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Aristotle83

Pre Dreadnoughts obsolesce overstated?

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First want to make clear what I'm not saying. Obviously after Dreadnought it didn't make sense to make pre dreadnoughts anymore. French, Russian and Austro-Hungarian semi-dreadnoughts that sought a compromise between all big guns and a strong secondary battery as late as 5-6 years after Dreadnought were mistakes. Pre Dreadnoughts regardless of combat ability were far more vulnerable to mines, torpedos etc. I'm talking about them being obsolete in terms of combat with dreadnoughts once they were built. Asking if the main issue with pre dreadnoughts and even dreadnoughts might have been it's lack of speed against battlecruisers rather than being outgunned by the early dreadnoughts?

Battle Info from wikipedia accounts on battles

First example I want to bring up is the Deutschland class at the Battle of Jutland. The "five minute" ships which the Germans were forced to bring with the High Seas fleet. The ships were considerably weaker, slower and were taken out of the fleet after Jutland. The Duetschlands as the last German pre dreadnought class, with members among the last pre dreadnought ships to survive it's easy to come to the conclusion these were among the strongest pre dreadnoughts. Truth was Germany's last pre dreadnoughts were considerably inferior to the most recent pre dreadnoughts of every other major navy. Every other major navy except Austria-Hungary(in part cause it took them longer to abandon mixed batteries) ended up commissioning 2 classes of "semi dreadnoughts" with secondary batteries of smaller big guns, such as 8 inches, 9.2 and 9.4 inches.  The Duetschlands had a battery of 14 5.9 inch secondaries(similar configuration to Mikasa) and had 4 11 inch guns while most pre dreadnoughts going back to Majestic had 4 12 inch guns. Some pre dreadnoughts could go around 20 knots typical of dreadnought battleship. Duetschalands speed was typical for a pre dreadnought though and some dreadnoughts(USN cough) had similarily slow speeds. 

The point is Duetschland is not really the best metric to rate the ineffectiveness of pre dreadnoughts in combat with battleships, 12 years after it's design, when it had already not compared well to it's peers. The Duetschlands did show surviability against battleship shells despite their lesser armor and the only pre dreadnought of the class sunk was done so by a torpedo from a DD not in battle. The point is they were not the best case study to examine the performance of pre dreadnought BB's.

While many of the best pre dreadnoughts never saw action, the exception is Russias mostly against Goeben/Yayuz in the Black Sea. In the battle of Cape Sarych in late 1914 which was four minutes long. Goeben a battlecruiser encountered 5 Russian pre dreanoughts. Goeben had 10 11 inch guns a speed of over 25 knots. The Russian BB's 3 of which were built before 1900 could only go 15 knots. The 2 more modern BB's could only go 16 knots, and were armed with 4 8 inch guns to go with the conventional 4 12 inch guns. The Goeben was not only 9-10 knots faster but actually had stronger belt armor than the Russian BB's. One of the more modern Russian BB's Evstafi hit Goeben but was hit 5 times. The Goeben retreated after 4 minutes. Several months later the Goeben encountered the Russian BB's again(4 of the same 5). This time in a battle that lasted about 20 minutes she got hit twice. While she was facing 5 BB's, the all big gun battery did not score 1 hit. In both these cases, the main issue was the battlecruiser ability to start and conclude the battle as it saw fit not superior armament. The following year Goeben engaged one of the Imperatiritisa class dreadnoughts 12 12 inch guns 21 knots you know the Russian configuration. Neither scored a hit in half an hour and once again Goeben left as it pleased still being considerably faster. In 1918 at the battle of Imbros, Goeben almost faced a Lord Nelson semi dreadnought when it hit a mine. Like in these other engagements Goeben could have started and ended the battle at will. So what's the point of all this? The point is a Dreadnought would not have been able to start and end the engagement at will(until the QE's) with pre dreadnoughts and the BB pre dreadnought and the dreadnought poor performances in these battles has more to do with their lack of speed. 

The last Dreadnought v Pre Dreadnought battles were in the Baltic. Slava which participated in two battles with German dreadnoughts. It was the last survivor of the Borodinos from Russo-Japanese War, and while among the most modern ships in that cursed Russian fleet they were typical pre dreadnoughts from the turn of the century and were defeated by such ships like Mikasa. In the first battle in 1915 Slava was fighting 2 Nassau class dreadnoughts which scored 3 hits and forced her to retreat. Two years later more modern Dreadnoughts Konig and Kaiser class Kronprinz. Konig sunk the Slava hitting it 7 times in about half an hour. Slava's forward turret was inoperable and she did not have the ability to fight back which I guess is another issue with pre dreadnoughts when you have only 2 big gun turrets. 

In conclusion don't think the evidence is there that pre dreadnoughts were obsolete with the commissioning of Dreadnought. All the cases we have of pre dreadnoughts fighting Dreadnoughts/Battlecruisers whether it be the Borodinos, Duetschlands fighting Dreadnoughts were obsolete prior to the commissioning of Dreadnought. The Borodinos and their sinking at Tsumina were a large part of why Dreadnought was commissioned and ironically the surviving Borodino was the only pre dreadnought sunk by a dreadnought. How could any of the compromise designs be indicted on the fate of a class they were trying their best not to emulate? The other members of the class had been sunk by Japan's old pre dreadnoughts though. Evstafi was probably the best pre dreadnought to fight an all big gun ship with a few 8 inch secondaries but it was very slow even for a pre dreadnought. Evstafi did well against but Goebens speed just allowed her to slip away. A dreadnought while considerably faster still faced the same situation. While an all big gun battery is clearly ideal due to range and superior the idea that all pre dreadnoughts guns were obsolete against the first few years of Dreadnoughts isn't something I think there's the evidence for(at least on the battlefield). Battlecruisers speed seemed to be much more decisive in world war I whether we're looking at Helgoland Blight, Jutland or the battles i was talking about in the black sea. After WW1 no BB was built slower than the speed of WW1 battlecruiser(the early ones). While UK, French and Austrian planned BB's were more sluggish speeds, US, Japanese, Italian and German's plans for their next BB's would have been battlecruiser speeds.

Of course Dreadnought still made everyone act like every other battleship was obsolete and was more historically relevant than the battlecruiser in that way. Just questioning the battlefield experience that proves that because the all big guns never came into play. 

Tried to cut down the paragraphs and make it as direct as possible. Anyway hope this can trigger a discussion on this, hope to learn more.

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The German pre-Dreadnoughts were less obsolescent than other country's so they used a few but even then their issues in trying to operate with the much faster turbine powered Dreadnoughts slowed the fleet and in any situation that required the fleet to go at maximum speed meant that they would be left behind.

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8 hours ago, Aristotle83 said:

 French, Russian and Austro-Hungarian semi-dreadnoughts that sought a compromise between all big guns and a strong secondary battery as late as 5-6 years after Dreadnought were mistakes. 

Mistakes is somewhat harsh. Late is probably closer to the truth, and there are good reasons for it. Mainly relating to limited supplies of money and long gestation & build times. 

8 hours ago, Aristotle83 said:

Asking if the main issue with pre dreadnoughts and even dreadnoughts might have been it's lack of speed against battlecruisers rather than being outgunned by the early dreadnoughts?

Not just lack of speed, but inability to maintain the top speed for a prolonged period. Though, as that is VTE related, it isn't exclusive to pre-Dreadnoughts. 

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Pre-dreadnoughts by 1914 come in two 'flavors,' obsolescent and obsolete.

The obsolete ones are the older types with inferior quality armor and guns that aren't up to 1914 technological standards, and aren't even close.  These ships are also 10 to 20+ years old and have serious maintenance issues.  These weren't worth considering for repair or upgrading.

The obsolescent ones were the more modern pre-dreadnoughts and semi-dreadnoughts that had an often turreted and fairly powerful secondary battery.  These ships while slow had armor that was close to or equal to many first generation dreadnoughts.  Their two weaknesses were lower speed, a minor consideration tactically, and the four gun main battery.

These ships might have been worth upgrading in some fairly inexpensive ways to keep them relevant and in service for a few more years.  The two most relevant upgrades would have been to increase the elevation of the secondary battery to give these guns sufficient range to engage targets at ranges comparable to the larger but low elevation guns on dreadnought main batteries at the time.  This would have added a useful plunging fire and most late pre-dreadnoughts had sufficiently large enough caliber guns that this modification would make them dangerous.

The other modification would be to upgrade their fire controls to make full use of the first modification.  Neither modification would have been that difficult to carryout.

The combination would have made a pre-dreadnought dangerous enough to any first generation dreadnought that they could stay in first-line service at least through 1918.

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2 hours ago, Murotsu said:

Pre-dreadnoughts by 1914 come in two 'flavors,' obsolescent and obsolete.

The obsolete ones are the older types with inferior quality armor and guns that aren't up to 1914 technological standards, and aren't even close.  These ships are also 10 to 20+ years old and have serious maintenance issues.  These weren't worth considering for repair or upgrading.

The obsolescent ones were the more modern pre-dreadnoughts and semi-dreadnoughts that had an often turreted and fairly powerful secondary battery.  These ships while slow had armor that was close to or equal to many first generation dreadnoughts.  Their two weaknesses were lower speed, a minor consideration tactically, and the four gun main battery.

These ships might have been worth upgrading in some fairly inexpensive ways to keep them relevant and in service for a few more years.  The two most relevant upgrades would have been to increase the elevation of the secondary battery to give these guns sufficient range to engage targets at ranges comparable to the larger but low elevation guns on dreadnought main batteries at the time.  This would have added a useful plunging fire and most late pre-dreadnoughts had sufficiently large enough caliber guns that this modification would make them dangerous.

The other modification would be to upgrade their fire controls to make full use of the first modification.  Neither modification would have been that difficult to carryout.

The combination would have made a pre-dreadnought dangerous enough to any first generation dreadnought that they could stay in first-line service at least through 1918.

There's a few big issues with upgrading the fire control on a pre-dreadnought, and extending the range of the guns.

The secondary guns had different ballistics as compared to the main guns, and as such needed to spotted for separately. As the ranges get longer, the shell splashes are harder to tell apart.

The other issue has to do with finding space and weight for two complete centralized fire control systems on a ship that wasn't built to carry any. Most pre-dreadnoughts are somewhat lacking in the superstructure department, and keeping double sets of rangefinders and directors away from turreted 8" or 9.2" guns will be problematic. Producing the fire control equipment is also an issue, as every pre-dreadnought that receives modern fire control equipment is a new built or freshly refitted dreadnought and armored cruiser that isn't.

The best use for them was to assigned pre-dreadnoughts to places where combat with a dreadnought was unlikely. After all, having a pre-dreadnought in a WWI cruiser fight is still a major advantage.

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51 minutes ago, SgtBeltfed said:

There's a few big issues with upgrading the fire control on a pre-dreadnought, and extending the range of the guns.

The secondary guns had different ballistics as compared to the main guns, and as such needed to spotted for separately. As the ranges get longer, the shell splashes are harder to tell apart.

The other issue has to do with finding space and weight for two complete centralized fire control systems on a ship that wasn't built to carry any. Most pre-dreadnoughts are somewhat lacking in the superstructure department, and keeping double sets of rangefinders and directors away from turreted 8" or 9.2" guns will be problematic. Producing the fire control equipment is also an issue, as every pre-dreadnought that receives modern fire control equipment is a new built or freshly refitted dreadnought and armored cruiser that isn't.

The best use for them was to assigned pre-dreadnoughts to places where combat with a dreadnought was unlikely. After all, having a pre-dreadnought in a WWI cruiser fight is still a major advantage.

The difference in ballistics is minimal given the slow rate of fire of pre-dreadnought main batteries.  Thus, spotting is relatively easily done as the secondary salvos could be kept separate from the main battery salvos of just 2 or 4 shells.

Centralized fire control at the time wasn't a major weight issue.  This is what the British were using in several different marks:

512px-DreyerTableMarkIVAndIVStar_front_1

You add a rangefinder and spotter (for azimuth) on the tops.  Again not much weight to add as there are already spotting tops on many later pre-dreadnoughts.

FredJaneNavalWarGame-20-02-16-05.jpg

This is HMS Canopus about the time she was in the Falklands during WW 1.  You can see she already has a spotting top on the foremast.

HMS_Canopus_news_mimic.jpg

 

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35 minutes ago, Murotsu said:

The difference in ballistics is minimal given the slow rate of fire of pre-dreadnought main batteries.  Thus, spotting is relatively easily done as the secondary salvos could be kept separate from the main battery salvos of just 2 or 4 shells.

Centralized fire control at the time wasn't a major weight issue.  This is what the British were using in several different marks:

512px-DreyerTableMarkIVAndIVStar_front_1

You add a rangefinder and spotter (for azimuth) on the tops.  Again not much weight to add as there are already spotting tops on many later pre-dreadnoughts.

FredJaneNavalWarGame-20-02-16-05.jpg

This is HMS Canopus about the time she was in the Falklands during WW 1.  You can see she already has a spotting top on the foremast.

HMS_Canopus_news_mimic.jpg

 

The pole masts couldn't support the directors, so the Royal Navy went to tripods like HMS Collingwood. which here is carrying the equipment she received in 1916. 

Collingwood_at_Rosyth,_1917.jpg

Also, even prior to WWI, the rate of fire had increased since Battle of Tsushima, a 12"/45 (30.5 cm) Mark X gun could manage 1.5 rounds per minute, the 9.2"/50 (23.4 cm) Mark XI can manage 3 to 5 rounds per minute. Spotting difficulties was one of the reasons that the South Carolina's were built with a uniform main battery. Then again, the US Navy probably was still having nightmares spotting gunfire from these.

011314.jpg

 

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Tripod masts offer more rigidity.  The previous braced pole masts could obviously take the weight as HMS Canopus shows.  The difference would be that the extra rigidity would make the instruments more stable along with clearing a lot of top hamper from the ship.  It doesn't mean that a pole mast wouldn't work.

While no solution for pre-dreadnoughts would bring them up to dreadnought standards, improving the existing secondary battery and fire controls would have been a big help and made these ships at least somewhat competitive.

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On 6/30/2020 at 10:34 PM, Aristotle83 said:

Pre Dreadnoughts obsolesce overstated?

By WWII, their slow speed damned them.  Just about the only thing they could overtake was a merchant vessel.  While a Pre-Dread could certainly outfight a Destroy or an old Cruiser, it would have to be the Destroyer or Cruiser that would initiate the battle with their superior speed.  With the in-ability to actively engage any ship it would be superior against because of the colossal speed differences, you begin to see them as a waste of funding.

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I did come up with a potential use for such ships in a WW 2 setting, assuming they could have been kept in reasonable operating condition...

That is they are modified to act as convoy escorts.  This would have involved their getting some upgrades in torpedo defense and having some of their armor and armament removed.  The secondary battery is reduced to say 8 guns (4 per side of about 6" in size) with increased elevation and armor stripped to lighten the ship.  The main battery is retained and given more elevation (say 20 to 30 degrees rather than 15) and a new anti-submarine round fired on a low charge with a range of about 10,000 yards at most is issued.  This would in effect be a round similar to Squid or Limbo in design.  A small number of 12" AP and HE rounds are carried just in case.  The ship gets sonar and radar fitted along with some AA weapons.  They have searchlights added if they don't have such aboard already.

With a cruising speed of say 12 knots they can stay up with a convoy.  They act in concert with the other ASW ships and provide sonar and radar coverage, can fire a four round salvo of depth charges onto a target at up to 5 nm from their position using the main battery.  They can provide depth charge attacks like any other ASW ship as well when necessary but that isn't their main function.  Their primary one is to take on surfaced U-boats trying to approach the convoy, provide a long-range ASW capacity acting on data supplied from another escort to fire 12" depth charges from the main battery. They also provide some degree of security against surface raiders and would clearly stand up to even a German BB better than some armed merchant cruiser or ship.

This would have made one of these old pre-dreadnoughts into a large ASW vessel and convoy escort, roles it would be well suited to carry out.

 

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16 hours ago, Sventex said:

By WWII, their slow speed damned them.  Just about the only thing they could overtake was a merchant vessel.  While a Pre-Dread could certainly outfight a Destroy or an old Cruiser, it would have to be the Destroyer or Cruiser that would initiate the battle with their superior speed.  With the in-ability to actively engage any ship it would be superior against because of the colossal speed differences, you begin to see them as a waste of funding.

Them being obsolete in WW2 is different, even the most state of the art WW1 capital ships were obsolete in some ways. The surviving pre dreadnoughts of the Duetschland class were only around due to Germany's circumstances. Greece bought 2 scaled back semish dreadnoughts from the US which got taken out by aircraft a fate that many more advanced ships would meet. Talking about the decade following Dreadnought..

In terms of looking for a role my first instinct to the limitations you're saying would be shelling coastal positions forcing nearby ships to initiate the battle if they wanted to intervene. Their numbers would let you do this multiple places at once. The Germans who would have liked this capability didn't really have the numbers for that but the UK, US, France did. Using battlecruisers in a group like Germany did in WW1 is more of a hit and run thing. But again the speed limitations in their scope varied among different classes. Until the QE's dreadnoughts despite being more powerful still had that limitation. Also been learning about coastal defense ships and monitors which are considerably weaker, scaled down and ordered in smaller numbers. These were normal among third rate powers in WW2 and in the case of Sweden a handful of these were enough to deter the Nazis from invading a country whose resources and strategic position in regards to the USSR would have been very helpful to have. The UK even continued building Monitors in both World Wars, 80 years after the Monitor from the Civil War. 

I also think the panic about Dreadnoughts setting the naval balance of power to zero is due to a UK narrative which I do not trust on naval narratives on the same side. Same reason the one way naval arms race with Germany is considered a historical event when an actual account of what the Germans had showed at best the Germans navy buildup narrowly would have broken the 2 to 1 standard. But while the UK frantically started building Dreadnoughts after 1906 as if this was true no one really followed with Russia, Japan, France, Italy, France and Austria-Hungary, France, Italy all waited about a half decade to start building their first set of dreadnoughts. The Germans and Americans who followed first did not match the UK in not just number of ships, but the rate they built them, also the first class of German and US dreadnoughts were scaled down compromises. So curious to know if Dreadnought making everything obsolete is 1920-2020 logic or if that was a the majority view at the time. Because a lot about the early dreadnought era seems dictated by hindsight(which is bizzare given how little dreadnoughts were used), if it was so obvious why did almost everyone else not follow along? 

Agree with Murotsu on convoy protection. Countries with bases and large colonial empires could have used them to defend their large empires. To attack a convoy the enemy(outside of CV's who wouldn't be used for this) must come to you and slower better protected units with heavier guns would have been a disaster for attackers. Reason why naval disarmament disfavored UK so much in WW2. What good does supremacy do you if you don't have enough boats to send all the places you need them?

 

 

Edited by Aristotle83

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On 7/1/2020 at 5:29 PM, Murotsu said:

Pre-dreadnoughts by 1914 come in two 'flavors,' obsolescent and obsolete.

The obsolete ones are the older types with inferior quality armor and guns that aren't up to 1914 technological standards, and aren't even close.  These ships are also 10 to 20+ years old and have serious maintenance issues.  These weren't worth considering for repair or upgrading.

The obsolescent ones were the more modern pre-dreadnoughts and semi-dreadnoughts that had an often turreted and fairly powerful secondary battery.  These ships while slow had armor that was close to or equal to many first generation dreadnoughts.  Their two weaknesses were lower speed, a minor consideration tactically, and the four gun main battery.

These ships might have been worth upgrading in some fairly inexpensive ways to keep them relevant and in service for a few more years.  The two most relevant upgrades would have been to increase the elevation of the secondary battery to give these guns sufficient range to engage targets at ranges comparable to the larger but low elevation guns on dreadnought main batteries at the time.  This would have added a useful plunging fire and most late pre-dreadnoughts had sufficiently large enough caliber guns that this modification would make them dangerous.

The other modification would be to upgrade their fire controls to make full use of the first modification.  Neither modification would have been that difficult to carryout.

The combination would have made a pre-dreadnought dangerous enough to any first generation dreadnought that they could stay in first-line service at least through 1918.

Here did a breadown of how many of the "obsolescent" pre dreadnoughts each nation had. 

Semi-Dreadnoughts

UK-12

USA-11-13

France-12 

Russia-4

Japan 4

Austria-Hungary 3

Italy 2

 

You also had some of the more old pre dreadnoughts owned by the UK, US, French and Italians which had smaller calibar 13 inch+guns(which I didn't count cause of their age many having been scrapped for reason you're describing in your post above). While the guns and the ships themselves were considerably less advanced those were still some heavy af shells. The old Indiana class for example had 4 13 inch guns and 8 8 inch guns. Pre Super Dreadnoughts of a sort. The non US ones are considered "ironclads" per wikipedia not battleships though. 

 

 

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On 7/3/2020 at 12:04 PM, Aristotle83 said:

I also think the panic about Dreadnoughts setting the naval balance of power to zero is due to a UK narrative which I do not trust on naval narratives on the same side.

It comes down to combat effectiveness.  HMS Dreadnought not only well over double the big guns of a Pre-Dread, she was faster at the same time.  There is no overstating how dangerous that would be, a ship like that could outfight 2 Pre-Dreadnoughts at the same time, dictate the range and win.  While Pre-Dreadnoughts could assist in the Fleet-In-Being concept and assist in a blockade they were no longer war winning assets, despite being almost as expensive to maintain as Dreadnoughts.  Pre-Dreadnoughts were effectively dead-end technology and a waste of money to build any more of them after HMS Dreadnought.

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On 7/5/2020 at 2:45 PM, Sventex said:

It comes down to combat effectiveness.  HMS Dreadnought not only well over double the big guns of a Pre-Dread, she was faster at the same time.  There is no overstating how dangerous that would be, a ship like that could outfight 2 Pre-Dreadnoughts at the same time, dictate the range and win.  While Pre-Dreadnoughts could assist in the Fleet-In-Being concept and assist in a blockade they were no longer war winning assets, despite being almost as expensive to maintain as Dreadnoughts.  Pre-Dreadnoughts were effectively dead-end technology and a waste of money to build any more of them after HMS Dreadnought.

I get the waste of money part in terms of future investment for the major powers
(not minor one given how coastal battleships continued to be a thing for decades). Talking about the obsolesence of the ones the pre dreadnoughts that existed. Dreadnoughts despite using turbins weren't all that much faster and in certain cases were around the same speed. In a lot of these situations too the accuracy was horrible regardless. 

And given how many pre dreanoughts there were pre 1906 the fleet in being case is certainly valid especially for the UK, US or one of the navies with one of the big fleets. Let's say somehow Germany cleans the field at Jutland(at the loss of it's own fleet), the UK has like 60 pre dreanoughts not to mention the Dreadnoughts which weren't present and the ones about to be completed. The concept that this somehow reset everything to zero is something I don't get given the(limited) combat record and the fact most major navies took their time converting despite as you said the price(in the beginning) being pretty similar. Armored cruisers which mostly used that same "hail of fire" concept of pre dreadnoughts on a scaled down basis were not seen as obsolete(or maybe they were and it just isn't as talked about?) and got a far harsher reality check in WW1 than the pre dreadnoughts did. 

Edited by Aristotle83

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On 7/6/2020 at 7:56 PM, Aristotle83 said:

I get the waste of money part in terms of future investment for the major powers
(not minor one given how coastal battleships continued to be a thing for decades). Talking about the obsolesence of the ones the pre dreadnoughts that existed. Dreadnoughts despite using turbins weren't all that much faster and in certain cases were around the same speed. In a lot of these situations too the accuracy was horrible regardless. 

And given how many pre dreanoughts there were pre 1906 the fleet in being case is certainly valid especially for the UK, US or one of the navies with one of the big fleets. Let's say somehow Germany cleans the field at Jutland(at the loss of it's own fleet), the UK has like 60 pre dreanoughts not to mention the Dreadnoughts which weren't present and the ones about to be completed. The concept that this somehow reset everything to zero is something I don't get given the(limited) combat record and the fact most major navies took their time converting despite as you said the price(in the beginning) being pretty similar. Armored cruisers which mostly used that same "hail of fire" concept of pre dreadnoughts on a scaled down basis were not seen as obsolete(or maybe they were and it just isn't as talked about?) and got a far harsher reality check in WW1 than the pre dreadnoughts did. 

Well the UK nearly destroyed itself building Battleships in the lead up to WWI, which is why all those London and Washington Naval Treaties were voluntarily signed.  Those pre-dreadnoughts were actively poison to the fleets and to the nation itself, draining of them of funds and personal.  While certainly those 60 pre-dreads could prevent a theoretical naval invasion, they would never catch a German Battlecruiser Squadron and 60 pre-dreadnoughts would be to expensive to deploy in a Napoleonic style blockade, so effectively the British blockade would be broken after Jutland.  Even a 3kt difference is enough for the pre-dreadnoughts to fail at intercepting another fleet.  And another problem is that the "hail of fire" concept make the Pre-Dreadnought weaker because they had difficulty in figuring out which guns were making what splashes, which badly affected fire control and accuracy.  The all big guns Dreadnought was like combining 2 and 2 and getting 5.

It's like when the French invented smokeless powder.  It effectively reset all the other nation's weapons technology to zero.  All weapons development was halted in favor of emergency programs to develop smokeless powder, because the French now had a gun that could shoot twice the far, could do more damage, didn't cloud the battlefield with smoke and didn't foul their own barrels.  Yes a black powder rifle could still kill and some were deployed in WWI, but smokeless powder was superior in all respects and did not cost more then black powder.  The obsolete weapons belonged with garrisoning and defence duties and not much more.

Edited by Sventex

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The pre-dreadnoughts historically were valuable in many secondary theaters.  For example, the HMS Canopus was in the Falklands and kept the German Pacific squadron at bay until a battlecruiser squadron could arrive and take the Germans out.  In the Mediterranean pre-dreadnoughts were used extensively for gunfire support and even as frontline warships.  There were few dreadnoughts to be had there most of the time so the pre-dreadnoughts were still viable ships. 

 

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On 7/3/2020 at 3:04 PM, Aristotle83 said:

So curious to know if Dreadnought making everything obsolete is 1920-2020 logic or if that was a the majority view at the time. Because a lot about the early dreadnought era seems dictated by hindsight(which is bizzare given how little dreadnoughts were used), if it was so obvious why did almost everyone else not follow along?

Some countries had more a clue than others, and Japan was actually slightly ahead of the Royal Navy in the concept, if not the execution.The Satsuma-class was supposed to be an all 12" gun armed battleships, but the Japanese couldn't afford it, she she got redesigned as a semi-dreadnought with a split battery of 12" and 10" guns.

The real problem lies with the what was seen by observers in the aftermath of the battle of Tsushima. There was a lot of confirmation bias among the observers, they saw Russian ships absolutely shredded by small caliber guns, with a couple big holes in them from the heavy guns in the fleet, and had assumed the British built ships in the Japanese fleet had functioned as designed, first crippling the Russian with the fast firing small caliber guns, then finishing them off with the slow firing main guns. It was backwards. The big guns crippled the Russian ships, and the smaller guns were simply an accessory to executing the crippled ships. Jackie Fisher figured it out, and Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō likely knew before Tsushima was over. The Russians also should have had the answers, but were worse off than the Japanese in being able to use that information.

The real "Oh My God, What Did the British Build!!! We're All Doomed!!!" trigger probably wasn't Dreadnought's all big guns or her turbines, even if they were impressive. It was likely her size, she was significantly larger than all the pre-dreadnoughts then in service. She had outrun the semi-dreadnoughts that were closer to her size down the slipway. You'd have seen the same reaction had the Japanese managed to send Yamato to The Coronation Review of the Fleet in 1937 and moored her next to HMS Hood.

After a change in underwear, people then look at it carefully and see exactly how bad the beating is, which in Dreadnoughts case was pretty bad.

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11 hours ago, Sventex said:

Well the UK nearly destroyed itself building Battleships in the lead up to WWI, which is why all those London and Washington Naval Treaties were voluntarily signed.  Those pre-dreadnoughts were actively poison to the fleets and to the nation itself, draining of them of funds and personal. 

It wasn't quite that bad, for whilst it was expensive, the acceptance of a lower standard of dominance (1.6 rather than 2, or something in that ballpark, iirc) and the curtailment of the German programme meant that it had settled down. Hardly ideal, but not something that could really be avoided.

It's the act of fighting WWI itself that prevents a resumption of the large scale building afterwards. As for pre-Dreadnoughts, and older ships in general, Fisher came in and cleaned house, and that sort of attitude stuck around, with older ships being withdrawn from service, often to serve in an auxiliary capacity. 

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On 7/5/2020 at 1:45 PM, Sventex said:

It comes down to combat effectiveness.  HMS Dreadnought not only well over double the big guns of a Pre-Dread, she was faster at the same time.  There is no overstating how dangerous that would be, a ship like that could outfight 2 Pre-Dreadnoughts at the same time, dictate the range and win.  While Pre-Dreadnoughts could assist in the Fleet-In-Being concept and assist in a blockade they were no longer war winning assets, despite being almost as expensive to maintain as Dreadnoughts.  Pre-Dreadnoughts were effectively dead-end technology and a waste of money to build any more of them after HMS Dreadnought.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe the Dreadnaughts were so powerful not only from having more uniform main armament on a given ship which likely helped with fire control. They seemed to be much better armored. And the fact they utilized the new steam  turbine technologies that granted them the much higher speeds. And the turbines must have been a good idea considering we are still using steam turbines to power ships even today. So I really think it was a matter of a new and revolutionary “total package” of a Heavy warship that made Pre Dreadnoughts obsolete.

Only reason you just might be able to use a Pre Dreadnought would be if you were able perhaps speed it up some, and get it repainted to look like cruise liner or something, then use it as commerce raider. At least some of those Pre Dreadnoughts look an awe full lot like a ship like say Titanic with some guns added onto them. And I have not done an in depth study of Pre Dreadnoughts as much as I have post Dreadnought, but likely they had armor to match their appearance.

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On 7/3/2020 at 12:47 PM, Murotsu said:

I did come up with a potential use for such ships in a WW 2 setting, assuming they could have been kept in reasonable operating condition...

That is they are modified to act as convoy escorts.

God yes.

In my SI Archives series (presently the newest draft is on SpaceBattles), I'm contemplating having the faction controlling Canada build a design family of "Escorts" (going off a Boat-Cutter-Brig-Sloop-Corvette-Frigate-Destroyer-Cruiser label sequence for main guns of <50, 75, 100, 125, 155, ~200, ~300mm and >350mm main batteries--oi, they are too slow to be useful as battleships so that name's not allowed, so they had to reach down into the lower names) which culminate in something like the equivalent of 2x3 15"/45-armed predreadnought-like thingies puttering around at 19 knots.

I'm thinking of inserting a clause in the treaties that ships of maximum 20 knots or less count for half as much as their actual tonnage, and with a larger and more powerful British Empire (at the expense of the US in this timeline), the major dominions each get some tonnage allowance in each class of warship. Australia used its treaty tonnage more conventionally, but Canada, the biggest and most powerful of the dominions and a rival to the US all on its own, spent most of its allocation on a large fleet of "escorts". (The "Fleet" designation, instead of "Escort", calls for much higher speed, and the labels are each a step down to include Battleship at the end, and yes the labels were specifically designed to muddle communications intercepts by the enemy, cause there's a big gap between "Intercepts tell us there should be five destroyers" and trying to jump them only to find one of them is by technical definitions a heavy cruiser.)

The previous designs maxed out at 2x3 8-inch guns because they thought that would be enough to dissuade any raider attacking a convoy. Then the Germans built the Deutschlands and they evolved the designs up to a 2x3 12"/50 with updated guns. Then the Scharnhorsts showed up and they decided to get some capital ship design experience.

I estimate the result at approximately: 20000-25000 tons. 2x3 15"/45 or 16" guns fore and aft, 6x2 4" AA guns (2 turrets superfiring fore/aft, 2 turrets per side, probably on a hexagonal superstructure), 6x4 pompoms, 14" belt/bulkheads, 5-6" deck, comically fat torpedo bulges, 20 knots maximum speed.

I think this could make for a useful convoy escort at discouraging even the heaviest raiders, frees up the old battleships (i.e. R class, Malaya, etc.) for other duties. I'd think that main armament and armour would suffice to convince a single Scharnhorst or maybe even Bismarck that it has easier prey to go after. It's also useful later as a monitor that isn't in serious danger from shore artillery fire.

It's much cheaper to operate than a real battleship of its time too due to the lower engine power.

Edited by Guardian54

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Well, my WW 2 version has them as primarily ASW boats, not mini-battleships as the later would be far less useful.  The version I foresee would be 18 knot ships using VTE engines.  Their main battery would be 2 x 2 12" guns about 20 to 25 calibers long with a maximum elevation of 45 degrees.  They would have  8 to 10 6" secondaries  mounted in casemate batteries (4 or 5 a side) along with two twin 4" AA mounts and a few lighter AA guns as well.  Radar and sonar would be fitted.  They would have a deep torpedo defense system making them virtually unsinkable by submarine attack--this would take multiple hits to accomplish.  In addition, they'd carry a depth charge outfit of K guns and racks.  Armor would be limited to say 2" to 4" at most with a 1" deck.

The main battery is not primarily for anti-ship use but rather normally fires a 12" depth charge shell at low velocity.  This could be fired out to say 5 to 10,000 yards from the ship meaning  it could be used as a long range depth charge pattern.  5,000 yards represents roughly the maximum range of the own ship sonar whereas 10,000 allows it to be used in conjunction with a second escort feeding target data to the ship via radio.

This makes the ship sort of a floating depth charge battery that can fire on a submarine while it is still at a distance from the convoy.  The 6" battery is there to engage surface raiders backed up by high angle HE fire from the 12" guns.  The AA suite is for self-defense against marauding aircraft.

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5 hours ago, Murotsu said:

my WW 2 version has them as primarily ASW boats, not mini-battleships as the later would be far less useful.

Hmm, well I intended for the heavier "escort" types to be attached convoys passing through dangerous waters, while the vast bulk of "escort" ships are cheap mass-produced anti-submarine ships with some anti-air capability.

The problem with gun-launched depth charges is that depth charges are sensitive to high overpressure levels, to the point where I suspect an actual trebuchet might be a less dangerous (and also quieter) way of launching one than a gun. And if you want depth charge mortars, even long-range ones, those can be put on platforms much cheaper than anything that resembles a pre-dreadnought.

The only role I see for an escort that can genuinely be compared to a pre-dreadnought is something like a coastal defence ship but built to operate at sea, a ship that's intended to see off heavy enemy surface units, conduct shore bombardment under fire, etc. while being much, MUCH cheaper than a fast battleship.

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