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T4, R1, Prng 163: Kawachi Class (Japan) vs Wyoming Class (USA)

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  • T4, R1, Prng 163: Kawachi Class (Japan) vs Wyoming 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.

    197: Kawachi Class

    The Kawachi class (Settsu class in some sources) consisted of those two ships; Settsu and Kawachi. They were Japan's first dreadnoughts and their second class of home-built battleships, following the Satsuma class "semi-dreadnoughts". The most significant change was to the main armament. The Satsumas had been fitted with two calibers in 8 twin-gun turrets: The bow and stern turrets carried 12in (305mm) guns; the other six (midships, 3 each side), 10in (254mm) guns. Kawachi and Settsu carried a single caliber; 12 x 12in guns in six turrets.
    Settsu was laid down in January 1909, followed by Kawachi in April. However, Kawachi was commissioned first, in March 1912; Settsu in July.

    For propulsion, the Kawachis used a pair of steam turbine sets; each set driving one shaft. Steam was provided by 16 water-tube boilers. When tested, the turbines produced somewhat more power than anticipated; although the speeds attained in trials are not known. The ships carried up to 2,300 long tons of coal and 400 of fuel oil. This provided a range of 2,700 nmi at 18 knots.

    The 12in guns were of two barrel lengths. The bow and stern turrets carried 50-caliber Type 41 guns, while the four midships turrets - two on each side - were fitted with guns of the same basic type but of 45-caliber length. Secondary armament consisted of 10 x 6in (152mm) guns mounted in casemates, with a supplementary fit of 8 x 4.7in (120mm). In addition, 12 x 3in QF guns were carried for defence against torpedo boats. There were five submerged torpedo tubes; two to each broadside and one at the stern.

    Protection included a waterline main belt of Krupp cemented armor 12in thick amidships, tapering to 5in at the ends of the hull. At standard displacement, about half of that 12ft 9in (3.89m) high belt was above the waterline. Above this main belt there was an 8in (203mm) strake of armor, covering the hull side up to the middle deck. Above that, there was a 6in (152mm) strake protecting the casemates.
    Barbettes for the main guns were 11in (280mm) thick above the weather deck and 9in (229mm) below it. All six main gun turrets had 11in (279mm) with 3in (76mm) roofs. The conning tower was protected by 10in (254mm) of armor, while deck armor was 1.1in (29mm) thick.

    Drawings of Settsu, showing general layout of this class.
    In particular, the "hexagonal" arrangement of the turrets should be noted.


    The sisters saw a limited amount of fighting during their careers. Their first, and only, significant action in battle was to support of the Siege of Tsingtao, 31 October - 7 November 1914. It involved a combined British and Japanese attack on the German port in China. Kawachi and Settsu's main task was to bombard the German fortifications. This was the first Anglo-Japanese operation of the war and the first encounter between Japanese and German forces. It also included the only major land battle in the Asia-Pacific theater in WW1. The ships saw no more combat for the remainder of the war.

    During 1916-17, both ships were re-fitted. On 12 July 1918, Kawachi was destroyed by an explosion of her ammunition and she sank within four minutes. Over 1,000 men were aboard her at the time and more than 600 were killed, with 433 survivors. There was suspicion of sabotage but no proof. Recommendations on tighter control of the production and handling of cordite were made and subsequently adopted by the Navy. Some parts of the ship, and items on it, were salvaged but the main hull was left in place.

    Settsu was disarmed in 1922 and converted into a target ship in 1924. Carrying out that and other minor roles, she lasted until 1945 when she was sunk by American carrier aircraft. She was re-floated and scrapped during 1946-47.

    Colorized photo of Kawachi in 1913.


    Another colorized photo showing Settsu undergoing her trials in 1912.


    Given that Japanese shipyards had only completed two other battleships before this (the Satsuma class "semi dreadnoughts", with ongoing support from Britain), they deserve very considerable credit for their first attempt at building dreadnoughts. Generally speaking, Settsu and Kawachi were quite comparable with their equivalents from other nations and - within the limited opportunities found - they served well enough. Notably, they also proved to be good sea boats and were popular in service.

    General characteristics

    Displacement – 20,823 - 21,443lt (normal)
    Length – 526 - 533ft (160.3 - 162.5m)
    Beam – 84ft 3in (25.7m)
    Draft – 27 - 27.8ft (8.2 - 8.5m)
    Propulsion – 2 x steam turbine sets (Curtis in Kawachi and Parsons in Settsu); 2 shafts, 16 boilers
    Maximum speed:
    21 knots
    Range at 18 knots:
    2,700 nmi with 2,300t of coal & 410t of fuel oil
    Primary – 12 x 12in (305mm) guns
    Secondary – 10 x 6in (152mm) guns
    Supplementary – 8 x 4.7in (120mm) & 8 x 3in (76mm) guns
    Torpedo tubes - 5 x 18in (457mm)
    Belt – 5 - 12in (127 - 305mm)
    Deck – 1.2in (30mm)
    Turrets - 11in (279mm)
    Barbettes – 11in (279mm)
    Conning tower – 10in (254mm)
    Complement – 999 - 1100

    212: Wyoming Class

    The Wyoming class consisted of two ships, Wyoming and Arkansas. They were laid down in early 1910 and in commission by September 1912. The Wyomings had been preceded by the two Florida class dreadnoughts. The main changes were the addition of a sixth twin-gun turret and improved armor.

    Power was supplied by 4-shaft Parsons turbines, using steam from 12 Babcock & Wilcox water-tube boilers. In trials, Arkansas managed a top speed of 21.2 knots but in regular service, these ships were rated at 20.5 knots. A full load of coal and oil provided a maximum range of about 8,000 nmi at 10 knots. At 20 knots, the expected range was much lower. There was a single rudder.

    The US Navy considered using 14in (356mm) guns for the main armament; but this would incur significant delays. Therefore, they stuck with 12in; in this case the 50 caliber Mark 7 Mod 0; a new variant designed for the Wyomings. Being 5 calibers longer than the previous model, it offered a worthwhile improvement. For example, at 12,000 yd (about 11,000m), it could penetrate 12.3in (310mm) of face-hardened armor, compared to 10.8in (270mm) for the Mark V. There were 12 of these guns in 6 turrets; all mounted on the ships' centerline; each pair superfiring. However, the turrets were of a new type that required the guns to return to 0 degrees elevation to reload.
    The secondary battery consisted of 21 x 5in 51cal guns in casemates along the hull sides. The Wyomings also carried 2 x 21in (530mm) torpedo tubes; one on either side of the hull

    Extra attention was paid to the armor scheme. The main belt was 8ft (2.4m) high and 11in (280mm) thick over the area protecting the machinery and ammunition. Its bottom edge tapered to 9in (230mm) and the stern end reduced to 5in (130mm). The forward ends were connected to an 11in transverse bulkhead at the first main battery barbette, the aft ends to a 9in bulkhead.
    The main armored deck used 2.5in (64mm) of special treatment steel, reduced to 1.5in (38mm) in less critical areas. The conning tower had 11.5in (292mm) sides and a 3in (76mm) thick roof. The turrets were given 12in (305mm) faces and 3in roofs. Their barbettes had 11in thick sides where exposed, reduced to 4.5in (110mm) in areas covered by the armored belt. Casemate armor was 11in, the upper portion reduced to 6.5in (170mm).
    One important addition was longitudinal armored bulkheads positioned to protect the funnel uptakes. This was based on information about what happened to Russian battleships during the Russo-Japanese war three years previously. In some cases, their uptakes were damaged, causing boiler smoke to escape into the ship rather than out through the funnels.
    Finally, emphasizing the need for better protection below the waterline, a torpedo bulkhead was fitted for the first time on American battleships.

    These drawings of Wyoming show a quite different 6-turret layout.


    Following their service entry in late 1912, both ships were assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. Later, from 1919-21, they served in the Pacific Fleet; returning to the Atlantic Fleet afterwards. (Arkansas returned for another Pacific stint from 1932-34.) In the interval prior to 1914, the Wyomings had taken part in routine training and fleet maneuvers in local waters, as well as visits to friendly nations; including a tour of the Mediterranean. In April 1914, Arkansas was involved in the occupation of Veracruz during the Mexican Revolution, with Wyoming arriving later for support.

    After the USA declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917, Wyoming - along with some other ships - steamed to Britain to assist the British Grand Fleet, stationed at Scapa Flow. Arkansas initially remained in home waters training crews for an expanding wartime fleet, but joined her sister in British waters in July 1918. Neither ship saw action as such but they were present for the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet in November 1918. Post-WW1, the ships embarked on a number of tours. Other duties included assisting relief efforts after the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake. Between that year and 1939, both ships continued with training and tours, as well as undergoing reconstructions.
    When it became apparent that the United States would become involved in WW2, Wyoming was employed for training; a role she sustained for the duration of the conflict. Arkansas, on the other hand, was in front line service throughout; including convoy escort duties. She supported the Normandy landings in June 1944, shelling German positions at Omaha beach; and Cherbourg later that month. This was followed by similar action to support the invasion of Southern France in August. Afterwards, she transferred to the Pacific for more of the same against the Japanese.

    In 1947, Wyoming was decommissioned and sold for scrap. Arkansas had met her end the previous year when she was used for Atomic bomb testing.

    Arkansas as she appeared in 1918.


    Stern view of Wyoming in New York, c 1912. (Which bridge is that?)


    The ships of the Wyoming class were the fourth dreadnought design of the US Navy. On the face of it, they represented no more than an incremental improvement over the preceding Florida class; and they were the last US battleships to use 12in guns as the main armament.
    On the other hand, while we can certainly question the 6-turret configuration, it was done for entirely practical reasons.
    Regardless, all the main elements of these ships seem to have worked very well together, to make them truly effective. They rendered excellent service to their nation for a very considerable time.

    General characteristics* (*Representative. Some variation between ships)

    Displacement – 26,000 lt (standard); 27,243 lt (full load)
    Length – 562ft (171m) o/a; 554ft (169m) w/l
    Beam – 93ft 3in (28.42m)
    Draft – 28ft 6in (8.69m) (mean); 29ft 7in (9.02m) (max)
    Propulsion – 4 x Parsons steam turbines, 4 screws, 12 boilers
    Maximum speed:
    20.5 knots
    Range at 10 knots:
    6,700 nmi with 1,667 lt of coal & 266 lt of oil.
    Range at 20 knots:
    2,655 nmi
    Primary – 12 x 12in (305mm) 50cal Mk 7 guns
    Secondary – 21 x 5in (127mm) 51cal guns
    Supplementary – 4 x 3pdr (47mm) 40cal saluting guns
    Torpedo tubes - 2 x 21in (533mm) submerged
    Belt – 5 - 11in (127 - 279mm)
    Decks – 1.5 - 2.5in (38 - 64mm)
    Turrets fronts - 12in (305mm)
    Barbettes – 11in (279mm)
    Conning tower – 11.5in (292mm)
    Bulkheads – 9 - 11in (229 - 279mm)
    Complement – 1,063 officers & enlisted

    What say you now?
    Does the Japanese Kawachi class deserve to make Round 2?
    Or is the American Wyoming class more deserving?

    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).
    197: Kawachi class (Japan)
    212: Wyoming class (USA)
    Last edited by panther3485; 11 Jul 20, 20:31.
    "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
    I meant to vote Yank for its centerline guns. Oops .
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    • #3
      The Wyomings had a better layout of main 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
        Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
        I meant to vote Yank for its centerline guns. Oops .
        Only six votes so far, Nick, but up to this point at least it's going the way you intended.
        "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.


        • #5
          Going with the Wyoming Class based on main gun arrangement and increased caliber. Tough choice though. IJN ships carried more torpedo tubes, and larger but fewer secondary guns.


          If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

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          • #6
            Wyoming with her centerline array could bring all her main guns to bear rather than port and starboard batteries of the Japanese.
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