March 27, 2016

USS Iowa

I am not a player of KanColle but as a peruser of fan art it's kind of difficult to avoid. So from the frequency of images, I gather that they've finally started adding American ships to the fold, including USS Iowa.

At least according to one fan artist, battleship Iowa is big, blonde, brash, and boobalicious. I'd add more "B" words but none come to mind right at this moment. (Unfortunately, "Cameltoe" starts with C. Ah! "Bikini"!)

What I'm wondering is how they classified it and what specs it has in the game. (Not as a girl, as a ship.) My bet is that it's the same as Yamato or maybe even weaker, and if so that's wrong.

One of Jim Dunnigan's books had a section where they compared the Yamato class to the Iowa class. The simple comparison points out that Yamato had thicker armor, and 18" guns compared to Iowa's 16" guns. And based on that it would be easy to assume Yamato was a better ship.

Dunnigan said that wasn't true, for several reasons. First, Iowa was several knots faster. Second, Yamato's armor was thick but it wasn't well made and the steel was inferior. Third, and most important, Iowa's gunnery would have been better.

That's because its fire rate was twice that of Yamato, and because it had radar fire control. And at range, Iowa's guns were at least as good, possibly better. Dunnigan's conclusion was that if a group of four Yamatos fought against a group of four Iowas, the Yamatos would lose. The only real question would have been how many Iowas they took to the bottom with them.

Of course there were only two Yamatos. (The third hull was converted into a carrier, for all the good it did them.) But Dunnigan made the comparison four-on-four because that would reduce the consequences of flukes on the analysis.

The four Iowas that actually did get built were the ultimate battleships. No others were ever built after that, because submarines and aircraft carriers had rendered the big-gun-platform ship concept obsolete. Even so, they were superior to every other class of battleship built by anyone, anywhere.

But since KanColle is a Japanese game, Yamato has home field advantage psychologically, and the game designers can't really make it second best. So I bet it's either equal to, or better than, Iowa in the game in combat even though it wasn't IRL.

IRL it's arguable that Yamato and Musashi were a net negative for the Japanese war effort. For the resources used to build and operate them, the Japanese could have built dozens of destroyers instead, which they desperately needed late in the war. But those aren't sexy platforms for Admirals to strut upon.

UPDATE: Yamato and Musashi never fired their main guns against an enemy. Musashi was sunk at the Battle of Leyte Gulf and Yamato was sacrificed in a futile effort to aid the defenders of Okinawa.

As to Shinano, it didn't even survive long enough to be committed to combat.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Gaming at 05:31 PM | Comments (27) | Add Comment
Post contains 508 words, total size 3 kb.

1 In the battle arena game World of Warships, Iowa is ranked one Tier lower than Yamato, with a somewhat-spec-based version of the never-built Montana class ranked on the same Tier as Yamato.  I think it's done more for balancing the game based on how they want it played, though.  Some of the ships have conceptual similarities to to their real-life counterparts, while others are slotted in where they're needed.

Posted by: Ben at March 27, 2016 05:42 PM (S4UJw)

2

That was another question I was going to ask.

In terms of game balance and attracting international players, they can't really tell the truth: American ships by the end of the war were better than anyone else's, not to mention far more numerous.

But this isn't a history lesson, it's a game. It's more important that it be fun than that it be accurate. (That applies to KanColle too.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 27, 2016 06:00 PM (+rSRq)

3 I got curious so I looked it up.
Compared to Yamato, Iowa is:
20-30% cheaper to operate. (Which is a major, major factor in KanColle, where running Yamato and Musashi all the time will bankrupt you.) About 10% less firepower with equipment, and slightly shorter range. (Not a big deal.) 5% less HP. 10% less armor. Is "High Speed" instead of "Low Speed", which means you can use her for things you can't use Yamato for. Has a much higher luck stat, for accuracy and dodging. 10% better AA.
All in all, Yamato is the more powerful ship in most cases, but Iowa is an extraordinary asset and something any player would want.
As for how she compares to the other ships in the game, she's probably slightly lower than Bismarck's maximum upgraded form, which carries torpedo tubes and so does slightly more damage, and is also much cheaper to operate.
If I had to rank the battleships in the game right now, it would be 
Yamato/Musashi Bismarck Iowa Everyone Else





Posted by: tellu541 at March 27, 2016 06:38 PM (GVyYP)

4 (OT other than the fact that Mr. Den Beste mentioned James Dunnigan.)

A classmate of mine and I had beta-tested one of SPIs games back in late 1970s (in fact, it was https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/4207/kharkov).  I never met James Dunnigan nor did I meet  Redmond Simonsen (despite his dying in near-by Garland, TX) while at West Point in the end of the 1970s despite a subscription to S&T and buying quite a few wargames.  I rather regret that to this day.

OT by all measures: Hmm.  By some strange quirk of fate, I see that one each Stephen Den Beste does not have a page of his own, despite being quoted in one or more pages.

Posted by: Mark A. Flacy at March 27, 2016 06:51 PM (ATlQg)

5

My given name is "Steven", not "Stephen".

And please avoid OT comments in future.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 27, 2016 06:59 PM (+rSRq)

6 Please accept my sincere apologies, Mr. Den Beste.

I leave it to your imagination on how my last name has been mispronounced (many times willfully so, especially as a plebe) and misspelled over the years.  I was careful on your family name but less so on your given one. 

I'll note that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transnational_progressivism has the incorrect spelling of your given name, which does not excuse my getting it wrong in any way. 

Posted by: Mark A. Flacy at March 27, 2016 07:19 PM (ATlQg)

7 I'm going to quibble for accuracy's sake.  I apologize in advance...

1) No others (battleships) were ever built after that...

HMS Vanguard was launched in November 1944 and commissioned in 1946.  She's truly the "final battleship," though she could never hope to stand up to an Iowa.  She had less armor than an Iowa, but it was arguably better arranged and better quality (there's a world of debate about that).  Her only clear advantage was that she was a better sea-going ship. 

2) Yamato and Musashi never fired their main guns against an enemy.

Yamato most certainly did at the Battle of Leyte Gulf.  Musashi did fire her main guns at US aircraft (using sanshiki anti-aircraft rounds, one of which actually disabled Turret 1 in the process). 

A few years back, I tried to write about an Iowa-vs-Yamato fight, and found that I couldn't make it interesting.  I just couldn't come up with a non-ridiculous scenario where the Yamato could legitimately win.

Posted by: Wonderduck at March 27, 2016 08:56 PM (KiM/Y)

8 I didn't realize they had anti-aircraft shells for their big guns.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 27, 2016 09:07 PM (+rSRq)

9

Saying that "American ships at the end of the war were better" is true, but also more than a bit deceptive.

By 1945 there were only three nations still building warships: the US, the UK, and the Japanese. And the US industrial might was far greater than the UK and Japanese combined.

The Japanese in particular had a terrible bottleneck on raw materials because the American submarine blockade had finally begun to really hurt them.

And in the case of the British, they were simply used up after 6 years of all-out war.

The French weren't building ships because they had only recently been liberated. The Italians weren't building ships because there was no point in doing so after they changed sides. The Germans spent all their naval building effort on submarines. And the USSR wasn't building ships because ships would be useless for the war they were fighting.

I think Canada was still building ships but not all that many just because the population was so small. (Same comment about Australia and the rest of the Commonwealth.)

So it's not really a fair comparison. If the other industrial powers had been able to build ships in 1945 the way they had been in 1935, the only real advantage the Americans would have had is sheer volume. (Which is still significant, of course.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 27, 2016 09:43 PM (+rSRq)

10

HMS Vanguard was not even the last battleship completed - Jean Bart was (Due to the Fall of France interrupting her construction.).  If 'built' also includes 'battleships under construction but were never finished,' we can include both ILLINOIS and KENTUCKY - especially the latter, which Ernie King placed a priority on the construction of.  Had the war lasted another year, KENTUCKY would have been completed.

The armor issue is tricky.  The standard British armor was probably better than the standard US armor (The USN did realize the issues beforehand and had developed better armor, but the Pacific War began before they could put the new armor into production and it was decided that production was a higher priority over introducing something new.), and the KGV (Which the Vanguard was based on.) probably carried it better.  The USN could afford to use their armor plate much more freely than anyone else, though.

The San Shiki shells were for use on all the IJN battleships, to provide a 'shotgun shell' anti-aircraft defense.  They were much more effective in the bombardment role, as Kongo used them as during the Guadalcanal campaign.

 

Posted by: cxt217 at March 27, 2016 09:58 PM (eH7iZ)

11 I found this to be a pretty good comparison, especially since it includes factors like fire control:

http://www.combinedfleet.com/baddest.htm

Kurita had more of an edge over Taffy 3 than Oldendorf had over the Southern Force the previous night, and yet, he performed abysmally in comparison, wasting precious hours against a handful of tiny escorts.  The biggest difference?  I'd argue that it was our radar-controlled guns and almost magical electro-mechanical shell and torpedo fire control computers, compared to the Japanese colored smoke bombs in their shells.

If Halsey had split TF 34 off as he had suggested, it would have been a night battle between Washington+Alabama+5xCC+DDs vs. 4xBB (including Yamato)+6xCC+2xCL+11xDD.  At night, blocking the exit to a strait, with fire control radar and probably the best BB crew in the fleet (WA), I think we still would have won, although the DDs on both sides could have proved decisive with their torpedoes (as had Oldendorf's DDs).

Now, if Halsey had detached Iowa and his own New Jersey to hold the straits... that would have gone down in history.

Posted by: BigD at March 27, 2016 11:19 PM (VKO9N)

12 The Iowa has first been introduced  in the PSVita computer game Kancolle Kai (by clearing the game on hard difficulty or higher). She's scheduled to debut in the browser game in Spring 2016 or later, so her stats in the wiki might be different for comparison with the Yamato. Her lines sound like this.
The ship that the Iowa sank, the Kotori, is in the game, so it'll be interesting to see how the 4-koma handles their meeting. 
In game, the San Shiki shells are effective against installations, so a lot of battleships have them.

Posted by: muon at March 28, 2016 05:48 AM (IUHrD)

13

Re: B's and the picture -- how could you forget "babe"? 

 

The armor issue is tricky. The standard British armor was probably better than the standard US armor (The USN did realize the issues beforehand and had developed better armor, but the Pacific Warbegan before they could put the new armor into production and it was decided that production was a higher priority over introducing something new.)

 In WOWs, they claim that the Iowa and Montana class (which they fail to mention was never built) have a unique armor type and arrangement that makes them superior.  Their research could be a little wonky, or it could be game balance.  

In reality, on the eve of war, the US was commissioning the Colorado class, and debating the Iowa vs. the Montana.  The Montana class was seen as the answer to the Yamato; achieving a superior throw weight via 4x3 16" gun turrets as opposed to Yamato's 3x3 18" turrets.  After the BB vs. CV argument got decisively settled at Pearl Harbor, the USN decided on the faster Iowas as escorts for the carriers; which they could also make it through the Panama Canal.  Montana BBs couldn't.

Posted by: ubu at March 28, 2016 07:23 AM (SlLGE)

14 They were much more effective in the bombardment role, as Kongo used them as during the Guadalcanal campaign.

CXT, do you have any references for this?  I see this claim bandied about on the interwebs, but with nothing to point at and say "I found this information here."  My various books on Guadalcanal mention nothing about them being used in the bombardment of Henderson, so if you've got something, please let me know!

Posted by: Wonderduck at March 28, 2016 03:20 PM (KiM/Y)

15

CXT, do you have any references for this?

Richard B. Frank's Guadalcanal has a footnote, on one of the pages describing 'The Bombardment,' which breaks down types and numbers of shells fired by Kongo and HarunaKongo was the only one of the pair that fired the Sanshiki.

Kongo's TROM at Combined Fleet also says she fired the Sanshiki during the bombardment, and explains that only Kongo received '...them before departure because there are not enough available for both battleships.'  Since Combined Fleet uses Japanese sources (Both primary and secondary.) as well as Western sources for their TROMs, I believe it is safe to assume they are correct.

Re: "The ship that the Iowa sank, the Kotori.."

It should be 'Katori' that was sunk by IOWA.

Re: "In reality, on the eve of war, the US was commissioning the Colorado class..."

The COLORADOs were older than that.  Perhaps you are referring to the NORTH CAROLINA and SOUTH DAKOTA classes?

"The Montana class was seen as the answer to the Yamato; achieving a superior throw weight via 4x3 16" gun turrets as opposed to Yamato's 3x3 18" turrets."

I doubt the Yamatos played that big of a factor in the design of the MONTANAs (Especially since the USN only had good intelligence on the size and armament of the Yamatos only after the MONTANAs had been officially canceled.).  The MONTANAs originally came from a desire by the USN for a battleship whose armor could withstand the 'heavy 2700lb AP rounds being introduced for the 16" batteries of the fast battleships.  The increase in the size of the MONTANAs meant they could fit a greater battery, and design studies show that the 16"/50 was the best option of the three gun sizes considered.  However, by the time the orders were placed, US shipyard capacity was already fully loaded (If not necessarily producing at full efficiency.) and led to their suspension.  The eclipse of the battleship, material shortages, and higher priorities for other ships meant they were an easy item to cut.

Also, since the MONTANAs were design contemporaries of the MIDWAYs, it was accepted from the first requirements that they would not fit through the existing locks in Panama, and that did not appear to be a consideration in their suspension/cancellation.  There as consideration for adding another, wider set of locks at the canal, so the 'wider than the Panama Canal' was probably less a concern to the General Board and BuShips at the time than it would now appear.  

Posted by: cxt217 at March 28, 2016 05:02 PM (eH7iZ)

16 Yeah, Frank has a couple of other places where he describes the type 3s being used in bombardment operations, including (if I recall correctly) the Hiei popping a few off against ships as they were loaded when the fleets opened up on each other. I'll check it out when I get home.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at March 28, 2016 05:27 PM (/lg1c)

17 Duck, sent you some excerpts in a Reddit message. Might write up a post on it so we have somewhere to discuss without taking things off topic.

And Yamato did participate at Leyte Gulf, but not very much; she dodged some torpedoes from Taffy 3's escorts and came out of formation, and never really got back in range. But it's absolutely arguable that they were a negative - too capital for committing back when they could have actually influenced the war.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at March 29, 2016 10:31 AM (v29Tn)

18 The bombardment of Henderson air base is described in a lot of detail on the Japanese side.  "Four Pillars of Fire", a book about the Kongou class battleships, goes into great detail on it, as do any number of other sources.  "Sea of Rage", the book about the sinking of the Hiei, talks about it too.  Neither of these books are English language, though.
According to that book, when the Kongou was firing her type three shells, the area where they loaded the shells (I'm at a loss as to what it's called, it's been a while since I read the book) got so hot that at least one man died of heatstroke.  That's how many shells they were firing, and how fast.
That section of Four Pillars ends with the observation that the only real affect of the the Henderson air field bombardment was to teach the Americans that battleship bombardment of airbases was an effective way to shut them down. The Japanese never managed to successfully replicate the strike on Henderson, but the US would go on to use that tactic on several Japanese airbases.

Posted by: tellu541 at March 29, 2016 09:53 PM (GVyYP)

19

Perhaps it would be effective against Japanese airfields. It wasn't all that effective against Henderson, because of how the Americans made their airfields in the Pacific.

Part of the supplies landed on the island were big steel mats. After bulldozers cleared a runway and leveled it, the entire thing was covered by those mats, which were welded together. They had lots of little holes in them to allow water to drain away and to reduce the weight and cost, and the result was even better than if it had been paved.

If it got bombed, and a bomb hit the runway and made a big crater, they would use cutting torches to cut off the mats which had been damaged. Then they would bring in dirt to fill in the whole, tamp it down to make it solid, and then fill the area back in with new undamaged mats which would be welded to the existing structure. The whole thing was very fast and the SeaBees could get the airfield back into operation really quickly (less than a week, depending on just how sustained the bombardment was).

I think the greater effect would be to supplies and men. The airfield itself wasn't really a good target.

Later in the war when they were attacking Japanese airfields, the B-25 Strafer was particularly effective, and a lot more practical.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 30, 2016 07:25 AM (+rSRq)

20 Lack of adequate construction units and equipment plagued the Japanese through the war. They simply didn't have many of them, they were manned with the odds 'n' sods because it was an extremely low-prestige position, and they had very little equipment to work with. They managed a lot when it came to defensive fortifications, but improvising up airfields is a lot harder.

The US didn't really have ENOUGH construction troops relative to the demand, but what they had were better trained and much better equipped. This meant the US could consistently get facilities built and repaired faster than the Japanese expected.

But the Japanese weren't really intending to destroy the airfield (or rather, I'm sure they'd have been happy to do so, but they weren't counting on it). What they were hoping to do was destroy US fighter and bomber strength on the ground so that they could reinforce and supply Guadalcanal without taking losses from ground-based air attack; this would force the US carriers to support Guadalcanal more closely, pulling them into range of Japanese operations where they could be located and attacked. They were also hoping that a reinforced and well-supplied Japanese force could push the US off Henderson.

Didn't work out that way, and a good part of the reason is that Japan wasn't able to build closer air bases in time to do any good (they did actually build one, but it too got bombarded, heh.)

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at March 30, 2016 09:50 AM (v29Tn)

21

The official history of the Navy's construction effort during WW2 is more equivocal about the importance of Marston mats at Henderson Field - often times, any damage inflicted by the Japanese on the matting was repaired AFTER the aircrafts had taken off (Yes, even B-17s - one B-17 was scrubbed from launch because it ran over a damaged mat and cut the tires.).  Not all the airfields on Guadalcanal and not all the runways at Henderson had the matting before they were used.  It was very useful, but had its' limitations.  It definitely did not take hours to fix.

Naval bombardment was not useful in destroying an airfield.  The Japanese discovered that at Guadalcanal, and the USN discovered that during the later stages of the Solomons Campaign.  The damage done would appear impressive, but Japanese airfields that American cruiser-destroyer groups 'devastated' in a bombardment would often be operable and operating within a day.  The Combined Fleet staff concluded that even a battleship bombardment like what Kongo and Haruna conducted, could suppress operations from an airfield for at most 24 hours - which proved entirely optimistic.  Note that airstrikes also had the same issues.

What naval bombardment was useful against an airfield was as part of a sustained interdiction campaign.  Constant and sustained interdiction of an airfield by fire was far more useful than a single massive effort aimed at destroying it.  That is why it was important for the Japanese to get heavy artillery to Guadalcanal and hold locations where they could emplace the artillery to fire upon Henderson Field, and why it was important for the Americans to deny the Japanese both.

Lack of mechanized construction equipment was a major disadvantage suffered by the Japanese through-out the war (The IJN's first mechanized construction unit lost its' equipment set when the transport carrying it was torpedoed by submarine.), but the Marines would not have been able to finish building Henderson Field if it was not for the surprisingly impressive amount of heavy equipment they captured from the Japanese.

Posted by: cxt217 at March 30, 2016 10:59 AM (KK6TG)

22

When the B-25 strafers attacked Japanese airfields, damage to the runway wasn't the main point. What they mainly wanted to do was damage or destroy aircraft, not to mention killing and wounding as many men as possible

The bombs they dropped, known as "parafrags", would not have substantially damaged airfields. As fragmention bombs, they would be particularly effective at killing men, and doing damage to any nearby aircraft which weren't defended by berms, as well as buildings and vehicles. And, of course, massed .50 caliber gunfire could waste anything that wasn't armored like a tank.

The other advantage of the B-25 strafers was that they could keep attacking any target within range as long as they had supply.

Naval bombardment was at best a "once in a while" thing because warships couldn't hang around within gunnery range without risking air or submarine counterattack. They had to dart in at night, shoot, and dart back out again.

And, of course, a squadron of B-25 strafers cost a lot less than a CA, let along several CAs.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 30, 2016 04:09 PM (+rSRq)

23

The other advantage of the B-25 strafers was that they could keep attacking any target within range as long as they had supply.

How many B-25 would you need to maintain constant interdiction of the airfields?  I know full well that a B-25 attack could be devastating, but it suffers from the same issue as a naval task group conducting a bombardment - short loiter time.  In order for a B-25 to work at suppressing operations at an airfield, you need a constant stream of them visiting the airfield, or the B-25 being part of the sustained effort.  Otherwise the airfield you hit today will be ready for operation by daybreak tomorrow, if not sooner.

There was not a single action which caused the Japanese to abandon the airfield at Munda, for example - it was the steady and sustained stream of attacks of all kinds which led to the Japanese deciding that air operations from Munda was not worth the effort.

Posted by: cxt217 at March 30, 2016 04:33 PM (KK6TG)

24

It's not about interdiction. It's about attrition. You're not trying to put the airfield completely out of business in one or a small number of attacks, because you can't.

You're trying to reduce its effectiveness so that it makes a declining contribution to the war.

Every enemy aircraft you destroy on the ground is one you don't have to fight in the air. Enemy fuel and ammunition that you destroy on the ground can't be used to bomb you in return.

That's good enough. More would be nice but in war you have to make compromises.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 30, 2016 04:57 PM (+rSRq)

25

It's not about interdiction. It's about attrition. You're not trying to put the airfield completely out of business in one or a small number of attacks, because you can't.

Sometimes you ARE trying to put the airfield out of business, or at least force the bad guys to being unable to use the airfield, as your primary objective, and not trying cost him personnel and material (Though that would be nice.).  Attrition can do that, but interdiction is a more useful way to doing so.  Sometimes, the objectives of your operation means interdiction is more useful.

We saw both examples during the Guadalcanal campaign - Southwest Pacific B-17s routinely hit Rabaul and the airfields around it, inflicting attrition losses on Japanese air units and their logistical infrastructure, while the Cactus Air Force went after Rekata Bay for the same reason.  On the other hand, when the Japanese began building the airfield at Munda, which would have increased Japanese air capabilities against Guadalcanal, US objectives hinged on shutting down the airfield as much as possible to prevent the Japanese from using it all.  While destroying Japanese aircraft and material and killing the personnel would have been nice, the main objective was to prevent the operations from the field - but the main purpose was to keep the field shut down as much as possible.

Posted by: cxt217 at March 30, 2016 07:53 PM (KK6TG)

26 Henderson Field (or maybe the ships sunk attacking it) is personified as the Airfield Princess in game.
The Iowa herself hasn't been in the browser game, but her 16-inch Triple Gun Mount Mk.7 main gun was a reward in December. A player can equip it on any battleship, including the Yamato and the Bismark. In the 4-koma, the Maikaze, Katori, and Nowaki were really unsettled. (A comment claims that "Amusingly, both Katori and Maikaze were sunk by 5-inch shells from the BB's seconday guns because they were too small to justify using the main guns.")

Posted by: muon at April 02, 2016 02:35 AM (Mf3kT)

27 I don't know how realistic World of Warships is (I know they make ahistorical decisions based on play balance), but anyone trying to hit a destroyer with a BB's main guns is just wasting their time, or desperate to stop an impending torp launch.  At close range, the turrets are too slow, and firing times too long.

Posted by: ubu at April 04, 2016 08:36 AM (SlLGE)

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