WI Queen Elizabeth Class Dreadnoughts with increased range

Hi all,

This is another POD provided by Percy Scott's autobiography "Fifty Years in the Royal Navy". And so I need to give a disclaimer. A lot of Scott's book consists of essentially "The Admiralty could have/should have done X but they decided not to". The book is chock full of AH POD's. To the point where I am pretty cautious as to their authenticity. There are a lot of things that I cannot confirm from other sources. However, the ones that I have been able to find almost always confirm his details exactly with the exception that they sometimes furnish more reason for his suggestions not to be taken up. Not always good reason, but reason nonetheless. Barring evidence to the contrary, I have come to accept him as someone who is often right, but believes if you don't see it you are obviously stupid. Therefore, I can usually regard him as reliable but not representing the other side of the argument.

That said, the following quote caught my interest:
" This superiority of range was conceded by our own Board of Admiralty to the German nation. In 1905 I paid a visit to Kiel, as I have already mentioned, and on my return to London, informed the Admiralty that the Germans were giving their guns 30 degrees of elevation. The Director of Naval Ordnance at that time, Sir John Jellicoe, was in favour of increasing our elevation, but, as I have already explained, the Director of Naval Ordnance was only Director in name. He was not a Lord of the Admiralty and had no power, so nothing was done. We continued to give our guns only 13 1/2 degrees of elevation.

Four years afterwards, in 1909, we increased the elevation in new ships to 15 degrees. In 1911 we increased it to 20, and in 1915, a year after war was declared, the Admiralty did what they ought to have done ten years before, that is they decided that in all new ships the guns should be capable of firing at 30 of elevation. Finally, in 1917 they increased the elevation in some ships to 40 degrees.

My readers may not be quite conversant with the term " elevation," and the importance of it, so I will explain. Within certain limits the higher you point a gun up, the further the shot will go. For example, if you fire a 12-inch gun at 15 degrees elevation, the shot goes 16,000 yards; if you fire at 30 degrees the shot goes 24,000. Therefore, a ship that can fire her guns at 30 degrees has 8,000 yards more range than a ship that can only fire her guns up to 15 degrees elevation. They both have the same guns; the increase in range is simply due to the platform in the one case allowing the gun to be raised to an angle of 30 degrees instead of to only 15 degrees.

Early in the year 1915 it was decided to build some monitors, carrying guns of 15-inch, 14-inch, and 9.2-inch calibre. As these vessels were for bombardment purposes, it was essential that their guns should be capable of firing at a high elevation, so as to obtain a long range. This essential had unfortunately been overlooked by the Gunnery Department. I called Lord Fisher's attention to it, and offered to increase their elevation from 13 to 30 degrees, without delaying the ships, provided that I could break through all Admiralty ideas. There was to be no paper work, and no red-tape. He agreed to this. I rang up Messrs. Armstrong, Whit worth & Co., of Newcastle-on-Tyne, discussed the subject with them, and got them to send me a drawing by the night mail.

In the morning I showed it to Lord Fisher; he approved the proposal and I wired to Newcastle, directing Armstrong to proceed with the alteration. The whole operation took twenty-two hours. There was, of course, nothing wonderful about it; it merely illustrated how all work during the war should have been done. Lord Fisher was very pleased with the celerity with which it was carried out, but the paper brigade at the Admiralty did not like their ordinary red-tape ideas being over-ridden, and wrote to the Armstrong firm, informing them that I was only acting in an advisory capacity to the Admiralty, and Admiralty approval should be obtained in accordance with the usual practice. If this business had been attempted with the usual Admiralty practice it would have taken a month to get the paper work through, and probably it would not have been done at all."

So, lets say he was correct, and the guns could have been given 30 degrees of elevation from 1905 with few other consequences. I would be interested to know the effects of this increased range on all British ships of the period, but I thought the QE's were and interesting control case. When their guns were eventually elevated to 30 degrees they went from a maximum range of 23,700 yards to 29,000 yards with the same gun and shell. If they were built with this from the start, this would presumably save some modernization later. How much would that open up the shipyard schedule during the interwar period? And what effects would this increased range have on actions in WW1? presumably the ships would have to have directors to make use of the increased range but even only looking at those with directors fitted, the possibilities seem interesting. Could Beatty's force have engaged before Hipper's even with the incorrect range finding from HMS Lion?
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