August 19, 2022

Open Thread 111

It's time once again for our regular open thread. Talk about whatever you want, so long as it isn't culture war.

The biggest news lately is that I made a second visit to Russell Hogg's Subject to Change podcast, this time with John Schilling, to talk about Doctor Strangelove and nuclear war.

Slightly smaller news is that C# Aurora V2.0 dropped recently, with lots of new tweaks. I look forward to spending some time with it this weekend.

Book has been going reasonably well, as I'm now at 122,000 words and mostly done with the chapter on the Treaty Battleships. On a related note, does anyone know why the Italians never seem to have looked at a successor to the Littorios? I find it strange that there's no trace of one anywhere.

2018 overhauls are Missouri Part 2, Nautical Measurements, Falklands Part 5, Underwater Protection Part 1, my review of the International WWII Museum and The Standard Type. 2019 reviews are Spanish-American War Parts six, seven and eight, Turret Designations, Naval Weddings and Wedding Decorations. 2020 overhauls are my review of the Hanford Site and Powder parts one, two and three. 2021 overhauls are Lasers at Sea Parts one and two, Weird British Anti-Ship Weapons of WWII and Naval Radar - Some Advanced Stuff.


  1. August 19, 2022bean said...

    I decided to figure out what battleship was the first to have superheating, and was extremely surprised to learn that it was Warrior. (Well, more or less.) Superheating was apparently quite common in the early days of steam, until pressures reached 60 psi or so. At that point, the superheated steam was too hot for available lubricants, and saturated steam could condense and serve as lubrication. So it went away for a while. This seems like something I should have learned at least 5 years ago.

  2. August 19, 2022bean said...

    "OK. Now that I know superheated steam was in use far earlier than I thought, I should see when it came back. I think it was in the interwar years, but I'm not sure." So I start digging. And find a reference to Texas having some boilers superheated. That's weird. I dig a bit more, find a bunch of very interesting reports on US battleship trials in the late teens and early 20s, and figure out that the turboelectric battleships seem to have also used superheat. Makes sense, I guess. Britain started using it with Nelson, AFAIK, while France and Germany didn't use it at all in the dreadnought era. That just leaves Japan. Which, according to Kaigun, started test on Ibuki.

    This is the point at which I start yelling incoherently. Ibuki was a proto-battlecruiser, and well outside my timeline, which was otherwise firming up reasonably well. And apparently Japan kept using both superheated and saturated steam through the mid-20s. I just wanted a straightforward answer to where to plug this into the narrative, not a whole new pile of questions about what was going on in naval engineering 110 years ago.

  3. August 19, 2022bean said...

    Bean's Adventures in Treaty Battleship Engineering, Part 3:


  4. August 20, 2022Doctorpat said...

    Not sure if Bean is referring to a French battleship of the treaty era, or the French navy of the early 1600s. Not sure it makes much difference.

  5. August 22, 2022Kitplane said...

    Super easy question: You want a ship suitable for a major power operating at range from the homeland in a contested area. What's the best non-carrier, surface ship for the money?

  6. August 22, 2022bean said...

    Available today? Flight III Burke or maybe a Type 55.

  7. August 22, 2022Neal said...

    Good job to both Bean and John on the Russell Hogg podcast.

    John, I particularity liked the point of the discussion when you were working with the point that the loss of an airbase in Alaska, while tragic, isn't necessarily the top of the escalation ladder. Not the words you used of course, but the thought is woven into the question of what would merit a full scale response. I wish Russell had lingered longer on this idea and picked your (and Bean's) brain a bit more as it is an important step.

    I was in a PNAF squadron in the late 80s and although at the transporting end vice the employing end of these weapons, the question we often asked what the threshold was for their usage. A senior DoD civilian came to lecture one day and used the phrase "when the total and ongoing economic, cultural, or military integrity of the U.S. was threatened."

    Well... for one I never saw that, then or now, in any published doctrine and in retrospect it really was an obviously poor answer. He would have done better by discussing the concept of calculated ambiguity, what we now know as the Nuclear Posture Review, and the pledge (of sorts) that the U.S. would only use them in extreme circumstances.

    To use the cliché,it really does depend and is a judgment call, but there is a lot of meat to chew on with this.

    Again, good job to the both of you.

  8. August 23, 2022echo said...

    Opposite question from Kitplane:
    If China blockaded Taiwan using their coast guard for enforcement, what ships do you want escorting traffic into Taiwan? Assuming you're trying not to escalate beyond the traditional "firehoses and bumper boats" conflict we've already seen in scraps over fishing/access to the south/east china seas.

  9. August 24, 2022Doctorpat said...

    @echo, Icebreakers? Ask Venezuela how they go with gentle bumps.

  10. August 24, 2022bean said...

    Pretty much anything sturdy enough will do the job. Icebreakers are the most sturdy, but frankly anything which isn't built like a 70s frigate will do fine. (The British had some trouble during the Cod War because the construction method for warships emphasized lots of frames and thin skin.)

  11. August 24, 2022Kitplane said...

    Lots of Western nations navy use the 5" (127mm) gun, and the same nation's armies use the 155mm gun. Shell development is becoming moACre expensive, and shells more costly (all the guidence and range extending features).

    Do you see a time when nations go to a common caliber? Maybe the 155mm because it's more common??

    This would be particulary good for very small nations where supply and inventories are small, and for the US, where the Navy and Marines could use a common supply of ammunition.

  12. August 25, 2022John Schilling said...

    @Kitplane: There are a number of differences in land and naval ammunition that make this problematic. Most importantly, naval guns are now pretty much all designed for automatic loading from a fixed magazine, whereas land guns have ammunition hand-carried from a truck haphazardly parked near the gun. That substantially affects the way you're packaging the propellant charges.

    Also, naval shells will usually want a proximity fuse for use against air targets; land artillery might use proximity for airbursts, but that's not necessarily the same fuse design. And the naval shell will otherwise be optimized for blast and fairly heavy fragments to tear up ship hulls and machinery, whereas land artillery wants lots of smaller fragments for use against people and soft-skinned vehicles.

    There have been efforts to develop a "common" 155mm naval gun, but they all seem to founder on, first "OK, we can't use exactly the same rounds, we'll have to build special ones for the navy", and then later "we're spending how much on special navy-only 155mm shells, when they already have perfectly good 127mm shells?"

  13. August 26, 2022FXBDM said...

    There's a Diplomacy game brewing on the DSL forum, if anyone's interested. Still missing three players. We're planning on a September start with a somewhat faster clip than usual. Live play for the first few rounds was mentioned but is not confirmed yet. Come on in! It'll be fun! Or at least entertaining. Or maybe despair-inducing.

  14. August 26, 2022Neal said...

    Speaking of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR)... The 2022 version was sent to Congress in March but there has not yet been a release of the unclassified portions to, among others, our allies.

    Inquiring minds are curious as to what the delay is. Certainly the U.S. is not going to announce a no first use policy.

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