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As I've been playing World of Warships, I've gotten more interested in the ships themselves. Watched documentaries, videos outlaying hypothetical battles (more or less Iowa class Battleship vs Yamato class Battleship). But there have been 2 warships that have interested me which was the "mighty" Hood and Le Dunkurque. Both ships were pretty excellent Battle Cruisers by the beginning of World War II, Dunkurque being one of the latest additions to the French Navy, meanwhile Hood, though a couple decades old by 1939, was the most powerful ship of the Royal Navy and was the pride of Great Britain until she was sunk by The Bismark. But I wondered what if both ships ended up on each other's business end of their main batteries? Who would win? How much damage would've be done? Now yes, you could do a 1v1 in a training battle in World of Warships and see the results, however player tactics in World of Warships were not used in World War II, and Wargaming is always buffing or nerfing ships to fit the game balance. So using World of Warships would not make an accurate response. What do you think?

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If they were both actively out to sea and decided to fight it out Dunkerque would have the disadvantages of only 2 main turrets that are both in the front so if Hood came up from the Stern it would be interesting. Also if Dunkerque had a turret get disabled it would render half the main guns inoperable. Hood on the other hand if 1 turret gets knocked out you still have 3 others to use.

Dunkerque having all guns grouped close together though might have in theory provided better grouping of salvoes and maybe better accuracy?

 

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Interesting.  Was Hood indeed the most powerful ship in the British navy before she was sunk?  The Brits liked to make everyone think so.  I do not know and that is why I am asking. My be subjective of course. Tks

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It is an interesting what if and as I see it whoever gets the first good hit in wins and remember bow tanking was not a thing in the real world.

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7 minutes ago, Admiral_Thrawn_1 said:

Also if Dunkerque had a turret get disabled it would render half the main guns inoperable. Hood on the other hand if 1 turret gets knocked out you still have 3 others to use.

Depends on how the hit came?

According to the discussion when the ship was first added; DQ was designed with an armored bulkhead separating the four gun in the turrets; effectively making each pair of guns a second turret.

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1 minute ago, dmckay said:

Interesting.  Was Hood indeed the most powerful ship in the British navy before she was sunk?  The Brits liked to make everyone think so.  I do not know and that is why I am asking. My be subjective of course. Tks

Not the most powerful but she was the pride of the fleet and the nation.

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Just now, BrushWolf said:

Not the most powerful but she was the pride of the fleet and the nation.

Pride indeed!  The Mighty Hood!  

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2 minutes ago, Estimated_Prophet said:

Depends on how the hit came?

According to the discussion when the ship was first added; DQ was designed with an armored bulkhead separating the four gun in the turrets; effectively making each pair of guns a second turret.

I was thinking along the lines of the turret ring getting hit jamming the gun fir the duration of the battle. And if gun had been rotatated to odd angle it would be awkward even it it could fire still.

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If they were to fight each other irl?

 

Most likely, it wouldn't happen. Dunkerque would probably choose to disengage rather than fight, unless her sister Strasbourg was with her. In a 1v1, the odds to not favor her. 

In terms of practical top speed, Dunkerque was only slightly faster, 29.5 - 30 knots, while Hood could make about 28 knots at best by WWII.

As I side note, when I use abbreviations:

  • FCS = Fire Control System
  • MAD = Main Armor Deck
  • MAB = Main Armor Belt

 

Hood had an old Fire Control System (an old Dreyer table), but her main battery of 4x2 15"/42 Mk.I's were reliable, accurate weapons. Hood has the Mk.II variant (turret mount type, I guess?), which could fire every 32 seconds (1.9 rpm). Her armor belt was 305mm thick and inclined at 12º, and was closed off with 127mm (fore) and 102mm (aft) bulkheads. her main deck armor was 76mm over the magazines, and over the machinery spaces was 38mm inboard and 51mm outboard. She had upper deck armor too, but sources seem to cite different amounts so I'm not going to try and figure that part out. Turret faces were 381mm thick.

 

Dunkerque was a much more modern ship, and had a much more modern Fire Control System. French FCS didn't really get much of a good chance to prove itself in combat, but it seemed quite capable and I see no reason to dock it's performance - it would most likely be better than Hood's. Her main battery was a 2x4 (all forward) arrangement of the 330mm(13")/50 Mle 1931. These high-velocity guns had great range (the outranged the 15"/42 by a significant margin, a range of 41.7 km to Hood's 29.72 km), and very high belt-penetration for their caliber (but at a cost to deck penetration). The design RoF was 20 sec/3 rpm, but typical of French ships of this era, shell supply systems made this impossible, and the real maximum RoF in practice proved to be 30 sec/2 rpm. Although it was supposed to be able to load at any angle, in reality it could only load at elevations up to +15º, so such a RoF was only true to ranges of about 25 km. At 30 km the maximum would drop to about 1.9 rpm (31.5 sec), and at 35 km, 1.8 rpm (33.5 sec). The guns had major dispersion issues that were never rectified, and the close arrangement as a result of the 2-2 arrangement of the quad turrets only exacerbated this issue. The main armor belt was 225mm thick inclined at 11º, and was closed by 210mm (fore) and 180mm (aft) bulkheads. The main deck armor was 125mm over the magazines, and 115mm over the machinery spaces, with a 40mm lower deck. Turrets had 330mm faces. As a side note, little is known about French armor quality of the era - however, the Germans captured and tested with it, and found it to be quite poor by their standards - and German armor quality was probably just 'average' in the spread of quality we get from nations who's armor quality we know about. I'll try to compensate for that fact.

 

Hood could penetrate Dunkerque's main armor belt at pretty much any range, and the same goes for her fore and aft bulkheads. She could penetrate Dunkerque's main machinery armor deck at 25000 yards and beyond (22.86 km), and her magazine MAD at 26000 yards and beyond (23.77 km). She could penetrate her turret faces at pretty much any range Hood was physically capable of engaging.

 

Dunkerque could penetrate Hood's belt at 24000 yards or less (21.9 km), and her fore and aft bulkheads at any range Dunkerque was physically capable of engaging. Hood's magazines would've been vulnerable to plunging fire at about 27000 yards and beyond (24.7 km), while the machinery MAD would be penetrable at 14000 (12.8 km) and 18000 (16.46 km) yards (inboard and outboard armor, respectively). Turret faces would be vulnerable at about 21000 yards (19.2 km).

 

The story here is obvious. Dunkerque was designed to be fast, and to kill German raiders with 11." guns, on a 26500 ton hull. Hood's a 42670 ton hull with 15" guns. 

Dunkerque's armor was only designed to cope with 11.1" shells, and that becomes telling when you compare this small battleship with any full-sized battleship. 14" and beyond caliber weapons simply do not respect her thin belt armor, and her deck armor only lends her some help at longer ranges, due to it's decent level of thickness for a ship of its size. The Dunkerque is simply too vulnerable to Hood's big 15" guns, and any hit that might threaten to hit it is simply too likely to be devastating.

The power of Dunkerque's 13" rifles, and the poor values of Hood's deck armor, are this fight a lot more even than it otherwise would be on paper, as she can threaten Hood's belt out to a respectable range of about 22 km, and their performance against her deck means even at greater ranges Hood is not safe. However, that's really not enough to turn the tides given the disparity in armor performance.

 

Further adding to this is what happens when the fight leaves paper.

If a fight happens, Dunkerque can either choose to fight it out, or fleet. She is the weaker vessel here, and the faster, so it's up to her to decide. Hood will certainly try to fight no matter what happens.

If Dunkerque chooses to fight, she's on unequal terms. Her armor won't hold out well, and if she closes with Hood in order to force a 4 vs 8 gun battle, she's only accepting greater and greater risk as she gets closer.

If she tries to flee, she's going to have to choose between opening the range, and firing back. With her main battery facing entirely forward, and traverse arcs of ±143º on Turret I and ±150º on Turret II, she has to turn almost 40º in either direction to get both turrets to bear, which will cost her significantly in her progress, negating the speed advantage in a straight sprint.

 

The final factor is fire control and dispersion. Hood's guns were accurate with good dispersion, but her old Dreyer FCS was inadequate for modern combat - it cost her dearly in her final action, unable to keep up with a changing rate of change of the ship's turns as she attempted to close with Bismarck - so at greater ranges, it would have made it very difficult for her to fight, especially if the warships are maneuvering heavily (as Dunkerque might to confuse Hood's firing solutions).

Dunkerque's FCS was probably quite up to the task of engaging Hood at long range, but her dispersion issues would have caused difficulties. 

Now, there are dispersion issues, and there are dispersion issues.

Dispersion issues on Italian guns for varying reasons were perhaps above average in many cases, but manageable and were not decisive in combat.

Dispersion issues like what the French found on their new battleship guns were a whole other question. While the Italians 381/50, commonly considered to have poor dispersion, would see numbers like 364m at 22.5 km in 1940, Richelieu recorded dispersion patterns of 1460m at 20.4 km, and 1775 km at 25.0 km - as late as 1947! Dunkerque also saw poor dispersion values of up to 1100m (range not specified). It was not until 1948 that Richelieu, by use of delay coils, saw values drop to more reasonable levels. Tests conducted by Richelieu's own initiative had ultimately discovered that dispersion when firing both guns in each 'half-turret' compared to one at a time would increase dispersion by about 66%!

 

Values like these make evaluating a gunnery duel somewhat hard. Dunkerque would probably shoot better as far as aim - but hitting is another issue, and dispersion values like the above bode very ill for that. It would also make determining whether or not a salvo was on target or not rather difficult.

 

Combining all these factors, I just don't see Dunkerque having a good chance of coming out on top in a gunnery duel, and even if the French Captain didn't have a clear idea of dispersion discrepancies, or even in regards to FCS (the former favoring Hood, the latter Dunkerque), the knowledge of what a 15" gun could like do, and how much his ship wasn't equipped to tangle with such firepower...

 

I correct choice for any sensible captain would be to withdraw, avoiding engagement. If there was no choice but to fight, I think Hood would win over Dunkerque most of the time. However, Dunkerque could quite probably get some painful hits in on Hood too, assuming her guns behave.

  • Cool 2

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Still hoping WG will eventually release a Strasbourg premium.

I'd probably give the advantage to Hood even considering that a lot of her equipment was dated. Hood's superior belt armor should allow for some immunity zone against the 13" guns of Dunkerque while Dunkerque herself would be vulnerable to Hood's 15" guns at any range. The very long range of the French 13" guns is simply not likely to provide a useful advantage as scoring any hits at anything approaching 40km would be extremely unlikely. Those guns also suffered from problems relating to dispersion and rate of fire that hampered their theoretical performance. The British 15" has rather average raw performance for that caliber but it was very accurate and a well proven weapon system.

Unless Hood gets a major refit Dunkerque has a two or three knot speed advantage, perhaps not enough to allow her to comfortably dictate the range but enough to retreat if needed.

A more interesting battle I think would be pitting Dunkerque or Strasbourg against one of the Scharnhorst class, or one of the older modernized Italian BBs.

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3 hours ago, dmckay said:

Interesting.  Was Hood indeed the most powerful ship in the British navy before she was sunk?  The Brits liked to make everyone think so.  I do not know and that is why I am asking. My be subjective of course. Tks

By the literal definition of power, yes she was. Hood had 144,000 SHP which beats out the next best ships in the RN - the KGV's with 110,00 SHP and the Ark Royal with 102,000.

She was also the largest by displacement - 46,000t to the KGV's 38,000. Longest too.

As for 'powerful' in the abstract sense, that's a little harder, but by 1941 when she was lost the only competition was KGV and the unworked up PoW. The KGV's were far better armored and more modern in design, but 10x 14in guns isn't much of a leg on 8x 15in, and (on a good day) the Hood was faster.

 

In general I think @Phoenix_jz nailed it. My only additions would be that a small amount of angling would significantly improve Hood's immunity zone, even if done inadvertently rather than tactically, and it's likely it'll be a move-toward or move-away situation. The damage that Dunkerque took from just four of the 15in shells really demonstrates the vulnerability to that level of shellfire and possibly internal issues. After 2 penetrations of the engineering spaces they had to ground the ship.

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