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Lattice mast

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USS South Carolina, the first American battleship with lattice masts.
USS South Carolina, the first American battleship with lattice masts.

Lattice masts, or cage masts, or basket masts, are a type of observation mast common on United States Navy major warships in the early 20th century. They are a type of hyperboloid structure, whose weight-saving design was invented by the Russian engineer Vladimir Shukhov. They were used most prominently on American dreadnought battleships and armored cruisers of the World War I era.

In the age of sail, masts were required to support the sails, and lookouts were posted on them; with the advent of engine-powered warships, masts were retained and used for observation and to spot fall of shot. The purpose of the lattice structure was to make the posts less vulnerable to shells from enemy ships, and to better absorb the shock caused by firing heavy guns, isolating the delicate fire control equipment (rangefinders, etc.) mounted on the mast tops. However, the masts were found to be easily damaged by the inclement weather experienced at sea by naval ships during typhoons and hurricanes: USS Michigan's mast was bent right down to the deck by such a storm in 1918. As the caliber and range of ships' guns increased, heavier rangefinders were required, and the powerful guns and engines created shock and vibrations; lattice masts were eventually phased out in favor of the more rigid tripod masts favoured by the Royal Navy.

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Mast (sailing)

Mast (sailing)

The mast of a sailing vessel is a tall spar, or arrangement of spars, erected more or less vertically on the centre-line of a ship or boat. Its purposes include carrying sails, spars, and derricks, giving necessary height to a navigation light, look-out position, signal yard, control position, radio aerial or signal lamp. Large ships have several masts, with the size and configuration depending on the style of ship. Nearly all sailing masts are guyed.

United States Navy

United States Navy

The United States Navy (USN) is the maritime service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the eight uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most powerful navy in the world, with the estimated tonnage of its active battle fleet alone exceeding the next 13 navies combined, including 11 allies or partner nations of the United States as of 2015. It has the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, two new carriers under construction, and five other carriers planned. With 336,978 personnel on active duty and 101,583 in the Ready Reserve, the United States Navy is the third largest of the United States military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 290 deployable combat vessels and more than 2,623 operational aircraft as of June 2019.

Hyperboloid structure

Hyperboloid structure

Hyperboloid structures are architectural structures designed using a hyperboloid in one sheet. Often these are tall structures, such as towers, where the hyperboloid geometry's structural strength is used to support an object high above the ground. Hyperboloid geometry is often used for decorative effect as well as structural economy. The first hyperboloid structures were built by Russian engineer Vladimir Shukhov (1853–1939), including the Shukhov Tower in Polibino, Dankovsky District, Lipetsk Oblast, Russia.

Vladimir Shukhov

Vladimir Shukhov

Vladimir Grigoryevich Shukhov was a Russian Empire and Soviet engineer-polymath, scientist and architect renowned for his pioneering works on new methods of analysis for structural engineering that led to breakthroughs in industrial design of the world's first hyperboloid structures, diagrid shell structures, tensile structures, gridshell structures, oil reservoirs, pipelines, boilers, ships and barges. He is also the inventor of the first cracking method.

Dreadnought

Dreadnought

The dreadnought was the predominant type of battleship in the early 20th century. The first of the kind, the Royal Navy's HMS Dreadnought, had such an effect when launched in 1906 that similar battleships built after her were referred to as "dreadnoughts", and earlier battleships became known as pre-dreadnoughts. Her design had two revolutionary features: an "all-big-gun" armament scheme, with an unprecedented number of heavy-calibre guns, and steam turbine propulsion. As dreadnoughts became a crucial symbol of national power, the arrival of these new warships renewed the naval arms race between the United Kingdom and Germany. Dreadnought races sprang up around the world, including in South America, lasting up to the beginning of World War I. Successive designs increased rapidly in size and made use of improvements in armament, armour, and propulsion throughout the dreadnought era. Within five years, new battleships outclassed Dreadnought herself. These more powerful vessels were known as "super-dreadnoughts". Most of the original dreadnoughts were scrapped after the end of World War I under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, but many of the newer super-dreadnoughts continued serving throughout World War II.

Battleship

Battleship

A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of large caliber guns. It dominated naval warfare in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Armored cruiser

Armored cruiser

The armored cruiser was a type of warship of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was designed like other types of cruisers to operate as a long-range, independent warship, capable of defeating any ship apart from a battleship and fast enough to outrun any battleship it encountered.

World War I

World War I

World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI, was one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. It was fought between two coalitions, the Allies and the Central Powers. Fighting occurred throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Pacific, and parts of Asia. An estimated 9 million soldiers were killed in combat, plus another 23 million wounded, while 5 million civilians died as a result of military action, hunger, and disease. Millions more died as a result of genocide, while the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic was exacerbated by the movement of combatants during the war.

USS Michigan (BB-27)

USS Michigan (BB-27)

USS Michigan (BB-27), a South Carolina-class battleship, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named in honor of the 26th state. She was the second member of her class, the first dreadnought battleships built for the US Navy. She was laid down in December 1906, launched in May 1908, and commissioned into the fleet 4 January 1910. Michigan and South Carolina were armed with a main battery of eight 12-inch (305 mm) guns in superfiring twin gun turrets; they were the first dreadnoughts to feature this arrangement.

Tripod mast

Tripod mast

The tripod mast is a type of mast used on warships from the Edwardian era onwards, replacing the pole mast. Tripod masts are distinctive using two large support columns spread out at angles to brace another column.

Royal Navy

Royal Navy

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by English and Scottish kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years' War against France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is consequently known as the Senior Service.

Use in the United States Navy

The South Carolina-class battleships of 1910 were the first class of American battleships to feature lattice masts,[1] which were to become a standard fixture on all American battleships, and many cruiser classes.[2] Older vessels, including the first modern American battleship, Indiana, were modernized with lattice masts during the period.[3]

During 1912, gunnery tests were carried out by the US Navy Department on a lattice or basket mast specially installed on the San Marcos (formerly USS Texas), to see how capable the design was of withstanding sustained gunfire.[4][5] The mast was prefabricated in the Norfolk navy yard and shipped out for installation.[6]

"As a result of the firing tests carried out some months ago against a lattice mast that had been erected on the San Marcos, now lying on the mud in Chesapeake Bay, the navy department has decided to make the lattice or basket mast the standard type for future warships. The mast, under test, showed remarkable endurance, several successful hits being necessary to bring it down."[7]

The New York Times, on the other hand, carried an unfavourable notice.[8] By 1917 only the lowest ribs at the base of the mast remained.[9]

The collapsed foremast on the USS Michigan
The collapsed foremast on the USS Michigan

In January 1918, the lattice foremast of the battleship USS Michigan collapsed in a severe storm; the heavy seas put excessive stress on the mast and the weight of the fire control equipment caused the mast to fail at the narrowest point. The incident spurred an investigation by the Bureau of Construction and Repair, which found that the failure was likely because the mast had been lengthened, with a new section spliced in where the mast broke.[10] In addition, fragments from a recent explosion in one of the ship's 12-inch (305 mm) guns had damaged the mast, and the damage had not been adequately repaired. Nevertheless, the investigation also found that the mast aboard the battleship Connecticut also showed signs of buckling. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the Navy repeatedly found evidence of structural problems in the masts, in large part due to the corrosive effects of funnel gases.[11]

At the same time as the Michigan incident, US Navy officers were also gaining experience with British tripod masts for the first time while serving with the Grand Fleet during World War I. Unlike lattice masts, the heavier tripods did not suffer from vibration when steaming at high speed, and they were not as susceptible to shock from gunfire,[11] which caused the lattice masts to whip from the concussion.[12]

All American battleships up to the Colorado-class battleships (1921–1923) were equipped with lattice masts, although in the 1920s to 1930s, the older battleships had their lattice masts replaced with more modern tripod masts, concomitant with the addition of larger, much heavier fire-control director tops.[13] The newer Tennessee and Colorado classes retained their original lattice masts, of heavier construction than those on earlier ships, at the start of World War II.

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South Carolina-class battleship

South Carolina-class battleship

Two South Carolina-class battleships, also known as the Michigan class, were built for the United States Navy in the early twentieth century. Named South Carolina and Michigan, they were the first American dreadnoughts—powerful warships whose capabilities far outstripped those of the world's older battleships.

Battleship

Battleship

A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of large caliber guns. It dominated naval warfare in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Cruiser

Cruiser

A cruiser is a type of warship. Modern cruisers are generally the largest ships in a fleet after aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, and can usually perform several roles.

Norfolk Naval Shipyard

Norfolk Naval Shipyard

The Norfolk Naval Shipyard, often called the Norfolk Navy Yard and abbreviated as NNSY, is a U.S. Navy facility in Portsmouth, Virginia, for building, remodeling and repairing the Navy's ships. It is the oldest and largest industrial facility that belongs to the U.S. Navy as well as the most comprehensive. Located on the Elizabeth River, the yard is just a short distance upriver from its mouth at Hampton Roads.

Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. The Bay is located in the Mid-Atlantic region and is primarily separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Delmarva Peninsula, including parts of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and the state of Delaware. The mouth of the Bay at its southern point is located between Cape Henry and Cape Charles. With its northern portion in Maryland and the southern part in Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay is a very important feature for the ecology and economy of those two states, as well as others surrounding within its watershed. More than 150 major rivers and streams flow into the Bay's 64,299-square-mile (166,534 km2) drainage basin, which covers parts of six states and all of District of Columbia.

Bureau of Construction and Repair

Bureau of Construction and Repair

The Bureau of Construction and Repair (BuC&R) was the part of the United States Navy which from 1862 to 1940 was responsible for supervising the design, construction, conversion, procurement, maintenance, and repair of ships and other craft for the Navy. The bureau also managed shipyards, repair facilities, laboratories, and shore stations.

USS Connecticut (BB-18)

USS Connecticut (BB-18)

USS Connecticut (BB-18), the fourth United States Navy ship to be named after the state of Connecticut, was the lead ship of her class of six pre-dreadnought battleships. Her keel was laid on 10 March 1903; launched on 29 September 1904, Connecticut was commissioned on 29 September 1906, as the most advanced ship in the US Navy.

Funnel (ship)

Funnel (ship)

A funnel is the smokestack or chimney on a ship used to expel boiler steam and smoke or engine exhaust. They are also commonly referred to as stacks.

Tripod mast

Tripod mast

The tripod mast is a type of mast used on warships from the Edwardian era onwards, replacing the pole mast. Tripod masts are distinctive using two large support columns spread out at angles to brace another column.

Grand Fleet

Grand Fleet

The Grand Fleet was the main battlefleet of the Royal Navy during the First World War. It was established in August 1914 and disbanded in April 1919. Its main base was Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands.

Colorado-class battleship

Colorado-class battleship

The Colorado-class battleships were a group of four United States Navy super-dreadnoughts, the last of its pre-Treaty battleships. Designed during World War I, their construction overlapped the end of that conflict and continued in its immediate aftermath. Though all four keels were laid, only three ships entered service: Colorado, Maryland, and West Virginia. Washington was over 75% completed when she was canceled under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty in 1922. As such, the 16" gun Colorado-class ships were the last and most powerful battleships built by the U.S. Navy until the North Carolina class entered service on the eve of World War II.

Tennessee-class battleship

Tennessee-class battleship

The Tennessee class consisted of two super-dreadnought battleships—Tennessee and California—built for the United States Navy in the late 1910s, part of the "standard" series. The class was in most respects a repeat of the preceding New Mexico class, with the primary improvements being a significantly strengthened underwater protection system, and increased elevation of the main battery guns to allow them to fire at much greater ranges. They carried the same main battery of twelve 14-inch (356 mm) guns in four triple turrets, and had the same top speed of 21 knots. Both ships served in the Pacific Fleet for the duration of their careers, which included an extensive training program during the interwar period of the 1920s and 1930s.

Use in other navies

Only four battleships were completed with lattice masts for other navies. The two Andrei Pervozvanny-class battleships of the Imperial Russian Navy had lattice masts until they were replaced with conventional masts at the beginning of the First World War.[14] The two United States-built Rivadavia-class battleships of the Argentine Navy, Rivadavia and Moreno, had lattice masts. They were the only dreadnought-type battleships built for export by the US.[15] Two other battleships, the US pre-dreadnoughts Mississippi and Idaho, were sold to Greece in 1914; they retained their lattice masts until their sinking by the Germans in 1941.

Some navies considered lattice masts for their ships. Following their experience with the Andrei Pervozvannys, the four Russian Gangut-class battleships, initially designed with lattice masts, were constructed with pole ones.[16][17] The German Imperial Navy designed its first battlecruiser, SMS Von der Tann, with lattice masts, but she was instead completed with pole masts.[18]

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Andrei Pervozvanny-class battleship

Andrei Pervozvanny-class battleship

The Andrei Pervozvanny class were a pair of pre-dreadnought battleships built in the first decade of the twentieth century for the Baltic Fleet of the Imperial Russian Navy. They were conceived by the Naval Technical Committee in 1903 as an incremental development of the Borodino-class battleships with increased displacement and heavier secondary armament. The disastrous experiences of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905 and the unrest resulting from the 1905 Russian Revolution led to countless redesigns, change orders and delays in construction. Despite the designers' repeated attempts to modernize the ships while under construction, they were obsolete in concept from the beginning, and even more so when they entered service in 1911.

Imperial Russian Navy

Imperial Russian Navy

The Imperial Russian Navy operated as the navy of the Russian Tsardom and later the Russian Empire from 1696 to 1917. Formally established in 1696, it lasted until dissolved in the wake of the February Revolution of 1917. It developed from a smaller force that had existed prior to Tsar Peter the Great's founding of the modern Russian navy during the Second Azov campaign in 1696. It expanded in the second half of the 18th century and reached its peak strength by the early part of the 19th century, behind only the British and French fleets in terms of size.

Rivadavia-class battleship

Rivadavia-class battleship

The Rivadavia class consisted of two battleships designed by the American Fore River Shipbuilding Company for the Argentine Navy. Named Rivadavia and Moreno after important figures in Argentine history, they were Argentina's entry in the South American dreadnought race and a counter to Brazil's two Minas Geraes-class battleships.

Argentine Navy

Argentine Navy

The Argentine Navy is the navy of Argentina. It is one of the three branches of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic, together with the Army and the Air Force.

ARA Rivadavia

ARA Rivadavia

ARA Rivadavia was an Argentine battleship built during the South American dreadnought race. Named after the first Argentine president, Bernardino Rivadavia, it was the lead ship of its class. Moreno was Rivadavia's only sister ship.

ARA Moreno

ARA Moreno

ARA Moreno was a dreadnought battleship designed by the American Fore River Shipbuilding Company for the Argentine Navy. Named after Mariano Moreno, a key member of the first independent government of Argentina, the First Assembly, Moreno was the second dreadnought of the Rivadavia class, and the fourth built during the South American dreadnought race.

Gangut-class battleship

Gangut-class battleship

The Gangut-class, also known as the Sevastopol-class, were the first dreadnoughts built for the Imperial Russian Navy before World War I. They had a convoluted design history involving several British companies, evolving requirements, an international design competition, and foreign protests. Four ships were ordered in 1909, Gangut, Poltava, Petropavlovsk, and Sevastopol. Construction was delayed by financing problems until the Duma formally authorized the ships in 1911. They were delivered from December 1914 through January 1915, although they still needed work on the gun turrets and fire-control systems until mid-1915. Their role was to defend the mouth of the Gulf of Finland against the Germans, who never tried to enter, so the ships spent their time training and providing cover for minelaying operations. Their crews participated in the general mutiny of the Baltic Fleet after the February Revolution in 1917, and joined the Bolsheviks the following year.

Battlecruiser

Battlecruiser

The battlecruiser was a type of capital ship of the first half of the 20th century. These were similar in displacement, armament and cost to battleships, but differed in form and balance of attributes. Battlecruisers typically had thinner armour and a somewhat lighter main gun battery than contemporary battleships, installed on a longer hull with much higher engine power in order to attain greater speeds. The first battlecruisers were designed in the United Kingdom, as a development of the armoured cruiser, at the same time as the dreadnought succeeded the pre-dreadnought battleship. The goal of the design was to outrun any ship with similar armament, and chase down any ship with lesser armament; they were intended to hunt down slower, older armoured cruisers and destroy them with heavy gunfire while avoiding combat with the more powerful but slower battleships. However, as more and more battlecruisers were built, they were increasingly used alongside the better-protected battleships.

SMS Von der Tann

SMS Von der Tann

SMS Von der Tann was the first battlecruiser built for the German Kaiserliche Marine, as well as Germany's first major turbine-powered warship. At the time of her construction, Von der Tann was the fastest dreadnought-type warship afloat, capable of reaching speeds in excess of 27 knots. She was designed in response to the British Invincible class. While the German design had slightly lighter guns—28 cm (11 in), compared to the 30.5 cm (12 in) Mark X mounted on the British ships—Von der Tann was faster and significantly better-armored. She set the precedent of German battlecruisers carrying much heavier armor than their British equivalents, albeit at the cost of smaller guns.

Use in fortifications

A lattice fire-control mast was installed on Fort Drum, a fort built by the United States to guard the entrance of Manila Bay. The mast directed the fire of the fort's 14-inch main batteries.[19]

Source: "Lattice mast", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, March 1st), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lattice_mast.

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Notes
  1. ^ Hore, p. 56
  2. ^ Hore, pp. 56–60
  3. ^ Friedman, p. 27
  4. ^ "'Basket' Mast in Successful Test". Popular Mechanics Magazine. Chicago. 18 (6): 869. December 1912.
  5. ^ Wright, p. 164
  6. ^ "Mast That Is Target for Big Guns" (PDF). The Washington Times. August 23, 1912. p. 7c. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  7. ^ "Science and Industry". Goodwin's Weekly (hosted at Newspapers.com). Salt Lake City, Utah. January 11, 1913. p. 6a. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  8. ^ "Basket Masts Unstable; Tests by Navy on the San Matos[sic] Disclose Weaknesses". New York Times. September 5, 1912. p. 6f. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  9. ^ "Remnants of the old 'Texas'" (PDF). The Sun. New York. January 7, 1917. Section 4, p. 1. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  10. ^ Wright, p. 160
  11. ^ a b Friedman, p. 177
  12. ^ Friedman, p. 195
  13. ^ Hore, p. 60
  14. ^ Morison, Morison and Polmar, p. 172.: Quote:"The only foreign ships to have them were the U.S.-built Argentinian Rivadavia and Moreno and the Russian Andrei Pervozvanny and Imperator Pavel I."
  15. ^ Hore, p. 91
  16. ^ Hythe, pp. 351–352 (Plates 57–58)
  17. ^ Melnikov, p. 24
  18. ^ Staff, p. 8
  19. ^ McGovern, pp. 14–15
References

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