Strange Danger Room

Is it just me or does anybody else think the Danger Room's headlines begin to sound like the Duffel Blog's?

MIT Wants Tomorrow’s Soldiers to Talk Through Their Shirts

Army’s Demonic Numbers for Budget Cuts: 6, 6, and 6

In North Korea, Dennis Rodman Finds New Ways to Embarrass Himself

Out: Latin American Drug Cartels. In: African Drug Cartels

Chuck Hagel Becomes Defense Secretary In Time for Military Budget Chaos

‘Data-Entry Error’ Led Military to Falsely Claim Taliban Attacks Are Down

Pentagon Wants a ‘Family of Devices’ as It Makes Big Move Into Mobile Market

The Navy Is Sick of the One-Person Subs It Uses for Deep-Sea Diving

Online Jihadi Forums Fear a U.S.-Israel-Iran Alliance Will Take Over Syria

Darpa Wants to Rethink the Helicopter to Make It Go Way Faster

Air Force to Stealth Fighter Pilots: Get Used to Coughing Fits

Maybe I just have another episode of disaffection against the MilBlogosphere.

S Ortmann


One more reason to read much military history

Many people tend to be very much influenced by recent examples (such as the wars of the last couple years) when trying to anticipate the course of an unfolding event.

The German military leadership was optimistic about being able to win on the Western Front with the troops which returned from the Eastern Front. After all, one such offensive with great reinforcements had broken the Italian army only months before.
The Japanese military leadership of the 1930's believed a war in China couldn't go wrong. After all, China had been a pushover in face of small European army forces for a century and Japan had already proved being equal to Europeans when it defeated the Russians a generation ago.
Media folks expected lots of losses in 1990 because of the Vietnam War experience, but the eventual war in '91 was a rather one-sided affair.

The conflict in Mali led to the same pattern: There was no shortage of articles predicting the French would run into great difficulties. Conspicuously, the expected difficulties mirrored the ones encountered in Afghanistan.

This is part of why military history is so important and so valuable. It enables one to base experiences on hundreds of diverse conflicts instead of expecting a mirror image of the last few conflicts.
The quite embarrassing articles predicting a quagmire in Mali (for the French) exposed the weak background knowledge base of their authors in my opinion.

Now why did Mali not turn into such a mess? For starters, the French are not stupid. It would have been stupid to repeat the 'overrun+occupy' mess of Afghanistan. They stuck with the 'overrun' part.
The French army was never truly geared towards huge conventional warfare between great powers post-1945. The French are serious about having nukes, provide a fig leaf of conventional forces (albeit much of the time not submitted to NATO command) and they were serious about having intervention forces. The latter were and are built on a model resembling armoured reconnaissance or 'cavalry' troops; equipped with lots of well-armed wheeled thinly armoured vehicles. The "well-armed" part is not so much about anti-tank firepower as it is about having good guns (90 or 105 mm) on top of many of those vehicles. It's almost the perfect force for overrunning low quality, low organisation, low cohesion forces in most of Africa.*

I think it was predictable that they could rout the opposition quite easily, comparable to how the British routed the Italian army in the North African desert in 1940.
I also think it should have been easily known that the opposition in Mali was from a minority group from the North of the country and would not be elusive amongst the largely hostile (to them) population of the South. Those marauder-mercs would not be guerrillas in the South, but an alien motorised force just as the French.
If anything, the disintegration of the Taliban by desertion in 2001 should have been used as a template for Mali expectations.

I hope the Op-Ed authors won't pick up this Mali experience and use it to predict the next foolish small war will be a quick and easy strike, too. It may be fundamentally different.

S Ortmann

*: The addition of much artillery salvo firepower would make it perfect, but the French substituted for it with air strikes.


Military cryptology; one-time pads and my new HDD

Cryptology is a field of great promise, great embarrassment and at times great effort. Some of the first computers were developed to break codes and their value was extreme. Yet, generations later we learnt that the U.S. military doesn't even encrypt video feeds of many of its drones, and this wasn't about the tiny ones. The budgets spent on encryption and deciphering as well as analysing messages can be quite outrageous; the NSA's budget approaches the entire German defence budget.

There are no doubt great expectations for the value of code cracking in the future, but I suppose this value depends on the others' failure.

I bought a 3 Terabyte hard disk drive recently. 3 TB - that's 30,000 chunks of 100 megabytes. 100 megabytes is easily enough for two hours of voice comm, and for much more with higher compression, reduced quality, reduced frequency range and lots of breaks between talking.
This single, portable hard disk drive can hold enough data to immunise me perfectly against code cracking by all computing power of the world - for hours of voice comm with 30,000 different possible voice comm network participants each.
Immunise perfectly? Yes, with one-time pads.
Such one-time pads don't use an algorithm that could be cracked, nor any pattern that could be cracked; they're random. The main problems: 

(1) Both participants of the communication need to have the identical one-time code table (the 100 MB chunk, for example). They need to have met previously or some courier needs to have distributed the one-time pads.
(2) Furthermore, you cannot send the very same information to multiple recipients using the respective pads, for otherwise this might enable code cracking.
(3) Third problem; no multiple participants (~phone conference), unless they possess the very same one-time pad.
(4) Fourth problem; random means random. No exploitable pattern is tolerable in the randomised creation of the pads (this is feasible today with dedicated hardware).
(5) A man-in-the-middle attack is possible if the clear message can be guessed or is known to the attacker (usable for disinformation).
(6) The one-time pad must be used only once, and you need at least one bit of one-time pad to encrypt one bit of message.

So with a properly created and distributed one-time pad I could maintain voice comm to any of ten thousands of network participants for hours. I could ask a third network member to generate a new one-time pad for me and the participant I'm communicating with if our shared one-time pad nears its end. He could tell us the new one-time pad in encrypted comm, so we can keep chatting securely. 
The NSA would have no chance to decipher this communication unless we made some mistake. They could get double their budget, another huge supercomputer, yet another, a couple even bigger ones - and would still fail with brute computing force.

The data storage required to enable thousands of possible participants to talk to each other was the prohibitive problem of one-time pads for generations; that's why the extreme ease of storing data is so important.
It has been calculated that all printing presses of Germany would have been required to print the one-time pads required for the encrypted communication of World War Two (or so I've read somewhere). This was utterly impractical, and thus they used mostly a machine (algorithm) and a common code of the day for many participants at the same time. They only needed to distribute the super-short info about the day's code, and could even update this through the encrypted messaging.
It was their bad luck that the algorithm wasn't complicated enough to prevent a computerised and timely decryption.

We don't need to use algorithms for the truly secret messages any more. We can use one-time code tables nowadays. It's still OK to use the simpler algorithms in many applications and also during peacetime in general, but I wouldn't expect a competent (= important) opponent to make use of encryption algorithms during wartime or for the most important communications.
Then again I tend to overestimate the opposing team's prowess, so maybe huge budgets for deciphering and analysing can still be justified.

S Ortmann

P.S.: This post existed months ago already, but became a victim of the new blogger software / interface and disappeared during the writing process.


Hubris: Selling the Iraq War

This is a new documentary about the warmongering that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq (about 45 minutes overall).

It's narrated by a host of a show on a left-leaning* TV network in the U.S., and this will no doubt lead to about half of the readers from the U.S. rejecting it as all kinds of crap. Well, the really far left of the U.S. is already nitpicking even in this documentary, and I suppose the other seven point something billion people of this planet are really more relevant than those Americans who still think the Iraq War was no racket.I also suppose they're on average more capable of learning, too.






The intro was a good one; the 2003 example may have been an especially disrespectful, brazen example, but it wasn't exactly unusual in its deception. Large-scale wars are rackets whenever the population is wise enough to remember the horrors and utter wastefulness of warfare. Warmongers need to deceive in order to overcome resistance. They hype up an external enemy, create fear, create hatred, mobilise special interests which would benefit from war and they use the proven method of overcoming rationality by repeating brazen lies over and over again till they kind of sound like conventional wisdom and then they fabricate some more or misrepresent some event to get a trigger pull.

Large and militarily relevant societies have the responsibility to ward against warmongers, for otherwise they may do great harm to themselves and to others.
The Neocons in 2003 were no better than Saddam in '90. I strongly believe they should only be allowed to breathe filtered air.

S Ortmann

P.S.: Background music and the choice of Maddow are questionable and details will no doubt be fact-checked in the next weeks. Yet, this would still be useful if it was fiction.

*: By American standards. About centre by German standards.


Avionics of doom

I suppose this title is sexy enough to attract readers. ;)
And now for something completely different:

related text: link

I have the suspicion that the voice in this video kills a couple brain cells of mine per syllable, but let's focus on the content for a while. With whatever grey matter is left.

This reminds me of the ICBM launch-detecting satellites from the Cold War. No power expected to be able to launch ICBMs or SLBMs undetected during the 70's and 80's. You were watched.

A sensor overhead that spots firing large calibre guns (I suppose this might work down to 40 mm depending on distance) coupled with a sensor for identification, a functioning radio link and some quick-reaction artillery on stand-by could have a huge influence on any conventional battle.

The friendlies would be encouraged to make themselves more identifiable from air (remember the flags used in WW2 to identify yourself to aviators?), possibly with morse-coded infrared lights only visible from above. Hostiles would be provoked to make their firing signature less visible from above (using concealment by tree cover, using flash hiders, propellants which trade-off more smoke for less flash) and they would be provoked to create decoys (remote-controlled tiny explosions or even mere IR lights - this could even be small aerial drones flying around and occasionally emitting an IR flash upwards).
The hostiles' reactions would all serve to counter the primary effect of such a system, though: Suppression.

An aerial forward observer who is capable of handling dozens of contacts at the same time (= possible if analysis is done on the ground thanks to a data-link) and direct support fires in a most timely manner would surpass all influence that air power had on battles before. The idea of reducing ground combat to provoking the enemy to reveal himself, then deal with him with sensors and support fires is getting ever more appeal these days.
Such extreme tactics won't work reliably, of course. Countermeasures and Murphy's Law will inevitably reduce any such progress to an addition to the repertoire, not to the thing that replaces all we know about ground warfare.

Nevertheless, it seems evident that combat aviation can now detect much more viable targets than it can handle with its own firepower - even assuming it uses small guided munitions with 100% hits. The combination of air power for target detection and indirect fires (artillery) for destruction appears to be the natural choice for today's top dog military forces (underdogs will struggle to make use of large aviation assets in face of their opposition).

This begs the question; should we force army and air force into organisational unity to ensure that this potentially decisive cooperation will be exploited well?

S Ortmann

P.S.: The F-35 is likely a lemon in regard to airframe performance, but its avionics suite is no doubt impressive. The USAF's interest in air/ground sensors was also evident in their talk about a next generation bomber also being a reconnaissance platform.
I hope Europeans will make good use of these avionics developments with some better airframes, not encumbered by a STOVL version requirement..


China Defense Blog

1.35 billion people, and at least one good photographer amongst them. (source)

It's about time to mention the China Defense Blog a bit, for it's remarkable (as are some South Asian blogs) for providing a look that's distinctly different than the horde of typical U.S. / UK / Aussie MilBlogs.

S Ortmann


Military (Self-) Discipline

The idea of a blog post about discipline has been lingering in my head for a while. It's a most important issue, and *surprise* one in which I tend to reject the mainstream.

It's not that I dislike discipline on the job, but rather that I believe 'we' in the West are overestimating the discipline of Western military forces.

It's easy and superficial to look at the use of uniforms (not so uniform after all!), lockstep (very rare), proper shaving (not universally applied) and other visible indications of discipline. A slightly deeper look at command and obedience as expressions of military discipline yields another impression of a largely functional military, even though especially bloated orders are prone to be largely ignored.

The real discipline problem I am seeing isn't about resisting top-down orders. It's about self-discipline.

'We' are almost shockingly poor at self-discipline.

This knows many expressions.
Waste of ammunition, excessive detail in orders, micromanagement, resisting easy paths, predictability, the 'armour up' mentality and risk aversion in general, xenophobic behaviour and December fever belong into this category.

This is largely a leadership issue, as all of these problems could be avoided with better leadership (if need be up to civilian leadership by politicians).

Waste of ammunition in firefights is no universal problem, but a widespread one. It's clearly a failure of junior NCOs who are supposed to control their small unit's firepower. One leadership level's failure is the failure of levels above, so this can easily be considered a failure of leadership levels at least up to battalion command.

Excessive detail in orders is a problem of leadership levels with substantial staffs. Theatre commands lead by horrible example in this regard.

Micromanagement is about rather high-up leadership influencing smallish actions without being on the scene itself and assuming the leadership role there. This became possible by radio communications and has grown to ridiculous proportions due to live video feeds and few engagements going on in parallel.
The literature and articles complaining about micromanagement can probably already fill a library, while the rather feeble attempts at justifying it can probably fill a single book shelf. In the end, micromanagement is the expression of senior leadership's lack of self-discipline and/or its distrust in junior leadership.*

Predictability, especially daily routines and predictable movements, is a cardinal sin in warfare. There's simply no excuse, not even restricting terrain. Predictability allows the enemy to prepare appropriately, and to reach a satisfactory readiness for battle. This cannot be satisfactory to us.

The 'armour up' mentality and risk aversion in general have easily filled a library. An Australian article recounted how the priority list changed from mission-men-self to men-mission-self long ago. This is probably a side effect of fighting wars not worth much blood. Sadly, this war-specific infection has infected the whole body of Western military forces.

Xenophobic behaviour and other hostile thoughts (such as sexism) are rather common in history and not really a problem unless the strategic mission or cooperation between allies becomes affected. We are not going to get rid of this in any Western army, navy or air force any time soon - but we should keep this failure in mind next time when we kid ourselves about how well-disciplined our forces are.

December fever (the quick and often wasteful spending of remaining resources late in a fiscal year) is a typical bureaucratic defect. It's a failure of the bureaucracy and shows our inability to do a better job at allocating resources. It's still also a display of poor self discipline, as few leaders resist this bureaucratic instinct.

There are more self discipline challenges, particularly the challenge to stay focused, but  suppose I've largely made my point already.

We have a long way to go till reality matches ambitions in regard to discipline. We can and largely do get the obedience thing right, but the self-discipline thing is an ongoing struggle.

Sven O.

*: related


Serious naval mines could be very, very mean

Naval mines aren't 'sexy'. Even mine countermeasure ships aren't sexy. Especially not so while sitting on a reef, of course.

Mine countermeasures (MCM) get very little love. Even in Germany, one of the leading proponents of MCM during the Cold War.

I've scraped together many bits of info on naval mines, from mid-19th century to basically 1990's technology. One of the striking findings was in my opinion the turn of events for minesweeping: Minesweeping became much less useful with the introduction of 'smart' acoustic mines. A magnetic or hydrostatic/seismic sensor wakes up the dormant mine, while the acoustic sensor listens to the ships' noises, analyses them with algorithms, compares them to a library of ship sounds and identifies the target. Together with electrostatic sensor and stuff this allows the identification not only of ship class, but also of the ship's name (not necessarily in face of countermeasures, though). That is, if proper intelligence preparation is available and it's not some much less savvy export mine.
Minesweepers were originally meant to cut cables of tethered mines, they may also on some sea bottoms try to catch a mine similar to how fishermen catch some bottom-dwelling seafood. Neither works with a bottom mine on uneven bottoms or against a mine burrowed in a soft sea bottom. Other sweeping techniques involve faking of signatures, such as magnetic and electric fields and noises (in order to entice it to blow up harmlessly). You may also use a minebreaker on canals and rivers in order to trigger hydrostatic fuses (a ship which triggers the mine itself, but is either built to survive or is expendable).

The problem is that the minesweeper doesn't necessarily know which ships would trigger the mines. Minesweeping has thus difficulties to fake signatures that match the ones the trigger will respond to.
On top of that, it's an old technique to build counters into mines; they don't necessarily explode on first contact, but sometimes after 5, 10 maybe 17 or so. The minesweeper captain won't know how often he will need to sweep. He may have a perfect library of the signatures of all ships of a convoy planned to leave a harbour, and still couldn't complete the sweeping in front of the harbour with good confidence in a reasonable time. Published modern MCM against acoustic mines does (as far as I can tell) don't offer confidence that smart acoustic fuses can be defeated by sweeping. Some navies don't even add the ability to emulate specific acoustic signatures to their MCM; they instead just make general noise that affects primitive acoustic fuses only.

That's part of why minehunting (actively seeking mines, mostly with sonar) has become so important.
We don't need a minehunter ship to handle geographic bottlenecks or the vicinity of a harbour, though. This could be done with a radar and drone boats with control being exercised from containers on the shore. Don't tell this to navies, though. A mine countermeasures ship isn't sexy, but at least it's a ship, and naval bureaucracies love having as many ships as possible. Officer jobs and so on.

Naval mine goes boom (shock test of a warship)
Well, this was an excerpt about the troubles of those facing the (offensive) naval mining. Now on to the offensive part itself, in order to show why I believe naval mining campaigns could be much, much more mean than is widely appreciated. For a historical analogue, look up Operation Starvation (also here).

First, I'll admit that I'm mostly writing about incredibly gold-plated concept here, and that insiders no doubt can make up an even more mean design.

The mine shall be deployed by air or other means, but if dropped by air it might be a glider with a combined GPS and INS navigation so it will actually impact on water very close to a pre-planned location.
Once there, it may be a bottom mine if the bottom is difficult enough for spotting mines with active sonars (such as close to reefs and so on). It may also be a self-propelled mine. Those mines look quite like a torpedo and can travel quite some distance. Their observation by radar during the glide phase would thus not give away their actual location. The release from the aircraft could be farther away, adding glide distance and self-deployment range for stand-off range. The self-propelled mine could accelerate and bury itself in the soft bottom well enough to be fully covered by mud. Additionally, it could have a mildly sound absorbing outer layer so bottom-penetrating sonar would have a tougher job. A minimised magnetic signature of naval mines themselves in general is an obvious design choice.

These mines could then wait and wait with practically no energy consumption at all. Once triggered by a magnetic or electric field, they could switch on their confirmation sensors; mostly acoustic and possibly hydrostatic. The computer compares the readings with his library and decides to either fall asleep again or to fuse (probably with some delay in case of the bottom mine). The bottom mine may be too deep for good effect, though. Thus it might rise quickly (for example by by filling a balloon with gas) and once at a promising depth it would blow up.
The more torpedo-like self-deployed mine would behave differently; it would go into reverse, un-bury itself, then move to confirm the contact in its proximity. Electric field readings, wake pattern, comparison of acoustic (revolution speed of screws yielding a speed estimate) with hydrostatic readings (a certain speed of a certain ship should yield a certain water pressure wave) and so on. It could use the wake riding technique or an imaging active sonar to discern a decoy from the real thing.
Its computer might also decide to not engage the target and the torpedo-like mine would run deep into the soil again.

I have a strong suspicion based on unclassified info that today's mine countermeasures are not even remotely meant to counter such a high end super-mean naval mine design. Instead, much attention is still being paid even to tethered mines.

An alternative to gold plating is of course always quantity; such as with the Quick Strike naval mine concept. There aren't enough minehunters to cope with thousands of mines quickly. Quantity is especially easy in defensive minelaying, for this makes deployment easy.

Today [2009], the United States lacks modern mines and there is only a handful of trained mine specialists. The U.S. stockpile is significantly smaller than North Korea’s estimated 50,000 mines, while the Chinese Navy might have on the order of 100,000 and Russia has been estimated to have 250,000.

So why don't navies seem to pay much attention to MCM, especially shore-based MCM? My suspicion is just the same as for the almost non-existing preparation of decoy sets for deployment on civilian shipping and so on: It's (a) not sexy enough and (b) naval bureaucracies have an overpowering urge to have both impressive and many ships. 
A German admiral once publicly complained that during the few years he headed the German navy he wasn't able to christen a single new warship. This was a perfect summary of a naval bureaucracy's interests, while a taxpayer might have expressed his satisfaction that peace was maintained without spending more on warships.

Sophisticated military forces are always first and foremost bureaucracies, and tend to behave like one. It's their civilian master's job to make sure navies pursue national interest, not bureaucratic self-interest. I consider several naval developments - amongst them the low priority given to MCM - as indications that the civilian masters fail in their job (probably due to incompetence).



Post-colonial borders in West Africa

It's commonplace to read / hear complaints about the artificiality of post-colonial borders in Africa. This sounds all convincing, that is until ...

ethnolinguistic map of West Africa

Tell me how to draw some much less conflict-prone borders there.

This region makes '90 Yugoslavia's border issues look easily solvable.*

I suppose the solution of such a chaos is probably to develop a concept of statehood and sovereignty that does not cling so much to territory and borders as we know it. Our concept of borders probably stem a lot more from rulers' interests than from institutional necessities.

Let's remember how during the high middle age ruling and exercising control, kind-of-taxation etc. were often defined by control over individual farms, not territories. A knight may have had control over one farm, a monastery about the other, yet another knight over the next and so on. They didn't need drawn borders as much as a modern state seems to.

The concept of territory-independent sovereignty and so on is probably most accessible when you look at minorities. Say, your nation's ethnic group has also many members in a neighbouring country, albeit as minority. You want peace and prosperity, so a diplomatic solution shall be found. Your nation agrees on a friendship treaty which among other things regulates exceptions, protection rights and privileges for the minority, including dual citizenship.
Combine this with EU-like free travel and work permits everywhere and the sovereignty as it affects the common people becomes largely limited to jurisdiction (which may be adapted to circumstances; see pre-1980 Lebanon, Native American reservations and so on), taxation (which is also often subject to treaties) and voting (no issue with dual citizenship).

Add a formal collective defence (alliance treaty) on top and there's very little need for state borders left. Even the elites may find such a system about as advantageous (exploitable) as a orthodox state.

I'm quite sceptical about changes of borders as solution to ethnicity-related problems unless it's about actual regional majorities demanding such a change. Most problems with patchwork maps as the above could be addressed much better through cooperation and rendering borders less important.
Why insist on all-powerful borders if you cannot find a satisfactory solution with them?

Cooperation to water down the problem potential of borders is -unlike violent attempts at altering them - consistent with the Charter of the United Nations. Europe has done a lot of field testing in regard to defusing the explosive potential of borders, it's probably about time to advertise this more as a promising approach.
The dominant theme of EU copying movements is "unification" or "unity", and this is probably the wrong keyword. Unification is probably not desired, while prosperity and stability through cooperation as well as the defusing of conflict potential might be more universally welcome.

S Ortmann

*: Luckily, West African people tend to get much less agitated about nationalism / ethnicity than about social and cultural differences.


Cruiser displacement development 1918-1945

I was irritated by the recurring assertion about how cruisers of the period between the world wars supposedly grew to treaty limits (10,000 tons) and also about a less common assertion that light cruisers (CL) grew to the size of heavy cruisers (CA) during that period.

A book of mine ("Cruisers of World War Two" by M.J. Whitley) provided a handy source and I created a table file. This diagram is one outcome.

(Plotted was first ship of class only. Excluding classes with no unit completed prior to end of WW2. Excluding classes with first unit laid up prior to 1918. CL: Main gun calibre 5.5" to 6.1". CA: Main gun calibre 7.1" to 8". Dates are "laid up" dates.)

My suspicions were neither confirmed nor refuted (some did simply not build CA and CL in parallel for many years and the size of individual ship classes was often unintentional or driven by budget restrictions). 
The lower end outliers of the diagram (such as Tromp, Yubari) are rather destroyer leaders than full-blown CLs, while the two upper end CAs were two classes (Hipper, Baltimore) which stuck to the traditional CA calibre of about 8", but incorporated a fine protection against 8" unlike all other cruiser classes.

It's rather striking how heavy cruiser classes were mostly introduced during the 1925 - 1932 period and how light cruisers kept both a slightly lower displacement up to equal (almost the same hull for Brooklyn CL and Wichita CA). Mogami CLs were also meant to be up-gunned from 6" to 8", as was done after 1938.

Illustration of German CA Prinz Eugen, one of two ultimate CA classes of WW2
The size of these Inter-War Years cruisers was driven by design parameters (more than 30 kts top speed, varying degree of protection against destroyer and cruiser fire) and the need to combine at least a broadside of six shells. A smaller salvo was known to deliver not enough splashes for a good observation of the centre of impacts and thus no good centralised fire control (same story as with the 4x 12" gun pre-Dreadnoughts and the Dreadnought revolution). The very large CLs were usually armed with very many guns (12 or 15).
The five smallest CA classes had either the minimum of six guns of about 8" calibre or nine smaller 7.1" guns (Kirov class).

The global diagram is interesting, but actual characteristics of admiralty procurement development only become visible on the national diagrams:

France built CAs at treaty limits and a couple of CLs at budget limits. They did develop super destroyers which bridged the gap to small CLs (2,610 tonne class and 2,930 tonne class), but don't appear in this diagram.  

Germany built light cruisers when they were allowed (replacements of older ships), but they were all contrary to pre-1918 shipbuilding tradition very fragile designs, looking stronger on spec sheets than they were. When allowed, they built some powerful heavy cruisers. I omitted the 11"-armed Panzerschiffe, an anomaly.

Italy built some ship classes for high top speed (fragile) and published exaggerated top speeds based on speed trials with much less than standard displacement. Only their latest cruiser classes were robust, and it shows in the CL weight gain.

Japan built a couple old-style CLs with 5.5" guns and one smallish experimental CL (Yubari). Some later ships were built under influence of treaty rules. Some ship classes suffered from a poor ability to withstand Hurricanes as discovered when their 4th fleet faced a hurricane (which rolled over a brand-new destroyer and badly mauled many other ships). I have no idea why they built a couple modestly-sized light cruisers during the 1940s.

The UK and Australia basically used the same designs and design philosophies due to the close integration of their navies. It's striking how they never built CLs and CAs in parallel.

The United States built a WWI-era CL class, then some poorly protected CA classes, and finally CLs and CAs quite in parallel. Their Treaty-era designs were remarkably close to the treaty limit of 10,000 tonnes.

The other navies built ships without treaty restrictions, but with severe budget restrictions. The smallish Dutch CLs were meant for rather short range actions in the Dutch colonies of Southeast Asia (now = Indonesia). Their Tromp class of '36 (6 x 5.9") was so small it was even officially called flotilla leaders (in Dutch, of course). The French super destroyers were very, very close to such a design (Mogador from 1934: 2,930 tons, 8x 5.47" guns and slightly better range).

- - - - -

In the end, my attempt to confirm some suspicions met no decisive success, but I produced a table and stuff and thought it would be a waste to keep it to myself.

(The link won't stay active forever, as filehosters purge their servers from inactive files.)

S Ortmann

P.S.: Keep in mind some ships of up to almost 12,000 tons were actually meant to meet the 10,000 tons treaty limits. Some weight gain from drawing board to completion was unintended and sometimes some extra weight was considered to be moderate enough to be concealed from the other signatories.

P.S.2: In case you wondered why CLs kept existing at all; there's a watershed in rate of fire at about 6" calibre.
5.5" to 6.1" is the calibre area with the heaviest cartridges that allow rapid fire with manual loading. Bigger shells lead to much lower rates of fire. Example U.S.Navy: 6" L/47 guns were able to shoot 8-12 times per minute (more under fine conditions), while the U.S.Navy's contemporary 8" L/55 gun fired 3-4 rounds per minute. For comparison: Even 18" guns (Yamato) reached 1.5-2 rpm, German 15" (38 cm) guns reached slightly more than 3 rpm (one salvo every 18 seconds). Fine 5" guns reached 15-22 rpm (practical more like 12-15).
The difference in penetration capability between 6" and 8" wasn't as important given the vast quantities of poorly protected cruisers and the importance of short range night combat. In the end, a 6" armament yielded more firepower than a 8" armament with equal displacement and technology.
8" guns looked more impressive to civilians, though.


By three methods we may learn wisdom


"By three methods we may learn wisdom:
First, by reflection, which is noblest;
Second, by imitation, which is easiest;
and third by experience, which is the bitterest."

I've tagged this with "Military Theory" for a reason. 

The historic example of the early smokeless powder era (~1890 to 1914) haunts me. It's eerily similar to the present time in many regards. There wasn't enough practical application of military theory to enable learning by imitation (rarity of major wars was a very nice feature of the period, of course). There was a huge collective effort to understand modern warfare by reflection, but the few who got it right weren't in power. Thus the face of modern warfare was learnt about the hard way.
This was a major failure, which we should not repeat in this eerily similar situation.

(1) no wars between great powers for decades
(2) lots of small wars, albeit with little use for understanding inter-great power wars
(3) lots of demographic changes
(4) lots of economic changes
(5) lots of technological changes
(6) steady erosion of respect for war, if such a thing was established in the first place at all

Nukes won't prevent wars between great powers forever; our respect for nukes is about the same as the respect for poison gas prior to 1939; almost everyone assumed urban populations would be massacred with phosgene or another poison gas. Eventually, this didn't keep governments from going to war again (WW2 in Europe was initiated by attacking a small power, after all).

The really bad thing about this is of course that it may be about all too human behaviour and limitations. It may very well be true that humans aren't smart enough to anticipate the nature of modern warfare without practical demonstration in a very similar case. It may also be impossible to keep up respect for war and its horrors for long.
The deterrence value of nukes still depends mostly on references to their devastating use in 1945 and remarks about how modern nukes are many times as powerful and available in sickening numbers. Without this demonstrations mankind would probably not have been able to respect nuclear warfare enough to avert it post-'45.

My own attempts (at ridiculous odds) of making some progress with "reflection" are thus under a very, very sobering omen.