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Battlecruisers. Brilliant concept or flawed design?

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posted on Sep, 11 2007 @ 08:04 AM
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Originally concieved and developed by Jackie Fisher to outgun any inferior ship and outrun any superior ship the battlecruiser was held in high regard until the battle of Jutland when the class was proven vulnerable to long range plunging fire. Fisher recieved heavy criticism because of the percieved failure of this class in combat. In Fishers words the class was never designed to stand in the line of battle and to weigh them down with additional armour would destroy there design balance.
So Im chasing opinions from people knowledgable in this area, were battlecruisers a flawed design or were they wrongfully employed?




posted on Sep, 11 2007 @ 08:33 AM
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Short answer: They were both.

It sounds very impressive (and perhaps even tactically sound) to say "What a battlecruiser can't outrun, it can outgun, and what it can't outgun, it can outrun."...but that can (and historically was) restated time and time again as "What a battlecruiser can fight, it can't catch, and what a battlecruiser can catch, it can't fight." The battlecruiser has, at its heart, two basic assumptions. First, the assumption that it will have guns of equal or superior range to those mounted on contemporary battleships, and second, that it will have sufficient speed to control engagement ranges. Neither one was a safe bet. Gun power (particularly from 1905 - 1914) was increasing so fast that the first assumption (equal or better gun power) was a joke. The ultimate failure of the 'better gun' assumption was HMS Hood...carrying a main battery identical to contemporary British battleships, and to the last class of German ones (8 x 15").

Superior speed (or at least enough to make a tactical difference) wasn't a given either. Not only was propulsion technology advancing at a relatively blistering pace, but 'maximum speed' was every bit as fictional as a Battlestar Galactica episode....ships ran speed tests at unreasonably light loads, then went into combat much more heavily laden, with bottom fouling, and less-than-optimal sea states. Suddenly, the 5-7 knot speed advantage of a battlecruiser could drop to 0-3 knots...not enough to give her a tactical edge...and given their lighter protection, the minute she started taking hits, a fight with anything she could catch was going to be done. In short, battleships would pound battlecruisers into scrap, and anything smaller would simply run like Gehenna and break off the engagement. "What I can fight, I can't catch, and what I can catch, I can't fight."

In addition to the design flaws, battlecruisers were almost universally badly deployed. This wasn't really the fault of the admirals...given the need for as many heavy guns as possible in the line of battle, and given that battlecruisers (because of the longer hulls and more powerful machinery needed to get their higher speed) were among the most expensive hulls in the fleet, it was almost a given that, sooner or later, they would find themselves deployed in direct support of the line, and as a result, coming under the guns of battleships, with uniformly bad results. Take a look at Jutland, and notice how many of the losses were battlecruisers. As a certain British admiral remarked, "There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today." Indeed there was...they were too fragile to fight, and deployed in such a way as to make a fight inevitable.

The only really *good* things to come out of the battlecruiser (at least in my not exactly humble opinion) were some really outstanding aircraft carriers (Akagi, Lexington, and Saratoga), and the eventual cross-breed of battleship and battlecruiser, the Fast Battleship (Iowa, Richelieu, Vittorio Vinetto).



posted on Sep, 11 2007 @ 12:20 PM
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Seems like one of those ideas that look perfect on paper, but just don't pan out in practical use. The idea is a great concept.



posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 03:32 AM
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I think the concept was sound in that the battlecruiser was a cruiser killer, with speed and weapons to do the job. The problem was that they were used against battleships - not part of the brief.

If I recall, in the Battle of the Denmark Strait the Britsish sought to use speed to close the gap between Bismark and the battlecruiser Hood as quickly as possible because they (the British) recognised the vulnerability of the weak deck armour against plunging fire from the German units.

Of course, as the Bismark discovered later the time, of the battleship was ended as it was aircraft that sealed her fate.

Regards



posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 06:08 AM
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Originally posted by Brother Stormhammer

As a certain British admiral remarked, "There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today." Indeed there was...they were too fragile to fight, and deployed in such a way as to make a fight inevitable.



Goodammit i was gonna post that next!!!
Admiral Beatty in HMS Lion DAMMIT!!
All time greatest understatement.

My opinion exactly with a bit more I never considered before, Something to mull on.

Ok what about German equivalents??
They seemed more on the money by sacrificing calibre for armour did they not?
Did the British simply blame the concept instead of there designs?



posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 06:36 AM
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Paraphi
I don't think 'cruiser killer' idea held up for more than ten minutes. Battlecruisers look good (on paper) in that role, but they were far too expensive to use that way. They had speed and guns to chase down and kill enemy cruisers, but even the Royal Navy couldn't afford enough of them to hunt down and kill all the cruisers that were going to need killing. The best cruiser killer was a better cruiser, not a demi-battleship that was too expensive to risk in the role.

As I mentioned in my original (long winded) post, they may not have been intended to engage battleships, but given that their cost made them effectively replacements for battleships in the construction budget, and given the need for heavy guns in the battle line, it was almost inevitable that they'd wind up there. One of the few things that SecDef Rumsfeld said that I agree with is "You fight with the army you have, not the one you wish you had". That pretty well sums up the Admiralty's use of battlecruisers against battleships...they had to fight with what they had (battlecruisers, intended for a totally different role, but available), not what they wished they had (more battleships)

Tonka
I think the Germans were a lot closer to the right approach, assuming that battlecruisers were intended as cruiser killers. They got the high speed, and managed to keep decent armor by backing away from full-out battleship main batteries, while still having guns larger than any cruiser they might have to face. As for where the British placed the blame, I don't think they 'placed blame', so much as they came to their senses. Getting trout-slapped by Jutland certainly helped in that regard. By the time they'd had time to digest the lessons from that debacle (which it certainly was, as far as the bettlecruisers were concerned), and design ships that incorporated those lessons, propulsion technology had advanced to the point where battleships, with full-scale protection, could reach speeds that made battlecruisers unnecessary. Take a quick look at the design specifications for the G-3 'battlecruisers', and compare them to the 'Splendid Cats'. You'll find that other than being referred to as 'battlecruisers', and being designed by the Royal Navy, they have very little in common. The G-3s weren't a 'new generation' of battlecruiser, they were the first generation of fast battleship.



posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 07:43 AM
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Bringing up the Richelieu, I read some very interesting information that the Richelieu was used in combat against Allied naval forces despite being a French battleship.

Is this true? If so why the circumstances? (This is really directed at Brother Stormhammer)

Shattered OUT...



posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 09:47 AM
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Originally posted by ShatteredSkies
Bringing up the Richelieu, I read some very interesting information that the Richelieu was used in combat against Allied naval forces despite being a French battleship.



She most definitely was on the 24 of September 1940, Richelieu fought against Allied naval units at the Battle of Dakar. HMS Barham engaged Richelieu from outside the harbour, the Barham was hit twice by Richelieu's secondary armament and the Richelieu was struck by two 15” shells which caused minimal damage.

This occured as the French navy had declared itself loyal to the new French Vichy government, this was essentially a puppet government established after the French were defeated by Germany.The British could not risk these ships falling under German control and made great efforts to neutralize or force the surrender of all French capital units most notably at Mels El Kebir and Dakar.When French forces in Africa joined the Allies in late 1942, Richelieu sailed for refitting at the New York Navy Yard. After her refit Richelieu served with the British Home Fleet from November 1943–March 1944.

Check out this link
www.warship.get.net.pl...">Richelieu






[edit on 12-9-2007 by Tonka]



posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 09:50 AM
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You got that from Wikipedia as I just got through reading that very entry.

Just so people know where the source is.

Shattered OUT...



posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 10:02 AM
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reply to post by ShatteredSkies
 


Richelieu (and her sister sister ship Jean Bart) were both under control of the Vichy French government, and had been moved to North Africa by 1942. Richelieu exchanged fire with HMS Barham and HMS Resolution on 24 September. She didn't do much to the British ships, but that shouldn't be too surprising, given that only one of her main battery turrets was operational, and one of the four guns in it exploded early in the fighting. Add that to the fact that she was docked (and thus, a stationary target), and you can probably see why she had a Really Bad Day.

In spite of the damage, she wasn't considered a total loss, and by November of 1942, her commander had negotiated her surrender to the Allies. She sailed for the US on 30 January 1943 for repairs and complete fitting-out. She was repaired and ready for trials by August of 1943, and joined the Royal Navy's Home Fleet in November. She deployed to the Pacific, and saw action against the Japanese. She was flagship of the French Mediterranean Fleet until 1950, remained on active service through 1956, and served as a training vessel from 1956 until she was stricken and sold for salvage in 1967.

IMO, a fine (and fine looking) ship that deserved a better ending. Richelieu vs Bismarck is a fight I would've paid good money to see!



posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 10:08 AM
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It's sad that history's most famous battleships succumbed to aircraft and not surface fire. At least most of them that I know of.

Shattered OUT...



posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 10:26 AM
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Actually, most of them fell to the cutting torch. Most of the ones that got sunk by aircraft are famous *because* they got sunk by aircraft, ending otherwise rather uninspiring careers. Tirpitz, Musashi, Yamato, and Roma not only fall into that category, they practically define it.

The breakers got Warspite, Dreadnought, Vanguard, Nelson, Rodney, all of the "Georges" except Prince of Wales, Richelieu, Jean Bart, South Dakota, and all of the "Standards"...it's a depressing list.

That said, I don't find it sad that ships like Yamato didn't get a 'fair fight'...fair fights represent a serious failure in planning and logistics! I'd find it sad if we'd lost a few hundred (or a few thousand, given what the 18" AP could've done to the older ships in "Ching" Lee's battle line) men just to secure bragging rights in a gunnery duel.



posted on Sep, 12 2007 @ 11:09 AM
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Never said anything about a fair fight
.

That's why I love aircraft, an advantage over the battleships.

Shattered OUT...



posted on Sep, 13 2007 @ 06:06 AM
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Originally posted by Brother Stormhammer


The breakers got Warspite, Dreadnought, Vanguard, Nelson, Rodney, all of the "Georges" except Prince of Wales, Richelieu, Jean Bart, South Dakota, and all of the "Standards"...it's a depressing list.



Yeah the breakers got Warspite but she put up a bloody good fight to avoid it!!!!



posted on Sep, 13 2007 @ 06:07 AM
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Ok next question, Favourite battleship??



posted on Sep, 13 2007 @ 06:24 AM
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reply to post by Brother Stormhammer
 


A small disagreement with your post. Adm. Lee's battleline, being attached to Halsey/Spruance boasted the newest battleships in the Pacific Fleet. Seventh Fleet, or McAurthers Navy, had the older battlewagons, the Pearl Harbour lot, and some others.

Adm. Lee's line versus Yamato, Nagato, and Musashi, et al. would have been a brawl. Newer, faster, better targeting equipment for the Americans versus bigger gunned, slightly better armoured, but slower ships for the Japanese. Airpower made it a moot topic though.



posted on Sep, 13 2007 @ 06:31 AM
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Battlecruisers were a flawed concept, and a flawed reality. Admirals couldn't help putting their alligator mouths where their tweety bird butts shouldn't have been. The battleline was no place for a battle cruiser. Out where it could use its speed and its big guns to best advantage...the only time I can recall their being properly used was against the German's raiding force in the South Atlantic. Adm. Graf Spee's undergunned, and obsolete ships versus two brandnew Battlecruisers. They kept the range open and the result was a forgone conclusion. This occured during WWI, near the Falklands, I believe.

Otherwise, they were always used rather poorly, and payed for it.

[edit on 13-9-2007 by seagull]



posted on Sep, 13 2007 @ 06:46 AM
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Only place the Battle Cruisers were really doing a good job was the commerce raiding against allied convoys. The German Twins did a good job at the Atlantic...



posted on Sep, 13 2007 @ 06:47 AM
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Originally posted by seagull
reply to post by Brother Stormhammer
 


A small disagreement with your post. Adm. Lee's battleline, being attached to Halsey/Spruance boasted the newest battleships in the Pacific Fleet. Seventh Fleet, or McAurthers Navy, had the older battlewagons, the Pearl Harbour lot, and some others.

Adm. Lee's line versus Yamato, Nagato, and Musashi, et al. would have been a brawl. Newer, faster, better targeting equipment for the Americans versus bigger gunned, slightly better armoured, but slower ships for the Japanese. Airpower made it a moot topic though.


I think your right there, Im not sure about earlier in the war but I know in the later stages (Leyte) the battleships California,Tennessee,West Virginia,Maryland and Pennsylvania were under the command of Jesse Oldendorf, Seventh Fleet.



posted on Sep, 13 2007 @ 06:50 AM
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Originally posted by northwolf
Only place the Battle Cruisers were really doing a good job was the commerce raiding against allied convoys. The German Twins did a good job at the Atlantic...


Hard to agree or disagree, which war? Im guessing WW2?
If your thinking WW1 they wern't battlecruisers they were armoured cruisers.

[edit on 13-9-2007 by Tonka]



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