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Author Topic: Form over Function  (Read 4432 times)

tonyH

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Form over Function
« on: October 08, 2010, 07:11:11 pm »

I'm sure that this sort of topic has been covered in other threads and, if so, can someone point me in the right direction. If not, then...........

I wandered up to Great Yarmouth today to have a look at HMS Dauntless, or at least as much as I could from the roadside, and I reckon she's quite an ugly vessel. She's not a smooth as I would have hoped. There are still lots of 'bits' apparently stuck on as afterthoughts.

To my eyes, function is the total consideration and form has been ignored. At the other end of the spectrum, most of the ships of the Armada were beautiful at the expense of utility. Somewhere in the middle, again to my eyes, came the Jean Bart or Hipper cruisers.

Is there a period where warships got the balance right?

Tony
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Wasyl

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2010, 07:48:08 pm »

For me,i would have to say The Scharnhorst with her Atlantic bow is one of the most beautiful ships ever built,


Wullie
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tonyH

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2010, 08:40:21 pm »

Agreed Wullie, but was she efficient as a fighting machine or was she just a beautiful propaganda symbol for the Reich. Forgetting the way she was used or abused by the High Command, was she as efficient as she could be?

Tony
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2010, 08:55:38 pm »

Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were underarmed for their size with 11 inch guns. They never received the 15 inch guns that were to have replaced them.

In fact, despite all the propaganda, many of the post WW1 ships of the Kriegsmarine were seriously flawed in a number of respects. Bismark was essentially based upon the WW1 Baden design as her designers had nothing else to work with. Her armour belt was thinner then many of her contemporaries abroad and much of her vital communications were run above the armoured deck where they were vulnerable to gunfire. She also had an outdated armament mix with primary, secondary and tertiary guns when ships of other nations were mounting dual purpose seconradt armament.

The light cruisers were too structurally weak to be risked outside the Baltic. The destroyers had very unreliable steam plants and the attempt to mount 5.9 inch guns was unsuccessful. The Pocket Battleships suffered from very unreliable diesel engines.

And of course, the sterns of the larger German warships had a propensity to fall off!

Colin
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tonyH

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2010, 10:10:11 pm »

That's the sort of thing I mean Colin. The original design, in the designers eye at least, could have been flawless BUT expediency or the 'input' of others caused a deterioration in the 'form' or the 'function' side of the equation.

Tony
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Wasyl

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2010, 10:17:23 pm »

Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were underarmed for their size with 11 inch guns. They never received the 15 inch guns that were to have replaced them.

In fact, despite all the propaganda, many of the post WW1 ships of the Kriegsmarine were seriously flawed in a number of respects. Bismark was essentially based upon the WW1 Baden design as her designers had nothing else to work with. Her armour belt was thinner then many of her contemporaries abroad and much of her vital communications were run above the armoured deck where they were vulnerable to gunfire. She also had an outdated armament mix with primary, secondary and tertiary guns when ships of other nations were mounting dual purpose seconradt armament.

The light cruisers were too structurally weak to be risked outside the Baltic. The destroyers had very unreliable steam plants and the attempt to mount 5.9 inch guns was unsuccessful. The Pocket Battleships suffered from very unreliable diesel engines.

And of course, the sterns of the larger German warships had a propensity to fall off!

Colin
Colin,what part of "most beautiful ship"did you not grasp,If I had wanted a run down on her failings,I would have written "what is bad about her" O0

Wullie
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2010, 10:35:34 pm »

The designers didn't necessarily get it right either. During WW1 many UK large warships incurring underwater damage rapidly capsized. The Pre Dreadnoughts at Gallipolli are a case in point. The reason was that their engine and boiler spaces were divided by a midships tranverse watertight bulkhead. The designers had calculated that if any single compartment on one side were to flood then the ship would not take on a fatal list. However, what they failed to factor in was that if the thwartships bulkhhead separating two adjacent compartments on one side, typically the engine room and a boiler room, was damaged by the shock of the explosion, which it often was, then both compartments would flood and the ship would lose stability and roll over - as it all too frequently did!

Obvious with hindsight but at the time it was assumed that any underwater damage would be localised.

Colin
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2010, 10:42:15 pm »

Wullie, the Scharnhorst did look good but then so did many other warships. The Southampton class cruisers, Iowa class battleships, Italian Littorio class, Tribal class destroyers and many, many more.

Functionally some were better than others. Scharnhorst didn't have a very glorious career, she and Gneisenau were chased off by HMS Renown eary in the war and she was sunk by Duke of York off North Cape.

Colin
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DARLEK1

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2010, 10:47:16 pm »

I think in alot of ways, current cruise ships look more like floating hotels, which they are really and not propper ships if you get me, they serve their function and that function only, were as current warships sort of serve their function but, not if you get my meaning. If you had a pure warship designed for fighting propper, I don't think it would be pretty.

 Paul...
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tonyH

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2010, 11:07:44 pm »

I agree that a 'proper' fighting ship may not be pretty but going back to the original reason for my question and the Dauntless. On the foredeck is a large box containing, I presume, the top of the vertical launch system.
On some ships this is faired in to become part of the 'line flow' of the ship or it is hiddden behind shaped bulwarks, again to keep the line. There is no apparent change in the functionality but some attempt has been made to give an aesthetically more pleasing effect at no cost.
This is not of necessity a compromise because there is no reason why it could not be designed in from the start.

Likewise, there are a number of small, box-like bits stuck onto the mainmast and after superstructure. On some of the stealth vessels these are built into the structure so why not here?
I'm probably thick but when I'm putting a socket in a wall I recess it in because it's the right thing to do and it's that sort of thing I'm talking about.

Take a simple boat like the 40ft CMB of WW1. To my mind it's designed and built for a single, simple purpose. With the knowledge of the time it did the job and looked good so it's not impossible.

So, Colin & Wullie, is there a period where a warship existed with the looks of a Scharnhorst and with the ability to match? :-))



Tony
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Wasyl

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2010, 11:12:27 pm »

Colin,..for me the Scharnhorst was beauty personified,...I do know where your coming from,and admit that there are many other ships that can be viewed as beautiful, but for me it was Her,...I have a shelf full of books on most of the German ships of WW11, and the same goes for German Tanks,and armour and ordinance,
In fact I don,t think I have one book on British or allied weaponry....probably the German influences showing through from my father,...who fought on the Eastern Front,43/45,and lived to tell the tale,

Wullie
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DARLEK1

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2010, 11:15:04 pm »

Hi Tony, there are many reasons why the 45 is the way it is at the moment, these first 6 are basically test beds for something else that is comming along allegedly, so everything was designed so it could be removed and changed about if need be to see what works best and how it all works together, for instance, Daring is just off on her first deployment, playing with the Yanks and if she works out the way they want, things will soon change on the next batch of ships of this type, depending on this stupid government that is!

 Paul...
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tonyH

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2010, 11:18:11 pm »

Thanks Paul for that bit and it excuses Dauntless - a bit anyway :D

But it doesn't answer the basic question.

Tony
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2010, 11:26:48 pm »

These days aesthetics don't figure very highly in the mind of the designer. Very often it is possible to combine function with an attractive appearance but these days the designers simply don't bother. Obviously it is cheaper and I suppose if you are actually on board the ship then you won't notice it anyway but it does seem a shame.

Some of the most attractive merchant ship designs were produced just after WW2. Many were a delight to the eye. I think the main reason for modern merchant ships looking so unattractive is down to construction costs. Traditional ships had graceful sheerlines and curves. This sort of construction is expensive. It was said that in the old Queen Mary no two cabins were exactly the same due to the sheer of the hull and camber of the deck. Nowadays cabins are prefabricated and simply dropped into hulls that are flat both in length and beam. Underwater hulls are carefully designed to be as efficient as possible but above the waterline a curved plate will never be used if a flat one will do the job.

The change is exemplified by the QE2. Most people would regard this as a graceful design and in many respects it is. But if you look at the hull carefully the midships section is flat and the bow and stern angle up from it without any curvature. It is the paint job which disguises this and makes it appear that the ship has a traditional sheer. At least they tried!

Colin
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2010, 11:49:36 pm »

Wullie,

Yes. many of the German ships did look good, the Battleships, Battlecruisers and Heavy Cruisers in particular as they were all intentionally built to the same basic silhouette. The light cruisers looked and were crap. The large destroyers looked very handsome too but didn't work too well. I also thought that the pocket battleships looked quite impressive and were very clever concepts even if they didn't quite live up to the designer's intentions.

One thing the Germans did prove was that a raked funnel cap makes a hell of a difference. The British KGV battleships looked quite staid, but the Vanguard, which was a development of that design with a proper bow and funnel caps looked fantastic by comparison.

Colin
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DavieTait

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2010, 12:51:42 am »

I'd opt for the WW1 German Battle-cruiser SMS Seydlitz which was fast , pretty well protected and packed a decent broadside of 10 x 11.2'' guns. She survived a massive amount of damage in both the Battle of the Dogger Bank and the Battle of Jutland.

She had nice lines for a warship of the era and did her assigned job in the battleline to great effect.



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Bunkerbarge

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2010, 07:44:08 am »

One of the problems with such a question is the fact that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and what may appear beautiful to one may not to others so you are never going to get an objective answer to such a question.

For me personally I think the most beautiful warships ever were the Bismarck/Tirpitz or the Scharnhorst/Gneisenau but as to whether they opitomise the balance between form and function is another aspect.  I would disagree with some comments in so far as I really don't think warships for a long time now have been built with aesthetics in mind and the form is merely a by product of the function.  Take Bismarck as an example, her shape was designed to make her a capable sea worthy gun platform.  The fact that I see her as looking beautiful is not because she was built to look beautiful it was because she was built to handle the North Atlantic and her hull form is one of the best shapes ever created to do that.

As for listing her faults Colin, we could do that with just about any other vessel to an equal degree and, in fact, there are many who would say the Hood was one of the most beautiful warships afloat but listing her faults would take a lot longer than it did to list the Bismarcks.  The King George V class also had many faults but we are not looking at faults, we are looking at which were the best at thier job.  Another thing we haven't taken into consideration and which plays a huge part in thier function and that is the crew and thier training.  That's a whole new discussion as well!

I think if you were to go back until you could find a warship that was built with more than a passing nod to form, in fact including decoration,  and was also the best of her day as regards a balance between firepower and functionality, which includes the best crew around at the time, and you couldn't find anything better than HMS Victory and most of the other British ships at Trafalgar.


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Colin Bishop

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2010, 09:53:58 am »

Some very valid points there BB but I would still take issue with some (in the nicest possible way!)

As far as faults are concerned, I think you need to distinguish between design faults and weaknesses which are not always the same. For example the KGV class had design faults in that the main gun calibre was too small and while the guns themselves were excellent weapons, their mountings were unreliable. This was partly due to the fact that the necessary skills had been lost since the previous generation of battleships were built, as shipbuilding workers retired and were not replaced due to the run down of the RN after WW1. This is the same reason that we can't build cruise ships in the UK anymore and probably not warships either once the present round of cuts go through. The KGV 5.25 inch dp armament was not very successful as the guns were too big for rapid AA fire. The US 5 inch was a more effective weapon.

Hood on the other hand suffered from being over 20 years old at the time of her loss. At the time she was built she was in every way the equal, if not better, that the QE class battleships with her inclined armour protection. But in those days it was not anticipated that ships would be subjected to plunging fire at extended battle ranges and so, like all the Jutland and immediate post Jutland designs, she had inadequate horizontal protection which may have been what doomed her. This was put right in the succeeding Nelson and Rodney.

I would certainly agree that Victory looks wonderful to our eyes but at the time British ships were considered to be lumpish and inferior compared to their French counterparts and British captains yearned to command a French prize for the superior construction and sailing qualities. But the French lost which was down to crew quality as you very rightly point out.

I do love this sort of discussion as there are many myths and misconceptions which  are commonly repeated about ships of the past, the Titanic being just the leading example.

Colin
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Bunkerbarge

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2010, 10:22:50 am »

I'm not disagreeing with the reasons behind the faults, all I'm saying is that most ships of the time seem to have thier strengths and weaknesses and listing those of the Bismarck is being a bit biased.  Whatever the reasons may have been the Hood should have been upgraded many years previously to keep her up to par with the opposition.  There is no point in saying that a ship was the latest and greatest in the 1920's when she is engaged in a conflict over twenty years later.  She should have been upgraded to deal with plunging fire and she wasn't so she was at a major disadvantage when dealing with an adversary so far away.  I didn't notice any distinction between the design faults and weaknesses in the list of Bismarck faults! %)

One thing we quite often overlook is the quality of the crew and I don't think there are many people who would disagree that the British crew had a huge impact on Trafalgar, not only in thier abilities to turn the ships faster but also thier rate of fire was significantly faster than the opposition which had a major impact on the vessels firepower.

Now having read two very good books a year or two ago about training in the RN and the Kriegsmarine during WWII I would suggest that the German crews were better trained than the british!
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2010, 11:06:22 am »

I wasn't trying to be unduly biased against Bismarck but over the years I have seem many claims that she was some sort of super ship, superior to all her contemporaries which just isn't true. In one of his excellent books on naval construction, Derek Brown makes the comment that in her final battle Bismarck was put out of action by Rodney with a bit of help from KGV (whose guns were not working properly) in just 23 minutes. Rodney was worn out, smaller, slower and older then Bismarck but packed a bigger punch and was almost certainly a better design.

There wasn't much that could be done with Hood as what she needed was better deck protection and her construction apparently precluded this being worked in. She was intended to have had a facelift with better AA armament but nothing on the scale of Renown was seriously envisaged.

You are probably right about the training. I think it is also accepted that man for man the German soldier was also better trained than his British and American counterparts and displayed more individual initiative which was not encouraged by the British! Certainly the German navy light forces seemed to be pretty efficient. The crews of the big ships had plenty of time for training as they didn't go to sea very often and then it was likely to have only been in the Baltic! The U Boat crews were both brave and deadly of course.
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Shipmate60

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #20 on: October 09, 2010, 11:10:49 am »

The crew of the German Heavy Naval Units used to train gunnery at full speed and their "Target" was always HMS Hood!!
The RN used to train at economic cruising speed

Bob
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derekwarner

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #21 on: October 09, 2010, 11:52:01 am »

Bob....I am unsure of your comment here....train gunnery at full speed

Train is to rotate or swing the ordinance from port to stdb....within/over/without ...&  the prescribed firing arcs
Elevate is to elevate the ordinance

When combined [train & elevation] signals from the mechanical computers [well before Bill Gates] resulted in the projectile >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> toward the target

Have you ever seen a mechanical computerised 'train/elevation'computer signal?...........Derek  {-) %% :-))
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Bunkerbarge

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #22 on: October 09, 2010, 11:56:41 am »

I think Bob was referring to the training of the crew rather than the training of the guns
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RaaArtyGunner

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #23 on: October 09, 2010, 11:59:52 am »

I think Bob was referring to the training of the crew rather than the training of the guns
Sounds more like it.
Army also trains gunnery Artillery at full speed AKA at the double. <*< <*< <*<
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RaaArtyGunner

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Re: Form over Function
« Reply #24 on: October 09, 2010, 12:03:08 pm »

Quote from: derek

Have you ever seen a mechanical computerised 'train/elevation'computer signal?...........Derek  {-) %% :-))
[/quote

What similar to "Tracker and No.10 Predictor" used by Heavy Anti-Aircraft O0 O0
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