Best British battlefleet for ww1

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

  1. naraic Well-Known Member

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    Little of column a, little of column b. The figures below are unsourced (I've probably seen a source somewhere but I couldn't tell you where and it may be just an example).

    The prewar and early war shells on active vessels were OK (50/50). The The prewar and early War shells on reserve vessels were mainly spoiled by age.

    The mid war (say Jutland) shells were rather poor (30/70).

    The late war greenboy shells were great quality (70/30)
     
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  2. Killer in Well-Known Member

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    So if I had to build a Battleline for the RN I'd go for mostly the otl ships up to and including the Dukes, they're good ships and the needed to develop the concept, to a 2 year programme of 4 QE's a piece maybe with some Dominion funding. Have the Invincibles built to solely focus on anti scouting duties. perhaps even assign them to the Harwich Force once the later BCs come into service. Try and design a Tiger esque Lion earlier and build at least 3-4 of them. With no R's being built to convert to Renowns the follow on ships will need to be based on the QEs which with the ever increasing desire for more speed will likely lead to a Hood like ship by mid war.
     
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  3. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

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    Sure about that?
    I thought the German ships had far better pumping capacity

    example, SMS Seydlitz
    [​IMG]
    with over 5200 tons of water, barely able to pump out what was coming in from many large holes, but able to get back to base under her own power
     
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  4. Spencersj345.346 Well-Known Member

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    The Germans did love the ability to keep their ships afloat even at the expense of keeping them in the fight. After all a damaged ship can be repaired which is very important when you are already significantly outnumbered.
     
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  5. michael1 Well-Known Member

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    So my tuppence worth...

    Firstly the basic battle fleet was pretty good for what it was designed for, being let down mostly in details that were missed under the time pressure of the naval arms race. The major flaw was in British armour piercing shells, both offensively and defensively as their poor performance affected the amount and distribution of armour in British ships.

    Aside from shells and speeding up the installation of director firing, I think the main issue is around battlecruisers and the knock on effect on the scouting force. Battlecruisers were the merger of a number of lines of thought, Fisher's focus on speed and gunpower, the longstanding desire both to overmatch foreign navies through building individually better ships rather than relying on numbers and for cruisers a few knots fast and around the same size as the battleships. Foreign navies were building 10inch cruisers and the British looked at a 25knot cruiser with an all 10 inch armament to go alongside the dreadnought, then it was noticed that going to 12 inches wouldn't actually increase costs very much while dramatically increasing offensive firepower. Superior British gunnery (director firing etc) meant that it wouldn't need an increase in armour, especially if it only faced 8-10inch guns. The flaw in the argument (in my opinion) was a failure to look ahead, other nations would follow suit in armament and technology plus the temptation was always to use them against battleships as a fast wing, both mean better protection would be needed, dramatically increasing the cost and reducing the numbers of cruisers. Unlike other nations Britain needed numbers of cruisers for overseas patrol and couldn't really sacrifice quantity for quality, something it took into account after WW1. The natural end point was 3 types of ship: a small cruiser C/D/E, a large cruiser (Hawkins), and a fast Battleship (Hood) if it was really felt necessary. The problem with this was that British cruisers would probably have been individually inferior to a few select foreign cruisers and this mattered for prestige, which was very important before the war, but I'd be willing to accept this.
     
  6. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

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    An earlier adoption of the all or nothing armor scheme could have worked wonders for the British battlecruisers. They still wouldn't be fully balanced designs, but they would be much better protected over their vitals. And unlike OTL, they might actually have an immune zone against their own guns. It's likely to be small, but it would be there.
     
  7. fourthmaninaboat Well-Known Member

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    German ships were more vulnerable to flooding because they had more bulkhead penetrations than the British ships, and their pumping capability was generally worse. They also had more torpedo flats; flooding of these large compartments, below the waterline, was exceptionally dangerous. British ships were much better at stopping the spread of water. Derfflinger took one-two hits below the waterline (sources differ), which admitted some 2,330 tons of water; another 1,020 tons were intentionally brought aboard to keep her on an even keel. She was in real danger of foundering. Von Der Tann took a single shell hit which caused ~1,000 tons of flooding. Seydlitz might well not have survived had the weather been worse, had she had a longer distance to travel, or had pumping steamers not been available at Wilhelmshaven. Marlborough, for comparison, was struck by a torpedo, which destroyed 28 feet of hull plating. Damage control was able to keep the flooding confined to a single in-board compartment, and her pumps were able to control the flooding without the need for counter-flooding. Tiger had one waterline hit, and her after 6in magazine was flooded as a precaution against fire. Her pumps were entirely able to control the influx of water, though they could not clear the flooded compartments. Every British capital ship that suffered flooding was able to control it, and return to base under her own power as well.
     
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  8. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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    If only HMS Camapania had got the message and sailed with the Grand Fleet. Her Short 184's could have finished Seydlitz off with a Torpedo strike.
     
  9. michael1 Well-Known Member

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    This is something I was somewhat hinting at, I think the relative ineffectiveness of British armour piercing shells lead the British to emphasis the danger of HE or semi-AP riddling a ship and rendering it combat ineffective due to flooding and general damage, so all or nothing protection wasn't adopted (although short expected combat ranges may have played a role too).

    On the other hand, I don't think there is any possibility of shielding even guns and magazines against 12 inch guns without a significant increase in size & cost, never mind engines etc. Given the choice between shielding some parts against their own guns but leaving huge vulnerabilities to even 4 inch guns or all or nothing against say 8 inch guns I'd take the latter.
     
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  10. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps a devastating friendly fire incident where a 13.5" armed ship accidently hits another RN ship and the major take away is 'is that all it did?' as the Shell inflicts less damage than they would have expected which leads to some more tests on a soon to be decommissioned Pre Dread which confirms their lordships worst fears.
     
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  11. Jellico Well-Known Member

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    All or Nothing vs graduated armor is a tricky subject best argued by people smarter, with better books than me. It basically boils down to whether your enemy has a competent AP round.


    In 1920 AoN makes more sense. Shell size has moved up to 16". The Germans and British have effective AP shells. That is hard to stop. It is coming in at steeper angles meaning you have to armor wide decks rather than short belts. Ships are getting bigger to carry bigger guns. This all means heavier armor weights. AoN becomes a highly attractive option.

    In 1910 not so much. Good AP shells are hard to find. I think only the Germans have one. I keep seeing the quote that the thickest armor penetration at Jutland was 9". YMMV. But for most of WWI it still seems getting an AP shell through armor in a condition to explode is problematic. That means you can armor against it with thinner armor making the older scheme more attractive. Throw in shorter ranged combat and more exposure to lighter rounds and you can see why they were using it.

    It was a bit of a light bulb moment for me when I realized all those older ships would have been downgraded to second line duties as a natural part of their life cycle in a non-WNT world. Going AoN in a 1910 ship doesn't necessarily help and may even be a hindrance. It becomes a benefit in the 20s if the armor, especially on the decks, is thick enough.


    Adding a thought. AoN on cruisers might not be a bad idea. The WWI experience was of short ranged knife fights. This basically informed armor scheme of the Counties which was a form of AoN.
     
  12. RodentRevolution Chewer of Wires

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    The issue prior to and it is probably more 1916 than 1920, is not with the armour or armouring but with the subcompartmentation and other damage control supporting it. Once that the concepts for that is learned then AON makes a lot of sense but I think it would take a while for designers to have that right and longer still to be sure of it.
     
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  13. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

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    Except the USN went all or nothing starting with the Nevada class in 1911. In a fleet action, the big boys are worried about two things: heavy caliber (12"+) AP rounds, and torpedoes. Smaller caliber rounds (5-8") can hurt, but they can't kill you. A 14" shell could kill. And in testing, it was realised that intermediate thickness armor did nothing to stop heavy caliber shells from penetrating. And in fact, actually made the damage sustained worse, as all the armor accomplished was to trigger the fuse in the AP shell. Battleships are not going to be firing HE rounds at other battleships. So there was no reason to defend against those. And in theory, the lighter forces (cruisers and destroyers) were supposed to keep the enemy light forces away from your own battleline, so no real reason to defend against small caliber rounds either.

    As you said, it's a complicated issue. But for me, I think all or nothing really would have been the better option for the big gun ships. Mainly for two reasons: one, you have to assume that your enemy is competent and has a reliable AP shell that can penetrate thinner armor. And two, when your primary mission is to engage other battleships, you need to armor against them, not against lighter forces that may slip through. Again, because while a 6" or 8" hit will hurt, it can't kill a battleship. Not without the mother of all Golden BBs (I'm talking falling through an open hatch levels of luck here).
     
  14. MatthewB Well-Known Member

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    IMO, the British had the ideal battlefleet for the job of tackling the HSF and blockading Germany. What they needed was better intelligence and recon, plus better coordination between ships. Wireless between ships, and RFC/FAA aerial recon with wireless reporting are a must.

    The Handley Page Type O of 1915 had a range of 700 mi, 1,120 km. The flight from Aberdeen to Jutland and back is about 440 mi (700 km). https://www.distance.to/Aberdeen,Aberdeenshire,Scotland,GBR/Esbjerg,Syddanmark,DNK

    We thus need to increase the fuel load, lighten the aircraft by removing the armament, while adding a wireless set. Perhaps this is the beginning of the RFC or FAA Coastal Command?


    [​IMG]
     
  15. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

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    Even stripping the aircraft down to the bare minimum needed for flight will not counterbalance the weight of adding a wireless set. In 1915, wireless radios were heavy. And the airborne sets were of dubious reliability and range. Adding a wireless radios would, in all likelihood, reduce the range.
     
  16. WaterproofPotatoes #TeamMahan

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    Here, admittedly, I'm aiming for a few happy accidents, so they turn out right even if not necessarily for the right reasons.

    For the light cruisers, the increased size would also make them better scouts- they would be better able to ride out heavy weather, fire their guns in worse seas, and have longer endurance for patrols. That would also give a better base to build an Imperial service trade protection cruiser out of.

    The Hawkins, as you mentioned, already has an analogue, but the formula works if one sticks to it.

    As for the destoyers, if higher-performance machinery had been trialed earlier, I'm hoping it would have made it possible to get the V and W classes even a year or two earlier.
     
  17. MatthewB Well-Known Member

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    I thought that might be contrarian bait, but every barrier you've just put up can be overcome in time for Jutland or before with WW1-era British tech.

    If we're looking for the best battlefleet, then I want the RNAS to begin designing for the heavier than air, long range, land-based, wireless-enabled reconnaissance role in 1914 or before.
     
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  18. Stenz Don't judge the past by the standards of today... Monthly Donor

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    In April 1915, Captain J.M. Furnival was the first person to hear a voice from the ground from Major Prince who said, "If you can hear me now, it will be the first time speech has ever been communicated to an aeroplane in flight." In June 1915, the world's first air-to-ground voice transmission took place at Brooklands, England over about 20 miles. Ground-to-air was initially by Morse code, but it is believed 2-way voice communications were available and installed by July 1915. By early 1916, the Marconi Company (England) started production of air-to-ground radio transmitters/receivers which were used in the war over France.
    In 1917, AT&T invented the first American air-to-ground radio transmitter. They tested this device at Langley Field in Virginia and found it was a viable technology. In May 1917, General George Squier of the U.S. Army Signal Corps contacted AT&T to develop an air-to-ground radio with a range of 2,000 yards. By July 4 of that same year, AT&T technicians achieved two-way communication between pilots and ground personnel. This allowed ground personnel to communicate directly with pilots using their voices instead of Morse code. Though few of these devices saw service in the war, they proved this was a viable and valuable technology worthy of refinement and advancement.

    Wiki page on Aviation Communication

    Not too heavy to stop it happening, OTL. If it was done OTL, with an ATL greater emphasis, there's not reason to not suppose it will be better quicker.
     
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  19. WaterproofPotatoes #TeamMahan

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    Would you consider flying boats as well? They're big, rugged, and don't require carriers or airfields near the coast. You could also modify and put an obsolete armoured/protected cruiser into service as a flying boat tender.

    This is the Felixtowe F.5 in May 1918. It would go on to serve in the RN, USN and IJN. Hundreds were built in Britain, USA, Japan and Canada. It could carry up to 920lb of bombs, so surely a wireless set could be squeezed in.

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

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    The AP problem was twofold, being able to penetrate without breaking up(the RN problem), and once thru the armor, a delay before the bursting charge goes off.

    So when Taffy-3 was getting pounded, the IJN had misidentified them as cruisers, and were tossing AP at them.
    They would make a large size hole, thru and through, not enough resistance to set the delay burning.
    That is what all or nothing does for you for in the battleline, AP makes holes without exploding.

    The British knew since 1910 with HMS Edinburgh used as a gunnery target that the AP with Lyddite filling was defective. Jellicoe wanted changes, but was not done.
     
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