Definitions For Convenience

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Definitions For Convenience

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Wed Jan 25, 2006 5:15 pm


At some point soon I hope to discuss some Naval matters.

At the time of WWII the following general classifications for warships were qusi acceptable.

We will temporarily leave aircraft carriers, Destroyers and Patrol craft out of THIS post and try to define major surface combatants:

1. Dreadnought Battleship;
generally diplacing 30-60,000 tonnes and Having a main battery of 8 to 10X14 to 9X18 inch guns. This is illlustrative of the class' increase in firepower as the original "Dreadnought" mounted only 8X 12" guns. The Interwar and WWI holdovers such as Arizona, Pennslyvania, Warsptie Queen Elilizabeth et could manage abour 25 knots.

The Fast Battleship was a product of the trashing of the Washington Treaty and the sure and certain knowledge that war was coming. Fast Battleship examples include the Iowas, Perhaps the South Dakotas, and the Bismarcks. The British did not complete a 'true" fast Battleships (over 30 knots) until The Beatiful Valiant was completed just in time to be scrapped at wars end. What a terrible waste.

2. Battlesuisers:

The intent of this class conceived by Admiral "Jackie" Fisher prior to WWI was to create a class that could outrun anything it could not outfight and outfight anything it could not outrun. Since the speeds of Battleships at the time averaged 25-27 knots, and most Battlecruisers could better 30 knots the concept seemed proven at the Battle of the Flaklands where the British cornered German Heavy Cruisers and destroyed then usin superior speed and heavier gun.

More on this later.

Armament was on a par with the dreadnougnought battleshps in some cases, but the German Scharnhorst and Gneisenau mounted 9X11 in weapons (which the British found to be extremly hard hitting and flat shooting at Jutland.) The Biggest Battlecruiser Completed pre war was the handsome Hood, capable of 30+ knots and mounting 8X15 in weapon in four twin turrets. Because of her designation, and, possibly, the limitations of the Washington treaty her displace and armor protection were NOT on a par with a Line of Battle Ship". The British had already learned at Jutland in 1915. the lesson costing the lives of perhaps 7000 British salors, that the powerful, fast but under "protected" Battlecruisers could not stand in the traditional line of battle and shoot it shoot it out with Dreadnoughts. Although Hood was upgraded once after her Completion in 1937, it did not save her against Bismarck in 1940. German Battlecruisers generally mounted the same 11 in caliber weapon as dreadnoughts, but they were generally better "protected" and better "compartmentalized than their British counterparts in 1915. The above mentioned Scharnhorst and Gneisnau were tough and fast Battlecruisers which served in WWII.

America never completed a Battlecruiser to my knowledge. Two, at least, were "laid down" but completed as aircraft carriers (not, to my knowledge subject to the Wasington Treaty) If memory serves these ships were launched as Lexington and Saratoga. Please check me on this point. They were an anomaly as their "gun armament" constituted 8x8 in guns in four twin turrets. Perhaps a concession to the "Battleship" admirals, but a waste of displacement.

Two Handsome Battlecruisers appearing like enlarged Baltmore or Bosie Cruisers, were the Alaska and Guam, perhaps almost completed near war's end and mounting 9X12" guns in three triple turrets. In any event they never came close to seeing action, but , again, they were almost completed or just completed at war's end.

Since Cruiser and Destroyer warfare was an art in itself, particularlly common in the Pacific, I will discuss these types of warships in another post.

See the site for an analyitical comparison of the "Big Boys". Also see Richard Hough's Book "Deadnought" (circa 1968) for a discussion of these powerful ships.

Since I know much less about Japanese Capital ships, I, perforce, will have to disscuss them in another post. Sorry.

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