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"Secondary batteries" Topic

11 Posts

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Comments or corrections?

Col Durnford05 Feb 2022 4:15 p.m. PST

In one of the rule sets I've used the secondary batteries be used to target an additional smaller ship while the main batteries target another major ship.

In the rules you use how are secondary batteries handled?

1) As above – only target lesser ships.

2) Can add their attack to the main gunnery at a reduced range.

3) Some else.

Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian05 Feb 2022 5:03 p.m. PST

I don't think there was any rule at the time for this. Keeping in mind that there was no director control at the time and each gun was aimed by the Gun Captain, I think it would be the ship's Captain's preference first, and whatever the Gun Captain could see second.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP05 Feb 2022 6:15 p.m. PST

Agree with VSB. Secondary batteries (and tertiary/quick firing) were used primarily against smaller ships, especially torpedo boats. But if in range the secondaries would fire at larger targets even though they would not do as much damage as the main guns.


Col Durnford06 Feb 2022 2:32 p.m. PST

That's pretty much what I thought. Your primary mission as a secondary is to protect the ship, but if there is no other threat, throw shells down range and any target of opportunity.

David Manley06 Feb 2022 11:04 p.m. PST

Depends on the period. For the pre-dreadnought era there was the ongoing debate between the proponents of the "big gun" and "hail of fire" schools of thought. But in general, secondary guns were expected to add to the fire of larger guns against enemy battleships unless there were smaller targets to be engaged.

Blutarski07 Feb 2022 10:46 a.m. PST

First, it would be necessary to understand what time period you have in mind; secondly, it would be necessary to know exactly what you mean when you refer to "secondary batteries".

Complicated topic.


Wolfhag07 Feb 2022 2:27 p.m. PST

We discussed it earlier: TMP link


Col Durnford07 Feb 2022 4:33 p.m. PST

Firstly, thanks Wolfhag for the link. It was very informative.

I'm mainly asking about the Spanish American War. As far as the definition of secondary batteries goes; they would be any guns other than the main batteries. Usually they are mounted along the sides of the ship.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Feb 2022 4:35 a.m. PST

The rules for pre-dreadnought I use split battleship armament into Primary (the highest calibre guns plus, in some ships, those a bit smaller), Secondary (lower calibre but generally still powerful enough to damage superstructure or weakly armoured areas) and anti-torpedo boat guns (usually 75mm & less).

It gets confusing referring to quick-firing guns as some secondary batteries were technically QF before the end of the Pre-Dreadnought period.

Wolfhag08 Feb 2022 5:41 a.m. PST

I think that historically any gun in range fired at a target. What made gunnery accuracy difficult is that if the turrets were under local control (no coordinated range finding, fire control or salvo firing) it would be very difficult to spot the fall of each turret and gun that is firing to make adjustments. The same thing occurs when two or more ships are firing at the same target.

Something else I found:
Light cruisers in WW1 mostly started that war with a gunnery system which employed independently laid guns, with adjustable gun sights. The gun laying team's job was to keep their gun sight centred on the target ship.

With the advent of the HMS Dreadnought technology had advanced to the point of using timers, plotting tables and rangefinders for coordinated salvo firing and spotting which also increased the guns effective ranges because coordinated salvos were spotted rather than individual shots.


Blutarski08 Feb 2022 4:35 p.m. PST

I largely agree with Wolfhag here. Up through the RJW, independent firing was more or less the rule, even with the main battery guns. Ships had no centralized fire control system and no communication of any sort between or among the guns of a battery (beyond an officer pacing the gun deck of a secondary battery with a blackboard indicating the latest estimated/guessed range). In the Spanish-American war, gunners aboard American ships were essentially conducting individual/independent aimed fire – as and when the smoke of neighboring guns dissipated sufficiently to offer them a view of the target – at ranges approximating WW2 antitank engagements (i.e. ToF < 2-3 seconds). To say that there was ZERO coordination on any level would not be overstating the case; organized experimentation with range estimation, fire by salvo and fall of shot spotting only really got under way after the RJW. This period also commenced a huge effort to identify and remedy a galaxy of technical defects (for example, commonality of the various individual gun-sights of a gun battery in terms of elevation and bearing; the discovery that not all weapons could be relied upon to share a proper level turntable; the effects of differences in propellant temperature.

It was only with the advent of centralized, scientifically designed fire control technology (for example intra-ship electrical communications and a follow-the-pointer) system to simultaneously transmit real time range & deflection orders to the individual guns of a given battery) that any real progress was made in anything remotely approaching accurate gunnery undr combat conditions (don't be fooled by pre-WW1 prize-firing results – all artificial).

OK, I'll shut up now.


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