Lord Nelson class (1906):
British Semi-dreadnoughts ?
HMS Lord Nelson and the Agamemnon, started in 1905, were the last English pre-dreadnoughts battleships. Based on the King Edward VII, their tonnage had been increased to further increase their intermediate artillery made up of 234 mm pieces in four double and two single turrets. One of the criticisms concerning the uselessness of the 152 mm battery had been heard and it had been removed in favor of this configuration giving them a status of "almost monocaliber".
The secondary armament had however been as always relegated to the central battery in broadside configuration, favouring in line engagement, as learnt from Tsushima. The secondary armament consisted of 76 mm rapid-fire Vickers guns firing from a elevated battery, well-protected flying bridge. The two 3-pdr (47 mm) were still not capable of AA but could be used for saluting.
For the first time, a tripod mast was adopted. The weight of the fire management positions and their high position had caused this choice. Heavier but remaining limited in size, they were wider and had a stronger draft, with a hull design in the shape of a rhombus, thanks to a refocusing of the artillery, improving their hydrodynamic penetration and their speed.
In this regard their performances were worthy of praise: They were fast, stable, manageable and very marine. However the problems related to the mix of their artillery re-emerged in exercises: The sheaves caused by the impacts of 234 mm were too close to those of the 305 mm pieces, which forced the shooting officers to systematically adopt undifferentiated broadside, despite the differences in range of the 234 and 305 mm, to the detriment of the latter, underemployed.
Armor scheme of the Lord Nelson class
This fact was further aggravated by the new 45-caliber model adopted for the heavy guns, which were not delivered until 1908, delaying even further the acceptance into service of these ships, after HMS Dreadnought. They were also assigned to the Home Fleet when they entered service and throughout the war.
HMS Lord Nelson
was assigned to the 2nd Line Wing in the Channel in 1914. She became the flagship at the declaration of war, covering among others the convoys of the BEF (French Expeditionary Force) of Lord French, then switched to the Mediterranean in 1915. She bored the "flagship" mark of Admiral Wemyss, then in 1916 of Admiral De Robeck. She was also the flagship of the Alexandria and Aegean fleets. After the armistice, she crossed the Dardanelles to support the White Russians, naturally becoming the flagship of the English Black Sea fleet. Lord Nelson was decommissioned in Sheerness in 1919.
served with the 5th BS squadron in 1914 on the English Channel, then moved in February 1915 to the Mediterranean with the Lord Nelson to take part in the Dardanelles campaign. During the initial operation one she sent thousands of heavy shells of Turkish forts, for 50 hits in return. On May 5, 1916 in the Aegean Sea, one of her gunners crew downed Zeppelin LZ 85 in front of Salonika with a 3-pdr mm DP gun. She then remained assigned to Mudros then Salonica, guarding the Aegean from a sortie of the Battlecruiser Yavuz (ex-Goeben), which happened in 1918. After her return home, HMS Agamemnon ended her career as a controlled target in 1926.
Author's illustration of the Lord Nelson
16,100t, 17,600-17,800 t FL
135.2 x 24.2 x 7.9 m
2 shaft VTE 4 cyl., 15 boilers, 16,750 hp. 18 knots
CT 330, belt 305, citadel 203, turrets 305, barbettes 305, decks 102 mm.
4 x 305, 10 x 234, 24 x 76, 2 x 47, 5 x 457 mm TTs sub.
Focus: HMS Dreadnought, the (first) one
hms dreadnought - colorized by iroo Toko JR
HMS Dreadnought, an old English "invincible", is one of those ships that have marked history. In this case those of the military navies, since all naval treaties refer to its launch. There was a "before" and an "after" Dreadnought. Indeed, this battleship was the first to take the concept to a much higher level. Since Glory French, armored frigate of 1859 and the first mixed battleship of high sea, Warrior, its British rival of 1860, which was the first battleship with hull in steel of high sea.
Then it was the invention and the generalization of Coles turrets, replacing the guns in ports and in orientable batteries, introduced by the HMS Captain of 1870. It was still the gradual disappearance of the sails in 1880, the arrival in 1885 of the first battleships with steam alone, the revolutions in the machines with steam, more and more complex, up to the standards of battleships "pre dreadnought" that will build all of the great maritime Nations between 1890 to 1906.
Invariably, these generally had four pieces of 305 mm in double turrets, assorted of guns of 203 or 254 mm and almost always of secondary parts of 152 to 106 mm, variegated by guns "revolver" with rapid fire, anti-pilers, of 76, 57, 47, 37 and 20 mm, not to mention the launching tubes to torpedoes. They were also symmetrical from front to rear, walked on coal, measured 135 meters at most, for 22 to 25 wide, 15,000 tonnes, and painfully spun 16 to 18 knots.
The genesis of the Dreadnought deserves a work in itself, but it was clear that this conservatism of battleships seemed irremovable at the beginning of the century. However, a new type of building that appeared in 1890 seemed to be gaining support: The Armored Cruiser. Perfect hybrid, it combined the qualities of speed specific to the cruiser, much superior to the battleship, while possessing an imposing armament, and sufficient armor to resist the fire of their fellows ... In addition these ships had just illustrated during of the Russo-Japanese War, and also previously during the Spanish-American war, where these ships were featured and proved to be effective.
At the beginning of the century, the British built very powerful cruisers whose armament began to be worrying even for battleships, including an assortment of large caliber guns distributed in 6 turrets and more, such as the British Defense or Minotaur. Italy, which had always been a pioneer in naval techniques, was looking for solutions. An engineer, and also a theoretician, Colonel Vittorio Cuniberti, had proposed to the Italian admiralty in 1903 a project of "fast battleship" armed only with 6 double heavy turrets.
His project, initially rejected, was nonetheless published in Jane's Fighting Ships for the British. The idea greatly appealed to Jackie Fisher, the first Lord of the Admiralty, who hastened to commission a study. This quickly gave a construction plan, and the Dreadnought was finally started in October 1905 in Portsmouth, and launched on February 10, 1906, a record of unequaled speed.
Cuniberti saw his plan finally endorsed by Italy, which built its 4 battleships of the Regina Elena class according to the modified principle of Cuniberti. They were still classic battleships, but fast, and provided with a very powerful secondary artillery in turrets. But the Dreadnought will remain the first of this new generation of battleships, which at the time were the center of a fleet, the standard of its power. With Dreadnought, the Royal Navy, which already had an overwhelming numerical and technical superiority, further widened the technological distance, leaving far behind the rest of the world, forced to line up with a delay which it took advantage of to constitute the greatest dreadnoughts force ever seen in 1914.
This ship, technically speaking, was radically different from the previous Nelson-class battleships, started earlier but launched in June and September 1906. The latter had in effect only two turrets of 305 mm, against 5 for the Dreadnought. On the other hand, the Nelson had 6 double and single turrets of 254 mm, faster than the 305 and of almost equal range. Finally, the Nelson managed to spin 18 knots against 21 for the Dreadnought. But above all, the Dreadnought had only 10 pieces of 76 mm apart from its large pieces, perfectly illustrating this concept of "one-gauge" building.
The HMS Dreadnought was accepted in service in December 1906. From then on, it was the model on which two other classes of battleship dreadnoughts were based, the Bellerophon and the St Vincent. Their artillery layout, superstructures and dimensions were similar. This powerful artillery, had as a corollary an increase in dimensions, and these new battleships went from 130 to 160 meters long forever 25 wide, with a more favourable hydrodynamic ratio, and especially 18,000 tons against 15,000 previously. This artillery arrangement, considered better than for the previous Nelson, gave them a firepower of 6 pieces in hunting, 8 in retreat, and 8 in line battle.
HMS Dreadnought - colorized by iroo Toko JR
The operational career of the Dreadnought was 15 years, since it was demolished in 1921. First flagship of the 4th battle wing, it served in the North Sea in the Home Fleet and managed to sink the submersible U29 of the Commander Weddingen in March 1915 by spurring it ... They received an overhaul the following year and served in the 3rd Battle Squadron of Sheerness, receiving 24 then 27 pieces of 76 mm, some of which were anti-aircraft, then again in the 4th Battle squadron from the Grand Fleet to the armistice. She did not take part in the Battle of Jutland, and was placed in reserve at Rosyth in 1919.
18 110 t, 21 845 T FL
160.6 x 25 x 9.4 m
2 shafts Parsons turbines, 18 Babcock & W boilers, 23,000 hp. and 21 n. max.
280 Belt Shield, 280 Battery, 280 Barbettes, 280 Turrets, 280 Blockhouse, 76mm Bridges.
10 guns of 305 mm (5x2), 10 guns of 76mm, 5 TLT of 457mm (SM).
British Prewar dreadnought battleships
Bellerophon class (1907)
HMS Bellerophon, Superb, Temeraire
Immediately following the Dreadnought (started on the same plans in December 1906 for the Bellerophon, at Portsmouth; in January and February 1907 for the Superb and the Temeraire, at Elswick and Devonport), these ships were "clones" having some differences minor developments. Thus, they received a large tripod mast in front of their rear funnel, while their defense was improved by replacing their small 76 mm by 402 mm more able to respond to destroyers. This armament was completed by 4 47 mm parade guns, firing blank and which were removed in 1914. their belt armor was slightly stripped but a compartmentalization and internal anti-torpedo armor added.
They were all completed in February and May 1909. In 1915, the 102 mm pieces located on the roofs of the turrets, deemed too exposed, were removed and replaced in the superstructure, their upper masts shortened and they received a new radio installation. We added 2 pieces, 102 and 76 mm AA. The heavy and unnecessary anti-torpedo nets were removed, the bow torpedo tube also, the searchlight platforms also, replaced by others better protected and closed. In 1918 they received launching platforms on two turrets for a hunting Sopwith Pup and a reconnaissance Sopwith 1/1/2 Strutter. They were not salvageable and had to land on land or in coastal fields, or else land in the worst case.
Their career unfolded thus: The Bellorophon was assigned to the 1st Battle Squadron, and suffered a collision with HMS Inflexible, then another with a freighter in August 1914. She fought at Jutland in May 1916, as did the Superb and the Temeraire. The Superb was also the flagship which blew the Dardanelles for a new large-scale action in November 1918. The Temeraire served in the Mediterranean until 1918. It later became a training ship, while the Superb, paid to the reserve became a target ship in 1920, disarmed. It was demolished in 1923, and the other two in 1921.
Bellerophon class illustration by the author
18,800 t, 22,102 T FL
160.3 x 25.6 x 8.3 m
4 propellers, 4 Parsons turbines, 18 Babcock and Wilcox boilers, 23,000 hp. and 20.75 n. max.
Belt shield 250, Battery 130, Barbettes 230, turrets 280, CT 280mm, decks 100 mm.
10 x 305 mm (5x2), 16 x 102mm, 3 x 457 mm TTs (sub).
St Vincent class (1908)
The St Vincent class were built in record time, on the plans of the previous Bellerophon, taken from Dreadnought. They had, however, higher upper masts, better motive power, and a slightly longer hull as shallower, more hydrodynamic. Furthermore, their 305 mm guns were of the new Mk.XI model, caliber 50, criticized after the fact for its propensity for excessive recoil, jeopardizing the longevity of the lookout. The critics remained the same regarding the management post of the second mast, handicapped by the smoke from the first funnel, and which was removed.
The St Vincent was like the Collingwood, launched in 1908 and the Vanguard in 1909. They were operational in May 1909, and February-April 1910 for the other two. In 1914, the height of the upper masts was reduced and the two upper guns of the front turret were removed. In 1916 they removed their anti-spin nets and they received two smoke deflectors on their funnels. In 1915 they received two 76 mm AA guns, replaced by one of 102 mm in 1917. In addition, their stern TLT was removed and two platforms were added to them for a Strutter and a Pup in 1918.
Their career unfolded without notable events, if not the loss of the Vanguard in 1917. The Colingwood had suffered significant damage in 1911 following the collision of a rock off Ferrol, in Spain. She participated in the Battle of Jutland and was placed on the reserve in 1918, serving as a training ship before being demolished in 1922. The Saint Vincent had a similar career. Finally, the Vanguard also participated in the Battle of Jutland, without suffering damage or loss. On the other hand, it was at anchor on July 9, 1917 at Scapa Flow when a bad handling of shells turned to drama. A huge explosion dislocated and pulverized its hull and the ship sank in no time, taking with him death 804 men, all his crew.
Author's illustration of the St vincent
19,560 t, 23,030 T FL
163.4 x 25.6 x 8.5 m
4 shaft Parsons turbines, 18 Babcock and Wilcox boilers, 24,500 hp. and 21 knots max.
Belt 250, Battery 200, Barbettes 230, turrets 280, CT 280mm, decks 75 mm.
10 x 305 mm (5x2), 20 x 102mm, 3 x 457mm TTs (sub).
Colossus class (1910)
HMS Neptune, British Royal Navy dreadnought battleship entering Portsmouth harbour in 1911 - colorized by iroo Toko JR
At its launch in 1909, the Neptune had drawn up a new furrow of experimentation in terms of the distribution of the main artillery, with the 5 turrets ventilated always in a front and two rear in the axis and this time the two power stations in staggered rows. Their construction at Scott and Palmers in 1909 also stemmed from the rumor which reported the secret construction of new dreadnoughts by William II. Winston Churchill, who was then head of the trade office, violently attacked the admiralty.
She was the author of the famous "we want eight and we won't wait" (we want eight (dreadnoughts) and we will not wait). Finally the liberal cabinet, which until then procrastinated and wished to keep a tight naval budget had to bend and alarmed at its all by the report of intelligence service, to start building 6 other battleships of which the first two were the Colossus and the Hercules.
We kept both the number and the caliber of the previous pieces, but with the staggered arrangement of the Neptune. We also went hunting for excess weight and eliminated the bridge located between the second funnel and the rear deckhouse. The central turrets were also closer together, which created a firing arc for the light pieces. We also adopted 533 mm torpedo tubes for the first time and the belt protection was greatly improved, this on the same shell as the Neptune, a puzzle for engineers.
In 1912 the front funnel was raised, in 1915, their heavy anti-torpedo nets were removed and in 1917 their temporary take-off platform was removed on their rear turret, just as the masts were shortened, the rear tripod mast removed, and two light AA pieces added.
After an uneventful start to the career, the Colossus fought in Jutland and was the only English dreadnought damaged there, cashing two shells with 5 victims. In 1919 she served as a training ship and was repainted in a Victorian livery (black hull, white superstructures and shaded canvas). It was decommissioned in 1928. HMS Hercules collided with a steamer in 1913 but was repaired before the war. She participated in the Battle of Jutland with the 6th Division, then embarked the Allied naval commission at Kiel in November 1918 and was disarmed in 1921.
Author's rendition of the Colossus
20,225 t, 23,050 T FL
166.4 x 25.9 x 8.8 m
4 shafts Parsons turbines, 18 Babcock and Wilcox boilers, 25,000 hp. 21 knots.
Belt and Battery 250 mm, 230 mm Barbettes, 280 mm Turrets, 280 mm CT, 100 mm Decks.
10 x 305 mm (5x2), 16 x 102mm, 3 x 533 mm TTs (sub).
Orion class (1910)
Built in the 1909 emergency plan, this four battleships innovated by their main artillery carried to the caliber of 343 mm. The latter brought satisfaction on many points: It outperformed the German calibers by the range and the striking force, while maintaining, with an artillery arrangement with 5 pieces in line, a satisfactory side plating. With the four Orions, the Home Fleet once again became the mistress of the game. The class included the Orions, Monarch, Conqueror and Thunderer (started in March 1910, launched in 1911 (August 1910 for the Orion) and completed in 1912 (January for the Orion, November for the Conqueror).
The installation of their tripod mast, equipped with a new type of direction of fire intended to know the success, behind the front funnel was justified only by the facility which it offered to arrange the cranes raising the lifeboats. Concretely, the smoke from the funnels impaired its visibility. Similarly the superstructures around the front funnel were redesigned shortly before the war. The underwater protection could not have been reinforced by the addition of lateral ballasts (if not by a higher subdivision below the waterline), in order to preserve the metacentric height of the building with an unchanged speed.
These four vessels formed part of the Grand Fleet, more precisely within the 2nd line squadron, and fought in Jutland in May 1916 without losses, but two had to undergo collisions before the war. They were stripped in 1915 of their anti-spill nets and their masts were reduced, and after Jutland, their armor was reinforced with ammunition holds, and they were equipped with aircraft platforms. The Orion was Leveson's flagship during the Battle of Jutland. They were decommissioned in 1922-25 due to the Washington Treaty, the Thunderer becoming a training ship until 1926.
Author's Orion class illustration
22,200 t, 25,870 T FL
177.1 x 27 x 7.6 m
: 4 shaft Parsons turbines, 18 Babcock and Wilcox boilers, 27,000 hp. 21 knots
Belt 300, Battery 250, Barbettes 280, turrets 280, CT 280mm, bridges decks mm.
10 x 343 (5x2), 16 x 102, 4 x 37, 3 x 533 mm TTs (sub).
King Georges V class (1911)
These 4 powerful Dreadnoughts, King Georges V (KGV), Centurion, Audacious and Ajax, were derived from the Orions, but also incorporated the lessons learned from the trials of the battle cruisers Lion and Princess Royal. The design remained classic, with five line pieces and well-cleared superstructures, tall narrow funnels, a smoke-sheltered firing post, and always light secondary artillery (102 mm pieces) grouped in the front well that we considered 152 mm.
The main innovation resided in the new ammunition developed for the 343 mm pieces, shells with heavier additional charges, which increased their range. They were started in Portsmouth, Devonport, Cammell Laird and Scotts in January-February 1911, launched in October-Nov. 1911 and March-September 1912, and accepted in service in Nov. 1912 (KGV) and March (Ajax), May (Centurion) and November 1913 (Audacious). Paradoxically, this laggard was sunk early in the war (October 27, 1914, after 11 months), and was the only loss of the class.
In 1915, the three survivors received two 102 mm pieces of DCA on the bow at the bow, but removed because they were useless in heavy weather. In 1917, the masts were modified, becoming tripods, while the searchlights were protected in armored towers. The gangway was enlarged and the nets removed. HMS KGV was assigned to the 2nd Line Wing, and received the title of Home Fleet flagship for a time. It was then that of 2 Wing. His career was without notable stories.
After the war, she survived until 1926 as a training ship, then decommissioned and demolished due to the observance of the Washigton Treaty. HMS Ajax deployed to 2 Wing fought in Jutland. At the end of 1918, she entered the Mediterranean and joined the British fleet of the Black Sea which supported the coalition troops against the Bolsheviks. She then remained in Gibraltar until 1924 and was sold soon after.
HMS Centurion, for its part, began its career by testing an unfortunate Italian freighter during its tests. Repaired, she joined the 2nd squadron for the rest of the war. In 1919, she joined HMS Ajax in the Black Sea, then joined Portsmouth after 1924 to be transformed into a target ship. She carried out this task until 1941, still in Portsmouth. She went into the yard to serve as a naval decoy, fitted with welded and camouflaged sheet metal and wood plates to resemble the super-dreadnought HMS Anson in 1942, then was transferred to India, and then returned to Suez by the canal.
She was anchored there until 1944 as a floating anti-aircraft battery. It was then towed to Normandy to be scuttled there in shallow waters and used as a makeshift pier for the artificial port of Mullberry, June 9, 1944. HMS Audacious was naturally assigned to the 2 line squadron. It struck two mines in the Lough Swilly field. Although its watertight bulkheads worked wonders, the water continued to infiltrate slowly, and the deterioration of time prevented towing operations. She therefore sank on October 27, 1914.
Author's illustration of the KGV
23,000 t, 25,700 T FL
182.1 x 27.1 x 8.7 m
4 shafts Parsons turbines, 18 Babcock and Wilcox boilers, 31,000 hp. 21 knots
Shield 300, Battery 250, Barbettes 280, turrets 280, blockhouse 280mm, bridges 100 mm
10 x 343 (5x2), 16 x 102, 4 x 47, 3 x 533 mm TTs (sub)
Iron Duke (1912-13)
The Iron Duke, the blueprint for the design of the Latorre, with some additions making her larger and better armed.
The 4 battleships of this class (Iron Duke, Marlborough, Benbow and Delhi - later Emperor of India), were put on hold in Portsmouth, Devonport, Beardmore and Vickers in 1912 (two in January, two in May). They were born not from the ideas of Sir John Fisher, who left his post as first sea lord in 1910, but from the admiralty, who under pressure from the exercise admirals wanted a less dogmatic approach than proponents of the "speed and exclusive heavy artillery" school.
The 152 mm pieces were reintroduced into the secondary battery, those of 102 mm being considered too weak, and the 533 mm torpedo tubes were adopted as a new standard. For the rest, these vessels were inspired by the King Georges V, by their artillery layout, but went to a tonnage close to 30,000 tonnes, with a speed slightly higher than 21 knots. Their main artillery did not change.
In addition, their fire management position was reinforced, which had become an essential control body, enlarged and supported by a solid tripod. They were also the first battleships equipped with anti-aircraft parts, the "12-pounders" (76 mm). Very long, these pieces were intended to slaughter the Zeppelins. HMS Iron Duke carried out its tests with anti-spill nets, quickly removed and never adopted by other ships of its class.
The configuration of their secondary battery meant that all the parts except two were at the front, and the two rear, were quickly considered too low and ineffective in the big weather (they were removed during the war, and they were carried over to the upper battery). These barbettes also had a new type of reinforced integral shield which was also adopted on the HMS Tiger and battleships of the Queen Elisabeth class. They also reinforced their light armor after the battle of Jutland, around the projectors, the bridge and the ammunition bunkers. In 1918, their fire control tower was considerably enlarged and their mast shortened while the aircraft platforms were placed on the central and second front turrets.
Their career unfolded without surprise within the Grand Fleet. They were completed in 1914, and put into service in March, June, October and November 1914. As a result, their crews were not yet well trained at the start of the war, but nonetheless, these powerful ships were the spearhead of the Royal Navy.
HMS Iron Duke was also the flagship of the Grand Fleet until November 1916. She fought in Jutland with the 2nd Line Wing, and after the war was sent in 1919 to the Mediterranean, then passed in black sea to support the White Russians, until 1920. She then served in the North Atlantic squadron until 1929 before being reformed following the limitations of the Washington Treaty and radically converted in 1930 as a training ship . Partly disarmed, stripped of its armor and its machines restrained for an effective speed of 18 knots, it served for the instruction until 1939.
Based in Scapa Flow, it then served as pontoon, totally disarmed. On October 17, 1939 she suffered a German air attack and was damaged. Repaired and left at anchor, it was not demolished until 1946. The three other units of the class served in Jutland - The Marlborough was torpedoed and repaired in three months - in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean after the war. They were reformed in 1929-32.
Author's illustration of the Iron Duke
25,000 t, 29,560 T FL
189.8 x 27.4 x 9 m
4 shafts Parsons turbines, 18 Babcock and Wilcox boilers, 29,000 hp. 21.3 knots
shield 300, Battery 250, Barbettes 250, turrets 280, blockhouse 300, bridges 65 mm.
10 x 343 mm (5x2), 12 x 152, 2 x 76 AA, 4 x 47, 4 x 533mm TTs (sub).
HMS Agincourt (1913)
This singular ship with a turbulent fate had originally been a dreadnought ordered by Brazil under the name of Rio de Janeiro in order to counter Argentina which had just ordered from the USA its two dreadnoughts of the Riachuelo class. The two Minas Gerais were in their time the most powerful warships in the world, Brazil wanted to republish the thing and from the design the new dreadnought gave in excess. Nothing less than 30,000 tonnes at full charge, more than two hundred meters long, and above all an online battery of 14 pieces of 305 mm, four more than the standard of the time. It was commissioned from the Armstrong yards. A change of government intervened, however, during the design, and the ship was started in September 1911 but canceled by the new majority. In July 1912, the government which had suffered a serious economic crisis sought to resell it.
The ship remained on sale as construction continued. It was launched on January 22, 1913. Finally, the Rio was completed in February 1914, at the same time Turkey emerging from the Balkan War deprived of a number of buildings was trying to counter the Greeks with a new battleship. Thus the large ship became Sultan Osman I. In August 1914 it was in completion and was requisitioned by the admiralty for the Grand Fleet. This requisition infuriated the Turkish government and participated in their decision to join the triple alliance of the central empires. The name was changed once again, this time definitively, to HMS Agincourt, from the name of a famous battle of the Hundred Years War.
Plan and elevation of the Agincourt, shoiwng its extreme axial turret arrangement
The Agincourt was unique in more ways than one and was not particularly appreciated by the admiralty. On the one hand, its 14 pieces of 305 mm were of a specific model (and turrets named according to the days of the week), and not standard, which posed maintenance problems. On the other hand the protection had been sacrificed to avoid overweight, but the speed was only 22 knots. Then, all these openings and these magazines and loading mechanisms weakened the structure of the hull. In addition, In return for the tremendous flight it could offer on the side, they could not be fired at the same time for fear of causing such a roll that the ship risked capsizing.
The shooting officer who commanded the "Gin palace" (nickname of the full side plating in the Royal Navy) slightly shifted their light, which remained unequaled. In hunting as in retreat, 4 pieces of an already exceeded caliber (305 mm) was not a miracle and remained below the capacities of the new contemporary British and German Dreadnoughts. In the end, the Agincourt remained a prototype, which fought in the Grand Fleet. We saw it in the fire in Jutland, firing 144 shells. German observers believed during his salvo that it was the explosion of a battle cruiser as the effect was striking. It was then modified, equipped with DCA while it lost its heavy central gangways and its aft tripod mast in order to gain stability. It was reformed in 1921 and demolished in 1922.
HMS Agincourt, author's illustration
Displacement: 27,500 t, 30,250 T FL
204.7 x 27.1 x 8.2 m
4 shafts Parsons turbines, 22 B&W boilers, 34,000 hp. 22 knots
Belt 230, Battery 200, Barbettes 230, turrets 300, CT 300mm, decks 65 mm
14 guns of 305 (7x2), 20 of 152, 12 guns of 76 (2 AA), 3 TLT of 457mm (stern, sides)
HMS Erin (1913)
HMS Erin in Moray Firth 1915 (IWM)
As a long-standing renowned shipbuilder, Great Britain, through its Vickers and especially Armstrong shipyards, received orders for more than a dozen dreadnoughts battleships after the construction of the first in 1906. Of this total, only some have been delivered, the war imposing its priorities. The Ottoman Empire, at war with Greece in 1911-12 and seeing its interests threatened by the Russians in the Black Sea, wanted to stay in the race and modernize its fleet, so far equipped with two old German pre-dreadnougts, and even more obsolete buildings.
In 1911, pourparlers got involved, then a firm order from Vickers for two dreadnoughts established on a fairly broad specification, the chief engineer Thurston presenting a compromise design between the King Georges V and the Iron Duke. The first, Reshad V, later Reshadieh, was to be followed by a second (Reshad-i-Hamiss), which was finally canceled in 1912 when the possibility appeared of buying the Rio de Janeiro from the Brazilians then under construction at Armstrong (renamed Sultan Osman-I).
The latter was requisitioned in August 1914 and integrated into the Royal Navy as HMS Agincourt. For its part, the Reshadieh, started in August 1911, was launched on September 3, 1913 and was completed at the time of the Sarajevo attack. As soon as the Ottoman Empire had clearly switched over to the triple alliance, Winston Churchill, then first lord of the admiralty, decided to requisition it at the same time as Sultan Osman I. The Resadieh was thus incorporated, while she was carrying out his tests, at the Royal Navy under the name of HMS Erin.
Having a shorter hull than the British battleships, but wider, its handling was all the greater and it was lighter by 2000 tonnes. On the other hand, its autonomy was lower, although it was intended for use in the Mediterranean, and it was ultimately used inexpensively in the North Sea. Its central turret had been raised and was all the less sensitive to sea spray, and the high hull also gave the barbettes better efficiency in heavy weather. It was also the first English line vessel to display this crescent prow, improving handling at sea, systematically taken up later.
These qualities combined made it a good acquisition for the Royal Navy, which employed it widely. When the Turkish government, this double requisition ended to mount its hostility towards the British, which was illustrated during the fierce resistance it opposed to the Dardanelles. In 1917, Erin went into dry dock and received new rangefinders, deflectors and additional projectors, and in 1918, two aircraft platforms were installed on turrets B and Q.
In September 1914, Erin was assigned to the 2nd line fleet of the Grand Fleet responsible for the Atlantic sector. She was seconded to the Firth of Forth to take part in the Battle of Jutland, where she fired, was lightly hit, but without casualties. She became the flagship of the reserve fleet at Scapa Flow in 1919 but was demolished in 1922 due to the limitations of the Washington Treaty. The Royal Navy logically preferred recent buildings of homogeneous classes - the Queen Elisabeth and the Revenge -. As for the sublime door, she consoled herself by adopting the former German battle cruiser Goeben, now Yavuz.
Author's profile illustration of HMS Erin
Displacement: 22,800 t, 25,250 T FL
Dimensions: 170.5 x 28 x 8.7 m
Propulsion: 4 shaft Parsons turbines, 15 Babcock & Wilcox boilers, 26,500 hp. 21 knots.
Armour: Blockhaus 300 shield, belt 300, formwork 200, barbettes 250, turrets 280, bridges 75 mm.
Armament: 10 x 343, 16 x 152, 6 x 57, 2 x 76 mm AA, 4 x 533 mm TTs sub.
Queen Elisabeth class (1913)
HMS Queen Elisabeth 1915 - colorized by iroo Toko JR
The famous Queen Elisabeth class marked yet another milestone in the age of battleships: Proceeding from the experience acquired progressively with the Orion class, then the King Georges V, and finally the Iron Dukes, the admiralty wished in 1912 to start a new series 4 buildings still armed with 10 pieces of 343 mm, a little faster and better protected.But at the time of information concerning the German, American and Japanese shipyards in the state of the projects of buildings armed with parts of 14 inches (356 mm). In order to jump directly to the upper stadium and always give the Royal Navy a head start, the admiralty ordered the Elswick arsenals, major suppliers of English naval guns, the possibility of melting 381 mm pieces. The answer was positive, a design was urgently prepared around the one already created, based on the Iron Dukes. The main residual difference in the four turrets, instead of five, largely refocused to compensate for their weight.
The hull of these QEs was thus a little longer (to improve the hydrodynamic flow), barely 20 cm larger, with a lower draft of 20 cm. However, the displacement jumped 2,400 tonnes. This resulted from the expansion of the adoption, a world first, of an integral oil heating. The coal, dirty and bulky, was definitely abandoned. The space gained the result of this choice, but also the abandonment of the central turret in favor of the new boilers. In the end, and in agreement with the theories of the naval academy which then saw the usefulness of fast battleships rather than battle cruisers on the wings of the fleet, on expected on a speed of 25 knots for 27 000 tonnes, and without sacrificing the armor.
The government made the choice of all-oil after having raised objections concerning the ease of supply of coal, extracted in England, and that of oil, coming from East and Far East with the definition of a new policy diplomatic and industrial, including partnerships with Malaysia and Iran. Now England would increase its presence in Asia and the Middle East. Four battleships were expected, but in the end, the benefits obtained by Malaysia itself financier in "gift" a fifth building, elegantly named by the admiralty HMS Malaya. ("Malaysia").
The other four were, in order of construction, the HMS Queen Elisabeth and the Warspite (Portsmouth and Devonport, October 1912), the Valiant and the Barham (Fairfield and John Brown, January and February 1913), the Malaya being commissioned from Armstrong in October 1913. The 1914 program included a sixth battleship, the Agincourt, but was quickly canceled. These ships still did not adopt the narrow-tube boilers which they would have taken advantage of for reasons of simplification, and in the end, the displacement was too great to reach the specified speeds.
The first two battleships (and the Malaya) opted for Parsons turbines and Babcock & Wilcox boilers, and the other two for Brown-Curtis turbines and Yarrow boilers, but in the tests they could not reach the 25 knots specified, but 24 by bringing the boilers to red, with 72,000 cv for normal heating giving 56,000. With 23 knots however, they left all the battleships built so far, except the Japanese Ise, which also illustrated this new concept of "fast battleship".
The Queen Elisabeth had at its completion a secondary battery of 16 pieces of 152 mm, including four at the rear deckhouse. But it appeared that as on the Iron Dukes, they suffered too much from the violence of the planks of the upper rear turret, and were removed to be replaced at the level of the front deckhouse, on either side of the rear funnel. The others were completed with a 12-piece side battery and two more on the central deckhouse. They were launched in October and November 1913, October and November 1914, and April 1915 for the Malaya, and accepted in service in January, March, October 1915 and February 1916 (Valiant and Malaya). Unquestionably they were the spearhead of the Royal Navy and were widely used.
Their presence in Jutland saved David Beatty's battle cruisers from certain destruction. Their speed, their excellent protection and their striking power marked an indisputable progress, but it is especially the precision of their shooting which dazzled the Germans, and this in spite of the criticisms concerning the poor quality of the shell detonators.
After the famous battle, they were equipped with clocks mounted on masts, deflectors, additional projectors in turrets, and additional armor at the level of the barbettes, and in 1915-16 they were fitted with Warspot and Valiant plates of metal welded to the masts and funnels according to a camouflage scheme intended to deceive the German fire directors. In 1918 they received two aircraft platforms.
The Queen Elisabeth was sent as soon as it entered service at the Dardanelles. She returned to Scapa Flow on May 26, 1915, joining the 5th Line Wing. In May 1916, she underwent a dry dock at Rosyth, thereby missing the famous battle of Jutland. It was then converted into a flagship until February 1917 and in September 1917, shortly bore the mark of the American admiral Mayo. It was on board that the act of capitulation of the German fleet was signed on November 15, 1918.
The Warspite entered service with the 5th squadron of the Grand Fleet, at Scapa Flow. She was struck by a reef, then collided with the Barham. She participated in the battle of Jutland, taking 15 heavy shots on goal, the machines partly flooded and the rudder blocked, at the mercy of the German line, she miraculously escaped destruction, which earned him repairs to Rosyth. Having left the site in July 1916, it collided with the Valiant and was again unavailable until the end of September. She was then sent to the Mediterranean in 1919, then she returned to France.
The Barham was also assigned to the 5th Line Wing. She underwent repairs to Cromarty after colliding with Warspite, but took part in Jutland, conceding 5 heavy shots on goal, including two critics, continuing his shots until the end. She underwent repairs and two other passages in dry dock until the end of the war. The Valiant, for his part, detached to 5 Wing, participated in Jutland without taking bad shots, but with great shooting efficiency. On August 24, 1916 it collided with the Warspite, was repaired, and served after the war in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Finally, the Malaya, present in 5 Wing, participated in Jutland without suffering major damage.
His repairs were completed in early July 1916, but she returned due to a collision with the destroyer HMS Penn at the end of hostilities. She also took on board the members of the Allied Disarmament Commission in Germany. She then went on a triumphant tour of India and Malaysia. It then served in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. All these buildings were modernized and even completely remodeled once or twice and participated very actively in the Second World War, forging a legend there. Knowing a fairly exceptional fate, they were very popular in the Royal Navy and remain the most famous English battleships ever built.
27,500 t, 31,500 T. FL
196.8 x 27.6 x 8.8 m
4 propellers, 4 turbines, 24 boilers, 56,000 hp. and 23 knots max.
Belt 330, bulkheads 150, Barbettes 250, turret face 330, blockhouse 280, bridges 330 mm.
8 x 381 (4x2), 14 x 152, 2 x 76 AA, 4 x 47, 4 x 533 mm TTs (SM flanks).
HMS Canada (1915)
This powerful battleship, one of the most imposing of the moment, was not commanded by the admiralty but by Chile, which wished not to lose face during the "naval race" started by the Brazilians with their two Minas Gerais and the Argentines with their Rivadavia. Great admirers of the Royal Navy, with which the Chilean Navy had very close ties, the Chileans therefore ordered in 1911 two battleships more powerful in principle than the vessels mentioned above. The Armstrong shipyard was, of course, requested by its export vocation, and started negotiations via its commercial organ with the Chilean admiralty, whose specifications required simply a higher speed, and 10 pieces of 14 inches (356 mm) , which gave them a safety margin in range and strike power.
They received the name of Almirante Cochrane and Almirante Latorre, replacing the old battleships in service bearing this name. This armament was at the time modeled on that of King Georges V and Orion, with 5 double turrets in line, but with a caliber however more important, and unusual within the RN: The other classes of British battleships passed successively of the caliber 12 inches (305 mm) 13 inches (343 mm), then directly 381 mm (15 inches). Erin, a former Turkish battleship, also defrayed this standard with its 10 pieces of 345 mm.
These two battleships were quite advanced in 1914: The Latorre was launched on November 27, 1913, and was well advanced in August 1914. The Cochrane on its side was late, in particular because of Queen Elisabeth, priority, and was not yet in condition to be launched on the same date: It was not put in the hold until February 1913. The British government was sensitive to the links it had with Chile, a large exporter of sulfur and nitrates including Great Britain had a considerable use in particular for its shells.
It was, unlike the Turkish ships, unthinkable to carry out in this case a requisition of authority, also an agreement was made according to which Great Britain completed at its expense the battleship, and used it for the duration of the conflict, charge for her to return it to its final owner after the armistice, which was formalized on September 9. A year later, the battleship, provisionally renamed HMS Canada, was accepted into service. It had a set of high pressure Brown-Curtis tubins and low pressure Parsons, was high (its funnels were shortened moreover), but not unstable. In 1916, its four 152 mm rear pieces, which were too affected by fire from the central turret, were removed, and in 1918, an aircraft platform was added on two turrets.
The situation of his sister-ship, the Cochrane, was more problematic. There was no longer any question of a timely completion on behalf of Chile, and because of other priorities, it was simply "put to sleep", the government suggesting a post-war completion. It was actually launched in June 1918 after a new agreement was made with Chile, the government "buying" the building to convert it into an aircraft carrier. This decision came with the experience of the war in the fall of 1917, particularly in light of the difficulties encountered with the Furious.
The Admiralty wanted a large and fast vessel with a flush deck hull, and the Latorre met these expectations. The new design was formalized in December, but the ship was not completed until April 1920, under the new name of HMS Eagle. This building, which was one of the pillars of the British naval aviation between the two world wars, was one of the most disappointing in operations during the Second World War (see Eagle, Navis2GM). Canada, for its part, was assigned to 4 Wing Grand Fleet and fought in Jutland, without losses. She was then assigned until 1919 to the 1st squadron, then went into dry dock. It was finally transferred in April 1920 to Chile, resuming its original name. The Almirante Latorre remained active until 1959.
28,000 t, 32,300 T. FL
201.5 x 31.5 x 8.7 m
4 shaft turbines, 21 Yarrow boilers, 37,000 hp. 22.7 knots.
Belt shield 230, formwork 115, Barbettes 230, turrets 250, blockhouse 280, bridges 100 mm.
10 guns of 356 (5x2), 16 of 152, 2 of 76 AA, 4 of 47, 4 TLT of 457mm (SM flanks).
Revenge class (1916)
The Revenge (or Royal Sovereign) class immediately succeeded the famous series of Queen Elisabeth, but the admiralty wanted a more economical type of battleship, while keeping the same firepower, and not sacrificing protection. It is the speed which should in fact be the sacrificed element (21.5 knots), by counting on more modest machines with fewer boilers, and a heating returned to coal / fuel oil. The end result was however a top speed of 23 knots, thanks above all to the excellence of the new turbines and to less generous dimensions but a tonnage finally at 28,000 tonnes as standard, which is as much as the Queen Elisabeth.
The 1913 program, due to reduced study and construction costs, initially counted on 5 battleships, three of which (Ramillies, Resolution and Revenge at Beardmore, Palmers and Vickers) were put on hold in November-December 1913 and the other two (Royal Oak, Royal Sovereign at Devonport and Portsmouth) in January 1914. Three other buildings, named Renown, Repulse and Resistance were ordered under the plan of 1914 but two were suspended and one canceled on August 26, 1914.
The design was in fact modified in the short course (January 1915, when the Resolution was about to be launched) on the other buildings, returning to the all-petrol solution and to a higher final power than expected. , an autonomy increased by the addition of 400 tonnes of fuel oil due to the space saved as well as the replacement of the 152 mm guns at the rear of the deckhouse of the battery bridge on the upper deckhouse on either side of the fireplace. The other barbed parts were approximately 6 meters from the waterline, and also prone to waterways and rust despite their rubber seals.
This barb configuration was the last. On the battle cruisers which followed, this artillery was in turrets or raised and under masks. In March 1915, not yet launched, the Ramillies received ballasts on an experimental basis (the improper French term which can describe the English "Bulge"). The latter had a form perfectly studied to reduce the hydrodynamic drag, but had the function of replacing the heavy anti-torpedo nets in a satisfactory manner, the latter being used only for wetting.
These "Bulges", partially filled with wood, included hundreds of tubes filled with fuel oil, water or air, supposed to limit the effect of the explosion of a torpedo at the level of the waterline. Its additional weight was 2500 tonnes and they added 2.10 m to the total width of the building. The loss of speed during the tests was significant, but lower than expected.
These ships were launched successively in November 1914 (Royal Oak), January, March, April 1915 (Resolution, Royal Sovereign, Revenge), and September 1916 (Ramillies, modified along the way with "Bulges"). They were accepted into service after testing in March (Revenge), May (Royal Oak and Royal Sovereign), December 1916 (Resolution) and May 1917 (Ramillies). The latter, in addition to the adaptation of the "bulges", indeed suffered serious damage to its rudder when it was launched and its repairs were long.
These ships also called for a new co-configuration in this area, with two axial rudders, the second smaller being capable of operating manually in the event of failure of the first. It was judged to be of little use and dismantled during the dry docking of these buildings. With a high metacentric point, the Revenges were still good shooting platforms but tended to "embark" slightly during tight course changes. This lodging became excessive on the Ramillies, weighed down by its bulges, especially in heavy weather.
Their armor was better distributed, in particular with direct protection of the main deck, better protection of the ammunition bunker and torpedo room armor, improved pumping and protection facilities in the event of waterways, and what was doing better and more recent in fire direction, differentiated for the main and secondary artillery. Due to their relatively late arrival in operation, the Revenge had a rather modest career during the Great War:
The Ramillies entered the 1st line squadron of the Grand fleet, like the other buildings in the class. Nothing notable can be learned from its missions during this time. In 1918, she received, like the others, additional deflectors and projectors, as well as two aircraft platforms installed on turrets B and X. In 1920, she was sent to Izmid during the Greco-Turkish War, then she served in the Atlantic in 1924 in 2 Wing.
It underwent an overhaul before the Second World War in which it participated actively. The Resolution was not assigned to the 1st line wing until December 1916. In 1919 she was at the 2nd wing serving in the Atlantic, then in 1920 became the ship- admiral of the English fleet in Gibraltar. It also served during the Second World War after a partial overhaul, like the other units of the class, less privileged than the older Queen Elisabeth.
The Revenge was assigned to 1 Wing in March 1916. She fought in Jutland, catching Vice-Admiral Burney following the torpedoing of his ship, the battleship Marlborough. She also fired on a Zeppelin. It bore the mark of Admiral Madden, of the second in command of the Grand Fleet. She was then sent alongside the Ramillies to the Mediterranean during the Turkish-Greek War after the war. She then served in the Atlantic. The Royal Oak fought in Jutland, without damage. She was assigned in 1919 to the 2nd wing of the Atlantic fleet.
It was one of the first major losses of the Royal Navy in October 1939 after its torpedoing by U47 of Commander Prien. Finally the Royal Sovereign narrowly missed the battle of Jutland, but served in the Grand fleet until 1919, before joining the 2nd squadron in the Atlantic. She took part in the Second World War, and in 1944 was transferred to the USSR, taking the name of Arkhangelsk.
28,000 t, 31,000 T. FL
190.3 x 27 x 8.7 m
4 shafts Parsons turbines, 18 Babcock & Wilcox boilers, 40,000 hp. 23 knots
Belt 330, formwork 150, Barbettes 250, turrets 330, 280mm blockhouse, 50mm bridges.
8 x 381 (4x2), 14 x 152, 2 x 76 mm AA, 4 x 47, 4 x 533 mm TT (sub).
Note: Battlecruisers wil be treated in a separate post.
N3 class super-dreadnoughts (1918)
Prospective names: St Andrews
Conway's interpretation of the N3 design
In 1916, the US Congress had been presuaded by the admiralty to built a navy "second to none", with a large number of battleships and battlecruisers. The Japanese also in 1916 started a large programme called the 8-8 fleet while the British were converting two improved Revenge-class
hulls as Renown-class battlecruisers. The only new capital ships during wartime laid down has been the Admiral-class battlecruisers. The Admiral class design was entirely revised after the Battle of Jutland
in May 1916 and soon while the remainder three ships of the class were cancelled, Hood was completed much later.
The US battleship plan fell back to building smaller ships, such as destroyers and ten light cruisers, but intended to resume cosntruction of the Constitution class battlecruisers and South Dakota class battleships. Estimates by the Admiralty for the early 1920s meant the Royal Navy would fell behind for capital ships. Indeed in 1920-21, four new BS were completed, five more were in construction and seven more planned to be laid down in 1920–21. These South Dakota class with their twelve 16-inch guns also outclassed any Britsish capital ship and the Japanese had even more grandiose plans: One battleship has been completed since the end of the war, three more were under construction. The Admiralty initially planned to build three battleships for one battlecruiser for the year 1921–22 but this was changed to four G3-class battlecruisers and four battleships the next year.
By June 1920 two designed has been prepared, derived from the "U-4" design of 1914. Dispacements planned was nothing short of 50,000 long tons (51,000 t), with eight/nine main guns, in four twin or three triple turrets. But the most important is that they swapped to a bold new gun caliber: 18-inch (457 mm), under development in 1919. The problem of these large ships were too much for British dockyards of the time, or even pass through the Suez Canal. An additional problem is that these turrets were not in superfiring positions, to lower the centre of gravity and avoid the extra weight of the superfiring barbettes.
These grand designs were scaled down in October, then split into separate battleship and battlecruiser designs. The battleship designs were given alphabet letters from L through N, while the associated number was about twin or triple turrets (2-3). The first 'L2' and 'L3' designs had superfiring guns and 15-inch (381 mm) sloped waterline belt armor, 8 in armoured deck with 9 inches slopes. Both had a 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph) designed speed and transom sterns (no longer rams). 'L2' was a 52,100 long tons,'L3' 51,000.
'M2' and 'M3' were proposed in the fall of the year and had their aft turret(s) moved amidships. This allowed to shorten the length of the armoured citadel, saving 1,540 long tons and 1,740 long tons respectively, more by reducing the designed speed to 23–23.5 knots, two (larger) propeller shafts. In all, they were down for 4,350 long tons and 5,000 long tons respectively, and so the admiralty eventually chosed a lengthened version of the M3 design, which was a basis for development leading to the N3, approved in November 1921.
The idea of saving weight by concentrating artillery in some place was further developed with the modified M3 and her forward artillery, behind the bridge and machinery spaces. The tower bridge structure behind the first two gun turrets was also a novelty. There was no longer a tripod, providing a more stable basis, vibration-free, for the fire-control station, and improved accommodation and protection.
Reconstructed what-if St Vincent class (N3) using HMS Nelson appareance.
The N3 battleships in the end, were much larger than the Revenge class at 820 feet (249.9 m), by 106 feet (32.3 m) in width and 33 feet (10.1 m) deeply loaded, displaced an estimated 48,500 long tons (49,300 t) and having a double bottom 7 feet (2.1 m) deep. They had triple turrets, a novel arrangement for the British Navy, at least for such heavy guns. The war also teached the choice for higher muzzle velocity combined with a lighter shell. The second big novertly was these guns were 18 in (457 mm) models, consifdered as the next logical step, already planned by Japan and the US in 1918. Secondary armament would have comprised eight twin 6 in (152 mm) guns in turrets, single single 4.7 in (120 mm) AA guns. In 1926-27 they would have been equipped with four 10-barrel 2-pdr (40 mm (1.6 in)) AA guns also. However they still carried two torpedo tubes, upgraded to the 24.5 in (622 mm) caliber.
The powerplant was to comprise two geared steam turbine sets separated in two engine rooms, a funnel further aft and better arc of fire for he aft turret at the rear. The small-tube boilers were supposed to produced 56,000 shaft horsepower, translated into 23 knots.
Protection cosnsisted in an armoured belt 13.5–15 in (343–381 mm) thick (with 15 in slopes), while decks ranged from 6 to 8 in (152–203 mm), barbettes had 15 in (381 mm) walls, turrets sides were 10 in and faces (sloped) 18 in (254–457 mm), the Conning tower had walls of 15 in (381 mm) and bulkheads were 9–14 in (229–356 mm) in thickness.
Eventually, although they had been approved, the N3 class battleships (prospective name generally admitted, St. Andrews class, in fact the four patron saints of the United Kingdom, with HMS St. George, HMS St. Patrick and HMS St. David).
They were never ordered: The Washington Naval Treaty under negotiation at the time, was probably be signed and the admiraklty did not wanted to start battleships that would have been cancelled soon after.
However, many of the their design aspects were incorporated into the two derogatory Nelson-class battleships, often compared as scaled down, cheaper N3 with lighter guns. Their design received the designation 'O3', next in design sequence. They complied to the treaty's 16-inch limitation and were well noted and studied by navies at that time.
Conway's all the world's fighting ships 1860-1905 and 1905-1921
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