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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:33 pm 
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ChrisP wrote:
The British battlecruisers of WW1 were magnificent ships - flawed, ill-designed, under-armoured and poorly utilised perhaps, but still beautiful.


Hello All:

I respectfully disagree.

I really do not see there was anything seriously wrong with the design and construction of British battle cruisers. With the speed of large cruisers they were intended to perform scouting and high speed 'search and destroy'. These functions they performed admirably on a number of occasions.

The continuing bad reputation of British battlecruisers seems to come solely from the losses at Jutland. However, examination of the Jutland wrecks suggests that losses had more to do with poor munitions handling than with thin armour or design flaws.

It always baffles me how "experts" gush warmly about Teutonic design thoroughness when discussing a fleet whose shattered remnants limped into harbour after Jutland (unable to put to sea again as an effective fighting force for months) and yet dismiss as "luck" the fact that battlecruisers like H.M.S. Tiger took numerous major hits and hardly missed a beat.

My two cents.

Wes Beatty

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Last edited by MartinJQuinn on Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Cut from thread about why no new British BC in plastic


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:47 pm 
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Wes Beatty wrote:
The continuing bad reputation of British battlecruisers seems to come solely from the losses at Jutland. However, examination of the Jutland wrecks suggests that losses had more to do with poor munitions handling than with thin armour or design flaws.

That is true - also the heavy armour of the German battlecruisers was repeatedly holed, many heavy turrets were destroyed, there were fires in ammunition chambers - but the difference was that they were not exploding.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:26 pm 
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Really interesting points! I wonder what would have happened if the British battleships had become more heavily involved at Jutland, and taken more hits. If the main issue was munitions handling rather than thin armour, would some of them also have exploded? I know that the 5th Battle Squadron took some punishment, but many of the Grand Fleet ships remained undamaged. Or perhaps did Beatty and his battlecruisers have different standards as regards the handling of munitions when compared to Jellicoe and the main body? Was Beatty simply more cavalier in the pursuit of the fastest possible rate of fire, and suffered accordingly?

Might the problem at Jutland have been the combination of thinner armour and poor munitions handling, where one or the other might have been survivable, but both together were fatal?

My only other thought concerns the loss of HMS Hood - was this a repeat of Jutland? A munitions issue? Or simply a 20 year-old ship taking on a brand new one? (Possible comparisons to the USS Washington vs IJN Kirishima battle.)


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:46 pm 
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The ammunition handling problem was an issue with the Battle Cruiser Squadron, because they were based in the Forth they did not have the opportunity to exercise their Gunnery as often as the Scapa Flow based Battleships they compensated by emphasising rate of fire, some apocryphal tales of BC removing magazine doors to speed up ammunition handling.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:00 pm 
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ChrisP wrote:
Really interesting points! I wonder what would have happened if the British battleships had become more heavily involved at Jutland, and taken more hits. If the main issue was munitions handling rather than thin armour, would some of them also have exploded? I know that the 5th Battle Squadron took some punishment, but many of the Grand Fleet ships remained undamaged. Or perhaps did Beatty and his battlecruisers have different standards as regards the handling of munitions when compared to Jellicoe and the main body? Was Beatty simply more cavalier in the pursuit of the fastest possible rate of fire, and suffered accordingly?

Might the problem at Jutland have been the combination of thinner armour and poor munitions handling, where one or the other might have been survivable, but both together were fatal?

My only other thought concerns the loss of HMS Hood - was this a repeat of Jutland? A munitions issue? Or simply a 20 year-old ship taking on a brand new one? (Possible comparisons to the USS Washington vs IJN Kirishima battle.)


Chris, the disaster at Jutland was, IMHO, caused by the combination of thin armour and poor munitions handling, and the fact that German propellant burned at a higher rather than British propellant.

WRT Hood, it was a repeat of Jutland, her deck armour just didn't stand up to the German shells.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:18 pm 
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Bill Clarke wrote:
Chris, the disaster at Jutland was, IMHO, caused by the combination of thin armour and poor munitions handling


Agreed. I too believe that ability of German shells to penetrate to the ammo/cordite handling areas was a product of the weaker armour of the British BC's. Better safety procedures, which would have slowed the rate of fire may have meant fewer magazine explosions, but turrets would have probably been put out of action (as happened to Lion).

I read that at Dogger Bank, Seydlitz almost suffered a magazine explosion following a hit on one of her turrets and the near disaster gave the Germans the opportunity to make adjustments to prevent a repeat. They were obviously successful.

Also, a Jutland factor was the poor quality of British AP shells - many tended to explode too quickly, bursting on impact or failing to penetrate deeply.

Bill Clarke wrote:
WRT Hood, it was a repeat of Jutland, her deck armour just didn't stand up to the German shells.


Her armour in general could not stand up to German 38 cm shells with the muzzle velocity that Bismarck's had, at the range at which she was hit (16-18000 yards). It was NOT a shell plunging out of the sky through thinly armoured decks as has been portrayed in books and documentaries over and over. The most likely scenario was penetration through the side armour, possibly her 12-inch belt, or more likely the 7-inch strake above it, then through whatever deck plating encountered to explode in or near the 4-inch magazines, which set off the 15-inch aft.

Shortly after she was completed, tests done using British 15-inch shells (heavier than the German 38cm, but with a lower muzzle velocity) showed how her side armour scheme could be penetrated and a magazine reached at the very range that it happened in reality!

So the whole story of her not having closed the range enough is not really accurate. At that point, the closer she got the MORE vulnerable she was becoming to side penetration.

Her case was somewhat different to Jutland though- there was no cordite stacking for rate of fire, and it was not a turret hit that created flash that then burned along the route to the main magazines.

On the subject of kits - I've been hoping to see Flyhawk give us British BC's since they did Lutzow & Derfflinger... so far no such luck. :(

Paul

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:53 pm 
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the Hood should not have been firing on the Bismarck as battlecruisers are not designed to take on battlecruisers & definitely not battleships due to reduced armor compared to battleships.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:18 am 
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The BC armour was only poor because they were used incorrectly. Per design these ships are never intended to be front and centre in a line of battle (from the side as support maybe against heavily armed/armoured opponents.

So the only reasons for the loss were luck, and mis-use. Granted there's always a human tendency to try one's luck when valuable pieces of military equipment are concerned whereupon weakness not exposed by explosions!

British BCs and German BCs are not the same thing, despite being grouped as the same - one type is the mobile hard hitting pieces for a navy that controls the open oceans and the other a compromise (where range was irrelevant given zero expectation of actual dominance in open seas) in relation to protection and firepower.

Hood was purely bad luck - she had better armour protection as built compared to contemporary battleships, just not at the plane that mattered in that particular engagement.

On to model kits, Poseidon Repulse hull is original, but somewhat moot due to it being poorly re-casted. The piracy tag should mainly attribute to some PE parts being copied from NNT kit where I'm sure formed in some form as a reference (perhaps even upper structures?)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:14 am 
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I'm sure I remember reading that part of the problem was that the British cordite was more unstable and stored in silk bags whilst the German was stored in brass cases.

Vlad wrote:
On the historical side, if you take a look at the number of hits sustained by Lion at Dogger Bank and Tiger at Jutland it's clear that the survivability of British battlecruisers was quite commendable under normal circumstances. The other thing to remember is that at Jutland their shooting was appalling. If the British had scored hits as quickly and often as the Germans the effectiveness of the latter would have decreased rapidly. The whole point of mounting bigger guns was to "beat down" the enemy before they could do the same to you, as early advantages in a naval gunnery duel essentially snowball. The BCS did not succeed in using their speed to set up the required parameters for that engagement, and did not have the gunnery practice necessary to capitalise on it even if they had. The speed+firepower at the expense of armour combination is not conceptually flawed and has been used very succesfully in warfare from the dawn of time to the present day. In theory it's essentially unbeatable but requires a certain approach and set of conditions to work.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:43 am 
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That would all be fine if we knew the actual reasons for the Hood's loss. At Jutland, munitions handling and Flashover created a vulnerable chain from magazine to turret. A penetration at any place on the chain could, and did, have disasterous results.

The Hood's loss was somewhat different. The notion that a plunging shell penetrated an aft magazine, although almost universally accepted at the time of loss, did not survive the Second Board of Inquiry. Indeed one modern writer pointed out that given the relative positions of Hood and Bismark, the angle that Bismark's shells descended on Hood made deck penetration unlikely.
Most people agree that a fire in the 4inch magazine propagated to the 15inch magazine after the bulkhead between the two failed. What caused the fire in the 4inch magazine is the real mystery. There are various theories some of which have nothing to do with armour thickness.

Weak deck armour? Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

W.D.B.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:46 pm 
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potchip wrote:
British BCs and German BCs are not the same thing, despite being grouped as the same

The strongest armour of German battlecruisers were repeatedly pierced causing the loss of most heavy artillery. The difference is not the armour.

The difference was more likely the stability, storage and handling of the propellant - remember that also multiple British ships were lost in harbour to ammunition explosions.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:05 pm 
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Battlecruisers were designed to scout for the fleet and to hunt other cruisers. The losses among them occurred when they were placed in battle against capitol ships, which was the wrong place for them.

A British Admiral (I can't find the exact quote ATM) who was critical of the battlecruiser concept cautioned that those big guns would be far too much of a temptation to some future admiral in some future battle and at such a moment they would probably end up placed in the battle line-not far from what transpired at Jutland.

The thing that makes me wonder, though, is that with technology being what it was, and battlleships being capable of battlecruiser speeds, why the Hood was not simply designed as a fast battleship, rather than a somewhat up-armored battlecruiser.

Later, the US navy made another perplexing decision to build the Alaskas with no underwater protection which makes no sense when one considers the damage done repeatedly to US ships by Japanese torpedoes. It seems that with such a "spare no expense" approach that they should have had effective protection below the water line. My sentimental fascination with the class prevents me from suggesting that building a couple more Iowas, or a bunch more cruisers might have been a more cost effective strategy. ;)

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:18 pm 
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For those who haven't seen/read it previously, here's a link to the analysis Bill Jurens did concerning the loss of HM Hood for Warship International in 1987:
http://www.navweaps.com/index_inro/INRO_Hood.php

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:42 pm 
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Spot, during ww1, the battleships where not capable of battlecruiser speeds as battlecruisers where 28+ knots compared to about 21 to 24 knots for battleships.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:50 pm 
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'why the Hood was not simply designed as a fast battleship, rather than a somewhat up-armored battlecruiser.' - from what I've red on the subject, Hood essentially was the first fast battleship - her armour was at least equivalent to that of the QE class battleships. When Hood was sunk, the admiralty concluded that battleships built before Nelson would be equally vulnerable to similar hits


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:03 pm 
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warspite63 wrote:
'why the Hood was not simply designed as a fast battleship, rather than a somewhat up-armored battlecruiser.' - from what I've red on the subject, Hood essentially was the first fast battleship - her armour was at least equivalent to that of the QE class battleships. When Hood was sunk, the admiralty concluded that battleships built before Nelson would be equally vulnerable to similar hits


Exactly.

Remember Hood was originally designed before Jutland and her keel was laid on the day the battle was fought. In the aftermath, following the British BC losses, construction was halted and her design was modified to include better horizontal protection. Subsequent research showed that the armour scheme could be defeated by her own AP shells, and proposals were made as to how that could be addressed.

http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/off ... 1-9226.htm

At the time, there was no such thing as a "fast battleship" - the ships with long, sleek hulls, high speed and heavy armament were designated battlecruisers - at least by the British, even if better armoured than earlier ships- so Hood remained a battlescruiser. British post WW1 designs were high speed battlecruisers such as the G3's or low speed somewhat heavier armoured battleships. The Washington Treaty resulted in the G3 design being shortened and slowed to produce Nelson & Rodney.

(This is partly why the British called Dunkerque, Strasbourg, Gneisenau and Scharnhorst battlecruisers even though the French and Germans considered them battleships.)

After the loss of Hood, the British decreed that not only Renown & Repulse (obviously), but the 4 remaining R-class battleships (and the unmodernized QE's) were not to engage a Bismarck-class battleship unless it was otherwise engaged by better protected ships.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:33 am 
As designed, the Hood's main belt was to be 8". After Jutland, the main belt was increased to 12" but it was narrower than the typical battleship's main belt to save weight. Even so, the Hood lost 4-6 feet of freeboard and about 1 knot in speed.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:30 pm 
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Interestingly after the war most navies switched to lightly armoured fast ships: the Washington type of heavy cruiser, much more similar to the original battlecruiser concept of Fisher than HMS Hood. HMS Hood was way too valuable/expensive to be used as scout and to hunt cruiser attacking trade.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:26 am 
Battlecruisers were considered to be capital ships under the Washington treaty and thus new constructions were prohibited.

But your are right, battlecruisers were not cost effective for patrolling the sea lanes.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 9:07 am 
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Good point! Have you noticed that in both world wars, speed was often the most important factor in engagements. It is surprising how little action 'slow' ships had, when compared to the fast battleships, battlecruisers and cruisers. An admiral with fast ships at his disposal could usually choose whether or not to engage, and on what terms. By contrast, a fleet containing slower ships were often forced to either split, thus weakening itself, or to rely on aircraft/subs to slow down opponents.
I've often wondered if, with hindsight, the British would have been better off keeping HMS Lion, Tiger and Princess Royal after the Washington Treaty, rather than three of the 'R' class battleships. These battlecruisers, especially if modernised, would have been very useful in WW2, especially in the early stages. The pocket battleships, especially, would have been far more concerned about a modernised HMS Tiger in the vicinity than the rather ponderous 'R' class.


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