Today’s Illustration: Is 26″ Steel Enough?

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This is the front turret of the Japanese WWII battleship, “The Yamoto.”  It is composed of 26 inches of steel.
It was hit by a 16″ armour piercing shell.
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What: There is a long-running debate between what would have transpired had the USS Iowa faced off against the Yamoto.

“The two classes never met in battle but it’s interesting to wonder which one would have won in an engagement. . . . The U.S. Navy asked the same question after World War II and decided to find out.” [1]

The USS Iowa:

  •  52,000 tons
  • 16-inch guns that could fire a 2700lb round 24 miles
  • 12 inches belt armor
  • 6 inches deck armor
  • Speed — 33 knots
  • Accuracy: 21 nautical miles — The Iowa had radar-guided guns

The Yamato: 

  • 72,000 tons
  • 18-inch guns that could fire a 3200lb round 26 miles
  • 16 inches of belt armor
  • 9 inches deck armor
  • speed — 27 knots
  • Accuracy: 10 nautical miles

What: The U.S. Navy was able to find some select pieces of “Yamato Class” naval steel, which was in storage in Japan.  They shipped it back to Virginia for testing.

One of the pieces they tested was a Yamato Class Turret made out of 26-inch steel.

“The particular piece of armor tested was the 26-inch frontal armor for one of the Shinano’s 18-inch turrets. This was the thickest armor ever made for a warship and it was speculated that the Yamato’s armor was impervious to the 16-inch shells of American battleships. The U.S. Navy shot it point blank with a 16-inch shell. The resulting impact penetrated and ripped the armor apart.”

While it would be highly unlikely that a “point blank” [at 1000 meters] shot, such as this one, could take place at the distances which separate warships, it demonstrated that the steel used in WWII ships could be breached and could disable the ship.

“It is not enough that you shoot,
you have to hit as well!”

Other Quotes From The Articles:

“While Yamato was thickly armored everywhere, Iowa’s armor was thicker over her more vital areas. However, as Parshall points out, only America could afford to build battleships with hulls and interiors constructed entirely out of tough but light Special Treatment Steel, which meant that U.S. battleships could be smaller and lighter for an equivalent amount of protection.”

“Marksmanship is a key consideration when trying to hit a moving target from 25 miles away, even one that is almost three football fields long. Here was perhaps the Iowa’s biggest advantage. Japanese fire control radar was poor, while American fire control radar was the best in the world.”

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“27 knots vs 33 knots is huge. Every hour Iowa us putting 7 miles between herself and Yamato if fatso is chasing. Or gaining seven miles if fatso is running. Operational range is another factor. Iowa can outlast Yamato at a higher speedYamato does 8,300 mi @ 18 knots, Iowa does 17,140 mi @ 15 knots (the cruising speed of each).

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“Staring with the obvious, Iowa was faster (27 kts. vs. 33+ kts.), and by battleship standards, quite a bit more limber. The speed advantage here gives Iowa a very important tactical advantage in which she easily chooses the range of the engagement. An important consideration when she (as Yamato) can shoot over the horizon.”

Which, of course brings me to fire control, Iowa (as every other US Navy Ship larger then a Destroyer at the time) used the Mk. 13 Fire Control suite. The system was insanely ahead of its time; it had a 3cm wavelength to Yamatos 10cm, and almost 25 times the power output. For Iowa, this means it not only can shoot over the horizon, but can find a perfect firing solution over the horizon, and adjust it with pinpoint accuracy (by Battleship standards) while maneuvering. ” Link

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“Speed. 33 knots Iowa vs. 27 Yamato. With the superior targeting ability and speed, Iowa could hover at the max range, fire and increase speed, and avoid Yamato’s shots. Advantage, Iowa.” — Link

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“But all that is pretty much irrelevant because Iowa could do 33 knots while Yamoto puttered along at 27.

Barring gross incompetence on the part of Iowa’s skipper, there’s no way Yamoto could close to effective firing range with Iowa. Iowa would completely control the engagement with her superior speed and detection capabilities, allowing her to stay out of Yamoto’s effective range while delivering accurate return fire of her own. Iowa would literally run circles around Yamoto.” — Link

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It is not enough that you shoot, you have to hit as well!. . . . The American Ford Rangefinder, which was electromechanical and equipped with radar distance and azimuth finder, was much swifter and more accurate in this respect. . . . .

The result was that the effective range of the Iowas would have been 21 nautical miles. That is double the effective range of Yamato. Historically we know USS Iowa and New Jersey straddled destroyer Nowaki at that distance.

So USS Iowa would get the first shots, and she would straddle Yamato in short order, making that round of shells too likely to hit, and making every following round of shells even easier to correctly fire and hit. (Only 2% of battleship and cruiser shells hit a moving target using conventional optical firing control in WWI and WWII. But once a broadside started straddling a target, further hits almost always occurred because range and direction were confirmed.)

No matter what kind of armour Yamato might have, there are things you cannot armour, and those are bridge, funnel, rangefinders, fire (accuracy] control, ancillary equipment, and similar stuff. And scoring on those would impair the function of the battleship dramatically.”

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Fire control [accuracy]. The Iowa radar was much better. Yamato had better optical rangefinders and night binoculars, which gave them an edge if they were able to surprise the enemy. But those were hampered by smoke, fog, and rain. The Iowa didn’t have as good optics, but it had superior radar. US Battleships had been tested and proved able to maintain a constant and accurate firing solution while moving, doing tests with 450 degree turns at high speed, and then 100 degrees counter turns, still able to hit the target. Superior optics with bad radar is less effective than just decent optics with superior radar. In a long-range fight, which is likely what battleships would do, advantage clearly Iowa.”  — Link

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“A second weakness [the first being it was not radar-equipped like the Iowa) was the lack of fire control computers, aka rangekeepers. Captain Arleigh Burke, while commodore of Destroyer Squadron 23, surmised the Japanese were doing all calculations on paper and were estimating their target speed in 5 knot increments. So, he engaged them at 27 knots.

“The Japanese during World War II did not develop radar or automated fire control to the level of the US Navy and were at a significant disadvantage. . . . .In contrast to US radar aided system, the Japanese relied on averaging optical rangefinders, lacked gyros to sense the horizon, and required manual handling of follow-ups . . . The third most glaring weakness in the Japanese fire control system is mentioned above: The lack of gyros to sense the horizon. Every computerized gun director in the US Navy in WW2 had the ability to sense pitch and roll of their own ship so that the firing platform is consistent with the horizon. For destroyers and secondary batteries of cruisers and battleships, this was called the stable element. For primary batteries of cruisers and battleships, the stable vertical could sense pitch, roll, and yaw.” –Celso Morrison —  Link

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“The Iowas were designed and built specifically to beat the Yamato-class, going toe-to-toe.

They were 6 kts faster. Their armor-belt was tough enough to withstand the Yamato’s shells. The Yamato’s armor was not tough enough to withstand the Iowa’s shells. (American metallurgy and the penetrating power of its shells were superior to the Japanese.) And Iowa’s targeting technology and accuracy were likewise superior. And most importantly, the Yamato big guns had an effective range of just 16 miles — the effective range of the Iowa big guns was 23.6 miles. And in naval surface warfare, range and accuracy determine the victor. The Yamato would have been crippled before she could get within shooting distance … unless she landed a lucky shot at 25 miles, the absolute maximum range of her guns.”
— Dunbar

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“Among the battleships, he [Parshall] compares are Yamato and Iowa, based on five criteria: guns, armor, underwater protection, fire control [accuracy] and “tactical factors” such as speed and damage control.”

But if you throw enough shells up in the air, strange things can happen. And after a while, odds are, they probably will.”

“While Yamato was thickly armored everywhere, Iowa’s armor was thicker over her more vital areas.”
— Jon Parshall

Helpful Hints:

√  Take time to read the articles and pull out any other material you may find useful.

√  Avoid the danger of getting too deep into the details with the audience — especially if you are a lover of the topic.  Many in the audience may well be as unfamiliar or disinterested.  If you are speaking to a group of military men and women, getting into the story and details might really work!

√  Keep the background materials basic, simple, and short!

√ Highlight some of the keys words and phrases that you can then “pull-down into the illustration.”

Key Biblical Thoughts:

  • armor
  • temptation
  • defenses
  • Satan & sin
  • the battle / warfare
  • power / strength
  • accuracy
  • speed

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An Example: Let’s give it a try . . . . [one of four methods of using an illustration]

In the second GREAT WROLD WAR, the JApanese navy was equipped with a destroyer called “The Yamato.”  It was their most largest and most powerful ship.  The United States Navy’s ship of strength was the USS Iowa.

In comparions the two ships were their country’s counterparts of naval power.  The Yamato . . . . .(include what you find valuable)

  • The ship was 72,000 tons
  • It was equipped with 18-inch guns that could fire a 3200 lb round 26 miles
  • The ship had 16 inche thick belt armor
  • The deck was 9 inches of steel armor
  • It could move at a speed of — 27 knots
  • The accuracy of its guns was rated. higher, but most agree that it was primarily effecgive at a range of 10 nautical miles

The Iowa . . . .

  •  weighed 52,000 tons
  • It manned 16-inch guns that could fire a 2700 lb round 24 miles
  • It was protected with 12 inches armor
  • The deck was made of 6 inches of deck armor
  • It could move at a speed of — 33 knots
  • The accuracy of its gunes was 21 nautical miles, primarily due to it being equipped with radar.

The two naval ships never encountered each other throughout the war.  Because of that, many have speculated what that engagement would result in — Most do not believe that either one would have sunk the other, outside of a “luck” hit, which would have probably had to hit below the waterline.  Would have the Iowa or the Yamato disabled the other?  Would both of them been severely disabled?  Would one have been victorious over the other?

That question has been a controversy of speculation for decades, with individuals offering their conclusions even to this day.  The United States Navy requested and acquired a turret from the Yamato class ships, composed of 26-inch steel, to test it against a hit by a shell from the USS Iowa.  Here is what that shell did to the Japanese turret.

Celso Morrison, a retired employee of the Boeing Corporation, and frequent WWII commentator, has offered his personal but expert speculation on such a battle, and here is what he says . . . . .

“The Japanese during World War II did not develop radar or automated fire control to the level of the US Navy and were at a significant disadvantage.”

“Fire control” is synonymous with “accuracy.”  You see, as it has been said . . . . ““It is not enough that you shoot,
you have to hit as well!” 

[Now you can go different directions with this]
* Satan’s temptations are designed for accuracy.  He knows us so well and what will break through our resistance,
* If you are going to resist temptation, the strength of your will is not enough.  You must take some specific steps which help you target and defeat that term[tation.
* This world thinks that they can resist the Lord’s hand and working.  They little realize how accurately He can target their sins, personally and as a nation.
* The Lord is not only strong, but He is accurate when dealing with hardened sinners and nations.

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OR (using the fourth method for illustrations — preaching from Ruth 2:1ff)

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. . . . . . . What would have happened? In the end, it will only remain speculation. While some of the speculations are informed and from military and naval experts, there is no way to know what might have happened, how such a naval confrontation would have turned out.

However, there is a level of knowledge stated in the Scriptures, which exceeds our human capabilities.  When it comes to what might have happened, human reasoning engages in probability.  Probability study involves “chance ” combinations and permutations.   What might happen if based on randomizing various events.  “Big Blue” was able to weigh out all the chess combinations and permutations that Gary Kasparov.  Based on all those possibilities, the IBM computer — “Big Blue” — made its best chess move.

When the Lord says . . .

““Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” [2]

or when he says

“And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.”

. . . . He is stating what might have happened had a this-or-that series of events occurred.  The Lord knows all the combinations and permutations that might have happened had this-or-that happened in this world and in our lives.   Just change a few seemingly “random/chance” events, and the story goes a far different direction — Ruth leaves the house a different time, takes a different road, spots a different field, and Boaz is not part of the story!

The Holy Spirit, in His wisdom, is going to include a whole series of flags that highlight the providence of God in guiding the steps of Ruth when she left that morning.  Each of those steps, decisions, actions, conversations, positioning of people are of the Lord.  They may look like “random or chance” from our vantage, but they are all part of the wise plan of God.  He knows what happens when Ruth’s life collides with a man named Boaz.  No speculation in the Lord’s plan.  He knows what will happen.

Ohter Information & Links:

“The Iowa-class probably couldn’t sink the Yamato, but its 16-inch shells would have wrecked the Yamato’s superstructure and rendered her equipment inoperable. This concept was exemplified during the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck by the HMS King George and HMS Rodney in 1941. While the British battleships couldn’t score a killing blow on the Bismarck, they did reduce the Bismarck to an inoperable wreck that was finally scuttled by her crew to prevent capture.” [1]
Hartshorn Article
Parshall article

War is Boring

1. “The testing of the 16″ gun vs. the Shinano turret armor was NOT limited to a point-blank full-power shot. There was more than one test completed, and the other shots were with a reduced powder charge, to simulate different ranges, one of which was simulated at 30,000 yards. Also, keep in mind that these test shells were inert, missing the 750 lbs of high explosive that would normally be found inside them. A fully armed shell, even at a great range, would wreak havoc on that armor. The IJN armor was inferior in many ways, both because of impurities(dirt mostly) and because of improper tempering/hardening procedures.” . . . . at the Dahlgren {Viriginia] test facility, ‘point blank’ for a 16″ gun was ~1000 meters .. and all human observers were DEEP in the bunkers watching the test thru periscopes.

2. Check out all the “would have” in Scripture . . . .

“But if they had stood in My counsel,
And had caused My people to hear My words,
Then they would have turned them from their evil way
And from the evil of their doings.”

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