October 02, 2020

Open Thread 62

It's time once again for our regular open thread. Talk about anything you want that isn't culture war.

I'm planning to set up a better notification system for our virtual meetups. At least as a stopgap, if you want in, send an email to me at battleshipbean at gmail expressing your interest.

Also, the September DSL effortpost contest is currently running. There's some good writing there. I actually made an effort this time, submitting Territorial and International Waters.

2018 overhauls are Secondary Armament Parts one, two and three, the Wartime Battlecruisers and reviews of Mystic Seaport and Albacore. 2019 overhauls are my look at warrant and enlisted ranks, my first encounter with Iowa, the first part of the story of riverine warfare in China, the McKinley Climatic Laboratory, HMS Warrior and Dumb Bombs and LGBs.


  1. October 03, 2020echo said...

    Does Obo know anything about the extremely long "time to first connect" the blog has?

    Everything else seems to work well, but I've had people I recommend posts give up after 10 seconds and say the site wasn't working.

  2. October 03, 2020Kyzentun said...

    It's not even "time to first connect", it's the front page. If you give someone a direct link to an article, it loads instantly. If someone goes to the front page, it takes 10 or more seconds. Something about generating that list of recent posts is done very wrong.

  3. October 04, 2020quanticle said...

    The long time-to-first-byte is a known issue. This blog is run on top of PMWiki, and apparently the blogit plugin uses PMWiki's page lists in a weird way that causes performance problems. Obormot is aware of the problem, but apparently it's not a simple fix.

  4. October 04, 2020bean said...

    Pretty much what quanticle said. It's a known issue, but apparently difficult to fix. Direct linking works fine.

  5. October 06, 2020echo said...

    So I've been reading up on US cruiser actions in WWII. Were they uniquely poorly armored, or were all cruisers eggshells?

    Even light hits from shore batteries killed dozens of men, and their torpedo protection never seemed to offer much.

    I guess cruiser strategy was a bit of a mess during the inter-war period, like you've referenced before?
    Nobody really knew what they'd be doing, but by god ours needed to have more guns than the new Japanese ones (without going over the magic 10kt).

  6. October 06, 2020Suvorov said...

    Inspired by bean's question about certain fighter aircraft on his "Naval Bases from Space," post does anyone know why there are Étendards parked on the ramp next to the F-5s at NAS Key West?

    My understanding is that they were pulled from service in 2016, but the imagery seems to be from 2020.

  7. October 06, 2020bean said...


    There's just not a lot of room to do serious armor on a 10,000 ton ship. Definitely no space for a TDS, so you're just relying on compartmentalization to limit damage. The US cruisers were fairly typical of the type.


    I'm not sure. First, the imagery might be older than expected. Second, these days a lot of those kind of planes are flown by contractors, so "retired" doesn't necessarily mean they're actually not being used. Also, I'm not finding any references to Etendards in adversary squadrons.

  8. October 06, 2020cassander said...

    So anyone care to comment on what secretary esper is smoking with this 500 ship navy plan? 355 ships was ambitious, 500 is ludicrous, unless his plan is to abolish the air force and use that money to buy ships. though come to think of it, that might not be the worst plan...

  9. October 06, 2020quanticle said...

    Do you have a link for this 500-ship Navy thing? The only way I can think this is feasible is if Secretary Esper is including every possible UUV and USV as a "ship". It's easy to hit 500 ships if half (or more) don't actually have any crew on them.

  10. October 07, 2020bean said...

    Secretary Esper seems to be taking a page from the book of Representative James McClintic, who solved the cruiser gap with Britain in the 1920s by redefining cruisers to include all of the flush-deck destroyers. The version I read said that he was looking at 150-250 unmanned or optionally manned ships in the mix, which is basically all of the growth from 355 to 500, if not more. I'm more surprised that he's talking light carriers. That's usually a Congressional specialty.

    As for abolishing the Air Force, I think that's a great idea from an altruistic perspective. Selfishly, I'm not so sure.


    USNI has coverage on their website.

  11. October 07, 2020ryan8518 said...

    How mean-spirited is it that I took one look at the image in the link below and the words that came out of my mouth were "Look it's the entire British navy" about 2 octaves higher than normal.


    Anyways, good to see our friends retaking a seat at the table

  12. October 07, 2020quanticle said...

    It's not quite the entire Royal Navy. The RN has a fairly decent number of nuclear submarines and destroyers. No, they don't have the same carrier or amphibious capability that the US Navy does, but why would they? The RN is dealing with a much different geopolitical picture than the USN (though there is some overlap).

    Anyway, what's interesting is that the Royal Navy might own the ship, but the US Marine Corps owns 15 of the planes aboard the carrier. This doesn't look to be some kind of interim deployment either. Instead the UK is looking to fully integrate the Royal Navy with the US Navy and the US Marine Corps, with a semi-permanent complement of US Marines serving aboard the Queen Elizabeth as part of its air wing.

  13. October 07, 2020Alexander said...

    The thing that alarms me about that photo is the single point of failure (or rather significantly reduced capability) represented by the 30 year old RFA Fort Victoria. Being able to keep your carrier supplied is about as much a requirement a keeping it protected. New replenishment ships would be a very worthwhile investment, and the delay to the RN's Fleet Solid Support program is quite frustrating.

    The small fleet of jets is also an issue, though the degree of cooperation with the USMC is an impressive and innovative method of mitigating that. I can't help feeling the the money spent on Tempest might be better spent on more Lightnings, looking back on the issues caused by the size of the Harrier fleet towards the end of their service.

  14. October 07, 2020bean said...

    Definitely a good day for the RN. Yes, there are American and Dutch ships in the group, but it's not been uncommon for the RN to deploy with our CSGs.


    I think the F-35s are a much bigger issue than the auxiliary. This isn't to downplay the importance of auxiliaries, but the Lewis and Clark class are very new and very capable, and they built a bunch of the things, so loaning one out occasionally shouldn't be an issue. A small buy of jets, on the other hand, is a lot harder to reverse down the road. I'm happy that the USMC has stepped up to fill the gap, but it's an area where compromise is probably a bad idea. Also, with you on Tempest. The British have gotten very close with all of this, but screwed it up at the last minute.

  15. October 07, 2020Alexander said...

    While I was all for CATOBAR back when the UK was making the decision, now that we've gone for STOVL I think that there are certain attractions to being less reliant on runways. If Tempest hadn't been persued and the original target of 138 aircraft was achieved (with no split buy of F35As) then eventually the bulk of the RAF's fighters would be able to operate from highway strips - potentially quite useful given the threat cruise missiles pose to runways on a (relatively) small island.

  16. October 07, 2020Suvorov said...

    Also, I’m not finding any references to Etendards in adversary squadrons.

    To clarify, I meant from French service.

    I haven't found anything about Etendards in private service, but Argentina did get 5 of them last year. Would it be possible they would be at Key West en route? Seems unlikely...

  17. October 07, 2020cassander said...


    to my mind, the runway is the least important part of the airbase. ability to take off or land on a freeway is no good if you can't also re-arm, re-fuel, and repair on a freeway, and bringing all that stuff plus all the people the need makes your base no longer austere in any meaningful sense of the word. this whole improvised runway idea is a red herring to me.

  18. October 07, 2020bean said...


    Might be. The USN has pretty good relations with the Argentinian Navy, which among other things continues to fly its Etendards to our carriers whenever one is in the neighborhood. It's possible they were on a visit to Key West to get some carrier qualification in. The alternative is that they're ex-French aircraft bought by a private company for adversary duty. I know that several Kfirs are or were used in that role. (Neptunus Lex died while flying one of them.)

  19. October 07, 2020Philistine said...

    @Alexander -

    I think cassander has the right of this. Dispersed deployment (from "small forest clearings" originally - highway strips don't require STOVL, just a straight stretch of well-built and -maintained road) was the stated rationale for the entire project that became Harrier, but AFAIK nobody ever used them that way in the real world, or even made a serious attempt to use them that way. And the issue is exactly that being able to take off and land from a random tennis court isn't useful if you can't service the aircraft there.

    In practice it seems like STOVL has been used mostly as a "party trick" for air shows, and to allow navies to save money by building somewhat smaller, very slightly simpler aircraft carriers (at the cost of being restricted to generally less capable and somewhat more expensive air groups).

  20. October 07, 2020quanticle said...

    bringing all that stuff plus all the people the need makes your base no longer austere in any meaningful sense of the word.

    I don't know about that. The USAF has been experimenting lately with "airbase in a box" designs, which can be rapidly deployed to austere runways in order to allow even 5th generation fighters to refuel and rearm away from major established bases that can get ballistic/cruise missiled into oblivion.

    As I understand it, Sweden has a similar operational concept for its air force.

  21. October 07, 2020Alexander said...

    I accept that roadside repairs are probably not an option, but I can't see how refueling and rearmament couldn't be managed. Dispersal bases have existed before (admittedly with less advanced aircraft), and I feel that the RAF would be able to conceive a workable method of sustaining operations for at least an short while. Actually following through and making the required investment however...

    I can't believe that forest clearings were ever a serious option for fixed wing aircraft. Would a Lightning have much of a combat radius left after taking off vertically, even with a fairly light armament? I think the STOVL capability would be better used to make you more flexible about which road you pick, rather than to dispense with the need for a runway altogether.

    I'd agree that for everyday operations a proper airfield would be preferable, and there are aircraft other than fast jets that might be more dependent on a full runway, so it's not a complete solution, but it's a more 'exciting' argument in favour of more F35s than looking at budgets and logistics.

  22. October 07, 2020cassander said...


    but I can’t see how refueling and rearmament couldn’t be managed.

    an F-35b carries ~14,000 pounds of fuel internally, and will burn it in a few hours. That's this much:


    Serious operations will consume truly enormous quantities of fuel, and the issue isn't pumping it into the planes so much as having enough on hand at an austere location.

  23. October 07, 2020quanticle said...

    I finally remembered the name of the operational concept that the USAF was using for its austere-basing operations: Rapid Raptor. The idea is is to package up all the fuel and equipment needed to service 4 F-22s in a few C-17 cargo loads, and deploy them to any airfield with a 7500 ft. runway with 24 hours notice. This relieves pressure on in-flight refueling tankers, and allows F-22s to be much less predictable in their deployment patterns, reducing their vulnerability on the ground.

    Tyler Rogoway has some more details on a test run of this system, where 4 F-22s deployed to a simulated "austere airfield" on Guam (in reality a sectioned off area of Anderson AFB).

  24. October 08, 2020AlexT said...

    @cassander an F-35b carries ~14,000 pounds of fuel internally

    Isn't that less than half the load of a large gas truck? Seems easy to disperse a bunch of them all over the country, in random parking lots, waiting for the call to drive to a refueling rendezvous. Ordnance might be more sensitive to store on the nation's roads, so would probably only be dispersed when hostilities appear imminent.

  25. October 08, 2020Doctorpat said...


    I don't think you want to disperse trucks full of jet fuel and just leave them there. If that's what you mean.

    Diesel for heavy machinery has storage problems. I don't think high performance jet fuel is going to be more tolerant.

    Because it goes off. Volatiles evaporate slightly altering the mix, and you get stuff growing in the fuel, literally it gets eaten by microbes.

  26. October 08, 2020bean said...

    And Secretary Braithwaite just announced that he plans to name the first FFG(X) Constellation. Seriously, he was doing so well, and now this. Constellation is an important and historic name, and deserves to be on a much bigger and more important ship. Also, you can't just use "original six frigate" names for all of the FFG(X)s. You don't have enough. I almost wish Modly had gotten to name them. He wanted Agility for the first one, which at least gives a vague theme.

  27. October 08, 2020AlexT said...

    So the FFG(X)'s will be called Constellation Class, which sounds straight out of Trek and cool to boot. Although my personal choice would have been USS Destroyer, for the awesome and the confusion factor.

    @Doctorpat Didn't know that about fuel. Does it also spoil while it stays in storage underneath gas stations?

    Anyway, if it can't pe stored, the tankers can be deployed at the outset of hostilities. I imagine it can keep a few days at least.

  28. October 08, 2020Jade Nekotenshi said...

    Constellation for a frigate? Hm. I'd have picked hero-based names, and vote for USS Ernest Evans for the first one. Overlaps with the Burkes, sure, but then, so did the naming schemes for the Knox, Perry and Spruance classes.

    Constellation belongs on a CV or an LHD, or in a pinch, maybe a cruiser.

  29. October 08, 2020Chuck said...

    While dispersing your jet fuel does have its drawbacks, I would suggest concentrating it in an environment where someone is hard at work trying to blow it up also has drawbacks.

    I think the US has shown how airspace dominance can be self-reinforcing, so I would guess part of the appeal of dispersed deployment is a way to continue to operate once you have lost control of your airspace, with the hope of somehow regaining control later.

  30. October 08, 2020Aaron said...


    Yeah I’m also not sold on Constellation. Ernest Evans was on my mental wishlist for new frigate names, along with Admirals Norman Scott, Daniel Callaghan, and Theodore Chandler.

  31. October 08, 2020cassander said...

    I did find a list of sailing frigates of the US navy. Some are in use and of them are better than others, I’m not sure USS Confederacy, Bourbon, or Queen of France would go over well today, but there are probably 40 or 50 good names in here, and we could pilfer the list of other sailing ships for more.




    Bonhomme Richard




















    General Greene

    George Washington







    John Adams






    New York








    Queen of France








    South Carolina

    St. Lawrence




    United States




  32. October 08, 2020Directrix Gazer said...

    I don't mind Constellation. Neither I nor any of the coworkers I happened to talk about it with were really enthused about Agility (joking concerns about further ships in class being named USS Synergy and USS Rightsizing may have been voiced).

    General opinion (around my limited portion of the contractor sphere, at least) seems to be that the naming conventions are so shot that you might as well go with inspiring and historical names as long as there's at least a thread of a rationale; in this case that it's a previously used frigate name. We could do worse than having the next ships in the class named Alliance, Cyane, Fox, Ganges, Guerriere, Insurgent, and Java, to pick a few that wouldn't step on existing naming schemes too badly.

  33. October 09, 2020quanticle said...

    Given the sorts of conflicts the US military has been involved in as of late, I can see a fair number of objections to naming a ship "Insurgent".

    It might be fun to name the ships after actual constellations, though. USS Orion, anyone? USS Ursa Major? USS Pleiades?

  34. October 09, 2020Directrix Gazer said...

    Given the sorts of conflicts the US military has been involved in as of late, I can see a fair number of objections to naming a ship “Insurgent”.

    There you go, ruining my fun.

    Anyway, I find myself liking the idea of naming them after actual constellations.

  35. October 09, 2020bean said...

    Apologies for the lack of an RTW2 post. Life has been busy (and Satisfactory is one of the best games I've ever played) and I had some tech issues. Instead, please enjoy my Midway Rant, to be posted tomorrow morning.

  36. October 09, 2020quanticle said...

    You watched Midway despite John Schilling's review. What possessed you to do that?

    In other news, I was reading this article about the Russians test-firing their Zircon hypersonic missile against maritime targets from the Admiral Gorshkov, and a couple things jumped out at me. First, it seems like the Russians have somehow managed to cram a hypersonic missile into a VLS. Second, the article alleges that, because the Zircon is powered throughout the entirety of its flight, it will be more difficult for the US Navy to shoot down, because it doesn't have a "glide phase" like other hypersonic weapons.

  37. October 10, 2020bean said...

    I figured it would make a good rant, and I was right. I also re-watched Top Gun for the same purpose.

    Second, the article alleges that, because the Zircon is powered throughout the entirety of its flight, it will be more difficult for the US Navy to shoot down, because it doesn’t have a “glide phase” like other hypersonic weapons.

    Wait, I thought it was ballistic weapons that were invincible. Seriously, this is probably somewhat true, although less so than the Russians would have you believe.

  38. October 10, 2020AlphaGamma said...

    It might be fun to name the ships after actual constellations, though. USS Orion, anyone? USS Ursa Major? USS Pleiades?

    The French named their Tripartite-class minehunters after constellations- they call them the Éridan (Eridanus) class. There is an Orion currently in service.

  39. October 10, 2020Blackshoe said...

    @Diretrix Gazer: USS LEAN SIX SIGMA, the newest addition to the fleet.

    Also, a couple of comments from the last open thread that I didn't get to add before it timed out.

    1. On the subject of shipbuilding, and especially quanticle's line about building some "White elephants": white elephants isn't quite accurate, but it's not entirely wrong to think about that as why we keep building aircraft carriers at the rate we do-it keeps the production line open and the skillset current (also for benefits to submarine production, or at least that's what I've been told). That's why occasional proposals to slow down or take a gap year on CV production don't save much money, other than on a single FY (but costing more later).

    The flip side of a system that is tilted towards shipbuilding is that it discourages the Navy from properly maintaining their ships; why take care of them when you know you'll just get new ones? As a guy I know notes, every time over the last hundred years (I think?) that the Navy has had to make a decision of force structure vs acquisition, it has sacrificed force structure to maintain future builds.

    1. On the subject of aircraft, and how expendable they seemed to be viewed in WW2, we should also remember that aircraft were viewed as pretty expendable and were fairly cheap prior to the Cold War. There's probably a good book out there that one of our readers may know about that discusses it, but I've read enough snippets that talk about it to come away with the idea that military combat aircraft were pretty cheap until jet engines* and avionics (especially fire control systems, especially especially radars) started being integrated onto them.

    *-it's fascinating to see old WW2 footage and note everyone wearing headgear on airstrips and be alarmed and then remember, oh yeah, they didn't have jet engines so no one cared about FOD then

    Finally, on the subject of the new 500-ship Navy, David Larter has had a few discussions on this in the last month or so in his Drift series that comes out on email (which I highly recommend). One thing to note is Esper implies that the Navy growth is mostly going to come out of the Navy budget, so going unmanned kinda forces that.

    Also, I find the number "150-250" to be a) suspiciously imprecise and b) suspiciously round (eg ending in a 5 or 10), leading me to believe it's closer to "something somebody made to fill in a blank on a budget cycle slide vice something with actual research behind it.

  40. October 10, 2020Blackshoe said...

    Markdown is weird, ugh

  41. October 11, 2020Philistine said...

    Aircraft, especially fighters, continued to be considered expendable right into the 60s. Most of the Century Series types fell out of the sky at rates that today would spark massive public outcry, Congressional investigations, and enough heads rolling to make Robespierre blush. The attitude toward losses seems to have changed in the 70s, which not only saw a new generation of (much more expensive) aircraft entering service but also much more scrutiny of the military generally in the wake of Vietnam. Certainly by the 80s a single downed aircraft was considered nationally newsworthy.

  42. October 11, 2020echo said...

    Aurora .12 is now out, earlier than expected. Just in case you were running out of steam on Satisfactory :D

  43. October 11, 2020bean said...

    Satisfactory will probably have me for the next week or so, but that's still splendid news.

    Actually, it ties into something that came up during the meetup yesterday. The RTW2 game is becoming increasingly annoying, particularly to illustrate, but Aurora might be a good substitute. Instead of having to deal with taking screenshots, I could just upload the database, and let anyone who is interested boot it up in their copy of Aurora. I'm even toying with doing a succession game, just to see what happens.

  44. October 12, 2020Johan Larson said...

    GMT Games publishes a trio of solo board games about the WWII submarine war: The Hunters (Germany, early war), The Hunted (Germany, late war), and Silent Victory (US, Pacific theater).

    Are these games any good? I've seen some complaints that they are really complex and as such for grognards only.

  45. October 14, 2020bean said...

    SecNav Braithwaite just announced two more names. First, John Lehman is getting a DDG. As names go, this isn't a bad one. I'm in the middle of one of his books right now, and he definitely deserves one. He's just, you know, alive. But the second is the best one in a long time. The next Virginia is going to be Barb, a welcome return to honoring the boats that fought a brutal campaign during WWII. Bravo Zulu, Secretary Braithwaite.

  46. October 14, 2020Placid Platypus said...

    Actually, it ties into something that came up during the meetup yesterday. The RTW2 game is becoming increasingly annoying, particularly to illustrate, but Aurora might be a good substitute. Instead of having to deal with taking screenshots, I could just upload the database, and let anyone who is interested boot it up in their copy of Aurora. I’m even toying with doing a succession game, just to see what happens.

    Casual reader perspective: I've enjoyed the RTW2 posts and would be interested in something similar for Aurora but I'm definitely not going to go to the effort of downloading the game the game and savefiles if that was necessary to follow the posts. Or would that just be for people who wanted more in depth info to contribute to decision making?

  47. October 14, 2020bean said...

    I would still do at least a bit of writing. Just getting the save file wouldn't be a terribly good way to follow the plot, and the text log isn't that hard to do. The big advantage would be that those who want the details could get them easily without it being a bunch of work for me. (Also, Aurora is better at generating AAR data than RTW2 is.)

  48. October 14, 2020Blackshoe said...

    So, I just finished Season 3 of the The Crown, and am now cautiously optimistic (say, 5% chance) that S4 will have an episode about Andrew serving in the Falklands.

    Reasons For: -Timing seems to work out -It would be a decent them in a lot of what Season 3 seemed to be exploring

    Reasons Against: -Andrew hasn't really been introduced -The trailer for S4 promised us lots and lots and lots of Lady Diana Spencer, and I suspect that is going to dominate the season, unfortunately

    Kinda of an aside, but the Falklands is fascinatingly under-represented in non-documentary movies. IMDB's list of most popular movies with the keyword Falklands War is topped by...Shattered Glass, which is a good movie but not about the Falklands War, really. Most of them seem to be Argentinian; I've heard really good things about Iluminados por el Fuego but have never seen it.

  49. October 14, 2020bean said...

    Another reason against is that Andrew is...not particularly popular after the Epstein thing. Falklands will almost certainly play a part, but I doubt we'll see too much of Andrew. And yes, we're going to see lots of Princess Di. Who I've never been a fan of.

    And the lack of any Falklands movies is baffling. Black Buck in particular would make a very good one.

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