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Searchlight for Night Actions


Fatboy
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What's the exact era covered by the game? I don't have it...

But the use of the searchlight might be different from one navy to the other.

And if they all had searchlight it doesn't always mean that they were used in battle against ships of the same size.

For example in this excellent source https://www.history.navy.mil there are many accounts and instructions.

And in particular with this General Instructions for Sloops and Torpedo Craft Employed on Antisubmarine Duties from 1918

https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/g/general-instructions-sloops-torpedo-craft.html

I find that for use in a convoy: " Searchlights should never be used when on escort duty, except in case of a very serious accident, and even then their use is very dangerous by night, as they will attract submarines from a very considerable distance. "

But then night battles were not that popular... But one nation loved them (yes Japan).

And back to the US in that document for 1944:https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/w/war-instructions-united-states-navy-1944.html#night-actions

there is a section just about it:

Section III. Use of Star Shells and Searchlights

818. No illumination is used unless prescribed by the officer in tactical command or other competent authority. Night contact with an enemy normally is made by radar. By effective use of the combat information center, adequate information may be obtained of the enemy to track, approach, and attack if so desired. Although full use of radar in locating an enemy and controlling gunfire may obviate the need of illumination, it is nevertheless incumbent upon responsible commanders to be familiar with the general use of star shells and searchlights, as under some conditions their use may be required.

819. Both searchlights and star shells are visible from considerable distances, star shells from greater distances than searchlights. Therefore, if powerful enemy forces are known or suspected to be within the radius of visibility and our forces are endeavoring to avoid them, it is inadvisable to illuminate or open fire and thus disclose our position. Special instructions issued by the officer in tactical command or other competent authority, the general plan of the operation, the assigned task, the situation existing at the time, and other special circumstances will all influence the action to be taken.

820. When illumination of enemy vessels is required the following are considerations in deciding whether to use searchlights or star shells or both:

  1. Star shells:

    Disadvantages

    1. Delay in establishing illumination, but not if used in conjunction with radar-controlled fire.
    2. Possible difficulty in maintaining illumination when the bearing of the enemy is changing rapidly, which will generally be the condition when ranges are short.
    3. Low clouds make star shell illumination uncertain and sometimes impossible, even with excellent surface visibility.
    4. If several ships are firing together, a definite control plan is required to prevent interference. One or more low bursts short of the target will ruin the illumination for some vessels and might make it ineffective for all vessels.
    5. Not suitable for use at very short range.
    6. Reduction of volume of effective fire especially in destroyer type.

Advantages

  1. Searchlights:

    Disadvantages

    1. Range of effective illumination limited to 4,000 to 6,000 yards with searchlights.
    2. Searchlights provide a continuous point of aim for enemy vessels.
    3. Difficult to hold on target in elevation. This sometimes causes lights pointed short of the targets to obscure them completely from view.
    4. Danger of silhouetting friendly ships.

    Advantages

    1. Illumination can be established quickly if the bearing of the target is known. With modern fire control equipment, the searchlights can be pointed at the target before being turned on so that little searching should be necessary.
    2. Can be kept trained on target whose bearing is changing rapidly.
    3. Better suited for illuminating targets at ranges so close that star shell illumination would be impracticable.
    4. Not affected by low clouds provided visibility on surface is good.
    5. Comparatively simple doctrine enables searchlights to be efficiently used by several vessels in formation.
    6. Blinding effect when trained on bridge of target vessel.
  2. General:
    1. The area illuminated by star shell is larger than the area illuminated by a properly adjusted searchlight.
    2. Searchlights, star shells, or aircraft flares will all produce silhouette effects which, depending on conditions, may be advantageous or disadvantageous to us.
    3. On account of the silhouette effect, ships in the center of the disposition normally use searchlights as sparingly as the situation permits.
    4. Burning ships provide good illumination in their vicinity.
  3. Greater range.
  4. Do not provide point of aim for enemy vessels except as is provided by flash of guns firing.
  5. Can be used as part of first salvo in radar-controlled fire.
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The historical facts are that searchlights were used in night actions in the battleship era.
As you say japan was a frequent user of searchlights from the russo-japanese onward.
They were also used in WW1 - for example against the Black Prince at Jutland.

What I was asking was if the historical use of searchlights would be supported for night actions by the game.

22-AAA-German-Battleship-SMS-Thuringen.jpg

Edited by Fatboy
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There is a reason they were rarely used in WWII by anyone with RADAR...

3 nautical miles is the practical range for a searchlight to "see" something, that is knife fighting range even for WWI, however, one can see a searchlight illumination from beyond the horizon.

The picture in the above post is a romantic take on a battle, ships would never be that close unless actively trying to ram.

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1 hour ago, Pedroig said:

 

The picture in the above post is a romantic take on a battle, ships would never be that close unless actively trying to ram.

Yes, distances are often compressed for the purposes of composition and clarity in even the most accurate battle scenes, but in this case there is little or no exaggeration:

Quote

Most of the German ships were between 750 and 1,500 yards (690 and 1,370 m) of Black Prince[15] — effectively point-blank range for contemporary naval gunnery.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Black_Prince_(1904)

In-depth look at the night action during Battle of Jutland:

https://www.britishbattles.com/first-world-war/the-battle-of-jutland-part-iv-the-night-action-31st-may-to-1st-june-1916/

Edited by akd
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I think you are assuming that they are meant to be side by side, but the turrets and searchlights on the German ship are facing aft of the beam.  Could very well be 3-4 ship lengths.  But again, artwork almost always compresses space in scenes like this to some degree, but this scene clearly accurately captures the nature of the engagement.

Here is another take on the same action by a different artist:

23-AAA-Destruction-of-the-British-Armour

Edited by akd
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On 10/17/2019 at 2:06 PM, Fatboy said:

Will the game support the design & use of searchlights for the any night actions that were part of this era?

We will support night battles (they are just not yet available for players, but they function internally). Towers will have different extra bonuses for night vision and aiming. It is not yet decided if searchlights are going to be visually represented.

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