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Fire for Effect

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USS Iowa (BB-61) - 80-G-K-15631.jpg
USS Iowa at sea, 1944. By LCdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs, USNR – Public Domain, Link

Towards the end of World War II, the US Navy had lots of battleships and not much to do with them. With the Army Air Force busy incinerating most of Japan’s cities, the Navy eventually decided to get in on the game by turning the biggest guns of its biggest ships against Japanese coastal areas…

As long as ships have carried artillery they have bombarded shore facilities,notwithstanding the dictum, attributed to Nelson by Jackie Fisher, that “no sailor could ever be such a born ass as to attack forts with ships.” But such attacks have generally sought tactical objectives. More general “strategic” attacks became a concern for countries as the size and power of shipborne artillery increased, but the risks associated with bombarding a city from a ship normally dissuaded admirals from committing their warships to such operations. 



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