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HMS Duke of York for 8 US 8" Cruisers?

Discussion in 'Ships & Shipborne Weaponry' started by Marmat, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Well, it's not much of a big deal OP, most pre-WW2 warships were very deficient in terms of AA capability, and given Axis air power in the Med, the British were lucky they didn't lose more ships than they did. Still, the American cruisers were likely to be put to use where aircraft were less of a threat-the far flung shipping lanes of the vast British Empire.

    I would think that there would be little question about how the British would use the American heavies. The Brits had many sea lanes that needed patrolling and convoys that need to be protected from raiders, and German raiders proved quite a nuisance during 1940.

    But why did they specifically want the American heavy cruisers? The last British heavy cruiser completed was the HMS Exeter back in 1931, and she was a "stripped down" version of the earlier Counties. Even after the end of the restrictive naval treaties, the British stayed with the light cruiser instead of switching back to producing more heavies. I can only surmise, that even they didn't want the American Omaha class CLs, and rightly figured that the Americans would not trade away their new Brooklyn class CLs. Thus, the only option would be the American CAs.
     
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    BTW, has anyone else read C. S. Forester's The Ship?
     
  3. Marmat

    Marmat Member

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    ... had any life at all, it was as one of Churchill's many brain farts.

    I should have clarified, by "political advantage" I meant for FDR's Administration i.e. in his dealings with an anti-war/isolationist American public, another fire hose to lend to the neighbour whose house is on fire, deal to prevent war with Germany, not enter one - IF he wished to project it as such. The USN in the Atlantic was at the point of acting more like a belligerent than a neutral, this is certainly a step back from war, at a time when the "short-of war" line could easily be crossed.

    Consider that at this point in time, i.e. Jan-Feb 1941, the staff conferences which would come up with ABC-1 were on i.e. Germany 1st. Adm Stark, CNO, certainly aware of the situation in the Pacific, would soon declare the Atlantic situation critical, requiring strong measures. That meant transferring Yorktown, Battleship Div 3 (3 BBs), Cruiser Div. 8 (4) to reinforce Ernie King's (Cinclant), Atlantic Fleet. By Oct. or so, there would be 2 Fleet carriers, 6 battleships and 17 cruisers assigned to the Atlantic anyway - after all, unlike the posturing in the Pacific, there was real war going on there. Of heavy cruisers assigned, only Augusta was of the Pensacola and Northampton classes, the rest were newer. I don't know if the US Press ever wrote JAPANESE GAIN DECISIVE ADVANTAGE WHEN US CARRIERS, BATTLESHIPS and CRUISERS LEAVE!




    At the same time, would these headlines be possible:

    US Cruisers in Battle with Germans in mid-Atlantic over British Convoy!
    One US Cruiser SUNK, another crippled, American Sailors Killed in UNDECLARED WAR!
    Congress starts Impeachment Proceedings on FDR for UNDECLARED WAR!

    Why the US CAs? Well, the RN Counties, despite their 8" guns, were so geared to sealane protection, and blockade/enemy trade duties, that they weren't much good for Fleet work - nobody wanted them. When the Admiralty sent a County (Berwick?) to the Med., ABC complained of her limited armour and high freeboard (he referred to Counties as "Liners"), and sent her back, unfortunately the Aussies didn't have that luxury. The more balanced "Towns" and their descendants were preferred for Fleet/combat duties. Where 8 US 8" cruisers would fit is anybody's guess, they certainly could and would do both.
     
  4. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    I always wondered why the Counties were not used in the Med, after the poor showing of HMS Berwick (she was hit in an engagement with her Italian counterparts without hitting back), and the sinking of HMS York (not a County) the were no RN 8" cruisers in the Med.
    Do you have the source for the complaint ? looks out of character for Cunningham.
    After Matapan the threat of Italian 8" cruisers was much reduced which may be the reason the thing was dropped.
    BTW have read the ship, but IIRC the protagonist was described as a stepping stone between a Dido and a Black Prince (with a pinch of Manxman thrown in for the final high speed chasrge), the drawing shows basically a 4 turret DP cruiser with straight funnels.
     
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  5. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    BTW have read the ship, but IIRC the protagonist was described as a stepping stone between a Dido and a Black Prince (with a pinch of Manxman thrown in for the final high speed chasrge), the drawing shows basically a 4 turret DP cruiser with straight funnels.

    I think you're thinking of HMS Ulysses by Alastair MacLean. Been a while since I read The Ship, but I'm fairly sure "the ship" was an Arethusa class, with two twin 6" turrets forward and one aft.

    The action in The Ship was based on the second battle of Sirte, which involved one Arethusa class and three Didos.
     
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  6. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    I've seen it suggested that the cruisers concerned were the eight first generation treaty cruisers, Pensacola and Northampton classes, contemporaries of the Counties with comparably light protection.

    The two navies took different directions in their next designs. The USN built seven 10,000-ton New Orleans class which featured a significant increase in armor. The RN built twelve light cruisers totalling around 77,000 tons, Leander through Arethusa classes, reflecting their perceived need for numbers of cruisers for both commerce protection and work with the battle fleet and destroyer flotillas.

    There was a strong feeling in the interwar years that 8" gun cruisers would be significantly superior to 6" ships, especially in daylight, long-range engagements (this was also part of the rationale for the 7.5"-gunned Hawkins class of WWI, which influenced the adoption of the 10,000-ton 8" limits in the Washington treaty). For this reason the British tended to use 8" ships for independent cruising in distant waters like the South Atlantic or Indian Ocean where they were involved in the destruction of several German raiders and supply ships. 6" ships were preferred for screening the fleet, where one important task was engaging destroyers and where they could fall back on the big guns if necessary.

    As it turned out, the best balanced and most battleworthy cruisers were probably the big 6" gun type like the Brooklyn or Town classes. These "light" cruisers were better armored than most of the heavies, and their volume of fire gave them an edge at other than long range (ironically they were built in response to the Japanese Mogami, which was intended to be converted to 8" guns). For the RN, the new Towns saw considerably more action than the older Counties.
     
  7. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I read The Ship after devouring all the Hornblower books we had in that little town's library. I was fascinated with the discussion of the various jobs on board the ship. (I eventually did the same job as the poor shmoe in the shaft alley, and, of course, progressed to ordering other people to take that station when the fan was intercepting fresh dung.)
     
  8. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    I have to make a correction to my earlier post on capital ship modernizations. Although Royal Oak's modernization was similar in extent to Barham's, it occurred contemporaneously with Repulse and Malaya, in fact Repulse's actually started earlier. As noted Royal Oak or her sisters could not accommodate all the desired improvements.

    I ran across the dates while following up on Markus' comment about Repulse's AA armament. Apparently she just missed getting the new Mark XIX twin mounts (with Mark XVI guns) which were installed on Royal Oak and Malaya and became standard for many RN ship types. Repulse was an interesting case because her low-angle secondary guns were also 4", in unusual triple mounts, one of Fisher's less inspired ideas. She came out of reconstruction with four triple 4" and four single Mark V 4" AA guns. To make things more confusing, she was also a trials ship for the twin BD (Between Decks) mounting, two of which were carried aft. These had 4" guns also, but full BD batteries in other modernized capital ships and new aircraft carriers used 4.5"s. The BDs in Repulse were replaced by two more Mark Vs for a total of six, whereas most battleships and cruisers carried eight Mark XVIs in twin mounts.

    The mix of single and triple mounts almost invites replacement by a uniform battery of twins, 7-8 of them or 14-16 4" guns. For Repulse this would be no step-down in caliber for low-angle defense, and the benefit for high-angle is obvious (the aft 4" secondary armament director could also be replaced by a High Angle Control System for a total of three AA directors). Even if no one was thinking dual-purpose in 1935, it would have been a fairly easy upgrade later on, putting new mounts in place of old.
     
  9. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    You're right, I did mix up the two. (read them both a long tme ago).
     
  10. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Raven and Roberts cite Churchill posing the question to First Sea Lord Pound on Feb 13, 1941 and note "what promted the PM's suggestion is unknown....it is probable that the Americans knew of the idea, and may even have suggested it." Worth/Tiornu attributes it to an unidentified "high-ranking American official". Admiralty staff noted that the eight cruisers could make four hunting groups, presumably against Deutschland-class ships, although British 8" cruisers in distant waters seem to have spent much of their time operating individually against raiders and supply ships. Pound returned a somewhat contradictory reply on Feb 28 including "....we would be wise to do so.....however the best we could do would be to man two 8-inch cruisers in the summer of 1941 and the remainder would have to wait and it could even involve paying off the C and D class cruisers. On that basis I do not consider the exchange worthwhile."

    The timing is curious. For a start we were still neutral in Feb 1941, though apparently that did not preclude swaps like destroyers for bases. Nor would the USN seem to have any urgent need for one more battleship. On the British side, there was a raider problem; but the big events just then were Scharnhorst and Gneisenau running loose in the Atlantic and Bismarck and Tirpitz working up - it seems a very odd time to dispose of what would be only their third modern battleship.

    After Pearl Harbor, the USN did consider purchasing a foreign battleship, the Chilean Almirante Latorre. This was an excellent ship of WWI vintage, well maintained by the well-respected (then and today) Chilean navy, but not extensively modernized and not, it would seem, that much of an asset by WWII standards. Latorre, built in Britain, was taken over as HMS Canada for WWI and fought at Jutland; so it would have made for quite a career had she joined the USN for WWII!
     
  11. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Although considering what they were needed for (and used) convoy escort & later shore bombardment, their condition wasn't so critical.
    If they could only make 20 or 21 knots it's still fine for a convoy

    They weren't used for convoy duty in the spring of 1941.
    Possibly it was intended for the RN to get some US cruisers and then later build more for the USN (prior to the escalation of tensions in 1941 of course)

    The RN had several ships lost, but with experienced crews rescued (Effingham, Southampton etc) so perhaps they could be crewed this way.

    This was because they didn't have CA tonnage available under treaty, but could still build CLs.
    This is partly why you see RN "CL's" like the Manchester which is close in tonnage to the CA. (but still classed as a CL)
     
  12. freebird

    freebird Member

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    With but a cursory look, it seems pretty bad for the British - 10 Axis capital ships vs. only 12 for the RN in Feb 1941 :eek: (Resolution is repairing torpedo damage, QE has a minor refit)

    However, the real story is quite different, during WWII the British never had less than a dozen capital ships available* (at least 8 of which were modernized), and after the Taranto Attack the Axis never had more than 5 available until the summer of 1942. (except during a brief period in Sept-Oct of 1941).
    By the time the Italians have got 5 battleships available (spring/summer 1942) they are so short of fuel as to preclude almost any operations in any event

    The Kriegsmarine never had the Sharnhorst & Gneisnau available at the same time as the Bismarck (or Tirpitz) until 1943.
    By the time the Bismarck is worked up and ready for action (spring 1941) the S & G are holed up in Brest, for refit and repairing bomb damage. By the time they are reay for action the Bismarck is sunk.


    * note: including US battleships operating with the RN in the Atlantic in early '42

    I made this chart some time ago, to keep track of which KM & RM ships were avilable View attachment 15278
     

    Attached Files:

  13. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Very nice chart. But the pocket battleships were armoured cruisers with a different (and IMO better) design philosophy than the treaty ones, not capital ships even if one on one they would probably best any allied pre-war cruiser in a day action.
    What was the situation after the Alexandria raid and the destruction of force Z ? I don't have a full list of refits and commissionings but the losses up to then were: Hood, Repulse, Prince of Wales, Barham and Royal Oak.
    The raid knocked out Queen Elizabeth and Valiant.
    That leaves Renown, 2 QE, 4 R, 2 Nelson, and the KGV class so 13 ships max, with only 5 fast ones and 4 very slow ones, but I have doubts on Anson and Howe being operational and I expect at least one to be "down for maintenance". IIRC one of the R delayed the force moving to Ceylon as she needed a minor refit to her boiler tubes.

    The four surviving "R" were "East of Suez" in early 1942 as was Warspite. leaving only 6 to 8 ships in European waters. According to your chart the axis would have 5 to 6 ships operational at the same time, BTW I find no trace of a major refit to Duilio, AFAIK the ship spent most of 1942 between Taranto and Messina that don't have a major dockyard. The refitting ship was probably Cavour that was being rebuilt with a new AA fitting.
     
  14. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Thanks!

    Indeed, and I didn't mean to imply that they were capital ships, I just added them to the chart to keep track of them as well.
    ;)

    I was using Hazegray.org, a good source for all WWI & WWII capital ships & CV's
    World Battleships List: Italian Dreadnoughts
    It lists the Duilo as:
    "Under refit from 3/1942 until Italian surrender, to Allied control 9/1943."

    At the beginning of 42 in European waters the British had:

    KGV
    Duke of York
    Renown
    Nelson or Rodney
    Malaya
    + the 2 US battleships operating with the Royal Navy in the Atlantic

    So 7 BB's available to counter the KM, in addition to the two old French BB's (the last two not much use except perhaps convoy protection)
    Rodney was refitting in the US until Aug 1941, Nelson was out from Nov '41 - Mar '42 repairing torpedo damage, Rodney then had a minor refit from Mar - May 1942 in the UK

    The British had the Warspite (+ WWI dreadnought Centurion) at Alexandria, + the "R"s in the Indian Ocean, as you mention.
    The RM would have 4 battleships available , although with severe fuel shortage. (My chart incorrectly has the Duilo in refit from Dec '41, should be Mar '42) :eek:


    The "availablity" of the Sharnhorst & Gneisnau is a bit of an illusion, as they are bottled up on the French coast, their attempted breakout on Feb 11 resulted in their both being knocked out within 24 hours due to mines, and the Gneisnau being finished for good 2 weeks later.
     
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  15. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    So Anson and Howe were not yet operational as I suspected, so 11 operational ships of which 5 were East of Suez, Warspite operated with Sommerville's squadron in the Indian Ocean so must have left Alex early in the year.

    Centurion was a hulk, IIRC Malaya was in force H for Pedestal (June 1942) and Nelson and Rodney for Harpoon (August 1942), no BB at Alex in that period so the Home fleet core was KGV, DoY and Renown plus any US help, loosing DoY would have been unacceptable.
    .
    IMO The French ships are not operational, they have been inactive for months without spares and the crews are not 100% reliable before 1943, had they been so they would have been used instead of Centurion with her woodden guns.
    The "old" Italian BBs were basically in reserve, at one time most fuel was pumped out of them to power the escorts, but they could (and were) used if a major effort was required, a very different status from being laid up for repairs/upgrades.
     
  16. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    My mind wandered back to this for some reason, and it occurred to me that the prime motivation may have been giving the cruisers to the British. Eight cruisers would be more useful to them than a single odd battleship (with smaller guns than our contemporary BBs) would be to the USN. The Lend-Lease Act had not yet been passed, so the only ways for the British to acquire American ships were to buy them, for which they no longer had funds, or exchange something as in the destroyers-for-bases deal. If someone - it would be fascinating to know who - was looking for something the British could afford to trade, a battleship almost a year from commissioning, third of five in her class, might have seemed a good or least-bad choice.

    This would have meant taking active ships out of service for transfer, a substantial share of our modern cruiser force, 8 of 27, excluding the Omaha class. The destroyer deal involved WWI-era ships, most or all of which were laid up in reserve at the time. Other transfers, mainly under Lend-Lease, were new construction, from programs designed to include a proportion for the RN. The only transfer of active ships I can think of is the ten Lake class Coast Guard cutters, aka Banff class sloops.
     
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  17. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Interesting and logical supposition Carronade.
     
  18. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Over on the axis history forum there are a series of threads with similar charts showing the monthly available ships by type and country (seperate threads) from capital ships down to DDs for the USN, RN, and I think the IJN and KM. Here are some of them:
    Axis History Forum • View topic - Major Warship hits : a statistical glimpse
    Axis History Forum • View topic - IJN Battleships availability
    Axis History Forum • View topic - Oil and fleet tankers in the Pacific War
    Axis History Forum • View topic - RN Cruiser availability
    Axis History Forum • View topic - KM Cruiser availability
     
  19. Marmat

    Marmat Member

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    First off,

    TiredOldSoldier I spent hours going over my sources to find where I picked up ABC's referring to Counties as"Liners", and not wanting them in the Med. I've been using that snippet for years, and years - couldn't find it per se. However, I did find reference to the latter bit in Barnett, when ABC wrote to Pound, saying Tovey's 6" cruisers were coming up short against the Italians, knew he said he'd do without 8" cruisers, but asked for Exeter and/or York if available. As usual, ABC's overly polite as he writes, unlike when he's quoted in sources other than his own, where he 's frequently outspoken, and shows temper. ABC was known to prefer smaller warships, for example during his short time in the Controller’s Office, he lamented the loss of most of the old S Class destroyers in reserve, the seeds for what would become the “Hunts” were sown. I'm confident the Liners comment exists, but that's the best I can do for now.




    brndirt1, I looked up both British & US sources re: gold included in the destroyers deal. I’m confident in saying that the“Destroyers for Bases” deal was completely stand-alone. The British had attempted to negotiate the inclusion of some MTBs they had previously ordered, but FDR himself was adamant on the 1 for 1 aspect; he still had an election to face. The gold came up later Dec 1940- Jan 1941, and was actually the suggestion of Sir Frederick Phillips, of the British Treasury who’d been sent to the US in the summer of 1940 for talks with Henry Morganthau, US Treasury Secretary, main Lend Lease guy. Basically the US was concerned about British orders & interim financing until Lend Lease officially took over, Phillips made the suggestion to FDR, who jumped on it, Churchill & the Treasury back in the UK were incensed but complied.



    Now, I have to say I wondered why the US would even consider this DoY for cruisers deal, what would the US get out of it, where did it come from??? I found something of interest, starting from the mid-30’s on. These are bare bones, submitted for your consideration:


    In the mid-30’s the USN General Board met to hammer out the requirements for the vessels that would become the North Carolina Class BB’s, in Oct 1935 the Board decided on “Scheme K” a compromise choice between non-conventional type vessels, heavily weighted towards campaigns in the Pacific that would be further changed (some 35 different sketch designs exist). At the time, Admiral William H. Standley, CNO had argued for 4 BB’s to form 2 Task Forces with the fast carriers Saratoga & Lexington, 27 knot BB’s fast enough to overtake the fastest Japanese Capital ships, the 26 knot Kongos. Admiral William S. Pye, President of the Naval College argued for a speed of 28 knots or more, the Kongos were “a thorn in the side of the US Fleet” … (Friedman)

    US Naval Intelligence would report in 1938 that the Kongos had been reconstructed, were now capable of 30.5 knots, and Hiei the 4
    [SUP]th[/SUP] ship of the class, had been re-militarised - ooops!


    What’s of interest here, is the CNO himself. Standley, served as the US Navy’s CNO i.e. Chief of Naval Operations, appointed 1[SUP]st[/SUP] July 1933. He was a man of significant influence, for example he represented the US at the London Naval Conference, Dec. 1935 to Mar. 1936, signing on behalf of the US, he also acted as Secretary of the Navy when required. He retired as CNO on 1[SUP]st[/SUP] Jan. 1937, handing off to Admiral William D. Leahy, who served as CNO until 1[SUP]st[/SUP]Aug. 1939.
    It’s well known to students of US WWII history that Leahy continued to serve i.e. as US Ambassador to France/Vichy, what may not be as well known is that Standley was re-called to active duty as well, to serve on the Planning Board of the Office of Production Management, and then on the Beaverbrook-Harriman Special War Supply Mission to the USSR; former CNOs were a valuable commodity.

    Standley’s recall to active service is dated 13[SUP]th[/SUP] Feb., 1941.

    As Carronade has already posted:
    Raven and Roberts cite Churchill posing the question to First Sea Lord Pound on Feb13, 1941 and note “what prompted the PM's suggestion is unknown....it is probable that the Americans knew of the idea, and may even have suggested it.”Worth/Tiornu attributes it to an unidentified “high-ranking American official”…”

    You can look at what’s posted above and consider Standley’s new duties, his take on tactical practice with fast BB’s and carriers, the newly built & building US carriers, the current status of US BB’s and warship building overall, the rebuilt Kongos and later IJN developments, the diplomatic situation with Japan, that Churchill and Standley likely knew, or least knew of each other …etc. the value of another fast BB, even short term, and the demonstrated British need of cruisers.

    Personally, I believe in coincidences, they occur, but only after they’ve been verified as much as is possible through investigationto rule out the non-coincidence. Here, with the latter unlikely, I leave it as I dunno??
     
  20. freebird

    freebird Member

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    In early '42 there were 11 operation British BB's/BC's, but 13 available including the US BB's operating with the RN in the Atlantic.

    Agreed, however from Haze Gray it says Duilo is in "refit" as opposed to reserve.
    (If you can find any Italian or other sources that say differently I'd be interested to know)

    The old French BB's were both still operational in early '41, one had been turned over to the Free French.
    IMO the British would have been wise to make better use of these ships, escorting convoys instead of the AMCs. (but that another topic)

    Remember that we are talking about Feb 1941, not Feb 1942 here. ;)
    And I would disagree, it actually does make sense.

    Strangley enough, after thinking about this a bit, it does actually make sense.

    There are a few threads in this cloth...
    Remember that Churchill was not only thinking about what he could do for the Royal Navy, but also to benefit the US. (and build up goodwill ;) )

    1.) Prior to WWII the US was seriously in need of faster BB's, as the fastest ones they had (Colorado, Tennessee class) could only make at best about 21 knots, vs 30 knots for Japan's refitted "Kongo" class.
    In mid 1940 the North Carolina was launched, but in early 1941 is still experiencing severe vibration problems, which rendered the fire control almost useless.
    In early '41 it was estimated that fixing the problem could take 6 - 8 months or more.

    "One significant design problem encountered during trials was a severe vibration originating in the propellers and shafting. Initially the problem was so severe that the ships were rendered ineffective, due to inability to work the gunfire control systems. Correcting these problems required extensive trials, experimentation, and stiffening of certain components" (HazeGray.org)

    This means that the US has no fast battleships until late '41, or perhaps even mid '42, if the problems with the NC's couldn't be corrected.

    So the DoY would be available almost right away, while the US waited for it's own battleships to be finished.

    2.) So far, all the posters here have assumed that the KGV class would be able to counter the German surface raiders - but they couldn't.
    Sharnhorst - 32 knots
    Bismarck - 30 knots
    KGV 28 knots
    RN Kent class - 31.5 knots (as built)
    US Northampton or New Orleans - 32.5 knots

    With any competant German command, the KM battlecruisers (or Bismarck) would be able to use better speed to evade a superior British battle fleet.
    The British would probably have better chance of success with 4 US built CA's + a CV to shadow + attack a German BC, rather than a British BB + CV.

    3.) From a US point of view, replacing US cruisers with a 18 - 22 month build time is far easier than building a new battleship with a 4 year build time.

    Actually the DoY would be ready almost immediatley in Feb/Mar 1941 to send to the US.
    Remember, it was launched in Feb of 1940, and commissioned Nov 4, 1941.
    Following usual British practice, it should have been mainly completed with primary & secondary guns by Mar 1941, with the next 2 - 3 months doing the final fitting out (radars, AA mounts etc), followed by 2 - 3 months of trials and then a couple months for the work up (shakedown cruise) before commisioning to active service.

    So if the DoY was delivered to the US in Mar 1941, they would be able to instal the AA mounts, radar, etc to US standard, followed by trials & work up.

    I think you've posted some of the same points that I was thinking here, but to sum up:

    I imagine that if Churchill offered a British BB for 8 US Ca's, it might be for negotiating, he would probably take 4 or 5 for a BB, which is still a good deal for both nations.
    Keep in mind that we can look back with 20/20 hindsight to see that BB's were not that important to the Pacific war, but in Feb 1941 both the British & US planners considered the BB's to be of prime importance.

    Having at least 1 fast BB would be something that the US considered of value, during the 10 - 15 months needed to complete US BB's
     

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