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Cruisers - how are they different from battleships?

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  • Cruisers - how are they different from battleships?

    I know there are lots of simple answers - smaller guns, etc.
    But this was not always the case - in the days of armored cruisers - battleships were often the same size ships

    As battlecruisers replaced the armored cruiser - the size difference tilted towards the battlecruiser - then fast battleships replaced the battlecruiser.
    The treaty cruisers made the answer simple - treaty legal cruisers -10,000 tons and 8" guns - not really battleships...

    Once the War was on, and treaties were retired - cruisers became more balanced - and larger - the Baltimore’s and Des Moines.
    And there were Panzerships and "large cruisers" like the Deutschland's and the Alaska’s...

    The final US battleships, the Iowa's, have been described as super-cruisers, primarily due to their speed and endurance..

    Many later cruisers had protection from the guns they carried - the same standard of protection that applied to battleships, though the scale of protection and angle of impact protected against were reduced in most cruisers.

    Besides the later US heavy cruisers, the Italian Zara class and the French Algierie were well protected.

    The distinction between battleships and Cruisers was also blurred when the Germans used battleships as raiders - a traditional cruiser role.


    So I started a thread about gun cruisers :)

    Note: I am not trying to call cruisers battleships - I am looking forward to discussing the differences.

    Attached Files
    Last edited by USSWisconsin; 11 Dec 12,, 01:44.
    sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
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  • #2

    German O class (not built)





    Pittsburg (Baltimore class)


    Takao Class (Japan - 10x8"guns, 5" belt)


    Zara (Italy, 4 ships, 8 x 8" guns, 6" belt - extensive protection)
    Attached Files
    Last edited by USSWisconsin; 11 Dec 12,, 03:29.
    sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
    If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

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    • #3
      With the exception of German battle cruisers and late WWI allied battle cruisers most [larger] cruisers carried armor designed to protect against cruiser caliber weapons regardless of the size of the main armament.

      For example the US Tennessee class had 10" guns which is battleship size, but only 5" of armor. Ditto for the Panzerschiff. The only time this seems to depart is early German and late allied battle cruiser concepts which post WWI were renamed fast battleships anyway.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by zraver View Post
        With the exception of German battle cruisers and late WWI allied battle cruisers most [larger] cruisers carried armor designed to protect against cruiser caliber weapons regardless of the size of the main armament.

        For example the US Tennessee class had 10" guns which is battleship size, but only 5" of armor. Ditto for the Panzerschiff. The only time this seems to depart is early German and late allied battle cruiser concepts which post WWI were renamed fast battleships anyway.
        Yes, the better protected cruisers followed the same concept of protection from the type of gun they carried themselves. So the well protected cruisers were protected against cruiser guns. The armored cruisers were a mixed bag, perhaps 5" of Krupp armor would protect against the 10" guns Tennessee carried at a reasonable distance- since cruiser's protection was often figured with a more protection friendly 60 deg angle of impact - assumming the cruisers would be trying to evade the guns firing on them - while the battleship might be showing her broadside and slugging it out.

        Still its likely that the armor on the Tennessee was probably intended to stop 1900's era 8" fire at 10,000 yards or so.
        Last edited by USSWisconsin; 11 Dec 12,, 03:39.
        sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
        If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

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        • #5
          Some interesting big cruisers
          Attached Files
          sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
          If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

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          • #6
            Originally posted by USSWisconsin View Post
            Yes, the better protected cruisers followed the same concept of protection from the type of gun they carried themselves. So the well protected cruisers were protected against cruiser guns. The armored cruisers were a mixed bag, perhaps 5" of Krupp armor would protect against the 10" guns Tennessee carried at a reasonable distance- since cruiser's protection was often figured with a more protection friendly 60 deg angle of impact - assumming the cruisers would be trying to evade the guns firing on them - while the battleship might be showing her broadside and slugging it out.

            Still its likely that the armor on the Tennessee was probably intended to stop 1900's era 8" fire at 10,000 yards or so.
            Yes but that is still a lot less weight of armor than a battleship. The USS Oregon a rough contemporary had up to 18" of armor.

            Comment


            • #7
              Interesting how later cruisers approached or exceeded some battleships in sheer dimensions, if not tonnage. The Des Moines-class was already mentioned for example.

              I think the lines started to really become more distinct when battleship guns rose above 10-inch, especially the 12-inch guns of the pre-dreadnoughts.

              Then of course there is the age old debate about the Alaska-class large cruisers....were they super-cruisers or battlecruisers?
              I'm inclined to say super-cruisers due to their 12-inch guns and cruiser-like layout. If they were battlecruisers, they would've been sporting the battleship-standard 16-inch guns.
              “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
              ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

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              • #8
                Originally posted by zraver View Post
                Yes but that is still a lot less weight of armor than a battleship. The USS Oregon a rough contemporary had up to 18" of armor.
                True - but there was a key difference, the Tennessee had Krupp armor, the Oregon had Harvey
                edit
                (that still doesn't make up for that much difference)
                Tennessee class cruiser - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
                ArmorDespite reduced thicknesses in belt and deck armor compared to the Pennsylvania class, the Tennessees carried 30 percent more weight in armor and related protective systems and boasted the heaviest, most comprehensive protection of any U.S. cruiser until the Alaska class. This increase was due in large part to increased armor on the main turrets and redoubts, which were larger due to the increase in main gun caliber, and an increased area of side armor coverage. The latter offered ample protection to magazines and ammunition supply systems for all weapons. Armored bulkheads offered a complete subdivision of the main battery. All armor 5 inches (130 mm) or thicker was Krupp armor; thinner areas were either Harvey armor or untreated nickel steel.[37]

                The main waterline belt, 5 inches (127 mm) thick amidships and tapered to 3 inches (76 mm) at the ends, extended from the upper deck to 5 feet (2 m) below the waterline. Transverse protective bulkheads of 5-inch (127 mm) armor extended from the gun deck to the armored deck across the fore and aft ends of the belt armor. Similar bulkheads fitted on the gun deck in wake of the 10-inch barbettes form the fore and aft limits of the side armor between the main and gun decks. Above the gun deck, 2-inch (51 mm) nickel steel was fitted in wake of the 3-inch battery. The 6-inch guns on the gun deck were isolated by splinter bulkheads of 1.5-inch (38 mm) nickel steel. The bulkheads extended continuously across the ship, while 2 inches (51 mm) nickel steel extended fore and aft.[38][36]

                Turret armor was 9 inches (229 mm) on the sloping face, 7 inches (178 mm) on the sides, 5 inches (127 mm) in the rear and 2.5 inches (64 mm) on top. For the first time in U.S. cruiser design, proper barbettes for the turrets were fitted. The armor for these was 7 inches (178 mm) in front, tapered to 4 inches (102 mm) at the back and below the gun deck, behind the belt and casemate armor. This enclosed the 10-inch ammunition tubes completely and corrected a glaring flaw in the protective system of the Penssylvania class. [39]} Deck armor, 1.5 inches (38 mm) over flat surfaces and 3 inches (76 mm) over sloped, extended to the bottom of the belt armor fore and aft. A 30-inch (1 m)-thick cofferdam fitted between the protective and berth decks to the ends of the vessel, were filled with water-excluding material to aid in buoyancy in case of damage below the waterline.[38] Conning tower armor was 9 inches (230 mm) on the sides, 2 inches (51 mm) on the roof, and signal tower armor 5 inches (130 mm).[36]
                Last edited by USSWisconsin; 11 Dec 12,, 19:16.
                sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
                If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by USSWisconsin View Post
                  True - but there was a key difference, the Tennessee had Krupp armor, the Oregon had Harvey
                  Yes and the krupp armor offered about 20% better protection for a given weight. This means the Tennesse's 5" of Krupp would be equal to about 6" of Harvey. The Oregon still carried twice this equivalent across its main armored areas. The Tennessee lacked the ability to fight the Oregon and win, less gun power and less protection. However like a cruiser with a 4knt speed advantage she could leave any fight she did not wish to fight.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    This is a fun discussion - it adds another dimension to battleships for me - exploring the armored cruiser/treaty cruiser/battleship connections.

                    Norman Friedman just completed a couple excellent books about British Cruisers in 2012 (Victorian and WWII) - they have been giving me a different perspective on the cruiser.
                    Also: Richard Worth has a WWI version of his "On Seas Contested" volume which will be available in a few months - which describes naval doctrines and organizations of the major naval powers.

                    I believe these new materials (and some others) are the foundations for a revised perspective on this relationship. They have the potential to connect and expand the discussion. It has appeared to me to be a simple relationship in the past – but as I study it – it is much deeper and complicated than I had imagined. It is calling for a revision or expansion (or both) for my battleship book.

                    I appreciate your participation in this discussion.
                    sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
                    If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
                      Interesting how later cruisers approached or exceeded some battleships in sheer dimensions, if not tonnage. The Des Moines-class was already mentioned for example.

                      I think the lines started to really become more distinct when battleship guns rose above 10-inch, especially the 12-inch guns of the pre-dreadnoughts.

                      Then of course there is the age old debate about the Alaska-class large cruisers....were they super-cruisers or battlecruisers?
                      I'm inclined to say super-cruisers due to their 12-inch guns and cruiser-like layout. If they were battlecruisers, they would've been sporting the battleship-standard 16-inch guns.
                      I had considered the Alaskas to be Light fast battleships - along with the Dunkerques and Scharnhorst classes. Yes, the USN built the Alaska's like cruisers, and called them cruisers. I agree, battlecruisers would need bigger guns. I am not so sure about the light battlship idea now - though I haven't dropped it at this point. I feel that a detailed study of cruisers is needed, and I am embarking on it - cruisers are just as interesting as battleships - and they got into more battles and were built in larger numbers too. More to love.
                      Last edited by USSWisconsin; 11 Dec 12,, 19:56.
                      sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
                      If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by USSWisconsin View Post
                        I had considered the Alaskas to be Light fast battleships - along with the Dunkerques and Scharnhorst classes. Yes, the USN built the Alaska's like cruisers, and called them cruisers. I agree, battlecruisers would need bigger guns. I am not so sure about the light battleship idea now - though I haven't dropped it at this point. I feel that a detailed study of cruisers is needed, and I am embarking on it - cruisers are just as interesting as battleships - and they got into more battles and were built in larger numbers too. More to love.
                        I still think the speed and light armor of the Alaska class is very much a battle cruiser application. Even if the guns are a bit on the light side (by 1") for such an application. However the Scharnhorst class is not a light battleship. At nearly 40,000 metric tons full load the class outweighs a fully loaded Alaska class by some 8,000 metric tons (after conversion from short to metric). The class also has much thicker armor than the Alaska class and bigger guns, in all respects a fast battleship but not a light one.

                        Also while the Alaska was heavier than some early battleships, she was lighter than the last of the standard type ships the US had stopped building more than 2 decades prior to the Alaska class and lighter by a third to almost half compared to battleships built along side her in the same era.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by USSWisconsin View Post
                          I had considered the Alaskas to be Light fast battleships - along with the Dunkerques and Scharnhorst classes.
                          Our comfortable notions of ship designations BB/CA/CL/DD sometimes gets thrown out of whack by maddening ships like the Scharnhorsts with their 11-inch guns but planned to be upgunned to 15-inch, but especially "large light cruisers" like HMS Furious with a pair of 18-inch guns mounted singly in 2 turrets :bang:
                          “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
                          ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by zraver View Post
                            I still think the speed and light armor of the Alaska class is very much a battle cruiser application. Even if the guns are a bit on the light side (by 1") for such an application. However the Scharnhorst class is not a light battleship. At nearly 40,000 metric tons full load the class outweighs a fully loaded Alaska class by some 8,000 metric tons (after conversion from short to metric). The class also has much thicker armor than the Alaska class and bigger guns, in all respects a fast battleship but not a light one.

                            Also while the Alaska was heavier than some early battleships, she was lighter than the last of the standard type ships the US had stopped building more than 2 decades prior to the Alaska class and lighter by a third to almost half compared to battleships built along side her in the same era.
                            http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNFR_13-50_m1931.htm
                            http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNUS_12-50_mk8.htm
                            http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNGER_11-545_skc34.htm

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Alaska_(CB-1)
                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_...ip_Scharnhorst
                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunkerque_class_battleship


                            Actually the Scharnhorsts had 11" guns and armor upto 360mm 38,100 LT (full load) , the Alaska's had 12" guns and armor to 325mm Full load: 34,253 long tons , and the Dunkerque had 13" guns (Strasburg had 360mm armor, 34,900 LT Full Load). They all were armed with smaller guns than normal battleships. Had the Scharnhorsts recieved their upgrade to 15" Bismarck type turrets - they would have carried 6 guns - more than 25% less than other contemporary battleships. All three of the designs were light compared to other contemporary modern fast battleships. The Alaska had the lightest protection - but her broadside throw weight was substantial with her "super-heavy" projectiles. projectiles Scharnhorst 727#, Alaska 1140#, Dunkerque 1235# Full load displacements of the ships varied by about 10% from heaviest: Scharnhorst to lightest: Alaska. The three classes were the lightest of all the WWII era battleships.
                            Last edited by USSWisconsin; 11 Dec 12,, 23:32.
                            sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
                            If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

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                            • #15
                              My issue with classing the Alaskas as battlecruisers is based especially on their armament.
                              In the British practice especially, the main battery calibers of the dreadnoughts was paced almost exactly by the battlecruisers.

                              In other words, the dreadnoughts started out with 12-inch guns. Ditto the battlecruisers.
                              Then the dreadnoughts upped the ante to 13.5-inch guns. The battlecruisers followed suit.
                              Then the guns jumped to 15-inch and the battlecruisers were right there with them.

                              By the time the US got into the battlecruiser action, the standard for US battleships was the Colorado-class (and the abortive South Dakota-class), both carrying the 16-inch gun. Guess what the Lexington-class battlecruisers were going to be armed with? Yep, 16-inch guns.

                              Aside from a briefly flirtatious near-disaster with arming the North Carolina's with 14-inch guns, the US continued with the 16-inch gun.

                              Put simply, merely arming the Alaska's with a caliber that was last designed back in 1909 doesn't put them in the battlecruiser arena in the 1940's.
                              “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
                              ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

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