THE total number of ships of the all-big-gun type now built, building, or provided for in the current year, is exactly one- hundred. Great Britain leads with thirty-two (which includes two cruisers building at the cost of Australia and New Zealand), followed by Germany with twenty-one, and the United States with twelve, Japan, having this year placed orders for no fewer than five ships of the type (one building in England and four to be laid down in Japan), has increased her total to seven. Russia, France, Italy and Austria have four ships apiece, none being yet completed, and the first-named power proposes as soon as possible to raise her total to twelve. Brazil and Spain each possesses three Dreadnoughts two of the Brazilian only being completed; and the list is completed by the Argentine Republic, with two ships on the stocks; Turkey with two recently ordered in England; and Chili with two which are shortly to be placed out to contract. In this total of a hundred ships there are thirty-one whose details either have not yet been decided upon or are not yet known. The policy of secrecy, inaugurated by Great Britain with her pioneer Dreadnought has A been followed by several other powers. Germany conceals the particulars of her new warships very successfully, and &sol only nine can be spoken of with any certainty. Latterly, Great Britain has relaxed the policy, and the only vessels whose details are uncertain are the five of the 1911-12 programme. Nothing is known of this years quintet of Japanese ships except that they will carry 13.5-inch guns; and other ships where similar lack of certain knowledge exists are the new American vessels to be laid down this year (which, it is expected, wili have ten 14-inch guns in A two twin and two triple turrets), the last two of the four Austrian vessels, the Turkish and Chilian ships, and the / QP \ Brazilian Rio de Janeiro. The last- / A.X \ named vessel was for sometime re- \ ported to be designed to carry twelve 14.8-inch, fourteen 6-inch, and fourteen y-y 4-inch guns; but it has latterly been stated that she will after all be no more equals;, than a replica of the Minas Geraes and Sao Paolo In the case of the sixty-nine ships fa whose principal details are known there is a very wide divergence in them ounting of the main battery. This would necessarily follow from the fact that soma are armed with eight, some with ten, some with twelve and three even with thirteen heavy guns; but there are also considerable differences even among ships with the same .number of guns. The first Dreadnought to be laid down and completed the British ship of that name has ten 12-inch guns so arranged as to produce a broadside efficiency of 80 per cent (Fig. 10). Three turrets are on the center line, and so can bear on either beam; but the other two are placed abreast on the beams, so that each can bear on only one broadside. In a broadside engagement, therefore, two guns out of ten would be useless. In spite of the obvious drawbacks of. the arrangement, however, it was repeated in six later ships—"Bellerophon,” “Temeraire,” “Superb,” “St. Vincent,” “Collingwood,” and “Vanguard"; and the result is that these seven ships, if they formed one battle unit, would have no fewer than fourteen 12-inch guns out of seventy useless for a line-ahead action. These seven Pritish ships are the only five-turreted dreadnoughts which cannot dispose 100 per cent of their heavy guns on the beam. The American five-turreted ships “Delaware,” “North Dakota,” “Florida,” and “Utah” (Fig. 6) have all their turrets on the middle line, with the result that these four ships, mounting ten 12-inch guns apiece and forty in all, are equal in broadside action to five of the British ships mounting fifty 12-inch guns, since only forty of these could be brought to bear on the beam. We are not dealing here with secondary batteries; but the best five of these seven British ships mount ninety-two 4-inch all told (twenty each in the “St. Vincents,” and sixteen in the “Bellerophons"), while the four American vessels have sixty 5-inch, which, allowing for the muoh greater power of the 5-inch gun, is in all probability a superior equipment. In her later vessels Great Britain began to show signs of being influenced by the full-broadside argument. Its force was, however, admitted grudgingly, and a wavering effort made to combine a full broadside with a heavy fore and aft fire. The “Neptune,” “Hercules,” and “Colossus” were the result (Fig, 9). These ships, like the earlier “Dreadnoughts,” have three turrets on the middle line, but the wing pair are placed e:> echelon across the deck amidships, while the last turret but one from aft is super-posed to fire over the aftermost. The result is that six guns can be fired ahead and eight aft is superposed to fire over the aftermost. The be covered by all ten guns. Over a large angle, however, the fire of the port turret is masked on the starboard side by the starboard turret, and vice versa, and the lengthy experiments which were carried out in -the Mediterranean early this year are believed to have proved that the compromise is not a very happy one. At any rate, it has been abandoned in later ships. The “Orion,” “Thunderer,” “Conqueror,” and “Mon- 1. Michigan, South Carolina (U. S.), 12-in. 2. Lion, Princess Royal, Queen Mary (British) 13.5-in. 3. Inflexible. Invincible, Indomitable. Indefatigable, New Zealand, Australia (British), 12-in. 4. Espana. Jaime I., Alfonso XIII (Spanish), 12-in. Von del' Tann (German), 11-in. 5. Gangut, Poltava, Petropavlovsk, Sevastopol (Russian) ; Viribus Unitis, “V” (Austrian j ; Dante Alighieri (Italian), all 12-in. Plan 3, with triple turrets, has been suggested for Russian ships. 6. Pelaware, North Dakota. Florida, Utah (U. S.), 12-in. 7. “'ems, New York (U. S.), 14-in.; Orion, Thunderer, Con- queror, Monarch, King George V., Centurion, Ajax, Audacious (British), 13.5-in. 8. Plan suggested by Mr. James McKechnie (of Messrs. Vickers) for 16,000-ton ship fitted with Internal combustion engines. 9. Neptune, Hercules, Colossus (British), 12-in. 10. Dreadnought, Bellerophon, Temeraire, Superb, St. Vincent, Collingwood, Vanguard (British), 12-in. 11. Conte di Cavour, Leonardo da Vinci, Giulio Cesare (Italian) ,. 12-in. 12. Wyoming Arkansas (U. S.), 12-in. 13. Moreno, Rivadavia (Argentine) ; Minas Geraes, Sao Paoio (Brazilian), 12-in. 14. Courbet. Jean Bart, France, Paris (French), 12-in. 15. Kawachl, Settsu (Japanese), 12-in.; Nassau, Westfalen, Eheinland, Posen (German), 11-in.; Ostfriesland, Helgoland, Thuringen, Oldenburg (German), 12.2-in. THE DISPOSITION OF GUNS IN DREADNOUGHTS arch” (1909-10 programme), and the “King George V.,” “Centurion,” “Ajax,” and “Audacious” (1910-11 programme), will have ten 13.5-inch guns in five turrets, all on the center line. The second from forward will be superposed, so that four guns will bear forward; and the same arrangement is repeated aft, the fifth turret being amidships (Fig. 7). In these ships, there-fee, Great Britain for the first time acknowledges the superiority of the all-on-the-center-line system which has been applied to American “Dreadnoughts” since the first was designed. The ten 14-inch guns of the “Texas” and “New York” will be mounted on this plan. The last of the known five-1urreted ships l re the Italian vessels “Conte di Cavour,” “Leonardo da Vinci/' and “Giulio Cesare.” In the case of the last two it is possible that the original design may not be udhered but they were all designed to carry, and the “donte di Cavour' ' at any rate will be equipped with, thirteeri 12-inch guns arranged as shown in Fig. 11 of the diagram. There will be three three-gun turrets, one toward, one aft and one amidships, and two twin-turrets' will fire over the fore / \ and aft turrets respectively. There will / \ thus be a full broadside fire of thirteen hf*) \ 12-inch guns, while five will bear ahead Y~ \ and astern. If this arrangement is not carried out in the other two ships it will be to allow of the mounting of heavier guns. It may be mentioned f ~) that the guns in the triple-turrets are arranged on two levels, two being be-,/•-. \ low, and the third above and between I them. In this way the breadth of the turret is saved at the cost of additional height. There are comparatively few four-turreted “Dreadnoughts.” The first /A were, of course, the American “Michi- / a, gan” and “South Carolina,” although (\\)\ for various reasons they were not a,t / f\\ sea until after the British “Invincible" * * I cruisers. The “Michigans” have eight 12-inch guns in four turrets, two forward and two aft, the one nearer the ' middle of the ship being superposed in each case (Fig. 1). The British “Tu-\ \/ / vincible,” “Inflexible,” and “Indomita-\Vn I ble” also have a nominally full broad-\- I side (Fig. 3), two turrets being on 11 \y the center line, and two en echelon _ amidships; but the latter (as in the "Neptune") are so close together that the arc covered by eight guns is very small. In the “Indefatigable” this fault was to a certain extent remedied, by increasing the distance between these two turrets; but the authorities were finally driven to adopt the American system, and the “Lion,” “Princess Royal,” and “Queen Mary” are the result (Fig. 2). These ships have eight 13.5-inch guns in four middle-line turrets, the second from forward being superposed. Only two guns, therefore, can fire aft, as compared with six in the previous “cruiser-Dreadnoughts” built for the British navy. The “Indefatigable” system ,has been followed by Germany in the case of the “Von der Tann” (cruiser), and by Spain in the battleships “Espana,” “Jaime I.,” and “Alfonso XIII.” The “Von der Tann” has eight 11-inch guns and the Spanish vessels eight 12-inch; and in each the longitudinal space between the echeloned turrets is much more than in the British ships, while the starboard turret, instead of the port, is nearer the bows (Fig. 4). The British cruisers “New Zealand” and “Australia,” building for Pacific service, are similar to the “Indefatigable." The other known four-turreted ships are equipped on the triple-turret system, which has lately come into considerable vogue. All are armed with twelve 12-inch guns, their names and nationality being: “Petropavlovsk,” “Poltava,” “Sevastopol,” and “Gangut” (Russian), “Dante Alighieri” (Italian), and “Viribus Unitis.” and a vessel at present known as “V” -(Austrian). It has been rumored that in the case of the Austrian ships two turrets will be superposed. but this lacks confirmation (Fig. 5). "Dreadnoughts ; with six turrets are again comparatively few in number, but present some striking contrasts. The American ;Wyoming; and Arkansas ; have twelve 12-inch guns in six center-line turrets, two forward and four abaft of the superstructure.
This article was originally published with the title "Disposition of Guns in Dreadnoughts" in Scientific American 105, 15, 318 (October 1911)