Naval Lessons of the War To the Editor of the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: It perhaps seems a little premature at the present time to formulate any positive conclusions that may be drawn from the naval operations of the European war or to apply them in the naval construction of the near future, but there is one vital truth, it seems to me, which has at last become unmistakable in its convincing evidence of actual battle record after several years of theoretical and academic deductions. It is the old question of the future battleship, always a compromise, with the extremes of the very fast all-big gun but lightly armored battle-cruiser and the much slower but heavier armed and armored dreadnought. The merits pro and con of these two classes of capital ships, their examples in the different navies of the world, and lately the gradual merging of the two types have been written of in your columns many times, so I will not repeat them here, but simply bring out what I believe is most important, i. e., the immediate realization on the part of the United States naval designers of the inferiority of even the latest of our big-gun vessels and publicity on this question through such papers as the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. Our designers have always gone on the theory that, in considering all the points of armament, armor speed, and radius of action, speed was the least important factor, and that as some one feature must be sacrificed to attain the best result for the purpose of our navy, speed should be considered last of all. Thus, all of our dreadnoughts, from the "Michigans" right down through the two "Pennsylvanias" launching this year and the three "Californias" authorized last year, have the heaviest armament possible for their displacement and maximum broadside fire, and the heaviest armor of any ships of the same Class and date in the world, but speeds of only from 18 to 22 knots. To be sure, we need battle-cruisers, but not being able to get them without sacrificing our battleship appropriations, we should have compromised even further on the mere theory of the thing. Now, the war has driven it home to us and not too late to take effect on the design of the two new vessels authorized this year if action is taken at once, which ships, if we refuse to change our ideas, will probably be merely slightly improved "Californias." To-day the 14-inch and 15-inch guns are the accepted naval armament standards; the 16-inch gun is being experimented with and will arrive shortly. The sea engagements of the present war have shown that no armor can withstand the modern armor-piercing shell of large size even at extreme ranges, that the new high explosive shells are more destructive than we ever expected, and that it is no longer a question of being able to keep afloat by taking a lot of hammering and pounding back in return, but simply of landing a few salvos on the enemy first and sinking him, or you get sunk yourself. This simply means big Caliber guns, lots of them, and ability to open fire at the range of your choosing, not the enemy's; in other words, superior or at least equal speed. The ordnance makers have at last far outstripped the armor manufacturers and armor becomes a minor factor. In the fight off Coronel and the Falkland Islands the comparatively heavy armor for the caliber of guns it was opposed to was useless. The defeated squadron in each case might better have had quicker heels, and while both engagements were decided by the overwhelming gun-fire of the victors and superior speed, the results would have been the same, though longer perhaps in attainment, if the opposing armaments had been equal. The faster fleet in that case would have simply stood off and pounded away at a favorable range for its own calibers, in a favorable position as to wind and sun (a very important factor in the Coronel fight), and a line of bearing most favorable to itself which would return greater damage per shot and greater concentration of fire. (This last was an. important feature of the Falkland Islands battle.) All this is, of course, assuming equal fire accuracy, an equal number of units, and an equal number of guns of equal calibers. But when the fleets are unequal, as in the North Sea fight, the speed, factor multiplies in importance. There we see an engagement of battle-cruisers, with the possible exception of the "Bluecher," five against four, fire commencing at 17,000 yards. The "Bluecher" was doomed from the start because of her slow speed of 26 knots (faster than any fighting ships In our navy). The heaviest armor in the world and even more and heavier guns could not have saved her. Speed alone could and did save her sisters while she received the concentrated broadsides of each pursuing ship as she passed. And, on the other side, speed was the factor that enabled the victorious squadron to severely punish the German battle-Cruisers and without which the British could not have claimed a victory in a running fight. They would simply have recorded the sinking of one ship of the enemy. As it was, the minefields alone prevented a more decisive result. So, the importance of armor being nullified, whether it be in actions between armored cruisers, battle-cruisers, battleships, or dreadnoughts, it is evident that a vessel of 30,000 or 33,000 tons displacement mounting twelve or more 14-inch or 15-inch guns on a speed of from 28 to 30 knots or over with as much thickness of armor as can be secured in conjunction with the other two factors, is the ideal type of capital ship. Germany realizes it by now; England will produce it immediately following her "Malayas" and "Royal Sovereigns" and "Queen Mary"; while Russia, generally the most backward of all the powers in naval development, has struck it right at last and is already commissioning her four "Kinburns" of 32,200 tons displacement, 27 knots speed, and mounting twelve 14-inch and twenty-one 5.1-inch guns. Of Course, like all Black Sea built ships, they probably have small fuel capacity and therefore small radius of action, which accounts for the heavy armament; but the ideal is there and Can be developed further. The situation of the United States is serious. Not only could the "slow" and 25- and 26-knot dreadnoughts steam rings around our main fleet, but we haven't even any fast cruisers to pick off isolated units of the enemy or harass him, or even any scouts to locate him in time to insure an advantageous disposition of our forces. And the inevitable result, as foretold in the Pacific, South .Atlantic, and North Sea, in spite of equality in numbers and marksmanship and seamanship and the greatest bravery of our personnel, gives large quantities of nourishing food for the minds of our naval experts at the present moment. Let us throw our ultra-conservatism overboard and save this year's ships before it is too late. HABOLD M. KENNABD. Brooklyn, N. Y.