Invincible class battlecruisers (1907)

Battlecruisers - Invincible, Indomitable, Inflexible

Introduction: The world's first battlecruisers

Admiral John Fisher Cruisers, naturally faster than the ponderous battleships, went to be seen like the "tip of the sword", and compared to heavy cavalry on a conventional battlefield. The first single caliber battleship, the Dreadnought, has been influenced herself by a new type of armoured cruisers developed by Italian engineer Cuniberti. Moreover, continuity in the Royal Navy capital ship programme saw each new class of battleship assisted by a new class of armoured cruisers, like the Minotaur compared to Nelson. So it could not be otherwise with the new Dreadnoughts.

Prior to the order to built HMS Dreadnought, discussions went well underway between Admiral Fisher and engineering shipbuilding offices. The latter, after the demonstration of the Russo-Japanese War, had rallied to his views the rest of the Admiralty. He said that speed was the determining factor, and that actual battleships were too slow. Speed was a kind of "active" protection, allowing a ship not strong enough to sail out from enemy blows, unlike passive protection which was only useful against submarines, torpedo boats and destroyers. Typically "fight the weak, flee the strong".

HMS Invincible in 1914.
HMS Invincible in 1914.

It is on these premises that was created the concept of "battlecruiser" to break with the continuity with previous armoured cruisers. Because unlike the latter, the new ships were given the same powerful all-big guns artillery, but in return traded protection for speed as protection (at least on British ships) was still comparable to a cruiser (150 to 200mm). Theur great speed made them best suited for "armed reconnaissance" missions. This tradeoff in protection became quite popular in navy staffs around the world, but this theory only came to its ultimate moment of truth at the Battle of Jutland.

Only three countries will have the opportunity to build battlecruisers, which were fewer in number than battleships. The British will launch sixteen (the last, HMS Hood, being launched in 1920), The Germans had seven, and the Japanese four. France programmed some in the Durant-Viel 1912 programme to be delivered in 1916, and the Americans planned a class of five to be launched in 1920. After the Treaty of Washington, this type of vessel was very much dropped but the "speed as a protection" illusion still prevailed as shown with the 1930s Washington treaty compliant "tin-clad cruisers". At the beginning of World war II, only three battlecruisers were in service (with the British Navy), the others being converted as aircraft carriers of as fast battleships (like the Kongo class). They have been indeed rendered obsolete by new fast battleships, and combat aviation.

HMS Indomitable at Quebec Tercentenary
HMS Indomitable at Quebec Tercentenary.

Design

The Three Invincible, were laid down respectively in Fairfield, Clydebank and Elswick, from February to April 1906, launched in early 1907 and completed in June 1908 (Indomitable), October 1908 (Inflexible) and March 1909 (Invincible). Final plans revealed vessels that were not elongated clones of the Dreadnought, but rather armoured battleships with heavy artillery. They shared the same turrets (although lighter) but had but only four turrets and eight 305 mm guns instead of 10. In addition, these turrets were disposed in lozenge, with the central on en échelon much like the Colossus and Neptune battleships. Theoretically, this provision allowed a full Broadside, although their shooting angle was limited, and six guns only in pursuit or retreat.

The design of these ships took time, as their construction. They were also 50% more expensive than the previous Minotaur class, but perfectly fulfilled initial specifications and obtained excellent trials results. Critics came later, and concerned the whole battlecruiser type. Confusion was maintained in the admiralty as they had heavy artillery, were named like battleships, and included from the outset in battle lines together whith battleships, while their true role was more of a classic cruiser: Waging war on trade and hunting smaller vessels. They had been designed to perform both.


HMS Invincible at the battle of Falklands Islands

Their propulsion was a must at that time, due to no less than 31 boilers. They reached 25.5 knots, 2.5 more than armoured cruisers. Some subsequent changes affected their appearance during service, as all three had their fore chimney raised, and canvas protections added to their light artillery on the turrets roofs, and in 1914, their torpedo nets were removed and a new firing control system was added. Later in the war they anti-aircraft 76 mm ordnance, then their upper masts were removed, and platforms added on the "A" turret for airplanes. Following the experience of Jutland in May 1916, protection was also improved.

Active career

HMS Invincible

Invincible suffered from a collision with submarine C13 in 1913. At the time of the declaration of war, she was in Queenstown, to prevent German raids. Then participated in the Battle of the Bay of Helgoland, then was detached with the Indomitable to the Falklands under the command of Commodore Sturdee, taking part in the Second Battle of the Falklands in November 1914, avenging the destruction of Sir Cradock's squadron and destroying Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the best ships of the German Pacific squadron. After a brief overhaul at Gibraltar the Invincible was detached to Rosyth, joining other sister ships to from the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron. In May 1916 she was training at Scapa Flow, taking part in major firing exercises, soon before the legendary Battle of Jutland.

Flagship of Admiral Horace Hood, the Invincible engaged light cruisers scouts Pillau and Wiesbaden, putting them out of action, then crossed swords with battlecruiser Lützow, inflicting her severe damages. But soon the Derfflinger replicated and hit the Invincible 5 times, the last round blewing up her side turret, causing a dramatic cordite fed fire of accumulated dust in the cluster well. The flash detonated itself and a huge explosion ensured, breaking hull in two. She sank quickly, carrying with her almost all her crew in the deep.

HMS Indomitable HMS Indomitable

HMS Indomitable

The Indomitable, which interrupted tests to carry the Prince of Wales to Montreal, served in the Home Fleet. She was transferred with the Invincible in the Mediterranean, undergoing some changes in Malta in June 1914. Both ships participated in August to the hunt for Souchon's squadron, Goeben and Breslau, escaping from Port Said. Later on she took part in the Dardanelles forts. She was then returned to Rosyth, but participated in January 1915 to the Battle of Dogger Bank, squaring on Blücher, (finally sunk by HMS Queen Mary).

She also managed to destroy a Zeppelin with two shots from her pieces of 305 mm at maximum elevation, a rare feat at that time. She towed HMS Lion out of harm, at Rosyth, severely damaged. Soon after, she was herself victim of a fire, rapidly mastered, caused by an electrical short circuit. After a brief overhaul, she joined the Grand Fleet, and participated in the Battle of Jutland, she fired on Derfflinger, Seydlitz damaging also the battleship Pommern. She spent the rest of her career detached at 2nd battlesquadron until 1919, when placed into reserved, paid off and broken in 1922.


HMS Inflexible in the Falklands.

HMS Inflexible

The Inflexible sustained damage during test firing because of the explosion of a coal barge. She was flagship of Sir Edward Seymour at New York, late 1909. In 1911, she collided with Bellerophon, was repaired, then posted in the Mediterranean, flagship of the Admiral Milne, as headquarters of the Fleet. He hunted down the Goeben and Breslau in the hours following the declaration of war, and after an overhaul was sent to the Falklands, destroying the Von Spee's squadron.

HMS Inflexible at New York, 1909
HMS Inflexible at New York, 1909.

In 1915, sent in the Mediterranean, she replaced the Indefatigable, bombarding Turkish forts of the Dardanelles. She suffered several hits, losing two 305 mm guns on 18 March and hit by a mine the day after, forcing her to resume the fight and be towed for repairs in Malta. Back in Rosyth, she participated in the Battle of Jutland, without suffering damage. Then she long inactive, participation in the short "Battle of May Island" in February 1918. She was placed in reserve in 1920 and broken two years later.

Links

Invincible class on wikipedia
On dreadnought project.org
Specs Conway's all the world fighting ships 1921-1947.

Invincible class specifications

Dimensions 172,8 x 22,1 x 8 m
Displacement17 373 t, 20 080t FL
Crew784
Propulsion4 screws, 4 Parsons turbines, 31 Babcock & Wilcox/Yarrow boilers, 41,000 cv
Speed25.5 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph)
Range3,090 nmi (5,720 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Armament8 x 305 (4x2), 16 x 102 QF, 7 Maxim 7,62 MGs, 4 TT 533 mm (Sub)
ArmorBelt 150, Battery 180, Barbettes 180, turrets 180, blockhaus 250, deck 65 mm

Video

Gallery

Illustration of the Invincible in 1914
Illustration of the Invincible in 1914.

HMS_Indomitable_central-gunsInflexible_Q_turret_4_inch_gunInvincible-Indefatigable_Janes-SketchHMS_Invincible_1907_starboard_engine_roomHMS_Indomitable

Naval History

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LCVP class LC
LCM(3) class LC
LCP(L) class LC
LCP(R) class SC
LCL(L)(3) class FSC
LCS(S) class FSC
British ww2 Royal Navy

WW2 British Battleships
Queen Elisabeth class (1913)
Revenge class (1915)
Nelson class (1925)
King Georges V class (1939)
Lion class (Started)
HMS Vanguard (1944)
Renown class (1916)
HMS Hood (1920)

WW2 British Cruisers
British C class cruisers (1914-1922)
Hawkins class cruisers (1917)
British D class cruisers (1918)
Enterprise class cruisers (1919)
HMS Adventure (1924)
County class cruisers (1926)
York class cruisers (1929)
Surrey class cruisers (project)
Leander class cruisers (1931)
Arethusa class cruisers (1934)
Perth class cruisers (1934)
Town class cruisers (1936)
Dido class cruisers (1939)
Abdiel class cruisers (1939)
Fiji class cruisers (1941)
Bellona class cruisers (1942)
Swiftsure class cruisers (1943)
Tiger class cruisers (1944)

WW2 British Aircraft Carriers
Courageous class aircraft carriers (1928)
HMS Ark Royal (1937)
HMS Eagle (1918)
HMS Furious (1917)
HMS Hermes (1919)
Illustrious class (1939)
HMS Indomitable (1940)
Implacable class (1942)
Malta class (project)
HMS Unicorn (1941)
Colossus class (1943)
Majestic class (1944)
Centaur class (started 1944)

HMS Archer (1939)
HMS Argus (1917)
Avenger class (1940)
Attacker class (1941)
HMS Audacity (1941)
HMS Activity (1941)
HMS Pretoria Castle (1941)
Ameer class (1942)
Merchant Aircraft Carriers (1942)
Vindex class (1943)

WW2 British Destroyers
Shakespeare class (1917)
Scott class (1818)
V class (1917)
S class (1918)
W class (1918)
A/B class (1926)
C/D class (1931)
G/H/I class (1935)
Tribal class (1937)
J/K/N class (1938)
Hunt class DE (1939)
L/M class (1940)
O/P class (1942)
Q/R class (1942)
S/T/U//V/W class (1942)
Z/ca class (1943)
Ch/Co/Cr class (1944)
Battle class (1945)
Weapon class (1945)

WW2 British submarines
L9 class (1918)
HMS X1 (1923)
Oberon class (1926)
Parthian class (1929)
Rainbow class (1930)
Thames class (1932)
Swordfish class (1932)
HMS Porpoise (1932)
Grampus class (1935)
Shark class (1934)
Triton class (1937)
Undine class (1937)
U class (1940)
S class (1941)
T class (1941)
X-Craft midget (1942)
A class (1944)

WW2 British Amphibious Ships and Landing Crafts
LSI(L) class
LSI(M/S) class
LSI(H) class
LSS class
LSG class
LSC class
Boxer class LST

LST(2) class
LST(3) class
LSH(L) class
LSF classes (all)
LCI(S) class
LCS(L2) class
LCT(I) class
LCT(2) class
LCT(R) class
LCT(3) class
LCT(4) class
LCT(8) class
LCT(4) class
LCG(L)(4) class
LCG(M)(1) class

British ww2 Landing Crafts
LCA
LCP
LCM

WW2 British MTB/gunboats.
WW2 British MTBs
MTB-1 class (1936)
MTB-24 class (1939)
MTB-41 class (1940)
MTB-424 class (1944)
MTB-601 class (1942)
MA/SB class (1938)
MTB-412 class (1942)
MGB 6 class (1939)
MGB-47 class (1940)
MGB 321 (1941)
MGB 501 class (1942)
MGB 511 class (1944)
MGB 601 class (1942)
MGB 2001 class (1943)

WW2 British Gunboats

Denny class (1941)
Fairmile A (1940)
Fairmile B (1940)
HDML class (1940)

WW2 British Sloops
Bridgewater class (2090)
Hastings class (1930)
Shoreham class (1930)
Grimsby class (1934)
Bittern class (1937)
Egret class (1938)
Black Swan class (1939)

WW2 British Frigates
River class (1943)
Loch class (1944)
Bay class (1944)

WW2 British Corvettes
Kingfisher class (1935)
Shearwater class (1939)
Flower class (1940)
Mod. Flower class (1942)
Castle class (1943)

WW2 British Misc.
WW2 British Monitors
Roberts class monitors (1941)
Halcyon class minesweepers (1933)
Bangor class minesweepers (1940)
Bathurst class minesweepers (1940)
Algerine class minesweepers (1941)
Motor Minesweepers (1937)
ww2 British ASW trawlers
Basset class trawlers (1935)
Tree class trawlers (1939)
HMS Albatross seaplane carrier
WW2 British river gunboats

HMS Guardian netlayer
HMS Protector netlayer
HMS Plover coastal mines.
Medway class sub depot ships
HMS Resource fleet repair
HMS Woolwhich DD depot ship
HMS Tyne DD depot ship
Maidstone class sub depot ships
HmS Adamant sub depot ship

Athene class aircraft transport
British ww2 AMCs
British ww2 OBVs
British ww2 ABVs
British ww2 Convoy Escorts
British ww2 APVs
British ww2 SSVs
British ww2 SGAVs
British ww2 Auxiliary Mines.
British ww2 CAAAVs
British ww2 Paddle Mines.
British ww2 MDVs
British ww2 Auxiliary Minelayers
British ww2 armed yachts

✙ Axis ww2 Fleets

Japan ww2 Imperial Japanese Navy
WW2 Japanese Battleships
Kongō class Fast Battleships (1912)
Fuso class battleships (1915)
Ise class battleships (1917)
Nagato class Battleships (1919)
Yamato class Battleships (1941)
B41 class Battleships (project)

WW2 Japanese cruisers
Tenryū class cruisers (1918)
Kuma class cruisers (1919)
Nagara class (1920)
Sendai class Cruisers (1923)
IJN Yūbari (1923)
Furutaka class Cruisers (1925)
Aoba class heavy cruisers (1926)
Nachi class Cruisers (1927)
Takao class cruisers (1930)
Mogami class cruisers (1932)
Tone class cruisers (1937)
Katori class cruisers (1939)
Agano class cruisers (1941)
Oyodo (1943)

Seaplane & Aircraft Carriers
IJN Hōshō (1921)
IJN Akagi (1925)
IJN Kaga (1927)
IJN Ryujo (1931)
IJN Soryu (1935)
IJN Hiryu (1937)
Shokaku class (1937)
Zuiho class (1936) comp.40
Ruyho (1933) comp.42
Junyo class (1941)
IJN Taiho (1943)
Chitose class (comp. 1943)
IJN Shinano (1944)
Unryu class (1944)
IJN Ibuki (1942)

Taiyo class (1940)
IJN Kaiyo (1938)
IJN Shinyo (1934)

Notoro (1920)
Kamoi (1922)
Chitose class (1936)
Mizuho (1938)
Nisshin (1939)

IJN Aux. Seaplane tenders
Akistushima (1941)
Shimane Maru class (1944)
Yamashiro Maru class (1944)

Imperial Japanese Navy Aviation

WW2 Japanese Destroyers
Mutsuki class (1925)
Fubuki class (1927)
Akatsuki class (1932)
Hatsuharu class (1932)
Shiratsuyu class (1935)
Asashio class (1936)
Kagero class (1938)
Yugumo class (1941)
Akitsuki class (1941)
IJN Shimakaze (1942)

WW2 Japanese Submarines
KD1 class (1921)
Koryu class
Kaiten class
Kairyu class
IJN Midget subs

WW2 Japanese Amphibious ships/Crafts
Shinshu Maru class (1935)
Akistu Maru class (1941)
Kumano Maru class (1944)
SS class LS (1942)
T1 class LS (1944)
T101 class LS (1944)
T103 class LS (1944)
Shohatsu class LC (1941)
Chuhatsu class LC (1942)
Moku Daihatsu class (1942)
Toku Daihatsu class (1944)

WW2 Japanese minelayers
IJN Armed Merchant Cruisers
WW2 Japanese Escorts
Tomozuru class (1933)
Otori class (1935)
Matsu class (1944)
Tachibana class (1944)
Ioshima class (1944)
WW2 Japanese Sub-chasers
WW2 Japanese MLs
Shinyo class SB

⚑ Neutral

Armada de Argentina Argentinian Navy

Rivadavia class Battleships
Cruiser La Argentina
Veinticinco de Mayo class cruisers
Argentinian Destroyers
Santa Fe class sub. Bouchard class minesweepers King class patrol vessels

Marinha do Brasil Brazilian Navy

Minas Gerais class Battleships (1912)
Cruiser Bahia
Brazilian Destroyers
Humaita class sub.
Tupi class sub.

Armada de Chile Armada de Chile

Almirante Latorre class battleships
Cruiser Esmeralda (1896)
Cruiser Chacabuco (1911)
Chilean DDs
Fresia class subs
Capitan O’Brien class subs

Søværnet Danish Navy

Niels Juel
Danish ww2 Torpedo-Boats Danish ww2 submarines Danish ww2 minelayer/sweepers

Merivoimat Finnish Navy

Coastal BB Ilmarinen
Finnish ww2 submarines
Finnish ww2 minelayers

Nautiko Hellenon Hellenic Navy

Greek ww2 Destroyers
Greek ww2 submarines
Greek ww2 minelayers

Marynarka Vojenna Polish Navy

Polish ww2 Destroyers
Polish ww2 cruisers
Polish ww2 minelayer/sweepers

Portuguese navy ww2 Portuguese Navy

Douro class DDs
Delfim class sub
Velho class gb
Albuquerque class gb
Nunes class sloops

Romanian Navy Romanian Navy

Romanian ww2 Destroyers
Romanian ww2 Submarines

Royal Norwegian Navy Sjøforsvaret

Norwegian ww2 Torpedo-Boats

Spanish Armada Spanish Armada

España class Battleships
Blas de Lezo class cruisers
Canarias class cruisers
Cervera class cruisers
Cruiser Navarra
Spanish Destroyers
Spanish Submarines
Dedalo seaplane tender
Spanish Gunboats
Spanish Minelayers

Svenska Marinen Svenska Marinen

Gustav V class CBBs (1918)
Interwar Swedish CBB projects

Tre Kronor class (1943)
Gotland (1933)
Fylgia (1905)

Ehrernskjold class DDs (1926)
Psilander class DDs (1926)
Klas Horn class DDs (1931)
Romulus class DDs (1934)
Göteborg class DDs (1935)
Mode class DDs (1942)
Visby class DDs (1942)
Öland class DDs (1945)

Swedish ww2 TBs
Swedish ww2 Submarines
Swedish ww2 Minelayers
Swedish ww2 MTBs
Swedish ww2 Patrol Vessels
Swedish ww2 Minesweepers

Türk Donanmasi Turkish Navy

Turkish ww2 Destroyers
Turkish ww2 submarines

Royal Yugoslav Navy Royal Yugoslav Navy

Dubrovnik class DDs
Beograd class DDs
Hrabi class subs

Royal Thai Navy Royal Thai Navy

Taksin class
Ratanakosindra class
Sri Ayuthia class
Puket class
Tachin class
Sinsamudar class sub

minor navies Minor Navies

naval aviation Naval Aviation
Latest entries

USN aviation
Boeing model 2/3/5 (1916)
Aeromarine 39 (1917)
Curtiss VE-7 (1918)
Aeromarine 40 (1919)
Douglas DT (1921)
Naval Aircraft Factory PT (1922)
Loening OL (1923)
Huff-Daland TW-5 (1923)
Martin MO (1924)
Consolidated NY (1926)
Vought FU (1927)
Vought O2U Corsair (1928)
Berliner-Joyce OJ (1931)
Curtiss SOC seagull (1934)
Grumman F3F (1935)
Northrop BT-1 (1935) Vultee V-11 (1935)
Grumman J2F Duck (1936)
Curtiss SBC Helldiver (1936)
Vought SB2U Vindicator (1936)
Brewster F2A Buffalo (1937)
Douglas TBD Devastator (1937)
Vought Kingfisher (1938)
Curtiss SO3C Seamew (1939)
Cessna AT-17 Bobcat (1939)
Douglas SBD Dauntless (1939) Grumman F4F Wildcat (1940)
Northrop N-3PB Nomad (1941)
Brewster SB2A Buccaneer (1941)
Grumman TBF/TBM Avenger (1941)
Consolidated TBY Sea Wolf (1941)
Grumman F6F Hellcat (1942)
Vought F4U Corsair (1942)
Curtiss SB2C Helldiver (1942)
Curtiss SC Seahawk (1944)
Douglas BTD Destroyer (1944)
Grumman F7F Tigercat (1943)
Grumman F8F Bearcat (1944)

Curtiss H (1917)
Curtiss F5L (1918)
Curtiss NC (1919)
Curtiss NC4 (1918)
Naval Aircraft Factory PN (1925)
Douglas T2D (1927)
Consolidated P2Y (1929)
Hall PH (1929)
Douglas PD (1929)
Douglas Dolphin (1931)
General Aviation PJ (1933)
Consolidated PBY Catalina (1935)
Fleetwings Sea Bird (1936)
Sikorsky VS-44 (1937)
Grumman G-21 Goose (1937)
Consolidated PB2Y Coronado (1937)
Beechcraft M18 (1937)
Sikorsky JRS (1938)
Boeing 314 Clipper (1938)
Martin PBM Mariner (1939)
Grumman G-44 Wigeon (1940)
Martin Mars (1943)
Goodyear GA-2 Duck (1944)
Edo Ose (1946)
Hugues Hercules (1947)

Japanese WW2 naval aviation
Mitsubishi 1MF
Mitsubishi A5M
Nakajima A4N
Mitsubishi A6M "zeke"

Mitsubishi B1M
Aichi D3A Navy Type 99 "Val" (1940)
Aichi B7A Ryusei "Grace" (1942)
Mitsubishi B5M (1937)
Nakajima B5N "Kate" (1937)
Nakajima B6N "Jill" (1941)
Yokosuka B4Y "Jean" (1935)
Yokosuka D4Y "Judy" (1942)
Yokosuka MXY-7 "Baka" (1944)
Mitsubishi G3M "Nell" (1935)
Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" (1941)
Yokosuka P1Y1 "Frances" (1943)

Aichi M6A1-K Nanzan (1943)
Kyushu K10W1 "Oak" (1941)
Kyushu K11W1 Shiragiku (1942)
Kyushu Q1W1-K "Lorna" (1943)
Mitsubishi K3M "Pine" (1930)
Yokosuka K5Y1 "Willow" (1933)
Yokosuka MXY-7K-1 "Kai" (1944)
Yokosuka MXY-8 Akigusa

Nakajima E4N
Nakajima E14Y
Nakajima E8N "Dave"
Mitsubishi F1M "pete"
Kawanishi E7K
Kawanishi H6K
Kawanishi E11K
Kawanishi K6K
Kawanishi K8K
Kawanishi E15K Shiun
Kawanishi H8K "Emily"
Kawanishi N1K1 "Rex"

Italian WW2 air arm
CANT Z.501 Gabbiano
CANT Z.506 Airone
Fiat RS.14
IMAM Ro.43
IMAM Ro.44
Macchi M5

British Fleet Air Arm
Carrier planes
Fairey IIIF (1927)
Fairey Swordfish (1934)

Floatplanes/seaplanes
Fairey Flycatcher (1922)
Supermarine Southampton (1925)
Blackburn Iris (1926)
Hawker Osprey (1930)
Short Rangoon (1930)
Short Valetta (1930)
Fairey Seal (1930)
Supermarine Scapa (1935)
Supermarine Stranraer (1936)
Supermarine Walrus (1936)
Fairey Seafox (1936)
Short Sunderland (1937)
Saro Lerwick (1940)
Short Shetland (1944)

The Cold War

Royal Navy Royal Navy
Sovietskaya Flota Sovietskiy flot
US Navy USN (1990)


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