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Gun Turrets and Modern Naval Warfare

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posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 02:19 AM
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Hello there.

I'd like a weaponary/naval buff to help answer a question I have. I beleive that nowadays wars are won from the air, and I am quite acquainted with anti-ship missiles and the deadly sunburst (sp?) missile launchable from jets. Considering the effectiveness of this approach in destroying naval vessels, do ship turrets have any place in the modern day? Considering all options it seems to me the concept is very much outdated.

What do you think?





posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 02:29 AM
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Missile technology has made the MK 86 and 5" guns obsolete. As much as I love the BB warhorses; VLS, AEGIS, NSSMS and RAM will be the future of Naval Warfare.



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 02:55 AM
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Are you asking about the need for turrets (enclosed, trainable weapon mounts), or about the need for battleships (like the USS Iowa (BB-61) whose photo you included with your post)?

If you're asking about turrets, my opinion is that they're here to stay, at least as long as there are warships sailing the oceans. I'll lay out my reasons by looking (briefly) at the alternatives to turrets.

Alternative 1 - Open Mounts. Very popular around the time of the American Civil War, up through the 1890's for large guns, and still an option for lighter guns (20-40mm anti-aircraft guns) up through the Korean War. These have the advantages of being lighter, cheaper, and less complex than turrets, due to a lack of structure (no armor at all, or at the very most, a 'splinter shield' at the front of the mount) and the need for smaller traversing / elevating gear (less mass to move). There's also a substantial advantage in terms of visibility. On the down side, these mountings leave the guns, the crews, the sighting gear, and the ammunition / powder hoists exposed to enemy fire. This is considered a Very Bad Thing....particularly if a lucky enemy hit gets the ready-use powder or ammunition lit off.

Alternative 2 - Internal Mounts. Used in sailing Ships of the Line (where the guns were run out through ports in the ships' sides), and in warships up through the end of World War I (Where the guns were mounted in casements along the sides). These mountings protect the crews, the guns, and all the associated systems, but place huge restrictions on arcs of fire...guns on one side of the ship can't engage an enemy on the opposite side, for example. There are other problems with mountings like these, not least of which is a large number of openings in your ship's armor plating...each one of which represents a 'free pass' for an incoming enemy shell.

Alternative 3 - Do away with guns completely, and rely on missiles for all of your combat and target-engagement needs. This was a popular approach during the late 50's, up through the mid 70's, at least for the U.S. Navy. Based on the belief that the 'next war' would be a nuclear slug-fest where ship-to-ship fighting would be a fading memory, ships like the USS Long Beach were designed strictly as missile platforms.

This might seem like a good idea, but it rapidly became evident that you can't carry enough missiles (or enough missile control equipment) to engage every target you need. Small boats, low-flying, fast moving aircraft, or cruise missiles can either hit before a missile system can engage them, or force you to expend all of your missiles on relatively low-value targets.

Or, you can mount your guns in a turret...which allows them to be protected, and still have wide arcs of fire. As a note, you can replace 'gun' in most parts of this discussion with the name of your weapon of choice...rail gun, laser / directed energy weapon, even (odd as it might sound) torpedo. There's a reason turrets have been a near-universal part of warship design from every country for the last hundred-plus years. They were, are, and will probably remain the best solution for mounting non-missile weapons.

Now...if you're actually talking about battleships (and not their gun mounts), I'm afraid that the era of the battleship is over and done, as much as I personally love them. The Grey Ladies have served their country well in every conflict for the last sixty years, and their design dates to the mid 1930s. I'd say that after sixty seven years, and four wars, they've earned the thanks of a grateful nation, and a quiet retirement to a twilight career as history teachers. Go visit one of the museum ships, admire them, but leave them to rest.

[edit on 10-9-2007 by Brother Stormhammer]

[edit on 10-9-2007 by Brother Stormhammer]



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 03:03 AM
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Halaluah, Brother!

However, the up and coming mix of CIWS and RAM, SEARAM, is a great contender. CIWS Radar suite mounted on a RAM MOD 2 mount?

sweeeeet...



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 03:09 AM
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I think, although they have served well in the interim, battleships were obsolete 65 years ago.

But they certainly do make an impression and the sheer awe of a broadside from one of these old girls is enough to make Johhny bad guy wish he had taken up being truck driver or something else.

Besides, where else would you sign a peace treaty? Train carriages are soooo 1918 if you know what I mean.



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 03:11 AM
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Originally posted by Starlight Angel
Missile technology has made the MK 86 and 5" guns obsolete. As much as I love the BB warhorses; VLS, AEGIS, NSSMS and RAM will be the future of Naval Warfare.


I have to respectfully disagree with at least part of your assertion. I'll agree that missile (and other) technology has made the battleship obsolete. I'll also agree that the Mk86 is probably in need of a serious update / replacement, and RAM is an obvious improvement over Phalanx. On the other hand, VLS has problems of its own (limited ammunition load-out being one), AEGIS can be used to supply targeting data for guns as easily (or almost as easily) as it can for missiles, and NSSMS has a combination of load-out restrictions and short range that make me nervous when considering it as anything but last-ditch AA. Guns still have their place (at least aboard escorts) to serve as close-range ASuW assets, short range (read: Desperation) AAW, and (with the right ammunition and doctrine), naval fire support. They may not be the 'main battery' any more, but they certainly aren't ready to be completely retired.



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 03:21 AM
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I'm not entirely sure what type of turrets you are refering to but the M-242 Bushmaster Machine/Chain Gun is on of the more common types of anti-air manned turrets on ships today. While I can't be 100% sure of the number of ships that have that weapon system equipped or the effectiveness of the weapon system on water, I can tell you it is still effective as an anti aircraft or anti missle weapon system. It is used on the USMC's LAV which is what I use to work on and I have seen them in action first hand. I know that a LAV-AD, Light Armor Vechile Air Defense Variant, can identify and kill targets at over 13km weather they are gound based or aircraft. From my understanding these guns are used as both anti aircraft guns and to destroy torpedos and water mines.

If you want to know more about that weapon system you could google

M242 Bushmaster

So turrets still needed? Long as battleships have to fight planes, water mines, and torpedos they will probably have those turrets.

Wikipedia entry for M242 and its variants



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 03:24 AM
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Forgive my correction here, but NSSMS is the long range defense. I know. I install and operate the thing. And we are up to ESSM, Evolved Sea Sparrow, more accurate and well trained.

RAM is medium defense, and CIWS is close in.



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 03:48 AM
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Personally i would like to see more turret's on our ship's whilst missiles certainly have their place in modern warfare they can be intercepted and jammed, something turrets may be a little more resiliant to? however i also see the turret's used being updated to thing's like rail gun's and other more exotic types of weapon rather than just the old projectile type?



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 03:55 AM
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Until we fully develop LAZER tech, missiles will be the weapon of choice.



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 04:36 AM
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Originally posted by Starlight Angel
Forgive my correction here, but NSSMS is the long range defense. I know. I install and operate the thing. And we are up to ESSM, Evolved Sea Sparrow, more accurate and well trained.

RAM is medium defense, and CIWS is close in.


Corrections are cool...that's how I learn things :-D

I was under the impression that Standard was long-range, the various Sea Sparrow derivatives were medium, and that RAM was a replacement for CWIS.



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 04:57 AM
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Originally posted by solidshot
Personally i would like to see more turret's on our ship's whilst missiles certainly have their place in modern warfare they can be intercepted and jammed, something turrets may be a little more resiliant to? however i also see the turret's used being updated to thing's like rail gun's and other more exotic types of weapon rather than just the old projectile type?


More turrets isn't always a good idea...every turret you add means holes in decks, and passages through the ships protective system, which leads to weaker, more vulnerable ships. Also, after a certain point is reached, you start having problems with the turrets limiting each others' arcs of fire. There are reasons why HMS Agincourt was a one-off.

Turrets aren't easily 'upgraded', either. You pretty much build them around the weapons they hold. Changing the weapon requires *everything* to be replaced in what amounts to a three or four story structure. As for jamming, you can't jam a gun (at least not with electronics), but you can jam its fire control system, and what you can't see, you can't shoot. I also wouldn't bet on a shell being impossible to shoot down with current technology. Since there's a picture of the USS Iowa in the original post up there, let's use her main battery as an example. Firing full-charge shots, the 16" Mod 7/Cal 50. naval rifle launched a 2,700 lb AP shell at 2,700 feet / sec. Doing a quick conversion makes that 1,841 mph (rounding up). That was the maximum speed of the projectile, since air friction and gravity start decelerating it the minute it leaves the muzzle. That's fast, but it's well within the envelope for cutting-edge cruise missiles, and not far beyond the speed of some current-service jets (about Mach 2.4). It's also on a very predictable course (straight ballistic parabola)...so an intercept calculation is fairly simple. Firing rate is 2 rounds / gun / minute, so you aren't likely to saturate a defense net. It's probably not *practical* to shoot down every round, but it certainly looks *possible* to shoot down the ones that are close enough to matter.



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 05:04 AM
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reply to post by Brother Stormhammer
 


I hate to get off topic, but this was a beautifully writen response to the OP's question and if you missed it, please read it. I couldn't have said it better myself.



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 05:57 AM
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Are gun platforms outdated as a weapon? Yes I believe so, I think its probably more of a question of economy and practicality that has kept the naval gun platform in service past its use by date.

A modern rapid fire 5 inch gun mount will still turn small/fast lightly armoured craft to driftwood in a close in engagement.
Could a missile system take over this role? Yes quite easily and no doubt there are already systems in service/development that can do the same job but at the end of the day shells are a lot cheaper than missiles. (most of the time)

Its a pity the Iowas have been stricken from the naval register and I have read many comments about the marine force being very annoyed at this due to the fact there is currently no alternative platform that can deliver the same amount of firepower to a shore landing as the big girls. Dont quote me but going from memory the new DDX's were suppose to take over this role but there not in service yet so the marines are left with no practical shore bombardment platform. There are also questions being raised as to whether they will be anywhere near as effective as 16 inch gunfire. Take this with a pinch of salt, as I said Im goin from memory if someone else can confirm that would be great.

Anyway someone further up stated battleships were obsolete 65 years ago, yeah thats true but it comes down to economy again, the Iowas were great to have hangin around just for bombardment work, they were reactivated on more than one occasion just to go and shell the s##t out of Americas foes, to do the same today would require airstrikes or tomahawks ( 5 inchers dont have the same reach or penetration) and thats a bloody expensive proposition compared to loosing off surplus 16 inch shells that werent gonna see use any other way.



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 06:05 AM
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I have heard the same thing about the Marines and their feelings that at least one of the Iowas being kept in service until the first DDX comes out (assuming they are ever produced - Congress is opposed to the DDX program and instead wants more Arleigh Burke's).

While I am aware of the extreme cost associated with the battleships (not to mention all the trouble with modern technology ex. the recoil taking out the computer systems) I feel that at least ONE Iowa class ship should have been placed in reserve.



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 08:38 AM
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reply to post by ChrisF231
 


It's not just a matter of economy, although the economics of reactivating a battleship are staggering. We don't have parts for the ships' systems, and in a lot of cases, we don't have the ability to make spare parts.I don't think there are any mills currently capable of producing the 13" thick face-hardened plates for an Iowa's belt armor, and I'm also fairly certain that we can't manufacture liners for the barrels of the 16" guns. The liners currently in the guns have already expended a fair percentage of their service life, and would have to expend a lot more of it to train new crews.

All of that (and several more pages of infrastructure problems) aside, the battleships aren't needed today. The primary reason for using battleships to support amphibious landings during WW-II was to take out heavily fortified enemy positions (bunkers and pillboxes covering the invasion zone). While one 16" shell might be less expensive than a precision-guided missile, you're actually going to expend several rounds in ranging the shot. Take the extra rounds into account, and the missile is not only more accurate, it's probably harder-hitting, and it's probably cheaper too. For those who doubt that PGM are harder hitting than battleship gunfire (I know it seems counter-intuitive), here are the numbers for the 16" Mod 7/Cal 50 (Main armament for the Iowa-class):

More than you wanted to know about the Iowas' guns!

AP round (used against battleships and bunkers):
Shell weight, 2,700 lbs. Bursting charge weight 40 lbs.

HC round (used for general shore bombardment)
Shell weight, 1,900 lbs. Bursting charge weight 153.6 lbs.

Compare those explosive weights to just about any guided missile or bomb in current service. It's not a flattering comparison for the battleships.

There are also safety issues (old propellant, old bursting charges), range issues (battleship guns don't reach as far inland as you might think), and most importantly of all, there won't be another D-Day / Iwo Jima style landing for the big guns to cover. We don't mass that many troops any more (in fact, I'm not sure we *could* mass that many troops together any more). The ships have gotten old, and warfare has changed. That's not a 'slam' at the ships, or the men who served on them, or the men who designed them...it's a simple statement of fact. They are brilliant feats of engineering, and they are valuable icons of our national history...but you can say the same things about HMS Victory.



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 10:06 AM
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Originally posted by Brother Stormhammer
reply to post by ChrisF231
 


It's not just a matter of economy, although the economics of reactivating a battleship are staggering. We don't have parts for the ships' systems, and in a lot of cases, we don't have the ability to make spare parts.I don't think there are any mills currently capable of producing the 13" thick face-hardened plates for an Iowa's belt armor, and I'm also fairly certain that we can't manufacture liners for the barrels of the 16" guns. The liners currently in the guns have already expended a fair percentage of their service life, and would have to expend a lot more of it to train new crews.



Brother Stormhammer,

I think you missunderstood what I was implying, I fully agree the Iowas should have been stricken they are well past there prime, parts availability has already caused accidents on these ships due to not being able to replace flogged out components, from memory it was Iowa herself that had a major turret explosion in the late 80's due to these reasons. What I was trying to imply was the economy of missile versus shell on all ship platforms as the reason they havent been totally phased out of current model ships.

Although when u think about it, it wouldnt hurt to keep one on the register and cannibalize the 3 other hulls if reactivation were required, thats a lot of barrells, armour, rounds, consumables. I mean even if she had to be towed to an area of operation, she'd still make an awesome gun platform.

Also are u sure the 16 inchers were fitted with liners? Ive never heard of this before, do u have a link im interested to know more.

Some Iowa trivia to, this class were the only dreadnoughts to have the armour belt mounted internal to the hull versus externally mounted to produce a more hydrodynamic hull for more speed.



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 10:18 AM
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I would never say the time for anything has passed. Battleships, just like other naval vessels may evolve to take on different missions. I'm not saying bring back the Iowas for god knows that would be a massive mistake (as majestic as they were), but that the term "Battleship" may just as well refer to any large vessel displacing a certain amount of tonnage and has a certain number of weapons systems and suport systems on board.

A destroyer is a destroyer, a cruiser a cruiser, and a carrier a carrier. When we talk about carriers, do we automatically imagine Nimitz class, or do we imagine a flattop vessel capable of running mobile air operations?

If the weapon's load out on a the battleship changes I'm sure it can come back. For all we know, as one person made mention, if LASERS were to replace missiles in the Anti-Air and Anti-Missile arena, we might just as well see Battleships come back as massive support and Anti-Air vessels instead of Shore bombardements. With the shear size of battleships you could possibly fit all the needed powersupplies and powerplants required to run the large power needs for enough to lasers to actually make a difference on a single surface ship.

Destroyers will have their purposes, so will cruisers and carriers. We might even find a use for Battleships yet. And by this of course I mean a total redesign of the ship itself and not the restructuring of a 1930's design.

Shattered OUT...



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 04:38 PM
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reply to post by Tonka
 


It was, indeed, the Iowa that had a deflagration (not an explosion) in turret II.

As for keeping one of the ships in service, why? One ship (regardless of what type of ship we're discussing) is probably not going to be available when you need it...it will be training crews, or undergoing refit / maintenance, or it will be busy somewhere else. Murphy's Law always gets its licks in. Even if it's available for the current crisis, the battleship doesn't do anything that other ships and / or aircraft can't do more effectively. A 5" gun can kill any armored vehicle on Earth, and a salvo of 5" can ruin an entire unit of infantry. Hitting either target with a 16" round won't make them any more dead. Fortified / hardened positions can be taken out with one or two precision-guided munitions that will reach farther, and hit more accurately than battleship guns ever could.

As for the 16" guns being equipped with barrel liners, I'll direct you to Norman Friedman's "US Battleships", or Garzke and Dulin's "US Battleships of World War II". for detailed descriptions of the development and construction of the Iowa's guns...or I can save you a couple hundred dollars (and some back strain...those books are HEAVY), and simply point you here .



posted on Sep, 10 2007 @ 05:55 PM
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Warships have roles which missiles can't support. One is policing embargos and UN trade sanctions such as in the Gulf. You can't just bang off missiles at every Dhow or junk you see. You have to draw up close. train a big gun on the suspect vessel and send a boarding party.

Also missiles can't achieve the rate of fire. Radar Directed Fire Control can only engage so many missiles at at time.

Warships also have to play support roles related to shore bombardment where rates of fire are important.

Nobody would consider building a new Battleship these days, but in some circumstances their stand-off capability is an enormous advantage, so the ships are mothballed with the possibility of re-commissioning.



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