Nevada class battleship

Nevada class battleship
Uss nevada.jpg
USS Nevada after her 1942 reconstruction.
Class overview
Name: Nevada class
Builders:
Operators:  United States Navy
Preceded by: New York-class battleship
Succeeded by: Pennsylvania-class battleship
In commission: 1916–1946
Completed: 2
Active: 0
Lost: 1
Retired: 1
Preserved: 0
General characteristics
Type: Battleship
Displacement: Standard: 27,500 long tons (27,900 t)
Length: 575 ft (175.3 m)(waterline); 583 ft (177.7 m) (overall)
Beam: 85 ft 6 in (26.1 m)
Draft: 28 ft 6 in (8.7 m)
Propulsion: Nevada:
  • Geared steam turbines, 26,500 shp (19.8 MW)
Oklahoma:
  • Vertical triple expansion reciprocating steam engines 24,800 hp (18.5 MW)
2 propellers
Speed: 20.5 knots (38.0 km/h)
Range: designed:
  • 8,000 nautical miles (9,206 mi; 14,816 km) at 10 knots (12 mph; 19 km/h)[3]
in service:
  • 5,120 nautical miles (5,892 mi; 9,482 km) at 12 knots (14 mph; 22 km/h)
or
  • 1,931 nautical miles (2,222 mi; 3,576 km) at 20 knots (23 mph; 37 km/h)[3]
Complement: (as built) 864 officers and men (from 1929) 1,398;[4] (from 1945) 2,220;[4]
Armament: as built:[5]
  • 10 × 14 inch/45 caliber guns (2×3, 2×2)
  • 21 × 5 inch/51 caliber guns (21×1; ten each beam, one in the stern, soon reduced to 12)
  • 2 × 21 inch torpedo tubes
Late 1920s:
  • 8 × 5 inch/25 caliber guns were added
1942:
Armor:
  • Belt: 8–13.5 in (203–343 mm)
  • Barbettes: 13 in (330 mm)
  • Turret face: 16–18 in (406–457 mm)
  • Turret sides: 9–10 in (229–254 mm)
  • Turret top: 5 in (127 mm)
  • Turret rear: 9 in (229 mm)
  • Conning tower: 11.5 in (292 mm)
  • Decks: 3 in (76 mm)
Aircraft carried: as built:
  • 3 floatplanes
  • 2 catapults[4]
1942:
  • 2 floatplanes
  • 1 catapult[4]
Notes: 2,042 tons[vague] oil fuel

The Nevada class battleships were the United States Navy's first battleship design equipped with triple gun turrets (the Colorado class would be the last to carry twin turrets, armed with dual-mounted 16-inch guns), as well as introducing the so-called "all or nothing" armor scheme, in which protection of vital areas was optimized against heavy caliber guns, leaving other parts of the ship essentially unprotected. The Nevadas also represented the advance to all fuel oil propulsion. Taken together, the Nevada class represented a considerable evolution in battleship design up to this point in time.

Contents

Design

Profile of Nevada before her 1927 refit
Office of Naval Intelligence identification sheet depicting Nevada after her 1942 repair and modernization

The Nevada class marked "another graduated step in the rapidly evolving American battleship".[9] When Nevada was built, The New York Times remarked that the new warship was "the greatest [battleship] afloat"[10] because her tonnage was nearly three times larger than the USS Oregon and almost twice as large as the USS Connecticut. In addition, Nevada was 8,000 long tons (8,100 t) heavier than one of the original American dreadnoughts, the USS Delaware.[10]

The new battleships of the Nevada class were the first two in the U.S. Navy to have triple gun turrets,[a][11] single funnels,[12] anti-aircraft guns,[10] and oil-fired power plants.[10][13] In particular, using oil gave the new class an engineering advantage over the earlier coal-fired plants.[9] Although previous battleships had armor of varying thickness—depending on the importance of the area it was protecting—the Nevadas had maximum armor over critical areas such as the magazines and engines, and none over less-important places; this become known as the "all or nothing" principle, which most major navies later adopted for their own battleships.[11][13][14][15] The Nevada class had 40% more armor by weight than the New York class.[7]

The Nevada class were the first of the Standard type battleship concept of the US Navy,[7] a design concept which gave the U.S. Navy a homogeneous line of battle (very important, as it allowed the Navy to plan maneuvers for the whole line of battle rather than detaching "fast wings" and "slow wings").[16] The "Standard" concept included long-range gunnery, moderate speed of 21 knots (39 km/h), a tight tactical radius of ~700 yards (640 m), and improved damage control.[16] The other Standards were the Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Tennessee and Colorado classes.[16]

A possible design flaw in the Nevadas was that they did not have a substantial amount of deck armor. This was due to the prevailing belief (at the time) that the submarine was the greatest threat to battleships.[11] By World War II, however, the greatest threat had become airplanes[14]—"the results of this [design flaw] were later [...] realized at Pearl Harbor, with Nevada's experience proving that the watertight integrity of older warships was unlikely to be satisfactory."[11][13]

The Nevadas were virtually identical except in their propulsion. Nevada and her sister were fitted with different engines to compare the two, putting them 'head-to-head': Oklahoma received older vertical triple expansion engines, while Nevada received Curtis steam turbines.[b][7][17][18]

Armor Suite

The armor suite of the Nevada class was designed by a confluence of design choices rather than an overall scheme.[19] As early as the New Yorks, questions were raised about the earlier, more complicated, scheme, which featured a deck thick enough to set off an armor-piercing shell over a thinner-armored deck to catch the splinter.[19] This was driven by the growing range of heavier naval guns being mounted in the world’s newest dreadnoughts, matched with the improved ranging and fire control capabilities.[20] Now, because maximum range required maximum elevation, plunging fire from heavy shells had to be accounted for in protecting main deck and turret tops,[19] and Nevada's designers "were almost alone"[21] realizing the belt set "the inner edge of the zone of immunity", the deck, the outer edge.[21] In addition, combining main and splinter decks into one, and raising it, would simplify construction and increase girder strength for the hull.[20] As a result, over 2,000 long tons (2,000 t) were allocated to deck armor alone in the Nevadas.[20] It was found linking the armored deck directly to the armor belts reduced a weak spot previously covered by the mid grade casement armor.[20] As all U.S. battleships already had thick armor end bulkheads, this gave one continuous armored box.[22] Taken together, this was the "all or nothing" design revolution. Gunnery trials against the target ship USS San Marcos (ex-USS Texas) confirmed the need for a better armor suite.[23] Turret faces were thickened to 18” (46 cm).[23] This increase in armor protection should not be underestimated, as both sides of the Battle of Jutland would find out as turret roofs and decks were repeatedly pierced.[23] The Nevadas were also the Navy's first to eliminate bunker armor, replacing it with an inboard armored bulkhead (strong enough to withstand about 100 lb (45 kg) of TNT or 190 megajoules of energy), the first use of underwater protection in the U.S. Navy.[21]

Armament

The Nevadas were originally equipped with ten 14 in (356 mm)/45 caliber guns,[24] 21 5 in (127 mm)/51 caliber Mark I guns,[21][24][25] and two 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes.[24] The 14” was carried over from the New Yorks, however triple turrets were introduced for the lower fore and aft pair positions because of the General Board's "disgust with the awkward five-and-six turret arrangements of the previous classes[26] They were limited to 15 degrees elevation (and so a maximum range of 21,000 yd {19.2 km, 10½ nm})[21] and fired a "relatively light"" 1,400 lb (640 kg) shell at 2,600 ft/s (790 m/s), according to German doctrine of light shell and high velocity, "not a good recipe for accurate shooting at the maximum range".[21]

Though Nevadas were originally equipped with twenty-one 5"/51 caliber guns to defend against enemy destroyers,[13] this was reduced to twelve in 1918,[25] due to the overly wet bow and stern positions the other nine had been occupying.[7][13]

Engineering

The Nevadas were the Navy's first battleships to have oil as their primary fuel and the last to use twin-screw propulsion (all subsequent battleships would use four screws).[27] Oil boasted greater thermal efficiency, allowing greater range per ton of fuel carried. The switch from coal also allowed the use of smaller boilers conserving weight and space in Nevadas.[19] USS Oklahoma represented the final use of reciprocating machinery. Oklahoma's vertical triple expansion (VTE) engine equipment made her less reliable and more vibration-prone than her sister, making her a ship the Navy wished to re-engine.

Deployment

The Nevadas were active in the Atlantic Ocean before and during World War I, deploying to the European war zone in 1918 to help protect Allied supply lines. Their service continued after the "Great War", though by the early 1920s they were the oldest of the main Battle Fleet units. Both were extensively modernized between 1927 and 1929, receiving greater elevation for their new Mark 10/45 heavy guns, modern gunfire controls in new tripod masts, and two catapults for scouting and observation airplanes. Their 5-inch (127 mm) 51-caliber anti-destroyer guns were moved to drier locations in the superstructure and a battery of 5-inch 25-caliber anti-aircraft guns was added. Protection against shellfire, bombs, and torpedoes was improved, increasing their beam to nearly 108 feet (33 m) and battle displacement to about 34,000 long tons (35,000 t). Nevada's steam turbines, prematurely aging, were replaced with far better geared turbines from the decommissioned USS North Dakota at this time; Oklahoma was not re-engined, but both ships were equipped with modern medium-pressure boilers.

At Pearl Harbor, Oklahoma was sunk and Nevada beached herself with light damage (which climbed to moderate damage, after a large fire in number 2 {"B"} turret a day later) to prevent blocking the harbor entrance. Nevada’s experience proved the torpedo defence system was very good, but watertight integrity on the upper decks of older warships was unlikely to be satisfactory. Oklahoma, hit by 9 torpedoes within a matter of a few minutes, capsized and was a total loss, but Nevada was salvaged and modernized again during 1942, exchanging her old secondary battery for new 5-inch 38-caliber dual-purpose twin mounts, plus numerous 40 mm and 20 mm anti-aircraft autocannons. Her superstructure was completely reconstructed in modern form, with a much-reduced conning tower. She served in both the European and Pacific theaters, providing gunfire support for amphibious operations. Nevada, along with USS Texas and USS Arkansas, shelled German shore batteries on D-Day. Nevada’s final mission was as a target for nuclear and conventional weapons from 1946 to 1948.

Notes

  1. ^ The idea for turrets with more than two guns each came from the French, as they were planning to use quadruple turrets for their planned Normandie and Lyon-class battleships. Only one of these ships was completed, Béarn, but she was converted to an aircraft carrier while she was being built. See New York Times 16 October 1915, p. 12.
  2. ^ See this book for more information on Curtis turbines (Scroll down to the bottom of the page): Ewing, James Alfred (1910). The Steam-engine and Other Heat-engines. University Press (University of California). p. 232. http://books.google.com/?id=8FdDAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA236&lpg=PA236&dq=#PPA234,M1. 

References

  • Initially based on the public domain article published by the Department of the Navy's Naval Historical Center

Bibliography

Print sources

Online sources

New York Times


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