Monday, November 7, 2016

Long Range Naval Guns

Just as a point of interest to supplement the Zumwalt ammunition post, had the Navy not opted to go down the path of the Zumwalt and AGS, we might well have attained our goal of long range bombardment capability with conventional naval guns by using sub-caliber rounds.  Here’s some examples listed on the NavWeaps site (1).

Improved HC Mark 147? (Planned)
During the battleship reactivations during the 1980s, the Navy developed a new HC [High Capacity] design that was the same length as the AP [Armor Piercing] Mark 8 (4.5 calibers) and weighed 2,240 lbs. (1,015 kg). Several of these were test-fired from USS Iowa and at Dahlgren, achieving ranges over 51,000 yards (46,600 m) with a new gun muzzle velocity of 2,825 fps (861 mps). 

Range = 51,000 yds = 29 miles

HE-ER Mark 148 (Planned)
13.65 in (34.7 cm) diameter, extended-range (ER), sub-caliber projectile with sabot. Length was approximately 72 in (183 cm). Projectile was to be ET-fuzed with a payload of about 300 M48 grenade submunitions. Experiments with this projectile were conducted during the 1980s, but development was cancelled in FY91 when the battleships were decommissioned. Projectile weight without the sabot was about 1,300 lbs. (590 kg) and range was to be in excess of 70,000 yards (64,000 m) at a muzzle velocity of 3,600 fps (1,097 mps).

Range = 70,000+ yds = 40+ miles

HE-ER Mark ? (Planned)
Advanced Gun Weapon Systems Technology Program 16/11-Inch Long Range GPS Concept with Sabot.  Another sub-caliber projectile with sabot, this one 11 inches (28 cm) in diameter. This project was also cancelled about FY91.

    Range: 100 nm
    Launch Weight: 650 lbs. (295 kg)
    Fly Away Weight: 525 lbs. (238 kg)
    Launch Length: 69 in (175 cm)
    Payload: 248 M46 Submunitions, total weight of 175.2 lbs. (79.5 kg)
    Guidance Modes: GPS and INS

Range = 100 nm

On a relative basis, these would have been very cheap to develop and yet the Navy refuses to look to conventional weapons, instead always preferring to go down the path of new, highly risky technology and astronomical costs.



  1. What would be the cost of restarting those programs vs adapting land based 155mm with MACS charges to naval use? Land based 155 ammo is cheap and plentiful sand there is a huge variety of it. Commonality of ammo will also help with resupply and simplify logistics.

    If we can't make a dedicated ship with battle ship hubs, make a dedicated ship with 155s.

    If we can't make that, can we at least put some 105mm howitzers on LCUs and make them into river monitors like River Assault Sqdrn 15 in Vietnam
    The monitors could provide support by coming closer to the shore than the amphibs and thus keep the amphibs out of harm's way.

    1. We can't restart these programs because they use cruiser and destroyer guns which no longer exist. I may be misunderstanding your question?

      Are you suggesting making a dedicated gun support ship with battleship turrets? Again, I may be misunderstanding.

    2. I am suggesting a cheap hull with turrets based on existing technology for a dedicated platform


      Bolting a howitzer down on an LCU.
      The idea being that the LCU going within howitzer range does not risk the LPD or the dedicated cheap ship does not risk the DDG so we can realistically get NGF support

    3. Your first suggestion, I'm all in favor of.

      Your second has some technical difficulties. Simply bolting a howitzer onto a LCU would produce an awfully inaccurate weapon. Even the gentle rolling water of a river would impart enough movement to the gun to render accurate shots impossible. The broader concept is fine but the application has problems.

    4. It will probably involve a stabilized platform much like tank guns have to make it possible to shoot on the move. Hope it is in the realm of feasible with reasonable sea states

    5. A ship, even one that is not underway, is always moving laterally even if it is just drifting. We can stabilize guns from up and down movement but the lateral drift is also a challenge. I'm sure it can be overcome but it just points out that it's not as simple as bolting a gun to a ship. A fire control software system and associated sensors (wind, drift, inclination, etc.) would have to be developed. Feasible but not simple.

    6. Such a platform already exists. Seems like a needed addition to amphibious assaults. If you can't afford to endanger your larger ships, find ways to get the needed firepower into smaller/more maneuverable/less essential assets.

    7. Reply to ComNavOps

      Cost. When Regan dragged the Iowas out of mothballs a mere Frigate cost 440 million USD to build.

      Bringing an Iowa Class BB out of mothballs. re-barreling the guns, (leftovers that sat in a warehouse in Subic Bay since WWII), uprating the weapons with Tomahawek AND harpoon missiles, only cost 400 million USD.

      And what you got was a gun platform that can withstand a contact nuclear blast. As shown by the atomic tests at Bikini (darned if I can remember which one exactly). At one of those tests they airburst an atomic bomb. There was a 1919 vintage Japanese Battleship a mere 500 yards from ground zero. It survived with all systems intact. The only recovery it would have required was for fire suppression teams to hose off any radiological contaminants from the exterior surfaces.

      In Regan's day getting a beast like that on the open sea at a cost of 40 million USD LESS than a tin can frigate, well it really made sense.

    8. 155 vs 16" rifle? what a let down that would be!

      Okay lets look at this instead. We want hypersonic weapons? Choke down a 16" rifle round to a solid FSD SABOT round. See how light you have to make the sabot to achieve mach 5 or better muzzel velocities.

      NOTE: The 120 mm gun on the Abrams M1 is already there, so it can be done.

      Next: Why NOT mount rail guns or coil guns in the turrets of battle ships and scare the world away from any kind surface confrontation with the U.S. Navy?

      Rail Gun being tested. This will already fit a BB

      A coil gun could use existing 16" barrels. Less bang that a rail gun but possible more bang/buck to build as an interum.
      the pricipal, proof of concept

      Just saying

  2. 8in guns got similar results during the cold war/Vietnam era. 8in sabot down to a 155 projectile with roughly 75 miles of range. Canceled in favor of missiles.

  3. It must be stabilized if in the water. Even if the water is still, each firing will rock the boat for several minutes. The M-1 tank has a stabilized 120mm gun that can fire over 10 miles, those can ride in LCUs along the coast and up rivers.

    For longer ranges, tie down some HIMARS rocket launchers on helo decks or LCUs. These have stabilized mounts (needed because the ripple fire rocks the vehicle) and they can reach 40 miles. And just use the current systems, since there are no installation, maintenance and development costs, and they can roll on and roll off as needed. When I was active I argued for doing this for shoots at San Clemente Island, but all the seniors officers thought it too odd. They all wanted to play desert army at 29 palms.

    1. I think the HIMARS community pushed for HIMARS on MEUs and shooting off the amphibs decks as both anti-ship and amphibious support.
      Putting HIMARS in an LCU would quickly exceed its tilt limits for launch on anything but a lake, but shooting from an LHD is much more stable.

    2. The M-1 tanks round has a range of approximately 3 miles. Less if shooting Shaped Charge rounds.

    3. You're thinking of M-1 direct fire. Its 120mm gun can reach 10 miles with indirect fire, although it would need to elevate the hull by driving up on a log or whatever. This was common in past wars, but forgotten today. A 5-inch (127mm)naval gun reaches over 13 miles.

    4. "elevate the hull by driving up on a log"

      I had never heard of that. Neat idea.

  4. What is the cost of reinventing the battleship and the 16-in gun? I'm guessing billions and billions as Carl Sagan would say. This might end up being a repeat of the Zumwalt program where we spend upteen billions only to field a few ships.

    I like the idea and long-range fire support is needed, I'm just not sure it's cost effective.

    1. WW2 killed off the battleship-battleship gunnery, trying to substitute land bombardment just doesnt provide any sort of the accuracy modern warfare requires. NLOS mid range missiles provide the punch and range required.

    2. Who's suggesting reinventing the battleship?

    3. "doesnt provide any sort of the accuracy modern warfare requires."

      You're showing an appalling lack of understanding of the use of firepower on the battlefield. Our last couple of decades of very limited, very low end warfare have led you and many others to believe that war is just an exercise in plinking individual targets from time to time. This requires relatively small, low explosive, precision guided munitions. The reality of war, however, is nothing like that. War will see the absence of nice, neat, clean, easily identifiable individual targets due to camouflage, ECM, obscurants, and the general fog of war. In place of precise targeting will be an overwhelming need for area effect high explosives - exactly the kind of thing the battleship's 16" guns were ideally suited for. Study your history of how major caliber gunfire has historically been used. Nothing has changed.

    4. All 4 Iowa-class battleships are now museum pieces and they are not coming back to service. Therefore, we would have to reinvent the "battleship." Which might not be as big as the Iowa, but given how we procure ships, they are bound to be as expensive as you know what. Plus, we would have to reinvent the infrastructure to build a 16-gun, which is no small feat either

    5. ".. In place of precise targeting will be an overwhelming need for area effect high explosives - exactly the kind of thing the battleship's 16" guns were ideally suited for"
      Didnt work on Iwo Jima, surrounded by sea. In my view , it didnt work in the massive use of area bombardment in the front ,lines in WW1. We have forgone the massive area bombardment by planes, its evident from the way naval guns have got fewer barrels and smaller calibre that massive bombardment isnt required.
      Usage of drones ( low and high altitude)and other forms of electro-optical guided missiles has made the target identification easier. Naturally its a cat & mouse game but remaining hidden has got harder.

    6. > What is the cost of reinventing the battleship and the 16-in gun?

      3.7 Billion US Dollars/hull
      How? Because this is the replacement cost for the Iowa-class Battleships as they sit ($2.5 billion USD, according to the USS Iowa official website) plus the projected upgrade costs (approx $1.2 billion USD/hull, according to the 2010 [2006?] report from the USN).
      Factoring in the costs of the parts that you would not be using at all (Boilers/Turbines/Old Radar) as a safety net for unexpected costs.

      > All 4 Iowa-class battleships are now museum pieces and they are not coming back to service

      Richard A. Landgraff, last living expert on the construction of Battleships and the man in charge of the 1980s reactivations of the Iowas says that reactivating the Iowas would take 900 men, 9 months, and 1.3 billion USD per ship.
      For an additional 800 men, one year, and 1.2 billion USD per ship, the outdated steam system could be replaced with nuclear reactors.
      That is not exactly impossible, according to a source that would know.

      > Plus, we would have to reinvent the infrastructure to build a 16-gun, which is no small feat either

      Actually, it's childsplay.
      We would not be reviving the processes of WW2, we would either use a carbon-fiber build up system for the most accuracy (but highest cost) or a mono-block barrel, both of which which just require a huge mill and mass lathe.
      A system that would cost about $76 million USD, says a cursory market search.

      > The Iowas are 70 years-old, even if you could bring one back for the cost of a Zumwalt, how much life would they have left? 10, 20 years?

      According to Landgraff, again, each of the ships have at least 30 years of life left in their hulls, with Wisconsin and Missouri each having about 40.

      > each round might cost half a million or more.

      According to projections, this would be the cost of a scramjet-propelled precision-guided projectile that could be used to replace a Tomahawk missile.
      You're getting a hyper-sonic Tomahawk for 1/3rd the cost in exchanged for a limited firing platform and only 1/3rd the range.
      I think that is worth it.

      The HE-ER PGM (100nmi range) is projected to cost only about $82k per shell.
      At a certain point when you are just scaling things up, the cost starts to drop like a rock because the costly electronics become dead simple.
      Keep in mind that the PGM kits for bombs only cost in the ~$25k range, while the bombs cost maybe $8k. This is according to Wikipedia.
      The added cost for this shell is basically shock hardening the electronics to the ~4500fps muzzle velocity.

      Dumb Munitions meant to just cause the biggest boom and let old Issac Newton take care of the accuracy, by the by, would cost about 8-grand. Not much more than a 5in shell (this does not include the fuse, which would be the same cost as the fuse for the 5in shell - probably identical fuses, actually), and about the same as a 2000lb bomb.
      Keep in mind that a BB Shell is mostly metal whereas the Bomb is mostly explosive, and the Metal is cheaper by weight than the Explosive.

      You realize that there are groups out there that are still seriously arguing to reactivate the Iowas, correct? They keep up with these figures.

      - Ray D.

    7. "For an additional 800 men, one year, and 1.2 billion USD per ship, the outdated steam system could be replaced with nuclear reactors.
      That is not exactly impossible, according to a source that would know."

      Ray... I'm not trying to be argumentative, but man that seems optimistic. Is there a place I can read more about that? Is that just replacing the boilers with a reactor but keeping the rest of the drive train? What about cutting through the splinter and bomb decks and *then* cutting through the rest of the decks? That seems like it would be a nightmare.

    8. "Actually, it's childsplay..." (The infrastructure)

      Do we have the means now to replace the powder bags for the Iowas? It was my understanding during the 80's and 90's they were using 50's stocks; and that there was concern about them being chemically stable over time.

    9. > Is there a place I can read more about that?

      Landgraff is a semi-active member on a certain military affairs forum where he posts under the username "RustyBattleship".
      I am unaware as to CNO's preference on the promoting of other websites, so I will refrain from providing the forums' name or link.
      Regardless, he offhanded a comment to that effect a while back, so I am willing to admit that the numbers may be off.
      However, the logic makes some manner of sense.

      > What about cutting through the splinter and bomb decks and *then* cutting through the rest of the decks? That seems like it would be a nightmare.

      That is the thing, it would be a complete and total nightmare to try to cut through the decks.
      Going through the decks would be both cost and manpower prohibitive.
      However, there were boiler access plates for this purpose, the holes in the deck specifically put there to pull the boilers and turbines should they need replaced.
      Now, as you may be aware, these plates were sealed over as part of the 80s reactivations so that the Tomahawk Deck could be installed over them, but most people fail to realize that they could be opened back up again if the Tomahawk deck were to be removed.
      As it would be, as part of the reactivations.
      The reactivation price given by the Navy included upgrading them to the planned 'Phase III' reactivation standards, which included a 96-cell VLS system around the funnels (12 x 8-cell Mk41 VLS units), replacing the 6 remaining Twin 5"/38 mounts (12 guns total) with either 4 x 5"/54 Mark 45s or even 4 x 8"/55 Mark 71s, and the 'New Threat Upgrade' package radar.
      One theoretical drawing of such as provided by curious minds on the internet:
      So, much of the current superstructure would be being torn out and rebuilt. It is at this time that re-engining the Iowas would be easiest (and cheapest).
      That being said, there is the sizable likelihood that the reactor complex would be too large to fit through the boiler access plates, in which case the solution is still simple : Go through the sides.
      Most people seem to forget that the Armor Slats for the battleships are only 12 to 20 feet wide, and each are removable.
      This is how the battleship armor was repaired if seriously damaged, and this is also how the Japanese re-engined the Kongou-class Battlecruisers.
      Due to how the Iowas were constructed, with an Internal Armor Belt, what amounts to the entire sides of the ships (including the Torpedo Defense System) were designed to be removed as part of the repair process, giving you total access to the entirety of the Engineering Spaces.
      Cutting through the heavy armor grade decking? A total nightmare. Repairing it afterwards? Even worse.
      Cutting through the structural steel longitudinal bulkheads and simply welding them back together again on your way out? Comparatively easy.
      Mind you, they already have to remove most of the sides to once over the armor system to begin with as part of the reactivation process in order to make sure the internals are still in order. So, most of the cost is already accounted for.

      - Ray D

    10. > Is that just replacing the boilers with a reactor but keeping the rest of the drive train?

      Essentially yes. The ships would end up 'Combined Cycle Nuclear-Diesel' ships, with a Nuclear Reactor and an Oil/NSD-fired Superheater, much like the Russian Kirovs.
      Of course, it's not that simple.
      The Reactor that would probably be used is the Bechtal Marine A1B reactor, as built for the Gerald R Ford-class Supercarrier (and probably the only new technology for that ship which is proving to work as advertised).
      Particularly because it and the other machinery required is actually small enough to fit in the Iowa's Machinery spaces from what I have picked up, and they also happen to be among the cheapest of all capital-type reactors that the US has ever procured.
      This is problematic because the A1B produces Condensate (or 'Wet') Steam at 1200psi, whereas the Iowas' turbines are geared for Superheated (or 'Dry') Steam at 600psi (with a Low Pressure Condensate feed for low power operation).
      That being said, long story short, you end up only needing two reactor units to power the ship's four turbines (essentially exactly how it is on the Nimitz-class) because you can simply split each reactor's pressure between two turbines (1200psi/2 = 600psi) and then install the aforementioned Superheater for the Dry Feed to make up for the Iowa's heavy-duty turbines' requirements.

      > Do we have the means now to replace the powder bags for the Iowas?

      From my understanding, yes.
      I have heard several different potential chemical replacements for the D389 Smokeless propellant currently used, up to and including Global/KEC type propellants, which would by default require manufacture of new charges.
      That being said, with the recent disposal of the existing stockpile for the 16in guns, this would be required anyway.
      I have heard some estimates that new production D389 charges for the 16"/50 M7 as used by the Iowas would cost between ~$12k and ~$28k/shot.
      That being said, the chemical procurement has never been an area that I was familiar with, so this I cannot say much on.

      - Ray D

    11. "I am unaware as to CNO's preference on the promoting of other websites, so I will refrain from providing the forums' name or link."

      No problem, whatsoever. I'm not competing with anyone. Feel free to cite a website or blog if it's relevant.

      Thanks for the consideration, though!

  5. Walter, I respectfully disagree on a couple counts.

    The first is that the numbers I've seen to re-activate the BB's is within the cost of the Zumwalt. Further, we've already reactivated the BB's. We know it can be done. Finally, with New Jersey at one point, we know they can be 'semi' reactivated; brought back enough to steam and lob shells but not fully modernized.

    Had we gone this route, we would have spent the same money as the DDG1000 but actually *had* something for NGFS. Had se used the sub caliber rounds that were far along the course of development we'd have long range NGFS. Hell, we could have likely used them as anti ship weapons too in a pinch. That was what those weapons were optimized for in the first place.

    The second point is that a BB is/was more than its gun system. Yes, the naval rifles they carried were their reason for existence, but they had a ton of technology in them for fighting other BB's that we may not need now. What we're really talking about here is resurrecting major caliber naval rifles to provide high concentrations of high explosives when needed.

    Such a ship would be an NGFS ship, really, with big guns. Not a battleship.

    If you're looking to build an NGFS ship fresh, we can look and see what we need and what we don't. WE probably don't need belt armor (though I wouldn't discount armor). We probably don't need 240K shaft horsepower. We need a big ship, sure, and turrets capable of holding the major caliber guns, magazines, and fuel; but we even have leeway with the guns. While I think the Mk 7 16/50 of the Iowa class is a simply superb and maybe definitive naval rifle, we can play around with the size of an NGFS rifle. Maybe we just need a 12" gun. Or 9 8" cannon like the DesMoines.

    Would we have to reinvent the major caliber cannon infrastructure? Yes. But we at least have history and written knowledge on how to do that, and modern techniques that we can use to tweak it. It would be no different than making the infrastructure for the AGS, but we could treat it like normal artillery and sub caliber artillery so the shells would be much cheaper.

    In short, we'd be relying on using our expertise to tweak time tested designs to get what we want.

    I'm sick to death of spending billions on transformational technology that revolves around a concept of transformational war that we've come up with from years of fighting insurgencies.... and getting NOTHING or very little. Zumwalt. Next Generation Combat Vehicle. Ground Combat Vehicle. Arguably LCS, F-22 and maybe the F-35.

    And the refrain always seems to be the same; something along the lines of 'we can't afford the same old way like the Cold War'. Well, the brand new way doesn't seem to be spending any less money, but its delivering a hell of alot less capability.

    1. The Iowas are 70 years-old, even if you could bring one back for the cost of a Zumwalt, how much life would they have left? 10, 20 years?

      Then you would have the development cost of the ammo, which would be applicable to one type of gun. Assume we reativate 2 Iowas and stockpile 300 rounds a gun, that's 54,000 rounds. Including amortization, each round might cost half a million or more.

      I'm not sure what the right solution is, but reactivating the Iowas is certainly worth considering, as long as we consider all the costs involved.

    2. "Assume we reativate 2 Iowas and stockpile 300 rounds a gun, that's 54,000 rounds."

      Either your math is wrong or mistyped. Two ships, with 9 guns per ship, is 18 guns. For 300 rounds per gun, that equals 5,400 rounds, not 54,000. You're off by an order of magnitude.

    3. "each round might cost half a million or more."

      Where do you get that figure?

    4. "I'm not sure what the right solution is, but reactivating the Iowas is certainly worth considering, as long as we consider all the costs involved."

      My original point was that for the price of the Zumwalts and the AGS and its rounds, we could have had an Iowa or a DesMoines as an NGFS ship*; even if we did nothing with new rounds; as some stockpiles still exist.

      Now, going the additional step and creating new rounds would be expensive. But would it be $1 million per? I'm thinking that we aren't going to make uber GPS rounds. I'm thinking more we are going to make large, area affect rounds. You're either packing in more explosive or more submunitions into each shell. That wouldn't be cheap, but I have to believe its going to be cheaper than a smart LRLRAP round with a rocket on the end. I could be very wrong, but I'm just going on the theory that the tooling will be cheaper than trying to do new tooling and new electronics.

    5. Thanks for the correction, let's call it a typo. The cost is just an estimate for a guided round like LRLAP. And, given what the LRLAP was going to cost, I think I'm in the right neighborhood.

      Granted many of the rounds don't have to be guided and those will cost less per round. But, the Navy will want a guided round like LRLAP for precision fire support.

    6. "The Iowas are 70 years-old, even if you could bring one back for the cost of a Zumwalt, how much life would they have left? 10, 20 years? "

      That all depends on how much they are used, where they are used, how well they are maintained.

      To me the issue with the Iowa's isn't likely their hull, its their powertrain. We don't do steam plants anymore, and even when we did there was a further gap between those low pressure steam plants in use on ships like the Knox and the high pressure ones on the Iowa.

      No one makes those parts anymore, and just to get to know *how* to make the parts we'd have to get copies of the part, find out what it was used for, then spec a new one.

      Like I said earlier, I'm not a BB fanboy. I love the ships, but there are better solutions in a world with a rational Navy.

      The point I was trying to make was the duplicity or stupidity of the Navy saying 'We can't keep the Iowa's, they're too expensive' and then spending billions on a DDG 'land attack destroyer' that they kept slowly whittling away capability from, only to find out that after all that money it can't do land attack anyway.

      Re-activating one or two of the Iowa's might not have been the best use of our money. It would have been infinitely better than where we are now with an expensive ship that A) is huge B) doesn't have the right radar to do serious air defence and C) now doesn't have ammunition for its main battery.

      So we'll have a 3bn Destroyer that generates a ton of electricity, weighs in only 3000 tons less than a Des Moines class, but can only natively target and fire ESSM and maybe Tomahawk.

      And it can't do that as well as a 'Burke, which has more VLS cells.

      In terms of ROI, we pi**ed away that money. Zumwalt and Monsoor will be floating test beds that don't add all that much capability to the fleet.

    7. "the Navy will want a guided round like LRLAP for precision fire support"

      You're comment was discussing a battleship. To bring back a battleship to shoot guided rounds is idiotic in the extreme - probably exactly what the Navy would do. We have many means of applying guided rounds onto a target (JSOW and JSOW-ER come to mind). Tasking a battleship with guided munitions delivery is an utter waste. A battleship should be dedicated to making the biggest holes in the ground as is possible. "Dumb" battleship shells ought to cost $20k-$50k each.

    8. My comment addressed the return of the 16-in gun and the only ship they were only mounted on were battleships.

      I don't think its idiotic to bring back the battleship and equipped them with guided rounds. In a contested amphibuous assault, having the ability to precisely attack an enemy's defenses like relocatable SAMs and artillary is most useful. For pop-up targets like an arriving column of armor and infantry, it could be faster for the battleship to fire a few guided rounds than wait for an aircraft to launch its ordnance. Plus, a battleship has a large magazine capacity so it can stay in the fight longer and service more targets.

    9. Any ship or aircraft can fire guided missiles. Only a battleship can fire 16" shells. It makes no sense to waste the resources of a battleship on weapons that any ship can fire.

    10. More relevant is the actual explosive inside each 16in shell
      AP Mark 8 - 40.9 lbs. (18.55 kg)
      HC Mark 13 - 153.6 lbs. (69.67 kg)
      HC Mark 14 - 153.6 lbs. (69.67 kg)
      Thats 40-150lbs of explosive inside a shell total weight of over 2000lb
      Then there is the propellant

    11. The advantage a battleship has is its enormous magazine capacity. My understanding is the Iowas carried about 1,200 rounds. Even if they only carried 300 guided rounds, that is more capacity than a half-dozen ships armed with Tomahawks and Harpoons. That is about equal to the capacity of 2 Ohio-class SSGNs.

      Granted, cruise missiles have the advanage of greater range and a destroyer could fire off a dozen cruise missiles a minute. But, that destroyer will run out of cruise missiles in a few minutes while the battleship is still firing off round after round.

    12. > More relevant is the actual explosive inside each 16in shell

      More relevant is the EFFECT of the munition downrange.
      According to the reports from Vietnam, a single 16in HC shell is virtually the same as a 750lb bomb.

      > Granted, cruise missiles have the advanage of greater range

      The late Battleship munition projects started producing ranges on the order of 150 to 280 nautical miles.
      In 2006, Pratt and Whitney testified that they believed a 480nmi 16in shell to be 'entirely feasible', noting that 'at that size, you are just designing a hypersonic missile through the easiest launch platform for missiles ever designed - a large caliber gun'.
      A 2010 report (also from P&W) had revised that figure to a whopping 2800 nautical miles in 30 minutes (albeit for a 12ft long projectile, which would not be usable by the Iowas), which puts those shells squarely in the IRBM territory.

      On top of this, right around the deactivation of the USS Missouri in 1992, DARPA came out and revealed that they had developed a 200nmi Over-the-Horizon 'search and target' Radar system specifically for the Iowas.
      Unfortunately, it seems that either nobody had told them the Iowas were to be decommissioned or they had hoped their reveal would spare them the chopping block and they failed.
      So, even native targeting at longer ranges vs. shipping is actually possible for those giant ladies, which is a lot more than could be said for a destroyer.

      > and a destroyer could fire off a dozen cruise missiles a minute.

      During which time an Iowa with a trained and competent crew would have gotten off about 18 shells.
      A Montana-class type Battleship could have gotten off 24 shells in that time.

      And both could keep this up for several hours, or until the crews gave out.

      - Ray D.

      Yes, I take a strongly pro-battleship stance. I am still in the process of designing the one I said I would half a year ago, so please forgive my admitted bias.

    13. The Iowa's carried 100 rounds per gun except for Turret B which carried I think 110-115 per gun.

  6. Considering the issues at hand a12 or 14 inch gun on a modern Battle cruiser platform the size of an Alaska class would probably suffice for NFS.

    I don't understand the navy issue with thinking guns are obsolete. They work when the power is limited, they have a proven track record and quite frankly are useful in a close knife fight where radars are useless and technology has been limited by other methods

  7. Here is a novel idea. The Navy gets some intellectual honesty and says the Fire Support Mission is no longer required. And we weren't gonna do it anyway.

    That way they can reduce the Marine Corps and use the savings to build even bigger more expensive toys that DON'T work.

  8. CNO, do you think that it would be worth considering a modern gun battleship with 3x3 16" guns or even a 4x3 layout?

    Yes it would be expensive, but I'd argue it's far more productive than the alternative. Considering the costs of the Zumwalt, Ford, and other mishaps, it's not so much lack of money as much as it is mis-spending it on projects with technologies that belong in a lab rather than any deployed class of ship.

    Not talking about re-activating old battleships here, but building brand new classes that specialize in shore bombardment.

    1. You raise a very good question. I have two answers.

      1. Yes, of course it would be a much better use of money and effort to create a heavy gun-ship rather than the total waste of time and money that we lost on the Zumwalt project.

      2. This is the more important and relevant answer. Whether a heavy gun-ship makes sense depends on whether you think we'll be doing assaults and invasions. If so, then yes, we need a heavy gun-ship for naval firepower support. If not, then we have no need for a heavy gun-ship. My personal feeling from study of the various strategic realities, is that it is highly unlikely we'll ever do another significant assault or invasion from the sea that would result in near-shore ground combat. Therefore, I don't see the need for a heavy gun-ship. That said, if we wanted to build a few such ships to have just in case, I'd be okay with that but the cost would probably be prohibitive.

    2. To be honest, given the amount of money the Zumwalts cost, I'd rather they built 3 battleships with 16" guns rather than the Zumwalts.

      The most immediate case I can think of perhaps is a major war in the Gulf, potentially if relations with Iran deteriorate. Note the role of the battleships during Desert Storm. Even against a middling power, it might be useful.

      Of course it would mean sweeping the seas clear of enemy mines (something the US has neglected) and submarines. It would also mean having at least local air superiority.

    3. CNO; would an 8" or even 10" gun cruiser count as a heavy gun ship? Because I could see a ship to ship scenario where a Zumwalt or slightly larger sized ship with several rapid fire 8" cannon, along with VLS and SeaRAM, could be a heck of a useful surface combatant and all around good 'utility player'. If you got 10" that still allows you to do use subcaliber munitions and still have a decent HE payload.

      I'm fond of naval artillery for some of the reasons you say (ranges will get shortened, and even now we have ships with no capability of targeting out to the extreme ranges of their weapons) but also because if we can make it work as a viable weapon its much cheaper than lobbing multi million dollar missiles.

      I really think that we need to make our war machine more economically efficient. Its so out of whack right now that I think our various branches have completely lost the ability to imagine just *fighting* and making do with what they have; and I think that is a greivous skill to lose.

    4. Jim I will speak as I have experienced 16 inch impacts, 8 inch artillery impacts, 155mm artillery impacts and 5 inch naval gun impacts.

      Consider that the 16 inch relied on size and weight of shell for Sh*t yeah effect when impacting. The 8 inch shell weights 220-250 lbs so the effects are also tremendous. The naval 5 inch when used as fire support has a skip problem. Unless the target is at an almost 90 degree angle to the gun the shell doesn't exploded it just skips and heads inland. All that for a shell that is approximately 25 lbs.

      The 155 MM shell in the artillery aspect is approximatley 78 lbs.

      Naval fire support is entirely different than Naval gun fights. Different targets with differing ways of delivering damage.

      The 16 inch Heavy shell weights 2,700 lbs and has a small burst charge. The HE 16 inch shell weights about 2000 lbs and has a slightly large impact but greater impact on the surrounding area. I have never experienced the AP rounds but the HE rounds when they impact make one heck of a sight and effect. Suffice to say that a 11 sabot RAP round would scare anyone on the receiving end.

      For the battleships consider the effect of a raid or thereabouts where the battleship rides into the area say 200-400 NM away from the target and releases 36-48 sabots in a short time period say less than 5 minutes then steams away at a high rate of speed. 36-48 impacts on a small island with GPS precision whereas you get a 90 percent chance of hitting the target makes anyone nervous in the Pacific and you don't risk any UAV's, Drones, People or airplanes. Yes Missiles are nice but they can be shot down. Your not going to knock out 30-40 11 inch sabots coming at you in a short amount of time.

      Everyone is on the pound and ground. What about a Naval Shoot and scoot scenario where you just wear the enemy out over a short period of time and keep their resources and people on a constant high alert state?

    5. "Jim I will speak as I have experienced 16 inch impacts, 8 inch artillery impacts, 155mm artillery impacts and 5 inch naval gun impacts."

      Well that sounds like a crappy weekend. How do you get that job? :-)

    6. I was initially a Fire Support Specialist who was cross trained with the Navy and AirForce. So I know weapons and tactics and got to call for fires. That plus my Cousin was a Navy Acquisitions officer who outfitted a Burke Class Destroyer for the lowest costs in Naval History.

      I am quite familiar with weapons, limitation, tactics and effects on targets.

      The 16 inch weapons were all laser guided sabots, Interestingly they took the existing copperhead round seeker and put it in the sabot. Bam accurate 16 inch fires.

      I was there when the last of the Army 8 inch weapons were fired for effect. An 8 battalion fire for effect with 8 inch weapons gives you an impression equivalent to lots a 500 pound bomb.

      16 inch, 8 inch and 155 all have the same implementation and flight characteristics. Slow and deliberate. The 5 inch. Fire, zip, boom somewhere else. No effect on target because of the angles employed. When the tacs on the ships tried high angle fires, they were woeful and unable to hit the targets. I wouldn't expect any better today with the lack of training and practice.

      One thing that people forget about the battleship is that they always focus on the 16 inch weapons. It also carried 12 5 inch guns in 6 turrets the 1980's that were equipped with thousands of rounds. The battleship is unique in that it carried when fitted out with over 900 16 inch shells and thousands of 5 inch shells. That and the ability to loiter and fire on target within minutes when called for from off shore is a capability we are missing.

      The battleships ability to loiter and deliver support fires for days at a time without replenishment is something missing from the conversation here.

    7. I'd agree that the secondary armament is often very underrated.

      I've always wondered if it would be possible to put more rapid fire guns into the secondary armament (kind of like the Worcester cruiser) for rapid fire where needed.

    8. "I was initially a Fire Support Specialist who was cross trained with the Navy and AirForce. "

      I'll apologize in advance if this isn't strictly relevant.

      I went to Hawaii and visited the Missouri a number of years ago. Upon returning I spoke with my uncle, a Korean war vet. When he asked me about my trip I started telling him about the Missouri and how big it was and he said 'I've been on her'. I was thinking he'd visited her as a tourist and asked him when. He said (and I'm not military so I may screw this up) that he was sent to her (surprised me as he was Army) to coordinate with the radiomen and the (gunners?) so that she could support an allied offensive on the ground and he could help direct fire.

      It was a quick conversation, so I may have the details mixed up. But he loved the Missouri. 'First shower I'd had in a long time...'

  9. Com ops. Please for a posts on the future of naval for support vs naval gun engagement

    1. Huh? I have no idea what you're asking. Try again.

    2. Considering the differences in how the guns operate maybe a post regarding the differences and uses for both types of guns is in order. The 16 inch shell and the 155mm gun on the zumwalt both were more akin to a howitzer shell which was fired on a arc. The navy 5 inch is a flat trajectory so both types of guns have uses/limitations which should dictate there respective tactical doctrines and uses

    3. I still have no idea what you're getting at. Any naval gun can be fired at flat trajectories or elevated. The elevation of the gun simply depends on the range.

    4. Naval guns are more akin to a tank cannon. Flat trajectory with minimal burst charge. They punch holes through things then shrapnel.

      AGS is more akin to a army howitzer. Larger burst charge and slower shell speed. The shell relies on burst charge and not speed for damage.

      Those characteristics make a big difference in how they are used and their tactical implementation and doctrine.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. Iowa for example can elevate as high as 45 degrees, which is where the maximum possible range is possible.

      There are gun cruisers that can elevate to howtizer elevations. Worcester class cruisers could elevate to 85 degrees. Granted that was for Anti-Aircraft use, but there's nothing stopping a ship design from being able to fire artillery projectile at higher and lower elevations, allowing a gun-howitzer hybrid.

      I guess in some ways it is like a howitzer. Just looking at muzzle velocity, I guess is that you could argue that the AGS is medium velocity at 825 m/s (2707 ft/s). That is comparable to the M777. That isn't as fast as say, a kinetic energy sabot round on a tank, but that's much faster than a howitzer type round, where the barrel is about 15-25 calibres long, so speeds are a bit lower.

      Elevation on the AGS was supposedly -5 to 70 degrees, so I guess at the lower elevations with a moderate muzzle velocity you could use it as a gun. At higher elevations, yes, it does resemble a howitzer although with a faster than howitzer muzzle velocity.

  10. Sorry, Im jumping in here. And I see that you have moved on to Battle ships.

    but focusing on the REQUREMENT, rather than the Battle ship or the Zumwalt Class.

    If we are talking about Anti ship, we have Carriers or SSN.

    If we are talking about Anphib. NGS.

    Perhaps we should be thinking about Monitors ?

    They have been forgotten in the annals of time. Perhaps we should be rethinking the type ?

    If nothing else it could make A nice follow up to your Battleship piece I'm just reading CNO ;)

    Its a bit fantasy fleet, but could make a nice debate.

    I always loved the USS Monitor, dunno why, its just kind cool.


    1. your stealing information from the site and you need used used your own words, and they are talking about zumwalt break down and recommissioned the old battleships

  11. lets bring back the USS montana with mounted 20 inch guns and yes it will not be that expensive when zumwalt is very useless in battle

  12. without the USS Montana project will be losing because zumwalt has expensive weapons and everything its hard to make good decision why its a waste of money to make piece of garbage.

  13. even though japanese needs to make the supreme yamato with its 20 inch guns to protect the philippines and the US ships it would be very good but how many bigger is 20 inch gun


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