January 03, 2020

Rule the Waves 2 Game 1 - March 1918


The last 12 months have been an interesting time. We have largely recovered from the budget doldrums, and laid down two Ocean-class battleships, near-cousins to the Saint Louis, while commissioning Nancy and Nantes. Tensions with Austria-Hungary and Germany are high, while the situation with Japan has moderated somewhat. We have developed several new pieces of technology, including that necessary for CVL conversions.

We have a reasonable budget surplus at the moment, and need to decide what to do with it. Options include more destroyers, new CLs, and the CVL conversions of the DT class CAs. A sketch has been prepared which shows 12 aircraft. Read more...

January 01, 2020

New Year's Logs

Steaming alone over waters no trouble,
McCAMPBELL is ready to fight on the double.
With lights burning brightly above on the mast,
All engines standard, 16 knots going fast.
We cut through the waters below deep and blue,
Our course is 200, degrees true.
Our position is in the sea to the east.
Our stomachs are full from the grand midrats feast.
1 alpha, 2 bravo are turning each shaft,
Alpha power units move rudders back aft.
Numbers 2 and 3 are the paralleled GTGs
Material Condition is Modified Z.
Computer assisted manual is the steering mode,
So we can maneuver per Rules of the Road.
CO’s in her chair, she’s up on the Bridge,
We’re still left of track, we’ll come right just a smidge.
TAO down in Combat, monitoring aircraft and chats,
And EOOW in Central, stay vigilant Hellcats!
The year that’s behind us was challenging, yes, indeed,
But Ready 85 will always succeed.
We’re mighty, we’re strong, we cannot be rattled
In the year that’s to come we’ll stay RELENTLESS IN BATTLE!

The US Navy has strict requirements for the contents of a ship's log, as spelled out in OPNAVINST 3100.7. This includes things like the ship's course and location, the state of the engineering plant, the officer in charge, and other ships nearby. But every year, the restrictions are lifted just a little, and the first log of the new year can be completed in verse, so long as all of the required information is present. The sample above was written by Ens. Lauren Larar for the log of USS McCampbell (DDG-85), one of the first USN vessels to cross into 2019. Read more...

December 29, 2019

Aircraft Weapons - Anti-Radiation Missiles

In the early 60s, the US military faced a serious problem. Much of its firepower was tied up in manned strike aircraft, but these aircraft were increasingly vulnerable to surface-to-air missiles like the Soviet SA-2 Guideline. Any effective air campaign would require the destruction of the SAM sites, but existing methods of attacking SAM sites, such as iron bombs and short-range missiles, were extremely dangerous. Fortunately, China Lake, the Navy's main center for developing aerial weapons, had the idea for a missile that would home in on the SAM's own radar emissions. This neatly solved several problems. The attacking aircraft could launch from greater range, and without having to get the precise position of the target. Simply lob the missile towards the SAM site, and it would find and attack the radar on its own.

AGM-45 Shrike

The first weapon of this new type, dubbed anti-radiation missiles, was the AGM-45 Shrike. It was based on the airframe of the AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missile, but with a new seeker designed to track the Fan Song radar of the SA-2 and a different warhead and rocket motor. This weapon was in use over Vietnam almost as soon as it entered service, and proved a significant improvement over previous methods of shutting down SA-2 sites, although it had a number of drawbacks. Read more...

December 27, 2019

Open Thread 42

It's our regular Open Thread. Talk about whatever you want, so long as it's not culture war.

A blog I've recently discovered is the well-named A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry, which mostly covers ancient warfare as seen in popular culture, but has made a few interesting forays into naval warfare.

Overhauls since last time are The South American Dreadnought Race, Huascar Part 2, Dreadnoughts of the Minor Powers and Armor Parts one, two and three for 2017. For 2018, we have Commercial Aviation Part 3, all three* parts on electronic warfare, Spot 1, and The Great White Fleet Part 2.

December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, all. As I hope that you're spending time with your families, and I don't have any fun naval Christmas traditions to talk about, please accept some pictures of warships decked out in Christmas lights.

Iowa in 1984

Iowa in 1986


December 22, 2019

Billy Mitchell and the Ostfriesland Part 3

In mid-1921, interservice relations were at an all-time low. Many advocates of the airplane, led by Billy Mitchell, claimed that the battleship was now obsolete. Their campaign had gained tremendous popular support, and the decision was made to test the effectiveness of aerial bombing on several German ships which had been turned over to the US as war prizes. The initial tests on destroyer G-102 and cruiser Frankfort had given some information, but the main event was still to come, with the bombing of the dreadnought Ostfriesland.

Ostfriesland in 1920

The test would be conducted on July 20th and 21st, and was to be observed by dignitaries including Secretary of War John Weeks and new Army Chief of Staff John Pershing. Because it was officially a weapons test, a schedule had been set to make sure that all sizes of bombs were tested, and to allow observers to board the ship safely to evaluate their effects. This would be coordinated from the minelayer Shawmut, serving as the control ship. Both Navy orders and Mitchell's own operational order were very specific. The "All Clear" had to be shown from Shawmut before bombing could commence, and if it was withdrawn, the bombing was to stop immediately. Read more...

December 20, 2019

Rule the Waves 2 Game 1 - March 1917


The past year has gone well for us. We were able to continue our construction program, commissioning 4 DDs and 2 CLs, as well as making substantial progress on our BCs and BBs. We remain just ahead of the Germans in terms of budget, and renewed international tensions have allowed us to break even financially. We have also made several important technological advances, most notably the development of depth charges. As a result, we have begun refits to all of our 600-ton destroyers to convert them into ASW escorts.

We are only a few months away from completion of Nancy and Nantes, so now is the time to think about replacements for them on the slipway. Read more...

December 18, 2019

Riverine Warfare - Southeast Asia Part 2

As was the case in many places, WWII comprehensively overturned the established order in Southeast Asia. The defeat of France in 1940 left the Vichy government with a precarious hold on its colonies, particularly those in the Far East. The British were not particularly interested in allowing the French to send reinforcements, while the Japanese, allies of Germany, wanted them as a base for their campaign against the British in Malaya. They swiftly moved in, keeping the French administrators as a puppet government. To oppose them, a communist revolutionary named Ho Chi Minh founded a group known as the Viet Minh as an umbrella group for those dedicated to Vietnam's independence. When the Japanese surrendered, he announced the creation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

French assault boats in Vietnam

This came as an unpleasant surprise to the French, who were intent on reclaiming their prewar colonial empire, and had secured the agreement of the other allied powers for such a move. A joint Franco-British force disarmed the Japanese in Indochina and returned the French to power, which obviously didn't sit well with the Viet Minh. An insurgency broke out almost immediately, and the French soon found that the march of technology hadn't changed the fact that the best way to move troops around was via the extensive river systems in both the north and south of Vietnam. Read more...

December 15, 2019

Aircraft Weapons - Short-Range Missiles

Traditionally, the most dangerous place for a strike aircraft is directly over the target. Things that need to be blown up are usually also worth protecting, and short-range SAMs and automatic AA guns are cheap enough to use in great quantity. The obvious answer is a weapon capable of attacking the target while the launching airplane stays at a distance. If short-range defenses are the only concern, probably because the area defenses have been thoroughly suppressed, then laser-guided bombs or JDAMs dropped from high altitude are a good choice. If the target is stationary, then long-range weapons like SLAM can do the job. But there are some cases in which neither is appropriate. For instance, a Soviet armored column if the Cold War had ever turned hot. High-altitude air defenses would have forced the attacking aircraft to fly low, so an unpowered bomb wouldn't give enough standoff. But any missile needed to be small, because the targets were numerous and each would generally need a missile to finish it off. The US built a number of missiles to fill this niche, some of which are among the most successful missiles ever created.

AGM-12B Bullpup

The first of the modern short-range air-to-surface missiles was the AGM-12 Bullpup, designed by the Navy in the late 1950s to let aircraft avoid point defenses, particularly when hitting point targets like bridges that were difficult to attack with dumb bombs. Bullpup used manual command guidance, with the operator looking out the canopy and attempting to steer it in with a joystick. This required the aircraft to fly in a straight line, which tended to be hazardous for the crew, and accuracy wasn't particularly good. The early versions were also limited by their 250 lb warhead, although an enlarged "variant", the AGM-12C, had a 1,000 lb warhead.1 Read more...

December 13, 2019

Open Thread 41

It's once again time for our open thread. Talk about anything you want, so long as it's not culture war. And props to everyone for keeping the discussion in the last OT professional and focused on the issues at hand.

Also, a reminder of the necro policy. Necros are encouraged. The stuff I talk about generally doesn't go stale, and I have absolutely no problem with discussions on stuff I wrote two years ago.

The only football (American) game that I'm interested in is on Saturday. Yes, it's the Army-Navy Game, where we hope that the Midshipmen emerge victorious. Beat Army!

Reminder that today is the last day for purchases from the USNI Christmas Sale.

Overhauls since last time are Mine Warfare Part 2*, Iowa Part 8, Ironclads, The Loss of HMS Victoria*, The Death of Repulse and Prince of Wales, and Huascar Part 1 for 2017 and Commercial Aviation Part 2, Japanese Battleships in WWII, A Brief History of the Aircraft Carrier, Falkands Part 9 and the 1920s South Dakota class for 2018. The posts marked with an asterisk have seen more extensive overhauls than the usual link updates and grammar cleanup.