Author Topic: Modernized Pre-dreadnoughts  (Read 3785 times)

Offline Logan Hartke

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Modernized Pre-dreadnoughts
« on: October 26, 2012, 03:05:00 AM »
So, here's an idea: The Washington Naval Treaty does not require the disarmament of pre-dreadnoughts.  It will just not recognize them as a class of ship moving forward.  The limitations are:

1) No increase in length at waterline greater than 10% permitted.
2) No direct replacement permitted.

In other words, you can modernize it as long as it's useful.  Otherwise you decommission it and enjoy the cost savings from not having to run it anymore along with the scrap metal, but any new hull you put in the water to replace it follows the Washington Naval Treaty limitations for new ships.

So, how do utilize the old ships?  Coast defence ships?  Training ships?  Monitors?  Convoy escorts?  Shore bombardment?  Flak ships?

Cheers,

Logan

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Re: Modernized Pre-dreadnoughts
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2012, 03:33:01 PM »
Might be useful to give people some details of the types/classes of ship seeing considered here.
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Thiel

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Re: Modernized Pre-dreadnoughts
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2012, 05:07:04 PM »
Honestly I doubt they'd be of much use. By 1921 they'd be about 15 years old. Doesn't sound like much, but it was, especially since a they spend a good portion of those years at war. At the same time they were fairly slow, had badly designed armour layouts and couldn't carry the guns needed to take on a battleship yet they still needed the crew of a battleship.
The lack of speed and internal volume means a carrier conversion is out.
Dedicated shore bombardment ships only seems to pop up during wars. In peacetime you have enough battleships sitting around twitting their thumbs.
Monitors falls in the same category.
I suppose they could find some use as a convoy escort, but they'd be unable to kill the raider of the day, the battlecruisers.
1921 is much too early for flak ships. They'd have to sit around till at least the mid thirties before that becomes an option.

That only leaves training ship, which was done historically, or they could be turned into some sort of hulk (Coal, water, oil, barracks, receiving etc) or auxiliary (Tender, crane ship and so on)

Online finsrin

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Re: Modernized Pre-dreadnoughts
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2012, 05:39:16 PM »
Timely you mention this uncommon subject, for I have zactly such a bash in progress.
Modernization of 1/232 USS Olympia for WW2 service.  Only non 1/72 WIP.
New superstructure and conversion to oil fired boilers parts fitted-modified but not glued on.  Radar and AAA. and MK37 gun directors.
Off to decent start, then switched 1/72 aircraft with one 1/72 boat kitbash mostly done.

Offline Dr. YoKai

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Re: Modernized Pre-dreadnoughts
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2012, 12:01:36 AM »
 Interesting notion. I disagree with some of Thiel's assertions, though. Convoy escort would be
 a useful role for P-Ds. They were more than able to keep up with the Cargo vessels of the day, and
 their guns would be more than adequate to keep cruisers at a distance, and to give battlecruisers
 pause. The issue isn't necessarily being able to defeat a given opponent, but being able to prove a
 credible enough threat to discourage attack. If the Graf Spee hesitated to close with an eight-
 inch, and a pair of six-inch gunned cruisers, I doubt it would have been much more like to risk damage
 from a smaller number of twelve inch rifles. ;)

 Assuming the navies of the world recognized that the submarine would be come the weapon of choice
 for sinking commerce, think of the volume of depth charges a PD could carry-for their own purpose, and
 for re-supplying the destroyers accompanying a given convoy.

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Modernized Pre-dreadnoughts
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2012, 03:14:33 PM »
Though the actual ship wouldn't have been available, this gives you a good idea of the kind of ship we're talking about when it comes to pre-dreadnoughts.



At least four pre-dreadnoughts saw service and combat in WWII.  Two were American and two were German.  The two American ships were the two ships of the Mississippi-class, but they served in the Hellenic Navy from 1914.  By 1941 the one was disarmed and serving as a barracks ship and the other was serving as a coastal battery.  Both were sunk by Stukas on April 23rd.



Likewise, the German ships were used in auxiliary roles in WWII, such as training and dormitory ships.  They were also used in the flak ship and coastal bombardment roles, the Schleswig Holstein actually firing the opening shots of WWII against Poland.



So, there's a few advantages and a few disadvantages.

Disadvantages
  • Coal-fired machinery
  • Short range armament
  • Slow top speed
  • Low freeboard
  • Poor underwater protection
  • Low rate-of-fire
  • Poor fire-control
  • No anti-aircraft armament

Advantages
  • Compact layout
  • Heavy firepower
  • Heavy armor
  • Proven design

Obviously, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, but many of the disadvantages could be lessened or eliminated altogether.  The problem is that the more serious disadvantages would also be more expensive to rectify.  In any sort of mobile role, you'd almost have to convert or replace the machinery.  Even so, you would probably never even get more than 20 kts with any pre-dreadnought battleship.

Fire control and anti-aircraft armament would be the quickest and least expensive to update.  They are the least effective, however.  Anti-aircraft armament would be essential, but even so, the low speed of the ships and improvised nature of their armament means it would only be moderately effective against an air attack.



Likewise, in ship-to-ship combat, the relatively poor range, rate-of-fire, and accuracy of the main firepower would have proven devastating flaws.  That's why they were rendered obsolete in the first place.  In WWII, battlecruisers and battleships would have defeated and pre-dreadnought ship every time.  That having been said, I was blown away by the armor the pre-dreadnoughts had--about 8 inches in most cases, double that of most heavy cruisers in WWII.  I honestly think that most WWII cruisers would have had a tough time with even 40 year old pre-dreadnoughts in actual combat.  I really did not expect to find that their armor was that thick.

Anyway, I think that the best way to use ships like that in between the wars would be as training vessels.  That still best the question, though, would they still have been useful in WWII?  Yes, I think so.



Convoy escorts?  No, I really don't think so.  They didn't handle well in the open seas, nor would they have been much of a defence against submarines, battleships, battlecruisers, or aircraft.  That having been said, I think they'd have been more than a match for any light cruiser or auxiliary cruisers.  Put another way, I don't think most pre-dreadnoughts would have suffered the same fate as HMAS Sydney against the Kormoran.  They were just WAY too well-armored.



Their vulnerability to air attack, however, meant that they would really need beach themselves to maintain any level of survivability in an environment without air cover.  In that sense, they'd be used in coast defence.  You saw this sort of thing with the Schleswig-Holstein and the Marat where they were sunk in shallow water but continued to fight on.

I have to say, I'd LOVE to see shipbucket-type image of a modernized pre-dreadnought, though.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Modernized Pre-dreadnoughts
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2012, 01:07:49 AM »
Convoy escorts?  No, I really don't think so.  They didn't handle well in the open seas, nor would they have been much of a defence against submarines, battleships, battlecruisers, or aircraft.  That having been said, I think they'd have been more than a match for any light cruiser or auxiliary cruisers.  Put another way, I don't think most pre-dreadnoughts would have suffered the same fate as HMAS Sydney against the Kormoran.  They were just WAY too well-armored.

However, a pre-dreadnought would be unlikely to have caught the Kormoran in the 1st place or, at least, have taken much longer to do so than Sydney.
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Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: Modernized Pre-dreadnoughts
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2012, 01:14:20 AM »
Absolutely true.  There's almost no way a pre-dreadnought could have caught Kormoran without seriously upgraded machinery and some hull modifications.  I was just trying to point out that those cruisers really sacrificed a lot of armor to get that speed.  A lot of US cruisers were lost off Savo Island in part because they just couldn't absorb punishment.

Like they say, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline Jeffry Fontaine

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Re: Modernized Pre-dreadnoughts
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2012, 02:16:42 AM »
Take the descriptions provided in "The Ayes of Texas" to heart and make similar upgrades to your Pre-Dreadnaught. 




Though, I much preferred "For Texas and Zed" :)   
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: Modernized Pre-dreadnoughts
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2016, 11:01:59 PM »
Time for some thread necromancy.

Been reading Friedman's excellent book on British battle ships and was interested to discover that the original aims and proposals of the treaty were quite different from what eventuated. 

US General Board recognised that both the UK and US had in effect had battleship building holidays in place during the war with the USNs current program and the RNs planned G3 battle cruisers actually being deferred wartime construction where Japan had continued building modern ships throughout the war.  This alone meant that the UK were at a disadvantage as the only ship they had that was rated as a post Jutland design was Hood while every US ship from Nevada onwards could be rated as such, as could most of Japans resent and all of their current construction. 

45,000 tons was recommended as the standard maximum displacement (as this was the size of ship being built or planned) and 990,000 tons as the total permitted for the US (16 battleships and 6 battlecruisers at 45,000 tons each, the absolute minimum force the USN required to meet their stated missions) and UK with 495,000 tons for Japan on a ratio of 2:2:1 (the official reasoning here being both the US and UK had extensive overseas responsibilities while Japan did not, therefore actually had a strategic advantage), with no plan for a building holiday. 

What happened was the US Secretary of State almost halved the total tonnage to 490,000 tons while arbitrarily carving 10,000 tons of the maximum standard displacement to 35,000 tons before lifting the total back to 515,000 tons to permit 15 battleships at 35,000 tons with a ten year building holiday.  The building holiday was soon seen to have been a mistake as new construction was needed just to replace obsolete and obsolescent ships and with the twenty year over age rule a ten year holiday would mean the US would have to begin building nine new ships and the UK twelve concurrently, almost immediately as the holiday finished.  Unfortunately the press, hence public opinion and political sentiment rapidly ensured that there was no avenue to back out of the building holiday, irrespective of the damage it would do to strategic industries, nor the massive financial burden it was amplifying and pushing down stream.

The damage done to the UKs ship building capability was far greater than that done to the due to it being primarily privately owned where the US had predominantly government owned Naval Yards.  A number of major British builders soon went bankrupt which probably explains one of the main reasons the UK was not able to mobilise as rapidly or effectively as the US in WWII, they had simply lost too much in the way of shipbuilding capability.  Beatty lobbied hard for a minimum continual build of two battleships every three years to avoid block obsolescence and the resulting requirement to replace 80% of the fleet concurrently and while the US State Department came to agree it was too late and there was no way to slow the momentum to ratifying the highly flawed agreement.

So in a nutshell had Washington followed the professional advice the diplomats had specifically sought before the actual conference the results would have been:

Maximum Standard displacement of 45,000 tons
Total of 990,000 tons for the US and UK and

either:
495,000 tons (for a 2:2:1 ratio to the US and UK to Japan) or;
594,000 tons (for a 5:5:3 ratio)

A 6:4 ratio had initially been recommended by the General board for a 50% advantage before the 100% advantage was settled on pre conference where the British were able to negotiate the final 5:5:3 of the actual ratified treaty.

This would have resulted in an eventual twenty two 45,000 ton battleships and battlecruisers each for the US and UK and either eleven or thirteen for Japan.  This would have seen the US and Japan retain some pre-Dreadnoughts retained into the 20s and possibly 30s but the UK, having far more Dreadnoughts would have retired all of theirs (and possibly many 12" gunned Dreadnoughts as well) pretty much immediately.  This would be balanced by the US and Japanese Super Dreadnoughts being more modern and capable than the majority of the UKs (i.e. all of their 13.5" gunned ships and possibly even the Queen Elizabeths and Resolutions).

There is a lot more in there but just imaging the UK standardising on the G3 through the late 20s to mid 30s before switching to a ship that probably resembled the cancelled Lion class, while Japan the and US completed all of their current construction and some of the planned, i.e. the Lexingtons and Amagis completed as battlecruisers as well as all of the Marylands, South Dakotas (1920 design) Tosas, and Kiis entering service.

One thing that may have happened is Australia and possibly New Zealand, may have been required to support a pair of Fleet Units between them as with twenty two capital ships the RN would have been able to permanently station some of them further away than the Mediterranean.

Offline Volkodav

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Re: Modernized Pre-dreadnoughts
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2016, 05:51:16 PM »
Can't recall how I found this but it was an interesting read detailing how Washington didn't actually require Australia to dispose of their single battlecruiser and how it could have been modernised to remain useful through WWII.  I was aware that Australia has been laid up in reserve and partially disarmed for cost reasons but it was interesting to discover that had Australia not volunteered to dispose of her there would have been no requirement to do so and that she may not even have counted in the RNs tonnage figures.  Also interesting was the suggestion that she could have been reclassified as an Armoured Cruiser considering her obsolescence as a capital ship and the general low opinion of early battle cruisers post Jutland.

http://www.navy.gov.au/history/feature-histories/loss-more-symbolic-material