Did Dreadnought's destroy the RN?

Think about it, the RN was heavily committed to Dreadnoughts, We want Eight and we won’t Wait!!!. Yet when it came time for war they could not be risked in a major fleet action. You saw just one major battle, Jutland. In both World Wars, the primary threat and battle was with Submarines. In the MediterrNean in WW2, it was the RN’s Aircraft Carriers which were the decisive factor. Furthermore the RN’s submarines cut down Italian and Japanese shipping, hastening the collapse,with he Dreadnoughts mostly relegated to a supporting role, with some notable exceptions.

Did the Dreadnought fixation hamper RN development in Submarines and in aviation,areas where he RN had initially a big lead? Looking at it, they were very expensive for what they actually accomplished.

It was my impression that the groundwork for dreadnoughts had already been laid elsewhere (i.e. by an Italian designer). In any event, technology is always improving, and had Britain held back for awhile they still would have had to build dreadnoughts and “obsolete” their other ships before long.

Wasn’t a major reason for lack of “major fleet action” that the Germans didn’t dare venture out en masse against superior (and sometimes overwhelming) RN strength? Before Jutland their forays were basically hit-and-run affairs.

From about 1850 to 1950, wasn’t it a period of very rapid advancement in warship technology? Dreadnoughts were the state of the art at one point. So it makes sense that Britain, who was trying to maintain continuous naval superiority, would invest heavily in them. Hadn’t they invested heavily at every stage of naval development (since about 1700?)?

Of course, maybe they failed to invest heavily in submarines and aircraft carriers. I don’t know. But that was also the time period that Britain was having trouble maintaining the Empire. Perhaps reduced naval investment is a symptom of that.

No, I think it was the end of empire that ‘destroy’(ed) the RN, not dreadnoughts. Basically, the RN as well as every other aspect of UK society had an increasingly smaller number of resources to try and spread around to develop new systems. Both of the world wars didn’t help either, since they further drained what was left.

It takes two to fight a major fleet action, and the Germans simply didn’t want to risk their main fleet or capital ships when they knew they were outnumbered. What they wanted was to try and draw off part of the RN home fleet so they could destroy it in detail…which is sort of what they were trying to do at Jutland. However, it’s clear that the RN was fully willing to confront the German high seas fleet when and if they DID sortie. The reason the RN didn’t use their fleet more is because the Germans tied it down…after all, the RN had to acknowledge the threat and be prepared to counter it when and if the Germans came out to fight.

Subs were mostly commerce raiders and interdiction forces in both world wars. In the first world war that’s because the Germans decided to use them to attempt to strangle British trade. Capital ships didn’t come in so much in WWI simply because the Germans never made a serious stab at fighting the British RN…they never could create a situation where they could fight with a reasonable chance of defeating a large part of the British fleet while taking relatively low losses themselves. In WWII, again the Germans (and the US) had major sub forces that were designed as commerce raiders and interdiction forces…but capital ships did play a much larger role, especially in the Pacific theater. While battleships weren’t the queens of the fleet anymore, they certainly had a vital role in combat.

It is quite correct that the huge increase (in the cost of battleships) strained the UK’s resources. Also, you could build many submarines for the cost of one battleship. The fact is, by 1918 the big gin ships were obsolete-aircraft carriers had much more striking power, and could do so at longer distances. Battleships remained vulnerable to torpedoes and air attack-the prime example being the loss of the Prince of Wales and Repulse off Malaya in 1941. Battleships used up enormous amounts of fuel, had large crews, and needed large screening units. However, like all bureaucracies, the RN could not abandon battleships, as billions had been spent on them, and scrapping them was politically impossible.

I take your point that the RN was always reluctant to innovate - up till the 1920s it had the greatest investment in the current naval technology and hence the most to lose - but this is over the top.

In 1918 aircraft carriers did not “have much more striking power” than battleships. The only operating “modern” flush deck carrier in service was HMS Argus - ordered by those hidebound fools in the Admiralty - and it did not carry many planes and those it did were slow and could carry only a limited bomb load a short distance. And as soon as the wind got up they couldn’t fly at all!

I always wondered…had WWI never broken out, would the naval powers go on bankrupting themselves with the “battleship race”? Germany builds ship with 29 knots speed, 11 inch guns, 6" armor, UK builds 30 knot, 12" guns, 7" armor…France builds 32 knot, 13" guns, 8" armor…etc., etc. It would have been neat if everybody finally realized how silly it was.

That wouldn’t have happened until the US had one that fired Hawaiian islands for shells and theoretically could go 100 knots, except that it was too long to turn around in the Atlantic.

Just saying… arms races very rarely end because of sensibility. Intercontinental nukes were a rare, praise-Jesus exception.

Yes, but in WW1 the Grand Fleet could not be employed too aggressively to compel an action, lest they lose the entire war in an afternoon. Early in the war, the Uboat threat had the fleet scurrying off to Ireland for safety.

Amazing technical achievements. Not much of use it seems.

As of WW1 anyway, you had to have dreadnoughts/battleships if you wanted to fight an enemy navy that had them. Submarines were comparatively slow and short range, and air power was in its infancy. Even in WW2 you wouldn’t have wanted to take on an enemy navy of battleships and cruisers solely with submarines; it was air power that finished the battleship. And as late as the mid 1930s naval air power wasn’t as good as it would be just five years later.

Yes, at Jutland there was an element of the fleet being “too precious to lose”, but didn’t mean they were useless, just that they had become more of a deterrent. The problem was that heavily armored as they were, battleships still couldn’t survive more than a few hits from an enemy battleship’s main guns. The armor was mostly so that the ship wasn’t excessively vulnerable to being destroyed by a single hit. Naval battles became mostly a contest of who could hit the enemy at extreme range first, rather than the broadside slugfest of the sailing days.

It maintained a blockade of Germany which was vital to winning the war. More importantly, the fleet prevented Britain from being blockaded, which would have led to a certain German victory.

WWI didn’t even cause a hiccup in the battleship race. Apparently you haven’t heard of the Yamato, which wasn’t even started until 1937, and had 18-inch guns.

I’ve read many claims about aircraft carriers being obsolete, using virtually the same exact words that you used.
Despite conventional wisdom, I’ve never been convinced that battleships are in fact obsolete. A modern battleship, designed from the keel up to take advantage of electronics, and probably nuclear-powered, would go a mighty long way toward answering the criticisms leveled at the class.

Yes…the "mighty " Yamato-on its final (suicide) mission, lasted about an hour, after being attacked by dive and torpedo bombers off Okinawa. Great use of resources-if the objective was to commit mass suicide.:smack:

Ten-go wasn’t a suicide mission- the Imperial Japanese Navy understood that their remaining ships had no chance against the allied fleet, and the intent of Ten-go was to beach the remaining fleet on the shore of Okinawa so the ships could be used as gun emplacements. The fact that they were shadowed by American subs and engaged by task force 54 before they reached their objective is incidental to their orders.

Well if you want to get really silly… behold the “Fuhrer”, the 2000-foot long 500,000 ton battleship, with 80 cm (31.5 inch) siege guns as its main battery.

The sole purpose of a really big ship is to carry really big guns and the armor to protect them. But with today’s technology, missiles are far more effective than any gun, and active defenses are more effective than any armor. The heirs to the battleship aren’t the aircraft carriers, they’re the missile cruisers.

That was if Yamato reached Okinawa, and nobody expected her to make it to Okinawa, those who gave the orders for Ten-go certainly didn’t. It was a special attack mission, the euphemism for suicide attack. From her tabular record of movements:

Well…there was a 15 year break in a naval arms race due to the Washington Naval
Conference of 1922 that happened because of the greatest president of the 20th century, Warren G Harding (peace, prosperity, expanded freedom for women, release of political prisoners such as Eugene Debs). There are people who wonder how effective it was, although some people have argued there could have been a Japan/British war against the Americans if it hadn’t happened. Of course the problem with any treaty is that all sides have to follow it and when one side doesn’t, the others have to figure out how to respond. But the WNC may have prevent the German “pocket battleships” such as Graf Spee from being even larger and more dangerous to the King’s navy.

I do sometimes wonder how tough a modern battleship could be if they used ceramic composites and depleted uranium for the armor. One of the “lessons learned” from the Falklands war was the RN lamented the flammability of modern “plastic” ships. And I’ve read that the old steel Iowa-class battleships remain the man-made structures likeliest to survive a nuclear near-miss.

Modern ceramic composite / high-density armor tanks like the M1 have survived extraordinary amounts of punishment. Presumably a ship could carry even thicker armor.

The expense would be astronomical, no doubt.