World of Warships

Electrical power output of World War 2 battleships

WorldOfWarships2 - Electrical power output of World War 2 battleships

I think one thing that is often overlooked in ship design is the electrical power output. I've listed the total electrical power output of several WW2 battleships below. Note that for the total power output, I am not including the emergency generators, as those would normally not be on.

ShipNon-emergency powerGenerators
King George V2,800 kW6 x 350 kW turbogenerators, 2 x 350 kW diesel generators
Vanguard3,720 kW4 x 480 kW turbogenerators, 4 x 450 kW diesel generators
Yamato4,800 kW4 x 600 kW turbogenerators, 4 x 600 kW diesel generators
Bismarck7,910 kW5 x 690 kW turbogenerators, 1 x 460 kW turbogenerator, 8 x 500 kW diesel generators, 1 x 550 kVA diesel generator
Littorio6,800 kW8 x 450 kW turbogenerators, 4 x 800 kW diesel generators, 3 x 62.5 kW diesel alternator groups
Dunkerque4,800 kW4 x 900 kW turbogenerators, 3 x 400 kW diesel generators, 2 x 100 kW emergency diesel generators
Richelieu9,000 kW4 x 1,500 kW turbogenerators, 3 x 1,000 kW diesel generators, 2 x 140 kW emergency diesel generators
North Carolina8,400 kW4 x 1,250 kW turbogenerators, 4 x 850 kW diesel generators, 2 x 200 kW emergency diesel generators
South Dakota7,000 kW7 x 1,000 kW turbogenerators, 2 x 200 kW emergency diesel generators
Iowa10,000 kW8 x 1,250 kW turbogenerators, 2 x 250 kW emergency diesel generators
Arleigh Burke Flight I5,000 kW3 x 2,500 kW gas turbine generators (the third is for backup)
Nimitz (early)64,000 kW8 x 8,000 kW turbogenerators, 4 x 2,000 kW emergency diesel generators

It's interesting to note the generally high electrical power output of the American ships. As an additional note, the Montana was designed with 10 x 1,250 kW turbogenerators and 2 x 500 kW emergency diesel generators for a total of 12,500 kW non-emergency power. This reflects the fact that compared to most others, the US Navy fielded much more powerful and sophisticated electronics and radars, as well as having turrets and Bofors mount electrically driven. For example, each main turret on the Iowa requires a total of 973 kW for the electric motors for train, elevation, shell/powder hoists, and shell rings. Electrically driven turrets is much more conducive to the implementation of remote power control (RPC), or automatic gunlaying in American parlance.


On the radar side of things, the SK air search radar is 250 kW, while the Mk.12/22 set for the Mk.37 directors requires ~140 kW, and the Mk.8 fire control radar requires 50 kW.

Just for a contemporary comparison, I added a modern Arleigh Burke Flight I destroyer up there as well. A modern Aegis destroyer has notoriously power-hungry radars (like the AN/SPY-1 PESA radar), and the newer AESA radars are more power hungry still, even with the newer and more efficient gallium nitride (GaN) technology, to the point that the basic DDG-51 hull form is near its max capacity both in terms of topweight and power generation and cooling. To accommodate the new AN/SPY-6 AMDR, the Flight III Arleigh Burkes now use 4,000 kW gas turbine generators.

I've also added a Nimitz-class carrier as well in its early configuration. The Nimitz-class carriers has seen multiple overhauls, so its power generation may have changed since then.

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