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T4, R1, Prng 160: Delaware & Florida (USA) vs Neptune & Colossus (Britain)

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  • T4, R1, Prng 160: Delaware & Florida (USA) vs Neptune & Colossus (Britain)

    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.

    211: Delaware & Florida Classes

    The two Delaware class battleships, Delaware and North Dakota, laid down in November & December 1907, were the second class of American dreadnoughts. The objective was to provide greater main armament power than the preceding South Carolina class. In this case, it was achieved by increasing the number of guns from 8 to 10 (hence, 5 turrets instead of 4), rather than the gun caliber. Both ships were commissioned in April 1910.
    The Florida class ships, Florida and Utah, were slightly larger with a somewhat different shape to the bow, but of the same basic layout and design. They were laid down in March 1909, entering commission in August/September 1911.

    The Delawares had differing engine/propulsion set-ups. Delaware (BB-28) used 2 sets of "traditional" vertical triple expansion steam engines, while North Dakota (BB-29) employed Curtis steam turbines. Both had 2 screws. Florida and Utah (BB-30 & -31 respectively) both used Parsons steam turbines, driving 4 screws. All four ships are listed as having the same "official" top speed of 21 knots.

    In terms of main armament, these ships are quite interesting. All five turrets were on the center-line. Two were positioned close together towards the front, facing forward and superimposed, in the manner we would now expect. The remaining three, aft of the superstructure, were arranged with the 3rd turret facing astern and set higher than the 4th and 5th. Turret 4 faced forwards, with turret 5 on the same level and facing rearwards in the conventional manner.
    There was a conspicuous gap between the 3rd and 4th turrets; not only to allow clearance for the guns but also because that portion of the hull housed the engine room. Steam lines ran from the boiler rooms amidships, around the ammunition magazine for #3 turret, to the engine room. These had the potential to heat the powder in the magazine and degrade its ballistics. However, issues of varying kinds, at this level and worse, can be found in the evolution of other nations' dreadnoughts.

    Armor thicknesses were the same or very similar for both classes. For example, all four ships' main belts were 11in, tapering to 9in at the ends. Lower casemates had 8-10in, upper casemates 5in. Turret faces were provided with 10in of protection and there was 11.5in for the conning tower. A notable variation was with the deck armor, which was 2in for Delaware and North Dakota but 1.5in for Florida and Utah.

    Drawings of Delaware; North Dakota being virtually identical in appearance.


    All of these ships saw varied service during their careers. Prior to WW1, Florida & Utah were involved in the 1914 2nd Battle of Vera Cruz, deploying US Marines as part of the operation.

    During WW1, Delaware and Florida were assigned to the British Grand Fleet. Among their duties, together or individually, they escorted convoys and participated in the blockade of the German High Seas Fleet. Utah was based in Ireland to concentrate on convoy escort, while North Dakota remained on the US coast; due partly to concerns regarding her Curtis turbines, which had proved to be troublesome. In December 1918, Florida escorted President Woodrow Wilson to France for peace negotiations.

    Post WW1, Delaware & North Dakota conducted training cruises with the US Atlantic Fleet. In accordance with the Washington Naval Treaty, Delaware was sold in early 1924 and broken up for scrap. North Dakota survived until 1931,when she was scrapped under the London Naval Treaty.
    Florida and Utah had also survived the Washington Treaty, being modernized and continuing in service until "falling" to the London Treaty. Florida was scrapped soon afterwards. Utah was kept for a variety of secondary duties including training. She was sunk by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and her hull remains at the bottom of the harbor as a war memorial.

    Stern view of North Dakota, sister ship to Delaware.


    USS Florida in 1921. Note reversed positioning of the 2nd funnel and cage mast, compared with Delaware class.


    The Delaware and Florida classes generally proved themselves useful enough in service. Notwithstanding their somewhat questionable main armament layout, which had some issues, they represented a tentative step forward in the journey of American battleship development.

    General characteristics* (*Florida class; except where noted otherwise)

    Displacement – 21,825 long tons (std); 23,033 (full load)
    Length – 521ft 6in (159m) (overall)
    Beam – 88ft 3in (26.9m)
    Draft – 28 ft 6 in (8.7 m) (mean); 30 ft 1 in (9.2 m) (max)
    Propulsion – Florida class: 4 Parsons steam turbines; 4 screws
    Propulsion – Delaware: 2 x vertical triple expansion
    Propulsion – North Dakota: Curtis Steam turbines, 2 screws
    Maximum speed:
    21 knots
    Range at 10 knots:
    5,776 - 6,000 nmi
    Primary – 10 x 12in (305mm)/45cal Mk 5 guns
    Secondary – 16 x 5in (127mm)/51cal guns
    Supplementary – 4 x 6pdr (57m) & 2 x 1pdr (37mm) guns
    Torpedo tubes - 2 x 21in
    Belt – 9-11in (229-279mm)
    Decks – 1.5in (38mm)
    Turret faces – 12in (305mm)
    Casemates – Lower: 8-10in (203-254mm); upper: 5in (127mm)
    Conning tower – 11.5in (292mm)
    Complement – 1,001 officers & men

    165: Neptune & Colossus Class

    HMS Neptune was laid down in January 1909 and was the only ship of her class; entering commission in January 1911. She was the first British warship to have a main armament with super-firing guns; however, this applied only to the rearmost pair of turrets. The two ships of the Colossus class - Colossus and Hercules - were built to the same basic design as Neptune, with almost identical dimensions. The main difference in their appearance was that they had only one mast, while Neptune had two. They were laid down in July 1909; Hercules being commissioned on 31 July 1911, eight days before Colossus.

    Power was provided by two sets of Parsons direct-drive steam turbines, each housed in a separate engine room. High pressure turbines drove the outer shafts, with exhaust going to the low pressure turbines for the inner shafts. Steam was provided by 18 boilers. Designed maximum speed was 21 knots, which was exceeded during trials. The Colossus class carried slightly more coal and oil than Neptune, giving them a range at 10 knots of 6,680 nmi, compared to Neptune's 6,330.

    Main armament was the same for all three ships, with 10 x 12in guns in 5 turrets. Secondary armament was 16 x single 4in guns. There were three torpedo tubes; Neptune having 18in tubes, while the Colossus class had 21in units.
    The two stern super-firing turrets have already been mentioned and there was a single turret near the bow. The remaining two were positioned at the sides, roughly amidships but staggered. There was a large gap in the superstructure at main deck level, intended to allow both turrets to fire to either side, maximizing broadside firepower. In practice, this did not work very well. For a start, the "offside" turret had to shoot fairly close to 90 degrees, with little leeway available. Also, there was significant blast damage to the nearby superstructure regardless. Simply, it was rarely if ever practical.

    Armor protection was similar for all three ships, with the Colossus class receiving increases in some areas. For example, maximum belt thickness was 10in for Neptune but 11in for Colossus & Hercules; deck maximum 3in increased to 4 and barbettes 10in increased to 11.

    Turret layout of Neptune and the Colossus class. (Bow to the right)


    Shortly after Neptune's completion in 1911, she carried out trials of an experimental fire-control director, before becoming flagship of the Home Fleet. Neptune and the Colossus class were the last 12-inch gunned battleships built for the Royal Navy.

    These three ships rendered a substantial amount of service, each having a turn at being a fleet flagship. All of them participated in some action; in particular the Battle of Jutland, and survived through to the end of WW1.
    Outside of the limited amounts of combat action, their duties consisted mainly of routine patrols and training in the North Sea region.

    Following WW1, they were deemed obsolete and reduced to reserve status for a few years. During 1921-22, Neptune and Hercules were sold for scrap. Colossus lasted a little longer, being used as a training ship until she was hulked in 1923 and sold for scrap in 1927.

    Nice photo of Colossus at Scapa Flow, 1916


    Vice Admiral Doveton Sturdee aboard Hercules.
    One of the "wing turrets" can be seen behind him.


    In conclusion, the general situation with Neptune and the Colossus class was not so different - in principle at least - from that of their rivals in this round, the Delawares and Floridas. Each nation experimented with a different main armament layout. Neither layout proved to be effective enough to endure. Both were "learning steps" on the path to finding a more efficient layout; one that would inevitably become fundamentally similar for all the World's major naval powers, as each learned - to some extent - from some of the others; yet took its own path towards that common goal.

    General characteristics* (*Colossus and Hercules)

    Displacement – 20,030 long tons (normal); 23,266 (deep load)
    Length – 545ft 9in overall
    Beam – 86ft 8in (Colossus); 85ft 2in (Hercules)
    Draft – 27ft
    Propulsion – 2 x steam turbine sets; 4 shafts
    Maximum speed:
    21 knots
    Range at 10 knots:
    6,680 nmi
    Primary – 5 x twin 12in (305mm) guns
    Secondary – 16 x single 4in (102mm) guns
    Torpedo tubes - 3 x 21in
    Belt – 8 - 11in (203-279mm)
    Deck – 1.5 - 4in (38-102mm)
    Turrets - 11in (280mm) front
    Conning tower – 11in (280mm)
    Bulkheads – 4in (102mm) and 8in (203mm)
    Complement – 791 officers and ratings

    What shall it be? Delaware & Florida or Neptune & Colossus?
    It's in YOUR hands!

    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).
    211: Delaware & Florida classes (USA)
    165: Neptune & Colossus class (Britain)
    Last edited by panther3485; 09 Jul 20, 21:50.
    "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
    To my untrained eye, they seem pretty much similar, although I went USA simply because having all the turrets along the center line seems more sensible.
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    • #3
      Centerline main guns over "wing guns".

      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"


      • #4
        Agree with all, centreline guns were, obviously ,superior.
        "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
        Samuel Johnson.


        • #5
          Yup..Delaware for me oo. But I do like RN ships to.
          Eagles may fly; but weasels aren't sucked into jet engines!

          "I'm not expendable; I'm not stupid and I'm not going." - Kerr Avon, Blake's 7

          What didn't kill us; didn't make us smarter.


          • #6
            Both look to be good designs.


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