One of the original aims for this "Fisherless RN" page was to replace Admiral Fisher before he did too much damage to the RN when he returned in 1914. That was mainly for the warships that may have been built in the First World War but may have had an impact on the Second World War. Admiral Fisher, however, had already made his impact felt ten years previously when he initiated the ship that became Dreadnought, and started a revolution in warship design. So I thought maybe I better sidetrack Admiral Fisher a little bit earlier and see about counteracting some of the original design flaws. A thought to keep in mind is the loss of firepower when firing broadsides in the early Dreadnoughts. In real life, the Germans and Japanese lost 25%, the British, 20%, the US and Italy lost 0% and had the best layouts.
HMS Dreadnought (BB-1906)
HMS Dreadnought as a superimposed Battleship.
HMS Dreadnought put its name to a generation of Battleships. It managed that by also being the fastest built battleship.
Laid down: 02/Oct/1905, Launched: 10/Oct/1906, Commissioned: 02/Dec/1906.
No other nation could match the speed of building ships the way the British Empire could. It is not till 1942-43 when the US speed the production of the Iowa class that any other nation comes close.
While it was built fast, it was an awkward design with the broadside mounted 12" that did not get remedied till the 13.5" super-Dreadnoughts, some years in the future. Five turrets fitted, but only four can fire to either broadside. A complete waste of 20% of your firepower. I do not want to end up with a 'South Carolina' clone, but want to see an inline design or two using all five turrets, so that the design is not only revolutionary but with better firepower than its competitors also. So lets clear the decks and then refill them differently.
Three turrets aft will be the main layout. The first thing to do of course, is not to use the Dreadnought as the base drawing at all. One of the clones (St Vincent) will provide the base drawing as it at least has fixed some of the basic errors out of the original Dreadnought design. Such as smoke in the foretop from the fore funnel.
Utilising this design, the clone classes that produce the first seven dreadnoughts for the Royal Navy would extend the same design for the Colossus / Neptune types. The extra forty feet put into the latter three ships would be to uncramp the internal divisions of the first seven. More space for the divisions between turrets, boilers, engine rooms, and superstructure.
It will certainly make the ADV / Training Ship conversions more interesting as the ship will have the two twin turrets forward rather than the single in the real life ships.
The first iteration of the Dreadnought as a trials and training ship featured the removal of X Y Z turrets and the replacement of Y turret with the brand new designed and built triple 8" turret destined for the oncoming generations of British heavy cruisers then being discussed at the Washington Treaty. A set of school rooms was built between the after funnel and Y turret. The accommodation for the cadets being built into the area that the X 12" turret barbette had been removed from and the plated over area from the casemate 4". The 8" turret and its associated director were removed in 1925 and replaced with a catapult and crane for trials for a catapult to fit to the smaller light cruisers where a cross deck catapult would not be of sufficient length to get the seaplanes into the air.
1930 and the fate of all of the earlier dreadnoughts and battlecruisers is being discussed. The London Naval Treaty is around and trying to extend the "Battleship Holiday" for at least another five years. The Japanese fail to sign the original treaty and every man and his dog start to lay down new ships at the old 35,000 ton limit. It would be another five years before that limit expires to go to the 45,000 ton limit. It looked like the Japanese, who had been allies previously, would now be enemies in any next conflict. A resurgent Germany was starting to cause concerns at the Admiralty as well. The sea lanes around the world carried the lifeblood of food and materials to the British Isles and needed protection from the enemies the Admiralty could see on the horizon.
Along the sea lanes would be the trade protection cruisers and also the large flying boats. 1930 introduced the Short Singapore that would still be in service ten years later. These flying boats could also operate from the various islands under British Commonwealth control in all the various oceans, based on the islands scattered over those oceans. Only the biggest islands had harbours that could service and operate the big flying boats and had their own protection. There were a lot of smaller islands that the Admiralty would like to base the big flying boats from but would not be able to due to lack of servicing options.
To this end the Admiralty came up with the Area Defence Vessel scheme. The old battleships would have a hangar fitted at the rear of the ship which could contain their own air wing (6-8 aircraft) with which they would be able to use to maintain the base security and have the 12" guns as backup if a merchant raider or nosy enemy cruiser came along. A squadron of the big flying boats would be able to operate from the 'mother' ship which would be able to service the 'boats'. During peace time the hangar could be split and used for both as an aircraft hangar and either house a company of marines on peacekeeping duties or cadets / trainees in a training ship role.
On the outbreak of war, the ADV's would be outfitted with 2-3 Blackburn Roc fighters, 3-4 Fairey Swordfish and then dispersed around the world to their bases. Replacement aircraft could be delivered as required. Once at their base and set up, a squadron of flying boats could then be sent to operate from the ship.
Not a lot of money was to be spent on these conversions. More would be taken out, than put in. Forward boiler room, funnel and tripod removed. Plain builders steel would be used for the hangar which would have a reinforced roof to carry the lighters and ship boats that would transport everything to and fro around the harbour the ship was based in. The only reason for the ship to move would be reassignment. Mainly because the island the ship was based on would have a full land based airfield built, from which the big coastal command aircraft could operate.
1940 and air and sea search radar are fitted, with various upgrades appearing at irregular intervals. Generally the radar put aboard had been removed from a more modern ship that had received the latest upgrades. That is what being the bottom of the food chain is about. The topmast spotting area was glassed in and then became the control centre for flight operations, as well as its spotting duties. These ADV's acted as port 'flagship' for whatever rank was deemed necessary to command the port. Like the convoys having 'Commodores' which were recalled retired RN Captains, these ships often had 'Commodores' in command that had spent part of their service before retirement as 'Port Captains' so they would have the knowledge to run the port, created around the ship, successfully.
Swordfish and Roc seaplanes were the first war loads for the ADV's.
The Dreadnoughts first flying boat squadron were the Short Singapore.
The Blackburn Roc's were eventually replaced by Spitfire floatplanes.
I will add the Neptune/Colossus soon and complete the early battlecruisers. I have done a BC version but don't like the result, so will try again.