Dreadnought Class (1906) BB
This HMS Dreadnought was the first battleship to have turbines, for increased
speed. The first to have four screws and twin rudders, with the rudders in
line with the inboard screws. Carried both coal and oil to fuel her
boilers. Her main armament was of only one gun size, and as many guns of
that size as possible were mounted in turrets, to increase the weight of
salvo fire. Had reduced secondary armament enough to combat destroyers.
Carried very comprehensive water-tight sub-division
She was so revolutionary and successful that battleships of all countries which were built to older designs were known as 'Pre-dreadnoughts'. Those which followed her design were known as 'Dreadnoughts', or later, as size continued to increase, 'Super-dreadnoughts'.
She made all previous battleships obsolescent, and sparked an unprecedented battleship building race for all countries which had pretensions to naval greatness.
Dreadnought's design was primarily the result of improvements in
gunnery. The early 1900's showed that fighting ranges began to be about
8,000 yards as against the 2-3,000 yards engagement ranges of battleships of the late 1800's.
The requirement therefore was to obtain damaging hits with heavy guns at ranges about 8,000 yards. With the methods of gunnery control at that time this only had a reasonable chance of success by using salvo fire.
This was because, with salvo fire;
So future battleships would require main armament all of the same size, and mount as many guns as possible of that size,
Having decided on the main armament, secondary armament need only counter a single threat, that of destroyers. It was decided that 12pdrs would be sufficient to counter them.
Speed was recognised as being vital in any engagement. Superior speed meant an enemy could be chased and brought to battle. It also gave the ability to control the range at which the action was fought, and so maintain the tactical advantage. So steam turbine propulsion was used.
The height of armour protection along the ships side was reduced, because even at ranges of 8,000 yards, trajectories would be almost flat, so protection against plunging fire was of less importance.
Very comprehensive water-tight sub-division was adopted. With solid
bulkheads to a point well above the water line. Water tight doors were
seen as a weakness and were not fitted. So movement from one compartment
to another was up, along and down. The use of oil fuel during an
action was what made this design possible. If coal was used during an
action, passages would have had to be kept open between coal bunkers and
the boiler rooms, reducing sub-division integrity.
Other smaller improvements were also made such as mounting the control position high up on a tripod mast which would remain standing even if one leg was shot away.
The combination of all the improvements. Some of which were natural progressions from previous designs, some of which were radical and bold departures from before. Gave a design which made all previous battleships obsolescent and, set a standard for all battleships to come.
Other HMS Dreadnought
Copyright © Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.
This page last edited - 11 January, 2013.