HNLMS Celebes (BB-1936)


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The Celebes came about from the Dutch being interested in producing the battleships that they were ready to build in 1914/15 at the completion of WW1. The Dutch were in a good position after remaining neutral and their Navy had the funds to fulfill this objective. The purchase of the 2 ex-Austro-Hungarian semi-dreadnoughts of the Radetzky class ensured that the Dutch Navy would be able to build a pair of fast battleships at a later date.

Updated the above drawing with new one which updates the guns and torpedoes, the 15" are now from the Caraciolo and the 40mm have new editions.

In 1923 with the Italian Navy finally cancelling the remaining Caraciolo class battleships the Dutch enquired as to what the disposition of the remaining 15" guns that had been completed for them and their side armour would be. With the Italian assurance that they were of no further use to the Italian Navy the Dutch made an offer for eight of the 15" guns and a set of side armour. The main ingredients for a new battleship, the Celebes.

To digress for a moment. For countries like the Netherlands, they are quite capable of building big ships, the Nieuw Amsterdam is over 750ft which was completed in 1938. Their shipyards had been building large passenger and other mercantile ships for decades. The Dutch yards turned out excellent work. But.... the infrastructure to build a large armoured vessel requires a different set of skills and equipment that the Dutch did not have. America, Australis, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Britain all had the necessary equipment to build the hull armour and armament for large Capital Ships. If you wanted to build your own battleships but didnt have the right type of equipment for the armour and armament then you had to go cap in hand to one of those listed above and buy what you needed and get it delivered (if they would let you have it). The end of WW1 made a lot of battleships with 12" guns available to be bought by the minor nations who wanted a big gun ship. Or like some navies, bought the old battleships to use them to build better ships in the future. To get guns larger than 12" you had to find a source for them. Back to the "Major Powers" who guarded their advantages. The Italians were always short of money so the sale of arms and equipment to other countries was high on their list of revenue providers.

The Celebes followed the British then French types of having their main armament concentrated in two quadruple turrets. The main turrets were built for the Dutch by the French at the same time as the ones being built for their Dunquerke class battleships. The ship itself was laid down in 1930 and work progressed slowly over six years to completion. The armour and armament sat waiting to be fitted to the ship for 9 and 11 years respectively since their purchase. The ships original layout showed a secondary armament of 5.9" and 3.9" of the types fitted to the Java class. The design was then reworked in 1932/33 to utilise the new twin 4.7" dual purpose in place of both the original gun sizes. Twenty barrels in ten twin turrets in a layout that took advantage of the previous designs layout to be able to fire 14 guns to one side which proved extremely useful in the war to come. The new twin 40mm mountings and 20mm weapons were fitted as they became available and space was found for them. A set of torpedo tubes was fitted to each broadside. The aircraft handling facilities were fitted at the stern with a below deck hangar that could fit up to 5 aircraft while normal complement was 3.


Displacement 36,700 tons std 43,800 tons full load
Length 742 ft
Breadth 102 ft
Draught 28 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 130,000shp
Speed 29 knots
Range 9000 miles at 15 knots
Armour 12" side, 5.9" deck, 11"/9"/6" turrets
Armament 8 x 15" (2x4)

20 x 4.7" (10x2)

28 x 40mm (14x2)

14 x 20mm (14x1)

Aircraft 3 (up to 5)
Torpedoes 6 x 21" (2x3)
Complement 1880
Notes HNLMS Celebes


Italian 15" guns bought and used by the Dutch for their Battleship Celebes.


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