Author Topic: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread  (Read 57339 times)

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Offline Rusty Edge

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #466 on: November 22, 2017, 07:42:10 AM »
If the 'back of the line' doctrine was kept throughout deployment, it also meant the train (rear) of an army colonne also had better armored (protected) personnel transport available.

That would have been a handy advantage!

That was the doctrine. Reality was a bit different. Having it's own Fort/School in one sense put Tank Destroyers on a par with infantry, artillery, tanks, and airplanes. But since they were in their own place training to do their own thing, the Divisons/Corps/Armies didn't learn to integrate them until they crossed the Rhine into Germany. They didn't know how. In fact, as the doctrine concieved combined arms as the wave of the future, the practice was determindly difficult because the various branches used incompatible radios, the equipment was built that way. As amazing as America was on production, communication was apalling! By the end of the war the various special branches were finally learning to imbed liason officers with radio equiped vehicles in the units they cooperated with. 

Allied countries didn't seek tank destroyers from lend/lease. They found it simpler to train and use tanks, artillery, and if they took halftracks, simply to mechanize their infantry. The specialty was a German and American thing. As for the War itself, Britain believed that American forces were overconfident, and counciled that America start in Africa move to Sicily, Italy, France then finally Germany. That way they could gain much needed experience gradually. Turned out to be good advice.

Operation torch was comparatively easy. The amphib landing was unopposed. The Vichy French in Morrocco would rather retreat, surrender, or change sides than stand their ground. Even so there were plenty of operational and organizational problems. The Americans couldn't get the tanks moving for a while, so the tank destroyers went by themselves to support the paratroopers capturing the Axis airfields, because they were the only option.

Somehow, being the only option happened all to often, and the Tank Destroyers found themselves in front of the lines or advancing formation. The Italians fought harder than the French. Gradually the USA encountered more and more Germans who were in an Eastward fighting withdrawal to Tunisia. Need to find the enemy? Send the TDs, they have scouts. Need to get there first? Send the TDs, they're the fastest. Roads too poor or ground too soft for tanks? Send the TDs, they're lighter. Target out of artillery range? Send the TDs!

Hundreds of TD Batallions were envisioned, each had 36 halftracks with the 75mm guns, and four  4-wheel drive Dodge trucks with a rear firing 37mm. They sort of looked like big topless land rovers. These Dodges had a short useful life against obsolete Italian light tanks, before they were retired.  They learned they could stop a tank column by hitting the first 3 of them, thus forming a roadblock and causing the enemy to change plans.

Personally, I think these Dodge trucks should have been equipped dual .50 caliber machine guns for use against enemy infantry or aircraft, or better yet replaced by halftracks mounting quad.50s or a Bofors Pom-Pom. The book just tells the stories of the batallion chronicles, and doesn't get into the particulars. I don't know were to lay the blame. Maybe the Army doctrine or field generals somehow overlooked the Luftwaffe, or presumed air supremacy. Obviously there was the communications debacle. Maybe there was a lack of training/experience regarding target identification. Or maybe they weren't very good at keeping the mud and dust cleaned off of their white stars. Regardless, The TDs were attacked by Nazi Stukas, Brit Hurricanes,   P-38s and various other American fighter-bombers. An entire column was once put out of action by such friendly strafing. Staying spread out and breaking in different directions was their only defense.

You know who did understand combined arms? Irwin Rommel. His anti-tank guns advanced, dug in and camoflauged over night. His artillery and close air support worked with his tanks. So did his mechanized infantry. Rommel put his newest tanks with the thickest armor at the front of his columns, and the TDs couldn't penetrate them from the front.  He put the Americans on the defensive, and eventually they were forced to follow the darn TD doctrine, and it worked!

Maybe the US Army was learning the wrong lesson.  To be continued...



Offline Geo

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #467 on: November 22, 2017, 11:03:09 AM »
 Rommel was a military genius for sure.
The Allies may have been very lucky he was in Berlin on D-day. He may have succeeded in getting a tank force wedge between the landing beaches.
Hell, he confined the progress into France for two months at Normandy.

Offline Rusty Edge

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #468 on: November 22, 2017, 07:59:45 PM »
At any rate, rather than embrace the original vision, or try to emulate the Afrika Korps, the Army sort of appeased both Patton and Bradley. The number of battalions was cut in half. Towed anti-tank guns were assigned to infantry divisions as front line defenses to prevent panzer breakthroughs. Basically back to WWI, with similar results in terms of static battlefronts. It took too long to hook them up and retreat once they'd been bracketed by artillery fire. These towed guns were more easily destroyed or captured than
TDs.

The remaining TD battalions adopted the M-10. It was the same chassis as the Sherman tank. Still open topped, with only the single 75mm gun. It was only a little faster, but had the same vulnerabilities to infantry, etc. They were well suited to working with Shermans. Same parts, fuel, ammo. The TDs could protect the tanks from tanks and anti-tank guns, the tanks could protect the TDs from infantry. The TD battalions found their own methods, but basically three worked. Method#1)  Have the TDs advance, unmask/shoot it out with the enemy antitank guns and panzers. Then, the Shermans would leapfrog in infantry platoon fashion, clearing out the pesky Volksgrenadiers. That way they could provide fire support to each other, too.  Method#2) Continuous advance in two  lines abreast with the Shermans 400 yards ahead. The TDs (a.k.a. "Can openers" ) were accurate about 400yards farther than the tanks (a.k.a. "Cans" ). It served the same purpose of unmasking the enemy anti-tank guns and tanks, and protecting the TDs from enemy infantry.  Method#3 ) have TD and Tank companies swap one platoon each, so that each company would perform their basic role, but with the other armor for support.

TDs were better shots than tanks. Possible reasons-  a) tanks fired on the move, TDs moved/stopped /fired. b) TDs got in a lot of practice as self-propelled artillery when there were no tanks about, so they were probably better spotters. c) training, d)  the crews had a higher survival rate, so were more experienced. e) They could see what they were doing better with an open top.

As the war progressed the Allied tanks got more numerous, and the German tanks got bigger and better. That meant that frontal assaults by Shermans and TDs were useless, and only the tactics from the original doctrine of flanking or ambushing worked. One time a TD hit a leading tiger tank 15 times without damaging it. It did succeed in annoying the Tiger enough to turn it's turret toward the TD. When it did that, another TD hit the Tiger's turret from behind ( where the armor was thinner ) and blew it off.

To be continued...

Offline Rusty Edge

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #469 on: November 22, 2017, 09:03:54 PM »
Anyway, to wrap this up...

Perhaps it was professionalism, or sharing a dynamic tactical doctrine,  but TDs always seemed to coordinate better with paratroopers. During the Battle of the Bulge at Bastogne, like Scipio facing Hannibal's elephants, The 82nd Airborne agreed to let the Panzers pass through and keep the Grenadiers out, and trust the TDs to take care of the panzers. It worked.

While the Armored divisions and Patton's 3rd Army were calling for TDs to be more tank-like. Buick built the controversial M-18 TDs, which returned to the original Battlecruiser concept. A torsion bar suspension and a radial aircraft engine, it had a top speed of 50mph/ 80KM or more, maybe still the fastest tracked American weapon ever. Possibly surpassed by the modern M-1 tank. The M-18 TD had the highest kill /loss ratio of any American tracked vehicle in the war. So, I guess that's proof of concept.

In the ultimate irony, Gen. McNair, father of the American TD concept, while  in Europe to observe TDs on the offensive, was along with over 100 other soldiers, killed by American bombs. When the war ended, so did the battlecruiser stop-gap solution. The USA built state-of the art tanks and put tank battalions in every infantry division.

But as a strategic choice, the TD approach was more cost effective in terms of both production and lives. I think it was the right one at the time. 

THE END.

Offline Rusty Edge

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #470 on: May 23, 2018, 08:55:32 PM »
A robot discovered a much sought after sunken Spanish treasure ship-

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/robot-submarine-finds-shipwreck-san-jose-carrying-17-billion-treasure/

Offline Rusty Edge

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #471 on: October 11, 2018, 04:01:31 AM »
I've read some other military history this year, but nothing worth talking and writing about.

Offline Geo

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #472 on: October 11, 2018, 07:41:28 PM »
I've read some other military history this year, but nothing worth talking and writing about.

Old history is a limited resource, its true. ;)

Offline Rusty Edge

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #473 on: October 11, 2018, 11:30:20 PM »
I've read some other military history this year, but nothing worth talking and writing about.

Old history is a limited resource, its true. ;)


Okay, I read one that made me think. It was the memoir of a British aristocrat, son of a R.N. captain, who graduated from the naval academy shortly before the war. A lot of it was correspondence. He didn't have the stomach for destroyers, so he spent the war in cruisers and capital ships, and was aboard the Prince of Wales for it's entire commission. He had lots of connections, and was good about writing for wounded and deceased under his command, and for informing other aristocrat and military families of the last time he saw their son or whoever.  Likewise, his mother would inform him of his friends and relatives who were killed.  There were a lot. They had volunteered in regiments, and as pilots and so forth. He had less competition with the girls as the war went on.


That made me think about the disruption to the social order. All of those guys with social status and leadership ability removed from the gene pool. Meanwhile, the girls left behind were probably making up their minds that they didn't want to endure the separation and the risks of becoming a military wife, even in peacetime. I wonder how many nerds became dads who might not have otherwise.

On the technical front I learned that the British decided to put armored flight decks on their aircraft carriers, the trade-off being that the extra weight meant fewer aircraft carried compared to American carriers. I also learned that they used mostly American planes on British carriers in the Pacific, the implication being that they were designed for longer ranges. Of course, that made them easier to repair and re-supply if they had to divert to an American carrier, too.

Offline Geo

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #474 on: October 12, 2018, 10:30:27 AM »
Old history is a limited resource, its true. ;)


Okay, I read one that made me think. It was the memoir of a British aristocrat, son of a R.N. captain, who graduated from the naval academy shortly before the war. A lot of it was correspondence. He didn't have the stomach for destroyers, so he spent the war in cruisers and capital ships, and was aboard the Prince of Wales for it's entire commission. He had lots of connections, and was good about writing for wounded and deceased under his command, and for informing other aristocrat and military families of the last time he saw their son or whoever.  Likewise, his mother would inform him of his friends and relatives who were killed.  There were a lot. They had volunteered in regiments, and as pilots and so forth. He had less competition with the girls as the war went on.


That made me think about the disruption to the social order. All of those guys with social status and leadership ability removed from the gene pool. Meanwhile, the girls left behind were probably making up their minds that they didn't want to endure the separation and the risks of becoming a military wife, even in peacetime. I wonder how many nerds became dads who might not have otherwise.

On the technical front I learned that the British decided to put armored flight decks on their aircraft carriers, the trade-off being that the extra weight meant fewer aircraft carried compared to American carriers. I also learned that they used mostly American planes on British carriers in the Pacific, the implication being that they were designed for longer ranges. Of course, that made them easier to repair and re-supply if they had to divert to an American carrier, too.

I take it this aristocrat survived the sinking of the Prince of Wales then? And didn't spent the rest of the war as a Japanese PoW?

About this social change, don't forget all those American "General Issues" roaming around England up until June 6th 1944.
But compared to Russian, Japanese, or German losses the British didn't lose that many men. I think girl's choices in those countries were quite a bit more limited after the war.

And the Navy armored their Essex class carriers? Its of course a mid-war design, and almost all the American carriers available at the start of the war didn't survive it.

Offline Rusty Edge

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #475 on: October 12, 2018, 07:41:57 PM »
There was a long section in the book about the escapes and evacuations, marches across islands ( Sumatra, I think) , being sunk again after leaving Singapore on a steamer and sailing a dhow to Ceylon. Then it was operation torch, followed by Baltic convoy duty.


His carrier was the HMS Formidable, a sister  to the Illustrious and the Victorious. 20 Avengers and 36 Corsairs. There was a refit and he didn't get into combat again until '45. He did see heavy Kamikaze action, and he was the flight deck officer. I can't find the particulars in the book, but looking at the wiki specs, the Illustrious class had 3" deck armor 4-4.5 inch elsewhere, and the Essex class has 1.5" on the deck and 1.5 to 4 elsewhere and carries 90-100 planes. So his impression that Brit carriers traded armor and survivability for payload seems to hold true.


Upon further research, All of the Illustrius and Essex carriers survived the war.  Here's the wiki section on Essex design-


[ The preceding Yorktown-class aircraft carriers and the designers' list of trade-offs and limitations forced by arms control treaty obligations shaped the formative basis from which the Essex class was developed — a design formulation sparked into being when the Japanese and Italians repudiated the limitations proposed in the 1936 revision of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 (as updated in October 1930 in the London Naval Treaty) — in effect providing a free pass for all five signatories to resume the interrupted naval arms race of the 1920s in early 1937.
At the time of the repudiations, both Italy and Japan had colonial ambitions, intending on or already conducting military conquests. With the demise of the treaty limitations and the growing tensions in Europe, naval planners were free to apply both the lessons they had learned operating carriers for fifteen years and those of operating the Yorktown-class carriers to the newer design.
Designed to carry a larger air group, and unencumbered by the latest in a succession of pre-war naval treaty limits, Essex was over sixty feet longer, nearly ten feet wider in beam, and more than a third heavier. A longer, wider flight deck and a deck-edge elevator (which had proven successful in the one-off USS Wasp (CV-7)) facilitated more efficient aviation operations, enhancing the ship's offensive and defensive air power.
Machinery arrangement and armor protection were greatly improved from previous designs. These features, plus the provision of more anti-aircraft guns, gave the ships much enhanced survivability. In fact, during the war, none of the Essex-class carriers were lost and two, USS Franklin (CV-13) and USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), came home under their own power and were successfully repaired even after receiving extremely heavy damage. Some ships in the class would serve until well after the end of the Vietnam War, when the class was retired and replaced by newer classes.
Debates raged regarding the effect of strength deck location. British designers' comments tended to disparage the use of hangar deck armor, but some historians, such as D.K. Brown in Nelson to Vanguard, see the American arrangement to have been superior. In the late 1930s, locating the strength deck at hangar deck level in the proposed Essex-class ships reduced the weight located high in the ship, resulting in smaller supporting structures and more aircraft capacity for the desired displacement. Subsequently, the larger size of the first supercarriers necessitated a deeper hull and shifted the center of gravity and center of stability lower, enabling moving the strength deck to the flight deck, thus freeing US Naval design architects to move the armor higher and remain within compliance of US Navy stability specifications without imperiling seaworthiness.[2] One of the design studies prepared for the Essex project, "Design 9G", included an armored flight deck but reduced aircraft capacity, and displaced 27,200 tons, or about 1,200 tons more than "Design 9F", which formed the basis of the actual Essex design;[3] 9G became the ancestor of the 45,000-ton Midway class. ]

Offline Geo

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #476 on: October 13, 2018, 06:39:14 AM »
So at the end of day, the British practices about armor were vindicated, but only when carriers were upscaled in the Navy.

I stood on the USS Midway back in '15. She'smoored in San Diego. Wartime design, but adjusted with a canted flight deck.

Offline Rusty Edge

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #477 on: November 16, 2018, 10:35:38 PM »
The complete naval history of WWII I'm reading now is surprisingly readable, but there is so much there. My plan is to finish reading it, then re-read and post here about several sections as I do. Otherwise, it's just too much to keep straight in my mind.

The book makes the a strong case that events influenced decisions, but lacks a time line to put events in perspective.

Offline Geo

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #478 on: November 17, 2018, 07:16:06 PM »
How complete? Is it solely for the US Navy, or does it include the other significant navies at the time (Royal Navy, Kriegsmarine, Imperial Navy,...)?
And does it stop at warships, or are convoys included?

Offline Rusty Edge

Re: Rusty's Naval/Military History thread
« Reply #479 on: November 18, 2018, 12:44:29 AM »
How complete? Is it solely for the US Navy, or does it include the other significant navies at the time (Royal Navy, Kriegsmarine, Imperial Navy,...)?
And does it stop at warships, or are convoys included?



It covers quite a lot, but not in great detail. I've read some naval history that was dull as a ship's log. This was more like a newspaper article that took 770 pages.  Convoys are included.

I don't know if it gets into PT and Schnell boats, but it seems to cover the larger ships, including the Brit torpedo attack against Italian battleships at Taranto, the German invasion of Norway, and other engagements. But it's in a framework of diplomatic and strategic dynamics. Japan's pride, Hitler and his balancing act, trying to defeat enemies in turn before drawing new ones into the war, FDR intending to "bring Japan to it's senses, rather than it's knees", FDR dithering between oceans, Churchill being heavy-handed with, well, everything. USA invading Iceland to "protect" it from Hitler. US hypocrisy regarding unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan. The amazing organization of the Nazis, likewise the Japanese. The folly of trying to coordinate Allies speaking different languages, using different codes and communication systems, or of simply trying to coordinate Italian air and Italian naval operations, when everything had to be coordinated through the central government, rather than at the tactical level.





World War II at Sea

A Global History by Craig L. Symonds


Here's the promotional description-
Author of Lincoln and His Admirals (winner of the Lincoln Prize), The Battle of Midway (Best Book of the Year, Military History Quarterly), and Operation Neptune, (winner of the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature), Craig L. Symonds has established himself as one of the finest naval historians at work today. World War II at Sea represents his crowning achievement: a complete narrative of the naval war and all of its belligerents, on all of the world's oceans and seas, between 1939 and 1945.

Opening with the 1930 London Conference, Symonds shows how any limitations on naval warfare would become irrelevant before the decade was up, as Europe erupted into conflict once more and its navies were brought to bear against each other. World War II at Sea offers a global perspective, focusing on the major engagements and personalities and revealing both their scale and their interconnection: the U-boat attack on Scapa Flow and the Battle of the Atlantic; the "miracle" evacuation from Dunkirk and the pitched battles for control of Norway fjords; Mussolini's Regia Marina-at the start of the war the fourth-largest navy in the world-and the dominance of the Kidö Butai and Japanese naval power in the Pacific; Pearl Harbor then Midway; the struggles of the Russian Navy and the scuttling of the French Fleet in Toulon in 1942; the landings in North Africa and then Normandy. Here as well are the notable naval leaders-FDR and Churchill, both self-proclaimed "Navy men," Karl Dönitz, François Darlan, Ernest King, Isoroku Yamamoto, Erich Raeder, Inigo Campioni, Louis Mountbatten, William Halsey, as well as the hundreds of thousands of seamen and officers of all nationalities whose live were imperiled and lost during the greatest naval conflicts in history, from small-scale assaults and amphibious operations to the largest armadas ever assembled.

Many have argued that World War II was dominated by naval operations; few have shown and how and why this was the case. Symonds combines precision with story-telling verve, expertly illuminating not only the mechanics of large-scale warfare on (and below) the sea but offering wisdom into the nature of the war itself.


Here's  a review- http://www.navyhistory.org/2018/06/world-war-ii-at-sea-a-global-history/

 

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