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Subject: A few questions concerning naval shore bombardment
Dptom    10/8/2010 2:33:53 PM
Hi, I know nothing about artillery, shore bombardment or U.S. Navy tactics. However, I’m working on a chapter of a book in which I would like to portray a naval assault as realistically as possible. The situation involves using the five inch guns on destroyers and cruisers to keep a Marine landing force from being overwhelmed by huge numbers of people who were turned into very fast, extremely hard to kill, unreasoning beasts by an infection. Here are the questions I have: 1. The target area is slightly less than two miles from the ships. Between the ships and the target are a number of skyscrapers. At that range, is it possible to give the shells a high enough trajectory to avoid hitting the buildings (which might contain friendly, uninfected civilians) and maintain any sort of accuracy? If so, how high up in the air would the shells go before they start to descend? High enough to endanger recon planes? 2. If not, are the ships stable enough firing platforms and are the fire control systems sufficiently accurate that they could reliably thread shells between the buildings? (The ships are at the mouth of a river, so there will be a slight current, if that makes a difference). 3. Do the five inch guns have a minimum range, i.e. could they bombard an area less than half a mile away? 4. Are different rounds used for land attack than for anti-aircraft, or is it just a question of how the shells are fuzed? 5. Assuming that nearly complete dismemberment is required to take an infected person out of the fight, how big of a kill radius would a single, five inch shell have? 6. Are ranging shots still needed, or can the modern Navy reliably hit a target with the very first round? 7. How would information flow from the recon planes to the guns to let them know when to fire? Would there be a direct connection, or would the planes communicate with their LHD/carrier, which would then pass the word to the bridge of the cruiser/destroyer? I would greatly appreciate any help that any of you could give me.
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Reactive    Useful info for you:   10/8/2010 3:04:01 PM
1. No, that would be an almost vertical elevation - this system is limited to 65 degrees - to hit a target at 2nm behind buildings you'd be firing nearly vertically, with almost no accuracy (effects of wind etc).
2. Not really, no. It's a mission you'd call in air support for if you needed that level of accuracy.
3. You would be firing on a flat trajectory at those ranges, i.e. with very little elevation.
4. There's a variety of fusing options - see above, afaik it would be an infra-red proximity fuse for AA missions.
5. This depends on fusing but would generally reliably incapacitate someone on impact (either due to blast or shrapnel) out to a few tens of metres radius. Lethal overpressure and shrapnel are two different effects, the former (which ruptures blood vessels and damages lungs) has a smaller lethal radius than the latter but is a fairly constant value, the latter can kill/incapacitate out to several hundred metres if you are unlucky enough to be hit, I'm not sure what the probability of being killed is at any given radius and I doubt that info is publicly available (though can probably be calculated).
6. Gun calibration is a lot more automated than it used to be, a fire control computer generally calculates the variables needed using radar or GPS input and adjusts as necessary.

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AThousandYoung       10/8/2010 3:45:53 PM
Sounds like the Marines are in trouble.  Blackhawk Down II...
Where are the Cobras and Harriers?!
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Dptom       10/8/2010 11:31:20 PM
Thank you very much, Reactive.  I guess I'm going to have to rethink that plot line.
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Dptom       10/9/2010 12:55:31 AM
Thank you very much, Reactive.  I guess I'm going to have to rethink that plot line.
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Das Kardinal       10/9/2010 1:59:16 PM
Marines vs Zombies ? Sounds cool.
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