Alternate warships of nations

The biggest problem with the Intermediate Pre-Dreadnought's is that mixing 12--inch, 8- to 10-inch and 7-inch and smaller guns lead to the near impossibility of determining what shell splash belonging to what gun. And with Fire Control in its infancy you can well wonder about the lack of hits.

Dreadnought's uniform Main Battery changed all that...
There is a little problem and a mythology going on with this conception. I will use USS Texas as the example and the Battle of Santiago de Cuba Bay as the event. The Texas took the Infant Maria Teresa under fire after its counterturn and all back full to avoid an accidental mid-battle collision. The situation with the sun, clouds, wind drifting funnel and gun propellant smoke and the shell splashes from the several American ships, most of them shooting at the Infant Maria Teresa had confused an aimer of the number three six inch gun casemate mount on the Texas' port battery. He asked his gun captain, an old reprobate chief left over from the American Civil War: "How do we know if we hit anything through all of the shell splashes and smoke?"

The old geezer told him: "Shell splashes means you are aiming too low. Raise the angle a little on the quadrant and shoot and look. Count to three by seconds. If you see sparks between two and three, keep your bearing on her and pour it on fast, because you are hitting her, you damned idiot."

IOW, the splashes were, at those typical ranges, evidence of bad shooting, as over or short. The gunners were looking for sparks of steel on steel, or for fire to break out after a shot in spite of the chaos, to show hits. Once a battery got a solution, the gunners went into rapid fire until they dropped from exhaustion.

The problem of good shooting, is that if fires do break out on an enemy ship with a lot of woodwork and the ready ammunition starts to cook off, it looks like the enemy shoots back hard at you to the gunners. The frightened American gunners kept pouring it on, long after an enemy ship struck colors or was completely mission killed. They could not see well enough through their own guns' smoke clouds to assess their results. Also, as the gunners shot into the flames, it was almost impossible not to shoot a bit high. So shooting accuracy fell off and the needless slaughter of a helpless enemy crew ensued as superstructure rakes instead of waterline hits were the results of the shots that hit, along with far too many overshoots that carried off into shore. That is what happened at Manila Bay and to a certain extent at Bahia de Santiago, and earned the American navy an undeserved rascally reputation as ruthless merciless killers, once it was apparent to foreign observers, present, that the Spanish fleets were beaten.
 
Last edited:
What would the people here consider best class of Warship of each type (Submarine, Destroyer, Light Cruiser, Heavy Cruiser, Carrier, Battleship/Battlecruiser) (you can add more if you feel like it) of WW2? Both Early War and Late War (since if we consider the war in general they would be all late war ships (and almost entirely American, might still be tbh))

Similarly what would the perfect WW2 warship for each type look like? Mixing equipment and parts from all major participants. (US/UK AA, Radar and Sonar, mostly US guns but perhaps BB gun could be Italian (iirc Guns themselves were excellent but the shells were horrible) or British 15" guns. Maybe Japanese Long Lance torpedo. Planes would likely be mostly American but I am not sure if they would entirely be American.)

In both cases I imagine it would be mostly Allied but Axis would likely have some worthy additions.
 
@Gokbay

The problem is the best for who? Each combatant would weigh the various factors differently, an ideal ship for Italy would lack the range that the US or Japan need for the Pacific, while US or Japanese ships might be too big for the USSR operating in the Baltic and Black Seas

The same with the perfect Warship of each type. A heavy cruiser used according to Japanese doctrine is different than one used to American doctrine and has different requirements, and the British don't want to build them at all as they would much rather have lights under their doctrine. For each nation the perfect Heavy Cruiser would be different, a Japanese one would have losts of torpedoes and float planes, an American one more heavy guns and DP guns and a British one would be an 8,000 ton light cruiser because they don't want big cruisers at all
 
@Gokbay

The problem is the best for who? Each combatant would weigh the various factors differently, an ideal ship for Italy would lack the range that the US or Japan need for the Pacific, while US or Japanese ships might be too big for the USSR operating in the Baltic and Black Seas

The same with the perfect Warship of each type. A heavy cruiser used according to Japanese doctrine is different than one used to American doctrine and has different requirements, and the British don't want to build them at all as they would much rather have lights under their doctrine. For each nation the perfect Heavy Cruiser would be different, a Japanese one would have losts of torpedoes and float planes, an American one more heavy guns and DP guns and a British one would be an 8,000 ton light cruiser because they don't want big cruisers at all
The same is true of fighter or bomber aircraft, or tanks and trucks. Each nations tends to build vehicles which reflect the requirments of their doctrine and operational environment, as well as resource availability and technological base. So what works for one nation will generally be useable at best by another, and totally useless at worst.

To phrase your question better you may ask what would have been the best battleship for X nation? Assuming they had the time and resources to build it. And would foreign components have likely been superior to those fitted aboard X nations ships historically?
 
I agree that doctrines definitely effect ships. And in fact I am willing to agree that this point makes my first question irrelevant.

However a good fire control system is a good fire control system, a good torpedo is a good torpedo, a good AA gun is a good AA gun, a good main gun is a good main gun etc. While exactly how much of a type of equipment will exist in a ship class would be defined by the doctrine I do not think that the equipment itself is tied that closely to doctrine. I am sure we can all agree that early war American torpedoes were horrible or that Japanese 25mm AA gun was bad. Doctrine isn't really something that can explain that away.

Doctrine also definitely affects naval aircraft but I don't think it affects it as much as it affects ship design. What each nation wants out of a good fighter/torpedo bomber/dive bomber might be somewhat different but what makes a good/effective fighter/torpedo bomber/dive bomber not so much.
 
Are you interested in treaty legitimate designs or do you prefer designs that ignore the treaties.

I'd have to say a Japanese or Italian heavy cruiser would be the best heavy cruisers at the start of ww2. That's because it's essentially impossible to get a design with 8 8 inch guns that's not comprised elsewhere.
 
Are you interested in treaty legitimate designs or do you prefer designs that ignore the treaties.

I'd have to say a Japanese or Italian heavy cruiser would be the best heavy cruisers at the start of ww2. That's because it's essentially impossible to get a design with 8 8 inch guns that's not comprised elsewhere.
I had heard the French Algerie called "the best treaty heavy cruiser" but that designation probably does not cover the blatant lies Axis seems to have preferred.
 
What would the people here consider best class of Warship of each type (Submarine, Destroyer, Light Cruiser, Heavy Cruiser, Carrier, Battleship/Battlecruiser) (you can add more if you feel like it) of WW2? Both Early War and Late War (since if we consider the war in general they would be all late war ships (and almost entirely American, might still be tbh))

Similarly what would the perfect WW2 warship for each type look like? Mixing equipment and parts from all major participants. (US/UK AA, Radar and Sonar, mostly US guns but perhaps BB gun could be Italian (iirc Guns themselves were excellent but the shells were horrible) or British 15" guns. Maybe Japanese Long Lance torpedo. Planes would likely be mostly American but I am not sure if they would entirely be American.)

In both cases I imagine it would be mostly Allied but Axis would likely have some worthy additions.
Perfect ships vary from person to person and from which priorities are greatest in a country. Since I consider surface combatants to be completely worthless against aircraft I would have only carriers, ASW ships, and submarines in the navy (though I have still thought of cruiser, destroyer, and battleship/battlecruiser designs every so often).

There is also the question of whether fictional equipment that was never developed by anyone OTL could be used. In particular, I once had an idea about a modified version of Squid or Limbo ASW mortars which would enable them to act as Hedgehog mortars if needed, and in my hypothetical perfect ASW escort, I would want to use that if possible. There are also pre-WWI 155 mm guns that could fire 15 rpm for short bursts, from which I would want to adapt the loading/ramming mechanism for use on naval guns, and things like that.

For submarines, however, the wish list is pretty straightforward (Nazi Germany's best equipment is found here, though Allied equipment was equal to or better than much of it), as it uses the main counters to ASW in WWII, plus the best methods to sink surface ships more effectively:

That's similar to a Barbel class (except for the integrated control room), and should be impossible to defeat, even by a person who also has access to any WWII technology they want. Aircraft are dealt with by the radar warning receiver picking them up before they detect the submarine, retracting masts and snorkel, and waiting until the aircraft moves on, releasing radar decoys if needed. HF/DF is dealt with by knowing it and taking it into account when transmitting, plus the burst transmission system (and also benefitting by using it in turn against enemies). Codebreaking is dealt with by better cipher machines. ASW escorts are dealt with by having less noise than them, and thus detecting and sinking the escorts before they themselves are sunk. Use of decoys by surface ships is dealt with by the method of homing and the wire guided system if that fails. Problems with magnetic influence detonators are dealt with by the specific design of the magnetic detonator, and the impact detonator plus the Torpedo Data Computer and the more accurate gyroscopes with PID controllers if they use degaussing/deperming or the magnetic detonator doesn't work for some reason. Taken together there is no way to counter this submarine with WWII-era technology if it is used competently.
 
Are you interested in treaty legitimate designs or do you prefer designs that ignore the treaties.

I'd have to say a Japanese or Italian heavy cruiser would be the best heavy cruisers at the start of ww2. That's because it's essentially impossible to get a design with 8 8 inch guns that's not comprised elsewhere.
The French would beg to differ with Algerie. Same for the USN and USS Wichita.
 
She's a bit top-heavy, but still the best treaty cruiser in my opinion, USN 8" guns, good speed and range, good for the time AA, armor equal to or better than a Zara.
On looks alone, which is highly individual and not at all indicative of the actual performance of the ships, I have always liked the British and Italian heavy cruisers. The RN County's had a stately gentlemanly look about them. And the Italians looked like mad speed demons.

On another note I think people tend to make comparisons without considering all the variables. Or worse, compare vessels using statistics from different times of the war. I read one such review comparing a IJN Mogami versus a USN cruiser (I forget which one)

The comparison apparently used wikipedia stats, which seemed reasonably accurate. But the issue was that the Mogami's stats were from their launch. While the US ship used late war stats. With the additional radar, fire control systems, damage control gear and other systems fitted during the war the US cruiser, maybe a Northampton? Had an advantage that may have skewed the result.

Anyway that is more a general issue. The Wichita was a very good ship, even if IMHO she doesn't look as good as some. But it is why I tend not to take comparisons for much use.
 
My impression is that the main reason Wichita is so often overlooked is because she never engaged Axis naval forces in a real gunfight like a lot of the other pre-war American cruisers. Her only real surface actions were Casablanca gunning down Primaguet and the charging French 2nd Light and then at Cape Engano running down Ozawa's fleet with the other cruisers.

Pensacola, Salt Lake City, Northampton, Chicago, Portland, New Orleans, Astoria, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Quincy, Vincennes, Boise, Honolulu, Helena, Atlanta, Juneau, San Diego, and San Juan all participated in the major battles around Guadalcanal in October and November of 1942.

Chester, Louisville, Augusta, Indianapolis, Tuscaloosa, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Savannah, Nashville, Phoenix, St. Louis, Wichita, Cleveland, Columbia, Montpelier, and Denver did not. Almost all of the pre-war cruisers not in the Solomons were in the Atlantic, mostly with Torch, or in the Aleutians at the time. The last 4 are Cleveland-class light cruisers that were in work ups and transit at the time.

Louisville, Nashville, Wichita, Cleveland, Columbia, Montpelier, Denver did participate in other actions in the Solomons, including Rennell Island and Blackett Strait in early 1943.

Houston had already been sunk at Sunda Strait.

Wichita is unique among all of these ships because, as a unique design, it is the only class of pre-war American cruiser that did not see action in a major gun battle against serious enemy forces.
 
The French would beg to differ with Algerie. Same for the USN and USS Wichita.
I'd overlook USS Wichita becuae of the vagaries of naval gunfire. I would agree for example that when gun laying radar comes in that USS Wichita is a superior cruiser. Without gun laying radar I'd give it to the Zaras and the Japanese cruisers. Having a 4th turret is valuable for fire control compared to having 3.

For the Algerie I'd consider the Zaras more heavily armoured and faster.

That said its entirely possibly to argue that Wichita and Algerie are better because they fit the treaty limits.
 
Last edited:
What would the people here consider best class of Warship of each type (Submarine, Destroyer, Light Cruiser, Heavy Cruiser, Carrier, Battleship/Battlecruiser) (you can add more if you feel like it) of WW2? Both Early War and Late War (since if we consider the war in general they would be all late war ships (and almost entirely American, might still be tbh))

Similarly what would the perfect WW2 warship for each type look like? Mixing equipment and parts from all major participants. (US/UK AA, Radar and Sonar, mostly US guns but perhaps BB gun could be Italian (iirc Guns themselves were excellent but the shells were horrible) or British 15" guns. Maybe Japanese Long Lance torpedo. Planes would likely be mostly American but I am not sure if they would entirely be American.)

In both cases I imagine it would be mostly Allied but Axis would likely have some worthy additions.
For purposes of discussion it must fulfill the following criteria.
1. Be global in its oceanic application.
2. Fit the MAHANIC functions of sea denial and sea control.
3. Have historically demonstrated IN BATTLE the qualities of 1 and 2.
4. Have the overall general characteristics of seaworthiness, resistance to damage and integration into the era's naval combined arms matrix.

By these criteria, Russia, Germany and other landlubber powers need not apply. Nor should the overrated examples like the Iowas or the Mogamis or Towns or Yamatos be cited. They were not designed to efficiently fulfill 1 and 2 and they had had seriously shortcomings in 4.

So...

Dutch submarines and Italian MAS boats make the list. So do American destroyers (any class) and Italian light craft. No British subs I'm afraid and not the Type VII subs, either. The German boats were garbage. GATOs were the gold standard. Yorktowns and the South Dakotas, the Queen Elizabeths, the Leanders, the Clevelands, the Didos and the Northamptons met 1-4. YES; THE NORTHAMPTONS. They gave as good as they got.

LSTs and AKs, tankers like the Neosho. Flower class corvettes. Jeep carriers. Shōkaku class for fleet carriers.

Just some examples.

@Gokbay

The problem is the best for who? Each combatant would weigh the various factors differently, an ideal ship for Italy would lack the range that the US or Japan need for the Pacific, while US or Japanese ships might be too big for the USSR operating in the Baltic and Black Seas.
See my 1-4.

The same with the perfect Warship of each type. A heavy cruiser used according to Japanese doctrine is different than one used to American doctrine and has different requirements, and the British don't want to build them at all as they would much rather have lights under their doctrine. For each nation the perfect Heavy Cruiser would be different, a Japanese one would have lots of torpedoes and float planes, an American one more heavy guns and DP guns and a British one would be an 8,000 ton light cruiser because they don't want big cruisers at all
Japanese cruisers were built as anti-ship platforms with emphasis as scouts and night fighters in their pure battle role in the IJN attrite and decrease battle doctrine. By the proper criterion of sea use denial and control, these "battle oriented" ships failed. I mean USS San Francisco tore Hiei and Kirishima new ones. Admittedly USS Atlanta also got the same treatment from San Francisco, but that highlights even an Atlanta fulfills 1-4, just not as well as a Cleveland or a New Orleans,

================================================

When CVEs are blowing up Japanese heavy cruisers with their puny 5/38 popguns and the IJN cruisers cannot even execute a proper torpedo attack IN DAYLIGHT, then the type is not very good by ANY criteria.
 
For purposes of discussion it must fulfill the following criteria.
1. Be global in its oceanic application.
2. Fit the MAHANIC functions of sea denial and sea control.
3. Have historically demonstrated IN BATTLE the qualities of 1 and 2.
4. Have the overall general characteristics of seaworthiness, resistance to damage and integration into the era's naval combined arms matrix.

By these criteria, Russia, Germany and other landlubber powers need not apply. Nor should the overrated examples like the Iowas or the Mogamis or Towns or Yamatos be cited. They were not designed to efficiently fulfill 1 and 2 and they had had seriously shortcomings in 4.

So...

Dutch submarines and Italian MAS boats make the list. So do American destroyers (any class) and Italian light craft. No British subs I'm afraid and not the Type VII subs, either. The German boats were garbage. GATOs were the gold standard. Yorktowns and the South Dakotas, the Queen Elizabeths, the Leanders, the Clevelands, the Didos and the Northamptons met 1-4. YES; THE NORTHAMPTONS. They gave as good as they got.

LSTs and AKs, tankers like the Neosho. Flower class corvettes. Jeep carriers. Shōkaku class for fleet carriers.

Just some examples.

See my 1-4.


Japanese cruisers were built as anti-ship platforms with emphasis as scouts and night fighters in their pure battle role in the IJN attrite and decrease battle doctrine. By the proper criterion of sea use denial and control, these "battle oriented" ships failed. I mean USS San Francisco tore Hiei and Kirishima new ones. Admittedly USS Atlanta also got the same treatment from San Francisco, but that highlights even an Atlanta fulfills 1-4, just not as well as a Cleveland or a New Orleans,

================================================

When CVEs are blowing up Japanese heavy cruisers with their puny 5/38 popguns and the IJN cruisers cannot even execute a proper torpedo attack IN DAYLIGHT, then the type is not very good by ANY criteria.
Nice explanation, though somewhat shortsighted still.

The standard answer to the question: "What is the perfect Warship?" is simple: There is no perfect warship at all, as any sort of naval vessel, from the smallest boat to the largest nuclear powered aircraft carrier is a compromise of many requirements and some left out of it entirely to create a design capable of doing its thing to an acceptable level, but never extremely perfect as there always will be limitations on the ship and its crew.

As for the examples given these show the limitations of what circumstances can do on a theoretical good design for some special purpose, namely the IJN torpedo armed warships were certainly capable ships in doing a devastating strike, though this would depend on the skills of the crews and tactics used by the officers in command. The same can be said of the USN which had its good and bad things as well, namely good technical and electronic equipment, but poor leadership and quality in personel often countered these advantages, resulting in many unneeded losses in the early war years.

BTW, no CVE did blow up any cruiser or warship with its own mounted weapons ever in the war. It sole use to sink things was aircraft. They did use them to defend themselves with, but did nothing of any damage to an attacking ship. That was more something done by more proper designed fighting ships as DD's and DE's, not a merchant ship hull with a hangar and flightdeck.
 
Nice explanation, though somewhat shortsighted still.
Please explain.

The standard answer to the question: "What is the perfect Warship?" is simple: There is no perfect warship at all, as any sort of naval vessel, from the smallest boat to the largest nuclear powered aircraft carrier is a compromise of many requirements and some left out of it entirely to create a design capable of doing its thing to an acceptable level, but never extremely perfect as there always will be limitations on the ship and its crew.
Training, leadership and conditions of the evolution do apply. Captain Bode was a coward and he led Chicago to the rear during SAVO ISLAND, and it was surprise, and because of him that communications broke down and the northern force was not warned. It happens and the USN does not like to advertise chickenshit captains who poisoned a ship's culture and make something like USS Chicago a stain upon the USN's record; but First and Second Guadalcanal clearly proved that with the exceptions (Blue on Blue, San Francisco killed Atlanta and Norm Scott leaving the befuddled Callaghan in charge for the short while until he was killed.) that the USN was every bit the equal in fighting skill and BETTER in leadership than the incompetent Japanese who usually blundered into them. Only with Tanaka, Raizo do you find a Japanese admiral who was every bit the pest that the Bailiff of Malta was to the British in India, because HE is the reason the IJN has its undeserved reputation for night fighting prowess.

As for the examples given these show the limitations of what circumstances can do on a theoretical good design for some special purpose, namely the IJN torpedo armed warships were certainly capable ships in doing a devastating strike, though this would depend on the skills of the crews and tactics used by the officers in command. The same can be said of the USN which had its good and bad things as well, namely good technical and electronic equipment, but poor leadership and quality in personel often countered these advantages, resulting in many unneeded losses in the early war years.
Not at Java Sea.
Certainly not at Second Guadalcanal
Certainly not at Samar.

With torpedo hit %s no better than the USN in night actions and with far more torpedoes fired, the Type 93 was actually not any more effective as a ship killer than the Mark XV. And with all due respect, when you get into gunwale to gunwale range and throw fish and shells in a night brawl you are going to get a lot of ships killed. IJN and USN will lose equally. It is what the Americans wanted; one for one exchange. And they got what they wanted, and the Japanese lost the naval campaign. This was MAHAN at work. Funny thing is that British and Japanese historians still do not get it.

BTW, no CVE did blow up any cruiser or warship with its own mounted weapons ever in the war. It sole use to sink things was aircraft. They did use them to defend themselves with, but did nothing of any damage to an attacking ship. That was more something done by more proper designed fighting ships as DD's and DE's, not a merchant ship hull with a hangar and flightdeck.
Hornfischer, James D. (February 2004). The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour. Bantam. pp. 241, 353

USS White Plains vs. HIJMS Chokai. The Japanese claim HIJMS HARUNA set her on fire and blew her up, but Haruna was using 14 inch/45 AP shell, which did not have the right filler and which DID punch through the American tinclads without exploding, so I go with White Plains' plot party and trackers. It was not the torpedoes, it was the aviation stores and poor damage control.
 
By these criteria, Russia, Germany and other landlubber powers need not apply.
That's not the case, there are plenty of TLs where Britain has an army as powerful as any in Europe, and still leaves the vast majority of its budget for the navy. So it's certainly possible for a country to have a world-beating army while focusing on the navy, which fits land powers like Germany and Russia just fine. (This is certainly the case in ASB, but it happens on the normal forums as well.)

When CVEs are blowing up Japanese heavy cruisers with their puny 5/38 popguns and the IJN cruisers cannot even execute a proper torpedo attack IN DAYLIGHT, then the type is not very good by ANY criteria.
Anything sucks under enemy air superiority (except submarines), that shouldn't be held against a surface ship. (Though this does result in the logical conclusion that surface combatants are obsolete- if under enemy air superiority they'll lose no matter what, if under friendly air superiority then airpower will destroy any target for them, leaving them with nothing to do- which is borne out by OTL).
 
That's not the case, there are plenty of TLs where Britain has an army as powerful as any in Europe, and still leaves the vast majority of its budget for the navy. So it's certainly possible for a country to have a world-beating army while focusing on the navy, which fits land powers like Germany and Russia just fine. (This is certainly the case in ASB, but it happens on the normal forums as well.
How did Tirpitz, Raeder, Doenitz, and Gorshkov do again? If you do not understand seapower, your investment into a "botched" navy, because you got Mahan wrong, is flushing irreplaceable marks and rubles down the loo.

Anything sucks under enemy air superiority (except submarines), that shouldn't be held against a surface ship. (Though this does result in the logical conclusion that surface combatants are obsolete- if under enemy air superiority they'll lose no matter what, if under friendly air superiority then airpower will destroy any target for them, leaving them with nothing to do- which is borne out by OTL).
That depends. How did the USN do off Guadalcanal and later Okinawa? How did the RN running convoys to Malta and later do off the Falklands? How did the Indian Navy do off Karachi? Air superiority is "squishy". Surface combatants are still kind of important.
 
Top