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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Sir George Thurston: An advocate of smaller battleships and well-armed cruisers

Back in 2011 I wrote about some of the smaller battleship designs that were developed during the 1920s and 1930s by Sir George Thurston.

In 1926 he submitted a design for a smaller battleship that had 6 x 16-inch guns in two triple turrets as its main armament, 8 x 6-inch guns in four twin turrets as its secondary armament, and 4 x 4.7-inch AA guns in single mounts. Its tonnage was predicted to be 26,500-tons, and it looked like a cut-down version of HMS Nelson.


In 1933, after his earlier design had been rejected, he put forward a further design that was even lighter (its predicted tonnage was 25,000 tons and armed with 12 x 12-inch guns in four triple turrets as its main armament and 12 x 6-inch guns in casemates, the latter method of mounting guns being regarded by most naval officers and architects as being inefficient, ineffective, and obsolete.

During this period he also came up with several interesting designs for cruisers that would meet the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty. They were identified as being designs A, B, and C.




Design A resembled the design of the County-class cruisers built for the Royal Navy but armed with three triple turrets rather than four twin turrets, and B was similar to the County-class as built. C was a far more radical design and was more like a cruiser version of the Nelson-class battleships that were in service with the Royal Navy.

Sir George Thurston KBE was born in 1869 and died in 1950, and during his life was one of Britain's leading naval architects during the first half of the 20th century.


After training as a naval architect and gaining experience designing merchant ships, he moved to Armstrong's Elswick shipyard, where he worked for Sir Philip Watts. He later became the chief naval architect for Vickers, and contributed to the design of the Japanese battlecruiser Kongō and the Turkish battleship Reşadiye, that became HMS Erin at the outbreak of the First World War.

10 comments:

  1. Interesting designs of vessels. I've become something of an admirer of the naval architecture that went into the building of the German 'pocket battleships' so called.

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    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      Some of the preliminary designs for what became the panzerschiff were much slower but more heavily armed and armoured vessels. They bear interesting comparison with the Swedish coastal defence battleships that date from a slightly earlier period.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. I, too, am always fascinated by "what-ifs." What are those deck plans out of?

    --Chris

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    1. Chris,

      The inter-war period has lots of scope for all sorts of military 'what ifs'. For example, I've been fascinated by the possibilities of using a developed version of the Westland Pterodactyl design (a tail-less high-wing monoplane fighter aircraft) in a wargame.

      I seem to remember that the deck plans came from a copy of Brassey's naval annual.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. To my mind the inter-war naval race(s) produced some of the most interesting designs around. Think of the French and Italian fleets or all the innovative ways the bigger players tried to get around treaty limitations, none of which paid much mind to aircraft at all (particularly the various designs from the 20s)

    All colossal waste of scarce capital of course!

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    1. Lasgunpacker,

      There were some very elegant designs produced by the French and Italians, and the Littorios are one of my all-time favourites.

      Very few navies seem to have understood the impact aircraft would have on naval combat ... and paid the price!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. Bob, a minor correction: judging by the plans it was design B that resembled the County class and design A that had three triple turrets.

    I've read a fair amount about naval design and am curious about your information sources as I've not come across these plans before.

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    1. Mike Hall,

      Thanks for spotting the error; I will correct is as soon as I can.

      I came across these images during a search for Washington Treaty cruisers and Thurston.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. It's easy when someone tells me how!

    I highlit your text "Washington Treaty cruisers and Thurston", right clicked for search Google and up popped the plans in one of the top search results. But if you hadn't told me what to search on I probably would never have seen them.

    The rigging in all three plans looks a bit odd (excessive) to me.

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    1. Mike Hall,

      I think that searching Google is sometimes more of a dark art than anything else!

      I suspect that the rigging is for the extensive and long-range radio communications these ships would have needed, otherwise is does appear to be rather excessive.

      All the best,

      Bob

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