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Why Was The Royal Navy’s 12″/50 Battleship Gun Inferior to Germany’s?

Why Was The Royal Navy’s 12″/50 Battleship Gun Inferior to Germany’s?

Battleships

HMS Agamemnon has her guns replaced during a refit at Malta in May–June 1915

Special thanks to Nico Kern!

The Royal Navy’s 12″/50 caliber battleship gun was used in the early 20th century. 

Ramming shell on HMAS Australia, December 1918

Developed in the late 1890s and was initially intended to be mounted on the Royal Navy’s new battleships and battlecruisers. The first ship to become equipped with the 12″/50 caliber gun was HMS King Edward VII. Which was commissioned in 1906.

However, the Royal Navy’s 12″/50 caliber battleship gun was less successful than the German 12″/50 caliber gun for a number of reasons. Furthermore, it was a failure compared to the predecessor, the 12″/45.

Diagram of British 65 lb, 1/4 charge Cordite cartridge Mk I, for BL 12 inch naval gun. 64 1/2 lbs Cordite M.D. size 45. Cut from 37-inch lengths. Igniter 16 oz R.F.G. 2 at one end. Length 18.8 inches, diameter 10.5 inches. For BL 12 inch Mk X and X* naval guns.

Firstly, the German 12″/50 caliber gun had a higher muzzle velocity and greater range than the British 12″/50 caliber gun. 

As a result this made it more effective in long-range combat and gave German ships an advantage in battle.
SMS Nassau was the first dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial German Navy

Secondly, the German 12″/50 caliber gun had a faster rate of fire than the British 12″/50 caliber gun. This was due in part to the fact that the German gun used cordite charges, which were faster to load and fire compared to the British gun’s separate loading ammunition.

Third, the German 12″/50 caliber gun was more reliable and suffered from fewer barrel failures than the British 12″/50 caliber gun. This was partly due to the fact that the German gun underwent more extensive testing and development before being put into service, which resulted in a more reliable and durable weapon.

Diagram of British shell, 12 inch Mk VIIA Common Pointed with Cap (CPC), 1912, Naval service. Has specially hardened point, intended for armour penetration and also carries large bursting charge. “Semi-armour-piercing”. Due to possibility of cracks from hardening process, bursting charge is enclosed in a copper container, which also necessitates a removable base for the shell. Takes Base percussion fuze large, bronze, No. 15. Length 49.2 inches, diameter 11.965 inches, weight filled & fuzed 850 lbs. For use with the following naval guns : BL 12 inch gun Mk VIII BL 12 inch gun Mk IX BL 12 inch gun Mk X BL 12 inch gun Mk XI – XII

Fourthly, the German 12″/50 caliber gun was mounted on larger and more heavily armed ships than the British 12″/50 caliber gun. This gave German ships a significant advantage in terms of firepower and made them more formidable opponents in battle.

Aft guns of HMS Hercules, sometime before 1919.

Overall, the German 12″/50 caliber gun was more successful than the British 12″/50 caliber gun due to its higher muzzle velocity, greater range, faster rate of fire, reliability, and the fact that it was mounted on larger and more heavily armed ships. These factors contributed to its superiority over the British gun and made it a more effective weapon in combat.

The starboard 12-inch (305 mm) Mark VIII gun in one of the turrets aboard the battleship HMS Illustrious

Why Was The Royal Navy’s 12″/50 Battleship Gun Inferior to Germany’s?