|Sketch of HMS Dreadnought|
By Steve McLaughlin
Placing main battery turrets amidships was a common practice in battleship designs up until just before World War I; it was used by the British, German, French, Italian, Japanese, American, and Russian navies (plus on some battleships built in Britain for Brazil and Turkey, as well as a pair of U.S.-built dreadnoughts for Argentina). The reasons were:
|Two British Battleships with Turrets Amidships|
HMS Erin and Centurion
a) Most navies built ships with twin turrets, and only so many turrets could be stacked ("superimpose" was the technical term) at the ends of the ship, although after Jutland the German Navy studied a design with three turrets, one above the other, at the aft end of the ship. They rejected it!
b) Battleships were meant to fight on the broadside primarily, so end-on fire was usually not seen as very important (although it did play a role in some early dreadnought-era designs including the Dreadnought herself.)
|View of Dreadnought's Q-Turret Amidships|
Problems with turrets amidships included the fact that their magazines were usually squeezed between engine and boiler rooms, with steam pipes running between these spaces; this made for increased temperatures around the magazines, which was generally seen as a bad thing. There were also some naval architectural problems involving hull strength and other such issues. As gun sizes increased, ships tended to carry fewer guns (e.g., British battleships went from ten 13.5-inch guns to eight 15-inch guns), so there was less reason to squeeze in extra turrets. Also, the use of triple turrets by many navies meant that more guns could be placed at the ends of the ship, again reducing the need for turrets amidships.