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Question on Naval aerial assualt

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  • Member since
    September 2015
Question on Naval aerial assualt
Posted by Silly_me on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 8:25 AM

It wasn't planned, but I finished reading Requiem for Battleship Yamato by Yoshida Mitsuru today, which just so happens to be the anniversary of the great ship's demise.

 

While reading through it I was intrigued with how he described the American assault on the ship, that all torpedoes struck the port side, and that the bombs targeted expertly the AA batteries.  He attributes this crack precision to the skill and expert strategy of the American pilots.

 

My question is:  was this sort of aerial attack planned/orchestrated in such a way, or during the din of battle, with multiple squadrons attacking at different times, is such 'precision' merely random happenstance?

 

Was it a common practice to, say, concentrate torpedo runs on a specific side of a target, or are they going to do a run based on whatever side of the target presents itself in the moment?

 

Just got me to wondering, should I ever attempt a diorama of such a moment.

 

Thanks!

  • Member since
    December 2020
Posted by Thuntboss on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 9:30 AM
I believe this was a very well coordinated attack on Yamato as they wanted Big Boy under the waves as fast as possible while keeping casualties low. If I recall correctly, the attack on Musashi and other Nipponese Battleships were taken into account and the plan solidified. On a side notre, my Dad's ship USS Bennington, CV-20 {CVA, CVS} has squadrons in on that assault and at least some of the first direct hits with torpedos and aerial AP bombs came from the Bennington attack squadrons.

"Do it as well as your experience and skill allow. Practice and persistence increase skill"

 

  • Member since
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  • From: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posted by goldhammer on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 9:32 AM

IIRC, doctrine was to use coordinated attack with torpedo and dive bombers to split AA and air cover.  If the attacking force had time, torpedo attack would come from both sides, otherwise the ship keeps turning away and never presents a decent shot.  Once they started getting hits on one side, they might have pressed attacks on that side to open more of her and take advantage of the damage caused and doing more.

Dive bombers usually started at around 20,000 and dropped at 2500-3000 ft.  Hard to pick out a specific spot like an AA gun emplacement.  With the plane being jerked around by AA fire, the ship manuvering, most pilots were happy to get a good hit anywhere..

Time to set a coordinated attack was often hard to come by.  If you were at long range, short on fuel, or other reasons, when you found them, you did the best you could with what you had and pushed over in the attack.

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 9:55 AM

That kind of attack doctrine was something that had been learned the hard way...sometimes by costly trial-and-error...as the war had developed. It also required exceptionally well-trained and experienced pilots to carry out effectively.

By the time the attack on the Yamato came about, the USN pilots were definitely at the top of their game in every category. But it hadn't been an 'overnight' thing.

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."
  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 10:11 AM

One point to add is that the anti aircraft batteries were mostly concentrated amidships, center mass of the target. Which is where the pilots are likely to aim for the greatest probability of a hit. It wasn't so much intended design of attack as to happenstance. They did not have precision guided weapons to strike a particular area  intentionally. And I do believe that escorting fighters made strafing runs to attack the gun crews that were exposed. It's been awhile since I last read A Glorious Way To Die, which is another book telling the same tale.

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

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  • Member since
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  • From: Central Oregon
Posted by HooYah Deep Sea on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 10:23 AM

Three points; First, despite getting the job done at Midway, we lost a lot of aircrews and aircraft. We were new to a lot of this stuff but we learned.

Second, Yamato's AA suite is very concentrated around and on the superstructure, thus easier to concentrate bomb drops on.

Third, as a diver (yes, a non-aviation point of view) it is easier to patch a bunch of smaller holes than a couple of huge ones. Given a choice I'd have gone for concentrated torpedo attacks on one side rather than both sides.

"Why do I do this? Because the money's good, the scenery changes and they let me use explosives, okay?"

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 1:30 PM

From what I remember reading of the attacks in A Glorious Way To Die, the weather conditions in the area made the coordination of the air group attacks very difficult. Low clouds, and limited visibility were prevailing.

https://www.history.navy.mil/about-us/leadership/director/directors-corner/h-grams/h-gram-044/h-044-3.html

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    November 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 4:23 PM

We have a distinct advantage of knowing the events in detail from after the fact.

At the time, the contact reports only told of the ship types and numbers, not their actual configuration. 

So, how the target was going to appear 4-6 hours before actually seeing it, would be a guess.  An educated guese, but pretty much a blank piece of paper.

Also, the Japanese had radar, so, however the ships were oriented before was going to change once the attack was detected.  The Japanese detected the air raid about 80 miles out, about an hour before contact, having changed course and speed as a result.  About 60 miles out, there was another course & speed change, as the air raid took more defined shape on the radar.

Once the planes were into visual range, the ships started taking evasive manovers, so the presentation of the ships to the aircraft was changing as rapid as the ships could make it.

Torpedo air attacks require a specific amount of straight-and-true flight so as to launch the torpedoes correctly (this was a pretty narrow envelope that could see the torpedo damaged or destroyed on water impact, or set on the wrong course).  Remember, too that the Mk 13 only had a 6800 yard range, about one minute's flight at the 106 yard per second speed of a TBF. 

So, you have to come down to the deck and line up on a ship trying to twist and turn out of your way, so, you are going to be able to best press an attack on the side with the least effective (or more tied up) AA fires.

Dive bombing has a lot of inherent accuracies, not least of which was the ability to not drop when the target was in the wrong spot (aided and abetted by an utter lack of Japanse CAP).  Dive bombing from abeam you could aim for the bows to get a good hit on the leading edge of the forward superstructure.  Dive bombing from bow-on (the preferred doctrine) let the dive bomber line up on the ship's course and the bomb track was right down the entire length of the ship, making it a larger target.

Further, there were more than 200 aircraft attacking about dozen ships, so there was considerable target "overlap."

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 4:49 PM

IIRC it's considered to be pretty certain that if beached, the BB would not have had power to operate its main batteries for any length of time.

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.

 

  • Member since
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  • From: Central Oregon
Posted by HooYah Deep Sea on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 4:50 PM

One more point to be understood when bombing ships is that you don't aim for the bow or the stern, you aim amidships. When a ship turns, especially at speed, it turns at the pivot point; so for a turn to starboard, the bow swings right and the stern swings left, and amidships just pivots as it moves forward. Thus amidships is the more stable target, you just have to lead it a bit differently.

"Why do I do this? Because the money's good, the scenery changes and they let me use explosives, okay?"

  • Member since
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Posted by ddp59 on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 6:24 PM

the Americans learned from the sinking of the Musashi, to use the torpedoes on both sides of the ship at the same time so that the Japanese sailors could not use the counter flood option as nothing to counter flood with as different parts of the hull was open to the sea due to torpedo hits.

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 9:33 PM

It's a particularly grisly story. I've read the account of strafing the survivors in the water and it's disturbing, plus piling bodies in the communal bath during action.

Bill

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.

 

  • Member since
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  • From: Central Oregon
Posted by HooYah Deep Sea on Thursday, April 8, 2021 12:42 AM

Granted, it was an entirely different regime; but for that time, after Pearl, and Bataan .  .  . et al, you know where to find 'sympathy'. If you don't, I'd be glad to explain it to you.

"Why do I do this? Because the money's good, the scenery changes and they let me use explosives, okay?"

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Thursday, April 8, 2021 9:37 AM

Patronizing comment but I'll let it go.

Back on point, I wonder what the outcome might have been if instead of an air attack, there had been a surface action. I don't think Yamato could outrange the USN BBs

But what did the article state?, three Iowa's? That would have been a very costly action all around.

 

Bill

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.

 

  • Member since
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  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Thursday, April 8, 2021 11:16 AM

HooYah Deep Sea
Granted, it was an entirely different regime; but for that time, after Pearl, and Bataan .  .  .

 

Yes, after nearly four years of war in the Pacific, it was no quarter asked nor given in combat. The combatants fought in 1945 with a level of mutual hatred and savagery for one another that was only matched on the Eastern Front in Europe. And even then, not quite so. Each side believed that it was superior to the other racially, morally, and spiritually. Total war.

And just a thought on those survivors, if they are rescued by the IJN and transported to Okinawa, they will become foot soldiers that the Army and Marines on Okinawa will have to face in combat. If transported to Japan, they can re enter the war on another ship, or again become probable foot soldiers during the coming invasion of Japan in fall 1945. There is not much difference between them and the Germans caught in the Falaise Pocket in summer 1944 subjected to  repeated artillery and air attack as they retreated. They can turn and fight again at a time and location of their own choosing.

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    April 2005
Posted by ddp59 on Thursday, April 8, 2021 11:26 AM

Bill, the Yamato at 45 degree elevation, supposedly outrange an Iowa class by over 3km.

Yamato http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNJAP_18-45_t94.php#Range

Iowa http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNUS_16-50_mk7.php#Range

 

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Thursday, April 8, 2021 2:55 PM

If there's some question that the morality of the action is in question, my comment has not been understood. The point is exactly as Carlos put it; it's was no holds barred total war.

 

Bill

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.

 

  • Member since
    November 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Saturday, April 10, 2021 12:46 PM

ddp59
Bill, the Yamato at 45 degree elevation, supposedly outrange an Iowa class by over 3km.

There's intense debate aout whether that's in the 'danger zone" for US ships.

This is counter-intuitive, but there are "bands" where the combination of range and projectile will defeat a given armor.

It's not a simple calculus,  Part of it is due to how naval rifle ballistics works.  At extremes of range, the projectile is nearly horizontal, so the waterline belt is what is vulnerale.  At closer ranges, the shells fall more vertically, so the deck and horizontal armor are at risk.

There is also the question of projectile velocity, which strongly affects armor penetration as well.

So, at certain extreme ranges the potential projectiles do not have enough velocity to penetrate a given amount of armor. 

Geometry plays a part, too.  The angles the projectiles make increase the thickness of the armor.  The extreme unlikeliness of a square-on hit further complicates geometry.

So, there are ranges where you can take the shots, but the the armor will shrug them off (that's the purpose of it).

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Saturday, April 10, 2021 1:35 PM

CapnMac82
There is also the question of projectile velocity, which strongly affects armor penetration as well.

F=MV

 

Bill

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.

 

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