If you can see this text here you should update to a newer web browser
Normal | Highlight & Comment Highlighted Text will be in Yellow, but there are none yet
1. On the morning of December 8, 1943, west longitude date, this ship participated in a task group bombardment and bombing of the Japanese held island of Nauru. Ships in company in the bombardment group consisted of the battleships WASHINGTON (ComBatPac), NORTH CAROLINA, INDIANA (ComBatDiv 8), MASSACHUSETTS, ALABAMA and destroyers IZARD (ComDesRon 46), BURNS, CHARETTS, BOYD (ComDesDiv 92), LAND and CONNER. Rear Admiral Lee in the WASHINGTON was the OTC for the operation. The carrier group consisted of the carriers BUNKER HILL and MONTEREY and destroyers STACK, STERRETT (ComDesDiv 15), BROWN, BRADFORD and COWELL.
2. The following specific tasks were assigned to the SOUTH DAKOTA in accordance with reference (a):
(a) Fire one nine gun 16-inch salvo into a designated area.
(b) Cover two 500 yard squares with 63 16-inch H.C. projectiles over a fifteen minute period.
(c) At the end of the first fifteen minute period to take an additional area of 500 yards square under fire. A total of 63 projectiles and a time of 15 minutes were provided for this phase.
(d) Cover one 500 yard square with 400 5-inch projectiles.
(e) Destroy all targets of opportunity.
3. A review of the observations made and the data obtained indicates that these tasks were properly accomplished.
(a) In accordance with reference (a) the nine gun 16-inch salvo was fired with a deflection spread of 300 yards between turrets and a range spread of 600 yards between the high and low guns of each turret. The basis for the size of the spread was the information contained
- 1 -
in BuOrd conf. circular letter A47-43. An examination of the assigned area indicated that sufficient saturation and the effect desired would be obtained by the use of this spread.
(b&c) The few air spots received indicate that the areas assigned were properly covered. When the main battery was shifted to the second target area in which a structure identified as a radio installation was seen, the air spotter reported that the second salvo in this area demolished everything at that point.
(d) The 5-inch battery was outside its maximum range for the first half of the period in which it was assigned to fire. Once the order was given firing was commenced in an accurate and methodical manner according to plan. Shells could be seen bursting and fires were started in the target area. As all was going well with the 5-inch firing and the possibility existed that the order to cease fire might be given by the OTC before the target area was thoroughly covered, the Commanding Officer directed that the rate of fire be increased. The 5-inch battery promptly increased the rate of fire and the firing plan was completed except that during the last thirty seconds of firing the projectiles fired by the destroyers astern were mistaken by the SOUTH DAKOTA spotters for their own. An "up" spot was applied which put the pattern up on the bluff behind the target area.
(e) No targets of opportunity were fired upon. If the information from the aircraft spotter concerning buildings on the shore remaining intact had been received, the 5-inch battery could have been used to better advantage on these targets.
(f) The specific information requested in Commander Battleships Pacific despatch 101845 is included as enclosure (C).
4. The following conclusions are drawn from the results of this action:
(a) Lacking an enemy surface target, this bombardment is believed to have been an extremely valuable influence in drawing the units of the fast battleship, type of combatant vessel together as a mutual supporting and effective fighting group. The intangible effect on the temperment and morale of personnel is equally important. It is expected it will manifest itself in a greatly increased interest in the individual's job, an increased desire to do damage to the enemy and increased fighting efficiency.
- 2 -
(b) In future bombardments, where the opposition is light, the fire plan should be much more deliberate. Fire should be checked to allow the smoke and dust to clear away if found necessary. With good spotting from the air spotter it should be possible to demolish any target. It is believed that three gun salvos are sufficient for any type of target to be encountered.
5. There were no casualties to material or personnel in the main or secondary batteries during the bombardment. The battery performance was outstanding in all respects.
1. The approach was made from north of Nauru as shown in the track chart. Moonset was about 0422 (zone plus 12). The atmosphere was clear and a good horizon made it possible for an excellent navigational fix to be obtained at 0400. This position was plotted and the DRT was set up to make the approach for bombardment. Shortly after 0400 the DRT longitude component motors failed, and the contemplated DRT track could not be obtained. The trouble was located too late for the equipment to be of any value.
2. Tracking was started with radar ranges and bearings as soon as Nauru was picked up. The north face of the 231-foot hill due east of Yangor was identified and pointed out to the SG radar operator. Simultaneous radar range, and visual tearing on this point were used, to establish the ships track during the approach. By 0650 the track was established within limits of 200 yards. At 0655 the predicted position at 0700 was given to the plotter in CIC. CIC had been running a separate plot based on data obtained by EH radar on the cantilever(this was a special, distinct structure used to transport mined phosphate to ships beyond the reef). A check at 0659½ showed that the predicted position as obtained by the navigator's plot and the position observed by FH radar differred by only 70 yards, and agreed in bearing. The first salvo was fired at 0702. The navigator checked the ships position for three more minutes and then reported to the conning tower. Main battery plot was getting a good solution so there was no further need for navigational check, although the chief quartermaster continued to plot the ships position until firing was completed.
3. Ship control went off smoothly except for some confusion resulting from the receipt of two signals from OTC ordering two 30 degree turns to port. As a result, the ship started closing range on Nauru quite rapidly with forward turrets firing almost dead ahead. OTC ordered ships of BatDiv 9 to resume station, which they did.
- 3 -
1. The ship went to General Quarters at 0540, and a last minute check on all bombardment preparations in Main Plot was made. Everything was found to be satisfactory. At about 0635 the FH radars and the main battery directors began to pick up radar and optical reference points on the island, and sent the information down to Combat. Range to Nauru was then about 40,000 yards. Shortly thereafter director one identified one radar pip as either #9 or #10 radar reference point, and RK #2 commenced tracking. By 0643 a good track on this point had been obtained on the rangekeeper. At 0645 the turrets were trained out to a general relative bearing line and told to get up High Capacity ammunition. At 0648 Main Battery Director One identified the the cantilever by radar and both rangekeepers commenced tracking this target. At 0649 word came down that we expected to pass through point Baker at 0715. The Gunnery Officer sent down word to be ready to fire any time after 0700. At 0650 watches were synchronized with Combat and the ship's track was started on our plotting table, using ranges and bearings off rangekeeper #2, which was still tracking the cantilever. At 0653 Director One identified their target optically as being the cantilever. Our planes had reported on station at 0640 and RRY had been tested so we were ready for spotting. At 0655 order was given to turrets to load and lay, Range was about 30,000 yards at this time. At 0658 RK #1 was shifted to regenerative set-up and corrections applied to correct solution to point of aim of first salvo. At 0659 turrets were told to "standby" and they matched pointers in hand as previously instructed for the opening salvo. At 0702 Conn gave commence firing and the first salvo was fired. As soon as possible afterwards salvo #2 was fired, aiming at a point in the water 400 yards short of the target area. Our planes reported salvos as landing on the beach and the third salvo went out aimed at the gun emplacement on top of cliff in our area.
2. About this time the ship came left and turret #3 was forced into the stops. Turrets #1 and #2 continued firing, using 2 gun salvos and Conn was asked to come right if possible to bring turret #3 to bear. Turret #3 was told to standby to fire two guns per salvo as soon as she could bear in order to catch up with the fire schedule. No good spots were received and we had to assume we were somewhere in the area during the next four salvos. After four salvos the ship came right and turret #3 was able to re-open fire. The following four salvos were 4-gun salvos with turret #3 firing two guns per salvo. The 6th salvo was spotted (as falling) in the water short of the target area and an up spot was introduced to cover the building and town area. Fire was laddered across this area without subsequent spots until the supply dump was reached where about three more salvos were fired. The 19th salvo was shifted, still without any further spots, to the buildings on the top of the bluff which were in our area.
- 4 -
3. After the 22nd salvo fire was checked while the turrets re-set their I.V. loss, and the rangekeeper was shifted to set-up for the Radio Station which was our second area. This was at 0718. Eire was resumed in about 40 seconds, and a spot of R030 was received on the 24th salvo. Corrections were applied and after the 26th salvo our planes reported the target covered with smoke and dust. The gunnery officer reported that he believed the target destroyed. Three more salvos were fired at this target after which fire was shifted to target in Baker-7, listed as possible fuel dump, which although just outside of our area seem worth taking under fire. Fire was laddered after about 3 salvos into this target so as to re-cross the beach and sea-level portion of area Able-6 from left to right. At 0725 word was received from the Captain to cease using special fuzes. This was taken to mean to use base detonation rather than point detonation fuzes, and fuze settings were shifted in the turrets accordingly. The topside directors reported that no one seemed to be firing in the area just to the right of our area, and as the planes continued to report that we seemed to be covering our area well, and all targets had been fired on at least once, the last four salvos were placed on the area between the boat basin and No. 1 Factory. The firing was completed at 0733, all ammunition expended according to schedule.
4. Throughout the bombardment the spots received were very few and far between, and it was necessary to assume where our fall of shot occurred in order to carry out the time schedule. As best we could, we took all targets under fire and our shifts were corraborated by some spots and not with others. It seems to me that the poor position of our spotting planes, and the poor communications with them resulting from overlapping frequency were largely the cause of so much blind firing.
SECONDARY PLOT1. After starting the approach to the island, the first word received was that zero time would be late. On a signal from Combat, the controlling stop watch was started at 0650. At + 12 minutes (0702 ZT) the main battery opened fire.
2. Rangekeeper ranges to point "Able" were carefully watched and were noted to be outside the maximum range limits of the computers. At watch time + 22 the range to point "Able" was just coming to computer tracking range. Combat and Air Defense were informed that it was five minutes until the secondary battery was scheduled to open fire and the range was still too great for the battery. The computers commenced tracking and word was received that the ship would be maneuvered to close the range for the secondary battery. At watch time + 26 (one minute before firing time) Combat and Air Defense were notified of the time and that the range was still too great. For a short time the main battery director was off the cantilever pier and was tracking
- 5 -
another point, but they soon shifted back to the cantilever pier without disrupting the solution.
3. The range was steadily decreasing and the ranges were being sent to Air Defense. Permission was requested to open fire when the range to point "Able" reached 16,000 yards. Air Defense gave the word to standby. The hoists had already been loaded and the mounts were put in automatic. At about this time the 5JP circuit went bad and all stations shifted to the X5JP. By pulling the bus to Central Station, the 5JP was restored and all stations except the Air Defense Officer shifted back to the 5JP. Plot covered both the primary and auxiliary circuits. As the range approached 16,000 yards, plot again attempted to get permission to open fire, but was unable to get the Air Defense Officer on either control circuit. When the Air Defense Officer was contacted on the auxiliary circuit and permission was granted to open fire when ready, the range was slightly below 16,000 yards. The mounts were ordered to load, spots were applied for the ranging salvo, and at +34 minutes the Secondary Battery opened fire. The range to point "Able" was approximately 15,800 yards.
4. It had been previously noted that the stop watch to be used by the 2JP talker giving the loading orders to the mounts was not functioning properly, so he stood behind the firing pointer pointer and they both used the same watch althouth (SIC) that watch had only the firing key intervals marked on it.
5. Since firing was started late, it was not expected that the full number of salvos would be fired. For this reason the spot coordinator was instructed to move along the MPI lines in increments of 50 yards instead of 25 yards as planned.
6. After the 30th salvo, the I.V. loss was increased 4 f.s. in accordance with a prepared table.
7. On about the 30th salvo on orders from Air Defense, the firing interval was reduced to 12 seconds. The firing pointer's watch was re-marked for this interval without interrupting the firing.
8. After the 35th salvo, on orders from Air Defense, the battery went to "rapid fire". Previous to shifting to "rapid fire", three of the MPI lines had been completed and the fourth and last line was about one-third completed. Upon shifting to "rapid fire" the spot coordinator moved the MPI toward the center of the target area and then started working out toward a possible fuel dump in the area. Shortly after going to "rapid fire", Air Defense (and other stations) seeing 5" shots from destroyers falling in the water in the general
- 6 -
direction of this ship's main battery targets, apparently, momentarily forgot that this ship's secondary battery target was on the other side of the cantilever pier, and began spotting out. Air Defense's first spot was out 1,000 yards which was applied with the range spot knob. Air Defense's second spot was out another 1,000 yards which was achieved by increasing present range by that amount. It is believed that as a result of these spots, the secondary battery fire was shifted to the hill beyond the designated target area. No spots were received from the aviator, but word was received that the target area was well covered.
9. As soon as the spots were applied a check was made with the mounts to determine the amount of ammunition they had expended at that time. It was discovered that they had not only reached their allowed number but had exceeded their allowance whereupon "cease firing" was given from Plot. The time was approximately +45 or 0735 ZT when all guns had ceased firing.
MAIN BATTERY PERFORMANCE
1. In general battery performance was excellent. A salvo interval of 46.2 seconds was maintained through the first twenty-two salvos and for the last twenty-three, an interval of thirty-seven seconds was maintained. On the whole, gun crews and turret officers had no difficulty in maintaining this interval. From salvo twenty-five through salvo thirty-seven, the salvo interval averaged 29.5 seconds, and in some cases was as low as 15 seconds. Despite the reduction of time between salvos, gun crews had ample time to make good smooth loads, and there were no gun room or loading casualties which caused a gun to miss a salvo.
2. It was noticed that as firing went on the gun captain's wiping rag secured to his forearm became more and more fouled causing him to take more and more time to wipe the mushroom face properly. In the future all gun captains will be instructed to put their wiping rags in layers securing each layer with small stuff and as a layer becomes fouled to rip it off and have a clean surface available for succeeding loads.
SECONDARY BATTERY PERFORMANCE
1. The 5" battery was scheduled to open fire at H +15 time, with point Able at 17,000 yards. Actually, the battery commenced firing at H +20, with point Able at 16,000 yards. Eight-gun salvos at 15 second interval were used.
- 7 -
3. Spotting plane observations confirm the fact that the area was covered, with no stray salvos except near the end of the bombardment when several bursts were seen on the bluff in area Prep and Queen Five.
4. Observation from Air Defense and Directors was limited by smoke and dust over the target. However, the cantilever pier and the cleared area along the northwest landing strip were usually visible and were used to judge the location of the bombardment area. Tracers could be followed until lost in the smoke over the target, and they seemed to be headed the right direction.
5. After approximately 30 salvos, the interval was reduced to 12 seconds and after salvo #36 rapid continuous fire was used to complete the bombardment on schedule. Because of the difficulties of keeping a check of rounds fired during rapid fire, the ammunition allowance was exceeded by 82 rounds before "cease firing" was given.
6. At the beginning of the rapid firing phase, several splashes were sighted in the area Jig One, northwest of the cantilever, 1,000 yards short of the 5" area. At this period the only 5" firing was from this ship and the three destroyers astern. The splashes were probably ranging salvos from one of the destroyers, but were erroneously spotted as an error in this ships 5" fire. The resulting up-spot was late in being applied and probably accounts for the bursts sighted on the bluff beyond the 5" area as reported by plane spotters near the end of the 5" bombardment.
7. It was anticipated that common 5"/38 casualties would occur - such as jammed cases, mis-fires, failure of breech mechanism and rammer or sluggish counter-recoil. However in the 60 rounds per gun fired (half in rapid fire) there was not the slightest malfunctioning of the gun crews or material. The reliability of the 5"/38 battery again proved very gratifying.
1. The island was sighted at about 50,000 yards and shortly thereafter Hill #9 was identified. Tracking by optics was begun at ranges above 45,000 yards. The island could be seen on the radar screen but the pips were very weak and no definite point on the island could be identified at ranges above 45,000 by radar.
- 8 -
2. At about 45,000 yards the cantilever structure was picked up optically and the point of aim was shifted to it. Almost immediately thereafter the cantilever was identified on the radar screen and tracking proceeded using optical bearings and radar ranges. At about 40,000 yards the cantilever was giving a stronger pip than is normally given by a battleship at the same range.
3. Director One was the controlling director until just before fire was opened, at which time Director Two took control and Director One followed designation from Plot in order to observe the fall of shot. Shortly after opening fire Director Two reported that they had lost the target. Director One trained on the cantilever and took control for about two salvos until Director Two reported being on the target. Director One then again followed designation from Plot. About the middle of the firing period Director Two reported that a fuze was blown in the radar and Director One again trained on the cantilever but at about the same time Director Two reported that they were in commission and Director One trained back and matched designation from Plot for the rest of the firing.
4. During the firing no definite targets were identified in our first primary area. However many houses, one large building, possibly a phosphate plant, were observed in the area to the right of ours and these remained standing with very little apparent damage after firing was completed. Our area appeared to be well covered with shells.
5. Just before opening fire in our second primary area (radio tower) an object was observed that may possibly have been a radio tower but looked more like a wooden lookout platform. It was not observed after the first salvo in this area.
6. Accurate spotting from Director One would have been impossible but it is my belief that by the use of a few salvos placed in the water at intervals during the firing it would have been possible to cover the area fairly well if no plane spots had been available.
7. At intervals during the firing I searched with the periscope for active shore batteries but observed none.
8. On numerous occasions the shells were observed to burst and throw what appeared to be tracer-like shrapnel for some distance in all directions which leads me to believe that good detonation was obtained.
- 9 -
1. From Spot II we picked up the dim outline of Nauru Island optically at about 45,000 yards. At around 34,000 yards the cantilever was identified by optics and a very good radar signal was obtained. Upon opening fire, Director II was in control, our point of aim being the cantilever. On the initial salvo of nine guns the bursts were dispersed symetrical to the true line of bearing of the MPI designated to us from Plot. During the first part of the bombardment our bursts were observed to land within our area, but due to hills the targets hit were not visible. Due to an emergency turn to the left Director II and turret #3 were put into the stops, Director I took control immediately. After a turn to the right we got back on the cantilever and resumed control. One fuze was blown in the FH radar due to firing but was replaced within one minute. It was evident to me that the bursts of these 16" H.C. shells were terrific and covered a wide area.
2. Due to smoke and dust I did not see the hospital or plant #3. The radio station could not be seen from Director, yet it was observed that our salvos were hitting their mark in bearing exactly. At the end of the bombardment our last two or three salvos hit the fuel supply and started an oil fire which was still burning when we retired.
3. In the future bombardments where the opposition is as scarce as it was here at Nauru, the fire plan could be slowed up letting the smoke clear and enable spotting from Directors. With excellent points of aim as we had here at Nauru, many more buildings could have been destroyed had we used director fire from Director I.
A/S PATROL PLANE
1. After takeoff at 0620 I took station for ASP flying a 30° sector clockwise 15° on either bow. In general my station as an observer of the firing was 10,000 yards ahead of formation at an altitude of 2500 feet. At least 25% of my time was spent searching the water ahead of the formation.
2. Prior to 0700 flashes were noted on the island caused either by bombs exploding or the flash from medium A.A. fire. Durine this time fire of attacking planes was observed. The heaviest concentration of A.A. fire was about 0650 to 0655. This was a light barrage of small A.A. At other times A.A. fire was only scattered bursts. These scattered bursts continued until about 0720.
- 10 -
3. The first salvo was, in my estimation, about 75% effective. Part of the shells landed in the water near the cantilever and others southeast of the eastern end of the first runway. Talcing the bursts farthest to the left as those belonging to the South Dakota I would judge all of our shells landed on the island spreading inland as far as the phosphate diggins. Much smoke and dust arose immediately shutting off my view of anything but the area in general. Flame from one fire was seen in the village area within 60 seconds after the first burst.
4. After start of regular salvos several 16" bursts were observed in the water southeast of the junction of the two runways. As a whole the pattern of fire covered the area well.
5. At 0704 a splash was observed about 10° on our port bow about 4,000 to 5,000 yards from the leading destroyer. It was probably from a coastal battery but could have been a test fire from the destroyers or a bomb dropped from a plane. Another kingfisher was observed near the water in the same area and a fighter was noticed above.
6. Communications were poor in that the frequencies were so close together that there was much overlapping.
7. In my estimation the operation was a success in that it progressed along routine lines expected. Heavy damage must have been inflicted.
1. After the take-off, I climbed to 5,000 feet and joined the other five observation planes. As we approached the island, I could see flashes of fire in the vicinity of the runway indicating strafing attacks, or answering A.A. The A.A. fire we encountered was very light at the beginning, and after our fighters had strafed those positions and our bombardment began it was practically negligible with an occasional burst now and then. The spotting was conducted with no interference from then on, and we flew where we pleased. The nine gun salvo from the six ships patterned the target area from the beach to the phosphate digging and from the edge of our primary target area to the northern edge of runway one. One salvo landed in the water near the runway. I estimate that our salvo was in the target area. Rising clouds of smoke and dust began to rise cutting down visibility. Almost at once my communication with the ship was jammed with transmissions from other ship and there (SIC) planes (Balboa, Sugar, George and Joe were giving me the most trouble in this respect). Perhaps the assigned frequencies were to close together. An effort should be made to remedy this difficulty, as it proved to be a great handicap both for me and the ship all during the
- 11 -
bombardment. My first spot for the ship was a salvo in the water which I called in as Dog Four. I estimate this was salvo four. That was the only 16" salvo I saw hit the water in line with our area during the remaining firing. Due to the smoke and dust which was becoming increasingly dense as the firing progressed, I was unable to spot a definite grid area for the salvos in onr primary area. As they landed, I watched the water in front our area., and the territory beyond our area for splashes. Seeing none. I knew they were mixed in with the smoke and dust in our target area, and called them in accordingly. Then I was unable to hear the ship for the next 10 or 12 minutes due to interference but our salvos seemed to be finding their way in the target area. One salvo then landed above our primary target area, which I called in as George nine. To the best of my knowledge, that is the only salvo that might have been ours that landed far enough away from the smoke and dust of our primary target area, as to enable me to spot it. About this time I noticed the radio station still intact. I called it in as a target of opportunity Easy thirteen. One salvo landed 200 yards to the left, range O.K. I called for 200 yards right and the next salvo enveloped the buildings in smoke and dust. I am almost certain that the target was destroyed at once.
2. I also saw several salvos land in the lagoon behind the phosphate diggings (estimate three) and several in the water near runway one (estimate four) and one salvo in the water near runway two during the course of the bombardment. These were not our salvos. The spotting circle in the meantime was moving farther and farther away from our target area. Seeing a 5-inch salvo land in the water in line with our 5" target area, I called in a spot of up 500 yards. No other 5" salvos landed in the water which I judged to be coming from our guns. Also the 5" area allotted to us was becoming honey-combed with bursts, and I assume they were our own salvos landing therein. About this time four or five large fires were burning in our area from the hospital to the northern end of runway one. I flew around the island and came back over our primary target area, and tilted the plane to give my radioman a chance to get some pictures. I believe he got some good shots, as we retired from the island, we could see dive bombers working the runways over, and noted a large fire burning among the installations.
3. In my estimation the bombardment was very successful and the photographs we took should do much to confirm or contradict my observations, and also give us a general idea as to how the bombardment progressed and how effective it really was.
- 12 -
AIR SPOTTER'S RADIOMAN1. We were catapulted at 0620, gained an altitude of 5,000 feet established communication with the ship, and reported on station at 0650. Visibility was unlimited over the island but a cloud bank hid about half the ships included in the operation. After arriving on station no action what so ever was observed. The runways appeared to be out of commission. In the middle of each strip large bomb craters were clearly visible.
2. At about 0655 some anti-aircraft fire was encountered (estimated to be 5") coming from the north end of the longest landing strip. A small part of the A.A. fire appeared to be coming from a gun emplacement located near the railroad Y. Part of this A .A. fire was stopped by 50 caliber strafing from F6F fighters. The balance was stopped after the first salvo.
3. At 0700 the first salvo was, for the majority, right on target. An estimated 5 rounds fell short and another 5 rounds were about 1,000 yards long. A lot of smoke and dust from the explosions of the exploding shells made it very hard to tell exactly how much damage was actually done. I saw several small fires start but died out very quickly. One large fire was started in the middle of the largest area and continued to burn and was still raging when we were recalled. It was giving off a lot of black smoke which leads me to believe it was an oil fire.
4. After the first salvo, when each ship turned to their own target area we were supposed to spot each of the South Dakota's 3-gun salvos. This we did as well as possible but due to so much operation on the different radio circuits it was almost impossible to tell exactly when we were receiving a mark from the South Dakota. I watched our target areas and observed a lot of 16" explosions in them with few strays. About the time the South Dakota shifted over to her second target area, two very violent explosions were seen, one about 30 seconds after the other. These were located close to the railroad Y (very hard to tell the exact spot because of so much smoke lingering over all the target area).5. When the South Dakota opened fire on the second target her fire was several hundred yards off target to the left. After two or three salvos she was right on and very quickly the target area seemed demolished. It was during this time, between 0730 and 0745, the pilot seeing no air opposition and A.A. fire, decided it necessary to go and did go around the east side of the island to the northside to get into a better position for observing this firing.
- 13 -
6. The South Dakota's 5" fire was very short to begin with but the range was soon increased and it was impossible, because of other ships firing, to tell exactly where they were going and what damage they were doing.
7. We flew around over the target area from 0745 until we were recalled at 0800 and took several pictures. Carrier planes were carrying out a very systematic plan of mopping up the landing strips and initial target area.
8. Part of my job was to take some pictures of the area as the bombardment progressed. I took several before, during, and right after the first salvo. The balance I took as the bombardment went along and after it was over. The pilot made a circle over the island in an effort to get some good shots of the damaged areas. I believe the pictures will show a large part of the damages done.
9. The radio communication was exceptionally good except for the mistake someone made in assigning spotting frequencies. I respectfully suggest in any future operation of this kind all spotting frequencies be at least 50 kcs. apart.
10. The operation looked very successful to me. All the target area, was hit very hard. The landing strips and radio station completely turned upside down I know and believe the town or settlement was done the same way.
COMBAT INFORMATION CENTER
1. It was expected that the initial contact with Nauru would be made by the SK radar but this was not the case. The first report was made by the lookouts and soon thereafter the forward main battery FH radar reported having it on the screen. It is possible that the island was showing on the SK equipment but at the time of initial contact, the first attack by carrier planes was underway and it was next to impossible to separate aircraft pips from the land pip.
2. Once the forward main battery director had picked up the island, a period of about twenty minutes was devoted to checking and identifying charted points of aim by visual and radar. Initial tracking was done using the highest point of the island as point of aim. Thirteen minutes later the cantilever structure was definitely identified by radar and it was used as the point of aim for the remainder of the operation.
- 14 -
4. The Navigator utilized the information provided from the forward SG equipment to maintain a plot in the chart house. When power was lost to the after SG equipment, station keeping information was provided from the forward equipment. To some extent this condition interferred with the maintenance of the Navigator's plot. This plot was of purely auxiliary nature, however, and the slight disruption of flow of information did not effect the solution of the control problem.
5. All fire distribution and gunnery information received over TBS and VHF was transmitted immediately to the Gunnery Officer in the Fire Control Tower over the JS battle telephone circuit. This procedure paralleled the information from the same sources being transmitted over the JA battle telephone circuit from the Conning Tower.
6. Upon going to general quarters it was found that the dead reckoning tracer was out of commission and would not be available during the bombardment. This casualty did not complicate or reduce the effectiveness of the control of the guns but no track of the ship's movements was available upon completion of the operation.
MAIN BATTERY PROCEDURE
1. Prior to D-day all director and spotting personnel were thoroughly indoctrinated with general information on the target area using the terrain model and movies furnished. The areas to be fired upon and all possible radar targets were marked on the large terrain maps furnished, and each director and interested control station was furnished with one copy. Large scale copies of an aerial photograph of the target area were made up with a superimposed grid for use of aircraft spotters and spot conversion in Plot. All radar and optical reference points were numbered and all targets lettered for ease in designation. A family of curves were drawn up for use in determining I.Y. corrections for various target heights at various ranges. A plasticele range and bearing grid used for conversion of grid spots to range and deflection spots had previously been made, and was available for use. The tentative ship's track for the expected approach was laid down on the plotting table in Plot and on the DRT in Combat for a check on ship's position.
- 15 -
A copy of the target outline with all possible tracking points marked was also drawn in on these plots, so that ship's position relative to any reference point or target might be taken off these plots. Drills were held and the entire bombardment rehearsed several tines prior to actual firing.
2. Main Battery Directors One and Two pick up reference points either optically or by radar and transmit range and bearing of these to Plot and Combat, where they are used to plot in ship's position and determine ship's track. As soon as a good reference point is picked up either optically or by radar; and positively identified, both range keepers begin tracking it, in order to determine any set and drift of current and to provide a basis for a firing set-up on the controlling rangekeeper. If a good reference point is not available, the set-up for the controlling rangekeeper is taken off the plot of ship's track in Plot. In such a case data for this track is received from Combat using information available. If a good reference point for tracking is available the rangekeeper is controlled by the director until just prior to opening fire, when it is shifted so as to become regenerative, leaving the same problem running. A range and bearing correction is them introduced to shift the theoretical tracking point from the reference point to the point of aim for the first salvo. If no such reference point for tracking is available, the controlling rangekeeper is set up using range and true bearing to the target as taken from the Plotting Board.
3. Range and deflection spots are applied to correct for range table differences between High Capacity and service ammunition and an initial velocity correction is applied to correct for target height. Level and cross-level are continuous reeieved from the Mark 43 Stable Vertical, and all firing is done using the indirect method. Firing is controlled in Plot in accordance with a time schedule so as to disperse the firing over the time periods allotted if any. Throughout the firing, Director Two remains on the reference point which is continuously tracked by the standby rangekeeper. This solution is used to furnish range and bearing to secondary battery plot which used the cantilever as a reference point, and also to check the set-up on the controlling rangekeeper. The plot of the ship's position is continued throughout using information off of this standby rangekeeper. Director One is controlled in train in "Automatic" by the controlling rangekeeper so as to be able to augment air spots by optical spots.
- 16 -
4. The procedure for spotting and shifting targets requires an explanation of the spotting grid used, and the plasticele conversion grid used. The spotting grid consists of 200 yard squares superimposed on an aerial photograph or chart of the target area, with letter and number coordinates, i.e., "George-five" representing one such square. Each such square is further broken down into four hundred-yard squares, each represented by a number (1,2,3 or 4), depending upon which portion of the large square it represented. This grid is run North-South, and East-west. Thus a spot of "George-five-one" would indicate the northwest portion of square George-five. A compass rose is also placed on this gridded photograph, both for use of the air spotter and the spot convertor in Plot. This furnished a simple means of the air spotters designating the MPI provided he could see the fall of shot.
5. The grid used to convert these air spots into range and deflection spots consists of a transparent sheet of plasticele with a mean bearing line scribed down the center of it. On each side increments of 5 mils and degrees are laid off. It is made to the same scale as the spotting photograph used in Plot, and is also marked off with range lines every 100 yards so as to give the proper range and bearing displacement necessary to shift fire from any point on the photograph to any other point. This converting grid is continually positioned over the gridded photograph so that the mean bearing line lies along the true bearing of the point of aim, and passes through it, as does the range line of present range. By this means spots of MPI are converted into range and deflection spots directly.
6. Shifts of target are made in a similar manner except that the present range and the generated bearing on the rangekeeper are shifted the amount indicated using the plasticele grid, so as to shift the solution to the new target point of aim.
7. Corrections are made for height of target by means of I.V. settings introduced for each new target height.
SECONDARY BATTERY PROCEDURE
- 17 -
Fuze knob was looked "in" with a 45 second fuze setting. I.V. loss was changed during the bombardment in accordance with a prepared table. Level was selected at the Stable Element.
2. Spotting Procedure.
3. The Mounts.
- 18 -
offset 32 minutes to the left. The mount captains were all on the 2 JP circuit.
4. Firing Circuit.
6. Shifting to Air Set-Up.
1. The DRT in CIC was used to maintain a navigational plot of the ship's position throughout the operation. Information on bearings and ranges of point "Able" was obtained by battle telephone from the controlling Main Battery Director. Junior officers from CIC equipped with charts of the island on which possible radar targets were indicated were detailed to both Main Battery Directors as assistants to the spotters. These officers observed the radar screen and communicated directly with CIC by
- 19 -
battle telephone. Information for maintenance of the navigational plot in CIC was transmitted by these officers to CIC.
2. The assistant CIC officer was in charge of and did the plotting on the navigational plot in CIC# He was in direct communication with the plotter in Main Battery Plotting Room and the talker in Secondary Battery Plotting Room by battle telephone and initiated frequent checks between his plot and the one being maintained in Main Plot. A direct check was maintained with the Navigatorfs check in the Chart House.
3. Initially, the plotter in CIC was to be used to verify the information on radar targets being sent down from the Main Battery Directors. The moving point of light was to have been used for this purpose but was not available. It was found possible to obtain a visual check on all targets used obviating the necessity of the check from CIC.
4. CIC functioned as a clearing house for last minute information on the operation. All the normal functions of CIC were maintained without interference from the bombardment group.
1. There were no casualties to material or personnel either in the Main or Secondary batteries. A charge in the center gun of turret #2 failed to ignite with the first primer but ignited when the second primer was fired next salvo. A small oil leak developed in the training hydraulic line of turret #1 after cease firing.
2. The machine gun battery suffered the following damage from gun blast of the main battery firing:
(a) 40mm quad #14 located at frame #107, main deck port side was quite severely damaged. The splinter shield holding down bolts were sheared in several places and the shield was bent. The train B-end synchro housing and oil seals, firing linkage shield, flexible shaft to cut-out cam positive stop linkage pins were damaged. Turret #3 was trained well forward on several salvos and fired directly over this mount.
(b) 40mm quad #2 located at frame #20, main deck port side was damaged slightly. The glass window on the B-end synchro housing was shattered.
(c) Two Mark 14 sight brackets were broken on forecastle guns and the same casualty occurred in one Mark 14 sight aft.
(d) The windows in two Mark 14 sights were broken on the forecastle guns and the range handle on another was broken off.
- 20 -
3. The following casualties occurred intbe radar installation during the bombardment:
(a) One fuse was blown in the high voltage rectifier supply to the FH radar equipment in the after Main Battery Director. The cause of the casualty is unknown and upon replacement the equipment functioned normally. Thirty seconds were required to locate and repair this casualty.
(b) The same casualty occurred in the FD radar equipment in Sky #4 and was handled just as expeditiously.
(c) The after SG radar equipment lost the 440 volt supply and considerable difficulty was encountered in restoring it. The original casualty was a blown fuse but once it was replaced the set was still inoperative. Three switches are installed in the supply between the switchboard and the equipment. It is necessary that each of these be properly set and in this case too many members of the repair party attempted to repair the casualty. Power was eventually restored after 27 minutes. In the future one man only will be detailed to set the three switches in case of a similar casualty.
/s/ ALLAN E. SMITH.
- 21 -
INFORMATION REQUESTED BY COMMANDER BATTLESHIPS1. In accordance with instructions contained in Commander Battleships Paoific secret despatch 101845 of December 1943, the following information is submitted:
(a) Radar performance was very good. The usual blowing of fuses in the high voltage supplies occurred in two of the fire control radars, namely, the FD equipment in Sky #4 and the FH equipment in Main #2. In each case the condition was rectified in about thirty seoonds and there was no recurrence during the bombardment.
The after SO equipment lost power about nine minutes after the main battery opened fire and was out of commission for the remainder of the operation. The casualty consisted of a blown fuse in the power supply. Insofar as the casualty is concerned, it was quite simply repaired but due to the three switches between the radar equipment and the switchboard and the number of repair party personnel working on the casualty, a great deal of time was wasted in a futile effort to get the switches properly adjusted. In the future one man will be detailed to handle a similar casualty.
(b) Great difficulty was experienced with communications on the plane spotting frequency. Due to the comparatively broad tuning of the aircraft receiver, interference was encountered from other spotting circuits 35 kcs removed from own spotting frequency. Using an abbreviated voice procedure, the pilot was unable to distinguish own ship's "splash" and "salvo" signals from those of interfering ships. No difficulty was experienced by the shipboard set which has greater selectivity. At least 50 kcs difference is necessary to insure that there is not interference on the plane spotting circuits.
Except for the vertical section of one TBS antenna jarring loose during the firing there were no casualties to communication equipment.
(c) The machine gun battery suffered the following damage from gun blast of the main battery firing:
1. 40mm quad #14 located at frame #107, main deck port side was quite severly damaged. The splinter shield holding bolts were sheared in several places and the shield was bent. The train B-end synchro housing and oil seals, firing linkage shield, flexible shaft to cut-out cams, positive stop linkage pins were damaged. Turret three was trained well forward on several salvos and fired directly over this mount.
INFORMATION REQUESTED BY COMMANDER BATTLESHIPS
2. 40mm quad #2 located at frame #20, main deck port side was damaged slightly. The glass window on the B-end synchro housing was shattered.
3. Two Mark 14 sights were broken on forecastle guns and the same casualty occurred on one Mark 14 sight aft.
4. The windows in two Mark 14 sights were broken on the forecastle guns and the range handle on another was broken off.
(d) To insure that no Mark 32 fused projectiles were fired during the bombardment the following specific instructions were issued:
1. All 5" Markd 32 will be removed to lower handling room and roped off.
2. They will not be used to repel an air attack unless specifically directed by Air Defense.
3. A special watch of one man will be stationed to prevent any Mark 32 getting into the train - unless the order is given. He will be stationed at the bottom of each lower hoist.
4.Report to Air Defense when this order is complied with as to location of Mark 32 - and later tomorrow when special watch is set.
A report was made to the Commanding Officer prior to opening~Ģire that these instructions were complied with and the sentries posted.
(e) No Mark 32 fused projectiles were fired at any time during the operations in the vicinity of Nauru.
(f) Specific targets taken under fire (indirect method) were as follows:
(g) No gun emplacements were disclosed during bombardment, and none were fired on as targets of opportunity.
|While the report references photos shot by the ship's spotting plane, none were actually attached. However, on a previous trip I had come across a collection of photos of this same event from the ship, its plane, and other sources. A selection are posted below to help bring some visualization to the report.|
National Archives & Records Administration, College Park Maryland
Record Group 313
Text from Commander, Battleships-Cruisers, Pacific Fleet - Top Secret General Admin Files 1944-45
Photos from U.S. Pacific Fleet. Battleship Cruiser Force - Restricted and Confidential General Administrative Files, 1942 - 1945
Transcribed by RESEARCHER @ LARGE. Formatting & Comments Copyright R@L.
BB-57 Home | Ships Home | Researcher@Large Home