The Battleship

Since the laying down of the Italian battleship the Conte di Cavour in 1910 ,the Tirpitz in 1933 and the King George in 1937 designers had attempted to gain an advantage over their probable future enemies by increasing main gun size with a corresponding increase in the armor thickness.Into this mix was thrown the necessity of increasing ship speed in order to evade or intercept enemy ships. The Italian ship the Conte di Cavour ,completed during WWI and reconstructed in 1933-7, wound up with a ten inch armor belt ,the armor on her decks four inches thick. By contrast the Tirpitz laid down in 1936 and completed in 1940 had a twelve point six to eight point seven inches of armor belt around her waist and two to three inches on deck.

It is interesting to note that the US tended ,beginning with the Arkansas class, to use light deck armor .By contrast the Japanese Kongo class, laid down in 1911-12 and reconstructed in the 1927-30 period and then again in 1933-40, had decks varying from four point seven to two inches thick. The Arkansas sported eight three inch AA guns while the Nagata class sported twenty five AA guns. Could it be that the Japanese had a greater appreciations of the coming role of the bomber aircraft , specifically the dive bomber as these would most likely damage the decks , level bombers more suited to land targets, torpedo planes more of a threat to a ships belt armor

After the battle of Midway and the sinking of four Japanese carriers the carrier versus carrier war was virtually over as from this time on the US and Britain were the only powers with a credible carrier force .Actions now tended towards aircraft carrier versus battleship ,cruiser,destroyer type of actions. A study of the various AA mountings will show how the navies of the world viewed the Arial threat .Japan had the greater concentration of purely anti aircraft weapons .Britain and the US were mostly equiped with dual purpose weapons ,the US dual purpose weapons superior in the AA role ,those of the British in the anti ship role.

Prior to the 1921 treaty the limitations on battle ship size was of a purely technical nature as all were free to build ships of any size. Main calibers grew from eleven inch and twelve inch , fourten inch to fifteen inches, finally reaching sixteen and eighteen inch calibers. Following World War One the financial climate was such that it was deemed necessary, in order to prevent bankruptcy , to limit the size of capital ships thus halting the arms race between Great Britain ,the US and Japan. The Washington conference of 1921 bought about a treaty known as the Washington Treaty where it was agreed that maximum ship displacement should be set at 35,000 tons standard displacement and that the caliber of all ships guns should be no greater than sixteen inches. This treaty created a battleship holiday during which no ships were built for ten years , those in commission limiting future ship construction. A ratio for new battleship construction was arrived at as in the below .

  • Great Britain and the USA -5
  • Japan -3
  • France and Italy -1.75
Germany was not included as under the terms of the Versailles surrender terms she could only build ships of less than 10,000 tons displacement ,her navy limited to coastal defense .This bought about a great deal of modernizing of World War One ships where it was deemed that range of the large guns could be no greater than during the Dreadnought era.Armoured decks were introduced as protection against air attacks ,areas around the magazines were given armor as was that surrounding machinery. Some of the light guns were replaced with AA batteries.

During the 1920’s early 1930’s period Germany began a program of battle ship construction keeping within the limits of the Treaty of Versailles and not restricted by the Washington Treaty. The pocket battleships ,of greater speed and gun caliber, posed a threat to both Great Britain and France due to the 26Kt speed limitation imposed upon them by the Washington Treaty; both navies now also outgunned.

There was a five years extension of the battleship holiday known of the London Treaty ;this however did not apply to France and Italy as their capital ships were older than the ships of Great Britain, the USA and Japan. France built the Dunqurqe class of ships , Italy countering with the Littorio class, these being the first to approach the limits set by the Washington Treaty.

Britain had waited until the last moment in order to once again be in the arms race watching what the Europeans were about. In addition she did not want to antagonize the Japanese into building larger ships able to threaten her far eastern possessions , the US and Japan concerned only with what the other was doing. The end result was that Britain laid down a fourteen inch gun caliber ship, the US one of sixteen inch and Japan one of eighteen inch caliber.

The 35,000 ton limit displacement was not enough to support these guns. Also not taken into account was the fact that the larger caliber shells would bring about a need for thicker armor protection.Also to be taken into to account was the fact that a flank speed of 22-23knots ,common during the era, was insufficient for a ship to stay out of trouble .Extra power was obtained by use of light weight high speed steam turbines .This however created a long ship needing extra protection in the machinery areas’. Destroyers equipped with torpedoes and shore and ship based aircraft also posed a threat resulting in torpedo bulges appearing around the bilge of ships hulls plus extra deck armor. Britain and the US had stayed within the limits set by the Washington Conference and so were outgunned in addition to only having protection against fourten inch guns and 2knots slower than treaty violators, Japan being the first country to ignore the treaty limits regarding gun caliber.

There were ways of negating the rules regarding gun caliber. One of them was to stay within the limits set but to mount extra barrels in each turret. Prior to 1921 only the US and Italy had triple gun mounts. By 1939 it had become standard .France and then Britain went on to mount quadruple turrets. Germany continued to use twin turrets. Quadruple mount allowed for extra firepower to be concentrated within a smaller space ;however the greater number of guns end result was the slower rate of fire as each turret had to share a loader with some of the smaller guns. Range was now 25,000 feet as opposed to that of 12,000 at the battle of Jutland .Radar was also a deciding factor, the RN victory over the German Scharnhorst largely due to this invention. Multiple purpose guns also came into being in order to circumvent the limits imposed upon displacement .These guns could be used against both aircraft and surface craft. The US 30 caliber weapon was more efficient against aircraft; Britain’s 50 caliber guns more adept at sinking small surface craft and surfaced U boats

In the area of protection all navies, with the exception of Germany, went in for ‘all or nothing’ armor protection. What this entailed was a thick armor belt around the middle of the ship, its decks, gun turrets, gun barbettes and conning tower and the area around the rest of the ship left unprotected. The bulkhead forward of the most forward main guns was armored as was the area aft of the aftermost turret, the rest of the ship, but for the area around the steering gear, left bare.

The work done in ship design was bought to naught due to the fact that the various naval staffs had failed to foresee the complete revolution that had occurred in naval warfare during the between war years. During the earlier conflict the aircraft carrier was mainly a carrier of seaplanes which were either catapulted from the deck or winched down from the deck when ready to be used, to be winched aboard at the end of the flight. True there was a land plane component which took off from fixed decks to be used with great effect during the attacks on the Zeebruge canal complex located in Belgium. However the full importance of the aircraft as regards fleet actions had never been proven as there were never enough carriers to make in a viable proposition .Aircraft allied with ships were seen as most valuable in the role of reconnaissance, the naval mind unable to grasp the coming revolution about to be bought about by the use of naval aircraft.

At the opening stages of the war Britain had few aircraft carriers in service and so was involved in some of the last great battle ship upon battle ship contest ,mainly in the north sea off the coast of Scandinavia. Even here the aircraft carrier set the stage for the coming ship to ship combat with the sinking of the Tirpitz by obsolete biplane carrier borne aircraft. The sinking of the American battle ship force at Pearl Harbor was the final nail in the coffin which was to confine the grand battleship on battleship fight to Davey Jones locker. What had been assiduously planned for over a period of nearly half a century came to naught as the planers failed to see the forest for the trees neglecting to include in their calculations the improved punch and range of the naval aircraft force.

Aircraft Carriers listed in “Spring Styles”publications.

Aircraft Carrier Preliminary Design Drawings
During WWII the USN put out a book misleading called ‘Spring Styles’ which in fact was a cover for official ideas in warship design. Seventeen of the 75 preliminary design drawings in the 1939-1944 "Spring Styles" book are related to aircraft carriers and ships with characteristics similar to aircraft carriers. There are several studies beginning during December 1939 –January 1944 with three final attempts in the quest to design a flight deck cruiser. Two schemes deal with the Essex (CV-9 )class one dated September 1941.In addition to the Essex class ships there are three plans of relatively small aircraft carriers dated July 1940 which appear to be an improved version of USS Wasp(CV-7).In a separate unrelated study dated August and September 1941 two drawings for a carrier conversion of the many Cleveland (CVL-55)class .This train of though led eventually to the Independence class comprised of nine ships (CL-22).The final design decided upon was greatly different from the actual one depicted in the drawings

Early in the war between January and August 1942 other conversions of gun-armed warships were also studied, among them a large cruiser (CB-1 class), an Iowa (BB-61) class battleship and a heavy cruiser (CA-68 class) .Only the last of these lead anywhere to become the Saipan (CVL-48) class.

The earlier wartime experiences of the British in the Mediterranean prompted studies of a large aircraft carrier with an armored flight deck. Four "Spring Styles" drawings for such ships are in this album, dated from December 1940 to September 1941. This effort eventually produced the Midway (CVB-41) class, the largest carriers built by the Navy during the World War II years.

The first divergence from purely battle ship design by the US was during the concept program period with the laying down of the Lexington class of ships - large battle cruisers cancelled under the Washington Treaty prior to launch to be redesigned and completed as carriers. The original hull remained essentially unchanged, a large hangar fitted, the largest on USN carriers until the CVA 59 postwar ships. Exhausts were routed into huge starboard-side funnel, a massive island constructed forward of the funnel. These ships had an inherent list to starboard due to weight of the funnel & island. The flight deck was long but very narrow forward. A cruiser gun battery was provided for defense against surface ships at close range. If fired these guns would have damaged the ships on board aircraft and flight deck, but were intended only as a last-ditch measure after the flight deck had been destroyed by enemy action. These were the only prewar carriers considered suitable for independent operations, the largest carriers in the world until the Midway class appeared.

The ships were reclassified from CC to CV at the start of their conversion ,the first US carriers designed as fleet rather than experimental units. The ships were identical at completion; variations on the original design occurring during the 1930's and onwards into WWII. Minor modifications, mainly in the addition of light AA gun during the 1930's, were undertaken, the AA armament again updated at the start of the war. Both ships needed major overhauls and modernizations immediately prior to WWII, but they could not be spared from the active fleet due to the shortage of large carriers. Experience with these ships proved the value of larger carriers vs. small designs such as Ranger. They played a key role in developing US naval aviation tactics and equipment. Both saw extensive fleet service prior to WWII, Saratoga very active throughout the war. The surviving ship was old, outdated, overloaded and worn out by the end of WWII, making her unsuitable for further service. She was destroyed as a target ship in the Bikini Atoll atom bomb tests.
Lexington class large fleet aircraft carriers

  • Displacement: 38,746 tons design full load
  • Dimensions: 850 x 105.5 x 24.25 feet/295 x 32 x 7.5 meters
  • Extreme Dimensions:888 x 105.5 x 24.25 feet/270.6 x 32 x 7.5 meters
  • Propulsion: Turbo-electric, 16 300 psi boilers, 4 shafts, 180,000 shp, 34 knots
  • Crew: 3,300
  • Armor: 5-7 inch belt
  • Armament: 4 dual 8/55 SP, 12 single 5/25 DP
  • Aircraft: 90 initially

  • Ship characteristics
  • British ship class
  • Class name Dimensions:
  • Queen Elizabeth 645.5 x 90.5 x 28.5 feet 27,500 tons standard 33,500-34,000 tons full load Steam turbines, 24 boilers, 4 shafts, 56,000 hp, 23 knots 925-951 4 dual 15 inch, 14 single 6 inch, 2 x 3 inch AA, 4 x 21 inch TT 6-13 inch belt, 1-3 inch deck, 4-10 inch barbettes, 13 inch turrets, 11 inch CT
  • King George V 745 x 103 x 29 feet 36,727 tons standard; 44,800 tons full load Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 110,000 hp, 28 knots 1422 2 quad, 1 dual 14 inch, 8 dual 5.25 inch, 4 x 8-barelled 2 pound AA 4.5-15 inch belt, 11-13 inch barbettes, 13 inch turrets, 4.5 inch CT
  • Vanguard 814.5 x 108 x 30.5 feet 44,500 tons standard; 51,420 tons full load Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 130,000 hp, 30 knots 1893 4 dual 15 inch, 8 dual 5.25 inch, 10 x 6-barrel, 1 dual, 11 single 40 mm 4.5-14 inch belt, 11-13 inch barbettes, 13 inch turrets, 3 inch CT
  • Revenge 624 x 88.5 x 28.5 feet 28,000 tons normal; 31,000 tons full load Steam turbines, 18 boilers, 40,000 hp, 23 knots 908-997 dual 15 inch, 14 single 6 inch, 2 x 3 inch AA, 4 x 21 inch TT 1-13 inch belt, 1-2 inch decks, 4-10 inch barbettes, 13 inch turrets, 11 inch CT

  • US Ship class
  • Wyoming 562 x 93 x 28.5 feet 26,000 tons normal; 27,243 tons full load
  • Propulsion: 1063 6 dual 12"/50cal, 21 5"/51cal, 2 21 inch torpedo tubes (submerged) 9-11 inch belt, 4.5-11 inch barbettes, 2 inch deck, 3-12 inch turrets, 3-11.5 inch

  • US Treaty and Post-Treaty Battleships
  • North Carolina 729 x 108 x 33 feet/222.1 x 33 x 10 meters 37,484 tons standard; 44,377 full load (35,000 design standard) Steam turbines, 8 575 psi boilers, 4 shafts, 121,000 shp, 28 knots Crew: 1880 (peacetime) 1880 (peacetime) 3 triple 16"/45cal, 10 dual 5"/38cal DP, 4 quad 1.1 inch AA, 18 .50 cal MG
  • Aviation 2 catapults, 3floatplanes; no hangar 6.6-12 inch belt, 5-5.5 inch deck, 14.7-16 inch barbettes, 9.8-16 inch turrets, 7-16 inch CT Concept/Program: The first US battleships built after the 1930's "building holiday";
  • Iowa 887 x 108 x 38 feet/270.4 x 33 x 11 meters 48,110 tons standard; 57,540 full load (45,000 design standard Steam turbines, 8 600 psi boilers, 4 shafts, 212,000 shp, 33 knots Crew: 1921 (2500-2900 wartime) 1921 (2500-2900 wartime) Armament: 3 triple 16"/50cal, 10 dual 5"/38cal, 19 quad 40 mm AA (Iowa: 18), 52 single 20 mm AA
  • Aviation: 2 catapults, 3 floatplanes; no hangar 1.6-12.1 inch belt, 6 inch deck, 11.6-17.3 inch barbettes, 2.5-17.3 inch turrets, 7.25-17.3 inch CT< p>
  • Japanese ship class
  • Fuso 665 x 94 x 28.6 feet 30,600 tons normal; 35,900 tons full load (Yamashiro: 34,700 tons normal; 39,154 tons full load) Steam turbines, 24 boilers, 4 shafts, 40,000 hp, 22.5 knots 1193 6 dual 14 inch, 16 single 6 inch, 4 single 4 inch, 6 x 21 inch TT 4-12 inch belt, 1.25-3 inch decks, 8-12 inch barbettes and turrets, 12 inch CT
  • Yamato 862.5 x 121 x 34 feet 63,000 tons standard; 68,010 tons trial; 71,659 tons full load Steam turbines, 12 boilers, 4 shafts, 150,000 hp, 27 knots 2500 3 triple 18 inch, 4 triple 6 inch, 6 dual 5 inch, 24 x 25 mm AA, 4 x 13.2 mm AA 16.1 inch belt, 7.9-9.1 inch deck, 2-21.5 inch barbettes, 25.6 inch turrets, 19.7 inch CT

  • French ship class
  • Courbet 544.5 x 88.5 x 29 feet 22,189 tons normal; 25,000-26,000 tons full load Steam turbines, 24 boilers, 4 shafts, 28,000 hp, 20 knots 1085-1108 6 dual 12 inch, 22 single 5.5 inch, 4 x 47 mm, 4 x 17.7 inch TT 7.1-10.6 inch belt, 1.2-2.8 inch deck, 10.6 inch barbettes, 12.6 inch turrets, 11.8 inch CT
  • Dunkerque 704 x 102 x 28.6 feet 26,500 tons standard; 30,750 tons normal; 35,500 tons full load Steam turbines, 6 boilers, 4 shafts, 112,500 hp, 29.5 knots
  • Crew: 1431 1431 2 quad 13 inch, 3 quad, 2 dual 5.1 inch, 4 dual 37 mm AA, 8 quad 13.2 mm A 5.5-9.5 inch belt, 1.6-5.5 inch decks, 13.2 inch turrets, 10.6 inch CT

  • German ship class Scharnhorst 754 x 98.5 x 27 feet 34,841 tons standard; 38,900 tons full load Steam turbines, 12 boilers, 3 shafts, 165,000 hp, 32 knots
  • Crew: 1669-1840 1669-1840 3 triple 11inch, 4 dual, 4 single 5.9 inch, 7 dual 4.1inch, 8 dual 37 mm, 8 single 20 mm 6.7-13.8 inch belt, 2 inch deck, 14.2 inch turrets, 13.8 inch CT

  • Cancelled battleship 781 x 110 x 29.5 feet 43,800 tons normal; 48,700 tons full load Steam turbines, 22 boilers, 4 shafts, 100,000 hp, 26 knots ?? 4 dual 16.5 inch, 12 single 5.9 inch, 8 single 3.5 (or 4.1) inch AA, 3 x 23.6 (or 27.6) inch TT (sub) 5.1-13.8 inch belt, 3.9-13.8 inch barbettes, 13.8 inch turrets, 13.8 inch CT

  • Italian ship class
  • Cavour 557.5 x 92 x 30.5-32 feet 22,992 tons normal; 24,500 to 24,801 tons full load Steam turbines, 20 boilers, 4 shafts, 31,278 hp, 22.2 knots (Cesare 24 boilers, 30,700 hp, 21.6 knots, Da Vinci 32,300 hp, 21.6 knots 1232-1235 3 triple, 2 dual 12 inch, 18 single 4.7 inch, 12 x 3 inch, 3 x 17.7 inch TT KC: 10 inch belt, 4.4 inch deck, 10 inch turrets, 11 inch CT

  • Russian ship class Gangut 594.5 x 87 x 30 ft 23,360 tons normal; 25,850 tons full load Steam turbines, 25 boilers, 4 shafts, 42,000 hp, 23 knots 1126 4 triple 12 inch, 16 x 4.7 inch, 4 x 47 mm, 4 x 18 inch TT 3.9-8.9 inch belt, 1.5-3 inch decks, 7.9 inch barbettes, 12 inch turrets, 9.8 inch CT

  • Individual ship history
  • Warspite(UK) Built by Devonport Navy yards . Laid down 31 Oct 1912, launched 26 Nov 1913, completed 3/1915. Severely damaged at Jutland 31 May 1916, repaired 1 June 1916-22 July 1916. Serious damage in collision with Valiant 24 Aug 1916, repaired 26 August to 28 September. Collision with Barham 1 Dec 1915. First refit 1924-1926. Reconstructed 3/1934-3/1937 at Portsmouth Navy. Bomb damage repaired at Puget Sound 11 Aug 1941 to 28 Dec 1941. Severely damaged by guided bombs 16 Sept 1943, repaired as bombardment ship with 3 dual 15 inch, 4 dual 4 inch, 5 x 8 barrel 2 pound AA, 35 x 20 mm. Mined 13 June 1944, speed reduced to 15.5 knots. To reserve 2/1945, paid off 26 July 1945, sold 12 July 1946. Broke tow en route to scrapping, ran aground 23 April 1947, scrapped in place 1947-
  • Royal Sovereign(UK)
  • Built by Portsmouth Navy yards. Laid down 15 Jan 1914, launched 29 April 1915, completed 5/1916. Fitted with bulges 1920. Loaned to the USSR 30 May 1944 as Arkhangelsk, returned 9 Feb 1949 to be sold for scrap 5 April 1949.
  • Prince of Wales(UK)
  • Built by Cammell Laird. Laid down 1 Jan 1937, launched 3 May 1939, completed 31 March 1941. Damaged by Bismarck 24 May 1941. Sunk off Singapore by Japanese aircraft 10 Dec 1941
  • Vanguard(UK)
  • Built by John Brown shipyards. Laid down 2 Oct 1941, launched 30 Nov 1944, completed 9 Aug 1946. Stripped of single 40 mm guns postwar. Training ship 1949, to reserve 1954, sold for scrap 9 Aug 1960.
  • Wyoming(US)
  • B-32 - BB 32 - AG 17
  • Built by William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia. Laid down 9 February 1910, launched 25 May 1911, commissioned 25 September 1912. Participated in operations at Vera Cruz, Mexico, 1914. Served as an engineering training ship early in WWI, then operated with the British Grand Fleet. Served in both the Atlantic and the Pacific during the 1920's and 1930's. Designation BB 32 assigned 17 July 1920. Reconstructed at Philadelphia Navy Yard August 1927 to 2 November 1927. Reduced to commissioned reserve 1 January 1931 and converted to a training ship at Norfolk Navy Yard 1930-31. Redesignated AUG 17 and recommissioned 1 July 1931. Participated in development of amphibious assault tactics during the late 1930's. Served as a gunnery training ship during WWII. Refitted as an AA training ship at Norfolk Navy Yard 12 January 1944 to 3 April 1944. Served as an AA experimental ship after July 1945. Replaced by Mississippi and decommissioned 1 August 1947, stricken for disposal 16 September 1947, sold 30 October 1947, and scrapped at Newark during 1948.
  • North Carolina(US)
  • BB 55
  • Built by New York Navy Yard. Laid down 27 October 1937, launched 13 June 1940, commissioned 9 April 1941. Transferred to the Pacific 10 June 1942 and operated in that ocean for the remainder of WWII, mainly in support of the fast carrier forces. Also saw limited shore bombardment duty. Torpedoed with moderate damage 15 September 1942. Final light armament was 15 quad 40mm AA, 8 twin 20mm AA, and 20 single 20mm AA. Overhauled 1946 and made one training cruise with Naval Academy midshipmen. Decommissioned to reserve 27 June 1947. Stricken for disposal 1 June 1960, donated for preservation 6 September 1961, and preserved as a museum at Wilmington, NC.
  • Iowa (US)
  • BB 61
  • Built by New York Navy Yard. Laid down 27 June 1940, launched 27 August 1942, commissioned 22 February 1943. Damaged by grounding in Casco Bay, 16 July 1943; repaired at Boston. Briefly operated in the North Atlantic to guard against Tirpitz, then carried President Roosevelt to Casablanca, late 1943. Transferred to the Pacific early 1944 and operated in that ocean for the remainder of the war, mainly in support of the fast carrier task forces; also saw some shore bombardment duty. Light AA armament was unchanged during WWII. Decommissioned to reserve 24 March 1949. Recommissioned for Korean War service 24 August 1951; made one deployment to Korea, and carried out extensive shore bombardment operations, then transferred to the Atlantic. Decommissioned to reserve 25 February 1958
  • Fuso(Japan)
  • Built by Kure Navy. Laid down 11 March 1912, launched 28 March 1914, completed 18 Nov 1915. Reconstructed 1930-3/1933; it was the first major reconstruction of the era, so a second reconstruction was needed to bring her up to modern standards, completed 2/1935. Sunk by destroyer torpedoes 25 Oct 1944
  • Yamato(Japan)
  • Built by Kure Navy. Laid down 4 Nov 1937, launched 8 Aug 1940, completed 16 Dec 1941. Two triple 6 inch replaced by 6 dual 5 inch 1943. Final light AA armament was 150 x 25 mm. Sunk 7 April 1945 en route to Okinawa by 9 to 13 torpedoes and 6 bombs, internal explosion
  • Jean Bart(France)
  • Built by Arsenal de Brest. Laid down 15 Nov 1910, launched 22 Sept 1911, completed 5 June 1913. Renamed Ocean in 1936, disarmed as training ship 1938. Captured by Germans, bombed by Allies 7 March 1944, sunk by Germans as experimental ship 15 March 1944. Salvaged, scrapped at Toulon 1946-1947
  • Dunkerque(France)
  • Built by Arsenal de Brest. Laid down 24 Dec 1932, launched 2 Oct 1935, completed 4/1937. Damaged by British gunfire 3 July 1940 at Mers-el-Kebir, damaged by a ship alongside exploding 6 July 1940. Scuttled in drydock at Toulon 27 Nov 1942. Salvaged 1945, sold for scrap 195
  • Scharnhorst(Gerany)
  • Built by Wilhelmshaven Navy. Laid down 16 May 1935, launched 30 June 1936, commissioned 7 Jan 1939. Received an additional 24 x 20mm AA and 6 torpedo tubes during the war. Helped sink Biblio : The Illustrated guide to Battle ships, Arco publishing Inc. NY.NY. John Jordon DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
    WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060
Hosting by WebRing.