The critical analysis of I.M.Korotkin's book "Battle Damage
Surface Ships", "Sudpromgiz" Publishing House, 1960 (Chapter 6.
"Damage to Ships from Nuclear Bursts").
Part 1. Paradoxical Comparisons.
At the end of World War II the Americans obtained the most
terrible kind of weapon - a nuclear explosive. And, since the
conditions of the peace agreement obliged them to destroy a part
of captured ships from the Japanese and German fleets, there
appeared a temptation to use the ships for testing the new means
of war, in other words to repeat almost the same experiments that
were made after World War I, when they subjected the captured
German battleship "Ostfreesland" alongside with their own
outdated battleships to air bombing. But unfortunately, of the
experiments, this time no one investigated the outcomes of these
tests properly, no one understood of the reasons of the
destruction of the ships. And no proper conclusions as to how be
improved have been made up to now.
Let us analyze once again the published reports on the damage
inflicted to some of these "guinea-pig" ships that lay closest to
the epicenter by the first Japanese light cruiser "Sacava"
(displacement 6000 t, built in 1944). At the moment of the burst
the ship lay at the distance of 350 m from the epicenter. The
ships hull was heavily destroy portside and sunk 25 hours after
2. Destroyer "Anderson" (displacement 1570 t, built in 1942).
The ship lay 500 m away from the epicenter, having her stern
oriented directly at the c up from the detonation of the
shipboard artillery ammunition and sunk. It was also assumed,
that the intensive heat caused the detonation of one of the
3. Destroyer "Lamson" ("Mahen" class; displacement 1450 t,
built in 1936). The ship was oriented at 90 degrees to the
epicenter and only 350 M away from it. She capsized and sunk 6
4. Transport ship "Wyilem" (displacement 6900 t, built in
1944) 200 m away from the epicenter, the ships hull ruptured
vertically in two cross-sections, inflamed and sunk immediately.
5. Transport ship "Carleil" ("William" class). Being 400 m
away from the at once due to the heavy destruction of her hull.
6. Light aircraft carrier "Independence" (displacement 11000
t, built in 1943). The ship was 700 m away from the epicenter
facing it portside. Hi was demolished, 25 aircraft were blown off
the flight deck. The flying-off deck skewed, the hangar deck got
heavily deformed, and wing bulkheads in the hangar were
destroyed. The gasoline in the fire spread aft and caused the
explosion of the torpedoes stored there. These internal blasts
within a closed space heavily destroyed the ships stern and
forced sections of the deck several ship suffered was estimated
as the heaviest among the ships that stayed afloat.
The Amazing Survivability of "Independence"
Fig.1. The photograph of "Independence"
Having read these li got convinced in the terrific destructive
power of nuclear weapons. Hardly anyone of them noticed that some
of Korotkinĺs assertions about the damage were false. Therefore,
we will have to make an in-depth analysis of the text to open the
readers eyes to the reality. We can start from the aircraft
carrier "Independence" that suffered "the heaviest damage". It is
no surprise that all the aircraft were blown off the flight deck:
simply not anchored to it. According to the pre-war regulations
of aircraft land parking that were in force not only in the
Pacific zone, where strong winds are frequent, but even in the mi
winds occur very rarely, the airplanes had to be anchored for the
night to special ground pins with ropes. The velocity of the
shock wave generated by an air explosion is 333 m/s, while tha
only 40 m/s. No wonder the unanchored aircraft were blown off
from the flight deck of "Independence" by the nuclear burst like
feathers. The force of the shock wave, however, rapidly decreases
for comparison, the aircraft carrier "Saratoga" that lay 2.5 km
away from the epicenter suffered no damage at all, with all her
aircraft staying on deck. Here is what Korotkin wrote, "A lig
with patches of the wooden deck burnt away (rather, simply
charred - O.T.). The aircraft on deck were left intact." In other
words, the fact that the aircraft were blown off the deck of
"Independence" that the force of the shock wave generated by the
nuclear burst was that great.
Moreover, having examined the photograph of this ship made
after its "corporal punishment", a clever and attentive reader
may notice to his or her surprise that the island superstructure
of "Independence" was neither demolished, nor even damaged! The
point is that the aircraft carrier was photographed from below
her port side, and the superstructure can hardly be seen at such
an angle, because it is where it should always be - on starboard.
Only an attentive eye can notice at once the islands edge rising
slightly over the flight deck. So, left intact just exactly the
same way as were the ships funnels that were very small and
short, which was characteristic for this class of ships, shorter
even than the superstructure. That the ships starboard, the
intact funnels cannot be seen in the photograph at all. All this
gave Korotkin a false ground to write that "the island
superstructure was demolished". One can also see it crane rises
intact too. Since long and high structures, like cranes and
masts, are first to break under the impact of a shock wave, which
is well known to any specialist in structural strength, the above
facts prove that the shock wave was rather weak. The case when
even the shipboard crane withstood the blast (the impact could
not even turn its boom) shows that the burst was not as strong as
everyone imagined it.
How could Korotkin b so inattentive when studying the
photograph and concluding that the island superstructure was
demolished? Any schoolboy could easily catch him in the lie.
Millions of people, with hundreds o among them, read Korotkins
book, but unfortunately not a single one of them noticed the
fraud for 37 years.. PRIVATE "TYPE=PICT;ALT=Picture 1"
The destruction of transverse bulkheads and flight decks on
"Independence" were the result of the explosion of gasoline
vapor, rather than the effect of the shock wave. Few people know
that common gasoline produces a much stronger explosion than any
the explosive substance, simply because there is a plenty of it.
For example, an explosion of aircraft fuel vapor annihilated
large aircraft carrier "Taiho", as well as American aircraft
carrier "Lexington". This is how it happ case of "Taiho",
"ůdespite the relatively small damage inflicted by torpedoes, the
gasoline vapor from the damaged tank and ruptured gasoline
pipelines filled literally each compartment of the aircraft
carrier 90 minutes after the torpedo salvo from "Albacor" "Taiho"
was ripped into pieces by a monstrous explosion..." (from
D.Horikoshi, M.Okumii "Zero", 1998, p.258).
The force of the explosion of gasoline is approximately five
times is hi than that of the same amount of any other organic
explosive, for example, TNT. It happens because all kinds of
explosives are chemically fueled by ordinary atoms of carbon and
hydrogen. This fuel amounts to only about 20 % (or one-fifth) of
the total weight of the explosive, whereas the main component
that consists of oxidizer - atoms of oxygen - amounts to as much
as 80 %! Gasoline, however, is a 100% chemical fuel composed o
hydrogen only. It does not explode unless it gets mixed with air
that supplies it with oxygen. Once such mixture is on hand, a
small spark can trigger a very strong explosion. That is why the
a closed space is so dangerous. I remember one case that happened
in 70-s at a small ship-building plant in Gorokhovets. For some
reason, the workers who painted a tugboat brought a bucket have
spilled the gasoline or tried to wash something with it, anyhow,
a sudden explosion of terrific force banged. As a result, the
tugboat was warped to such a degree that it could not be
restored. And that was an explosion caused by one bucket of
gasoline only, whereas in case of "Independence" a whole hanger
tank exploded heated by fire! No wonder the hangar deck was
deformed, the flight deck skewed and the internal bulkheads
destroye In other words, the extensive damage of "Independence"
resulted from an internal explosion of a large amount of
gasoline, rather than from the nuclear burst, as many people
think. The third explosion on the aircraft carrier was caused by
the detonation of shipboard torpedoes in the depot. One can
imagine what a vast destruction it invoked! It is quite obvious
that it was not the impact from the nuclear burst that detonated
They were simply brought to red heat by the raging flames of
tens of tons of spilled gasoline and exploded only due to this.
This case seems to be usual - everything happened the way it shin
spite of this explosion "Independence" remained afloat!
In the sea battles of World War II a lot of light aircraft
carriers hit by a single torpedo suffered extremely heavy damage
or even 20, 1944 the above-mentioned "Independence" was hit by a
single torpedo launched from an aircraft and returned to her base
with great difficulty, while "Ark Royal", a large aircraft
carrier o having taken a hit of one torpedo only. "Taiho " sank
from one torpedo, "Sekaku" - from three, "Hiyo" - from two,
"Formidable" - from two bombs. "Princeton", an aircraft carrier
of the same c by one bomb. So, it would be very interesting to
compare the destructive strength of a torpedo that explodes in
water against ship's side with that of the tens of the same type
torpedoes store one must know the exact number of aircraft
torpedoes stored on "Independence". But the organizers of the
test failed to do so simple a thing, as to send a competent
sailor aboard to count the test.
But we can do even without this data, suffice it to compare
"Independence" with Japanese heavy cruiser "Mikuma". The point is
that they are fundamentally rather similar ships, at lea class,
since "Independence" was originally designed and built as a heavy
cruiser, but in the process of construction was modified into an
aircraft carrier. Thus, the part of "Independence" of a cruiser.
The standard displacement of the both ships was almost the same -
And here is what happened to Japanese cruiser "Mikuma": she
was hit by several bombs dropped from US bo caused a great fire
in her torpedo depot. As a result, the torpedoes exploded.
Surprisingly, the torpedo warheads did not detonate at once (they
are often stored away from torpedo bodies), fire. Only about 80
minutes after the bomb hit the warheads detonated. There were
total 24 warheads onboard, and they caused such a very heavy
destruction to "Mikuma" that the cruiser became the inflicted
damage, the ship sunk only eight hours later. Now it becomes
clear how weak the explosion of 24 torpedoes was. Many readers
might think that the author went nuts to maintain that the
explosion of 24 Japanese torpedoes of 61-centimeter caliber, each
carrying 850 kg of explosive, which was at least twice as much as
in any foreign torpedo (for example, US torpedoes carried 330 kg
of explosive) can be weak. The actual explosion on "Mikuma" was
equal to 50 ordinary torpedoes!
And still the explosion was relatively weak, because its force
in the air (in the ships space above her waterline) is much
weaker than the detonation of the same amount of explosive under
water. Remember how the hit of a single Japanese torpedo easily
ripped sterns off US cruisers.
The explosion on "Mikuma" was equivalent to the blast of 50
ordinary torpedoes, but the s break into halves, because the
torpedoes exploded in the air. This fact proves that the
explosion of torpedoes in the air does not mean an instant death
to a ship, though the formidable blast due to the vulnerability
of mechanisms that are usually ripped off their foundations). So,
it was simply amazing that after the explosion equivalent to the
explosion of 50 foreign torpedoes afloat for another eight
Yet, that is not all! "Independence", staying afloat after the
blast of tens of her shipboard torpedoes, was left in the test
range and a month later was exposed this time to an underwater
one. But the ship persisted in her loathness to die. She still
lay with no heel or trim as if nothing happened. Inspection
parties could not detect any leak. And the ship actually survived
four terrific explosions: the first air nuclear burst followed by
the explosion of tens of tons of gasoline and the detonation of
tens of shipboard torpedoes, and finally the underwater nuclear
burst. If we compare burst with the explosion of torpedoes, the
conclusion is obvious: the latter is more powerful; any ship of
this class with the displacement of 10,000 tons could have never
survived four torpedoes hitting her from one side.
In other words, this fact shows that the ship could withstand
nuclear bursts quite easily. What was really dangerous for her
were the secondary effects of the burst., i.e., the explosions of
gasoline and torpedo warheads. Anyhow, there is no doubt that
before sinking the ship withstood quite a lot of impacts of fo
power. If we take into consideration that during World War II
similar aircraft carriers quickly perished having been hit by
one, two or three torpedoes, we have to acknowledge as true the
following paradoxical conclusion: ships can survive a nuclear
burst much easier compared to an underwater torpedo explosion.
My opponents are likely to state that both the inflammation of
the air fuel, and the detonation of torpedoes were the results of
the nuclear burst, i.e. in the long run, the actual cause of the
destruction of "Independence" was still a nuclear charge. No, the
main reason for all the destruction of the given ship wer of this
aircraft carrier. Firstly, the hangar gasoline tank was placed
inside the ship under her deck. So, neither the shock wave, nor
luminous radiation were able to directly act upon the tank
occurred only because gasoline pipelines or the tank itself broke
under the blast, the gasoline spilled, and its vapor exploded.
The designers should have foreseen such a case and should have
taken measures to prevent the tank and pipeline walls from
breaking. Even at that time the fact that gasoline is an
extremely dangerous substance was well known. So, the hangar
tank, for example, should have been installed on shock absorbers
a pipelines should have been made from rubber hoses that easily
withstand shock loads, rather than from thin steel pipes with
their walls less than 2 mm thick, or on the contrary, from durab
Had these measures been taken, the hangar tank would not have
broken under the impact of the shock wave, thus causing fire and
the explosion of all shipboard torpedoes. Now I hope everyone of
the gasoline tank and torpedo storage cellars were much more
destructive than any nuclear burst. It is only sufficient to have
a look at the photo of "Independence" with her nose absolutely of
the nuclear burst just stroked it lightly.
On the contrary, the middle section of "Independence" in the
area of her aircraft hangar, where the fire from the aircraft
fuel raged, turned lit her stern, where the torpedoes were
stored, is almost completely ruined. However, look closely at the
photo: despite such violence of destructive forces "Independence"
is not even going to sink. She shows neither roll, nor trim!
Try to understand the paradox of the situation: there was a
nuclear burst, "Independence" caught a terrible gasoline fire
that nobody tried to extinguish, (since there was nobody aboard
the ship), later tens of shipboard torpedoes detonated and again
nobody tried to plug the holes, or to drain the water. But the
long-suffering ship still did not sink. This fact gives an
obvious proof that only underwater torpedo hits are dangerous for
a ship, while the explosions of gasoline and shipboard torpedoes,
though inflicting heavy damage to the ship's freeboard, do not
bilge the hull.
Just compare how quickly other ships perished in similar circu
carrier "Courageous" took two portside torpedo hits and sank 20
Aircraft carrier "Ark Royal" was torpedoed by a German
submarine, taking one starboard torpedo hit. The shi almost at
once. Eight operating drain pumps produced poor effect, and 14
hours later "Ark Royal", abandoned by the crew, capsized and
sunk. Compare this event with the case of "Mikuma" that remained
afloat for 8 hours after her 24 torpedoes of 61-cm caliber
Aircraft carrier "Eagle" was attacked by a German submarine
near Malta and was hit by 3-4 torpedoes. As a result, the ship
sunk within a short period of time.
On September 15, 1942 "Wasp" was attacked by a Japanese
submarine and took three starboard torpedo hits in her nose
section. The ship's torpedoes detonated causing gasoline fires
followed by internal explosions. The crew had to leave the
burning and listed ship that was sunk in a short while by several
torpedoes launched from a US destroyer.
In this connection, I would like to draw an analogy with
Russian cruiser "Ochakov", which also suffer of her freeboard,
but remained afloat. At that time the ship was taking part in a
revolt lying out of Sebastopol. She was shot at by anyone who
felt like shooting: ground artillery with its 3-inch with its
11-inch guns, battleships of the Black Sea fleet armed with
12-inch major caliber guns. The shells literally riddled the ship
through. The cruiser burnt for two days. Since the crew no
struggle for her survival: no one tried to extinguish the fire or
to drain the water. But, despite of the fact that the ship's
freeboard was riddled with holes, she had no underwater holes. S
out from within, but remained afloat. Later "Ochakov" was
repaired and sailed the seas for many years.
This torture was very similar to the one suffered by
"Independence". The latter had her burnt in raging flames for a
long time with no one onboard to struggle for her survival. And
yet, the outcome was the same - the aircraft carrier remained
This amazing survivability of the ships of different classes
and different times is explained not by their high strength, but
by the fact that all of them - "Independence", "Mikuma",
"Ochakov" suffered only freeboard damage. The conclusion is: an
air nuclear burst is to sink a surface ship laying as near as 700
meters from the epicenter.
World War , ship, battleship, cruiser , Destroyer,
sank, aircraft carrier , Pacific, sea, Saratoga, torpedo,
bomb, waterline, tank, gun, epicenter, flight deck
At the end of World War II the Americans obtained
terrible kind of weapon - a nuclear explosive. And, since the
conditions of the peace agreement obliged them to destroy a part
of captured ships from the Japanese and German fleets,