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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, April 08, 1906, Image 5

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1906-04-08/ed-1/seq-5/

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THE British battleship Dreadnought,
4 launched from Portsmouth dock
yard by the King on February 10.
marks a notable advance in naval
design. It is not, of course, revo
lutionary, as was the French La Glolre
of 1857 or the American Monitor of 18C2.
The type is as clearly evolved from the
Lord Nelson class as that' class is derived
from the King Edward VII group. But,
new departure/or not, no ship of war
has since the advent of the La plolre—
now historically famous as the first sea
going ironclad— and of 'the . Monitor
aroused so much technical interest and
excited so much public curiosity. "
It is at this stage impossible to describe
•with exactness all - the elements - of the
DTeadnough't's design, for its secrets have
been kept with such, admirable close
ness > that t the facts are * known only : to
a limited circle. Even so eminent a critic
as Sir William White, £ late ; chief con
structor ;of the^Brltlsh ; navy, : seems to
have based an! adverse 'opinion of the type
on wrong assumptions ;"; and \it\u25a0: is safe \u25a0to
cay with the London' Engineer, If a: per-
Bon of hl« enormous ! experience • could be
led into error, how less . likely Is it that
the opinions and deductions of ' lefser
lights will prove .• correct * It ' xnay there
fore be well to ; add that \ the general de
scription > of the . Dreadnought "has been
taken from . conservative i and ; apparently
reliable accounts that * have appeared In
such trustworthy; Journals^ as the En
gineer and Engineering of .London and
the i: ; Naval and Military * Record '-' of
Plymouth. ? . . " . :
.During, the five months that the Dread
nought . has been "under construction •. suf
ficient truth has,' however,^ been whispered
to prove that the new ; ship Is an incorpo-
ratlonof ideas, some suggested and some,
older and evolutionary, confirmed by the
results of - the Russo-Japanese sea war.
It is fairly, well t known, for ;. example,'
that the vessel is , to possess an enormous
concentration sof offensive and "defensive
energies ;; through the ! installation "*l. of a
main battery of v 12-Inch guns, that the
usual intermediate ;. battery.- 1 has : -. been
eliminated, -that: the , Babcock-Wilcox
.water \ tube - boilers | are to develop J 23,000
horsepower,^ and ; that ; the turbine ' engines
are expected to give an average sea' speed
of twenty/or ; twenty-one knotsJ % The : ax
mor -; protection ; is '. to Ibe distributed tover
a ' large ' area and ito ) thick v enough \u25a0; to
resist . the direct impact of 12-lnch projec-'
tiles fired over a range of 3000 yards.^The
ship's : underwater, body is to be arranged
so i as" to^ furnish Vaj reasonable -immunity,
from ;. automatic " torpedoes i and £ fixed j or'
floating, mines. 'One further adyantagei is
the gain ; in; fighting 'simplificatlonr- due" to
the . single class ' v and - the ; uniform * service
of the; ammunition '.needed.;:,'
So ' far ;'as the jusiial technical : data <go
it "is stated*, by; London " Engineering
the Dreadnought is 500 feet long," 82 feet in
beam and'-at a displacement of 18,000 tons
will; draw .! 26 if eet l of water. The] boilers
are 'of the " Babcock & ;"Wilcox : type, ;,with
a pressure of 250 pounds: there. are four
propell ex shafts, and with a horsepower of
23,000 the speed, wilU be about .twenty-one*
knots. Apart. from the novel feature, found
in : the • abolition ; of ;, the? secondary arma
ment, there fare several other notable de-^
partures from accepted design. *~ Two stern
posts and two rudders, placed some' twen
ty £ feet : ,- apart.V are [', provided. : .The > ten
twelve-inch ;. guns *of the ; main ; armament
are? arranged ''in -three barbettes, each
mounting a pair of guns on the 1 keel line,
one '(. on ". the poop/ one " abaft . the ' funnels
and one \ on the high forecastle., The other
two pairs will be in, hooded barbettes, lo
cated on •". either; bow, <" so that the I fire
ahead will > be . from'- six guns, • the fire
astern from two and on the broadside
from no less than. eight. -This, is a very
great gain indeed, for ; there can be small
doubt that .' broadside •' Is - far more; im
portant «than ; end-on fire. The -Dread
nought will, when ; heed ' arises, -be a good
ship Z in a • chase; , her stern . fire . is, of
course,'. weak, but then she. is not likely to
be \ found \ showing ' her stern" to anything
that ' floats. The ; torpedo defense gun rls
now, spoken of as an cighteen-pounder,
but? they number -to be mounted; is not
Btated." -T :" :?'. " '\u25a0..- ..'.'. ',h : ''\u25a0\u25a0\u25a0\u25a0*'\u25a0 "• .-.'.'\u25a0\u25a0.'\u25a0.>
It is, however, claimed; In: other, quar
ters that \ the | f oregolng_dJsposition of the
main ! armament is not accurate, \u25a0 and .that
: the twelve-inch 'guns (45-callber in' length)
are 'to'; be mounted <at -nearly; the same
level on '•. the upper, i? deck. ITwb- of these
are to be carried in a' forward and two in
lan after' barbette,' situated , on \ the fore
"and aft line of the ship. Three, are to Vbe
' mounted " each in a i single barbette on
either broadside. This disposition :of .the
big \u25a0 guns is, '. therefore, { a ; close reproduc-1
tiori of : that installed in the [ Lord ' Ntlson,
the "onlyj substantial^ changes > being the
substitution \u25a0\u25a0 of >, 12-inch ; ordnance ' for, the
9.2-inch i intermediates (of • the i earlier' de
sign. .Whichever . plan » is 'adopted, ;^the
j cumulative effect' of eight ' guns . fired to
gether" in -broadside; must f; be > enormous, ;
and the effect even of a single shot, owing
to 't the great .' increase • in- energy of .these
latest gun '.types, ! must be most destructive
even at the new, fighting ranges. It should
be kept in mind that future ' actions will
probably ; be fought at ranges J so extended
; that -\u25a0 only J the ' : heaviest ; shots j will ', in any
final sense count. VThe flat the
line' of ' projected* flight-^can> also; be so
low that no zone of /safety^ will exist with
in effective torpedo. range.'x-rj >; ;*:
v What, : It I may , asked; r will ' the Ad- .
miralty with '-j aY ship - f of ;. .. this ; tre
mendous i power « wheni she . Is'commis
sioned? With .the ; ten 12-inch guns of
the 'latest 'type opposed Uo -the, four
mounted in; even the bast foreign bat
tleships, she should be equal to any two
vessels now, afloat. In defensive quali
ties she will, thanks to the thickness
and; quality of her armor, ba Immune
from damage by gunfire at ordinary
battle ranges. It is generally believed
that* the Dreadnought will be assigned
v to* I ,* the Atlantic fleet, which is the
' "pivot" ; force of .' the British navy. In
the late "battle practice" the King Ed
ward VII, flagship of this fleet, when
steaming. at* fifteen ! knots, fired, eleven
shells from her four 12-inch guns and
hit ten /times a target distant nearly
three and a half; miles. Thirty-one
rounds were discharged with her four
9. 2 -inch guns, making fifteen hits, and
out of seventy-one rounds twenty-six
hits were scored by the 6-lnchjguns. If
the Dreadnought, with ten 12-inch guns,
equals the record the target will, under
similar conditions, :. be pierced twenty
times. -In addition to the Dreadnought
' the Atlantic fleet will include, irrespec
tive of armored cruisers and other com
. ponents and auxiliaries; - seven battle
ships of the King. Edward VII type,
each mounting -four 12-inch, four 9.2
inch and, ten 6-lnch guns. Assuming
that .circumstances enabled each of
these." eight men-of-war to put in a full
broadside every minute, the following'
' weight of shells would be discharged:
; '- Pounds.
Dreadnought , 6,800
Seven King Edward VITs... 51,940
Total ....... . . ............. 53,740
. The calculation is based on the mod
estTassumptio^n that from. each 12-inch
gun ; one .. shell will ; be fired a minute,
fromeach" 9.2-inch two and from every
6-inch five,-' This* rate is frequently ex
ceeded, but it may suffice as an "average
\u25a0 fora fleetof .eight ships. -On this basis
the total 'discharge ; each ' minute : from
the ; Atlantic ; fleet firing broadside-on
at "an. enemy is more^than twfcnty-'six
tons : . of metal. Presuming the stand
ard of the King Edward -Vll's 12-Inch
guns -is twenty-three ton 3,
would get therefore home, in the ships'
ofjahy foeUhat ; chanced to be ; the ; ob
jective.V"'No thing ; so_£ overwhelming '; as
this .concentrated destruction has"ever
been conceived in the brain of man. It
is impossible .to picture ;the result of.
one .; minute's lwell .s directed ,flre at an
\u25a0 enemy's . ships, . and'vwhen the 'gunners
get the range and fire as at target prac-
tlce, one minute being followed hy.
others, the effect will be annihilation.
To this length has the contest for se*
power gone, and even this la not the
These possibilities result from the as
tonishing advances in heavier ordnanco.
Until within a few years the British 12
inch gun was 40 calAers in length and de
veloped a velocity of about 2500 feet
per \u25a0second. It " is interesting to learn
that each of the 45-callber 12-inch euns
of the Dreadnaught is to be something
like 30 per cent more powerful than tha
12-lnch employed two years ago. It will
have double th© power of the 9.2-inch,,
nearly five times the power of tha 7.5
and eight times that of the 6-lsch. ' Be
tween ISD2 and 1902 the collective muzzle
energy from one round of battleship guns
Increased 22 per cent, whereas between
1902 and 1906 the advance has been 147
per cent.
Moreover, the maintenance of enerrn
and penetrative power at long range is
favored by a greater weight of projectile,
and heavy cuns have as a corollary the
advantage over light pieces. At long
ranges the improved optical devices for
sighting and range finding demanded
have been speedily provided by inventive)
Ingenuity, and this combination of tha
various devices with a natural aptitude
for. getting on the target and with a ra
tional and progressive training is pro
ducing results that are nearly marvelous.
' The maximum fighting range of tha
Dreadnaughfs 12-lnch guns,' for ex
ample, is five miles, and the chances ot
hitting targets at this distance aro
auite good. "Since we have been devel
oping larger battleships," declares ' Cap
tain Wain wright. U. S. N., in the Pro
ceedings of the Naval Institute, "the
power of hitting with -big guns has been
Increasing. by leaps and bounds. All ord
nance material has improved, and - the
training of officers and 'men; has become
scientific. Now the heaviest guns can b©
fired as rapidly as the intermediate guns
could be fired formerly, and with them,
they can make 1 more' hits than the light
er guns could make in earlier times. The
old theories of a 'smothering fire*, and 'a
greater number of units* must be allowed
to , die, _as one or two hits from the big
guns can destroy soft ends and wreck
weak battery spaces, and such guns alone
are able to attack the life of the ship.
What use is there in . having a large in
termediate \u25a0 battery if its power is de-
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