In 1909, the German naval thought came close to the concept of a high-speed battleship. On March 8, 1909 Corvette-Captain Vollerthun presented a memorandum to the Secretary of State of the Navy (in fact, the Minister of the Navy) Alfedu von Tirpitz, who presented views on the development of the class of battlecruisers. In this document, the Corvette-Captain made a clear definition of the German and British approaches to the creation of the battlecruisers. Vollertun noted the unsuitability of the British ships for linear battle - their heavy guns and superspeeds (26,5-27 bonds) were achieved due to extreme weakening of armor (178 mm, according to the Corvette-Captain), why the British battlecruisers could be hit by not even the largest guns, and - at a great distance. At the same time, the German battlecruisers were originally designed to participate in the general battle as a high-speed wing. Describing the German and British ships of this class, Vollertun very figuratively noted: "British battlecruisers oppose our cruising battleships."
Further development of the linear cruisers in Germany, Vollertun saw it this way: ships of equal displacement should be built with battleships, which will have a higher speed due to a slight weakening of artillery, while the protection should remain at the same level. Or one should create battlecruisers of equal strength and security to the battleships, in which a higher speed will be ensured due to an increase in displacement. The Corvetten-Captain believed that the difference in the 3,5-4 node for the battlecruiser would be quite enough (surprisingly, but the fact is that the famous British battleships Queen Elizabeth subsequently were built as if exactly according to Wollertun's instructions).
At the same time, the memorandum noted that, starting with the "Fon der Tanna", the German battlecruisers were based on slightly different principles - in order to achieve higher speeds than the battleships, they had weakened artillery and protection. Vollertun believed it was extremely necessary to switch to 305-mm guns (eight instead of ten 280-mm), but nevertheless noted that, taking into account not the most powerful booking of ships in other countries, still 280-mm artillery may be enough.
Alfred von Tirpitz did not at all share the opinion of the corvette-captain. In his opinion, Germany has already found a suitable type of ship and did not have to change anything. A slight weakening of weapons and reservations for the sake of speed with an equal displacement with the battleship is the ideal to be followed.
During the discussion of the draft of the new battlecruiser, two very interesting innovations were proposed - the transition to three-gun (possibly 305-mm) towers and the lowering of the height of armored decks. The first proposal was quickly rejected - the specialists responsible for armament did not consider the three-gun towers suitable for Kaiserlhmarin, while the second was discussed for quite a long time. The fact is that, as we said in the previous article, the armored belt of the Moltke and Goeben German battle cruisers was not uniform: it reached its greatest thickness (270 mm) only at the height of 1,8 m, and in the normal displacement of 0,6 m this site was under water. Accordingly, the 270-mm section of the armored belt protruded only on the 1,2 m over the waterline. At the same time, the horizontal part of the armored deck was located in 1,6 m above the waterline, that is, on the 40 cm where only the 200 mm armor covered the board. This created a certain vulnerability, and in addition, reducing the deck would save her weight (the bevels would be shorter). However, it would also have to put up with a decrease in the amount of the reserved space, which was ultimately declared unacceptable.
The variant with four two-gun 305-mm towers was considered once again, but only with the purpose of understanding whether this placement would not save weight compared to five 280-mm towers.
Savings, if it had arisen, were supposed to be used to reinforce the protection, but it turned out that it does not exist - the individually large mass of 305-mm towers combined with the need to “pull” the upper deck to the stern did not make the placement of eight 305-mm guns more “light” solution than ten 280-mm. On this basis, 305-mm artillery was finally abandoned.
While developing “Zeidlitz”, von Tirpitz had to take into account another important aspect - in July 1909 Mr. von Bülow left the post of Chancellor, and von Betman-Golweg took his place, which was distinguished by a significantly greater propensity to save, therefore it was not possible to count on a serious increase in the cost of the ship. However, von Tirpitz intended to receive, in addition to the appropriated sums, from 750 thousand to one million marks by subscription (fundraising).
As a result of the foregoing, we stopped on a ship with the Moltke TTH, but with a somewhat enhanced reservation. The option of placing artillery in the center plane was considered.
But they refused it. As we noted earlier, it was not a secret for the Germans that one good hit could bring out two Moltke stern towers at once, and they considered that putting two bow towers too dangerous for such a risk. As a result, the “Seidlits” turned out to be an enlarged copy of the “Moltke”, with the same artillery, enhanced armor and increased machine power, in order to ensure the speed increase in the 1 node. The ship's normal displacement was 24 988 t, which is 2 009 t more than the Moltke. Let's see what it was spent on.
The Zeidlitz armament, both artillery and torpedo, exactly copied the one of the ships of the previous type (ten 280-mm guns and a dozen 152-mm and 88-mm, as well as four 500-mm torpedo tubes), so we did not We will describe it in detail again. Anyone who wants to refresh their memory can do it in the appropriate section of the article. "The battle battle cruisers." Moltke vs. Lion. But it is necessary to correct the annoying mistake that crept into the description of 280-mm / 45 guns - the initial velocity of the projectile 895 m / s is indicated for them, while the correct one is 877 m / s.
The scheme of the armor is left almost the same as that of the Moltke, so we confine ourselves only to the description of the differences.
The thickness of the upper and lower armor belts was increased and was (in parentheses - Moltke data) at a height of 1,8 m - 300 (270) mm further down the 1,3 m to the bottom of the armor plate, it became thinner to 150 (130) mm. The second, upper armored belt had a thickness of 230 (200) mm. Continuing to the stem, the upper armor belt consistently thinned to 120 and then 100 mm (120-100-80 mm).
The armor deck, both in the horizontal part and on the bevels, had an 30 mm (25-50 mm). The forehead and rear walls of the towers were protected by 250 (230) mm armor, the side walls were 200 (180) mm, the sloping sheet in front of the roof was 100 (90) mm, the roof in its horizontal part was 70 (60) mm, the flooring in the rear parts - 50-100 (50) mm. The barbety received 230 mm of armor (on the Moltka, only barbety of the first and fifth towers had such protection in the part facing the bow and the stern, respectively). At the same time, precisely these towers on the “Seidlitsa” in the part of the barbet facing the conning tower (and the fourth tower) had a reservation reduced to 200 mm. In other words, the barbettes of the first and fifth turrets of the 280-mm Zeidlitz guns had protection similar to Moltke, the rest were 230 mm against 200 mm. Below, opposite the 150 mm body armor of the casemates, the Zeidlitz barbet had a thickness of 100 (80) mm., Then the same 30 mm as the Moltke.
In addition to the need to compensate for more than two-tonnage displacement growth, the German shipbuilders also wanted to increase the speed to 26,5 knots. (in comparison with 25,5 knots. Moltke). For this, we had to install a much more powerful power plant in the 63 000 HP. (vs 52 000 hp Moltke). On tests, the “Seidlits” reached the speed of 28.1 knots, at maximum power 89 738 hp The normal fuel supply, as on the Moltka, was 1 000 t, but the maximum was significantly longer — the 3 460-3 600 t. Nevertheless, the range of the Seidlitz was quite comparable to the Moltka — for example, for speed in 17 knots. calculated, it was 4 440 miles for the first and 4 230 miles for the second ship.
“Seidlits” was ordered for construction under the 1910 g program, 4 was laid on February 1911 g, 30 March was launched on 1912 March and 22 was commissioned on May 1913.
Linear cruiser "Zeidlits" in completion
Just like the German Zeidlits, this ship was built according to the 1910 program, and was laid just a month later - 6 March 1911, launched on 10 days earlier (20 March 1912 g), but entered into build on 3 months later - in August 1913
Its design differences from Lyon and Princess Royal, built under the 1919 program, were, in general, minimal. From the noticeable one, it can be distinguished that the entire deck of the forecastle got a thickness of 32 mm (at Lyon, the forecastle was thickened to 38 mm only in the region of the chimneys and the third tower of the main caliber). In addition, the nasal superstructure received anti-fragmentation armor where anti-mine weapons were located - but their total number was reduced from 16 to 14 and ... that was all. Oh yes, we’ve returned to the traditional placement of officers' cabins in the stern - starting from the Dreadnought they were transferred to the bow of the ship, which is what Royal officers Fleet did not like.
At the same time, the increase in displacement has led to the need to increase the width of the hull by 152 mm while maintaining the same draft. In order to maintain speed with the displacement increased up to 27 000 t, the power of the power plant was increased from 70 000 to 75 000 hp. The British hoped that due to the more powerful chassis "Queen Mary" would be more high-speed than its predecessors, but these calculations were not justified. On the tests of the newest battle cruiser the British developed the 28,17 knot with the power of the 83 000 hp. The fuel supply was 1 000 t - normal and 3 700 t coal plus 1 170 t oil - the maximum, while the range on 17,4 knots should be 4 950 miles.
In other words, by and large, Queen Mary became the third ship in the Lion series, but it still had one serious difference - despite the fact that the design of the 343-mm guns did not change, the feeding mechanisms were designed for heavier 635 kg shells. And it pretty much increased the capabilities of the ship.
Both the "Seidlits" and "Queen Mary" continued the specific lines of development of the Germanic and English types of battle cruisers. The Germans, having the opportunity to build a more expensive and large ship, preferred protection. The increase in speed on the 1 node seems to be due to the fact that, according to German data, British cruisers were built to reach 26,5-27 knots, so the speed increase from 25,5 to 26,5 knots. looked perfectly justified. As for the Queen Mary, this battle cruiser received even more powerful artillery for cosmetic changes in armor and the same (very high) speed.
As a result, “Seidlits” and “Queen Mary” became “a step on the spot”. In the last article, we talked about the fact that the 270 mm section of the Moltke armored belt penetrated the 567-kg with a projectile 343-mm guns approximately on the 62 cable. “Seidlitsa” added 30 mm of armor, “Queen Mary” received additional 68 kg to each projectile and as a result - “Queen Mary” shells could pierce 300 mm “Seydlitz” armor on the same 62 KBT. What changed? Only the fact that behind the armored belt of the Moltke the vehicles, boilers and artillery grains of the ship were protected by the 25 mm horizontal deck and 50 mm bevels, while the Seidlitz and the horizontal part and bevels had only 30 mm. Upper armor and barbety 230 mm thick "did not hold" 343-mm projectiles at all imaginable distances of the battle.
On the one hand, life seemed to put everything in its place. Queen Mary and Zeidlits met in the battle of Yutland, and the first one died, getting 15-20 of shells hit with caliber 280-305 mm, and scared with almost the entire crew. The second received 23 with a caliber of 305-381-mm and one torpedo, took over 5 000 tons of water, but still remained afloat, albeit in distress. As a result, the label of an “egg-shell armed with hammers” stuck to the British battlecruiser, while the durability of the “Seydlitz” became the talk of the town ...
Damaged in the battle of Jutland "Seidlitz". Picture taken from the board of the cruiser "Pillau"
Without a doubt, the German shipbuilders gave great attention to protection and survivability. But you need to understand that losing to the British by the battles of battle cruisers predetermined only one property of the German ships, in fact, not directly related to their design. The British ships, as a rule, exploded during fires inside the barbets and turrets, while the Germans did not. The reason was that the German powder burned evenly during a fire - the flame destroyed the entire calculation of the tower, but the explosion did not occur, but the British powder detonated.
If the charges of the Zeidlitz guns were completed with British gunpowder, the ship would probably have died twice - in the battle of Dogger-Banks, when at a distance of 84 KB. The 343-mm projectile broke the 230 mm barbet and ignited the charges - in the turret, the turret chambers and feed tubes. The reloading department team tried to escape by opening the door to the reloading section of the neighboring tower, but the fire “entered” with them, so that the fire engulfed the sub-wing sections of both towers.
The flames engulfed 6 tons of gunpowder, fountains of flames and hot gases “broke from the house” burst from both towers, as eyewitnesses described it, but ... no explosion occurred. Nevertheless, it is not known whether a catastrophe could have been avoided had the fire reached the cellars, but the position was saved by the heroic deed of the bilge foreman Wilhelm Heidkamp. He burned his hands, opening the red-hot valves flooding the cellars, as a result of which neither the cellars nor the torpedoes near the repository of fire were hit. “Seidlits” did not die, but “got off” “only” with the death of 165 people. If British gunpowder were on the German battle cruiser, then 6 tons in sub-battalions would detonate, and then no heroism would have time to save the artillery cellars from fiery hell.
But, fortunately for the Germans, their powder was not prone to detonation, so that the "Seidlits" survived. And it somehow retorted the fact that as a result of just one hit from a distance of 84 KBT. the ship received the hardest damage, as a result of which two of the main five-caliber towers were put out of action and 600 tons of water entered the hull. In other words, the second shell hit the ship deprived it of at least 40% of combat power.
The second time "Zeidlitsu" was to die in the battle of Jutland, and, again, at the very beginning. And this time the first 343-mm shell hit the ship caused significant, but not critical damage, but the second one (obviously an unlucky number for “Seydlitz”) from a distance of 71-75 kbt. punched 230 mm bronepoyas and exploded when passing armor. Fragments pierced 30 mm barbet armor plates and caused the ignition of four charges in the reloading compartment. And again the crew suffered the hardest losses (a significant part of the calculation of the tower died in the fire) and again it was necessary to sink the cellars. But the fire that broke out in the reloading compartment did not go to the cellars (the result of modernization after the Dogger-Banks battle) and the ship, again, did not die.
At the same time, the Zeidlitz artillery did not seem to have caused significant damage to the British. It so happened that at the beginning of the battle of Yutland, “Zeidlitsu” just fell to fight with “Queen Mary” and, as far as can be judged, this duel was not at all in favor of the German ship. Officially, “Seidlits” achieved four, or perhaps five, 280-mm projectile hits at Queen Mary, but it is possible that there were significantly more hits. The fact is that sources usually report four hits on Queen Mary from Seidlitz and three from Derflinger, but this gives a total of seven hits, but the same sources claim that Queen Mary 15-20 shells hit, and except for the above two battlecruisers nobody fired at it. At the same time, until its very death, Queen Mary did not make the impression of a wrecked, or at least heavily damaged ship - it was unnoticeable that the Seidlitz 280-mm projectiles somehow affected its combat capability. At the same time, the number of hits “Queen Mary” in “Seidlitz” is known for sure - 4 projectile. And the effect of them turned out to be very noticeable.
The first projectile struck the board under the conning tower and damaged the nasal distribution console, severely destroying the unarmored side structures and making a hole in the main deck of 3 size on 3 m. Through this hole, water penetrated into the hull, which (until the end of the battle) was poured into the central post. Seydlitza "and cellars. Not deadly, of course, but pleasant enough.
The second shell - we have already described his actions. “Seidlits” saved two things from death - gunpowder and prone to modernization of loading compartments, which are not prone to detonation, protecting from the penetration of fire into the cellars (as you can see, one of the two armored flames always closed from the transfer compartment to the supply pipe, or from the same compartment in the cellar). But in any case, one of the towers was completely disabled, and much of its calculation was lost. It is noteworthy that the British projectile had to overcome exactly the same armor — the 230 mm board plus the 30 mm bevel armor — to hit the machines and boilers of the German battle cruiser.
The third shell, strictly speaking, did not get into the ship at all, but exploded in the water near the side. But the explosive contained in it was enough to cause a divergence of the seams of the hull plating over 11 meters. As a result, the front outer coal bunkers and additional bins of the XIII compartment, as well as the roll tanks, were flooded.
The fourth projectile - as far as it can be understood, the projectile hit the 230 mm top plate slab and 150 mm casemate, destroyed the 150-mm gun No. 6 from the starboard. The shell caused great damage inside the ship, many of the bulkheads were broken by shrapnel.
“Queen Mary” was eventually destroyed, but how? The concentration of fire of two battlecruisers, moreover, according to eyewitnesses, the British battle cruiser most likely destroyed the Dernlinger 305-mm projectiles. And they were much heavier (405 kg versus 302) and had significantly better armor penetration compared to Seidlitz shells. And whether a similar result was achieved if “Seidlits” continued to single-handedly shoot out with “Queen Mary” - it is rather difficult to say.
Although, of course, anything is possible. As we said earlier, the Lyon-type linear cruisers artillery was very poorly protected from 280 projectiles — 102-127-152 mm armor opposite the barbets of the turrets did not represent any reliable protection. Anecdotal case describes the Muzhenki: in the battle at Dogger-Banks 127 mm, the Lion armor was pierced from a distance of 88 kb. 280-mm projectile ... after he fell into the water in 4,6 m from the side of the ship, ricocheted and hit the armored plate. And, strictly speaking, 203 mm barbetas of the Queen Mary towers were, in principle, also quite penetrable by the Seidlitz shells.
The conclusions from the above are as follows: we have already written that the armor "Lion" and "Moltke" did not protect these ships from the effects of 280-mm and 343 mm shells of their opponents. Without a doubt, Moltke was much better protected than the Lion, but the number of its vulnerable spots for the British 343-mm projectiles was greater than that of the Lion for the 280-mm, and moreover, the heavier shells had better zabronevy impact. All this led to the fact that the British took the lead as their battle cruisers, because all other things being equal (crew training), the chances of causing heavy damage to the enemy from the Lion were higher.
With the Queen Mary and Seidlit pair, nothing has changed. It is known that the sword has priority over the shield, and therefore even a slight increase in the firepower of the British battlecruiser fully balanced a very decent increase in the protection of the German ship. As in the case of the Moltke and the Lion, Queen Mary was stronger than the Seidlitz — the one-on-one battle with this ship was deadly for the German cruiser, although not hopeless.
To be continued!