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Author Topic: HMS Vanguard  (Read 2963 times)

John W E

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HMS Vanguard
« on: April 26, 2017, 07:42:07 PM »

Have a good look at this - get ready though for a sad ending to a once great Ship.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db6bgu0gs-g
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Colin Bishop

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2017, 07:58:03 PM »

Excellent find John and it brings back a few memories.

As a 12 year old, I was busy making sandcastles on the beach at Shanklin on the Isle of Wight when my Dad said to me, 'look, there goes the last British Battleship, you will never see anything like that again.' We watched as Vanguard was towed across Sandown Bay by two tugs and finally disappeared behind Dunnose Point. It made a great impression on me.

My Dad was wrong though as in 1984 I went aboard the USS Iowa in Portsmouth Harbour and that was equally memorable.

Colin
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Bob K

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2017, 08:53:18 PM »

Brings back special memories of Navy Day in Portsmouth (around 1960?).  We took the harbour cruise and I remember as we sailed past how her superstructure towered into the sky.  I was about 15, and totally awe struck.  Soon afterwards we heard that was her final duty and about to be towed away for scrap.

Such images at a young age do stick with you, but I have seen a British battleship, albeit our last.
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ballastanksian

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2017, 09:33:11 PM »

I was talking with a friend a while back and he quipped that it would be the sort of thing Trump would do by way of having a new Battleship built for the USN! We then got onto the usual weapons, armour and power plant etc as well as the phenominal cost to design and build.

Sadly, such wonderful ships as the Vanguard had been so successfully superseded by Carriers, but maybe would cost less because a Carrier has extra costs in the form of the aircraft they carry and the 'Group' needed to support and protect them.

I wish we had kept back a Queen Elizabeth class or maybe KG class as a memorial/museum, but we were trying to forget wars and their baggage after WW2, and also Battleships are very expensive things to maintain even as museums unless you don't want periodic panic campigns to stop said museum foundering at its moorings  {:-{ so we are lucky to have the impressive HMS Belfast and a number of older and equally impressive vessels about the country. The raising of Mary Rose, while older than any of us, was the best memory of my childhood,and probably stands second only to Pompeii as a snapshot in history.

If they had removed the anachronistic 15inch turrets and fittings,she would have made an amazing missile platform for years as she would initially have been big enough for the early clunky missiles and then in the sixties and seventies could have accomodated loads of the then smaller missiles developed as well as four CIWS even later. But Hey ho.
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Colin Bishop

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2017, 11:20:12 PM »

I agree it's a shame that not even one of the RN battleships could have been preserved - Nelson maybe - but the national mood and budgets probably would not have supported it at the time although there were efforts to do so.

Vanguard was an interesting ship though. Basically she was a Lion class succeeding the KGVs but armed with spare WW1 era 15 inch turrets instead of the planned 16 inch. This was not necessarily a disadvantage as the 15 inch was an excellent weapon and actually superior to the 16 inch fitted to Rodney and Nelson and the lighter 14 inch fitted to the KGV class. The high bow made her a good sea keeper, better than the US Iowa class as was proved on exercises. The secondary 5.25 inch armament was however a rather less successful gun. The 4.5 inch fitted to the reconstructed QEs and Renown was a better AA weapon.

Some years ago I met someone who served on her who told me that during live firing exercises the barbette armour around B turret was fractured and that turret was never used afterwards.

The problem with converting such large ships to missile carriers was that they needed very large crews and the RN simply did not have the manpower. The recommissioning by the USA of some of the Iowa class as bombardment and missile ships was a qualified success at best and also suffered from manpower issues.

As far as the Mary Rose is concerned, if you have the chance to visit her at Portsmouth in the reopened museum, don't pass up the chance. The remains of the ship are spectacular but the contents of the vessel which have been conserved are simply amazing.

Colin

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Jonty

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2017, 01:32:55 AM »

  A fine ship, even if she did look rather more American than British. As Colin remarked she only came to be built because of the availability of the four turrets removed from HMS Courageous and HMS Glorious on their conversion to aircraft carriers.
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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2017, 01:17:00 PM »

I did hear a story that when the Vanguard was accompanying the Iowa when they went through a storm, the Iowa slowed down and the Vanguard didn't, however, this caused serious damage to the Vanguard's drive train and she was never the same again and helped to seal her fate. I do not know the truth of this its only what I heard, source unknown probably from my time in Dockyard service. Can anyone add any light on this?
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ballastanksian

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2017, 09:02:40 PM »

Adding what Colin said about her 'B' turret armour issues, and your mentioning the drivetrain being damaged, this suggests she was becoming an operational liability without huge expense on a major refit; something we would not or could not afford to do especially as she did not fit in with the then requirements of the navy, and being a 'Royal Yacht' after the R.Y Britannia was comissioned.

Sad all the same that she wasn't saved.

Re: Mary Rose, I visited her a few years back in her new home and desire to revisit now she has been opened up more since.
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raflaunches

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2017, 07:23:07 AM »

I remember reading somewhere that Vanguard was actually a very good battleship but let down by the era!
In the article it compared Vanguard to two other contemporaries- Iowa and Yamato- and said that the Vanguard was the better of the three ships. Iowa was a pig to steer though bad weather and rolled terribly compared to the Vanguard which had a better stability rating. Whilst out of all the big battleships she had the smallest guns it was estimated that her radar suite was the most advanced and she could choose when to engage the enemy battleship especially at night. Whilst Yamato may have the bigger guns the turrets were slow to traverse and elevate due to the weight of the guns in a triple turret whilst Vanguard 's smaller and evenly spaced out twin turrets were faster to move and fire. So while Vanguard probably would not have sunk the Yamato outright by herself she would ensure that as a fighting unit the Yamato would be physically unable to carry on.
And lets not remember when Iowa was used in the Gulf War she was almost destroyed by an Iraqi Silkworm missile if it had not been for a little British frigate shooting the missile to bits!!!
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SailorGreg

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2017, 01:05:28 PM »

Warning - pedant mode engaged!


Actually, not a little frigate but a slightly larger Type 42 destroyer - HMS Gloucester to be precise.  The first ever successful missile to missile engagement in combat.


Pedant mode disengaged.  :}

ballastanksian

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2017, 07:04:20 PM »

Pride mode engaged:

Royal navy done good and US Navy did not lose a ship.

Would a Silkworm have sunk an armoured battleship? Looking at the payloads, the 580kilo shaped charge would have certainly messed up anywhere it hit.

Regarding Vanguard's turrets, they were to a well developed and tested design based upon earlier designs but enlarged to take the larger guns and mountings. And while carrying the smallest bore guns of the three mentioned, they still put out eight shells each weighing more than a ton, so that would have to hurt.

As an example, the Bismark was superbly armoured and subdivided as in the best German traditions, but a number of lucky hits both before and during the final engagement impaired her ability to fight back and manouvre tactically. So it suggests that even a superior ship like the Yamato in shell weight and armour could be damaged to the point of impotency especially with Vanguards superior radar and targetting suite.

In my oppinion, she was the reversal of many missed chances in all classes of Dreadnoughts, Battle cruisers and the Nelsons in not having their secondary armament in turrets, and the navy's insistence on using Pompoms instead of Bofors guns forlow level AA. Their decision to fit dual purpose weapons during later refits, such as the twin 4.7 mounts were a better idea.

Pride mode disengaged  ok2
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John W E

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Colin Bishop

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2017, 07:35:55 PM »

A few errors there Ballastanksian!

I would agree that the later RN battleships were pretty good designs. They were very heavily armoured, significantly more so than the later US ships but the KGV class carried a lighter main armament to compensate. Prince of Wales was unlucky in that the torpedo hit on her prop shaft distorted it and opened up much of the after part of the ship to the sea. She still took a lot of further punishment before she went down though.

Vanguard may have had an older main armament but the 15 inch mounting, first installed in the Queen Elizabeth class,  was a superb weapon and probably better than the later 16 inch in Rodney and Nelson and the 14 inch on the KGVs. The shells were a lot less than one ton though, 1,900lb as against 2240lb.

Bismarck was never the wonder ship that many people have claimed. She was based upon the WW1 Baden design. Her belt armour was around 12 inches compared with nearly 15 inches on the KGV class and had significant design weaknesses which included a wasteful three tier armament, vital communications running above the main armour deck which were vulnerable to incoming fire while the stern, like many other German warships of the period, incorporated a structural discontinuity which tended to make it break off as occurred when she sank. In the final action HMS Rodney, a much earlier and superior design, rapidly took her apart. Her saving grace was her size and compartmentation which made her difficult to sink even after she had been demolished as a fighting unit. It has been said that Bismarck was nowhere near as superior to Hood as has been suggested. Both ships were vulnerable to plunging fire but Bismarck was lucky.

The Nelsons did have their six inch secondary armament in turrets, albeit not armoured.

The dual purpose guns on the refitted battleships and carriers were 4.5 inch, not 4.7.

The Bofors guns were certainly better than the Pompoms but I don't think they were generally available when the latter were fitted.

Cheers,

Colin
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ballastanksian

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2017, 12:50:13 PM »

My bad. It's the wonders of thinking after ones dinner!

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Colin Bishop

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2017, 01:35:36 PM »

Yup! Two hours on the naughty step with a 15 inch APC shell hung round your neck.... :-)

Colin
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ballastanksian

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2017, 01:38:13 PM »

Ok, next time I pass Fort nelson.......
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dodes

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2017, 09:21:54 PM »

I think Colin the benefit of the 5.25 " guns were that they were a well tried and tested DP / HA guns off the Dido class, which you would want, the biggest benefit over bofor's etc. was they could fire proximity bursting AA shells, which saved the Yanks against planes as the minimum size gun to fire them was 3". That was what made their 5" gun so superior along with its virtually vertical angle of fire and low muzzle velocity.
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Colin Bishop

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2017, 11:14:38 PM »

From what I have read, the 5.25 guns were  a bit on the slow side in terms of rate of fire and tracking compared with the 4.5s.


As you say, the US 5 inch 38s were very successful AA guns.


Colin
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Bob K

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2017, 07:37:21 PM »

Some photos of the lovely HMS Vanguard model at the Beale Park event today.
Colour is a bit orangey (sorry) due to sun shining through the Portsmouth MBC canopy.






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dodes

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2017, 06:21:37 PM »

Hi Collin, yes the 4.5 being smaller would have a higher rate of fire etc., but when the contract for these vessels were let, I should imagine the 4.5 were still being developed. Plus I expect there were those that still wanted a large secondary gun, much the same as the torpedo lobby that had the hunts 3rd gun emplacement removed for a torpedo tube, when the most used weapon in their line of duty was AA and subs like the sloops. Though it is interesting that the KG% group like Vanguard did not receive their designed main guns but were fitted with a lesser weapon which was hanging around and cheaper and quicker to make than the 16". Perhaps if Prince of Wales had the 16" then the outcome with Bismark may have had a completely different outcome!!!!
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dodes

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2017, 06:24:28 PM »

Hi Bob, if ever you get the chance to visit the Dockyard Museum in H.M.Naval Base Devonport, then go there is an absolutely brilliant model of her about 6ft in length there.
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Colin Bishop

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2017, 06:43:27 PM »

Hi Dodes,

I was thinking of the 4.5s already fitted to the  reconstructed QE class, these must have been developed at about the same time as the 5.25s but I think you are right that the Navy would have wanted dual purpose guns on the new battleships which the 5.25s were. The 4.5s were essentially AA weapons.

Vanguard was basically a Lion class design originally intended for 16 inch guns and was built quickly with as few modifications as possible except for the main armament and the higher bow to improve sea keeping so it made sense to stick with the 5.25s at the time.

When the KGV class were ordered there was still some doubt as too whether an international agreement could be obtained not to use 16 inch weapons but it didn't happen. The 14 inch was a good gun apparently but let down by its initially unreliable mountings. After WW1, the economic recession led to a lot of skilled staff being laid off and a lot of key expertise was lost as a result (ring any bells?!). There were a lot of initial problems with the 16 inch on Rodney and Nelson too which took years to sort out.

Given that PoW had most of her guns out of action for a lot of the engagement with Bismarck, she did well to obtain three hits. She broke off the action mainly because her Captain couldn't be sure of having enough operational main guns to successfully continue. I think one of her 4 gun turrets actually jammed for a while.

History is full of what ifs and might have beens!

Colin
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dodes

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2017, 07:50:12 PM »

Hi Colin, I hear what you say, but the 14" was an inferior weapon to those fitted already to the battlefleet. As it lacked penetration power, the Duke of York at 10000yds could not penetrate the Scharnhorst armour plate ( that's why the destroyers did a death run torpedo strike on her to get a list on her for the shells to get below the belt) and KG5 had the same problem with Bismarck, Admiral Tovey is said to the gunnery officer on KG5 that he could do more damage to her with is mug of kye than the KG5 guns. But there you go we will never know the absolute truth, because the MoD never releases the true facts if there is any poor reflection on the service past or now. Same as various vessels true speeds etc are never given for security reasons. I know what was given as Dreadnoughts surface and submerged speed was considerably slower than her actual real speeds, working with the subs on the Clyde and talking to their crews etc you get different answers. Even to the fun and games with Russian subs in the Clyde and inner Minches areas.
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Colin Bishop

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #23 on: May 01, 2017, 08:00:57 PM »

Hi Dodes,

I quite agree that the 14 inch was an inferior weapon to that already fitted to the battlefleet, the Navy thought so at the time too. They would have been better off sticking to the 15 inch in the absence of an updated 16 inch which wouldn't have been ready in time. I guess that was why Rodney was left to do all the heavy lifting when the Bismarck was sunk.

Obviously it is important to be able to penetrate the opponent's belt for an effective result but it is interesting to note that the USS South Dakota was put out of effective action from being smothered by Japanese cruiser fire. The ship's vitals were not penetrated but most of the control systems were knocked out leaving her virtually blind with extensive damage to her superstructure.

Colin
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ballastanksian

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Re: HMS Vanguard
« Reply #24 on: May 01, 2017, 09:40:27 PM »

Lovely looking model Bob, she was an attractive ship.

Interesting facts about the 16 inch guns, their rifling issues and reliability issues during the Bismark engagement.

http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNBR_16-45_mk1.php

And a propoposed design on 15 inch gun for the KGVs

http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNBR_15-45_mk2.php
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