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Friday, November 03, 2006

Why could the British not build better ships in 1905 to 1918?

D. K. Brown's assessment is that the explanation for the state of British warship design in 1905 to 1918 is that especially after 1908, the demands on the naval contructors were beyond what the staff could meet. They were short of men to do calculations, which were done by hand in this period, so not enough could be done. I think that another negative factor were the extremely conservative elements in the Royal Navy, who would not give up features that compromised the ships' protective systems. D. K. Brown especially implicates the ammunition transfer passage between the forward and aft magazines. That was not only a vulnerability for flooding, but allowed flash to pass from one end to the other. The most relevant of D. K. Brown's books to this topic is The Grand Fleet: Warship Design and Development 1906-1922 (1999). In some ways, the book is disappointing. While there is some good material there, the book needed to be two or three times a long.

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