1906 Battle Practice in H.M.S. Albemarle

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A Battle Practice the battleship Albemarle undertook on 20 September, 1906 was recorded on a standard form S—1550 (March, 1906) in triplicate. A copy of this was retained in his papers at the National Maritime Museum.[1] Its essentials were as follows.

Environmental Conditions & Target

The sea was smooth and the weather fine with a thick haze beyond the target. The moored target was 90 feet wide and 30 tall and was red with a vertical white stripe in the centre. The aiming point was to be directly in the center of the target.

Firing was conducted over the starboard broadside with the wind on the starboard bow.

Rangefinding and Orders

A single range finder in the fore control station was used to provide an initial range, only. Orders were communicated to the "A" Group by voicepipe, and a megaphone to Fore Turret. The only order transmitted was "Stand By". Navyphones were not used, as they were not required.

Range and Deflection

Ranges sent to the guns were those to be put on the sights, calculated aloft with a Dumaresq and Vickers Range Clock. Deflections were also calculated aloft.

Range and deflection were communicated by "mechanical wire transmitters" from Fore Control to Fore Turret and "AI" Range & Deflection drums [illeg] aft side of fore control to "XI", and by "wire mechanical transmitters" from Main Lower Top to After Turret. I am not entirely sure what these wire transmitters are, but it sounds as though a wire is pulled back and forth between the tops and the receivers at the turrets. This seems to imply the wire had to arrive at the turrets' centers of rotation. Voicepipes were also used from the upper deck to main deck casemates.

Turrets fired on lamp signals from the 12-in spotters, and broadside guns fired in salvoes.

Optics

Fore turret spotter and 6-in spotters had Zeiss Stereoscope Telescopes and the aft turret's spotter used a Goertz 9x Binocular.

The Turrets and left broadside had 7-21 telescopes and the right broadside 5-12.

Personnel

In all, the plan would require seventeen men in the Fore Control Top. Five of these men would switch the side if the opposite broadside were engaged.

It appers that the reason for a separate range clock for fore 12-in and for broadside guns is that the 12-in guns were habitually setting their sights 200 yards short, as their range dials were cut for half-worn barrels and the barrels were still somewhat new at this time.

Fore Control Top

  • Midshipman R. A. Trevor on (either the Port or Starboard) Dumaresq
  • Major RMLI E. J. Slivnel commanding for fore 12-in
  • Lt. H. D. Collins on rangefinder
  • Midshipman H. V. Lavington on Vickers Clock fore 12-in
  • Lt. (G) Hubert E. Dannreuther commanding 6-in broadside
  • Midshipman R. H. De'Ath Vickers Clock for 6-in guns
  • Midshipman J. M. Boyd calling 12-in ranges by Diver's Telephone to Main Lower Top
  • A.Bs. S. Bushell and G. Hawkins handled Range & Deflection Mechanical Transmitter to fore turret
  • A.B. G. Lakeman did the same to AI Casement
  • P.O.I. G. Rushforth and L.S. McCullock handled Range and Deflection drums

Main Lower Top

  • Nav. Instructor F. H. Batchellor on (either the Port or Starboard?) Dumaresq
  • Lt. H. C. R. Brocklebank commanding aft 12-in
  • Sub-Lt. Frank Lumb on Vickers Clock for aft 12-in
  • Midshipman C. R. E. W. Perryman received 12-in ranges via Diver's Telephone from Fore Control
  • P.O.I. J. Cleveland and A.B. Wilkes handled Range & Deflection Mechanical Transmitter to aft turret

Others, in Places Unknown

Firing and Spotting

Fire commenced at a range on sights of 7,450 yards, with ten knots right deflection. Spotters judged it to be 200 yards over and 20 knots right; the next range ordered was 7,200 yards with a spot of four knots left deflection (which seems odd). The 6-in broadside then fired, straddling the target and being "on" for deflection.

The range closed to 6,400 yards before opening to 7,200 yards before firing ceased.

All allowed rounds were expended: sixteen 12-in shells with 211 pound charges of Mark I propellant and ninety-six 6-in rounds with 23 pounds M.D.. Twenty-one 6-in hits were recorded. No mark is made to indicate 12-in hitting.

Smoke and Blast

Smoke from the funnels did not interfere with spotting or with laying.

Cordite smoke from the fire of the Fore Turret and broadside guns caused the Aft Turret some delays in firing and prevented some spotting from the Main Tower Top, but smoke and sun did not otherwise present any issues.

The blast of the fore turret's fire did, on occasion, cause accidental firing of broadside guns whose layers were knocked backward and accidentally pressed their firing keys.

Visibility

The hazy weather made spotting and aiming difficult. "Overs" were hard to see; on three occasions the 6-in fire had to be spotted down to re-establish ranging.

Footnotes

  1. DAN/474.