KGV class revisited

Discussions about the history of the ship, technical details, etc.

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alecsandros
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KGV class revisited

Post by alecsandros » Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:00 pm

Much has been written about the capabilities of British main war horses of WW2, the KGVs. I don't know if we have enough info available, but from what we have so far, they appear to be impressive beasts, especialy in light of the treaty constraints.

Their only big problem was the quad arrangement, which was designed to reduce weight (4 double turrets would weigh much much more than 2 quads). I would add the small range which was due to the low quantity of fuel carried on board. Also, perhaps not enough reserve electrical power (the power plant could produce up to 2.7 MW)

But their strengths were numerous: impressive armor belt and decks, good compartimentation and a good speed, especialy as their machinery was designed to output 100.000shp (on the low end of contemporary battleships). However, maximum output was considerably above that (some sources mention 120.000 shp, others even 134000shp). Maximum speed with 50% load was around 29kts or slightly more. With a lower displacement, they were probably around 30kts.
AA systems and artillery were impressive for the entire war. PRince of Wales carried an unprecedented array of AA guns in Dec 1941. By 1945, Howe was extremely well defended, with over 80 x 40mm Bofors and 70 x 20mm Oerlikons.

Radars and onboard systems were mostly on par with their contemporaries, with the notable exception of RPC. THe Royal Navy and the Japanese navy were the only major powers which did not put efforts into this automatization process. Italian, German, French and US Navies all worked hard to produce a stable and reliable RPC system. In the end, only the USN and Kriegsmarine produced someting worthwhile, with final noctunral , hard manovreing tests being performed in late 1943/early 1944 for both navies.

In the end, I would like to ask you a question: what was the standard displacement of KGV in May 1941 ? My guess is around ~ 37500 - 38500 tons, which increased up to ~ 40500 - 41000 tons by 1945.

All the best,

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Re: KGV class revisited

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:28 pm

Alecsandros wrote: "what was the standard displacement of KGV in May 1941 ?"
My main reference source (V.E.Tarrant) states KGV standard displacement in October 1940 was 38,031 tons, increased to 39,100 in 1945. (Deep Load 42,237 in 1940, 44,460 in 1945).

As a curiosity, for PoW he mentions just the deep load displacement, being 43,786 in March 1941, quite heavier, considering fuel max capacity being 3730 tons for KGV and "just" 3542 tons for PoW and assuming no many modifications happened between October 1940 and March 1941.....

Bye, Alberto

P.S. I agree with you, IMO plus were armour (thickness and overall scheme) and AA armament, while minus were limited range (even at cruising speed) and quad turret loading mechanism design. I don't know whether the Richelieu quadruple was better or not (being a very different design as Richelieu had a "doubled" twin turret more than a pure quad).....
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Re: KGV class revisited

Post by alecsandros » Sun Mar 09, 2014 1:09 pm

Alberto Virtuani wrote:
P.S. I agree with you, IMO plus were armour (thickness and overall scheme) and AA armament, while minus were limited range (even at cruising speed) and quad turret loading mechanism design. I don't know whether the Richelieu quadruple was better or not (being a very different design as Richelieu had a "doubled" twin turret more than a pure quad).....
... From Garzke & Dulin and Dumas, it appears the quads of Richelieu were awfull. In 1940 the rate of fire was 1.33 rounds/minute for the first 15 rounds, and less than 1 round/minute for the 16th round onwards. The first 15/gun were ready to use... Dispersion was appaling, with 4 - gun salvos falling in a 6-700 meters circle at 20000 meters in 1940. This was reduced to 500 meters in 1943, while refitting in New York. Further modifications at the loading mechanism, shell design, composition and weight of powder bags and addition of delay coils reduced spreads to ~ 400 meters in 1945 for 4-gun salvos, and increased rate of fire to 2 rounds/minute. However the performance of the gun and shells were not those of 1940. Perforation was certainly reduced, as well as range. I don't know how much, but with a smaller powder bag and lighter shell it is almost certain.

So I guess 4-gun turrets were a problem for everybody...

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Re: KGV class revisited

Post by northcape » Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:43 pm

I would say the major flaws of the KGVs were their relatively weak armament, their low endurance and their low speed (I think ~28 kts was there maximum speed, and Roberts reports that the fully loaded KGV could only make 26 kts by 1945). Also, weak protection of the bridge, and of course the troublesome quads. Wet ships due to the unnecessary requirement to fire turret A at zero elevation across the bow.

However, they gave magnificent service in the war and have a record like only few other classes (QE's, Scharnhorst&Gneisenau come to mind). G&D sum it up very nicely, stating that their obvious shortcomings result from political and financial constraints, combined with drainage of skilled designers and workers after the naval holiday, but nonetheless they gave great and very valuable service to their country in of its most difficult times.

And to me, they appear incredibly beautiful and impressive.

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Re: KGV class revisited

Post by dunmunro » Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:52 pm

northcape wrote:I would say the major flaws of the KGVs were their relatively weak armament, their low endurance and their low speed (I think ~28 kts was there maximum speed, and Roberts reports that the fully loaded KGV could only make 26 kts by 1945). Also, weak protection of the bridge, and of course the troublesome quads. Wet ships due to the unnecessary requirement to fire turret A at zero elevation across the bow.

However, they gave magnificent service in the war and have a record like only few other classes (QE's, Scharnhorst&Gneisenau come to mind). G&D sum it up very nicely, stating that their obvious shortcomings result from political and financial constraints, combined with drainage of skilled designers and workers after the naval holiday, but nonetheless they gave great and very valuable service to their country in of its most difficult times.

And to me, they appear incredibly beautiful and impressive.
The RN 14in gun had very good penetrative capabilities and an exceptionally heavy bursting charge. PoW recorded speeds in excess of 29 knots during the Bismarck chase and these are confirmed by G&D who directly quote PoW's engineering log as stating that she recorded 128-134000shp during the chase. The performance of individual ships varied of course, but Howe carried out a full power trial (R&R p.304)on 26 Nov 1944 where she recorded 27 knots @ 44850 tons with 114350 shp when only 8 degrees from the equator and 9 months since her last bottom cleaning. The KGV's were no worse than many contemporary battleships and were arguably drier than most, including the Littorio, Scharnhorst, NC, and SoDak classes. They did have low endurance (but still better than Littorio and not much different from Yamato).

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Alberto Virtuani
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Re: KGV class revisited

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Mon Mar 10, 2014 5:36 pm

Dunmunro wrote: "The RN 14in gun had very good penetrative capabilities and an exceptionally heavy bursting charge. "
I fully agree ! The gun was very good.
Northcape wrote: "I would say the major flaws of the KGVs were their relatively weak armament,"
I would say that the real weakness was the unreliability of the loading mechanism due to the design complexity and the limited tolerances, possibly a 3 triple turret ship with 14" would have had the same weight and would have produced a better average broadside, just producing a better output.

@both: also range was a serious limitation having to be opposed to German ships intended for long range actions.

Bye, Alberto
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Re: KGV class revisited

Post by pgollin » Tue Mar 11, 2014 9:57 am

.

The problem with the interlocks has been overstated.

The problems had NOTHING to do with whether there were two, three or four guns per turret.

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Re: KGV class revisited

Post by RNfanDan » Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:07 am

pgollin wrote:
The problem with the interlocks has been overstated.

The problems had NOTHING to do with whether there were two, three or four guns per turret.
FINALLY!!

:clap:
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Re: KGV class revisited

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:53 pm

pgollin wrote: "The problems had NOTHING to do with whether there were two, three or four guns per turret."
However I have never heard of a KGV class twin turret loading mechanism to jam in action, have you ? Instead the quad were prone to this problem.

Bye, Alberto
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

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Re: KGV class revisited

Post by alecsandros » Tue Mar 11, 2014 2:15 pm

Alberto Virtuani wrote:
pgollin wrote: "The problems had NOTHING to do with whether there were two, three or four guns per turret."
However I have never heard of a KGV class twin turret loading mechanism to jam in action, have you ? Instead the quad were prone to this problem.

Bye, Alberto
... What is usualy left out is that the complex mechanisms led to more often human errors within the turret. HEnce loss of output down to ~ 50% for some intervals of Bismarck's final battle, and ~ 63% for DUke of York's North Cape battle. It's not only the "safety interlocks" that matter...

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Re: KGV class revisited

Post by pgollin » Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:19 am

.

FIRST :- With minor differences, the twin mechanism was exactly the same as the middle two of the quad.

SECOND :- The main problem was in the in the interlocks - not in general "human error" (There were occassions of errors in drill - but these mostly became a problem because of the INITIAL fragile construction of some parts of the interlock mechanism (too much side play). The interlocks were modified and became perfectly acceptable.

The only real oddity was the temporary jamming of X-turret during the Scharnhorst action and that was due to an exceptional sea and was corrected.

The real problem is with authors not reading the primary sources.

.

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Re: KGV class revisited

Post by alecsandros » Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:46 am

pgollin wrote:.

The interlocks were modified and became perfectly acceptable.

.
Are there any sources available that would quantify this ? I'm not saying you're in error, jsut that I haven't seen or heard about any post-1941 main battery gunnery firings of KGV class, except North Cape, which was in appalling weather.

Surely gunnery trials were made... Probably manouvreing gunnery exercises... There must be evidence for this, that woudl show something like "12:00 - 13:00, 200 x 14" shells ordered to be fired. 170 actualy fired. 30 not fired due to the following:
....
....
.... "

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Re: KGV class revisited

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:19 am

and some evidences comparing output of quad vs twin turrets..... :wink:
Again, even in rough seas (North Cape) I'm only aware of quad turret problems. If I'm right the twin performed always very well when in action.

Bye, Alberto
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Re: KGV class revisited

Post by RNfanDan » Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:08 pm

Alberto Virtuani wrote:and some evidences comparing output of quad vs twin turrets..... :wink:
Again, even in rough seas (North Cape) I'm only aware of quad turret problems. If I'm right the twin performed always very well when in action.

Bye, Alberto
I believe it very likely at least some of this may be attributed, not to the twin turret itself, but the fact that it was in an elevated position, therefore removed from the heaviest influence of seas coming aboard!
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Re: KGV class revisited

Post by Alberto Virtuani » Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:54 pm

@RNfanDan: you are absolutely right, however I'm not sure that the heavy seas was influencing turret operations only due to the water coming into the turret (it should have been a problem more for A turret more than for X). I'm more convinced the rolling of the ship was just creating the same mechanical stresses in the loading mechanisms than the hard turns.

Bye, Alberto
"It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition" (Adm.A.B.Cunningham)

"There's always a danger running in the enemy at close range" (Adm.W.F.Wake-Walker)

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