The Anniversary of The Channel Dash - 1942 - and the wider RN Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War

Am I right in thinking that Japan was an ally during the First World War? I think that the relationship with the IJN went back further than that, and Japan only became hostile with the rise of nationalistic militarism in the thirties.



I think that Pearl Harbour was seen as a target when planning for war started, but the Japanese Naval Attache did go to Taranto after the raid and was interested in the technical aspects of the torpedo attack.
Especially about the need to get a torpedo to run in very shallow water
 

Mölders 1

War Hero
IIRC Someone upstream pointed out (Or posted a link.) that IJN doctrine was that spotters flew from battleships and cruisers. Carrier aircraft were for strike and CAP only. Hence large amount of spotter floatplanes.
The I.J.N. were (in the earliest years of the Pacific War at least) obsessed with the plan of luring the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet into a giant gun battle where there (supposed) superior long range gunnery could blast them out of the water.

One of the main reasons why the Japanese Warships carried Spotter Planes was for them to "call the shots" for their big gunned warships.
 

Mölders 1

War Hero
Especially about the need to get a torpedo to run in very shallow water
By attaching detachable wooden fins to the tail end of their Torpedoes......thus when released the Torpedoes would not strike the seabed before they were able to reach their correct running depth.
 

Yokel

LE
Tonight is the anniversary of the raid on Taranto. The Swordfish from HMS Illustrious disabled three battleships as well a several smaller vessels ands shore installations, and turned the balance of forces in the Mediterranean ink favour of the Royal Navy. It was not the last action of the Mediterranean campaign in which carrier aircraft played a decisive part.

Hitting ships alongside in port was obviously a lot easier than hitting ones moving at high speed and shooting back, but it proved the effectiveness of the airborne torpedo.
 

Mölders 1

War Hero
Tonight is the anniversary of the raid on Taranto. The Swordfish from HMS Illustrious disabled three battleships as well a several smaller vessels ands shore installations, and turned the balance of forces in the Mediterranean ink favour of the Royal Navy. It was not the last action of the Mediterranean campaign in which carrier aircraft played a decisive part.

Hitting ships alongside in port was obviously a lot easier than hitting ones moving at high speed and shooting back, but it proved the effectiveness of the airborne torpedo.

An operation executed to the highest traditions of the Fleet Air Arm.
 
Of course, at this point the US were fielding the B-17 bomber, with the Norden sight "able to put a bomb in a pickle barrel", as an anti-ship platform... on the assumption that a B-17 would be able to fly the stable height, speed and course needed for the sight to generate a stable solution. If it was interrupted in that, its accuracy would suffer accordingly. (Indeed, it seems B-17s never did manage to hit a ship, despite multiple attempts)

AA fire wasn't expected to shoot down many aircraft (unless they were obligingly suicidal) - it was expected to break up formations and prevent the sort of leisurely, steady attack (ideally, well co-ordinated) that might result in getting hits.


Which was reasonably effective against level bombers... which, it turned out, weren't much of a threat to ships. (Even on land, firing from stable concrete platforms and aimed by tachymetric fire control, 1940-41 heavy AA guns still needed ~3,000 rounds per enemy aircraft destroyed - for a five-gun US destroyer that's a half-hour barrage!)

The bigger problem turned out to be dive- and torpedo-bombers, which really needed automatic cannon to counter them. Hence why British destroyers had quadruple 40mm guns (octuples on larger ships) while US destroyers - as late as 1941 - had nothing between their 5" guns and a few .50" machine guns (a few destroyer-leaders had a 1.1" 'Chicago Piano' but that was too unreliable to help much)
As the British were fond of saying

"The Bomber will always get through"

unless its the RN below them huh?
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
As the British were fond of saying

"The Bomber will always get through"

Which was the impetus for creating an integrated air defence system with early-warning radar, the Observer Corps, a network of Sector Stations controlling satellite fields to provide fighter defence, coupled to an extensive array of anti-aircraft weapons under General Pile's imaginatively-named "Anti-Aircraft Command".

The point being - like most soundbites lazily taken out of context - the bomber will always get through unless we do something serious, expensive and difficult to stop them.

unless its the RN below them huh?

Well, quite. Look at how the Royal Navy were massacred by airpower off Norway, and the troops there abandoned and captured.

Recall the humiliation as the entire Home Fleet was bombed to scrap off Dunkirk, and a quarter-million troops of the BEF (and another hundred thousand French soldiers) marched into helpless captivity.

Who can forget the disasters of Operations ARIEL and CYCLE, as the "second BEF" were trapped in Normandy and Brittany, waiting for rescue that never came as the Luftwaffe sank every ship trying to save them?

Note how the German seaborne landings sent to Crete didn't lose a man en route as the Luftwaffe massacred the British forces trying to stop them, and then slaughtered the efforts to lift the defenders out when the island fell.

Read with horror how quickly Malta's defences collapsed when it proved impossible to get supplies through the murderous air attacks.

Study the catastrophe of the North African campaign, as Rommel romped to victory thanks to apparently-endless supplies of fuel, munitions and reinforcements crossing the Mediterranean untouched by British efforts (which merely resulted in massive losses to German airpower).

...indeed, doesn't the history suggest that the Royal Navy was able to get in, do what it came to do and get out despite enemy air attack?
 

Yokel

LE
I wonder if @Goldbricker was talking about the neglect of naval fighter defence and naval anti aircraft gunnery between the wars? For whatever reason defending the fleet or convoys from air attack was not seen as a priority right up until the late thirties - about the same time as Inskip gave the Royal Navy full control of the Fleet Air Arm.

However there was no spare capacity in the aircraft industry. Would it have made a difference if there had been a small number of Seafires in 1940?

 
Which was the impetus for creating an integrated air defence system with early-warning radar, the Observer Corps, a network of Sector Stations controlling satellite fields to provide fighter defence, coupled to an extensive array of anti-aircraft weapons under General Pile's imaginatively-named "Anti-Aircraft Command".

The point being - like most soundbites lazily taken out of context - the bomber will always get through unless we do something serious, expensive and difficult to stop them.



Well, quite. Look at how the Royal Navy were massacred by airpower off Norway, and the troops there abandoned and captured.

Recall the humiliation as the entire Home Fleet was bombed to scrap off Dunkirk, and a quarter-million troops of the BEF (and another hundred thousand French soldiers) marched into helpless captivity.

Who can forget the disasters of Operations ARIEL and CYCLE, as the "second BEF" were trapped in Normandy and Brittany, waiting for rescue that never came as the Luftwaffe sank every ship trying to save them?

Note how the German seaborne landings sent to Crete didn't lose a man en route as the Luftwaffe massacred the British forces trying to stop them, and then slaughtered the efforts to lift the defenders out when the island fell.

Read with horror how quickly Malta's defences collapsed when it proved impossible to get supplies through the murderous air attacks.

Study the catastrophe of the North African campaign, as Rommel romped to victory thanks to apparently-endless supplies of fuel, munitions and reinforcements crossing the Mediterranean untouched by British efforts (which merely resulted in massive losses to German airpower).

...indeed, doesn't the history suggest that the Royal Navy was able to get in, do what it came to do and get out despite enemy air attack?
Indeed you are correct, I apologize, HACS was the best system ever invented for ship AA defence, why just ask the crew of Repulse and POW for testimonials ....

In fact we should all use HACS now instead of this new fangled radar flibbity gibbet

Wot?
 

Daz

LE
Indeed you are correct, I apologize, HACS was the best system ever invented for ship AA defence, why just ask the crew of Repulse and POW for testimonials ....

In fact we should all use HACS now instead of this new fangled radar flibbity gibbet

Wot?
Oddly enough, one of the main problems encountered was issues with the "new fangled radar flibbity gibbet" working in the prevailing climate in the Far East, coupled with the deterioration of the ammunition due to the same issue, blaming that HACS is a bit of a non-starter seeing as they did manage to shot down a number of their attackers
 

W21A

LE
Book Reviewer
I'm no expert, but the Wiki article on HACS is of interest. Although I would say it is written with an agenda in mind.
 
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jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
Indeed you are correct, I apologize, HACS was the best system ever invented for ship AA defence, why just ask the crew of Repulse and POW for testimonials ....

As opposed to the impenetrable AA defences of the Arizona, Oklahoma, West Virginia, California and Nevada?

Not quite the most ringing of endorsements there.
 
In the Chinese case, whatever they could lay their hands on, including the Gloster Gladiator, Curtis Hark II & III, Boeing P-26, Fiat CR.32 & Polikarpov I-16 to name a few

Edit, @tiger stacker ICM do a version of the Chinese Polikarpov I-16 in 1/32 scale
I know a bloke who displays one of the Polks based at Wannaka ( NZ).
He rates it as a pugnacious little fighter that is very manoeuvreable and a skilled pilot could tie a higher energy airframe in knots in a turning fight.
unfortunaly you were unlikely to live long enough to gain those skills as the polk has/ had zero armour/ pilot protection ( and used a lot of wood) so the first passing squirt often proved fatal.
 

Yokel

LE
The problems with anti aircraft gunnery, particularly early in the war, simply illustrate the importance of naval fighters - and that even if they scored few kills they made the attackers' lives harder, forcing them to take evasive action instead of having a clear bomb run. I can find many records of the carrier launching fighters and beating off the attack, but no so many references to actual kills. This is what causes some critics to decide that their efforts had been a failure, instead of considering that their efforts kept the enemy outside of bomb range.

But they did destroy the enemy quite often.

Here is a PDF file of The British Fleet Air Arm in World War II

With respect to the Norway campaign, already mentioned after I posted a YouTube video of a 1940 newsreel report, and the dubious claim that ships had short down 'thirty aircraft, on page 30:

Meanwhile, the Skuas and Sea Gladiators were used to intercept German bombers, claiming more than 20 air-to air kills during the brief campaign.

Not bad with old aircraft and before radar control.
 
Oddly enough, one of the main problems encountered was issues with the "new fangled radar flibbity gibbet" working in the prevailing climate in the Far East, coupled with the deterioration of the ammunition due to the same issue, blaming that HACS is a bit of a non-starter seeing as they did manage to shot down a number of their attackers
As opposed to the impenetrable AA defences of the Arizona, Oklahoma, West Virginia, California and Nevada?

Not quite the most ringing of endorsements there.


By all means then educate yourself, the Author was an RN weapons Engineer Officer and now an analyst


Peter Marland is a former RN Weapon Engineer Officer with sea jobs in HM Ships Blake, Bristol and Euryalus, and postings ashore in research and in procurement. He now works as an Operational Analyst, and has contributed a number of articles to Warship on post-war Royal Navy weapons and electronics. He is a Chartered Engineer, with post-graduate qualifications in Project Management and in teaching.

EDIT- Oh dear QRK2 has a heavy flow period again

Can someone give the blanket stacker a Midol?
 
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jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
By all means then educate yourself, the Author was an RN weapons Engineer Officer and now an analyst


Peter Marland is a former RN Weapon Engineer Officer with sea jobs in HM Ships Blake, Bristol and Euryalus, and postings ashore in research and in procurement. He now works as an Operational Analyst, and has contributed a number of articles to Warship on post-war Royal Navy weapons and electronics. He is a Chartered Engineer, with post-graduate qualifications in Project Management and in teaching.

Thanks, but no need - I worked with Peter (he was up at Portsdown West, I was down at Collingwood) and gave him some of the data for his article (which, characteristically, Navweaps have heavily edited...) He retired a few years ago, BTW.

A key point that Navweaps obsess about, is a long-term insistence (driven by, it seems, one particular contributor) that the Royal Navy had "the worst AA defences of any participant in the war". (A view that doesn't survive contact with the facts... unless you want to call the German 37mm SK C/30, manually aimed and hand-loaded for 20-30 rounds per barrel per minute, superior to the power-operated 2pdr AA's 120rpm per barrel? But it's German so it must be better!)

Similarly, they tend to insist that the only measure of effect for AA fire, is "enemy aircraft destroyed"; Goering quoted in 1940 as directing his air force to avoid British warships 'because of the effectiveness of their gunfire' is sidelined since "not many kills" apparently means the defences failed.

The other perspective that's neatly been snipped out, is that at the end of 1941 the US had some good technical solutions... that were mostly, still a long way from being fielded and deployed in numbers. However good the Mark 37 GFCS was, there were only a couple of dozen of them fitted across the entire US Navy by the end of 1941!

Picking on the USS West Virginia as a convenient example, in late 1941 her "superior" US Navy-endorsed anti-aircraft battery consisted of... eight 5"/25 low-velocity guns and eleven .50" machine guns, with the 5" guns being aimed by the Mk 19 fire-control system (a close analogue of the apparently-dismal HACS). She was recognised as being severely lacking in close-range AA defence - but the only palliative then available, was to put her in the queue for some of the quadruple 1.1" AA mounts, despite their serious failings. (Some sources say that she got some of her WW1-vintage 3" AA guns back as a 'better than nothing' measure)

The US, recognising that better performance was possible, developed the more sophisticated Mk 33 GFCS... unfortunately, technical elegance didn't translate into superior capability in that case ("Despite its improvements compared to previous directors, Mk 33 performed inadequately in late pre-war exercises." - Friedman, Norman. Naval Anti-Aircraft Guns and Gunnery) although some eighty-five Mk 33 systems were in the Fleet by Pearl Harbor.

The follow-on to the Mk 33 was the Mk 37, a tachymetric system of good performance. The first USN cruiser to get a Mk 37 director, was the Atlanta (commissioned 24 December 1941); the first destroyer with Mk 37, the Sims, only commissioned on 1 August 1939.

Unfortunately, on initial introduction, it turned out that the Mk 37 "was affected by variations in the output of the ship’s gyro compass and, more, by the servos tying it to the guns. The problem seems to have been unexpected, and the first installation, on board a ship, failed. Unfortunately Mk 37 systems were already under production for large numbers of destroyers and larger ships, many of them approaching completion. The initial disaster explains why many destroyers were completed about 1939–41 with empty barbettes where their Mk 37 directors should have been." (Ibid.) As often happens, integration onto a ship complicates the performance of elegant systems designed and tested on shore.

The Mk 37 - after nearly a hundred different modifications - did become effective, but it was well into 1942 before it could be relied upon, and demand considerably outstripped production for most of the war.

The point Peter was making (and which Navweaps tried hard to edit out) was that in 1939-1941, the Royal Navy's AA defence was actually there and protecting ships: while, for instance, even the most modern US destroyers in 1941 had four 5" guns (whose fire control was yet to fulfil its promise, or was sometimes absent altogether), four .50" machineguns, and... er... that was it.

That the US were better by 1944, wouldn't have saved them in 1940 (and, indeed, didn't help them in 1941).
 

Mölders 1

War Hero
Thanks, but no need - I worked with Peter (he was up at Portsdown West, I was down at Collingwood) and gave him some of the data for his article (which, characteristically, Navweaps have heavily edited...) He retired a few years ago, BTW.

A key point that Navweaps obsess about, is a long-term insistence (driven by, it seems, one particular contributor) that the Royal Navy had "the worst AA defences of any participant in the war". (A view that doesn't survive contact with the facts... unless you want to call the German 37mm SK C/30, manually aimed and hand-loaded for 20-30 rounds per barrel per minute, superior to the power-operated 2pdr AA's 120rpm per barrel? But it's German so it must be better!)

Similarly, they tend to insist that the only measure of effect for AA fire, is "enemy aircraft destroyed"; Goering quoted in 1940 as directing his air force to avoid British warships 'because of the effectiveness of their gunfire' is sidelined since "not many kills" apparently means the defences failed.

The other perspective that's neatly been snipped out, is that at the end of 1941 the US had some good technical solutions... that were mostly, still a long way from being fielded and deployed in numbers. However good the Mark 37 GFCS was, there were only a couple of dozen of them fitted across the entire US Navy by the end of 1941!

Picking on the USS West Virginia as a convenient example, in late 1941 her "superior" US Navy-endorsed anti-aircraft battery consisted of... eight 5"/25 low-velocity guns and eleven .50" machine guns, with the 5" guns being aimed by the Mk 19 fire-control system (a close analogue of the apparently-dismal HACS). She was recognised as being severely lacking in close-range AA defence - but the only palliative then available, was to put her in the queue for some of the quadruple 1.1" AA mounts, despite their serious failings. (Some sources say that she got some of her WW1-vintage 3" AA guns back as a 'better than nothing' measure)

The US, recognising that better performance was possible, developed the more sophisticated Mk 33 GFCS... unfortunately, technical elegance didn't translate into superior capability in that case ("Despite its improvements compared to previous directors, Mk 33 performed inadequately in late pre-war exercises." - Friedman, Norman. Naval Anti-Aircraft Guns and Gunnery) although some eighty-five Mk 33 systems were in the Fleet by Pearl Harbor.

The follow-on to the Mk 33 was the Mk 37, a tachymetric system of good performance. The first USN cruiser to get a Mk 37 director, was the Atlanta (commissioned 24 December 1941); the first destroyer with Mk 37, the Sims, only commissioned on 1 August 1939.

Unfortunately, on initial introduction, it turned out that the Mk 37 "was affected by variations in the output of the ship’s gyro compass and, more, by the servos tying it to the guns. The problem seems to have been unexpected, and the first installation, on board a ship, failed. Unfortunately Mk 37 systems were already under production for large numbers of destroyers and larger ships, many of them approaching completion. The initial disaster explains why many destroyers were completed about 1939–41 with empty barbettes where their Mk 37 directors should have been." (Ibid.) As often happens, integration onto a ship complicates the performance of elegant systems designed and tested on shore.

The Mk 37 - after nearly a hundred different modifications - did become effective, but it was well into 1942 before it could be relied upon, and demand considerably outstripped production for most of the war.

The point Peter was making (and which Navweaps tried hard to edit out) was that in 1939-1941, the Royal Navy's AA defence was actually there and protecting ships: while, for instance, even the most modern US destroyers in 1941 had four 5" guns (whose fire control was yet to fulfil its promise, or was sometimes absent altogether), four .50" machineguns, and... er... that was it.

That the US were better by 1944, wouldn't have saved them in 1940 (and, indeed, didn't help them in 1941).
As l see it, it wasn't until the Battle Of Santa Cruz in October 1942 that the A.A. Guns/Radar on U.S. Navy Warships became really effective and even then it was only on the U.S.S. Enterprise and U.S.S. South Dakota and one or two other Warships.
 

Yokel

LE
, one particular contributor) that the Royal Navy had "the worst AA defences of any participant in the war". (A view that doesn't survive contact with the facts...

Was the contributor an ex merchant seaman turned civil servant by any chance?

Did Goering express any views about his bombers going up against groups of warships or convoys that included a carrier? Even in 1940, carriers could put up aircraft that could shoot down bombers (see Norway), and the advent of the escort carrier in 1941 was seen as a grave development by the Kriegsmarine leadership such as Donitz.
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
Was the contributor an ex merchant seaman turned civil servant by any chance?

No, Peter was a senior Dstl analyst that I did a fair bit of work with.

If you can get hold of it, the full original article's rather better - Navweaps have been very selective.
 

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