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How Effective was Battlecruiser idea?

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Got thinking while studying some history today about how  truly effective or ineffective was the idea of Battlecruisers? Yes The HMS Hood was taken down quickly by what was considered an unlucky hit, but what if she had the armor refit she was scheduled for? Same result or perhaps different?

Battke of Jutland as well has some questions remaining as well, since the RN used rather appalling ordnance storage and handling which coupled with the thinner armor was distasterous. But what if they had stored and transferred the Ammo properly? Makes the results possibly a little less conclusive if you factor in Grave levels human error of the crews rendering the Warships more vulnerable and making judgments on the true capabilities of their ships a little more difficult.

Let’s include the Battlecruisers of other nations as well in this as well since it will help the discussion be more complete and interesting. Personally I feel the ideal of thinning out the armor and lightening the Armaments on many of the Battecruisers was really bad idea based on how they were used and what they faced. And I would much rather have been using a full fledged Battleship. But at least some of the Battlecruisers actually looked alright enough to me to handle decent variety of tasks they could face, so will be good topic to get started to see where it ends up. We have enough knowledgeable minds in the forum to get some good answers.

I know the game is certainly not perfect, but does draw on at least a little real world data, and some ships like HMS Hood do really well for and I enjoy them. Which also contributed to the questions that led to this thread, since a Battlecruiser like HMS Hood can use it’s speed to dictate the range of engament at time or even stay away from combatants if locations are know or suspected. Then again the fast Battleships would cut into this idea while still bring heavy armor to the fight, so once again more questions are raised.

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I think the idea of the Battlecruiser had merit in the WWI era where Battleships were much slower with 21kt, 22kt speeds, but by the time of the 1930s with better technology, you had Battleships appearing with 27kts, 30kts or so.  The moment BBs got those speeds, Battlecruisers were rendered obsolete, and navies bought into BBs more with such capabilities.

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway
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3 minutes ago, HazeGrayUnderway said:

I think the idea of the Battlecruiser had merit in the WWI era where Battleships were much slower with 21kt, 22kt speeds, but by the time of the 1930s with better technology, you had Battleships appearing with 27kts, 30kts or so.  The moment BBs got those speeds, Battlecruisers were rendered obsolete, and navies bought into BBs more with such capabilities.

This.

 

As far as the original concept went, it honestly didn't work out that well, for either Germany of Britain. However, once Kongo and her sisters were built, from that point on(Not counting USN or RN BBs built during that time), the BC concept became married permanently to the BB in the form of the fast battleship. It has been argued that the Iowa's, South Dakota's, and North Carolina's were actually battlecruisers, because they fulfilled that role, as well as the role of the battleship. It has also been argued that the Alaska's were in reality BC's, and not large heavy cruisers, and while there is merit to that, I disagree, but only because they were never used in that role, so we can never really know.  It's important to note here that only the Kongo's of Imperial Japan's fleet exceeded 27.5 knots. However, since the Yamato's were the last BB's they built, whereas the USN built 3 modern classes, we never got to see in real life what the IJN could have accomplished. Also important to note, though, were the BB and BC classes the IJN laid down, but never completed. What could have been seen is in game in the forms of Amagi and Kii. 

 

Honestly, seeing how Kron performs, Moskva performs, Stali performs, I'd have to say that she could have fulfilled the role. The caveat here is that none of those ships were ever completed or even laid down, whereas Alaska was. Perhaps how she does in game will show if I'm wrong or right, whether she was more a battlecruiser, rather than just a large heavy cruiser. Make no mistake, she carried BB caliber main guns, that's an important point.

 

When the KM built Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, that's where I feel the real battlecruiser concept came to fruition. They were, without a doubt, the best battlecruisers ever built. Alaska, honestly, wouldn't have stood a chance against them. So, to me, Alaska was a large heavy cruiser.

 

I'm loaded on painkillers and caffeine, I'll shut the heck up now.

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If British battlecruisers were used for the roles for which they were designed, they would have worked just fine. They were to be scouts, patrol the sea lanes looking for raiders, and have the range to span the British Empire. In no way, shape or form were they meant for the line of battle. The critical flaw in the thinking was, no British Admiral was ever going to keep Battlecruisers out of the battle line. The British were so sure of their superiority, they weren't going to run away under any reasonable circumstance. The more guns the better, pray nobody shoots them, and tell Jackie Fisher where to stuff it when we take them into battle, not like he'd be any different in the field anyway.

German Battlecruisers, were actually fast battleships, and built to counter British Battlecruisers. The intended target was British Battlecruisers, which have the same guns as British Battleships, so the armor was appropriate. The Germans understood that a big ship with big guns was going to end up in the battle line anyway, so that armor is a good thing all around. The loss in speed isn't that important, just means the faster ship chooses the range that they will shell each other, as the limitations of gunnery was about the same. The shorter cruising range also didn't matter for the Germans, they were close enough to counter the British home fleet and in the event of a war, German overseas holdings were doomed anyway.

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48 minutes ago, Admiral_Thrawn_1 said:

Got thinking while studying some history today about how  truly effective or ineffective was the idea of Battlecruisers? Yes The HMS Hood was taken down quickly by what was considered an unlucky hit, but what if she had the armor refit she was scheduled for? Same result or perhaps different?

Battke of Jutland as well has some questions remaining as well, since the RN used rather appalling ordnance storage and handling which coupled with the thinner armor was distasterous. But what if they had stored and transferred the Ammo properly? Makes the results possibly a little less conclusive if you factor in Grave levels human error of the crews rendering the Warships more vulnerable and making judgments on the true capabilities of their ships a little more difficult.

Let’s include the Battlecruisers of other nations as well in this as well since it will help the discussion be more complete and interesting. Personally I feel the ideal of thinning out the armor and lightening the Armaments on many of the Battecruisers was really bad idea based on how they were used and what they faced. And I would much rather have been using a full fledged Battleship. But at least some of the Battlecruisers actually looked alright enough to me to handle decent variety of tasks they could face, so will be good topic to get started to see where it ends up. We have enough knowledgeable minds in the forum to get some good answers.

I know the game is certainly not perfect, but does draw on at least a little real world data, and some ships like HMS Hood do really well for and I enjoy them. Which also contributed to the questions that led to this thread, since a Battlecruiser like HMS Hood can use it’s speed to dictate the range of engament at time or even stay away from combatants if locations are know or suspected. Then again the fast Battleships would cut into this idea while still bring heavy armor to the fight, so once again more questions are raised.

Just a comment about Hood.  I mentioned her sinking in a post some time ago and the hit that blew her up.  I got back a bunch of replies that argued her blowing up was not due to a shell hit but rather an internal explosion that had nothing to do with a shell from Bismarck.  It was an interesting exchange but not totally convincing. I just don't know what the hell happened but the internal explosion argument did seem to have some merit. :Smile_unsure:

Edited by dmckay

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More effective than most give them credit for.

Royal Navy battlecruisers are much maligned but were among the more effective surface ships of WWI. Their list of kills includes:

Battlecruiser: Lutzow
Armored Cruisers: Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Blucher
Cruisers: Coln, Ariadne, Wiesbaden

In exchange they suffered 3 losses - Invincible, Indefatigable and Queen Mary. Overall, exchanging one modern and two first generation battlecruisers for one modern German battlecruiser, three armored cruisers and three light cruisers isn't as awful as people make out.

German 'battlecruisers' never really fulfilled the role of the type as envisaged and it could be argued that they were relatively different beasts. Nonetheless in exchange for Lutzow, they sank:

Battlecruiser: Invincible, Indefatigable, Queen Mary
Armored Cruisers: Defence (1/5), Warrior (1/5)

Overall, the battlecruisers on both sides did the biggest proportion of damage to each other and to other forces.

 

Meanwhile, British battleships sank not a great deal in their single major engagement, Dreadnought rammed a submarine, most German battleships did similarly poorly though they heaped in to the Defence and Warrior at Jutland and did engage the Russians elsewhere to a limited degree.

53 minutes ago, Admiral_Thrawn_1 said:

But what if they had stored and transferred the Ammo properly? Makes the results possibly a little less conclusive if you factor in Grave levels human error of the crews rendering the Warships more vulnerable and making judgments on the true capabilities of their ships a little more difficult. 

Quite a lot of difference. Thin armor didn't matter too much in the losses of Invincible, Indefatigable and possibly Queen Mary too. The first two were likely sunk by uncontrolled fires resulting from hits to the gun turrets or barbettes. In contrast as you see with the Derfflinger at Jutland, and the Seydlitz at Heligoland Bight the German battlecruisers tended to survive major fires - Seydlitz had both her aft turrets completely burned out with 159 killed as a result of a partial penetration, and Derfflinger suffered two hits to her aft turrets which completely burned them out, killed about 150 crew, but again did not cause a powder explosion. Had either of those ships been equipped with British cordite it's likely they'd have been lost.

Thin armor was not necessarily the bane of British battlecruisers.

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Jutland May have been slightly less catastrophic for the RN had they followed proper procedures, but the BCs were in the battle line against other ships with battleship caliber guns...a position they weren’t intended to fill, it would have been bad for them regardless 

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25 minutes ago, dmckay said:

Just a comment about Hood.  I mentioned her sinking in a post some time ago and the hit that blew her up.  I got back a bunch of replies that argued her blowing up was not due to a shell hit but rather an internal explosion that had nothing to do with a shell from Bismarck.  It was an interesting exchange but not totally convincing. I just don't know what the hell happened but the internal explosion argument did seem to have some merit. :Smile_unsure:

I had heard a documentary looking into internal fire / explosion traveling through the ship as maybe the result of improper procedures involving hatches that should have been closed similar to Battles of Jutland RN Battlecruisers. But just as with Jutland in such a Scenerio it likely would have been from shell hit. And based on one source, there was a fire originating in one of the smaller caliber gun ammo storage areas they had up on decks. But a simple fire not caused by Bismarck would be a little harder to believe based on the fact this was HMS Hood, so the Maintenance and crew would have been better than usual. And we know that German gunnery tended to be more accurate, Hood did have some weak spots to be concerned about, and they were at the proper distance for Bosnarck or even Pronz Eugen I guess to have caused the damage. Whether it be to start the fire or even hit the Magazine.

Only other thing I can think of is if the Hood’s boilers could have had issues when they went into battle speed/ maneuvers. But once again I am fairly certain the Royal Navy kept the Hood in working order and that a weakness would have been found in the boilers if there was one roght?

Edited by Admiral_Thrawn_1

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9 minutes ago, Admiral_Thrawn_1 said:

I had heard a documentary looking into internal fire / explosion traveling through the ship as maybe the result of improper procedures involving hatches that should have been closed similar to Battles of Jutland RN Battlecruisers. But just as with Jutland in such a Scenerio it likely would have been from shell hit. And based on one source, there was a fire originating in one of the smaller caliber gun ammo storage areas they had up on decks. But a simple fire not caused by Bismarck would be a little harder to believe based on the fact this was HMS Hood, so the Maintenance and crew would have been better than usual. And we know that German gunnery tended to be more accurate, Hood did have some weak spots to be concerned about, and they were at the proper distance for Bosnarck or even Pronz Eugen I guess to have caused the damage. Whether it be to start the fire or even hit the Magazine.

Only other thing I can think of is if the Hood’s boilers could have had issues when they went into battle speed/ maneuvers. But once again I am fairly certain the Royal Navy kept the Hood in working order and that a weakness would have been found in the boilers if there was one roght?

I dunno what happened but I will say this.....Bismarck's accuracy was very good in that fight and a penetrating shell hit is perfectly plausible. Could have been something else but it seems the jury is still out on that.  At least for some.  Bismarck also put P of Wales out of action but that, in part, was due to PoW turrets being screwed up.  PoW DID get 3 hits on Bismarck which ended her mission.  Hood got none. Been interesting if PoW had all turrets functioning but she did not. Of course it's a "what if" so we will never know. PoW did put up a hell of a fight. 

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46 minutes ago, dmckay said:

Just a comment about Hood.  I mentioned her sinking in a post some time ago and the hit that blew her up.  I got back a bunch of replies that argued her blowing up was not due to a shell hit but rather an internal explosion that had nothing to do with a shell from Bismarck.  It was an interesting exchange but not totally convincing. I just don't know what the hell happened but the internal explosion argument did seem to have some merit. :Smile_unsure:

http://navweaps.com/index_inro/INRO_Hood.php

Does make an interesting case for Hood blowing herself up in an accident. Her after turrets were doing weird things, which could have been the crew disabling safety interlocks to get the aft batteries into action. The problem is, anyone that could have given those orders or knew what happened in the aft batteries was killed when the magazines exploded.

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44 minutes ago, SgtBeltfed said:

http://navweaps.com/index_inro/INRO_Hood.php

Does make an interesting case for Hood blowing herself up in an accident. Her after turrets were doing weird things, which could have been the crew disabling safety interlocks to get the aft batteries into action. The problem is, anyone that could have given those orders or knew what happened in the aft batteries was killed when the magazines exploded.

Tks for the book!  Gonna be a good read!  

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20 hours ago, Admiral_Thrawn_1 said:

Got thinking while studying some history today about how  truly effective or ineffective was the idea of Battlecruisers? Yes The HMS Hood was taken down quickly by what was considered an unlucky hit, but what if she had the armor refit she was scheduled for? Same result or perhaps different?

Battke of Jutland as well has some questions remaining as well, since the RN used rather appalling ordnance storage and handling which coupled with the thinner armor was distasterous. But what if they had stored and transferred the Ammo properly? Makes the results possibly a little less conclusive if you factor in Grave levels human error of the crews rendering the Warships more vulnerable and making judgments on the true capabilities of their ships a little more difficult.

Let’s include the Battlecruisers of other nations as well in this as well since it will help the discussion be more complete and interesting. Personally I feel the ideal of thinning out the armor and lightening the Armaments on many of the Battecruisers was really bad idea based on how they were used and what they faced. And I would much rather have been using a full fledged Battleship. But at least some of the Battlecruisers actually looked alright enough to me to handle decent variety of tasks they could face, so will be good topic to get started to see where it ends up. We have enough knowledgeable minds in the forum to get some good answers.

I know the game is certainly not perfect, but does draw on at least a little real world data, and some ships like HMS Hood do really well for and I enjoy them. Which also contributed to the questions that led to this thread, since a Battlecruiser like HMS Hood can use it’s speed to dictate the range of engament at time or even stay away from combatants if locations are know or suspected. Then again the fast Battleships would cut into this idea while still bring heavy armor to the fight, so once again more questions are raised.

Battlecruisers had excellent merit.  If anything, Battleships themselves were always at the edge of obsolescence.  The time when Battleship lines would slug it out against each other to decide the fate of nations was already a concept on the way out since Tsushima.  When it became clear the Russians were losing Tsushima, the Russians themselves couldn't escape despite disenganging because they didn't have the speed.  The result was nearly the total destruction and capture of the Russian fleet.  By Jutland, we see that it was the Battlecruisers that by far saw the most action and provide the most decisive role in the battle.   The big BC losses at Jutland, HMS Queen Mary, HMS Indefatigable, HMS Invincible were sunk by Battlecruisers, not Battleships.  Even the Lützow was scuttled via German torpedo.  The Battleships were too slow, almost passive players in the battle.  "Slow Battleships" were only ever effective at engaging "Slow Battleships", which therein lies the problem.  They were extremely expensive ships that only countered each other, while still being vulnerable to many different ships.

An Italian Speedboat managed to sink this Austro-Hungarian Battleship.  That's way more embarrassing and decisive then HMS Hood getting knocked out by the Bismarck, the largest Battleship ever built at the time.

956d0dbdf4bd1e8984ee8cd6eeca9a60.jpg

By WWII, the old slow Battleships were almost useless for decisive action.  Nearly anytime the US or Japanese thought to deploy their old Battleships, they decided against it because they were simply too slow.  It was understood, almost early on WWII that speed was everything.  The Iowas would be seen as the pinnacle of Battleships and thus retained until the 1980s, not because of her armor or guns, but because of her speed.  The Yamato with her heavy guns and heavy armor was almost retroactively considered obsolete at launch.  Meanwhile, despite perhaps meeting their ends in WWII, the Battlecruisers Dunkerque, Strasbourg, Hood, Repulse, Kongō, Hiei, Kirishima, Haruna, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau all made their marks on history despite being a old concept.  That's because Battleship armor had become obsolete and speed prized above all else.  Despite a Fast Battleship like Iowa having fairly thin armor, she didn't really need it anymore.

 

Now you make the point that Battleships will have the advantage against Battlecruisers.  Yes but at what cost?  The result is like a extremely expensive specialized warship capable of doing one thing only.  Fast Battleships had to be invented to get around their problems, but that only increase the expensive of the ships.  In all honesty, HMS Hood should not having fought the Bismarck, and neither should it have been considered necessary for the HMS Hood to do so.  This was a failure in planning, not a failing in design.  Due note that had HMS Hood not engaged Bismarck, the Bismarck would have no kills to her name and would have been one of the most worthless flagships in history.  Perhaps it would be better to think of capital ships in the context of tanks.  Having the heaviest armor did not result in a war winning weapon on land.  The cheaper, more mobile tanks like the Sherman and T-34s ended up being far more useful in battle because they were fast and could very effectively engage non-tank targets.  The Jagdtiger, virtually impenetrable from the front with it's thick armor still ended up being a worthless tank.

Edited by Royeaux
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https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Falkland_Islands

The Battle of the Falkland Islands serves as a great example of how well battlecruisers could perform in fleet action.  Wrote a paper on Admiral Graf Spee for school and covered his actions and final fight.  Needless to say, German cruisers were no match.

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How effective were battle-cruisers?

More than most give them credit for, I think. 

Battle-cruisers have a number of roles, the foremost of which are the hunting down and destruction of large armoured cruisers operating as commerce raiders and acting as part of the fleet's scouting force. That tactical advantages are undeniable, or else battle-cruiser design and construction would not have continued after Jutland. 

Its only once the 1930s come about that battle-cruisers really start to get long in the tooth. There are two reasons for this. The first and earliest is that the improvements in propulsion technology meant that the trade off between speed and armour (or firepower) no longer needed to be so radical as it had been. You could get fast, well protected, well armed, battleships. And because of the Naval Limitation treaties, these were a better investment than separate groups of slow, heavily armoured battleships and faster battle-cruisers. The second is the growth in the capabilities of aircraft, although that would only truly come to maturity in the late 1930s and early 40s. 

That the idea was sound can be seen in the revival of large cruisers to counter the more common Heavy Cruisers, even as their role as fleet scouts fell by the wayside. They are definitely a sort of latter day battle-cruiser (for the first battle-cruisers were themselves large cruisers), although that is another quagmire best left for today. 

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Battlecruisers, in WW1, were an idea ahead of their time, but by the late 1930 and early 40s, all major WW2 belligerents were designing their "Large" "Super" or XXL cruiser killers, Japan, the USA and the Soviet Union, all saw merit in the idea. Hence Stalingrad, Azuma and Alaska, to name but 3 designs.

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43 minutes ago, LoveBote said:

Battlecruisers, in WW1, were an idea ahead of their time, but by the late 1930 and early 40s, all major WW2 belligerents were designing their "Large" "Super" or XXL cruiser killers, Japan, the USA and the Soviet Union, all saw merit in the idea. Hence Stalingrad, Azuma and Alaska, to name but 3 designs.

I wouldn’t say „ahead of their time“ but rather based on false assumptions really. At least on the Brits‘ side. The German Battlecruisers actually layd the foundation for the „final“ fast battleship type. 

 

Comparing the later cruiser killers such as Alaska to the early Battlecruiser is misleading the same way as comparing the Oldman armored cruisers to the Panzerschiffe. They might have shared some similarities with regards to basic assumptions but apart from that they were different breeds really.

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25 minutes ago, lron_Dog_of_Jutland said:

I wouldn’t say „ahead of their time“ but rather based on false assumptions really. At least on the Brits‘ side. The German Battlecruisers actually layd the foundation for the „final“ fast battleship type. 

 

Comparing the later cruiser killers such as Alaska to the early Battlecruiser is misleading the same way as comparing the Oldman armored cruisers to the Panzerschiffe. They might have shared some similarities with regards to basic assumptions but apart from that they were different breeds really.

different breeds, but still horses, still, the same species. The concept of the hybrid cruiser killer, that had speed and big guns, is their shared dna.

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Battle cruisers filled a role, high speed eyes for the fleet...

But by the time WW2 came along, so did Radar. Near the end of the war, no nation was building them, they died out along with the BB and the ...... pocket battleship....

 

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7 hours ago, mr3awsome said:

How effective were battle-cruisers?

More than most give them credit for, I think. 

Battle-cruisers have a number of roles, the foremost of which are the hunting down and destruction of large armoured cruisers operating as commerce raiders and acting as part of the fleet's scouting force. That tactical advantages are undeniable, or else battle-cruiser design and construction would not have continued after Jutland. 

Its only once the 1930s come about that battle-cruisers really start to get long in the tooth. There are two reasons for this. The first and earliest is that the improvements in propulsion technology meant that the trade off between speed and armour (or firepower) no longer needed to be so radical as it had been. You could get fast, well protected, well armed, battleships. And because of the Naval Limitation treaties, these were a better investment than separate groups of slow, heavily armoured battleships and faster battle-cruisers. The second is the growth in the capabilities of aircraft, although that would only truly come to maturity in the late 1930s and early 40s. 

That the idea was sound can be seen in the revival of large cruisers to counter the more common Heavy Cruisers, even as their role as fleet scouts fell by the wayside. They are definitely a sort of latter day battle-cruiser (for the first battle-cruisers were themselves large cruisers), although that is another quagmire best left for today. 

Yes you could get a ship that had no trade off except cost, but cost is an important factor as that armor wasn't cheap.  Just how many Fast Battleships had actually had all that extra armor be put to use?  The only instance that I can think of that heavy Battleship armor actually saving the ship in a Fast Battleship engagement is when the Kirishima scored a direct hit against the South Dakota's barbette.  Were there any other instances where that Fast Battleship armor actually got put to use in saving the ship?

Edited by Royeaux

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8 hours ago, mr3awsome said:

Its only once the 1930s come about that battle-cruisers really start to get long in the tooth. There are two reasons for this. The first and earliest is that the improvements in propulsion technology meant that the trade off between speed and armour (or firepower) no longer needed to be so radical as it had been. You could get fast, well protected, well armed, battleships.

I think you could, on the caveat that you needed about 40,000 tons to do so.

Dunkerque (1932) for instance on about 27,000t was pretty deficient in firepower and protection compared to even an older battleship such as a Queen Elizabeth, all so  that she could achieve a fast battleship/battlecruiser speed.

The Nelson's (1922) on about 33,000t could provide the firepower of a battleship and heavy protection, but were deficient in speed.

The Scharnhorst's (1935) on 31,000t were less well armored than some think (you can draw a line into the citadel through only 125mm of armor - DoY did, and 80mm deck is poor) and pretty poorly armed, either in 9x 11in or 6x 15in form, but could manage ~32kt.

The KGV (1937) and NC (1937) classes at about 38,000t were better pound for pound than a Nelson, but still <30kt, less well armored and in theory less well armed in the case of KGV.

About the best all-around and fast (30kt) fast battleships on a small displacement were the Vittorio Veneto's, and they still needed 41,000t for 30kt, 9x15in and good armor.

 

It's not just technology, but size, 35,000-40,000t or so you can have a pretty mediocre, slow-end 'fast' BB doing about 28kt, below 35,000t you have to make serious speed-armor-firepower compromises, and only with about 40,000t and post-1935 technology can you seemingly have a properly fast, fast battleship.

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17 hours ago, Royeaux said:

Battlecruisers had excellent merit.  If anything, Battleships themselves were always at the edge of obsolescence.  The time when Battleship lines would slug it out against each other to decide the fate of nations was already a concept on the way out since Tsushima.  When it became clear the Russians were losing Tsushima, the Russians themselves couldn't escape despite disenganging because they didn't have the speed.  The result was nearly the total destruction and capture of the Russian fleet.  By Jutland, we see that it was the Battlecruisers that by far saw the most action and provide the most decisive role in the battle.   The big BC losses at Jutland, HMS Queen Mary, HMS Indefatigable, HMS Invincible were sunk by Battlecruisers, not Battleships.  Even the Lützow was scuttled via German torpedo.  The Battleships were too slow, almost passive players in the battle.  "Slow Battleships" were only ever effective at engaging "Slow Battleships", which therein lies the problem.  They were extremely expensive ships that only countered each other, while still being vulnerable to many different ships.

An Italian Speedboat managed to sink this Austro-Hungarian Battleship.  That's way more embarrassing and decisive then HMS Hood getting knocked out by the Bismarck, the largest Battleship ever built at the time.

956d0dbdf4bd1e8984ee8cd6eeca9a60.jpg

By WWII, the old slow Battleships were almost useless for decisive action.  Nearly anytime the US or Japanese thought to deploy their old Battleships, they decided against it because they were simply too slow.  It was understood, almost early on WWII that speed was everything.  The Iowas would be seen as the pinnacle of Battleships and thus retained until the 1980s, not because of her armor or guns, but because of her speed.  The Yamato with her heavy guns and heavy armor was almost retroactively considered obsolete at launch.  Meanwhile, despite perhaps meeting their ends in WWII, the Battlecruisers Dunkerque, Strasbourg, Hood, Repulse, Kongō, Hiei, Kirishima, Haruna, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau all made their marks on history despite being a old concept.  That's because Battleship armor had become obsolete and speed prized above all else.  Despite a Fast Battleship like Iowa having fairly thin armor, she didn't really need it anymore.

 

Now you make the point that Battleships will have the advantage against Battlecruisers.  Yes but at what cost?  The result is like a extremely expensive specialized warship capable of doing one thing only.  Fast Battleships had to be invented to get around their problems, but that only increase the expensive of the ships.  In all honesty, HMS Hood should not having fought the Bismarck, and neither should it have been considered necessary for the HMS Hood to do so.  This was a failure in planning, not a failing in design.  Due note that had HMS Hood not engaged Bismarck, the Bismarck would have no kills to her name and would have been one of the most worthless flagships in history.  Perhaps it would be better to think of capital ships in the context of tanks.  Having the heaviest armor did not result in a war winning weapon on land.  The cheaper, more mobile tanks like the Sherman and T-34s ended up being far more useful in battle because they were fast and could very effectively engage non-tank targets.  The Jagdtiger, virtually impenetrable from the front with it's thick armor still ended up being a worthless tank.

Some excellent points you made, however I would like to make a small correction if I may. 

While T-34s and Shermans were able to be produced cheaply and provide reasonable firepower, they did have some drawbacks in both designs. One of them being difficulties in solo of limited quantities usage, where as the German Tigers could hold off the enemy quite effectively. But have to agree that Jadtiger and especially Maus were impractical for anything other than limited defense roles. Although you could say that KV tanks were in the same boat as they were useful earlier in the Was when Russia was on the defensive, but once they were rapidly pushing Germans back all the way to Berlin they became less practical and usable.

Tigers main hinderence was the fact Germany was facing fuel shortages, if they had the same fuel supplies as the allies, then the Tiger becomes far better if you look at the kill / losses ratio for when Tigers were able to actually fight and how many were lost to enemy actions and not to mechanical failures.

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2 hours ago, Royeaux said:

Yes you could get a ship that had no trade off except cost, but cost is an important factor as that armor wasn't cheap.  Just how many Fast Battleships had actually had all that extra armor be put to use?  The only instance that I can think of that heavy Battleship armor actually saving the ship in a Fast Battleship engagement is when the Kirishima scored a direct hit against the South Dakota's barbette.  Were there any other instances where that Fast Battleship armor actually got put to use in saving the ship?

You could say that Bismarck, Tirpitz, and Yamato were saved by their armor from heavy attacks. Of course following repaeated attacks took down 2 of them, and rendered Bismarck crippled to the point the crew felt the need to scuttle the ship.

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23 hours ago, dmckay said:

I dunno what happened but I will say this.....Bismarck's accuracy was very good in that fight and a penetrating shell hit is perfectly plausible. Could have been something else but it seems the jury is still out on that.  At least for some.  Bismarck also put P of Wales out of action but that, in part, was due to PoW turrets being screwed up.  PoW DID get 3 hits on Bismarck which ended her mission.  Hood got none. Been interesting if PoW had all turrets functioning but she did not. Of course it's a "what if" so we will never know. PoW did put up a hell of a fight. 

Funnily enough, Prince of Wales actually shot better Bismarck in that action, scoring 3 hits on Bismarck out of 55 shells fired (5.45%), while Bismarck scored 4 hits between the Hood and PoW, or 4.39%.

PoW's shooting was greatly hindered by the jamming and failures-to-fire, while Bismarck was greatly aided by the British course - she didn't need to adjust for range, only bearing, when she switched target to PoW after sinking Hood. Her gunnery officer helped make the difference, deviating from standard procedure to score hits on Hood more rapidly than he would have otherwise, and as mentioned before the British course made things easy after that.

 

It makes one wonder just how different things might've been had the British lead with Prince of Wales rather than Hood - and if Prince of Wales guns had been more co-operative...

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On 12/30/2018 at 4:27 PM, HazeGrayUnderway said:

I think the idea of the Battlecruiser had merit in the WWI era where Battleships were much slower with 21kt, 22kt speeds, but by the time of the 1930s with better technology, you had Battleships appearing with 27kts, 30kts or so.  The moment BBs got those speeds, Battlecruisers were rendered obsolete, and navies bought into BBs more with such capabilities.

 

On 12/30/2018 at 4:44 PM, SgtBeltfed said:

If British battlecruisers were used for the roles for which they were designed, they would have worked just fine. They were to be scouts, patrol the sea lanes looking for raiders, and have the range to span the British Empire. In no way, shape or form were they meant for the line of battle. The critical flaw in the thinking was, no British Admiral was ever going to keep Battlecruisers out of the battle line. The British were so sure of their superiority, they weren't going to run away under any reasonable circumstance. The more guns the better, pray nobody shoots them, and tell Jackie Fisher where to stuff it when we take them into battle, not like he'd be any different in the field anyway.

German Battlecruisers, were actually fast battleships, and built to counter British Battlecruisers. The intended target was British Battlecruisers, which have the same guns as British Battleships, so the armor was appropriate. The Germans understood that a big ship with big guns was going to end up in the battle line anyway, so that armor is a good thing all around. The loss in speed isn't that important, just means the faster ship chooses the range that they will shell each other, as the limitations of gunnery was about the same. The shorter cruising range also didn't matter for the Germans, they were close enough to counter the British home fleet and in the event of a war, German overseas holdings were doomed anyway.

 

On 12/30/2018 at 5:08 PM, JohnPJones said:

Jutland May have been slightly less catastrophic for the RN had they followed proper procedures, but the BCs were in the battle line against other ships with battleship caliber guns...a position they weren’t intended to fill, it would have been bad for them regardless 

I believe that WW1 was the highpoint for the BC, with the final example, the Hood being the 'ultimate' BC.

When used as they were intended, to fight surface raiders and cruisers, they did well. The issue is when they were brought into the Battle Line, something they were not designed for. Their weakness, was really the heavy guns of BBs and other BCs.

 

Even though Hood was the 'Ultimate' BC, time doesn't slow down, and developments continue. By WW2, Hood needed a refit/rebuild desperately. Renown and Repulse had been rebuilt, Hood would have received a similar reconstruction. Would that have helped her against the Bismarck? That's up for discussion. It all depends on that fatal hit.

On 12/30/2018 at 5:19 PM, Admiral_Thrawn_1 said:

I had heard a documentary looking into internal fire / explosion traveling through the ship as maybe the result of improper procedures involving hatches that should have been closed similar to Battles of Jutland RN Battlecruisers. But just as with Jutland in such a Scenario it likely would have been from shell hit. And based on one source, there was a fire originating in one of the smaller caliber gun ammo storage areas they had up on decks. But a simple fire not caused by Bismarck would be a little harder to believe based on the fact this was HMS Hood, so the Maintenance and crew would have been better than usual. And we know that German gunnery tended to be more accurate, Hood did have some weak spots to be concerned about, and they were at the proper distance for Bismarck or even Prinz Eugen I guess to have caused the damage. Whether it be to start the fire or even hit the Magazine.

Only other thing I can think of is if the Hood’s boilers could have had issues when they went into battle speed/ maneuvers. But once again I am fairly certain the Royal Navy kept the Hood in working order and that a weakness would have been found in the boilers if there was one roght?

 

Based on the wreck, Hood had entered a turn to bring her aft guns to bare on Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. It is possible a shell from a Bismarck salvo penetrated the belt armor as she turned and was able to hit the aft magazine, which did explode. The deck fire may not have had anything to do with her loss. But again, no smoking gun, all we have are theories.

As for the Hood's plant condition, it was poor. She badly needed a refit. She had basically been in continual service throughout the 30s, and when WW2 began, she was one of the few ships that could keep up with the German BBs. By the time she faced Bismarck, she could not make her top speed, she also had issues with her condensers producing enough fresh water to service the boilers. 

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