A FEW THOUGHTS ON OUR NEXT STEP IN FLEET-GUNNERY.
"E Pluribus Unum."
The question "are we training our navy to fight battles?" has been asked frequently by officers of each other and the answers to this inquiry have been "yes" or "no," depending upon the particular officer's degree of optimism. The importance of the true answer to this question needs not to be urged. All in the service realize this and some are striving to bring about a state of affairs wherein we can safely say, when we are asked this question, "yes, we are training our navy to fight battles."
The day of single-ship engagements is passed, and our answer will convey with it the meaning that our ships are being trained to fight together; that the training not only perfects the ship but crystallizes the team work which is necessary to fight a number of vessels as a unit.
The belief that this question, if asked to-day, would receive but few unqualified "yeas," has given the writer his impetus to set forth a few ideas, and some remedies, to be applied to our present system which he claims will produce the result sought. These ideas are conclusive in the mind of the writer, but he hesitates to believe that the reader will take his views as axioms unless he can set forth logically the reasons for each. This, to the struggling would-be essayist, is not easy, and he begs the indulgence of those who will wade through his poorly-constructed arguments.
The training of the fleet to fight and win a battle against an enemy's fleet is the object in mind. All training must of necessity lead up to this grand achievement. That most of our present training is in the right direction is conceded without question, but he submits that it stops short of the real objective. Ships are trained to fight their guns singly, and maneuver together. The writer's desire is to combine the two and thereby work our personnel and materiel up to the knowledge and power to do what the country will demand of it in case of war—fight and win a fleet-action.
The unit of the fleet is the ship. With this unit we must begin our training in order that it may be able to perform its duty in the fleet. The most important part of a battleship's training is to fire her guns to hit. The present system is logical and has few, if any, critics. Eventually, it is claimed, our ships will each be given a battle-practice at unknown long ranges, firing all guns during the same time interval. Upon the completion of such a practice, a ship making a high percentage of hits may be considered creditably trained to fight a single-ship engagement; but she has not been trained sufficiently to fight in a fleet action.
A simple analogy may be taken of a troupe of all star actors. If they should have the temerity to attempt to produce a difficult play without a single rehearsal, I am sure the public would not forgive them the loss of their money, even if individually they were each excellent actors. And even here the ship has the big end of the analogy, for the actors have at least played before but the ship never has—wars being luckily less frequent than theatricals.
THE VALUE OF REHEARSALS.
Rehearsing a battle is by no means simple. Many minor things must be done before the dress rehearsal is possible. These I have called the small rehearsals, and they will consist in trying out a quick and sure system of signals, and the simple maneuvering of the fleet. After a certain degree of proficiency in the small rehearsals, then the battle rehearsal by ships, then by divisions, squadrons, and, finally, by the fleet. The value of a rehearsal in all other games of skill—base-ball, foot-ball, theatricals—the reader will readily acknowledge. Wherein does our game of skill differ from others. By frequent rehearsals, we can so perfect ourselves in our art, that when the day comes to fight we can do it like veterans; each familiar pitfall will be seen in time and carefully avoided; familiarity with our tools will make our duty run as smoothly as running water, and the interference by the enemy's bursting shell will be minimized, for our minds and hands will work automatically.
THE SMALL REHEARSALS.
Signals.—We all believe that flags will be untrustworthy in battle, then why not discard them for battle signals at once? There are many disadvantages well known in the use of flag signals. The principal ones may be mentioned in passing: The color is misleading on account of the tricks of the sun on bunting; effects of wind, bunting end on is difficult if not impossible to distinguish; fouling, probably the most frequent. All know the impossibility of reading a fouled flag. If we discard flags we must choose shapes, for there is nothing else on the market at present. The shape has a great many advantages which the flag lacks; they may have any color; wind cannot affect them, and they do not foul. They are, however, heavy unless made small, and if small, their usefulness diminishes at distances. A happy mean, however, may be hit upon after the shape is installed in its rightful place. Of course, if we can train ourselves to such a high degree of proficiency, wherein we can maneuver without signals, then the problem is solved. In the writer's opinion this is impossible, foolhardy, and dangerous in the extreme. Returning to shapes, they can be readily hoisted, take up little room, and can be easily read. They may be made so simple in their combinations to form a signal that their meaning may be told at a glance without aid of book or memoranda.
Maneuvering.—The simple maneuvering spoken of above should be similar to the present system, with the one exception: each officer and man should be placed where he will actually be if his ship were in action. If the conning tower has been built to protect the captain in battle then he should be in it at maneuvers. There should be no one in an exposed place on deck unless his duty in action will require his presence there. If speed cones are to be used in action, which is doubtful, they should be used in maneuvers, otherwise, after a few preliminary drills, the cones should not be used, and the eye alone trusted to tell the speed of consorts. The stadimeter has doubtful use in battle for keeping position, and if its utility is questioned, the best plan is to maneuver without it, trusting to the eye to keep the proper distance. During these preliminary maneuvers for the purpose of getting the personnel accustomed to the new order of things, the men need not be kept at their guns nor the fire-control party at their stations; this drill is primarily for the captain, executive, navigator, and the officers of the deck, not with the idea that the young officers of the deck will be called upon to command their present ship in action, but for the reason that they will eventually be eligible to command a ship and should be given their preliminary training continuously. However, as the commanding officer is the man who must fight his ship in action, he should be the one to maneuver her at these preliminary drills. On account of the inconvenience of the present conning-tower commanding officers may hesitate to maneuver from this location. If so, this should be reported with the reasons, and in this way a conning-tower, adapted to the use to which it must be put, will eventually be designed and installed. In these preliminary maneuvers the bridge wheel may be left connected and tended, for in emergency
all means must be used to avoid a collision.
BATTLE REHEARSAL OF A UNIT.
As mentioned above in this paper, it is expected that all vessels will have battle-practice eventually, the time being dependent on the rapidity with which we train and keep our qualified pointers. It is too expensive and ill-advised to have a battle-practice with high-priced service ammunition before the ships have worked up to it. But why wait until this time before rehearsing your ships in battle-practice? The material necessary for rehearsal is cheap, most of it is already on hand, and the remainder can be gotten ready in a few months.
The rehearsal is accomplished by firing sub-caliber ammunition in all guns of the main battery and controlling this fire exactly as would be done in battle with service ammunition.1 The range, size
1 In Professor Philip R. Alger's Prize Essay, "Gunnery in Our Navy," published 1903,in a footnote he said:
"It has been suggested to me that experience in fire control may be gained by firing, using sub-caliber attachments. This certainly deserves a trial."
The suggestion, I believe, was from Lt.-Comdr. V. O. Chase, U.S. Navy. It is believed by the author that many men in the service have had the idea in mind. The object of the essay is to bring the idea before the navy in hopes, if it will stand the test, to adopt it.
of target, and sub-caliber gun in rehearsal bearing a certain proportion (explained later) to the range, enemy's ship, and the real gun in action. The fire-control party and spotters are located at a height above the water from which the spotting, by the vertical method, will be exactly similar or in proportion to the spotting and control at the battle range taken as 6000 yards.
For this work each big gun, 13-inch, 12-inch, and 8-inch, is fitted with 6-pounder sub-caliber attachment, and the smaller gun, 7-inch, 6-inch, 5-inch, and 4-inch with 1-pounder sub-caliber attachment. The guns below 7-inch are considered to be but slight menace at 6000 yards on account of their small danger space and slight penetration; however, it seems better to exercise their crews with the rest so long as we have such guns on our battle- ships. The mode of firing, either at will or by salvos to be followed as directed, and appropriate firing intervals should be allotted to each caliber gun.
The following calculations are believed to be correct. The 12-inch work was from Bureau of Ordnance Range Table of December, 1906, and the 6-inch,6-pounder, and I-pounder from an old range table book published in 1893. New range tables could not be obtained.
12-INCH 2700 F.S. AND 6-POUNDER 1870 F.S.
At 6000 yards the angle of departure for 12-inch is 2° 55’.8, angle of fall 3° 43’, time of flight 8".03. Danger space 20-foot target 104 yards.
With an angle of departure of 2° 55'.8, the 6-pounder 1870 f.s. gives a range of 2216 yards, angle of fall 4° 22', time of flight 5".32.
Our enemy is supposed to have a vulnerable height of 30 feet.
A shot perfectly aimed, with a sight-bar range of 6000 yards, provided, of course, that the distance is exactly 6000 yards and all conditions are normal, will hit the water-line of the enemy or target. To raise this shell to the bull's-eye, vertically, will require an increase of range of 15/20 x 104 or 78 yards. This will necessitate increasing the angle of departure from 20 55'.8 to 2° 58'.8. The angle of departure 2° 58'.8 gives a 6-pounder range of 2240 yards, an increase of 24 yards against 78 for the 12-inch. The angle of fall of 6-pounder with range 2240 is 4° 28'. From this we can calculate how high our sub-caliber target must be in order that the control of the 6-pounder shell will follow the exact law of the 12-inch within limits.
h=d tan w,
=72 tan 4° 28’ … h=5.6 feet,
or our sub-caliber target should be given a height of 11.2 feet and be placed at a range of 2216 yards.
The danger space of a 3o-foot target for the 12-inch is 156 yards or 5.2 yards per foot of target. To raise the shell one foot on the battle-target the range is increased only 5.2 yards and as the angle of elevation of the large and small gun are always the same, the sub-caliber shell will be raised 11.2/30 of a foot on its target by each increment of change of 5.2 yards on the 12-inch sight-bar.
In action the shots will be spotted and the fire controlled from the tops. We shall take the height as 80 feet for the following calculations:
A 12-inch (or any shell) spotted from a height of 80 feet at 6000 yards, if short by 100 yards, will appear to have splashed on the vertical plane through the target, 1 1/3 feet below the water-line of the enemy. Five hundred yards short will appear to splash 7.3 feet below the water-line, the measurements being estimated against the known dimensions of an enemy or a target. Now, having seen the shell strike apparently 7.3 feet below the water-line of the enemy, the fire-control will raise the sight-bar from 6000 to 6500 to bring the shell to the water-line. This increases the angle of departure of the big gun from 2° 55'.8 to 30° 14'.9 or a difference of This will increase the 6-pounder range from 2216 yards to 2368 yards or a difference of 152 yards. Now we must find the height at which a 6-pounder shell appearing to strike 7.3 feet below the water-line of the sub-caliber target will have fallen short a distance of 152 yards.
x/7.3 = 2216-152/152 from which x=99 feet will be the proper height for the fire-control party, and if a sub-caliber shell appears to strike 7.3 feet below the water-line of the sub-caliber target an increase of 500 yards on the 12-inch sight-bar will bring the sub- caliber shell to the water-line of its own target. And further raising the 12-inch sight-bar 78 yards will bring the 6-pounder shell on the sub-caliber bull's-eye. In other words, the perspective is exactly the same, the big gun firing at a 30-foot target at 6000 yards and the 6-pounder sub-caliber gun at an 11.2-foot target at 2216 yards, the only difference being the change of location of our spotters from 80 to 99 feet above the water.
In regard to the difference in size of the splash of these two caliber projectiles, as the size as seen by the observer will vary inversely as the square of the distance, the difference will not be very great between the splash of a 12-inch at 6000 yards and a 6-pounder at one-third the distance. The same glasses (binoculars) as will be used in battle should be used.
In working out the data for the smaller calibers, a 6-inch 40-caliber of 2150 f.s. and a 1-pounder of 1800 f.s. was used as an example.
The range for the sub-caliber target was found to be 2644 yards, with a 6 -inch sight graduated to higher velocity this could be decreased to the same as for the 12-inch.
The rest of the calculations are:
Height for sub-caliber target, 19.2 feet.
Height from which to spot, 82.7 feet.
Danger space, 30-foot target at 6000 yards, 50.5 yards.
A variation of a few hundred yards might make a few shots that would have hit the 6000-yard target miss our sub-caliber target, but this will hurt the results but little.
If the big-gun target and small gun (6-inch, 5-inch) are found to be of different size for guns now installed on a ship, the inside target may be black and the outside edge white, and the hits apportioned according to the size of the caliber.
For this work sufficient accuracy could be obtained by designating a mean range2 and size of target for certain classes of ships, the older ships might require a slightly different size. However, for practical purposes the range and size above will do for all ships.
A ship fitted out with a complete set of sub-caliber, with all her calculations made, her fire-control drilled, and her communication system in good order can now go out and have battle rehearsal. For the fire-control party, including spotters and sight-setters, everything will be as it would be in battle, except there will be no loud reports of the discharge of the great guns, and no bursting of the enemy's shell about them.
BATTLE REHEARSAL OF A SQUADRON.
After the ships have held their battle rehearsal and after all the defects in communication have been repaired and changed to the satisfaction of the officers who will have to use them, then a division will be ordered out for rehearsal to be maneuvered as if in battle by the division commander. Then rehearsals by squadrons and fleets will work all hands up to what the real thing really is. In the rehearsals by squadrons and fleets a scheme should be arranged beforehand by the umpires in order that the squadron commander himself will not know what is expected of him until his squadron is steering for the target enemies. In other words, he will know what the rules call for, but will not know from which side he will have to approach the targets, thus giving him an opportunity of handling his squadron as might be done in action in order to gain an advantage in position.
In these battle rehearsals the point to be always kept in mind is that this is a means of becoming familiar with conditions that will exist in battle, and it is the only way, in time of peace, that seems to carry out the idea of unity.
2 Suppose a mean range of 2000 yards is adopted. Missouri class 12-inch, 2700f.s.,6-inch, 2800 f.s. Now angles of departure of the sub-caliber guns to reach this range are: 6-pdr. 1870 f.s.= 2° 31', 1-pdr. 1800 f.s. = 4° 19', and the respective big gun sight bars will read 5311 yards and 6534 yards. As before using 30-foot targets, we (from the danger spaces at 5300 and 6500 yards) get the increased angles of departure to hit the top of the target to be respectively 2° 37.2' and 4° 24.3', which gives us our sub-caliber danger spaces of 50 yards and 23 yards. The angles of fall being 6-pdr., 3° 42' and 1-pdr., 8° 12', give us heights of target 12-inch, 9.7 feet, and 6-inch, 12.5 feet. The spotting heights will be respectively 509 feet and 90 feet.
It is not training to shoot; the gun-pointers get but little benefit, and we learn nothing of the many accidents and delays incident to using our monster tools with full charges, but it trains the brain of the ship and the brain of the fleet to act quickly and with precision.
It will show us our errors in a striking and forcible way. We know some of our weaknesses, but, unfortunately, do not know the remedies. Our points of weakness are: Battle signaling, maneuvering in battle trim, and fire-control. I shall try to show how the battle rehearsal will aid us to a solution of all three.
The maneuvers now engaged in by our armored ships are worth while in teaching the young officer how to handle a big ship, to rub the nervousness out of him; but they do not teach the commanding officer how to handle his ship in fighting trim.
Viewing a ship engaged in maneuvers, what do we see? The officer of the deck, tactical signal book in hand, on the flying bridge, the helmsman near his hand. From this high point the view is uninterrupted; it embraces nearly the thirty-two points of the compass. On the bridge with him are a small army of helpers; a man for every mechanical device needed for the work of handling the monster fighter; a signal officer; may be the navigator; probably the captain, near at hand in the chart-house below him. The officer of the deck gives no concern to aught save the steering; this keeps him very much alive. Suddenly, commencing with the flagship and travelling down the column with wonderful rapidity, a signal is flown of varicolored flags, often two or three hoists in all. The numbers are called out to him by the signalmen and inside of two minutes he knows what the next maneuver is to be. If the flags on the flagship or repeating ships had fouled or were end on, or if on account of smoke or light, a red was mistaken for blue, four or five minutes may elapse before the last ship has repeated the signal and the maneuver may be commenced. However, this teaches our young officer and also the captain but one thing: how to handle the ship from an excellent seeing locality, but one untenable in battle.
Imagine an officer in the conning-tower in maneuvers such as our fleet has been having lately. He has a restricted view through the slit holes in the armor from a head to a little abaft the beam on each side. He cannot read signals himself, for he cannot use his glasses with any degree of certainty. In a maneuver when he puts over his helm, his view being limited, he does not know where the vessel astern may be. It may be unsafe for him to change his course just then. The location is a new one. Not since Santiago, if then, have ships been maneuvered from the conning-tower. Much of the nervousness may be only stage
fright and may wear off after several rehearsals.
Below are given tentative rules for battle rehearsals. I do not claim them as complete, only something concrete to build upon.
RULES FOR BATTLE REHEARSALS.
The size of the sub-caliber target will be the same for all ships using the most modern sights.
Those ships with old sights and low velocities will calculate and submit the required size of their targets to the Bureau of Navigation.
No guns will be fired of smaller caliber than 4-inch. Six-pounder sub-caliber guns will be fired in guns from 8-inch to 13-inch, and 1-pounder sub-caliber in guns from 4-inch to 7-inch.
The target for single-ship battle rehearsal will be spread on standard target raft and anchored by standard moorings.
The ship engaging in battle rehearsal will approach the target on a course making an angle of 6o degrees with the plane of the target and with the target bearing I point on the port bow if ship is to turn to port, if to turn to starboard then I point on the starboard bow.
When ship reaches range, as shown by range-finder, of sub-caliber range (equal to 2/√3 x middle range) plus her advance to turn parallel to plane of target, she will put her helm hard over and steer a course parallel to the plane of the target. Immediately the ship is straightened on the course the whistle will be blown once to commence firing. The end of the run will be when the target bears 30 degrees abaft the beam of the firing ship, and the signal to cease firing will be two blasts of the whistle. Each ship will fire first one battery and then the other without change
of target, unless the one used has been reduced in surface by gun-shots. Guns that train on both broadsides to be fired on each run. Pointers and sight-setters will not change during a rehearsal, but the pointer who fires atone practice will set sights the following practice. All ships must be handled from the conning-tower and all officers and men must occupy the stations assigned them for battle. The speed will be the maximum attainable, umpires will be appointed to see that the rules are followed in every particular.
After the practice, the target or targets will be brought on board the firing ship and the hits counted and assigned by the umpires. The hits per gun per minute of the two classes of guns will be calculated by the firing ship and submitted immediately after the practice to the Bureau of Navigation.
As soon as all ships have completed this practice, a circular will be issued by the Bureau of Navigation giving the results by ships, with the score and standing, and this standing will be considered the measure of relative efficiency of the fire-control of each ship of the navy.
Vessels whose systems of communication for fire-control are old and inefficient, through no fault of the ship, will be put in a class by themselves for this competition, as it is manifestly unfair to force a competition between a vessel with a new and approved fire-control system and one whose system is known to be obsolete and unreliable. The above practice to be held not less frequently than three times in each year.
RULES FOR DIVISION REHEARSAL.
The rules for battle rehearsal by ships to hold in the case of divisions as far in as it does not conflict with the following instructions:
The targets are to be of the approved size and anchored in column, screens in the same plane at a distance apart measured from center to center of 400 yards.
Umpires, to be appointed by the commander-in-chief, on going aboard the flagship of the division commander, but not before, will direct him to proceed with his division to a locality shown him on the chart. Upon arrival there to form his ships in line, the course to be steered will be the bearing of the end near target. If possible this target should be kept a little on the near bow in order not to cut the rear ship too close on her turn on the range.
The remainder of the maneuver will be left to the division commander, except that he must steam by the anchored targets in column formation, each ship opening fire when its target bears 30 degrees forward of her beam and ceasing when it bears 30 degrees abaft the beam.
Upon the completion of the first run the targets will be changed, and the division will then return, firing the other battery. The leader on this run will fire at the target on the opposite end, the far target.
This will end the first stage of the rehearsal. Concentration will be used in the second stage as follows:
The targets are changed. The division commander will steam on a course parallel to the plane of the targets at a mean sub-
caliber range, and so that each target when abeam will be approximately 2200 yards. When the far target is abeam of his ship, he will direct fire be opened, concentrating on the target or targets given him by the umpires, and will steer his leading ship on the arc of a circle, with this target as the center and radius equal to 2200 yards. The other ships following in wake of next ahead without signal.
Fire will be ceased when leading ship has turned through 5 points of the compass.
The relative merit will be shown by divisions in the Bureau of Navigation's publications.
Division battle rehearsal to be held not less frequently than one in six months.
RULES FOR SQUADRON AND FLEET BATTLE REHEARSAL.
The rules for squadron and fleet to be the same as those for single ships and divisions in so far as they do not conflict with the following:
A = Opening fire.
B = 1st division going left about; 2d division changing targets.
C = 2d division going left about; 1st division about ready to open fire.
D = Squadron in column: 1st division firing at targets 5, 6, 7, 8, leader about to steer on arc of circle shown; squadron to open fire and concentrate on targets 7 and 8.
E = End of rehearsal, leader having turned through 5 points. (Ships are displaced for clearness.)
The number of targets anchored will be equal to the number of ships taking part in the battle rehearsal.
At the commencement, similarly to the rule for divisions, each ship will fire at the target bearing the number that she herself holds in the column of engaging ships.
The time of opening fire will be when their targets bear 30 degrees forward of their beam.
[The rules here given are for a squadron only, it being considered in advisable and may be impossible to provide a sufficient number of targets for a fleet.]
When the leading ship of the squadron reaches a position where her target (No. 1) bears 30 degrees abaft her beam, the division of which she is the leader will cease firing and each ship of this division will turn, simultaneously (by signal), about away from the targets.
The second division will immediately shift their fire to the targets, in natural order, of the leading division and will continue to fire until the leader of this division has reached the position where her new target bears 30 degrees abaft her beam, when the second division will turn about (by signal) away from the targets, ceasing its fire before turning exactly as done by the first division, and will follow in column the first division already turned. The first division will now open fire on the targets of
the second division in reverse order, that is, leading ship will fire at leading target (so as not to cross the fire) as soon as the target of each bears 30 degrees forward of her beam.
Concentration of fire.—When the leading vessel of the squadron arrives at a position where her target will bear abeam, she will steer on an arc of a circle with the distance of the target as a radius, followed in wake by all the rear ships.
The second division will now open fire and the two end targets (ahead) will be used. The first division using target No.8 and the second division No.7 target. Fire will be ceased by all ships when the leader of the squadron has turned through 5 points of the compass.
This will end the rehearsal battle practice.
The score in hits per gun per minute will be calculated for the squadron, and the standing of squadrons will be published to the service by the Bureau of Navigation.
Squadron battle rehearsal to be held once a year under their squadron commanders.
AN ELEMENTARY STUDY IN FIRE-CONTROL.
Fire-control has been divided for convenience into fire-control and spotting. The former has been defined as the art of transmitting the correct ranges from the fire-control party to the batteries, and spotting the art of knowing quickly and accurately where the shells are hitting.
The efficiency of both of these arts will be shown in a striking manner in a battle rehearsal, but there has been devised a system of training spotters without even firing a gun. These elementary lessons in spotting (teaching those who will have to control the fire of our ships, the A, B, C's, as it were, of this craft, in order that they will have had some training even before the battle rehearsals) can be given on board ship, and the game, so-called, bears a striking similarity to the real thing, without the dis- charge of the gun to disconcert the observer until he has accustomed his mind to act quickly, taking the observations of his eyes and converting them into mystic numbers, the key to which the fire-control party are holding.
The urgent need of good, reliable spotters is well-known. This duty requires good, strong eyesight, calm, accurate judgment, and intense interest. The spotter must be ever keenly alive, unhesitatingly, to make up his mind where the shot or shots fell and give the corrections to the sight-bars quickly for the next shot. The tension under which he will work in battle and even at target practice will be enormous, and for this duty he should receive daily training, in order that his eye and brain may work in perfect synchrony.
For this daily training, without the expenditure of ammunition, the dotter of fire-control has been devised and perfected to some degree by officers in the Atlantic Fleet.
THE DOTTER OF FIRE-CONTROL.
The method of training is that of representing in concrete form the sea and target and placing the eye of the spotter at a height in proportion to the distances. In other words, "spotting in proportionate miniature."
The instrument3 in use on board a vessel of the Atlantic Fleet was constructed as follows:
3 "The idea of the spotting board was suggested to me on board the U.S.S. Indiana by Lieut.-Comdr. A. B. Hoff, U.S.N. Together we constructed the miniature target and peephole-card, using cardboard, and demonstrated the feasibility of the system on the mess table covered with a green baize table-cover. We found the nap of the cloth raised the thread so far above the plane of the table that the eye was deceived in its estimates of distance, so afterwards the board mentioned in the text was constructed and used before I was detached from the ship as her ordnance officer. I sent a description of our board to Lieut.-Comdr. Mark Bristol, Fleet Ordnance Officer Atlantic Fleet, last September and it may now be used by other ships of the fleet."
A well-seasoned board, ten feet long, was obtained. The top was planed down as smooth as possible and sandpapered, then painted a light green to represent the surface of the sea.
This board represented a distance of 4000 yards, or 400 yards to the foot.
The target was made of sheet-tin, painted black to represent the long-range target.
As the new long-range target was 30 feet by 60 feet, the dimensions, in proportion, of the miniature target should have been .3 inch by .6 inch, but the eye of the observer was supposed to be looking through 12-power glasses, which gave as the size of the target 3.6 inches by 7.2 inches.
The mast was represented also by a piece of tin, about a foot wide, with an eighth-inch slit, the width of slit being a little greater than the distance between an observer's eyes. The top of the slit was at a height of 9 inches.
Working out the proportion, if the height of the spotting station was 75 feet, the height of the slit should have been .75 inches, but we have made the target 12 times larger to represent it magnified, so in order to preserve the angles in their correct measurement, the height of the eye was multiplied by 12 also. Thus showing graphically the enormous value of good high- power glasses when spotting by the vertical method.
Having the game completed and set up on a table or a couple of wooden horses of the proper height, we are ready to give the
4 Should be 3.6 inches in height instead of 7 inches as shown.
recruit spotter his first idea of how to correct the range by observation of splash.
The observer places his eye, at one end of the board, to the slit in the tin fastened to the board itself, and glances with both eyes open at the target. The target seen seems very life like.
A small piece of cotton-thread is put down across the board at any distance between observer and target. The observer estimates the apparent number of feet the splash is short (by vertical method, using target as a visible scale), consults his table and calls out "up so many hundred yards." The attendant measures the distance by a scale made for the purpose, and taking up the piece of thread puts it down in its new place. If a spot puts the next shot on the target or over the observer is told, and makes his next correction accordingly.
The board described is for 4000 yards only but it may be made for any range. A ship as target would be more life like, but these officers were training only for target practice, so the ship was of no use to them.
Below is a scheme of shapes for battle signals to be used at rehearsal. They explain themselves. The writer believes that something similar to this is bound to come and the more thought put on this matter, together with the actual experiences that would be gained in rehearsal, the quicker we shall decide what is the best for the purpose:
Two-element signal is a simultaneous movement.
First in hoist designates direction.
Second in hoist designates number of points through which each ship will turn.
First in Hoist. Second in Hoist
? To the right. ¢ 4 points.
To the left. ? 8 “
? 16 “ or about.
Three-element signal is a successive maneuver.
First in hoist designates direction.
Second in hoist designates number of points through which leader of new
formation will turn.
Third in hoist designates the first ship of a division as the leader.
First in Hoist. Second in Hoist Third in Hoist.
? To the right. ¢ 4 points. ¢ Leader of 1st division.
To the left. ? 8 “ ? “ “ 2d “
12 “ “ “ 3d “
? 16 “ ? “ “ 4th “
Single Element Hoists.
Ball. ¢ Right about in succession of divisions.
Cone. ? Ships right about.
Top. Ships left about.
Drum. ? Left about in succession of divisions.
The leader of a division is the leading ship in the division, not counting any vessels which have been sunk or fallen out of the formation.
Having described in some detail what I have termed the battle rehearsal, I would like to take the reader on board the flagship of a squadron during its annual rehearsal.
All preparations for fire-control have been tried out in the single-ship rehearsals. Each ship has been fitted with a conning-tower similar to the one described on a following page of this article.
Eight battleships steam out in column from the anchorage near the target grounds. All are cleared for action—in fighting trim. The chief umpire has given to the squadron commander the position from where the rehearsal will be commenced.
All hands are at their assigned stations for battle. Instead of the swarm of officers and men on the commodious bridges, these have been removed and grim tubes peep up above the armor of the turrets. Inside these armored tubes the captains and their signal officer and men are attentively watching the next ship ahead for the first sight of the small shapes that will notify them at a glance the wishes of their squadron commander. The captains speak in quiet tones to their executive officers below them in the tube, cautioning to guard the steering carefully.
The squadron commander in his after tower is glancing off to starboard at the small targets some miles across the water. He knows the targets are moored in a north and south line and he has reached the position given him by the umpires.
His chief of staff below him in communication with the wireless room below and the squadron commander above him, receives a change of course from his chief and sees the helm put over; the leader swings away from the direction of the targets. Each vessel astern follows in column without signal. When all ships have formed in exact column, the commander speaks a word to his flag lieutenant by his side and two shapes are run up to the 1 yard-arms. Two cones appear at the yard-arm, almost simultaneously, of the nearer ships and in but a few seconds the last hip in the column has answered and understands the signal. Ships right- 8 points is executed, and on approaching the rehearsal range top cone puts the squadron again in column, heading nearly parallel to the plane of the targets. The leader steers the proper course, the other vessels follow without question.
From here on the rules are followed.
The fire-control party work as they would in battle.
A drum alone hoisted on the flagship and hauled down by the first division sends that division ships left about. The second division shift targets, continue the fire, and keep their drums flying at the yard-arms. In but a few minutes this division has turned and is in column again, and so it goes to the end of the rehearsal.
All are given training for battle. The gun-crews, handling- room crews, and gun-pointers are trained to a less degree, but the two annual target practices give these their necessary training.
One criticism may be made on this system which I shall answer before it is made. As the guns are all being fired at once it is improbable that a gun-pointer can see through his telescope where his shell hits; he would probably mix it with many others, so that he could not possibly make his own estimates.
The important point is we will be doing the work, and at but small cost, which we shall have to wait years to do if we put it off until we have sufficient qualified gun-pointers to shoot our guns with service charges.5 This would be the Morris tube of fire-control.
A PROPOSED CONNING-TOWER AND THE DUTIES OF THE SENIOR OFFICERS IN BATTLE.
It is believed that the present style of conning-tower is a mistake, but if the ship is maneuvered from it, this point will be soon cleared up. There is no doubt of that, and now is the time to find it out; not when we are about to engage the enemy.
5 After writing the above, I feared that those readers of the Institute unfamiliar with the requirements of gunnery training might believe that this practice could take the place of battle practice, using full charges. I wish to state emphatically that it cannot. Battle practice is absolutely necessary. The above is but gallery practice to drill the fire control party, etc., for the battle practice. Our battle practices should be more successful for this training.
Another and an important question will be answered by these rehearsals, one that is now in an uncompleted state. I refer to the duties as outlined in the U.S. Navy Regulations for the higher officers of our ships. For instance, article 546 reads:
“(1) In battle he shall look after the general working of the armament, and from time to time repair to any part of the ship where this duty may be performed to the best advantage.
"(2) If boarders are called away he shall lead them."
He could not perform this duty in a modern battleship. He might just as well commit suicide as to attempt it. He is not, or ought not to be, charged with the performance of the battery. The battery officers alone should be responsible for the behavior of their guns after the action fairly commences. The executive officer is logically the man to be protected and saved to take command of the ship in case the captain is disabled. Boarders are an adjunct of battle too ancient to be considered in these modern days, except in case of the surrender of an enemy, in which case a less important officer should be sent as prize master.
Undoubtedly a change or two will be brought out by familiarity with the conditions of battle, imitated by the rehearsal, but as a starter we cannot go far wrong if we station our high officers as outlined below:
The captain should be in the conning-tower with his helmsman and a man, or better, an officer, for communication. His main, and almost sole duty, is to handle his ship and designate to the fire-control central the change of target as signaled from the flagship or given by prearranged plan at different stages of the combat. His signal men must be near him and the signals, if he does not read them himself, should be given him by "word of mouth," any other means would be untrustworthy.
The executive officer should be in the central station, where he can keep in touch with all batteries, magazines, engine-rooms, etc. He should call out the important in formation to transmit to the captain in the conning-tower. Then, if his turn came to take command, the situation would be his after a glance about him. If the central station were at the foot of the armored tube containing the conning-tower, a ladder might be worked in for communication, very nearly as arranged in the military masts of to-day for reaching the tops. (See below, duty of executive officer in new conning-tower.)
The navigator should be near the captain to advise him of dangers in navigation. His duties as officer of the deck seem to fit his usefulness. He should pay especial attention to signals.
The ordnance officer may be either in the fire-control central or in one of the fire-control tops. He should not have to visit any part of the armament during an action. If the crew of a gun or turret cannot re- pair a breakdown, it would be better to lose the services of this unit rather than cut the head off fire-control by send- ing this officer away from his station.
It may seem too radical to our avowed policy of no changes unless the change can be shown to be beneficial, but with the hope that this recommendation may need no further proofs than I have at hand, I shall describe and show the good features of a conning-tower proposed by an officer6 of the Atlantic Fleet.
6 Lieutenant H. C. Dinger, U.S. Navy.
In the sketch representing a battleship a heavily armored tube is run up from the protective or armored deck to a height so that from the top a clear view can be obtained. The tube, depending on the size of the ship, should be large enough, in internal diameter, to accommodate comfortably the officers and men who will be stationed on its different flights or decks. The tube should have no permanent top, but about a foot below its top rim a light wooden or steel deck is worked to be used as a bridge in ordinary cruising. A wooden chart-house, easily removed, may be built abaft this tube. On the top deck of the tube will be stationed the captain, the navigator, and four signalmen, also an officer for communications. The deck of this top flight to be formed of iron gratings (armored), with large speaking-tube connections to the next lower compartment. The top compartment we shall call the conning-tower "D." The floor should be movable and placed at such a height, by appropriate means, so that the principal occupants may just see over the top rim, and exposing but a small part of the head. In the compartment "C" just underneath is the wheel and here are stationed the helmsman, the executive officer, and an officer or man for communications. The compartment "B" may be used as the fire-control central; it is above the armored deck but well protected by turret barbette, vertical and diagonal armor. The central station is located at "A," and in this station should be one or more intelligent men under charge of an officer. The central station should be of good size and contain all the necessary instruments for communication without cramping. A skeleton mast is shown with signal shapes at the yard-arm. In a flagship this tower should be repeated aft, and in fact in any ship, for it provides an extra place for steering in case of accident forward and gives a duplicate fire-control central. In the flagship on the deck of compartment "D" would be the admiral, his flag lieutenant, and signal force. At "C" would be the chief of staff (to succeed to command), a helmsman, and a man for communications. In "B" a second fire-control central. Each top to be used by fire-control parties.
The idea of putting the executive officer in the compartment below the captain is to more fully protect him, and to regulate the steering from directions received from the captain in the conning-tower above.
The same explanation holds for the chief of staff, and the admiral may want to con his own flagship.
The above tower seems very practical and I believe will appeal to most navy men. It seems simple of construction and might even be installed in those ships already in commission, thereby greatly increasing their tactical value in battle. The metal of the old tower might be cut out and this new tube of better and lighter armor worked in its place. In addition, all the heavy, but unarmored metal, should be torn away from the vicinity of the top of the tower, as it would be a menace to those inside and would confine the gases of bursting shell.
These thoughts have led the writer into a broader field than it was his intention to attempt, but if the mention will make sufficient noise for our thinking and doing men to hear I shall be glad to have diverged from my original subject.
The supreme test of any plan is what good results may be logically expected from its adoption. These are a few points which the writer believes will be cleared up in battle rehearsals:
(a) Fire-control will be put on a smooth, running, intelligible basis.
(b) The duties of all officers in battle will be definitely settled.
(c) We shall know which officers in our navy are proficient and skillful in their profession.
(d) Concentration of fire can be exemplified, the value of bow, broadside quarter, ahead and astern fire may be graphically shown.
(e) If nets are spread underneath the targets, the value of short-range torpedo fire may be tested.
(f) Many officers will be trained as spotters.
(g) Ship construction for battle purposes will have a new light thrown upon it.
(h) The navy will be training logically to fight a fleet action- perfecting its team work.