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Cost of the Director Systems
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Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 19
Location: Adealide Aus

PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The whole tone is somewhat aggressive to be good history – and I am not sure all of the arguments, or bald statements are very well made.

But from the general to the specific.

The under-armoured British battle cruisers also proved to be poor gunnery platforms; The New Zealand fired more shells at Jutland than any other dreadnought, 420 12-inch shells, but scored only 4 hits, thus the weakly armoured British battle cruisers proved hardly capable of hitting targets at long range, negating any combat capability they might have had.

Its likely that rather than 4 hits, New Zealand scored 1 or none. But I would agree with the other poster, 0 hits or four – the conclusion doesn’t necessarily run from the observation.

but after the appearance of their Germans equivalents, the British battle cruiser production should have stopped

But it did – and sooner than you think.

The Invincibles were 1905 program ships. The 1906 and 1907 programs included no battlecruisers and concentrated on battleships. In 1908 one ship was ordered, Indefatigable. In 1909 Two Lions (I would argue the first British response to Von Der Tan), 1910 one Lion and 1911 one Lion.

There were no Battlecruisers in the 1912 (QE), 1913 (R) or planned for the yet to be decided 1914 program at all.

Australia and New Zealand do not belong on this list, they were not ordered by the Royal Navy, but were proposed at the 1909 Imperial conference to meet the security concerns of the Dominions with the shift of the main fleet to Europe. They were always intended to be second class ships, and were well suited to the role as envisgened.

Fisher got two battlecruisers into the emergency war program in the wake of the Falklands conditional on building them within two years, they also used guns and materials ordered for Battleships that the government would not allow to complete. The three other ships don’t belong in a discussion of British battlecruiser development.

All British battle cruiser designs were poor fighting ships with inadequate fire control and armouring

WWI fire control proved inadequate to the problems at hand, firing shells at +15,000 yards into conditions of low visibility. But I think Brooks at least makes it clear that their was little or no deficiency in fire control materiel between British and German BC’s.

Even the armor point is open to questions with the Lion class – the ships took something like 50+ 11 and 12in hits for the loss of one ship. A fair performance for the protection scheme in question, even though it was designed to protect against the previous generation of shells.

but the three British battle cruisers lost at Jutland proved that the fragile, lightly-armoured British battle cruisers had no place in a heavy gun line as they remained vulnerable at all ranges]

This old chestnut? No British battlecruiser fought in the main battleline at Jutland. The three British battlecruisers lost in this battle were each exchanging their opposite numbers, the German Gross Cruisers, in scouting actions between the main lines, which were outside of visible distance in all three cases.

continued procurement of battle cruisers, even after the introduction of the vastly more combat capable fast-wing Queen Elizabeth class battleships, was a mistake as naval studies had shown the fast wing battleships were far more combat capable.

No British Battlecruiser was built between the emergence of the QE’s and the one of measure of the Renowns (see above). Hood was the first real battlecruiser since Tiger – and as she featured QE level (or better) protection….

Many senior Royal Navy gunnery officers had believed that that weight of fire was one key element of suppressing enemy forces

There is no evidence that this school of thought existed beyond a few ships of the BCF – and not, apparently the Flagship of the BCF.

Quite the opposite – there is correspondence between Jellicoe and Beatty warning him not to take rate of fire ideas to excess.

this flash-door practice was common across the fleet

I don’t believe so – what is the reference for this outside the BCF?

Prior to 1904, the Royal Navy was seen to be slow to introduce new technology, revealed by the US Navy Chief Engineer in 1877: ‘The British Navy, charged with the administration of by far the largest and most powerful navy in the world, [is] always cautious in the application of new inventions, rarely adopting any untried plans,’

Not really – something that has been debunked by quite a few good quality works since it was parroted about in the 60’s and 70’s general histories.

The promise and operation of the director fire control system had been completely vindicated and it demonstrated a massive improvement in long-range heavy gun fire control but ‘Scott’s director sight was not adopted at once.

I would argue the director system introduced by the royal navy is an example of rapid adoption of innovative technology. The pace may not have suited Scott – but the reality is that the Admiralty funded development and trials for years, despite failures and once it proved successful – organized its rapid production such that within four years of the first successful trial, every dreadnought in the fleet had a tripod type director.

Also note, considerably in advance of other navies, whose early directors were simpler, not quite comparable, and were being introduced as the RN was rolling out the tripod type director to the light cruisers.

The total cost of fitting all of the Grand Fleet capital ships and cruisers with director systems was £2.2 million, from the contract with Vickers and the cost of one of the Queen Elizabeth class was £2.2 million.

Goes nowhere near proving that a higher rate of director production was possible.

And I would agree you have to ditch the Conways references – they add little credibility.
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