In this AU/Personal drawing quest I want to redo the entire US dreadnought line from the ground up. In real life the US navy was heavily restricted by Congress. The congress feared the increasing costs of American battleships, and as such, they were often a repetition of the former (Delaware/Florida Pennsylvania/New Mexico/Tennessee) or an improved version of essentially the same ship (Wyoming/New York.) The most obvious case is the very first; the South Carolina. It could be no bigger, and heavier that the previous classes. Since the Mississippi was quite small (116m) compared to the 139 of the preceeding Connecticut class, the latter was the obious choice as a starting point. In this AU, the first all-big-gun battleship is not restricted by the displacement of the Connecticut, but rather the physical size of the Pennsylvania and the Tennessee class armored cruisers that clocked in at 153 meters long. This gives much better leeway at making a proper dreadnought debut of a ship that has room for improvement in the future, but also has a respectable top speed in keeping with the modern warship.
The first class of dreadnought replaces the real life Mississippi, and keeps the name and hull number of BB-24. Just like my Poundstone designs this one keeps an older look and "feel" of a pre-dreadnought, but on a proper dreadnought hull. The ship is 154 meters oa with a standard displacement of 22k tons. It has 8x12"/45 guns, a secondary battery of 12x6"/50 and 20x3"/50 anti-mbt guns. Her emphasis on armor and firepower on a smaller hull than comparable dreadnoughts means she has a top speed of 20 kts. The ship is painted in the peace-time colors of a white hull and yellow superstructure.
I looked up some of the ships on the archive for the colors. The old drawings have a very yellow tint, but the new ones are very white. I googled around a bit and found referances to Ford-off white, which has quite faded yellow tint. I played around a bit, and found a nice compromise where the hull is white, with a touch of yellow if you look close enough.
USS Missisippi BB-24 as commisioned in 1908:
The USS Mississippi was the first of an all new class of dreadnought battleships. Though she resembled the pre-dreadnoughts of old, she was quite different. She was much bigger and had about twice the firepower as previous classes of battleships. The Mississippi was marketed to the public as "The most powerful warship in the world." One admiral was quoted as saying that the new battleship was one of the greatest inventions of all time. She was launched in november of 1916, to great enthusiasm and decorum. Commisioned in mid 1908, she quickly took her place as the flagship of the navy. It was hoped that she would be finished in time to take part in the circumferance trip as part of the Great White Fleet. Considerations were made to send her in an unfitted state, but such thoughts were abaondoned.
USS Missisippi BB-24 as she appeared in 1910:
The only change the Mississippi would see in the first few years of her service would be the removal of her golden bow decoration and her white and yellow being painted over with the standard navy light gray.
USS Missisippi BB-24 as she appeared in 1914:
1914 was a big year for the Mississippi. She had her military masts removed, and replaced with new lattice masts, and her old style semi-closed bridge was replaced with a fully enclosed bridge under her foremast. She was the last of the old ships to be "modernised" in this fashion, earning her the nickname "Oldie" by the sailors of the newer, more modern ships. The Mississippi also had two modern rangefinders added on top of turrets A and C. All 37mm saluting guns were landed, and the openings in the bulwarks were closed in.
USS New Hampshire BB-25 as commisioned in 1908:
The USS New Hampshire was the second, and final ship of the class. She was commisioned in late 1908, and had some minor differances from her sister ship. The New Hampshire lacked the black stripes under her funnel tops, and her bridge was slightly bigger. She also lacked the sighting hoods on top of the turrets, and had a second pair of derricks added to the stern. A second pair of searchlights were added high up on the mainmast.
USS New Hampshire BB-25 as she appeared in 1910
In 1910 the New Hampshire had her mainmast replaced with a lattice mast, replacing the old military mast. Her bow decoration was removed, but her white-yellow paint scheme was kept, giving her the nickname "Goldie." Two rangefinders were added to the roofs of turrets A and C. The masts and rangefinders were quite new, and would be tested aboard the New Hampshire. Their success would see both features added to the other old battleships and armored cruisers.
Following the refit of her sistership, the New Hampshire went into a refit that replaced the old foremast with a lattice mast in a similar fashion to the Mississippi. Unlike her sistership, she did not receive an enclosed bridge structure. Instead, she had an open flying bridge, in a fashion with the newer battleships being built. All of the 37mm guns were landed, and the openings in the bulwarks plated over.
Originally planned as the third and fourth ships of the Mississippi class, the South Carolina and her sistership, the Michigan had a number of changes done to them that made them their own class. One od the most prominent changes was the move to latice masts from the get-go. Improvements in the engines and the boilers reduced the numbers of smoke stacks from three down to two. The South Carolina had a different style of conning tower and bridge from the previous battleships. The faction that was advocating for a heavy secondary battery lost. Consquentally all 6 inch guns were removed, and a total of 8 3 inch guns were added to the thire level of the superstructure. The weight reduction from the removal of the 6 inch guns, their ammo and handling equipment freed enough weight for a 1 knot speed increase. The bow was changed to one that angled forward towards the part where the deck met the stem, slightly lengthening the total deck length. The USS South Carolina was commisioned in february 1910, where she quickly took her place as the premier warship of the US Navy.
The South Carolina was painted in light gray in 1912, and had her bridge platform lengthened. Just before the outbreak of WWI South Carolina had two large rangefinders added to turrets A and C.
USS Michigan BB-27 as commisioned in 1910:
The Michigan was the second class of South Carolina class battleship. She only had slight differences that differentiated her from her sister ship. She entered service in mid 1910 and would soon join her dreadnought sister-in-arms in the Atlatnic Fleet.
USS Delaware BB-28 as commisioned in 1910:
The Delaware was the lead ship of a brand new class of dreadnoughts that would be larger and more powerful to bring US battleships back to the lead position as the best battleships in the world. The ships would add an extra turret to mid section of the ship facing towards the rear. The Delaware would abandon the 3"/50 caliber gun as its secondary battery, trading them in for a much more potent array of 16x5"/51 guns that would be effective against the new generation of larger more capable destroyers with larger and longer ranged torpedoes. The Delaware would be the last ship to be commisioned in the peace-time white and yellow colors. The Delaware would join the battlefleet in late 1910.
USS North Dakota BB-29 as commisioned in 1911:
The North Dakota would differ from her sistership by having the bow mounted 5 inch gun moved back towards, and above the rest of the five inch guns. The Delaware's deep break, and cut was replaced with a turtle neck break to better accomodate the rear moved 5 inch gun. The North Dakota was the first ship to be commisioned in the light gray color. The North Dakota was commisioned in 1911.
USS Florida BB-30 as commisioned in 1911:
The Florida continued the tradition set by the Delaware of being bigger, and having one more turret. The Florida was essentially a stretched North Dakota with a sixth turret superfiring the middle turret. She also brought back the Delaware's bow mounted five inch gun. The Florida would sport the heaviest broadside of any warship in the world with a total of 12x12"/45 caliber guns. The Florida was also the first ship to be built with a barrel style crow's nest, as opposed to an open square platform.
USS Utah BB-31 as commisioned in 1912:
The Utah, like the Florida was an attempt at putting as many guns on a hull as practically possible. Whereas the Florida had twin turrets on a long hull, the Utah was only a hairs width longer than the preceeding Delaware class. She kept the same number of guns as the Florida by utilizing an all new triple turret design. Some minor complications related to the never-before attempted triple turrets delayed her sommisioning until 1912. Apart from the gun-layout and some superficial details, she would be remarkable similar to the preceeding three battleships.
USS Wyoming BB-32 as commisioned in 1912:
The Wyoming was a design put forth by the Fore River Shipyard for the ultimate battleship. Using a longer, all-new design of hull, she would sport 14 of the new 50 caliber 12 inch guns. This was possible by having two superfiring guns fore, two staggered turrets amidships (first, and only class to be built with these,) and three turrets at the rear (one superfiring pointing aft, one pointing forwards and one facing rear directly behind.) The Wyoming was also built with a reinforced secondary battery of 22x5"/51 caliber guns (four deck mounted guns, the rest in casemates.) She would be the biggest and most powerful battleship in the world, having a slightly heavier broadside than even the Agincourt. The design of the Wyoming would influence the design for the Argentine battleships Rivadavia and Moreno.
With limited funds and infrastructure, China could neither afford, nor comfortable operate large battleships. Yet, they needed a counter to the Japanese Kawachii class. They turned to American shipyards for a design of a battleship that was not very big, yet, had enough firepower and protection to be relevant. Speed and range was not considered of great importance. The end result was a battleship that was armed with 8x12/45 caliber guns in four twin turrets, one pair superfiring fore and aft. The secondary battery consisted of 22x5"/51 caliber guns and 6x3/50 caliber guns for use aginst mtbs. With a modest top speed of 20 knots and an 11 inch armor belt the pair of ships would give China much greater capability agains any nation attempting to attack.
Chinese Battleship Zhongguo as deisgned in 1909:
The Zhongguo as planned did not survive that long. With Japan moving to 14 inch guns, China would be behind. There was no way they could get more battleships than the two that was laid down. Thus, China ordered the cessation of construction of the two battleships, and would have them redesigned to take 14 inch guns. The ships were lengthened by 18 meters and widened to 28 meters from 26. The 6 single purpose 3 inch guns were exchanged for 4 dual-purpose 3 inch guns. The armor was increased to 13 inches. The completion of the first ship would be delayed with 3 years, from 1912 to 1915, allowing the Chinese to expand docks and yards to better accomodate the larger ships.
Chinese Battleship Zhongguo as commisioned in 1915:
China was supposed to get a pair of battlecruiser to go alongside the battleships, but found that they were unable to pay for two full-size battlecruisers. An alternative was put forward by the Fore River Shipyards. The design was for a "dreadnought-type" cruiser. It was to be armed with 12x10"/45 caliber guns in superfiring guns fore and aft with two wing mounted guns en-echelon. The seoncdary battery consisted of 19x5"/51 caliber guns and for 3 inch AA guns. Though almost as big as the 1909 design for the Zhongguo, it was much faster at 27 knots. She was also significantly lighter with an armor belt of 6 inches. The Shǎndiàn would be the largest, and most powerful non-battlecruiser cruiser in the world for almost two decades. The Shǎndiàn was commisioned in 1915 with great fanfare.
Chinese Cruiser Shǎndiàn as commisioned in 1915:
In 1913-1914 Brazil contacted British shipyards for the design of a new battleship. Vickers came up with design 781, heavily based on the Queen Elizabeth and Revenge classes, it was armed with 8x15"/42 caliber guns. The secondary battery consisted of 14x6"/45 caliber guns and 10x3inch QF guns. The AA suite consisted of 4x3inch AA guns and 8x2pdr HA guns. With a powerful battery of 15 inch guns, an armor belt of 13 inches and a top speed of 22 knots, the Riachuelo was a top of the line ship as planned in 1914.
Brazilian Battleship Riachuelo as designed in 1914: