HNLMS Utrecht (BC-1938)


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The Dutch Navy had never been able to complete any of its plans for building capital ships of either battleship or battlecruiser types due to the intervention of wars and the need for the Dutch to source the heavy guns and armour plate required from outside interests. The Dutch navy had many designs for capital ships, and the two that interest me are the 1046 and 1047. These were both for battlecruisers armed with guns to be sourced from other European countries. The 1046 design was to have two quadruple turrets with 13" guns to be sourced from France. The 1047 design would feature three triple 11" turrets as fitted to the German Deutschland class armoured ships and later the Scharnhorst class which the 1047 resembled. The Dutch went with the German assistance which never materialised and before anything was done about laying down the ships the Netherlands had become a part of Germany (1940).

The Dutch Navy wanted a ship of force to strengthen its Dutch East Indies fleet of cruisers. This was required as it was thought that those ships would most likely face Japanese battle, heavy and light cruisers covering invasion forces. Anybody could work out that the Japanese required oil and the nearest large quantity was from the Sumatran Oil fields currently in Dutch hands.

For this ship to come to fruition, the Dutch Navy need to lay down the Utrecht in 1933 in line with the French battlecruisers then under construction. That would allow the Dutch to order the same armour and armament as the French ships while the Dutch Naval shipyards, engineering works and armouries provided the rest of the ship. So what does the 1046/Utrecht design end up looking like.

The Utrecht was fitted with a dual-purpose secondary armament and the twin 4.7" proved to be an excellent gun system leading on to the post-war automatic 4.7" developed for the Halland Class. Production of the later gun may have come earlier but 5 years of occupation meant no research was undertaken. Five anti-aircraft directors were fitted to control the AA guns. At the time of designing and building a new light AA gun system was under proving and manufacture processes and space was provided for eventually 14 of the new twin mountings. 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. Special corridors had to be fitted through the hangar area to allow the Captain/Admiral access to the stern quarters fitted as both ships were to be able to act as flagships.

The 11" armoured belt was the same as fitted to the Aquitaine. A new 4.7" deck armour was produced and fitted. The turret armour at 11" was considered adequate. The secondary turrets were fitted with 1.5" armour designed to keep out splinters and aircraft ordinance. The Dutch battlecruiser was designed as a cruiser killer with armour to make them cruiser gun proof yet still be able to outrun bigger ships. For firing the guns astern the crane needed to be laid on the deck with all aircraft struck below or in the air as spotters to the main guns.

The propulsion system was a basic steam system with boilers and turbines to produce a projected speed of 32 knots. This would allow the ship to act with the cruisers under construction and the light cruisers on the drawing boards. An enlarged radius of action was provided by extra large fuel tanks, so that the ship could get from Holland to the Indies in the least time possible.

Originally the Dutch designers were told that the French were designing a quadruple turret for the new 13" gun, but this proved too complicated and a new triple turret design was substituted in place of the quads.

Above is the quad turret design. The two designs were called 1046/8 and 1046/9 until the ship was launched and named Utrecht after the Dutch province.

Displacement 30,000 tons std 36,800 tons full load
Length 758 ft
Breadth 92 ft
Draught 27 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 150,000shp
Speed 32 knots
Range 9000 miles at 15 knots (3,000 nm at 28 knots)
Armour 9.1" side, 4.7" deck, 10/7/6" turrets
Armament 9 x 13" (3x3) (8 x 13" (2x4) in quad design)

18 x 4.7" (9x2) (20 in the quad design)

28 x 40mm (14x2)

14 x 20mm (14x1)

Aircraft 3 (up to 5)
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1580
Notes HNLMS Utrecht

HNLMS Groningen

1047 Class battlecruiser designs

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