HMS Lord Howe (BB-1928)


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Looking at the progression of armaments around the world. The US armaments went from triple 14" to twin 16", Japan from twin 14" to twin 16", the British from twin 15" to triple 16". That's in real life. Even in my AU navies I keep pretty much the same for the US and Japanese. It is the British that I tinker with. The problem I have is the change from twin 15" to triple 15", would a return to twin 16" be considered an improvement? Part of the problem is the British 16" Mk.1 guns. They were not a good weapon. The 15" fired a 1950 pound shell, the new 16" a 2020 pound shell, the US equivalent a 2240 pound shell, the Japanese a 2205 pound shell. All about the same, so what makes the British 16" perform so poorly against the rest? The British went away from what had worked beautifully with the 15" Mk.1 to the inadequacies of the high velocity 16".

From Wiki on the British 16" Mk.1
From inadequate firing trials, a mistaken theory was promulgated by the Director of Naval Ordnance (DNO) that held that a high-velocity, low-weight projectile would have superior armour penetration characteristics at large oblique angles of impact, a conclusion which was the opposite of previous findings. This theory was not substantiated by later trials, but these took place too late to affect the decision to use a lightweight APC projectile for new designs. As a result, these guns proved to be only marginally better in terms of armour penetration than the previous 15"/42 (38.1 cm) Mark I and much less satisfactory than those older guns in terms of accuracy and barrel life.

On my Majestic class with 12x15", I have a pretty good broadside of 12x1950=23,400, while if I do a direct swap of a twin 16" for each triple 15" then I have 8x2020=16,160. Even replacing it with 9x16 as per Nelson then it is still only a broadside of 18,180 with poorly performing shells that have no better penetration power than the 15". The increase in gun size is supposed to increase both range and penetration being achieved with bigger and better shells.

So how big does a British 16" shell need to be to out perform the good old 15" Mk.1, that was so good they were quite happy to put them aboard Vanguard 20 odd years later? Make the 16" shell 2500 pounds each, then how many guns do you need to have the same broadside as a Majestic? 23,400/2500=9.36 guns. So 9 guns is slightly less and 10 is slightly more. Just as an aside the US produced a 2700 pound 'superheavy' shell mk.8 for the Washington, South Dakota and Iowa classes. It is quite simple, the heavier the shell the more penetration power it should have.

A low velocity, 2500 pound, 16" shell, is what was required on the British ships to be built as the Nelson and Rodney. A 9x16" main armament would give them an equivalent broadside to the Majestic's, but the penetration power and explosive force of the 16" shells should outperform the Majestic's 15". The other point to clarify is the all forward armament being used to create a shorter citadel that would require the heaviest armour. To me the machinery rooms are just as important as the magazines. Get a hit in the machinery rooms that brings you to a stop, then you are a dead duck. I will stick to a forward and aft armament.

To my biased eyes, that drawing has turned out very well. I put the triple 6" on just as a trial to see if they worked, and they do. The F3 bridge, funnel and mainmast look very good for the time period. The single 4.7" and octuple 2 pounder mountings round it out nicely. There might be a couple more drawings with possible WW2 reconstructions, one with the fore and aft 6" retained and a set of 10 per side 4.5" BD mountings, the other with 4.5" turrets replacing all the 6" turrets and 4.7" mountings. More and more radar and electronics were added to the ships through the early 1940's. Hood received a pair of 40mm STAAG mountings in 1943 and these mountings replaced the 2 pounder weapons in 1944 before the ships were sent out to the Pacific (if they survive my mighty pen first).

The honorifics for Lord Howe and Lord Hood were removed from the rolls in 1930 and the ships were known as HMS Howe and HMS Hood from then on.

  As Built 1928 Refits to 1939 Refits to 1943
Displacement 38,000 tons standard, 44,300 tons full load 39,400 tons std, 44,900 full load 39,400 tons std, 44,900 full load
Length 755 ft 755 ft 755 ft
Breadth 106 ft 106 ft 106 ft
Draught 30 ft 30 ft 30 ft
Machinery 4 shafts, geared turbines, 135,000shp 4 shafts, geared turbines, 135,000shp 4 shafts, geared turbines, 135,000shp
Speed 29 knots 29 knots 29 knots
Range 10,000 miles at 14 knots 10,000 miles at 14 knots 10,000 miles at 14 knots
Armour 13" sides, 6" deck, turrets 13"/10"/8". 13" sides, 6" deck, turrets 13"/10"/8". 13" sides, 6" deck, turrets 13"/10"/8".
Armament 9 x 16" (3x3)
15 x 6" (5x3)
6 x 4.7" AA (6x1)
56 x 2pd (7x8)
9 x 16" (3x3)
9 x 6" (3x3)
20 x 4.5" (10x2)
72 x 2pd (9x8)
9 x 16" (3x3)
26 x 4.5" (13x2)
72 x 2pd (9x8)
4 x 40mm STAAG (2x2)
Complement 1350 (1410 as Flagship) 1940 (2020 as Flagship) 1940 (2020 as Flagship)
Notes HMS Lord Howe (1928)

HMS Lord Nelson (1929)

A couple of 1940+ versions.


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