September 18, 2020

Open Thread 61

It's time once again for our regular Open Thread, and as the count of OTs has reached Naval Gazing's favorite number, the subject of discussion for the thread is "Why the USS Iowa is the best battleship ever."

As usual, you're allowed to talk about anything you want, so long as it's not culture war.

2018 overhauls are the reviews of Salem and Groton, So You Want to Build a Modern Navy - Strategy Part 3, Falklands Part 6, the Nimrod program and Auxiliaries Part 3*. For 2019, overhauls are my pictures of the Tinker airshow, Falklands Part 18, Fire Control Transmission, Naval Ranks - Officers, Riverine Warfare - South America and Fouling*.

Comments

  1. September 18, 2020bean said...

    The State Department attempted to celebrate the USAF's birthday by tweeting a picture of the Blue Angles. They appear to have finally noticed and taken it down.

  2. September 18, 2020quanticle said...

    Today I learned that "periscope depth" is something like 20 meters. That's a lot deeper than I expected it to be.

  3. September 18, 2020redRover said...

    @Quanticle

    I assume that depends on where they're measuring the depth?

    Like, for planes and things, they don't have that much vertical extent, so the altitude is the altitude, to the first approximation, but a Trident II is 45' long, so I assume that puts the sail top to keel distance for an Ohio in the range of 90'.

  4. September 18, 2020redRover said...

    IOW, is that "depth over the sail" or "water under the keel"?

  5. September 18, 2020bean said...

    Based on what I can recall, submarines usually use depth of keel. For one thing, it makes it much easier to use navigational charts. But a bigger submarine is generally going to have a deeper periscope depth because there's more room to house the periscopes within the submarine. (This is less of an issue with photonics masts, but it used to be a big deal.)

  6. September 18, 2020John Schilling said...

    Submarine depth is measured at the keel, so the top of the sail will be <<20 meters (or whatever) below the surface. Exact numbers for modern submarines are hard to come by, but for a Type VII U-boat periscope depth was nominally 14 meters, of which 9.6 meters is steel and 4.4 meters is water.

    In case you're wondering, Indiana Jones' longest bullwhip was 4.9 meters :-)

  7. September 18, 2020cassander said...

    There is one time in my life when I can claim with 100% certitude that I affected US government policy, and it was getting the state department to take down an embarrassingly bad webpage.

  8. September 19, 2020bean said...

    Is there an archive.org link to this webpage?

  9. September 19, 2020cassander said...

    You can see it here: https://web.archive.org/web/20110608211851/http://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/short-history/mccarthy

    My favorite part, the line "The mistaken notion that the Department of State somehow served the nation’s enemies lingered on for some years." accompanied by a picture of Alger Hiss.

  10. September 19, 2020Directrix Gazer said...

    “The mistaken notion that the Department of State somehow served the nation’s enemies lingered on for some years.” accompanied by a picture of Alger Hiss.

    Oof, as the kids say.

  11. September 19, 2020cassander said...

    Oof is almost exactly what the state department historian I ran into said.

    I really want to know how this got written. I understand someone wanting to write a hagiographic account of the department, and focusing on the foreign service officers and china hands is a good way to do that, but then why include the picture of Hiss? Maybe there was an earlier draft that talked about Hiss and those paragraphs were cut but no one was told to take out the picture? There's a fun little story here.

  12. September 19, 2020cassander said...

    I missed the post-meetup who to kill if not woodrow wilson discussion the other day, but I do have suggestions. Leo von Caprivi is a good choice. He's the idiot that the kaiser chose to follow bismark, the one that chose the austrian alliance over the russian. if you go into ww1 with a russian/german vs. UK/France/austrian lineup, austria goes down very quickly, which might lead to an early negotiated peace.

    Bismark isn't terrible, but I have an instinctive aversion to killing one of the greatest statesman in history.

    But you could also just shoot franz ferdinand in an alley the day before he leaves for serbia. If you buy 5 more years, the war turns out very differently, I feel, because you get the beginnings of serious mechanization. Ford makes 20k model Ts in 1910, they make over a million in 1920.

  13. September 19, 2020Ian Argent said...

    I dunno if I'd kill him, but replacing the OB at the Kaiser's birth with someone who doesn't damage the Kaiser's arm (or even just training the OB in a better technique) could change history too.

    I assume we're not allowed to shoot the Archduke's assassin?

  14. September 20, 2020Lambert said...

    Fritz Haber, so that the Central Powers run out of explosives within a couple of years.

  15. September 20, 2020cassander said...

    @lambert

    Haber was discussed, but I think the consensus was that if kill him someone else probably comes up with the haber process not all that much later and the war proceeds as it did.

  16. September 20, 2020quanticle said...

    Also, if the Haber process isn't discovered, then the world misses out on having chemical fertilizers and the green revolution. If it came down to a tradeoff between having World War 1 and having enough agricultural productivity to feed 8 billion people, I'd rather have the war.

  17. September 21, 2020DampOctopus said...

    @quanticle

    I think I agree with your trade-off, but we don't need the Haber process to remain undiscovered forever. It was first demonstrated in 1909 and implemented on an industrial scale in 1913, so delaying it by a few years would be sufficient.

    The question is just how special Haber was: if he weren't around, would someone else have made the same discovery straight away, or might a few critical years have passed first?

  18. September 21, 2020Alsadius said...

    I made a Twitter comment based on some half-remembered trivia, but the more I think about it, the less confident I am that I'm not just talking bollocks. Can you guys confirm? The context is an analysis of range-maximizing angles for launching objects with air resistance, and my comment was:

    Apparently battleship guns used to elevate above 45 to maximize range, because their shells went so high that they passed through thinner air. And that was more relevant to maximal range than shortening the ballistic path.

    https://twitter.com/Alsadius/status/1308083429808967683

  19. September 21, 2020Philistine said...

    Navweaps lists 45 degrees as the max elevation for the North Carolina, South Dakota, and Iowa classes' main batteries.

  20. September 21, 2020Kyzentun said...

    @Alsadius The relevant article here is the Ballistics article. That links to Fire Control Fundamentals which has this:

    Because of air resistance, maximum projectile range is not attained when the elevation angle equals 45 degrees as is true in a vacuum. In air, maximum range occurs when the elevation angle is slightly more or less than 45 degrees, depending on the characteristics of the gun and the projectile. For instance, the maximum range of the 5-inch gun is obtained when Eg = 44 degrees 35 minutes, just a little less than 45 degrees.

    So it seems you're only technically right, for some specific gun and projectile characteristics.

  21. September 21, 2020Alsadius said...

    That Ballistics article does nicely, thank you!

  22. September 22, 2020Doctorpat said...

    Speaking of fire control, what if we were to kill, or at least politely convince to go into another career, Admiral Sir Percy Scott.

    Based on bean's fascinating articles, Sir Percy came up with the changes in Naval gunnery that took naval cannon ranges from ~1000 m in 1890 to the 20 000 m we saw in the Battle of Jutland.

    BUT, because he did this in the 1890s, there was time for the technology to seep out of the (hardly secure) British navy and so by the time of Jutland, both sides had the same tech.

    If this was delayed 15 years? If the British entered WW1 with a factor of 10 range over the Germans?

  23. September 22, 2020bean said...

    Battleships never really did elevations above 45 deg. I believe this was because they didn’t really benefit from it, as they got their shells pretty high pretty quickly anyway, thanks to high sectional density. Also, the higher the guns elevate, the more difficult it is to design your mechanism. There were some moderately serious difficulties when they increased elevation angle during the interwar years. (This isn’t talking about the difficulties of loading at high angle, which are also significant, but most battleship guns loaded at a fixed angle.)

    But I’m glad I answered it already, or at least provided the means to get the answer quickly.

    @Doctorpat

    I’m honestly not sure what happens if we knock off Percy Scott. I don’t know of anyone else who is an obvious candidate to take over, and there were fewer people working on this than you might think. Someone would have come up with his methods before too terribly long, but I’ve no idea who, or what navy they’ll work for. William Sims isn’t a bad candidate, actually, but that leaves the USN ahead of the RN, and who knows who ends up with a range advantage then.

    It’s also worth pointing out that this is going to greatly affect warship design. Remember, Fisher was a long-time advocate for the 6″ battery as part of the main battery on a pre-dreadnought. It was only when gunnery ranges started to climb that he switched from being pro-6″ to all-big-gun. Delay that, and you change the shape of shipbuilding. And with improved torpedoes, you might well see a reaction against capital ships. Or torpedo battleships becoming an actual thing. (Which reminds me that I need to write about that.)

    If this was delayed 15 years? If the British entered WW1 with a factor of 10 range over the Germans?

    This, I think is unlikely. I don’t think there was ever a time when there was actually a factor of 10 in expected/trained combat ranges between the two. For that matter, there’s the whole ship design issue. If the Germans have had no time to react, the British probably haven’t either.

  24. September 23, 2020Blackshoe said...

    If any British readers feel bad after looking at the Nimrod post above, they can always cheer themselves up by reading about Canadian defen(c)e acquisitions.

    And if that's not enough, move on to India...

  25. September 24, 2020Alexander said...

    I frequently feel that defence procurement is mostly a way to transfer money from taxpayers to well connected businesses, with the actual delivery of working systems mostly a byproduct. The UK is likely to slash it's Lightening purchase to cover the cost of developing 'Tempest', which I expect will largely go to domestic companies. The Army is making some strange choices around AFVs too. I'm not aware of the Royal Navy making similarly interesting equipment decisions, though they do periodically threaten to sell off or mothball perfectly serviceable ships. I suppose it's something of a comfort to hear that it's a problem for other countries too.

  26. September 24, 2020quanticle said...

    Hey, look, India got the HAL Tejas up and running... eventually. It only took <checks notes> 32 years.

  27. September 24, 2020bean said...

    I frequently feel that defence procurement is mostly a way to transfer money from taxpayers to well connected businesses, with the actual delivery of working systems mostly a byproduct.

    This is always at least a little bit true, although how bad it is varies by country. There's some legitimate reasons behind it (you don't want to be too beholden to foreign powers) but it can also easily become a goal in and of itself. (The Nimrod AEW.3 was probably the purest example of this.) The US at least has enough requirements and enough companies that the problem usually isn't too bad. (Although the new tanker debacle springs to mind as a case where this happened.) The UK definitely has it worse than we do, although I don't really have the perspective to say if it's all that bad on a global scale because this sort of stuff often doesn't get translated. Actually, in a lot of ways, I think it may just be that there's a constant level of defense protectionism, spread over however much procurement is going on. (The weird decisions the Australians and Canadians keep making spring to mind here.)

    I’m not aware of the Royal Navy making similarly interesting equipment decisions, though they do periodically threaten to sell off or mothball perfectly serviceable ships.

    The British press is, if anything, worse than the US press at reporting this kind of stuff. Keep in mind that Admirals don't like giving up their toys. Some of those threats are to put pressure on politicians, but a lot of it is that the RN doesn't have the USN's stable funding base or adequate manpower supply, and has to make hard choices. Thin Pinstriped Line has some really good stuff on this.

  28. September 24, 2020Alexander said...

    "The British press is, if anything, worse than the US press at reporting this kind of stuff."

    Worse as in they are very eager to report it as likely and serious, regardless of the truth, or worse as in they are just generally bad on defence? My understanding is that news about this in the UK tends to be based on leaks, as there is an understandable reluctance for politicians to make official statements (not least because it makes it is difficult to be accused of under-delivering if you made no or vague promises). I'll have to check out "Thin Pinstriped Line" - they sound like they operate a shipping business Ü

  29. September 24, 2020Blackshoe said...

    WRT to defens(c)e spending, one of my more cynical opinions is to understand that for Western nation, especially the WEIRD-er ones, major defense spending is mostly understood by legislatures (and thus, by large chunks of the defense bureaucracy itself) as a function of industrial base support (with actual defense uses being secondary). For the RN, they are spared the pain of the platform being "domesticated" in to irrelevance but have to deal with the fact that the mere act of building the platform is the important part of the process. Thus they build aircraft carriers to carry shipyard worker jobs, but cannot man the carriers and have questionable strategic usefulness for them. For the US, LCS has kept in production at least partially because two Congressional districts and four Senators were directly tied into the program's sustained production.

    I have some sympathy for India, in that they do genuinely have some pressing strategic needs, but attempting to hold Dassault responsible for HAL (an Indian government agency)'s screw-ups is still the most hilarious recent defense SNAFU I can remember.

  30. September 24, 2020bean said...

    Worse as in they are very eager to report it as likely and serious, regardless of the truth, or worse as in they are just generally bad on defence?

    Some of both. Here, this kind of stuff just doesn't seem to get the same kind of headlines, probably because there's a much greater assumption that it will just keep trucking along.

    I’ll have to check out “Thin Pinstriped Line” - they sound like they operate a shipping business Ü

    He's an MoD civil servant who blogs about defense issues. I think an occasional reader here as well.

    For the US, LCS has kept in production at least partially because two Congressional districts and four Senators were directly tied into the program’s sustained production.

    I'm quite certain this was the reason they didn't downselect like they planned, and it's also probably the reason the Zumwalts survived. But we must soldier on.

  31. September 24, 2020quanticle said...

    major defense spending is mostly understood by legislatures (and thus, by large chunks of the defense bureaucracy itself) as a function of industrial base support (with actual defense uses being secondary)

    The sympathetic reading of this is that you need to build a few ships when you don't need them in order to have the people and equipment in place so that you can build ships when you do need them.

    I remember an interview with former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, where he was talking about how sequestration was one of the most damaging thing the US did for its naval readiness, as it forced him to pay for ships with year-to-year contracts as opposed to multi-year contracts that were standard before (and are standard for commercial shipbuilding). He said that that the resulting cutbacks caused a lot of skilled machinists and technicians to move away from shipbuilding into other industries, and now that the Navy has funding and a mandate to go to 355 ships, it may not be able to do so expeditiously because of a shortage of qualified labor.

    I'm not sure I agree with the argument as presented. It seems way too much like the sort of thing that Huntington Ingalls would say to justify pouring good money after bad on something like the LCS. But there is a case to be made for building a couple of white elephants now and again to make sure that you still have the ability to build real warships when the time comes.

  32. September 24, 2020Doctorpat said...

    Didn't we recently discuss this issue with the British in the 1920s and 1930s? That because they didn't build any major warships for a decade or two they lost the ability to ramp up quickly in the late 1930s when it suddenly became urgent.

    Though, not having actual sailors on board said warships would also result in the same problem. Especially a modern navy where emergency conscripted grunts with a background in social work or cash register manning are hardly going to be able to operate an Aegis system.

  33. September 24, 2020bean said...

    The sympathetic reading of this is that you need to build a few ships when you don’t need them in order to have the people and equipment in place so that you can build ships when you do need them.

    This goes back a century and more. I know both Britain and Russia built pre-dreadnoughts that they arguably didn't need to keep the yards busy.

    Though, not having actual sailors on board said warships would also result in the same problem. Especially a modern navy where emergency conscripted grunts with a background in social work or cash register manning are hardly going to be able to operate an Aegis system.

    A lot of European navies have more ships than they can actually man. Some of this is to give them cushion for things like overhauls, but there are also just ships basically pierside and lightly manned. Which isn't great, to be honest.

    That said, you can train sailors more quickly than you can build ships. For the US, the order-to-service time for a Burke looks to be 5-7 years. A useful sailor takes ~2 years, although you'd obviously need more experienced people, too, and you're likely to get gaps there. It depends on how long you have to scale up, and it's very possible that you'll have time to increase naval personnel and not ships. Particularly if you're the British and build ships in batches.

  34. September 25, 2020DampOctopus said...

    There’s some legitimate reasons behind it (you don’t want to be too beholden to foreign powers)

    A corollary of this is that choosing to purchase a defense system from another country has geopolitical significance beyond the value of the contract: it's a commitment that you trust this country enough that you're willing to be dependent on it for your ability to defend yourself.

  35. September 25, 2020bean said...

    It depends on what you're buying. If it's something like modern fighter jets, then yes, pretty much. You can survive for some time if you build up a supply of spares, but those will eventually run out, and it's not always possible to build them locally. (China's continued reliance on Russian engines springs to mind.) Of course, not everyone does this. Iraq was notorious for doing "maintenance by DSL", which came back to bite them in 1991.

    But there are lots of systems which may require specialized skill to design and build but which are maintained much more easily. Rifles, artillery, most tanks, even old (WWII-era) warships more or less fall into this category. In that case, once you have the system, it's something you can probably keep going on your own resources, particularly if you stockpile any critical spares.

  36. September 25, 2020Alexander said...

    Even for equipment that you build yourself, there is a good chance that you end up reliant on a single supplier. Not really a good environment for markets to work well.

    How long did it take for a lack of maintenance to cause problems for the Iraqis? Did it cause problems during the war, or just leave them unable to recover from it? And who are DSL? The French?

  37. September 25, 2020bean said...

    Sorry. DSL was a typo for DHL. Their practice until 1990 was to just order spare parts as needed and pay for fast courier service. And yes, it caused them problems during the war.

  38. September 26, 2020quanticle said...

    This goes back a century and more. I know both Britain and Russia built pre-dreadnoughts that they arguably didn’t need to keep the yards busy.

    I've always wondered if you could model this in Rule The Waves. I was envisioning something like if you use less than X% of your shipyard capacity, your shipyard capacity decays by Y% every year as skilled technicians leave for other industries.

  39. September 26, 2020bean said...

    I'd definitely like a more sophisticated shipyard model in RTW2, but I don't think that's how to implement it. The physical facilities (which is definitely what's being modeled in that number) aren't going to decay. I'd probably implement a combination of a cap on how many ships you can build at once and a system that makes building take longer/cost more if you haven't built a lot recently.

  40. September 28, 2020quanticle said...

    Another possibility is to model it as an increased chance of your ships not working correctly and needing refitting. One of the big problems with spinning up a new shipbuilding force after letting one's existing shipbuilding force decay is that much of the tacit knowledge needs to be relearned. This relearning process means that the first few ships that are built by a new workforce are going to have defects, which will either affect the combat power of the ship or will need yard time (and money) to correct.

    Does RTW already have a mechanism for modeling defects in shipbuilding? There are many examples of ships that were, in theory, good designs, but which were flawed in practice because the nation building them just didn't have the expertise to build them right. It would be interesting to have that in the game, though, I can also how it would make the game much less fun if there were a significant chance that the new battleship you just built didn't work because it was the first of a new design.

  41. September 28, 2020bean said...

    What is it with Amazon Prime and misusing pictures? This one is arguably worse than the last one, in that it's clearly of Iowa in a documentary about naval aviation. The last one, for those who've forgotten is this picture of an 80s Iowa on a documentary about the Battle of the Atlantic.

    Also, they have Top Gun through the 30th, and yes, you will get my opinions on that.

  42. September 29, 2020Johan Larson said...

    Back in February, a US court ordered the Navy to release documents about the loss the the USS Thresher, which happened in 1963. The release of documents began just a few days ago.

    Why would anything about this even be secret at this point? The boat sank nearly sixty years ago.

  43. September 29, 2020bean said...

    Several reasons. First, anything to do with nuclear technology tends to be born secret, and kept that way essentially forever. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that some stuff in those files touches on sensitive reactor design questions. Second, Thresher was the first of her class (more usually know as the Permits) and they served through the end of the Cold War. For that matter, she was the first of her type to have a bunch of features like rafted machinery that are standard today, and vessels only 15 years or so later than her in basic design (the 688s) are still in service today.

    The basic problem with declassifying things is that while 90% or more of it is harmless, it's not always easy to identify the bits that are harmful, or that violate some privacy regulation or whatever. And going through to make sure you're not leaking some vital secret of raft machinery design in the Thresher papers takes time and thus money. That's money the Navy would probably rather spend on ships.

  44. September 30, 2020Doctorpat said...

    you can train sailors more quickly than you can build ships.

    Wasn't it a big issue in the last years of WW2 that both the Germans and the Japanese had more planes (in particular) than they had surviving trained pilots to use them?

    The basic problem with declassifying things is that while 90% or more of it is harmless, it’s not always easy to identify the bits that are harmful, or that violate some privacy regulation or whatever.

    I remember seeing some statistic like 90% of intelligence actually comes from public information. Especially if you have enough clever people to put together widely separated bits of information.

    1. Patents and research papers around narrow subject matter X suddenly stopped being filed 8 years ago, indicating that this area was now classified.
    2. The company responsible for some fraction of the previous publications hired 3 of the university researchers working in the same area. They proceeded to not do any public work in the area they'd previously been expert in.
    3. That area of research involves a lot of osmium (say). A local osmium mine is purchased by a defense related investment body.
    4. It is known that work in this area produced PCB toxic waste. A PCB disposal company in the same town lists 15 new job positions available.
    5. A local neighbourhood community organisation posts a complaint to the newspaper about increased traffic.

    All these sorts of things. Each one is going to fail tests about if they should be classified, but if a clever organisation is putting all the ducks in a row...

  45. September 30, 2020Philistine said...

    "Wasn’t it a big issue in the last years of WW2 that both the Germans and the Japanese had more planes (in particular) than they had surviving trained pilots to use them?"

    There are a couple of differences between ships and aircraft. Especially if you're talking about tactical aircraft: single- and twin-engined aircraft can be cranked out very quickly, and every single crewman needs to be relatively highly trained. It's easy for the supply of replacement aircraft to outrun the supply of replacement pilots. Warships, OTOH - even small, dedicated convoy escort types, never mind capital ships - take considerably longer to build. And while they need a much larger crew than an aircraft, you can raid other ships in service to form a cadre and fill out the ranks with raw recruits. It's still possible for the supply of ships to exceed the supply of sailors, but you have to work at it harder.

  46. September 30, 2020bean said...

    As Philistine notes, ships are not airplanes. Planes build quickly and pilots need a lot more training. The Japanese also did a terrible job of building their training pipeline for a war, and so didn't have the capacity to train the pilots they needed for all the planes they were producing. (Remember, this is when a new plane might have a front-line service life of a year, maybe two, so this isn't nearly as stupid as it would be today.)

  47. October 01, 2020Chuck said...

    @bean

    Not sure if I mentioned this in another thread, but I was aghast recently to find out how dangerous pilot training was in WWII. Roughly 4.5% of all US military deaths, over 14,000, were caused by aircraft crashes inside the US. (source) As 95% of them were in the Army Air Corps, one could safely assume the majority of them are training-related as opposed to ferrying people around. This includes one in every five Air Corps officers who died of any cause. Additionally, 13,873 planes were lost to accidents in the US.

    I came across these numbers while thinking about Japan's pilot shortage and wondering how the US managed to produce so many more. That these losses seemed to be casually accepted really underscores just how costly it is to train pilots en masse.

  48. October 01, 2020bean said...

    That's an impressive number, although I'm not sure you're reading it right. That table is Army deaths only, not all military deaths and probably doesn't include civilian deaths. There's probably more data on crashes and such in other places. I might take a look later.

    It's also worth pointing out that aviation back then was just way more dangerous than it is today. It wasn't uncommon during the later part of the Pacific War for the USN to lose more planes to accidents than to enemy action. In 1954 (first number I can find) Naval Aviation (USN/USMC) lost two planes a day. Today, things are rather different, and we apparently lose more pilots to motorcycle accidents than plane crashes. So I really doubt those are all training accidents, in the "learning to fly" sense. A lot happened in supposedly operational units, although obviously if they're stateside, they're probably not flying combat sorties.

  49. October 01, 2020bean said...

    OK. I was able to get some other numbers. Couldn't find anything on actual training crashes (the USAAF statistical digest literally lumps them with people who washed out of training courses) but I did find the breakdown of losses by type. For CONUS, they list 21,583 aircraft losses for the entire war. Of these, 260 are B-29s, 1,989 are heavy bombers, 3,254 are medium and light bombers, 6,779 were fighters and 9,301 classed as "other". The big categories under that are going to be training and transport. Losses overseas were about twice what they were in CONUS, although the distribution is obviously rather different, with about 12,000 heavy bombers and 6,000 other. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have accident losses for combat areas broken out from combat losses. I'm beginning to suspect that the statistics for this kind of stuff were compiled to be maximally unhelpful in figuring this stuff out, presumably to stop awkward questions being asked immediately postwar.

  50. October 01, 2020bean said...

    OK. Found something for the USN. According to their numbers, it looks like all aviation personnel were more likely to die in either an operational accident (crashing on a carrier or something) or a non-operational accident (training or ferrying) than they were in air combat. All combat edges out as the winner if we include those killed on ships/on the ground. For officers specifically (more likely to be pilots) air combat narrowly beats operational losses, but is dwarfed by non-operational losses. Air combat and operational losses combined are only about 10% higher than non-operational losses.

  51. October 01, 2020Chuck said...

    @bean

    You're right in that I forgot to include the navy and marines in the total number (particularly embarrassing oversight when commenting on a naval blog). It had been a while since I looked at the numbers, and I had forgotten that I was trying to find a similar breakdown for naval aviation- after a quick search I found this, which has 3,257 out of 12,133 Navy aviation fatalities occurring in "training and ferrying".

    I would still imagine training to be the lion's share, though I could see a number of those crashes relating to mechanical defects/failures. Being the first to fly a defective plane could certainly claim a number of the ferrying air crew. (Also those in training-at least one source claimed to be a big contribution to training accidents as less experienced pilots were unable to compensate when something went wrong.) With the speed of aircraft construction I guess that is to be expected.

  52. October 01, 2020Johan Larson said...

    If you're looking for a movie to watch, let me recommend the 1979 remake of "All Quiet on the Western Front". It's available right now on YouTube. It's a classic film about WWI, made from a classic book. And the story is told from the German perspective, which is a nice change from the usual.

    The version on YouTube almost certainly there without authorization, but it's been up for two and a half years, so I doubt the IP owners are looking too hard.

  53. October 01, 2020Neal said...

    A F-35 was returned to the taxpayers (pilot euphemism) after colliding with a C-130 refueler. Absolute first rate work on the Herc crew for getting it back on the deck and everyone walking away.

    Reading the initial buzz about this it seems (and more to come out of course) that they had seriously degraded hydraulics and were down to one engine. BZ to these guys for preventing this from being a smoking hole.

    I defer to the research done as to WW 2 pilot losses, but I am not surprised by any large number of continental U.S. training accidents and fatalities. They were plowing aircraft in all over as they were pushing the pipeline for all it was worth. Night and IMC played a big role no doubt. Add in the lack of sophistication in safety programs (not a deliberate action necessarily just the way it was), mechanical unreliability, and low time and young pilots with aircraft that were powerful and could be quite unforgiving is boxed into a corner, and you had a ripe mixture for errors.

    Even after some initial training it could be nasty. I can't recall a number, but the number of mid air collisions just getting the bomber formations airborne over East Anglia was pretty significant.

    So no surprise if the number of losses doing everything else other than being over the target or engaged 1v1 is pretty heavy.

  54. October 01, 2020echo said...

    There are still unrecovered wrecks of training aircraft all around the pacific northwest. Someone recently pulled an engine from a wartime twin-engine trainer that went down on an island in Washington, which was simply abandoned in place and the crew ferried back to base.

    Things were pretty fast and loose back then, with men's lives as well as materiel.

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