did, that the whole ship is ruined. The hull metal loses temper. So scuttle and deny the enemy a trophy or a training asset.
Wasn't Shokaku only ever hit with empty hangars ?
She burned when she was torpedoed at Philippine Sea. Cavalla reported some planes roller skated off. We (rather I) really don't know for sure. There was a lot of smoke pouring from her at Coral Sea (We have photos)
Coral Sea (^^^) Look at the buckled deck. No fire damage evident though?
and her sortie logs from that action are unclear. She may have been running CAP operations with some strike belows present when the one that wrecked her elevator hit her. Santa Cruz, she had a small deck park of sorts assembled and seen and again the sortie record is unclear when she was dedecked. What exactly was in her hanger being serviced I do not know.
We will have to wait for Montemayor to hurry up and make some more of his excellent 'fog of war from the Japanese POV' video's
They would have chosen these type air groups and an American air admiral or two to command them if they could. I am not prepared to say that they would not have stuck with armored flight decks though.
British carriers were difficult to modernize for jets. For once the USN decision to use the flight deck as superstructure on the Essex class (long hull) proved an advantage both in cost and engineering as the hulls could be bulged and a "thin" armored angle deck built atop the hanger deck to make them jet capable.
Reduced tactical speed, sprung PTOs, warped hulls; but remember the RN expected this result and was prepared to accept it in their war builds as the trade-off for having those war-builds fast. They had carriers at sea or working up in 1943 when the USN was still waiting on her first Essex and was down to the Saratoga and Ranger.
The armored angle deck slapped on the Midway was too thick, heavy and high. It drove her keel despite bulging down a good two meters deeper than designed and changed her roll moment dangerously so that she was a drunken carrier throwing planes off on the up-roll to keep from launching them directly into the sea. Sea State 6 or worse was "a possible sink-ex" for her when she operated into the wind. 13 degree list (It happened routinely.) was considered a foundering event and was in her written operating instructions to avoid.
When she got her second kicking @ Santa Cruz- she had radar by then and saw Hornets planes coming so managed to do a full purge of the aircraft refueling systems etc (same as Yorktown at Midway) and strike weapons to better protected magazines etc - and had relatively few aircraft on board likely preventing fires that doomed her half sisters at Midway
I expect that after Midway the IJN got very serious about doing as much as possible to prevent fires given what happened to Car Div 1 and 2.
Considering it was fires that killed them at Midway it makes sense, until the damage control debacle that was Taiho
Royal Alyskan Navy
Immortal class Gepantserde schip (battleship), 1914
27,771 tons standard (as commissioned)
24 knots, 18 knot normal cruising, 24 knot battle speed
8,000 nautical miles at 18 knots
24 watertube boilers, 4 turbines (mixture of Tetzenrozni and Isolder models) driving quadruple screws. Oil fired all ships.
187 metres long, 29 metres wide, 8 metres draught at full load
30 Centimeter belt thinning to 20 on ends, turrets protected by 30' front, 20' sides and barbettes protected by 30'. 30.5' conning tower with a 7.5' deck and numerous bulkheads providing underwater protection alongside some arrangement of the fuel oil tanks for added protection.
4x3 30.5 Centimeter guns, 18x1 10.0 Centimeter guns, 4x1 7.5 Centimeter anti aircraft guns, 2x1 saluting guns, provision for 6x1 35.0 centimeter torpedo tubes but never included in design. Armament changed considerably in refits, but present arrangement represents the ships as commissioned.
Zeus Laid down 15th April 1911, Launched 23rd March 1913, Commissioned 3rd July 1914
Poseidon Laid down 2nd June 1911, Launched 8th June 1913, Commissioned 15th October 1914
Venus Laid down 25th August 1911, Launched 29th June 1913, Commissioned 3rd March 1915
Athena Laid down 18th October 1911, Launched 11th October 1913, Commissioned 22nd May 1915
Mercury Laid down 13th March 1912, Launched 7th May 1914, Commissioned 17th September 1915
The second Patagonian war in which the Royal Alyskan navy fought the combined navies of Argentina and Chile, and later Brazil following the abdication of the Emperor in 1908 represented the nations rise onto the level of a first tier naval power. Its exploits, particularly in the battle off Buenos Ares, storming of the Amazon delta and subsequent Amazon river campaign, earned it widespread acclaim and cemented the organizations reputation for being a hardfighting and modern force capable, and willing, of going toe to toe with forces equal to or greater than itself.
This reputation did not come without cost, namely the loss of five battleships, out of ten first and six second class units prewar. And the 1910 Treaty of Berlin that ended the war required Alyska to hand over its more obsolete ships to its vanquished foes, in the interests of peace (a stipulation largely put in at the behest of king Francis I to force updated naval construction to be approved but beyond the scope of this work) leaving the nation with just six battleships in service, though the planned Victory class dreadnoughts. were just beginning to enter service.
These battleships, and their large cruiser counterparts the Dauntless class, would form the beginnings of the 1910 naval law which when approved by the Assembly provided for the creation of a battlefleet consisting of eighteen capital ships, to be split between twelve battleships (the six surviving predreadnoughts being omitted) and eight large cruisers. However, these first classes of new construction showed several weaknesses, the use of compound engines for the Victory class and an outdated hexagonal arrangement of their main artillery being a primary issue, while the Dauntless class was seen as to lightly armed with just six 25.6 centimeter guns to be effective in her role. Thus the next classes of ship would have to be substantially reworked to be the equals of the ships entering service in foreign navies.
The first plan was to up gun the ships in accordance with the new super dreadnoughts being commissioned in foreign navies, however at the time nothing larger than the model 1907 30.5 centimeter BL gun existed beyond paper sketches. It was thus decided that this gun would have to do, though in larger numbers than those found on most other battleships, twelve guns preferably. The arrangement decided upon ultimately would feature four triple turrets arranged in two superfiring pairs fore an aft (a trimmed down variant mounting twin turrets in the same layout became the Chimera class battlecruisers) with the secondary battery also increased in caliber from 7.5 centimeter to 10.0 based on wartime experience showing the former weapons to be to lightweight against modern threats.
Four ships were initially planned, but curiously late in development the Imperial Chinese Navy requested that two ships of a similar design be built for its navy as part of its own attempt to modernize its fleet, after some deliberation the Ekaterina Naval dockyard accepted the contract and laid down two further ships in early 1912 for the Chinese fleet. The subsequent revolution in China and the collapse of the Emperors government in 1913 just after both ships were paid off led to the deal falling through however, and it was decided that one of the formerly Chinese ships would be completed for the Alyskan navy, becoming the Mercury.
The ships entered service just as the first world war was breaking out and following the commissioning of all ships into the fleet in late 1915 all five ships were deployed to European waters as the Alyskan commitment to Neutrality enforcement patrols, which attempted to defend neutral shipping against both German submarines and the British blockade of Germany. With funnels repainted bright orange the ships began to patrol the English channel protecting convoys of Dutch, Spanish, Danish, Swedish and Alyskan ships. It was on one such mission that the Venus was torpedoed and sunk by the U-124, initial attempts to get the ship to Brest in France ended with the ship beaching herself on a sandback, before a fire reached the magazines and destroyed the ship with the loss of 213 of her crew.
Alyska immediately declared war on the German empire, Austro-Hungarian empire and Ottoman empire, assigning the four Immortals still afloat to the British Grand fleet, where they formed initially the sixth battle squadron, later fourth battlecruiser squadron due to their high speed. During the battle of the Skagerrak off the Danish coast in late 1916 the ships became isolated from the remainder of the Grand fleet when the battlecruiser force dispersed. The ships were found by the German battlecruisers and despite repeated radio request for assistance their messages failed to get through. The British battlecruiser flagship Lion having taken a hit to her bridge which had wounded all present (none killed) and cut off the ship from the remainder of the fleet, also crippling her steering. The ships nearest Lion had followed the drunken course of their flag, allowing the Alyskan ships to become isolated and exposed.
A total of five German ships soon found the range and began pummeling the Alyskans. Zeus took a total of sixteen confirmed hits, Poseidon eight, Athena (flag) thirty one and Mercury seven. The entire German High seas fleet was also entering range when elements of the third battlecruiser division, Dauntless and Fearless, the other Alyskan capital ships present for the battle, rushed in and began to draw the fire of the Germans, at the cost of the Fearless which disappeared under the gunfire of Derflinger and Lutzow. The Immortals then reformed with the rest of the battlecruiser fleet and chased the Germans into the waiting arms of the Grand fleets battleship squadrons, in the ensuing battle fought early the next morning the German navy lost six ships, with one further vessel foundering on the return trip to Germany. Against just four British losses (not counting Fearless) this represented a clear victory for Britain that buoyed morale at home.
The heavily damaged ships were refitted at British expense post battle and their gunnery lauded as highly effective, although outnumbered at times over five to one they had managed to give a good account of themselves, suffering no losses. The ships sat out the remainder of the war in the Grand fleets chief anchorage off Skapa flow, sortieing occasionally with other vessels in a futile attempt to lure out the surviving German battleships. Post was the ships returned to Alyska and were showered with honours, becoming then known as the immortal class for their seeming invulnerability to German shells.
The ships were however quite small compared to the new British, American and Japanese ships entering service and it was planned to build a new battlefleet, however the 1923 Washington Naval treaty largely put a stop to this, with the exception of the four Monarch class ships and the approval to build the two Admiraal class ships later in the 20s. The Immortals were maintained as the oldest elements of the fleet. Preserved, but seeing little service and largely kept in reserve as the cash strapped navy of the late twenties and early thirties spent what little money it had on completing the Admiraals and keeping the Monarchs up to date.
The 1930 London Naval conference, which put a premature end to the ten year battleship building holiday agreed to in 1923, saw plans made to scrap the Immortals. As the oldest ships in the fleet they were planned to make way for newer and more powerful battleships, what would become the Stuttland class of 1936. In preparation for this Zeus and Poseidon were scrapped between 1932 and 35 while Mercury and Athena were refit to serve as training ships, replacing older ships in that capacity. Following the collapse of the 1935 London conference with the revelation that the Japanese were constructing the Kii (45,000 tons and 4x2 45.72 guns) Athena and Mercury were refit starting in 1936, however Mercury would suffer a fire and be scrapped in 1937, leaving Athena to complete in 1938.
Some plans were made to sell the ship, with Chile and Spain both expressing interest. However the outbreak of the third Patagonian war in 1938 caused these plans to be delayed and the ship was used instead as a gunnery training and test ship by the navy. Training naval gun crews on the use of the latest optical and radar sighting devices for the ships main and secondary batteries, as well as AA guns. The ship sat out the war in the south, and the early battles of the Pacific war, playing no part in the East Indies campaign in which the Imperial Japanese navy sunk a large part of a combined Alyskan, British and Dutch fleet.
When Japan invaded the Alyskan mainland in 1943 Athena was in Posadka and quickly withdrawn to the south alongside the rest of the fleet when the Japanese menaced the city. The storms of October however rendered most aircraft incapable of operations and gave the Alyskans their chance. The battle of the Alyskan gulf, waged from the 10th until the 26th of October was the largest naval battle in history. Involving over a thousand ships. With both the main Alyskan and Japanese battlefleets engaging one another amidst difficult weather conditions. Athena was present for this, featuring modern fire control equipment and guns equivalent to the super cruisers used by both sides the ship had been shoehorned into the fleet which opposed the Japanese fleet.
Athena thus found herself once again isolated against the bulk of an enemy fleet. In this case the Japanese center forces first division, comprised of the Yamato and Shanano, both ships over twice her displacement. Knowing the futility of engaging the Japanese heavies with her own armament Athena instead attempted a ram against the Yamato. Which the ship did, ripping her own bow completely off and causing over five thousand tons of seawater to enter into the Japanese monster battleship. Ignored by the rest of the IJN the ships damage control parties saved the ship and, moving backwards in the water, she made it back to Posadka for an uncertain fate.
With Japans invasion, and their navy defeated there was little use for the ship, certainly not enough for the cost of the rebuilding. It was thus initially decided to scrap the ship. However, a mass public campaign organized by former crewmembers petitioned for the ship to be turned into a museum, as had been done with several of the navies former ships already. The government could not ignore the thousands of letters, but also did not have the money necessary to rebuild the ship. As a compromise a decision was halted until 1945, when the freshly victorious Alyskan government had the question of what to do with the ship decided for them.
King Titus (1936-1987) ordered the navy to restore the ship to the condition she had been in during her participation in the battle of Skagerrak, a lengthy and expensive task. But given the ships wrecked condition and generally poor material condition even restoring the ship to her appearance for her duel with Yamato would have been costly. Thus between 1947 and 1953 the ship was worked on tirelessly and opened to the public as the ceromonial flagship of the Alyskan navy.
The breakup of Alyska in the 1990s which culminated with the formal dissolution of the state in 2000 left the ships future in uncertain hands, the new United Provinces of America possessed the ship, queen Catherine II having ordered the ship to Novoya Amsterdam in 1999 just as the formal process for dissolving the kingdom became inevitable. However the Federal Republic of Alyska stated that ownership of the vessel belonged to them, as the successor and largest of the post kingdom nations, as well as the location where the ship had been built, it was only natural that the ship belonged to them. A ruling by the United States who attempted to mediate matters between the nations ceding ownership of Athena to the FRA was ignored and when the two nations went to war in 2004 the issue was put on hold, the conquest of the FRA and the declaration of the Federal Kingdom of Alyska in 2014 officially ended the dispute and today the ship is the flagship and Royal yacht of the Alyskan navy and Monarch.
This was way, way longer than I initially thought. But having just discovered this awesome thread I wanted to participate. I think I managed that.
That's not quite correct. Shokaku's first captain, CAPT Takatsugu, Jolima was a damage control nut. He trained the Shokaku's crew in fire fighting. Tully and Parshall, who are the American experts on the IJN record.
The lessons to be learned were there before Midway. Were they applied? Nope.
Let's see if that is true at Santa Cruz?
I think that answers our questions about Shokaku. No allied carrier, British or America, took that kind of beating at a single go at Santa Cruz and survived... ever. As for damage control, the lesson is that Shokaku's crew remembered their ship culture. Let's project toward the future to Philippine Sea...
Taiho's crew was poorly trained and her captain and damage control specialist were both idiots. I can actually write that with a straight face, because it is the Japanese who call them, idiots;
My own comments:
1. There is a "myth" that the Japanese did not know what they did when they designed aircraft carriers. It is no myth. As Norman Friedman (^^^) points out in his excellent book on American aircraft carriers; early American experience with the USS Lexington and USS Saratoga, plus visiting American observers who looked at such British flattops as the HMS Furious, noticed immediately that a covered and enclosed flight deck was both a ominous heat sink and vapor explosion hazard. From what the Americans later discovered to their horror, the Japanese had been "coached" by the British traitor, William Forbes-Sempill, 19th Lord Sempill, about Royal Air Force and Royal Navy practices and procedures, but whatever the meantime, the IJN flattops were a lot more British than American in evolution for some strange reason. Even if the Americans had gone for armored flight decks, they still would have used open shutter door architecture hangers, not boxed them in, and built in their convection flow ventilation paths to clear av-gas fumes from the hanger deck and they would have mostly fueled and armed TOPSIDE above the hanger, which was neither Japanese nor British practice at the time. All of these lessons they learned from the USS Lexington when she had her hanger accident. The Americans changed away from British practices.
That is not to say they did not have fueled planes struck below in the hanger, but it was no longer standard American practice to FUEL there.
2. It goes without saying that the witless Captain Kikuchi did not suspend flight operations on Taiho (Ozawa's fault as he demanded flight operations continue, but Kikuchi as captain had the right to overrule the admiral's "request", even in the IJN.), and attend to damage control as his primary and only concern. The claim that the engineer LT, (Shimonoga, Kikitsu?), the alleged damage control "専門家" (Si-mon-ka/"expert") ordered ventilator fans turned on to clear the vapors from the forward elevator well, is disproved by the fact that the hanger fire was fought to a standstill at the forward flame curtain in the hanger. Forced draft ventilation would have made this impossible. There was a fire in progress that was not put out yet. What that idiot apparently did do was order the hull portholes that lined the hanger section forward of the flame curtain smashed out forward. Meanwhile in the jammed elevator well, raw av-gas slushed around in the elevator sink-pit leaking from the cracked fuel line section which had not been turned off by using the isolation valves which were present and included for such a foreseen engineering casualty. Remember there is that fire going on above this well on the hanger deck. That the Taiho did not burn immediately is a miracle and a tragedy for a fire in the elevator well, while bad, would have been manageable by foaming it, which should have been done right away in any case (See a bit later.). When the explosion came, it was limited to where the flame curtain was sealed and forward in the forward hanger section only. The survivors agree about that much as to what happened. Hereon we go into speculation, but is based on Japanese and US accounts postwar from the interviewed survivors. There may be another factor, present, that most popular accounts leaves out. That av-gas fuel vapor was lethal and quite stupefying to the DC crews fighting the fire. They had no respirator gear. Brainless Shimonoga may have ordered mechanical convection ventilation in the affected compartment to clear fumes out just to save his men by having the ventilation shutters opened in the forward and center hanger compartments. At least Japanese records say someone did this thing; but do not explain why this idiotic order was given. What this actually did was via convection pull the fuel air mist up and out into the full forward hanger compartment, poisoning everybody present even worse and creating a much larger fuel air mist explosion hazard in a sealed box. I still do not know why the DC crew present did not turn on the Taiho's fire fighting foam generators, rig hoses and douse the accumulated av-gas with foam to smother it and prevent vapor release in the first place. By then I guess the crazy had set in, and common sense was completely absent. BOOM.
3. If Taiho had proper large side shutter doors and an open hanger architecture above her main armor deck (ESSEX planform), the explosion would have vented out and above and not blown out her bottom as it did. She would have survived.
Hmm. The British had five or six flattops working or in the works by the time of the WNT. These were all ocean liner, battlecruiser or battleship conversions:
The Americans and Japanese were allowed to convert 2 of their battlecruiser hulls via WNT clauses, but suppose...
slid down the weighs before the WNT was hammered out? Fitting out would be a problem... If Uncle had to scrap or convert this battleship tonnage, I can see Moffett and company arguing that Arkansas, New York and Texas were worth all six Lexingtons converted into flattops to meet the RN unit for unit. That would jumpstart the CV program in a huge way and make the gun club tear their hair out.
The IJN would be in a world of hurt, too. How could they possibly compete with it? It took them a secret shadow program and a decade and a half just to get what they had in 1941.
And to be honest, if the USN goes all in for a carrier scouting force (It is 1922 the Washington Naval Treaty.), it assumes a huge risk that these giant 36,000 tonne monsters will be able to scout. Jutland sure did not show either the dirigible or the ship-borne airplane was much of a scout and experiments so far had shown the RN that an aircraft carrier was a fair weather reconnaissance platform at best. Too much hindsight is implied and assumed as foresight. Even in 1935, aircraft carriers were not very effective scouts. The change comes late, about 1940-1941, when wartime shows naval aviation reconnaissance amounts to a critical factor for war at sea. The USN knows it by 1935 from its fleet problems, but it is not proven to the black shoes until Bismarck eats a torpedo and it is airplanes (PBY under false colors) that finds her and then puts her into a condition where she can be sunk (Swordfish from an RN flattop, Victorious.).
The idea that the USN will change its build program has to have a firm PoD that implies the financial and military risk in 1936 is justified. Based on what they knew then, I do not see the General Board or Bu-Ships going to FDR and changing what they recommended. The PoD has to be earlier and there has to be a real good reason.
Except that Shokaku was hit by a maximum of 6 bombs, maybe fewer, above notes only 4 were considered definite and some sources say only 3. On 10 January 1941 HMS Illustrious was hit by a confirmed 6 bombs.
That number is from the USN Bureau of ships report. That assessed one of these hits to be a 1000kg bomb, and no other Navies Carriers were ever hit by Ordnance of that size.
(On 26 May 1941 HMS Formidable was hit by 2 1000kg bombs and survived.)
The one bomb that hit Formidable wrecked her bow compartments, granted. the other actually bounced off as a graze and was a glancing impact at best.
USS Franklin. 2 x 250 kg bombs right into a fully armed and loaded deck strike of 36 aircraft. Note that none of the RN examples cited have this condition? As an example about why we should not get too excited about the size of a bomb and its victims we have the Ohka, a piloted rocket glider carrying a 1200 kg ammanol bomb in its nose. The result of it? Two destroyers sunk, four damaged, one LST shredded and the West Virginia was paint scratched. Nada. It just depends on the circumstance what the extent of the hurt is. Your own cite of HMS Illustrious shows me that there is something wrong in making BDA estimates, depending on source.
My cite indicates the RN reported and assessed those strikes on Illustrious as 500 kg impacts (2) and 250 kg impacts (4). Maybe the US report is more accurate? But there is a major difference and I notice it. Shokaku got the full US monty (454 kg or 1000 pounders 3 or 4 of 6 as we both agree.) and that she was stitched down the center by the stick that dropped them on her as the photos (see above ^^^) plainly show. It just depends (crew). The British armor deck apparently failed in the case of the Illustrious and Formidable to stop 500+ kg ordnance. It appears Skokaku's deep deck armor apparently stopped the US bombs cold. Lesson learned? Formidable, Illustrious and Shokaku were all TOUGH ships, who had damage control parties who seemed to know what they were doing. I can still make a formidable case that of the 3 the Shokaku took the most severe beating by BDA assessment.
If we can agree that both classes were tough enough to withstand such damage, why were the Shokakus seemingly so much more survivable than the other Japanese carriers? Was it a better design,better damage control or simple luck ?
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