German Fire Control

Before I get started with the research that I have been doing on the German Imperial Navy I am pleased with the results of a recent blog post. While I do not receive any remuneration from Pen and Sword I was pleased that my blog post helped to sell twenty-eight books that I know of. Some were direct from my blog and others were blogs and emails about my post. Nice to see this stuff works.

scharnhorst_gunI have been working on a set of Pre-Dreadnought Naval Rules and have been stymied by the lack of complete (or any) information on how the different navies operate their fire control systems.  The US and Royal Navies are covered very well up to and through World War I. The German Navy is often covered in just a single paragraph or two. What surprises me is the Kaiser’s Navy was so effective, I just do not know how. I do know why, they trained and trained and trained some more.  SMS Scharnhorst and Gneisenau trained and it showed in the peacetime awards they won and their gunfire at Coronel.

While I continue to keep looking, and any suggestions of were to find sources is welcome, I did see something strange about the Scharnhorst class. Their main guns, 21 cm/40 C/04 were used with two different mounts. The fore and aft turrets used DrL C/01 while the casemates used the MPL C/04. The difference was an elevation of +30° while the casemate was restricted to +16°.  This gives a combat difference of a range of 17,830 yards compared to 13,560 yards.

It will take the Scharnhorst over four minutes to cover that distance between when the turrets can first fire and then when the casemates can be added in. That is approximately 80 shells already on the target and zeroed in when the two new guns are added to the fight. My concern is the two fresh 21cm guns have not registered on the target. And their shellfire could confuse the turret captains and gunnery officers. There is no way to differentiate between the shell splashes.

I do not every remember this level of detail before in a naval simulation. Than again am I getting too granular? I look forward to any suggestions on the rules or on existing research on Imperial German Navy Fire Control. There has to be a dissertation out there.

Thank you
Jon

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