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Sabot_100

Were planes the only reason BBs went extinct?

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Just wondering, if in some alternate universe there was some international agreement that "Thou shalt not put weapons on airplanes", and everyone actually complied, would the  late 1940's-early1950's still have been the end of the battleship? Seems other technologies were advancing, guided missiles (technically NOT airplanes), nukes and subs for example, that would have made single, expensive ships that have to get into gun range, kinda risky.

WG obviously likes its hypothetical T10-11 BBs that could only have been built in the '50s. Any chance any of these dream ships would actually have been built?

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Pandora's box.
There's no putting stuff back into it.

There is a constant offense vs. defense evolution in military capabilities.

Planes can deliver ordnance further beyond the shores of a given beach than warships can.
ICBMS can go further, though.

The "use the proper tool for the job" principle continues to apply.

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Without armed aircraft, I don't think there would have been a second world war.  Germany wouldn't have been able to blitz through Europe, Pearl Harbor probably wouldn't have been attacked.

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18 minutes ago, HamptonRoads said:

Without armed aircraft, I don't think there would have been a second world war.  Germany wouldn't have been able to blitz through Europe, Pearl Harbor probably wouldn't have been attacked.

Wasn't really considering the effect on world history, only if the BB days were  numbered regardless.

I mean, what are the chances the world would outlaw armed aircraft? They barely kept the chemical warfare prohibition with all its horrors.

But yes, if you consider all the ramifcations of the initial premise, world history would be much different. Fighting would be limited mostly to the front lines. No strategic bombing. No blitz. Have to be within 20 miles of the enemy to attack. At least until accurate/guided  missiles come on the scene. By the letter of the law, you could still have scout/recon aircraft. But they could only wave at their counterparts if they met.

 

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2 minutes ago, Sabot_100 said:

Wasn't really considering the effect on world history, only if the BB days were  numbered regardless.

I mean, what are the chances the world would outlaw armed aircraft? They barely kept the chemical warfare prohibition with all its horrors.

But yes, if you consider all the ramifcations of the initial premise, world history would be much different. Fighting would be limited mostly to the front lines. No strategic bombing. No blitz. Have to be within 20 miles of the enemy to attack. At least until accurate/guided  missiles come on the scene. By the letter of the law, you could still have scout/recon aircraft. But they could only wave at their counterparts if they met.

I think the killer of battleships in your theorycraft would have become the submarine.

Long range, super powerful warheads, and some form of homing, (torpedoes.)

Then the ‘duel’ would have developed between the capabilities of submarine torpedoes, and detection, interception, and destruction of those torpedoes and their launching submarines.

As to no Pearl Harbor; imagine the Long Lance being a rocket assisted, short ranged torpedo with some form of terminal guidance.

Unlikely with tech of the times, but with all that carrier research pointed in another direction?

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2 hours ago, Sabot_100 said:

Seems other technologies were advancing, guided missiles (technically NOT airplanes), nukes and subs for example, that would have made single, expensive ships that have to get into gun range, kinda risky.

That's assuming you're using them against a contemporary power. Also, while said weapons are powerful, getting them into the vicinity of a BB is hard, with all the task force defenses & then the point defense itself. 

And then you have the United States of America, which put guided missiles ON battleships(and has serious proposals to put nukes on board as well). Considering we were fielding BBs in active combat groups well into the 90's, when nukes, jets, and guided missiles were commonplace, risk can go :etc_swear: itself.

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Aircraft to a great extent did kill off the battleship, along with other large surface combatants.  A good book on this is Fleet Tactics, theory and practice by Capt. Wayne Hughes.  It makes a compelling argument that not only aircraft (and you can include missiles in that) but sensors pretty much doomed battleships and large surface combatants because they couldn't control enough ocean around them compared to carriers and submarines.

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Would Battleships have gone 'extinct'? Eventually.

With new advances in technology come new weapons of war.

Something would have come along that would make the Battleships obsolete, just like the battleships themselves made their earlier dreadnought sisters, the dreadnought made the pre-dreadnoughts, the ships of the line, etc.

Without the war, the battleships we would see 'should' stick to the treaty. Depending on events, the Iowas might not have been built. Even if they were, they would likely be of a very different design.

The battleship was still mostly designed for close in fighting. As technology improved, the distance the ships fought increased, eventually you are going to reach a point where the gun isn't the best weapon. 

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Submarines too.  

 

Even early in the golden age of Battleships, the development of the Torpedo has become an issue, and with that, the fear of Torpedo Boats.   

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Battleships were going to be overtaken one way or another.

 

Aircraft & Submarines & Missiles.

 

Military use of aircraft?  That already began in WWI.  As someone earlier in the thread already mentioned, military aviation escaped Pandora's Box and it happened long before the 1930s and 40s.  Aircraft to me is of course the immediate, biggest threat to the future of Battleships, as WWII showed.

 

From naval aviation alone:  The advance in naval aviation during the interwar years encapsulated in one post...

On 8/18/2019 at 12:06 AM, HazeGrayUnderway said:

Very nice find, OP.  That's good history there.  13 more years, that album will be 100 years old.

*snip*

=======

Also interesting seeing just how far naval aviation had come from 1932 to 1941 when Pearl Harbor went down.

Hell, Kaga gets the A6M2 Zero, B5N2 torpedo bombers, and D3A1 dive bombers only in late November 1941, just weeks before the Pearl Harbor strike.

 

Naval Aviation goes from this in 1932:

IMG_20190818_104027035_HDR.jpg

To this (Kaga flight deck in 1937):

Kaga_air_operations_full_deck_1937.jpg

To this, Carrier Shokaku sending out her 1st strike for Pearl Harbor in December 1941:

File:Shokaku Pearl Harbor 1st Wave.jpg

 

The war years would only hasten the pace of improvement for Naval Aviation, just making it absolutely clear that Battleships were obsolete.

 

 

Not only did the Big Gun Battleships die out.  But also gun focused Cruisers, light and heavy, would be extinct also.  For the US Navy the Worcester and Des Moines-classes were the last "gun cruiser" classes.  The Worcester did not serve long at all.  2 were commissioned in 1948-1949, and by 1958, both were decommissioned.  Meanwhile several Cleveland and Baltimore-class Cruisers were being converted into Guided Missile Cruisers.

Cleveland-class CL Springfield after her refit, firing a missile in 1961.

USS_Springfield_(CLG-7)_fires_a_Terrier_

Baltimore-class CA Canberra after her refit at about the same time.

USS_Canberra_(CAG-2)_fires_a_Terrier_mis

 

It's not just the Battleships.  But the old fashioned "Gun Navy" died around the world also.  Aircraft was a big role but technology elsewhere spelled their doom.  There simply was no use for a dinosaur with limited range in the Cold War.

 

A-4 Skyhawks were entering service, as shown in Forrestal's 1958-1959 cruise.

169.jpg

And these bombers on the same cruise.

197.jpg

 

Guided missile cruisers, destroyers, more powerful naval aircraft, the threat of land based aircraft grew.  Battleships offered nothing but a very limited ceiling and heavy price tags.  There simply was no future to them.

 

And I haven't even begun to talk about submarines.  I'm not a big expert on them, but I do know that the post-WWII years saw frantic pushes by everyone for them, pushing the envelope further and further.

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway

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The end of the Battleship was because of

  • Planes
    • Of course, but you can equip AA defensive measures with those guns...
  • Their purpose
    • This was the real reason IMO, We dont see BBs anymore...

Mainly, BBs became a one trick pony... But in that role of destroying forts and land targets.. They struck fear...

With the current landscape... BBs just are a relic of the past, reduced to non important tasks... You can modernize the ship and require less crew to operate now then when first launch... Then, what would they do?

Its best to retire a boxer before their reputation is tarnished...BBs have nothing more to prove in the modern era...

Edited by Navalpride33

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A great example on the level of importance on the naval gun was the commissioning of the nuclear guided missile cruiser USS Long Beach.

Long Beach below in 1961.

USS_Long_Beach_(CGN-9)_firing_a_Terrier_

She was ordered in 1956, laid down in '57, and commissioned in 1961.  She was important for several reasons.

1.  Nuclear powered.

2.  Designed for the new reality of Cold War technology, she was a Guided Missile Cruiser with a specialty in air defense, because aircraft by the late 1950s had grown increasingly more powerful, and anti-submarine warfare.  Originally she didn't have any guns at all to engage surface ships.  There's the story that President Kennedy, a WWII navy veteran visited her and remarked, "Why's there no gun on the ship?"  And after that the USN was forced to mount a token 127mm/38 double gun turret.  Originally Long Beach wasn't designed for it, but she was hastily modified for it because of Kennedy.  If it wasn't for him, she'd never have even that.

3.  At about the same time Long Beach was built and commissioned, she would not be the first Guided Missile Cruiser of the US Navy.  A number of old Cleveland and Baltimore-class cruisers got refitted to be CLGs.  Long Beach was the first USN Cruiser to be designed and commissioned from the ground up with the new future of naval warfare in mind.

 

Subsequent purpose built Guided Missile Cruisers would follow up very soon:  Leahy & Belknap-class CLGs.

Leahy-class CLG, USS Yarnell below in 1967.

USS_Harry_E._Yarnell_(DLG-17)_underway_a

 

So what did Battleships offer?  Old prestige and a tough ship.  A ship whose firepower was limited to short gun ranges.  Even worse IMO, because the Iowas were precious Battleships, they demanded powerful escorts to protect them, and for what?  A ship whose primary weapons were limited by short gun ranges?

 

The new reality for the USN was Carriers providing long range strike capabilities + aerial patrol + fighter caps, and escorted by a variety of ASW and AA purpose built cruisers and destroyers.

 

Even the Soviet navy by the 1960s were fielding antiship missiles to destroyers.  They were the first navy in the world to really embrace antiship missiles because the Russians knew they couldn't compete with US carriers, so missiles were seen by them as their equalizer.  Antiship missiles could be fired from land and eventually these systems made their way onto warships.  Kildin-class destroyers were starting to commission in 1958 featuring SS-N-1 antiship missiles.  The Kildins' guns were a bunch of 57mm AA guns.  They didn't even have a single one of the 130mm guns that we're used to seeing for RU Destroyer guns in World of Warships.  The class that preceded them had them, but the Kildins had none.

39_Kaldin_Class_Destroyer_Jan_1970.jpg

The P-15 Termit antiship missile enters service at the end of the 1950s, eventually finding its way onto warships also.  This design proliferated and the Chinese got their hands on it, eventually having their own designs based off it.  You guys old enough to be around in the 1980s can maybe recall the danger Chinese "Silkworm" missiles presented, particularly in the Middle East as China was selling them to Iran.  The Silkworm was based on the 1950s P-15.

Below is Indian navy Chamak-class missile boat, Chamak herself, test firing a P-15 in around the 2000s.  She was in commission 1976-2005.

INS_Chamak_(K95)_fires_a_P-15_Termit_mis

The old Battleship guns, old 203mm, 152mm cruiser guns were simply obsolete and useless with the rapid advance of technology of the Cold War.

 

The US Navy tried to make the Iowas relevant by stuffing missile systems onto them.  Looking back at it, I go, "What's the point?"

They're old warships with too much sacrificed for weapon systems that were irrelevant to modern naval warfare.  If you wanted some big capital ship featuring missiles, the Russians had the better idea with the Kirovs.  And even then, you realize that a bunch of smaller ships pumping missiles do the same job.

1920px-Kirov-class_battlecruiser.jpg

 

Battleships simply could not keep up with the advanced of technology.  WWII already showed their major limitations in usefulness and technology left them behind as time went on.

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In 1962 the Soviets put into service the Kh-22 antiship missile.  Designed as air to surface use and would be featured on Russian bombers such as the Tu-22 (introduced 1962), Tu-95 (introduced 1956), and other subsequent bombers.

kh22.jpg

The Kh-22 could have conventional or nuclear warheads.

 

A Tu-95 below in 2008 escorted by an RAF Typhoon.  Tu-95s were one of the possible launch platforms of the Kh-22.

RAF_Tyhoon_Russian_Intercept.jpg

 

To this date, the Russians are still big fans of big antiship missiles.  Even during the height of the Cold War when such systems for bombers were entering service, the USN felt the need to have aircraft for their carriers powerful enough, with the weapon systems to intercept the feared mass bomber missile attack.  That was the exact reason why the F-14 with Phoenix missiles were developed.

Tu-22M bomber with Kh-22 antiship missiles (image source).

nLQw1FYULVDObwMuliOSthXjIrfpIVGPaO0-WcQ6

 

The Big Naval Gun had no place after WWII.  The Cold War simply bludgeoned them into archaic relics.  Missiles, aircraft, submarines were the real weapons of naval warfare starting with the Cold War.  The Big Gun had no place.

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway

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1 hour ago, HazeGrayUnderway said:

 

The US Navy tried to make the Iowas relevant by stuffing missile systems onto them.  Looking back at it, I go, "What's the point?"

The only reason they put them back in service was it was quicker than building new ships for the "600 ship navy".

Reagen wanted to full court press the Russians and back it up with results now (well, then).  He wanted them to put up or fold.  After they folded, the Iowas would have disappeared without notice if Iraq hadn't gone on a walkabout.

Of course, folding is only a temporary condition.

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In actuality the Russians use all sizes of missiles, not just big antiship missiles.  The big antiship missiles are for the legacy ships, like the Slavas.  

 

For example this Molnya class corvette has been modernized from eight massive Moskit "Sunburn"  missiles, to 16 small Uran "Switchblade" missiles (got to say, freaking awesome code name).  Switchblades are similar in performance and size to the latest blocks of Harpoon, Exocet and YJ-83.

 

f2oaGw8.jpg

 

This Udaloy class has been modernized to use Kalibrs and Uran missiles.   There is a retired Sovremenny on the side that still has its Moskit missiles.  

 

8N6GkIl.jpg

 

Previously the ship would have looked like this.

 

P9Hk6VM.jpg

 

The large missiles on the Udaloy aren't large supersonic antiship missiles but is an ASW missile.  The Metel or Rastrub, code named Silex, can dual purpose as an antiship, by turning the full sized torpedo it drops, to locking onto the target ship.  

 

Kalibrs and the Onyx are smaller than the Soviet antiship missiles of the previous generation.  The Onyx is the only one now that is fully supersonic, the Kalbr is a subsonic low flyer, supersonic only in terminal stage.   Still much larger and heavier than a Harpoon, but now all these missiles are intended to be carried through VLS rather than slanted on the deck.  

 

We are likely heading back to larger ships once again.  Maybe not the Kirov class sized, or not at least for a while, but with 10,000+ ton ships.  So we are moving away from masses of small missile guided frigates, to  cruiser-destroyers, or the best term for it would be Large Destroyers.  At the same time, frigates are now heading to the 7000 to 8000 ton size.

 

Good example of Large Destroyer, which some would argue is a cruiser, would be the Type 055 'Renhai' or Nanchang class large destroyer.  There are plans for a new Italian and Turkish next generation destroyer, and they will go above 10,000 tons.  The next generation German surface combatant, which already has been contracted, will reach 10,000 tons.   The next generation US destroyer, which is still being drafted, will likely exceed 10,000 tons, and no it won't be the same creature as the Zumwalt.   The impetus for larger ships once again is driven by ever larger radars, bigger and more VLS.   This might be the beginning of a new arms race cycle, this time one that might lead to full size missile cruisers, and even missile battleships or arsenal ships as we move through this century.  

 

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@Eisennagel It just further shows how much of a dead end Big Guns are.  The foreseeable future is literally "MOAR MISSILES."

f9e.gif

 

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway

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Probably the best example of the obsolesce of the all gun ship and the rise of the submarine is what occurred in the Falklands war with the ARA General Belgrano.

A modern nuclear submarine sank the cruiser using older torpedos. The cruisers escorts didn't even notice the cruiser was gone.

 

As a result of this sinking, the Argentine Navy returned to port and was a non-factor of the rest of that war.

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10 hours ago, HazeGrayUnderway said:

The US Navy tried to make the Iowas relevant by stuffing missile systems onto them.  Looking back at it, I go, "What's the point?"

While I agree for the most part, there is still a point to powerful naval guns. Shells cost a lot less than missiles, and you can shoot a lot of them over a sustained period compared to missiles. Missiles require a trip back to port to reload, a 155mm gun needs an autoloader, and a few crew in the mags feeding the autoloader. 

Also, BBs would have suffered the same fate as Knights... Armour technology is more expensive, and less easy to produce than missiles weapons that can defeat armour. Well made plate harness could stop a contemporary musket/arquebus ball, but you couldn't afford to kit out 20K troops with plate harness, in the same way you can make 20k muskets. 

One Iowa wouldn't stand up to 20 DDs with ASMs, despite the 20 DDs being cheaper to make, and easier to replace. 

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On 2/25/2022 at 2:21 PM, Sabot_100 said:

Were planes the only reason BBs went extinct?

I would argue the naval balance of power after WWII killed the Battleship, not planes.  With the Soviet Bloc Navies so desperately outgunned by the USN and RN, there really was no point in the concept of "line battles" anymore.  The only reason for a Battleship to exist is if an opponent Navy had something worth sinking and the Red Fleet did not possess any such ships.

If the concept of line battles had not died, I think Battleships would of transitioned into the guided missile era, with well armored capital ships heavily armed with guided missiles adopting the "Battleship" mantel.  There would also be a demand for a "floating fortress' type ship to serve as the command nerve center of a fleet if line battles were still a possibility and to provide a steel wall to protect the vulnerable carriers.  Because the Soviets had adopted a Jeune École fleet, Cold War ships had to be designed with paper armor to combat aircraft and submarines since those would be the only pieces on the board to engage.

Edited by Sventex
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36 minutes ago, VeatherVitch said:

One Iowa wouldn't stand up to 20 DDs with ASMs, despite the 20 DDs being cheaper to make, and easier to replace. 

I'm not so sure about that.  One Zumwalt Destroyer cost substantially more than an Iowa Class Battleship.

 

Edited by Sventex

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53 minutes ago, VeatherVitch said:

While I agree for the most part, there is still a point to powerful naval guns. Shells cost a lot less than missiles, and you can shoot a lot of them over a sustained period compared to missiles. Missiles require a trip back to port to reload, a 155mm gun needs an autoloader, and a few crew in the mags feeding the autoloader. 

Also, BBs would have suffered the same fate as Knights... Armour technology is more expensive, and less easy to produce than missiles weapons that can defeat armour. Well made plate harness could stop a contemporary musket/arquebus ball, but you couldn't afford to kit out 20K troops with plate harness, in the same way you can make 20k muskets. 

One Iowa wouldn't stand up to 20 DDs with ASMs, despite the 20 DDs being cheaper to make, and easier to replace. 

 

Also consider the ranges involved.

The Kh-22 antiship missile which could be launched from bombers had a 600km range.

The P-15 Termit were smaller missiles that were fitted on destroyers, range 40km.

 

The range of the 16"/50 Mark 7 guns of the Iowa-class was 38km.  The hit probability for such guns at max range would have been awful.

 

Consider the missile systems I mentioned were early, primitive stuff.  The Kh-22s were the first big antiship missiles the Soviets could develop that could be hauled by their bombers.  The P-15 were the first type to be able to be equipped on destroyers.  When we get into the 1970s the Soviets developed antiship missiles that could be launched from submarines.  Other antiship missiles start entering service like the French Exocets in the 70s, which did make their way to many places like Iran.  The Exocets could be fired from surface ships, submarines, helicopters, and fixed wing aircraft.

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway
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30 minutes ago, Sventex said:

I think Battleships would of transitioned into the guided missile era, with well armored capital ships heavily armed with guided missiles adopting the "Battleship" mantel.

I think the various navies determined that the missiles were just too good. Better to have multiple, more mobile and fragile launch platforms than one big armored one. 

Regardless, the idea that you were going to win battles with guns was fading fast.

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26 minutes ago, Sabot_100 said:

I think the various navies determined that the missiles were just too good. Better to have multiple, more mobile and fragile launch platforms than one big armored one. 

Regardless, the idea that you were going to win battles with guns was fading fast.

The concept of the Battleship goes beyond guns.  It originates with the ship of the line, the core of a battle line could still exist today in some form had fleets of competitive size existed today.  But they do not.  The Falklands War exposed just how thin the protection of these fragile launch platform ships were, when even 20 year old subsonic jets could penetrate into their critical inner sanctums with free-fall bombs (sinking of HMS Coventry).  Your not going to win a classic naval battle with ships that cannot withstand obsolete attack craft.  The point of a Navy is to wrestle control of the sea and it can't do that with *expensive* fragile ships.  The attrition rate against a competent opponent would make any campaign unviable.

Edited by Sventex

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1 hour ago, Sventex said:

I'm not so sure about that.  One Zumwalt Destroyer cost substantially more than an Iowa Class Battleship.

 

Yeah, and the Zumwalt is an example of a programme that has ballooned out of all reason compared to what it delivers. 

An Arleigh Burke costs about 1.8 billion per ship, and each is more capable than an Iowa... Also, defence project inflation far exceeds standard inflation, so your calculation is off. An Iowa today would cost far more than 1.8 billion, and the crew costs alone would make the Arleigh Burkes seem cheap in comparison. 

Lastly, I was referring to DDs made in the age of BBs, not modern ones, which are more akin to cruisers than DDs. 20 high speed missile patrol boats could mission kill a BB, and be back in port before it was time for tea and medals, even in the 60s/70s.

 

Edited by VeatherVitch

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2 minutes ago, VeatherVitch said:

defence project inflation far exceeds standard inflation

Can you elaborate?

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