This material is devoted to the evolution of air defense of Soviet battleships during the period from World War I to the beginning of World War II. Unfortunately, in the sources devoted to these ships, this issue is considered rather superficially and contains a number of inaccuracies. However, thanks to the brilliant work of the respected A. V. Tameev, “Identification of battleships of the Sevastopol type, the author of this article has the opportunity to significantly refine the materials that he posted on VO earlier.
Initially, the artillery weapons of the first Russian dreadnoughts were to include, in addition to the 305 mm main and 120 mm anti-mine calibers, also eight 75-mm guns and four 47-mm guns. But none of these gun mounts was anti-aircraft: 75-mm artillery, which was planned to be deployed in pairs on 4 main-caliber towers, was training, and 47-mm cannons on the nose superstructure were salute. At the same time, the training tools were abandoned during the construction process, they managed to be installed only at Sevastopol, and they were removed from it even before the construction was completed. As for the 47-mm “salute”, the battleships, upon entry into service, carried 4 such artillery systems, but in the winter of 1915/16. 2 such guns were removed from each ship, and in the second half of 1916 they lost the rest. The only exception was the battleship Sevastopol, where a pair of salute cannons remained until the beginning of 1918.
Anti-aircraft artillery during the First World War
I must say that equipping the Baltic dreadnought with air defense systems was quite chaotic: they put it on, removed it, and then put it back on. In total there were 3 points of installation of anti-aircraft guns: the 1st and 4th tower, as well as the feed behind the 4th tower.
"Gangut." In November 1915, a 75-mm Obukhov gun was mounted on its stern on the Meller machine. However, a year later, at the end of 1916, it was withdrawn. In the period from the summer of 1916 until the beginning of 1917, the bow tower of the main caliber (GK) was "decorated" with the Maxim anti-aircraft machine gun, but then, for unclear reasons, it was also removed. For almost a year the tower remained “bare”, and only at the end of 1917 a 63,5 mm anti-aircraft gun was installed on it. And only on the 4th tower of the GK anti-aircraft weapons "took root": there at the end of 1915 a 63,5 mm anti-aircraft gun was installed, and in May 1916 a second one was installed there, placing them diagonally, and even a small rangefinder (3,5 feet).
Sevastopol. The only ship that during the entire war did not receive a single anti-aircraft gun in the stern. His first anti-aircraft gun was a 47-mm gun, installed in the winter of 1915/16. to the 4th tower of the Civil Code, but in 1916 it was removed from there. Since the end of 1916, the 4th tower received two 76,2-mm Lender guns placed diagonally, and from the beginning of 1917, another such gun was installed on the first tower of the Civil Code.
"Petropavlovsk". In the winter of 1915, together with Sevastopol, he received a 4-mm anti-aircraft gun on the 47th tower of the Civil Code. But in the summer of 1916, she replaced the balls with two 63,5-mm anti-aircraft guns, located side by side, and a 3,5-foot range finder. Another 63,5-mm gun at the end of 1917 was located on the 1st tower of the Civil Code. But at the stern of the ship anti-aircraft weapons somehow "did not take root." In the spring of 1916, he received a 40-mm Vickers assault rifle, which, for unclear reasons, was removed from there in the summer of that year. Instead, they installed the Maxim machine gun on an anti-aircraft machine gun (possibly not one), but at the beginning of 1917 they removed it (them).
"Poltava". Like Sevastopol and Petropavlovsk, anti-aircraft weapons of the battleship “began” with the installation of a 47-mm gun on the 4th tower of the Civil Code. At the end of 1916, it was replaced by two 76,2 mm Lender guns. In addition, the battleship received either one or several anti-aircraft “Maxims” in the stern, where he (or they) stayed between the summer of 1916 and the beginning of 1917, and then, at the end of 1917, another 76,2, The Lender 1-mm cannon was installed on the XNUMXst turret of the Civil Code.
Thus, by the October Revolution (an event, not a battleship), the anti-aircraft weapons of all four Baltic battleships were represented by 3 anti-aircraft guns, of which one was located on the 1st tower of the Civil Code, and two on the 4th tower of the Civil Code. The only difference was that the Sevastopol and Poltava had 76,2 mm Lender anti-aircraft guns, and the Gangut and Petropavlovsk had 63,5 mm anti-aircraft guns.
The period from 1918 until the first modernization of battleships
The Gangut, aka the October Revolution and Poltava, aka Mikhail Frunze, lost all their anti-aircraft artillery in 1918-1919. in connection with the statement for long-term storage.
"Petropavlovsk", also known as "Marat", in 1923 lost one 63,5-mm anti-aircraft gun on the bow tower of the Civil Code. The bow tower of "Sevastopol" (aka "Paris Commune"), in 1924 also left the Lender 76,2-mm anti-aircraft gun, but at the end of the next, 1925, returned and even “brought a girlfriend”. Thus, by the beginning of the modernization of battleships on the “October Revolution” there was no anti-aircraft artillery at all, on the Marat there were only two 63,5-mm guns on the 4th tower, but the “Paris Commune” had two 76,2- mm anti-aircraft guns on the 1st and 2nd towers of the Civil Code.
Air Defense Unification
During its first modernization, that is, from the winter of 1923, for Marat, from the summer of 1926 to the October Revolution, and from the winter of 1926/27. for the "Paris Commune", all three battleships of the young Soviet fleet received unified anti-aircraft weapons, consisting of 6 * 76,2 mm Lender guns, placed 3 in each on the 1st and 4th towers of the Civil Code. In the future, our sailors also sought to ensure that the air defense of all three Soviet battleships was identical, but nevertheless, there was always a slight difference before the war.
In the 30s of the twentieth century, the anti-aircraft weapons of the three battleships underwent successive changes. According to the respected A. V. Tameev, “Marat” during the modernization of 1928/31. and the “October Revolution” during the 3rd stage of modernization in 1933/34. In addition to six Lender anti-aircraft guns, they received 4 more 37-mm guns. They were placed in pairs on the bow and stern superstructures. But what kind of machines were they? Of course, we are not talking about the 70-K installations, which appeared in the Soviet fleet much later. A.V. Tameyev mentions that these were 37-mm Vickers submachine guns, but here ambiguity arises.
The fact is that the Soviet sailors had at their disposal 40-mm Vickers assault rifles (“pom-pom”), but they obviously differ in caliber. There were also 37-mm Maxim submachine guns that were produced in World War I and which were subsequently produced in small batches after the revolution. Perhaps there was still a certain number of 37 mm Macklen's assault rifles that the Russian Empire acquired during the First World War, but it is completely doubtful that they would be put on battleships during the modernization of the 30s. Finally, there was still an attempt to create a “37 mm automatic gun mod. 1928 ", which was a somewhat improved" pom-pom ", but, as far as the author knows, it was not accepted for service and was not mass-produced.
Thus, it can be assumed that the Marat and the October Revolution received either the classic 40-mm Vickers “pom-poms” or the 37-mm Maxim submachine guns made by the Obukhov factory. And it should be said that the anti-aircraft weapons of these two battleships turned out to be identical in terms of the quantity of anti-aircraft artillery (but perhaps not in the quality of fire control).
However, not for long. In 1937, the Marat lost its 37-mm machine guns, which were replaced by six Maxim four machine guns, each mounted 3 on the bow and stern superstructures.
And here is the “October Revolution” in 1936/37. also "got rid" of Vickers submachine guns, receiving in return four 45-mm 21-Ks, which were located in pairs on the bow and stern superstructures. Later, on each add-in they added another quad "Maxim". Then, four 45-mm 21-K semi-automatic guns were removed, replacing them with the same number of Maxims, and by the winter of 1939/40. anti-aircraft weapons of the "October Revolution" and "Marat" again became identical. It included 6 * 76,2-mm Lender anti-aircraft guns and 6 quadruple machine guns "Maxim".
As for the battleship "Paris Commune", its anti-aircraft weapons in the pre-war period was completely different. This ship was modernized later and at the first stage of work carried out in the period 1933/38, received, perhaps, more serious air defense than the "October Revolution" and "Marat" combined. Three 76,2-mm 34-K anti-aircraft guns were installed on the bow and stern superstructures of the “Paris Commune”, and instead of Lender anti-aircraft guns, six 45-mm 21-K guns were installed on the towers.
Final touches before the war
Apparently, the largest number of anti-aircraft "barrels" at the beginning of World War II received "Marat". In 1939/40 the battleship finally replaced the completely archaic by that time 76,2-mm Lender anti-aircraft guns with the same number 34-K. During the last pre-war modernization (from the winter of 1939/40 to February 1941), the ship lost all the Maxims, but acquired another 2 * 76,2 mm 34-K anti-aircraft guns at the stern, and 3 * 37 each -mm submachine gun 70-K on the bow and stern superstructures. In addition, Marat received 2 DShK machine guns on the aft superstructure, the same number on the aft pipe bridge (instead of searchlights), six DShK on the bow superstructure and 3 more DShK on the bow mast platforms. Accordingly, we can say that the Marat met the war with 8 * 76,2 mm 34-K guns, 6 * 37 mm 70-K assault rifles and 13 DShK machine guns.
The October Revolution takes an honorable second place. Its anti-aircraft weapons were similar to the "Marat" and differed only in the number and location of DShK machine guns: six barrels on the bow and stern superstructures. Thus, by the beginning of the war, the anti-aircraft weapons of Oktyabrina amounted to 8 * 76,2 mm 34-K, 6 * 37 mm 70-K and 12 DShK machine guns.
But the “Paris Commune”, alas, “moved out” to third place. In 1940, the ship received 12 DShK machine guns located as follows: 4 on the bow superstructure, 6 on the stern and 2 on the main mast site. And in April 1941, the 45-mm semi-automatic 21-K were replaced by 6 37-mm 70-K submachine guns, each placed 3 on the 1st and 4th main-caliber towers. Thus, at the beginning of the war, the air defense of the “Paris Commune” provided 6 * 76,2 mm 34-K guns, 6 * 37 mm machine guns and 12 DShK machine guns. It was also planned to install two anti-aircraft guns, “three-inch” 34-K at the stern of the ship, but did not have time to do this, although the guns were made. However, in fairness, we note that the "Paris Commune" quickly "rehabilitated", because at the very beginning of the war, in August 1941, received an additional three 37-mm 70-K submachine guns on the roofs of the 2nd and 3rd towers main caliber, which brought him to the undisputed leaders in comparison with the rest of the dreadnought.
Of course, during the war, the air defense of Soviet battleships was repeatedly modernized, but consideration of this issue is beyond the scope of this article.
Air Defense Fire Control Systems
Unfortunately, there is too much obscurity with them to make any conclusions, since the possibilities and quality of these SLAs are unknown. Moreover, it can be assumed that the anti-aircraft fire of the "October Revolution" and "Marat" was generally carried out through the modernized "Geisler and Co." But, in any case, all three battleships of the USSR received a sufficient number of anti-aircraft rangefinders. So, for example, the “October Revolution” at the beginning of the war had two 3-meter range finders, located on the fore and main masts, to control the bow and stern groups of 76,2 mm guns. The fire of the 37 mm assault rifles was provided by two rangefinders with a base of 1,5 meters, located on the bow and stern superstructure, respectively. Marat had the same number of rangefinders, but on the Paris Commune in 1940 both three-meter rangefinders were removed and 4 posts were installed instead of them equipped with Som anti-aircraft fire control devices.
Comparison with foreign "colleagues"
Of course, the state of air defense of the Soviet battleships as of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War left much to be desired. But, on the other hand, it was not so bad as it might seem at first glance. Moreover, strangely enough, this will sound, but in terms of quantity and quality of anti-aircraft artillery systems “October Revolution”, “Marat” and “Paris Commune” were not much inferior to the modernized battleships of the leading naval powers.
Consider, for example, the "big five" of the United States.
The Maryland, West Virginia, and Colorado, which entered service after the First World War, carried 8 * 406-mm guns of the main caliber, and the previous Tennessee and California - a dozen 356-mm guns in new towers (and finally in separate cradles, in contrast to the "356-mm" battleships of the previous types). These ships in 1941 were the basis of the linear fleet of the United States of America. Newer ships of the North Caroline type, although they were faster and stronger, did not enter service only in April-May 1941 and had not yet reached full combat efficiency.
So, from the battleships of the "Big Five" by the time the US entered the war, that is, by December 1941, the best anti-aircraft weaponry was Maryland. Its base was made up of 8 * 127-mm guns. But these were by no means the ones that later became famous for the 127 mm / 38 artillery system, which many historians (and the author of this article after them) consider to be the best medium-caliber sea anti-aircraft guns from the Second World War, but only 127 mm / 25 guns .
In addition to them, Maryland also had 4 * 4 installations of 28-mm anti-aircraft guns and 8 * 12,7-mm machine guns.
Well, if you compare Maryland with the Paris Commune, which at that time had 6 * 76,2 mm 34-K, 12 * 37 mm 70-K machine guns and 12 * 12,7 mm machine guns, then you don’t even immediately realize who should be preferred here. Of course, the average anti-aircraft caliber of the American battleship is more powerful, but the 28-mm “Chicago pianos” have proven themselves not in the best way and are clearly losing to a dozen domestic 37-mm submachine guns. And the “Paris Commune” machine guns are one and a half times more than the “Maryland” machine guns.
Other American battleships had even weaker air defense. The Colorado has not yet completed the modernization, and the remaining three ships of the Big Five had 8 * 127 mm / 25 and 4 * 76 mm, and 8 (Tennessee), 9 (Pennsylvania) and 11 West Virginia »12,7 mm machine guns. It turns out that their average caliber anti-aircraft artillery was superior to that of the "Marat" and the "October Revolution", but there were no quick-fire guns at all, and there were more machine guns on Soviet battleships.
Thus, we see that in the part of the "trunks" of anti-aircraft artillery, domestic battleships were quite at the level of the best American battleships, excluding ships of the latest construction. If we recall the French dreadnought type "Brittany", then they with their 8 * 75 mm guns 4 * 37 mm machine guns and two quad machine gun installations lost to Soviet battleships.
Of course, there were “capital” ships, which in terms of air defense were decisively superior to the three battleships of the USSR. For example, you can recall the British "Queen Elizabeth", with its 20 barrels of excellent 114-mm anti-aircraft guns, 4 * 8 "guns" and 4 * 4 12,7-mm machine guns.
The flagship battleship of the famous British admiral E. Cunningham “Worthspite” had 4 paired 102-mm anti-aircraft guns, 4 eight-barreled 40-mm “pom-pom” installations and 11 * 20-mm “Erlikonov”. Excellence is not so significant, but still quite tangible. Nevertheless, it is worth recognizing that in terms of air defense the “October Revolution”, “Marat” and the “Paris Commune” could well be considered “strong middle peasants” among the leading naval powers that survived until 1941 of the dreadnoughts of the First World War.
Obviously, the Soviet battleships could not withstand the massive attacks of professional naval pilots using the most effective tactics and equipped with modern military equipment at that time - such as, for example, pilots of the Japanese deck aviation. But, taking into account the real combat qualities of the Luftwaffe regarding the war at sea, it can be assumed that the Soviet battleships had quite acceptable air defense at the beginning of the war. And subject to the availability of experienced commanders and trained crews, the October Revolution, Marat, and the Paris Commune could well carry out various naval operations without being exposed to excessive risk of serious damage from enemy aircraft.
To be continued ...