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Aristotle83

Most powerful Battleship(or battlecruiser) throughout the 20th century

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What were the most powerful battleships/battlecruisers in the world as time progressed? Mainly talking about the 20th century to the dawn of the Dreadnought era all the way to the end of the battleship era. Unless there is a considerable difference between ships in a class please identify your choices by class as sister ships especially IRL are essentially the same. 

 

Reason I'm asking this is there's several era's where it's very unclear which ship was best and while I have no illusions a thread will erase all that uncertainty it'd be nice to see what others think. 

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Iowa class: 212000 SHP

 

 

Spoiler

:Smile_trollface:

 

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Before the end of WW1. The most powerful Battlecruiser class in my opinion goes to the Derfflinger class. They had good speed, armor, and firepower all in one package and honestly had they survived and been modernized would have likely still been a good and powerful ship class well into WW2. Conversion into all oil firing boilers, added deck protection and additional bulges and she could have seen 28.5-29 knots speed with effective combat capabilities. Overall, she was a well planned and designed class for her time.

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In terms of "most" power:

1913  Kongo-Class Battlecruiser: First to use 14" guns.

1914 Queen Elizabeth-class Battleship: First to use 15" guns.

1917 HMS Furious (Battlecruiser variant)" First to equip 18" guns, but project is failure.

1920 Nagato-Class Battleship : First to use 16" guns.

1941 Yamato-Class Battleship: First to use 18.1" guns.

Edited by Sventex

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34 minutes ago, Sventex said:

In terms of "most" power:

1913  Kongo-Class Battlecruiser: First to use 14" guns.

1914 Queen Elizabeth-class Battleship: First to use 15" guns.

1917 HMS Furious (Battlecruiser variant)" First to equip 18" guns, but project is failure.

1920 Nagato-Class Battleship : First to use 16" guns.

1941 Yamato-Class Battleship: First to use 18.1" guns.

Nagato-class was the first to use 16.14" guns as they had an actual 41cm bore or 16.14''. USS Maryland was the first with 16'' guns as she had her guns mounted in her hull by July of 1920. Nagato had her 41cm guns fitted starting in February of 1920. 

On that note, the Colorado-class is one of those odd balls in that the Colorado was both laid down and commissioned after the Maryland but the class was named after the Colorado for the US Navy but every other nation in the world called them the Maryland class. The other chuckle was how the US Government so carefully crafted themselves into being allowed to keep 3 of the Colorado class, Japan 2 of the Nagato class, but all the other nations only being allowed to build 2 ships with up to 16.1'' guns. Still want to know how they managed to talk Great Britain, France, and Italy into that one.

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5 minutes ago, Azumazi said:

Still want to know how they managed to talk Great Britain, France, and Italy into that one.

President Woodrow Wilson's administration had already announced successive plans for the expansion of the US Navy from 1916 to 1919 that would have resulted in a massive fleet of 50 modern battleships.  Those countries, having fought in a long, expensive and brutal war, did not want to get into a costly arms race, and instead give their respective economies a chance to recover.

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Just now, Sventex said:

President Woodrow Wilson's administration had already announced successive plans for the expansion of the US Navy from 1916 to 1919 that would have resulted in a massive fleet of 50 modern battleships.  Those countries, having fought in a long, expensive and brutal war, did not want to get into a costly arms race, and instead give their respective economies a chance to recover.

I mean that they were going to get to keep a 16'' ship advantage to the others and they all agreed. Although I have a feeling the way that the US played it off was that because Great Britain got to keep HMS Hood and mostly a 15'' gun fleet, it was only fair that they got to keep 3x 16'' ships vs everyone else getting 2x of them. Which is probably what really rubbed it wrong for Japan. France and Italy at that time were actually pretty reasonable due to their current economies.

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8 minutes ago, Azumazi said:

I mean that they were going to get to keep a 16'' ship advantage to the others and they all agreed. Although I have a feeling the way that the US played it off was that because Great Britain got to keep HMS Hood and mostly a 15'' gun fleet, it was only fair that they got to keep 3x 16'' ships vs everyone else getting 2x of them. Which is probably what really rubbed it wrong for Japan. France and Italy at that time were actually pretty reasonable due to their current economies.

Another thing to consider is that French and Italian Battleships barely played a role on WWI.  I’m not even sure either country had a 16” naval gun planned for development.

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27 minutes ago, Azumazi said:

Nagato-class was the first to use 16.14" guns as they had an actual 41cm bore or 16.14''. USS Maryland was the first with 16'' guns as she had her guns mounted in her hull by July of 1920. Nagato had her 41cm guns fitted starting in February of 1920. 

On that note, the Colorado-class is one of those odd balls in that the Colorado was both laid down and commissioned after the Maryland but the class was named after the Colorado for the US Navy but every other nation in the world called them the Maryland class. The other chuckle was how the US Government so carefully crafted themselves into being allowed to keep 3 of the Colorado class, Japan 2 of the Nagato class, but all the other nations only being allowed to build 2 ships with up to 16.1'' guns. Still want to know how they managed to talk Great Britain, France, and Italy into that one.

Didn't know that there was a limit on 16 inchers built. Couldn't find it on the wiki page but have heard others reference it and think I asked and didn't get an answer. Was there a limit separate from the general tonnage limit? Cause you'd think if the US wanted to keep the Washington bad enough they could just scrap the Wyoming and Arkansas maybe the New York class if that tonnage was necessary? 

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4 minutes ago, Aristotle83 said:

Didn't know that there was a limit on 16 inchers built. Couldn't find it on the wiki page but have heard others reference it and think I asked and didn't get an answer. Was there a limit separate from the general tonnage limit? Cause you'd think if the US wanted to keep the Washington bad enough they could just scrap the Wyoming and Arkansas maybe the New York class if that tonnage was necessary? 

I'm reading the treaty and don't see it either.

Article VI

 

No capital ship of any of the Contracting Powers shall carry a gun with a calibre in excess of 16 inches (406 millimetres).

 

Section I: Rules for replacement

 
    1. in the case of France and Italy, which countries within the limits allowed for bulge may increase their armour protection and the calibre of the guns now carried on their existing capital ships so as not to exceed 16 inches (406 millimetres) and;
    2. the British Empire shall be permitted to complete, in the case of the Renown, the alterations to armour that have already been commenced but temporarily suspended.

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The Contracting Powers may retain respectively the capital ships which are specified in Chapter II, Part 1. On the coming into force of the present Treaty, but subject to the following provisions of this Article, all other capital ships, built or building, of the United States, the British Empire and Japan shall be disposed of as prescribed in Chapter II, Part 2.

In addition to the capital ships specified in Chapter II, Part 1, the United States may complete and retain two ships of the West Virginia class now under construction. On the completion of these two ships, the North Dakota and Delaware, shall be disposed of as prescribed in Chapter II, Part 2.

The British Empire may, in accordance with the replacement table in Chapter II, Part 3, construct two new capital ships not exceeding 35,000 tons (35,560 metric tons) standard displacement each. On the completion of the said two ships the Thunderer, King George V, Ajax and Centurion shall be disposed of as prescribed in Chapter II, Part 2.

 

This allowed them a maximum of 2x 16'' gun ships due to no new ships exceeding 16'' guns shall be completed.

 

Subject to the provisions of Article II, the Contracting Powers shall abandon their respective capital ship building programs, and no new capital ships shall be constructed or acquired by any of

the Contracting Powers except replacement tonnage which may be constructed or acquired as specified in Chapter II, Part 3.

 

Basically, the US since the USS Maryland was already completed with Colorado and West Virginia almost done, got to add in the now under construction and keep all 3 of them. This gave them 3x 16'' gun vessels but limited the other 4 nations to only 2x 16'' gun ships since Britain, Italy, and France could build 2x ships with those guns. Britain immediately, but France and Italy starting in

France may lay down new tonnage in the years 1927, 1929, and 1931, as provided in Part 3, Section II.

Italy may lay down new tonnage in the years 1927, 1929, and 1931, as provided in Part 3, Section II.

 

Mind you, that limitation for only 2x 16'' gun ships was only until 1931 when the Capital Ship Holiday would expire for the WNT (later extended for the London Treaty) but yes, effectively, USA got to go HAHA we got 3!

 

Edit: I use to do a lot of work with Business Contracts hence why stuff like this I spot a lot quicker than most people due to working in fields that required checking the fine print.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Azumazi said:

The Contracting Powers may retain respectively the capital ships which are specified in Chapter II, Part 1. On the coming into force of the present Treaty, but subject to the following provisions of this Article, all other capital ships, built or building, of the United States, the British Empire and Japan shall be disposed of as prescribed in Chapter II, Part 2.

In addition to the capital ships specified in Chapter II, Part 1, the United States may complete and retain two ships of the West Virginia class now under construction. On the completion of these two ships, the North Dakota and Delaware, shall be disposed of as prescribed in Chapter II, Part 2.

The British Empire may, in accordance with the replacement table in Chapter II, Part 3, construct two new capital ships not exceeding 35,000 tons (35,560 metric tons) standard displacement each. On the completion of the said two ships the Thunderer, King George V, Ajax and Centurion shall be disposed of as prescribed in Chapter II, Part 2.

 

This allowed them a maximum of 2x 16'' gun ships due to no new ships exceeding 16'' guns shall be completed.

 

Subject to the provisions of Article II, the Contracting Powers shall abandon their respective capital ship building programs, and no new capital ships shall be constructed or acquired by any of

the Contracting Powers except replacement tonnage which may be constructed or acquired as specified in Chapter II, Part 3.

 

Basically, the US since the USS Maryland was already completed with Colorado and West Virginia almost done, got to add in the now under construction and keep all 3 of them. This gave them 3x 16'' gun vessels but limited the other 4 nations to only 2x 16'' gun ships since Britain, Italy, and France could build 2x ships with those guns. Britain immediately, but France and Italy starting in

France may lay down new tonnage in the years 1927, 1929, and 1931, as provided in Part 3, Section II.

Italy may lay down new tonnage in the years 1927, 1929, and 1931, as provided in Part 3, Section II.

 

Mind you, that limitation for only 2x 16'' gun ships was only until 1931 when the Capital Ship Holiday would expire for the WNT (later extended for the London Treaty) but yes, effectively, USA got to go HAHA we got 3!

 

Edit: I use to do a lot of work with Business Contracts hence why stuff like this I spot a lot quicker than most people due to working in fields that required checking the fine print.

 

 

Fascinating. Here I thought there was just some reason they weren't going for 16. 

Anywhere you can read the full text out of curiosity? 

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https://www.ibiblio.org/pha/pre-war/1922/nav_lim.html

@Aristotle83

 

Edit: I should also add there is one loop-hole to get around that. Accidental destruction of one of the named listed vessels would allow for immediate replacement not exceeding 35000 tons and armament exceeding 16''. So, I mean, technically if they wanted to rig a ship to detonate and make it look like an accident they could. Although in Japan's case they almost had Haruna blow up with a flash back in the turret that blew a gun into the ocean and dropped the whole gunhouse into the barbette. So that almost made that one happen.

Britain also had a cordite flash explosion in a Cruiser but after that incident the IJN overhauled all of their capital ships for better flashtightness.

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1 hour ago, Azumazi said:

https://www.ibiblio.org/pha/pre-war/1922/nav_lim.html

@Aristotle83

 

Edit: I should also add there is one loop-hole to get around that. Accidental destruction of one of the named listed vessels would allow for immediate replacement not exceeding 35000 tons and armament exceeding 16''. So, I mean, technically if they wanted to rig a ship to detonate and make it look like an accident they could. Although in Japan's case they almost had Haruna blow up with a flash back in the turret that blew a gun into the ocean and dropped the whole gunhouse into the barbette. So that almost made that one happen.

Britain also had a cordite flash explosion in a Cruiser but after that incident the IJN overhauled all of their capital ships for better flashtightness.

Thank you. 

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A lot of the reasons were already stated, but the reason France & Italy ended up being okay with it (well, France less so) was because the war hit them a lot harder than the US, UK, and Japan. Those nations were untouched in infrastructure damage (although economic damage is a different story), while France had to rebuild a massive portion of their country, one where much of their heavy manufacturing was. Likewise Italy had to rebuild Veneto, and their new territories.

The French also had the issue of never developing 'big' guns. They had made the jump from 12" to 13.4" like Britain had (13.5" in their case), as poor a gun as the 13.4" was, but no further - that's why we see all these designs with ridiculous amounts of guns in quad turrets - the French were trying to compensate for not having 15" guns.

The Italians had done the same thing earlier, both the Cavour and Duilio class mounting thirteen 12" guns in order to compensate for not developing a 13.5" gun - however they did have a 15" gun, which was going to be used on the never-completed Caracciolo-class, which would've been the first 'fast battleship' class had they actually been finished.

The building holiday was accepted by France and Italy because both of them were concerned with the other, not the US, UK, or Japan... And neither could afford to get into a (capital ship) naval arms race at the time. However, as long as the other guy couldn't build either, that was fine. Italy was fine with being locked into parity with France, while the French were... Well, less than pleased would be an understatement.

 

But at the end of the day, I guess you could boil it down to;

Why should I worry about three American battleships that will never be used against us?

 

The Americans had the capacity to build much more, after all, so limiting them to three and the other two big naval powers to two was kind of a win.

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Of any ship constructed, technology wise and utility wise. Iowa class, was the most advanced in terms of Fire Control, Protection, and Ballistics. Who cares if they were just oversized CV Escorts, Land Bombardment Platforms. Plus, the US could afford to chuck STS steel on almost anything, but people still debate the usefulness of STS compared to Krupp Cemented Steel so.

 

In terms of a precursor to the Iowa, the South Dakota class, which was actually a well constructed, compact design that could speed as fast as the Iowa. Admirals even argued the usefulness of Iowas when they already had a cheaper equivalent in the South Dakota.

Edited by MVPBluntman

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16 minutes ago, MVPBluntman said:

Of any ship constructed, technology wise and utility wise. Iowa class, was the most advanced in terms of Fire Control, Protection, and Ballistics. Who cares if they were just oversized CV Escorts, Land Bombardment Platforms. Plus, the US could afford to chuck STS steel on almost anything, but people still debate the usefulness of STS compared to Krupp Cemented Steel so.

 

In terms of a precursor to the Iowa, the South Dakota class, which was actually a well constructed, compact design that could speed as fast as the Iowa. Admirals even argued the usefulness of Iowas when they already had a cheaper equivalent in the South Dakota.

Hmm.. as.I recall it the big thing about STS was that despite being structural steel it still had the strength of homogeneous armor?

As for the Iowa's, they did at least gain 5-6 knots over the SouDak's, the latter maxing out at 27-27.5 knots while the Iowa's could make 32 knots in service speed (although the SouDak's could still keep up with CVs just find because CV's rarely went on 3/-knot sprints).

 

The biggest complaint with the Iowa from what I recall is the fact they grew SouDak by 10k tons to get those 5-6 knots. That, and the fact that some weren't huge fans of the internal belt on the SouDak and probably didn't like to see it on the Iowa's...

But anyways, whereas the SouDak had nice protection for it's displacement, being quite a well-balanced design...

Iowa on the other hand didn't improve on SouDak's protection in any meaningful way despite weighing so much more, and that made their value somewhat questionable for their displacement, as I understand it.

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HMS Dreadnought, while quickly eclipsed it had so much power, not just guns, speed, or armor that every preceding battleship was obsolete upon her launch.

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The British probably didn’t complain that much because they got to build their two 35,000 ton 16” battleships about 5 years after the Americans and Japanese had finished theirs.

Its worth noting that the Nagatos were essentially just 16” armed Ise class battleships, minus a pair of turrets. The Colorado’s were just a repeat of the Tennessee’s that had twin 16” turrets dropped into the barbette instead of a triple 14”. These were very much developments of WW1 era designs, but slightly updated. A true British counterpart to these ships would have been a scaled up R class, which is basically what the Nagatos ended up being.

 

The Nelson’s were something completely new. Technically they had the heaviest broadside (initial problems with the 16” Mark I notwithstanding), combined with the heaviest protection available on the belt, barbettes, turrets, and especially the deck. This was also combined with a slightly higher speed than average, giving them a bit more power in a sprint compared to a Colorado, while being able to comfortably outgun the faster and inadequately armored Nagato.

 

For their time, the Nelsons were definitely the most powerful battleships in the world.

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8 hours ago, Azumazi said:

Before the end of WW1. The most powerful Battlecruiser class in my opinion goes to the Derfflinger class. They had good speed, armor, and firepower all in one package and honestly had they survived and been modernized would have likely still been a good and powerful ship class well into WW2. Conversion into all oil firing boilers, added deck protection and additional bulges and she could have seen 28.5-29 knots speed with effective combat capabilities. Overall, she was a well planned and designed class for her time.

While it was not completed, would you consider the Mackensen to be a better battlecruiser than Derfflinger had it been completed?

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To be quantitative you'd need to say by HP, by displacement or by broadside, or more generally 'by power' some kind of fusion of the main characteristics.

Going on overall power my stab would be:

1900-1906 = erm, the best Pre-Dreadnought, maybe the Braunschwig class for some of that period?

1906-1909 = HMS Dreadnought

1909-1914 = the crown rapidly passes between the Nassau/Helgoland, Orion, Wyoming and New York Classes

1914-1916 - Queen Elizabeth class

1916-1920 - Rapid transition again depending on Bayern, QE, NM, Fuso weightings

1920-1923 - Hood

1923-1927 - Colorado

1927-1940 - Nelson

1940-1941 - Bismarck

1941-1943 - Yamato (maybe there was a Bismarck-SoDak/NC-Yamato transition)

1943-2000 - Iowa

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There is only one answer to the Battlecruiser question. HMS Hood. She was the last and largest battlecruiser to be built for any nation and one of only two battlecruiser classes to boast 15" guns (Repulse class had 2 fewer guns). While many consider ships like Dunkerque, Scharnhorst, and Alaska to be battlecruisers they were never officially classified as such and are therefore disqualified from contention.

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1 hour ago, Kingfishercritic said:

While it was not completed, would you consider the Mackensen to be a better battlecruiser than Derfflinger had it been completed?

 

Of course, it was basically a repeat Derfflinger but with 14" guns instead of 12" guns.

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