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USS Pennsylvania vs. HMS Warspite

Discussion in 'Ships & Shipborne Weaponry' started by Edmund, Jul 14, 2015.

  1. Edmund

    Edmund recruit

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    [SIZE=medium]USS Pennsylvania vs. HMS Warspite[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=medium]Both completed around the same time. [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=medium]Seems some sources conclude that Pennsy was better than Warspite (Or an other QE class). [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=medium]Which was better?[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]After some reading I am inclined to go with Pennsylvania. Based on better armor, more guns, and larger broadside weight.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]Any other thoughts? Thanks.[/SIZE]
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    How do you define better?
    Looking at the wiki pages:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Warspite_(03)
    and
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Pennsylvania_(BB-38)
    Pennsylvania is slower but has a longer range and is more fuel efficient.
    Pensnsylvania has about a 10% edge in throw weight (both for shells and HE excepting the Mk 1a AP rounds) but Warspite has an edge in rate of fire and the 15" gun had a very good reputation although it's rounds in WWI had some problems I believe.
    As built Warspite looks to have a better AA suite and heavier though fewer AS secondaries.
    Looks like they have the same thickness of Belt armor. I don't see Warspite's deck armor listed. Penn has thicker conning tower armor and parts of her turrets are thicker than Warspite's (parts may be thinner as well as only one number is listed for Warspite).
    Looks to me like Warspite will be able to penetrate Penn's belt sooner as well. Not sure about deck armor.

    both ships were updated significantly as well and how they rate may change based on what updates are considered.

    For weapon info see:
    http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNUS_14-45_mk1.htm
    and
    http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNBR_15-42_mk1.htm
    or
    http://www.navweaps.com/index_nathan/Penetration_Britain.htm
    and
    http://www.navweaps.com/index_nathan/Penetration_United_States.htm
     
  3. Edmund

    Edmund recruit

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    Thanks for the reply. Wondering which would win in a duel.

    Also wondering why Britain fell behind US in terms of Battleship designs in WWI. They had the edge at one point and then slipped. The QE class was as far as I can tell the last good battleship design by the Royal Navy before WWII started. While the US kept advancing. Pennsylvania was surpassed by New Mexico and then Colorado designs. All before WWI was over. Not to mention the later designs.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The lead kind of flipped back and forth between the two. What they needed/wanted was not always the same either. The Nelson's ae at least in some ways supperior to the Colorado's for instance.
     
  5. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The US "standard type" battleship started with the Nevada class, the class before the Pennsylvanias, which was roughly contemporary with the QE. Subsequent classes through the Colorado made incremental improvements. The British on the other hand largely ceased battleship construction after the Rs of the 1913 program due to the immediate demands of WWI; also German construction had slowed significantly after 1912 (late 1914 was the moment when the Germans came closest to matching the battleship strength of the Royal Navy). However the British did not stop learning, and of course they had the benefit of war experience. Their G3 and N3 designs were extremely advanced, while our planned South Dakota was just the latest step in the standard type. All these were cancelled under the Washington Treaty, although the British ships would probably have been stopped for financial reasons anyway. G3 and N3 formed the basis of the Nelson design, which as lwd mentioned were comparable to or better than Colorado.

    Nelson and Rodney could be considered reduced versions of the 48,000-ton G3 battle cruiser; one of their nicknames was the "Cherry Tree ships" because they had been "cut down by Washington".

    On our side, the Washington Treaty forced the cancellation and sinking as a practice target of the incomplete USS Washington.

    Getting back to Warspite and Pennsylvania, the big advantage of the standard type was its all or nothing protection scheme, including a continuous 3-3.5" armored deck over magazines and machinery. Most contemporary battleships including the British had only about 2" of standard steel, not hardened armor, which made them vulnerable to plunging fire as battle ranges increased.

    On the other hand, the main reason ships could shoot out to 20,000 yards or more was director firing, pioneered by the British. When US battleships joined the Grand Fleet in late 1917 they were shocked to find British gunnery control far superior to their own. The relative combat power of 30,000-ton battleships depended largely on a few pounds of gears and gizmos.
     
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  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The British got the US squadron that joined them in WWI worked up to speed pretty quickly though so that evened out. The British did have some problems with their shells earlly in WWI as I recall as well. If you are proposing a duel exactly when could make a huge difference even without crew quality considerations. By WW2 US and British battleship doctrine had diverged considerably as well and who got to fight the battle they wanted could make all the difference.
     
  7. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr Patron  

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    You've got to hand it to the British for sheer foresight, though - to launch a battleship in 1913 with a better AA suite is going some...... :spin:
     
  8. Edmund

    Edmund recruit

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    I think the AA suite of QE class was improved from original. But they did have one when built.
     
  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Not sure I get the comment about AA armament. As built, the QEs had two 3" AA guns and the Pennsylvanias four.

    Armaments were improved in the interwar period. The QEs and Rs got four 4" guns, and starting around 1930 they began receiving multiple pom-poms and 0.5" machine guns and the High Angle Control System. The American standard type BBs got eight 5"/25s and eight .50-caliber machine guns. In 1941 they began adding four quad 1.1" automatic mounts to each ship.

    In the mid-late 1930s the British reconstructed a number of their WWI-era capital ships; the first reconstructions were fairly basic, but they became more complete in later instances. QE herself and Valiant were the last to be done, and their reconstruction included new DP secondary armament of twenty 4.5" guns in twin Between Decks mounts, one of the best AA batteries on any capital ships of the time, new or reconstructed.

    American BBs received a wide variety of AA improvements during the war, including complete reconstructions for the ships worst damaged at Pearl Harbor. Pennsylvania received a DP secondary armament of sixteen 5"/38s in twin mounts, all on a deckhouse on the forecastle deck amidships, and her older AA directors were replaced by two modern Mark 37s, one per side. Like other BBs she also received a large number of 20mm and 40mm guns.

    Speculation on my part - the handling rooms for Pennsylvania's 5"/38s were located about where the casemates for her old 5"/51 secondary guns 3-10 had been. I wonder if this was to reuse the existing ammunition hoists and minimize the amount of reconfiguration needed inside the ship? The arrangement was less effective than the superfiring pairs in throroughly reconstructed ships like California, but it took less shipyard time and enabled Pennsylvania to get back into service more quickly.
     
  10. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    Regardless of the outcome of the duel, the UK would've lost.
     
  11. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    As originally designed the Pennsylvania is a better ship. The reasons include:

    Designed as an "all or nothing" armor scheme. Has a 13.5" belt and 2" + 3" of deck armor. Turret armor is 17" faces with 9" sides and 5" tops. There is a complete torpedo bulkhead 1.5" thick well inboard. The conning tower is 16" thick.
    Against that, the Warspite has 13" belt with a 6" upper belt to the main deck, 1 to 1 1/2" deck armor, 13" turret faces, 6" sides with 4" tops. The torpedo defense is a shallow continuous 1 1/2" to 2" thick. There is considerable armor 1 to 2" thick forward and aft of the main citadel. The conning tower is 11" thick.

    The 12 14" /50 guns have the advantage of numbers in that a full salvo is about 18,000 lbs of shell versus 15,200 for the 8 15" Warspite has. 12 guns also allow 6 gun half salvos for shortened intervals between firings with a larger area of coverage versus the 4 gun half salvos of Warspite. Both ships fire at about the same speed of 2 salvos a minute realistically.

    The Pennsylvania has a 22 gun 5" / 51 secondary battery 16 (later 14) 6" /45 guns. The US secondaries have the advantage of a higher ROF while the Warspite's 6" hit harder. But, this is minor as neither was much used in action historically.

    Both have about equal fire control systems using variants of the Dryer table with equal quality rangefinders and spotting tops.

    The 3 or so knot advantage of the Warspite is irrelevant in terms of a tactical combat action.

    Overall, if crew quality is held equal, then the Warspite has some serious disadvantages. Her deck armor and much lighter armor on the turrets, barbettes, and conning tower represent serious weaknesses, particularly the deck armor. For all intents Warspite has little more than splinter armor fitted and any heavy shell striking it at any angle will penetrate it easily. The 6" upper belt adds little to protection other than to ensure any hit on it has the fuze activate and the shell subsequently detonate behind it and destroy not just spaces above the armor deck, but many below it.

    Any shell hitting below the belt is likely to also penetrate Warspite's torpedo defense system. It is far too shallow. Pennsylvania has a better system that is partially liquid loaded and would survive many hits that Warspite wouldn't.

    I don't see any advantage in main battery beyond the Pennsylvania having more tubes which is a big advantage. Both guns are capable of doing massive damage to their target.

    Overall, Pennsylvania has an advantage in the number of main guns fitted and a huge advantage in armor protection particularly deck armor. One on one the edge is to the US ship. One has to remember, the RN was at war and what mattered was the number of hulls in the water more than some slight or even substantial quality difference in individual ship. Britain went for that quantity and forewent a lot of quality to get it. It served them well during WW 1 but proved a liability in the long run with far less capable ships in service post war.
    If you ignore the French navy, the RN by the 1930's had easily some of the most mediocre battleships in service with the R class being the predominant examples of that. By WW 2 that had some significant impact in how the RN could employ their available ships.
     
  12. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The QEs were the1912 program and the Rs - officially the Revenge class - 1913, so the designs were not influenced by war emergency requirements. Construction of the Rs was apparently impacted by wartime urgency; their material condition was one reason the RN left them out of the modernization program in the 1930s.

    The key feature of the QEs was the increase in speed from the 21 knots of most dreadnoughts to 24-25. I agree that that was unlikely to have much tactical significance, but at the time it was expected to be an important innovation - but then it was abandoned the next year, for an approximately 2% cost savings.
     
  13. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    But, the QE class all completed well after the war begin. Very little was incorporated into their design in the way of war experience. The R's were designed by a new DNC, Tennyson d'Eyncourt who in a way relied on designing them much to an improved Iron Duke design. Without the war going, the R's might have ended up improved QE's instead.
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The big tactical difference with the QE's could well be how many made it to the battle and where the battle was fought. In WWI it meant they had a chance of enforcing an action vs the KM say if they caught them at sea or avoiding the action (not something I would expect of the RN). It could also mean they could force the action to take place in the range bands they wanted them to without giving as much away.
     
  15. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The Rs were laid down from November 1913 to January 1914, and Royal Oak was launched as early as November 1914, so it seems unlikely that the design could have been influenced by the war which broke out, quite unexpectedly*, in August 1914. The decision to make them twenty feet shorter than the QEs, six fewer boilers, etc. was made with no expectation of war. Indeed there was not much war experience relevant to battleships until Jutland in 1916.

    It is interesting that the new DNC, and the same First Lord, stepped back from the QE concept to something more conventional. the Rs were planned to be coal burners with the same 21 knot speed as predecessors like Iron Duke (the switch to all-oil gave them an extra knot or so). Was this a repudiation of the fast battleship idea, or did they consider one division of QEs sufficient?

    * Fisher had predicted that war would break out on the first bank holiday after the completion of the widening of the Kiel Canal, which it did. Fisher also told a group of officers in 1919 to put their weapons away for twenty years.
     
  16. ResearcherAtLarge

    ResearcherAtLarge Member

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    The 5"/38s had their own hoist design and nothing was re-used. An interesting side note is that retrofitting the older battleships with twin 5" mounts was proposed during 1942 for weight savings over the open 5"/25 mounts. from a memo written to the Captain of BB-43 from Lt. Com O. Schneider, a naval architect, had been assigned along with five others to make damage control recommendations. The primary concern in a memo dated May 19 was draft - her armor belt was too low. Besides removing an anchor (plus chain and wildcat for a 200 ton estimated savings) and the armored conning tower (580 ton estimated savings) he proposed:

     
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  17. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Then the difference had to be in structure and ammunition load outs, because the mounts themselves won't result in a reduction. A 5"/25 mount and a 5"/51 weigh in at about 25 tons total. Replacing those with a twin Mk 22 5"/38 base ring mount results in nearly 50 tons of weight for the new mount. However, if the new mount carries say half to two thirds the ammunition the two guns it replaces does, along with superstructure weight reductions it might result in a savings. But, add in the Mk 37 directors and some more weight is added.

    I'm not sure it would result in a big weight savings, but it would result in a much more uniform and useful secondary battery doubling the AA guns and still leaving a reasonable surface fire secondary battery with better fire control, particularly in surface fire given the 5"/51's are in local control.
     
  18. ResearcherAtLarge

    ResearcherAtLarge Member

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    Directors were going to happen regardless. They started the war with the Mk 19 director on battleships before upgrading to the Mk 37 on most.

    For sure the weight savings were in the simplified structure and logistics of a common mount and ammo. If you add up ten 5'/51s (remember that both Arizona and Pennsylvania had the two forward 5"/51s on the boat deck removed by the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor) and 8 5'/25 mounts the 1945 Gun Mount ant Turret Catalog would have that at about 400 tons, and eight 5"/38 Mk 22 mounts comes in at 600 tons max. He was a naval architect and I'm going to trust his knowledge, but even at the low end of the Mk 22 mount's weight, we're still looking at over 100 tons of additional weight for just the mounts. The other point to consider is that the twin mounts were more dense, meaning that they were essentially able to replace eighteen mounts and crew with eight mounts and associated crew. That's got to be a bit of savings in terms of crew weight but more importantly magazines, crew food and berthing space etc..
     

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