Best British battlefleet for ww1

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Hood, Jul 7, 2019.

  1. steamboy Well-Known Member

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    The Japanese were also looking at the example of Tishuma, where a few knots advantage over the Russians let them control the battle uttlery as Fourthmaninaboat said.
     
  2. Dorknought Well-Known Member

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    Evidence of the Russian Ismail BC threat and QE fast BB trend pushed Japanese speed requirements.
     
  3. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    My understanding is that the Shell quality issue was known before the war, at least to a certain degree, and was being worked on (IIRC by Jellicoe of all people!) But jobs changed, people were promoted and competing needs on people and resources put this on the back burner.

    So a massive POD is not needed to make some small changes here - perhaps a greater concern over said quality of shells

    After all it was only at Dogger Bank that engagements were conducted at such ranges ie extreme ranges of each fleets guns and said shells were hitting at a greater angle than previously expected.
     
  4. NHBL Long Time Member, CMII

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    Speed is important tactically, and can be very different from speed in a strategic sense. A 20 knot ship with huge bunkers can run at high speed for days and arrive at its destination sooner, whereas the 30 knot battlecruiser may be limited to the North Sea and vicinity due to short legs. Range is a BIG concern, as is reliability. 30 knot engines that work when they want to aren't as useful as 25 knots that work consistently.
    Short legs aren't necessarily a drawback, depending on the mission. A Baltic Battleship or the Austro-Hungarian navy can afford short range. Britain has bases everywhere, but has to send ships anywhere and everywhere at the drop of a hat, so its ships need a good range. The USA liked very long range ships.

    Keep things like this in mind when contemplating your ideal navy.
     
  5. Stenz Don't judge the past by the standards of today... Monthly Donor

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    The only thing I can think of is some kind of pre-WWI incident where the RN realise the defects of their shells due to an inquiry. I have no idea what incident would produce this outcome, the RN wasn’t really involved in such conflicts between Dreadnought and WWI (that I can find, that is), so it requires some TL bending. Unless any second nation used British naval artillery and shells in the same period?
     
  6. James Ricker Own your mistakes

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    If the Royal Navy gets wind early of some of the German super dreadnoughts a program might be implemented in order to keep the 12 inch gunned vessels competitive. Battleships and battle cruisers were expensive and was in the best interest of the royal Navy to keep them competitive with foreign ships for as long as possible.
     
  7. Derek Pullem Butterfly Killer

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    The USN spent the 1920's telling everyone they were scared - especially if they were on the appropriations committee. The battlecruisers were a solution to a problem that did not exist. Even the one success they can claim to have delivered - defeating von Spee's raider - could have been done with existing cruisers. If the British hadn't built them then the Germans would have concentrated on increasing the battle line.

    I guess you could argue that by building battlecruisers the British forced Germany to build them too - which they could not really afford to do. A bit like the argument of how Reagan beat the Soviets by forcing them into an arms race they could not win.

    But if the RN is going to maximise its effectiveness for the money spent then they should be focusing on battleships and fast battleships.
     
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  8. NHBL Long Time Member, CMII

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    If Minas Gerias and Sao Paulo had occasion to shoot at something in the time leading up to the war, then the unreliability of the shells might come out. (Or the self-assure British might decide that the Brazilians did something wrong.)
     
  9. Dorknought Well-Known Member

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    They knew in target practice that aiming just before the target caused shells to shatter when hitting the water and then the fragments caused more holes in the target and a greater score. It was cheating but someone could go '...wait a minute'.
     
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  10. fourthmaninaboat Well-Known Member

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    The battlecruisers offered a tactical capability that had been desired for years before Invincible entered service. Having a fast wing that could outflank the enemy's line or pursue a retreating enemy, was incredibly useful. Similarly, the ability to blind the enemy's scouts and support your own was hugely important. British tactical thinkers in the 1890s strongly desired such a unit, and had identified the armoured cruiser as one possibility for this. Samuel Long, writing in 1893, would argue "it is possible first-class or battle-cruisers may be attached to fleets to play the part assigned by Lord Howe to his fast-sailing battle-ships on May 28, 1794", while the 1901 manoeuvres showed that armoured cruisers "should be utilised for attacking the van and rear of the enemy from the very commencement
    of the engagement". The battlecruiser was an adaption of this concept to the new context created by Dreadnought, and it worked well. While the British battlecruisers suffered losses at Jutland, they did manage to prevent the Germans from scouting effectively. By preventing Hipper from clearing off the British light cruisers, they also allowed Goodenough to locate Scheer, letting Jellicoe cross Scheer's T. The losses suffered by the British battlecruisers were caused by poor ammunition procedures rather than by any failure inherent to their designs, and as such I think it's fair to say that Jutland showed that the battlecruiser concept worked well. Fast battleships could perform the fast wing part of the battlecruiser role, but could not effectively win the scouting battle because they were too slow, as were existing cruisers. A direct 'dreadnought armoured cruiser', like Blucher, could do it, but, as Dogger Bank showed, couldn't compete against a battlecruiser. This is why the USN wanted battlecruisers, why they put so much effort into the Lexingtons, and why USN wargames showed that the RN battlefleet had an advantage.
     
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  11. Derek Pullem Butterfly Killer

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    The scouting battle was an anachronism that never really resulted in any significant gains for the scouts. Lighter vessels and later on Zeppelins and aircraft (and eventually radar) would make it redundant.

    It is enlightening to realise your examples of the perceived wisdom from wargames are prior to the deployment of large numbers of torpedo boats and submarines - both of which would make pursuing an enemy fleet very dangerous.

    Jellicoe's crossing of Scheer's "T" was due mostly to a strategic failure in German intelligence and a strategic success in British intelligence - it wasn't down to the battlecruiser squadron's eyes. Scheer never expected them to sortie in time. The British battlecruisers were too busy pretending to be battleships and failing.
     
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  12. steamboy Well-Known Member

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    With the technology of the time it made sense. If you could deny the enemy the spotting of your fleet and formation whilst being able to do the same for your fleet then it had HUGE strategic and tactical implications. One of Jutland's effects was that with so many of their light cruisers sunk at Jutland, the German fleet largely lost its 'eyes' and would have been out numbered by RN cruisers.

    In a pre radar or reliable air flight era, the battle between scouts could swing a battle one way or the other when the main fleets clash.
     
  13. Derek Pullem Butterfly Killer

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    Ignoring the 8 armoured cruisers the RN fleet still had a 2.5:1 advantage in light cruisers prior to the battle. The KM light cruiser losses were in the most part not down to the battlecruisers but accidents and other RN light forces.
     
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  14. fourthmaninaboat Well-Known Member

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    This is true to some extent; aircraft and radar did make the scouting battle irrelevant. But effective scouting aircraft and radar were a good 20-30 years in the future when the battlecruiser was designed. We don't have that many examples of fleet actions from the relevant period - it's basically just Jutland and Tsushima. At Tsushima, the Russians did not attempt to fight a scouting action, and hence had their T crossed. At Jutland, the Germans lost the scouting action, and hence had their T crossed.

    Submarines in this period were too slow to effectively participate in fleet actions, and this was generally recognised by all the major navies in WWI. Most navies investigated the concept of a submarine capable of operating with the fleet, with all failing to produce such a craft; the closest were the British K class we've discussed elsewhere. The quotes I used came from 1893 and 1901; in the former, I'll admit torpedo boats were scarce, but in 1901, torpedo-carrying craft were common. By 1901, the RN had commissioned some 108 destroyers and ~150 torpedo boats. This still didn't change the wisdom of the time. Note that the Japanese used their armoured cruisers in the battleline at Tsushima. The Queen Elizabeth class were intended to complement the battlecruisers in forming a fast wing, to perform the same role with the fleet, including pursuing a retreating enemy.


    Strategic intelligence could let commanders know whether or not the enemy was out, but it couldn't give the detailed information needed to cross the enemy's T; that had to come from tactical intelligence gained by scouting. Scouting could also counteract failures of strategic intelligence. While Scheer didn't know Jellicoe was out, he could have found out if his light cruisers had been allowed to scout. Similarly, while Jellicoe knew Scheer was out, he did not know Scheer's location or course, both of which he needed to know to cross Scheer's T. He was only able to find these out through scouting from Goodenough's light cruisers; these were only able to do their jobs because Hipper's battlecruisers were being pushed back by Beatty's. Beatty's battlecruisers never tried to be battleships. They pursued Hipper's battlecruisers, then, once they encountered Scheer's fleet, withdrew towards Jellicoe, pursued by both Hipper and Scheer. Hood's squadron screened Beatty's withdrawal towards Jellicoe and prevented German light cruisers scouting Jellicoe's force.

    This is true, but this is because Beatty's battlecruisers were busy preventing Hipper's battlecruisers hammering the RN light force (though Wiesbaden's loss was mainly due to damage she sustained from Invincible). Had Hipper's battlecruisers not been there, then the German light cruisers would have been wiped out by the RN's battlecruisers and light cruisers. Similarly, the British cruisers, despite their numerical strength, would not have done so well if Beatty hadn't been present.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
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  15. steamboy Well-Known Member

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    The ACR's shouldn't have been there. By that point they were obsolete ships and didn't have the margain of speed needed to do their original role of acting as heavy scouts or as adjuncts to the Battle fleet. And as Forthman said, if the RN didn't have battlecruisers there and the Germans did, then the RN scouts would have suffered heavier losses and been pushed back. The German light cruisers were roughly handled by smaller ships (for the most part) because the Battlecruisers were too busy fighting.

    In a pre-radar, pre flight era, the side who wins the scouting battle in a major fleet clash has a lot of advantages so BC's make sense in this regard. ACR's were now too slow to do their original jobs and you needed a faster ship to sink hostile scouting elements whilst keeping the enemy from spotting your fleet. If you've got ships that can kill light cruisers (because no CL wants to be slapped with a 12-inch shell) and can run down and gun down armoured cruisers as well, then you've immediately got an advantage over the enemy.
     
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  16. Derek Pullem Butterfly Killer

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    Yes but the questions was not were battlecruisers useful but was the best RN battlefleet. To argue that battlecruisers were good because otherwise the German battlecruisers would have free reign is kind of missing the point that the reason why the Germans had battlecruisers was that the British built them first.

    The "Queens" fast battleship designs and the heavier German battlecruiser designs proved far superior to the lightly built RN battlecruisers. A wing of 8 "Queens" would have been better than the nine BCs and 4 QE of our time line.
     
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  17. NHBL Long Time Member, CMII

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    Without the battlecruisers, I feel confident that there would have been a new generation of armored cruisers, continuing the 8 to 10 " main armament, but with a better layout and turbines--essentially the same concept, but with cruiser guns. The internal battle then becomes how many vs how big?

    Note that the German navy got battlecruisers funded because they came out of the navy laws' allotment of cruisers, not battleships. Thus, the Germans still have an incentive to build Large Cruisers that are essentially fast battleships.
     
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  18. fourthmaninaboat Well-Known Member

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    Fisher was not unique in pushing for battlecruisers; the Kaiser had ideas along similar lines, though he didn't have as much influence as Fisher did. The battlecruiser was a natural follow-on from the large armoured cruisers, and it's likely that some other navy would have built them had the RN not.

    The Queen Elizabeths were good, but were too slow to actually perform the battlecruiser's scouting role, and weren't available until 1915. The advantage of the German battlecruisers over the British is illusory. Yes, the RN lost three battlecruisers at Jutland, but the loss of all three was down to carelessness with cordite. The losses would have happened in the same way, no matter how heavily armoured the British BCs were, as long as the same set of munitions procedures were followed; German battlecruisers suffered turret fires at a similar rate to British ones, but the British ones exploded because there was more loose cordite, flash protections were disregarded, and British cordite was less stable than the German RPC/12 propellant. The German ships, meanwhile, proved to be far more vulnerable to flooding than the British ships. The Indefatigables were wrong-headed, though. It would have been better for the RN to build ships closer to Lions with 12in guns, rather than stretched Invincibles. The bigger ships might have been more expensive, but two of these 12in Lions would be better than three Indefatigables.
     
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  19. steamboy Well-Known Member

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    Aye thats the problem, ACR's were pretty much at the end of their development cycle. Lets say the RN made the I's as the Germans thought they would with a broadside of 8 x 9.2's on a fast 26 - 27 knot hull and the Blucher is their answer. It's only logical that the answer to this would have 12-inch or bigger guns and then you end out with Battlecruisers either way.
     
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  20. Jellico Well-Known Member

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    I thought the shell issue was a war time thing. Expanding production faster then QA could keep up with.