How would you improve the Royal Navy

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
als_pug
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How would you improve the Royal Navy

Post by als_pug » Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:14 pm

Ok first some background . you have whatever knowledge you currently have . the year is 1936
war is going to occur at the normal time . you have to allow for the fact that you can at most lay down 12 capital ships .bb / bc or cv
the treaty escallation clause has been invoked . you can modernise completely to your desired improvements 6 ships .
you can accelerate ircraft developement by a year to start and 2 in 1940 . ( ie a 1942 prototype can be accepted in 1940 )
it appears 123 destroyers were built from 1939 to 1942 . bring this rate of production back a year or two . so roughly 40 destroyers per year .
you can build frigates at a similar rate .
cruisers . light ( less then 7000 ton ) and heavy ( up to 14000 ton ) at a rate of 60000 tons
submarines 12 per year .

what size navy would you build and how would you use what was available . consider radar gunnery to be in it's infancy . no proximity fused ammunition . the hazeymayer twin 40 mm bofors are available as is the single . the quad and octuple pom poms are also available . all gun mounts used up to 1942 are available . and to throw one out their for the big gun lovers a twin version of the single 18 inch on the furious is available . turret similar in size to the triple 16 .

ok i guess i wil start the ball rolling .

for the capital ship construction . i will build 6 battleships to one design and 6 carriers to one design .
to make life easier i will use the same hull and engine combination .

battleships .
displacement in the region of 45000 tons .
speed 27/29 kts .
guns .
MAIN . 3 triple 16 inch . improved heavier turret then the nelsons.
secondary . 12 twin 4.5 . ( improve the turrets by adding powerassisted loading )
anti-aircraft . 24 twin 40 mm bofors . hazemeyer mounts
aircraft . none

aircraft carriers
displacement in the region of 30000 tons ( much les due to no armour etc.)
speed 30/32 kts
guns . 8 twin 4.5
20 twin 40 mm bofors.

aircraft . full capacity of 70 aircraft . various types ( ideally in 1941 the airgroup would be 20 grumman avenger 20 firefly and 30 seafire )

cruisers . with a tonnage allocated of 60000 tons i would lay down 2 heavy cruisers and 4/5 light per year .

heavy cruiser . ( outfitted as flagship )
displacement 12000 tons
speed 32/34 kts ( more likely the lower )
guns
main . 4 twin 8 inch ( good guns no need to change the design )
secondary . 6 twin 4.5
anti-aircraft . 6 twin 40 mm bofors
aircraft . 2 scout type float planes

light criuser .
displacement 8000 tons .
speed 34 kts
guns
main . 3 triple 6 inch
secondary battery as heavy
antiaircraft as heavy
aircraft ( as heavy )

destroyers and frigates . i would build several classes all using the same weapon types just varying numbers etc .
the types required are .

fleet destroyer 15 laid down per year
long range escort destroyer 15 laid down per year
antiaircraft destroyer 10 laid down per year
escort frigate 40 laid down per year .

the fleet destroyer .
displacement near 2400 tons
speed 36 kts plus
guns .
4 twin 4.5
6 twin 40 mm bofors
2 quad torpedoe mounts
2 rails and 4 throwers for depth charges

the long range escort destroyer .
displacement 2000 tons
speed 32 kts
guns 3 twin 4.5
6 twin 40 mm bofors
1 triple torp mount
1 hedghog
2 rails and 6 throwers

the antiaircraft destroyer
displacement 2400 tons ( same hull as fleet )
speed 36kts plus
guns 5 twin 4.5
8 twin 40 mm bofors
2 rails and 4 depthcharge throwers

the frigate .
displacement 1200 tons
speed 24kts
guns 1 twin 4.5 ( stern mounted )
3 twin 40 mm bofors
1 hedgehop
2 rails 4 throwers.

submarines . this is the hardest their was little wrong with the subs they had and i am not all that knowledgable on them . so
i will build the T class submarines .

please notice i do not consider a vessel laid down in 1936 to be finished in 1936 . a destroyer or frigate yes half those laid down in the first year woiuld complete . cruisers prob 2 year construction . carriers 2 years battleships 2and a half years .

as far as air complement for the carriers . the sea hurricane would be available but not ideal .
torpedoe and level bombers . have the swordfish (1936 )followed by the albacore(1938) follwed by the Grumman avenger(1940 ) {invoking the 2 year accelaeration lol )
fighters.
1936 sea gladiator
1939 fairey firefly ( relegated to strike aircraft in 1940 when the first wide landing track seafire's arrived )
1940 Supermarine Seafire ( available in real life in 1940 with folding wings etc ....cancelled in favour of the fulmar ) i would give the seafire wide track landing gear similar to a hurricane .)

Any comments feel free . my production totals would require a war footing style production ramp up .

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Re: How would you improve the royal navy

Post by lwd » Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:47 pm

First some general thoughts.
1) Push radar.
2) Consider developing super heavy rounds for cruisers on up.
3) See if it's possible to by 5"/38s from the US. Ideally twin mounts. Use them where possible on everything from DDs on up and possibly for corvettes.
4) Designs for CVEs and CVLs ready to go when needed. The CVL's could be based on cruiser hulls.

Now some comments on your plan.
als_pug wrote:....
for the capital ship construction . i will build 6 battleships to one design and 6 carriers to one design .
to make life easier i will use the same hull and engine combination .
Battleship hulls don't make the best carrier designs especially for the tonnage. I'd go with a speciallized CV hull. However commonality as much as possible is a good idea. 4 and 8 might also be worth considering.
battleships .
...
aircraft . none
I would mount at least a couple of aircraft but with search rather than fire control as their primary focus.
...
cruisers . with a tonnage allocated of 60000 tons i would lay down 2 heavy cruisers and 4/5 light per year .
As soon as permitted I'd look at producing one or two of CVLs per year in place of something above
destroyers and frigates . i would build several classes all using the same weapon types just varying numbers etc .
I'd consider shifting some of this tonnage to CVEs when possible.

Also consider something like the German E-boats. They are useful for patrolling the channel and other "narrow seas". They could also possibly be useful for ASW work at least close to ports.

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Re: How would you improve the royal navy

Post by Bgile » Sat Apr 18, 2009 4:52 pm

The Avenger probably wouldn't be terribly popular as a torpedo bomber because it was unable to carry the British airial torpedo, at least not in it's bombay. It was too long. And they didn't like the US torpedo because of all it's early war problems. I do think the Dauntless dive bomber was better than anything the British had available.

For Battleships they would Build the Lion class, but not a lot of them due to the ascendancy of the carrier.

The US version of the 40mm Bofors is a little bit problematic. It was completely redesigned from it's original version to make it compatible with US mass production. The USN initially wanted all of those produced, as well as 5"/38 and Mk37 FC systems. It would be kind of hard to get around that, but I suppose you can hypothesize a different situation. For example you are already using weapons that weren't historically available on the dates you have chosen to begin producing them. If carried to the extreme you might as well begin producing jet fighters.

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Re: How would you improve the royal navy

Post by Dave Saxton » Sat Apr 18, 2009 11:52 pm

One area where the RN was really weak was in heavy Flak and DP guns. The AA-capability of British destroyers was pitiful. With the benifit of hind sight this is one area I would push in 1936. The 5.25-inch was greatly improved on Vanguard so the Vanguard spec 5.25 DP may represent a solution to this problem from the outset, at least for DD's and CL's and Dittos. I do not think that the answer was the American 5"/38. I do not share the seeming universal admiration for the 5"/38. In part because I find that it was extremely weak as an anti-ship weapon in practice. For this reason I would not find the improved 5.25 as ideal for battleships and heavy cruisers either. I really think that bigger than 5" (or a high velocity/very high ROF 5" more like the modern 5"/-61) was called for for trully effective anti-warship duty for the big ships in WWII. I would still consider a spit secondary for BB's and CA's, although that would be bucking the trend. Perhaps a split using the very good 4.5" DP as used on the re-constructed Renown and a high velocity fairly high ROF 6"?

As far as additional battleship design goes, although the increase to 45k begs for the 16"gun, with hind sight and the emphasis on naval aviation, I would consider a totally different approach. I would consider using the extra tonnage for higher speed, better range (the KGV's are not very good in this respect), and improved secondary/Flak weaponary, better sea keeping...ect...and go with 15" or 14" main battery. The proposed alternative design from the intial KGV studies of 9-15"/45 is attractive, because it would have allowed 30 knots and adequate armour on 35k, leaving the extra 10K for these other improvements. Adoption of 16" at 45K will only provide a marginal improvement in real world capability and will provide the politcal rational for the Germans to build 16" gun 45k battleships of common design, and accelerate the obsolesence of the existing British capital ships. I also would dump the scout planes on battleships.

I like the armoured deck approach of the British carriers and would conitinue that concept. I agree that more carriers at the expense of a couple of new battleships would be a good idea in retrospec. They had enough existing battleship tonnage so that less new battleship tonnage doesn't hurt that much. I would have certainly put more effort into modernizing the Hood and the Repulse although not necessarily with the idea of putting them in a line of battle.

I think the some designs such some of the destroyer designs and the Dittos might as well be a big enough from the outset. A more capable ship, or capapable enough ship is probably worth more than few more ships. A lowest common denominator design isn't always what you need, and getting the most on the least tonnage isn't necessarily good design philosophy. A design that might seem rather weight ineffcient isn't so bad if it provides some unique elements.

The British were already pushing radar as hard and fast as they could so there is little more that could be done there.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: How would you improve the royal navy

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Apr 19, 2009 12:57 am

I never edited the incoherent second to last paragraph in time. It should read somthing more like:

Some of the designs, especially the Dittos and many of the destroyers might as well had been big enough. Capable enough ships, or a few less but more capable ships are probably more worthwhile. Weight efficiencies and getting the most numbers of ships from a given weight budget are not necessarily hallmarks of good design.

......or something like that....... :oops:
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: How would you improve the royal navy

Post by Bgile » Sun Apr 19, 2009 6:55 am

The 5"/38 was chosen as a weapon with enough muzzle velocity to be suitable for surface gunnery in destroyers, and at the same time have a light enough weight to traverse rapidly enough to track aircraft. The RN went with a heavier, longer gun and it failed as an AA weapon. The 5"/38 seems to have destroyed a few Japanese ships, so I'm not sure why you think it isn't heavy enough. Yes, a heavier gun might have been better against ships, but the USN guessed right because almost all gun combat turned out to be AA combat and it's handiness and outstanding rate of fire worked well for that purpose. The Japanese called it the 5" machinegun.

The USN was planning to go with a 5"/54 for the Montana class BBs. The guns ended up on the Midway class CVs and were not popular because the shells were too heavy and wore out gun crews too fast, similar to the 5.25". The US also tried an automatic 6" gun on an AA cruiser and it was unsuccessful due to the attempt to provide two loading hoists, one for AA and one for AS shells. They were too complex and weren't reliable enough. The same general design was used successfully on the Des Moines class CAs, but they only had one ammo feed path.

Next, the USN went with a fully automatic 5"/54 on destroyers and CVs. It could fire very fast and had good ballistics, but was unreliable until they slowed the rate of fire a little bit. Somewhere along there the realization began to sink in that 5" guns really weren't going to be very effective against an attack by jet aircraft and missiles. Now the 5"/62 gun has an AA capability but is really designed as a NGFS or anti surface weapon and missiles are relied on for AA.

Of course, this is a US history and I suppose other weapons with a different design could have worked out for the British.

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Re: How would you improve the royal navy

Post by als_pug » Sun Apr 19, 2009 11:19 am

i have to say i am interested in how many people ignore the british 4.5 inch gun . the mount designed for the cv's had a heavier shell then the 4.7 and an excellent rate of fire . personally i like the idea of introducing the gatling gun idea in 1937 ... ie fit an electric motor and show the results . i am sure they could do it but it is outside of the scope i called for lol . i also would have increased the carrier tonnage but the fact is the battleships make ideal escorts for carriers . good volume of aa and good at warding of cruisers etc . would courageous have been sunk if renown had been alongside or even warspite . i think not .

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Re: How would you improve the royal navy

Post by Bgile » Sun Apr 19, 2009 1:45 pm

The 4.5" gun was quite a good weapon and when two of the Dido class received them instead of the 5.25 due to inavailability of the 5.25, the 4.5 was shown to be a superior AA weapon (no surprise there).

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Re: How would you improve the royal navy

Post by als_pug » Sun Apr 19, 2009 3:07 pm

i was toying with the idea of giving the proposed kgv ( improved ) 4 twin 15 inch with improved elevation in new turrets . ie the old guns with better turrets .
and as proposed twin 4.5 per side . this would be a good aa battery and usefull against destroyers as well . the twin 40 mm bofors i am proposing are the dutch twin mount . incidently the brits were producing the bofors under licence long before the yanks .

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Re: How would you improve the royal navy

Post by lwd » Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:07 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:.... I do not share the seeming universal admiration for the 5"/38. In part because I find that it was extremely weak as an anti-ship weapon in practice.
From what I've read it did pretty good in practice do you have any specific incidents to support this?
.... I would consider using the extra tonnage for higher speed, better range (the KGV's are not very good in this respect), and improved secondary/Flak weaponary, better sea keeping...ect...and go with 15" or 14" main battery. The proposed alternative design from the intial KGV studies of 9-15"/45 is attractive, ...
My initial thought was to stick with the 15" gun which was by that point very reliable and well known quantity. But it might not give the edge you would want in some possible confrontations. On the other hand the logistics benefits could be considerable.
I also would dump the scout planes on battleships.
Especially early in the war the British found their BBs operating alone or with very small screens. I think that scout planes could still provide very useful info in these situations. Later in the war I can see pulling them and replacing them with more AA.
...
The British were already pushing radar as hard and fast as they could so there is little more that could be done there.
They could be working on mass production techniques for radar and electronics in general. They were indeed pushing the theoretical end pretty well although trowing more effort at it might have paid off.

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Re: How would you improve the royal navy

Post by dunmunro » Sun Apr 19, 2009 5:06 pm

Bgile wrote:The 4.5" gun was quite a good weapon and when two of the Dido class received them instead of the 5.25 due to inavailability of the 5.25, the 4.5 was shown to be a superior AA weapon (no surprise there).
The 4.5" was shown to be a good AA weapon, but I don't think it was shown to be better than the 5.25.

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Re: How would you improve the royal navy

Post by dunmunro » Sun Apr 19, 2009 5:48 pm

The greatest single cost benefit would have come from the introduction of the 20mm Oerlikon, but more quad pom-poms would have helped a lot as well.

But if I could have gone back in time...

I would have converted all the A to I class DDs to to 4 x 4" (2 x 2) and added quad pom-poms and some 20mm guns and an AA FC system
substitute the twin 4" for the twin 4.7"
I would have built:
More sloops.
More submarines.
more fleet tankers and adopted USN style, at sea, refueling.
Built the Illustrious class as per Indomitable, but with an extended flight deck (no round downs), more avgas.
A few light fleet carriers by 1940.
boosted production of FAA aircraft
Sea Hurricanes in 1939 with folding wings
Rebuilt Repulse as per Warspite

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Re: How would you improve the royal navy

Post by Bgile » Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:48 pm

als_pug wrote:i was toying with the idea of giving the proposed kgv ( improved ) 4 twin 15 inch with improved elevation in new turrets . ie the old guns with better turrets .
and as proposed twin 4.5 per side . this would be a good aa battery and usefull against destroyers as well . the twin 40 mm bofors i am proposing are the dutch twin mount . incidently the brits were producing the bofors under licence long before the yanks .
I presume you meant Swedish Bofors, although the Dutch had them on some ships and demonstrated them to the USN. Here is a link to the problems the US had with putting the original weapon into mass production: http://navweaps.com/Weapons/WNUS_4cm-56_mk12.htm

If the British were producing it under license before the US I'm pretty sure that meant the "file to fit" version alluded to in the link.

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Re: How would you improve the royal navy

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:01 am

A good improvement would have been to fight alonside the Germans against the Soviets.
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Re: How would you improve the royal navy

Post by RF » Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:54 pm

The original proposition involves naval construction which breaks Britain's treaty obligations under the 1925 Washington Treaty obligations.

It would be much more effective and realistic to do the following:

1) Accelerate production of the KGV's.

2) Undertake convoy escort roles in the North Atlantic for destroyers/cruisers and accelerate production of corvettes, learning the lessons of WW1.

3) Establish a substantive Pacific Fleet, intially based on Australia.

4) Build extra carriers and expand the Fleet Air Arm.

I don't think superbattleships are needed. Just a greater degree of preparedness.

Modernising the RN earlier wouldn't prevent the start of WW2, but it would reduce the scale of Axis success in the initial stages of the war. And in any case the RN was on the winning side anyway.
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