Ultimately, a compromise was reached; larger than a town, smaller than a state, and the lead ship, USS Columbia, would give her name to the class.


Columbia BCa.png

USS Hawaii as completed​

Let the games begin...

You know they resemble to Pensacola's profile with the 4 turrets, but with the bridge of the New Orleans, and the bow of the Portlands. They are quite impressive indeed.

Unfortunately for all of them, the British would then choose to show that they were no strangers to bending the rules.

God save the King and the Empire!

Very handsome lady for sure! 8 x 14-inch guns makes her well armed for sure and she's probably a superior ship to the Lexingtons as they have a LOT of hull space that's not protected. I'm curious to see what the RN will come up with :D

With those specifics they are like modern American versions of the Cats, Tiger in particular.

The Eendracht also sounds like a fine ship, the layout sounds like the OTL German light cruisers, one forwards, two aft, the 9.4's I assume are new guns as the last 9.4's the Germans made were for the Furst Bismark back in the 1800's..

Certainly the Germans are checking their old stocks, I don't think they will dare to build a brand new gun.


Pretty good, although I thought that she would go a little bit faster, and also is strange (not to say unlikely) to still see her with reciprocatings after such a process, could you abound on that please?, am sure there is a reasonable explication. On the other hand, surprise to know that she was a wet ship forward.

Very interesting ships but isn't the US reacting a bit fast, none of the foreign light battleships have even hit the water when the Columbia's are ordered. I would have thought that the British and US light battlecruisers would wait until they had seen them in service elsewhere and had had time to ponder the strategic impact of BCL's all over the place.

Well, I think that the American navy used the excuse on Congress of 'look at them, we need one of those' just to justify the real need to round up their brand new battlecruiser force, not just to respond to the challenge pose by the others, and very cleverly it must be said, they got their way. Surely there is a Big Party at Annapolis...
 
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Pretty good, although I thought that she would go a little bit faster, and also is strange (not to say unlikely) to still see her with reciprocatings after such a process, could you abound on that please?, am sure there is a reasonable explication. On the other hand, surprise to know that she was a wet ship forward.

That was a matter of choice when doing the springsharp. The papers said about replacing boilers to oil firing. You can interpret it as replacing machinery or as only partially replacing it. And if I switched the engines to turbines as well you get too much leeway to play with.

Wet forward a springsharp thing when trying to balance speed with seaboat quality...
 
Man the French "Lille" design looks so derpy with just two turrets, almost like a pre-dreadnought. But since they are quad-mounts it might actually be decent.
 

Stenz

Monthly Donor
Man the French "Lille" design looks so derpy with just two turrets, almost like a pre-dreadnought. But since they are quad-mounts it might actually be decent.

until it gets a 15” or 16” shell smack bang in the middle of one of those quads and loses 50% of its main armament in one hit
 
We're being spoiled for pretty ships here - keep up the good work, I really appreciate the pictures. This one even I can tell apart from the others.

Columbia is more of a "true" BCL than the fast light battleships (BFL?) that the French and Italians have come up with. As admiral charles pointed out, she's come out very close to a Lion with modern machinery. With only a 9" belt and 2.5" decks, she's never going to stand in the line of battle, so presumably her intended fleet role is as a heavy scout, driving off opposing scout cruisers, with a sideline as a CA-killer on detached duties. I don't think the USN will be planning to get into commerce-raiding themselves.

Interesting that the designers decided to go with the cruiser-style heavy tripod mast rather than the cage masts theywere using on the battleships. Is that a mast-mounted director I can see rather than a DCT? I think she's also the first design we've seen that carries aircraft - which again fits with the "scout" role. Do the Columbias have CC hull numbers, CB or something else?

Also interesting that the Americans are sticking with casemated secondaries while the French and Italians have moved to turrets. So no 5"/38 DP - yet.
(I'd have expected the USN in the 1920s to go with 3" AA rather than 4" - did they ever have a 4" gun? - but that's a quibble)

Eendracht on the other hand is simply a super-CA - she's outmatched against any capital ship afloat and her job is to counter the new fast CAs that the old BCs are too slow to catch. She's inefficient in Treaty tonnage space but the Dutch have so much they don't care. I'd expect the Dutch to lay up/scrap the Java/Lutzow sooner rather than later, budgets being what they are.

This TL is moving towards much more of a continuum between capital ships and cruisers than we saw in OTL (I think the biggest pre-WW2 OTL cruiser was around 12,000 tons standard; the smallest capital ship was 25,000 and only the pocket battleships tried to bridge the gap).

Unfortunately for all of them, the British would then choose to show that they were no strangers to bending the rules.
Fisher-class inbound in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...
 
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Well guys, after a close and careful analysing process of all we´ve lately discuss, I have reach certain conclusions and had redefine my perspective in relation to the capital ships and how the LBB/BC could fit in the new environment, highly influence by the thread but independent of it, of course all are personal opinions done with hindsight and subject to modifications in light of future developments.

Thing is that, first of all is, what I come to understand as a battleship, because is the cornerstone of the whole game, but my vision in general terms is of a heavily armed (more than 8 barrels) and armored (according of a given period´s minimum standard) vessel with disregard for high speed, although if is achieve it would be a useful boost, but not vital. Instead, fitting myself in the american paramount, is best to focus on machinery reliability so that the ship can savely reach and maintain its intended top speed, whatever it is, and again if superior to expectations then good for the ship, but anything else is just what I perceive as a needless fisheresque eagerness for speeeeeed.

now in light of that, what is, for me, a battlecruiser (a real one, not one that is a misnomer to its intended use and capabilities), or at least what should be, and that is a ship that, given their high flank speed, can act as fast wing of the fleet, the cavalry to the battleship phalanx if the allusion is permitted; that said is important to take into account when designing one, that they are expected to suffer, so is important that can withstand with reasonable confidence both either a limited exposition to large calibres or a prolonged one to lower calibres, but most vital is that can resist, at least in theory, its own calibre, when not that of the expected enemy directly, i.e. their counterparts. In that line, then, is important to take into account that although their speed is their major asset, is also its major weakness and as such is of vital importance to preserve it and keep it save at all cost, which means that if the battlecruiser can´t resist any meaningful degree of damage without been cripple then is a lame duck and easy prey in a fleet engagement, which at the same time led to the next reasonable point, how fast is to be fast for a battlecruiser, if is to act as the fast wing of the fleet, then is quite easy to answer: a ship that have a reasonable margin of speed over the battleships (25% is the often quoted minimum require figure)is sufficient without neglecting its protective scheme, obviously this means that if such a ship is not possible then the tech is not up to the task, but if on the contrary, is possible, then either your forcing the issue with a higher or bigger than recommend speed or guns, which has to come to sacrificing one of the others in the triad. Now, the guns, oh boy, the guns. It should be point out that I often find myself surprise with the inventiveness of the people to get around the obstacle of size, cost, resources, etc... but all of that has a limit and that limit is always what you realistically can put on the hull without making it top heavy or too nimble, and that makes relatively easy to select the gun calibre that is more apt for the ship and the number of barrels, which are (or should be) inversely proportional, i.e. the higher the calibre, the smaller the number of barrels, unless the ship in make huge and consequently can hold the burden of the two without neglecting the triad and in that case what you are framing is what the legend calls a ´Fast Battleship´, but careful just the richest and advance can possibly know how.

And Finally, if you have taken the time to follow to this point, then congratulations, the final point to discuss is what is not, how not to design and how can possibly be classify that which seems as a battlecruiser but not quite; well at first sight it could seen as an easy task but not absolutely, there´s a good list of names and classifications for all kinds of taste, and they come and go according to the times. Given that, if is an under-armored ´fast battleship´ or an up-gunned cruiser, they have in common that in either case they are the extremes of the spectrum of a battlecruiser. On one hand we have the up-gunned cruiser that, for the sake of simplicity, I decide to classify as armored cruisers and large cruisers: the first is in the range of the old armored cruisers, as their name implies, but with the (not so) innovative trick of embarking on a cruiser size hull, a certain quantity of heavy guns, generally 4-6 of up to 12" (although the calibre could be exceeded, it gets it to the next classification), which even in that size could be fitted with a degree of commodity if correctly planned and with a good margin for protection if nothing is neglected, and although an outstanding speed may not be their prime, still could do for a long range raider if require or if on the contrary it is, then a excellent ocean-going scouting unit is at hand, and a cheaper more flexible option to the battlecruiser from an operational point of view, but is either of the two not both for what can be fitted in what is a relatively small hull; but then comes the second classification, the Large cruiser, that as his name implies is bigger, if you really want a big gun cruiser and you´re eager to have high speed and more guns but without going up to the skies in the final price, them you have the option of just upgrading the design of a first generation dreadnought by enhancing the machinery with modern ones, that are lighter and more efficient, and spare space and weight for more or bigger guns and a thicker and/or improve armor scheme, which still left enough a gap to make them smaller than the biggest battleship and cheaper than a battlecruiser without stop been effective fighting units, although of limited value, however if the guns fitted to them are in general, smaller than the front-line ships then the temptation to put them in the line as true battlecruisers is averted because a reasonable admiral won´t put his ships, that he knows are inferior and ill-suited, across the pass of vessels that he knows are overwhelmingly superior and that the best he can do is to limit his participation in the slugging match to the minimum require, instead manoeuvring around to support the other auxiliary crafts (torpedo boats, destroyers, light cruisers) and escorting them so they can reach a position where they can execute an attack on the already compromise enemy battle-line, or preventing exactly that situation for their own side, of course, all this is merely theory and the best laid plans are shattered at contact with the enemy, but the possible drawback of this type of vessels is the same as the just describe, even if a reasonable admiral is in charge, if he feels that his ships are capable or was he simply not instructed correctly on what role his ships are to play in relation to the fleet, he will act according to his own initiative and judge what his ships are capable of do or not, and this can go either way but have one simple consideration: if the ship´s guns are equal, bigger or just little bit short of the calibre embark on the battleships, then he will think that he can do as much punishment as the big guys and will jump to the action without a doubt, unless is dispose to be call a coward and/or demoted for not acting, even if his ships are not fit to stand the same damage that can inflict, which makes the situation a little tricky because you could have a reasonably armored ship against even, at least limited, to a bigger gun that it carries but the trade is a small calibre, that could be mitigated with more barrels, or less barrels and bigger calibre, without affecting the speed but not both... but if you really want SPEED¡, (more or bigger) GUNS¡, you have to gave up, even a decent, armor which makes your ship, as they say, an eggshell with hammer(s), and that takes us to the other extreme of the issue: the under-armored ´fast battleship´, which I call, in a touch of fisheresque humor, ´light fast battleship´, this big guy can bite hard and have all the advantages of the battlecruisers but is easy to cripple, and is as or even more expensive than the battleships in many cases, which makes their presence in a fleet engagement of dubious value and honestly not worth the expense, if they can be lost in a single stroke, although it should be recognise that if they are fitted with the longest range weapons available then they can shoot to the enemy from a save distance, if fitted with a good fire-control, without coming close to it and staying savely away of the main action, but contributing in a respectable way, however to do such a use is to train your high ranking personel to endorse such doctrine and if the wrong guy gets pick, you could easily have a massive funerary pire in the high seas and regretting your whole live for it.

But all in all, thats it.

PD: sorry for the long drawn essay, but I have to express my thoughts and bring it to you so we can discuss about it, and see if something have fail in my reasoning to correct.

Edit: I miss to say in the battlecruiser paragraph, that to them also applies the reliability doctrine, so 28-30 knot battlecruisers are probably the best that can be achieved without breaking that rule and all the others actually, with 29 knots being the safest top speed.
 
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OK all this talk of Light Battleships or BC's under 23000 tons has been interesting and all but why do I think the Royal Navy aren't about to unleash their own take?.

Were about to see a 40000-ish ton fast battleship aren't we. All the world going one way and the Royal Navy deciding to pull it another.

Hurry up with the post please I need it.
 
Were about to see a 40000-ish ton fast battleship aren't we. All the world going one way and the Royal Navy deciding to pull it another.

Remember the Japanese have already built the Kii's which are north of 40,000 tons on trials and even more once in service. If the RN really wants to break the mold they need to get their G3 or D-33 plans dusted off.
 
A magnificent breakdown there Admiral Charles. The Light BB seems to be kind of settling into a Battlecruiser esque role. As the Americans made what is basically a 14-inch gunned Lion class BC but on a lighter, faster hull. This of course comes with the same risk as the WW1 ships where they'll face ships like themselves or force the evolution of fast Battleships which will render them moot.

But, they still have their role. First, I would assume that any fast Battleship would be expensive so not that common, and this means that the main threats to a BBL are ships of its own kind or the few still existant battlecruisers, all of which can be hurt by the BBL's.

A BBL can quite happily go after CAs and CLs but there's no risk of making them 'extinct' because BBLs are still going to be expensive to build, man and operate and unless there's a SERIOUS building fad for them by the big three naval powers, there's simply not going ot be enough to threaten cruisers and then they'd be operating as squadrons to deal with one another, which brings them back to the WW1 Battlecruiser role.
 
Very handsome lady for sure! 8 x 14-inch guns makes her well armed for sure and she's probably a superior ship to the Lexingtons as they have a LOT of hull space that's not protected. I'm curious to see what the RN will come up with :D

The Eendracht also sounds like a fine ship, the layout sounds like the OTL German light cruisers, one forwards, two aft, the 9.4's I assume are new guns as the last 9.4's the Germans made were for the Furst Bismark back in the 1800's..
Definitely new guns on the Eendracht, those 1890s guns would look a bit feeble. Potentially useful as coast-defence guns in the Indies too (meant to mention that in the story).
Yes, certainly hints of Konigsberg, although in profile I picture her as a much bigger version of the real De Ruyter, with greater separation on the aft turrets.
 
Very interesting ships but isn't the US reacting a bit fast, none of the foreign light battleships have even hit the water when the Columbia's are ordered. I would have thought that the British and US light battlecruisers would wait until they had seen them in service elsewhere and had had time to ponder the strategic impact of BCL's all over the place.

The argument that other powers are building similar ships might provide the final shove to get the funding over the line in Congress, but it isn't the primary reason for these ships as far as the Navy is concerned. From their perspective, these aren't primarily a response to other light battleships, they're a continuation of the programme to build battle scouts, justified on the basis that large foreign 8" cruisers (particularly the Japanese) might be able to put US scouts off-balance.
Likely to be a bit more politics to that too, as there would be a degree of dithering over the decision to build new 8" cruisers, partly due to the faction who would say 'finish the 1916 programme ... then we'll talk about new ships'

There's a plus side to that, though. The Americans have already built an 8" cruiser (the 6-gun Newarks - a slightly scaled-up Omaha), so they should have seen what an over-gunned small cruiser looks like, and be able to avoid the worst bits of the Pensacolas.
 
I like the stretched Pensacola look. Nice ships for the limits, some of those in the Solomons(or TTL version of that) could be very interesting. Maybe put one in the Philippines to be a pain to the Japanese?
That's the idea - give the cruiser squadrons some teeth, hopefully buy them some time until the fleet shows up.
 
Let the games begin...

You know they resemble to Pensacola's profile with the 4 turrets, but with the bridge of the New Orleans, and the bow of the Portlands. They are quite impressive indeed.
...
With those specifics they are like modern American versions of the Cats, Tiger in particular.
No coincidence there, those are the ships that are being designed (or at least sketched) at the same time as these Columbias.
For the USN, these are big cruisers, not really battleships, so it's natural there would be some bleed through in the design.

...
Well, I think that the American navy used the excuse on Congress of 'look at them, we need one of those' just to justify the real need to round up their brand new battlecruiser force, not just to respond to the challenge pose by the others, and very cleverly it must be said, they got their way. Surely there is a Big Party at Annapolis...
Always a good excuse... :)
 
But, they still have their role. First, I would assume that any fast Battleship would be expensive so not that common, and this means that the main threats to a BBL are ships of its own kind or the few still existant battlecruisers, all of which can be hurt by the BBL's.

The Japanese have two Kii's which are barely slower than these Columbia's and will tear them apart. That's why I'm slightly surprised that the US has built these in succession to the Montana's, I would have expected that the USN's next class would respond to to the Japanese and build something targeted at the Kii's, though your point about the Japanese cruisers does make sense.
 
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We're being spoiled for pretty ships here - keep up the good work, I really appreciate the pictures. This one even I can tell apart from the others.

Columbia is more of a "true" BCL than the fast light battleships (BFL?) that the French and Italians have come up with. As admiral charles pointed out, she's come out very close to a Lion with modern machinery. With only a 9" belt and 2.5" decks, she's never going to stand in the line of battle, so presumably her intended fleet role is as a heavy scout, driving off opposing scout cruisers, with a sideline as a CA-killer on detached duties. I don't think the USN will be planning to get into commerce-raiding themselves.

Interesting that the designers decided to go with the cruiser-style heavy tripod mast rather than the cage masts theywere using on the battleships. Is that a mast-mounted director I can see rather than a DCT? I think she's also the first design we've seen that carries aircraft - which again fits with the "scout" role. Do the Columbias have CC hull numbers, CB or something else?
Yes, those are her intended roles, she's not regarded as a battleship in any traditional sense. With the smaller 12-14" gunned ships going out of service in Japan and Britain, there's less chance of her being considered a 'fast battleship' in the way that the Lions occasionally were when they were built (more a piece of public disinformation than within the Navy, to be fair).

I believe the cages were quite heavy, and were beginning to fall out of favour as more platforms were needed.
The topmast unit wouldn't technically be a DCT (they were only in the RN), but it would be a stabilised director and spotter position, possibly a Mk.XI given the time frame.
A DCT incorporated all the gun-control functions (rangefinding, directing, spotting, control and correction) into one unit. The Americans never did that, preferring to keep as much as possible below decks, and kept rangefinders and director/spotters separate. Fundamentally both US and British post-war systems worked in very similar ways, the differences were mostly how they were arranged.
As they've reused the 1916 authorisation, they would be 'Capital Cruisers' like the Lexingtons.

Also interesting that the Americans are sticking with casemated secondaries while the French and Italians have moved to turrets. So no 5"/38 DP - yet.
(I'd have expected the USN in the 1920s to go with 3" AA rather than 4" - did they ever have a 4" gun? - but that's a quibble)
Casemates are light and well understood. Mounted high they're reliable enough.
The USN did have a 4" AA gun around this time, although it wasn't widely used - same gun as on the flush-deck destroyers.
We're a bit early for DP guns (and the air threat is still in its infancy). They're taking advantage of the Treaty exemption that AA guns up to 4" calibre can be added under the '3000 ton' rule, so whereas a 5" AA gun would count as part of the ship's baseline displacement, these additional 4" guns don't.

Eendracht on the other hand is simply a super-CA - she's outmatched against any capital ship afloat and her job is to counter the new fast CAs that the old BCs are too slow to catch. She's inefficient in Treaty tonnage space but the Dutch have so much they don't care. I'd expect the Dutch to lay up/scrap the Java/Lutzow sooner rather than later, budgets being what they are.

This TL is moving towards much more of a continuum between capital ships and cruisers than we saw in OTL (I think the biggest pre-WW2 OTL cruiser was around 12,000 tons standard; the smallest capital ship was 25,000 and only the pocket battleships tried to bridge the gap).

Fisher-class inbound in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

Oh yes, Eendracht is decidedly non-threatening, unless you're on a cruiser in the DEI. I'm sure the Dutch can find a home for Java as a coast defence battery.
To some degree, I've created the conditions for the revival of the battlecruiser as a 23,000-ton ship, while battleships (fast or otherwise) are 36,000 tons+
 
Glad you like them, it's not really my focus, but I do have fun with the occasional picture.
0/10 in ship recognition class, then ... I'll point out one is flush-decked, the other isn't. :)
Yes, it's a conning tower.


There's no better way of adding weigh than a thick deck. A 5" deck would weight about the same as a 20' deep 12" belt, it's a lot of steel.
I briefly modelled the Vesuvios with a 15' deep belt, and the deck is much thinner.
The 33kt trial speed was at a ridiculously low displacement (as was Italian practice at the time - they occasionally ran trials without turrets!), with the machinery heavily forced. Real world, they'd be 30-knotters, when clean and in good condition.

They're just ... awkward ships, as I'm sure would be realised in London and Washington at about this time. How to deal with a cruiser-killer/raider that can walk away from most battleships.
A few half-sisters for Rodney and Lexington are probably beginning to look like a good idea, particularly with Kii in the background.

Well now, given my current perspectives, I have to ask: 9" belt is the minimum sufficient thickness in a medium-long (15-22k yards) range engagement to hold at least a couple of 16" hits, with any meaningful degree of confidence?, because if not, then Americans and British have the eggshells, STS-200 can you make a breakdown with the immunity zone of each one-off and class of battlecruisers currently in service please.

There's also the factor that from the perspective of the Admiralty a "difficult" ship with French or Italian colours isn't actually that difficult, you know that when push comes to shove the RN has sufficient margin of superiority that any problem can be solved. The IJN is big and concentrated a long way away and should conflict arise the RN will at best have a small margin and might not even have parity. That makes the Kii's much more worrying.

And the best that Britain can wield are TTL County's, so the sooner a response plan is laid (just in case) the better.
 
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Well guys, after a close and careful analysing process of all we´ve lately discuss, I have reach certain conclusions and had redefine my perspective in relation to the capital ships and how the LBB/BC could fit in the new environment, highly influence by the thread but independent of it, of course all are personal opinions done with hindsight and subject to modifications in light of future developments.
...
An excellent analysis there.

As you say, the lessons of the story's war are perhaps that lightly-armoured fast ships are viable in a major battle, but they won't last as long as the battleships in a traditional broadside engagement. There's a need to protect vital areas against a 'lucky shot' (as they think happened to Queen Mary at Stavanger), which wasn't well understood before the war by the RN, but it is better understood now.
For it to justify itself, a true battleship must be capable of fighting enemy battleships, a battlecruiser might be 'able to fight enemy battleships - if needed'.
For the big navies that can afford variation and experiment, that might suggest a 36000+ ton 'battleship' and a 23000-ton 'battlecruiser' distinction, because the battlecruiser will never be worth as much as the full-on battleship.

On the other hand, we have the Japanese 'Kiis', which are certainly fast battleships, although with the armour a bit on the light side. No one has responded to them yet, partly because they not sure what they are yet, due to building being delayed by the earthquake.
So far, nothing except Furious could both catch and kill a Kii, and I wouldn't bet on Furious in the engagement (plenty of other more powerful ships about, but they're all slower than the Kiis).
 
The Japanese have two Kii's which are barely slower than these Columbia's and will tear them apart. That's why I'm slightly surprised that the US has built these in succession to the Montana's, I would have expected that the USN's next class would respond to to the Japanese and build something targeted at the Kii's, though your point about the Japanese cruisers does make sense.

I see the Columbia's as being 'Large Cruiser' hunters - a recycling if you will of the original job of the first battlecruisers - that is the hunting down of 'Fast armoured cruisers' such as the new ships coming out of the Netherlands.

I do not see them as intended to go toe to toe with the Kii's or other, what are effectively 'Fast Battleships'.

And it does (along with TTLs 2 Lexington BCs) address the major limitation of the OTL USN Fleets lack of a fast 'wing' to its battle fleet.

They are a 1920s version of the Alaska's - I can see them being useful and I can see them being an utter waste of time effort and monies (in addition to upsetting a certain 'Ursus arctos californicus' either way)
 
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