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mr3awsome

The Lions

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As started in the Washington Naval Treaty, and continued in the London Naval Treaty, the signatories voluntarily postponed the building of battleships until 1937. Exceptions were made for the French & Italians, who had both weaker and fewer ships.

     Once the holiday period was over, battleships could be replaced once they were overage, this being 20 years after their date of completion. Consequently, the Royal Navy would have 10 such ships once the building holiday was over. The Queen Elizabeth class were better suited to modernisation, so they were rebuilt, with the Revenge class going to the breakers first. Their replacements would be the King George V class, as recounted elsewhere.

    Developments overseas meant that the replacements for the Queen Elizabeths would be different from the King George Vs. Chief amongst these was the news that the American North Carolina class were a balanced design, something that they had not though possible on 35,000t. As a result, the next class would have 16” guns.

   The first two ships would be ordered under the 1938/9 Estimates. Consequently 1938 was a busy year, with 9 designs being considered, ranging from a 12 14” ship (14A-38) though the 9 16” gun majority to a 48,500t 12 16” gun mammoth (16E-38).

    Eventually, a modified version of 16F-38 was selected as the design, which was then further developed into 1939. Changes included the moving of the after main battery director from Y turret to the after superstructure, and an increase in main gun elevation from 30° to 40°.  Drawings went out to Vickers-Armstrong and Cammell Laird on the 21s, with Lion being laid down on 4th July 1939 and Temeraire on the 1st June 1939. Construction was expected to take four years. The two ships of the 1939/40 Estimates were named Conqueror and Thunderer, going to John Brown and Fairfield respectively. Neither was actually ordered, however. Data for these four ships, as planned, is listed below. Light Anti-Aircraft battery was to be considered once the ships were finished, and hence is undocumented.

 

Lion 1939:

 

Dimensions: 239.3m x 31.7m x 9.14m

Tonnage: 40,550t standard, 46,300t full

Designed Power: 130,000hp

Speed: 30kts

Main Armament: 3 x 3 16”/45 Mk II on Mk II mounts

Secondary Armament: 8 x 2 QF 5.25”/50 Mk I on Mk I mounts

Anti-Aircraft Battery: 6 x 8 2pdr Mk VIII on Mk VIA* mounts

Armour: - Belt: 381mm

               - Deck: 152mm over magazines, 127mm over machinery

               - Main torpedo bulkhead: 25mm

               - Armoured bulkheads: 305mm forward, 254mm aft

               - Main armament Turrets: 381mm face, 254mm fore sides, 178mm aft sides, 178mm rear, 152mm roof

               - Barbettes: 305mm front, 330mm sides, 283mm rear, 51mm below armoured deck

               - Secondary battery turrets: 38mm face, 25mm sides, 25mm rear, 25mm roof         

               - Conning Tower: 114mm face, 76mm sides & rear, 51mm roof

               - Upper Deck: 25mm, Lower deck: 13mm, Magazine Splinter protection: 38mm, Extremities: 127mm-64mm forward deck, 127mm-114mm aft. 102mm steering gear bulkhead, 44mm final aft bulkhead

Aircraft Facilities: 1 catapult, 2 aircraft

 

There are three major bottle-necks in battleship construction. Machinery, armour plate and guns. As a result of the post WWI contraction of the British shipbuilding industry, there was a significant decrease in capacity of the latter two compared to the period leading up to WWI. Consequently, in order to build the tenth ship in good time, the use of existing mountings came up several times during the rearmament process. Several such mountings existed; Furious’ second spare turret (later used on the monitor Abercrombie), Tiger’s 13.5” turrets (sold to Turkey) and the four turrets removed from Glorious and Courageous when they were converted into aircraft carriers.

    This ship, later called Vanguard, was the last of the 10 replacement ships, to be ordered as part of the 1940/1 estimates. Her data, as of early March 1940:

 

Vanguard 1940:

 

Dimensions: 246.6m x 32.2 x 9.14m

Tonnage: 41,200t std

Designed Power: 130,000hp

Speed: 30.25kts

Main Armament: 4 x 2 15”/42 Mk I on Mk I/N RP12 mounts

Secondary Armament: 8 x 2 QF 5.25”/50 Mk I on Mk I mounts

Anti-Aircraft Battery: 6 x 8 2pdr Mk VIII on Mk VIA* mounts

Armour: - Belt: 381mm abreast magazines, 14” abreast machinery

               - Deck: 152mm over magazines, 127mm over machinery

               - Main torpedo bulkhead: 25mm

               - Armoured bulkheads: 305mm forward, 254mm aft

               - Main armament Turrets330mm faces, 229mm fore-sides, 178mm after-sides, 283mm rear, 152mm roof.

               - Barbettes: 305mm front, 330mm sides, 283mm rear, 51mm below armoured deck

               - Secondary battery turrets: 38mm face, 25mm sides, 25mm rear, 25mm roof         

               - Conning Tower: 114mm face, 76mm sides & rear, 51mm roof

               - Upper Deck: 25mm, Lower deck: 13mm, Magazine Splinter protection: 38mm, Extremities: 127mm-64mm forward deck, 127mm-114mm aft. 102mm steering gear bulkhead, 44mm final aft bulkhead

Aircraft Facilities: 1 catapult, 2 aircraft

 

Wartime experience, particularly the Bismarck chase and the sinking of Prince of Wales & Repulse, led to a number of improvements to the two designs. These were primarily focussed on endurance and air defence. Both Lions were suspended early on, and never restarted, with all reusable material going to Vanguard. The development of the 40mm Bofors Mk VI mount to replace the 2pdr Mk VIA* mount and the general adoption of the 40mm Bofors wear possible in new construction led to Vanguard having a better close range battery than originally intended. Data is shown for Lion as intended in the 1942 design, and Vanguard as completed.

 

 

Lion 1942:

 

Dimensions: 241.7m x 32.9m x 9.2m

Tonnage: 42,550t standard

Designed Power: 130,000shp

Speed: 29.5 knots

Main Armament: 3 x 3 16”/45 Mk III on Mk II mounts

Secondary Armament: 8 x 2 QF 5.25”/50 Mk I on RP 10 Mk I* mounts

Anti-Aircraft Battery: 9 x 8 2pdr Mk VIII on Mk VIA* mounts, 1 x 4 2pdr Mk VIII on Mk VII* mounts

Armour: - Belt: 381mm abreast magazines, 356mm abreast machinery

               - Deck: 152mm above magazines, 127mm above machinery

               - Main torpedo bulkhead: 25mm

               - Armoured bulkheads: 305mm forward, 254mm aft

               - Main armament Turrets: 381mm face, 254mm fore sides, 178mm aft sides, 178mm rear, 178mm roof

               - Barbettes: 305mm front, 330mm sides, 283mm rear, 51mm below armoured deck

               - Secondary battery turrets: 64mm faces, 64mm sides, 64mm rear, 38mm roof        

               - Conning Tower: 76mm face, 64mm side, 51mm roof & rear

               - Upper Decks: 25mm, Lowe Decks: 25mm, Magazine Splinter protection: 38mm, Extremities: 64mm belts, 127mm-64mm forward deck, 127mm-114mm aft. 102mm steering gear bulkhead, 44mm-38mm transom thickness

Aircraft Facilities: None

 

Vanguard

 

Dimensions: 248.2m x 32.9m x 9.38m

Tonnage: 44,500t standard, 51,420t full

Designed Power: 130,000hp

Speed: 30 knots

Main Armament: 4 x 2 15”/42 Mk I on Mk I/N RP12 mounts

Secondary Armament: 8 x 2 QF 5.25”/50 Mk I on RP 10 Mk I* mounts

Anti-Aircraft Battery: 10 x 6 40mm Bofors Mk IX on Mk VI mounts, 1 x 2 40mm Bofors Mk X on STAAG Mk II mounts & 11 x 1 40mm Bofors Mk NI on Mk VII mounts.

Armour: - Belt: 356mm abreast magazines, 330mm abreast machinery

               - Deck: 152mm around magazines & 127mm over machinery

               - Main torpedo bulkhead: 25mm

               - Armoured bulkheads: 305mm forward, 254mm aft

               - Main armament Turrets: 330mm faces, 229mm fore-sides, 178mm after-sides, 283mm rear, 152mm roof.

               - Barbettes: 305mm front, 330mm sides, 283mm rear, 51mm below armoured deck

               - Secondary battery turrets: 64mm faces, 64mm sides, 64mm rear, 38mm roof

               - Conning Tower: 76mm face, 64mm side, 51mm roof & rear

               - Upper Decks: 25mm, Lowe Decks: 25mm, Magazine Splinter protection: 38mm, Extremities: 64mm belts, 127mm-64mm forward deck, 127mm-114mm aft. 102mm steering gear bulkhead, 44mm-38mm transom thickness

Aircraft Facilities: None

 

By the start of 1945, it was clear that the war was not going to last too much longer. Consequently, thought began to turn the post-war fleet. Battleships were still considered to be a key component. Important developments had taken place since the last studies; key amongst these the USA’s Uncle Tom rocket, the German Fritz X and more powerful regular ordinance (e.g. 4000lb bombs). The size and weight of a ship able to defeat all of these was beyond the size that British docks could handle. Having realised this, the Naval Staff outlined what they would like in a ship. The design created to satisfy is shown below. Underwater protection received particular focus, being designed to resist 1200lb warheads, and mitigate the effects of the large rockets being tested.

 

Lion 1945 B:

 

Dimensions: 960ft (wl) x 120ft x 35ft

Tonnage: 59,100t std & 69,140t deep

Designed Power: 156,000shp

Speed: 29 knots (deep & clean)         

Main Armament: 3 x 3 16”/45 Mk IV on Mk III mounts

Secondary Armament: 12 x 2 QF 4.5”/45 Mk V on RP41 Mk VII mounts

Anti-Aircraft Battery: 10 x 6 40mm Bofors Mk IX on Mk VI mounts, 2 x 2 40mm Bofors Mk X on STAAG Mk II mounts

Armour: - Belt: 356mm

               - Deck: 152mm above magazines, 102mm above machinery

               - Main torpedo bulkhead: 64mm

               - Armoured bulkheads: 305mm

               - Main armament Turrets: 381mm face, 254mm fore sides, 178mm aft sides, 178mm rear, 178mm roof

               - Barbettes: 305mm front, 330mm sides, 283mm rear, 51mm below armoured deck

               - Secondary battery turrets: 64mm-38mm

               - Conning Tower: 76mm face, 64mm side, 51mm roof & rear

               - Upper Decks: 25mm, Lowe Decks: 25mm, Magazine Splinter protection: 38mm, Extremities: 64mm belts, 127mm-64mm forward deck, 127mm-114mm aft. 102mm steering gear bulkhead, 44mm-38mm transom thickness

Aircraft Facilities: None

 

     Designs B1-7 were reduced versions of this, to try and make the ships more economically feasible. B1 featured a weaker TDS (resisting 1000lb warheads), B2 featured the stronger 1200lb resistant TDS but only a 10” belt. B3 had both 10” belt and 1000lb warhead resistant TDS. None were less than 55,000t standard. The remaining four only had six main guns, with alternating belt & TDS strengths. None were less than 45,000t, and the largest were close to 48,000t; 7 years prior that tonnage was associated with a twelve gun design, showing the change demanded by progress caused by the war.

       These were followed by even smaller studies. These had very little by way of underwater protection, relying on compartmentalisation, and only a 9” belt. They were compared to Renown, to which they proved to be remarkably similar.

 

Ultimately these came to nothing. The post-war economic slump and subsequent austerity killed many projects, as resources were focussed more on technologies with what money there was. This was mainly as a result of the plethora of war-built ships that there were available to fulfil the roles required of them.

   So ends the design of the British Battleship.


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