|Steel Fleet||The Great War Designer's notes|
the matter with our ships today..."
These famous words have come to epitomise the most surprising failure of doctrine and training to have afflicted the Royal Navy throughout the pre-war period, in fact from 1906 when the Invincibles were laid down. The problem was that the new long ranges which the main batteries of these ships made possible arrived on target as plunging fire; armour piercing projectiles descending on decks in no way sufficiently armoured to resist them. This vulnerability, coupled with expedient methods of handling cordite and ready ammunition, caused the tragic loss of Invincible, Queen Mary, and Indefatigable among Beatty's battlecruisers at Jutland.
Subsequent inquiries suggested that the primary cause was expedient handling of ready ammunition, largely for the sake of the rate-of-fire that was incessantly urged on crews and commanders in hope of beating the enemy to the vital first straddle on target. The Germans had learned the same lesson earlier at Dogger Bank. Both sides instituted stringent precautions on ammunition storage and flash suppression. But as the subsequent explosion of the Hood demonstrated, decades later, there seemed to be an inherent design problem, or alternatively a failure of doctrine, in exposing battlecruisers to the battle line or even to other battlecruisers; these duels like roulette with shells falling on ill-protected barbettes and magazines.
Consequently we will be applying a critical hit chance on plunging fire to simulate this vulnerability for all Royal Navy battlecruisers. Similarly a pre-1916 and post-1916 damage control modifier will affect magazine fires on the same vessels.
Shaun Appleby 05 August 2014
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