Later: Royal Navy monitor

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Messages
12,832
Location
Central Ohio
#1
Significantly post-CW but still of interest, from the Navy's photographic curator's photostream:

21331668748_409b79f2f0_z.jpg


[Lot 9609-14: Royal Navy (British) during the First World War. Belgian Coast Operations. Royal Navy Ney-class monitor, HMS Marshal Soult, showing her 16” guns. Collection was transferred from a British government source in 1920 to the Library of Congress.]

(For those wondering why the turret is way up in the air like that, it's basically a battleship barbette-and-hood ("turret") on a much lighter-draft hull. In a battleship, the same structure would be present, but most of it would be "sunk" into the deeper hull.)
 

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Carronade

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Messages
4,362
Location
Pennsylvania
#3
The first British monitors had an American/Civil War connection. Shortly before World War I, Bethlehem Steel contracted to build four twin 14" gun turrets for a battle cruiser being built in Germany for the Greek navy (the largest German naval guns at the time were 12", but the Greeks wanted to match a 13.5"-gunned battleship being built in Britain for Turkey). With the outbreak of war, the British would not allow heavy guns to be shipped to Germany, so they were offered to Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty. As it happened, the Royal Navy had just identified a need for shallow-draft bombardment ships to operate off the Belgian coast, so the turrets were put into four ships which were designated monitors. Churchill, who incidentally was American on his mother's side, proposed to name them General Grant, Admiral Farragut, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson; but this was considered impolitic since the United States was still neutral, so they were named for British generals Abercrombie, Raglan, Roberts, and Havelock.

The monitors became quite popular and more were built, including some like Marshal Soult which had new-construction 15" guns, the same type carried in the latest battleships and battle cruisers like Queen Elizabeth or Renown (this allowed Soult to serve as a gunnery training ship between the wars). Note that the barbette consists of twelve flat plates, easier to produce than the cylindrical structure used in capital ships. Two new monitors were even built in WWII, again named Abercrombie and Roberts, and Roberts reused the turret from Marshal Soult.
 

Carronade

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Messages
4,362
Location
Pennsylvania
#5
A Royal Navy vessel named for one of Napoleons' Marshalls?
Built during WWI, when they were allies. Sister ship was Marshal Ney. No doubt the intent was to honor their alliance, but a smartdonkey might note that Ney and Soult were the only two marshals present at Waterloo; Soult was chief of staff and Ney largely directed the battle and usually gets a good share of blame for Napoleon's defeat.
 

alexjack

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
1,367
Location
South Wales UK
#6
Built during WWI, when they were allies. Sister ship was Marshal Ney. No doubt the intent was to honor their alliance, but a smartdonkey might note that Ney and Soult were the only two marshals present at Waterloo; Soult was chief of staff and Ney largely directed the battle and usually gets a good share of blame for Napoleon's defeat.
I thought it might have had something to do with WW1 Entente but I like your ' Waterloo conspiracy theory.' :D
 
Joined
Jun 9, 2013
Messages
551
#7
HMS Erebus provided gunfire support at Utah Beach...

June 1944:

Deployed at Weymouth prior to Joining Bombardment Force A for support of the US
landings on UTAH Beach.

4th Operation delayed 24 hours.

5th Joined US battleship USS NEVADA, US cruisers USS TUSCALOOSA and USS
QUINCY, HM Cruisers HAWKINS, ENTERPRISE and BLACK PRINCE during
their passage from Belfast to Solent.

Dutch Gunboat HM Neth. Ship SOEMBA joined Force A

Passage through swept channel with Force A.

6th On arrival off UTAH Beach took up bombarding position.

Provided gunfire support in accordance with fire-plan.
Photo03monErebus.jpg
 

Carronade

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Messages
4,362
Location
Pennsylvania
#8
Erebus and sister Terror were the more successful followons to Ney and Soult, which were underpowered and unhandy even by monitor standards. In fact Marshal Ney's turret was removed and reassigned to Terror. Terror served in the Mediterranean in WWII and was sunk by dive bombers off North Africa in 1941.
 

Carronade

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Messages
4,362
Location
Pennsylvania
#12
Looks very top heavy, would hate to be on that during rough weather
That's monitor looks a scary proposition in heavy seas
The monitors had unusually beamy hulls, with length:beam ratios of about 4:1, mainly to allow shallow draft, but it would also help stability. Of course shallow-drafts ship are not at their best in open ocean or heavy weather. I can't think of any case of big-gun monitors operating outside European-Mediterranean waters - anyone? - although Churchill references a proposal to station Erebus at Capetown, South Africa, early in WWII.

The early monitors had an extremely bluff hull form, with the angle of entrance, the angle of the tip of the bow, as wide as 120 degrees. In heavy seas, I imagine they might slam into the waves rather than cut through them, a rough ride.
 

Talos

Corporal
Joined
Aug 15, 2014
Messages
270
#16
Naah, the whole thread's a little bit OT. My fault. :laugh:
Well, the initial four monitors were built to support four surplus turrets from Bethelhem Steel intended for a Greek battleship that couldn't be built for the war. As a result, they were named initially HMS Farragut, Grant, R.E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. As the US was neutral at the time, that caused a minor diplomatic crisis and they renamed them after British generals (Abercrombie, Havelock, Raglan, and Roberts). There's your Civil War connection!

The WWI-era monitors had these massive bulges that went straight out with perfectly horizontal decks on top. They used them as a place to operate the ship's boats when they were in calm port waters. Another fun tidbit about the initial four, which were built at H&W in Olympic and Titanic's slips, was they were the only four ships in RN not to use cordite. As a result, when they were inspected years later in the war and expected to be worn out, they had actually only burned through half the barrel linings compared to British guns.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/7/6224/6302915793_5bfbce853d_b.jpg Here's a picture of Havelock at the breakers in 1927. You can see the insane hull form. One of the navy constructors kept protesting about how unhydrodynamic it was.

The best book on these is Big Gun Monitors by Ian Buxton. There is an updated version that just came out a few years ago and it's just a fantastic book.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Messages
12,832
Location
Central Ohio
#17
Much later... monitors, Vietnam-vintage. This was posted to the Navy photographic curator's photostream-- I'd not seen this one before. You can make out the 'bar armor' surrounding the turret and superstructure, designed to defeat shaped-charge projectiles.

24354251115_35bb3988d7_b.jpg
 

rebelatsea

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 30, 2013
Messages
4,231
Location
Kent ,England.
#18
That's monitor looks a scary proposition in heavy seas
Surprisingly the WWII pair were very seaworthy and popular ships to serve in. Their AA ordnance was weak initially and while they could manoevre with ease it was somewhat slow as you might imagine. Terror was acting as convoy cover off Tobruk in a dual role when she was lost.
 
Joined
Oct 1, 2010
Messages
804
Location
southern california
#19
Surprisingly the WWII pair were very seaworthy and popular ships to serve in. Their AA ordnance was weak initially and while they could manoevre with ease it was somewhat slow as you might imagine. Terror was acting as convoy cover off Tobruk in a dual role when she was lost.
Howdy John. I think this engagement off Tobruk became the basis for a good fictional read called HMS Saracen. I think the author was Alexander Kent.
 



(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Top