Fun With Naval Terminology

TMac3000

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I have a great fascination with naval history and tactics, and how they relate to warship design.

But when I was writing a tutorial for one my favorite games (SSI's Star General, which probably no one else plays:lol:), I got to a section where I was discussing the different kind of ships and what they do.

In terms of purpose, I find destroyers, cruisers, and battleships self-explanatory, but the concepts of "light cruiser" and "battle cruiser" a little murky, and the "small-m" monitor absolutely mystifying.

If I understand things correctly--and this is how I wrote it in my tutorial--a light cruiser is a sort of "battle-destroyer", built to carry bigger guns than a destroyer and get them to the scene faster than a standard cruiser, while a battle cruiser follows the same concept, except using the gunnery of a battleship.

Now, according to Wikipedia a "monitor" in naval history is a small craft armed with huge guns, that is very slow, weakly armored, and intended for coastal defense. In science fiction, they seem to be more like a stronger version of a battleship or dreadnought.

Thoughts on this? Do I have it right? Maybe? Kinda-sorta-not really?
 

Linguofreak

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I have a great fascination with naval history and tactics, and how they relate to warship design.

But when I was writing a tutorial for one my favorite games (SSI's Star General, which probably no one else plays:lol:), I got to a section where I was discussing the different kind of ships and what they do.

In terms of purpose, I find destroyers, cruisers, and battleships self-explanatory, but the concepts of "light cruiser" and "battle cruiser" a little murky, and the "small-m" monitor absolutely mystifying.

If I understand things correctly--and this is how I wrote it in my tutorial--a light cruiser is a sort of "battle-destroyer", built to carry bigger guns than a destroyer and get them to the scene faster than a standard cruiser, while a battle cruiser follows the same concept, except using the gunnery of a battleship.

Well, light cruiser meant different things at different times. In the lead up to WWII it was defined by the London Naval Treaty as a cruiser with guns smaller than 6", IIRC.

A battlecruiser was, in the WWI era, a ship with the size of a battleship that sacrificed either armor (British BCs) or armament (German BCs) for more speed. By WWII it was possible (for the US at least) to build battleships as fast as any cruiser without sacrificing much in the way of protection or armament.
 

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SSI's Star General, which probably no one else plays:lol:

Thoughts on this? Do I have it right? Maybe? Kinda-sorta-not really?
No idea :)

If you're into naval battles, then Spring RTS (Total Annihilation remake) gave me the best Sci-Fi naval experience ever, including submarines and air support.

screenshot.php
 

Urwumpe

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Battlecruisers are neither cruisers nor battleships, but a distinct ship category between the two. They are fast enough to evade real battleships, which have better weapons and armour, but are armed much better than a cruiser, usually with some limitations on the armour, which is often less than what a heavy cruiser carries.

It is not that much about the weapons that they carry as you can see, but rather how their role is seen.

On the monitor, you are sort-of right. That role is all that is expected of them, though in history, monitors had very often been also older ships that did no longer fit into the battle formations.

In most science-fiction settings I know, monitors are older spacecraft hulls which have their propulsion reduced in favor of armour and guns, being just suitable for patrolling solar systems or near planets. Only in the Dune context, I remember monitors to be warships that lack the ability of long distance travel, relying on Guild Heighliners.

---------- Post added at 07:34 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:26 PM ----------

No idea :)

If you're into naval battles, then Spring RTS (Total Annihilation remake) gave me the best Sci-Fi naval experience ever, including submarines and air support.

screenshot.php

Which module is that? The Spring 1944 mod does sadly not have interesting ships yet.
 

TMac3000

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That game looks awesome. What the required system specs?

Well, light cruiser meant different things at different times. In the lead up to WWII it was defined by the London Naval Treaty as a cruiser with guns smaller than 6", IIRC.
I'm curious as to the purpose of such a design? They seem to me like they would be very suitabe for escort or armed reconnaissance, or as a rapid response force in a situation where a cruiser would not get there in time, and a destroyer would get it's butt kicked. Yes?

In most science-fiction settings I know, monitors are older spacecraft hulls which have their propulsion reduced in favor of armour and guns, being just suitable for patrolling solar systems or near planets. Only in the Dune context, I remember monitors to be warships that lack the ability of long distance travel, relying on Guild Heighliners.
In in the SG manual, it says that monitors are good for blocking invasion routes and defending your space docks, and that's pretty much how I use them.

OT: You guys should really try SG. It's very dated (I am 37, and I was in high school when it hit the market), but pretty versatile and great fun. I have wasted many hours with it:)

It is not that much about the weapons that they carry as you can see, but rather how their role is seen.
Yeah, this is kind of what I've been babbling about:lol:
I'm interested in the purpose of some these in-between designs, and how they would fit into overall naval tactics.
 
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jedidia

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the concepts of "light cruiser" and "battle cruiser" a little murky

Short and poignant:

Light Cruiser: A support vessel that can opperate autonomosly for extended periods of time.

Battlecruiser: A capital ship designed to outrun anything it can't outgun.

It's very dated

Don't give me dated. I'm playing Protostar at the moment! :lol:
 
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mojoey

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To a point, yes. Both occupy a role of acting as a screen for a carrier group. Whereas the Fast Attack boat can do this from a point of ambush, and can sprint and drift ahead to interdict enemy submarines, Cruisers (and Frigates) are In charge of engaging surface threats, and engaging subsurface threats that made it through the sub and frigate pickets.

During WW2, the cruisers occupied the role of being the main AA platform to screen enemy air attacks, although this role would later be taken up by BBs, specifically the Iowa Class.
 

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OT: You guys should really try SG. It's very dated (I am 37, and I was in high school when it hit the market), but pretty versatile and great fun. I have wasted many hours with it:)

Not as dated as Babylon 5 Wars, which is literally dead.

But it still is a lot of fun to play, if you managed to get one while it was still sold. I really hate that I was unable to buy one of the remaining sets from the manufacturer before it was killed.

And practically all cruisers are meant to operate independently for a longer period of time, that is what "Cruising" means in that context. A cruiser can support larger fleets, but their best role is harassing the shipping of the opponent further away from the main fleet or on their own. For example, letting a small group of cruisers harass a larger enemy fleet during a battle.
 
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TMac3000

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Oh, sure. Have you compared the price tags? :p

You get what you pay for;)

I'm not sure words like "cruiser" and "destroyer" even mean anything on the modern battlefield anymore. There are ships called destroyers today that pack more firepower than the cruisers of ten years ago, the Russians call their ships whatever they think sounds cool (look at the Kirov), and nuclear weapons cloud the issue even more.
 

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I'm curious as to the purpose of such a design? They seem to me like they would be very suitabe for escort or armed reconnaissance, or as a rapid response force in a situation where a cruiser would not get there in time, and a destroyer would get it's butt kicked. Yes?

Pretty much the same purpose as any cruiser. For treaty light cruisers specifically, the reason to build them was that it was difficult to build a cruiser with 8 inch guns (the treaty gun size limit for heavy cruisers) within the treaty tonnage limit of 10,000 tons that applied to both light and heavy cruisers.

---------- Post added at 22:07 ---------- Previous post was at 22:03 ----------

I'm not sure words like "cruiser" and "destroyer" even mean anything on the modern battlefield anymore.

This is primarily because "destroyer" sounds cheaper to congressional committees when you're lobbying for defense funding.
 

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Through-deck cruiser...? What could that possibly mean?


N.
 

Urwumpe

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This is primarily because "destroyer" sounds cheaper to congressional committees when you're lobbying for defense funding.

Well, it is also because the last cruisers in the US Navy had actually been destroyers with better air-to-air capabilities.

I am not sure if the modern guided missile world really has room for a classic cruiser role, that is not already better performed by submarines, for example guided missile submarines.

---------- Post added at 11:22 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:19 PM ----------

Through-deck cruiser...? What could that possibly mean?

Usually ships that look like small aircraft carriers, but carry more own weapons than a classic aircraft carrier and can operate almost independently in comparison to them.

The Kuznetsov class for example is also fitting into that pattern.
 

TMac3000

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Usually ships that look like small aircraft carriers, but carry more own weapons than a classic aircraft carrier and can operate almost independently in comparison to them.

The Kuznetsov class for example is also fitting into that pattern.
"Through-deck cruiser" was sophistry designed to get around a treaty. If it floats, has a flat deck, and launches and recovers fixed-wing non-VTOL aircraft, it's a carrier. No murkiness there.

And the Kuznetzov is such a neat little carrier:love:
 

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Being ironic again...:blush: The Invincible class was a way of sneaking through a small aircraft-carrier into the defence budget, nobody would mind the navy getting a cruiser would they?

N.
 

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And the Kuznetzov is such a neat little carrier:love:

Well, a bit short on aircraft, but generous with cruise missiles. :lol:

Can't wait for DCS to get the carrier upgrade, so the Kuznetsov gets a proper hangar and proper operations. :salute:
 

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To me Monitor's are Ships that where build or converted to carry much larger guns, in a relativity immobile platform for Shore bombardment(HMS M33) or area defence (think barge with lots of AAA). Modern warfare has essentially made this class obsolete.

Light Cruisers are to me, Faster, less armed and armoured ships meant to operate independently from a battle fleet.

Battle Cruisers have more armour and/or Weapons, and can operate independently, but can out run anything they cant sink(ie battleships or fleets).

---------- Post added at 00:05 ---------- Previous post was at 00:02 ----------

But modern ship classification has removed all but the destroyer in name, and all of them are Cruisers in the way they operate.
 

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Everything I know about ship types I learned from Star Fleet Battles (a tabletop wargame based on the Star Trek original series) and from a 1990s computer game called "Great Naval Battles: North Atlantic" by SSI, which was the best WWII sea battle game I ever played, and the sequel, GNB: Pacific I think it's called.

My experience with the sim is that light cruisers (ie. 6" caliber main armament) are nice to have with your main line of battle because they are fast and have a high rate of fire. They can't penetrate the main armor belt of a battleship but they can pepper their superstructures with lots of shells, destroying antennae, gun directors and other equipment, and starting lots of nuisance fires that keep the target vessel's damage control crews busy. In addition, light cruisers also carried torpedoes which could fired in a spread that at the very least caused the enemy to take evasive maneuvers.

Destroyers were likewise useful for their speed and torpedoes. Both destroyers and cruisers operating in formation can be devastating and their speed makes them hard to hit.

A line of battleships with a screen of light cruisers and destroyers is much more effective than just battleships alone. The Battle of Surigao Strait is a fascinating topic to read about.

I think the most famous battlecruiser is probably HMS Hood, which demonstrated the downside of going with lighter armor when she was destroyed by a single lucky hit from Bismarck.

Obviously whenever aircraft carriers were involved in any number tactics had to change accordingly.
 
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