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The KGM Bismarck

Discussion in 'Surface and Air Forces' started by Flying Tiger, Feb 14, 2007.

  1. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    Your first statement is correct; all active battleships in WW II could bite, as well as bark.

    Your second statement about the Pearl Harbor battleline is deceptive; Pearl Harbor was just six months after Bismarck was sunk, and it wasn't until the BB's damaged at Pearl Harbor were rebuilt that most of them were brought up to the prevailing standards of battle worthiness. However, all of the American battleships at Pearl Harbor were fundamentally sound designs and as modernized would have had an excellent chance one on one against Bismarck.

    Bismarck,after all, had supposedly been designed to compete with a newer generation of capitol ships.
     
  2. rav4

    rav4 recruit

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    Don't tell that to the British, they sure didn't like the though of it being at sea.
     
  3. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Historically, The British have seen other people's rowing boats to be a "threat to their security".

    Did not the Roman Empire exaggerate the strength of the defeated enemy to glorify the victory gained?...I think Britain is guilty of this as much as Rome ever was.

    Bismark was built to fly the flag for the Nazi regime. It was propaganda from start to finish. Over two thousand young German sailors died to satisfy the German people that something was being done to prevent a re-run of the poor effort by the High Seas Fleet of 14-18. Bismark was built on the premise that "the only weapon that we can be sure of for matching another nation's big expensive monster was a big expensive monster of their own." The Kriegsmarine proved two things with the demise of Bismark. The first was that cheap aircraft could render the big expensive monster obselete, and the second was to prove Erich Raeder's assumption that the wartime Navy would only serve "to show how it could die gloriously".

    Hitler always said that the surface fleet was concieved as a device for propaganda. Even had Bismark sunk both Hood AND Prince of Wales, it is still highly questionable whether it could have contributed anything meaningful to the Atlantic conflict. Witness Prinz Eugen's cruise directly after the Denmark Strait encounter...it achieved nothing, with "Eugen" running back to port with tail firmly between legs.

    Magnetic Mines sank more shipping than German surface ships. The money and resources it cost to build them would have been better spent on other projects. This is not hindsight. Many contemporaries saw this coming, but Kriegsmarine planners seemed to be living in a world of their own, learning absolutely nothing from their valuable experiences in the Great War, and failing to listen to Doenitz when they should have....in the planning stages of the conflict. Hitler certainly was duped by these so called experts, and set Doenitz the task, giving him his way far too late. Talk about a forlorn hope. If Adolf knew as much about Naval warfare as he did about small arms and artillery, WW2 would have begun with the 300 U-Boats that Doenitz always asked for. In 1939, this would have been a decisive element, possibly even giving "Seelowe" a chance in hell of being put into action.

    To many young Germans died for the folly of Der Fuhrers "Big Ship Men". Big ships, big egos, ....BIG FAILURE.
     
  4. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    The Germans commissioned 4 modern battleships
    The British 7 + Vanguard post war
    The USA 10
    Japan 2
    Italy 3
    France 3 + Jean Bart that was completed post war

    Looks like everybody was wasting money.
     
  5. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    TiredOldSoldier wrote;
    If it was a waste of money is debatable. In the case of Germany probably yes. This was because of their strategic situation, geographical situation and because they didn't build a ship with the capabilities required. But the German battleships did, initially, tie up a disproportionate amount of Allied assets in order to counter them. Bismark would have probably been of greater use tied up somewhere just threatening to sortie. Out of fear of losing her Tirpitz ended up isolated in Norway where she wasn't a large threat, she would have been of more use if she could have been based where she could threaten the Channel or Atlantic shipping lanes.
    In the case of the U.S. not so. At the Battle of Santa Cruz during the Guadalcanal campaign, the 26 planes that the South Dakota shot down probably saved the CV Enterprise from being sunk or at least heavily damaged. USS Washington certainly saved the Guadalcanal campaign when she and South Dakota intercepted the Japanese surface force at the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal and sank Kirishima. Had the Japanese commander not lost his nerve at Samar just think of the havoc his battleships could have wreaked on the Leyte Invasion forces! The entire course of the campaign would have probably changed. The disaster would probably have caused the U.S. to decide to bypass the Phillipines. There would have commenced a long, drawn out struggle to withdraw the cutoff American forces or resources from other planned operations would have had to have been stripped to salvage the operation. Either way the initiative would have slipped from the Americans and their operational timetables severely disrupted.
    The Iowa's, South Dakota's and North Carolina's big guns certainly contributed heavily to the success of the invasions in the Pacific. The 2700lb Mark8 16" round could penetrate up to 30 feet of concrete! Something a 500lb bomb would be hard pressed to do. The final class, the Iowa's, fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon and the first Gulf War. During Vietnam the New Jersey would often fire a single round from one of her 16" guns to clear an emergency LZ for helicopters. That one round would create a LZ 200yds in diameter and defoliate the trees for an additional 300yds beyond that. Pretty powerful round. The deterrent factor of these later BB's in British and U.S. service was also great. They helped keep Tirpitz bottled up in Norway. Cruisers and smaller ships have to factor in the presence of a BB when planning their operations.
    Germany's problem was that they didn't produce a well balanced design, and they didn't have the strategic requirements that kept the U.S. battleships relevant. When the primary mission of a decisive surface fleet action became less probable, the U.S. ships were able to assume a number of other critical and useful roles.

    Much of the Bismark's fame is based upon her sinking of the "Mighty Hood". Well, it's been mentioned before here but bears saying again. The Hood was a Battlecruiser not a battleship. Even if you take away the lucky hit, Bismark should have been able to readily sink the Hood. The battlecruiser was an ill fated concept, and previous experience had shown they did not have a place in the main battleline, they were too lightly armored. Za Rodinu provided a very informative link:
    http://www.gwpda.org/naval/bcs001.htm
     
  6. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    TiredOldSoldier wrote;
    If it was a waste of money is debatable. In the case of Germany probably yes. This was because of their strategic situation, geographical situation and because they didn't build a ship with the capabilities required. But the German battleships did, initially, tie up a disproportionate amount of Allied assets in order to counter them. Bismark would have probably been of greater use tied up somewhere just threatening to sortie. Out of fear of losing her Tirpitz ended up isolated in Norway where she wasn't a large threat, she would have been of more use if she could have been based where she could threaten the Channel or Atlantic shipping lanes.
    In the case of the U.S. not so. At the Battle of Santa Cruz during the Guadalcanal campaign, the 26 planes that the South Dakota shot down probably saved the CV Enterprise from being sunk or at least heavily damaged. USS Washington certainly saved the Guadalcanal campaign when she and South Dakota intercepted the Japanese surface force at the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal and sank Kirishima. Had the Japanese commander not lost his nerve at Samar just think of the havoc his battleships could have wreaked on the Leyte Invasion forces! The entire course of the campaign would have probably changed. The disaster would probably have caused the U.S. to decide to bypass the Phillipines. There would have commenced a long, drawn out struggle to withdraw the cutoff American forces or resources from other planned operations would have had to have been stripped to salvage the operation. Either way the initiative would have slipped from the Americans and their operational timetables severely disrupted.
    The Iowa's, South Dakota's and North Carolina's big guns certainly contributed heavily to the success of the invasions in the Pacific. The 2700lb Mark8 16" round could penetrate up to 30 feet of concrete! Something a 500lb bomb would be hard pressed to do. The final class, the Iowa's, fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon and the first Gulf War. During Vietnam the New Jersey would often fire a single round from one of her 16" guns to clear an emergency LZ for helicopters. That one round would create a LZ 200yds in diameter and defoliate the trees for an additional 300yds beyond that. Pretty powerful round. The deterrent factor of these later BB's in British and U.S. service was also great. They helped keep Tirpitz bottled up in Norway. Cruisers and smaller ships have to factor in the presence of a BB when planning their operations.
    Germany's problem was that they didn't produce a well balanced design, and they didn't have the strategic requirements that kept the U.S. battleships relevant. When the primary mission of a decisive surface fleet action became less probable, the U.S. ships were able to assume a number of other critical and useful roles.

    Much of the Bismark's fame is based upon her sinking of the "Mighty Hood". Well, it's been mentioned before here but bears saying again. The Hood was a Battlecruiser not a battleship. Even if you take away the lucky hit, Bismark should have been able to readily sink the Hood. The battlecruiser was an ill fated concept, and previous experience had shown they did not have a place in the main battleline, they were too lightly armored. Za Rodinu provided a very informative link:
    http://www.gwpda.org/naval/bcs001.htm
     
  7. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Whether battleships still had a role in WW2 is open to debate, under the right circumstances they could be devastating but cost effectiveness is a different story, my point was just that the Germans were not the only ones to spend a lot of money for them, my list would look even worse if you consider the amounts spent for updating WW1 survivors, Germany spent 0 for that as they had none. I would be happy to discuss this but not in a Bismark thread as it more about naval policies than about a single ship.

    Without the Bismark episode the effectiveness of Tirpitz as "fleet in being", and she did tie up an inordinate amounts of allied resources besides being the indirect cause of the PQ17 debacle, would probably have been a lot less. The British were well aware that without the lucky aerial torpedo hit she would most likely have got away, their more recent BBs the KGV, had not been able to get the better of her in a one on one fight, and they wanted to avoid a repetition at all costs.

    I would not underestimate the advantage superior speed gave the Bismark, barring damage that gave the German commander the option to accept of refuse combat, only the much larger Iowa had better speed on the allied side but they should really be compared to the planned H project not the Bismark.
    Hood was the only British ship that could match Bismark for speed, but her design was 25 years older so despite a similar displacement she had a lot worse armour. Renown and Repulse retained most of her pre-Jutland armour design even after their rebuild and I very much doubt the non modernized Repulse was much faster than a KGV by 1940.
     
  8. Hetzer88

    Hetzer88 recruit

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    IMHO, the Bismarck WAS a waste of German marks. Any fleet-type surface ship (even aircraft carriers) were a waste for Germany except destroyers and fast cruisers. The ace-in-the-hole were U-boats, and all naval resources should have been brought to bear on constructing them instead.

    U-boats nearly starved Britain out of the war as it was, and had all that research and development and raw materials wasted on the Bismarck been applied to u-boats, who is to say how the naval war would have turned out?

    Make no mistake, battleships had their purpose. But they were only viable with complete air superiority above, and the Brits had too many aircraft carriers in the Atlantic which would never allow the Bismarck to become viable. In reality, the Bismarck was doomed on the day it was conceived, because air power was about to rule the seas.

    When the Germans lost the First world War, they also lost their navy. From that day forward, their only recourse heading into WW 2 and dealing with the mighty British surface fleet, was to stay submerged. ~~~Hetzer~~~
     
  9. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    TiredOldSoldier wrote:
    Of course sir you are entirely correct. I appreciate you keeping us on topic, it's soooo easy to get off track.:D

    I think the Tirpitz's presense would have had the same effect, even without the Bismark's sortie. Just look at the assets allocated to counter the Bismark, and that was without the benefit of a previous encounter with these ships.
    You are correct, the Tirpitz was the indirect cause of the PQ17 debacle. I do believe that had she and her consorts sortied the Victorious, Duke of York and Washington, would have made short work of her.

    We can argue luck, but had the Bismark been a more balanced ship with a stronger AA suite like the North Carolina's, she probably would have been able to fend off the British air attacks, so a lucky torpedo hit wouldn't be an issue.

    I'd disagree, IMHO a KGV would have at least a 60/40 probability of coming out on top of a 1 on 1 encounter with a Bismark, but with the stakes of failure so high why chance it. A smart Admiral will try to use overwhelming force, not just the minimum required, that reduces the chances of a lucky hit or freak occurrence deciding the encounter.

    I don't see where the slight speed advantage of the Bismark would be decisive in most encounters with the treaty battleships. The difference between a 28kt KGV or Washington and 30.1kts for the Bismark is negligible (32.22mph vs 34.63mph a difference of only 2.41mph). As for the Iowa's, I agree it's not fair to compare them to the Bismark. But it's not because of size, the Bismark and Iowa's had comparable displacements, but because the Iowa's design was of a more modern generation of ships. It's also not fair to compare the Washingtons/KGV's to the Bismark though they were contemporaries based upon time of design and construction. The Washingtons/KGV's were designed to stay within the 35,000 ton displacement set by the Washington Naval Treaty. Germany was not bound by that treaty but was limited by the Treaty of Versailles which limited German battleships to 10,000 tons displacement. Germany ignored the treaty and built the battleship they wanted without the compromises the allied treaty battleships were forced to make. Two things I do find interesting, are that even though the allied treaty battleships were forced to compromise they ended up better, all around ships than the Bismark, and that the Iowa's the first battleships designed without the treaty restrictions ended up being of similar displacement to Bismark.

    Hetzer88,
    I agree that Germany's money and resources would have been better spent on it's submarine fleet.

    Actually, the U.S. fast BB's came into their own as formidable AA platforms protecting the carriers, so complete air superiority is not required for a BB to be viable. I do agree that the Bismark was doomed but because she wasn't designed with a strong enough AA capability and because Germany didn't have a balanced fleet, incorporating an air and surface element.

    I think that is a fair and accurate statement.
     
  10. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Prince of Wales was a KGV and King George V herself failed to get a significant number of hits during the final battle, most hits came from Rodney, based on those precedents I would be very scared of pitting a KGV to a 1 on 1 fight against a fresh Bismark and a Nelson could not catch up with her.

    You are also using some very suspect figures for the tonnage of the US BBs, North Carolina was closer to 40.000t than to 35.000 though the more compact South Dakota's were probably closer to the official 35.000. KGV was rated around 37.000t but some sources put her at 40.000. (all figures are standard displacements but I may be mixing metric and imperial tonns). I also have doubts the Iowa carried 12.000t of fuel, Jane's give their bunkerage at 8.800t so how come the difference between 45.000t standard and 57.000t full load?.

    I agree Bismark's most glaring weakness was her poor AA suite, all axis BBs had a low angle secondary battery, Bismark was most justified in that choice as the contemporary destroyers didn't have the range to accompany her on a long range cruise, but the 105 and 37mm guns were not great designs, putting in a few Bofors like Prinz Eugen had late in her career would have been a good idea. BTW the 1935 naval treaty raised the allowed individual unit limit to 35.000t.

    Without a surface fleet Germany looses Norway in 1940, a major setback.
     
  11. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    TiredOldSoldier wrote:
    The figures I used for the U.S. BB's are from the DANFS website (US Naval Historical Center, 1959-1991).
    http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/battlesh/bb55.htm
    http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/battlesh/bb57.htm
    http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/battlesh/bb61.htm
    I am confident they are accurate.

    I read something really interesting on this topic somewhere recently but I can't remember where. It was possibly a link provided on this forum. Anyway, it explained in depth how it was really hard to compare the various displacements because different navies used different criteria. One may use a full load of fuel, one 3/4's and one 1/2. One may be full provisions and ammo load another 3/4 ammo + minimal provisions etc. Anyway the one thing I did come away with is that the U.S. Navy was really straight forward and didn't really manipulate it's figures the way some countries did. Full load would mean just that, full fuel, full stores and provisions, full munitions. If I can find it again I'll get you the details. I think you would really enjoy reading it.

    Yes sir I am aware of this, that's why I stated in the earlier post.
    Good question. Jane's is a very good source, I have it and often use it. As for 12,000t of fuel, I'm not sure where you got that figure. Friedman states that the Iowa's could carry 9,520 tons of fuel but only 7,892 tons was required to achieve it's radius of action. 8706 tons would be the average of the two so it would make sense that the 8,800 tons Jane's quoted is the amount they routinely carried? This is just a guess.
     
  12. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    TiredOldSoldier and USMCPrice,

    The DANFS figures are correct, to a certain point. The DANFS figures are for a "light ship" load. Whereas, the Bismarck was 38,892 tons with a "light ship" load. As USMCPrice has mentioned there are various ways a ship's displacement is measured, some of these are light ship, standard, full, optimum battle, battle, emergency, trial, etc. You usually have to look at several sources to get an idea of the tonnages of each one. Fully loaded the USS North Carolina, as constructed, had a displacement of almost 45,000 tons, fully loaded, the USS South Dakota was a little over 44,500 tons, and the Bismarck displaced almost 49,000 tons.


    @ TiredOldSoldier,
    According to Garzke and Dulin's "Battleships: Axis and Neutral Battleships in World War II", the King George V did a fair amount of hits to the Bismarck. The Prince of Wales also managed to hit the Bismarck three times during her engagement with the Bismarck. Let's also not forget the short time between completion of the Prince Of Wales and her engagement with the Bismarck. Giving a fully trained crew the POW could have taken on the Bismarck and have given her a run for the money.
     
  13. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Takao wrote:
    Thank you for the clarification. I am confident your figures are correct and we're comparing apples to apples. In that case Bismark is only 4000 tons over the Washington's displacement but 6000 tons less than the Iowas. When it appeared to me that her displacement was much closer to the Iowas her deficiencies appeared more pronounced.
    I would really be interested in your opinion on how the Washingtons and SoDaks compared to the Bismark.

    Have you seen the article/web page on displacements that I mentioned to TiredOldSoldier? If so, a point in the right direction would be appreciated. I'm sure he'd enjoy the information and I'd like to print or save it for future reference. I can recall the gist of it but I'd love to be able to go back and quote the details.
     
  14. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    AFAIK the difference between standard, as defined in the Washington treaty, and full load displacements is just fuel and reserve water. Standard should include full ammo loads and all other provisions. The 12.000 is just the difference between the stated standard and full load. So assuming the 8.800t bunkerage is correct we are missing 3.200t.

    I have 50.900 for Bismark at full and 52.600 for Tirpitz but they may be metric values.
     
  15. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    TiredOldSoldier,

    12,000 tons is the usual difference between the Iowa's "light ship" displacement and her "full load" displacement.
    Iowa (March 28, 1943)
    from Garzke & Dulin
    43,875 tons Light ship
    48,425 tons Standard(calculated)
    55,424 tons Optimum battle
    57,216 tons Full load
    59,331 tons Emergency

    Bismarck
    from Garzke & Dulin
    38,892 tons Light ship
    44,755 tons Design
    48,626 tons Full load
    49,609 tons Battle load
     
  16. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    I give up, with your figures the difference is over 13.000t not 12.000 !!! The full load figures match but were did the 45.000 std in Janes come from?

    This strenghtens my convinction that naval architects were having fun with figures and no "35.000t" battleship was actually 35.000t using the "standard displacement formula" of the Washington treaty. Did the later London treaty change the formula or did everybody cheat to some degree as it was impossible to design a ship within 35.000t ?

    Just for fun here are the figures for Vittorio Veneto (source Franco Gay and metric tonns, I don't have the later Bagnasco book on the class)
    Full load 45.752.336

    "Dry ship" 38,216.285
    Solid stores 1,869.693
    Liquid stores 5,048.505
    Liquids (in circuit) 617.883


    Details of solid stores
    Ammo (basic load) 969.937
    Ammo (wartime addition) 364.809
    Crew 238.722
    Foodstuffs 196.225
    Other stores 100.000

    Detail of liquid stores
    Fuel 4,209.736
    Oil 110.000
    Spare boiler water 375.450
    Washig water 236.480
    Drinking water 98.180
    Gasoline (avgas?) 17.843
    Petrol 0.816

    Details of liquids "in circuit"
    Boiler water in circuit 201.890 (in boilers, condensers, circuits etc.)
    Fuel in engines 224.666
    Water in engines 54.665
    Oil in engines 22.662
    Liquids in pipes 114.100

    Most other sources agree Fraccaroli gives 41.377/45.963 standard/full for Littorio and 41.167/45.752 for Veneto, and the same figures appear in Bagnasco's book on the Regia Marina togrether with figures of 43.385 - 43.624 for "light load". The discrepacies in the figures for the US ships are really strange.
     
  17. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    TiredOldSoldier
    :D
    Trust me I feel your pain. That's why I thought you would appreciate the article I mentioned earlier. Apparently, everyone used a different enough standard that it's really hard to find a definative answer.
     
  18. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    TiredOldSoldier,

    Your comparing the "light ship" displacement to the "Full load."
    I thought you wanted to compare "Standard" to "Full load," if so you have 57,216(full) - 48,425(standard) = 8,791 tons

    But to help you understand more the 1943 weight summary, from Garzke & Dulin, for the USS New Jersey is as follows:

    hull structure 15,491.224
    armor 19,311.570
    propulsion & electrical 4,797.159
    communications & control 27.733
    Auxiliary systems 1,182.635
    outfit & furnishings 795.937
    armament 3,549.109
    Light Ship Displacement 45,155.367
    ammunition 2,592.340
    compliment 283.757
    supplies & stores 1,473.960
    Aeronautics 51.696
    Standard Displacement 49,657.120
    fuel oil 8,084.140
    reserve feed water 490.650
    Full load Displacement 58,131.910

    Edit: aw crap, the spacing didn't turn out right, but you get the idea.
     
  19. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    TiredOldSoldier,

    Your numbers compare favorably to what Garzke & Dulin has for the Vittorio Veneto
    They list her as
    light ship displacement-------------37,613 tons
    supplies and stores--------------------1,840 tons
    liquid loads----------------------------4,968 tons
    machinery/hull liquids--------------------608 tons
    full load displacement--------------45,209 tons
     
  20. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Most nations did try to abide by the Treaty while it was still in force, and most of the battleships were designed around a 35,000 ton displacement at standard load. However, by 1937 the Treaty was mostly a dead issue anyway. Japan did not sign the new Treaty, and she was expected to begin construction of battleships mounting 16-inch guns. Germany, France, and Italy were either constructing or getting ready to construct battleships mounting 15-inch guns. Let us also not forget that while the design weight was 35,000 tons, modifications and additions to the ships as they were being built would also add weight to the total tonnage. As construction progressed, it became more and more obvious that the 1936 Treaty was a "dead letter." It was in June, 1938 that the US officially abandoned the 14-inch gun and switched to the 16-inch gun for the main guns for her new battleships.

    Oh, and the 45,000 ton figure for the Iowas was their "designed" weight at standard load, of course we all know that the finished product greatly exceeded this weight.
     

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