Battlships firing HESH?

goose

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I wonder what the effect of an 11-inch High Explosive Squash Head (HESH) round would be on a ship? I'm sure that the shear quantity of explosive would be spectacular and cause great damage to 'soft' structures directly as well as indirectly due to shock waves. Also a near miss into the sea could have an effect if detonated as water transmits shock quite well. If the round hit armour it would cause spalling on the other side-shedding people, equipment etc . Would they be more effective than the heavy armour-piercing shells that Battleships fired? I welcome any comments.
 

CJGibson

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Perhaps, given the terminal velocity involved at impact, it would be high-explosive splatter head rather than high-explosive squash head. ie ineffective.

But what would I know about ships.
Chris
 

TomS

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I'd be suprised if a HESH round could survive launch from a typical naval gun - they have pretty thin shell walls to ensure that the plastic explosive can spread out properly on impact. At the velocities needed to achieve useful ranges at sea, I'd expect to see rounds breaking up in the barrel.

There were high explosive rounds for battlehip guns, called High Capacity shells. Even these had quite small explosive fills (<10%), due to the need for thick shell walls just to survive the launch forces.
 

goose

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A quick look on the internet reveals that the 15inch naval gun fired its shell at 749m/s. The 105mm L7 tank gun fired its HESH at 737m/s. Practically identical, that suggests that a naval HESH shell would work as advertised & achieve similar range to conventional rounds. The low HE of the conventional naval ammunition may be a result of the technology of the time. My main question is what would be more effective, an armour piercing shell exploding inside the warship or a HESH against its outside?
 

SpudmanWP

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The success of HESH rounds depends on the ability to transmit the shock wave through the armor and cause spalling on the inside of your target.


I see two problems with using HESH:


1. Battleship armor is layered which would inhibit the shock wave effect. Any spalling would likely be between armor layers and would therefore be ineffective.


2. Ships are compartmentalized and any spalling that did get through would have difficulty penetrating to sensitive areas and areas like the magazines have their own armor layers.


As you can see from the following cross-section, the armor is multi-layered and actually designed to stop spalling (slintering).


IowaSideArmor_zps66dc51bc.jpg
 

Abraham Gubler

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goose said:
Would they be more effective than the heavy armour-piercing shells that Battleships fired? I welcome any comments.

Possibly. However a shaped charge warhead would be even more effective. However the fact there are no shaped charge warhead big naval rounds developed is closely linked to why there are no more big gun battleships. While WWII demonstrated that scarce naval funding was much better spent on aircraft carriers than battleships it also demonstrated that gun ships were not a good idea in the face of shaped charge warheads. Loading a ship with highly explosive propellant charges in the face of shaped charge warheads that can punch a molten jet through the armour and into the magazine creating a catastrophic chain explosion was not very appealing.
 

Abraham Gubler

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SpudmanWP said:
I see two problems with using HESH:


1. Battleship armor is layered which would inhibit the shock wave effect. Any spalling would likely be between armor layers and would therefore be ineffective.


2. Ships are compartmentalized and any spalling that did get through would have difficulty penetrating to sensitive areas and areas like the magazines have their own armor layers.


As you can see from the following cross-section, the armor is multi-layered and actually designed to stop spalling (slintering).

The natural and designed in layering of a multi deck, multi compartment warship would not be so effective against a ship sized charge of a HESH warhead. The armouring of a battleship is designed to defeat spalling from the armour created by impacts of kinetic penetrators. A HESH warhead of similar size would create far larger and far more energetic spalling. Many of these splinters may have the size and velocity to penetrate further inboard layers of armour to reach the protected areas of the magazine and propulsion units.

Further the thing about using explosive energy for penetration of armour (HESH, HEAT) is you are no longer dependent on velocity for your penetration capability. So you don’t need to shoot relatively small artillery shells that can be launched by feasible guns. Gliding bombs, missiles, etc with low terminal velocities are more than acceptable allowing for much larger warheads. The first versions of the Soviet Styx anti ship missile, from back in an era when the NATO allies still had quite a few armoured gun boats in service, was equipped with a 500 kg (1,100 lbs) HEAT warhead.
 

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