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Topic review - Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans
Author Message
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
Strapped in the gunner is rather committed to shooting it out with his opponent, a little like an old west gunfight. Admiral King was quoted as saying that shields were mostly for psychological comfort whereas the tubs were to provide splinter protection, even from below!
Post Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:42 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
So…. you are correct, there WAS a strap. OP911 ch. 8 describes its use: it attached to the shoulder rest brackets and passed under the armpits and around the back of the gunner. Seems like once you're strapped in, you could do a lot more contorting without compromising accuracy.
Post Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:04 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
I can't answer most of your questions. I believe that there was a strap ... you can see it clearly in the second image on the back of the gunner and the other two images suggest that they could be using a strap as well ... there would almost have to be with the recoil and weight involved when even balanced was a chore keeping hold of the gun. AKA, how strong would the gunner in the first image have to be to hang on while firing without a strap? I think you have the gun elevated too high for you gunner "model", look at the images I posted of the 20-mm in operation and none have the gun extended to its max height. As I said how high the gun was elevated was a function of what height the gunner operated the gun. Finally, USN gunners during WWII ranged over a fairly wide range, so your illustration needs to include the shoulder rests, Mk 14 gunsight, and sampling a range of gunner heights.

We need someone who actually operated one of these guns to clarify actual operation. My Uncle who served on an ARL and a DE late in WWII. He was a Surface Radar operator, but had a secondary duty as a 20-mm gun crewman (ammo passer) on the ARL while at anchor off Okinawa when Kamikazes came for a visit. I have never asked him about how the 20-mm gun was operated, plus I suspect both of his ships had been updated with tripod mounts that didn't elevate.

All I know from my digging through destroyer files at NARA, that the stand rings (as seen in on MISSOURI initially as a "disk" and then as a ring that was mounted to the deck ... AT A GREATER DIAMETER than the disk) were added because the gunners wanted them. The trunnions on the Mk 4 base were a mess to keep operating. At sea operation corroded the trunnion and it got "frozen" in place. So, in a sense the step rings may have been primarily to allow the gunner to operate the gun at different heights once the trunnion was no longer able to be moved.
Post Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 6:43 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
These are great photos, and the last one illustrates very well the point I'm struggling with: it also raises a question.

Is the gunner strapped into the gun? That is, are his shoulders "mated" to the shoulder rests with some sort of harness? In the last image, the gunners balance would cause him to be holding himself up using his hands on the triggers. This in turn seems like it would be difficult to keep the gun trained on the target (I'm assuming the gun is balanced such that it does not take much effort to move - but that could be a bad assumption).

Here's where I'm having trouble. The image below shows a very to-scale (incomplete - missing the cradle, shoulder rests, other things) gun/mount, with a body puppet (using my basic measurements - I'm 6'1"). Even with the mount fully elevated, the angle of the gunners body seems impossible for any sort of actual use... unless the gunner is strapped to the gun. Lowering the gun would make it even more awkward.

Anyway, that is why I raised the question in the first place - I just don't see how this disk could be useful as a stand: but then, I've never fired a gun this large :)

Image
Post Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:05 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
It isn't in combat, but here are a few images showing the Mk 4 20-mm gun mount in operation. How envision if these gunners were tracking a target coming in a dive and then got low to the surface from a dive and was trying to fly away. There wouldn't be time for a crewman to lower the trunnion so the gunner could keep track while standing on the deck. If there was a ring on the mount base or the deck that he could step on he could get the gun down to a lower angle. In these images you can see that the gun is elevated to different heights. The first two guns have the Mk 14 gunsight installed and the last gun doesn't.

They varied the height of the gun depending on the gunner's height and preference. I don't think there was a "full-time" crewman controlling the elevation wheel, crewmen assigned to assist the gunner during combat were normally kept busy bringing more ammo. :smallsmile:

At max elevations of the gun, the gunner could get "pretty" comfy with the mount base. :big_grin:

Image

Image

Image
Post Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:57 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
Hi Hank! Long time no talk to. I've made substantial progress on my "other" project. The decking took 18 months, almost to the day :)

http://www.nulspace.com/hobbies/bb63_96/intro.aspx

The website is not current. More photos/updates on a different forum. But I can't find your email address!
Post Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:28 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
David:

Good point. And I think I misunderstood the purpose of this Ericsson photo: it was not to illustrate the disk, but a photo of the mount in extended height config.

So... my issue remains: I don't see how a gunner could both stand on that platform and operate the gun - with his shoulders in the rests - at the same time!
Post Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:24 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
Rick,

I see what you are saying - I think you (and David P) have come up (or down :doh_1:) with the purpose of the "stand". I would love to come up with a combat photo to confirm but that is really asking too much - for me, this question is resolved AND it makes sense.

RandyM,

Don't wait 'til November - take a STAND now!!!! LOL!!!!

Hank
Post Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:23 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
RandyM, the Ericsson disk is actually the gun platform's base. look at the height of the gun tub's wall both inside & outside as it is same height.
Post Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:21 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
Rick, very good information, thanks. But...… if I am correctly interpreting what I see in the photo you have provided of Ericsson, the disk in question appears very much larger in diameter than it does in photos of the equivalent part on Missouri: on Ericsson it extends out to beyond the trigger end of the gun, and possibly out to the shoulder rests when the gun is horizontal. This would make perfect sense as an auxiliary standing platform as you describe. In contrast the photos of the same part on Missouri seem to show a disk *much* smaller in diameter.

In the photo below I've tried to illustrate what I'm trying to describe. In the mount on Missouri the disk appears barely larger than the major diameter of the pedestal, while on Ericsson the same disk is clearly much larger in diameter - very much as you describe - like a platform.

Obviously, I could be misinterpreting what I see in these photos, but if correct, I just don't see how the smaller-diameter disk on the Missouri mounts could be useful as a platform.

Image
Post Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:34 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
that is what I thought it was for as I had posted earlier.
Post Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:08 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
Guys, the "ring" around the base of the 20-mm guns is an aid for the gunner to stand on when and if he needs to "quickly" shift his elevation of the gun without having to adjust the height of the gun. Normally with the Mk 4 base, while in action against aircraft targets, the gun is cranked up depending on what the gunner desires so he can get high elevations on an aircraft target. If a gunner is concentrating on one approaching target he isn't going to want the gun lowered while firing and he can simple step up on the ring for a reduced elevation to maintain track on the target. I see these a lot on USN destroyers. I could see that not every 20-mm gun location on a large ship like a battleship would need these rings if they are located where the gunner would have to disengage a low angle attack because of cam restrictions on NOT FIRING into the ship.

The Mk 5 bases, seldom used on USN warships and sent off to be used on merchant ships, didn't have a gun height adjustment cylinder to save weight and they installed a "step" bulwark around the gun.

Also, after experience during the Philippines campaign, mines (floaters and moored) got to be a major concern. I have read many War Diaries for destroyers talking about "plinking" mines. Such rings helped to get a better depressed angle against a mine closer than the crew would really like to be near one. When the Mk 4 bases were replaced with none elevating Mk 10 tripod bases to save weight, either a similar ring was attached or more likely a tube ring was mounted on the deck on stand-offs.

You seldom see the Mk 4 mounts in the elevated position in either yard photos. Here is one of USS ERICSSON (DD-440). One of the problems the USN had with this elevation cylinder, was it getting corroded and difficult to operate. Hence keeping it down when not in use.


Attachments:
zDD440x23crop-23Sep43.jpg
zDD440x23crop-23Sep43.jpg [ 191.27 KiB | Viewed 125 times ]
Post Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:45 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
I just don't see it being a shelf/footrest/body support. The geometry is all wrong for the gunner with respect to the shoulder rests. The vertical pivot point for the gun is well behind the vertical axis of the pedestal, and the shoulder rests are well behind that. The gunner's feet would probably be 2-3 feet away from the center of the pedestal. I'm thinking more the equivalent of a baseball player's cup for the gunner :)



Image
Post Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:22 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
Those look like more of a shield and somewhat unsubstantial for a foot rest. A foot rest of the period would more likely take the form of a pipe ring?
Post Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:20 am
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
RandyM -

As is the case with many other facets of MISSOURI & NEW JERSEY, these two IOWAs are similar in their construction and I'll maintain once again that this was due in part, to the local shipyard and it's ability at the time of construction to purchase materials and equipment which may have differed from one of the other shipyards also building an IOWA class ship.

Yesterday, while otherwise unoccupied timewise, I searched for any known photos, documents, etc. regarding the 20mm single mount and with the exception of the original drawing that you provided, could not find any official drawings/details of these pedestals with the additional "foot rest". Still looking...

Hope this helps,

Hank
Post Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:54 am
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
They are definitely really there - the first queue for me was photos of the Builder's model - they are very clearly on that ship, and there is just no way the model makers would have made that sort of mistake that many times. I agree, there are not many photos of 20mm mounts with the pedestal visible on 63: however I did find three which indisputably show this feature, as well as other photos of 61 which indisputably show mounts without it.

Very odd, and now of course it is gnawing at me: why are they there, and what are their dimensions?

Thanks all for the input!
Randy
Post Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 7:00 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
Hank

Great photo research!

Cheers: T
Post Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:55 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
OK, no mistaking the modified pedestals on the 20mm on this photo of MISSIOURI:
Attachment:
BB-63 Main Deck Aft #F1112C214 - resized.jpg
BB-63 Main Deck Aft #F1112C214 - resized.jpg [ 169.71 KiB | Viewed 232 times ]


And, also in a similar photo of NEW JERSEY:
Attachment:
BB-62 Turret 3  Reclining Tests 06-24-45 #3101-45 resized.jpg
BB-62 Turret 3 Reclining Tests 06-24-45 #3101-45 resized.jpg [ 151.78 KiB | Viewed 232 times ]



Hope this helps,

Hank
Post Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:28 pm
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
Could be a shadow as well. Maybe with the original photo/negative one could pull the shadow detail out. Maybe Missouri has especially short sailors? I would think that the Pedestal would be designed to allow for full elevation range manipulation by a "standard issue" sailor. Though maybe not, the F4U didn't have adjustable rudder pedals and shorter pilots had to add wooden blocks!

Randy: you could always take the cats to the "Farm"....
Post Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:37 am
  Post subject:  Re: Calling all USS Iowa class (BB-61) fans  Reply with quote
Well, after much searching I did find one possible photo of NEW JERSEY showing the similar type of pedestal. Once again, MO and NJ had a few more similarities between themselves as did WISKY and IOWA.

I have made a clip from photo #80-G-244433 showing the port side 20mm battery - it's the middle mount - seems to show the additional foot rest that RandyM is talking about:
Attachment:
BB62 port 20mm battery_1.JPG
BB62 port 20mm battery_1.JPG [ 26.58 KiB | Viewed 238 times ]

Comments, etc. welcome as usual. It certainly would be nice to find documentation on this item.

Hope this helps,

Hank
Post Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:15 am

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