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BRITISH

BATTLESHIPS 19 19 – 1 9 4 5


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BRITISH

BATTLESHIPS 19 19 – 1 9 4 5 R A BURT


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Early Classes that Survived the Great War

A

fter compliance with the Washington Treaty in 1921, the Royal Navy was left with the smallest battle fleet it had had for hundreds of years. British battleships left in service by 1922 were: Orion class: King George V class: Iron Duke class:

Queen Elizabeth class: Opposite: Thunderer anchored in Malta c.1922. She had been extensively refitted during 1921 especially for service as a Training Ship, which included the installation of new bathrooms and modern laundry equipment. Below: The forward 13.5in guns and superstructure of Thunderer whilst serving as a Gunnery Training Ship for Cadets, 1921-26.

Royal Sovereign class:

one ship (four built) Thunderer. (four built) three ships King George V, Ajax, Centurion (Audacious sunk 1914). (four built) Iron Duke, Benbow, Marlborough, Emperor of India. (five built) Queen Elizabeth, Barham, Warspite, Malaya, Valiant. (five built) Royal Sovereign, Royal Oak, Revenge, Ramillies, Resolution.

Battlecruisers suffered severely, with the type becoming almost extinct. There remained Tiger, Renown, Repulse, Glorious, Courageous and Hood. With Glorious and Courageous looking towards full conversion to aircraft carriers, just four of the type remained in service. The oldest unit to survive (with the exception of Colossus as non-seagoing Training Ship) was Thunderer from the 1909 estimates. The outstanding feature of the Orion class was that they

were the first to carry 13.5in guns and on completion were the most powerfully armed battleships in the Royal Navy.The weakest feature of the Orions and many of those that went before her was the location of the foremast in front of the aftermost funnel.The whole class served with the Grand Fleet from 1914 to 1919. Conqueror, Monarch and Orion were placed on the disposal list in 1922 under the terms of the Washington Treaty, Conqueror and Orion being sold in 1922. Monarch was sunk as a target in 1925 (see notes). Thunderer continued to serve as a seagoing Training Ship for cadets from 1921 until 1926 when she was sold. The four King Georges followed the Orions and only just survived the 1921 scrapping campaign.They were modified and slightly larger versions of the Orion group, but with the faults of the foremast/funnel being rectified. All served with the Grand Fleet from 1914 to 1919. Audacious was sunk by a mine on 14 October 1914. Surviving ships were placed on the disposal list or rendered non-effective in 1926 under terms of the Washington Treaty. Ajax and King George V were sold in 1926. Centurion was converted for service as Fleet Target Ship in 1926–7 (see notes). Re-rated as Escort Ship in 1940, she saw miscellaneous service in the Mediterranean and on the East Indies and Red Sea stations from 1940 to 1944. She was sunk as a breakwater for the Normandy Invasion in 1944.


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EARLY CLASSES THAT SURVIVED THE GREAT WAR

TIGER 1926 Seen here towards the end of her career. Often said to have been the most graceful-looking warship – irrespective of the later Hood – she was the final development of the Lion class and as such was a distinct improvement over those ships, but she was a battlecrcuiser and inherited the defects of that type. Note: massive compass platform housing, large control top, three equal funnels, stump pole mainmast and rather odd searchlight arrangements.

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Right: Valiant leaving Gibraltar in April 1931. Over against the mole, Renown, Tiger and Repulse can be seen.

BRITISH BATTLESHIPS 1919 – 1945

control top and director position formerly located on the tripod foremast. Arrangement of tower from base upwards: shelter deck – general reading room and oilskin store; No. 1 platform – Officers’ sea cabins. CPOs’ reading room, midshipmen’s’ study; No. 2 platform – sea cabins for Admiral, Chief of Staff and Captain, Master of Fleet and Navigating Officer, two bathrooms; No. 3 platform – lowered armoured navigating position in face. Signal office DF and cipher office, signal officer’s cabin, SL and lookout position at sides;Admiral’s Bridge – Admiral’s shelter and charthouse at forward end, remote control office, plotting office, 6in and HA directors at rear; the roof – 15in director.The trunked funnel was replaced by a single much smaller funnel, affording space for additional AA armament with clear arcs of fire. Boat stowage and handling arrangements were modified as in Malaya. Accommodation, ventilation and general equipment was completely modernized. 9. Rig modified. Original heavy tripod foremast was replaced by light pole stepped at the rear of control tower with short topmast and topgallant and tall DF aerial pole (actual light pole was part of original mainmast). No control top. Short pole main mast with DF aerial at head. Signal and WT yard on foremast.WT yard on main.

Reconstruction of Valiant, March 1937 to Nov 1939

Opposite, below: Queen Elizabeth. Fleet Reviews were a favourite public gathering and none more so than when the big ships were present. Queen Elizabeth is shown here during the 1935 Review (the last for His Majesty King George V). Below: Warspite starboard bow view, March 1937.

Reconstruction involved 90 per cent of structure. 1. Nominal draught and displacement increased by approximately 31⁄2in and 420 tons by additional weights imposed on reconstruction, which were not entirely offset by the lighter machinery and boilers and weight of items removed as had been the case in Warspite. Nominal displacement as reconstructed about 920 tons heavier than Warspite. Compared to pre-construction figures, the estimated weight of hull and armour increased by 1,163 tons, armament by 596 tons and equipment by 87 tons. Machinery and boiler weights reduced by 1,485 tons giving an estimated net increase of 361 tons. As a consequence of the removal of the entire 6in battery, the forecastle side modifications were considerably more extensive than in Warspite. The original recessed forecastle was built out into a normal curve extending to a point abaft amidships where it angled in to the centre line of ‘X’ turret as before.


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VALIANT Profiles, 1924 and 1940

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BRITISH BATTLESHIPS 1919 – 1945


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Right: The forward superstructure and 15in guns of Repulse (note Etna stripping on deck), during a public open day c.1928.

Opposite, top: Renown c.1931 during 4in AA gunnery practice. The 4in gun as originally fitted was considered a troublesome mounting, which required too large a crew to serve each triple mount. Opposite, lower: Repulse, looking down from the 30ft rangefinder over the forecastle during a public open day c.1928..

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BRITISH BATTLESHIPS 1919 – 1945


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Hood Design The basic concept of Hood’s design began on 8 November 1915 when the DNC was asked to prepare a new battleship design along the lines of an improved Queen Elizabeth. To this end Tennyson d’Eyncourt forwarded the following data: Length: 760ft. Beam: 104ft. Draught: 23/25ft. Displacement: 31,000 tons. Shaft Horse Power: 75,000. Speed: 26/271⁄2 knots. Fuel: 1,000 tons of oil, 3,500 tons max. Armament: 8 x 15in, 12 x 5in, 2 x 3in, 4TT. Armour: main belt 10in, upper and lower 61⁄2–3in ends 5–31⁄2in, barbettes 10in, turrets 11–9in, CT 11in, uptakes 11⁄2in, upper deck 1in, main deck 11⁄2in, middle deck 2–1in, lower 3– 21⁄2in. General equipment: 750 tons, armament: 4,750 tons, armour and backing: 9,150 tons, machinery: 3,550 tons, hull: 11,650 tons, BM: 150 tons. The initial design, as usual, was modified slightly to give different versions on the same theme, but at this time the primary idea was still to build a superior battleship.The modified figures of January 1916 show: 750ft x 90ft x 25ft 3in. Displacement 29,500 tons Shaft Horse Power 60,000 Speed 25kts. Otherwise same as before.

DESIGN ‘3’: LEGEND, 27 MARCH 1916 Displacement (tons): 36,250–36,300 Length: 810ft (pp), 860ft (oa). Beam: 104ft. Draught: 26/291⁄2ft Armament 8 x 15in 12 x 5.5in. Armour 8–5–3in amidships. 5–4in forward, 4in aft, bulkhead 4–3in, barbettes 9in, turrets 11–10in, CT10in, Director Tube 6in, funnel uptakes 11⁄2in, forecastle deck 11⁄2in, upper 1in, main 11⁄2, lower 2–1in. Weights (tons) Hull, etc. 14,070 Armour 10,100 Machinery 5,200 General equipment 4,750 Fuel 1,200 BM 180

After some discussion two more modified versions were adopted when it was hoped that the best of both worlds would be highly advantageous in perhaps having a very fast battleship rather than a slow battleship and a fast battlecruiser. By 24 January 1916 there were now four designs to discuss, ‘A’ and ‘B’, as already mentioned, the other two being designated ‘C’ and ‘C2’. ‘C’ 660ft x 104ft x 23–24ft. Displacement 27,600 tons. Shaft Horse Power 40,000. Speed 22 knots. ‘C2’ 610ft x 100ft x 24/25ft. Displacement 26,250 tons. Shaft Horse Power 40,000. Speed 22 knots. Otherwise all specifications the same. A conference was held on 26 January 1916 to discuss layouts. The Second Sea Lord pointed out that, ‘... we are not building battlecruisers in the absence of information on the new German construction and we must act on the assumption that they are keeping up their approved programme’. Great attention was paid to a series of letters from the Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Jellicoe, who had the advantage of the latest war experience. His guidelines as set out in a letter dated 8 February 1916 reflected the following: 1.We do not require to build battleships at the moment. 2. Our superiority is very great and gives no cause for uneasiness in regard to this type of ship. 3.Weakness in future will lie in the battlecruiser type especially those possessing high speed. Germany is building at least three very fast battlecruisers, the Hindenburg, Victoria Louise and Freya in addition to Lützow and almost certain to approach 30kts, which will be in excess of our battlecruisers. 4. Almost certain that the last three will have 15.2in guns. 5.Any armoured vessel which we are building should be of the battlecruiser type and the need is great. 6. Glorious is unable to compete with the German ships owing to inadequate protection and the same applies to the Repulse. 7. In some battleship designs forwarded the speed varies from 25 to 27kts.This intermediate speed is to my mind of little use. Either they should be battlecruisers of 30kts or battleships of 22kts. 8. I am attempting to use the Queen Elizabeth class as a fast wing but their excess in speed is of very little use and it is questionable whether they can get to head of the line of deployment without blanketing the battle line. 9. Requirements are battlecruisers at 30kts. Not less than 8 guns. 10. None of our armoured decks in battlecruisers are sufficient. Lower decks should be not less than 21⁄2in thick and the funnel casing requires better protection. Furnished with such advice the First Sea Lord asked the DNC to prepare new designs for a much larger type of battlecruiser. The Board generally favoured design No. 3 and with some

TABLE OF DESIGNS 1–6 Design Design Design Design Design Design

1 2 3 4 5 6

Length (pp) (ft) 835 790 810 710 780 830

(oa) (ft) 885 840 860 757 830 880

Beam (ft) 104 104 104 104 104 104

Draught (ft) 26/291⁄2 25/28 26/291⁄2 25/29 25/281⁄2 26/291⁄2

Displacement (tons) 39,000 35,500 36,500 32,500 35,500 39,500

SHP 120,000 120,000 160,000 120,000 120,000 120,000

Speed (knots) 30 301⁄2 32 30 301⁄2 30

Guns

Boilers

8 8 8 4 6 8

large tube small small small small small

x x x x x x

15in 15in 15in 15in 15in 15in


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HOOD

modification it was worked out in detail.The legend appeared on 27 March 1916 showing the same speed as No. 3 for less SHP (144,000) but an armoured belt of only 8 inches maximum. In April the Board approved the design and ordered four of the type which were to be known as the ‘Admiral’ class. Work on Hood commenced in May 1916, but as a result of experience at Jutland it was decided to modify the design to secure increased protection, it having been found possible substantially to improve this by accepting deeper draught and slightly reduced speed but without any radical alteration in the design as a whole. Improvements in gunnery and torpedo equipment, bridge and conning tower design, etc., were incorporated at the same time, the details being worked out in collaboration with the CinC Grand Fleet. The modified protection plan was complete by September 1916 and four ships were laid down in the autumn of 1916 although the revised plans were not finally completed and approved in all details until 1917 (see final legend). Principal modifications on the original design were: 1. Nominal draught and displacement increased by 3 feet and 4,900 tons respectively. 2. Elevation of 15in guns increased from 20 to 30 degrees with corresponding increase in range. 3. Fire control and range-finding equipment for main and secondary guns improved. 4. Four above-water torpedo tubes added with improved torpedo control equipment. 5. Armour on belt, decks (over magazines) and barbettes increased. 6. Hull sides sloped inboard to waterline, offering abnormal angle of impact to projectiles and increasing effective armour thickness. 7. Special anti-flash protection fitted to magazines and ammunition hoists. 8. Estimated speed reduced by 1 knot although on trials the original design speed was exceeded by a fraction of a knot. 9. Conning tower and bridge design improved. The revised design, which represented a merging of battleship and battlecruiser characteristics, constituted what was then a unique combination of offensive power, protection and speed and amounted to a battlecruiser edition of the Queen Elizabeth class, the marked rise in displacement (13,700 tons) resulting mainly from the material increase in horsepower (69,000) required to raise speed from 25 to 31 knots. It also marked the final abandonment in the British Navy of the original battlecruiser concept, embodied to varying degrees in all the preceding classes, in which protection was sacrificed to an extent which rendered them unfit to engage other capital ships and resulted in the loss of three ships at Jutland. Although benefiting considerably from the lessons learned at Jutland, the design did not fully embody all 1914–18 war experience and was never officially recognized as representing the ideal post-Jutland type. Principal points open to criticism were: 1. Low ratio of offensive power to displacement with only eight guns on 41,200 tons. 2. Retention of relatively light armour on upper sides instead of concentrating protection on belt, deck and gun positions, and absence of any armoured protection to secondary guns. Early in 1917 the Germans ceased worked on the three Graf Spee class, and construction on Anson, Howe and Rodney was suspended in March 1917, the contracts being finally cancelled in October 1918 after £860,000 had been spent on them.The hulls were dismantled to clear the slips after the armistice. With a view to bringing her defensive qualities as far as possible into line with modern requirements, Hood was earmarked early in 1939 for major reconstruction along similar lines to Renown, although the outbreak of war in September 1939 prevented this

FINAL LEGEND, 20 AUGUST 1917 Displacement: 41,200 tons. Length: 810ft (pp), 860ft (oa). Beam: 104ft. Draught: 28/29ft. Freeboard: 29ft forward, 21ft 11in amidships, 18ft 9in aft. Armament 8 x 15in 80rpg 12 x 5.5in 150rpg 4 x 4in 200rpg 2 x 21in submerged TT, 8 x 21in above water (changed to 4 at a later date). SHP: 144,000 for 31 knots. Fuel: 1,200–4,000 tons oil. Armour 21ft 6in above water line at normal load, 3ft 3in below. Main belt 12–7–5in, 6–5in forward, 5–4in aft, bulkheads 5–4in aft, 5–4in fore and aft, barbettes 12in max, turrets 15–12–11in,TCT 9–7in, Funnel uptakes 2–11⁄2in, Decks: Forecastle 2–11⁄2in, Upper 2–1–3⁄4in, Main 3–2–11⁄2–1in, Lower 11⁄2–1in forward, 3–11⁄2–1in aft. Weight (tons) Hull, etc. 14,950 Armour 13,550 Machinery 5,300 Armament 5,200 General equipment 800 BM 145

LAUNCH, 22 AUGUST 1918 Length: 810ft 5in (pp) Beam: 104ft 2in. Beam: 103ft 111⁄2in (as moulded). Depth of keel from forecastle: 50ft 6in. Breakage: Longitudinally in a distance of 610ft = 215⁄16ths in hog. Transverse in a distance of 88ft = 3⁄16ths hog. Displacement: 21,720 tons. Armament: 74 tons. Machinery: 1,620 tons. Armament: 1,184 tons. Men and equipment on board, etc: 310 tons. 3,188 tons total.

from being carried out and the ship was never modernized to any sufficient extent. Modifications were to have included: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

New dual-purpose (HA/LA) secondary armament. Removal of torpedo armament. Addition of aircraft hangars and catapult. Increased protection, especially horizontal. New machinery and new high-pressure boilers (see notes on reconstruction).

Below: Hood in 1922. She was one of the most interesting warships during the inter-war years in the fact that she was a hybrid. She was a fast, wellprotected ship but with a relatively weak deck by 1921 standards. She is seen here running trials for the Navy.


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Hood leaves Portsmouth c.1926 flying the Vice Admiral’s flag. Note the aircraft on ‘B’ turret and runway fully wooded; also the small rangefinder at rear of the spotting top.


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BRITISH BATTLESHIPS 1919 – 1945

November 1938, multiple 2pdr added on quarterdeck, right aft. Air warning radar Type 79Y added on each masthead. (First capital ship to have operational radar.) Aircraft catapult (McTaggart) added on crown of ‘C’ turret. Bent-arm crane fitted on port side of conning tower.Topmast fitted to foremast for RDF (79Y). Maintopgallant removed. 1940–1: UP AA rocket-projectors fitted on ‘B’ and ‘C’ turrets (1940). Air warning radar Type 279 fitted in Nelson (modified 79Y). Type 79Y replaced in Rodney by Type 279. DF aerial

NELSON Wind Effect on Bridgework

removed from head of mainmast in Nelson, with a modified type fitted low on foretopmast. Shields fitted to 4.7in AA guns in Nelson. Foretopmast added, and maintopgallant removed in Nelson. 1941–2: Radar Type 284 fitted for main armament. Multiple 2pdrs (8 barrels) added P&S on superstructure and ‘B’ turret, and on quarterdeck, right aft in Nelson (Rodney already fitted on QD). Seven to nine 20mm AA added in various locations, port and starboard superstructure around and abaft bridge tower in both ships,


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NELSON AND RODNEY

on ‘C’ turret in Nelson and on ‘B’ turret and conning tower hood in Rodney (removed from ‘B’ turret in Rodney later). 0.5in AA removed from both ships. Radar fitted for control of 4.7in and 2pdrs (Type 285 for 4.7in; 283 for 2pdrs).AA director platform at head of foremast was considerably enlarged. LAA directors fitted on former 0.5in AA platforms at rear of bridge tower, on upper pair of main tripod platforms, and before and abaft after 16in director. UP AA rocket-projectors removed from ‘B’ and ‘C’ turret in Rodney, but still evident in Nelson until September 1941. All

modifications effected by May 1942. Type 279 radar removed in Rodney and replaced by Type 281. Aerials on both mastheads. Surface warning radar Type 271 added in both ships (aerial inside lantern on mainmast). General warning radar Type 291 fitted in Rodney, aerial at head of foretopmast above Type 281. D/F aerial removed from foretop in Nelson, and a modified type fitted to the face of the bridge tower. MF/DF fitted in Rodney with aerials same as in Nelson. Heavier foretopmast fitted in Rodney to accommodate additional radar. Camouflage painted up in both ships. Left: Nelson in 1937. Looking up at the massive superstructure, it is obvious why this class were dubbed ‘The Queen’s Mansions’.

British Battleships  

This superb reference book achieved the status of ‘classic’ soon after its first publication in 1993; it was soon out of print and is now on...

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