War History Online posted this photo on their Facebook page.

26-inch thick armor from Japanese Yamato class battleship, pierced by a US Navy 16-inch gun. The armor is on display at the US Navy Museum.

I found this Ballistic Test Report which I believe to be about this specific piece of armor.

Ballistic Tests on the IJN Shinano’s Turret Face ArmorBy Nathan Okun
Updated 31 August 1999


SOURCE:

U.S. NAVAL PROVING GROUND, DAHLGREN, VIRGINIA, REPORT #5-47, “BALLISTIC TESTS AND METALLUGICAL EXAMINATION OF JAPANESE HEAVY ARMOR PLATE” (November 1947)

SUBJECT:

Test of 26″ (66cm) Class “A” Main Armament Turret Face (Port) Plate, originally for IJN SHINANO, the third Japanese YAMATO-Class super-battleship (converted into an aircraft carrier, instead, and sunk on its way to final fitting out yard by a U.S. submarine), which made up far left side of turret face looking from inside turret out of gun port, with “D”-shaped cutout making up about half of left curved gun port forming center of long right side of plate.

PLATE MATERIAL:

Japanese Vickers Hardened (VH) face-hardened, non-cemented armor (used only on YAMATO-Class battleships)

COMPOSITION OF STEEL:

ELEMENT.....PERCENT (By Weight)

CARBON-------0.48
MANGANESE----0.39
PHOSPHORUS---0.016
SULPHUR------0.026
SILICON------0.18
NICKEL-------3.67
CHROMIUM-----2.13
MOLYBDENUM---0.06
COPPER-------0.12

*****************

TENSILE TEST (SLOWLY INCREASING PULL) DATA:

COUPON_ Y.S._ T.S.__ %EL._ %R.A

LONG.__ 68.5_ 99.4__ 22.3_ 45.6
TRAN.__ 70.1_ 98.2__ 25.5_ 62.2
NORM.__ N/A__ 93.16__ 7.0_ 20.3
(Average of 6 coupons)

CHARPY V-NOTCH IMPACT DATA VS TEMPERATURE (°F):

COUPON# -105 -78 -50_ 0__ 50_ 100 <-TEMP.

LONG.#1_ 10G 23G 35G 73FG 75F 95F
LONG.#2_ 14G 20G 31G 77FG 94F 80F
TRAN.#1__ 8G 20G 30G 56FG 73F 70F
TRAN.#2__ 9G 20G 26G 48FG 71F 69F

DEFINITIONS:

LONG.=Longitudinal (parallel to plate face; long plate axis direction)
TRAN.=Transverse (parallel to plate face; short plate axis direction)
NORM.=Normal (in thickness direction)
Y.S.=Yield Strength (x1000 lb./sq.in.)(0.2% elongation point) (sq.in.=original cross-section)
T.S.=Tensile/Ultimate Strength (x1000 lb./sq.in.)
%EL.=PERCENT ELONGATION (% coupon had stretched when it broke)
%R.A=PERCENT REDUCTION IN AREA (% coupon cross-sectional area had shrank by at narrowest when it broke)

(Above data averaged from two coupons in each direction)

CHARPY V-NOTCH TEST=Hammer snaps off one end of coupon while other end is held in a vise with a notch-shaped groove put into coupon just above vise grip where coupon will fold and split apart (the higher the number, the greater the toughness)
“G”=All GRAIN (brittle fracture) at break point
“F”=All FIBER (ductile tearing) at break point
“FG”=Both GRAIN & FIBER MIXED at break point, more FIBER than GRAIN

********************

HARDNESS (ROCKWELL “C”):
(Ave. of two tests; measured from plate face surface directly into plate)

SURFACE:_46.5 (Tempered surface lost some carbon)
0.75":___50.0 (Maximum hardness of plate)
5.00":___36.0 ("Undrillable" face ends and transition layer begins)
9.25":___15.0 (Inner edge of back layer reached)

Hardness varied in smooth “ski-slope” curves between these points–at 0.75″ hardness increase reversed direction abruptly. Back hardness varied from ROCKWELL “C” 11.0 to 15.5 in long undulations to back surface.

**********************

STEEL QUALITY:

Steel had many tiny pieces of dirt and so forth, being about the same as pre-WWI British Vickers Cemented (VC) KC-type armor steel in quality (VC was used for the first time in the Japanese battleship IJN KONGO, built in Britain, and manufactured in Japan under license thereafter), from which the unique Japanese armors New Vickers Non-Cemented (NVNC), the homogeneous, ductile form of VH used in a number of Japanese post-WWI warships, and VH itself was derived (this steel was not up to U.S., British, or German post-1930 steel quality). Carbon content was raised above VC steel level to increase ease of hardening, some copper added to allow some nickel (in short supply in Japan) to be removed (but not much), slight amount of molybdenum added to increase hardenability still more, and the cemented (carburized) thin surface layer used in VC (and in most other, foreign face-hardened armors) was eliminated with no loss of resistance from VC quality (a good design point). Surface of plate face was very smooth, unlike rough, pebbly surface of cemented plates, such as U.S. Navy Class “A” armor.

*********************

TWO BALLISTIC TESTS:

PROJECTILE USED:

U.S. Navy 2700-lb 16″ Mark 8 Mod 6 AP with inert filler (“BL&P”) (last version of this projectile manufactured during WWII)

OBLIQUITY: Near-normal (0°)

TEST #1 on 16 October 1946 (IMPACT #33443):

POINT OF IMPACT: Upper center near joint with turret roof at 0.33° obliquity from normal where plate was 25.99″ thick.

STRIKING VELOCITY: 1992 feet/second (607.2 m/sec)

RESULT: Complete penetration and plate snapped in two through impact between side edge and upper end of curved gun port hollow. Hole more-or-less cylindrical, with little difference between front and back of plate. Numerous small cracks also put in plate around impact. No damage to projectile indicated, though projectile had considerable remaining velocity and ended up in the Potomac River, never being recovered. Considerable amount of lamination noted in hole (layering effect parallel to face, much like pages in a book glued together). The upper portion of this broken plate is now on display at the U.S. Navy Memorial Museum at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC, just in front of the old Gun Factory building which houses much of the museum today.

TEST #2 on 23 October 1946 (IMPACT #33459):

POINT OF IMPACT: About halfway between first impact and base of plate, centered between cutout for gun port and left edge of plate, at 0.5° obliquity from normal where plate was 25.98″ thick.

STRIKING VELOCITY: 1707 feet/second (502.3 m/sec)

RESULT: Projectile nose tip only penetrated 21″ (53.34cm) into the plate, though punching a hole entirely through. Projectile was completely undamaged (merely lost its windscreen and AP cap, as usual). Plate had exactly the same thing happen to it as with the first test, with numerous small cracks, many laminations, and a complete break through hole between left edge and curved gun port cutout.

CONCLUSIONS:

The U.S. Navy Ballistic Limit (complete penetration minimum velocity with this projectile at normal) estimated at 1839 feet/second (560.5 m/sec), plus or minus 3%, which gives it about a relative plate quality of 0.839 compared to U.S. Class “A” armor (estimated, as no such super-thick plate was ever made in the U.S.). This was about the same as the best WWI-era British KC-type armor, which was what the Japanese were trying for–they had not attempted to make improved face-hardened armor, as the U.S. Navy did during the 1930’s, for actual ship installation.

The plate was excessively brittle internally, with too much “upper bainite” crystal structure due to too-slow cooling.  This was due to using the same pre-WWI British Vickers KC-type armor-hardening techniques on plates over 17″ (55.8cm) thick, for which they were never intended. This problem was solved during WWII, but no more VH was ever made except for some thin experimental plates. Brittleness did not seem to reduce resistance to penetration, though cracking might cause problems due to hits that ricocheted off.

Note that one of these experimental plates–7.21″ (18.3cm) VH plate NPG #3133–was patterned on Krupp KC n/A (probably from data traded with Germany during WWII) and was tested by the U.S. Navy at the NPG using 335-pound 8″ Mark 21 Mod 3 and Mod 5 (the latter with the super-hard AP cap, which turned out to be required to penetrate that plate intact) during this same test series. It was found to be THE BEST PLATE OF ITS THICKNESS RANGE (6-8″ (15.2-20.3cm)) EVER TESTED BY THE U.S. NAVY, even though its steel was of the same rather poor quality as the other VH plates tested!!! This caused the U.S. test conductors to state that obviously they did not understand what it took to make a high-quality Class “A” plate, since the 7.21″ VH plate should not have been so good from everything they thought they knew about face-hardened armor!!! Obviously the Japanese could make armor as good as anyone if the specifications had required it!

*********************

FINAL COMMENTS:

At about 40,000 yards, the U.S. Navy 16″/50 firing a 16″ Mark 8 Mod 6 AP projectile (the later Mod 7 and Mod 8 designs were post-WWII, so I usually do not count them and they were no better ballistically, to my knowledge) will hit at about 45° downward angle and 1607 feet/second (489.8 m/sec). Just as with a point blank hit at 2500 feet/second (762 m/sec) and 45° obliquity, this hit too will barely hole the plate as the projectile is hitting at 0° (normal) obliquity, though not completely penetrate it. Any slight barrel wear will lower the muzzle and striking velocities and no holing will occur at THESE OR ANY OTHER ranges, as mentioned. However, this is so far above any real fighting range (even with radar it is hard to see the target due to the earth’s curvature interfering, especially in any kind of imperfect seeing conditions) that I do not even consider it in my computations, while putting the gun barrel up to almost touching the enemy turret is also a pipe dream in real life! Thus, no holing or complete penetrations, ever, though possibly some cracking of the plate and possible jamming of the turret if the crack-off plate piece is dislodged badly enough.

Therefore, these plates are the only warship armor plates that could not be completely penetrated by ANY gun ever put on a warship when installed leaning back at 45°, as they were in the actual turrets!!! Even to completely hole the plate all the way through at that inclination requires a brand new 16″/50 Mark 7 or German 38cm SK C/34 gun at  point-blank range firing the latest versions of their respective AP projectiles; it might be cracked at a lower striking velocity, but no hole put entirely through it! AND THEY SAID GUNS HAD COMPLETELY OVERMATCHED ALL ARMOR–*NOT SO*!!!

.

 

Some more photos of this plate.

2VQC2Bi jK2Ou0G



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  • Wolfgar

    I also read the German Panther and King tiger actually had sub standard armor do to the lack of certain metals which tended to crack when hit. In any case that is quite the picture,

    • DaveP

      That was true late-war, as Germany’s sources of aloying metals had dried up. I’ve seen pics and contemporary accounts of Tigers with frontal penetrations from 57mm AT guns. Of course, I’ve also seen pics of a Panther from the Battle of the Bulge with at least four gouges in its glacis plate from the 75mm main gun on a Sherman- and the Panther was the one that drove away from the fight…

      • Phillip Cooper

        I have seen those same pics, and many like them. Can you imagine how that must have sounded and felt?

      • Phillip Cooper

        Dave, you may enjoy this:
        There’s a book called “D-Day through German Eyes” which is, well..exactly that. It was written 10 years after those events by way of interviewing the German men that maned the line.
        I hate to use an overused phrase- but, “Utterly fascinating”. There’s apparently a sequel as well, but I haven’t had a chance to get into it yet as my Audible queue is quite full.

        • DaveP

          Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll look it up tonight.

      • James B.

        By then, a sabot round had come out for the 57mm (6pdr), and the Tiger’s frontal armor wasn’t very well designed–it was thick by 1941 standards, but nearly vertical.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Near the end of the war, yes. But early on the only real problem German tanks had was sheer weight.

      • Wolfgar

        Yes, late in the war. I also read where they had electric turret systems that were outstanding but couldn’t utilize them because of the amount of copper they couldn’t procure needed for the electrical motors.

  • Jake

    Wonder what it would do to today’s ship armor? lol

    • Phillip Cooper

      *WHAT* ship armor?
      Pretty much everything that says “anti-ship” brought to bear against ships these days is a shipkiller if it gets through the defensive screens (CWIS, et al). The basic approach is not to hit the ship itself, but to dive under it and detonate, creating a huge cavitation bubble- and let the ships’s own weight break her back and sink her rapidly.Ships are lighter than water and heavier than air- so put a huge air bubble under her and kiss her goodbye.
      Battleships are too expensive to run, and too slow to be much more than a target for the above, I don’t believe anyone uses them anymore.
      (the above is all secondhand info from an old IS Senior Chief, USN, who I worked with for 5 years till early this year). I asked the same question when I saw this a few years back.

      The concept is called “defense in depth” and it’s very effective. You’ve got your carrier air wing (which is the actual thing you want to do the heavy work of fighting, the carrier itself is pretty much disposable to an extent), the Task Force (cruisers, tenders, subs, etc) that accompany it), and so on.

      • ozzallos .

        The Kirov-class is as close to a modern day battleship as you get these days. It’s primary armament is x14 P700 cruise missiles @ Mach 1.6 and 1,600lbs of warhead. Basically, the USNs Arsenal Ship concept.

    • DaveP

      A capital ship (anyone’s capital ship) AP round would most likely go straight through. An HE round would explode it like a plastic toy. Remember, there are well respected shipkiller missiles today that don’t carry as much explosive as a 16″ shell.

      • Martin M

        That was a big selling point on reactivating the Iowas. It was assumed that they would be largely impervious to contemporary missiles and guns.

        • Phillip Cooper

          Back in G1? Not sure I agree. Iraq didn’t have anything to throw against battleships (seriously, you’re not getting enough explosives in a small boat to scratch the citadel, and without that all you’ve done is piss it off),
          Pretty sure they were brought up strictly for Naval Gunfire Support.
          Also, all of the Iowas were decomm by 92, a victim of the drive for a 600-ship Navy to become a 300-ship Navy after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
          There’s a very good article on the Montana-class battleships that were planned to replace the Iowas in WWII and then cancelled before the war’s end. Seems that the Battle of Midway and the changing face of warfare (hint: “Carrier aviation”) was the death blow.

          • Martin M

            They were brought out of storage specifically to reach the 600 ship mark. Even Soviet missiles were thought to be incapable of penetrating the armor, so the only real threat was torpedoes. Precision guided bombs weren’t a thing for it’s adversaries. In effect, they were unsinkable gun and missile platforms.
            Truly a piece of equipment from a different era. A ship(s) out of time.

          • DaveP

            I used to have a Jane’s that showed some of the original concepts the Navy was kicking around when they first started talking about reactivating the big boats. I was sorta partial to the version that had all the turrets removed and the deck plated over to make room for launching tubes for 24 Trident D5s…. and 12 Minutemen.
            hehehe.
            Thing was a floating arms limitation treaty violation all by itself.

          • Mazryonh

            That sounds like a nuclear-armed version of the Arsenal Ship concept, only much better armoured (assuming the original armour wasn’t removed or compromised). Sadly with all the turrets removed you still end up with the Arsenal Ship’s original problem, which is a lack of weaponry to defend against conventional attack.

            And besides, the Iowa-class’ 16-inch guns could have been loaded with nuclear shells, which reportedly each had maximum yields of 20 kilotons. Who needs MIRVs when you can fire a 9-gun volley of those?

          • Rodford Smith

            After the Falklands War a joke which went around was “What does the captain of an _Iowa_ class ship do after being hit by an Exocet? Send two ratings on deck; one with a broom and dust pan and one with a can of grey paint and a brush.”

      • Jake

        I have a feeling that we will regret lining our billion dollar ships with 1/2″ and 1/4″ plating before the century is over.

        • Phillip Cooper

          Not any more than we will regret getting rid of horse cavalry, or dirigibles.
          Time and technology moves on. The way for a ship to survive against weapons has now gone from armor plating it like a knight, to setting out pickets, like a Division.

          • Jake

            getting better at not getting hit at all doesnt make you tougher when you do get hit. just admit that ease of manufacture and unwillingness to pay to fuel massive, heavy armored ships, and not some sort of magical forcefield means we can armor our ships with paper thin steel.

          • Phillip Cooper

            It’s more than just the economics. Ever hear of “fire and maneuver”?

          • Jake

            ever hear of the USS cole? lol

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        Today’s naval armor is generally almost eggshell-thin compared to the armor of the last World War. Modern trends in naval architecture have tended to forego the use of heavy ( and very expensive ) armored protection, with its attendant weight and manufacturing and logistical penalties in favor of more efficient compartmentalization, reduced weight, increased hull capacity, better fuel efficiency and range, more capable fire controls and electronic suites, lightweight ballistic protection, etc. The modern anti-ship missile is designed to cope with modern vessels of that ilk, which is why it can do its job efficiently with a smaller conventional warhead, even taking into account improvements in warhead design and type of explosives used.

        Of course, the use of low to medium-yield tactical nuclear warheads, as epitomized by some of the former Soviet and now Russian Navy’s anti-ship missile and torpedo technology designed to destroy or disable American Carrier Battle Groups, makes the whole point of heavy armor pretty much moot. Three good examples of such weapons systems are the 3M-54 Klub family of modular cruise missiles, the P-700 Granit and the new supersonic BrahMos ( jointly developed by Russia and India).

    • Kirk Newsted

      Would go clean thru and probably end up several hundred feet under the mud. An HE round would probably go clean thru and then explode outside based on the delay the fuzes used in those days. Either way, a bad day for the target.

    • Ken

      Probably similar to what such guns did to battlecruisers, which were ships with heavy guns, but little armor. The idea was that they were fast enough to run down anything they could kill kill, but also escape from anything that could kill it. The idea worked in theory for commerce raiding, but did not work in practice when they were pressed into fleet actions against other big gun ships.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Where’s the second hole?

    • Kirk Newsted

      The piece of armor pictured is only half the plate. The first shot broke the larger piece in half. No idea where the other half went, but probably tossed in a really large trashcan after testing is my guess.

      • Phillip Cooper

        I’d love to know the story behind the recovery of the plate from the sunked Japanese ship in the first place. That had to be pretty darned interesting in its own right!

        • DetroitMan

          It was never installed because Shinano was converted to a carrier before completion. The plate was recovered from a navy yard.

          • Phillip Cooper

            Ah, thanks! Now I remember reading about that.

  • Ed

    Let’s have a range shoot with one, lol!

  • ambidextrious

    Big typo in the article:

    It wasn’t a 16-inch Navy gun, it was an 11.4mm Army gun that made that hole.

    • DaveP

      Iseewhatyoudidthere….

    • Voice_of_Reason

      John Moses Browning (PBUH)!

    • Darren Hruska

      Must have been Tom Hanks. He busts tanks with the M1911.

  • valorius

    Mk7 16″/50 ftw!

  • 🐒👊
    • Jim Slade

      Looks kind of like California in the background, but I don’t see a bullet button or a 10-round magazine for that thing…

      • jess

        No pistol grip, no magazine, no need for a bullet button. 🙂

        • mbrd

          that rifling does not look kalifornia kompliant to me…

          • Richard Bruce

            That’s a 16″ gun that was on the USS Missouri when the Japanese signed the surrender at the end of WWII. It sits just outside Battery Townsley in the Marin Headlands. Two of these guns once protected the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from potential invasion by sea. Been there.

  • 10x25mm

    Mechanical properties determined in this report are actually outstanding for such a thick piece of steel plate, even by modern standards. Much better than our RHA from the same era. Chemistry is strikingly similar to our modern HY 100 grade, but with a higher carbon content. Copper was deliberately added by the Japanese metallurgists to promote bainite evolution in the core, a very tough steel constituent which wasn’t well understood in 1947, but almost certainly explains the high ballistic resistance of this RHA.

    • randomswede

      Just goes to show that the word “impenetrable” is a poor substitution for “you’ll need a bigger gun”.

      • Rodford Smith

        In other words, nothing is actually bulletproof. 😉

        • DiverEngrSL17K

          Agreed — however, the test was also conducted under controlled conditions at virtually point-blank range at the optimum angle for maximum penetration ( 0 degrees ). In the final summary, it was also concluded that at realistic engagement ranges and trajectories, this particular armor plate could not be penetrated even by the most effective 16″ projectiles in U.S. navy service at the time.

          The extraordinary resilience and ability to sustain the most severe punishment of properly-fitted Japanese battleships of the era is borne out by historical records that show the inordinately large number of direct hits from all sources ( naval gunfire and torpedoes, and aerial bombs and torpedoes ) required to sink or disable them. As examples, the Musashi took at least 17 bombs and 19 torpedoes, while sister ship Yamato took at least 6-8 bombs and 11-13 torpedoes, in their respective final engagements before sinking. And this does not take into account cumulative damage from previous battles or near-misses close alongside that created almost equally destructive water hammer effects.

          • Mazryonh

            I remember that after the sinking of the Musashi, the US forces had learned its class’ weak points and applied that knowledge to sink the Yamato more quickly. Doesn’t change the fact that it still took a massive amount of ordnance and forces to sink both those ships though.

          • DiverEngrSL17K

            Indeed. And thanks very much for sharing the additional information as well.

          • Mazryonh

            You’re welcome. The info’s rather fascinating if you can find it, actually.

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      Good analysis — thanks!

  • Gary Kirk

    Have a good buddy that was a gunners mate on one of those fine ladies in PG 1

  • Raven

    Of course, then there was the plan for the Montana-class battleships, with even more 16″ guns than an Iowa, with four triple 16″ turrets and 20 five-inch guns. Would have been a hell of a thing to see a Montana slugging it out with a Yamato-class.

  • Renegade

    One of my dreams is to see a full broadside by an Iowa-class battleship. Sadly, barring an intervention by some very well-heeled people, it will never happen.

    • Gary Kirk

      There are videos.. But, like seeing an actual live fire gun run from an A-10, just not the same..

  • Major Tom

    So in essence if in some alternate universe USS Iowa (BB-61) or USS Missouri (BB-65) got into a slugging match with IJN Musashi or IJN Yamato at effective ranges it would come down to whoever runs out of shells first loses? (Probably Yamato/Musashi on account of inferior FCS.)

    • Ken

      Not necessarily. This test was with turret armor, which is usually the thickest on a battleship, followed by the waterline belt. The USS Iowa had 19.7″ turret armor and 12.1″ belt armor, while the Musashi had 9.8-25.6″ for the turrets and 15.7″ at the belt. The greatest threat to battleships from shells was probably plunging fire, as deck armor was relatively light. It was extremely difficult to sink a battleship because the waterline was armored and they tended to have competent damage control crews who will seal off bulkheads, pump out water, or counterflood to level a listing ship. The best hope with shell fire was a plunging hit through the deck to set off a magazine to blow the ship apart. (With torpedoes from boats or planes, they tended to try to concentrate hits on one side to try to capsize the ship.) The challenge with landing plunging hits is that it tends to only be possible at longs ranges when the shell is falling at a steep trajectory. But, hitting a target at long range is a challenge in of itself. The US Navy actually found that the 16″/50 caliber guns in the Iowa class to be slightly less effective for plunging hits than the 16″/45 caliber guns of the previous South Dakota class simply due to the lower velocity making it easier to do at closer ranges.

      The British were actually unable to sink the Bismarck. No matter how many torpedoes and shells they could hit it with, the crew managed to keep Bismarck floating. The British certainly scored a mission kill putting the ship out of action by jamming the rudder and hitting just about everything on the superstructure, like turrets and fire directors (functional turrets aren’t very useful if they can’t aim). The British battleships even torpedoed the Bismarck at close range. In the end, the Bismarck only sank when the Germans scuttled the ship, something confirmed decades later when the wreck was found.

      If the Iowa and Musashi were to face off, each could do some serious damage to the other by dropping shells through the deck and riddling the superstructure. If neither of those are sufficient and either ship were still mobile, they’d have to close in and try to sink the other with torpedoes.

      • Rodford Smith

        Other things to keep in mind were that the Iowa class were very fast, and very maneuverable. They could choose the range of a fight. They also had pretty good radar (though they sometimes had to reset the breakers after a broadside fired).

        • ozzallos .

          Not just fast and maneuverable, but she had vastly better fire control as well. Something most people don’t consider is that Japanese turrets were still manual traverse when most USN boats relied on machinery.

  • Vizzini

    But the really big question: Is it suitable for defense against bear attacks?

    • Charles Applegate

      Unless the bear has a German 38cm SK C/34 gun, yes.

      • Vizzini

        So you’re saying “Not always!”

    • Great_Baldung

      Well, yeah. All you’ll have afterwards will be bear mist though.

      • Vizzini

        That’s what bear spray is made from.

    • BR549

      I was thinking more about its use when Barack tries to bring in the blue-helmeted boobies to go door to door. Maybe we can convert the 16 incher into a huge scatter gun.

      [alarm goes off; time to wake up]

  • John

    So you’re basically firing a Toyota Corolla at 2000 feet per second. Better buckle up!

  • J-

    You get better armor penetration and higher retained velocities with longer, smaller diameter projectiles. Heavier 16 inch shells did better than 18 or 20 inch shells for naval purposes.

    You see the same performance with bullets like the 6.5 vs .270.

  • Ken

    One of my favorite things to do used to be to shoot steel plates with M2AP .30/06 ammo to punch neat holes and then recover the perfectly intact AP cores. This however, is a whole different level, haha.

    • Mazryonh

      Do you remember how far away you normally found the AP cores away from the plates?

      • Ken

        The steel plates were usually resting on a dirt berm or propped up with sticks right in front of the dirt. I have no idea how much further the cores went into the dirt, but the plates were mild steel, not hardened plate. We’d either dig out the cores or we’d find them on the surface later when the dirt got churned by more shooting. You can do the same with LPS 7.62x54R, but the tips of the mild steel cores generally get chewed up by whatever they hit.

        • Mazryonh

          I see, you can get an idea of how much energy is still left in the AP core by how far it travels after piercing a plate.

  • Ken

    The article also cites a desire to comply with the Washington Naval Treaty, which limited capital ships to 16″ guns. I believe one of the London Naval Treaties reduced that limit to 14″. But, by the late 30’s that was all irrelevant as Japan renounced the treaties.

  • Uniform223
  • ozzallos .

    This sounds familiar… As I recall, that’s navy data with third part commentary and interpretations, evidenced by the copious use of “!!!!” exclamation points that make this guy come off as a yamato fanboy.

  • jimmy craked corn

    They have to maintain a stock of shells and parts for the Iowa Class Battleships and they must be maintained to a point they could sail 18months(?) per an act of Congress. They are in museums but they are still part of the reserve fleet so the navy pays the museums to maintain them. The Navy has to prove to congress that they have an effective shore bombardment equal to the 16″ guns. The chance is there but very very very small.

  • Mike V

    My Dad served on the Wisconsin (BB64), so the picture makes me think of him. Before he passed, I took him to Norfolk and he got to see her again. While there we took the harbor tour and got to the ships in port. Looking at the modern ships and the “Whisky,” if I were a young Marine about to land on a hostile shore, I’d rather her than all the modern cruisers and destroyers providing shore bombardment. The new ships may be better ship killers but she would be better at putting steel on the beach.

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      Quite so. I am sorry to read about your loss, but I am also glad to hear that you got to share that precious time with him before he passed.

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    Thanks for the information, Jess — much appreciated.

  • Ed Canupp

    That left a mark!

  • The Iowa class ships were fitted with Tomahawk launchers.

    • Mazryonh

      Yes, the Iowa-class battleships got a complement of 32 Tomahawk missiles in “Armoured Box Launchers” and 16 Harpoon Anti-Ship Missiles, but at best they are a long-ranged supplement to the 16-inch guns.

      Why? Because as several battleship detractors have said before, Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles can be carried in greater quantities on smaller ships which are purposely built to accommodate lots of VLS cells, which the Iowa-class ships were not backfitted with (there were plans to remove the rear turret to do that or fit a helicopter hangar, but those never got anywhere). And because compared to the 16-inch guns, there just aren’t many missiles to use on an Iowa-class in the first place.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Very interesting points. I’ll try to read the paper later this evening.

    • Mazryonh

      It’s a good essay at least, despite its age. “Smart” ship-launched weaponry and carrier planes may get all the press, but naval artillery in at least some situations is much better suited.

  • Mazryonh

    Since the photo shows the damage from a 16-inch gun, something which Iowa-class battleships carried 9 of, I think this is a good opportunity to remind readers here of something Admiral Sergei Gorshkov of the Soviet Union once said after seeing the refitted Iowa-class battleships in an exercise in the 1980s:

    “You Americans do not realize what formidable warships you have in these four battleships. We have concluded after careful analysis that these magnificent ships are in fact the most to be feared in your entire naval arsenal. When engaged in combat we could throw everything we have at those ships and all our firepower would bounce off or be of little effect. Then when we are exhausted, we will detect you coming over the horizon and then you will sink us.”

    Given what this blog entry shows and Gorshkov’s quote, it seems big guns and thick armour on warships are overdue for a major comeback.

    • Charlie_C

      And Putin said, “Let there be Exocets.” And there were Exocets. And he saw that they were good.

      Snark aside, CIWS are phenomenal at defending against threats like this — one or two at a time. Makes you wonder whether we are anywhere near prepared for an Exocet swarm. Four launched at once from multiple angles would likely overwhelm the CIWS – or at least succeed during a reload.

      • Mazryonh

        The Iowa-class ships are big enough that they can mount more CIWS systems without too much trouble, and they certainly have enough storage space to keep many reloads for them. The only problem is whether the crew can actually reload them in time before the next wave of missiles come in.

        Of course, saturation missile attacks are likely going to become the norm if a full-scale war breaks out. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always torpedo swarms . . .