Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by sts-200, Aug 10, 2019.
Well he preferred Renown (1895)'s 10" to the standard 12" of the time.
Unsurprising, considering those 10" guns had equivalent penetration and range for much less weight and somewhat more rate of fire. Of course, by then the Majestics were hitting the water, and their 12" guns were wholly superior.
Rate of fire mattered a lot for the period where fire control was (even more) bad and the choice was either "slow and inaccurate" or "fast and inaccurate".
Swinging it back on topic
So all things considered with a huge dose of hindsight, I am not all that worried about a bunch of under armored battle cruisers. Some may go bang, but for the most part the RN battleships overwhelm the German ships in number and control the North Sea. The BCs are not a war changing problem. The fun starts post war.
In the age of AirPower..?
And the massive improvement in Submarines and Torpedoes. Can't imagine them having much in the way of Torpedo Bulges.
Win or lose the Brits will finish the war with a number of big, war worn, BC hulls. You can look to R&R to get an idea of the kind of service they will provide over the next 20-30 years. There is a question over whether or not the Admirals happen. There is a question over the ratio of BCs to BBs post war. Then there are conversions which is potentially a mess. Every man and his dog seemed to get bulged from the middle of WW1 so it doesn't seem to be a huge issue.
Post war something like a G3 is going to happen. Fast BBs are nearly nearly technologically possible. The trend to gargantuan single ships is clear. OTOH the N3 shows the slow battleship is not quite finished because of the jump in tactical combat power available. Say 1930 before the fast BB is locked in.
Air power is basically scouting till the mid 30s. So an aircraft carrier has some overlap with the BC in role, but you still need a big fast ship to finish the job. Inconveniently expensive for all involved.
So ignoring treaties there are two big technological changes maturing in the 30s. That leaves a decade where the BCs will be gainfully employed then hopefully sent into reserve. See HMS Tiger. OTOH potential treaties can mess all of that up and leave them operating longer than originally intended (see any capital ship starting with "HMS R"). Especially in the case of Fisher's disposable wartime only ships.
And those disposable wartime ships are also going to be the newest and most recent hulls...
With the biggest guns too...
So, more modern Monitors and fleet carriers for the RN, yeah?
Not a problem if they are allowed to be disposed of and replaced gracefully.
Problem if there is a Treaty saying that they have to be held onto.
And if there is a Treaty and the OTL is any indication the RN will be more inclined to hang onto BBs than BCs which in turn suggests carrier conversions. I am not sure if that is a good thing for the first generation of trainer wheel carriers. That 14" ship has Almirante Cochrane written all over it.
One view of Fisher's dictum that speed is armour is born out of his belief that by 1905 the heavy naval guns available could defeat any armour, so there was no point building heavily armoured (& slower) ships. His battlecruisers were designed to replace the battleship as THE capital ship. Reading Sumida's In Defence of Naval Supremacy and this is part of his preface, so hoping to uncover more as I go.
This is the same philosophy that surrounded tank design in the "HEAT Age" in the early-mid Cold War.
Pretty much what happens OTL!
Indeed not - I was merely making the point that everyone had problems (self-induced or otherwise). Don't lets forget that Dreadnought herself had problems - she completed a bit on the heavy side and her main belt was almost completely submerged.
As you rightly say, a half-blind designer and building the last ship in a yard that had never built anything larger than a destroyer puts the Austrians (or the Hungarians in that case) in a league of their own!
Its pretty much what happen to Lion at Jutland ... but as you say, lets not get bogged down in who killed who...
You'll be pleased to know I do intend to continue the story post-war, so you'll have to wait and see...
However, bear in mind that in reality battleships were sort-of frozen in 1917/18(ish), and didn't really get moving again for many years -i.e. Hood, Colorado, Nagato etc. were still the 'state of the art', even in 1935. Meanwhile, aircraft steadily improved, even if they were starting from scratch.
If battleships didn't get stuck in the dark ages for 15 years, they might change too.
The underwater menace is very real and an immediate threat. Bulging a battlecruiser (or other 'fast ship') is certainly possible. That's one thing Fisher and his designers got right (in reality) with R&R and the Follies - they were the first fast ships with built-in torpedo bulges. Those bulges weren't good enough, but the thinking was there, and it was developed further in Hood, which had excellent underwater protection (for the time, of course).
So long as they're fast, well armed Monitors... you know, Fisheresque 'large Monitors'.
... and 'fleet carriers' ... well, I suppose the most forward-thinking Admirals might see the importance of a carrier that can keep up with the fleet.
Queen Elizabeth’s spotters had noted the severe damage to Tegetthoff and she was continuing steady fire even as Inflexible burst into flames ahead. Admiral Robeck’s flagship had the range, and a further hit wrecked Tegethoff’s A turret. In return, the second Austrian ship, the Viribus Unitis was firing at her, and a seam opened near Queen Elizabeth’s steering gear as a shell exploded just short of the ship. Unitis herself was under fire from Dante Aligheiri, and her forward barbette defeated an Italian 12” shell (although crew messes beside it were burnt out), while another hit ruined damage control efforts aft, resulting in further flooding through splinter holes and damaged seams.
As Inflexible’s firing had ceased and the British ship was blanketed in smoke, Admiral Njegovan signalled Tegetthoff to switch targets towards the more powerful Italian dreadnought. However, he received no immediate reply, and there was little sign of any significant fire from Tegetthoff, who by this stage had only two main guns left notionally operation, inside a smoke-filled turret. Njegovan’s flagship was still fighting, although with only eight guns still in action, each firing slower than before.
Queen Elizabeth's starboard forward secondary battery was destroyed at 1443 by a 12” shell which set fire to numerous charges and burned out adjacent messes. However the guns were only sporadically in action, and her fighting ability was therefore largely unaffected.
Almost simultaneously, something happened to Tegetthoff's rudder. A shell explosion aft bent plating, flooding several small compartments around the steering gear. Although the rudder was amidships at the time, distortion or the shock of the explosion caused the ship to start to turn to port, towards the Allied ships. Astern, the flagship saw her starting to turn, but Njegovan’s signals went unanswered as smoke from Tegetthoff’s fires obscured the view, and her command crew were preoccupied. The Austrian Admiral had a choice to try to protect the damaged ship by following her turn, or he could attempt to escape. Guessing that she was out of command, or had rudder damage, he made the ignoble, but correct, decision to pass behind her and head for the relative safety of the coast.
As Tegetthoff turned out of control toward the British and cleared the smoke of her own fires, Inflexible had slowed and was clearly down by the bow. Queen Elizabeth had to turn to avoid her, and as she passed by on the engaged side, Inflexible started to turn to port, away from the enemy.
As they passed, Admiral De Robeck and the observers on Queen Elizabeth probably had a better idea of Inflexible’s condition than her own crew. A signal was sent by lamp, telling her to break off action, but with no power to the bridge and the flag halliards burned to cinders, her Captain could make no reply. Smoke was pouring from everywhere along front of the ship, and efforts to re-establish command from aft were still underway. No-one could get below the upper deck anywhere forward of the second funnel, and a Stoker who had been ordered to make his way aft and up through the engine room vents reported that a stokehold fire in No.2 Boiler Room had been extinguished, but that there were leaks through the forward bulkhead.
Just after three o’clock, the battle entered its final deadly phase, as Queen Elizabeth had closed the enemy (partly to avoid Inflexible) and was pounding the slowing Tegetthoff. She was soon hit twice astern, adding to the heavy damage from previous shells and the magazine fire. Bulkheads were riddled, and water started to leak forward into shaft passages and the port engine room. As her list increased and she continued to turn around, a 15” shell ripped open coal bunkers to starboard that were normally below the waterline (ironically, probably saving her from imminent capsize). Another hit finally jammed B turret and shrapnel went through more bulkheads aft, letting flooding slowly spread along the ship.
Viribus Unitis had been shooting at Aligheiri with ever-diminishing effects. As she passed behind the clouds of smoke from her sister-ship, she had no choice but to cease fire as her targets were lost to view. She was down by the stern, but was still able to maintain 16 knots, and Admiral Njegovan hoped to slip away into a nearby squall and reach shelter behind one of the inshore islands.
However, De Robeck and Queen Elizabeth’s Captain had other ideas. After signalling the Aligheiri to finish off the Tegetthoff, the British fast battleship accelerated to close the range, and as soon as she had a clearer view, she switched to firing at the Austrian flagship. Two of her 17-hundredweight shells exploded on Unitis’ belt, driving plates inward but failing to penetrate, before a third punched through the forward belt and exploded just inside. Water flooded into the capstan engine compartment and the forward torpedo room. The ship had been down by the stern, but was soon back on an even keel; although much lower in the water than before.
To avoid certain destruction, Njegovan ordered his destroyers to attack the Queen Elizabeth. Tatra and Dukla responded and soon passed ahead and behind the flagship, heading straight for the enemy.
Several miles astern, the demolition of Tegetthoff was underway. Her armoured conning tower was penetrated by a 12” shell, and other hits by from Aligheiri wrecked the few secondary guns she had left. She sank lower and heeled to port as fires raged across her battery deck. By 1515, her engines were still turning, but she was barely making way. All her turrets were out of action and most of the command officers were dead or wounded. She was helpless.
There was no formal order to abandon ship, although the increasing list and the silence from her own guns told her crew what they needed to know. At 1520, waves were washing onto her quarterdeck and she was ablaze ‘from stem to stern’, in the words of the British liaison officer aboard the Aligheiri.
Ahead, Queen Elizabeth had no choice but to turn away. Her secondary battery was damaged, and only two 6” guns could engage the enemy destroyers.
Since she first spotted the Austrians, the armoured cruiser HMS Drake had been ordered to stay out of the way of the vastly more powerful battleships. However, with Inflexible clearly in trouble, she had been attempting to close on the flagship during her pursuit of the Unitis. The cruiser’s old engines hadn’t allowed her to catch up, but now she tried to assist by firing at the destroyers from near the maximum range of her 6” guns. Even so, only the upper four of her casemate guns could engage, as the lower four were washed out by the swell.
Faced with the imminent threat of torpedoes, Queen Elizabeth had trained her main armament on the destroyers and had turned almost due west to avoid them. The two little Austrian ships charged on, until Tatra was hit by a 6” shell that burst open plating near her bow. A second shell passed through the bridge and exploded just behind, killing half of the crew there. Her Torpedo Officer assumed command, but he could see it was hopeless to continue. The ship was slowing and now severely down by the bow, as vast columns of water thundered up around him; the results of 15” shells striking the sea close by. Dukla fared a little better, as she made it into torpedo range and launched two of her 53cm weapons towards the British ship, before fire caught her as she turned, wrecking the aft 10cm gun and shattering her steam pipes amidships. Rapidly slowing, she tried to limp away, but was caught by Drake’s fire and was reduced to a sinking wreck within minutes.
Nevertheless, the bravery of the destroyers’ crews had bought Viribus Unitis the time she needed to open the range and disappear into the haze. Within half an hour, she had reached the safety of the inshore islands, but with flooding worsening and the threat of capsize growing worse, her Captain was ultimately forced to beach her just 20 miles short of Fiume. She was later salvaged, but would never fight again, and her guns were used in coastal fortifications.
As Unitis was lost to poor visibility, her sister was finally losing her battle with the sea. Dante Aligheiri had ceased fire shortly before 1530, when it was clear that she was finished. Nevertheless, she had not struck her colours, and a torpedo was fired to finish her off. Despite presenting a near-stationary target, it missed, but that was of little relevance as flooding continued to spread aboard the wrecked Austrian ship. At 1537, she rolled over, and the Aligheiri later rescued 169 survivors from her crew.
Behind and further west, HMS Inflexible’s Captain had resumed command from the aft conning tower shortly after three o’clock. Among his first orders were to slow down, turn away and signal the flagship as to his ship’s condition. P, Q and X turrets were undamaged, but there was no hydraulic power to work them until valves could be closed below, which soon proved to be impossible. Efforts moved towards trying to save the ship, but unfortunately, there was little that could be done. Some progress was made fighting the fires below, but every gallon pumped onto the flames only added to the water that the ship was taking on for’ard. The bow section was still cut off by fire, and there was nothing that could be done to stop the flooding there.
By 1600, many of the fires had been mastered, more by the sea than by the hoses. Smoke and steam still poured from the ship and waves were breaking over the foc’sle. Water was rising in No.2 Boiler room, and the Captain concluded that the boats should be launched. Floats were thrown overboard and dozens of men scrambled down ropes and swam away, as Queen Elizabeth and Drake closed on the stricken ship.
A series of cracking noises from within the hull were followed by lurches down by the bow and over to port. The blades of her propellers could be seen for a while, before at 1638, the stern of HMS Inflexible rolled over to port and quickly disappeared beneath the waves.
The opening 11 months of the war had been difficult ones for the Royal Navy. There had been embarrassing setbacks, and victories too; but the sinking of a few enemy cruisers and a couple of indecisive skirmishes in the North Sea hadn’t been the ‘new Trafalgar’ that the public expected.
The Battle of Vieste was an indisputable victory; the press could report two enemy battleships sunk for the loss of the ‘armoured cruiser’ Inflexible, most of whose crew had been saved. Even the revelation that the Unitis had survived to be beached did little to dispel the mood.
More importantly, with the threat of the Austrian fleet firmly contained, landings along the Dalmatian coast could begin.
Armored Cruiser is not far off the truth and my understanding is that they were originally described as such before being given the name Battle Cruiser
Yep! They were first called Armoured Cruisers, battlecruisers came about later, still Pre-ww1 but you're not wrong
Separate names with a comma.