“THE ARMORED HEDGEHOG” AND HIS DESCENDANTS

The French fleet of the late 80-ies of the XIX century, is familiar to specialists first of all thanks to Admiral Théophile OBU and his “young school.” Well known for their ideas of building naval forces: a Horde of destroyers, spread across ports and backed by armored coastal defense vessels.

 
The real state of naval Affairs in France in those times was very difficult. The chair as Minister of the Navy was more like a hot frying pan — none of his owners (including myself) could not sit in his place more than two years, and often another rule lasted only a few months.
 
In the leapfrog of government and Ministers were taken fast, sometimes opposite decisions. And it is in the subtle and sensitive area of shipbuilding, the programs should be designed for at least 5 — 10 years. Their projects “punched” as engineers, shipbuilders, among whom were many bright personalities, and naval Ministers and admirals. However, in this dump of ideas sometimes had real pearl grain. One of them was truly revolutionary armoured cruiser “Dupuy de Scrap”.
 
In the mid 80-ies of the fleets of the major Maritime powers began experiments with new types of explosives as a propellant and is suitable as a filling for shells. The introduction of smokeless powder and powerful explosives on the basis of picric acid occurred almost simultaneously with the purely mechanical improvements in guns, especially in the gates. All this has led to the creation of rapid-firing artillery of medium caliber, mainly shooting the high-explosive shells. As a result, the ships not covered sufficiently armor (and such were almost all cruisers), have become very vulnerable. “Protected”, that is, armored warships, possessing only located at the level of the waterline armor deck could lose all the artillery, burn or just to drown, even while retaining the already useless machine and cellar. Subsequently, the experience of the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars largely confirmed fears of experts.
 
France was the leader in the field of improvement of shells. Developed by the French chemist Turpinam based on picric acid melinita immediately found application in the artillery of the French army. Fleet some time wondered: filling too easily detonated and were not suitable for armor-piercing shells, But shooting in the old battleship “Balikes” explosive shells of the new type showed complete vulnerability to them, especially unarmored parts of the hull and superstructures.
 
It is the appearance on the scene of new selenitovyj of the shells has prompted a think-tank of the Navy, bore the title of “Konsey de hunter” (Conseil des Travaux) — which can be translated as the Council for shipbuilding (analogue of the Russian Naval Technical Committee), to take emergency measures in the field of military shipbuilding. “Collective intelligence” struck a good idea: at the same time with the poison to create the antidote. So the idea of creating a cruiser with a fully booked out. Special tests showed that even relatively thin armor, causing the explosion of the explosive 164 and 138 mm shells outside of the hull of the ship. The idea is ripe, now it was necessary to implement it.
 
The direct executor of interesting design has become one of the leading French shipbuilders Louis de Bussy. As a member of the Council, he well knew, and the requirements for a new ship, and the mood of all the “smart goals”. The trouble was that the unity among them and did not smell. The situation is reminiscent of Russian: good in itself, the project was subjected to further reshaping. As a result of alterations in the course of construction work was delayed for a completely unacceptable time — about seven years.
 
Brought a lot of troubles boilers: their first pre-test ended in tragedy, the pipe rupture resulted in the release of flame and steam, wounding 16 people, and three very heavy Liquidation of consequences pushed the commissioning of the ship about a year the Boilers was repaired, but they worked still bad because of the weakness of the machine could not give the project the number of revolutions. In addition, the firebox deformed one after the other! Had to go to unprecedented measures: all boilers removed from the already almost finished the body and sent it for alteration.
 
So the builders have lost another 2 years. The result is a unique, true-not the “star” ship, laid down in 1888 and was first released to the test in 1892, came into operation only in mid-may, 1895, when the construction of armored cruisers of the new generation have already started in other countries. France was losing its innovative edge, in fact, unable to find it In this ambitious 20 knots remained elusive: the maximum speed was 19.73 node And all the ship-loser remains innovative even after seven years.
 
In the “Dupuy de Lome” everything was unusual, starting with appearance, at first sight, attention was riveted to his famous RAM. Become traditional for all the French cruisers of the time, to “scrap” it spoke to enormous dimensions: the length of this “education” was neither more nor less than nine meters — larger than contemporary battleships. However, the usefulness of the RAM is not dependent on its length and was consistently equal to zero. But the engineers had to Tinker with the shape of the hull, to ensure the normal voshojdenie on the wave and other elements of seaworthiness.
 
Much more important and necessary became another innovation, also clearly visible externally. Artillery cruiser consisted entirely of new long-barreled guns, each located in a tower. As a result, “De Scrap” resembled a hedgehog, bristling with long needles-trunks in all directions. Indeed, the tower was located so as to provide the same heavy fire in any direction the Desire of the designer to comply with the requirements of the Council on shipbuilding at maximum capacity has led to the fact that most large-caliber, 194-mm guns was located in the middle of the hull on either side, and their towers were located on ledges of the sponsons. In the end, at least formally fire on the bow and stern was more powerful than the traverse, as “along” the ship was able to shoot 194 two-three mm and 164 mm, and the Board — only one of 194 mm and four 164. in fact, direct fire main fire in the diametrical plane could damage the superstructure and even the upper deck and could only be conducted when absolutely necessary. Exorbitant for narrow decks the number of towers (eight!) led to the fact that 164 of graph paper in the feed sometimes clung to the trunks it is Easy to imagine what would happen in battle Command towers feel “in the tank”: the access to some of them from the deck was not available, people had to get into them from below through the hatches. But in battle they finally “isolated from society”, as the noise was blocked, all the orders passed by the negotiating pipes, and other means of communication simply did not exist.
 
Hardly better I felt, the captain and his closest aides. Their fate was to be in the conning tower, which had an internal diameter of only about 1.3 meters it is not Surprising that in such close quarters, there was no space for not only all officers, but even for the native reader! In addition, solidly booked from the sides, the cabin remained virtually unprotected rear, top and bottom, relying on conventional deck flooring.
 
Oddly enough, but the reason for that was the desire to book all the possible space from the action of powerful bombs. First of all, it belonged to the Board, which was not one square decimeter is not protected by armor. Four rows of 100-mm steel plates, laid on double-layer litter (10 mm), covered it all over from the upper deck to five feet below the waterline, However, this “sandwich” turned out to be the most tarnished armor. Failed providers. The first batch caused sailors a real shock: shells of medium caliber calmly punched the “skin” of the future “invincible” ship. Although the armor managed to improve set on “scrap” plate received on the test scores from “mediocre” to “mediocre”. Speaking our language, from triple to C-minus. Quite a bit for a unique vehicle.
 
The great mass of the side armor, besides reaching to the upper deck, had an impact on other articles of the load. About tiny and uncomfortable the conning tower we have already spoken. Slim had to make an armored deck that consisted of 20-mm sheets. However, it added one more 8-millimeter is designed to delay the fragments — a decision that has become traditional for all the French cruisers and battleships.
 
Overload armor and artillery turrets suffered mechanical installation. Originally it was supposed to make the twin shaft, but then (so the novelty novelty!) for the first time on a large ship used a three-shaft. However the narrow hull, filled with numerous shell cellars (each tower had its own) and coal pits, have led to the need to place the machine one after the other, instead of the usual location side by side. Aft was the machine, a rotating center shaft, and the front of her machine on the left side and then right. And if the first one was quite modern vertical triple expansion machine, the two others are also machines triple expansion, but horizontal. Needless to say, the presence of two different design and operating conditions of the engine did not help and reliability.
 
 
60. Armored cruiser “D Antraste” (France, 1899)
 
It was built by the firm “La Seine”. A displacement of 8000 tons, the maximum length of 113.7 m, width of 17.83 m, draft of 7.5 m. Capacity twin-shaft plants triple expansion 14 500 HP, and a speed of 19.2 per node. Armament: two 240-mm, twelve 138 mm, twelve 47-mm and six 37 mm rapid-fire guns, and two 450 mm torpedo tubes. Reservations: the Board of 90 mm, turret 250 mm, casemates 55 mm, deck 55 mm (bevel 100 mm), cutting 250 mm. Transferred to Belgium in 1922.
 
61. Armored cruiser “Patwa” (France, 1897)
 
Built by company “e forges Chantiers de La Méditerranée”. A displacement of 4,400 tons, maximum length of 113.7 m, beam 15.3 m, draft 6,48 m. Capacity twin-shaft plants triple expansion 10 000 HP, speed 19 knots. Armament: two 194 mm, 138 ten-mm, ten 47-mm and eight 37-mm rapid-fire guns, four 450 mm torpedo tubes. Reservations: the Board of 65 mm, towers mm 175-140, deck 40 mm (on the bevel 85 mm), cutting 230 mm. Excluded from the list in 1929.
 
62. The armoured cruiser “Dupuy de Scrap” (France, 1895)
 
Built at the shipyard of the Navy in Brest. Displacement 6680 t, length of maximum 113,39 m, beam 15.7 m, draught of 7.51 m. the three-shaft Power plants triple expansion 13 000 HP, speed is 19.5 knot. Armament: two 194 mm, six 164-mm, four 65-mm, eight 47-mm and eight 37-mm rapid-fire guns, and two 450 mm torpedo tubes. Reservations: the Board of 100 mm, 20 mm deck, towers and cutting 100 mm. Sold into private hands in 1920. Dismantled in 1925.
 
63. Armored cruiser “Latus-Treville” (France, 1894)
 
Built at the shipyard of the Navy in Rochefort. A displacement of 4700 tons, maximum length of 113.7 m, width of 13,98 m and draft of 6.00 m. Capacity twin-shaft plants triple expansion 8000 HP, and a speed of 18.5 knot. Armament: two 194 mm, six 164-mm, four 65-mm, four 47 mm and four 37-mm rapid-fire guns, four 450 mm torpedo tubes. Reservations: the Board of 90 mm, 110 mm, turret, deck 40 mm (bevel 45 mm), cutting 110 mm. Only in the years 1894-1896 built four units: “Amiral of Charnay”, “Brui”, “Chanzy” and “Latus-Treville”. “Chanzy” was wrecked in 1907, “Charnay” sunk by a German submarine in February 1916, “Brue and Latus-Treville” scrapped in 1920 and 1926 respectively.

 
Finally, another unfortunate feature of two military masts with round tops, “bristling” skorostrel. Interestingly, the diameter of the masts reached 1.72 m — more than the size of the conning tower! “Architectural excesses” is not gained appreciation from the sailors. The commander of the “De Scrap” wrote in his report: “These massive construction allow to detect and identify the cruiser from a distance, reduces visibility of signals, and increase the scope of pitching. These reasons enough to justify the removal of these however heavy, so useless monument”. You can to add that the firing of the cannons mounted on the fighting tops, not very accurate, but are forced to vibrate themselves to the mast. On-the-go Mars liberally covered with soot and coal dust, and there were guns and their gunners have become unfit for action.
 
For a pretty clumsy at first glance, the creation of “the armored hedgehog” quite well behaved in the sea, perfectly obeyed the helm, and a well maneuvered. In the latter he especially helped three-shaft installation. When the cars left and right shaft brasky ship could turn around almost on the spot. The only “marine” trouble was roll. On a strong wave hit the boat, the hull heeled over 30 degrees, then hang in this position for two seconds, and then rapidly rolled over to the other side and again stood still. It is clear that not only fight, but just to be on the Board in such circumstances was an ordeal.
 
However at his first appearance “in public” — in celebration in Germany the opening of the Kiel channel, connecting the Baltic with the North sea, “Dupuy de Scrap” caused a sensation as its appearance, and — especially — booking full Board. Interestingly, another “triumph” of the Kiel festivities was the Russian armored cruiser “Rurik”. It is interesting to note that such an impression on his contemporaries produced armored cruisers such different concepts, purpose and appearance.
 
However, the service “De Scrap” gained fame did not last long. Shortly after commissioning, the cruiser underwent renovations, and in 1902 he firmly took the place in the shipyard. In the four years it has completely replaced constantly coming down boilers, withdrew military masts with longer needed small-caliber guns and carried a number of other works. The outcome was totally unexpected. Because of changes in the mass distribution of the ship has become so badly to bury his nose in a wave that big move of water were filled the entire bow section, including the tower and the cellar! In addition, the replacement of boilers did not help “the hedgehog” become faster: the maximum speed is not exceeded the 18.7 knot.
 
It is not surprising that the admirals didn’t know what to do with old, but just “lacquered” toy. At this time the French Navy has acquired a number of new cruisers, with which poor “Dupuy de Scrap” looked more like a Museum piece. After standing for two years without appointment, in 1909, he went straight to the reserve. And the next year was followed by a decision about the dismantling of the ship.
 
So would have ended the sad career “Dupuy de Scrap”, if not coincidence. While in Paris attended by representatives of far Peru, who wanted to buy armored cruiser — as opposed to Ecuador, who was going to get armored. They claimed to be a modern ship, but after long negotiations, the French persuaded them to cheap “Scrap”.
 
On the cruiser, renamed “Comandante Aguirre” even managed to raise a Peruvian flag. However, the new owners were in no hurry with the main — payment of bills. The French suffered some time, and then sent the Peruvian crew home passenger steamers. Poor ship was literally hanging between heaven and earth for six years, including during the First world war. At the end he does not represent any military value, and was followed by a surprising decision — to rebuild it into a merchant ship. The decision is indeed extremely weird, because it was difficult to find a less suited for this warship.
 
How many it took to clean up! Armor, tower, two boiler houses offices and two cars of the three. But his “excellent” a 9-meter ramming was impossible, so it just hid behind a thin covering. As a result, the silhouette of the ship has changed considerably: it became a “honest” cargo ship. However deadly “Tusk” was left in its place. It is easy to imagine what would have happened to any vessel in a collision with such a “merchant”!
 
Career “Dupuy de Scrap” in the new quality of charcoal, called “Peruvia” (“Peruvian”), became so violent, and so short. In the first voyage across the Atlantic the former cruiser shamefully stuck in the middle of the ocean due to the breakdown of machines and boilers. It was taken in tow, and slowly dragged to Brazil. To top it all off, on arrival at the place of its cargo of coal caught fire in the hold was Extinguished two weeks, and then abandoned the ship with the broken and the mainmast again taken in tow across the ocean to Europe. These adventures repulsed any desire to somehow use a loser, and, after standing for a few years at the wall, he went to a breaker.
 
Such detail on the fate of a single ship, we stopped for two reasons. First, very little served and Poplavsky “Dupuy de Scrap” really left a very noticeable trace in the history of shipbuilding, marking the beginning of a new class of “real” cruisers. And secondly, in his person France tried one last time to throw down the gauntlet to bitter rival England. In accordance with the plans of the naval Ministry in his image and likeness it was intended to build no less, over two hundred similar “armored hedgehogs”! They had to replace armored cruisers, and battleships, to flood sea and put the British in a difficult position.
 
It’s hard to say what could be the story of the cruisers, if the French failed to implement its program of construction of at least 20 percent. But the reality was much more modest. The number of direct descendants of the “Dupuy de Scrap” was restricted to just five, and attempts to improve the project gradually but steadily led to its weakening.
 
Among the main disadvantages of “Scrap” guide of the fleet, first of all, attributed to their size and cost. The cruiser has treated more than 10 million francs, almost a third of the amount came in suffering mechanical installation. The budget could not withstand such costs, therefore, the transition to serial construction from designers demanded to reduce a displacement of 2000 tons. Savings primarily affected the defense. Book the top of the Board found it unnecessary. So four units of the type “Amiral of Charnay” ceased to be completely covered by the armor “skin”. Essentially, the measure can be recognized reasonable if the reduction in the area of the armor belt was not accompanied by its weakening. Now the main cover consisted of three thin steel sheets, each 30 mm superimposed on a double bed of 10 mm ordinary shipbuilding steel Overall resistance of such a five-layer “cake” did not allow to count on successful opposition to armor-piercing projectiles even 6-inch-caliber. However, multiple reinforced deck reservation: up to 40 mm — in the horizontal part and up to 45 mm on the bevel.
 
Another defect of the firstborn, of course, is an insufficient rational distribution of artillery. It tried to correct to “Charnay”. The main weapon, 194-graph paper, took its proper place in the bow and stern, providing decent angles of attack and action both barrels on Board But all the same demands weight savings led to the replacement of the second 164-mm caliber on 138. However, the decision proved to be successful: the new guns were already rapid-fire, and to maintain a high rate of fire in battle lightweight shells is preferable, as not so tiring maid.
 
Other features of the “Dupuy de Scrap” preserved in the “cut” option: the location of all the artillery in the towers, a huge battering RAM, a heavy “military” masts (later safely replaced by the normal odnodnevki)… Memorable trouble with the machinery and boilers were forced to return to the traditional two-shaft mechanical installation, steam for which was developed the modern Belleville boilers. In General, despite the weakening of the side armor, the cruiser proved to be quite successful. So much so that the Navy actively used them in the First world war, although they have served already for more than 20 years. However, only three of us. “Chanzy” ran on the rocks off the coast of China in 1907. From the remaining to survive the war was not all: head “Amiral of Charnay” went down literally 3 minutes after being hit by a torpedo from the German submarine U-21.
 
In General, a good beginning were not the best continuation. General trends in the development of cruisers from adopting skorostrel was limited primarily to an increase in the number of guns. So the next one, “Patwa”, increased displacement, and the number of 138-millimetrovogo reached ten But those guns have almost completely lost their protection: they were covered with only thin plates of the casemates or as thin shields. Another alteration undergone and the side armor is Now the total belt thickness was only 60 mm, which puzzled experts, who often disputed the ownership “Patwa” to an armored cruiser. A few brightened picture of the increased deck armor, reached on the bevel 80 mm. Curiously, all the artifices of protection and weapons has not led to improvements another important parameter is speed. The descendents of the “Dupuy de Scrap” it was even somewhat less than in the ancestor.
 
“Latest single” really was the last. French engineers realized that in its economic attempts are trying to make old, but nobody devavrata trick to pour a liter of fluid in half-liter bottle. Small armored cruiser lost its appeal. I had to move on to other ideas.
 
One option was so popular in England a large armored raider. So was born the original “D Antraste” the Hull of a large 8000-ton ship had a high forecastle, which provided good seaworthiness, despite the persistence of traditional huge battering RAM. Curious armament: the only one of the French cruisers, he carried two 240-mm guns (bow and stern) in the solid towers are protected as much as 250-mm armor. But the second caliber remained modest. All the same 138-mm guns are poorly protected, and converted into skorostrel of short-bangers. Armor deck was reached on the bevel 100-mm thickness. Very original was the mechanical installation. Two vertical triple expansion machine was located between the three boiler compartments, two towards the bow and one aft. This decision gave the ship a distinctive appearance: two closely spaced tubes in the front and far back from them. In General, you could talk about kind of the response to the British large broniatowski if type has been developed. However, the “D Antraste” even more than his armored predecessors, suffered home “French disease” — the big value.
 
Thus ended another “approach” of the once great sea power solution to the cruising problem. Quite successful in themselves, sometimes far ahead of his time, a single large armored and armored units of the class did not become a serious fighting force. But France has set a new tone, others remained to translate the idea into mass production.
 
V. KOFMAN

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