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Battle of Jutland/Jütland/Jylland. 100 years ago some Belles fought

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The Battle of Jutland happened 100 years ago this week and some of the ships that took part in this battle will be Belles, including the much championed Queen Elizabeth - class. Let's hope these ships Belles have learned a thing or two to keep the young ones of '39 from making the same mistakes and hopefully we captain can also learn from this, the biggest clash of warships in modern history.

 

This YouTube channel follows the events of the Great War week by week so you can go back and see all kinds of amazing videos, some of which are indeed ship related.

 

 

So what went wrong? Why did the British Battlecruisers do so poorly? Was it just incompetence? Poor design? Well as I see it, the Battlecruisers were not used properly. At Jutland the BCs were being used in the same way as conventional battleships, "sailing" in a line instead of using their speed and maneuverability to avoid damage. Also Battecruisers as a concept are not designed for such a brawl. BCs were designed to hunt and kill cruisers as they did in the Battle of the Falkland Islands in December, 1914, using their speed to hunt down such prey and to run from things bigger than them, like Battleships. The way they were used at Jutland negated all of their advantages and the bad British habit of storing the powder charges high in the turret (technically against RN regs but not enforced) meant that every hit basically blew the ship up. So indeed, something was very wrong with their ships.

 

So do you think the British fleet was lead incompetently or were they limited by their lack of established night-fighting procedures and protocols? Could the British ships even aim properly? Were the Germans just better gunners or were the German ships simply that much more durable.

 

 

Something I've noticed about a lot of British ship designs is that they seem to lack durability compared to some of their contemporaries, mostly the German and American ships (I don't have a lot of knowledge of French warships or Italian ships from the same period). American and German ships were famous for taking a massive pounding and surviving. Or failing that, they took a lot of effort to sink. Look how much effort had to go into sinking Bismark and Tirpitz.

 

Bismark took a huge number of shells from 2 British battleships, one on either side of her, and in addition to that she took a torpedo from HMS Rodney. She still didn`t sink, she was technically scuttled (but she would have eventually been sunk anyway). Tirpitz also took a massive pounding to bring down, requiring Lancasters to fly over and drop Grand Slam bombs, bombs designed to cause small earthquakes, to bring her down.

 

For American ships you're spoiled for choice. USS Laffey, USS Franklin, USS Hornet (CV-8). so resilient were they that the Japanese often thought some of them were ghost ships because ships they thought sunk came back to fight them again.

 

British ships by comparison seemed pretty flimsy. HMS Ark Royal was eventually sunk by a single torpedo, the Leander-class cruisers, while well built for certain, had all their propulsion machinery roughly in the same area. But at least with them they have the excuse that they had to fit within limitations set by the Washington Naval Treaty, something you'll see come up a lot in discussions of the Belles of '39. One thing the British did do that was good but few others did, was put armoured flight decks on their carriers. This would prove fortuitous during the Battle of the Mediterranean. Makes me curious as to why the other nations didn't. I can only assume for the earlier carriers that it was due to treaty limits but even later carriers seemed to continue using unarmored flight decks.

 

So what do you think?

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Certainly I see Warspite as sort of a sage, rivaling Mahan in naval knowledge from being at Jutland herself. At the end of the day, it was that Jellico and Beatty didn't use their battlecruisers as battlecruisers. A similar thing would happen with Hood when she went up against Bismarck, where they were similarly armed but Bismarck had better fire control and much better armor. For BCs speed was their armor, and using them in a brawl like Jutland was a death knell.

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Pillwalker;

 

One very quick note: in terms of weight, American and British carriers were actually similarly protected- the question was *where*. Here's a really fascinating article on the subject. I'm not sure I agree with the conclusion, but it's a very interesting read:

 

http://www.navweaps.com/index_tech/tech-030.htm

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One thing the British did do that was good but few others did, was put armoured flight decks on their carriers. This would prove fortuitous during the Battle of the Mediterranean. Makes me curious as to why the other nations didn't. I can only assume for the earlier carriers that it was due to treaty limits but even later carriers seemed to continue using unarmored flight decks.

 

So what do you think?

There's a good reason. Due to the excessive armoring and capital ship armament on British carriers, they were not very fast and carried diminutive air groups of 40-60 planes at the most. By the definition of the effective use of carriers--why they overshadowed battleships as the capital naval vessel--they must be vessels of power projection. Mobility and effective firepower are a must as was later proven by the American carriers and the infamous Kido Butai. American carriers at the time were unarmored, but could launch quite the powerful blow with an air group of 80-100+ planes. Japanese carriers had the same air groups and close speed, but to match the British counterparts for armor they carried less planes than the Americans and needed to use two hangar decks to match for firepower. For a good reference, the strike group carried by American CVEs just about matches that as carried by British carriers as a result of the extra armor.

 

A good carrier use should see the carrier launching strikes on its target from 200km + away, well out of gunfire range. If it needs armor, it is because the carrier is well out of position. (probably due to the inability to gather the speed to properly retreat, a direct result of being VERY HEAVY.) The ability to get to the area a strike is needed and provide the strongest possible strike is the idea behind the proper power projection of carriers. The Japanese were well on their way to perfecting that, and the Americans made it an art by the end of the war. The British carrier designs were just a reflection of the world's poor experience and practice with the fledgling idea of carrier warfare, and the British were the ones who went down the least effective path when all the nations went their separate ways on the idea.

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So what do you think?

 

1)$google British Battleships 1860-1950, Dr. Oscar Parkes for nearly all British BB/BC design quirks

2) more armor -> less planes,but *better* survival

3)until Hunter incident in '36, compact machine room arrangement was thought to be *more easily armored*(Hunter got all her machines kicked out with ONE mine hit)

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I don't have a lot of knowledge of French warships or Italian ships from the same period. American and German ships were famous for taking a massive pounding and surviving. Or failing that, they took a lot of effort to sink. Look how much effort had to go into sinking Bismark and Tirpitz.

 

If you reference to the Great War era, neither the French, nor the Italian or American battleships were subjected to a test of their capabilities.

 

I won't talk about the American battleships, because they're not my forte, and I believe their design history is rather well known.

 

The Italians, knowing of their condition of inferiority against the expected enemies (France and Great Britain), followed a design policy of building well-armed battleships, a bit faster than their opponents but not as well protected. Their first dreadnought, the Dante Alighieri (the first battleships laid down with triple turrets in the world, and the first to have its secondary armament partially in rotating turrets), had an impressive broadside of twelve 305 mm guns and good speed, but had only a 250 mm belt; this value was carried over with the next classes, the Conte di Cavour and the Duilio, that sported thirteen 305 mm guns (a broadside surpassed only by HMS Agincourt) and a top speed above the canonical 21 knots. The culmination of this process should have been the Francesco Caracciolo-class, designed to deal with design such as the Queen Elizabeth-class: with eight 381 mm guns, a designed top speed of 28 knots, but a belt only 303 mm at its thickest; however, their construction was interrupted by the war.

Overall, it's difficult to say how they would have performed against similar dreadnoughts. Especially since it seems that, during WWI, the gunnery practice they conducted was of such nature to leave the British officers aghast.

 

The French were caught in a bit of a jumble, and unfortunately a lot of political and economical constraints held them back. Both the Courbet- and the Bretagne-class had a reasonable broadside and had enough speed, but their armor was similarly on the weak side (270 mm on the belt). To regain the lost terrain, the following classes under design, the Normandie- and the Lyon-classes were very unconventional, resorting to quadruple turrets for an impressive array of 340 mm guns, but the armor wouldn't have been much improved, too; again, their construction never took off.

Again, it's difficult to pass a judgement on the eventual performance of these ships; I do believe that one characteristic that would have been a serious drawback would have been the very limited elevation for the main guns (12° maximum), which made for a very short range.

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The French were caught in a bit of a jumble, and unfortunately a lot of political and economical constraints held them back. Both the Courbet- and the Bretagne-class had a reasonable broadside and had enough speed, but their armor was similarly on the weak side (270 mm on the belt). To regain the lost terrain, the following classes under design, the Normandie- and the Lyon-classes were very unconventional, resorting to quadruple turrets for an impressive array of 340 mm guns, but the armor wouldn't have been much improved, too; again, their construction never took off.

Again, it's difficult to pass a judgement on the eventual performance of these ships; I do believe that one characteristic that would have been a serious drawback would have been the very limited elevation for the main guns (12° maximum), which made for a very short range.

 

 

 

Short Normandie-class development story

Most French docks(at this time) has L=172m/B=27m/D=8,8m dimensions, so all French BB WW1 projects had max ~25kt displacement(or build new docks). Given that 406mm guns were still "somewhere in project",340mm was used.

So, they planned 3x4 turrets (4500t) cause 5x2 turrets(which fleet wanted) weighed ~5200t(Which means "no weight for any armor"). Then they was laid too late to be used in war, delayed for modernization and fell under Washington treaty(except Bearn)

 

 

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I wouldn't call British ship "flimsy".

 

KGV class ships had more belt & deck armor than the vast majority of contemporary BBs.

 

All it takes is a hit at the right place, at the right moment.

 

Tirpitz was ultimately sunk by a single Tallboy (12000 lb bomb) that blew up amidship, perforated her keel and caused her cap-sizing, she was struck by another one beforehand that did not detonate.

 

Grand Slam (22000 lb bombs) were not used against her.

 

Bismark resisting 15" shells comes as no surprise as her armor was designed to withstand such caliber, on the other hand, the armor of an old Battlecruiser like HMS Hood armor stood no chance against Biscko's armament.

 

Try to imagine Bismark struck by japanese or american 16", and the result might have been quite different.

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I wouldn't call British ship "flimsy".

 

KGV class ships had more belt & deck armor than the vast majority of contemporary BBs.

 

All it takes is a hit at the right place, at the right moment.

 

Tirpitz was ultimately sunk by a single Tallboy (12000 lb bomb) that blew up amidship, perforated her keel and caused her cap-sizing, she was struck by another one beforehand that did not detonate.

 

Grand Slam (22000 lb bombs) were not used against her.

 

Bismark resisting 15" shells comes as no surprise as her armor was designed to withstand such caliber, on the other hand, the armor of an old Battlecruiser like HMS Hood armor stood no chance against Biscko's armament.

 

Try to imagine Bismark struck by japanese or american 16", and the result might have been quite different.

 

Ah right. I keep getting those two mixed up. Also,​ Bismark was attacked by 16 Inch shells from HMS Rodney, and a single one of Rodney's torpedoes. The only torpedo hit by a battleship in the war, at least on another battleship.

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Short Normandie-class development story

Most French docks(at this time) has L=172m/B=27m/D=8,8m dimensions, so all French BB WW1 projects had max ~25kt displacement(or build new docks). Given that 406mm guns were still "somewhere in project",340mm was used.

So, they planned 3x4 turrets (4500t) cause 5x2 turrets(which fleet wanted) weighed ~5200t(Which means "no weight for any armor"). Then they was laid too late to be used in war, delayed for modernization and fell under Washington treaty(except Bearn)

 

 

 

Thanks for clarifying that. Although I wish to respectfully rest my case; they were a bit unconventional.

 

 

Ah right. I keep getting those two mixed up. Also,​ Bismark was attacked by 16 Inch shells from HMS Rodney, and a single one of Rodney's torpedoes. The only torpedo hit by a battleship in the war, at least on another battleship.

 

The 16-inch Mark I guns that armed the Nelson-class were rather unsatisfactory weapons; built under a new concept (high muzzle velocity and a light shell) that turned out to be a mistake, their theoretical performance against armor ended up being only marginally better than that of the earlier 15-inch Mark I. On the mount side, the turrets gave a lot of issues before achieving some degree of reliability (although it's to be expected somewhat, as triple turrets are trickier than double ones, and it was the first time the RN used them).

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