May 28, 2021

Open Thread 79

It is time, once again, for our regular Open Thread. Talk about whatever you want, so long as it isn't culture war.

I've recently been playing Hearts of Iron 4, a WWII Grand Strategy game from Paradox. I have mixed feelings on it. It's not particularly detailed by the standards of other wargames I've played, and the shipbuilding system is either nonexistent (if you don't have the Man the Guns DLC) or very rudimentary (if you do) but it's quick and reasonably fun. I will say that my favorite bit is probably when you turn off historical AI focus and watch as things go nuts. Italy takes over France in 1938, Mexico tries to invade the US, and Edward VIII becomes an absolute monarch at war with the Commonwealth. And that was just one game.

2018 overhauls are There Seems To Be Something Wrong With Our Bloody Ships Today, Millennium Challenge 2002, Auxiliaries Part 1, Falklands Part 2, The New Maginot Line and Jutland parts one and two. 2019 overhauls are Pictures - My First Museum Ships, Falklands - Glossary, The Montana Class, So You Want to Build a Modern Navy - Aviation Part 4 and Battleship Aviation Part 2. 2020 overhauls are FFG(X) and Tomahawk parts one, two and three.


  1. May 28, 2021Alsadius said...

    I've played HOI since the first one, and generally loved the series, but I couldn't handle HOI4. The economic/political side was decent enough, but I just felt like battles were completely uncontrollable. Any other HOI vets felt the same?

  2. May 28, 2021Grant said...

    I recently found out that the Asheville-class FACs were at some point in their careers re-armed with Standard ARMs in place of the after gun. What was the purpose of those? Was it a case of “well, the 40mm is kind of useless and we don’t have a real anti-ship missile yet so we might as well take out enemy radars” or was there a coherent doctrine in place for their use?

  3. May 28, 2021bean said...


    Standard is a pretty beefy missile, and the big concern, particularly back in the 70s, was dealing with Soviet FACs. It wouldn't just kill the radar on one of those. As for the choice of ARM homing, the problem is that this was the era when getting a small active radar seeker onto a missile wasn't really possible. Harpoon finally made it work, but that was a few years later.

  4. May 28, 2021echo said...

    Oh, did they ever fix the naval combat in hoi4? last I heard they had bugs like "battlecruisers do not function"

  5. May 29, 2021beleester said...

    Mini-museum review: I'm on vacation and recently visited the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, GA. It's a small but packed museum. We only had an hour to spend there, which turned out to be enough to see all the rooms and skim over the signs, but you could probably spend two hours there if you're really into naval history. The big attraction is the remains of the CSS Jackson (the actual wooden wreck after it was burned to the waterline, plus a metal frame that shows what the original shape was), but there's a bunch of other displays and artifacts as well. They also have a timeline of the naval theater of the civil war and a general overview of the type of ships involved, which had a lot of interesting facts.

    (They also have a collection of various flags and naval jacks from the war, and I have to say: The "stainless banner" version of the Confederate flag is probably the worst flag design I've ever seen.)

    I don't think it's big enough to be worth traveling to see specifically, but at $8 a ticket it's definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in that part of Georgia.

    Top two tidbits I remember:

    1. The story of Bailey's Dam - a Union riverboat flotilla found itself trapped on a river, the water too low to sail out, Confederate forces closing in. The solution? Build a dam to raise the water levels enough to escape!

    2. The story of Robert Smalls, a black slave who stole a Confederate troop transport he was supposed to pilot, and sailed to freedom along with several other slaves and their families.

  6. May 30, 2021Anonymous said...


    (They also have a collection of various flags and naval jacks from the war, and I have to say: The "stainless banner" version of the Confederate flag is probably the worst flag design I've ever seen.)

    It's simple, it clearly relates to the CSA and whoever designed it managed not to forget that colors must be separated by metals.

    People have done far worse.

  7. May 30, 2021beleester said...

    It's literally a better flag pasted onto a white background. The white around it isn't even nicely spaced. It looks like someone forgot to crop the image after they designed it.

    It also had the rather serious practical problem that it could be mistaken for a surrender flag.

  8. May 30, 2021ike said...

    RE: Hearts

    Maybe I am alone in thinking that HoI4 is really really ugly and muddy with all of the semi-transparent overlaid map modes. I do my best to turn all of the 3D stuff off and just play with the cards. I think Darkest Hour was a lot prettier.

    @bean What country do you play as? The whole selling point of the series is "You can be Hitler, but better!"

  9. May 31, 2021Anonymous said...


    It's literally a better flag pasted onto a white background. The white around it isn't even nicely spaced. It looks like someone forgot to crop the image after they designed it.

    True, but people have managed a lot worse.


    It also had the rather serious practical problem that it could be mistaken for a surrender flag.

    That would've saved them some time.

    But yeah, that might be an issue.

  10. May 31, 2021Kit said...

    Writing of the turbo-electric systems on WWI and WWII American warships ...

    Could they route power from a few boilers and turbines to all the screws? In a Type 45 destroyer, one can run as few generators as needed to provide power, and yet spin both screws to have symmetric thrust and to minimize drag. For long peacetime crossings at part power, running only some of the turbines and powering all the screws would be a useful ability.

  11. May 31, 2021Kit said...

    I read "The problem with the tips is that their speed through the water increases in proportion to the square of the length of the blade for a given RPM." --

    Someone please tell me that's wrong? I used to be really sure that the circumference of a circle is proportional to radius.

  12. June 01, 2021Blackshoe said...

    Mostly an offhand comment, but sometimes I log in here and see the recent comments and wonder exactly what weird rabbit hole we're going down today.

  13. June 01, 2021Doctorpat said...


    I'm no propeller expert, but I do know a thing or two about mechanical interactions with fluids (which is how I ended up here in the first place some time ago).

    And obviously the comment about tip speed proportional to the square of radius is rubbish. But I suspect that where this was intended to go was that the energy with which the water hits the tips is proportional to the radius squared.

    After all, the kinetic energy of water (or anything with mass) is 1/2 x mass x velocity^2. And velocity is proportional to radius.

    To be generous to the author (and I have seen, and done, similar things in writing many, many times in the past) the original comment was about the kinetic energy of the water, then he went to change the sentence to be about speed, and ended up with a hybrid sentence that is mechanically nonsense.

    The rest of the paragraph is about the effects of water energy, and so that's why I think he was trying to say energy.

  14. June 02, 2021quanticle said...

    Apparently the largest ship in the Iranian Navy, the support ship Kharg, just caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Oman. The sinking is not currently thought to be the result of enemy action, and given the previous record of mishaps in the Iranian Navy, I wouldn't be surprised if this was yet another training accident.

    Fortunately, all the sailors managed to get out safely this time around.

  15. June 02, 2021Blackshoe said...

    @quanticle: today, Iran has joined the ranks of the premiere navies like the US, RUS, and China in letting their largest ships be disabled by fire.

  16. June 02, 2021bean said...

    Finally, it looks as though the William D Brown Memorial Award is going to a Navy I don't like!

  17. June 02, 2021Chuck said...

    Speaking of the Iranian navy, what is the deal with the two ships they have heading over to Venezula? My understanding is that the Makran is some kind of support ship/staging platform made from an oil tanker, sort of a low-rent assault ship (a concept I can honestly get behind if you a small navy looking to have some global presence) but what is it doing with all that internal space? Do either of them have any kind of point defense? And of course, the question on most people's minds, why are they even going there in the first place?

  18. June 02, 2021Blackshoe said...

    bean's least favorite building in the Greater Los Angeles area is in danger of sinking (even further into the mud, I guess?).

  19. June 02, 2021quanticle said...


    According to this USNI article, satellite imagery shows that the Makran left Iran with seven fast missile boats loaded as cargo.

    My guess is that Iran is delivering those ships to Venezuela.

  20. June 02, 2021Directrix Gazer said...

    James Hornfischer has passed away, apparently. He was only 55. No idea as to cause.

  21. June 03, 2021bean said...

    Lord Nelson and I are watching Howl's Moving Castle. She was not expecting the 5-minute long pause while I analyzed the pre-dreadnought they had in shot. It was very well done, definitely French/Russian in influence, which puts it a cut above the typical movie warship.

  22. June 04, 2021Doctorpat said...

    Google tells me that Howl's MOving Castle is a cartoon, which means that they can actually make a ship suitable for any period and style they want, without needed to find a suitable ship to film.

    On the other hand, this usually means they let the artists have free rein and end up with something not physically possible.

    I have heard of this movie being mentioned occasionally. Any good?

  23. June 04, 2021quanticle said...

    Miyazaki's films are always very well illustrated, with an almost unnecessary level of detail. If you want to see another film that has extremely gorgeous illustrations, I can wholly recommend Porco Rosso, which, in terms of art style, is all about aviation in the inter-war years.

    In my opinion, Porco Rosso is quite possibly the best drawn and animated Miyazaki film, and yes, I'm aware that I'm putting it above Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke.

  24. June 04, 2021ike said...

    So, I have been reading Sondhaus's book on the pre-Tirpitz German Navy.

    Forget the ships; just building an officer corps up from nothing is apparently a herculean undertaking. A staggering number of things can (and did) go wrong. Like the year where all of the cadets in the naval academy were bed-ridden with VD.

  25. June 04, 2021bean said...


    I'm liking it reasonably well so far, but it's very definitely Japanese (not quite normal anime, the best description of Studio Gibli is that it's the Disney of Japan) and what you think of it is going to depend on your interest in/tolerance for that.


    Lord Nelson is in charge of what we watch, but I will mention that to her.


    I'm actually surprised that isn't more common. Old anti-VD posters are usually extremely funny.

  26. June 04, 2021Solitary Voice said...


    And then, as your source doubtless mentions, most of Prussia’s naval cadets drowned when SMS Amazone went down in 1861. The resulting vacancies gave the young Tirpitz’s career a tremendous boost. So by the butterfly effect, if the weather had been better off the Dutch coast that day, would WWI not have happened?

  27. June 05, 2021megasilverfist said...

    Iran just lost the Kharg to a fire at sea. The Kharg was Iran's second largest naval vessel (a lot of the reporting says largest, but it was recently surpassed by the Makran)

  28. June 05, 2021echo said...

    Japanese artists doing historicals, fantasy, and alt-history typically seem to have much better research to ground their flights of fancy. Whether that's spending months obsessively studying Victorian household etiquette, or memorizing every steam locomotive of the 1890s.
    Sometimes there can be a bit of an uncanny valley effect where the realism slips, but it can lead to some amazing work.
    Even a kinda crap show like Youjo Senki got the inter-war aeroplane and tank designs spot on.

  29. June 07, 2021ike said...


    Yeah, the book had passages on both the Amazon disaster and '50% of the class of 186X went on to become admirals'. I guess I wasn't smart enough to connect the two.

    RE: what ifs

    Seeing all of the pain and hardship going into bringing the navy into the world first hand, it is hard to imagine any admiral not wanting a truly splendid navy once things finally turn the corner. One thing people forget is that the navy was very popular with the German left (It is complicated going back to '48).

    The more I look at it, the worse the German Strategic situation looks to me. Surrounded by 2.5 great powers each with hostile territorial ambitions (counting A-H as a German subsidiary). I guess the colonies feel foolish as they gave both Japan and Britain incentive to join the partitioning alliance.

    ...back to the navy stuff. The #1 problem is any fleet good enough to keep the sea-lanes open is one good enough to screen an invasion of England. Italy hates France too, so maybe you can split her off, but the lands she wants are over-seas or over the alps, so you need a good fleet to offer them.

    It is a shame Bismarck was unable to get Russia Constantinople at the Congress of Berlin. Russian naval adventures in the eastern Med would have stepped on a lot of toes. Though, that could have easily turned into Crimea II: Great War Early.

  30. June 08, 2021Anonymous said...


    One thing people forget is that the navy was very popular with the German left

    The left wing wasn't always dominated by pacifists.

  31. June 09, 2021quanticle said...

    It is a shame Bismarck was unable to get Russia Constantinople at the Congress of Berlin.

    Bismarck was a great negotiator, but I don't think even he would have been able to get the Ottomans to trade away their capital in a peace treaty.

  32. June 09, 2021ike said...

    @quanticle The Russians had just destroyed the Turkish army and were encamped on the capital's outskirts. Turkish approval wasn't important. British approval was.

    The actual result of the Congress of Berlin was: in exchnage for freeing half of Bulgaria (which made Russia stronger) and giving Bosnia to the Hapsburgs, the Turks would compensate Britain & France by giving them Cyprus and Tunis.

  33. June 09, 2021ike said...

    Well, that and it was a Great Power conference. The Turks were not allowed to come.

  34. June 09, 2021muddywaters said...

    @Said Achmiz: is there a page with a longer list of recent comments, or better, a list of posts sorted by last comment time? Commenting on old posts is encouraged, but easy to miss given how quickly they can scroll off the top right corner's "Recent Comments".

    (Also, the list of "overhauls" in the standard open thread header seems to actually be "posts made at this time of year". Is that true, and if so, is there a real list of "recently edited posts" anywhere?)

  35. June 09, 2021bean said...

    (Also, the list of “overhauls” in the standard open thread header seems to actually be “posts made at this time of year”. Is that true, and if so, is there a real list of “recently edited posts” anywhere?)

    That's exactly what it is. I do overhauls at yearly intervals to make sure that links get updated and anything I've learned/think of gets mentioned. I only rarely do edits to posts that have already gone up outside of this cycle, and I try to mention it in the OT when I do. The reason I'm pretty sure that no list is generally available is that the vast majority of recently edited posts are going to be ones that are still in work. The system doesn't really know the difference. (Very occasionally, I'll end up putting links to things that are going up very soon into stuff in overhaul, and it works fine, although anyone who tries to follow them and doesn't have an account is going to be very confused.)

  36. June 10, 2021Tarpitz said...

    On HoI4, I haven't played earlier games in the series, but I found it did not take me long to learn how to do micro well enough to win almost any conceivable war against the inept AI quite easily (think Austro-Hungarian panzers racing unimpeded across Siberia in 1940 because the entire Red Army managed to get itself cut off in the Carpathians and surrendered). It's basically just about counterattacking on narrow fronts after the AI wears itself down with pointless general assaults and having a mobile reserve ready just behind the front to exploit the breakthrough and complete encirclements.

    On beautiful animé films with nicely drawn warships in them, a strong recommendation from me for This Corner of the World, about a girl/young woman growing up in Hiroshima before and during the war. But, you know, be prepared for sad, for obvious reasons.

  37. June 10, 2021AlphaGamma said...

    Courtesy of a man named Matt Warwick on Twitter, the list of "small arms" carried by a King George V-class battleship in 1938 (crew of about 1500):

    • 586 x .303 rifles (of which 156 listed as "for marines")
    • 3 x .303 rifles equipped for firing grenades
    • 16 x .22 rifles
    • 3 x anti-tank rifles
    • 12 x Bren guns (for marines)
    • 2 x Vickers machine guns
    • 8 x Lewis machine guns
    • 108 x revolvers
    • 20 x swords

    And a 3.7" howitzer...

  38. June 10, 2021ike said...

    Re: Hearts of Iron IV

    In general, the AI is really bad at home defense (and keeping reserves in general). I once saw an AI/AI Pacific War that only last a month. The USA embarked an army in San Francisco and disembarked in Yokohama. All Japanese forces were busy elsewhere.

    I keep thinking that if I was a little bit smarter, the battle planner would be useful. I really like it's ability to automatically form a continuous front, but beyond that I have never had much luck.

    If you want to cry, tag switch over to the AI in the middle of a war and look at his theater structure.

  39. June 10, 2021Alexander said...


    Why did they need all those small arms? Cruisers/Destroyers that might do patrols/presence tasks probably want a few, but that isn't what you'd expect a battleship to be used for. Was it just that they had a huge surplus of rifles from WWI, so carried them 'just in case'?

  40. June 11, 2021bean said...


    Naval landing parties were very important for presence/policing duties. Sailors fought ashore in reasonably large numbers in most wars up until WWI, and training in this was standard. It was only with the advent of the amphibious fleets that land combat became something left to the Marines.

  41. June 11, 2021Alexander said...

    Like I said, cruiser/destroyer crews occasionally going ashore armed is something I'd expect - They spend a fair bit of time on presence roles. Battleships, however I think of as sufficiently focused on winning a fleet engagement, that they wouldn't be available for that sort of thing. Was the logic something like: We're the Royal Navy, so we're definitely going to beat the enemy fleet as soon as they come and face us, at which point we'll eventually get bored of bombarding their coast, and want to land. If you feel as though you genuinely have 'ruled the waves' for the past century or so then there might be less time spent worrying about how to maintain sea control against a peer opponent, and more about how to take advantage of having secured it.

    What were the .22s for? Target practice?

  42. June 11, 2021bean said...

    Battleships did it too, particularly back before Fisher called them home. And this is the sort of thing that's much easier to put on a ship than to take off. After all, what's the downside? And yeah, I'd assume the .22s are for practice or sporting use.

  43. June 12, 2021Anonymous said...

    The .22s at least have some use, it's the swords that really stick out.

  44. June 12, 2021Alexander said...

    Maybe for dress/ceremonial purposes?

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