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VinSoft

Effectiveness of AA on warships

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Hello everybody, good morning!

 

I was wondering, out of curiousity. As I started with the RN BB's yesterday I read about them getting dual purpose guns. For secondary and AA. 

But, in real life back then, how effective was AA on a ship? Was it anywhere near as effective as my ingame New Mexico is? It shoots down 2 or 3 planes or so every bombing attempt. 2 or 3 out of 5 or 6 planes per wave. Hoping anybody knows...

 

 

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Alpha Tester
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AAA on ships was more of an area denial weapon, preventing incoming planes from good aiming or droping their loads. There are various reports from ineffective AAA, like Bismarcks AAA bein incapable of taking down the outdated Swordfish TBs of the RN, while, on the other hand, there are reports from ships actually shooting down planes. However, those can be considered lucky shots. But beyond that, no warship AAA of the relevant era was capable of taking down complete squadrons of TBs or DBs by itsself.

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[SCRUB]
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USN AA was used to create area defence curtains. That mean that all AA guns were centrally coordinated to fill a designated space with as much ordnance as possible to turn it into a killzone. Any aircraft forced to enter that space during their attack approaches would have to survive hundreds of shrapnel bursts as the AA shells and their timed fuzes (later radar assisted proximity fuzes) literally put up a wall of lead.

A coordinated fleet with its specialized air defence escorts (Atlanta or Cleveland class cruisers for example were purpose built for that role) could put up a coordinated area defence that resulted in quite effective AA defense (naturally with assistance of their own carrier launch fighters).

 

That was also a reason why the IJN AA was so inefficient during the war as they lacked AA coordination aswell as having techical deficienies were their AA armament was concerned, the 25mm dealt too little damage even if it hit to reliably shoot down an aircraft (if they hit in the first place as they were entirely handcranked vs the powered mounts on USN ships), the IJN had no mid-caliber AA weapon like the 40mm Bofors (and the very few that were used in later stages were again handcranked). They also never employed a proximity fuze shell (and the USN was very careful not letting them have any to reverse engineer, not even using those proximity fuze shells if the Japanese could potentionally get their hands on them).

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1 hour ago, Aotearas said:

That was also a reason why the IJN AA was so inefficient during the war as they lacked AA coordination aswell as having techical deficienies were their AA armament was concerned, the 25mm dealt too little damage even if it hit to reliably shoot down an aircraft (if they hit in the first place as they were entirely handcranked vs the powered mounts on USN ships), the IJN had no mid-caliber AA weapon like the 40mm Bofors (and the very few that were used in later stages were again handcranked). They also never employed a proximity fuze shell (and the USN was very careful not letting them have any to reverse engineer, not even using those proximity fuze shells if the Japanese could potentionally get their hands on them).

The IJN 25mm had more problems than these. It was magazine fed, with 15 rounds in the magazine. Each time they needed to reload it (quite frequently), they had to remove the empty magazine and put a new one (these things were also heavy), drasticaly reducing the overall rate of fire. Also vibrations caused by the other guns of a dual or even worse triple mount were not dampened enough, decreasing accuracy. In comparison the Bofors were not only of larger caliber, but were also clip fed (clips of five rounds) and their opperation was not interuped by the loading proces and also had much better dampeners.

As for fused shrapnel shells, IJN ships actually used them, they are the so-called type-3 or beehive shells. They were made for a lot of calibers, from 5" (12.7cm) up to 18.1" (46cm). The main problem with them was their overall inefectiveness, as the spread of the shrapnel was not good enough, guns firing them had generaly a low rate of fire and most larger guns (caliber larger than 6" (15.2cm)) could not elevate higher than 45 degrees.

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Beta Tester
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If you want some benchmarks:

USS South Dakota holds the record for the most planes shot down in a single day by a BB at 26/32 (depending on who you ask) during the Battle of Santa Cruz.

In contrast to that, Yamato probably shot down more planes by exploding than with her AA guns.

Or to put things into perspective a late war Gearing class destroyer could put up a more effective flak screen than a Littorio class BB, capable of throwing more lead in the air and doing so far more accurately.

 

Generally speaking the Allied had vastly better AA than the Axis due to doctrine, better director systems, better weapons and VT fuses. They also had better radar which enabled them to know not only that an attack was coming, but also giving them an approximate number of attackers and the direction from which they are going to be hit from. And, perhaps most importantly, the US at least could afford far more training sessions due to the logistical support they enjoyed while retaining their trained and veteran crews as they lost fewer ships by comparison.

 

However even when assembled as some of the biggest naval task forces the world has ever seen supplemented with ludicrous numbers of fighters Japanese planes were capable of breaking through both fighters and AA to attack the US carriers. That'd be completely unthinkable in WoWs. Neither fighters nor AA was nearly as effective as it is ingame.

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During the Battle of Ceylon between the Royal Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy, it seems that the AA of both sides left much to be desired. Firstly, there were the two heavy cruisers, Dorsetshire and Cornwall, were unable to spot and then shoot at Japanese D3A1's, due to having no AA guns able to point forwards. They were promptly sunk. In fairness, they were waiting for a CAP (combat air patrol) from the British fleet carriers, which shows how much value they placed on AA guns.

In fact, even the Japanese, which were pretty damn untouchable in the Pacific at this point, didn't manage to  notice or shoot down any Blenheims that the RAF launched against their carrier fleet. Their fighters shot down five later, but this goes to show that if Ceylon had stronger aircraft at that point the Japanese Fleet could have been hammered.

On the other hand in the Pacific in 1944/45 (can't remember exactly), radar-aimed DP guns were pretty effective. The Briish Pcific Fleet picked up a Japanese strike on radar, but couldn't see them through thick fog. The ships opened fire on radar, putting up an AA screen (a mix of 5.25" and 4.5" guns). Much to their surprise, they downed a fair few aircraft and defended the fleet.

I suppose it all comes down to how early you notice the planes. If you have good radar like the British or US, you can have fighters up and the AA defences ready. But if the planes are sighted too late, there isn't much that a few pom-poms and Oerlikons/Vickers 50-cals can do against fast moving bombers. Also, if they get too close, the DP guns are useless.

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12 hours ago, VinSoft said:

Hello everybody, good morning!

 

I was wondering, out of curiousity. As I started with the RN BB's yesterday I read about them getting dual purpose guns. For secondary and AA. 

But, in real life back then, how effective was AA on a ship? Was it anywhere near as effective as my ingame New Mexico is? It shoots down 2 or 3 planes or so every bombing attempt. 2 or 3 out of 5 or 6 planes per wave. Hoping anybody knows...

 

 

As others have said, it depends on how many of which navies were shooting. I recall seeing footage of the US navy being attacked by Kamikaze and seeing 3 Japanese aircraft tumbling out of the sky at the same time.
The footage I found when looking for that clip  shows 2, possibly 3 aircraft so it may not be the clip I was looking for. The 2nd clip shows just how much lead they could get into a small area. Pretty fricking huge amounts!

3:49 for 2, maybe 3 aircraft

 

0:32 - 1:00 for volume of shots in the air/sea, sorry for the rather large watermark.

 

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20 hours ago, Aotearas said:

USN AA was used to create area defence curtains. That mean that all AA guns were centrally coordinated to fill a designated space with as much ordnance as possible to turn it into a killzone. Any aircraft forced to enter that space during their attack approaches would have to survive hundreds of shrapnel bursts as the AA shells and their timed fuzes (later radar assisted proximity fuzes) literally put up a wall of lead.

A coordinated fleet with its specialized air defence escorts (Atlanta or Cleveland class cruisers for example were purpose built for that role) could put up a coordinated area defence that resulted in quite effective AA defense (naturally with assistance of their own carrier launch fighters).

 

That was also a reason why the IJN AA was so inefficient during the war as they lacked AA coordination aswell as having techical deficienies were their AA armament was concerned, the 25mm dealt too little damage even if it hit to reliably shoot down an aircraft (if they hit in the first place as they were entirely handcranked vs the powered mounts on USN ships), the IJN had no mid-caliber AA weapon like the 40mm Bofors (and the very few that were used in later stages were again handcranked). They also never employed a proximity fuze shell (and the USN was very careful not letting them have any to reverse engineer, not even using those proximity fuze shells if the Japanese could potentionally get their hands on them).

Thanks for this awesome explanation!

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