No.68-->CNT Monfalcone Shipyard 4900 Ton Heavy Cruiser for the Chinese Navy

[Do you believe this partially completed heavy cruiser is valid for WarThunder?]
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No.68

A modern proto-heavy cruiser that died on the slipway in someone else’s war.

The late 19th century was, as you all well know, a terrible time to be Chinese. Apocalyptic civil wars, famines, natural disasters, a booming population living in poor conditions, authoritarian lethargy, foreign invasion, British drug dealers–all the most horrid things imaginable.

But all was not lost. Capable people had pulled the middle kingdom back from the brink before…

Fortunately, it seemed one of those particular characters was at hand, a man of Hefei by the name of Li Hongzhang, later the Marquess Suyi. Li was many things, and a whole novel could be written of his adventures through the byzantine and crumbling bureaucracy of the great empire. What is relevant to us, however, was his passion for naval matters. Despite not being a man of nautical nonsense himself, he recognized the dire need for a modern navy to defeat foreign invasion before it could get so much as a toehold on the Land of Central Grandness. Within the powers that he had, he set out to turn a regional gendarme force into one of the world’s great navies, through building shipyards and buying modern foreign vessels.

Of course, the brilliant Marquess would remain one of history’s great “what ifs?” He would be thwarted by his inability to centralize authority over the other lesser regional navies, a capricious empress who never quite trusted him, and the skillful maneuvering of his Japanese rivals.

Li would die in an undeserved disgrace after the wars against the Japanese and the 8 Nation Alliance, being the one to sign the humiliating peace treaties for both wars.

However, his ideas would live on, more out of bureaucratic inertia than anything else.

When the decrepit Qing finally fell, the new Republic of China met the same set of issues. Taking the lessons of the past, they too set out to form a modern navy, led by naval minister Liu Guanxiong.

The Chinese went on a veritable spending spree in the pre-ww1 era, with the jewel being a squadron of modern cruisers.

After various shenanigans, two designs were agreed upon by the Chinese Navy and the CNT Shipyard of Austria-Hungary. Three ships would be of a lighter, economy design, while a fourth would be designed to the original specifications set out by the Chinese.

This ship, only ever referred to as No.68 or the “China Cruiser,” was laid down in March of 1915. Now, astute students who study history may know that this wasn’t a great time for Austria-Hungary, either. Within three months, the shipyard in which No.68 was being built was overrun by Italian soldiers, who looted the place extensively (bizarrely though, the Italians largely left the Chinese cruisers alone). After the battle of Caporetto, the Austrians made a half-hearted attempt to modernize the design and complete it for their own use, but this went nowhere.

With the collapse of Austria-Hungary, the ships found themselves in a very strange position. Here was an unfinished Chinese ship, in an Italian shipyard, built by a Czechoslovak firm. No party involved had the money or willingness to carry the project through at this point, and thus No.68 faded into history.

Specifications

Tonnage: 4900 Standard

Speed: 28 Knots

Power: 14 boilers powering 2 steam turbines of 37,000 horsepower to 2 shafts

Length: 137.0 meters

Beam: 14.68 meters

Draught: 4.88 meters

Belt: 100-60 mm

Armor Deck: 63-25 mm

Turret Face: 100 mm

Con: 100 mm

Primary Battery: two twin 8-inch (203mm) L/50 Skoda cannons in turrets fore and aft

Secondary Battery: twelve single 5-inch (120mm) L/45 Skoda cannons in open mounts, six to each broadside

Tertiary Battery: four single 3-pounder (47mm) L/44 Hotchkiss cannons in open mounts

AA Battery: four single 1-pounder (37mm) L/29 Maxim-Nordenfelt autocannons in open mounts

Torpedoes: one 450mm torpedo tube on each beam

Crew: Roughly 450

Bibliography

Wright, Richard NJ The Chinese steam Navy: 1862-1945. London: Chatham Publ. 2000.

Gardiner, Robert & Gray, Randal, eds. (1985). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships: 1906–1921 . Annapolis: Naval Institute Press

4 Likes

If Etna, Comandante Margottini and Kronshtadt are fair game, so is this ship. And China has limited enough bluewater options, so we should jump on all of them.

Should also be fair game to implement the never-implemented Austro-Hungarian light cruiser conversion with 8x or 9x 15cm guns on pedestal mounts. The hull was laid down after all.

Probably because Italy didn’t have any hostility to China. Might even have thought that China would pay them to complete the cruisers after Italy won the war.

2 Likes