Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

From the birth of the Dreadnought to the period immediately after the end of World War I.
Byron Angel
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Re: Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

Post by Byron Angel » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:35 am

Neil Hilton wrote - "A hole in the turret armour does not mean the flash definately will set off the magazines if there is nothing to stop it (although there is a significant chance it will)."

..... The well known hit upon SEYDLITZ at Dogger Bank resulted in about seven tons of propellant being consumed in the resulting fire. There is no question that Captain von Egidy was in profound fear of a magazine explosion and the loss of SEYDLITZ altogether, but the fact remains that no explosion ensued. There is no denying that there was a profound difference in the volatility of German propellant versus British cordite.

Byron

delcyros
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Re: Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

Post by delcyros » Wed Mar 09, 2011 12:30 pm

LÜTZOW, DERFFLINGER, SEYDLITZ and VON DER TANN also were subject to minor or major turret fires after been hit at JUTLAND. In only one case (DERFFLINGER) did the projectile penetrate armour completely going up high order behind armour. The result was also the most severe turret fire involving both after turrets. Campbell don´t hesitates to stress that had german ships used cordite instead of RPC/12 then DERFFLINGER and possibly other ships would have blown up.
Making a hole or even displacing armour with blast or hot fragments entering the turret can start a fire. The rapid pressure buildt up by cordite charges catching fire was very dangerous to structures and bulkheads, particularely flash proof doors which failed under pressure.

Byron Angel
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Re: Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

Post by Byron Angel » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:36 pm

delcyros wrote:LÜTZOW, DERFFLINGER, SEYDLITZ and VON DER TANN also were subject to minor or major turret fires after been hit at JUTLAND. In only one case (DERFFLINGER) did the projectile penetrate armour completely going up high order behind armour. The result was also the most severe turret fire involving both after turrets. Campbell don´t hesitates to stress that had german ships used cordite instead of RPC/12 then DERFFLINGER and possibly other ships would have blown up.
Making a hole or even displacing armour with blast or hot fragments entering the turret can start a fire. The rapid pressure buildt up by cordite charges catching fire was very dangerous to structures and bulkheads, particularely flash proof doors which failed under pressure.

..... Early British cordite had some very unique properties (see "Artillery & Explosives" by Noble). Once ignited, it would continue to combust (as opposed to burn) in the absence of oxygen, even doing so underwater as proved by a Noble experiment. This phenomenon would produce large volumes of highly volatile gases that would in turn spontaneously detonate in over-pressure conditions.

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Djoser
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Re: Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

Post by Djoser » Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:13 am

delcyros wrote:I count a few more than 3 blown up at Jutland:

Compare this behavior with german BC´s getting hit on their exposed vitals. There are numerous cases of turrets knocked out and secondary gun positions hit, some without and other with explosive effect partly inside them (through holing) but in only one case the ship was really endangered (SEYDLITZ off Doggerank).
I was well aware of the other exploding ships; but in fact only the three battlecruisers exploded, as I stated. But no need to nitpick among friends!

Right, it wasn't merely the unsafe stacking of charges that led to the severity of the explosions, but also the volatility of the British cordite. Certainly the two severe turret fires in the Derfflinger (caused by two separate hits BTW, not one as has been said here before) would both probably have resulted in the loss of the ship had British cordite been being used. As well as both the fires in the Seydlitz, at Dogger Bank and at Jutland.

I think the weaker armor plating of the BCs was still a contributing factor as well, and shouldn't be dismissed because of the charge handling. Though it seems evident that of the three problems, the most serious was the stacking of charges, it should never be assumed that that was the only problem with the British BCs at Jutland. They were simply much weaker in defensive capability than the German BCs, and would have been more likely to explode from a turret hit even without the dangerous stacking of charges. Which brings me to this:
neil hilton wrote:
Djoser wrote: If Beatty ordered 'the safety systems removed' "on all his squadron", someone forgot to tell the turret crews in his own flagship. I forget if it was the exec or the gunnery officer of that ship who pissed off the turret crews by making them handle the charges more carefully.
Lion also almost blew up at Jutland too...
But it didn't, probably due to the more stringent measures ordered by that wise officer. It came quite close to it, of course. The key difference being that all the three BCs that blew up did so immediately, relatively speaking--as opposed to Lion which almost blew up again, more than 20 minutes after being hit. While the timely flooding of the magazine was also crucial, this leads me to believe it was the more prudent handling of charges that initially saved the ship. But who knows for sure? And wow what a close call that was.

This may seem contradictory of me, saying the charge handling wasn't the only problem, then crediting the Lion's reprieve largely to safer handling (in my opinion). But if we were to recreate the battle of Jutland without charge stacking in BCs, I'd still rather be on the Derfflinger's bridge than the LIon's!

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Re: Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

Post by culverin » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:47 pm

Although now well off topic, following the precedent of half the posts on this particular thread, it is astonishing how everyone so conveniently forgets the sinking of the Pommern at Jutland.
Her entire complement of 844 would not have known what happened.

Much along the lines of the armoured cruiser Prinz Adalbert 7 months previously.

I have always been intrigued by the fact that armour in its many and varied forms can be beneficial.
But armour will also contain the effects of damage.

The results litter the oceans floors.
A full broadside. The traditional English salute.
Thanks. Sean.

simonharley
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Re: Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

Post by simonharley » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:31 pm

Lion is an appalling example to use, because there was at least eight, probably nine, full charges of cordite (32 or 36 cartridges) exposed outside the magazines. What undoubtedly saved Lion is that all that cordite didn't go up at once and that the magazine doors were shut AFTER the hit. Anything else is pure conjecture.

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Re: Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

Post by JasonW » Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:33 am

For those inquiring, the pages with the drawings of the various British battleship designs scanned and posted in the beginning of this thread may be found in the British Battleships of World War Two book by Alan Raven and John Roberts.

May be found here: http://www.amazon.com/British-Battleshi ... ld+war+two

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Re: Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

Post by Djoser » Fri May 08, 2015 9:33 am

RF wrote:Politically its an odd alignment, I assume this was done as purely a wargaming excercise without reference as to how such a line up could occur in the first place.
neil hilton wrote: RF is right about the political alignment, it is wierd. Did you just roll a dice or something? :wink:

I have read that many people in the US Navy were not big fans of the RN, for whatever reason, and actually would have relished the opportunity to fight them. Sounded a bit odd to me, but it was a reputable source. I will see if I can find it.

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Re: Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

Post by Djoser » Fri May 08, 2015 10:30 am

neil hilton wrote:That 'turret hit rule' for the RN ships is a huge generalisation, assuming you're refering to the BC disasters at Jutland (Queen Mary, Indefatigable and Invincible).
Historically the designs were sound for BCs, but the crew purposely removed the safety systems in order to increase rate of fire. Beatty ordered this on all his squadron. The rest of the British Fleet had all their safety systems intact.
I should point out that Warspite (and the others of the QE class, 5th Battle squadron) all went through exactly the same gauntlet as Beattys BCs and out the other side with only minor..ish damage and having given more than they got.
So, really that 'turret rule' you had should have been specific only to ships commanded by Beatty not the whole RN.
How would your 1928 Great Banana War have turned out then?
Edited to add later! Sorry guys I was bored at work and forgot I had replied to this already 4 years ago. So I have edited this post to get rid of superfluous repeated points, but left a few that were a little different...

Blaming the loss of all 4 big British ships at Jutland (including Defence) on unsafe 'ready charges' storage alone does kind of ignore the much greater overall vulnerability of both the British BCs--and the BBs as well, when compared to their German counterparts of approximately equal tonnage.

Insufficient armor protecting the turrets and magazines, and a much more volatile propellant really cannot be dismissed so easily as factors in those ship losses.

And though the BC squadrons relied way too heavily on rapid firing to compensate for otherwise rotten gunnery, and the concomitant unsafe charge disposition made them much more vulnerable, I am not so certain that 1) the British BBs were always so very much more cautious in storage of 'ready charges' as compared to the BC squadron, or that 2) the relatively weaker armor arrangements in the average British BBs vs average German BBs of equivalent tonnage, and the increased volatility of British propellant wouldn't have meant that most of the British BBs in the main battle line at Jutland would have also been vulnerable to magazine explosions--had they ever really been subject to the kind of punishment that the BCs or the Warspite suffered in the battle.

The Warspite certainly suffered a lot of damage (a lot more than the official accounts would have it, if you read the account of the executive officer in charge of damage control and some of the other eyewitnesses' accounts) and held up amazingly well. But she never had to stand toe to toe with the Badens' 15" rifles--only having 11" & 12" shells hit her, which were bad enough as it was. Had she had to resist the heavier shells of heavier ships, built in an alternate history scenario, featuring a heavier German order of battle to that of Jutland, she might also have been more vulnerable to catastrophic magazine explosions.

Look what happened to the Barham when she rolled over...

Not to knock the magnificent Warspite or her sisters, they were very tough ships. But clearly the German capital ships were defensively tougher than the British, ton for ton; and the German propellant much safer, both in WW I & WW II. Look at what happened to the Seydlitz at Dogger Bank AND Jutland. Had she been a British ship, she would no doubt have blown up in spectacular fashion. The Derffilnger also had major propellant fires in both C & D turrets at Jutland, with flames shooting out 'high as houses' from all the vents, etc. But the ship did not get blown in half, nor did she suffer a hull damaging explosion.

The Tirpitz rear magazine (or at least the magazine for 'C' turret, I think) blew up in that final, fatal air attack. But there was no gigantic explosion wrecking most of the ship, a la Arizona at Pearl Harbor or Hood at Denmark Strait. The turret was blown out of the ship, but the hull itself suffered a lot less--relative to the Hood, Barham, Arizona, etc.

So a scenario pitting Queen Elizabeths, Hood (and her proposed sisters), and other later hypothetical British BCs and BBs against Badens and other later hypothetical German BCs and BBs might well be accurate in giving the British capital ships a much greater susceptibility to catastrophic magazine explosions. Especially if the hypothetical scenario took place in an alternate history in which there was no WW I and and thus no Jutland and thus no warning that the British capital ships might be prone to this weakness.

Even with that warning, look what happened to Hood when she went up against more advanced 15" naval rifles...

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Re: Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

Post by dunmunro » Fri May 08, 2015 6:57 pm

At North Cape Scharnhorst suffered a propellant fire that damaged both forward turrets and she blew up as she sank.

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Re: Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

Post by Byron Angel » Sat May 09, 2015 3:21 am

..... According to Busch - An early heavy caliber hit did jam A turret of Scharnhorst and a much later hit, penetrating into or delivering effect into A turret's magazine, produced a great fire and large successive explosions sufficient to send hot fragments into the adjacent B turret magazine. This induced B turret's commander to order B magazine flooded. But B turret magazine (once again according to Busch) was supposedly drained about 15 minutes later and B turret resumed firing, leaving only three rounds remaining at the end. If Busch's account is correct, it can be inferred on that basis that the A turret fire and explosions, while quite severe, were not immediately responsible for a catastrophic sinking of the ship.

DoY's main battery gunnery narrative does mention a considerable explosion in immediate connection with the ultimate sinking of Scharnhorst, but describes it as having occurred aft. My guess is either scuttling charges (which had been ordered), or possibly a very late torpedo hit, as C turret had been firing continuously throughout the action and was likely to have exhausted her ammunition by the end.

FWIW.

B

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Re: Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

Post by dunmunro » Sat May 09, 2015 8:30 pm

Byron Angel wrote:..... According to Busch - An early heavy caliber hit did jam A turret of Scharnhorst and a much later hit, penetrating into or delivering effect into A turret's magazine, produced a great fire and large successive explosions sufficient to send hot fragments into the adjacent B turret magazine. This induced B turret's commander to order B magazine flooded. But B turret magazine (once again according to Busch) was supposedly drained about 15 minutes later and B turret resumed firing, leaving only three rounds remaining at the end. If Busch's account is correct, it can be inferred on that basis that the A turret fire and explosions, while quite severe, were not immediately responsible for a catastrophic sinking of the ship.

DoY's main battery gunnery narrative does mention a considerable explosion in immediate connection with the ultimate sinking of Scharnhorst, but describes it as having occurred aft. My guess is either scuttling charges (which had been ordered), or possibly a very late torpedo hit, as C turret had been firing continuously throughout the action and was likely to have exhausted her ammunition by the end.

FWIW.

B
Tovey's despatch states:
SINKING OF THE SCHARNHORST.
76. Three cruisers and eight destroyers were
now in the target area and DUKE OF YORK
steered to the northward to avoid the melee.
All that could be seen of the SCHARNHORST
was a dull glow through a dense cloud of
smoke, which the starshell and searchlights of
the surrounding ships could not penetrate. No
ship therefore saw the enemy sink but it seems
fairly certain that she sank after a heavy underwater
explosion which was heard and felt in
several ships at about 1945. JAMAICA,
MATCHLESS and VIRAGO were the last ships
to sight her at about 1938; at 1948 when BELFAST
closed to deliver a second torpedo
attack she had definitely sunk in approximate
position 72° 16' N. 28° 41' E.
and the wreck of the Scharnhorst indicates that her forward magazines may have exploded:

viewtopic.php?t=3521
The hull shows extensive damage from both armour-piercing shells and torpedoes. HMS Duke of York fired 80 broadsides; and the Allied ships fired a total of 2,195 shells during the engagement. Some 55 torpedoes were launched at Scharnhorst, and 11 are believed to have found their target. There is now an explanation of why she sank so suddenly. A massive internal explosion - probably in an ammunition magazine below a forward gun turret, had blown off her bow. The entire bow section remains together as a mass of wreckage and armour, but separated from the main wreck.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/ ... shtml#four

Byron Angel
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Re: Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

Post by Byron Angel » Sun May 10, 2015 12:07 am

D -
It's entirely possible that there was an explosion in A turret at the time of Scharnhorst's sinking; A turret had been disabled very early in the action and must have had a large quantity of ammunition remaining. Busch's account suggests, however, that any such explosion was not an immediate result of the second hit there, since a considerable period of time is said to have passed between the hit and the ship's ultimate sinking.

It is possibly a consequence of scuttling charges, or, equally possiblly, an explosive phenomenon similar to that suffered by Barham. It is probably impossible to know at this point.

B

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Re: Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

Post by Djoser » Mon May 11, 2015 1:20 pm

Certainly not an immediate, catastrophic, and fatal explosion due undeniably to one particular salvo hitting, as in so many of the RN major ship losses in both wars.

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Re: Royal Navy Super Battleships and Battlecruisers

Post by Djoser » Mon May 11, 2015 1:29 pm

And no way could the Scharnhorst survivors have forgotten an explosion of the magnitude which occurred on the Barham.

:negative:

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