Zooming in on the picture shows two aft turrets, but with a strange arrangement. The turret closest to midships is lower to the deck than the aft turret. I almost looks like it would not train to both port and starboard due to the structure aft.
There can’t be too many battleships that were built that way, perhaps this will narrow it down?
Agree. It’s either a King George V or Iron Duke class, which were very similar but had the mast in front of the first funnel (a very strange design flaw on the Orion class, as smoke from the funnel would obscure the view from the spotting top).
The structure at the stern is a turret trained to port. The Q turret in the middle is in the centre of the ship, but at deck level, and unable to fire aft.
Yes, I think you are right about the Iron Duke class. I was a bit unsure because on the profile of the Iron Duke the structure in front of X Turret is lower than the turret itself. In this image it is taller.
However, I’ve found a few pictures which show it higher so it possibly was reconstructed at some stage.
I also considered Erin but it is missing a few secondary guns to be her.
Iron Duke class. It lacks the kingposts aft of Q turret that the King George V class all had while it does have the structures, (searchlight mounts?) on the aft of the after funnel that the KGV class lacked. (There is a crane or derrick aft of Q, but it arises from the deck rather than the top of the cabin as in the KGV class.)
Consensus seems to be Iron Duke class, and I don’t really know much about British warships, so I have nothing to add there.
I do recall that sometimes it’s as important to consider when a picture was taken as it is to know what a ship looks like, as some ships have changed drastically in appearance from one refit to the next (i.e.: Many battleships didn’t get the “piled up” look they have with the one huge superstructure until around WWII, before that they were lower to the water with the superstructure being smokestacks and masts). Usually only the most fundamental things stay the same, mainly the main armament.
And yeah, for some reason, there was a period where they’d put one turret in the middle of the ship which couldn’t fire fore or aft. I think once they went from twin-turrets to triple-turrets for the main battery, the middle turret disappeared and the two guns lost were made up for and then some by the additional guns in the other turrets.
It wasn’t a huge problem, as the ships were designed to fight on the broadside. The Q turret wasn’t mounted higher because turrets are very heavy, and top-weight was an issue. It wasn’t an ideal arrangement, but was much less wasteful than having wing turrets. In fact, even though the Orions had two pairs of super-firing turrets, the turrets couldn’t fire directly each other, as they were fitted with sighting hoods. Doing so wouldn’t have damaged the other turret or injured the gun crew.
The later Queen Elizabeth battleships were initially designed to have the same layout. However, it was realised that with the switch to the heavier 15" gun, the Q turret could be removed and replaced with boilers. This still gave a heavier broadside than the earlier ships, while increasing speed by about 3 knots.
This reminds me of another interesting thing. Battleship design is evidently a balancing act between three things: Speed, Armor, and Firepower. Getting more of one usually costs you something from the other categories, due to space and weight considerations in the ship itself. At some point, American ship designers decided to just make the speed a fixed variable, and all further designs were based around matching a certain max speed, with increasing amounts of armor and firepower.
The idea was, since battleships fought in groups and not individuals, it just didn’t make any sense to design a battleship that could outrun the rest of the fleet.
This may be true, but as I see it, it would lead to a stagnation in ship speeds. As capital ships (then, and now) often are built in sets, it would mean that squadron speeds would always stay fixed, as at now time would the entire fleet be replaced in one shot.
On the other hand, prior to WW1 the British envisioned the Fast Battleship (and to a lesser extent the Battlecruiser) model, where faster, less armored ships of the line would head the van, and be quick enough to cross the enemy’s T while the main fleet would pound the line. By the battle of Jutland though, the well armored German König-class battleship could do 23 knots to the Queen Elisabeth fast-battleship’s 24, nullifying any advantage. This resulted in the up-armored QEs becoming the new ships of the line postwar, while the battlecruisers (like HMS Hood) were simply a bad idea, and would be sadly proven so.
Iknow this is getting in Great Debates territory, but I can’t let that comment about the battle cruiser model being to cross the T.
The concept of the battle cruiser was simply a “super cruiser”. It would defend trade routes where it would be able to smash any raiders or enemy armoured cruisers. They were not to fight with a fleet until the allure of large calibre guns proved too much.
"Fishers enthusiasm… was linked to the development of big gun armed cruisers called battlecruisers from 1911. Initially conceived to deal with the threat to trade
posed by France and Russia’s armoured cruisers, they avoided the old policy of simply building more ships… To keep the size and cost within acceptable limits the protection was restricted to cruiser standard six inch armour against the 9 or 10 inch of a battleship.
Right. BCs were envisioned as being able to outrun anything that could hurt them and outrange anything else. Properly handled, a battlecruiser would engage weaker ships at a range they could not fight back and simply flee before stronger, slower ships reached firing position…and never receive fire in a fair fight at all. Their purpose was to be unfair.
Using BCs in fleet battle to engage capital ships was a misuse of the design concept. I agree that for a commander who thought in terms of numbers, the temptation was almost irresistible to put them into the line of battle, because that way you’d have “more” big-gun ships.