Washington Treaty & its effects

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
Dguts1813
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Washington Treaty & its effects

Post by Dguts1813 » Wed Dec 28, 2011 5:45 pm

While lots of time and energy has been spent discussing the various Capital Ships scraped and/or cancelled under the Washington Treaty, it seems to me that relatively little has has been said about the Treaty's effects on other classes of warships. As I see it, the Washing Treaty essentially created a whole new ship type, the 10,000 ton 8" gun Treaty Cruiser, which quickly evolved into the Heavy Cruiser of WWII. It also accelerated the developmental of the Aircraft Carrier. Without the Treaty, ships such as the Lexington, Saratoga, Akagi & Kaga, with their large Air Groups, would not have been available in the early the 30's to serve as the platforms to develop the Carrier Designs and Doctrine that played such a big role in WWII.

So, how would these ship types have evolved through the 20's and early 30's without the Treaty? As I see it, the "Heavy Cruiser" would have come about anyway, though probably not in such large numbers. After all the RN had already built what was basically the prototype CA with the Hawkins class, while the origins of the IJN's Furutaka class date back to a 1917 design proposal for 7,500 ton "Ocean Scout". The big "Fleet Carrier" however, is another matter. For the RN I don't see much of a change from the historic line of development - that is Argus, Hermes, Eagle, Furious, Courageous & Glorious. However things would have been very different for the US and Japan.

At the time the Treaty went into effect Japan had Hosho nearing completion and had plans for one or two additional 12,500 ton Carriers. While I have never seen any hard info on this design, I would expect such ships to resemble a somewhat enlarged and more robust "Ryujo" capable of operating around 48 aircraft. A follow on design would, perhaps, have been something along the lines of the "Soryu". As for the USN, I would assume anything built in the late 20's would resemble the original design of the "USS Ranger", that is a 14,000 ton, flush deck ship with an air group of 60 to 70 aircraft.

Your thoughts.

Ed Bolla

p.s. This is a "first post" as I'm new to the forum

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RF
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Re: Washington Treaty & its effects

Post by RF » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:48 am

Given the economic environment at the time of the treaty and in the years after, and with no major naval conflict prior to WW2 itself I am inclined to think that the developments of cruisers and smaller warships would not really have been any different. Look at the powers not involved in the treaty - the Germans and the Dutch for example. They went for super cruisers with supposed weight restrictions, although in the case of the Dutch they didn't get very far beyond the drawing board, whereas the KM had its panzerschiffe. And the Germans did plan for large destroyers and the reconnaisance cruisers, again something not tied down or restricted by the Washington Treaty but by availability of resources.
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Re: Washington Treaty & its effects

Post by Keith Enge » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:18 pm

Cruisers were growing anyway. The Kako, laid down in November 1922, was designed before the Washington Naval Conference (WNC). The US Omaha class was being completed just after the conference and was soon found to not be large enough. The Pacific powers were going to have to have large cruisers to get enough cruising range to cope with the vast Pacific Ocean. I expect about 10,000 ships would become the norm but I'm not sure that they would have 8" guns. 8" guns were purely a product of the WNC. The British had a few ships with 7.5" guns (Hawkins class) but that gun wasn't very handy and so wasn't well liked. I think that it is likely that 6" guns would be the norm (6.1" if you're Japanese). So perhaps ships similar to the US Brooklyn class or British Town class are the prototype. The British were concerned with numbers of cruisers (and not so concerned with cruising range) so may stay with the smaller Leander class.

Carriers are a different animal. It is likely that they would stay smallish. US wargaming results always favored numerous small carriers (still with rather large aircraft complements). This was because carriers were so vulnerable so they wanted a lot of platforms to spread the risk. It was only when the fortuitously got the very large Lexington and Saratoga that the advantages of a large carrier became apparent. Even then, almost four years after those two carrier conversions were completed so some operating experience had been gained, they still laid down the Ranger. They regretted it soon after it was completed. The similarly small Wasp was a result of the treaty, they were trying to use what was left of the available carrier tonnage. Anyway, Wasp turned out to be much better liked than the Ranger; US naval constructors had learned from their mistake. Aside from carrier conversions as a result of the WNC, nobody was building carriers in the 1920s so it is difficult to speculate on the form that they would take. I expect, however, that eventually somebody would have built a large carrier and its advantages would become apparent. More would follow and the other navies would follow suit. So, by the time of WWII, the fleet carriers built in the late 1930s might have been built as is anyway.

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Re: Washington Treaty & its effects

Post by MVictorP » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:19 pm

I believe that without the WT, cruisers (WWI light ones, from which even the WT-borne Heavy Cruiser comes from) would have followed the regular route of any warship - getting bigger, in terms of tonnage and gun bore size. I believe the they would have been around 12 000t by WWII's time, maybe reaching up to 18 000 before the concept of a cruiser - a cheaper, workhorse ship - would become irrelevant.

Destroyers: Bigger ones were already passed as "scout cruisers" if there was no place in the "flottila leaders" allocation. It was a WT signatary, France, that introduced the big "contre-torpilleur" - and from there, there was no turning back.

Like RF wrote, non-WT signataries could give a good exemple of what non-WT cruisers would look like, but even the Panzerschiffen were designed with the WT's limitations in mind.

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Thorsten Wahl
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Re: Washington Treaty & its effects

Post by Thorsten Wahl » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:36 pm

MVictorP wrote:Like RF wrote, non-WT signataries could give a good exemple of what non-WT cruisers would look like, but even the Panzerschiffen were designed with the WT's limitations in mind.

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The Panzerschiffe were not WT ships, they were Versailles peace treaty vessels. Germany was not participant of the WT.

offically they weighted 10.000 tons, wich was the Versailles-Limit for all new build capital ships of germany.
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Re: Washington Treaty & its effects

Post by MVictorP » Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:47 pm

Thorsten Wahl wrote:The Panzerschiffe were not WT ships, they were Versailles peace treaty vessels. Germany was not participant of the WT.

offically they weighted 10.000 tons, wich was the Versailles-Limit for all new build capital ships of germany.
The Panzerschiffen, altought not from a WT signatary, had nonetheless to cope with the products of that same WT, and made good usage of its loopholes. It that sense, the Panzerschiffen a direct result of the WT. Made in a vaccuum, I suspect these ships would have been quite different.
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RF
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Re: Washington Treaty & its effects

Post by RF » Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:30 pm

Thorsten Wahl wrote:
The Panzerschiffe were not WT ships, they were Versailles peace treaty vessels. Germany was not participant of the WT.

offically they weighted 10.000 tons, wich was the Versailles-Limit for all new build capital ships of germany.
But Raeder was aware of the politics of the situation and was keen right from the start of the ''Deutschland project'' to keep up appearances of complying with the ''spirit'' of the W T provisions. After all in 1931 the Deutschland was the only ''heavy weapon'' Weimar Germany actually had.
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Re: Washington Treaty & its effects

Post by MVictorP » Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:23 pm

RF wrote:But Raeder was aware of the politics of the situation and was keen right from the start of the ''Deutschland project'' to keep up appearances of complying with the ''spirit'' of the W T provisions. After all in 1931 the Deutschland was the only ''heavy weapon'' Weimar Germany actually had.
Thre's indeed politics in every move, but I don't think the PZs were made to comply to the WT - but rather to deal with it. What the flag & staff officers of the German Navy had to comply to, to design their ships, was the VT. As for the WT, it would have been silly for any navy laying down a ship between 1922 and WWII not to consider what all major naval powers (that I would estimate as 75% of every warship that floated on the globe) has limited themselves to.
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Ersatz Yorck
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Re: Washington Treaty & its effects

Post by Ersatz Yorck » Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:03 am

MVictorP wrote:I don't think the PZs were made to comply to the WT - but rather to deal with it.
Good point and well put!

But back to the treaty. What about the much touted putative Pacific naval arms race that supposedly would have continued between the US and Japan if the treaty had not been? Would economic realities have made it fizzle out?

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RF
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Re: Washington Treaty & its effects

Post by RF » Wed Feb 01, 2012 6:51 pm

Long term the Japanese could not have kept up with the US - especially in the type of ship that ultimately really mattered, namely aircraft carriers. The US economy had approximately ten times the productive capacity of Japan, pioneered mass production techniques and had much better management of resources.
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