August 02, 2012

Stay To Port!!!

Like many monitors, the HMS Lord Clive and her sister ship HMS General Wolfe were armed in a ridiculous manner.  Of course, that's pretty much the very definition of a monitor: heavy weaponry on a smallish hull.  In the case of these ships, they weighed in at just under 6000 tons... bigger than a destroyer, smaller than a light cruiser.  They were just over 330 feet long, had "meh" armor, and like most monitors, they were slower than molasses.  Indeed, they could make a whopping seven knots at full power.  A lot of that came down to her beam: 87 feet from side to side if you count the torpedo bulges.  You could drop the engines from an Iowa-class into one of these ships and they still wouldn't be fast with a length:beam ratio of 4:1.  Of course, speed isn't what a monitor is for... big ol' guns, that's what monitors are for.

The Lord Clive and General Wolfe looked like they were pretty heavily armed, what with that big honkin' turret up front, carrying two 12" rifles.  That's pretty impressive on a 6000 ton hull, but that's not why they always said to stay to the port side of these ships, no no.  No, there was a very good reason for that!

RUN AWAY!!!  RUN AWAY!!!
That, my friends, is an 18" gun.  Let me say that again: an EIGHTEEN INCH GUN.  The gun on the General Wolfe came from the HMS Furious when she was converted to a seaplane carrier/aircraft carrier.  The 18" gun on the Lord Clive was a spare built for the Furious in case of malfunction.  On both monitors, the big'un was fixed to fire to starboard, and one can only imagine what it felt like onboard when it fired.  In fact, when the General Wolfe fired her behemoth, the ship moved sideways, like people always claim the Iowas do when they fire a broadside. This was because she had a shallow draft of eight feet at the bow, 13 feet at the stern.  They two monitors would roll like the dickens as well, lowering their rate of fire from one round/minute to one round every four minutes or so.

What appears to be a turret on the stern is really just a big blast shield with an open back.  It couldn't rotate at all, though the gun could swivel within a 20° arc.  It really wasn't intended for use against enemy shipping, but for shore bombardment.  To be fair, the two ships weren't particularly good at their job, as their guns could outrange any sighting equipment on hand, save aircraft of course... which didn't carry any radio to speak of at the time.  Still, there must be an incredible horror when you realize that someone is throwing 3000+ pound shells at you from well over the horizon.

After WWI ground to a halt, the General Wolfe was paid off and broken up in 1921, while the Lord Clive lasted until 1927 as a gunnery trials ship.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:13 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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1 I didn't know that anyone had built an 18" gun before Yamato.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 02, 2012 11:48 PM (+rSRq)

2 There were only three built, all for the Furious as designed, one spare and two in single turrets.  One of those was done away with during building, so she could have a rudimentary hangar/flightdeck installed.

The Yamato's guns were actually 18.1" guns, larger bore than these, but the Furious guns fired a heavier shell.  Of course, the Yamato-guns could fire twice a minute, had a longer range and better armor penetration.  But the Furious did it first.

Posted by: Wonderduck at August 03, 2012 12:02 AM (bqvkh)

3 It's like someone stuck a Railroad Gun on a Barge.

Posted by: Mauser at August 03, 2012 04:15 AM (cZPoz)

4

It's like someone stuck a Railroad Gun on a Barge.

It is not like the original source of the 18" guns was much better (In concept, design, or appearance.).  HMS Furious was one of Fisher's Follies, the three 'light' battlecruisers Jackie Fisher had designed and built for operations in the Baltic Sea, among other missions.

Her two half sisters, Courageous and Glorious,  also had their main batteries reused to arm a new ship - HMS Vanguard got her 15" with their archaic-looking turrets from them.

C.T.

Posted by: cxt217 at August 03, 2012 08:24 AM (Loovc)

5

You BASTARD!  I sure as hell did not need another time sink with great photos of armament or armored ships or naval history - but I do thank you muchly.

Have a good'un....

Posted by: The Old Man at August 03, 2012 01:12 PM (dBz2M)

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