Talk:Fast battleship

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Welcome to the Fast battleships Talk Page. I created this stub because the concept of fast battleships is referred to in a number of existing articles, notably Battlecruisers, without any provision for the reader to follow up the concept. Once it actually says something useful, I will link it into the Battlecruiser, Battleship and ship class articles.

This is my first Wikipedia article, so if I am not yet up to speed on Wikipedia editing practice, please help me to learn.


John Moore 309 13:00, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Edited a typo: distiguished to distinguished[edit]

There was a little typo so I fixed it nothing major just one letter.

Fast battleships after the Washington Treaty?[edit]

There appear to be four schools of thought on this subject.

  • All battleships designed and completed in the 1930s or 1940s (i.e from Littorio and Dunkerque onwards) are “fast battleships”, by virtue of speeds (27+ knots) much greater than those of the battleships retained from the pre-treaty era.
Well yes. Except that perhaps there could be an argument that the Montana wasn't a fast battleship, because it was specifically designed to give up speed for extra protection. Perhaps their cancellation is proof of the next argument? Nloth 00:20, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
  • The effect of the treaty, along with rising costs, was to make it impracticable for navies to develop different types of capital ship for different missions. All post-treaty capital ships were expected both to stand in the line of battle and to operate independently when required. Therefore the distinction between “fast” battleships and ordinary common-or-garden battleships is irrelevant to post-treaty battleships.
  • A fast battleship, by definition, features an emphasis of speed compared to the normal practice of the time (see article). The normal practice of the post-treaty period was for battleships to have designed speeds of 27 knots or more. Therefore a ship of this period can be regarded as a fast battleship only if its designed speed is much greater than this; say 30+ knots (Littorio, Dunkerque, Scharnhorst, Iowa).
  • Most treaty capital ships with speeds of over 30 knots made considerable sacrifices in fighting capability to achieve this (e.g. Scharnhorst with only 11-inch guns, Dunkerque with relatively light armour), and/or were optimised for operations outside the line of battle (e.g. Kongo (as rebuilt) and Iowa for escort of fast carrier groups). They also show typical “battlecruiser” characteristics such as very high length-beam and speed-length ratios. Such ships are more correctly characterised as battlecruisers.
Could anyone seriously make the argument that the Iowa class were battlecruisers? (!) Nloth 00:20, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

There is also a fifth view – namely “who cares?”. I would suggest, as an answer to that, “practically everyone who has made a post to the battlecruisers talk page". I must confess to being astonished by how much passion such issues can raise.

Hey, this is Wikipedia - of course someone cares! Nloth 00:20, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

I believe that the article should describe each of the four main views, and provide the evidence for the reader to form his or her own opinion. It might be helpful, for example, to tabulate designed speed (I suggest that trial speeds are less reliable as a guide to intentions), length-beam and speed-length ratios. I intend to start work on these lines shortly, but I will hold fire for a few days to see what other people think.

That sounds good to me - but you'll need to find external references for these four arguements. Nloth 00:20, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
Actually, after more thought it would probably make sense to divide the table into two tables - for pre and post Washington Treaty ships. Nloth 03:40, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Please post here unless your message is one-to-one.

Regards, John Moore 309 13:38, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

"Fast battleships" as official usage: Help needed![edit]

Can anyone find any examples of contemporary usage, official or semi-official, of the term "fast battleship"? As far as the RN goes, I have looked up the on-line resources given at Battle of Jutland and on the HMS Hood association website [1]. As far as I can see Jellicoe and Beatty just referred to the Queen Elizabeths by that name, or collectively as the 5th Battle Squadron, whereas the term battlecruiser (usually rendered as battle cruiser) is used routinely. Even in the 1930s, British design documents for the new Capital Ship programme generally refer to the fastest designs as battlecruisers [2], [3]. A Google search returns mostly references to USN ships, although it also uncovers a well-balanced discussion at [4]. My guess is that the term originated in the US in the 30s or 40s, to distinguish new battleship construction from the much slower ships inherited from the pre-Treaty period. It should be noted that, unlike the RN, the USN consistently segregated its “fast” and “slow” battleships; where mobility was needed, as at Midway, the slow battleships were simply not deployed.

John Moore 309 13:43, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Summary of Fast Battleship classes[edit]

I don't understand how you list the Kongos as fast battleships and not HMS Hood. Then again, I don't understand why people still persist in calling Hood a "battlecruiser" when she was clearly nothing of the sort. Notable naval historians figured out long ago that Hood was clearly the first true "fast battleship". At the time of her commissioning, she was the largest capital ship in the world, was outgunned only by Nagato, was as well if not better protected than contemporaries, and faster than any other capital ship. Heck, the Hood clearly qualifies under the parameters laid out by the first two paragraphs of the article. One of the preeminent authorities on the subject, D.K. Brown, considers the Hood to be a fast battleship (The Grand Fleet: Warship Design and Development 1906-1922). --Dukefan73 09:33, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

Ironically enough, I just noticed the fact that the D.K. Brown work is cited at the bottom of the page. This confounds me even further. --Dukefan73 09:47, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

Good question. A number of generally reliable sources, including Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships, 1922-1946 (p.173), state that the Kongos were reclassified as battleships in the 1930s. If you were to put it to me that, even after reconstruction, they retained the essential characteristics of battlecruisers - high speed, relatively weak armament and protection (by comparison with contemporary battleships) and a role of acting in advance of, or independently from, the main battlefleet - I would heartily agree; indeed, the article says as much. I would also say the same of the Dunkerques, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the Alaskas. However, until you or I reaches the eminence of a DK Brown or Norman Friedman, our opinions don't count for very much in the context of a Wikipedia article: what matters is what the recognised sources say. For the purpose of characterising warships, I think that there is a consensus that the source which should carry most weight is that of the navies which designed, built, and operated the ships in question. As far as I am aware, there is no question that Kongo (after reconstruction), Dunkerque and Scharnhorst were all classified as battleships by their respective owners ("small battleships" in the case of Scharnhorst); that the Royal Navy classified HMS Hood as a battlecruiser throughout her lifetime; and that the USN classified the Alaska as a cruiser. I have therefore included these vessels in the article in a way that respects these judgements, while also pointing out, where necessary, that these classifications are not entirely consistent with the actual attributes of the ships to which they were applied.
Perhaps I should add that a different rule applies to article titles: here, the principle is to use the designation which will be familiar to non-specialist users; which is why the Graf Spee appears in Wikipedia as German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee, rather than German Panzerschiff Admiral Graf Spee. Where the usage in the article title is at variance with comtemporary usage, most editors make a point of introducing the contemporary usage in the opening paragraph (see, for example, German battlecruiser Scharnhorst).
Hope this helps. Regards, John Moore 309 12:37, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
You could argue that Hood /was/ designed as a battlecruiser, because her horizontal armour was inadequate for line of battle duties, as understood at the time. Greglocock 23:29, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

The Washington Treaty Era[edit]

Why are the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau referred to as the Gneisenau class? I've never seen a reputable reference source list them as such, I've always seen them listed as the Scharnhorst class. Furthermore, when you go to the linked page on the class, there are no references cited to back this up. On the other hand, one of the preeminent works on the class, Battleships: Axis and Neutral Battleships in World War II, refere to them as the Scharnhorst class, along with every other book I've ever read or own. What's the deal here? --Dukefan73 11:48, 27 May 2007 (UTC)

They are also called the Scharnhorst class in my own usual source, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships. I called them the Gneisenau class because that is what the class is called in the Gneisenau class battlecruiser Wikipedia article. The talk page for that article includes an extended discussion of whether the class should have been named for Scharnhorst or Gneisenau. Had I taken part in the debate, I would have "voted" for Scharnhorst, but since the article has now been established for some time, I thought it best to go with the (presumed) consensus. Feel free to reopen the debate there, if you wish; if you want a really exciting life, you can re-open the debate as to whether they were battlecruisers or battleships! Regards, John Moore 309 17:00, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

German Battlecruisers[edit]

If everyone's okay with it, I'd like to add a section on the German Battlecruisers. There are a number of published sources with suggest that the Germans were actually trying to build "fast battleships" when they designed their Battlecruisers, and even if we do not except the completed vessels as fast battleships, the unbuilt Mackensen and Ersatz Yorcktypes almost certainly justify the moniker, whilst the L20 design was very clearly an attempt at a fast battleship in the vein of the Queen Elizabeths or Nagatos. Getztashida 23:25, 3 December 2007 (UTC)


Since one of the major qualifications for a fast battleship is speed, I think it would be worth defining whether we are talking about in-service (at what state of trim, in what weather?), trials, or (absurdly) design speed. Maybe a table would be in order. Greg Locock (talk) 17:47, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

As the article stands, the main emphasis is on design speed; these are given in full (though not in tabular form) in the Summary of "fast battleship" classes and Other fast capital ships sections. It is stated in the preamble to the former section that "all speeds are design speeds, sourced from Conway’s [All the World's Fighting Ships]; these speeds were often exceeded on trial, though rarely in service". As a rule, the article quotes service speeds only when their difference from the design speeds proved to be operationally significant (as with the Queen Elizabeths at Jutland).
I don't understand why Greg Locock regards the use of design speeds as "absurd". The article is not intended as a service history; it is about the "fast battleship" as a generic concept. If we are comparing ships as concepts, then we are comparing the intentions of their creators, not what actually emerged from the building yards. Hence design speed is the proper criterion for comparison. In articles describing the history of individual ships or ship classes, trial and service speeds (insofar as the latter can be ascertained) naturally assume a greater significance.
I agree that this is not a clear-cut issue. If a ship enters service grossly overweight (like the Queen Elizabeths), with insufficient fuel capacity (like the second King George V class), or with a powerplant unable to withstand the demands of routine operations (like Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, then the service performance should be cited, in order to draw out the fact that the nominal specification of the ship did not constitute an achievable requirement. Even in a conceptual discussion, we should not compare on equal terms concepts which were realistic and achievable with concepts that were neither. However, I think such cases are best dealt with on a case-by-case basis, as is already the case with the Queen Elizabeths.
Comments, anyone? Regards to all, John Moore 309 (talk) 14:04, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

Well, perhaps 'absurd' was overstating the case, but it does seem to favour overoptimistic design studies. Call me an empiricist. It would, for example, be completely the wrong measure to use in 1870, since power for a given speed estimates could be out be 30% according to DK Brown. I'll dig through some books to see if it is possible to put together an interesting and meaningful comparison, in the context of fast BBs. Greg Locock (talk) 23:50, 4 January 2008 (UTC)