THE accompanying illustrations represent the same ships of the new British warships of the “Orion” and “Lion” types which will commence their trials in the fall. The main points of interest in these vessels are that they are the first British ships of the dreadnought class to carry all their guns on the center-line (which are of the new 13.5-inch model) and that the battleship-cruiser “Lion” is of a greater tonnage than her contemporary battleship, the “Orion." A deck plan view of the “Orion” class was given in our issue of the 27th of May together with an article on the center-line disposition of guns. The points need not be recapitulated here, excepting that the further reasons given in England for the new arrangement of the main battery are (1) that the greater tonnage of the 13.5-inch prohibited so large a weight being placed on the beam (as the 12-inch were in previous British battleships) and (2) that of the en echelon, or diagonal placing of the guns was unsatisfactory. Theoretically the en echelon disposition should have enabled all the guns to bear on either broadside, but ill practice it was found that the designed arcs of fire had to be cut down to prevent one barbette firing into or damaging the other by blast. The “Orion” carries 10-13.5-inch 45 caliber guns on a displacement of 22,680 tons, together with an “anti· torpedo” battery of 20-4-inch quick-frers. The 13.5-inch weapons are disposed in a similar manner to the 14-inch of the “New York,” i. e., the second pair forward fire over the first, and the fourth over the fifth aft. The third pair is placed on the same level as the fifth, but the British ship cannot fire her fourth pair over so wide an arc or so far forward as the “New York” on account of the superstructure between the third and fourth positions, which does not exist in our ship. The 13.5-inch in the “Orion” (and also in the “Lion") are of a very powerful type, weighing 87 tons and firing a projectile of 1,250 pounds with a muzzle velocity of 2,821 foot-seconds, developing an energy of about 69,000 foot-tons. The penetration is 257 inches of Krupp N. C, armor at 3,000 y'ards; the rate of fire is the same as that of the 12-inch, viz: 2 rounds in 90 seconds. The “anti-torpedo” armament consists of 20-4-inch quick-firing guns as in previous dreadnought ships. The British admiralty apparently seem satisfied with this type of gun in spite of the employment of larger guns for this purpose abroad. They consider that the higher command of the smaller guns puts them on an equality with 5-inch or 6-inch weapons carried in a main battery. These guns, when not in use, disappear into armored shelters; a lesson evidently from the impotence “of the Russian ships after the battle of Tsushima to destroy the attacking Japanese torpedo boats, owing to the wrecking of the exposed light quick-firing guns by the abnormally high-explosive shells used by the Japanese. These guns are no longer mounted on the bar bette tops, but are distributed at two levels in the superstructures, and are so arranged as to bring a good proportion to bear ahead and astern, as it is from these points torpedo attack is mostly to be feared. Four submerged torpedo tubes are fitted. the torpedo rooms being inclosed in thick armor. The provision for boat stowage is of a novel type, the boats being placed between the tripod mast and the aft funnel and protected by the low blast screen seen in the illustration which conceals them, This is a remedy for the damage incurred by the boats in previous gun trials of British dreadnoughts by the concussion from the discharge of the big guns. The dimensions of the “Orion” are: 545 feet (length) by 88l feet (beam) by 2711 feet (draught), and with 27,000 horse-power and Parsors turbines the estimated speed is 21-22 knots; the coal supply is normally 900 tons but capacity is provided for a maximum of 2,700 tons together with 1,000 tons of oil fuel. Four propellers and double rudders are used. The protection to the water line is 12 inches amidships, thinning to 2% inches forward and aft; over this there is a belt of armor (extending to the extreme bulkheads) of 12 inches. The gun positions are understood to be 11 inches thick, the hoods being 12.8 inches thick, while stability is insured by a protected deck of 2% inches under which are four un-pierced bulkheads dividing the ship into five watertight compartments. The special internal protection against torpedo attack is of a secret n[ture. The “Lion,” which represents the latest development of the battleship-cruiser, is of 25,250 tons and has the enormOlS propulsive power of 70,00(} horse-power; her designed speed is 28 knots; it is, however, confidently expected that she will attain 30 knots on her trials. For this speed a hull of fine form and great length (to accommodate the boilers and engines) is essential. The dimensions are: 700 feet (length between perpendiculars), 86l: feet (beam), 2712 feet (draught). The three enormous funnels are surrounded by steel screens to protect them from the blast of the guns; these also give protection to the boats as in the “Orion"; further accommodation for boats is made on the superstructure aft of the “wireless” pole-mast. Except .for this and the low erection round the conning tower, thE hull is devoid of the usual excrescences so liable to wreckage by high explosive shells. The guns are of the 13.5-inch pattern, eight being mounted, but in a different manner from the eight of the “Michigan.” The second pair forward fire over the. first, the third and center barbette is placed between the second and third funnels and the fourth by itself aft; all the guns fire on the broadside, four ahead and two astern. The new system of fire-control is installed in this ship (and also in the “Orion") whereby the guns can be trained in unison or independently by slIpplementary electric motors controlled from the range-fflding position on the tripod mast. A reserve armored control-station is placed between decks; also, fire-controls are fitted to the 4-inch quick-firing guns. The searchlights are mounted on the bridge forward and on top of the blast screens. The motive power is supplied by 42 Babcock&Wilcox boilers and Parsons turbines, the maximum fuel (Oontinued on paue l36.) The New British Dreadnoughts accommodation is 3.500 tons of coal with considerably over 1,000 tons of oil fuel in addition; the subsidiary engines are driven by steam and not by Diesel engines as in previous battleship-crnisers. In spite of the high horse-power and heavy battery, sufficient proportion of weight has been found to adequately protect the ship against shell fire and submarine explosion. The belt is of 9%-inch Simpson steel, thinning to about 4-inch at the bow and stern, leaving a space of 20 feet unprotected at the ends, the hull being minutely subdivided in lieu of the armor. The barbettes are of 1l-Inch plate, the hoods being 12-inch; a protected deek of 2% inches and subdivision by bulkheads is utilized on similar lines to the “Orion.” The conning-tower is of a new and splinter-proof pattern, there being no apertures in the tower itself but i large dome-shaped projection rises from the rear of the roof provided with slots giving an almost all-round view. ' A second tower is situated aft of the after wireless telegraphy pole-mast. Taking into account the speed, gun power, and protection of this ship, it is debatahle whether the fighting power is not equivalent or superior to that of the “Orion.” It must be admitted that the British Admiralty and their board of construction have evolved in these ships war-machines with an unprecedented ;0tential power of destruction in view of the limitations imposed upon them by cost and displacement. The ships now building, or authorized ("King George V.” and “Queen Mary” classes) are of the same general type as the . Orion” and “Lion,” but improvements have added somewha-t to the displacements. What further perfection and also whether the limit of size has yet been attained in these huge ships can only be shown by the passage of time.
This article was originally published with the title "The New British Dreadnoughts" in Scientific American 105, 11, 230 (September 1911)