More WWII naval best-of-type matchups?



  • I was wondering what the interest level might be of continuing the series that ABWorsham started…and what format and warship types to use.  Searching google and Wiki you can (with some sleuthing and reading) learn some very interesting things about various ships and tech.  I’ve picked up a few reference works lately on destroyers and cruisers and thought it might be of some interest to do some more match ups.

    I was thinking about starting with an introduction to the roles of each type in the WWII timeframe, then some lists of contenders for people to flog on/sing the praises of.  Rather than voting immediately, I was hoping folks might take some time to consider the discussion before picking their winners.  (Savor it rather than going for a fast resolution.)

    What say ye?

    FYI:  Type = e.g. light cruiser;  class = e.g. Edinburgh (actually a sub-class of the Town class)

    1.  Would you like to see more WWII naval class match ups?
    2.  Do you want 1 vs. 1 surface action comparisions or more of an “all around” with other rolls and vulnerability/strength noted, perhaps weighted-toward-1v1-surface-action comparison?
    3.  Would you like a poll with nations listed…or a specific class?  (I was thinking of listing nations, listing some classes, and then waiting to see if someone made better suggestions.)
    4.  Would you prefer no poll, and instead just leave it to boisterous discussion?

    To equalize things somewhat I was considering handicapping the U.S. by putting a cut off date for radar tech level in the mid '42-43 time frame–haven’t picked a specific framework as yet.  The U.S. had a tremendous advantage in that it could lay down new classes with war experience behind it, and couple that with cutting edge radar tech.  Few other nations were producing new types by 1943.  So pairing 1945 radar fire control with massive late war hulls can make most matchups a foregone conclusion in favor of the U.S.  But mid-war there is more to consider, and the war was yet to be decided…  By cutting off radar tech at some not-necessarily decisive level, the comparison is more about the ship, and less about the radar fire control.

    Types I was considering (not in order, and there might even be a rare overlap with a few oddball ships):
    a.  Battlecruisers/pocket battleships
    b.  Heavy cruisera
    c.  Light cruisers
    d.  Destroyers
    e.  Maybe even some light stuff like DE’s, Corvettes, Frigates–these would likely be more function driven rather than surface action matchups…unless a given ship could do both well.


  • 2017 '16 '15 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Best Ironclad 1861-1900



  • @Imperious:

    Best Ironclad 1861-1900

    I would probably go for one of the minimal draft river boat class dual turret boats (Chickasaw and Winnebago) that hopped over to Mobile Bay and destroyed the CSS Tennessee and two forts in the passing.  It’s hard to argue with success and I would argue that these were decisive in the battle.  It’s been a few years since I visited the forts so my memory is hazy.

    Perhaps there were better ships later (since these weren’t designed for ocean travel, even though they did so), but these proved ideal for the time.  I’m also partial to the big Dahlgren guns, although these were “merely” 11 inch.

    Monitors were best suited for river/coastal warfare rather than true seagoing ops so I like the rivergoing types, despite being less impressive in other ways.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Red:

    e.  Maybe even some light stuff like DE’s, Corvettes, Frigates–these would likely be more function driven rather than surface action matchups…unless a given ship could do both well.

    Those types of units weren’t designed to fight each other (they mainly had an anti-submarine role), so yes the correct approach would be to evaluate how well such units could do their intended jobs.



  • I had thought of starting a heavy cruiser matchup. I still may make the matchup, since most navies no matter how small, had a cruiser force. The problem with a heavy cruiser match up is that the contestant are so evenly matched.



  • @ABWorsham:

    I had thought of starting a heavy cruiser matchup. I still may make the matchup, since most navies no matter how small, had a cruiser force. The problem with a heavy cruiser match up is that the contestant are so evenly matched.

    I think you will find they are not so evenly matched.  While the main armament is the same caliber, the cycle times vary greatly from what I can tell.  The way this works in practice is that once the range has been acquired, you start firing at full speed until you lose the range and have to correct.  In battleship calibers at long battleship range the effective fire rate is slow enough this doesn’t have as great an impact.  But with cruisers at moderate ranges, say 12-15,000 yards, a fast cycling gun can lay a lot of rounds on target rapidly once the range is found.  There was also some diffrence in the weight and quality of the rounds (unreliable fusing was an issue for the 8" IJN round, and the German 8" round as well.)

    There is also a surprisingly large difference in the armor thickness, particularly of the turrets.  What I’m finding in simulations is that the lightly armored IJN turrets get knocked out of service easily.  It’s maddening when you are piloting one of these and are just starting to reliably score hits…only to lose two turrets in rapid succession when a more lightly armed boat acquires your range.

    The Brits essentially stopped building heavy cruisers before WWII, going to large numbers of 6" guns in light cruisers instead.  So the UK’s heavy cruisers had the disadvantages of treaty limitations.  The US on the other hand was building during the war without restrictions.  The Germans were building some good heavy cruisers too.

    Considering night actions makes it interesting.  Pre-1943 or so the Japanese had a serious advantage because of excellent night fighting preparation and because their cruisers carried reliable long range torpedoes.  After that experience with radar improved and the Japanese lost the cover of night as an advantage.  Torpedo attacks lost the requiste surprise element, and radar gunnery gave the advantage to the allies at night.  And lack of radar was a disaster for the Italian cruisers.


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    @Red:

    I think you will find they are not so evenly matched.Â

    Another example of the kinds of differences which might crop up is that, if I’m not mistaken, German cruisers (and other heavy units like their Panzerschiffe and their battleships) apparently had weak sterns.  As I recall, a couple of heavy German warships sufferred major structural failures in their sterns as a result of battle damage.  And it was noted, when the wreck of the Bismarck was located, that the last thirty-five feet of its stern had snapped cleanly away from the rest of the hull while it sank.



  • If we do this cruiser match-up, do we count Pocket-Battleships?



  • @ABWorsham:

    If we do this cruiser match-up, do we count Pocket-Battleships?

    Only the lighter ones of the Deutschland class.  The heavier types (Scharnhorst, Gneisenau) are in the tonnage and armor protection class of battle-cruisers, and were intended to have battleship caliber guns as well.  This would also exclude the Alaska class, which although the USN lists them as “Large Cruisers”, are armoured like battlecruisers, armed like battlecruisers and have the displacement and speed of battlecruisers.  Walks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck, and has feathers like a duck.  Let’s call it a duck.

    The problem with the German match up is which is more dangerous:  the two triple turret pocket battleships with 11" guns and moderate cruiser armor, or the four twin turret armed heavy crusiers with 8" guns and slightly less armor, but about twice the fire rate and a 4 knot speed advantage?  The 11" gun turret faces appear to be marginal at 20,000 yards vs. German 8" AP.  Theoretically, they can be penetrated at that range which is not a good thing when you only have two turrets, your opponent has four and a much higher fire rate per gun.  Sure you can punch through easily when you hit, but will you get the chance?



  • Perhaps it would be good if we could have a list of the candidates for best Heavy Cruiser and a rough list of specifications for each. For example Armament, Armour, Speed and Radar maybe?


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    If we do this cruiser match-up, do we count Pocket-Battleships? <<
    Only the lighter ones of the Deutschland class <<

    I don’t think they should be counted.  The Washington Treaty definition of a heavy cruiser is one that has 8" guns, and its definition of a light cruiser is one that has 6" guns.  I personally think of cruisers with guns larger than 8" (like the Deutschland class pocket battleships with their 11" guns) as “ultra-heavy” cruisers, and I think of cruisers with guns smaller than 6" (like the Dido class cruisers with their 5.25" guns) as “ultra-light” cruisers.  Over-8" and under-6" cruisers tended to have specialized intended roles that didn’t necessarily fit the standard cruiser role.

    The problem with the German match up is which is more dangerous:�  the two triple turret pocket battleships with 11" guns and moderate cruiser armor, or the four twin turret armed heavy crusiers with 8" guns and slightly less armor, but about twice the fire rate and a 4 knot speed advantage?�  The 11" gun turret faces appear to be marginal at 20,000 yards vs. German 8" AP.�  Theoretically, they can be penetrated at that range which is not a good thing when you only have two turrets, your opponent has four and a much higher fire rate per gun.�  Sure you can punch through easily when you hit, but will you get the chance? <<

    The Battle of the River Plate (1 British 8" cruiser and 2 British 6" cruisers versus the 11" German pocket battleship Graf Spee) is an interesting example of this type of scenario.



  • The problem with Treaty definitions is that one next has to eliminate many of the best cruisers based on displacement.  The 11" guns are large, but not so much that they should necessarily be dismissed as outside heavy cruiser class, especially since there are only six total in the two turrets.  The ships had the range of cruisers, the speed of a cruisers, and the armour of heavy cruisers.  They also had the displacement of heavy cruisers, with several heavy cruiser classes being heavier (Hipper, Baltimore.)  I would put the heavy cruiser displacement cut off at somewhere around 18-20,000 tons full load.

    The River Plate engagement also illustrates the issue with light cruisers having trouble against heavy cruisers that actually had armor–basically post treaty designs.  6" guns don’t have the penetrating capacity for the job and the light cruisers get mauled by 8" or 11" guns at range.  The Exeter was a heavy cruiser but was fairly lightly armoured.  And the British 8" gun/projectile combo had a lot less penetrating capability at 20,000 yards than many other 8" rounds would have.  Still, an 8" round found its way through thin deck armor and sealed the Graf Spee’s fate, while the light cruiser guns tore up the structure above the waterline.  Had it not been for strategic considerations, Graf Spee would likely have finished the Exeter and probably one of the two light cruisers before it was over.



  • While they probably would never fight it out directly against each other, I think that the submarines of that era could be compared to each other in terms of how well they did (and how well they potentially could have) against merchant marine ships.

    I’d have to place them in this order with regards to their potential:

    1. Japan
    2. Germany
    3. US
    4. UK
    5. Italy

    Of course, the Japanese squandered the potential of their subs by using them to attack warships, rather than merchant ships.  So in order of actual performance, I’d say this order:

    1. US (Japan was devastated by lack of supplies)
    2. Germany
    3. UK
    4. Italy
    5. Japan.

    Part of the reason for my placing Germany below the US is because the allies, particularly the British developed effective defenses which the Japanese did not (and the Germans did not need to as they were a continental power).  Not sure where to place Russia, but since (like Germany) she is a continental power, there was very little, if any, efforts regarding submarines that I am aware of.

    I’d also like to point out that Germany had some very interesting submarine ideas on their drawing boards, but either chose not to (or were unable to) develop these in any meaningful fashion.

    Thoughts?



  • I have to admit I’m not against the Dido class being included either.  Those 5.25" guns in five twin turrets have enough punch to make life difficult for other light cruisers (though not the more heavily armoured types) and there are enough of those barrels with sufficient fire rate that I wouldn’t withhold them from taking on most light cruisers, and would expect to win.  There are two circumstances that would work against Dido’s in this sort of challenge:  1.  At ranges of around 17,000+ yards I would expect 5.9-6" guns to be able to hit them with advantage…so the Dido’s need to be able to close in some fashion (weather, head-on meeting engagement approach, etc.)  2.  Heavily armoured light cruisers like some of the USN and the Italian Abruzzi class would be able to withstand the lighter guns easily.

    When it comes to destroyers there is a Japanese destroyer with similar characteristics…sporting only 3.9" guns, but with over twice the fire rate of the typical Japanese destroyer.



  • well then you have to include the USN Atlanta Class Cruiser. with 16 5’ guns, they were remarkably effective against planes, and as Red Harvest pointed out, had higher firing rates so once they found the target, they could hammer them


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    Here’s a comparative study of WWII light cruisers which may be of interest:

    http://www.chuckhawks.com/best_light_cruisers.htm



  • I’ll be posting a heavy cruiser match up in next few days. Working on it right now. I’m going to place the Graf Spee as a canidate.



  • @221B:

    While they probably would never fight it out directly against each other, I think that the submarines of that era could be compared to each other in terms of how well they did (and how well they potentially could have) against merchant marine ships.

    I’d have to place them in this order with regards to their potential:

    1. Japan
    2. Germany
    3. US
    4. UK
    5. Italy

    Of course, the Japanese squandered the potential of their subs by using them to attack warships, rather than merchant ships.  So in order of actual performance, I’d say this order:

    1. US (Japan was devastated by lack of supplies)
    2. Germany
    3. UK
    4. Italy
    5. Japan.

    Part of the reason for my placing Germany below the US is because the allies, particularly the British developed effective defenses which the Japanese did not (and the Germans did not need to as they were a continental power).  Not sure where to place Russia, but since (like Germany) she is a continental power, there was very little, if any, efforts regarding submarines that I am aware of.

    I’d also like to point out that Germany had some very interesting submarine ideas on their drawing boards, but either chose not to (or were unable to) develop these in any meaningful fashion.

    Thoughts?

    Good post, and I agree with what you’ve written. I’d like to expand on what you’d written about Germany’s very interesting sub ideas. Late in the war, Germany had begun building highly advanced Type XXI U-boats. These were built in sections, to allow for a faster rate of production. These submarines had more in common with postwar nuclear subs than with their WWII contemporaries.

    Most WWII-era submarines were intended to spend most of their time above water, surfacing only when threats were detected or battle expected. Type XXI U-boats were intended to spend nearly all their time underwater. The batteries of Type XXIs lasted several times longer than normal subs’ batteries before being recharged. These subs had a snorkel–a snorkel which allowed them to run their diesel engines and recharge their batteries while still submerged!

    Type XXI subs had a rubber coating, making them far more difficult to detect with radar or sonar. Even if a sub was detected, it could use its battery-powered electric motor to quietly move to some other place. These subs could also move quickly! Unlike other WWII-era subs, Type XXI subs moved more quickly under the surface than they did on the surface. This was because of their hydrodynamically advanced, streamlined design. These subs also had very sophisticated electronics suites, perfectly suited to an underwater game of cat and mouse. These U-boats could fire large numbers of torpedoes in a small space of time; allowing them to strike a devastating blow and then disappear.

    Most torpedoes of the era were diesel powered. Compressed air was mixed with diesel fuel and burned, thereby turning the torpedo’s propeller. The compressed air used in this left a trail of bubbles–a trail which both alerted people to the torpedo’s arrival, and provided a path back to the launching submarine. In some places, that bubble trail would glow at night due to phosphorescent microorganisms. Japan’s torpedoes used compressed oxygen with which to burn diesel. That meant a much smaller bubble trail, and significantly longer-ranged torpedoes. (The Allies’ bubble trails consisted mostly of nitrogen gas, which of course is useless for burning anything.)

    Germany used electric torpedoes. These had the advantage of being much quieter and more difficult to detect than diesel-powered torpedoes. And of course they left no bubble trail. The problem with Germany’s early electric torpedoes was that the batteries weren’t that good, causing the range to be too short. But batteries improved throughout the war, thereby extending the torpedoes’ range. While Germany’s electric torpedoes never came close to the range of Japan’s Long Lance torpedoes, they nevertheless had a very respectable range by the war’s end. When that range was combined with the overall stealth and sophistication of Germany’s Type XXI U-boats, the effect was absolutely devastating.

    Or would have been, had those Type XXIs seen service. In 1944, Albert Speer ordered the construction of large numbers of Type XXI U-boats. Some of those Type XXIs were in the testing/working up phase when the war ended. None saw action against the enemy. A smaller version–Type XXIII U-boats–appear to have been very effective in limited action against the enemy. However, Type XXIII U-boats could only carry two torpedoes each, and were limited to coastal duties.


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