BAV Maracaibo (BB-1915)


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The three ex Imperatritsa Maria class dreadnoughts were the mainstay of the Venezuelan Navy for 15 years (in that other world one has a magazine explosion - but I need all three to donate a turret each to a new battlecruiser.). The new aircraft carrier and two new battlecruisers gave the fleet a fast wing, while the older slower ships remained as the main battlefleet. At age 20 the Venezuelan Navy pondered what to do with the old ships. The layout of guns and machinery was not ideal when compared to other 12" battleships. Without superfiring turrets the ships would have to have radical modifications to make them faster and with a better layout of armament.

Many differing designs were contemplated to refurbish the ships in such a way as to retain their usefulness while not having to expend an inordinate amount of money to bring them up to modern standards. It was decided in the end to delete one turret (B) and replace the boilers and engines with more powerful units to increase the speed. The other advantage of removing B turret was to provide space for a larger superstructure area that could mount modern fire control units on. Plating in and removing the 5.1" secondary guns allowed for ten to be refurbished and fitted into the local dual purpose single turret, three forward and two aft on each side.

Probably the most striking feature was the fitting of the brand new US pattern quad 28mm cannons. Like the US Navy, the Venezuelans found the quad 28mm to have problems with jamming. They did not last long in service and were replaced with twin 40mm Bofors as soon as those guns became available. The rest of the AA armament was the Browning 0.5" AA machineguns. These were useful against slow biplanes but were found to be useless against modern fast monoplanes. Again these were replaced with the better 20mm Oerlikon cannons as they became available.  Also for the first time, aircraft were fitted on a Venezuelan battleship.

Displacement 24,000 tons std 28,800 tons full load
Length 571.5 ft
Breadth 90 ft
Draught 28 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 70,000shp (110,000shp)
Speed 25 knots (29 knots)
Range 7000 miles at 15 knots (2,250 nm at 24 knots)
Armour 10.5" side, 2.75" deck, 10/8/6" turrets
Armament As received 1923

12 x 12" (4x3)
20 x 5.1" (20x1) casemates
6 x 4" AA (6x1)
1935-37 rebuild

9 x 12" (3x3)
10 x 5.1" DP (10x1)
4 x 28mm (1x4)
14 x 0.5" mg (14x1)
Aircraft (nil)  1
Torpedoes 5 x 17.7 (5x1) submerged nil
Complement 1300 1250
Notes (ex Imperatritsa Ekaterina) Maracaibo
ex Imperatritsa Maria
ex Imperator Alekandr III


Below are the original drawings I did for this class. They never looked quite right. My big problem back then was using too modern superstructure when rebuilding the old ships.


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