Not even the King would dare ...Someone should have really bapped Fisher round the head with a rolled up newspaper and gone "No!"
I find the performance of the Austrian ships improbably good. The Tegetthoffs were complete garbage under the hood. Hang on, let me see if I can find the summary again...
Okay, so, basically, they couldn't fire for more than 15 minutes without suffocating the turret crews; they listed as much as 19 degrees on high-speed turns of more than ten degrees - when 25 degrees meant the ship was going to turn turtle; they could not make their design speed of 20 knots - Tegetthoff topped out at 19.75 knots on trials, and would have been even slower in service; they sprung rivets during firing trials; oh, and they were badly unstable. Not to the point of, say, Bouvet, but very bad.
The magazine detonation on Tegetthoff, for instance, probably should've sunk the ship outright. And their shooting definitely wouldn't improve with the gun crews slowly suffocating.
Also? The Austrians probably wouldn't open fire at 16,000 yards; doctrine was to open fire at 9000 after and during aggressively closing the range.
Now, I understand there needs to be certain outcomes for this part of the story, but as it stands, from what I know of those Austrian dreadnoughts this is highly implausible.
I'm going by what was said in the chapter. An explosion of that size, plus the flooding of the magazine, probably should've completely destroyed what little reserve stability she had left. Or sprung open the bottom for catastrophic flooding.I don’t think they would have instantly sunk, the Austrians used similar solventless cordite and handling systems to the Germans, so they shouldn’t really explode or deflagrate, just burn.
I'm going by what was said in the chapter. An explosion of that size, plus the flooding of the magazine, probably should've completely destroyed what little reserve stability she had left. Or sprung open the bottom for catastrophic flooding.
Fisher’s First Follies
Once construction of the ‘Renown’ class was underway, Admiral Fisher turned his attention to other ways of building large warships. The ban on battleship construction could yet be lifted, but in January 1915, it was still in force with no immediate end in sight. However, while new construction of capital ships had been suspended, construction of cruisers had not, and so Fisher went back to an earlier version of ‘HMS Rhadamanthus’ and used this administrative loophole to build ‘large light cruisers’.
The first two of these, HMS Courageous and HMS Glorious, would be quite literally that; 770' long, with light framing and construction, and an armour belt no more than 3" thick. Their high speed and shallow draught were intended to make them useful in any future operations in shallow coastal areas, while their high speed would be ideal for catching German cruisers. Each ship would be armed with four American-built 14” guns, allowing Fisher to avoid the need for any ‘battleship’ type orders in the UK.
The British did not like the American built 14” gun whatsoever and would be extremely unlikely to put them on anything besides monitors as they did in our timeline. Fisher or not, the Admiralty and their ordnance experts were pretty adamant about this.
They thought the construction of the guns was shoddy and unsafe. The mountings also proved rather variable in their accuracy. The nitrocellulose charges were also not stored airtight, which led to consistency issues and thus finicky handling.What didn't they like about them?
They thought the construction of the guns was shoddy and unsafe. The mountings also proved rather variable in their accuracy. The nitrocellulose charges were also not stored airtight, which led to consistency issues and thus finicky handling.
Just as importantly, while the British could manufacture more shells just fine, the nitrocellulose propellant was of limited stock, and when they switched to cordite after running out the guns suffered a major dropoff in muzzle velocity.
It didn't help that they put the things too close together in the various 14" triple turrets in the standard class battleships which seriously hurt accuracy and rate of fireFrom NavWeps:
The two Bethlehem Mark II guns removed from Abercrombie in 1918 were closely examined by the British ordnance experts at Woolwich. The British were not impressed by the construction of these guns, noting that their poorly locked hoops and thin A tube gave them a low degree of safety. The general conclusion reached was that there was no particular advantage to copying USN practice in naval guns, mountings or propellant. ...
Although the British were unimpressed with the overall design of these guns and mountings, they did perhaps perform better under fire than did contemporary British designs. In January 1918, HMS Raglan was holed through the barbette by a 28.3 cm (11.1 in) shell from the former SMS Goeben, now the Turkish Yavuz Sultan Selim. This hit ignited charges in the hand-up chambers between the handling rooms and gunhouse, but the flash was contained and did not spread below to the magazines. This may also have been due to the fact that the propellant was USN nitrocellulose and not British cordite.
The accuracy of the Bethlehem guns varied from ship to ship. Abercrombie was noted for her accurate shooting, but Raglan's shots seemed to sometimes fall short. It was found that Roberts shot better after the guns had warmed up after a few shots. Late in World War I, British cordite was substituted for the US nitrocellulose propellant originally supplied. This resulted in a substantial loss of muzzle velocity and a matching reduction in maximum range.