RN Battleship Development if war hadn't broken out in 1939

Tzoli

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I think the Leanders were considered small cruisers
 

Tzoli

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A silly question but was 18" calibre armament ever a serious option for the RN?
The following is a transcription of part of NJM Campbell's article in Warship when it was a quarterly magazine, sorry I do not recall the edition number:

The Admiralty requested Sir Robert Hadfield of the famous steel firm to stop talking about 20-inch and 21-inch APC shells in 1920, but this was apparently done to prevent other countries thinking that guns of these calibres might be adopted, and there does not seem to have been any intention of so doing, though Elswick could have handled a 20-inch of about 42-calibres on their existing plant. The Japanese built a 19-inch gun which split in testing, and a second one that was still in existence in December 1945, while the United States constructed an 18-inch/48 calibre; a ponderous weapon of nearly 178 tons, firing a 2900lb shell at 2700fps. It was later lingered down to a 16-inch/57 calibre and then back to an 18-inch. No other naval guns of 18-inche or over appear to have been built at this time, although the French began design work on a 17.7-inch (45cm) in 1920.

I hope this shed a little light on your question, but as previously mentioned an 18-inch weapon was planned for the unbuilt N3 class battleships, and HMS Furious was designed with a pair of single 18-inch weapons, although she finally completed with just the aft turret, having had her first 'aircraft carrier' conversion before commissioning.
There was the IJN's 46cm/50 Type 3 cannon intended for the No.13 class. Design drawings exist of the barrel and shell, no evidence if the gun actually built.
The USN too thinking of 20" by the end of 1919 early 1920!
Fisher had discussions with the gun makers and they proposed 20" and even 22" barrels, while Fisher thought for an improved Furious with 20" cannons!
 

COLDOWN

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The 1935s Captain B. Acworth Fleet Proposal
- The new fleet:
qOGILRi.png

- The new battleships:
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WwVv92r.jpg

- The new heavy cruisers:
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- The new light cruisers:
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The Illustrator is Oscar Parkes, the Jane's Fighting Ships editor.
This is a little old but I wanted to share.
Source: "The Restoration of England's Sea Power" (1935, Captain Bernard Acworth).
 

Tzoli

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But these were not 1935 era designs (Coal bunkers for protection??? and average 13,5" BB armament ) It is more like how would the 1935 fleet look like. These look more like 1910's designs hence twin 9,2" cruiser and single 6" guns on the CL.
I think the first drawing shows Ackworth's Mini Battleship which is dated 1934??
Am I mistaken something or Ackworth did not believe in Oil power and powered turrets for smaller caliber guns on cruisers???
 

Hood

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Bernard Acworth was a submariner who retired in 1931. It seems odd given his 16 years of naval service that he was so ignorant on the latest trends of warship design.
Coal it seems was another of his fads, in 1932 he wrote a book called Back to the Coal Standard: The Future of Transport and Power.
Acworth seems to have been a strange individual, he knew nothing about ornithology yet published several books speculating that insects and birds didn't migrate but just flew aimlessly wherever the wind blew them, the reviews of which were quite harsh. I suspect his naval ideas were rather sniggered at too by the Admiralty, although there were several small battleship studies very similar to Acworth's concepts in 1931-32 linked to the various arms limitation treaty attempts of that time. So he was tapping into the zeitgeist of the time, although oddly his 'amoured cruiser' would be a Treaty-buster with 9.2in armed guns.
 

COLDOWN

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Acworth wanted to go back to the coal era!

Captain Bernard Acworth books (Wikipedia):
1930 – The Navies of Today and Tomorrow. A Study of the Naval Crisis from Within.
1934 – The Navy and the Next War. A Vindication of Sea Power.
1935 – The Restoration of England’s Sea Power.

This is the Acworth "The Restoration of England’s Sea Power" book:
kqX5vfM.png

You can find it in my google drive:
Let me know if i can´t share it in this forum
 

Oberon_706

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I could see a Vanguard-ish like capital ship built to complement the slower ships and give a punch to the cruiser force if the Alaskas, B-65s, Kronshtadts and the P class ships were built. A True battlecruiser or 15" armed big cruiser maybe?
Historically the Germans built the Deutschlands, the USN (And the RN) thought Japan will build something similar (the Chichibus) so to counter them, the USN built the Alaskas, to counter the Alaskas the IJN designed the B-65 and the Soviets designed the Alaska killers the Stalingrads.
I could see in this non treaty word that the RN would want to build something similar but question is, would it put money of building the 12" cannons and turrets of the abortive 1930 LNT designs to mount them on similar large cruisers or just go for a fast capital ship eg a modern Renown with 3x2 15" using the old guns of the R's?
Note the RN made calculations for 12" armed vessels in 1938 and offered a 10" large cruiser for Greece and there were the various 9,2" armed cruisers.
For me, the RN's counter to 'Super-Cruisers' can take two or three paths (were Britain to see the need to build that capability at all - carrier strike anyone?);

1) No WNT/LNT = no need to scrap the 13.5" Battlecruisers (Lion, Princess Royal, Tiger). If they are still in the reserve fleet by the mid-30's, send them into dock for Renown-esque 'Large Repair' reconstructions and arm them with the same 14" gun being designed/manufactured for the KGVs (assuming the KGV's are still built as 14" ships, not 15-16"). In OTL HMS Iron Duke was used/was meant to be used? for testing the 14" naval rifle so the gun cradles in the 13.5" turrets on the BCs need little to no modification other than to increase the elevation for better range. Alternately, don't rebuild the BCs and instead build new ships using the 13.5" turrets from Iron Duke and Centurion (Centurion was disarmed and converted to a RC target ship in 1930/31 - what happened to her main battery turrets?)

2) I don't see anything being gained in reverting to an older, lesser 'capital' calibre for new construction, therefore use the second-hand 15" turrets from the 'R's' + C&G or new 14" twin turrets from the OTL KGV design and build new 'Battlecruisers' to current standards! Same 3 x 2 (A, B, Y) layout as Renown/Repulse but with KGV/Lion-era design/technology. Using recycled 15" Turrets (No Vanguard using up those from C&G) allows for: 4 turrets (C&G) + 20 turrets (R-Class) = 8 x 3 turret, Neo-Renown-Type battlecruisers, or (as previously speculated) 6 x 4 turret, Vanguard-type fast battleships.

3) Fast-track replacement of the County's and York/Exeter's with a new class of Very Large 'Heavy' Cruisers. This could take the form of a scaled up/improved Town (i.e. Churchill's 9.2" follies or the the proposed post-war Neptune-Class) or a British version of the USN Des Moines-class. Large (20,000T), Fast (32+ Kts), Well protected (6-8" belt), capable of drenching a target in a lot of accurately laid shell in a short period of time (semi-auto turrets, radar directed gunnery, 9-12 x 8" guns). Using this strategy, one simply employs the same tactics used by Adm. Harwood at the River Plate, but with bigger ships firing more shell, more accurately, more often.
 
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Hood

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Friedman describes the 8in cruiser saga in some detail, the Admiralty unsure whether to build them or not (worries about post-war treaties that might ban 8in cruisers) and the temptation of Fijis with better armour or improved Edinburghs as heavy lights. The 8in cruisers were to be armoured against 6in gunfire (which offered some protection from long-range 8in fire). The River Plate action was one spur to obtaining 8in guns to be sure of penetrating hits against larger cruisers.
It was estimated new triple turrets would be ready for 1944 (apparently ordered by November 1941) so the first ships would be laid down in June 1941 under the 1941/42 programme - though this does seem a rather leisurely build pace. Four ships seems to have been the original goal.

22 Jan 1940 designs - 15,500 tons, 670 x 77ft 6in or 12,500 tons, 610 x 72ft
August 1940 - the 12,500 ton design refined to 11,945 tons; there was also another design with 12,500 tons for 4x2 8in
March 1941 - different secondaries from 4.5in BD mounts to 4in DP, 15,000 tons, 635ft
October 1941 - 17,500 tons, 670ft; DNC sketched a 10,000 ton alternative
Feb 1942 - 18,500 tons, 690 x 82ft
At this point the work stopped in favour of further 6in designs and discussions on cruisers rumbled on for another year leading to Designs Y and N2.

Growth seems to have been inevitable and the final result would probably have been somewhere around 17,500 tons for a cruiser with 9x 8in guns which seems uneconomical compared with US designs. But even some of the improved Belfasts were topping 14-15,000 tons so the additional cost and tonnage was perhaps not that great.
 

Tzoli

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I will soon make a thread about the RN's 6+" cruiser designs starting from 1938 when I finish the last drawing. But there were quite a few I can tell. I think the growth of tonnage was more dedicated to ammo and mounting weight as well as ( I suspect) underwater protection as the last two designs (17.500 and 18.500tons) had the same armament and surface armour and almost the same hull size
 

Tzoli

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The RN actually needs an admiral or strong willed person to actually order a set design and not let it run "amok" by constantly changing it's design over the years eg how the 1938 affordable and good Lion become the 1944 and 45 Super Heavy and costly Lion.
Neptune too would had been a better choice then the Tigers in my opinion and the Maltas rather the 1950's modernizations of the Implacables
 

A Tentative Fleet Plan

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The RN actually needs an admiral or strong willed person to actually order a set design and not let it run "amok" by constantly changing it's design over the years eg how the 1938 affordable and good Lion become the 1944 and 45 Super Heavy and costly Lion.
Neptune too would had been a better choice then the Tigers in my opinion and the Maltas rather the 1950's modernizations of the Implacables
The 1944-45 Lion designs were clean sheet designs completely unrelated to the 1938 design, which was cancelled in April of 1943. The 1938 Lion wasn't necessarily all that cheaper than the 1944 Lion, is was simply unable to accommodate all of the lessons of the war, and so was replaced by clean-sheet designs that could.
 

DanOfMordor

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I will soon make a thread about the RN's 6+" cruiser designs starting from 1938 when I finish the last drawing. But there were quite a few I can tell. I think the growth of tonnage was more dedicated to ammo and mounting weight as well as ( I suspect) underwater protection as the last two designs (17.500 and 18.500tons) had the same armament and surface armour and almost the same hull size

Apologies for thread necro but have you had a chance to do this Tzoli?

With regards to the post(s) about the RN's Cruiser Forces circa 1939 and their plans, I don't know the source(s) you used but my own take on that is that the RN essentially viewed Cruisers as being for two roles/of two types rather than three:

(1) "Fleet Cruiser" role, screening against destroyers, surface recce etc for which smaller, handier designs were preferrable for the greater manouevrability (or "nimbleness").
(2) "Trade Cruiser" role, the RN liked to term this Trade Protection but it is essentially the same as Commerce Raider in terms of requirements! These were larger and designed for longer range and more isolated operations.

Thus the RN would view their forces circa 1939 as being:

Fleet Cruisers ("Legacy") - C, D, E, and 5.25in re-armed Hawkins and Frobisher with the C, D, and quite possibly even E class ships being progressively rearmed for AA with 4in twin, 4.5in twin or similar; this re-armament might well mean that at any future conference the British would try to get them de-classified as cruisers and re-classified as something else!

Fleet Cruisers ("1930 on") - Arethusa and Dido types; I can see a lot more of these being wanted, especially or even to replace the C/D/E types if they end up with sub-5in gun armament; I can also see a case of reuse where some Dido hulls would be used as mounts for the 6in two-gun turrets used for secondary armament on Nelson and Rodney with three per ship so giving something like 4 ships closer to Arethusa in type probably also mounting a load of 4in twins

Trade Cruisers ("Legacy") - County class (13 ships), York/Exeter (2 ships), Leander class (8 ships and seen as a bit weak for the role), Effingham reequipped with 6in guns.
Trade Cruisers ("Modern") - 10 Town class and the 9 Crown Colony class ordered in 1937 and 1938 or so

The RN broadly had opted for 6in over 8in from about 1930 onwards as they reckoned the ranges cruisers would be fighting at would almost all be in the envelope covered by both types but the number and rate of fire offered by the 6in was preferrable to the individual shell damage offered by the 8in while the majority of ships being shot at would be as unhappy with a 6in hit as an 8in hit; the USN had a different opinion but they did not give their cruisers torpedoes so might like having 8in guns to punch through battleship armour at close range (see Naval Battles off Guadalcanal!). The RN would also need to get a completely new 8in gun developed which would take time so for now I would see them ordering 6in armed cruisers.

Thus my (preferred!) thought is that the RN is going to order either more 3rd generation Town class (Edinburgh/Belfast) or a 4th generation as the capabilities offered on an approximately 10000 ton standard displacement is better than that offered by the 8000 ton hull. The orders for these would not only continue while the Royal Navies aimed for lots of these to keep trade lanes open but might also seek to replace the Leander class, Effingham, and possibly even York/Exeter although by the time they are getting into the numbers to be doing this, there is a chance that a modern 8in gun and mount would have been prepared and could be swapped into some of these.

The County class had been cycling through some impressive refits from the mid 1930s although war intervened after the first of the second generation entered the shipyards for this (London) stopping the process. While London's refit was shown up as weakening the structure etc when she was used in the very harsh waters of the North Sea/North Atlantic/Arctic the class were more suited for distant stations in the Indian and Pacific Oceans where she might have survived a bit longer or better!
 
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