British Armoured Cruisers at the Battle of Jutland

At the Battle of Jutland the British had 8 armoured cruisers as part of the Grand Fleet. My question is how much use were they? Reading through some of the basic details it seems like half of them didn't really become engaged whilst the other half was sunk. I'm looking at a possible timeline were the British fleet is somewhat rejigged but the changes to it require more manpower, paying off the armoured cruisers seems like one possible source of extra warm bodies.
 
At the Battle of Jutland the British had 8 armoured cruisers as part of the Grand Fleet. My question is how much use were they? Reading through some of the basic details it seems like half of them didn't really become engaged whilst the other half was sunk. I'm looking at a possible timeline were the British fleet is somewhat rejigged but the changes to it require more manpower, paying off the armoured cruisers seems like one possible source of extra warm bodies.

I believe they were available to be used both as scouting (Yes, there are battlecruisers, but more is good) but were primarily there to help see off bold destroyers.
 
At the Battle of Jutland the British had 8 armoured cruisers as part of the Grand Fleet. My question is how much use were they? Reading through some of the basic details it seems like half of them didn't really become engaged whilst the other half was sunk. I'm looking at a possible timeline were the British fleet is somewhat rejigged but the changes to it require more manpower, paying off the armoured cruisers seems like one possible source of extra warm bodies.
I think you've partly answered your own question.
They were nearly useless, and probably Jellicoe's greatest mistake was having them there at all.
None of them were fast enough to scout for the GF - during the approach, Jellicoe sent them ahead, but they couldn't outrun the fleet enough to make a difference.
Once engaged, they were no better (particularly given Arbuthnot's apparent decision to engage at any cost - which included getting in the way of Beatty's ships).
They could outgun a German light cruiser or destroyer, but they couldn't outrun anything except the older German dreadnoughts, and their guns and fire control were laughable in comparison to any battlecruiser.
 
It looks like the British CAs were used mainly for scouting and screening. In that role, they're still doing a useful job even if they don't engage enemy ships. In particular, they were useful in the night action: Black Prince was lost when the 1st Cruiser Squadron ran into a group of German battleships who were able to engage at very close range. Without adequate screening, the British could have lost a battleship or two instead in a similar situation.

The advantage of a CA over a CL or DD in the scouting/screening role is that it's bigger, tougher, and more dangerous. If the enemy is using CLs to screen, your CAs will roll right over them. And a CA running into a group of BCs or BBs has a better chance of surviving long enough to get away than a CL.

The disadvantage is that a CA is much more expensive in building and operational costs (as much as a late-model pre-dreadnought battleship), and more men will die with it if it gets sunk. The British would probably have been better off with a larger number of light cruisers in place of the armoured cruisers. But then, the CAs had already been built for a different role (dominating CLs in the commerce protection role, and as a heavy scouting and flanking element of the main line of battle) for which they were now obsolete and which was now filled by BCs, and the British were already building modern ships as fast as they could, so it was a choice between CAs or nothing, not between CAs and CLs.
 
Use them or lose them. They are still quite capable of chainsawing though a CL or DD out in the screen. With all the BCs countering the German BCs the ACs win the scouting battle. Unfortunately they seem to have done a remarkable job of stumbling in front of battleships. But seeing the BCs did the same I suspect that was a hazard of the job.
 
The ships might have limited value but they had large crews. Sending ACR to fight in an action were the enemy is going to deploy BC is a stupid risk that shouldn't have been taken.
They were big enought to draw 11 and 12'' fire but protected only against cruiser fire and too slow to chose their fights. That made them the most dangerous ships to be in a fleet action.
 
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I think half the Problem was having a certifiable nutcase in charge of 1st Cruiser Squadron that cost the RN 2 of the Armoured Cruisers - one, HMS Defence, lost with all hands (a 3rd Black Prince was lost with all hands during the night battle but that was an unlucky end as she had become detached from the main fleet and blundered into a squadron of German Battleships which caught her in a web of searchlights at close range and shredded her with 12" gun fire).

Perhaps the 2 Armoured Cruiser Squadrons are ordered to protect the flanks of the Grand Fleet with the faster 1st BC Squadron under Hood and Light Crusiers doing the scouting.

This way they are not placed in a position to 'get into trouble without the speed to get out of trouble'

Certainly there is still scope for ships to lose touch and get caught out during the night like Black Prince - but it would certainly make it less likely that they swan off like they did and get into trouble.
 
At the Battle of Jutland the British had 8 armoured cruisers as part of the Grand Fleet. My question is how much use were they? Reading through some of the basic details it seems like half of them didn't really become engaged whilst the other half was sunk. I'm looking at a possible timeline were the British fleet is somewhat rejigged but the changes to it require more manpower, paying off the armoured cruisers seems like one possible source of extra warm bodies.
When are you planning to pay them off? Irrespective of the merits of using them at Jutland, they were vital until 1915 in trade protection, and the big armored cruisers that made up most of the Jutland contingent were especially handy for being the only armored cruisers that could tackle Scharnhorst and Gneisenau one-on-one.
 
When are you planning to pay them off? Irrespective of the merits of using them at Jutland, they were vital until 1915 in trade protection, and the big armored cruisers that made up most of the Jutland contingent were especially handy for being the only armored cruisers that could tackle Scharnhorst and Gneisenau one-on-one.

They were also handy in the event that the Germans sent out small cruisers to raid. They didn't, but they could have (Should have?)
 
Based on my reading of the attached PHD theses, the Royal Navy placed a lot of value in first class cruisers for trade protection and scouting, in the period he covers 1884-1909. At times the cruisers seemed to take the leading role in RN doctrine. The author of this piece argues that Fisher was creating a cruiser navy with Invincible and Dreadnought. The bigger First Class cruisers were sometimes called battle cruisers in the literature of the day, meaning they were considered to be capital ships.

Armoured cruisers could stand in the battle line in the era when quick firing secondary armament at medium to close range was thought to be the deciding factor in an engagement, in the era before useful long range fire control. Battleships and first class cruisers had the same amount of secondary armament, and could wreck each others upperworks equally well. After a ship had been mission killed that way, the battle would be finished by sinking the hulk with close range torpedoes.

Japan used first class cruisers effectively in the battle line against China and Russia. So the doctrine was sound, for its day.

First Class Cruisers were faster, so they had more strategic mobility than battleships. They were also cheaper than battleships, but not by much, and used fewer crew, but also not by much.

Jump forward to 1916, and Armoured Cruisers are totally incapable of surviving exposure to modern capital ships. But some of them are still as new as the Battle Cruisers and Dreadnoughts. There might have been a doctrinal blind spot created by the newer ACs being a step on the officer career path, and a reluctance to send the best and brightest off to rot in the tropics in their old ships that actually had no use with the fleet.

I guess ACs would have some value as a screen against light forces, acting with the fleet, but my sense of a best alternate use for them is to send more out to trade protection across the wide globe. If even a dozen ACs had been parked in strategic ports across the Empire, they might have averted some of the early war raids by Emden and Königsberg. Britain used Armed Merchant Cruisers for the trade protection role a lot. But Armoured Cruisers were generally faster, as well as being better armed. An Armoured Cruiser could always sink a light cruiser that chose to fight.

It also made no sense to hoard the best of the ACs around the home islands, when much more obsolete ACs were being sent the chase raiders. If Craddock, or Arbuthnot, had the 1st Cruiser Squadron at the Battle of Colonel, then Von Spee would have been sunk right there, and it would not have been necessary to detach the Invincible and Inflexible to chase him.

There were still roles for the ships, and I can’t see a scenario where they would not be used in WW1.

https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprin...First-class_cruiser_development_1884-1909.pdf
 

SsgtC

Banned
Based on my reading of the attached PHD theses, the Royal Navy placed a lot of value in first class cruisers for trade protection and scouting, in the period he covers 1884-1909. At times the cruisers seemed to take the leading role in RN doctrine. The author of this piece argues that Fisher was creating a cruiser navy with Invincible and Dreadnought. The bigger First Class cruisers were sometimes called battle cruisers in the literature of the day, meaning they were considered to be capital ships.

Armoured cruisers could stand in the battle line in the era when quick firing secondary armament at medium to close range was thought to be the deciding factor in an engagement, in the era before useful long range fire control. Battleships and first class cruisers had the same amount of secondary armament, and could wreck each others upperworks equally well. After a ship had been mission killed that way, the battle would be finished by sinking the hulk with close range torpedoes.

Japan used first class cruisers effectively in the battle line against China and Russia. So the doctrine was sound, for its day.

First Class Cruisers were faster, so they had more strategic mobility than battleships. They were also cheaper than battleships, but not by much, and used fewer crew, but also not by much.

Jump forward to 1916, and Armoured Cruisers are totally incapable of surviving exposure to modern capital ships. But some of them are still as new as the Battle Cruisers and Dreadnoughts. There might have been a doctrinal blind spot created by the newer ACs being a step on the officer career path, and a reluctance to send the best and brightest off to rot in the tropics in their old ships that actually had no use with the fleet.

I guess ACs would have some value as a screen against light forces, acting with the fleet, but my sense of a best alternate use for them is to send more out to trade protection across the wide globe. If even a dozen ACs had been parked in strategic ports across the Empire, they might have averted some of the early war raids by Emden and Königsberg. Britain used Armed Merchant Cruisers for the trade protection role a lot. But Armoured Cruisers were generally faster, as well as being better armed. An Armoured Cruiser could always sink a light cruiser that chose to fight.

It also made no sense to hoard the best of the ACs around the home islands, when much more obsolete ACs were being sent the chase raiders. If Craddock, or Arbuthnot, had the 1st Cruiser Squadron at the Battle of Colonel, then Von Spee would have been sunk right there, and it would not have been necessary to detach the Invincible and Inflexible to chase him.

There were still roles for the ships, and I can’t see a scenario where they would not be used in WW1.

https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprin...First-class_cruiser_development_1884-1909.pdf
A big part of the Armored Cruiser doctrine can actually be traced back to the days of sail. A lot of navies looked at Armored Cruisers as a modern day Third Rate Ship-of-the-Line. Something that was too small and weak to truly go up against a First Rate battleship like Dreadnaught, but still more powerful than anything else afloat. And in the right circumstances (see the Battle of Tsushima), they were still able to take their place in the line of battle. That way of thinking had been valid in Naval Warfare for hundreds of years. It needed a battle like Jutland to kill it.
 
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I believe they were available to be used both as scouting (Yes, there are battlecruisers, but more is good) but were primarily there to help see off bold destroyers.

The Cruisersquadrons of the large and vulnerable armored cruisers were used as part of the classical scouting force simmilar to the more heavily armed Battlecruisers, which were still seen as larger armored cruisers in a tactical role. Basically they were a back up for the two main scouting squadrons of the grand Fleet, commanded by either VAdm Sir David Richard Beatty and the 3rd Battlecruiser squadron under: RAdm the Hon. Horace Lambert Alexander Hood, with "Two squadrons of Armoured Cruisers and one squadron of Light Cruisers were attached to the main body of the Grand Fleet to act as a scouting force. 1st Cruiser Squadron[g] (Armoured Cruisers): RAdm Sir Robert Keith Arbuthnot, 4th Baronet, K.C.B., M.V.O." and: "2nd Cruiser Squadron (Armoured Cruisers)[h]: RAdm Herbert Leopold Heath, M.V.O" (see Wikipedia)

Tactically the Cruiser Squadrons were to scout for the main battlefleet, just like the Battlecruisers did and chase off enemy scouting forces of simmilar vessels. (Not the Torpedoboats as the cruisers were not very well suited for this being oversized and wrongly armed for that role, which fell to the more nimble light cruisers also operating with the fleet in conjunction with the own DD's.)

So in short order for any phase of a fight:
1st phase: Scouting for the main fleet.
2nd phase: Fighting off enemy scouting forces of equal strength, or less. Avoid a fight with stronger opponents, like battlecruisers and Dreadnought type battleships. (Only Beaty and Hood were supposed to engage enemy battlecruisers, but not he main fleet of the Germans)
3rd phase: Support the main fleet when engaging its enemy counterpart, by engaging crippled enemies mostly. (Avoid engagement with fully operational enemy heavy units at all costs.)
4th phase: Chase down a running enemy fleet and engage its weakened and crippled units at will.

Note that the Hochsee Flotte did not deploy armored cruisers anymore by this time and solely used the "I. Aufklärungsgruppe: under command of: VAdm Hipper" which only contained heavily armored battlecruisers, very supperior to the older armored cruisers still in use with the British. A 2nd scoutgroup was made up of smaller light cruisers only: "II. Aufklärungsgruppe: under: RAdm Friedrich Boedicker". Unlike the Grand Fleet the Hochseeflotte also deployed Zeppelin type airships for scouting.

Mission objective for the German Battlecruiser force was partly differend from the British:

1st phase: Scouting for the main fleet.
2nd phase: Fighting off enemy scouting forces of equal strength, no matter its strength.
3rd phase: Support the main fleet when engaging its enemy counterpart, as well as forming an additional fast battle squadron in conjunction with the main fleet.
4th phase: Cover the retreat of the main fleet by circling around the main enemy fleet to engage it from the opposite direction in order to split up enemy fire. Or in case of a victory:
5th phase: Chase down a running enemy fleet and engage its weakened and crippled units at will.

See:
Germany's High Sea Fleet in the First World War - Admiral Reinhard Scheer, ISBN: 9781848322097
 
A big part of the Armored Cruiser doctrine can actually be traced back to the days of sail. A lot of navies looked at Armored Cruisers as a modern day Third Rate Ship-of-the-Line.
I suspect you actually mean 4th Rate... for most of the sailing line of battle era 3rd rates (~60-80 guns, exact cutoffs varying depending on era) were the standard battleship with 1st and 2nd rates comparatively rare.

The relatively few 4th Rate Ships of the Line (rather than the large frigates which started encroaching on that territory about 1800-1820) are more in line with what you're talking about... a ship of force for remote stations that could, if the shit really hit the fan back home, take it's place in the line of battle for a major action.
 
Good thesis. I have enjoyed it before.

I guess another way of looking at is to ask what would have happened if the ACs had been replaced additional BCs, protected cruisers, or nothing at all? I guess what I am trying to suggest is scouting in front of a battle line is likely to get you killed.
 
Good thesis. I have enjoyed it before.

I guess another way of looking at is to ask what would have happened if the ACs had been replaced additional BCs, protected cruisers, or nothing at all? I guess what I am trying to suggest is scouting in front of a battle line is likely to get you killed.


So more light faster and dare I say it 'expendable' light cruisers would have been better
 
The Germans called the Pre-dred squadron members '20 minute ships' on how long they would last in a modern fight.

ACs were far worse, the same size as those ships, a bit faster, but no battleship sized main guns, and little armor.

All they did is slow down the battleline, and expose crews who would be better off anywhere else.
 
The Germans called the Pre-dred squadron members '20 minute ships' on how long they would last in a modern fight.

ACs were far worse, the same size as those ships, a bit faster, but no battleship sized main guns, and little armor.

All they did is slow down the battleline, and expose crews who would be better off anywhere else.
The phrase I heard they used was 15 minute ships, 5 minutes for the British to stop laughing, 5 minutes to find the range and 5 minutes to sink them, graveyard humour at its finest.
 
Note that the Hochsee Flotte did not deploy armored cruisers anymore by this time

I feel like that’s euphemistic when the reality was that nearly all German armored cruisers had been sunk by the time of Jutland. The Royal Navy’s ranks of armored cruisers had suffered quite a bit too in the early part of the war but they started with many more. I’m not aware of a doctrinal reason that (if Von Spee had somehow navigated home for example) Scharnhorst and Gneisenau would have been left home for a sortie of the HSF.
 
I feel like that’s euphemistic when the reality was that nearly all German armored cruisers had been sunk by the time of Jutland. The Royal Navy’s ranks of armored cruisers had suffered quite a bit too in the early part of the war but they started with many more. I’m not aware of a doctrinal reason that (if Von Spee had somehow navigated home for example) Scharnhorst and Gneisenau would have been left home for a sortie of the HSF.

Very true and the surviving German ACR's that were around were simply not very good or were waaaaaaaay too slow. The Roon and Prinz Albert class ships were all turn of the century ships, roughly equivalent to the UK's Cressy or Good Hope's and were old, 21 knot ships with armour along their waterline no thicker than 3.9 inches. Great for when they were introduced, but too slow for modern use. The most modern German armoured cruisers, the Blucher, and Scharnhorst/Gnisenau that were equals to the RN's ships had all been sunk by this point and they just didn't have any more modern armoured cruisers to send out. The RN still had 3 fairly modern classes of ACR in service.

The 3 strong Defence, the 4 strong Warrior and 2 strong Black Prince class. These were all faster, better armed and better protected than any surviving German equivalent But, they had no place being at Jutland. As folks said, they were part of the RN's scouting forces, and the 1st Cruiser Squadron was on paper a formidable looking collection of heavy and fairly modern ships. Their armour protection is no worse than the Invincibles, the flaw is their speed and firepower. All the ships were VTE powered and thus only capable of a max of 23 - 24 knots and 24 knots would be if they were light and the engineering crews were flogging the guts out of the engines. Firepower wise it was 9.2-inch guns as main armament with either 7.2's or 6-inch (on the two Black Princes) as secondaries. At close range, these guns could be punchy enough to do something to a ship like a Battlecruiser or even dreadnought, but when I say close, I mean 6 - 8000 yards close. And thats suicidally close for these ships and their crews.

Against a German light cruiser this would be more than enough to overwhelm the ship and here they would have worked like the BC's would have, keeping the fleet safe from being spotted by hostile scouts. But because Beatty did such a piss poor job of reporting back what the hell was going on, the 2nd BCS and the 1st CS was out doing the job that Beatty should have done.

The 1st Cruiser squadron should have been shoved at the back of the Grand Fleet with orders to engage cripples ONLY. Not near the head of the fleet as extra eyes. Thats what light cruisers are for and what the BC's are suppose to do.
 
Very true and the surviving German ACR's that were around were simply not very good or were waaaaaaaay too slow. The Roon and Prinz Albert class ships were all turn of the century ships, roughly equivalent to the UK's Cressy or Good Hope's and were old, 21 knot ships with armour along their waterline no thicker than 3.9 inches. Great for when they were introduced, but too slow for modern use. The most modern German armoured cruisers, the Blucher, and Scharnhorst/Gnisenau that were equals to the RN's ships had all been sunk by this point and they just didn't have any more modern armoured cruisers to send out. The RN still had 3 fairly modern classes of ACR in service.

The 3 strong Defence, the 4 strong Warrior and 2 strong Black Prince class. These were all faster, better armed and better protected than any surviving German equivalent But, they had no place being at Jutland. As folks said, they were part of the RN's scouting forces, and the 1st Cruiser Squadron was on paper a formidable looking collection of heavy and fairly modern ships. Their armour protection is no worse than the Invincibles, the flaw is their speed and firepower. All the ships were VTE powered and thus only capable of a max of 23 - 24 knots and 24 knots would be if they were light and the engineering crews were flogging the guts out of the engines. Firepower wise it was 9.2-inch guns as main armament with either 7.2's or 6-inch (on the two Black Princes) as secondaries. At close range, these guns could be punchy enough to do something to a ship like a Battlecruiser or even dreadnought, but when I say close, I mean 6 - 8000 yards close. And thats suicidally close for these ships and their crews.

Against a German light cruiser this would be more than enough to overwhelm the ship and here they would have worked like the BC's would have, keeping the fleet safe from being spotted by hostile scouts. But because Beatty did such a piss poor job of reporting back what the hell was going on, the 2nd BCS and the 1st CS was out doing the job that Beatty should have done.

The 1st Cruiser squadron should have been shoved at the back of the Grand Fleet with orders to engage cripples ONLY. Not near the head of the fleet as extra eyes. Thats what light cruisers are for and what the BC's are suppose to do.


Very good summation. BZ!
 
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