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T3, R1, Prng 107: Dingyuan Class (China) vs Infanta Maria Teresa Class (Spain)

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  • T3, R1, Prng 107: Dingyuan Class (China) vs Infanta Maria Teresa Class (Spain)

    In your opinion, which of these two warship types was most significant, influential and/or effective?
    Feel free to apply those criteria as you please, along with any others you think appropriate.
    Note: Suggestions for some additional criteria are at the foot of this post.

    According to the criteria as you see and apply them, please vote for your preferred candidate in the attached poll.
    If your chosen criteria are significantly different from those suggested, telling us what they are and why you used them would be helpful.

    114: Dingyuan Class

    In the early-to-mid 19th century, naval conflicts with European powers - such as the First and Second Opium Wars - generally resulted in decisive defeats of China's traditional junk fleets. By the 1880’s, this had already prompted a major rearmament program under the Viceroy of Zhili province, Li Hongzhang. Advisers from the British Royal Navy assisted the program and the first group of ships - several ironclad gunboats and two small cruisers - were bought from British shipyards.

    Following a dispute with Japan over the island of Formosa, the Chinese Navy decided to buy large ironclad battleships to match those of the Japanese. Britain was unwilling to sell China warships of that type for fear of offending the Russian Empire, despite having sold Japan similar vessels, so Li turned to Germany for help. The resulting Dingyuan class* (*spelling & pronunciation varies between sources) consisted of a pair of ironclad warships - Dingyuan and Zhenyuan. (The Chinese were hoping for a class of 12 ships, but costs had constrained them to just 3 and one of those - Jiyuan - was reduced in size to that of a protected cruiser.) The Dingyuans were constructed by Stettiner Vulcan AG and were the first ships of that size to be built for the Chinese Navy. These ships were built at a cost of around 6.2 million German gold marks; the equivalent of around 1 million Chinese silver taels.

    Rather than mounting six main guns as in the German Sachsen class – two forward and four more near the centre of the ship - the design built for China placed the four main guns in two barbettes towards the front of each ship; offset so that one barbette was just in front of the other. The secondary battery consisted of two 5.9in (15cm) guns mounted individually; one on the bow and the other on the stern. Three 356mm (14in) torpedo tubes rounded out the armament; one mounted at the stern and the other two placed forward of the main battery.

    The belt armor of the class was 14 in (36 cm) thick, while the barbettes for the main armament were 12in (30cm). A 3in (7.6cm) armored deck ran the entire length of the ships, leaving the ends undefended. The conning tower had further plating some 8in (20cm) thick, while the 5.9in (15cm) guns were each in turrets whose armor was somewhere between 3–0.5 in (7.6–1.3cm) thick. The ships' hulls were constructed out of steel and were built with a naval ram in the bow.

    Dingyuan and Zhenyuan were powered by a pair of horizontal, three-cylinder trunk steam engines, each of which drove a single screw propeller. Steam was provided by eight cylindrical boilers that were ducted into a pair of funnels amidships. The boilers were divided into four boiler rooms. The engines were rated at 6,000 indicated horsepower (4,500 kW) for a top speed of 14.5 knots (26.9 km/h; 16.7 mph); though both ships exceeded these figures on trials, with Zhenyuan being the faster of the two, reaching 7,200 ihp (5,400 kW) and 15.4 kn (28.5 km/h; 17.7 mph). The ships carried 700 long tons (710t) of coal normally and up to 1,000 long tons (1,016t). This enabled a cruising radius of 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km; 5,200 mi) at a speed of 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph). Both ships were fitted with sails for the voyage from Germany to China, though they were later removed.

    Dingyuan and Zhenyuan first saw combat at the Battle of the Yalu River on 17 September 1894, during the First Sino-Japanese War. They were next in combat during the Battle of Weihaiwei in early 1895, where they were blockaded in the harbour. Dingyuan was struck by a torpedo and was beached where she continued to operate as a defensive fort. When the fleet was surrendered to the Japanese, she was destroyed while Zhenyuan was captured and became Chin'en in Japanese service.

    General characteristics
    Displacement – 7,144 long tons (7,259 t); 7,670 long tons (7,790 t) at full load
    Length – 308ft (94m) between perpendiculars; 298.5ft (91m) overall
    Beam – 60ft (18m)
    Draft – 20ft (6.1m)
    Power – 2 x horizontal 3-cylinder trunk steam engines, 2 screws, 8 boilers
    Armament – 4 x 12in (300mm) 25-caliber guns, mounted in two barbettes
    Complement – 363 officers and enlisted men

    General layout of this class


    Zhenyuan (Chen Yuan) captured by the Japanese in Weihaiwei


    152: Infanta Maria Teresa Class

    The Infanta Maria Teresa class of three armored cruisers were built in the naval shipyard at Bilbao, Spain for the Spanish Navy between 1889 and 1893. Originally, the Spanish Navy had planned to build sister ships of the battleship Pelayo, but a crisis with the German Empire in the Caroline Islands in 1890 caused Spain to divert money budgeted for the battleships to the Infanta Maria Teresa class instead. The armored cruisers were considered more desirable than additional battleships at the time because their greater speed and steaming range made them better suited for responses to colonial crises.

    The two-funneled Infanta Maria Teresa class was fast and well-armed, with 11-inch (279 mm) (Hontoria) guns mounted in barbettes on the center line fore and aft and a large secondary battery of 5.5-inch (140 mm) guns. However, their protection was relatively poor. The main armor belt, which was 10-12" thick, was narrow and stretched for only two-thirds of the length of the hull. The main guns had only lightly armored hoods, the 5.5-inch guns were mounted in the open on the upper deck, and the ships had a high, unprotected freeboard. Their upper decks were planked-over beams without steel plating; although there was armor 2-3in thick further down. The ships also were heavily decorated and furnished with wood, which the Spanish failed to remove before combat and which would feed fires after enemy shell hits.

    The Infanta Maria Teresa-class armored cruisers were fast; capable of reaching a tad over 20 knots and they were active units, serving both in European and American waters. Some information for each ship:

    Infanta Maria Teresa
    Ordered in 1889, laid down in 1890, launched on 30 August 1890 and completed in 1893, Infanta Maria Teresa was named for a Spanish princess. She was in Spain at the outbreak of the Spanish–American War in April 1898.

    Ordered in 1889, launched on 8 July 1891, and completed in 1893, Vizcaya was named for a Spanish province. She was visiting New York City at the time of the destruction of armored cruiser USS Maine in February 1898.

    Almirante Oquendo
    Laid down in January 1889, launched in 1891, and completed in 1893, Almirante Oquendo was in Havana, Cuba, when war with the United States became likely in the spring of 1898.

    After the outbreak of the Spanish–American War, all three were assigned to the 1st Squadron, commanded by Vice Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete,. After being blockaded in the harbor of Santiago de Cuba for more than a month, all three were sunk in action against the United States Navy during the Battle of Santiago de Cuba on 3 July, 1898.

    General characteristics
    Displacement – 6,890 tons
    Length – 364ft (111m)
    Beam – 65ft 2in (19.86m)
    Draft – 21ft 6in (6.55m) maximum
    Power – Steam only
    Armament (main) – 2 x 280mm (11in) BL in barbettes; 10 x 140mm (5.5in) BL on open deck
    Complement – 484 officers and men

    Nice clear drawings showing the features of this class




    What about this pairing?
    Only one candidate can make it to the next round!

    Suggested additional criteria you might wish to consider, along with any others you deem appropriate.
    (Note: Some of these could be considered already covered by Significant, Influential and Effective)

    Which warship type ...
    • was the best?
    • was the greatest?
    • was the most widely used?
    • had the greatest longevity in service?
    • was the most versatile?
    • represented the best value for the cost/effort invested ("bang for the buck" in today's language)?
    • was the easiest to operate?
    Any other criteria you have applied (please tell us what they were).
    Dingyuan Class ironclad cruiser/battleship
    Infanta Maria Teresa Class armored cruiser
    Last edited by panther3485; 09 Oct 19, 05:58.
    "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
    Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

  • #2
    The Chinese ships seem to have poorly distributed firepower, and do not seem to have fared well in combat. I understand the advantages of having main weapons clustered to allow a single set of magazines to feed both sets of guns, but I consider it a terrible vulnerability as well.

    This does not seem to have been one of Germany's better efforts.

    Although I am not a fan of underarmored "heavy" warships, the Spanish design seems overall more functional and efficient.
    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?


    • #3
      As above.

      Aside from anything else, the main armament layout on the Chinese ships is woeful; IMO, almost to the extent of nullifying the greater weight of shot unless the angles of encounter were just right. Not a well thought out design.

      Despite the lighter armament of the Spanish ships, in most situations I think they could bring their shot to bear more effectively. They were also faster, which is just as well considering their thinner armor.

      While I am not entirely impressed with the package, I think the Infanta Maria Teresas were likely to have been more practical and effective overall, in real terms, than the Dingyuans.
      Last edited by panther3485; 09 Oct 19, 05:51.
      "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
      Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.


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