April 21, 2024

Thoughts on the Iranian Missile Attack

Last weekend saw one of the largest missile attacks in history, almost totally blocked by the defenses of Israel and various countries that came to Israel's aid. As such, it's worth a look to see what lessons we can learn. For those who weren't paying attention, reports generally seem to agree that Iran (and its proxies in Yemen) launched about 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles and 110-120 ballistic missiles. And to be clear, 300+ missiles (some sources are saying 350, probably with the balance made up by more drones) is a lot. For comparison, during the first Gulf War, the United States launched 288 Tomahawks. Obviously, that was in the context of a much larger air campaign, but this was clearly more than just lobbing a few missiles as harassment.

But the attack was a complete failure, with the net result reported of two Israeli airbases damaged (not clear exactly how much) and a single girl left in critical condition by falling debris. Some of this was because about half of the Iranian ballistic missiles failed during launch and crashed short of the target1 but most of it was a superb performance by Israeli and American ABM systems, and the rapid work of an impromptu coalition of basically everyone who wasn't Iran in the region to deal with the atmospheric threat. Read more...

April 19, 2024

35 Years Ago

35 years ago today, while conducting gunnery exercises off the coast of Puerto Rico, Turret II exploded aboard Iowa. 47 members of her crew were killed. Every year, a memorial ceremony is held for them, and I was able to attend in 2019 and honor the men who died.

  • Tung Thanh Adams - Fire Controlman 3rd class (FC3) Alexandria, VA
  • Robert Wallace Backherms - Gunner's Mate 3rd class (GM3) Ravenna, OH
  • Dwayne Collier Battle - Electrician's Mate, Fireman Apprentice (EMFA) Rocky Mount, NC
  • Walter Scot Blakey - Gunner's Mate 3rd class (GM3) Eaton Rapids, MI
  • Pete Edward Bopp - Gunner's Mate 3rd class (GM3) Levittown, NY
  • Ramon Jarel Bradshaw - Seaman Recruit (SR) Tampa, FL
  • Philip Edward Buch - Lieutenant, Junior Grade (LTjg) Las Cruces, NM
  • Eric Ellis Casey - Seaman Apprentice (SA) Mt. Airy, NC
  • John Peter Cramer - Gunners Mate 2nd class (GM2) Uniontown, PA
  • Milton Francis Devaul Jr. - Gunners Mate 3rd class (GM3) Solvay, NY
  • Leslie Allen Everhart Jr. - Seaman Apprentice (SA) Cary, NC
  • Gary John Fisk - Boatswains Mate 2nd class (BM2) Oneida, NY
  • Tyrone Dwayne Foley - Seaman (SN) Bullard, TX
  • Robert James Gedeon III - Seaman Apprentice (SA) Lakewood, OH
  • Brian Wayne Gendron - Seaman Apprentice (SA) Madera, CA
  • John Leonard Goins - Seaman Recruit (SR) Columbus, OH
  • David L. Hanson - Electricians Mate 3rd class (EM3) Perkins, SD
  • Ernest Edward Hanyecz - Gunners Mate 1st class (GM1) Bordentown, NJ
  • Clayton Michael Hartwig - Gunners Mate 2nd class (GM2) Cleveland, OH
  • Michael William Helton - Legalman 1st class (LN1) Louisville, KY
  • Scott Alan Holt - Seaman Apprentice (SA) Fort Meyers, FL
  • Reginald L. Johnson Jr. - Seaman Recruit (SR) Warrensville Heights, OH
  • Nathaniel Clifford Jones Jr. - Seaman Apprentice (SA) Buffalo, NY
  • Brian Robert Jones - Seaman (SN) Kennesaw, GA
  • Michael Shannon Justice - Seaman (SN) Matewan, WV
  • Edward J. Kimble - Seaman (SN) Ft. Stockton, TX
  • Richard E. Lawrence - Gunners Mate 3rd class (GM3) Springfield, OH
  • Richard John Lewis - Fire Controlman, Seaman Apprentice (FCSA) Northville, MI
  • Jose Luis Martinez Jr. - Seaman Apprentice (SA) Hidalgo, TX
  • Todd Christopher McMullen - Boatswains Mate 3rd class (BM3) Manheim, PA
  • Todd Edward Miller - Seaman Recruit (SR) Ligonier, PA
  • Robert Kenneth Morrison - Legalman 1st class (LN1) Jacksonville, FL
  • Otis Levance Moses - Seaman (SN) Bridgeport, CN
  • Darin Andrew Ogden - Gunners Mate 3rd class (GM3) Shelbyville, IN
  • Ricky Ronald Peterson - Seaman (SN) Houston, MN
  • Mathew Ray Price - Gunners Mate 3rd class (GM3) Burnside, PA
  • Harold Earl Romine Jr. - Seaman Recruit (SR) Brandenton, FL
  • Geoffrey Scott Schelin - Gunners Mate 3rd class (GMG3) Costa Mesa, CA
  • Heath Eugene Stillwagon - Gunners Mate 3rd class (GM3) Connellsville, PA
  • Todd Thomas Tatham - Seaman Recruit (SR) Wolcott, NY
  • Jack Ernest Thompson - Gunners Mate 3rd class (GM3) Greeneville, TN
  • Stephen J. Welden - Gunners Mate 2nd class (GM2) Yukon, OK
  • James Darrell White - Gunners Mate 3rd class (GM3) Norwalk, CA
  • Rodney Maurice White - Seaman Recruit (SR) Louisville, KY
  • Michael Robert Williams - Boatswains Mate 2nd class (BM2) South Shore, KY
  • John Rodney Young - Seaman (SN) Rockhill, SC
  • Reginald Owen Ziegler - Senior Chief Gunners Mate (GMCS) Port Gibson, NY

They came to the Navy as strangers. Served the Navy as shipmates and friends and left the Navy as brothers in eternity. - George H.W. Bush

April 14, 2024

Air Attack on Ships Part 3 - Torpedoes in WWII

The torpedo had long been the best way to let water into a ship, which is ultimately what was required to sink it, and it was clear from WWI onward that this would be a major weapon in the arsenal of the airplane. But early torpedoes were imposed strict limits on the speed and altitude of the dropping aircraft. Even in 1930, this was rarely more than 100 kts and 50'.

A flight of Swordfish torpedo bombers

By this point, it had became clear that the solution to the dropping problem would have to involve some sort of attachment to the torpedo to help keep it on course during its flight through the air. The idea seems to have originally been developed by the Norwegians, who fitted their torpedoes with an "air tail" consisting of wooden and canvas flaps that were operated by the torpedo's normal gyro mechanism and which separated on impact with the water. Most nations used some variant of this idea, often including both a wooden stabilizer and some method of roll control, all of which allowed greater speed and altitude, a process that also saw torpedoes strengthened to withstand the greater force of impact. The British, sharply weight-limited, were forced to drop an example of their torpedo at greater speeds until something broke, strengthen that thing, then repeat the process until the next thing failed. At the outbreak of war, the Japanese were probably the world leaders in this, with the Type 91 Mod 2, which had been subjected to extensive drop tests in the interwar years, capable of dropping from 330' and 200 kts. Read more...

April 12, 2024

Open Thread 154

It is time once again for our regular Open Thread. Talk about whatever you want, so long as it isn't Culture War.

A reminder that our meetup in New England is coming up in 3 weeks. This is the last call for those of you who are thinking of attending. If you want to join the following people, see cool ships, and eat delicious food, sign up using this form:

  • Bean and Lord Nelson
  • Sam Chevre
  • Hunter
  • Ian Argent
  • John Schilling
  • Usea2b
  • smd
  • 2 Friedmans
  • Shas'Ui + 1

Overhauls are A Brief History of the Destroyer, Shells Part 1, and for 2023 How many Bulbasaurs could fit on this ship? and my review of Pima.

April 07, 2024

Air Attack on Ships Part 2 - Early Torpedoes

Proposals for using the airplane to deploy torpedoes predate the outbreak of WWI, with the earliest prominent speculations coming from American Admiral Bradley Fiske, who took out a patent on the idea in 1912. The first actual drop took place in June 1914, although the anemic airplanes of the day meant that early tests were done with obsolete (and light) 14" torpedoes.

A Short 184, the first plane to conduct a successful aerial torpedo attack

The British were the first to use the aerial torpedo in action, deploying torpedo-carrying seaplanes to the Dardanelles during the Gallipoli campaign. The first successful torpedo attack was made on August 12th, 1915, although the target ship was already abandoned and aground. Five days later, a second attack managed to hit a ship underway, although the Turks successfully salvaged her. A second plane that had not launched its torpedo was forced down by engine problems, and after the pilot found that he couldn't get back into the air with his torpedo, he decided to taxi around until he could find a suitable target. He eventually located a Turkish tug and managed to sink it with his torpedo before taking off for home. Read more...

April 01, 2024

Naval Gazing according to AI

I was thinking of refreshing my "About" page, and thought that AI might be able to help. So I asked some. And while my framing is obviously silly, so are the results:


Me: Tell me about the blog Naval Gazing

ChatGPT: Naval Gazing is a blog created and maintained by Mike Montiero, a designer, writer, and speaker. The blog primarily focuses on topics related to design, technology, and the intersection of the two. Mike Montiero is known for his insightful commentary and thought-provoking insights into the world of design and technology.

The blog covers a wide range of subjects, including user experience design, product design, ethics in design, design principles, and the impact of technology on society. Montiero often shares personal anecdotes and experiences, providing readers with valuable lessons and perspectives gleaned from his own journey in the design industry.

One of the notable aspects of Naval Gazing is its candid and often humorous tone. Montiero isn't afraid to tackle controversial topics or challenge conventional wisdom, making for engaging and thought-provoking reading.

Overall, Naval Gazing serves as a valuable resource for designers, technologists, and anyone interested in exploring the complexities of the digital world and the role of design within it. Read more...

March 31, 2024

Aurora - Beam PD Allocation and Weapons

First, a mea culpa. I misread the patch notes when putting the last post together, and it turns out that allocation is on a per-missile basis, not a per-salvo basis. This had surprisingly little impact on the overall number of leakers to be expected,2 but quickly led me down a rather interesting rabbit hole that conclusively resolved a long-running question.

Figuring out how to most efficiently allocate beam weapons to avoid overkill has long been an issue in Aurora, although often masked in my experience by gross overkill in available PD systems. Back in the VB6 days, each fire control would only target one salvo, so you needed lots of fire controls. For the pre-2.2 C# versions, this was per-weapon/turret, which was better, but still meant that sizing turrets took some thought. The current system gets rid of all that, but also gets rid of the ability to just make sure there are no leakers by having enough systems available, or at least makes that a lot less desirable as a solution. Read more...

March 29, 2024

Open Thread 153

It is time, once again, for our regular Open Thread. Talk about whatever you want, so long as it isn't Culture War.

First, some sad news. Nathan Okun, probably the world's greatest expert on battleship armor and penetration, passed away back in January. His work is mostly up at Navweaps, although be warned that it's quite dry. I met him once when he came to visit Iowa, and he was rather bemused at how excited I was to meet him. Later, he checked over Armor Part 2. He will be missed.

Second, one last request for people to come to the meetup. It should be a lot of fun. Current attendee list:

  • Bean and Lord Nelson
  • Sam Chevre
  • Hunter
  • Ian Argent
  • John Schilling
  • Usea2b
  • smd
  • 2 Friedmans
  • Shas'Ui + 1

Overhauls are Auxiliaries Part 5, NWAS Polaris Part 3, Nuclear Weapon Destructiveness, and for 2023, Cruiser-Killers and The Cod Wars.

March 23, 2024

Aurora - 2.2+ Missile Warfare

Long-time readers will remember that 4 years ago, a new topic popped up on Naval Gazing. I started talking about Aurora, a free space-based 4X game where you design and build ships, as well as running an entire civilization. I've been a fan for a very long time, and there was recently a major update (v2.2, although this was based on 2.5) that made significant changes to missile warfare that I thought deserved analysis. We'll return to attacking ships soon.

Missile warfare, described in these three posts (read them first if you don't understand the old system and what to know what I'm talking about), used to be pretty simple, almost to the point of being solved. There was a little room for variation, but missile defense was entirely a matter of getting as many damage 1 shots out as possible, normalized for hit rate. Offensive missiles had a bit of flexibility, but even there, options were pretty much limited to tradeoffs between more damage and a lower chance of being shot down. A single hit would take out any missile, so you wanted to keep your missiles small. Read more...

March 17, 2024

Air Attack on Ships Part 1 - Level Bombing

Killing surface ships from the air was a major challenge during WWII. A number of different methods were tried, and while I've covered many of the unconventional ones at some length, the conventional methods also deserve attention.

Hiryu under attack by B-17s at Midway

The most basic method was level bombing, flying over the target at altitude and dropping bombs. This had the advantage of staying out of the range of lighter defensive weapons, and tended to be favored by interwar advocates of air power. Even the most optimistic realized that a single bomber wasn't likely to land hits, but the theory was that a reasonably-sized formation could drop enough bombs to land a few critical hits. Making this easier was the fact that high-altitude bombing was by far the most effective way to attack the deck of a battleship. Armor-piercing bombs dropped from high altitude could reach enormous speed on the way down, as shown in this table of altitudes at which various bombs would penetrate decks:3 Read more...