HMS Bellerophon (BB-1934)
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If Great Britain had got their wish and got the size reduced to 25,000 tons
and 12" guns what might the BB's and BC's look like under these parameters. The
first ships could be laid down 1930 and would complete 1934-35. Guns available
would be the 12" Mk14, 4.5" BD mounting, 2pd in four and eight gun mountings.
Smurf, in one of his posts, said that the ships would have to be armoured to
meet other countries previously built battleships. So we need to look at the
battleships these ships are most likely to encounter. There are a total of 7 x
16" BB's extant at that date, 2 x Nelson, 3 x Colorado, and 2 Nagato class
ships. Do you armour your ships to meet that amount of threat? I would say 'No'.
The next level down is the 14" armed ships of which there is many more examples,
those are the ones I would be armouring my ships against. To make your ships
proof against 14" guns at the 20-25.000 yard ranges that battles were expected
to be fought at, how much armour do you need? To stop 14" shells at that range
would need 10-11" of armour, possibly 12", at the same ranges you would need at
least 5" of deck armour. Some 14" guns do not give armour penetration details,
so I am working off the US and UK 14" guns. A 12" belt and 5" deck would give
you a margin of error. The other side of the coin is could your 12" guns damage
your 14" opponent at the same ranges. Short answer is 'No'. Your shells could
easily reach and hit your opponent, but any time you hit their belt or deck
armour, your shells would not penetrate. The best you could hope for is to
damage superstructure and external fittings to start fires, and hope to hit your
opponents directors to blind them. So why build them? Those 14"/16" gunned ships
were completed 1914 to 1920, so by the time your 12" (and other countries) ships
start to complete they would already be 15-20 years old. Being able to build new
ships in 1930, would that stop the rush to rebuild these old capital ships? The
other thing is that you have your own 15" and 16" capital ships of the same era
to take on those ships of your enemy.
Anyway to my ships. The battlecruisers I have already drawn examples of (see Lillicrap deesigns). The battleships details are on the drawing above and below. Changes in design policy is to get rid of the 0 degree forward firing policy (if you need to fire at that angle you are probably in trouble), to improve the seakeeping and to help with the hydrodynamics of the hull (started with the Nelsons) to lower the amount of engine power required to achieve your designated speed. 4-5 years of testing with the Nelsons, would that drop or retain the all forward gun placement? The French continued the trend through the 1930's with Dunkerque and Richelieu classes but the RN abandoned that layout with their next KGV class. I have used a traditional two forward one aft turret arrangement. But I do include a Nelson version as a comparison.
The next thing I thought of is that the Japanese are not likely to want to build these ships especially since we know now that all their design work was aimed at maximum sized battleships. To get the same treaty sized ships past 1935 (as per real life) is unlikely. Chances are is that each country might only build one set of this level of ship before the size increases back to the larger levels of the 1936-37 ships of real life. Next, to fit these new ships into your fleet you will need to scrap tonnage/numbers of older ships so that you are not exceeding Treaty limits. Out go the R class? Keeping Japanese aspirations in mind, would the RN Admiralty be forward thinking enough to make provision to make the triple 12" with a large enough barbette so that twin 15" could be refitted at a later date? That way you could end up with 6 x 15" armed ships in the future. Added to that thought is that you are scrapping the R class to make way for the new ships, would it be out of order for the RN to put a number of the 15" turrets aside for refitting? Those turrets could always be scrapped at a later date if not used. That way your ships can gain some real teeth. I have done versions of both 12" and 15" drawings.
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