Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

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VoidSamukai
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Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

Post by VoidSamukai » Tue Feb 23, 2016 7:05 am

There is already a thread for the Best Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2. On this one, discuss about the worst the these ships.

Please note the time these ships were built. It is hardly fair to compare a BC built in 1906 to one built in 1920, as the time difference is huge. (Unless the BC in 1906 was so good it somehow has something for it going against 1920 BCs, then be my guess)

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Re: Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

Post by Steve-M » Tue Feb 23, 2016 9:55 pm

WWI: HMS Furious, if you want to consider her a battlecruiser. I'd consider her more of an oddball as completed, with a solitary 18" gun, light armor, and a flight deck.

WWII: I'd vote for the Alaska's (technically "large cruisers"). While far from being abysmal ships, they didn't represent the greatest of values (construction cost was what, 75% of an Iowa?) and they lacked protection from torpedoes & diving shells.

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Re: Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

Post by Dave Saxton » Wed Feb 24, 2016 3:13 am

Steve-M wrote:
WWII: I'd vote for the Alaska's (technically "large cruisers"). While far from being abysmal ships, they didn't represent the greatest of values (construction cost was what, 75% of an Iowa?) and they lacked protection from torpedoes & diving shells.
I have to agree, but to be fair there is no apples to apples comparison to an Alaska. The only- sort of- contemporaries are Scharnhorst and Dunkerque, and those could be better classified as small, fast, battleships. I don't think we can classify an Alaska as a battleship. An armoured cruiser? An extra heavy, heavy cruiser?
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Re: Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

Post by VoidSamukai » Wed Feb 24, 2016 3:25 am

I think the term we use is Battlecruiser. And I think it fits the Alaska class well. I've already did a link about why I think the Alaskas were BCs, not CAs, and I don't feel the real urge to repost it again.


WW1: Design-wise: The Corageous class. ABout the same size as the Invincible class of 1906, these ships have armour that was next to useless, less than stellar secondaries and firepower that I seriously question. The Furious is even worse with only 2 18inch guns. Good thing they decided to use her as a testbed for aircraft instead.

Operation-wise: None of the BCs had great carrers in WW1, which many a few exceptions, so no point here.

WW2: Design-wise: Deustchland class. Yes, for some reason some consider them BCs and I guess I can kinda see where they are going. And since the other BCs of WW2 were either heavily rebuilt WW1 ships or ships armed with 11-13inch guns, I decided to fall back on these little ships. Small, thinly armoured and speed was not the greatest. On the plus side she had excellent range and her guns were adaquet. At least she has a minimum of 6 guns.

Operation-wise: The Dunkurque. She didn't really do that much. Just get scuttled. At least the Alaska class did AA Escorting and shore bombardment.

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Re: Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

Post by Steve-M » Wed Feb 24, 2016 3:15 pm

VoidSamukai wrote:WW2: Design-wise: Deustchland class...Small, thinly armoured and speed was not the greatest. On the plus side she had excellent range and her guns were adaquet. At least she has a minimum of 6 guns.
FWIW, I don't believe it's really fair to include the Panzerschiffe here. There was only so much Germany could achieve while still paying lip service to the Treaty of Versailles.

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Re: Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

Post by VoidSamukai » Wed Feb 24, 2016 8:49 pm

Steve-M wrote:
VoidSamukai wrote:WW2: Design-wise: Deustchland class...Small, thinly armoured and speed was not the greatest. On the plus side she had excellent range and her guns were adaquet. At least she has a minimum of 6 guns.
FWIW, I don't believe it's really fair to include the Panzerschiffe here. There was only so much Germany could achieve while still paying lip service to the Treaty of Versailles.
Yeah. It is sorta unfair to compare them to other ships, considering the limitations they had on their construction.

But they don't an Overal Worst, since they more than make it up with their combact service by being among the most useful BCs.

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Re: Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

Post by Dave Saxton » Thu Feb 25, 2016 4:12 pm

The definition of battle cruiser in this thread is very very broad. We have many vastly different warships types included over a wide time frame. That's okay, but I would personally never list the panzerschiffs as battle cruisers.

In my view we have the WWI era battle cruisers as envisioned by Jackie Fisher and those are essentially what battle cruisers are. We can have variations on that theme but not stray too far from that. (my opinion of course) Usually they are actually larger than contemporary battleships to get in the required much more powerful machinery. Renown and Repulse, Lion, the Japanese Kongos, were all battle cruisers. High Seas Fleet battle cruisers differed by having a slightly different mix of offensive and defensive properties. Even the mighty Hood was departing from that theme as built. Many consider the Hood to be the prototype fast battleship. Hood was actually better protected than contemporary battleships such as the QEs and the Rs. It represents a change of design priorities and what was a battle cruiser.

The Rodney and Nelson design started life as officially "battle cruisers". They were to be 60,000 tons and 30+ knots. The 35,000 ton limit put a stop to that. Constricted down to 35,000 tons, the speed was reduced to 23 knots and they became "battleships" with the same firepower and protection as planned. Speed, not gun size/number or armour thickness, seems to be the main criteria for if a capital ship was a battle cruiser or a battleship in the RN during that time frame.

By the 1930s, it was possible to produce "fast battleships" without the extra large and tonnage consuming machinery spaces, because of more powerful, more efficient, smaller space consuming, and much lighter, turbine power plants. Also protection was by the immunity zone concept. The fast battleship essentially rendered the traditional battle cruiser obsolete.

We have at least two types of battle cruiser historically:

1) Capital ships that trade off firepower or protection, or both, for speed.

2) Capital ships that have the same same firepower and protection as contemporary battleships but have greater speed, usually by being larger. An argument can be made that the Iowa's fit this category.

A Scharnhorst might be argued to be battle cruiser because it had a weaker armament (11" guns as built or only 6x15" guns as eventually planned) but the same speed and protection as a contemporary fast battleship. The Germans always listed them as schlactschiffs (battleships), they were just smaller than contemporary fast battleships.

A Scharnhorst is a completely different type of ship than an Alaska though. Unlike Schanhorst, an Alaska had neither the protection or fire power of a contemporary battleship, or even a WWI battle cruiser such as the Kongo. In my opinion, the WWII Kongo would have made short work of an Alaska, but have a difficult time, or be defeated, by the WWII Scharnhorst.

An Alaska is also a completely different type of ship than the WWII Renown. A WWII Renown would make short work of an Alaska, in my opinion. But an Alaska would make short work of a Baltimore or any WWII IJN heavy cruiser.

How to define a WWII era battle cruiser is difficult.
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Re: Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

Post by Steve-M » Thu Feb 25, 2016 6:26 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:How to define a WWII era battle cruiser is difficult.
Indeed. Even in WWI, the lines blurred given the rate of development, and Germany and Britain built very different ships given their relative operational realities. You mentioned HMS Hood as one example, but it's also worth considering SMS Derfflinger vs SMS Oldenburg. These vessels were commissioned a scant two years apart, but the battlecruiser carries the superior armament and manages a speed advantage of better than 5 knots while barely sacrificing anything in terms of protection.

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Re: Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

Post by VoidSamukai » Fri Feb 26, 2016 5:07 am

I judge whether or not a ship is a BC by; size, caliber of guns (and to a much lesser extent the number of guns), role, speed/armour comparasion.

Eg

The PBs fit the caliber, trade armour for speed and role, but lack in the size by a large margin.

The twins fit the size, caliber and possible role, though their speed and armour was balanced. Though this is typical of German "BCs", trading firepower for speed, and keep the good armour.

Alaska fits everything. Thus she is a sterotypical BC in my eyes.

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Re: Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

Post by VoidSamukai » Sat Feb 27, 2016 11:44 pm

Though seriously. As a BC, what good does the Courageous class have for it that other BCs dont?

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Re: Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

Post by VoidSamukai » Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:55 am

I decided to make a list on what I consider the "Worst" Battlecruisers ever built. This list will include ships of both world wars. I will be taking into consideration the design, limitations and operation of the ships, as well as how well they suit the role of battlecruiser.

First, I few dishonourable mentions:

Invincible class: Being the first of her kind, you can't really blame her too much if she screws something up. And she did prove her worth at the battle of the Falklands.

Ibuki class: Slow and underarmed for her type, but she was built in a time when the battlecruiser was not a thing. And for what she was, she wasn't that bad. Just outdated by new ships, a fate shared by other armoured cruisers and pre dreadnoughts when Fisher's creations took to sea.

Repulse: A WW1 era ship at the wrong place and wrong time. Even if she was modernised in any fashion, she would still sink. And for WW1 she wasn't a bad ship. Just kept well beyond her useful date without major refits.


Now, onto the list;

5) The Deutschland class: Admittedly, these BCs, if you can called them BCs, only made the list because I was running out of ships to put here. Nevertheless, I thought it would be best to mention them here for a number of reasons, mostly design problems.

The Deutschland class were built to conditions of the Treaty of Versailles as long range commerce raiders. They had to try and keep the weight low while at the same time giving the ships long range and powerful guns. The ships would eventually be armed with 6 11inch guns in 2 triple turrets and had a maximum speed of 28 knots. Protection was on the lighter side, but most other cruisers of the time didn't exactly have better armour so not as big an issue.

Deutschland did however have major problems. First off, her speed was a little lacking as many other BCs could catch up to her and easily sink her. Second of all, the choice of 11inch guns is questionable as it has been agreed on that a commerce raider with 8inch guns and much better speed would've been a better choice. And lastly, the choice of placing all the guns into 2 turrets meant that if one was knock out, then she lost half of her firepower. A design with them in twin turrets would've been more ideal. Of course the Germans realised this and the Scharnhorst class was built with 3 turrets.

Still, she had major limitations due to treaties that had to be placed on building her and for what she was, she wasn't a bad ship. Her range was really good, allowing her to raid well beyond home ports. Graf Spee proved that she could be a match of many cruisers, shown with the damage done to the Exeter. And the service of the class makes them among the most active and more useful of the "battlecruisers" built in WW2. For this reason, this class only makes Number 5 on this list and only because I was running out of ideas.



4) Indefatigable class: Again, this class only makes this list because I felt it should be mentioned. It is an early battlecruiser, which is why she is only number 4. Nevertheless, they are a few things that make it go on this list.

The Indefatigable class were the second class of British Battlecruisers. They were basically improvements on the Invincibles with a better arrangement of the main guns, which allows them possibly fire all 8 of their 12 inch guns in a broadside, verses the Invincibles' 6. Armour was slightly thinner in some placers but was more extensive. It was still bad, but it did allow them to achieve high speeds.

However, they were not that major improvements over their predecessors. They still have terrible armour which didn't cover that much of the ship and only a small speed advantage over their German equivalencies. Their firepower was adequate though and only poor British shells weakened them, which was shared by most other British warships of the time. Except for Jutland, they never did that much like most other WW1 capitwarships though they did do cruises, patrols and raids. Overall, they did their job and were okay for their time, which is why they only made 4th place.


Now, this is where the BCs start to loose their value.


3) Alaska class: The Alaska class battlecruisers suffer from what I consider a fate for many potential warships: Built too late to do anything useful. And while these ships did some use for the US Navy, they were not really that worth their money.

The Alaska class were built as cruiser hunters for the US Navy and after news of potential Japanese cruiser hunters. The result was a ship design to be the ultimate surface cruiser killer. It was basically an enlarged Baltimore cruiser hull armed with similar AA defence, similar protection but heavier guns. She was armed with 9 12inch guns and 12 5 inch guns. They would be quite powerful against other cruisers and many other battlecruisers of the time.

However, by the time both ships made it into service, the Japanese cruiser fleet was practically no more and thus there were no cruisers for the Alaska class to hunt down. She would end up performing shore bombardment in support of troops and escorting the new aircraft carriers. With only slightly better AA than a Baltimore, while being 2/3 the cost of an Iowa, she didn't exactly represent the best value for money.

She also suffered a few other issues as well. Being an oversized cruiser, she had only a single rudder, which limited her manoeuvrability. She also had no torpedo defence which would be bad news if she was hit by a torpedo, least a Long Lance. Unless the Long Lance overpenatrates XD


Still, at least she did something useful for her navy. The same cannot be said for...



2) Dunkerque class: The Dunkerque class is one of those ships that does practically nothing for the country that built it. For a starters, I do know that the Scharnhorst class were very similar in design. But with the career and activity these ships had and the successors they achieved, I couldn't put them in the same ball park as the Dunkerque.

These ships had unusually but understanding design choices. Her guns were all mounted on the bow in 2 quad turrets, for a total of 8 13inch guns. Her armour and speed were acceptable for the era, though a tad lacking. And that is where her good stuff ends. Her career, consisting of failed hunts of the Graf Spee, was underwhelming even by my standards. Heck at least the Yamato carried troops over with it and escorted some troop convoys. And in the end the Dunkerque class were scuttled, failing to give anything meaningful to France.

Design-wise, their choice of gun layout is questionable in practice, but understandable: being so to maximise the armour belt. Speed was lacking but alright. Her AA defence was terrible, but no one at that time really had AA to boast about...honestly, it falls into "bad, but understandable and not that bad".


In the very end, they are not really that great of a battlecruiser service wise and many other ships had the better gun layout and armouring. So what keeps them from making the bottom of my list? Well at least design-wise they weren't too shabby and her choices were understandable. Unlike...


1) Courageous class: This class I can safely say is the worst battlecruiser ever built in history. Her standards are as low as the pocket battleships, and considering the service the pocket battleships gave, the Courageous class couldn't even come close.

The Courageous class weighted around the same as the fore-mentioned Indefatigable class battlecruisers. The caliber of the guns was increased to 15inch. But the number of main guns was halved to only 4 guns in 2 twin turrets. Secondary guns were also troublesome and not that effective.

But the armour of the ship is where things go down hard. For her size, she was woefully under protected, with a 3 inch belt of armour, and that barely covered much of the ship. It is considered terrible even by British battlecruiser standards, and I doubt it would stand up to shells of 6inch and up. The hull also was structurally weak for the 15inch guns and both ships suffer damage when their fired their massive guns. They were fast though, at 32 knots, but this doesn't compensate for the other flaws.

All the weight savings were to reduce the draught of the ship so it could help bombard the shores of enemy lines. But considering their light armour, if would be much better should they reduce the speed in order to gain more armour to protect themselves against shore batteries. In the end, the invasion they were built for never happened.

Their service as battlecruisers was uninspiring at best. That's it. Nothing much to say here.

But I guess one should mention their half sister: the HMS Furious. If she was built the way she was intended to, then she would've been even worse with only 2 main guns. 18inch guns yes but only 2. And with the 15inch guns causing structural damage to her sisters, Furious would probably suffer even more. Luckily for her, she was used instead to test out aircraft, so she doesn't make the Number 1 spot as such, but is up their with her sisters.

In short, the worse battlecruisers period. They were under gunned, under armoured and structurally weak. To the point where their great speed doesn't make up for it. And this is why they make the Number 1 spot of my worst battlecruiser list, being worse compare to BCs that didn't do the best for their country but were better designed, contemporaries that were older but more versatile and smaller BCs that were more successful and was bounded to treaty limitations. And those ships being called BCs is questionable to begin with XD


These of of course my opinions. Your's may differ greatly.

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Re: Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

Post by vestman » Mon Mar 14, 2016 7:23 am

Why not judge by the expected role of the ships?
If a ship was designed mainly to fight other battleships in a line of battle =>battleship.
If she was DESIGNED mainly to perform duties typically of an armored cruiser- ie., scouting, hunting cruisers, fighting other battlecruisers , commerce-raiding and anti-commerce-raiding, swift deployment to overseas colony etc. and later, defending or attacking CVs=>battlecruiser.

For example,
Yamato- designed to intercept US battleships=>super-battleship.
Hood- designed to counter Mackensen-class battlecruiser=>super-battlecruiser
Richelieu- designed to counter Littorio-class battleships=> fast battleship
Dunkerque- designed to hunt Deutschland-class CA/BC=> battlecruiser

What do you think?

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Re: Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

Post by KilonBerlin » Thu May 19, 2016 6:49 pm

Never read about HMS Furious before... but only 4 x 7,6-cm FlaK? This is a for this time, very strong caliber... World War 1 aircrafts could be taken down easy with a .50 caliber and not the 6-fold (3 inch), and 4 guns only for such a large ship... easy target in the last 2 war years for the always getting better aircrafts... I mean in World War 2 many battleships or aircraft carrier had over 50 or some even like almost 100 FlaK with a lower calibers against the kamikaze pilots it was necessary that 20 or 30 guns at the same time are firing on one single aircraft...

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Re: Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

Post by VoidSamukai » Mon May 23, 2016 4:24 am

HMS Furious was a half sister to the HMS Courageous. She was used as a test bed for aircraft and was eventually converted into a full carrier. If built as intended, she would be terrible. Like her half sisters, she weighted about 22000 tonnes and could reach very high speeds of 31 knots. However she had 3inch belt armour (which didnt cover much anyways) and would be armed with 18inch guns, but only 2 in single turrets. Her half sisters had 4 15inch guns, with was still pretty bad. The secondary firepower on Courageous with 4inch guns was very lackluster, so with Furious they changed it to 5.5 inch guns. As battlecruisers, they would've suck. Even by early British BC standards.

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Re: Worst Battlecruiser of WW1 and WW2

Post by MVictorP » Sat Jun 04, 2016 5:05 am

VoidSamukai wrote:I think the term we use is Battlecruiser. And I think it fits the Alaska class well. I've already did a link about why I think the Alaskas were BCs, not CAs, and I don't feel the real urge to repost it again.

WW1: Design-wise: The Corageous class. ABout the same size as the Invincible class of 1906, these ships have armour that was next to useless, less than stellar secondaries and firepower that I seriously question. The Furious is even worse with only 2 18inch guns. Good thing they decided to use her as a testbed for aircraft instead.

Operation-wise: None of the BCs had great carrers in WW1, which many a few exceptions, so no point here.

WW2: Design-wise: Deustchland class. Yes, for some reason some consider them BCs and I guess I can kinda see where they are going. And since the other BCs of WW2 were either heavily rebuilt WW1 ships or ships armed with 11-13inch guns, I decided to fall back on these little ships. Small, thinly armoured and speed was not the greatest. On the plus side she had excellent range and her guns were adaquet. At least she has a minimum of 6 guns.

Operation-wise: The Dunkurque. She didn't really do that much. Just get scuttled. At least the Alaska class did AA Escorting and shore bombardment.
The German/French/Dutch "battlecruisers" were more like second class ships of the line... whereas the larger Anglo/Japanese WWI battlecruisers either evolved into fast battleships, or carriers prior to WWII.

The 1929 Deutschland was essentially a heavy cruiser which traded machinery for firepower. One of her great asset were her diesel engines, the best German engines of the war, that allowed her to run on her merchant victims' fuel stock.

Scharnhorst was a fine ship, but had an unarmored soft spot and her fore guns were barely usable in heavy seas. Still, her class was one of the most successfull of the war, operationally speaking, tying up a lot of RN ressources.

Dunkerque was maybe the best "battlecruiser" ever built (along with the unbuilt Dutch project 1047): Superb armor scheme and torpedo defense, sufficient speed (but no more) and excellent guns. They were a bit too close one another, resulting in some dispersion problems, and only two turret was an invitation for early disarmement, but in a combat she could have been formidable, firing all of her guns while offering minimal profile. A vessel made for the hunt. Her AA wasn't her strong stuff but anything below speed, armor and machinery can be upgraded to some point on such vessels.

The Alaskas looked good on paper, and they seem to fill a hole in the US fleet: that of a battleship fast enough to escort a carrier group. However, their late appearance, "cruiser mentality" but battleship-cost qualities made them effectively underwhelming when compared to an Iowa.

Long story short, I think the worst battlecruiser of WWII was the Turquish Yavuz (former German Goebben). Althought a redoutable ship in WWI, Yavuz had not been modernized between the war - a disaster waiting to happen. Fortunately, the war didn't last long once Turkey joined it.
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