Best Battleship: Secondary Batteries

Secondary Armament: Anti-ship Yamato Iowa Bismarck Richelieu King George V Vittorio Veneto South Dakota
Battery Original Configuration: 12 x 6.1"/60, 12 x 5.0"/40
Post-Refit Configuration: 6 x 6.1"/60, 24 x 5.0"/40
20 x 5"/38 12 x 5.9"/55, 16 x 4.1"/45 9 x 6"/55, 12 x 3.9"/45 16 x 5.25"/50 12 x 6"/55, 12 x 3.5"/50 20 x 5"/38
ROF / Minute 5, 8 16 6, 16 8, 10 7 4, 12 16
Shell Weight (lbs.) 123.2, 50.7 55 99.87, 33.3 119.4, 32.9 80 110, 22.3 55
Throw Weight / Minute Original Configuration: 12,259 lbs.
Post-Refit Configuration: 13,430 lbs.
17,600 lbs. 15,715 lbs. 12,545 lbs. 8,960 lbs. 8,491 lbs. 17,600 lbs.
Raw Rating 7, 7.5 10 9 7 5 5 10
Adjusted Rating 9, 9.5 10 10 8 5 6 10

GENERAL COMMENTS: Since the first version of the page, I have re-run the numbers and made some adjustments. These include:

Adding in Bismarck's 105mm armament into the equations, where I hadn't before
Decreasing rates of fire, as best I could, to reflect achievable combat rates, rather than nominal test firing rates. This hurt Iowa and SoDak quite a bit.

In addition, in the Adjusted Rating I added 1 point to those ship's scores which carried at least some guns of near 6" caliber, because these guns generally have greater range, a more powerful shell, and therefore a greater ability to knock out small vessels such as destroyers. While I personally lean towards the belief that more shells is just a better thing, I can also understand those who argue that battleship secondaries must be able to hit and sink small ships before they can fire their own 4-5" weapons at you. In effect, if the same amount of steel is in the air, 6" steel is better than 5" because its shells carry larger explosive charges, are more effective against light armor, and tend to have flatter trajectories, making it easier to range and hit the target. The net effect is that Iowa's secondary, while still very potent, no longer dwarfs the competition. Bismarck and Yamato now pull even in the overall rankings. It should also be noted that the reason I rate Yamato as highly as I do (despite her lower total throw weight) is because she has the best arcs of fire for her secondaries of any BB, due to her superfiring triple 6.1" turrets. In her final configuration, and in a broadside engagment, she would be able to bring 8,563 lbs of ammunition/minute to bear, some 43% of it being very powerful, high-velocity 6.1" shells. Richelieu also has a very powerful battery for her size. King George V is hampered by the comparatively low rate of fire she experienced with her 5.25" guns. Vittorio Veneto fared slightly better, but also suffered from comparatively low rates of fire.

Secondary Armament: Anti-aircraft Yamato Iowa Bismarck Richelieu King George V Vittorio Veneto South Dakota
Battery Original Configuration: 12 x 5.0"/40
Post-Refit Configuration: 24 x 5.0"/40
20 x 5"/38 16 x 4.1"/45 12 x 3.9"/45 16 x 5.25"/50 12 x 3.5"/50 20 x 5"/38
ROF / Minute 8 16 16 10 8 12 16
Shell Weight (lbs.) 50.7 55 33.3 32.9 80 22.3 55
Throw Weight / MinuteAA#1 Original Configuration: 4,867 lbs.
Post-Refit Configuration: 9,734 lbs.
17,600 lbs. 8,525 lbs. 3,948 lbs. 8,960 lbs. 3,211 lbs. 17,600 lbs.
Raw Rating 3, 5.5 10 5 2 5 2 10
Adjusted RatingAA#4 2, 4.5 10 4 1.5 4.5 1 10

GENERAL COMMENTS: Iowa and SoDak have by far the best heavy AA suite of the seven. The 5"/38, coupled with the Mark 37 fire-control system, was the best heavy AA system of the war. Period. The total throw weight of the American BBs dwarfs the other vessels, and throw weight is really important, because in a very real sense anti-aircraft fire is a numbers game: the more lead you've got in the air, the better off you are. Coupled with proximity-fuzed 5" shells (which at least tripled the effectiveness of a 5" round when it first appeared, and by 1945 had multiplied it's lethality by a factor of six), the American 5" AA battery is incomparable. Of the remainder, King George V also has a very respectable battery. The 5.25" gun carried a nice sized warhead, and when coupled with proximity fuzing made for a very effective weapon, but her fire-control was not as good as the American Mk 37, and the 5.25" was just a tad too heavy for manual handling, which decreased its rate of fire markedly. Richelieu is heavily penalized because her 6" guns were simply not effective in their intended AA role, and I have therefore not included them in the tabulation. This leaves only her relatively light suite of twelve 3.5" guns. Bismarck has a decent battery, but no radar fire-control. Vittorio Veneto suffers from low throw weight and no radar, and the fact that her 90mm guns were notoriously unreliable in service, because of their very complex mountings.

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