Osprey - New Vanguard 208 - US Navy Dreadnoughts 1914-45

RYAN K. NOPPEN ILLUSTRATED BY PAUL WRIGHT US NAVY DREADNOUGHTS 1914–45 © Osprey Publishing • www.ospreypublishing.com NEW - pdf za darmo

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Story Transcript



ILLUSTRATED BY PAUL WRIGHT © Osprey Publishing • www.ospreypublishing.com




© Osprey Publishing • www.ospreypublishing.com




t South Carolina Class Specifications 



t Delaware Class Specifications  t Florida Class Specifications



t Wyoming Class Specifications 



t New York Class Specifications 

US DREADNOUGHT BATTLESHIP OPERATIONS 1914–18  20 t The Veracruz Occupation  t World War I 



US DREADNOUGHT BATTLESHIP OPERATIONS 1939–45  35 t Neutrality Patrols  t Actions in the European Theater  t Actions in the Pacific Theater 







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US NAVY DREADNOUGHTS 1914–45 INTRODUCTION The United States was the second of the great naval powers to embrace the concept of the all-big-gun dreadnought battleship in the early 20th century. The US Navy was seen as an upstart by much of the international community, after it experienced a rapid increase in strength in the wake of the SpanishAmerican War. American naval expansion paralleled that of another upstart naval power, Germany, whose navy also saw meteoric growth in this period. What is little known is that a tacit naval arms race developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries between these two powers, due primarily to soured foreign relations caused by a rivalry over colonial territory in the Pacific and an economic rivalry in Latin America. Matters were not helped by the fact that these two economic and recently expansionist powers were led by strong-willed and ambitious men: Kaiser Wilhelm II and President Theodore Roosevelt, both of whom were looking for an international “place in the sun” for their respective nations. The Kaiser envisioned Germany’s “place in the sun” in the Far East and in the “economic” colonization of Latin America. Roosevelt sought to defend America’s “place in the sun,” which he saw as comprising the recently acquired Philippine archipelago, defending his Open  Door policy in China, and protecting America’s “sacred” Monroe Doctrine, which protected the United States’ traditional sphere of influence in Latin America. The bombastic oratory of both leaders combined with a number of diplomatic faux pas (particularly Admiral George Dewey’s standoff with Admiral Otto von Diederichs in Manila Bay in 1898 and the Venezuelan Crisis of 1902) led the naval planners of both nations to prepare contingency war plans against each other. Ironically, both sides believed that this would be a conflict exclusively between each other. The Kaiser’s government believed Great Britain and the rest of Europe would remain neutral given Europe’s generally negative reaction to America’s war against Spain; the same opinion was shared in Washington DC. Between 1897 and 1903, German naval planners researched a number of scenarios regarding a naval war with the United States, the culmination of which was a highly detailed war plan known as Operations Plan III. This plan and all other thoughts of fighting a naval war with the United States were abruptly set aside however in 1904 and completely shelved by 1906, after the formation of the Entente Cordiale between Britain and France forced a radical change in the foreign policy priorities of the Kaiser’s government. In 1903, 4

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the United States Navy General Board, headed by Admiral Dewey, began to draw up contingency operational plans for a potential naval conflict in the Caribbean with Germany, culminating into what would eventually be known as War Plan Black. Berlin may have abandoned its colonial ambitions in the western hemisphere, but this did not mean that the United States was aware of this development. Instead the US Navy intensified its planning for an isolated naval war with Germany between 1904 and 1913. This period of anti-German contingency planning coincided with the debut in 1906 of a revolutionary naval weapons platform, the all-big-gun HMS Dreadnought. With more battleships needed to meet the requirements of War Plan Black, this was a development that could not be ignored. Theodore Roosevelt was aware of the idea of an all-big-gun battleship as early as 1902, when he received conceptual plans for a battleship armed with a primary battery of 12 heavy guns and a tertiary battery of light quick-firing guns, designed by Lieutenant Commander Homer Poundstone. Roosevelt praised Poundstone’s design, but doubted he could get approval from the Navy department and Congress for such a revolutionary ship. Poundstone’s design also caught the attention of Lieutenant Commander William S. Sims, an up-and-coming naval officer, who closely followed modern warship developments and tactics in Europe. In September 1902, Lieutenant Sims was made Inspector of the Target Practice for the Atlantic Squadron. From gunnery practices, Sims came to the conclusion that effective targeting aboard ships with a highly mixed armament was difficult as the splashes from 12-inch, 10-inch and 8-inch shells were virtually indistinguishable, which further strengthened the argument in favor of a single-caliber primary armament. Events taking place halfway around the world in 1905 seemed to confirm Sims’s belief that a ship bearing uniform large-caliber primary guns would give a battle fleet a major advantage in future combat. On May 27–28, 1905, the Japanese Combined Fleet of Admiral Togo Heihachiro soundly defeated the Russian Baltic Fleet at the battle of Tsushima. Foreign observers noted that the well-trained Japanese gunners, aboard battleships equipped with modern Barr & Stroud range-finders, scored accurate and crippling hits on the Russian warships with 12-inch guns firing at a range of around 8 miles. The damage and confusion aboard the Russian ships caused by the accurate bombardment from long-range then presented Togo with the opportunity to deploy his destroyers and torpedo boats in a series of torpedo attacks that could not be effectively opposed. In the summer of 1904, the US General Board requested the Naval War College conduct a hypothetical study to determine the effectiveness of future torpedoes, with an estimated range of

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Admiral Prinz Heinrich von Preußen, brother of Kaiser Wilhelm II, with President Theodore Roosevelt during the prince’s visit to America in 1902. German and American rivalry for influence in Asia and Latin American led to the development of the US Navy’s dreadnought program. (Library of Congress LC-DIG-stereo-1s01923)


Lieutenant Commander William S. Sims, who served as a naval advisor to Theodore Roosevelt, was an early proponent of the all-big-gun battleship. He is shown here in 1919 as a viceadmiral after commanding US naval forces in Europe in World War I. Behind him is Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt. (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-hec-11935)


7,000 to 8,000 yards. Traditionally, the effective range of battle was dictated by the effective range of torpedoes. The results of Tsushima answered the General Board’s inquiry: accurate gunnery had taken place at a range of over 14,000 yards. The torpedo was no longer the primary threat to a battleship rather the heavy gun as a warship could be damaged or sunk well before it came into range to fire its torpedoes. If future combat was to follow the precedent of Tsushima, then any ensuing battles would be decided by long-range heavy guns. However, it was the British Royal Navy that finally forced the issue of the all-big-gun battleship, when details about HMS Dreadnought’s design became known to the US Navy in the summer of 1905. When reports of Tsushima reached the Admiralty, the results of the battle confirmed the strategic vision of Admiral John “Jackie” Fisher’s plans for an all-big-gun battleship and HMS Dreadnought was laid down on October 2, 1905. With the construction of a single ship, the Royal Navy rendered all previous battleships more or less obsolete. Analyses of the battle of Tsushima seemed to vindicate American supporters of the dreadnought battleship, but it also threw an unexpected wrench into strategic naval planning. With the Czar’s navy nearly obliterated and the British in an alliance with Japan, there was no counterweight to potential Japanese naval and territorial expansion in the Pacific. Japanese anger at American meddling in the Treaty of Portsmouth, which ended the Russo-Japanese War, and anti-Japanese immigration measures on the American West Coast heightened tensions between the two nations. Diplomatic agreements helped to return relations to an even keel and the celebrated 1907–09 cruise of the Great White Fleet, a perfect example of Roosevelt’s “speak softly and carry a big stick” approach to diplomacy, intentionally intimidated the Japanese away from pursuing any expansionist moves. Nevertheless, the specter of Japanese naval expansion began to haunt American naval planners and by 1906 contingency plans for war with Japan had already begun to take shape, the first of which to be formally adopted, in 1911, being the first version of Plan Orange. At this time Japan was considered a secondary threat to Germany, primarily because of Japan’s limited industrial capacity and inexperience in building large capital ships. Nevertheless, American admirals demanded that all new capital ships must have sufficient range to operate deep in the Pacific, in the event of conflict with Japan. Thus it was that the initial period of American dreadnought construction, from 1906 to 1910, began against the backdrop of a perceived major German naval threat in the Caribbean and a perceived minor Japanese naval threat in the Pacific. Reluctance among so...

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