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Re: two questions

November 21 2016 at 4:31 AM
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Nelson  (no login)
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Response to two questions


Thanks for your two questions, which raise interesting points. To the initial one:

> In your first [posting] you mention two classes of American pre-dreadnoughts mounting 7-inch guns...I can find only one class of such ships with 7-inch guns, the Connecticut Class...The only thing that occurs to me is that the Connecticut Class was maybe divided into two subclasses? >

The answer to your first question is yes and no. Yes, the Connecticut class did have two subclasses, but no, that is not the reason I declared two classes of American predreadnoughts mounting 7-inch guns in broadside. It is often of value to specify the hull numbers of warships to get a more complete picture of what was happening, viz.:

Connecticut (BB 18)
Louisiana (BB 19)
Vermont (BB 20)
Kansas (BB 21)
Minnesota (BB 22)
New Hampshire (BB 25)

Whoa, already you can see that BBs 23 and 24 are missing from the lineup. And what is New Hampshire (BB 25) doing with a hull number three different from its immediate class predecessor, Minnesota (BB 22)? Okay, a quick review: With the original Connecticut class progressing, as a money-saving move, the navy laid down two “smaller Connecticuts”, Mississippi (BB 23) and Idaho (BB 24). They were nearly 70 feet shorter (382 feet versus 450 feet) and 3000 tons lighter (13,000 tons versus 16,000 tons). Although they mounted the same number of 12-inch and 8-inch guns in the same configuration as in the Connecticuts, they mounted four fewer 7-inch guns and eight fewer 3-inch guns. As a result, they also had less power, less speed, less range, and poorer seakeeping qualities than their slightly older cousins, relegating the latter to lesser duties. In the era of the true dreadnought, the U.S. Navy hardly needed warships that seemed suspiciously like the coastal battleships of the 1890s. Six years after their completion in 1908, the navy sold the warships to Greece, where they became Kilkis and Lemnos, respectively. Both ships served happily in the quieter and more restricted waters of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. Both retired ships were sunk by Stuka dive-bombers in April 1941 (even though Lemnos had been divested of all or most of her armament to serve in coast artillery batteries).

As a result of the unsat nature of the Mississippi class battleships, a sixth and final Connecticut class battleship, New Hampshire, was authorized; she was the final American predreadnought built. The first two and the last four Connecticuts differed enough that they are seen to be two subclasses, but not enough that the four Vermonts are generally considered to be a separate class by most big ship naval historians. Thus we have eight U.S. battleships mounting 7-inch broadside guns, the six Connecticuts and the two Mississippis. I have attached a .jpg image of Idaho, clearly showing her shorter length and fewer casemated 7-inch guns than in the Connecticuts (see the photo in my first posting). Her cage or lattice mainmast has just been added.

[linked image]

To your other point:

> In your second lengthy posting, you refer to the 7-inch guns as tertiary. In this case, I think that designation is not correct. >

I see your point and in fact kinda agree with you, given nearly the same bores of the 8-inch and 7-inch guns. But there is more than one scheme for divvying up shipboard armament. In addition to main/primary, secondary, and tertiary, one sees main/primary, intermediate, secondary, and tertiary. Except for the largest and smallest guns aboard, one may almost pick and choose where to put each size of gun. For example, what to consider 6-inch guns, which are entirely excluded in your posting? In The Complete Encyclopedia of Battleships, published a decade after the Preston book that you cite, Tony Gibbons describes the Mississippi class battleships so: “...armament was also largely unchanged [from the Connecticuts], though the tertiary battery had to be reduced in number.” Because both the 7-inch and 3-inch guns had been diminished in numbers, Gibbons evidently considered the 7-inch guns to be tertiary armament.

> Of course, having both 8-inch and 7-inch guns, with the need for two closely different ammunition supplies, highlights the silliness so often of pre-dreadnought battleship design. >

Not only silly but possibly deadly for the ship mounting both. The water spouts made by exploding 8-inch and 7-inch projectiles could hardly be differentiated at a substantial distance, making fire control for these guns a baffling endeavor.


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