For more than half a century the big gun was the arbiter of naval power, but it was useless if it could not hit the target fast and hard enough to prevent the enemy doing the same. Because the naval gun platform was itself in motion, U.S. naval analyst Norman Friedman explains in this new book, finding a "firing solution" was a significant problem made all the more difficult when gun sizes increased and fighting ranges lengthened and seemingly minor issues like wind velocity had to be factored in. To speed up the process and eliminate human error, navies sought a reliable mechanical calculation. This heavily illustrated book outlines for the first time in layman's terms the complex subject of fire-control, as it dominated battleship and cruiser design from before World War I to the end of the dreadnought era. He explains the directors, range-finders, and electro-mechanical computers invented to solve the problems. Friedman not only explains how the technology shaped-and was shaped by-the tactics involved, but analyzes systems' effectiveness in battle. His examination of the controversy surrounding Jutland and the relative merits of competing fire-control systems draws conclusions that will surprise some readers. He also analyzes many other major gun actions, such as the battles between the Royal Navy and the Bismarck and the U.S. vs Japanese actions in the Solomons and at Surigao Strait. All major navies are covered, and the story concludes at the end of World War II with the impact of radar.
With line drawings by A.D. Baker III and W.J. Jurens.
|Publisher:||Naval Institute Press|
|Product dimensions:||9.87(w) x 11.60(h) x 1.12(d)|
About the Author
Norman Friedman, a prominent American naval analyst, is the author of more than thirty major books, including the new fifth edition of The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is kind of a disjointed mess, at least in terms of being a cross between some of the survey books Friedman produced early in his career and a coffee table production. That said there are many useful points here and the tome is well-illustrated.Probably the single most striking observation in the book is in relation to the battle of Jutland, where Friedman goes revisionist and challenges the notion that Jellicoe should have adopted division as opposed to line-ahead tactics. On the basis of the C3I technology of the time Friedman doesn't believe that Jellicoe would have been able to maintain the situational awareness to safely avoid nasty friendly-fire incidents.However, it seems that more could have been said about the experience of fire control in the Second World War, and I'm a little surprised that the day-time experiences in and about Africa, such as Dakar, Casablanca, and Mers-el-Kebir didn't receive more attention. This is particularly true of Casablanca, the only day-time naval action of World War II involving a U.S. battleship using her main battery for the intended purpose.
A book of promising scope which hints that the author lacks a true understanding of what he is writing about. Friedman is a well-known and well-respected author, but he has never before focused on fire control (well, honestly... who has?), and this first mass-market book to attempt to cover it shows a failed effort.The book is crowded with errors, some so fundamental as to introduce serious wonder whether the areas of the subject I am not as well informed about are poorly connected to fact. Here are a few I have noticed as I read only those portions of the book I already felt well informed about:page 19. He asserts that "pointer" is a synonym for "trainer". It is not: it is a synonym for "layer". To confuse the two in a book of fire control is akin to writing about air line flight operations and being unclear on the role of pilot and flight engineer.page 43, a diagram is mislabeled so that a target ship's relative heading is called the "inclination", which is the name for the angle formed between a target's heading and its line of bearing.pages 178 and 179 have two photos whose captions are reversed.These are, perhaps, sloppy editorial mistakes that can be remedied in a second edition. Less easily addressed is his immediate resort to mumbo-jumbo in favor of clear discussion of the capabilities and frailties of the systems and procedures being discussed. The most glaring one is that he thinks it helpful to arrange fire control systems under headings of "analytic" versus "synthetic". These are words with perilously near no meaning, and his prose remains there when a more illuminating and inspiring examination of how the machines worked is sadly foregone.The book contains extensive photographs, though the captions on them are very finely printed. Some show equipment seldom seen outside (say) Japanese nerd-historian magazines of the 70s and 80s -- I am making a guess there -- but they are like peeking into another world of lost mysteries. Friedman has done well to bring these to the eyes of the mass market, even if in some cases he has merely promoted their visibility in the West.I hope to see Mr Friedman touch this up, and perhaps excise much of it to be saved for a follow-on volume. He has to demonstrate that he has read John Brooks's "Dreadnought Gunnery at the Battle of Jutland: the Question of Fire Control" and mimic some of that author's shafts-and-cams descriptions rather than simply comparing vague categories of machinery he feels each system he examines kinda sorta fits into.