The RN's attitude to engineering in WW2

Discussion in 'Royal Navy' started by instinct, Nov 4, 2010.

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  1. Slightly late as this is a month old.
    Anouther link to the past lost, i hope to find and read his published works.

    Is what it claims about RN's WW2 Engineering true? While i knew that british ship building practices were old, i thought this was due to ship yards being stuck behind the times and unable to upgrade due to lack of money or being to busy during the war. I had read that the admiralty wasnt exactly hidebound and old fashioned either.
  2. Yes, very much true.
  3. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    One of the reminiscences in leB's book was of when he was liaising with the USN and toured the engine and boiler room compartments in a Missouri class battleship which had NONE of the steam leaks its British equivalent had and therefore was much more cool and habitable down below. One penance inflicted on me as a fish head midshipman was 'engineering time' - I did mine in a cruiser on the equator in 1956and the temperature in the engine room was 135 F. The bods down there were sloshing back limers and popping salt pills as fast as they possibly could. We started to get this right in the 1960s with the County Class which had a segregated control room where people could hear themselves think, a pleasant change, and were separated from the steam (and the gas turbines). The eventual demise of the Admiralty 3-drum Boiler and its supersession by gas turbines was a vast improvement. All that asbestos lagging took (and is still taking) a few people with it too.
  4. When Jack Fisher got an account of the Battle of Jutland he said "They failed me. I've spent 30 years of my life building this fleet [dreadnoughts with radio comms] and they failed me".

    Despite having fully trained wireless operators, Jellicoe and his peers felt uncomfortable with it's use, hadn't bothered to learn much about it and instead used flags during the battle, which proved disastrous.

    If the Second World War Admiralty were of the same ilk then your article sounds all too plausible.

    My bold : I suspect that, as is often the case in British History, the deeds and reputations of men like Fisher and
    Le Bailly were enjoyed by a great many who were actually inimical to the imperatives of those men.
  5. rampant

    rampant LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Does that ever sound familiar.
  6. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    A lot of RN ships were well designed but the construction methods used were crap, at the begining of WW2 almost all our ships were still being riveted while the Americans and the Germans were miles ahead of us in Electric arc welding, in fact the German destroyer was on a different planet compared to a RN fleet destroyer, they had enclosed bridges and double skin hulls in the 1930s and some of ours still had open bridges in the 1970s, our blokes were still useing Nelson era Hammocks while they all had individual bunks alround crew comfort was far better
  7. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    Not so - the signaling failures were with the Battle Cruiser fleet commanded by Beatty. His procedures were nothing like as efficient as the battleships under Jellicoe.

    Beatty had the Queen Elizabeth class battleships (5th battle squadron) temporarily attached to him while one of the battle cruiser squadrons did gunnery training at Scapa Flow. They were with the battle cruisers at Rosyth for 10 days before Jutland, yet Beatty didn't once talk to the Admiral (Evans-Thomas) commanding them about his methods (which were very different from the battleships).

    Beatty's signal lieutenant (Ralph Seymour) made a pigs ear of the signals through the battle. He forgot to repeat signals by searchlight, forgot to haul down signals when they were due to be executed, etc.

    Unfortunately, Hipper (who commanded the German battle cruisers) was far more professional and blew up two British battle cruisers without corresponding loss during the action between the respective battle cruiser fleets.

    Jellicoe might have been over cautious, but his procedures worked. Beatty's were found lacking.

  8. Thanks, I stand corrected.
  9. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    The British Battle cruiser of Beatys time also had a major failing in the fact that the standard nine foot coinccidence range finder only had a range of 15,000 yards although the guns could fire to the horizon
  10. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    Reverting to our situation when we sent ships to join the Americans in the Pacific in 1945, it is shaming to recall that we had to learn abeam refuelling from them as being a very great deal faster than the astern method we had settled for. This is partly because most of our ops up to that time had not needed ships to refuel at sea. But Pacific Ocean warfare was a whole new thing. The short endurance of our ships was one concrete reason why Ernie King (apart from being anti-British anyway) didn't want our ships cluttering up his war.
  11. The power plants of British warships were almost stone age technology compared with the power plants in US warships. The higher the superheat and pressure, the more power per ton and more fuel efficient your power plant. They were running 1,000 degree superheat with boiler pressures to match while we were still trying to get our heads around running half those figures reliably.
  12. jim24 wrote
    Rivets had an advantage as built in crack arresters. The training load and time required to teach welding (properly) meant that we stuck with rivets until we won.
  13. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    Another fault in early WW2 destroyers at least was the fact that most 4in and 4.7 gun turrets only had 40 degrees of elavation which meant that they had to be fitted with a 4in high angle anti aircraft gun mount, in most cases this was put in the position of one of the torpedo tube mounts, the 4.7 also had loading problems due to the weight of the shells being loaded when the gun was in high elevation,
  14. The limited elevation of our main armaments was the lest of the RN's worries. Unlike the USN, we didn't have tachymetric directors… that is, a director that can hit a target moving in 3 axes at once. Ours could only deal with a two axes solution. The result was that while US DD's could put up a wall of 3" and 5" shells and have a good chance of hitting an attacking dive bomber, our ships were relying pretty much on luck.

    You may well ask why we didn't have tachymetric directors, it's simple really. Prior to WWII, we found we couldn't design one, so we decided that what we could design would be adequate for the threats we would face. Yes, that's right, we decided we couldn't hit difficult targets like dive bombers so we made the assumption that dive bombers would not be a threat.

    Read it and weep.

    The British High Angle Control System (HACS)
  15. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    I have a realy interesting book on this " British Destroyers and Frigates" by Norman Friedman gives loads of info on the design failings of a lot of our ships, mainly due to the WD cost cutting, bit like now realy