fighting for designs instead of styles
calculating a hard nut and steel
calculating a hard nut and steel
The US naval strategy during the Second World War was a simple algorithm: building ships faster than the enemy could sink them. Despite the seeming absurdity of such an approach, it fully complies with the conditions in which the United States found itself before the war: huge industrial capacities and a huge resource base allowed “crushing” any adversary.
Over the previous 50 years, the "American vacuum cleaner", taking advantage of the turmoil in the Old World, collected all the best from around the world - competent and highly skilled labor, leading scientists and engineers, "stars of world science", the latest patents and developments. Hungry during the years of the Great Depression, American industry was just waiting for a reason to “rush off the bat” and beat all Stakhanov's records.
The pace of construction of American warships is so incredible that it sounds like a joke - in the period from March 1941 to September 1944 the year the Yankees put into use 175 destroyers of the Fletcher type. One hundred seventy five - the record has not been broken so far; the Fletchers have become the most massive type of destroyers in stories.
For completeness, it is worth adding that along with the construction of the "Fletchers":
- construction of “outdated” destroyers under the Benson / Glives project (a series of 92 units) continued,
- From 1943, destroyers like "Allen M. Sumner" went into the series (71 ship, including the subclass "Robert Smith").
- from August 1944, the construction of new “Girings” began (another 98 destroyer destroyer). Like the previous project "Allen M. Sumner", destroyers of the type "Giring" were another development of the very successful project "Fletcher".
Deck hull, standardization, unification of mechanisms and weapons, rational layout - the technical features of Fletcher accelerated their construction, facilitated installation and repair of equipment. The efforts of the designers were not in vain - the scale of the large-scale construction of the Fletcher surprised the whole world.
But could it be otherwise? It would be naive to believe that a naval war can be won only by a dozen destroyers. Thousands of combat and auxiliary ships are required to successfully carry out operations in the ocean. It suffices to recall that the list of combat losses of the US Navy during World War II contains 783 names (from battleships to patrol boats).
From the point of view of American industry, destroyers of the Fletcher type were relatively simple and cheap products. However, hardly anyone of his peers - Japanese, German, British or Soviet destroyers of the destroyers could boast the same impressive set of electronic equipment and fire control systems. Universal artillery, an effective range of anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and torpedo weapons, a huge supply of fuel, amazing strength and phenomenally high survivability - all this turned the ships into real sea monsters, the best destroyers of World War II.
Unlike its European "colleagues", the Fletchers were originally designed for operations on oceanic communications. The 492 ton oil stock provided the 6000 miles sailing range with the 15 nodal stroke — the American destroyer could cross the Pacific Ocean diagonally without replenishing fuel reserves. In reality, this meant the ability to operate thousands of miles apart from the logistics points and perform combat missions in any area of the World Ocean.
Another important difference between the Fletchers and the ships of European construction was the rejection of the “pursuit of speed”. And although, in theory, the boiler-turbine power plant with power 60 000 hp allowed the "American" to accelerate to 38 nodes, in reality, the speed of the overloaded fuel, ammunition and equipment "Fletcher" barely reached 32 nodes.
For comparison: the Soviet "seven" developed 37-39 nodes. And the record holder - the French leader of the destroyers “Le Terribl” (GEM with power 100 000 hp) showed on the dimensional mile of the 45,02 node!
Over time, it turned out that the American calculation turned out to be correct - ships rarely go at full speed, and the pursuit of excessive speed only leads to fuel overspending and negatively affects the survivability of the ship.
Main armament "Fletcher" became five 127 mm Mk.12 universal guns in five closed turrets with 425 rounds of ammunition (575 shots in overload).
127 mm gun Mk.12 with a barrel length 38 caliber was a very successful artillery system, combining the power of a five-inch naval gun and the rate of anti-aircraft gun. Experimental calculations could have done 20 or more shots per minute, but even the average rate of shooting 12-15 shots / min was an excellent result for its time. The gun could work effectively on any surface, coastal and air targets, being the basis of the destroyer's air defense.
The ballistic characteristics of the Mk.12 do not cause any particular emotions: the 25,6-kilogram projectile left the trunk section at a speed of 792 m / s - a rather average result for the marine guns of those years.
For comparison, the powerful Soviet 130 mm ship gun B-13 of model 1935 of the year could send a projectile with a speed of 33 m / s to the target 870-kg! But, alas, the B-13 did not have the versatility of the Mk.12, the rate of fire of the entire 7-8 rds / min, but most importantly ...
The main was the fire control system. Somewhere in the depths of Fletcher, in the combat information center, analogue computers of the Mk.37 fire control system were buzzing, processing the data stream coming from the Mk.4 radar - the American destroyer’s guns were centrally aimed at the target according to automation data!
The super-gun needs a super-projectile: to fight against the air targets, the Yankees created a phenomenal ammunition - the Mk.53 anti-aircraft projectile with a radar fuse. A small electronic miracle, a mini-locator, encased in a shell 127 mm projectile!
The main secret was radio tubes capable of withstanding enormous overloads when fired from a cannon: the projectile experienced acceleration of 20 000 g, while making 25 000 revolutions per minute around its axis!
And the projectile is not easy!
In addition to the universal "five-inch", the "Fletcher" was a dense air defense circuit from 10-20 small-caliber anti-aircraft guns. Initially installed 28 mm 1,1 Mark 1 / 1 (so-called “Chicago piano”) installations were too unreliable and weak. Realizing that nothing happened with their own anti-aircraft guns, the Americans did not “reinvent the wheel” and deployed the licensed Production of Swedish 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns and Swiss 20 mm semi-automatic Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns with band feed. The Swedish and Swiss machines turned out to be so successful that they remain in service with the armies of dozens of countries around the world (including the United States).
For the heavy anti-aircraft gun Bofors, the original director of fire control Mk.51 with an analog computing device was developed - the system showed itself from the best side, at the end of the war half of the downed Japanese aircraft accounted for paired (quadruple) Bofors built with an OMS Mk. 51.
For small-caliber automatic anti-aircraft guns "Oerlikon" was created a similar fire control device under the symbol Mk.14 - the US Navy was not equal in accuracy and efficiency of anti-aircraft fire.
Separately worth noting mine torpedo weapon Fletcher-type destroyers - two five-pipe torpedo tubes and ten Mk.15 torpedoes of the 533 caliber mm (inertial guidance system, warhead weight - 374 kg of torpex). Unlike the Soviet destroyers who never used torpedoes throughout the war, the American Fletchers regularly conducted torpedo firing in combat conditions and often achieved solid results. For example, on the night of 6 on 7 on August 1943, a compound of six Fletchers attacked a group of Japanese destroyers in Vella Bay — a torpedo volley sent three of the four enemy destroyers to the bottom.
Mk.10 Hedgehog. Despite the apparent compactness and "lightness" of the pins, this is an 2,6-ton device (13 tons with platform), capable of throwing 34-kg jet bombs at a distance of a couple of hundred meters. Standard ammunition - 240 depth charges.To combat the submarines on the American destroyers from the 1942 of the year, the Mk.10 Hedgehog (Hedgehog), a British design, was installed with a multi-barreled jet bomb. A volley from the depth bomb 24 could cover the discovered submarine in 260 meters from the side of the ship. In addition, on board the Fletcher there was a pair of bomb-ejecting devices for attacking an underwater target in the immediate vicinity of a ship.
But the Fletcher-type destroyer’s most unusual weapon was the Vought-Sikorsku OS2U-3 seaplane, designed for reconnaissance and, if necessary, attacking targets (detected submarines, boats, point targets on the shore) using bombs and machine guns. Alas, in practice it turned out that the seaplane of the destroyer was useless - a too labor-intensive and unreliable system that only worsened other characteristics of the ship (survivability, the sector of shelling of anti-aircraft machine guns, etc.) As a result, the Vout-Sikorsky seaplane survived only three Fletcher. "
Survivability destroyer. Without exaggeration, the vitality of Fletcher was amazing. The destroyer "Newcomb" withstood five attacks of kamikaze aircraft in one battle. The destroyer "Stanley" was pierced through a jet aircraft-projectile "Oka", operated by a kamikaze pilot. "Fletcher" regularly returned to the base, having severe damage, fatal to any other destroyer: flooding of machine and boiler rooms (!), Extensive destruction of the hull power set, the consequences of terrible fires from kamikaze hits and holes from enemy torpedoes.
There were several reasons for the exceptional vitality of Fletcher. First, the high durability of the hull — straight lines, a smooth silhouette without exquisite contours, smooth decks — all contributed to an increase in the longitudinal strength of the ship. Unusually thick sides played their part - the Fletcher paneling was made of 19 mm steel sheets, the deck was half an inch of metal. In addition to providing anti-splinter protection, these measures had a very positive effect on the strength of the destroyer.
Secondly, the high survivability of the ship was provided by some special design measures, for example, the presence of two additional diesel generators in isolated compartments in the bow and stern from the boiler and turbine installation. This explains the phenomenon of the survival of the Fletchers after the flooding of the engine and boiler rooms - isolated diesel generators continued to power six pumps, keeping the ship afloat. But that's not all - for a particularly severe cases, a set of portable gasoline installations was provided.
A total of 175 destroyers of the Fletcher type in the fighting lost 25 ships. The Second World War ended, and the history of the Fletchers continued: a huge fleet of hundreds of destroyers of Bel was reoriented towards solving the problems of the Cold War.
America had many new allies (among which were former enemies - Germany, Japan, Italy), whose armed forces were completely destroyed during the war years - they needed to quickly restore and modernize their military potential in order to counterpose them to the USSR and its satellites.
52 "Fletcher" were sold or leased The Navy of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Greece, Turkey, Germany, Japan, Italy, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, Peru and Spain are all 14 countries of the world. Despite its venerable age, strong destroyers remained in service under another flag even more than 30 years, and the last of them were written off only at the beginning of the 2000-s (the Navy of Mexico and Taiwan).
In 1950-ies, the growth of the underwater threat from the rapidly increasing number of submarines of the Soviet Navy forced us to take a fresh look at the use of old destroyers. The remaining Fletchers of the US Navy were decided to be converted into anti-submarine ships under the FRAM program - fleet rehabilitation and modernization.
Instead of one of the nose guns, the RUR-4 Alpha Weapon jet bomb, the 324 mm Mk.35 torpedoes with passive self-homing, two sonars - the stationary sonar SQS-23 and towed VDS were mounted. But the main thing - a helipad and a hangar for two unmanned (!) Anti-submarine DASH (Drone Antisubmarine Helicopter) helicopters, capable of carrying a pair of 324 mm torpedoes, was equipped at the stern.
Landing an unmanned helicopter DASH on the deck of the destroyer "Allen M. Sumner"
This time, American engineers clearly "went too far" - the level of computer technology of the 1950s did not allow creating an effective unmanned aerial vehicle capable of performing complex operations on the high seas - to combat submarines at a distance of tens of kilometers from the side of the ship and to take off and landing operations on a tight helipad swaying under the impact of waves. Despite promising success in the field, 400 out of 700 delivered the fleet “Drones” crashed during the first five years of operation. By 1969, the DASH system was removed from service.
However, the modernization of the FRAM program has little to do with Fletcher destroyers. Unlike the slightly newer and slightly larger Girings and Allen M. Sumnerov, where about a hundred ships underwent FRAM upgrades, the Fletcher upgrades were considered unpromising - only three Fletchers underwent a full “rehabilitation and modernization course” ". The remaining destroyers were used in escort and reconnaissance missions as torpedo-artillery ships until the end of the 1960-s. The last veteran destroyer left the US Navy in 1972.
These were the real gods of the sea war - the universal warships, which brought on their decks the victory of the US Navy in the Pacific theater of military operations. The best destroyers of the Second World War, who had no equal in the vast sea. But most importantly, there were a lot of them, monstrously many - 175 destroyers of the Fletcher type.
Battle Information Center
USS Radford (DD-446 / DDE-446) is one of the Fletcher destroyers that have been upgraded under the FRAM program. Instead of the second turret, the Alpha Weapon jet bombometer is noticeable. Snimak made at Pearl Harbor, 1960's
Alpha Weapon depth bomb
The destroyer museum "Cassin Young", Boston, our days
Galley of the destroyer "Cassin Young"
Operating aboard the "Cassiner Young"