April 08, 2019

Open Thread 23

It's our biweekly open thread. Talk of whatever you want.

A thing I have recently started playing is Rule the Waves, a game that puts you in command of a fleet in the 1900 era. You get to pick the country, and then design, build, and fight the ships. It's one of the most addictive games I've ever encountered, to the point that I'm afraid I'll have to give it up.

Edit: I just discovered that Rule the Waves 2 is being released on April 25th. It brings with it airplanes, radar, and a bunch of other tweaks. I'm very much looking forward to it, but it does mean that it might be a good plan to hold off buying RTW1 for now.

Overhauled posts since last time include So You Want to Build a Battleship - Design Part I, The Pursuit of the Goeben and Breslau, Operation Staple Head, and my posts on the early dreadnoughts and the forces that fought the submarine in WWII.


  1. April 09, 2019bean said...

    Regular reminder:

    If you're trying to comment and can't see the captcha, make sure you're at navalgazing.net and not navalgazing.obormot.net.

  2. April 09, 2019Matt R said...

    For a decidedly... less realistic take on naval electronic gaming, does anyone remember the Naval Ops series (Warship Gunner 1 and 2, and Commander) for PS2?

  3. April 09, 2019doctorpat said...


    You finally made the comment that let me comment again. I've been locked out for weeks because I was at orbormot.

    Not that I've got anything to say right now...

  4. April 09, 2019LordNelson said...

    Say what you will about Rule the Waves. I still hold that Neopets is/was much more addicting.

    Just 5 more minutes, mom! I have to catch the next restock so I can sell this questionable food to ten-year-olds at a ridiculous markup. It's all part of my quest to give my dog an edgy makeover

  5. April 10, 2019bean said...


    More addicting to you, maybe. It's the only thing I've played besides Aurora that has a good, flexible ship-design engine (instead of something with just a bunch of slots for stuff that you put in it) and I haven't played that in a while because of all the updates we're supposed to get when C# is done.

  6. April 10, 2019bean said...

    A reader recently emailed me to point out an error in ASW in WWII forces. I claimed that at one point the RCN was the third-largest navy in the world, and he supplied me with a very interesting article that crunched the numbers and found that (depending on the measurement you use) it probably peaked at fourth very briefly. It was never convincingly larger than either the Japanese or Soviet navies, which was rather surprising to me. I hadn't realized the USSR had so many ships.

  7. April 10, 2019cassander said...


    How did the RCN manage to have zero aircraft? They had an escort carrier!

  8. April 10, 2019bean said...

    Because of Lend-Lease rules, HMS Nabob and HMS Puncher were technically RN ships manned by Canadians, and the aircraft that operated from them were RN, too. Any Canadians who wanted to fly naval aircraft went into the regular Fleet Air Arm, and they apparently made up a sizeable portion of the aircrews.

  9. April 10, 2019IsANobody said...

    Is Azur Lane worth watching/playing?

  10. April 11, 2019quanticle said...

    What do we make of China's new maritime surveillance platforms. It seems to me that China's strategy in the South China Sea is to "zone out" US carriers by fortifying shoals with long-range radars and setting up surveillance platforms in order to limit the maneuver advantages that a carrier has.

  11. April 11, 2019bean said...

    That seems a pretty good analysis to me, although the obvious counterpoint is that it seems like a really tempting target for some submarine-launched Tomahawks. I'm sure China knows that, too, and there's probably a lot of truth about the fisheries enforcement stuff in the article. That kind of thing is hard to do without good surveillance capabilities.

  12. April 11, 2019BakerEasy said...


    No. Kancolle is the only true boatwaifu game. (Wait, is this a no culture war thread?)

    So here's an aviation question - how well would you be able to use modern piston engine technology in a WW2 fighter? By way of comparison, an early war Merlin got you 1000hp from 12 cylinders and 27 liter displacement - by the end of the war IIRC they were pushing 2000hp. A modern GT500 car has a 2 liter 4-cylinder that gets you over 700hp. Could you power a fighter effectively with a (relatively) low displacement modern engine? A couple of issues come to mind - auto racing engines seem to be built with high RPM in mind - F1 engines have reached over 19000 - whereas the Merlin's rev limit was around 3000, and I have a suspicion ultra-high RPM may not be so useful in driving a prop plane. Also, these are racing engines and their power output comes somewhat at the expense of reliability and endurance.

    Conversely, what could Rolls Royce do if asked to build the most powerful militarily useful engine they could, in a V-12, 27L configuration?

  13. April 11, 2019bean said...

    This is a complex question because, as you rightly identify, the requirements for an aero piston engine and a ground piston engine are very different. More than that, these days any airplane that needs more than maybe 500 hp uses a gas turbine. At that power level, it's just better. Fuel consumption is fairly similar, it's a lot more reliable, a lot lighter, and just easier to deal with. So I don't know what would happen if we asked for a really powerful aero piston engine.

    (All of this neglects that the one true way of doing aero piston engines is the radial, of course. R-2800 forever!)

    Conversely, what could Rolls Royce do if asked to build the most powerful militarily useful engine they could, in a V-12, 27L configuration?

    Are you asking about the engine manufacturer or the branch of BMW? The former would be baffled by these "piston" things you're asking about, and the latter would probably fall over laughing at the displacement you want.

  14. April 11, 2019Said Achmiz said...

    @bean (and everyone):

    I’ve now made navalgazing.obormot.net redirect to www.navalgazing.net, which should prevent any further problems.

  15. April 11, 2019bean said...

    Splendid. Thank you for that.

  16. April 11, 2019cassander said...


    Bean said exactly what I was going to.

    A better comparison than car engines might be looking at engines like the IO-580, and comparing their displacement/fuel consumption to similarly powerful ww2 engines. But really, bean is right, if you have modern technology, turboprops are just superior.


  17. April 12, 2019beleester said...

    @IsANobody: I haven't gotten too deep into Azur Lane, but I like it. Unlike most waifu collectors, it's got some actual gameplay (a sides rolling shooter) beyond the usual gacha game stat fiddling. The first few missions weren't very challenging, but the boss battles punched things up a bit so I'm hopeful.

    Oh, and it's in English, which puts it miles ahead of Kancolle and Warship Girls in my book.

    However, it will eat your phone battery, so I haven't gotten too deep into it yet.

    No opinion on the anime, I haven't seen it.

    (I thought the Kancolle anime was mediocre, but the movie was surprisingly good and the animation was beautiful.)

  18. April 12, 2019bean said...

    I haven't played any of the warship girls games. The whole thing seems really strange to me. I love ships, and Iowa in particular, but while it verges on romantic, it's definitely not sexual. (This is the real answer to why ships have the female gender, by the way.)

    Also, Lord Nelson might object.

    In news of other video games, Rule The Waves 2 comes out on April 25th. I am very excited. We're going to get airplanes. And radar!

  19. April 12, 2019John Schilling said...

    One thing that definitely needs to be considered on the aircraft vs. automobile engine front is that aircraft engines are designed to run at ~75% of maximum rated power for hours at a time and thousands of hours between major overhauls. By comparison, the cited Shelby GT500 with its nominal 700 hp engine, will be using maybe 100 hp when cruising at any plausible highway speed (I estimate 83 hp at 100 mph, not counting hotel loads). The 700 hp is meant to be used for maybe a minute or two at a time when passing or impressing your friends. Even most racing events won't average 75% power over the course, and high-end auto racing involves engine overhauls at a frequency that would not be acceptable for an operationally useful aircraft.

    Also, what matters is not power per unit displacement, but power per unit weight. Aircraft engines use a lot more aluminum, which can't be stressed the way you would need to maximize power vs. displacement. My Lycoming O-360 aircraft engine "only" gets 180 hp out of 360 cubic inches, where a Chevy small block 350 can deliver 310 hp, but the Lycoming weighs 260 lbs vs 575 lbs for the Chevy.

    And yes, aircraft engines would much rather run at 2,000 rpm than 12,000, and the necessary gearbox will add weight and complexity and still more overhaul time.

    There have been attempts to modify high-performance automobile engines for aeronautical use, mostly by amateurs but some professional. It can be done, but the promised performance gains never seem to manifest in the final product.

  20. April 12, 2019Johan Larson said...

    I'd like to thank whoever it was that recommended C.S. Forester's novel "The Good Shepherd" to me. It's a really excellent story about service aboard a destroyer in the Battle of the Atlantic.

    The one thing that struck me was the US Navy's really extreme insistence that the captain had to be in active command of the ship during action. It seems like a sound enough rule in most circumstances but during prolonged hostilities, as in the book, it could result in the captain being on the bridge for days on end, which must have played havoc with the captain's judgement. Letting the XO take over for few hours while the captain got some shuteye would have done a world of good.

  21. April 14, 2019Doctorpat said...

    The point about the demands on Aero engines for sustained levels of high power (70% or more) for several hours at a time, along with multiple such demands between overhauls is very good. There just isn't any automotive application like that, so such engines just aren't developed. Not for cars. There are applications like that. Trucks and other heavy equipment need that sort of duty cycle. And the big stuff gets towards the couple of thousand horses that the aircraft needed. And their solution is also large capacity, slow revving piston engines that run heaps of boost. Diesel engines too which provides much better performance in such situations along with better fuel consumption (which would be highly desirable in a WWII aircraft).

    However the big, heavy, iron block diesel engines would weigh so much more than the aluminium blocks that this would be a showstopper.

    The last place to look would be offshore power boat racing. Similar demands (including more subtle stuff like G-loading that heavy diesels don't encounter but racing boats and fighter planes do).

  22. April 20, 2019quanticle said...

    So I'm in London, and while I didn't get to go on board, I did manage to take this photo of HMS Belfast: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Mvdkipz1X2V19GQ76.

  23. April 21, 2019Manly Reading said...

    Hi Johan, I think that was me recommending The Good Shepherd. I'm glad you liked it - I thought it was a big of a forgotten classic when I read it.

  24. April 22, 2019quanticle said...

    There just isn’t any automotive application like that, so such engines just aren’t developed. Not for cars.

    Well, that's not strictly true. There are engines like that for cars, just not road-going cars. What you're describing there is a race car engine. I'm thinking about things like Formula 1 engines, which run for two hours and then have to be completely torn down and rebuilt. Or top-fuel dragsters, which need brand new pistons after every quarter mile. Even "endurance racers" need significant amounts of work after every 12 or 24 hour race.

    It might be possible to repurpose a Formula 1 engine for aeronautical use, but given how much F1 engines cost, you could probably just go ahead and buy yourself a nice plane for that price and have a nice chunk of change left over for a luxury car to drive to the airport.

  25. April 22, 2019redRover said...

    re Aeroengines,

    I think that the big limit will be cooling, and to a lesser extent what metric you're trying to optimize? Weight is bad (generally), but at the same time most racers/fighters are operating far enough to the right on the drag curve that they can make up for extra weight by having less form/cooling drag, at least in a straight line, so compactness also has value.

    Also, while aeroengines do have a unique load profile, being essentially run at full power all the time, they're also run with a 50 hour oil change interval and a 2000 hour (at best!) TBO.

    If you want a very detailed, but somewhat abrasive, look at it, I recommend starting here: http://www.epi-eng.com/aircraftengineconversions/conversions_contents.htm

    However, the key takeaway seems to be that modern engine tech only makes sense for relatively large engines, otherwise a Lycoming is hard to beat.

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