Cruisers of the project 26 and 26 bis. Part 6: Maxim Gorky vs. Belfast

Cruisers of the project 26 and 26 bis. Part 6: Maxim Gorky vs. Belfast
Cruisers of the project 26 and 26 bis. Part 6: Maxim Gorky vs. Belfast

At the end of the technical part of the description of the cruisers of the project 26 and 26 bis, a few words should be said about the structural protection of the hull from underwater damage. I must say that light cruisers could never boast of the proper level of protection: this is hampered by the very idea of a fast ship of moderate displacement. The light cruiser is long but relatively small in width, and its machines must be quite powerful in order to provide superior speed.

In the late 20s - early 30s, the displacement of light cruisers "grew" in comparison with representatives of their class of the First World War, they needed more powerful power plants than before. And if the same British cruisers used to completely manage with a pair of turbine units operating on two shafts, now they began to install 4 machines each, driving 4 screws. The consequences were not long in coming - even if the engine room was divided into two compartments, in each of them two cars still had to be installed. Of course, there was no room for any PTZ, in fact, the compartments of many cruisers were covered only by a double bottom.

Cruisers of the project 26 and 26 bis. Part 6
Cruisers of the project 26 and 26 bis. Part 6

Even the heavy cruisers had the same problem.


Of course, there were exceptions to the rule, for example, the famous French heavy cruiser Algerie, whose armor and structural protection is considered exemplary. Suffice it to recall that the depth of the anti-torpedo protection of this cruiser reached 5 meters; not all battleships could boast of such protection. But on "Algerie" a similar result was achieved due to a very low speed for a cruiser (according to the project - only 31 knots), and besides, it should be borne in mind that the French shipbuilding school was distinguished by the unique quality of theoretical drawings for its ships, in this with the French not no one in the world could argue, and this provided them with maximum speed with a minimum of machine power.

The Italians built many four-shaft cruisers, but they originally planned to install twin-shaft power plants on their Condottieri, which required very powerful turbine units. The power plants of the cruisers like Alberico da Barbiano and the following Luigi Cadorna did not work out very well, but the Italians gained the necessary experience, so that the turbines and boilers for the subsequent series of Raimondo Montecuccoli and Eugenio di Savoia were not only powerful, but also quite reliable. The need for only two turbine units (and three boilers for each) made it possible to arrange them "in a row", while the distance from the boilers and machines to the sides was large enough to … what? Whatever one may say, but it is impossible to create a serious PTZ in the dimensions of a light cruiser. All these anti-torpedo (including armored) bulkheads … even on the battleship Yamato worked every other time. Remember at least the PTZ of the battleship Prince of Wells - a very strong structure was simply driven deep into the hull, which is why the compartments that it was designed to protect were flooded anyway.

The creators of the project 26 and 26-bis took a different path - they designed the cruiser so that in the side area there would be a large number of small compartments. At the same time, the cruiser was divided in length into 19 watertight compartments, and the watertight bulkheads below the armored deck were made solid, without any doors or necks. Such protection was, of course, not as effective as the American-type PTZ, but it could still significantly limit the sinking of the ship and, probably, could be considered optimal for a light cruiser.


In addition, the Soviet cruisers received a high-quality and strong hull of a mixed recruitment system, with special reinforcement of the places where the longitudinal recruitment was replaced by the transverse one. All this together provided the cruisers of the project 26 and 26-bis with excellent seaworthiness and survivability. The cruiser "Kirov" easily held 24 knots against the wave in a 10-point storm, "Petropavlovsk" (formerly "Lazar Kaganovich") passed a typhoon in the Sea of Okhotsk.


The cruisers lost their nose ("Maxim Gorky") and stern ("Molotov"), but, nevertheless, returned to their bases. Of course, similar situations happened with ships of other countries (for example, the heavy cruiser New Orleans), but this at least suggests that our ships were no worse. And, of course, the most impressive demonstration of the survivability of domestic cruisers was the detonation of Kirov on the German TMC bottom mine, when an explosive in an amount equivalent to 910 kg of TNT detonated under the bow of a Soviet ship.

On that day, October 17, 1945, the Kirov received a terrible blow, even more dangerous, because the cruiser was not staffed with a crew. Moreover, the shortage concerned both officers - there were no senior officers, the commanders of the BC-5, the movement division, the boiler room of the electrical and turbo-engine groups, as well as the junior command staff and sailors (the same BC-5 was staffed by 41.5%). Nevertheless, the cruiser managed to survive - despite the fact that 9 adjacent compartments were flooded, although according to initial calculations, unsinkability was ensured only when three were flooded.


In general, it can be stated that the seaworthiness and survivability of cruisers such as "Kirov" and "Maxim Gorky" were quite at the level of the best foreign ships of the corresponding displacement.

So what did we get in the end? Soviet cruisers of projects 26 and 26 bis turned out to be strong, fast, well protected from the effects of 152-mm shells (although this, perhaps, only applies to cruisers 26 bis). They were equipped with a completely adequate main caliber, superior in power to the 152-mm artillery of light cruisers, but slightly inferior to the 203-mm guns of their heavy counterparts. The fire control devices of the ships of projects 26 and 26-bis were very sophisticated and one of the best among other cruisers in the world. The only truly serious drawback of Soviet ships is their anti-aircraft artillery, and not so much in the PUS part (everything was fine there), but in the quality of the artillery systems themselves.

Let's try to compare domestic cruisers like "Maxim Gorky" with their foreign "peers". What happened in the history of world cruiser construction during the period when ships of the 26-bis project were created in the USSR?

As you know, for a long time the development of cruisers was limited by various naval agreements that left their mark on the shipbuilding programs of all the leading fleets of the world. The Washington naval agreement led to the fact that the countries rushed to create 203-mm ten thousand tonnages, although many powers had never thought of such large and powerful cruisers before. But at the same time, the construction of light cruisers continued, and they obviously differed from their heavy counterparts: in addition to lighter guns (152-155 mm), light cruisers also had a significantly lower displacement (within 5-8 thousand tons).

All this harmony of the cruising classification was overnight destroyed by the Japanese - you see, they really wanted to build heavy cruisers under the guise of light ones, so in 1934 a series of ships of the "Mogami" type was laid, allegedly of 8,500 tons of standard displacement and with 15 * 152- mm guns.


If it were not for the negotiated restrictions on the tonnage of heavy cruisers, such monsters would never have seen the light of day - the Japanese, without further ado, would simply have laid down another series of heavy cruisers. In fact, they did so, because the Mogami was a heavy cruiser, on which they temporarily installed three-gun 152-mm turrets instead of two-gun eight-inch ones.

And if other countries were free to choose the answer, then with the highest degree of probability they would oppose the Japanese with ordinary heavy cruisers. But the problem was that countries had already chosen their limits for such ships and could only build light cruisers. However, creating ships armed with 8-9 six-inch guns against the fifteen-gun Mogami did not seem like a wise decision, and therefore the British laid down the Southampton with 12, and the Americans - Brooklyn with 15 152-mm guns. All this, of course, was not a natural development of a light cruiser, but only a reaction of the United States and England to the Japanese cunning, however, it led to the fact that, starting in 1934, the navies of England and the United States replenished cruisers that were very close in size to the heavy ones, but having only 152 mm artillery. Therefore, we will compare the domestic cruisers of Project 26-bis with the generation of "multi-gun" light cruisers: British "towns" and "Fiji", American "Brooklyn", Japanese "Mogami" in its 155-mm incarnation. And from the heavy cruisers we will take the same Mogami, but with 203-mm guns, the Italian Zara, the French Algeri, the German Admiral Hipper and the American Wichita. Let us make a special note that the comparison is to be made for ships at the time of their transfer to the fleet, and not after any subsequent upgrades, and that the comparison is carried out under the condition of equal training of the crews, i.e. the human factor is excluded from the comparison.

"Maxim Gorky" against the British

Surprisingly, the fact is that in the entire Royal Navy there was no cruiser that would have a tangible superiority over the cruiser of the 26-bis project due to its tactical and technical characteristics. British heavy cruisers were truly "cardboard": having an "armor belt" as much as an inch thick and equally "powerful" traverse, towers and barbets, all these "Kents" and "Norflocks" were vulnerable even to 120-130-mm destroyer artillery, and the 37mm deck did not protect very well against 152mm shells, let alone anything more. The only more or less decent booking - 111 mm armor plates covering the cellars, could not radically improve the situation. Of course, neither the 70-mm side, nor the 50-mm deck of Soviet cruisers also provided reliable protection against semi-armor-piercing British 203-mm shells, but victory in a hypothetical duel between Maxim Gorky and, for example, Norfolk would be determined by Mrs. Fortune - whose shell first hits something important, he won. At the same time, the Soviet cruiser still had the advantages of choosing the battle distance (it is faster than the 31-knot British TKR), and its armor, albeit insufficient, still provided somewhat better combat stability for the Soviet ship, because it is better to have at least some kind of protection. than not having any. The last British heavy cruisers had slightly better armor, but the weak protection of the decks (37 mm), towers and barbets (25 mm) did not help in any way against the shells of the "Maxim Gorky", while the 6 * 203-mm "Exeter" and "York "Are at best equivalent to 9 Soviet 180mm cannons. There is nothing to say about light cruisers of the "Linder" class.

But on the cruisers of the "Town" type, the British increased their protection in the most serious way. In total, the British built three series of such ships - the Southampton type (5 ships), the Manchester type (3 ships) and the Belfast (2 ships), and the booking increased with each series, and the last Belfast and Edinburgh are considered the best light cruisers in Great Britain and the most protected ships of the "cruiser" class of the Royal Navy.


Already the first "Towns" - cruisers of the "Southampton" class, received an impressive 114 mm citadel, stretching 98, 45 m (from Maxim Gorky - 121 m), and covering not only the boiler rooms and engine rooms, but also the cellars of anti-aircraft guns and the central post: however, the traverse armor was only 63 mm. The cellars of the 152-mm towers had the same "box-type" scheme - 114 mm from the sides, 63 mm aft and bow, and from above both the citadel and the cellars were covered by a 32 mm armored deck. The towers still remained "cardboard", their forehead, walls and roof were protected by only 25.4 mm armor, but with the barbets the situation improved a little - they used differentiated booking, now the barbets had 51 mm of armor on the side of the sides, but in the stern and in the nose - the same 25.4 mm. The conning tower was defended … as much as 9, 5 mm sheets - even a splinterproof such "reservation" would not turn out to be called a language. Perhaps these "armor plates" could have saved an attacking dive bomber from machine guns … or maybe not. In the second series (type "Manchester") the British tried to fix the most egregious gaps in defense - the turrets received a 102 mm frontal plate, and the roofs and walls - 51 mm. The armored deck was also reinforced, but only above the cellars, where its thickness increased from 32 mm to 51 mm.

But the greatest strengthening of protection received "Belfast" and "Edinburgh" - their 114-mm armor belt now covered the cellars of the towers of the main caliber, which eliminated the need for their "box" protection. The thickness of the deck has finally been increased to 51 mm above the engine and boiler rooms and even 76 mm above the cellars. The armoring of the barbets was reinforced again - now above the deck their thickness along the sides was 102 mm, and in the bow and stern - 51 mm. And if Maxim Gorky was obviously superior in booking to Southampton and was approximately equal (or not much inferior) to Manchester, then Belfast had an undoubted advantage in terms of booking.

The good armor of the British was complemented by a very perfect material part of the main caliber artillery. A dozen 152-mm guns were housed in four three-gun turrets, with each gun housed in an individual cradle and, of course, with separate vertical guidance. The British took unprecedented measures to reduce dispersion in a salvo - not only did they bring the distance between the axes of the barrels to 198 cm (the much more powerful 203-mm guns of the Admiral Hipper had 216 cm), so they also moved the central gun to 76 mm deep in the turret, in order to reduce the effect of powder gases on the shells of neighboring guns!

Interestingly, the British themselves noted that even such radical measures still did not completely eradicate the problems. Nevertheless, the British Mk. XXIII cannon, capable of firing a 50.8 kg semi-armor-piercing projectile with an initial velocity of 841 m / s, was one of the most formidable six-inch guns in the world. Its semi-armor-piercing projectile (the British did not have purely armor-piercing 152-203-mm projectiles) contained 1.7 kg of explosive, i.e. almost the same as the armor-piercing projectile of the domestic 180-mm cannon, high-explosive - 3.6 kg. With an initial speed of 841 m / s, the firing range of 50, 8 kg with a projectile was supposed to be 125 kbt. At the same time, each British gun was supplied with its own feeder, the Belfast-class cruisers provided 6 rounds (projectile and charge) per minute per gun, although the practical rate of fire was slightly higher and amounted to 6-8 rounds / min per gun.

However, this is where the good news "for the British" ends.

Numerous works (and countless online battles) devoted to the artillery of the main caliber of the cruisers of projects 26 and 26-bis indicate that, although the weight of a 180-mm projectile exceeds that of a 152-mm one, six-inch guns have a significantly higher rate of fire, and hence, fire performance. It is usually considered this way - they take data on the rate of fire of the B-1-P at the very minimum (2 rds / min, although, according to the author, it would be more correct to count at least 3 rds / min) and consider the weight of the salvo fired per minute: 2 rds / min * 9 guns * 97, 5 kg shell weight = 1755 kg / min., while the same British "Belfast" turns out 6 rounds / min * 12 guns * 50, 8 kg = 3657, 6 kg / min or 2, 08 times more than cruisers like "Kirov" or "Maxim Gorky"! Well, let's see how such arithmetic will work in the event of a confrontation between Belfast and the cruiser of Project 26-bis.

The first thing that immediately catches your eye - in many sources devoted to British cruisers, an interesting point is not mentioned - it turns out that British six-inch guns in three-gun turrets had a fixed loading angle. More precisely, not quite fixed - they could be charged at a vertical aiming angle of the guns from -5 to +12, 5 degrees, but the most preferable range was 5-7 degrees. What follows from this? If we take the rate of fire of the "Admiral Hipper" guns, which also had a fixed loading angle (3 degrees), then due to the time the barrel was lowered to the loading angle and giving the desired elevation angle after loading, the rate of fire at angles close to direct fire was 1, 6 times higher than at the limiting elevation angles. Those. at close range, the German cruiser could shoot at a rate of fire of 4 rds / min per barrel, but at maximum ranges - only 2.5 rds / min. Something similar is true for British cruisers, for which the rate of fire should fall with increasing distance, but usually 6-8 rds / min is given without indicating at what elevation angle this rate of fire is reached. At the same time, guided by the ratio of 1, 6, we find that even for 8 rds / min on direct fire, the rate of fire at the maximum elevation angle will be no more than 5 rds / min. But, okay, let's say that 6-8 rds / min - this is the rate of fire of the tower installations of "town" at the maximum / minimum elevation angles, respectively, taking into account the rate of ammunition supply, the cruiser can make 6 rds / min from each of its guns guaranteed. However, it should be remembered that “shooting” and “hitting” are fundamentally different concepts, and if Belfast has the theoretical ability to fire volleys every 10 seconds, is it capable of developing such a pace in battle?

Practice has shown that this is impossible. For example, in the "New Year's Battle", firing full volleys at a distance of approximately 85 kbt, the British "Sheffield" (type "Southampton") and "Jamaica" (type "Fiji", which also had four three-gun turrets with six-inch guns), fired (i.e., having developed the maximum rate of fire, firing to kill), firing one volley a little faster than 20 seconds, which corresponds to only 3-3, 5 rds / min. But why?

One of the biggest problems of naval artillery is the pitching of the ship. After all, the ship, and therefore any artillery weapon on it, is in constant motion, which is completely impossible to ignore. For example, a vertical aiming error of 1 degree when firing a domestic 180-mm gun at a distance of about 70 kbt gives a range deviation of almost 8 kbt, i.e. almost one and a half kilometers! In the pre-war years, some technically "advanced" countries tried to stabilize medium-caliber anti-aircraft guns (like, for example, the Germans with their very advanced 105-mm anti-aircraft guns). But in those years, the stabilization was still not working very well, a delay in reaction was common even with relatively light anti-aircraft artillery: and no one even thought about trying to stabilize the heavy towers of the main caliber of cruisers and battleships. But how did they shoot them then? And it is very simple - according to the principle: "If the mountain does not go to Mohammed, then Mohammed goes to the mountain."

No matter how the ship rolls, the moment always happens when the ship is on an even keel. Therefore, special gyroscopes-inclinometers were used for firing, which caught the moment of the "even keel" and only then closed the firing chain. The shooting took place like this - the main artilleryman, using a firing machine, set the correct angles of horizontal and vertical guidance, as soon as the guns were loaded and aimed at the target, the gunners in the towers pressed the ready-to-fire button, which caused the corresponding light on the control panel to light up. The main artilleryman of the ship, as the guns assigned to him showed their readiness, pressed the "volley!" Button, and … nothing happened. The gyroscope-inclinometer "waited" for the ship to be on an even keel, and only after that a volley followed.

And now let's take into account that the rolling period (i.e. the time during which the ship (vessel), when rocking from one extreme position, goes to the opposite and returns to its original position) for light cruisers is, on average, 10-12 seconds … Accordingly, the ship is on board with zero roll every 5-6 seconds.

The practical rate of fire of the Belfast's guns is 6 rounds per minute, but the fact is that this is the rate of fire of one tower installation, but not the entire ship. Those. if the gunners of each individual tower know exactly the aiming angles at every moment of time, shoot immediately as they aim, then the tower can actually fire 6 rounds / min from each gun. The only problem is that this never happens in life. The chief artilleryman is making adjustments to the machine gun, and his calculations may be delayed. In addition, a volley is fired when all four towers are ready, a failure in one of them is enough - the rest will have to wait. And, finally, even if all 4 towers were ready to fire right on time, it will take a little time for the reaction of the main artilleryman - after all, if, when self-firing, when the guns are ready, a shot follows, then with centralized - only pressing the button "the gun is ready for battle", and it is also necessary that the chief chief, having made sure that all the weapons are ready, press his button. All this wastes precious seconds, but what does it lead to?

For example, in case of centralized shooting, a penalty of 1 second occurs, and Belfast can fire a volley not every 10, but every 11 seconds with rolling with a period of 10 seconds. Here the ship makes a volley - at this moment it has no roll on board. After 5 seconds, the ship again does not roll on board, but it cannot shoot yet - the guns are not ready yet. After another 5 seconds (and 10 seconds from the start of firing), he will miss the "roll = 0" position again, and only after one second he will be ready to shoot again - but now he will have to wait another 4 seconds until the roll on board again becomes equal to zero Thus, between volleys, not 11, but all 15 seconds will pass, and then everything will be repeated in the same order. This is how 11 seconds of "practical centralized rate of fire" (5.5 rds / min) smoothly turns into 15 seconds (4 rds / min), but in reality everything is much worse. Yes, the ship really takes the position "roll on board = 0" every 5-6 seconds, but after all, in addition to rolling, there is also pitching, and the fact that the ship does not roll on board does not mean at all that it is in this moment does not have a roll to the bow or stern, and in this case it is also impossible to shoot - the shells will go away from the target.

Taking into account all of the above, we will understand why the real combat rate of fire of 152-mm guns was much lower than the practical one.

Of course, all of the above will affect the rate of fire of the heavier guns of the Maxim Gorky. But the fact is that the lower the rate of fire of the gun, the less the pitching will reduce it. If the pitching allows the ship to fire every 5 seconds, then the maximum salvo delay will be 5 seconds. For a ship with a gun rate of fire of 6 rds / min, a five-second delay will reduce it to 4 rds / min. 1.5 times, and for a ship with a rate of fire of 3 rds / min - up to 2.4 rds / min or 1.25 times.

But another thing is also interesting. The maximum rate of fire is undoubtedly an important indicator, but there is also such a thing as zeroing speed. After all, until they have shot at the enemy, it is pointless to open rapid fire, unless we are talking about shooting at close range. But first, a few words about the English fire control system.

"Belfast" has two control centers against one on the Maxim Gorky, but each control room of the English cruiser had only one rangefinder, and there is no indication of the presence of a scartometer in any source. And this means that the control center of a British ship can measure one thing - either the distance to an enemy ship, or to its own volleys, but not both at the same time, as the cruiser of the 26-bis project, which has as many as three rangefinders in the control room, could do it. Accordingly, for the Englishman, only zeroing was available by observing the signs of falling, i.e. the most archaic and slowest zeroing method at the beginning of the Second World War. Taking into account the fact that six-inch shells had a significant spread at long distances, zeroing was carried out only with full volleys. It looked like this:

1) The cruiser fires a 12-gun salvo and waits for the shells to fall;

2) According to the results of the fall, the chief artilleryman gives corrections to the sight;

3) The cruiser fires the next 12-gun salvo at the adjusted sight and then everything repeats.

And now - attention. British 152-mm shells fly at a distance of 75 kb in 29.4 seconds. Those. after each volley, the English chief artist must wait almost half a minute, then he will see the fall. Then he still has to determine the deviations, set corrections to the automatic fire, the gunners must tighten the sight, and only after that (again, when the ship gets on an even keel) the next volley will follow. How long does it take to adjust the scope? 5 seconds? ten? The author is not aware of this. But it is known that the 180-mm projectile of the cruiser "Maxim Gorky" overcomes the same 75 kbt in just 20, 2 seconds, and here it turns out quite interesting.

Even if we assume that it takes 5-10 seconds to adjust the sight after the shells fall, then the English cruiser can fire volleys every 35-40 seconds, because the time between volleys for it is counted as the projectile flight time + the time for adjusting the sight and preparing for a shot … And the Soviet cruiser, it turns out, can fire every 25-30 seconds, because its shells fly to the target for 20 seconds, and another 5-10 seconds is needed to adjust the sight. Those. even if we assume that the practical rate of fire of the Maxim Gorky's guns is only 2 rds / min, then even then it will fire volleys for zeroing once every 30 seconds, i.e. MORE OFTEN a rapid-fire "six-inch" British cruiser!

But in reality, for an English ship, everything is even worse - a Soviet cruiser can use such progressive firing methods as "ledge" or "double ledge", firing two volleys (four- and five-gun) or even three volleys (three-gun), without waiting for the fall of the previous volleys. Therefore, at a distance of 75 kbt (for World War II - the distance of a decisive battle) and with equal preparation, one should expect that the Soviet cruiser will shoot much faster than the English one, moreover, Belfast will spend much more shells on zeroing in than the Soviet cruiser.

The shortcomings in the organization of the shooting of the British six-inch cruisers "brilliantly" showed themselves in the course of the battles - to achieve a relatively small number of hits at long distances, the British had to spend a mind-boggling amount of shells. For example, while waging a "New Year's battle" with "Hipper" and "Luttsov", the British shot about a thousand shells on these ships - 511 were fired by Sheffield, there is no data on Jamaica, but, presumably, about the same amount. However, the British achieved only three hits in the "Admiral Hipper", or some 0.3% of the total number of shots. An even more amazing battle took place on June 28, 1940, when five British cruisers (including two "towns") managed to approach three Italian destroyers undetected by 85 kbt. They were carrying some kind of cargo, their decks were heaped up so that two destroyers could not use their torpedo tubes. The third destroyer, Espero, tried to cover its own … Two British cruisers fired from 18.33, at 18.59 they were joined by the other three, but the first hit was achieved only at 19.20 on the Espero, which made it lose speed. To finish off the destroyer was assigned to "Sydney", four other cruisers continued to pursue the Italians."Sydney" was able to sink "Espero" only at 20.40, the rest of the cruisers stopped pursuit shortly after 20.00, so that the remaining two Italian destroyers escaped with slight fright. The number of hits on the destroyers is unknown, but the British managed to shoot almost 5,000 (FIVE THOUSAND) shells. Compare this with the shooting of the same "Prince Eugen", which in the battle in the Danish Strait at distances of 70-100 kbt fired 157 203-mm shells and achieved 5 hits (3.18%)

So, in view of the above, there is no reason to assume that in a duel against Belfast at a distance of 70-80 kbt, the Soviet cruiser will receive a significantly larger number of hits than it will inflict itself. But in a naval battle, not only the quantity but also the quality of hits is important, and according to this parameter, the 50.8 kg semi-armor of the British cruiser is much weaker than the 97.5 kg of Maxim Gorky's shells. At a distance of 75 kbt, a British 50.8 kg projectile will hit vertical armor at a speed of 335 m / s, while a Soviet 97.5 kg heavy-combat (with an initial speed of 920 m / s) - 513 m / s, and a combat (800 m / s) - 448 m / s. The kinetic energy of the Soviet projectile will be 3, 5-4, 5 times higher! But the point is not only in it - the angle of incidence for a 180-mm projectile will be 10, 4 - 14, 2 degrees, while for the English one - 23, 4 degrees. The British six-inch, not only loses in energy, but also falls at a less favorable angle.

Calculations of armor penetration (made by the author of this article) according to the formulas of Jacob de Mar (recommended by A. Goncharov, "Course of Naval Tactics. Artillery and Armor" 1932) show that a British projectile in such conditions will be able to penetrate only a 61 mm plate of non-cemented steel, while the Soviet projectile (even with an initial speed of 800 m / s) - 167 mm of cemented armor. These calculations are quite consistent with the data on the armor penetration of Italian shells (cited earlier) and the German calculations of the armor penetration of the 203-mm gun of the cruisers of the "Admiral Hipper" type, according to which its armor-piercing 122 kg shell with an initial speed of 925 m / s. pierced 200 mm armor plate at a distance of 84 kb. I must say that the ballistics of the German SK C / 34 is not much different from the Soviet B-1-P.

Thus, at the distance of a decisive battle, Belfast will not have a significant superiority in the number of hits, while the 70 mm stronghold of Maxim Gorky provides sufficient protection against British shells, while the British 114 mm armor belt is quite vulnerable to Soviet guns. At long distances the "Briton" has absolutely no chance of inflicting any significant damage to the "Maxim Gorky", while the 97.5 kg shells of the latter, falling at a large angle, will probably still be able to overcome the 51 mm armored deck of the "Belfast". The only place where the British cruiser can hope for success is very short distances of 30, possibly 40 kbt, where its semi-armor-piercing shells will be able to penetrate the 70 mm vertical armor of the Soviet cruiser and, due to the higher rate of fire, it may be able to take over. But another thing should be taken into account - in order to break through the protection of the Maxim Gorky, Belfast will have to shoot semi-armor-piercing shells containing only 1.7 kg of explosive, while the Soviet cruiser can use its semi-armor citadel, but they carry as much as 7 kg of explosives. So, even at a short distance, the victory of the British cruiser is not unconditional.

Of course, anything happens. So, for example, in the same "New Year's battle" a 152-mm British projectile hit the "Admiral Hipper" at the moment when he made a U-turn and banked, as a result of which the English "hotel" fell under the armor belt, led to the flooding of the boiler room and a stop turbines, causing the speed of the German cruiser to drop to 23 knots. But, excluding happy accidents, it should be admitted that the "Maxim Gorky" -class cruiser surpassed the best English cruiser "Belfast" in its combat qualities. And not only in combat …

Surprisingly, the Soviet ship had, perhaps, even better seaworthiness than the English one: the freeboard of the Maxim Gorky was 13.38 m versus 9.32 m for the Belfast. The same in terms of speed - on tests Belfast and Edinburgh developed 32, 73-32, 98 knots, but they showed this speed in a displacement corresponding to the standard, and under normal and, moreover, full load, their speed would be certainly less. Soviet cruisers of the 26-bis project entered the measuring line not in standard, but in normal displacement, and developed 36, 1-36, 3 knots.

At the same time, the Belfast-class cruisers turned out to be significantly heavier than the Maxim Gorky - the standard displacement of the "British" reached 10,550 tons against 8,177 tons of the Soviet ship. The stability of the British was also not at the level - it got to the point that in the course of subsequent upgrades it was necessary to add a meter of width! The cost of the British cruisers simply went off scale - they cost the Crown over 2.14 million pounds, i.e. even more expensive than heavy cruisers of the "County" type (1.97 million pounds). However, "Kent" or "Norfolk" could fight on equal terms with "Maxim Gorky" (indeed, it would be a battle of "eggshells armed with hammers"), but this cannot be said about Belfast.

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