Warships that should never been built?

Helped a lot that they were up against the Spanish Navy and, not, say, the Royal Navy.
True, if they'd been fighting a peer opponent they'd have been dead so fast it isn't funny, as they were facing a weak broken power without the resources to fight them off they got the victory that the yellow press was baying for, and TR got his fame.
 
True, if they'd been fighting a peer opponent they'd have been dead so fast it isn't funny, as they were facing a weak broken power without the resources to fight them off they got the victory that the yellow press was baying for, and TR got his fame.
Seems like this was the magic formula for second-tier powers to get a leg up in the turn of the century era: Find a third-tier power to beat up and devour. (Or a second-tier one, if you can find a powerful ally.)

Russia: *thrashes Chinese*
Japan: *thrashes Chinese*
United States: *thrashes Spain*
Japan: *thrashes Russians*
Italy: *tries to thrash Ethiopians* "Uh, never mind."

Then again, even the Italians eventually made it work against the Turks in 1911-12.
 
The Russian Battleship Gangut. The Gangut class of battleships were outdated from the time they were built


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A nasty combination of no money, a fouled up purchasing process and most of the Russian fleet having gone "glug, glug, glug" in 1905. Just the fact that fully half the guns can't fire forwards shows how many problems these ships had. But because the Russian's had next to no ships they were desperate and continued the project.
Seems like this was the magic formula for second-tier powers to get a leg up in the turn of the century era: Find a third-tier power to beat up and devour. (Or a second-tier one, if you can find a powerful ally.)

Russia: *thrashes Chinese*
Japan: *thrashes Chinese*
United States: *thrashes Spain*
Japan: *thrashes Russians*
Italy: *tries to thrash Ethiopians* "Uh, never mind."

Then again, even the Italians eventually made it work against the Turks in 1911-12.
Accurate, but given the Ethiopians were probably a fifth teir power except for the advantages of location and natural defences I'd say Italy really humilated themselves there.
 
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To be fair to the Ethiopians outnumbered the Italians and to a point had superior guns and artillery for some of their troops. I think it was something like 100,000 to 10,000 or so.
 
To be fair to the Ethiopians outnumbered the Italians and to a point had superior guns and artillery for some of their troops. I think it was something like 100,000 to 10,000 or so.
Which just proves even if a state can't project power get on their turf and fail to bring the right tools and you'll still have a violently bad day.
 
Accurate, but given the Ethiopians were probably a fifth teir power except for the advantages of location and natural defences I'd say Italy really humilated themselves there.
Hey, you make do with what you got available! (Or, then again, maybe you don't.)

To be fair to the Ethiopians outnumbered the Italians and to a point had superior guns and artillery for some of their troops. I think it was something like 100,000 to 10,000 or so.
The numbers by themselves are not decisive - European forces were typically on the short end of long odds in colonial conflicts but typically prevailed (see Ulundi, Omdurman, Gia Cuc, Lạng Sơn, Chuenpi, et al). But the Ethiopians *were* unusually well-armed, and yet the Italians pressed on arrogantly, anyway.

Still, they did get some of their pride back against the Turks, and made themselves a respectable naval power in the same way the Americans did at Manila By and Santiago de Cuba.
 
A nasty combination of no money, a fouled up purchasing process and most of the Russian fleet having gone "glug, glug, glug" in 1905. Just the fact that fully half the guns can't fire forwards shows how many problems these ships had. But because the Russian's had next to no ships they were desperate and continued the project.
We could fill up the list answering the OP"s question just with Russian battleships, if we wanted to.
 
To be fair they weren't the only ones to have this happen, I mean only a few years later there was HMS Vanguard in Scapa Flow:
Let me guess, the ignition event was overage cordite propellant charges? Yup, after reading the wiki.

Helped a lot that they were up against the Spanish Navy and, not, say, the Royal Navy.
Not a claim that I think is provable. Cervera was a TOUGH wily bastard who had a good plan and by the time of Santiago de Cuba, unlike the Russian Zinovy Rozhestvensky, had trained his crews . The difference was Vilaamil. the great Spanish torpedo boat expert, was a damned fool who disobeyed pre-battle orders during the breakout and wasted his destroyers in an independent glory charge instead of supporting the cruiser line as Cervera intended, and Schley was just too good an admiral to be surprised. The real villain in the piece was PM. Práxedes Mateo Sagasta, the incompetent and thoroughly corrupt stooge for Admiral Segismundo Bermejo y Merelo, the Spanish navy minister of war and his equally incompetent army counterpart; Miguel Correa y García who Tojoed this war on the Spanish side, unnecessarily and who insisted that Spanish honor required combat before the inevitable defeats. You know, reading about the Spanish in 1892 is a LOT like reading about the Japanese in 1933? The outrages, insubordination and mutiny within the Spanish Army of the era reads, method for method, a lot like the Kwantung Army, with the colonels and majors getting entirely out of hand. It even features an anarchist murdering Canovas at just the right time for the military to completely usurp Spanish foreign policy. Eerily similar to the McKinley parallel where a crazed office seeker did him in a moment, and how T. Roosevelt, as the Potus by succession, used that opportunity to kind of usurp American traditional isolationist foreign policy to go all 19th century imperialist with gusto.

But let's stick to the topic . Here are two ships, that many people think never, should have been built, that come to mind. But were they all that bad?

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(US Navy)

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Cristobol Colon (1898) Public Domain (US Navy), Photo: Maybe Sao Vincente, Cape Verde Islands April 1898?

These two ships are curious.

The IMT was built according to British pattern by Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company. Popular history has her being a design disaster with weak belt armor and an open gun deck that allowed the American gunnners a shoot-ex. Her wooden furnishings all covered with weatherproofing lacquer was supposed to have caused the fires that caused her loss. American records show, that Cervera, after Captain Concas bungled the attempted ramming of the USS Brooklyn turned west late and drew immediate fire from USS Iowa, Texas, the aforesaid Brooklyn and even the armed yacht, Vixen.

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Source: Clerk of the Joint Committee on Printing, The Abridgement of the Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress. Vol. IV. (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1899).

As can be seen, she took a beating. The shots are along the belt armor. Those are dents or partials penexs that dislodged plate. Her armor (turtleback scheme and I believe French Cruesot steel plate.):
  • Belt: 30.5–25.4 cm (12–10 in)
  • Barbettes: 22.9 cm (9 in)
  • Conning tower: 30.5 cm (12 in)
  • Deck: 5.1–7.6 cm (2–3 in)
stopped US 15.2 cm shell and below COLD. The critical kill-shots are into the engine and aft compartments, which started fires in her after barbette magazines that moved forward into the gun gallery amidships. Those shots are credited to USS Texas and USS Iowa which started the fires on her quarterdeck and aft magazines. She had enormous float reserve and had her French designed artillery and mismatched British fire control system not failed her, she would have lasted longer and given out much more harm. Unlike the Russians at Tsushima 6 years later, the Spaniards remained steady under fire and were very well trained by the naval standard of the day. Their equipment failed them, not their courage or their ship's captains.

The Cristobol Colon was a slightly different proposition. She was not built in Spain, but in Italy and to an Italian pattern with mostly British derived tech.

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Source: Clerk of the Joint Committee on Printing, The Abridgement of the Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress. Vol. IV. (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1899).

She was fast and barely hit when Captain Emilio Díaz-Moreu y Quintana decided that she had to be beached as Schley's ships closed to killing range. Her Harvey plate stood up rather well to the US gunfire.

General characteristics:

Class and type: Giuseppe Garibaldi-class armored cruiser
Displacement:6,840 long tons (6,950 t) normal (7,972 long tons (8,100 t) full load)
Length: 366 ft 8 in (111.76 m)
Beam: 59 ft 10 1⁄2 in (18.250 m)
Draft: 23 ft 3 1⁄2 in (7.099 m) maximum
Installed power: 13,655–14,713 ihp (10.183–10.971 MW)
Propulsion: Vertical triple expansion, 24 boilers
Speed: 19.3–20.02 knots (35.74–37.08 km/h)
Range: 4,400 nmi (8,100 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h)
Endurance: 1,050 long tons (1,070 t) coal (normal)
Complement: 510 to 559 officers and enlisted
Armament: 2 × single 254 mm (10 in)/40 cal. gun (never installed)
……………….10 × single 152 mm (6 in) guns
…………………6 × single 120 mm (4.7 in) guns
……………….10 × single 57 mm (2.2 in) guns
……………….10 x single 37 mm (1.5 in) guns
…………………2 x Maxim machine guns
…………………4 × single 450 mm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes
Armor: Harvey armor (US plate?)
………….Belt: 5.9 in (150 mm)
………….Ends: 3.1 in (79 mm)
………….Conning tower: 5.9 in (150 mm)
………….Deck: 1.5 in (38 mm)
………….Turrets: 5.9 in (150 mm)
………….Deck gunshields 2 in (51 mm)

Notes: Armor was Harvey plate possibly Ansaldo made, but more likely imported. Guns were British clones manufactured by Ansaldo and were export knockoffs. British fire control, also an export knockoff. Engines were Italian. The 25.4 cm MA was not fitted due to breech block defects COMMON with many navies’ ships of the era. The Americans, for example, had no end of trouble with the Fletcher breech blocks they used at Santiago de Cuba and were forced to use reduced charges and shoot slowly. The Spanish used full charges in their Vickers 15.2 cm clones and in their Schneider Canet 14.0 cm quick-fires and the heat burden from the mismatched metal alloys of breech and barrel caused the breech blocks to expand into the screw seers. To get the guns open, Spanish gun crews had to beat on the breech plugs or wait for the damned guns to cool down. Then they found the brass cartridges jammed in the in the rapid fire guns' breeches, which they had to mechanically back out manually as the extractors failed. NTG for them when the Americans did not seem to have that problem at all. (John Long was as incompetent as Bermejo, but he at least insisted the American navy be able to shoot!).

As with the Infanta Maria Teresa the primitive British type gunsights, even when zero-bored to "British" guns, had a fault which caused the Spanish gunners to shoot high and miss the Americans with longs that sailed over the Americans’ masts. The Fiske telemeters on the American ships did not have this defect. Reduced charges and the slow rate of American fire in local control explains the 1% PH for US light guns. US hits with heavier ordnance 15.2 cm and up was around 3%-5% which was REMARKABLE for the era. Maybe the Spanish should have used German A.G. Vulcan or French Lodzhou telemeters?
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Anyway, the myth that the Spanish naval crews were incompetent or badly led or that an equivalent British squadron with those same fuel and similar gunnery faults would have done any better is probably false.

Now a proper British fleet of 4 battleships and 2 torpedo boat destroyers? (Vice Admiral Sir Jackie Fisher 1897-1899 commander of the North American Station.) THAT would have been interesting. I would not like to see that happen! Probably would have seen both squadrons destroyed as the known defects of both navies' materials would have been revealed and forced a close ranged parallel order fight to achieve any effective hits or penexs. Victor is the last one afloat. YMMV.
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Perhaps something McKinley should have reflected on a little longer before allowing the yellow press to stampede him into war. But I digress!
Pulitzer and that other news paper owner, Hearst, might have stirred popular opinion, but the American govt. had long prepared for an opportunity to intervene in Cuba at least since the SS Virginius Affair. This was their opportunity handed to them by actual unfortunate events. McKinley, I doubt, could have stopped that long term policy train.
 

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Not a claim that I think is provable. Cervera was a TOUGH wily bastard who had a good plan and by the time of Santiago de Cuba, unlike the Russian Zinovy Rozhestvensky, had trained his crews . The difference was Vilaamil.
No, I can't agree at all. Cervera was a tough customer, but his ships were shit, and so were his crews. Which is why Cervera himself gave himself zero chance of winning any fleet action with the Americans. The Spanish ships were obsolete, outweighed in both armor and guns by the U.S. fleet, and in really poor condition. I just can't . . . possibly see how any brilliance or ineptitude on Vilaamil's part would have made a scrap of difference in deciding the battle.

By contrast . . . Put the Yanks up against a full RN battle line of Royal Sovereigns and Majestics? They'd have had no chance, regardless of whether Fisher or Rawson was commanding it. Sampson would stay in port, hoping for a chance to hit isolated British ships or squadrons at advantage.

Fortunately for the Yanks, they were smart enough to avoid picking fights with Britain at the time. But then, the same is true for the British, who had little to gain and much to lose from any such conflict.
 
Sampson was "not sane." by all accounts (stroke left him non compes mentes during the battle.) . I find the Majestics and Royal Sovereigns had the mechanical and material defects the Spanish suffered since it was British and French tech that did them in. I believe Fisher would have made quite a difference in the fighting. IMO Rawson was 'interesting" in a bandit sort of way (Benim). I regard him as somewhat extremely lacking compared to Schley. Rawson was a mere "average" RN "colonial officer" compared to the American who has quite a surprising career resume with a great deal of extensive combat and peacetime experience at blockade, amphibious warfare, search and rescue and even fleet actions (ACW, Korea, Chile, Peru, Franklin Bay Expedition). PLUS he was a trained staff officer (NWC) and had logistics and personnel management skills that only Fisher rivals.

Rawson goes in, he gets his ass handed to him. Fisher? Mutual destruction.
 
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Sampson was "not sane." by all accounts (stroke left him non compes mentes during the battle.) . I find the Majestics and Royal Sovereigns had the mechanical and material defects the Spanish suffered since it was British and French tech that did them in. I believe Fisher would have made quite a difference in the fighting. IMO Rawson was 'interesting" in a bandit sort of way (Benim). I regard him as somewhat extremely lacking compared to Schley. Rawson was a mere "average" RN "colonial officer" compared to the American who has quite a surprising career resume with a great deal of extensive combat and peacetime experience at blockade, amphibious warfare, search and rescue and even fleet actions (ACW, Korea, Chile, Peru, Franklin Bay Expedition). PLUS he was a trained staff officer (NWC) and had logistics and personnel management skills that only Fisher rivals.

Rawson goes in, he gets his ass handed to him. Fisher? Mutual destruction.
The RN circa 1898 certainly had fat to trim, but the bottom line is that it was a far larger fleet than what America (or hell, *anyone*) had, and with far, far more experience in operating together. I mean (checking my notes)...the RN had two dozen frontline battleships just in the home waters and the Med alone in 1898. The U.S. had...three Indianas (all coastal defense battleships), the Iowa (its only real firstline battleship) and the second classers Maine and Texas. The cruiser differential was even more ridiculous. They would overwhelm the Americans just by sheer numbers.

It still would have been a bad deal for Britain strategically, a war with a nation in which it had such enormous investments and trade, at a long logistical tail, and with its most valuable dominion (Canada) at grave risk on land - all at a time when it was facing a challenge from France. But at sea, the U.S. would simply have been out of its class.
 
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Another group of warships that were if nothing else were not really optimized as related to their armament were the USN's interwar destroyer leaders which given the fact that they had 5"/38 guns really should have put them in a dual purpose mount even if the USN had to either cheat by "miscalculating" their standard displacement by 250ish tons and/or reduce the torpedo(and if need be the gun) armament especially in the case of the Somers class which really didn't need 3 quad torpedo tubes on the centerline and would have been quite find with 2 quintuple launchers(this also has the added benefit of allow more distributed machinery than the Somers actual had since they really cramped the machinery togehter to maximize deck space for torpedoes and it frees up more space for AA guns later). It also really wouldn't have hurt to build more DLs/larger interwar destroyers since every other major navy was, 13 simply put wasn't enough to lead the various DD squadrons. Of course by far the biggest commondesign flaw of the USN as related to its interwar(and a good deal of its wartime) destroyers outside of stability problems was fitting them with a single rudder, to make things worse this also extended to cruisers and by some rank incompetence the extremely expensive Alaska class of all things
 
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At the risk of putting the cat among the pigeons I nominate the UK's "Round Table Class"

LSL.jpg


WHY o' WHY for the life of me build a series of Amphibious vessels that carried no landing craft (apart from a Mexiflotte), had limited helicopter facilities which sort of defeated the object of having a landing ship in the first place?

Might as well just built more instead of 'Fearless' classes instead?

Regards filers.
 
On the subject of the Flower class corvette, in his book ‘Atlantic Escorts’ Brown lists the following options that were looked at for a cheap A/S vessel.


Conversion of commercial trawler. About 620 tons, 11–12 knots. Coal burning, cylindrical boiler and single reciprocating engine. Endurance about 3,500 at 9 knots. Complement 24. They were moderate asdic platforms but had inadequate subdivision. Conversion would take 4 weeks and cost £35,000.

Admiralty trawler. 510 tons. 11¾–12½ knots. Coal burning, cylindrical boiler and single reciprocating engine. Endurance 3,500 at 9 knots. Complement 24. Good asdic platform with adequate subdivision. They would take 4 months to build and cost £57,000.

Converted whale catcher (Southern Pride). 700 tons, 16 knots. Oil fuel, two boilers, one reciprocating engine. Endurance 4,000 at 12 knots. Complement 30. Moderate asdic platform, subdivision bad. Conversion would take 6 weeks and cost £75,000.

New whale catcher to Admiralty requirements. 900 tons, 16 knots. Oil fuel, two boilers, one reciprocating engine. Endurance 4,000 at 12 knots. Complement 30. Good asdic platform with adequate subdivision. They would take 7 months to build and cost £90,000.

A/S version of Bangor. 500 tons, 17 knots. Oil fuel, two boilers, turbines (alternative diesel). Endurance 4,000 at 10 knots. Complement 50. Good asdic platform and good subdivision. They would take 8 months to build and cost £135,000.

Simplified Guillemot. 580 tons, 20–1 knots. Oil fuel, two boilers, geared turbines. Endurance 3,000 at 11 knots. Complement 63. Good asdic platform and good subdivision. They would take 8 months to build and cost £160,000.

Hunt class. 890 tons, 29 knots. Endurance 3,500 at 20 knots. Oil fuel, two boilers, geared turbines. Complement 144. Good asdic platform and good subdivision. They would take 12 months to build and cost £400,000.
Thanks for posting that PMN!

Regards,
 
The Russian Battleship Gangut. The Gangut class of battleships were outdated from the time they were built

Great pic with the anti-torpedo nets out!

In a minor defense of the Ganguts, I've read they (and their near siblings Imp. Marias, Borodinos and Imp Nikolia I) were meant to fight behind mine fields, hence the emphasis on long-range armament and broadside at the expense of end-on firepower. Still a job a ship with a superfiring layout would accomplish, but the distributed turrets and all (or in the case of Borodino, nearly all) turrets at the same level enabled a smaller ship. Still they did have their seakeeping issues with the weight of the turret so close to the bow; they tended to 'dig' into heavy seas rather than ride over waves. But the Borodinos (raised forecastle) and Imp. Nikolia I (longer bow) were designed to help with that issue.

Regards,
 
At the risk of putting the cat among the pigeons I nominate the UK's "Round Table Class"

View attachment 519511

WHY o' WHY for the life of me build a series of Amphibious vessels that carried no landing craft (apart from a Mexiflotte), had limited helicopter facilities which sort of defeated the object of having a landing ship in the first place?

Might as well just built more instead of 'Fearless' classes instead?

Regards filers.
These aren't really warships. They're not even part of the Royal Navy, but rather the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
 
fitting them with a single rudder, to make things worse this also extended to cruisers and by some rank incompetence the extremely expensive Alaska class of all things
Single rudder control has some turning circle radius advantages in tail control, especially on the KICK. If you want a better chance to not get hit by torpedoes versus the low percentage chance you will be hit in the tail control, you ACCEPT that trade off.
 
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