Tag Archives: swedish battleship

Warship Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019: Italian Mosquitos of the Baltic

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019: Italian Mosquitos of the Baltic

Motortorpedbåt T 28 i full fart i skärgården 1943 Fo196168

All photos, Swedish Sjöhistoriska Museet maritime museum unless noted. This one is file no. Fo196168

Here we see HSwMS T 28, a T 21-class motortorpedbåt (motor torpedo boat) of the Svenska Marinen (Royal Swedish Navy) in 1943 as she planes on her stern, her bow completely above the waves. If she looks fast, that’s because she was– like 50 knots fast.

The Swedes in the 1930s had the misfortune of being sandwiched between a resurgent Germany and a newly ambitious Soviet Union, both having come up on the losing side of the Great War and suffered much during the generation immediately following. This fear went into overdrive as World War II began.

With a lot of valuable coast to protect, the Flottan’s plan to do so was the new Tre Kronor (Three Crowns)-class of three fast cruisers (kryssaren) who were to each serve as a flotilla flagship of a squadron of four destroyers and six motor torpedo boats while three  pansarskepps (literally “armored ships”) bathtub battleships would form a strategic reserve.

For the above-mentioned MTBs, Stockholm turned south, shopping with the Baglietto Varazze shipyard in Italy– which is still around as a luxury yacht maker). Baglietto’s “velocissimo” type torpedo boat, MAS 431, had premiered in 1932 and was lighting quick but still packed a punch.

MAS 431, via Baglietto

Just 52.5-feet long overall, MAS 431 was powered by a pair of Fiat gasoline engines, packing 1,500hp in a hull that weighed but 12-tons. The 41-knot vessel carried a pair of forward-oriented 18-inch torpedoes, a couple of light machine guns, six 110-pound depth charges for submarines (she had a hydrophone aboard) and was manned by a crew of seven.

MAS 431 craft proved the basis for the very successful MAS 500 series boats, with more than two dozen completed. These boats used larger Isotta-Fraschini engines which coughed up 2,000hp while they could putter along on a pair of smaller 70hp Alpha Romero cruising motors. The Swedes directly purchased four of these (MAS 506, 508, 511, and 524) which became T 1114 in 1939. These 55-foot MTBs could make 47 knots.

MAS 500 in the Mediterranean 1938, via Regina Marina

However, the Swedes weren’t in love with the wooden hulls of the Italian boats and went to design their own follow-up class of MTBs in 1941. The resulting T 15 class, built locally by Kockums with some support from Italy, went 22-tons in weight due to their welded steel hulls. However, by installing larger Isotta-Fraschini IF 183 series engines, they could still make 40+ knots.

Swedish Motortorpedbåt T 15. 5 Just four of these craft would be built by Kockums. The camo scheme and white “neutral” racing stripe were standard for Sweden’s wartime fleet. Fo101806

Nonetheless, there was still room for improvement. Upgrading to larger 21-inch torpedo tubes and stretching the hull to 65-feet, the T 21 class carried 3,450hp of supercharged 18-cylinder IF 184 engines which allowed a speed listed as high as 50 knots in Swedish journals. They certainly were a seagoing mash-up of Volvo and Ferrari.

T 28 MTB Fo200188

Motortorpedbåten T 28. 1943 Fo88597A

T30. Bild Sjöhistoriska Museet, Stockholm SMM Fo88651AB

Besides the torpedoes, the craft was given a 20mm AAA gun in a semi-enclosed mount behind the pilothouse while weight and space for two pintle-mounted 6.5mm machine guns on either side of the house and one forward was reserved. As many as six depth charges were also carried.

Torpedbåt, motortorpedbåt typ T 21

The T 21s proved more numerous than the past Swedish MTB attempts, with a total of 11 boats produced by 1943. They proved invaluable in what was termed the Neutralitetsvakten (neutrality patrol) during the rest of WWII.

Assorted Swedish splinter boats clustered at Galo Island in Stockholm, 1943. (Motortorpedbåtar vid Gålö år 1943 Fo88679A)

Hkn Prince Bertil, Duke of Halland, who in the 1970s served as heir to his nephew King Carl XVI Gustaf, clocked in on Swedish torpedo boats during the first part of WWII before he was reassigned in 1943 as a naval attaché to London.

HRH Prince Bertil of Sweden aboard a torpedo boat, holding a pair of binoculars Nordiska Museet NMA.0028790

Due to their steel hulls, the craft proved much more durable than comparable plywood American PT-boats or the Italian MAS boats and, while the latter’s days were numbered immediately after WWII, the Swedish T 21s endured until 1959, still keeping the peace on the front yard of the Cold War.

In late 1940s service and throughout the 1950s they carried a more sedate grey scheme.

1947 Janes entry

Motortorpedbåt T 25. Propagandaturen på Vättern, Juli 1947 Fo88595A

T24, note another of her class forward, with the M40 20mm cannon showing

Swedish torpedo boat Motortorpedbåten T29, 1950 Gota Canal. Note the 20mm cannon, which is now better protected, and the depth charges with two empty racks. The Swedes, then as now, were not squeamish when it came to dropping cans on suspect sonar contacts in their home waters. 

The T 21s were later augmented by the similar although up-gunned (40mm Bofors) T 38 class and finally replaced by the much-improved Spica-class, which remained in use through the 1980s with the same sort of tasking as the craft that preceded them.

At 139-feet oal, the Spicas were more than twice as long as the T 21s and carried a half-dozen torpedoes in addition to a 57mm Bofors gun.

However, that welded steel hull and the mild salinity of the Baltic has meant that at least one of the old T 21s, T 26 to be clear, has been preserved as a working museum ship in her Cold War colors and is still poking around, although she probably could not make her original designed speed at this point.

Fo196168

Update 9/2/2020: Motortorpedbåten T28, which has been in private hands since 1970 and stored ashore, is now undergoing further preservation as a running museum ship in Sweden. 

Specs:

Displacement: 28 tons
Length: 65.66-feet
Beam: 15.75-feet
Draft: Puddle
Engines: 2 Isotta-Fraschini IF184 supercharged gas engines, 3450hp
Speed: 50 knots max
Range:
Crew: 7 to 11
Armament:
2 21-inch torpedo tubes forward
1 20 mm LuftVärnskanon M.40 AAA gun, rear
up to 6 6.5mm machine guns (if using dual mounts on three pintles)
6 depth charges

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Warship Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018: Oscar’s boldest pansarbat

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018: Oscar’s boldest pansarbat

(Photos: Karlskronavarvet/Marinmuseum)

Here we see a colorized photo of the Swedish pansarskepp HSvMS Dristigheten (Swedish= “The Boldness”) passing under the iconic Levensau High Bridge in Germany’s Kiel Canal during a visit to that country, between 1912 and 1927.

Pansarskepps (literally “armored ships”), or pansarbats, were a peculiar design that was popular in the Baltic from about 1900-45. These short, shallow-draft ships could hug the coastline and hide from larger capital ships while carrying big enough guns to be able to brutally bring the pain to any landing ship escorted by a shallow draft light cruiser or destroyer approaching from offshore. Sweden had kept out of wars since Napoleon was around, but she was still very wary of not only Russian and German but also British designs on the Baltic. With her neutrality only as good as the ships that could protect it, the country built a series of 15 coastal defense vessels, or pansarskepps, from 1886-1918.

Sometimes referred to as battleships, or cruisers, these warships were really neither. Nor were they destroyers.

They were pansarskepps.

Sandwiched roughly in the middle of these vessels was Dristigheten, preceded by the trio of Svea-class vessels (3,200-tons, 2×10-inch guns) and a matching threesome of Oden-class ships (3,445-tons, 2×10-inch guns), while she was followed by eight more advanced Aran, Oscar II, and Sverige-class ships.

A standalone vessel, Dristigheten was laid down at Lindholmen, Goteborg in October 1898 just after the world was amazed by the recent steel navy combat that was the Spanish-American War. While most of Sweden’s pocket battleships carried names drawn from Norse mythology or the country’s royal family, Dristigheten is a traditional Swedish warship name going back to the 18th Century where it was carried by a 64-gun ship whose figurehead is preserved to this day.

Some 3,600-tons, she was just 292-feet overall or about the size of small frigate these days. However, she had as much as 247mm (that’s pushing 10-inches) of good (for the time) Harvey nickel-steel armor and a pair of domestically-produced 209mm/43cal M1898 naval rifles.

One of those pretty 209mm/43s. Dristigheten, the first to mount such guns in the Swedish Navy, carried one forward and one aft. She was also the first Swedish naval ship to use water tube boilers.

These 8.3-inch guns, as noted by the 1914 Janes, could fire a 275-pound AP shell on a blend of special Bofors-made nitro-compound that was capable of penetrating 9.5-inches of armor at 3,000 yards. A half-dozen smaller 152mm guns were the secondary battery. A dozen 6-pdr and 1-pdr popguns would ward off torpedo boats. As such, she was the first Swedish capital ship with only quick-fire artillery. A pair of submerged torpedo tubes added to the party favors.

Commissioning 5 September 1901, Dristigheten was a happy ship and was inspected on several occasions by King Oscar II of Sweden, a septuagenarian who had joined his country’s navy at age 11.

The picture shows four Swedish armored ships Göta, Wasa, Äran, Dristigheten (without her later tripod foremast which was fitted in 1912) and collier Stockholm, which anchors during the winter season in Karlskrona’s naval harbor. Ships are flagged for King Oscar II’s birthday on January 21, 1903. The boats frozen solid in the ice and people can be seen moving around on the pack. (2289×1213)

1899 impression of the Swedish fleet with several Swedish pansarbats featured including #2. ODEN (1896) #3. THOR (1898) #4. NIORD (1898) and #5. DRISTIGHETEN (1900), then under construction. Via Karlskronavarvet 11788 (2778×728)

For a quarter-century, Dristigheten steamed around European waters, showing the flag, training naval cadets and visiting friends (Sweden knew nothing but friends, although some were friendlier than others).

Swedish coast defense ship DRISTIGHETEN, note the early single foremast she carried from 1900-1912

Postcard of the Swedish battleship HMS Dristigheten in Algiers, 1906

Dristigheten, 1920, Bordeaux. Note the tripod foremast, added in 1912.

The non-colorised version of the Kiel photo (Marinmuseum Fo113541A)

While the Baltic would freeze over, she would traditionally voyage on a long-haul winter cruise (in times of peace) to the Mediterranean, visiting Southern Europe and North Africa. Malta, Tangier, Vigo, Salonika, Suda Bay, Toulon, Bizerte, and Smyrna all saw the big Swede on a semi-regular basis.

Janes listed her as a “battleship” in 1902, 1914, and 1919. A 3,600-ton battleship.

During WWI, she, along with the rest of the pansarbats, kept a cautious neutrality in Swedish waters between the warring Allies (composed of the Tsar’s Baltic fleet and the occasional British submarine) and German surface and untersee units.

Once the war ended, the days of these plucky ships were numbered, with the goal of bringing more modern cruisers and destroyers online while keeping a few of the newer pansarbats around as a strategic reserve.

As such, in 1927 Dristigheten was refitted as a seaplane carrier (flygmoderfaryget.) With this conversion, she lost her big guns and torpedo tubes, trading them in for a few smaller caliber AAAs and the capability to handle a few floatplanes as well as tend small craft such as patrol boats and coastal gunboats. Also gone was her aft mast. Her magazine space was largely converted to avgas bunkerage.

The Swedish Navy’s Marinens Flygväsende (MFV) at the time flew a host of early Friedrichshafen and Hansa models with Dristigheten lifting these recon seaplanes from her deck to take off on the water and retrieving them from the drink on their return. In her later years, she carried Heinkel HD 16/19s

She continued her service as a seaplane tender through WWII, during which she was augmented with a dozen additional AAAs and served as a key mothership for coastal patrol/artillery units.

Dristigheten in Karlskrona WWII note camo. Note the 40mm Bofors mounts under weather protection.

Decommissioning 13 June 1947 after a solid half-century on the King’s naval list, Dristigheten was converted to a training hulk and target ship, continuing to serve for another 13 years, testing Sweden’s new weapons, keeping the fleet’s existing guns in action, and teaching fresh classes of sailors in damage control.

In 1960, the testing reached a tipping point and she sank.

Raised, she was scrapped in 1961, outliving most of her contemporaries.

Shown in the Oscarsdockan in Karlskrona

As for her contemporaries, she outlived almost all of them. For the record, the last of the pansarskepp-era mini-battleships, HSvMS Gustav V, was used as a training hulk and pier side until 1970 when she was scrapped.

Dristigheten is remembered extensively in maritime art.

Herman Gustav af Sillen Swedish, (1857–1908) “Dristigheten under stridsskjutning 1903.”

Pansarbat Dristigheten by Axel A. Fahlkrantz

Specs:

Displacement: 3,600 tons
Length: 292 ft overall
Beam: 48 ft 6 in
Draught: 16 ft 0
Propulsion: Steam triple-expansion engines, 2 screws, 8 Yarrow boilers, 5,570 shp
Speed: 16.8 kn
Range: 2,040 nmi at 10 kn on 310 tons coal. 400 tons maximum coal would allow for “6 days at full speed.”
Complement: 262 (1901) up to 400 as tender
Armament:
(1900)
2 x 209 mm/44cal. Bofors 21 cm M/98
6 x 152 mm/44cal. Bofors M/98
10 x 57 mm/55cal. Ssk. M/89B 6-pdrs (Janes also lists a pair of 1-pdrs)
2 × 457 mm submerged torpedo tubes. Whitehead torpedoes (1901-1917) Karlskrona torpedoes (1917-22)
(1922)
2 x 210 mm/44cal. Bofors M/1898
6 x 152 mm/44cal. Bofors M/98
8 x 57 mm/55cal. Ssk. M/89B 6-pdrs
1 x 57 mm/21,3cal. Bofors lvk M/16
1 x 57 mm/21,3cal. Bofors lvk M/19
(1927)
4 x 75mm/60cal. Bofors lvk M/26-28 AAA
2 x 40mm/56cal. Bofors lvk M/36 AAA
4 x 8 mm/75,8cal. lvksp M/36 MGs
Armor: Harvey Nickel: 247mm in the conning tower, 6-8 inches main belt, barbettes, and turrets; 4-inches casemates, 2-inches deck.
Aircraft carried (1927-47) : 2-4

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

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The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

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Warship Wednesday, April 10 The Last Swedish Parsnip!

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday,  April 10, 2013

Gustav_V_-_Sverige_class_coastal_Ba

Here we see the Swedish Pansarskepp HSvMS Gustav V as she looked in broadside in the 1940s. Pansarskepps ( literally “armored ships” ) was a peculiar design that was popular in the Baltic from about 1900-45. These short, shallow-draft ships could hug the coastline and hide from larger capital ships while carrying big enough guns to be able to brutally bring the pain to any landing ship escorted by a shallow draft light cruiser or destroyer approaching from offshore. Sweden had kept out of wars since Napoleon was around, but she was still very wary of not only Russian and German but British designs on the Baltic. With her neutrality only as good as the ships that could protect it, the country built a series of 15 coastal defense vessels or Pansarskepps from 1888-1918.

nonhybrid-parsnip
And no, they are not commonly referred to as ‘parsnips.’

Here’s a brief rundown:

Svea-class coastal defense ship 3000-3300 tons, 14 kts, 2 x 254mm (10 in) m/85 or m/89 guns
HMS Svea
HMS Thule
HMS Gota

Oden-class coastal defense ship 3445 tons, 17kts, 2 x 254 mm (10 in) m/94
HMS Oden (launched1897)
HMS Niord (1899)
HMS Thor (1898)

Dristigheten-class coastal defense ship
HMS Dristigheten (1900) -3445 t, 16.5kts 2 x 210 mm (8.2 in) m/98

Äran-class coastal defense ship 3,650 tons, 17kts, 2 x 210 mm (8.2 in) m/98
HMS Äran (August 1901) – Stricken 1947
HMS Wasa (September 1901)
HMS Tapperheten (November 1901) – BU 1952
HMS Manligheten (December 1903)
HMS Oscar II (1905) –

Sverige-class coastal defense ship 7,633 tons full load, 23kts,  4x 283 mm (11.1 inch 45 cal.) 8x 152 mm (6 inch 50 cal.)
HMS Sverige (ordered 1912, comm May 1915)
HMS Drottning Victoria (September 1917)
HMS Gustav V (January 1918)

Gustav V in her WWII camo. It was a green Baltic battleship with a white 'coast guard' style racing stripe so that Swedish coastal artillery kept the friendly fire to a minimum.

Gustav V in her WWII camo. It was a green Baltic battleship with a white ‘coast guard’ style racing stripe so that Swedish coastal artillery kept the friendly fire to a minimum.

The Gustav V, as you can see, was the last of the baker’s dozen of these craft to come off the line in Sweden and by all rights, the most advanced of the design. Laid down at Kockums, Malmö (the same company that makes Sweden’s AIP Subs today) on 12/1914, just four months after the outbreak of WWI.

She was launched on 31/1/1918 and finally commissioned in January 1922. She was quite a bit longer than her 1912-designed sister ship and class leader Sverige. This fact, coupled with minor changes to the ship’s armament and major ones to her engineering made Gustav V was the crown jewel of the Swedish fleet from 1922 through 1957.

Note the pre-WWI style of ornate stern work. The US, and other Western navies did away with this around 1909 but the Gustav V, completed in 1922, still retained this classic styling from a more civilized era

Note the pre-WWI style of ornate stern work. The US and other Western navies did away with this around 1909 but the Gustav V, completed in 1922, still retained this classic styling from a more civilized era

She served in WWII and helped keep Sweden neutral even with the large Kriegsmarine and Soviet Navies coming within a very close range on occasion. The Weimar Germany-era Deutschland class was a series of three Panzerschiffe (“armored ships”), better known as Pocket Battleships, which were based in part from lessons learned by the Swedes with the Gustav.

Swedish coastal defense battleship HSwMS Gustav V, using extensive camouflage, a serious tactic used to great extent by the Swedes, especially for air defense

When compared,  the 14500-ton SMS Graf Spee carried six 11-inch and 8x 5.9-inch guns to the 7700-ton Gustav V’s four 11-inch and 8x 5.9-inch guns. The Swedish ship had much heavier armor but the German ship was built to run five knots faster and make round-the-world cruises, something the Swedes had no use for. As a final proof-of-point, the Gustav could float and fight in 20-feet of water whereas the German pocket battleships needed 24 (and a Soviet Gangut class battleship required 30).

The Gus in profile 1930s

The Gus in profile 1930s

So the Swedes had a group of tiny battleships, about the size of a frigate in today’s navies, for almost forty years. The 1938 edition of Jane’s Fighting Ships even lists the Swedish Pansarskepps of the Sverige class as battleships.

Built on hulls that were only about the size of today's frigates, the Gustav carried an armarment larger than any gun armed cruiser. It included four large 11-inch guns and 8 smaller 5.9-inchers.

Built on hulls that were only about the size of today’s frigates, the Gustav carried an armament larger than any gun-armed cruiser. It included four large 11-inch guns and 8 smaller 5.9-inchers.

Well, Gustav lived a quiet life and in 1957 at age 35 was tied up to the pier for the last time– the Soviets had decommissioned the last of their WWI-era Gangut class battleships the year before. Her two sister ships, Sverige and Drottning Victoria were laid up in 1947 and their parts had been used to help Gustav V stay operational for another decade.

But her story was not over. Gustav’s 8x 152 mm (6 inch 50 cal.) Bofors QF guns were removed and mounted around Sweden for use as Coastal Artillery should the Soviets (or Germans, or Norwegians, or British, or whoever feel froggy) and were only retired in the 1980s. The disarmed ship herself was still used as a training hulk and pierside until 1970 when she was scrapped.

The end of the Pansarskepp era.

A few of her guns still remain emplaced around Sweden to this day. While its 1900s tech, these EMP-immune guns could ruin the paintjob of Soviet ships well into the 1980s if needed. The Swedes no longer use these guns, but still have thier breechblocks (just in case)

A few of her guns still remain emplaced around Sweden to this day. While its 1900s tech, these EMP-immune guns could ruin the paint job of Soviet ships well into the 1980s if needed. The Swedes no longer use these guns, but still have their breech-blocks (just in case)

In fact, when Gustav was scrapped, she was arguably the only battleship still ‘in service.’ At the time the US Iowa-class battleships were all in mothballs and had been since the 50s. The British Vanguard was scrapped in 1960 and the Turkish battle-cruiser Yavuz (formerly the Kaiser’s Goeben, launched in 1911) had been struck in 1954 by the Turks and her hulk scrapped in 1973 after an offer to sell her back to Germany was refused.

Guess the Swedes had the last laugh on that one.
swedish parsnip

Specs:
Displacement: 7,239 tonnes standard, 7,755 tonnes full load (some sources list 7633 as FL)
Length: 396.6 ft (120.9 m)
Beam: 18.6 m (61 ft)
Draught: 6.7 m (22.0 ft)

Armour

Belt: 200/150–60 mm (7.9/5.9-2.4 in)
Turret: 8 in. Front, 4 in. Sides, 4 3/8 in Rear
Conning Tower: 175/100–60 mm (6.9 in)
Deck: 1 5/8 in.
Redoubt: 4 in.
Barbettes: 6 in.
Small Turrets: 5 in. Front, 3 in. Sides

Machinery

2 shafts; Westinghouse Geared Turbines (Manufactured by Motala Company) in Gustaf V 22,000 SHP; originally with 12 Yarrow-type coal-fired boilers with (originally) 761-tons bunkerage of coal. The provided a nominal range of 3300-miles. This was seen as plenty for the Baltic region of operations.  In the 1930s half of the ships, 12 boilers were replaced by 2 oil-burning Penhöet type boiler.  This upgrade slightly increased speed and allowed the ship to use both oil and coal for strategic reasons to operate on alternative fuel if the Swedish oil supply was ever cut off). Fuel stowage was 360ts of coal and 273ts of oil after this.

Armament

  • 4x 283 mm (11.1 inch 45 cal.) Bofors guns (2 twin turrets), load in 17 seconds, rated as cramped, dividing partition between guns. These guns could fire a 672.4 lbs. (305 kg) Arrow Nose Shell to  31,700 yards (29,000 m), capable of penetrating 13.5-inches of armor at 6500-yards. These four guns could fire a total of a dozen rounds every minute at targets up to 29-km away.
  • 8x 152 mm (6 inch 50 cal.) Bofors QF guns (1 twin turret superfiring over the forward 11-inch battery, and 6 single turrets, 3 on each beam)
  • 4x 75 mm Bofors AA cannons mounted forward of the rear 11-inch battery
  • 2x 57 mm short-barreled Bofors cannons (6 pdr.)
  • 9x 6,5 mm MG
  • 2x 457 mm (18 in) TT

Armament after modernization (late 1930´ts to WW-II)

The underwater torpedo tubes were removed and the underwater torpedo room was converted into an artillery central plotting room to serve the installation of modern range meters and fire control equipment for heavy, secondary, and AA-gunnery.

All small gunnery and 2x152mm (6 inch 50 cal. ) were removed and replaced with modern Bofors 75mm, 40mm, and 20mm Anti-aircraft gunnery. (2 x 2 – 25mm/58, 4 x 1 – 25mm/58; + 1 x 2 – 40mm/56cal M32, 2 x 2 – 20mm/66cal M40, 4 x 1 – 20mm/66cal M40

The range of the 281 mm (11 inch) main-artillery was upgraded by new ‘Arrow Point’ ammunition. An upgrade at the time to the guns that would have enabled them to fire to 35-degrees elevation (from the 1912-era 25-degrees) which would have added some 10,000-m to their range, was canceled.

Complement  450 after reconstruction

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