anchor chain


 Drawing of Superb-imagine a huge Repulse!

Displacement 46,000 tons
Armament 3 x 2 20" + AA
Speed 35 knots
VTS Rating   7   4   8

The First Lord of the Admiralty "Jackie" Fisher, during WW I, proposed building fast, heavily armed, shallow-draft vessels to "force the narrows" through Denmark to help invade the Baltic coast of Germany. Designs of several sizes were thought up, but only the smallest, the "Large Light Cruisers" Courageous and Glorious, were actually constructed. In all the designs known as "Fisher's Follies" protection was poor, but to Lord Fisher "speed is armor".

In "Grand Fleet" several of Fisher's designs are afloat, the largest being the thousand-foot long Superb. Her sister ship Incomparable was completed as a CV, but Superb was all gunship, carrying the largest naval guns in the world until the Japanese Satsuma in 1942. Her huge bunkerage enabled her to reach anywhere in the British Empire without refuelling. With her huge, far-ranging guns and swift, destroyer-like speed she could successfully stern-chase any large enemy ship then afloat or building. You couldn't out-gun her, nor out-run her! Superb was voted by Navy tars as "The ship you, as an enemy of the Crown, would least like to see coming up over the horizon!"

Prior to the War, Superb and her CV "sister" Incomparable staged an impressive show of force off Hong Kong to intimidate the Japanese, who might be thinking of causing trouble to the British Far East colony. Sailing together at 35 knots in calm water, the pair cruised off the Chinese coast while the fast IJN cruisers Mogami and Mikuma, slanting in from her forward beam at similar speed, were barely able to stay alongside. Superb slowly swung her massive 20" gun turrets abeam towards flagship Mogami, and though deliberately raised too high to hit if fired, she showed the cruisers that her tampions were out and she was ready to fight if the Japanese started anything.

Superb home-ported in Gibraltar, where she became the core of Force "H", ready to respond to any German or Italian breakout. When Bismarck made her famous end run around the British Isles Superb responded with CV Excalibur. Even with her high speed, Superb could not dare to stern-chase the Bismarck once she was in range of the Luftwaffe's maritime bombers, and Excalibur's feeble complement of fighters couldn't protect the task force sufficiently to warrant further pursuit. Superb followed Incomparable to the Far East again when war broke out, but was unable to close with the Japanese force that her accompanying carriers harassed at long range. Her discouragement was later taken out on the Italians when Superb ran down battlecruiser Leonardo daVinci fleeing at top speed in the Mediterranean and sank her. A few plunging shells from daVinci had done considerable damage, though, and Superb's "speed armor" couldn't protect her from the Stukas that finally put her under.

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