This new book reviews critically recent studies of fire control, and describes the essentials of naval gunnery in the dreadnought era.
With a foreword by Professor Andrew Lambert,
it shows how, in 1913, the Admiralty rejected Arthur Pollen's Argo system for the Dreyer fire control tables. Many naval historians now believe that, consequently, British dreadnoughts were fitted with a system that, despite being partly plagiarised from Pollen's, was inferior: and that the Dreyer Tables were a contributory cause in the sinking of Indefatigable and Queen Mary at Jutland.
This book provides new and revisionist accounts of the Dreyer/Pollen controversy, and of gunnery at Jutland. In fire control, as with other technologies, the Royal Navy had been open, though not uncritically, to innovations. The Dreyer Tables were better suited to action conditions (particularly those at Jutland). Beatty's losses were the result mainly of deficient tactics and training: and his battlecruisers would have been even more disadvantaged had they been equipped by Argo. It follows the development of the Pollen and Dreyer systems, refutes the charges of plagiarism and explains Argo's rejection. It outlines the German fire control system: and uses contemporary sources in a critical reassessment of
Beatty's tactics throughout the Battle of Jutland.
Table of Contents
1. Old Controversies, New Histories 2. Long Range Naval Gunnery 3. Progress in Gunnery 4. A.C. and Argo
The Dreyer Tables 5. Influences and Choices 6. Into Battle 7. Jutland and After 8. An Exceptional Case
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
An essential addition to modern appraisal of the Royal Navy's Dreyer Fire Control Tables which it used to calculate gunfire solutions at the Battle of Jutland in World War I. Prior to the emergence of this book, the arcane subject was covered primarily by the writings of a single influential author, Professor Jon Sumida. The book up-ends several longstanding misconceptions of what the Dreyer tables could do, and compares them favorably in some, but not all aspects to the Argo Aim Correction system consistently championed by Professor Sumida's works, most notably "In Defence of Naval Supremacy".Foremost amongst Brooks's additions to the field is to illustrate in the clearest terms that most of the Dreyer tables used at Jutland were "helm free" and therefore capable of factoring out the influence on the gunfire solution of the maneuvering of one's own vessel. This is paired with a nuanced mathematical derivation that softens the impact of an acknowledged deficiency of the Dreyer tables in that their range integrating "clocks" could not continuously vary their output beyond the first derivative (rate of change of range) by demonstrating that the resultant errors never attain significant magnitudes in plausible encounters.Brooks offers his own detailed accounting of why Admiral Beatty's battle cruisers fared so poorly in their gunnery exchange with the German Scouting Group in their Run to the South, attributing the difficulty to clumsy handling of the British ships which kept many of them blinded by funnel smoke and a reflexive disregard of trends suggested in the few accurate ranges taken. The impression taken is that it would have mattered little what equipment was processing the sparse range data taken under the circumstances. It is unlikely that this contention will convince every reader, but I took it as a voice of reason and one worth considering even if not regarded as conclusive.A bookshelf featuring both the works of Sumida and Brooks is one that crackles with energy. It is difficult to think that there will not be further clarification, contention, and perhaps some resolution in future offerings from the two men.