Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

General naval discussions that don't fit within any specific time period or cover several issues.
BuckBradley
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Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

Post by BuckBradley »

Gentlemen:

A question of no practical import just for fun.

Were the Iowas battlecruisers? I would say yes. Sacrificed gun power (vs. the Montanas) and armor protection (pretty mediocre) for speed.

What say you?
hans zurbriggen
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Re: Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

Post by hans zurbriggen »

Hello Mr. BuckBradley,
while I agree with you re. Iowas protection (not "top" among foreign battleships, but not "weak" compared to other US battleships), I cannot see any gun power shortage, just emphasis on speed, to be able to operate with carrier groups.
IMHO they are (very) fast battleships.

hans
Mostlyharmless
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Re: Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

Post by Mostlyharmless »

If Hood was a battlecruiser, the Iowas may be because Hood has the same relationship to an R-Class or a Queen Elizabeth as Iowa has to a South Dakota.
OpanaPointer
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Re: Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

Post by OpanaPointer »

Sorry, I had to giggle a bit. I've been assigned to New Jersey and Missouri.
BuckBradley
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Re: Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

Post by BuckBradley »

Can you elaborate on that a bit M. Opana?

THX.
OpanaPointer
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Re: Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

Post by OpanaPointer »

BuckBradley wrote: Sun Mar 20, 2022 6:41 pm Can you elaborate on that a bit M. Opana?

THX.
Just that these wee beasties are hard to think of in an diminutive fashion.

Image
paul.mercer
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Re: Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

Post by paul.mercer »

Gentlemen,
It all depends on what one considers to be a battlecruiser and what is a battleship
Its hard to think of the Iowas as battlecruisers, as I don't think that they were badly protected, the only ones better armoured were the Yamato's', The title must be 'fast battleships' One cannot compare them with the Montana's as these were never completed and (I'm happy to be corrected) were basically an extended and heavier Iowa with 12 x 16" guns
OpanaPointer
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Re: Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

Post by OpanaPointer »

Good points. OBB vs FBB in the Pacific. This pic is Oklahoma and Wisconsin. If you look carefully you can spot the difference(s). :wink:

Image
SteveSmith
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Re: Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

Post by SteveSmith »

The flaw in the proposition is that Battlecruisers and Battleships were significantly different structurally. British battleships had one more deck than battlecruisers. German battlecruisers had four shafts while battleships had three.

In the case of the US there is little compare with on the battlecruiser side. However, the structure of the Iowa-class battleships follows in a direct line from the North Carolinas and SODAKs. There is nothing in their structure that indicates they were battlecruisers, rather than battleships.

In regard to employment, the Iowa-class were intended from the start to serve in a battle line, rather than have a battlecruiser role.

In regard to armor protection, the Iowa-class were as well protected as any battleship other than the Yamatos. One might point to the KGV's having a thicker belt but the Iowas' belts were angled giving as good protection. In addition, the Iowas were liberally constructed with armor plate that was not counted as "armor."
paul.mercer
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Re: Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

Post by paul.mercer »

Hi Steve,
You are absolutely correct, the point which has been made before on this forum is that battlecruisers were designed to be fast and armed enough to deal with or chase off enemy cruisers, not stand in line and fight ships with comparable armament, that was the job of battleships. We only have to look what happened at Jutland and later on with Hood to see the results when they did so.
OpanaPointer
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Re: Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

Post by OpanaPointer »

Concur.

It would be lovely to see a tabular representation of the ships deemed 'battlecruiser' (and those 'suspected' of being battlecruiser in the light of the formula I posted above.
SteveSmith
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Re: Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

Post by SteveSmith »

What are the attributes of battlecruiser?

I think you have to start with what is a battleship?

1. Has the largest caliber gun
2. Well-armored, generally to the point of protection against its own guns. Usually, with a clearly defined immunity zone.
3. Designed to operate in a battle line

A battlecruiser:

1. Larger than contemporary battleships in displacement
2. Guns equal to that of contemporary battleships
3. May have fewer main batter guns than contemporary battleships.
4. Faster than contemporary battleships by about 5 kts or more.
5. Designed to operate independently from a battle line.

In the case of UK and Imperial German battleships there are structural battleship–battlecruiser differences that make the determination easy.

Where we tend to go astray is with unusual ships that fall into gaps. Some people classify such as battlecruisers because they are out of line of what is normal. The Deutschland class is a good example. Take a heavy cruiser and add bigger than normal guns. It's probably still a heavy cruiser.

On the flip side we have Scharnhorst that looks like a battleship but has smaller than normal guns. Structurally, it is a battleship in al respects.

Following the Deutschland model we have the Alaskas which some US Navy sources call "battlecruisers" while all the construction plans call it a "large cruiser." This is more problematic because there is nothing to compare the Alaskas with as the U.S. never built anything else that might be called a battlecruiser to compare structurally. The Alaskas do not have the armament that one would expect for a battlecruiser nor does it have a similar structure but it generally fits the other requirements.

The arguments that Iowas were battlecruisers and Hood was a battleship are outliers.
Bill Jurens
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Re: Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

Post by Bill Jurens »

The definition of a battle cruiser -- more on conjugation later -- has become very muddled because it essentially changed over time. Originally, the battle-cruiser was seen to be in effect an oversize and faster battleship. Technical and financial difficulties meant that not very many, with the possible exception of Hood, were actually completed as such, and so a sort of compromise solution was accepted, usually by sacrificing armament or protection for speed. Later on, engineering reached the point where all battleships could be as fast as previous battle-cruisers, and the so-called 'fast battleship' terminology became more common. As one could not practically go faster than a fast battleship, one could -- at least in principle -- no longer construct a battle cruiser type as originally conceived at all. There was nothing faster than a fast battleship. But it's not a battle-cruiser type because it's not faster than any other regular battleship of the time.

Although the original conception of the battle-cruiser held on for a time, after 1920 or so, journalistic treatments somewhat changed the definition to represent the type as sort of a mini-battleship, kind of a cross between a regular battleship and a very large cruiser, in effect a 'battleship-lite'.

In my writing, I tend to use the term in two ways, assigning the term 'battle-cruiser' to the large high-speed battleship' type originally envisioned, and the term 'battlecruiser' to represent the type as envisioned as a sort of diminutive battleship. One has a hyphen -- the larger type -- and the other does not.

This gives us two subtly-different terminologies, which helps nonetheless to discriminate between the types. Of course, the term 'fast battleship' can still be used for post 1920 vessels with no difficulty at all.

Bill Jurens
paul.mercer
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Re: Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

Post by paul.mercer »

Gentlemen
Many thanks for your observations.
I've often wondered why it was that if a battlecruisers job was to see off enemy cruisers it needed to have battleship sizes guns ie.15" like Hood, Repulse and Renown, which if used on a cruiser is a bit of an overkill, bearing in mind they rarely mounted anything bigger than 8" guns. But the problem with mounting heavier weapons was that sooner or later they would be used for a purpose for which they were not designed - like against one of their type or a full battleship like Bismarck
I realise of course there was 'Graf Spey' and her sisters which were something in between a cruiser and battlecruiser but not really fast enough to qualify for the latter title and having only two turrets was a drawback when it came to fighting three cruisers.
i suppose the nearest one could get to a perfect size battlecruiser would be the 'Twins', but perhaps something like a larger 30+ knot Graf Spee armed with 6 x 11" but in three turrets which would give the flexibility to be enough to tackle any 8* cruiser but it not need to be as heavily armoured as the 'Twins'
SteveSmith
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Re: Are the Iowas Battlecruisers?

Post by SteveSmith »

Two situations where the big guns would come into play.

The thought was a battlecruiser could outrun anything it could not outfight.

Imagine a shore bombardment. You send your battlecruisers out to shell an enemy coastal city. You want big guns for that and you want to be able to run away when opposition shows up.

Imagine your battlecruiser see a group of cruisers and come in for the kill. It turns out there are battleships behind them. Your big guns keep the battleships guessing while you run.
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