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T3, R1, Prng 112: Royal Sovereign Class (Britain) vs Brandenburg Class (Germany)

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  • T3, R1, Prng 112: Royal Sovereign Class (Britain) vs Brandenburg Class (Germany)

    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.

    106: Royal Sovereign Class

    By the late 1880s, pressure on the British Government to modernize and expand the Royal Navy was building. A war scare with Russia in 1885 during the Panjdeh Incident, the failure of a blockading fleet to contain raiding ships in port during the 1888 fleet maneuvers and more realistic evaluations of the numbers of ships required to perform the tasks required in a war against France, coupled with exposés by influential journalists, revealed serious weaknesses in the Navy. The Government responded with the Naval Defense Act 1889, which provided £21.5 million for a vast expansion program of which the 8 ships of the Royal Sovereign class were the centerpiece. The Act also formalized the two-power standard, whereby the Royal Navy sought to be as large as the next two major naval powers combined.

    Preliminary work began in 1888 with the Board of Admiralty requiring an improved and enlarged version of the Trafalgar class. These ships had gun turrets, the weight of which (determined at the time) required low freeboard to reduce topweight. White, however, argued strenuously for a higher freeboard to improve the new ships' ability to fight and steam in heavy weather. This mandated the main armament to be in lighter, less-heavily armored barbettes. After much discussion, the board came around to White's view, although one of the eight ships - Hood - was built as a low-freeboard turret ship in deference to the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Arthur Hood, who had strongly argued for the type. The eight Royal Sovereigns are often considered the first type of battleship to become known as “pre-dreadnoughts”, after the commissioning of the revolutionary Dreadnought in 1906. They were named Royal Sovereign, Empress of India, Repulse, Hood, Ramillies, Resolution, Revenge and Royal Oak.

    For the main armament, a new, more powerful 12in (305mm) gun was preferred but it was still under development, so the 32-cal BL 13.5in (343mm) 67 long ton (68t) gun used in the preceding classes was chosen. The four guns were mounted either in two twin-gun, pear-shaped barbettes, or circular turrets; one forward and one aft of the superstructure. The secondary armament of ten quick-firing (QF) 6in (152mm) guns was a significant upgrade over the six QF 4.7in (120mm) guns of the Trafalgar class. Four of the guns were situated on the main deck and were only usable in calm weather because they were so close to the ships' waterline, while the remaining guns were above them on the upper deck.

    The Royal Sovereigns' armor scheme was similar to that of the Trafalgars, as the compound waterline belt only protected the area between the barbettes. The 14–18in (356–457mm) belt was 250ft (76.2m) long and had a total height of 8ft 6in (2.6m) of which 5ft (1.5m) was below water. Transverse bulkheads 16in (406mm) (forward) and 14in (aft) thick formed the central armored citadel. Above the belt was a strake of 4in (102mm) armor, backed by deep coal bunkers and terminated by 3in (76mm) oblique bulkheads connecting the upper side armor to the barbettes. The upper strake plates were Harvey armor only in Royal Sovereign. Her sisters had nickel steel; although Hood's were 4.375in (111mm) thick.

    Power was provided by a pair of 3-cylinder, vertical triple-expansion steam engines, using steam from 8 cylindrical boilers. Driving two shafts, these gave a good turn of speed; Royal Sovereign herself reaching 16.43 knots (30.43 km/h; 18.91 mph) from 9,661 ihp (7,204 kW) with natural draft. Trials at forced draft, however, damaged her boilers; although she attained 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) from 13,360 ihp (9,960 kW). As a result, the Navy decided not to push the boilers of the Royal Sovereign class past 11,000 ihp to prevent similar damage. The ships carried up to of 1,420 long tons (1,443 t) of coal, which gave a range of 4,720 nautical miles (8,740 km; 5,430 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).

    The Royal Sovereigns spent their careers in the Mediterranean, Home and Channel Fleets; sometimes as flagships, although several were mobilized for service with the Flying Squadron in 1896 when tensions with the German Empire were high following the Jameson Raid in South Africa. Hood served most of her active career with the Mediterranean Fleet, where her low freeboard was less of a disadvantage. Three ships were assigned to the International Squadron, formed when Greek Christians rebelled against the Ottoman Empire′s rule in Crete in 1897–1898.

    By about 1905–1907, these ships were considered obsolete and were reduced to reserve. They began to be sold off for scrap from 1911, although Empress of India was sunk as a target ship during gunnery trials in 1913. Only Revenge survived to see active service in WW1, during which she bombarded the Belgian coastline. Renamed Redoubtable in 1915, she was hulked later that year as an accommodation ship and sold for scrap after the war.

    General characteristics

    Displacement – 14,150 long tons (14,380t) normal
    Length – 380ft (115.8m) between perpendiculars
    Beam – 75ft (22.9m)
    Draft – 27ft 6in (8.4m)
    Power – 2 x Triple-expansion steam engines, 2 shafts, 8 cylindrical boilers
    Armament – 4 x 13.5in (343mm) main; 10 x 6in (152mm) secondary; 7 x 18in torpedo tubes; + smaller guns
    Complement – 670-692 officers and men

    Royal Sovereign class drawings

    Royal Sovereign class diagrams.jpg

    Empress of India

    Empress of India.jpg

    Repulse - portion of barbette interior

    Repulse (1892) barbette interior.jpg

    126: Brandenburg Class

    When the four pre-dreadnought battleships of the Brandenburg class entered service, they were the first ocean-going capital ships built for the German fleet in nearly two decades. Completed between October 1893 and June 1894, they were named Brandenburg, Wörth, Weissenburg and Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm. Though in retrospect they anticipated the buildup that created the High Seas Fleet, an important factor at that time was the strategic and tactical confusion ailing many navies in the 1880s. The design process had been very lengthy, with a wide range of proposals ranging from outdated casemate ships to versions with two twin-gun turrets placed side by side.

    At a time when other nations’ battleships carried four or fewer heavy guns, German designers settled on an unusual main battery of 6 x 28cm (11in) guns. As it turned out, these were of two different lengths; the forward and aft turrets mounting 40-cal while the midships turret had shorter 35-cal guns to allow clearance for rotation. The turrets consisted of a platform that held the guns, protected on all sides by an armored barbette. A curve-sided armored hood sat above the barbette protecting the guns and crews, but its shape necessitated large openings to raise and depress the guns, which proved a liability since enemy shells could enter through them. The barbettes were 300mm thick and backed with 210mm (8.3in) of teak. The gun houses themselves had 50mm (2in) thick roofs, with sides consisting of 3 x 40mm (1.6in) layers, for a total of 120mm (4.7in). The 10.5 and 8.8cm gun shields were 42mm (1.65in) thick. Secondary and supplementary gun armament consisted of 6 x 10.5cm (4.1in) SK L/35 QF and 8 x 8.8cm (3.5in) SK L/30 QF. There were also 6 x 45cm (18in) torpedo tubes.

    The ships used both compound and nickel steel armor. They retained teak backing for their armor belts. Hull side protection consisted of a narrow, full-length belt, rather than a shorter citadel system that only protected the ammunition magazines and propulsion machinery spaces. The belt extended from 0.8m (2ft 7in) above the waterline to 1.6m (5ft 3in) below, though near the bow it extended further down to reinforce the ram. Above the waterline, it was 300mm (11.8in) thick forward, increasing to 400mm (15.7in) in the center where it protected magazines and machinery spaces. Going aft, it tapered back to 300mm near the stern. Below the waterline, it was significantly thinner at 150mm (5.9in) at the bow, increasing to 200mm (7.9 in) thick amidships; tapering to 180mm (7.1 in) aft. The teak backing was 200 mm and the whole assembly was bolted together.

    There was a 60mm (2.4in) thick armored deck connected to the upper edge of the belt. It was effective only against short-range shells and could not have resisted plunging fire or a shell that detonated on impact. The forward conning tower had 300mm sides and a 30mm (1.2in) roof. As was standard for German warships of the period, the hulls used both transverse and longitudinal steel frames, over which the steel side plates were riveted. They had 13 watertight compartments and a double bottom that ran for 48 percent of the hull’s length. The hull sides featured a tumblehome above the main deck. As was common for the era, they had a ram bow.

    Propulsion consisted of 2 x 3-cyl triple-expansion engines with steam provided by twelve coal-fired, transverse boilers. The engines had their own compartments, each one driving a 3-bladed 5m (16ft) screw propeller. The boilers were similarly divided, ducted into a pair of funnels. The engines were rated at 10,000 metric horsepower (9,900ihp) for a top speed of 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph), though in service the ships varied in both power and speed. Coal storage was 650t (640 long tons) under peacetime conditions; but additional hull spaces could be used to increase capacity to 1,050t (1,030 long tons) in wartime. Steaming radius was 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km; 5,200 mi) at a cruising speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). Electrical power was provided by three generators.

    The Germans regarded these ships as excellent sea-boats with easy motion. They were also responsive to commands from the bridge and had a moderate turning circle. Nevertheless, they were "wet" at high speeds despite the forecastle deck and suffered from severe pitching. They lost up to 30 percent of their speed at hard rudder. Metacentric height was 1.05m (3ft 5in), and the maximum stability moment was 31.5 degrees.

    All four ships served with I Squadron for the first several years of their careers, with Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm as squadron flagship. They conducted routine exercises and visited foreign countries, often in company with Kaiser Wilhelm II aboard his yacht. In 1900, they were deployed to China to help combat the Boxer Rebellion but arrived after most of the fighting was over and saw little action. Starting in 1902 they were modernized, thereafter resuming their peacetime activities.

    In 1910, Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm and Weissenburg were sold to the Ottoman Navy and renamed Barbaros Hayreddin & Turgut Reis. Brandenburg and Wörth remained with the German fleet until laid up in 1912. The now-Ottoman ships saw extensive service during the First Balkan War, providing fire support to their ground forces in Thrace, as well as engaging the Greek fleet at the Battles of Elli and Lemnos in December 1912 and January 1913, respectively.

    Following the outbreak of World War I, the German ships were reactivated to protect their North Sea coast. The Ottoman vessels meanwhile were used to support the fortresses guarding the Dardanelles during the Dardanelles campaign against British and French forces. Barbaros Hayreddin was torpedoed and sunk by a British submarine in April 1915. Brandenburg and Wörth were disarmed and reduced to secondary duties, eventually being broken up in 1919, while Turgut Reis lingered on as a training ship until 1933, when she became a barracks ship; a role she filled until 1950, when she was sold for scrap.

    General characteristics

    Displacement – 10,013t (9,855 long tons), up to 10,670 t (10,500 long tons) full combat load
    Length – 108m (354ft 4in) p/p; 113.9m (373ft 8in) w/line; 115.7m (379ft 7in) o/a
    Beam – 19.5m (64ft); 19.74m (64ft 9in) w/torpedo nets
    Draft – 7.6m (24ft 11in) forward; 7.9m (25ft 11in) aft
    Power – 2 x triple expansion steam engines w/12 boilers, driving 2 propellers
    Armament (main) – 4 x 28cm (11in) L/40, 2 x 28cm L/35; secondary – 6 x 10.5cm (4.1in) L/35 QF, 8 x 8.8cm (3.5in) L/30 QF; 6 x 45cm (18in) torpedo tubes.
    Complement (standard) – 38 officers and 530 enlisted men,_German_Emperor

    Brandenburg class drawings

    Brandenburg drawings.jpg

    Brandenburg, post 1895

    Brandenburg post 1895.jpg

    Worth, 1899

    Worth in 1899.jpg

    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).

    Royal Sovereign Class pre-dreadnought battleship
    Brandenburg Class pre-dreadnought battleship
    Last edited by panther3485; 19 Sep 19, 09:39.
    "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
    Another toss-up since neither represents much, but using wood in composite armor is a step backwards. Unfortunately for both classes, so are barbettes for main guns, especially with only two inches of overhead armor.

    I gave it to the British with great reluctance.
    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?


    • #3
      Royal Sovereign class for me; based mainly on armament, which IMO was both more potent and better laid out. Otherwise, not a heck of a lot to pick one way or the other.
      "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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