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T3, R1, Prng 126: Braunschweig Class (Germany) vs Virginia Class (USA)

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  • T3, R1, Prng 126: Braunschweig Class (Germany) vs Virginia Class (USA)

    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.

    128: Braunschweig Class

    In 1900, new legislation was passed, and funding allocated, to help double the battleship component of the German Navy from 19 to 38 ships. The Braunschweig class was the first group of battleships built under this new plan, and they marked a significant advance in combat power over earlier German battleships such as the Wittelsbach class. The new ships were named Braunschweig, Elsass, Hessen, Preussen and Lothringen. However, as was the case Worldwide, from 1906 they were quickly rendered obsolescent by the British battleship Dreadnought.

    The Braunschweig class were 126m (413ft 5in) long at the waterline, and 127.7m (419ft) overall. They had a beam of 22.2m (72ft 10in) - the widest that could be accommodated by the locks at the Imperial Shipyard in Wilhelmshaven - and a draft of 8.1 - 8.16m (26ft 7in - 26ft 9in). Displacement was 13,208t (12,999 long tons) at designed weight, and 14,394t (14,167 long tons) at full load. The standard crew was 35 officers and 708 men, with an additional 13 officers and 66 men when serving as a flagship.

    Main armament was four 28cm SK L/40 quick-firing guns in hydraulically operated twin turrets; one forward and one aft, on the centerline. The guns could depress to −4 degrees and elevate to +30 degrees, which enabled a maximum range of 18,800 meters (61,700 ft). They fired 240kg (530lb) shells at a muzzle velocity of 820 meters per second (2,700 ft/s). This armament was increased from previous designs but still weaker than contemporary foreign battleships. The Germans tended to emphasize rate of fire rather than weight of shell, and smaller guns could generally be fired faster than larger ones.

    The secondary battery used fourteen 17cm SK L/40 quick-firing guns, four of which were mounted in single turrets amidships, with the remaining ten in casemates around the superstructure. The guns fired 64kg (141lb) shells at a muzzle velocity of 850 m/s (2,800 ft/s). These guns were chosen as they used the largest shell that could be reasonably handled without machinery. The turret-mounted guns could be elevated to 30 degrees, for a maximum range of 16,900m (18,500yd), while the casemated guns could only elevate to 22 degrees, with a correspondingly lower range of 14,500m (15,900yd). To transit the Kiel Canal, the three central 17cm casemated guns had to be withdrawn into their housings, as they were unable to train fully flush with the sides of the ships.

    There were also fourteen 8.8 cm SK L/35 quick-firing guns in casemates along the length of the ship, six 45cm (17.7in) torpedo tubes and two heavy military masts with searchlights.

    These ships were protected with Krupp armor. The main belt was 250mm (9.8in) thick in the central portion, protecting ammunition and machinery. The deck armor was 40mm (1.6in) thick on the horizontal; its edges sloping down to the lower edge of the belt. The slopes were 140mm (5.5in) fore & aft, and 75mm (2.95in) amidships where the upper belt armor afforded another layer of protection. This upper belt, also 140mm ran between the fore & aft main-gun turrets. Another strake of armor 140mm thick protected the casemate guns at the main deck level, with the guns themselves getting 70mm (2.8in) shields. The main turrets had 250mm sides and 50mm (1.97in) roofs, while the secondary turrets had 150mm (5.9in) sides. The sides of the forward conning tower were 300mm (11.8in) thick and the roof was 50mm; the aft conning tower having significantly less protection, with 150mm sides and a 30mm (1.2in) roof. The ships had 13 watertight compartments and a double bottom for 60 percent of the length of the hull.

    Propulsion came from three triple-expansion steam engines rated at 16,000 metric horsepower (15,781 ihp; 11,768 kW). Steam was provided by 14 boilers, trunked into three funnels amidships. At some point after 1915, oil-firing capability was added to supplement the coal. Top speed was rated at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) but this was slightly exceeded during trials. The ships could steam 5,200 nautical miles (9,600 km; 6,000 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph), except for Hessen, which suffered from unstable steering, increasing fuel consumption. Steering was controlled with a single rudder. The ships were described as good sea-boats but prone to heavy pitching. They were responsive with a tight turning radius at low speed; but at hard rudder of 12 degrees, the ships lost up to 70% speed.

    During their early careers, the ships served in II Battle Squadron, with Preussen as flagship. Most of this was routine peacetime training and foreign visits. Prior to WW1, they began to be placed in reserve, but the outbreak of war saw them in service with the High Seas Fleet. Hessen, Preussen and Lothringen took part in fleet operations in the first two years, while Braunschweig and Elsass went to the Baltic with IV Battle Squadron, where they eventually saw combat with the Russian battleship Slava during the Battle of the Gulf of Riga in August 1915. Hessen took part in the Battle of Jutland in May 1916 and saw limited combat with British battlecruisers late in the battle.

    From late 1916, all 5 ships were withdrawn from active service and placed in subsidiary roles including as barracks and training ships. After the war, they were among the vessels Germany was permitted to retain under the Versailles Treaty. Lothringen and Preussen were converted into parent ships for minesweepers but the other three were modernized in the early 1920s and served with the fleet into the 1930s. Braunschweig and Elsass were stricken from the register in 1931 and broken up along with Lothringen and Preussen. Hessen remained in service until late 1934, when she was decommissioned and converted into a radio-controlled target ship; a role she filled through World War II. Ceded as a war prize to the Soviet Union, she was used as a target until 1960 when she was scrapped.

    General characteristics
    Displacement – 13,208t (12,999 long tons) (standard); 14,394t (14,167 long tons) full load
    Length – 126m (413ft 5in) (waterline); 127.7m (419ft) o/a
    Beam – 22.2m (72ft 10in)
    Draft – 8.1 - 8.16m (26ft 7in - 26ft 9in)
    Power – 3 triple expansion steam engines, 3 screws, 14 boilers
    Armament – 2 x 2 28cm (11in) SK L/40 (primary); 14 x 17cm (6.7in) SK L/40 (secondary); 14 x 8.8cm (3.5in) SK L/35 (supplementary)
    Complement – 35 officers and 708 men (standard)

    Drawings of the Braunschweig class, showing armament and main armor layout

    Braunschweig class line drawing.jpg

    Braunschweig under way

    Braunschweig under way at speed.jpg

    Lothringen transiting the Kiel Canal in Germany

    Lothringen in Kiel Canal.jpg

    160: Virginia Class

    The United States' victory in the 1898 Spanish-American War had a dramatic impact on battleship design, emphasizing the necessity for a powerful fleet. As a result, Congress was willing to authorize much larger ships. The Virginia class was the first of a new type; three being authorized in 1899 and two more in 1900. However, there was some disagreement regarding important details; in particular, the projected displacement and armament, so the final design was not approved until 5 February 1901. The five ships would be named Virginia, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Georgia and Nebraska. They were laid down from August 1901 to July 1902 and commissioned between February 1906 and July 1907.

    The Virginia class were 435ft (133m) long at the waterline and 441ft 3in (134.5m) long overall. They had a beam of 76ft 3in (23.24m) and a draft of 23ft 9in (7.24m). They displaced 14,948 long tons (15,188t) as designed and up to 16,094 long tons (16,352t) at full load. The ships had a high metacentric height, which made them unstable even in moderate seas. Steering was controlled with a single rudder. As built, the ships were fitted with a pair of heavy military masts with fighting tops, but these were replaced by cage (lattice) masts in 1909. Standard crew strength was 40 officers and 772 enlisted men.

    The ships carried a main battery of four 12-inch/40 caliber guns in two twin turrets on the centerline, one forward and one aft. The guns fired an 870lb (390kg) shell at a muzzle velocity of 2,400 feet per second (730m/s). The turrets allowed for reloading at all angles of elevation. The guns could elevate to 20 degrees and depress to −7 degrees.

    The secondary battery consisted of eight 8in/45 caliber Mark 6 guns and twelve 6in/50 caliber Mark 6 guns. The 8in guns were mounted in four twin turrets. Two of these were superposed atop the main battery turrets, with the other two turrets abreast the forward funnel. The 8-inchers fired 260lb (120kg) shells at a muzzle velocity of 2,750 ft/s (840 m/s). The 6in guns were placed in casemates in the hull. They fired a 105lb (48 kg) shell at 2,800 ft/s (850 m/s). For close-range defense, there were twelve 3in/50 caliber guns and twelve 3pdr guns. As was standard for capital ships of the period, the Virginia class carried four 21in (533mm) torpedo tubes, submerged in her hull on the broadside.

    The superposed turrets ultimately proved to be very problematic. The 8in guns could not fire at their maximum rate without interfering with the 12in guns, since the concussion and hot gasses would disrupt the crew below.

    Virginia's main armored belt was 11in (279mm) thick over the magazines & machinery spaces and 8in (203mm) elsewhere. It extended 3ft (0.91m) above the waterline and 5ft (1.5m) below. The main battery gun turrets (and the secondary turrets on top of them) had 12in (305mm) thick faces and 2in (51mm) roofs. The main battery turrets had sides 8in thick, while the superposed turrets had 6in. The supporting barbettes had 10in (254mm) of armor. The two waist turrets had 6.5in (170mm) faces, 6in sides and 2in roofs. Six-inch armor plating protected the casemate guns. The conning tower had 9in (230mm) sides and a 2in roof. The decks ranged in thickness from 1.5 to 3 inches (38 to 76mm) and were sloped on the sides to connect with the lower edge of the main belt.

    The ships were powered by two triple-expansion steam engines rated at 19,000 indicated horsepower (14,000 kW). Steam was provided by coal-fired water-tube boilers. Virginia and Georgia were given 24 Niclausse boilers, while the other three ships received twelve Babcock & Wilcox boilers. (By 1919, Virginia and Georgia had their Niclausse boilers replaced with the Babcock & Wilcox units.) These were trunked into three funnels amidships. The engines generated a top speed of 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph). The ships carried 1,955 long tons (1,986t) of coal, which allowed them to steam for a designed cruising radius of 3,825 nautical miles (7,084 km; 4,402 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). However, in service they were able to steam for 4,860 nmi (9,000 km; 5,590 mi).

    Despite their almost immediate obsolescence, the ships had active careers. All five took part in the cruise of the Great White Fleet in 1907-09. From 1909 onward, they served as the workhorses of the US Atlantic Fleet, conducting training exercises and showing the flag in Europe and Central America. As unrest broke out in several Central American countries in the 1910s, the ships became involved in police actions in the region. The most significant was the American intervention in the Mexican Revolution during the occupation of Veracruz in April 1914.

    The ships continued to be very active. For example, during the American participation in World War 1 they were used to train sailors for an expanding wartime fleet. In September 1918, they began to escort convoys to Europe; though Germany surrendered two months later, ending the conflict. After the war, they were used to bring American soldiers back from France and later as training ships. They were retained for a few more years before being decommissioned. Under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, signed in 1922, they were to be discarded as part of the naval armament limitation program. Virginia and New Jersey were sunk as target ships by Army bombers in September 1923. The other three ships were sold for scrap in November that year.

    General characteristics
    Displacement – 14,948 long tons (15,188t) (normal); 16,094 long tons (16,352t) (full load)
    Length – 435ft (133m) (waterline); 441ft 3in (134.5m) o/a
    Beam – 76ft 3in (23.24m)
    Draft – 23ft 9in (7.24m)
    Power – 2 x vertical triple expansion engines; 2 screws; 12 or 24 boilers
    Armament – 2 x 2 12in (305mm)/40 cal (primary); 8 x 8in (203mm)/45 cal & 12 x 6in (152mm)/50 cal
    Complement – 40 officers and 772 men (standard)

    Georgia on trials, 1906

    Georgia on trials 1906.jpg

    Rhode Island (BB-17)

    Rhode Island BB-17.jpg

    Rhode Island in the Panama Canal

    Rhode Island in Panama Canal.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).

    Braunschweig Class pre-dreadnought battleship
    Virginia Class pre-dreadnought battleship
    Last edited by panther3485; 02 Oct 19, 04:29.
    "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)

  • #2
    Braunschweig Class: battleships are go-anywhere-in-the-world warships, and the Virginia class were poor open ocean vessels. They also had problems with the armament. We didn't "get it right" with this class.
    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?


    • #3
      The American class were top-heavy,reportedly, which made them problematic in heavy seas.
      "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
      Samuel Johnson.


      • #4
        From the photos one can see the sea keeping problems of the American ships.
        ARRRR! International Talk Like A Pirate Day - September 19th


        • #5
          I agree with the preceding comments.
          Also, IMO the "turret on turret" concept is among those ideas that seemed good during design but simply could not work effectively under real life/battle conditions.
          Lesson learned.
          Going German on this one.
          "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)


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