• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

RN disposes of battleships in 1947

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
3,222
Reaction score
2,013
How useful would it have been if the Royal Navy had grasped the nettle in 1947 and decided to scrap its battleships?
Admittedly this is much easier with the benefit of hindsight. But the lessons of the war and the success of air and submarine attacks on battleships were already well known.
The KGs could have gone almost immediately. Vanguard as a new ship might have had to survive a while longer.
If this had been matched by the construction of either the Maltas or additional Audacious class carriers the RN could have been a more effective postwar navy.
 

Dilandu

I'm dissatisfied, which means, I exist.
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
1,287
Reaction score
797
Website
fonzeppelin.livejournal.com
How useful would it have been if the Royal Navy had grasped the nettle in 1947 and decided to scrap its battleships?
Admittedly this is much easier with the benefit of hindsight. But the lessons of the war and the success of air and submarine attacks on battleships were already well known.
The KGs could have gone almost immediately. Vanguard as a new ship might have had to survive a while longer.
If this had been matched by the construction of either the Maltas or additional Audacious class carriers the RN could have been a more effective postwar navy.

Not practical. Wartime experience demonstrated, that in European waters - on limited theaters, like Mediterranean and Baltic, or in Arctic conditions - battleships are still very valuable units. Carriers aren't exactly very good, if they could not maintain their advantages in range & mobility (there is not much space in Med), and they are much more dependent on weather conditions (which limited their usefulness in Arctic). In 1947, Royal Navy have nothing to replace battleships firepower with.

The only scenario in which it is possible, is if Royal Navy launched some very radical fleet reconstruction, based on guided missiles and rockets as replacement for heavy guns. But Britain missile technology simply wasn't that advanced. In 1947, they have nothing even remotely close to deployment. And rebuilding the whole fleet FAST would took a lot of money.
 

EwenS

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Feb 20, 2010
Messages
209
Reaction score
335
Would it really make that much difference? All the pre WW2 ships went on the disposal list in 1947 & early 1948. 3 of the KGVs were in the Training squadron, a function that doesn’t disappear if they are scrapped. That only leaves DoY and Vanguard. IIRC Vanguard wasn’t even fully manned around this time.

So you get cash from the scrap. You save the running costs. But this is still a time of National Service and a large training demand that needs to be resourced with something. And is the battleship really dead? The US is still retaining some. So are the French.

I don’t think you get enough savings to build more carriers.
 

Zoo Tycoon

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 27, 2008
Messages
551
Reaction score
753
So you get cash from the scrap. You save the running costs.

Under the arrangements of BISCO, during the emergency wartime ship build program, HMG rented the steel (£/ton/year)for the period it existed as a Ship. They only paid for it if the ship was lost. So scrapping the ship freed HMG from the rental payments.
 
Last edited:

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
3,222
Reaction score
2,013
Thanks. I think you have answered my question pretty conclusively.
Added to which there were fears that the Soviet Union would deploy surface raiders.
A lot of effort in the 50s was devoted to countering the Swerdlov class cruisers.
 

kaiserd

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
1,111
Reaction score
485
Sorry, but with the advantage of hindsight isn’t the answer comprehensively yes they should been scraped (up to and including not completing Vanguard?)
What ever was spent on them after end WW2 was a waste of money, men and other resources that would been better used elsewhere; these units saw no real militarily useful post-war service or role up until they were scrapped.
I think it is a more reasonable to state that decision makers circa 1945 didn’t have the advantage of this hindsight and made what they thought were reasonable decisions in this regard. I’m aware not of any real serious intention by the Royal Navy to use its existing battleships to counter raiding Soviet cruisers; my understanding was by the time that threat manifested the battleships were already more or less gone and the UK had better more cost efficient counters.
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
5,784
Reaction score
4,008
As said earlier - the one that really stood as an oddity and ate the most budget was Vanguard. I don't think the surviving KGV in storage were a budgetary nuisance.
Of course with perfect hindsight, an excellent move would have been to trade Guard Van "battleship royal yacht" for that third Audacious carrier - or the two (unfinished or cancelled, can't remember !) Centaurs.

Or all three carriers.

Ideally: right from 1947 the RN scraps Vanguard, all six Illustrious and derivatives (Implacables and the likes), and those goddam three Tiger cruisers.

Those ten ships really were relics that completely distorted post-WWII RN long range planning as late as 1978 - the year the Tigers finally kicked the bucket for good (unfortunately joined in the grave by the RN last CATOBAR carrier...)
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
5,784
Reaction score
4,008
When you think about it, it is pretty remarquable (and quite unfortunate, if not infuriating)

In the 50's, the RN shot itself in the foot with the Victorious rebuild.

In the next decade, they repeated that with the Tigers turned into ASW helocarriers.

In both cases, WWII relics that had languished into storage were rebuild at insane cost and huge overruns to try and get, what ? Something akin to Clemenceau carriers and Jeanne d'Arc on the other side of the channel.

Fuck, by this point in my reasonning, I'm left wondering whether the twin disasters that were a) Mers el Kebir and b) Toulon scuttling were not, in the long term, blessing in disguise.
What ?
Well, they (brutally and radically) purged the French Navy from its pre-WWII old cruisers and battlecruisers. Also the Cdt Teste which was much more modern than Béarn and potentially re-buildable as a CVL.

Note that the French Navy made his own Tiger-Victorious-Vanguard big blunder with Richelieu and Jean Bart battleships in (very limited) service until 1960, when the Clems and Force de Frappe finally send them to the scrap yard.

Had MEK and Toulon not screwed for good Algérie, Strasbourg and Dunkerque, they could very much have languished in mothballs across the 50's and then become France very own Tigers...
 

Dilandu

I'm dissatisfied, which means, I exist.
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
1,287
Reaction score
797
Website
fonzeppelin.livejournal.com
Ideally: right from 1947 the RN scraps Vanguard, all six Illustrious and derivatives (Implacables and the likes), and those goddam three Tiger cruisers.

Again: what do you suggest Britain should do instead? USSR start mass-producing "Sverdlov"-class cruisers since 1948; if RN get rid of its battlewagons, what exactly it would be left with in 1950s? Carriers with no standing power and dubious strike capabilities in confines of European seas? Elderly wartime cruisers, which, in case of engaged by "Sverdlov", would most likely play "Hood" (i.e. burst in flames)?

Without the battleships, Royal Navy would essentially be left without any real standing power. All they would have to escort their carriers, convoys and amphibious forces, are destroyers.
 

Dilandu

I'm dissatisfied, which means, I exist.
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
1,287
Reaction score
797
Website
fonzeppelin.livejournal.com
One real possibility that I could suggest is, that instead of "Z" weapons (ZONAL, ZANNET and other weird systems), Royal Navy initiate a crash program of developing the ship-launched torpedo-carrying missile. Nothing extravagant; just a turbojet-powered glider with acoustic torpedo strapped underneath. Get into the proximity of target by radar command guidance (target tracked by ship radar, glider is CLOS'ed to the line), drop the acoustic into water, let the acoustic to home on.

Something like that could be developed in reasonable amount of time, and serve as "standing power for small ships" - destroyer-size, ect.
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
5,784
Reaction score
4,008
I did said "ideally" and we all know there is no such thing as an ideal world. Not with the Soviets and Cold War, obviously.

"ideally" > for the RN (carrier fleet) long term prospects...

Btw, Buccaneer with nuke out of carrier decks was supposed to be the answer to those pesky Sverdlovsk cruisers. No ?
 

Dilandu

I'm dissatisfied, which means, I exist.
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
1,287
Reaction score
797
Website
fonzeppelin.livejournal.com
"ideally" > for the RN (carrier fleet) long term prospects...

You are overestimating the capabilities of carrier fleet of 1940-1950s, IMHO. Carriers are literally useless, if, for example, you need to fight the Soviet sortieing battlegroups in the confines of Baltic. They are of limited use in Mediterranean, where there isn't enough space for them to stay out of opponent reach.

Btw, Buccaneer with nuke out of carrier decks was supposed to be the answer to those pesky Sverdlovsk cruisers. No ?

Theoretically yes, but RN was worried that "Sverdlov's" may receive the more efficient air defense - in term of SAM's - which would seriously hinder the capability of light carriers with their small air groups to dealt with them. Anyway, the real Soviet naval tactics of this era assumed, that cruiser & destroyer forces operated in coordination with land-based fighter aviation. Specifically for that purpose, "Sverdlov"-class cruisers were equipped with "Zveno"/"Planshet" combat data station, which allowed them to use their own radars to guide patrolling Mig-15/17 interceptors toward the targets.

P.S. Also, the required number of tactical nukes was not reached by RN till late 1950s, when their main problem already was protection of their OWN carriers against Soviet long-range missile-carrying jet bombers.
 

EwenS

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Feb 20, 2010
Messages
209
Reaction score
335
I did said "ideally" and we all know there is no such thing as an ideal world. Not with the Soviets and Cold War, obviously.

"ideally" > for the RN (carrier fleet) long term prospects...

Btw, Buccaneer with nuke out of carrier decks was supposed to be the answer to those pesky Sverdlovsk cruisers. No ?
The Buccaneer was the final solution. But look at the timeline.

Sverdlovs in service from 1952 (5 ships that year alone)

Buccaneer development begins following the issue of NA.39 in June 1952. First flight 30 April 1958. Into squadron service Jan 1963 in S.1 form.

KGV from reserve to the scrapman 1958/9. Vanguard follows in 1960.

In the real world, without the Battleships how do you intend to tackle the Sverdlovs in the 1950s?
 

zen

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
2,373
Reaction score
1,091
Certainly it is possible to devise a rocket boosted glider with a torpedo as it's load, under command guidance until dropped.
Ought to be no worse than a Swordfish....
The Cruiser-Destroyer was the answer to Sverdlovs. Bar the lack of a solution on the gun.....
 

Archibald

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
5,784
Reaction score
4,008
I did said "ideally" and we all know there is no such thing as an ideal world. Not with the Soviets and Cold War, obviously.

"ideally" > for the RN (carrier fleet) long term prospects...

Btw, Buccaneer with nuke out of carrier decks was supposed to be the answer to those pesky Sverdlovsk cruisers. No ?
The Buccaneer was the final solution. But look at the timeline.

Sverdlovs in service from 1952 (5 ships that year alone)

Buccaneer development begins following the issue of NA.39 in June 1952. First flight 30 April 1958. Into squadron service Jan 1963 in S.1 form.

KGV from reserve to the scrapman 1958/9. Vanguard follows in 1960.

In the real world, without the Battleships how do you intend to tackle the Sverdlovs in the 1950s?

Ok, didn't realized the RN kept its battleships in reserve for so long (KGV 1959 ??!!), exactly for this reason.
Makes a lot of sense.

40 planned, then 30, 14 completed, 16 000 tons ships. No surprise the Western navies were worried.

Note that the USN mothball fleet didn't got ride of the Colorados, Sodaks and North Carolinas, plus all the unfinished Iowas and Alaskas hulls - until the same year 1959.
Same reason, Soviet cruisers ?
France also got ride of Jean Bart and Richelieu more or less the same year...
 

EwenS

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Feb 20, 2010
Messages
209
Reaction score
335
I did said "ideally" and we all know there is no such thing as an ideal world. Not with the Soviets and Cold War, obviously.

"ideally" > for the RN (carrier fleet) long term prospects...

Btw, Buccaneer with nuke out of carrier decks was supposed to be the answer to those pesky Sverdlovsk cruisers. No ?
The Buccaneer was the final solution. But look at the timeline.

Sverdlovs in service from 1952 (5 ships that year alone)

Buccaneer development begins following the issue of NA.39 in June 1952. First flight 30 April 1958. Into squadron service Jan 1963 in S.1 form.

KGV from reserve to the scrapman 1958/9. Vanguard follows in 1960.

In the real world, without the Battleships how do you intend to tackle the Sverdlovs in the 1950s?

Ok, didn't realized the RN kept its battleships in reserve for so long (KGV 1959 ??!!), exactly for this reason.
Makes a lot of sense.

Note that the USN mothball fleet didn't got ride of the Colorados, Sodaks and North Carolinas, plus all the unfinished Iowas and Alaskas hulls - until the same year 1959.
Same reason, Soviet cruisers ?
France also got ride of Jean Bart and Richelieu more or less the same year...
They went on the disposal list in 1957 then to the scrapman. 3 scrapped 1958 and KGV scrapping started 1958 at Dalmuir & completed 1959 at Troon.
 

Dilandu

I'm dissatisfied, which means, I exist.
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
1,287
Reaction score
797
Website
fonzeppelin.livejournal.com
Certainly it is possible to devise a rocket boosted glider with a torpedo as it's load, under command guidance until dropped.
Ought to be no worse than a Swordfish....

Yep. Royal Navy problem was, that its engineers in late 1940s ventured into something akin to science fiction - like ZONAL, flying homing torpedo with foldable wings, that was supposed to fly in air and swim in water using the same engine & propeller via special reduction gear. Or ZANNET, the equally weird radio-controlled flying submersible torpedo drone (it was supposed to fly to the target, land on water, fold wings, submerge, then close with target under radio guidance - as far as I could understood, it was supposed to transmitt the onboard acoustic's signal to human operator - and fire the homing torpedo). For some reason, it seems that RN engineers of this era hated "boring, but practical" solutions with great passion.
 

Dilandu

I'm dissatisfied, which means, I exist.
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
1,287
Reaction score
797
Website
fonzeppelin.livejournal.com
Ok, didn't realized the RN kept its battleships in reserve for so long (KGV 1959 ??!!), exactly for this reason.
Makes a lot of sense.

Note that the USN mothball fleet didn't got ride of the Colorados, Sodaks and North Carolinas, plus all the unfinished Iowas and Alaskas hulls - until the same year 1959.
Same reason, Soviet cruisers ?
France also got ride of Jean Bart and Richelieu more or less the same year...

I should also point out, that USSR have at least three battleships until mid-1950s, and in 1950-1953, several very large cruisers of "Stalingrad"-class were laid up. So neither US nor UK could rule out the possibility, that they may meet Soviet capital ships in action, too.
 

EwenS

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Feb 20, 2010
Messages
209
Reaction score
335
I did said "ideally" and we all know there is no such thing as an ideal world. Not with the Soviets and Cold War, obviously.

"ideally" > for the RN (carrier fleet) long term prospects...

Btw, Buccaneer with nuke out of carrier decks was supposed to be the answer to those pesky Sverdlovsk cruisers. No ?
The Buccaneer was the final solution. But look at the timeline.

Sverdlovs in service from 1952 (5 ships that year alone)

Buccaneer development begins following the issue of NA.39 in June 1952. First flight 30 April 1958. Into squadron service Jan 1963 in S.1 form.

KGV from reserve to the scrapman 1958/9. Vanguard follows in 1960.

In the real world, without the Battleships how do you intend to tackle the Sverdlovs in the 1950s?

Ok, didn't realized the RN kept its battleships in reserve for so long (KGV 1959 ??!!), exactly for this reason.
Makes a lot of sense.

40 planned, then 30, 14 completed, 16 000 tons ships. No surprise the Western navies were worried.

Note that the USN mothball fleet didn't got ride of the Colorados, Sodaks and North Carolinas, plus all the unfinished Iowas and Alaskas hulls - until the same year 1959.
Same reason, Soviet cruisers ?
France also got ride of Jean Bart and Richelieu more or less the same year...
The French ships only went to reserve in 1956/7 (although they had not been fully manned for some time prior to that) and were not scrapped until 1968 (Richelieu) & 1970 (Jean Bart). The US ships, well the Iowa’s and those that didn’t become museums, were long gone by then.
 

kaiserd

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
1,111
Reaction score
485
There is a rather strange exaggeration of the threat of the Soviet heavy cruisers being combined with a minimisation of the ability of land and sea based air power (and other naval units other than battleships tied up in semi-coma states in reserve) to deal with this threat. These cruisers represented a logical approach by the Soviets to disrupt larger, more capable and advanced blue ocean navies in a context of their limitations at the time (no carrier experience, etc.) but we can overplay how effective they were at doing so (or would have proved in an actual conflict).
I would greatly appreciate any evidence (contemporary source etc) showing a causational link between the retention of US, UK and French battleships and the perceived threat of these Soviet cruisers. For example not aware of any connection between the retention of the US Iowa’s and any intention to use them to counter these cruisers. And how effective (or quickly available) as counters were/ would have been the reserve battleships anyway?
In reality these Soviet cruisers were obsolescent when entering service and would have likely faced rapid annihilation in combat against contemporary Western air and sea forces (without resort to battleships).
 
Last edited:

JFC Fuller

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
2,543
Reaction score
1,044
I would greatly appreciate any evidence (contemporary source etc) showing a causational link between the retention of US, UK and French battleships and the perceived threat of these Soviet cruisers. For example not aware of any connection between the retention of the US Iowa’s and any intention to use them to counter these cruisers. And how effective (or quickly available) as counters were/ would have been the reserve battleships anyway?
In reality these Soviet cruisers were obsolescent when entering service and would have likely faced rapid annihilation in combat against contemporary Western air and sea forces (without resort to battleships).

The most cursory research on your part would have prevented you from writing that post. The Admiralty told the Defence Committee that Vanguard had "undoubted" value against the Sverdlov class and exercise Mainbrace in 1952 saw RN cruisers perform the role of Sverdlovs, during which they were engaged (obviously in simulated fashion) by battleships (and carrier aircraft). There are documents in the National Archives that date to 1944/45 talking about the need to preserve battleships due to a potential post-war Soviet threat. Ultimately though, battleships would have been part of integrated task groups with carriers (as was exercised).

It wasn't really until the late 1950s that carrier borne aircraft could match the all-weather day/night anti-surface capability offered by big gun warships. The Sverdlovs had notionally impressive heavy AA capability too and theoretically outgunned the majority of the newer RN cruisers.

It is apparently necessary to post this link, again: http://globalmaritimehistory.com/sverdlov_class_rn_response/
 
Last edited:

Dilandu

I'm dissatisfied, which means, I exist.
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
1,287
Reaction score
797
Website
fonzeppelin.livejournal.com
In reality these Soviet cruisers were obsolescent when entering service

Obsolescent in what exactly? They have excellent combination of weaponry, protection, speed and seakeeping. Their only major disadvantage was the lack of DP main guns (there were AA shells for them, but fire rate just wasn't enough).

In therms of air defense, they were quite formidable. Each was armed with six dual 100-mm SM-5 mounts, roll-stabilized, with radar fire control. Fire control system allowed up to four target being simultaneously engaged under central control. I agree, that short-range defenses were somewhat lacking - V-11 mounts were stabilized, but did not have powered drives, being manually-controlled - but long-range AA were rather good.

rapid annihilation in combat against contemporary Western air and sea forces (without resort to battleships).

Who exactly could annihilate them? Soviet doctrine was rather strict about cruisers operating within aviation range (the exceptions were made only when cruisers sortied at night, with the goal to return into aviation coverage by daylight). Each "Sverdlov" was fully equipped to guide fighter and plot interceptions for them, using shipborne radars.

And frankly, the majority of USN/RN cruisers in 1950s did not have sufficient advantage over them. RN cruisers were universally older and weaker, of USN - only the latest cruisers with RF guns (five of them) have distinct advantage.
 
Last edited:

CNH

ACCESS: Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2010
Messages
503
Reaction score
532
The UK began development of an anti-shipping missile with the Sverdlovs very much in mind. It used an active homing radar, a semi-armour piercing warhead, and a small rocket motor. The Valiant was considered as a launch aircraft, as was the Gannett, and later, the Buccaneer. It went under the slightly unusual name of Green Cheese.

There were problems with the radar in rough sea conditions, where there was a good deal of surface clutter. The missile was abandoned, partly on the grounds of cost, but more probably because the Royal Navy had acquired tactical nuclear weapons which could do the job just as well.
 

kaiserd

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
1,111
Reaction score
485
Well then, if that’s the case Soviet aviation’s range (at least re: fighter cover) of this time would have seen these cruisers confined to hanging around their naval bases then; no ability to striking deep into their opponents supply lines etc. Not much for their opponents to worry about, indeed easier to find and sink by the air power of these opponents because of this apparent limited range of movement.

All WW2 style heavy cruisers were borderline obsolescent at the end of the war apart from when operating in support of carriers or with equivalent supporting air cover. I had understood the threat of these cruisers were in a deep raiding role; if they were to be limited to operating with range of Soviet fighter aircraft then that was never going to happen.

Going head to head with US or UK fleet carriers, say in the Mediterranean, would have been suicidal folly. One good torpedo or bomb hit and they’re never going to reach home.
 

Dilandu

I'm dissatisfied, which means, I exist.
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
1,287
Reaction score
797
Website
fonzeppelin.livejournal.com
Well then, if that’s the case Soviet aviation’s range (at least re: fighter cover) of this time would have seen these cruisers confined to hanging around their naval bases then; no ability to striking deep into their opponents supply lines etc. Not much for their opponents to worry about, indeed easier to find and sink by the air power of these opponents because of this apparent limited range of movement.

They never were supposed to do that. The main goal of 1950s Soviet Navy was to prevent the enemy from entering our coastal seas - Black Sea, Baltic, Okhotsk, White Sea. They were supposed to sortie to engage enemy invasion fleets, deny enemy the entry into the coastal areas, provide fire support to the ground troops near coastlines. Attacks against enemy battlefleets and convoys WERE envisioned, but as complex operations with the bombers and submarines as main strike force & surface ships as support.

All WW2 style heavy cruisers were borderline obsolescent at the end of the war apart from when operating in support of carriers or with equivalent supporting air cover. I had understood the threat of these cruisers were in a deep raiding role; if they were to be limited to operating with range of Soviet fighter aircraft then that was never going to happen.

Exactly. USSR never ever planned any kind of surface raiding operations.

Going head to head with US or UK fleet carriers, say in the Mediterranean, would have been suicidal folly. One good torpedo or bomb hit and they’re never going to reach home.

Assuming that carriers would be functional, of course. :) Because, you know, heavy bombers with long range missiles - the famous (and dreaded) Maritime Missile-Carrying Aviation, the MRA. If the enemy carrier fleet were subjected to the missile strikes, nuclear attacks, then jet torpedo bombers armed with rocket-powered torpedoes (Il-28 carrying RAT torpedoes), it would quite probably not be in the best shape for delivering this "one good torpedo or bomb hit"...
 

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
3,222
Reaction score
2,013
Something that tends to be forgotten, is that most of a warship's work is done in peacetime.
The world of the 1940s and 1950s found images of big warships impressive.
The Sverdlow class filled this role admirably, as did Vanguard and Jean Bart.
 

_Del_

I really should change my personal text... Or not.
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Messages
648
Reaction score
435
I think the concept was generally toward a defensive role and nuisance role out of the Baltic and Black Sea ports, and not pitched battle "Going head to head with US or UK fleet carriers" .

Having said that, it's a comparatively short shot to the GIUK gap from Soviet ports-- even shorter from captured Nordic ports.

Given the UK's contemporary experience on the difficulty of maintaining persistent aircraft presence in the North Atlantic and its notorious bad weather, I can hardly blame them for keeping the big guns awhile. I have pretty heavy doubts in the ability of land- and carrier -based aircraft to bottle up the gap in practice -- particularly with weather and darkness very real factors. It'd be reckless to cede that "ground" and make surface raids more tempting.

Even drawing 200 mi circles around radar patrol aircraft and assuming great weather, there is a lot of space out there.
 

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
3,222
Reaction score
2,013
With the RN T23 frigates still frontline ships some thirty years after they entered service, the King George V class were brand new by comparison.
 

shin_getter

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
334
Reaction score
316
The postwar Soviet Surface navy seems as strange as the German one: neither seems to be able to pay for themselves in combat results or value in tied up assets (submarines costs far more to defeat) in the expected conflict. Both would logically remain bottled up in strategically insignificant areas.

Leaders just have to have their toy boats I guess.
-----
Battleships also seems very questionable as a counter in the most important mission: surface raiding. One can hardly teleport a handful of not very fast ships with short range weapon into battle. The raider is far more likely to get into slugfests with light escorts and aircraft, both covering far more of the ocean, and maybe gets finished by battleship after being crippled and irrelevant, if it is remotely near the place, which is very unlikely in most cases.

As for Soviet coast seas, why even bother going there? There would a land war and submarine war going on to keep everyone busy. With the seas being within the air power projection of both sides, there is rarely a reason for expensive surface ships on both sides to be around at all.
 

Dilandu

I'm dissatisfied, which means, I exist.
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
1,287
Reaction score
797
Website
fonzeppelin.livejournal.com
The postwar Soviet Surface navy seems as strange as the German one: neither seems to be able to pay for themselves in combat results or value in tied up assets (submarines costs far more to defeat) in the expected conflict. Both would logically remain bottled up in strategically insignificant areas.

Only seems. The logic behind was quite solid.
As for Soviet coast seas, why even bother going there?
Because they flank the contested territory in Europe, and control over them seriously affect the situation on frontlines.

With the seas being within the air power

Air power is not omnipotent. It have its own limitations.

there is rarely a reason for expensive surface ships on both sides to be around at all.
In real battle of Mediterranean, both sides operated surface ships quite extensively. As well as multiple other examples of such clashes; for example, Bismark Sea campaign, with numerous nighttime actions of USN vs IJN cruisers and desroyers.
 

shin_getter

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
334
Reaction score
316
there is rarely a reason for expensive surface ships on both sides to be around at all.
In real battle of Mediterranean, both sides operated surface ships quite extensively. As well as multiple other examples of such clashes; for example, Bismark Sea campaign, with numerous nighttime actions of USN vs IJN cruisers and desroyers.
When ship based supply lines crosses aircraft ranges, or that the objective itself involve crossing oceans, there can be no choice but to fight it out despite the costs. Coastal bombardment under risk of short range torpedo craft, mines, and aircraft appears to be not worth the risk without near complete air superiority, which lets you use bombers that can hit more targets at lower cost. Ships are pretty damned expensive for the firepower they can practically apply to influence a land campaign.

In a Soviet vs Nato conflict.... I guess Norway is the only likely campaign area where lines of supply would cross with air hostile power.
 
Last edited:

kaiserd

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
1,111
Reaction score
485
Those examples are from WW2 and largely before radar (and very specifically airborne radar) were major factors.
Given the apparent (necessary and logical?) limits of doctrine which have been emphasised in this thread then the glut of post War Soviet heavy cruisers increasingly look like an ineffective and wasteful use of resources better concentrated elsewhere.
 

JFC Fuller

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
2,543
Reaction score
1,044
Those examples are from WW2 and largely before radar (and very specifically airborne radar) were major factors.
Given the apparent (necessary and logical?) limits of doctrine which have been emphasised in this thread then the glut of post War Soviet heavy cruisers increasingly look like an ineffective and wasteful use of resources better concentrated elsewhere.

The means for aircraft to attack surface ships didn't really change in any significant way until the late 1950s, as has already been pointed out to you. It was essentially unguided rockets, bombs and torpedos delivered from subsonic aircraft. Such techniques against heavily armoured ships defending themselves with multiple heavy AA guns firing proximity fuzed shells, in addition to medium calibre guns for inner layer defence, all radar controlled, would still have been a very significant challenge. Even more so at night or in poor weather, as is rather common in the Barents and Bering seas.
 
Last edited:

shin_getter

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
334
Reaction score
316
It was essentially unguided rockets, bombs and torpedos delivered from subsonic aircraft. Such techniques against heavily armoured ships defending themselves with multiple heavy AA guns firing proximity fuzed shells, in addition to medium calibre guns for inner layer defence, all radar controlled, would still have been a very significant challenge. Even more so at night or in poor weather, as is rather common in the Barents and Bering seas.
Someone working out a jam resistant, not too hard to control guided bomb could have render much of the defenses irrelevant.

Airborne radar can probably find a ship better than shipborn radar in providing fire control.

If war breaks out again, one of the more advanced guided bomb concepts that was started in wwII could probably made to work given a year or two....

*random thought* there is the relative nuclear position to look at as well, it isn't just wwii redo. No point in expensive capital assets when ports and logistics nuked back to iron age and foot infantry is the only that'd work? :confused: Mad as a concept probably didn't get thought out when the ships were started.
 

kaiserd

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
1,111
Reaction score
485
I am finding very few references to the post war retention of UK and/or US battleships as counters to the Sverdlov cruisers. Instead sources are indicate focus on non-battleship counters and the degree to which these Soviet cruisers were seen as vulnerable to carrier aviation, particularly as the Soviets abandoned plans for a more “balanced” fleet with heavier and lighter complimentary units, including their own carriers.
Etc.

Specifically after a quick search the only reference I can find to retention of UK or US battleships as counters to the Sverdlov’s is under the following (also as per screenshot below- plans quickly abandoned, with cruisers retained instead).

(I appreciate the limitations of Wiki sources, just have limited time to run down the underlying original sources, would be greatly appreciated if anyone else would like to do so.)
 

Attachments

  • 6A7875E4-3789-425F-90F2-5A256E35C91D.jpeg
    6A7875E4-3789-425F-90F2-5A256E35C91D.jpeg
    224.7 KB · Views: 8
Last edited:

JFC Fuller

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
2,543
Reaction score
1,044
I am finding very few references to the post war retention of UK and/or US battleships as counters to the Sverdlov cruisers.
You were provided with this information in post 21.

It is also referenced by G. C. Peden in Arms Economics and Strategy and Eric Grove in Vanguard to Trident. The original sources are available in the UK National Archives. All superior sources to a skim-read of wikipedia.
 

Dilandu

I'm dissatisfied, which means, I exist.
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
1,287
Reaction score
797
Website
fonzeppelin.livejournal.com
Someone working out a jam resistant, not too hard to control guided bomb could have render much of the defenses irrelevant.

Problem was, that nobody was exactly sure how reliable jam-resistant tech would be. For example, USAF in 1950s was very suspicious of radar proximity fuses, viewing them as potential weak spot ("what if those cunning Russians would steal the data and equip their bombers with jammers, capable of forcing our proximity fuses to detonate too far?") - and therefore both Mighty Mouse rockets and Falcon missiles have only contact fuses. This affected the other guided weapon programs, too; Britain, for example, recalled how German guided bombs were quickly made irrelevant by jamming, and feared that something similar might happens.
 

EwenS

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Feb 20, 2010
Messages
209
Reaction score
335
Isn’t the problem in understanding the issue of the Sverdlovs from a Western perspective one of knowledge of who new what about Soviet intentions in the late 1940s / early 1950s without the benefit of hindsight and in particular knowledge that has come out of former Soviet Union / Russia since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Back then, all the Admiralty seems to have known is that the Soviets had a big cruiser building program that began to generate results from 1950 with 5 Chapayev class completed that year in Baltic and Black Sea yards followed by 5 Sverdlovs in 1952 with another 8 following through until 1955. At the time the Soviet Union seemed intent on using every opportunity to spread communism around the world. It is only with the death of Stalin in 1953 that the Soviet naval building programme began to change. But when did that become apparent and that still left the threat from ships already built.

RN experience from WW1 and WW2 was that enemies with big navies sought to disrupt shipping in the Atlantic and Med using big surface ships. Without strong evidence to the contrary, why shouldn’t they believe that the Soviet Union would try to do the same? Isn’t that what navies are for after all.? Offensive action. And the people at the top had seen that first hand.

Where is the intelligence information coming from to allow them to form an alternative view? Until about 1952 spy flights were limited to the periphery of the Soviet Union and even they were not without great risk of shoot downs. And they tell you nothing about Soviet intentions. Humint from behind the Iron Curtain is almost non existent. Sigint and comint allow you glimpses but not a full picture.

A Sverdlov didn’t visit Britain until 1956 (see the story of Buster Crabb). How much was known of their capabilities prior to that. I don’t mean armament but things like range.

So the RN see a threat and it needs to be dealt with. What do we have to hand? 5 modern battleships that they know can deal with it for sure. Why would you give that up in the hope that some whizzo new idea might work? Let’s face it just how many of the schemes that were being investigated at that time actually bore fruit in a reasonable timescale?

Viewed against that background I do not find the decision to keep those five modern battleships in the early 1950s at all surprising.
 

Dilandu

I'm dissatisfied, which means, I exist.
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
1,287
Reaction score
797
Website
fonzeppelin.livejournal.com
Isn’t the problem in understanding the issue of the Sverdlovs from a Western perspective one of knowledge of who new what about Soviet intentions in the late 1940s / early 1950s without the benefit of hindsight and in particular knowledge that has come out of former Soviet Union / Russia since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

There are also another point. For Admiralty, it was beneficial to view Sverdlov's as raiders, because this fit into their narrative of broken-backed doctrine of nuclear war.

Essentially, in late 1940-early 1950s, there were two concurring nuclear warfare doctrines in Britain:

* That nuclear exchange would be fast and decisive, and determine the victor by itself - it was mainly RAF and (a bit less) Royal Army doctrine. It assumed that nuclear war would be fast, and solved mainly by aviation striking enemy and protecting own territory (cue RAF interest) and standing army stopping the enemy advance until the aviation would cripple him (cue Army interest)

* That nuclear exchange would not be decisive, and prolonged phase of mostly-conventional war would follow - it was mainly RN doctrine. It assumed, that nuclear strikes by themselves would not reliably force the opponent to surrender, that enemy nuclear counter-strikes would made determination of "victor" impossible, and therefore the follow-up largely conventional warfare would be waged to actually won the war. It suited RN interest, because the advantages of naval power were more prominent in long war of attrition.

By presenting "Sverdlov threat", Navy supported the concept of indecisive nuclear warfare, thus making itself the main focal point of military interests.
 
Top