Monday, January 24, 2011

Gallipoli

In early 1915, the Allies were in a very bad way. The Russians were being routed back to their own country because of the battle of Tannenburg, and on the western front things had settled down into the trench warfare that has come to define the First World War. The Entente desperately needed a diversion, and that came with the entry of the war by Ottoman Turkey. The Turks, who were clinging to a crumbling empire, could hardly afford the war. But, because of a shared interest to smash the Russians, and the stealing by the British of her two new battleships then fitting out, the nation was forced into the Great War. The Allies were elated. Very quickly a plan to sail a fleet up the Dardanelles to capture Constantinople was devised by the then-first lord Winston Churchill and promptly put into use. However, owing to Turkish defenses and Naval incompetence, the plan failed.The Naval captains could not bear to lose a single ship, and out of fear and stupidity, the plan was a complete failure. So, a new plan was dreamed up that entailed troops being landed on the Gallipoli peninsula. This was to take place on 25 of April, 1915. From the start, the plan was prone to mishaps. First, the ANZAC forces were landed in the wrong place. Then, strong tukish resistance to the invaders, particularly the troops commanded by Mustafa Kemal, future leader and founder of modern Turkey resisting the Helles beachhead, stalled the Allied offensive. And, to top it all off, the commanders employed by the Entente were extremely incapable. Eventually, the campaign slowed to a halt and degenerated into trench warfare, leading to the evacuation of Allied troops. In an ironic twist of fate, the evacuation, in contrast to the landings, was one of the most efficiently carried out operations in military history.  PS. Those of you who are aficionados of the German battlecruiser fleet will note that I have left out one very important piece of the puzzle. Well, the SMS Goeben and Breslau ( if you don't know what they are, look them up on Wikipedia) and their escapades are interesting, but I have chosen to write about them in a later post. More on that some other time...

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Tosas and Amagis

Continuing on with the canceled battleships of the Wash. Treaty, we find ourselves looking over the hulks of the Tosa and Amagi classes. These Japanese ships were of a similar design but of a slightly different layout, and the first class I will deal with are the Amagis. They were actually battlecruisers, and thus had the lighter armor and greater speed that that status implies. The Navy was going to arm them with ten 16 inch guns in five twin turrets.But, on their canceling, the Navy was allowed to convert them to carriers. So, the Akagi and her sister Amagi were slated to be carriers instead of battlecruisers. Which brings us to the Tosas. These ships had a similar layout to the Amagis, the primary exterior differences being that the Tosas were battleships,and thus had all the presteige associated with that type, and that their Q turrets were a deck or two lower than that of the other class. They were slated to be destroyed when a peculiar thing happened. During a huge earthquake, the Amagi was destroyed beyond repair and the navy had to find something else to be a carrier. So, with nothing else to really chose from, the Kaga was saved from proposed destruction, and completed as a carrier. But that's another story and another post.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The South Dakotas and the German navy

I am going to embark on a special post centered on two topics: The US South Dakota class of battleships and the Reichsmarine, the navy of Germany from the year 1919 to 1935. First up are the South Dakotas, a class of battleships that with the Colorados would form a modern new fleet of super battleships. Their planned armament was to be twelve 16 inch guns, a total that would have made them the most powerful battleships in the world!(atually, the Tosa class and Kii class of japanese ships would have had a similar armament, but with a less efficient layout.) These guns would be mounted in four triple turrets.And, you guessed it, were scrapped while still building as a result of the 1922 treaty. But before the treaty, the USN had clearly planned to be THE superlative force as far as battleships were concerned. Which brings us to our second subject, the navy which had tried to do the same thing ten years earlier and failed so disastrously, the navy of Germany. After 1919, the Germans were only allowed to keep two classes(with the exception of one ship of an older class that was allowed to sit and rot in port) what was left of their Pre-Dreadnought fleet, the Braunschweig class and the remains of the Deutschland class, Pommern having been sunk at Jutland. In the early twenties, the Germans were allowed to build new ships, but only if they were twenty or more years newer than an existing ship. And as it happened all of the battleships would turn twenty in the 1920s. So, the Germans theorized and procrastinated util in 1928 they finally laid down their first new ships, the new Deutschland class,  which would be a paradox in naval terminology, being something in between a heavy cruiser and a battleship, the Germans rating them as "Panzershiff"( armored ships) and the British calling them by the name that is usually used to describe them: "Pocket Battleships".  After the completion of these ships, the German navy, now under the control of the Nazis,was renamed again; it was now the Kreigsmarine. (PS. the Tosas and Kiis would have had ten guns, not twelve, thus nullifying my statement about them earlier in the post)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lost Designs of 1922

In 1922, the Washington treaty was signed by all the great powers, resulting in the scrapping of many existing ships. But another result of this treaty was to destroy many ships that were then building. This series of posts will endeavor to deal with those designs, particularly battleships and battlecruisers, with maybe a hint of other types mixed in as well. First up is the unlucky Battleship USS Washington. The Washington was one of the Colorado class of 16 inch armed ships, one of which was the West Virginia, or "Wee Vee" for short,one of the most badly mauled of the Pearl Harbor ships to be raised. Washington was unlucky enough to fall afoul of the treaty so the poor ship was scrapped.