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Talleyrand

BBs and BCs killeds by the treaty: The UK

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Killed by the Treaty: UK

Originally published in "Reporte de Batalla" in spanish Language

After the end of World War I, the victorious powers were once again engaged in a naval race. Ships of destructive power unimaginable 5 years earlier were being designed at a frantic pace. It was becoming clear that another arms race would ruin everyone. So the 5 naval powers signed a treaty in 1922 that paused the construction of battleships and limited their weight to 35,000 tons. We would see no new ships (except for the two Nelsons) for a decade. But what happened in those years before 1922? What steel beasts were being built that prompted that treaty? Well in this and the coming series of articles we hope to answer that.

Situation in the United Kingdom

The 1920s saw the United Kingdom with a series of dilemmas. The essence of its strategy rested on possessing the most powerful fleet in the world. It had just finished a ruinous war against the most serious challenger to that superiority, but the effort had left it exhausted. Her fleet was still large, but the vast majority of the ships were becoming (or were already) obsolete, and were also war-weary. Two great potential threats appeared on the horizon: the United States and Japan. Curiously, both had benefited greatly from British technical support. Japan had sent its designers to study in England and had a very close relationship. While the United States had received a technical mission that had shared all the secrets of the Hood, the most modern ship of the RN.

At the same time in ship design a struggle began between two divergent schools of thought: those who favored the "incremental" armor scheme with Sir Eustace Tennyson-d'Eyncourt (creator of the Hood) at the head, and on the other side those who favored "all or nothing" armor with Captain Dreyer at the head (father of centralized fire control).

News from across the pond indicated that the Yankees would use 406mm guns and that the Japanese were already using 410mm guns. The RN then decided to overmatch that and went for 457mm guns.


Design SummaryfaXc2db.png

 

  • Battleships LII and LIII: Sketch of battleships armed with 457mm and armor accordingly.
  • Battleship L2 and L3: Battleship designs armed with 8 and 9 457mm guns.
  • Battlecruisers K2 and K3: Battlecruiser version of the "L".
  • Battlecruiser J3: "SuperHood" with 9 381mm guns
  • Battlecruiser I3: Super Battlecruiser with 457mm rear turret in the middle
  • Battlecruiser H3a, H3b and H3c: - Trimmed versions of the I3 where a turret is removed.
  • Battlecruiser G3: Reduced caliber version of the I3.
  • Battleship M3: Armored version of the I3.
  • Battleship N3: Mix of the M3 with the refinements of the G3.
  • Battleship N3 variant 2: Instead of 9 of 457mm uses 12 of 406mm.
  • Battlecruisers F2 and F3: Very reduced designs based on the G in order not to exceed 35000 tons.

 

Battleships "L II" and "L III".

These were sketches characterized by the fact that the turrets were not superimposed to fire one on top of the other. This gave certain advantages by keeping the center of gravity lower, but in return greatly lengthened the ship's citadel, and the ship itself.lii_english.png

liii_english.png

Both ships were 259 x 32.3 x 9.3.  "L II" mounted 8 457mm guns in 4 turrets, "L III" mounted 9 in 3 turrets. The horizontal armor was an impressive 457mm, but was quite narrow at just 2.8 meters high.  The deck was turtle-shell shaped with 222mm of vertical armor and the sloping parts with about 330mm. The anti-torpedo bulges were integrated into the hull, rather than being the protrusions seen on WW1 designs. Finally the speed was estimated at 26 knots for the L III and 25 knots for the L II.

The truth is most likely that these designs were feasibility studies on making a battleship with 457mm guns and armor capable of withstanding shots of the same caliber. In any case they were too long for what the UK infrastructure could accommodate. And the low height of the armored belt was a concern.

In the game: We know the guns. They are those of the Thunderer, that's why I'm going to compare it to it. The L II would have the same firepower, but with the turrets all on the same deck its arcs of fire would be limited. The L III being 9 guns in triple turrets would have slightly better arcs than the L II, but would still have problems firing forward. The speed of both is poor average with 25 and 26 knots in the 8 and 9 guns respectively. Armor on the other hand is exceptional on both. 457mm of armor is a lot. In summary comparing with the Thunderer: L II = 8 guns, very bad firing sectors, very good armor; L III = 9 guns, not so bad firing sectors, very good armor. So it occurs to me that it could be L II a tier 9, and L III a tier 10.

Serial designs


In October 1920 the United Kingdom adopted a convention as to naming designs. Letters would be used, starting with L for battleships in ascending order and starting with K for battlecruisers in descending order. In addition the number 2 or 3 would be used to indicate how many guns per turret. Thus we have: L2, L3, M2, M3, N2, N3, etc.

It was also defined the maximum size that allowed the infrastructure in the main British bases to maintain and operate these monsters: 244 X 30.5 X 11. But these figures could later be increased.  The minimum speed was defined as 23 knots for battleships and 33 for battlecruisers (providing for the American Lexington. And at least 1 torpedo launcher per side was required. The anti-torpedo defense was to withstand 240 kilos of explosive. Attwood and Goodall were in charge of the successive projects.

An important advance in hydrodynamics was the "tramsom" style stern. That is basically trimming the last part of the tip of the ship. This would appear in almost every design. 

Battleships L2 and L3

l2_english.png

The first iteration of battleships were the L. The L2 with 8 457mm guns and the L3 with 9 457mm guns. The 8-gun version was praised because it distributed the artillery well over several turrets and prevented a lucky shot from wiping out much of the firepower. The L3, on the other hand, had one more gun but forced to reduce the super structure a little. Although there was more room for machinery, it gained speed.

l3_english.png


Both had almost the same displacement (52100 for the L2 and 1000 less for the L3) and the same dimensions. The L3 however was faster. 25 knots the L2, and 27 knots the L3. Power was 70,000 shp in both designs. The secondary was 16 152mm guns. The anti-aircraft was 6 120mm plus 4 pom-poms installations. They also carried 2 torpedo launchers.
The armor was truly novel. It was inside the ship. With a thickness of 381mm and was inclined 25° from the vertical. This would result in an effective 450mm. The deck was 203mm and the 65° inclined part that joins the belt: 229mm This made it very resistant to AP shells. But in return it made it susceptible to any HE initiating a flood by destroying the outer shell.  The turrets were tremendously armored with 457mm on the front.

However the admiralty was not satisfied. Particularly the height of the armored belt did not meet their expectations. It was considered a preliminary design and other options were considered.   

In the game: It is usual to say that the Thunderer is the modernized L2. But there are some significant differences. The Thunderer is faster: 29.5 vs 25. The secondary is different: 133mm on the Thunderer vs 152mm on the L2. But the main difference is that the Thunderer has 406mm vertical as armored belt, and instead the L2 has 381mm very inclined.
The L3, which would be practically a Thunderer with one more gun, could be an interesting beast in tier 10. Although if they leave the 27 knots of design, it might be a bit slow.

K2 and K3 Battlecruisers

k2_english.png

These were the battlecruiser version of the L. The requirements were higher speed, but not as much armor was required. The U.S. Lexington project and its speed was a major concern.

k3_english.png

That's why the K's have twice the engine power of their armored cousins. Double power means two stacks instead of only one like the L. Another difference is that it is longer, on the one hand this improves the hydrodynamics of the hull and on the other hand it is necessary to make room for the massive boilers needed to give it the desired speed. Finally the other difference to gain speed was to thin the armor. Now with the same shape the armor was reduced to 305, 178 and 152 mm.  All this allowed the design to reach 30 knots.


Here we can notice that what the British were building as a "Battlecruiser" in 1920 is practically what we would call "Fast Battleship" a decade later.

However the design did not meet admiralty requirements. The Lexington being built on the other side of the Atlantic marked 33.5. It was much faster. Even the Hood was faster.

In the game: What difficult ships to rate! To start with it is not so clear whether to rate them as battleships or cruisers. If we qualify them as battleships (the most logical given their sloped armor and displacement) we find a Thunderer, but weaker. Perhaps if we give them a speed boost, they could function as tier 9 and 10.

 

Battlecruiser "J3"

j3_english.png?w=1024

The Royal Navy realized that triple turrets offered undeniable advantages in terms of tonnage savings and speed. Therefore, from this date onwards, designs with double turrets almost completely disappeared. In addition, emphasis was placed on the design of battlecruisers.

The J3 was an attempt to take advantage of the Hood hull design with several elements of the K3. The armor was again on the outside of the ship. It kept the 305mm belt with the same slope. But the deck changed to a completely flat 102mm. Artillery changed to 9 guns from the 381mm we have on the Hood. Speed was a good 32 knots

This "SuperHood" was not entirely to the admiralty's liking either. In terms of tonnage she did not have much armor. In speed she still did not reach the Lexington's 33.5 knots. Moreover, the Admiralty realized that the huge smokestacks needed for such speeds meant two huge gaps in the horizontal armor. How this was resolved we will see in the next design.

In game: Being a larger version of the Hood I think we could place it in a tier 8 although it may be somewhat "short" in armor.

 

Battlecruiser "I3"

i3_english.png


As I said in the previous one the Royal Navy was concerned about the huge holes created in the deck armor by the chimney system. Particularly dangerous was that a shot from the forward sector would enter through there and hit the ammunition store in the rear turret. To avoid this D'Eyncourt made a strange decision. He interlocked the position of the third turret with that of the engines. Now the hole was in the back of the ship. Shots could still come in if fired from behind, but it was highly unlikely. This arrangement also allowed the armor to be more concentrated in the center of the ship, where the spaces were wider, which better accommodated the shells and shortened the citadel. However, the ability to fire directly to the rear was lost.


If the "J3" is very traditional, the "I3″ is the opposite. Here they went to the extreme. The British designers accepted that if they wanted great speeds they should accept that they would need huge engines and a great length to width ratio.
The gunnery goes back to the gigantic 9 457mm guns we already saw on the "K's" but with the strange arrangement of putting the rear turret amidships and the engines at the rear.
The armor increased compared to the K's, with the deck going to 203mm and 178mm. And despite this the speed increased to 32.5 knots. The same as the I3 (the SuperHood) which was armed with much smaller guns. Obviously the key was its impressive 180,000 shp of power. That was basically the maximum that could be put in a hull with four propellers.
The K2's wheelhouse was adopted and also as you can see the "tramsom" stern. The entire rear superstructure was "boxed in" at the rear and trimmed to try to block as little as possible to the central turret. But there were still about 40º blocked by it. The secondary now had to be distributed differently. With a pair on each side of the conning tower and the other twelve concentrated aft. This arrangement was widely criticized.

However, what killed the I3 was the rather obvious problem of length. 280 meters was the length of this thing. The only drydock she could enter was Gladstone's. A private contractor. You can imagine the logistical limitations this would have.

In the game: That turret in the middle fills Wows players with an almost religious horror. But the arrangement worked for the admiralty. They are, anyway, 457mm guns, no mean feat. But in good parts of the game we won't be able to use them. The armor is that of a battle cruiser. It is only designed to resist cruiser shells. For tier 10 it would be a bit fragile. The speed is on the contrary very good. In fact with a hypothetical modernization it should increase some knots. It could work as a tier 10, but it will require hands.

Battlecruisers "H3a" "H3b" and "H3c".

The I3 was too long. So it needed to be trimmed by about 20 meters. The most obvious way was to take a turret off them. The H's are all the ways he came up with to cut that turret off.

H3a

h3a_english.png

On this one they took out the horrible turret in the middle. It seems the most logical to me. It's actually very interesting what they accomplished. The ship was reduced by 20 meters. They also increased the armor in several critical places. And they still saved 7000 tons.

It was left with 6 457mm guns concentrated at the bow. The armored belt was increased to 356 mm in the ammunition magazine, while it remained at 305 mm in the engine room.

Moreover, speed finally reached the magic figure of 33.5 knots.

H3b

h3b_english.png

The "b" variant is detached from the first turret. It keeps the second turret in its raised position and, moreover, raises the middle turret. Thanks to this, the dead angle to the rear is reduced by half. But having slightly higher barbettes meant that the ship had to be widened a little, which led to the loss of half a knot of speed.

H3c

h3c_english.png

In this version the height of the main turrets to the deck was reduced. To allow firing to the rear, the secondary turret was moved to the rear. This allowed to gain speed but had the disadvantage that most of the secondary turrets were unprotected by the main armor.

Of all the variants, A seemed the most interesting. But the gunnery management people vetoed it. 6 guns was at the absolute minimum of what was necessary for a long range salvo to have a chance of hitting. On the other hand a lucky shot or a mechanical failure could disable a turret and lose 50% of the ship's firepower, and with only 3 guns hitting another moving target was almost impossible.

In the game: The H could work in tier 8. Variant A seems the easiest to visualize. Like a Jean Bart with less guns. The others are more complex, but I think they would go in the same. You have to take into account that 457mm guns in tier 8 penetrate everything.

Battlecruiser "G3".

g3_english.png?w=605&h=419


Apart from ripping a turret off the I there was another idea to trim it down: change the caliber. For this a gun under development, the 16.5″/45 Mark I (420mm) was chosen. With this change it was possible to reduce it to the size of an H, but keeping the 9 guns. Another change was to reduce the deck above the machinery from 102/127mm to 51/76mm. Since the guns and turrets were smaller the blind sector improved from 40º to 30º.

The Admiralty was pleased and chose this design to be refined. In this new refinement the armor on machinery was widened again to 102mm. For this some cuts were made here and there in the height of the armor. The inclination of the armored belt was also reduced from 20º to 18º. And the space between the outer hull and the armor was filled with hollow pipes.

On the other hand, the British began to notice that the Lexington was not as well armored as its design, so the 33 knots were no longer necessary. Therefore, some changes were made to the propulsion plant to make it more economical and the speed remained at 32 knots.


1686901885_preview_N3.thumb.png.8e74687b

 

G3-Class.jpg
But the main change was to discard the 420mm gun and simply opt for 16/45 mk I 406mm which already existed.

The secondary was also revised. They now put 2 152mm turrets on each side of the wheelhouse. In this way the forward sector could be better covered. 

The armor was as follows:
Armored belt: 356mm @ 18º of inclination.
Transverse bulkheads: 305mm at the front, 254mm at the rear.
Deck: 203mm over ammunition and forward boilers. 152mm over the next boiler and 102mm over the rest of the machinery. With 178mm over the middle of this part.
Turrets: 432mm front, 203mm roof, 330mm front sides and 229mm rear sides. Barbettes: 356mm
The chimney intakes were armored with between 305 and 102mm.
Bridge: 356mm with 203mm roof.

Not exactly all or nothing, but close.

The torpedo defense remained the same as previous designs. But a new system was added to expel water with compressed air to compensate for flooding.

On September 3, 1921 the builders were chosen. The material for these mammoths began to accumulate, but before the keels were laid, the treaty occurred and they were cancelled. However, several things would happen to future Nelsons.

In the game: If the "I3" requires an experienced player, "with hands", to make it work, the "G3" requires more. It no longer has the inordinate firepower of the "457". Don't get me wrong, the "406" is fine, but it's not as scary. I would perhaps put it in tier 9. In fact maybe a line of these could be made, right?

 

...Now back to the battleships....

 

Battleships "M2" and "M3"

m3_english.png?w=605&h=361

Parallel to the interesting I3 a "battleship" variant of this one was designed. The focus was not speed, but protection. As the speed requirements were much lower, it could be fixed with only 56,000 shp. Since the machinery was now smaller, the same armored belt was used for the entire length. The same with the deck. 381mm sloped 25º and 203mm deck with a 229mm deck joining them. Secondary equal to the I3, torpedo protection equal to the L. At 236 meters it was a perfectly manageable size for the empire's infrastructure. 

The Admiralty insisted however on twin-gun turret designs so an "M" of 4 twin-gun turrets was prepared: M2.


The M2 was almost 3000 tons heavier, had one less gun and was significantly longer. Designs with twin turrets were not insisted upon again.

However, the M3 also needed refinement. The sloping bulkheads and 152mm turrets were criticized.

 

Battleship "N3"

n3_english.png?w=605&h=442

The M3 incorporated all the advances made in the "G3" battlecruiser. Different armor thicknesses, and new arrangement of the secondary. It was lengthened about 15 meters to rearrange machinery and gain internal volume and thus be able to widen inward torpedo protection.  The armor adopted the configuration of the G3 but with the thickness of the M3. The belt was 381mm in the ammunition magazines and 343 in the machinery. The cover remained at 203. The citadel was closed by 356mm bulkheads. The turrets were tuned, compared to the M3. 

The speed remained constant at about 23 - 23.5 knots.

In the game: The N3 has good and bad points. On the positive side, the tremendous firepower of 9 457mm guns stands out. The armor is not very thick but inclined 18º its efficiency increases a lot. The deck on the other hand is excellent. The bad thing is obviously the lack of angle for the middle turret, and in this case the slowness. Although with an imaginary "upgrade" it could add 3 or 4 knots, it would still be among the slowest.

Battleship N3 Variant 2

n3rev.png

This variant came to light recently. It was the N3 but armed with 406mm guns. Britain feared to fuel the arms race even more if it outgunned the competitors by so much. There are not many details of this design. But the caliber was lowered to 406mm, an extra turret was added in the middle. The overall length was obviously increased accordingly by about 15 meters. Power was also increased to 60,000 shp to maintain the 23 knots.

There was another design that was worked on as an elongated N3 but there are almost no details of this one.

 

Battlecruisers "F2" and "F3".

adm1-9232-f2-f3.jpg?w=605&h=463

While the treaty was being discussed and negotiated, it began to become clear that the weight limit for capital ships was to be at 35000 tons. So battlecruisers were commissioned to be designed for that displacement.

The F2 mounted 6 381mm guns in 3 turrets. All at the front. With the turret "c" somewhat elevated. It gave about 30 knots. As secondary had 2 pairs of double turrets and two pairs of single guns.

The F3 on the other hand had 9 guns in the same arrangement. But the loss of room for machinery meant a reduction in speed to 29 knots. It also had less secondary with only two pairs of double turrets.

The armor was equal in both 343mm on ammunition, 305mm on machinery and 178mm and 90 mm on the respective decks.

In the game: The F2 with so few guns and relatively small caliber is one of the "weakest" designs. With firepower similar to a Gneissenau. It remains to be seen if the secondary helps it compensate for this. Tier 7. Perhaps.
The F3, with 9 guns, should easily be 1 tier up. Even if it loses some speed.

However all this would obviously be truncated because the treaty set a 10 year battleship building vacation. And only the 35000 ton Nelson would be allowed. A design that nevertheless shows a relationship with the F-class.

The G3 and N3 class would have been revolutionary in their time. The G3 was an advance towards the "fast battleship" with its balance of speed, protection and firepower. While the N3, while slow, was to be the best armed ship in the world. In fact not until the Yamato almost 2 decades later would we see anything similar.

Well there are 18 designs in this article. I think Wargaming could use a few. Maybe pull a whole line out of the hat.

bigbritish19222.png

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and yet none of them are in the game yet.

 

Enough to do a full battlecruiser line and a full battleship split line.

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A full UK BC line would be nice now WG once ya done with the Dutch cruisers just don't make them horrendous like the Italian BBs or the heavy US BB split.

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2 hours ago, Karstodes said:

and yet none of them are in the game yet.

 

Enough to do a full battlecruiser line and a full battleship split line.

And that's before you put in historical ships like the Renown and Repulse.

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3 hours ago, Karstodes said:

Enough to do a full battlecruiser line and a full battleship split line.

 

3 hours ago, Rolkatsuki said:

A full UK BC line would be nice now WG once ya done with the Dutch cruisers just don't make them horrendous like the Italian BBs or the heavy US BB split.

 

1 hour ago, frankfletcher_1 said:

And that's before you put in historical ships like the Renown and Repulse.

I was thinking something like
6: Repulse
7: Admiral
8. "Superhood"
9: G3
10: I3

But I don't analise it deeply yet

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24 minutes ago, Talleyrand said:

 

 

I was thinking something like
6: Repulse
7: Admiral
8. "Superhood"
9: G3
10: I3

But I don't analise it deeply yet

3: Invincible

4: Lion

5: Tiger

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8 hours ago, Talleyrand said:

Battlecruiser J3: "SuperHood" with 9 381mm guns

I always thought of HMS Incomparable as Super Hood with her crazy length and 20 inch guns.

Fisherincomparable.png

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6 minutes ago, Karstodes said:

3: Invincible

4: Lion

5: Tiger

I have my doubts that Invincible can work in wows. Especially because new players may try to use it as a Battleship

 

4 minutes ago, Sventex said:

I always thought of HMS Incomparable as Super Hood with her crazy length and 20 inch guns.

UberHood?

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16 minutes ago, Talleyrand said:

I have my doubts that Invincible can work in wows. Especially because new players may try to use it as a Battleship

at tier 3 Battleship pretty much overmatch each others, so I do not see Invincible to be that in disadvantage.

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