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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

British Capital Ships

The British apparently seriously considered a 16.5in gun for the "1921" battlecruisers, but finally opted for the 16in gun to contain the size and cost. The corresponding battleships were about the same size, but with 18in guns and low speed. Even at this date, the British were apparently feeling financial pressures.

The remnants of the 1921 ships were evident in the Nelson and Rodney. They were too slow, and the remnants of older technology (and metalurgical problems) reduced their value further. The Nelson was severely flooded from a torpedo hit that spread due to the underwater torpedo rooms. Still, the Rodney was able to play a key role in the Bismarck action. Her 16in guns made short work of the Bismarck.

The King George V class were ruined by the combination of the Britain's posture in treaty formulation and by financial pressures. They were underarmed with the final armament of 10-14in guns. They would have been better, if they could have been armed with the original 12-14in guns, but by the date that they were completed, the 14in gun was outclassed. Aside from that, their underwater protection was suspect, due to the circumstances surrounding the loss of the Prince of Wales. One suggestion was that there was poorly repaired damage from the Bismarck action, but that is just a guess. They still ended up over the treat limit, without a great deal to show for the size overrun. They seemed to suffer from the chronic tendency to overspecify characteristics that plagued weapon systems from the 1960's and beyond.

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