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 Naval Bombardment

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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Naval Bombardment   Tue 24 Feb 2015, 08:43

The Pacific series that brought home the horrors of that conflict in WW11, showed naval pounding of islands to little effect of entrenched enemy positions. And, unseemingly high ups not learning much from each failure either in the series of island conquests with horrendous losses at each beach head landing on islands I had never heard of. And this week films about Gallipoli told much the same tale of naval pounding an army that sat awaiting the ill fated landings. I have read of others and have begun to wonder if it ever actually worked to soften up conditions?
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Naval Bombardment   Tue 24 Feb 2015, 09:38

Naval bombardment is surely the only way, other than by aerial bombing, by which to deploy high explosives in support of amphibious landings of troops. The question then is how effective is any bombardment against entrenched defences?

The prolonged stalemate of the WW1 trenches and the difficulty in tackling a succession of fixed defences in the WW2 Italian campaign, such as at Monte Cassino - which was still vigorously defended even when completely flattened by shelling and bombing - would suggest that a well dug-in defence is a very tough nut to crack. Tanks of course were specifically developed to attack and surmount trenches, barbed-wire, and blockhouse defences ... but in amphibious assault they take time to land and deploy, whether island-hopping in the Pacific or landing at Anzio or the D-Day beaches in Europe, and in assault they work best in open country, rather than jungle or mountains. And of course they were not available at Gallipoli.


Last edited by Meles meles on Tue 24 Feb 2015, 10:55; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Two s's in Monte Cassino)
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PostSubject: Re: Naval Bombardment   Tue 24 Feb 2015, 10:28

..... And naval bombardment isn't necessarily just to soften-up the fixed defences. For D-Day the naval bombardment started before dawn targeting the area behind the coast. Along with aerial bombing, the naval shelling was aimed at roads, railway lines, and command centres, to disrupt communications and reinforcement. Although a naval bombardment, the range of the big guns on the battleships like Nevada, Texas, Ramillies and Warspite, was such that they could reach at least 25km inland. Only an hour before scheduled time for the landings, just as it was getting light and specific targets could be seen, did the naval guns shift to target the immediate coastal defences, and in this bombardment, being fired from essentially stable artillery platforms their accuracy was considerably better than bombs dropped from aircraft.
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PostSubject: Re: Naval Bombardment   Tue 24 Feb 2015, 12:36

I've read that, in Normandy, German tanks were blown over by the blast of heavy naval guns.

..................................................................................

At the moment, I'm reading a book about start of the American Revolution, and during the Battle of Bunker Hill the British used an ammunition type known as a "Carcass" to set fire Charlestown;



Drawing of a carcass shell;

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PostSubject: Re: Naval Bombardment   Tue 24 Feb 2015, 12:56

USS New Jersey was brought out of retirement to provide fire support during the Vietnam War;

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PostSubject: Re: Naval Bombardment   Tue 24 Feb 2015, 15:27

Naval guns aren't best suited to shore bombardment, actually - particularly against trenches, because they have a relatively flat trajectory. Hence ABC's use of half-charges at Gallipoli to "lob" 4" shells into Turkish positions, and the Turks fitting large calibre howitzers in at least one of their old battleships. I suppose the ultimate shore bombardment was in the Falklands, where 2-ton Seaslug missiles were used to attack a shore-based radar, and to try to obstruct the use of Stanley airport runway after "black buck" Vulcan raids conspicuously failed to do that.
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PostSubject: Re: Naval Bombardment   Tue 24 Feb 2015, 15:30

@Triceratops wrote:
I've read that, in Normandy, German tanks were blown over by the blast of heavy naval guns.

..................................................................................

At the moment, I'm reading a book about start of the American Revolution, and during the Battle of Bunker Hill the British used an ammunition type known as a "Carcass" to set fire Charlestown;



Drawing of a carcass shell;

"Carcase" incendiaries were in use from the middle ages, amongst other pyrotechnics, particularly in siege warfare (the Great Siege of Malta being a prime example).
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PostSubject: Re: Naval Bombardment   Wed 25 Feb 2015, 14:19

@Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
Naval guns aren't best suited to shore bombardment, actually - particularly against trenches, because they have a relatively flat trajectory.

And so in the days of sail was developed the 'bomb ketch', also known as a bomb ship, or simply a bomb. These were ships designed specifically for shore bombardment because, as Gil says, that was a function normal ships of the line were not at all good at. Bomb ships were smallish warships but with heavily reinforced hulls and armed with just one or two massive mortars. They were usually classed as ketch-rigged because of the unusual positioning and rigging of the masts that was necessary to accommodate the two centreline, topdeck-mounted, heavy guns firing upwards ... hence the usual RN name 'bomb-ketch'. These guns fired explosive shells at a high angle so as to lob the missile over walls and other defences, to strike from above. Since they were designed to fire fused explosive projectiles - rather than the usual solid shot of ships of the line - RN bomb ketches usually had "firey" names such as Firedrake, Salamander, Vesuvius, Volcano, and Sulphur.

Being rather specialized vessels they were expensive to fit out and maintain - indeed some of the rigging had to be made from chain rather than rope, to resist the blast of the mortars. But since they were built with extremely strong hulls to withstand the recoil of the mortars, in the peace following the Napoleonic wars several were adapted for Arctic or Antarctic exploration, a role in which they would be liable to encounter icebergs and pack-ice. The famous British exploratory ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror both started life as bomb ketches.
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PostSubject: Re: Naval Bombardment   Fri 27 Feb 2015, 08:16

It was the naval bombardment with congreve rockets and mortar shells fired from the RN bomb-ships Erebus, Terror, Volcano, Meteor, Devastation and Aetna, onto Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, that prompted Francis Scott Key to jot down the poem that later provided the lyrics for "The Star-Spangled Banner":

O say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?


.... and as the lyrics say, after nearly 27 hours of bombardment the damage to the fortifications was light and the "flag was still there".

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PostSubject: Re: Naval Bombardment   Fri 27 Feb 2015, 19:25


This is a later HMS Terror - WWI vintage, served also in WWII. The height of the mounting is a result of the use of one of the "surplus" twin 15" mountings (technically "turntable barbettes" rather than "turrets") released when the 6th and 7th "R" class battleships were reworked to become the battlecruisers "Repulse" and "Renown", and the third Weird Sister, Furious, was completed with a single '15" B' (18", actually) gun.

One of the few WWI surviving warships is also a monitor - and currently being restored at Pompey for the anniversary of the Gallipoli landings as she is the Gallipoli Memorial Ship - HMS M33
see http://esender.cosmic.org.uk/t/r-79A7E0B5585DA4592540EF23F30FEDED
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PostSubject: Re: Naval Bombardment   Tue 03 Mar 2015, 11:16

The Royal Navy's WWI 'M-Class' submarines were initially intended for coastal bombardment, although by the time they entered service their role had been switched to surface combat (the idea being that torpedoes were ill-suited to engaging warships), to which end they were fitted with a single 12in gun.  Three were built, though the M1 was the only one launched in time for the war (but never saw action).  M2 was converted into a seaplane carrier, and M3 into a minelayer, but neither saw active service.

Naval bombardment could also have a psychological impact.  Prior to the Parliamentarian invasion of Jersey in 1651, Admiral Blake bombarded the Royalist positions on two or three occasions.  It had little physical effect (as noted above, like most warships in the age of sail his frigates' guns were intended for a fairly flat trajectory, and the impact was largely absorbed by sand dunes) but reportedly severely damaged the moral of the defenders.


Last edited by Anglo-Norman on Tue 03 Mar 2015, 12:28; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Naval Bombardment   Tue 03 Mar 2015, 11:51

Good to see you here, AN. Moral breaking - horrible but probably effective - but not in the Pacific war where the notion of dying for nation was instilled.
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PostSubject: Re: Naval Bombardment   Tue 03 Mar 2015, 12:46

Thank you!  I know I say this every time, but I really must come here more often... At least I've moved the forum further up my 'favourites' list now, which hopefully will be more of a reminder!

Blake's morale-sapping was cunningly done.  He doubtless knew the majority of the population of Jersey were Puritans and therefore more inclined towards Parliament in any case.  There had also been enough time since Charles II's defeat at Worcester for it to have become known in the Island.  His flagship, the Happy Entrance, had been specially selected as it had previously been captained by the Royalist commander in Jersey, Sir George Carteret.  Blake spent a couple of days sailing up and down the coast whilst the local militia tried to keep up, occasionally bombarding the enemy (the initially barrage lasted four hours, which must have been horrendous for the defenders!) and/or making feint attacks.  All of this was done in miserable weather.  By the time the landing finally took place at 11pm, the Royalists were exhausted, soaked, hungry and no-doubt thoroughly fed up.  When Carteret spotted the Parliamentarian landing barges looming out of the dark he rushed back to collect his troops and found that only around 200 of his force - out of around 1,500 - still remained!  Needless to say they were no match for the 2,600 veteran New Model troops storming the beach.
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