- Maximum battleship
The "maximum battleships", also known as the "Tillman Battleships" were a series of World War I-era design studies for extremely large battleships, prepared in late 1916 and early 1917 to the order of Senator "Pitchfork" Benjamin Tillman. The United States Navy was not interested in the designs at all, and only drew them up to win support from the Committee on Naval Affairs, on which Tillman sat. They were among the most spectacular battleship designs ever produced.
Senator Tillman had grown impatient with the Navy's requests for larger battleships every year as well as the Navy's habit of building battleships significantly larger than Congress authorized. He accordingly instructed the Navy to design "maximum battleships", the largest battleships that they could use.
The only limits on the potential size of an American battleship were the dimensions of the locks of the Panama Canal. The locks measure roughly 1,000 by 110 feet (300 by 34 m), and so the "maximum battleships" were 975 feet (297 m) long and 108 feet (33 m) in beam. Draft was limited to 39.5 ft (12.04 m).
Tillman's first request, in 1912–1913, was never completed, and though the studies it involved had some influence on the design of the Pennsylvania class of battleships, that class was essentially just an enlargement of the preceding Nevada class. In 1916, he repeated his request, and this time the Navy's Bureau of Construction and Repair produced a series of design studies, which again had some influence on the design of the next class of battleships, in this case the South Dakotas, an enlargement of the previous Colorado class.
After the first four design studies were complete, design IV was chosen for further development and three additional studies, IV-1, IV-2, and IV-3, were prepared. At the request of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, these designs used 18-inch guns instead of the 16-inch/50-calibers used in the earlier studies. The Navy decided that design IV-2 was the most practical (or perhaps the least impractical) and presented it to Congress early in 1917.
These designs differed from the battleships being built in two significant ways beyond just their size. Firstly, unlike preceding classes, the "maximum battleships" were designed with a continuous flush main deck. Most battleships in this era had a long forecastle deck. Secondly, the Tillman designs all included five casemate guns mounted aft, two on each side and one at the tip of the stern. Similar "stern chasers" had been previously mounted in the Nevada class, but were omitted from the Pennsylvania class. These casemates were a return to an older design idea; American battleship designers had abandoned hull-mounted casemates after the New Mexico class. They had transpired to be too "wet" -- heavy seas rendered them unusable—and they had been removed from all earlier classes. However, the casemates on the "maximum battleships" would have been higher above the waterline than they had been on earlier designs, so it is possible that their huge size and flush decks would have provided enough freeboard astern to keep the casemates dry.
Tillman I Tillman II Tillman III Tillman IV Tillman IV-1 Tillman IV-2 South Dakota class Iowa class Montana class Design 13 Dec 1916 13 Dec 1916 13 Dec 1916 29 Dec 1916 30 Jan 1917 30 Jan 1917 8 Jul 1918 9 Jun 1938 6 Feb 1940 Displace-
70,000 tons 70,000 tons 63,500 tons 80,000 tons 80,000 tons 80,000 tons 43,200 tons 45,000 tons 70,000 tons Length 975 feet 660 feet 860 feet 921 feet Beam 108 feet 106 feet 108 feet 121 feet Draft 32.75 feet 32.75 feet 36 feet 36 feet Speed 26.5 knots 26.5 knots 30 knots 25.2 knots 25.2 knots 25.2 knots 23.5 knots 33 knots 28 knots Main
12 16"/50 in four triple turrets 24 16"/50 in four 6-gun turrets 12 16"/50 in four triple turrets 24 16"/50 in four 6-gun turrets 13 18"/50 in five twin and one triple turret 15 18"/50 in five triple turrets 12 16"/50 in four triple turrets 9 16"/50 in three triple turrets 12 16"/50 guns in four triple turrets
Notes and references
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