Lion Class battlecruisers

Lion Class battlecruisers

Lion class battlecruisers

The Lion class battlecruisers were a significant improvement on the two previous classes of British battlecruisers (Invincible and Indefatigable classes). Like the contemporary Orion class battleships they carried 13.5in guns, which increased the weight of their broadside from 6,800lb in the 12in armed battlecruisers to 10,000lbs with 1,250lb shells and then to 11,200lbs with 1,400lb. Their belt armour was made 50% thick, going from 6in to 9in. At the same time their top speed was increased by 2kts, to 27kts.

The two Lion class battlecruisers fought at each of the main battles in the North Sea during the First World War, and both survived the war despite taking heavy damage on occasions. Despite this, they are now a much criticised design. Some of the problems with their design were clear at time. The Orion class ships carried their guns in five twin turrets, with a superfiring pair at each end and an amidships turret. On the Lion class ships this awkward amidships turret was retained, and the rear superfiring turret removed. This complicated the internal layout of the ship, and the central “Q” turret had a limited arc of fire.

The Lion class ships were originally designed with their gunnery control platforms immediately behind the fore funnel, causing problems with smoke and heat. The Lion was completed with this layout and had to be modified in 1912, while the Princess Royal was modified during construction.

The level of armour protection provided is the main target of criticism of these designs, but in most cases this involves a significant level of hindsight. In 1909, when the Lion was laid down, the battlecruiser concept had not yet been tested – indeed these two ships were designed and built as armoured cruisers, and only became known as battlecruisers late in 1912. Seen with this in mind, their 9in armour was a 50% improvement over the armour protection of previous armoured cruisers. The first real test of the battlecruisers did not come until 1914, and at first they appeared to have earned their keep, helping to defeat von Spee’s squadron at the Falklands and sinking two German cruisers at Heligoland Bight. Their reputation also survived the battle of Dogger Bank, where the Lion would take very heavy damage and survive. Only at Jutland would the British battlecruisers prove to be vulnerable.

Even there, the thin armour would seem to have been less of an issue than the very poor protection against flash and fire between the gun turrets and their magazines. While flash, where high temperature gases released by an explosion almost instantly passed down the connecting passageways, was blamed for the loss of the three battlecruisers at Jutland, the Lion was nearly lost when a fire threatened to spread to the magazine from the turrets, suggesting a lack of fireproof barriers.

The 9in armour of the Lion class ships was adopted as a response to the design of the first four German battlecruisers, each of which was armed with 11.1in guns. This gamble would not pay off. In January 1912 the Germans laid down their first 12in battlecruiser, the Derfflinger. The Lion was completed soon afterwards, in May 1912, and for two years did indeed face 11.1in guns, but in November 1914 the Derfflinger was complete.

The Lion class ships never really gained any advantage from their 13.5in guns. Beatty’s battle cruiser force seems to have neglected gunnery practice, a fact acknowledged in May 1916 when the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron was sent to Scapa Flow to take part in “exercises”.

Let down in battle by known weakness of battle cruiser force gunnery compared to Grand Fleet, acknowledged in 1916 by detaching the 3rd BCS to Scapa for practice

HMS Lion served as Admiral Beatty’s flagship from January 1913 until he was promoted to command the Grand Fleet. In that role she fought at Heligoland Bight, Dogger Bank and Jutland, taking heavy damage at the two later battles. At Dogger Bank a number of 11in and 12in shells pierced her armour

HMS Princess Royal served at the battles of Heligoland Bight, Dogger Bank and Jutland, suffered serious damage at Jutland. She was one of the three battlecruisers detached from the Grand Fleet in 1914 during the hunt for Admiral von Spee’s squadron, reinforcing the North America and West Indies Squadron from mid November until the end of December.

Displacement (loaded)

29,680t

Top Speed

27kts

Range

5,610 nautical miles at 10kts

Armour – deck

2.5in-1in

- belt

9in-4in

- bulkheads

4in

- barbettes

9in-3in

- turret faces

9in

- conning tower

10in

Length

700ft

Armaments

Eight 13.5in Mk V guns
Sixteen 4in Mk VII guns
Four 3pdr guns
Two 21in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement

997

Launched

1910-1911

Completed

1912

Ships in class

HMS Lion
HMS Princess Royal

Books on the First World War |Subject Index: First World War


SMS Seydlitz

SMS Seydlitz was a battlecruiser of the German Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy), built in Hamburg. [a] She was ordered in 1910 and commissioned in May 1913, the fourth battlecruiser built for the High Seas Fleet. She was named after Friedrich Wilhelm von Seydlitz, a Prussian general during the reign of King Frederick the Great and the Seven Years' War. [1] Seydlitz represented the culmination of the first generation of German battlecruisers, which had started with the Von der Tann in 1906 and continued with the pair of Moltke-class battlecruisers ordered in 1907 and 1908. Seydlitz featured several incremental improvements over the preceding designs, including a redesigned propulsion system and an improved armor layout. The ship was also significantly larger than her predecessors—at 24,988 metric tons (24,593 long tons 27,545 short tons), she was approximately 3,000 metric tons heavier than the Moltke-class ships.

    , 21 June 1919
  • Salvaged in 1928, scrapped
  • Design: 24,988 t (24,593 long tons) : 28,550 t (28,100 long tons)
  • 27 × water-tube boilers
  • 88,510 shp (66,002 kW)
  • 4 × screw propellers
  • 4 × Parsons turbines
  • 10 × 28 cm (11 in) SK L/50 guns (5 × 2)
  • 12 × 15 cm (5.9 in) SK L/45 guns
  • 12 × 8.8 cm (3.5 in)guns
  • 4 × 50 cm (19.7 in) torpedo tubes
    : 100 to 300 mm (3.9 to 11.8 in) : 30 to 80 mm (1.2 to 3.1 in) : 250 mm (9.8 in) : 350 mm (13.8 in)

Seydlitz participated in many of the large fleet actions during World War I, including the battles of Dogger Bank and Jutland in the North Sea. The ship suffered severe damage during both engagements during the Battle of Dogger Bank, a 13.5 in (34.3 cm) shell from the British battlecruiser Lion struck Seydlitz ' s rearmost turret and nearly caused a magazine explosion that could have destroyed the ship. At the Battle of Jutland she was hit twenty-one times by large-caliber shells, one of which penetrated the working chamber of the aft superfiring turret. Although the resulting fire destroyed the turret, the safety measures imposed after the battle of Dogger Bank prevented a catastrophe. The ship was also hit by a torpedo during the battle, causing her to take in over 5,300 metric tons of water and her freeboard was reduced to 2.5 m. She had to be lightened significantly to permit her crossing of the Jade Bar. The ship inflicted severe damage on her British opponents as well early in the battle, salvos from both Seydlitz and the battlecruiser Derfflinger destroyed the battlecruiser Queen Mary in seconds.

Seydlitz saw limited action in the Baltic Sea, when she provided screening for the German flotilla that at Battle of the Gulf of Riga attempted to clear the gulf in 1915. As with the rest of the German battlecruisers that survived the war, the ship was interned in Scapa Flow in 1918. The ship, along with the rest of the High Seas Fleet, was scuttled in June 1919, to prevent her seizure by the British Royal Navy. She was raised on 2 November 1928 and scrapped by 1930 in Rosyth.


Deadly, But Only on Paper: Meet Britain’s Lion-Class Battleships

The mighty warships could have helped wage the Cold War, but London never constructed them.

Key Point: Big battleships can be powerful and many did serve throughout the Cold War. But the cost of constructing them versus aircraft carriers or long-range missiles meant new battelships were a nonstarter.

The five battleships of the King George V class served the Royal Navy honorably during the war, participating in the destruction of the battleships Bismarck and Scharnhorst along with an array of other missions. HMS Vanguard, the last battleship ever built by the United Kingdom, did not enter service until after the war. Neither of these classes, however, were the apogee of British battleship design. Instead, the Lion class—a group of six ships of advanced design and high capabilities—were initially intended to lead the battlefleet of the Royal Navy in its next war. But the war came too soon, and the Lions never saw service.

This first appeared earlier and is being reposted due to reader interest.

The Royal Navy entered the mid-1930s with an odd assortment of capital ships, including the two intermediate ships of the Nelson class and a variety of modernized and unmodernized battleships and battlecruisers. Reconstruction of HMS Hood, the Renown class battlecruisers, and the Queen Elizabeth class battleships was hoped to bring these ships up to modern standards, but the Navy still required new vessels. The five ships of the King George V class, while excellent ships, remained creatures of the interwar Treaty system. Bound to 35,000 tons, they carried 14” weapons in part because of a desire to adhere to the Second London Naval Treaty, and in part out of other design requirements. When it became clear that Japan would unbind itself from the terms of the London Naval Treaty, the restrictions on battleship designs eased considerably.

Initial design work for the Lions, the first post-Treaty British battleships, began in 1938 and envisioned a ship of 45,000-ton full load, armed with nine 16” guns in three triple turrets. The secondary armament and armor scheme would have been similar to the King George V class, with dual-purpose 5.25” guns. The ships would have made 28 knots, roughly the same speed at the King George Vs but somewhat slower than extant British aircraft carriers, and considerably slower than the American Iowa class. The Lions also remedied the short range of the King George Vs, which proved an operational as well as a strategic drawback. The ships would have taken on classic Royal Navy capital ship names, including Lion, Temeraire, Conqueror and Thunderer. Two other ships were projected, but never received names. Lion and Temeraire were laid down in 1939, while Conqueror and Thunderer were projected for 1940 and 1941.

As was the case in World War I, however, the advent of war delayed the construction of the large battleships. Anticipating the need for smaller vessels (especially in the anti-submarine campaign), the British government decided to abandon the new battleships, proceeding only with the construction of HMS Vanguard, a unique vessel intended for service in the Pacific, and the completion of Anson and Howe, the last two ships of the King George V class. Construction on Lion and Temeraire ceased completely in 1940.

The delay gave the Royal Navy time to reconsider the design and incorporate war-time lessons. A 1942 modification of the design made the Lions a bit beamier in order to remedy concerns over torpedo protection. Horizontal protection against bombs also improved, in part because of the destruction of HMS Prince of Wales off Malaya in December 1941.

However, time did not ease the demands on British shipbuilding. Even after the completion of Anson and Howe, the demands of other ships (including aircraft carriers) took priority over the Lions. Work continued only on HMS Vanguard. This further delay gave the Royal Navy additional time to rethink the design of the Lions, and a variety of proposals for larger and smaller ships (including, at one point, a hybrid battleship-aircraft carrier) were considered and rejected. No further battleships would be laid down during the war.

Postwar Thinking

Even late in the war, the Admiralty had not completely given up on the idea of battleships. The Iowa class seemed to offer a useful template for battleships in a peacetime navy, and even HMS Vanguard served capably in a “showing the flag” role. The Soviets, for whatever reason, also persisted in battleship design, at least as long as Stalin lived. But it became clear that the existing fleet was sufficient for whatever the Royal Navy might need in terms of battleships, and that there was little to be gained from constructing new 16” gunned ships.

Parting Shots

In most configurations, the Lions would have been somewhat smaller, somewhat slower, slightly better protected Iowas, more effective than the U.S. North Carolina and South Dakota classes. Lion likely would have had little trouble with the latest German or Italian battleships, in part because of the latter’s fiscal inability to compete with the Royal Navy, and the former’s habitual inability to competently design battleships. Of course, they would have suffered badly under the guns of the Japanese Yamatos, but then they were far less expensive and in many ways more useful than those behemoths.

That the design process continued as long as it did is a testament both to the longevity of Great Britain imperial pretensions, and to the belief that battleships would remain an important factor in naval warfare. The late 1940s, which combined the increasing lethality of shipborne aircraft with the financial inability of the Royal Navy to maintain its existing fleet, disabused Britain of both these notions.

Dr. Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to TNI, teaches at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of the Battleship Book and can be found at @drfarls. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

This article first appeared in August 2019. It is being republished due to reader interest.


Talk:Lion-class battlecruiser

Strong Agree. Both Jane's and Breyer list one class e.g. Lion class. Queen Mary was built to a revised design with minor differences. Jane's mentions Queen Mary as "A similar but slightly larger ship of this type. Queen Mary and Princess Royal also incorporated the changes made to Lion before she commissioned, namely moving the forefunnel behind the mast and spotting top, and placing the bridge behind, rather than on top of, the conning tower. Queen Mary had an increase of beam resulting in her displacing an extra 700 tons, lost the upper-forward 4 inch guns and the centre funnel was circular rather than oval in cross-section. These are really design details though, mechanically and structurally she was the same as her sisters. I can't see any reason to have separate articles, all it does is confuse the reader, there is nothing that a separate section cannot solve, considering that there are individual ship pages anyway. Emoscopes Talk 12:11, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Agree but make a mention of the differences. Jak722 05:34, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

Well it's been a long time and there's been no dissent, so I've redirected Queen Mary class here, and I'll edit the article appropriately. Emoscopes Talk 15:37, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Re: the 'Unreferenced' claim made to the edit on 04:24, 23 February 2009

I won't get into an edit war with anyone but I've tried to correct falsehoods in the article, if you want a 'referenced citation' as to whether Queen Mary had a round mid funnel, I'll scan the plan for you [MBK] if you'd like?

Presently, I know of no other presence on the internet who knows the Lion Class like myself. I'm not an 'expert' on them but I know an awful lot about them and enough to correct the constant mistakes I see about them. Common mistakes such as Queen Mary had a round mid funnel, it's rounder, not round.

But as wiki has this in her entry and every web-author thinks Wiki is accurate and repeats these flasehoods ad nauseum.Such as this:

Quote: "Conway's says that she is 'often listed as a third Lion [but]. was a half-sister with many internal improvements later extended in the Tiger. These included higher power, 1,400lb shells for the main armament and a different arrangement of the 4in belt armour. However, apart from having round funnels and a single-decked 4in gun battery she appeared identical.' In October 1914 she was fitted with a 3in/20cal AA Mk I & a 6 pdr Hotchkiss AA."

Everything I wrote yesterday about their 'Alterations' can't be easily 'checked' as there's no one reference book on the Lion class. But it s 100% correct. I may not have 'logged on' but that shouldn't have diminished my editing content.

Which brings up the question, how can you provide a reference to something that hasn't been written yet? As there's no reference books on the Lion class or any of the individual ships, how is one to correct this article without a 'reference' to cite?

Or how can you correct misleading statments in citeable written form?

I stand behind all what was written yesterday, Queen Mary didn't recieve the tripod foremast as she wasn't around by then and I have an image to back that up. Her mid funnel was not 'round'. She differed from the other Lion clas in that all her forward 4 inch were on one level, not on 2 as per her half-sisters, and she did indeed have a sternwalk, etc, etc. I can provide images.

Thru-a-hoop (talk) 20:45, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

All articles must comply with some policies which your edits as an unregistered user violated: WP:CITE, WP:V and WP:RS. If you can fulfill those policies, then by all means improve the article. -MBK004 20:49, 23 February 2009 (UTC) I thought I had.

Oops, looks like some 'opinion' slipped through, quote:

"like all British battlecruisers, their staying power did not match their fighting power"

I have put back in those of 82.42.43.176's edits that I can substantiate with citations. However I do not know exactly when the trip mast went back in - Parkes suggested "in about five years" (page 533). I do not know when the torpedo nets were removed. Reviews of models suggest that it was probably post Jutland - however I am not convinced that the model reviews are a reliable source - especially as they quote Massie. I found a wikipedia-type site that claims that Lion had her nets removed in late 1915 or early 1916 and Princes Royal had her nets removed in 1915. However wikipedia type sites are not a reliable source.--Toddy1 (talk) 21:18, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

The first paragraph doesn't really explain the relation between Indefatigable class and Molkte class. Siuenti (talk) 02:13, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

Of course not, the point is to show a pattern of action and reaction with each side building battlecruisers more powerful than the preceding ships from the other country.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 02:50, 24 March 2017 (UTC)


The Lion Class Battleship: The Royal Navy's Super Warship That Never Set Sail

The five battleships of the King George V class served the Royal Navy honorably during the war, participating in the destruction of the battleships Bismarck and Scharnhorst along with an array of other missions. HMS Vanguard, the last battleship ever built by the United Kingdom, did not enter service until after the war. Neither of these classes, however, were the apogee of British battleship design. Instead, the Lion class—a group of six ships of advanced design and high capabilities—were initially intended to lead the battlefleet of the Royal Navy in its next war. But the war came too soon, and the Lions never saw service.

The Royal Navy entered the mid-1930s with an odd assortment of capital ships, including the two intermediate ships of the Nelson class and a variety of modernized and unmodernized battleships and battlecruisers. Reconstruction of HMS Hood, the Renown class battlecruisers, and the Queen Elizabeth class battleships was hoped to bring these ships up to modern standards, but the Navy still required new vessels. The five ships of the King George V class, while excellent ships, remained creatures of the interwar Treaty system. Bound to 35,000 tons, they carried 14” weapons in part because of a desire to adhere to the Second London Naval Treaty, and in part out of other design requirements. When it became clear that Japan would unbind itself from the terms of the London Naval Treaty, the restrictions on battleship designs eased considerably.


Service

Pre-war career

Upon commissioning, both Lion and Princess Royal were assigned to the 1st Cruiser Squadron, which in January 1913 was renamed the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron (BCS), although Lion became the flagship. Rear Admiral Beatty assumed command of the 1st BCS on 1 March 1913. Lion and Princess Royal, along with the rest of the 1st BCS, made a port visit to Brest in February 1914 and the squadron visited Russia in June, [4] where Lion entertained the Russian Royal Family aboard while in Kronstadt. [31]

World War I

Battle of Heligoland Bight

Lion ' s first action was as flagship of the battlecruiser force under the command of Admiral Beatty during the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28 August 1914. Beatty's ships had originally been intended as distant support of the British cruisers and destroyers closer to the German coast in case the large ships of the High Seas Fleet sortied in response to the British attacks. They turned south at full speed at 11:35 am [lower-alpha 2] when the British light forces failed to disengage on schedule and the rising tide meant that German capital ships would be able to clear the bar at the mouth of the Jade Estuary. The brand-new light cruiser Arethusa had been crippled earlier in the battle and was under fire from the German light cruisers Strassburg and Cöln when Beatty's battlecruisers loomed out of the mist at 12:37 pm. Strassburg was able to duck into the mists and evade fire, but Cöln remained visible and was quickly crippled by fire from the squadron. Beatty, however, was distracted from the task of finishing her off by the sudden appearance of the elderly light cruiser Ariadne directly to his front. He turned in pursuit and reduced her to a flaming hulk in only three salvos at close range (under 6,000 yards (5.5 km)). At 1:10 pm Beatty turned north and made a general signal to retire. Beatty's main body encountered the crippled Cöln shortly after turning north and she was sunk by two salvos from Lion. [32]

Princess Royal was detached from the 1st BCS and sailed from Cromarty on 28 September to rendezvous with a Canadian troop convoy and escort it to the United Kingdom. She rejoined the 1st BCS on 26 October. Shortly afterward she was detached again to reinforce the North Atlantic and Caribbean Squadrons in the search for Admiral Graf Spee's German East Asia Squadron after it destroyed the West Indies Squadron of Rear Admiral Christopher Cradock during the Battle of Coronel on 1 November 1914. She arrived at Halifax on 21 November before cruising off New York City for a period and then down to the Caribbean to guard against the possibility of Graf Spee using the Panama Canal. She departed Kingston, Jamaica for the U.K. on 19 December, after the East Asia Squadron had been sunk at the Battle of the Falkland Islands on 7 December. [33]

Raid on Scarborough

The German Navy had decided on a strategy of bombarding British towns on the North Sea coast in an attempt to draw out the Royal Navy and destroy elements of it in detail. An earlier Raid on Yarmouth on 3 November had been partially successful, but a larger-scale operation was devised by Admiral Franz von Hipper afterwards. The fast battlecruisers would actually conduct the bombardment while the entire High Seas Fleet was to station itself east of Dogger Bank to provide cover for their return and to destroy any elements of the Royal Navy that responded to the raid. But what the Germans did not know was that the British were reading the German naval codes and were planning to catch the raiding force on its return journey, although they were not aware that the High Seas Fleet would be at sea as well. Admiral Beatty's 1st BCS, now reduced to four ships, including Lion, as well as the 2nd Battle Squadron with six dreadnoughts, was detached from the Grand Fleet in an attempt to intercept the Germans near Dogger Bank. [34]

Admiral Hipper set sail on 15 December 1914 for another such raid and successfully bombarded several English towns, but British destroyers escorting the 1st BCS had already encountered German destroyers of the High Seas Fleet at 5:15 am and fought an inconclusive action with them. Vice Admiral Sir George Warrender, commanding the 2nd Battle Squadron, had received a signal at 5:40 that the destroyer Lynx was engaging enemy destroyers although Beatty had not. The destroyer Shark spotted the German armoured cruiser Roon and her escorts at about 7:00, but could not transmit the message until 7:25. Admiral Warrender received the signal, as did the battlecruiser New Zealand, but Beatty did not, despite the fact that New Zealand had been specifically tasked to relay messages between the destroyers and Beatty. Warrender attempted to pass on Shark ' s message to Beatty at 7:36, but did not manage to make contact until 7:55. Beatty reversed course when he got the message and dispatched New Zealand to search for Roon. She was being overhauled by New Zealand when Beatty received messages that Scarborough was being shelled at 9:00. Beatty ordered New Zealand to rejoin the squadron and turned west for Scarborough. [35]

The British forces split going around the shallow Southwest Patch of the Dogger Bank Beatty's ships passed to the north while Warrender passed to the south as they headed west to block the main route through the minefields defending the English coast. This left a 15 nautical miles (28 km) gap between them through which the German light forces began to move. At 12:25, the light cruisers of the II Scouting Group began to pass the British forces searching for Hipper. HMS Southampton spotted the light cruiser Stralsund and signalled a report to Beatty. At 12:30 Beatty turned his battlecruisers towards the German ships. Beatty presumed that the German cruisers were the advance screen for Hipper's ships, however, those were some 50 km (31 mi) behind. The 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron, which had been screening for Beatty's ships, detached to pursue the German cruisers, but a misinterpreted signal from the British battlecruisers sent them back to their screening positions. [lower-alpha 3] This confusion allowed the German light cruisers to escape, and alerted Hipper to the location of the British battlecruisers. The German battlecruisers wheeled to the northeast of the British forces and made good their escape. [36]

Battle of Dogger Bank

On 23 January 1915, a force of German battlecruisers under the command of Admiral Franz von Hipper sortied to clear the Dogger Bank of any British fishing boats or small craft that might be there to collect intelligence on German movements. However, the British were reading their coded messages and sailed to intercept them with a larger force of British battlecruisers under the command of Admiral Beatty. Contact was initiated at 7:20 am on the 24th when the British light cruiser Arethusa spotted the German light cruiser SMS Kolberg. By 7:35 the Germans had spotted Beatty's force and Hipper ordered a turn to the south at 20 knots (37 km/h 23 mph), believing that this would suffice if the ships that he saw to his northwest were British battleships and that he could always increase speed to Blücher's maximum speed of 23 knots (26 mph 43 km/h) if they were British battlecruisers. [37]

Beatty ordered his battlecruisers to make all practicable speed to catch the Germans before they could escape. The leading ships, Lion, Princess Royal and Tiger, were doing 27 knots (50 km/h 31 mph) in pursuit and Lion opened fire at 8:52 at a range of 20,000 yards (18,000 m). The other ships followed a few minutes later but, hampered by the extreme range and decreasing visibility, they did not score their first hit on Blücher until 9:09. The German battlecruisers opened fire themselves a few minutes later at 9:11, at a range of 18,000 yards (16,000 m), and concentrated their fire on Lion. They first hit her at 9:28 on the waterline with a shell that flooded a coal bunker. Shortly afterwards a 21-centimetre (8.3 in) shell from Blücher hit the roof of 'A' turret, denting it and knocking out the left gun for two hours. At 9:35 Beatty signalled 'Engage the corresponding ships in the enemy's line', but Tiger ' s captain, believing that Indomitable was already engaging Blücher, fired at Seydlitz, as did Lion, which left Moltke unengaged and able to continue to engage Lion without risk. Moltke and Derfflinger combined their fire to cripple Lion over the next hour even though Princess Royal engaged Derfflinger during this period. [38]

In the meantime Blücher had been heavily damaged by fire from all the other battlecruisers her speed had dropped to 17 knots (20 mph 31 km/h) and her steering gear had been jammed. Beatty ordered Indomitable to attack her at 10:48 am. Six minutes later Beatty spotted what he thought was a submarine periscope on the starboard bow and ordered an immediate 90° turn to port to avoid the submarine, although he failed to hoist the 'Submarine Warning' flag because most of Lion ' s signal halyards had been shot away. Almost immediately afterward Lion lost her remaining dynamo to the rising water which knocked out all remaining light and power. He ordered 'Course Northeast' at 11:02 to bring his ships back to their pursuit of Hipper. He also hoisted 'Attack the rear of the enemy' on the other halyard although there was no connection between the two signals. This caused Rear-Admiral Sir Gordon Moore, temporarily commanding in New Zealand, to think that the signals meant to attack Blücher, which was about 8,000 yards (7,300 m) to the northeast. So they turned away from the pursuit of Hipper's main body and engaged Blücher. Beatty tried to correct the mistake, but he was so far behind the leading battlecruisers that his signals could not be read amidst the smoke and haze. [39]

He transferred his flag to the destroyer Attack at 11:50 and set off in pursuit of his battlecruisers. He caught up to them shortly before Blücher sank and boarded Princess Royal at 12:20. He ordered the pursuit resumed of the German battlecruisers, but rescinded the order when it became clear that too much time had been wasted sinking Blücher and Hipper's ships would be able to reach German waters before the British could catch them. Lion was headed home at 10 knots (19 km/h 12 mph) when the rest of the battlecruisers caught up with her around 12:45. [40]

Lion ' s starboard engine was temporarily shut down due to contaminated feed water, but it was restarted and Lion headed home at 10 knots (12 mph 19 km/h) when the rest of the battlecruisers caught up with her around 12:45. At 2:30 the starboard engine began to fail and her speed was reduced to 8 knots (9.2 mph 15 km/h). Indomitable was ordered to tow Lion back to port at 3:00, but it took two hours and two tries before she could start to tow Lion, and a further day-and-a-half to reach port at speeds of 7–10 knots (8.1–11.5 mph 13–19 km/h), even after Lion ' s starboard engine was temporarily repaired. [41]

Lion was temporarily repaired at Rosyth with timber and concrete before sailing to Newcastle upon Tyne to be repaired by Palmers as the Admiralty did not wish it known that she was damaged badly enough to require repair at either Portsmouth or Devonport Dockyards lest that be seen as a sign of defeat. She was heeled 8° to starboard with four cofferdams in place between 9 February and 28 March to repair about 1,500 square feet (140 m 2 ) of bottom plating and replace five armour plates and their supporting structure. [42] She rejoined the Battlecruiser Fleet, again as Beatty's flagship, on 7 April. [33] She had fired 243 rounds from her main guns, but had only made four hits: one each on Blücher and Derfflinger, and two on Seydlitz. In return she had been hit by the Germans sixteen times, but only one man was killed and twenty wounded. [43]

Princess Royal hit Derfflinger once, but only forced in a pair of armour plates that flooded a coal bunker. [44] She also hit Blücher at least twice, including the hit that crippled her, but having fired a total of 271 13.5-inch shells during the battle this gave the Princess Royal a hit rate of only 0.7%. She also fired two 13.5-inch shrapnel shells at the German airship L5 as it attempted to bomb the sinking Blücher, thinking that it was a British ship, [45] despite the fact that the maximum elevation of those guns was only 20°. [12] Princess Royal was not damaged during the battle. [46]

Battle of Jutland

On 31 May 1916 Princess Royal was the flagship of the 1st BCS, under command of Rear Admiral Osmond Brock, [45] which had put to sea with the rest of the Battlecruiser Fleet, led by Vice-Admiral Beatty in Lion, to intercept a sortie by the High Seas Fleet into the North Sea. The British were able to decode the German radio messages and left their bases before the Germans put to sea. Hipper's battlecruisers spotted the Battlecruiser Fleet to their west at 3:20 pm, but Beatty's ships did not spot the Germans to their east until 3:30. Almost immediately afterward, at 3:32, he ordered a course change to east south-east to position himself astride the German's line of retreat and called his ships' crews to action stations. Hipper ordered his ships to turn to starboard, away from the British, to assume a south-easterly course, and reduced speed to 18 knots (33 km/h 21 mph) to allow three light cruisers of the 2nd Scouting Group to catch up. With this turn Hipper was falling back on the High Seas Fleet, then about 60 miles (97 km) behind him. Around this time Beatty altered course to the east as it was quickly apparent that he was still too far north to cut off Hipper. [47]

This began what was to be called the 'Run to the South' as Beatty changed course to steer east south-east at 3:45, paralleling Hipper's course, now that the range closed to under 18,000 yards (16,000 m). The Germans opened fire first at 3:48, followed almost immediately afterward by the British. The British ships were still in the process of making their turn as only the two leading ships, Lion and Princess Royal had steadied on their course when the Germans opened fire. The German fire was accurate from the beginning, but the British overestimated the range as the German ships blended into the haze. Lion and Princess Royal, as the leading British ships, engaged Lützow, the leading ship in the German formation. Lutzow targeted Lion while Derfflinger, the second ship in the German formation engaged Princess Royal, her opposite number. Fire from both German ships was very accurate, and both Lion and Princess Royal had been hit twice within three minutes of the Germans' opening fire. By 3:54 the range was down to 12,900 yards (11,800 m), and Beatty ordered a course change two points to starboard to open up the range at 3:57. [48] Lion scored her first hit on Lützow two minutes later, but Lützow returned the favour at 4:00 when one of her 305 mm shells hit 'Q' turret at a range of 16,500 yards (15,100 m). [49] The shell penetrated the joint between the nine-inch turret face plate and the 3.5-inch roof and detonated over the center of the left-hand gun. It blew the front roof plate and the center face plate off the turret, killed or wounded everyone in the turret, and started a fire that smouldered, despite efforts to put it out that had been thought to have been successful. Accounts of subsequent events differ, but the magazine doors had been closed and the magazine flooded when the smouldering fire ignited the eight full propellant charges in the turret working room at 4:28. They burnt violently, with the flames reaching as high as the masthead, and killed most of the magazine and shell room crews still in the lower part of the mounting. The gas pressure severely buckled the magazine doors, and it is probable that the magazine would have exploded if it had not already been flooded. [50] [51] Royal Marine Major Francis Harvey, the mortally wounded turret commander, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for having ordered the magazine flooded. [52]

At 4:11 pm Princess Royal observed the track of a torpedo fired by Moltke, pass underneath her, but it was thought that the torpedo was fired by a U-boat on the disengaged side. This was confirmed when the destroyer Landrail reported having spotted a periscope before the torpedo tracks were seen. [53] The range had grown too far for accurate shooting so Beatty altered course four points to port to close the range again between 4:12 and 4:15. This maneuver exposed Lion to the fire of the German battlecruisers and she was hit several times. The smoke and fumes from these hits caused Derfflinger to lose sight of Princess Royal, and she switched her fire to Queen Mary at 4:16. By 4:25 the range was down to 14,400 yards (13,200 m) and Beatty turned two points to starboard to open the range again. However, it was too late for Queen Mary, which was hit multiple times in quick succession about that time, and her forward magazines exploded. [54] At 4:30 the light cruiser Southampton, scouting in front of Beatty's ships, spotted the lead elements of the High Seas Fleet charging north at top speed. Three minutes later she sighted the topmasts of Vice-Admiral Reinhard Scheer's battleships, but did not transmit a message to Beatty for another five minutes. Beatty continued south for another two minutes to confirm the sighting himself before ordering a sixteen-point turn to starboard in succession. [55] During the 'Run to the South' Princess Royal was hit a total of six times by Derfflinger, but none of these were serious. [56]

Lion was hit twice more, during what came to be called the 'Run to the North', after the German battlecruisers made their own turn north. [57] Beatty's ships maintained full speed to try and put some separation between them and the High Seas Fleet and gradually moved out of range. They turned north and then northeast to try to rendezvous with the main body of the Grand Fleet. At 5:40 pm they opened fire again on the German battlecruisers. The setting sun blinded the German gunners and they could not make out the British ships and turned away to the northeast at 5:47. [58] Beatty gradually turned more towards the east to allow him to cover the deployment of the Grand Fleet into its battle formation and to move ahead of it, but he mistimed his manoeuvre and forced the leading division to fall off towards the east, further away from the Germans. By 6:35 Beatty was following the 3rd BCS as they were steering east-southeast, leading the Grand Fleet, and continuing to engage Hipper's battlecruisers to their southwest. A few minutes earlier Scheer had ordered a simultaneous 180° starboard turn and Beatty lost sight of them in the haze. [59] At 6:44 Beatty turned his ships southeast and to the south-southeast four minutes later searching for Hipper's ships. Beatty took this opportunity to recall the two surviving ships of the 3rd BCS to take position astern of New Zealand and then slowed down to eighteen knots and altered course to the south to prevent himself from getting separated from the Grand Fleet. At this moment Lion ' s gyrocompass failed and she made a complete circle before her steering was brought under control again. [60] At 6:55 Scheer ordered another 180° turn which put them on a converging course again with the Grand Fleet, which had altered course itself to the south. This allowed the Grand Fleet to cross Scheer's T and they badly damaged his leading ships. Scheer ordered yet another 180° turn at 7:13 in an attempt to extricate the High Seas Fleet from the trap into which he had sent them. [61]

This manoeuvre was successful and the British lost sight of the Germans until 8:05 pm when Castor spotted smoke bearing west-northwest. Ten minutes later she'd closed the range enough to identify German torpedo boats and engaged them. Beatty turned west upon hearing the sounds of gunfire and spotted the German battlecruisers only 8,500 yards (7,800 m) away. Inflexible opened fire at 8:20, followed almost immediately by the rest of Beatty's battlecruisers. [62] Shortly after 8:30 the pre-dreadnought battleships of Rear Admiral Mauve's II Battle Squadron were spotted and fire switched to them. The Germans were able to fire only a few rounds at them because of the poor visibility and turned away to the west. The British battlecruisers hit the German ships several times before they blended into the haze around 8:40. [63] After this Beatty changed course to south-southeast and maintained that course, ahead of both the Grand Fleet and the High Seas Fleet, until 2:55 the next morning when the order was given to reverse course. [64]

Lion, Princess Royal and the rest of the battlecruisers reached Rosyth on the morning of 2 June 1916 [65] where Lion began repairs that lasted until 19 July. The remains of 'Q' turret were removed during this period and not replaced until later. She had been hit a total of fourteen times and suffered 99 dead and 51 wounded during the battle. She fired 326 rounds from her main guns, but can only be credited with four hits on Lützow and one on Derfflinger. She also fired seven torpedoes, four at the German battleships, two at Derfflinger and one at the light cruiser Wiesbaden without success. [66]

Upon her arrival at Rosyth, Princess Royal began repairs that lasted until 10 June. She sailed later that day for Plymouth where more permanent repairs were made until 15 July and was back at Rosyth by 21 July. She was hit nine times during the battle, six time by Derfflinger, twice by Markgraf and once by Posen, with 22 of her crew killed and 81 injured. She fired only 230 rounds from her main guns, as her visibility was often impaired by the funnel smoke and fires aboard Lion and can be credited with three hits on Lützow and two on Seydlitz. She also fired one torpedo at the German pre-dreadnoughts without success. [45]

Post-Jutland career

Lion rejoined the Battlecruiser Fleet, again as Beatty's flagship, on 19 July 1916 without 'Q' turret, but then had the turret replaced during a visit to Armstrong Whitworth at Elswick that lasted from 6 to 23 September. In the meantime, on the evening of 18 August the Grand Fleet put to sea in response to a message deciphered by Room 40 which indicated that the High Seas Fleet, less the II Squadron, would be leaving harbour that night. The German objective was to bombard Sunderland on the 19th, with extensive reconnaissance provided by airships and submarines. The Grand Fleet sailed with 29 dreadnought battleships and six battlecruisers. [lower-alpha 4] Throughout the 19th, Jellicoe and Scheer received conflicting intelligence, with the result that having reached its rendezvous in the North Sea, the Grand Fleet steered north in the erroneous belief that it had entered a minefield before turning south again. Scheer steered south-eastward pursuing a lone British battle squadron reported by an airship, which was in fact the Harwich Force under Commodore Tyrwhitt. Having realised their mistake the Germans then shaped course for home. The only contact came in the evening when Tyrwhitt sighted the High Seas Fleet but was unable to achieve an advantageous attack position before dark, and broke off contact. Both the British and the German fleets returned home, the British having lost two cruisers to submarine attacks and the Germans having a dreadnought battleship damaged by torpedo. [67]

Lion became the flagship of Vice-Admiral W. C. Pakenham in December 1916 when he assumed command of the Battlecruiser Fleet upon Beatty's promotion to command of the Grand Fleet. [33] Lion had an uneventful time for the rest of the war conducting patrols of the North Sea as the High Seas Fleet was forbidden to risk any more losses. She provided support for British light forces involved in the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight on 17 November 1917, but never came within range of any German forces. Lion and Princess Royal, along with the rest of the Grand Fleet, sortied on the afternoon of 23 March 1918 after radio transmissions had revealed that the High Seas Fleet was at sea after a failed attempt to intercept the regular British convoy to Norway. However, the Germans were too far ahead of the British and escaped without firing a shot. [68] When the High Seas Fleet sailed for Scapa Flow on 21 November 1918 to be interned, Lion was among the escorting ships. Along with the rest of the 1st BCS, Lion and Princess Royal guarded the interned ships [69] until both ships were assigned to the Atlantic Fleet in April 1919. [33]

Lion was placed in reserve in March 1920, paid off on 30 March 1922, and sold for scrap on 31 January 1924 for £77,000. [46] Princess Royal was placed in reserve in 1920 and an attempt to sell her to Chile in mid-1920 was unsuccessful. She became the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief Scottish Coast on 22 February 1922, but was sold for scrap in December 1922. [2] Both ships were scrapped to meet the tonnage limitations of the Washington Naval Treaty. [1]


BC Lion (1912)

The Battle of the Dogger Bank was fought when, from intercepted radio messages, the British came out to forestall a German bombardment of coastal towns: Admiral Beatty’s force of five battlecruisers – Lion, Tiger, Princess Royal, New Zealand and Indomitable – with seven light cruisers and 35 destroyers against Admiral Hipper’s three battlecruisers, Seydlitz, Moltke and Derfflinger, one armoured cruiser, Blücher, four light cruisers and 18 torpedo boats.

Outnumbered, Hipper sought to avoid a battle but the faster British force pursued his ships in a stern chase and by 09:30 on 24 January they opened fire at long range. The disabling of Lion, with all electrical power lost, prevented Beatty from giving effective signals, and the German ships, except for Blücher, got away. Though indecisive, the battle was considered a British tactical victory and enhanced the reputation of the battlecruisers, despite the damage to Lion having revealed the British ships’ lack of staying power under heavy gunfire.

The Lion class

The three ships of the Lion class were the first battlecruisers to carry 342mm (13.5in) guns, and were the largest and fastest capital ships yet built they were also the most expensive. But they had serious defects.

The British Navy adopted the superfiring turret arrangement in HMS Neptune (commissioned November 1911), and with the Orion class of battleships (commissioned January 1912) introduced the ‘super-dreadnought’ with 343mm (13.5in) guns. These aspects were combined in the Lion class battlecruisers. Britain had introduced the battlecruiser, as an enlarged version of the armoured cruiser, with HMS Invincible, commissioned in 1908. Like HMS Dreadnought, it was a project begun and driven by Admiral Lord Fisher who believed it to be tactically and strategically superior to the battleship.

Lion was the third class of battlecruiser to be introduced, laid down at Devonport Naval Dockyard on 29 November 1909, launched on 6 August 1910 and commissioned on 4 June 1912. Two others, Princess Royal and Queen Mary, completed the class. Each ship cost in excess of £2,000,000. The German Navy had responded rapidly to the implicit challenge: SMS Moltke was commissioned in September 1911 while Lion was still fitting out, and Derfflinger was laid down in January 1912. Moltke carried 10 208mm (11.1in) guns.

Design errors

Lion’s design followed that of Dreadnought and Orion by having the fore-funnel placed in front of the mast. As a result sparks, smoke and heat made the masthead installations often uninhabitable. The bridge, placed on top of the conning tower, suffered similarly. In 1912 the original tripod mast was replaced by a single pole mast with a light spotting top, and the funnel was moved behind it, though still very close. The second and third funnels were heightened to be uniform with the fore-funnel.

Although the ‘A’ and ‘B’ turrets were set in a superfiring arrangement, there was only a single aft ‘Y’ turret, with a central ‘Q’ turret placed between the second and third funnels, separating the boiler rooms below. Rangefinders were located in ‘B’ and ‘Y’ turrets and in the conning tower, with the fire-control position (this was later transferred to the mast, which was fortified by struts to support it). The ships carried 16 102mm (4in) guns for anti-torpedo boat defence, their batteries aligned so as to have six firing ahead, eight abeam and four astern. Two 533mm (21in) torpedo tubes were below the waterline on either side of ‘A’ barbette. In 1917 searchlight supports were fixed on the mast and the after funnel.

Armour limitations

The most controversial aspect of the battlecruiser, certainly after the Battle of Jutland, was its relative lack of armour protection. Speed was the great requirement insisted upon, and greater speed meant greater length and more surface requiring protection. In fact the vulnerability of the Lion class was more due to insufficient understanding of the flash effects of a shell explosion and the countermeasures necessary, rather than of lack of armour as such. Belt armour was fitted up to main deck level for the first time, but the armoured deck was only 25.4mm (1in) thick, and the barbettes extending down into the hull had 76.2mm (3in) armour. Altogether, armour weight came to 5624 tonnes (6200 tons) or 23 per cent of the design displacement. By comparison the German Moltke had belt armour to a maximum of 270mm (10.6in) and an armoured deck of 50mm (2in).

Lion joined the 1st Cruiser Squadron on commissioning, then was flagship of the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron from January 1913. In the 1914–18 war it was flagship of the Battlecruiser Fleet, and gave long-range support at the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28 August 1914. At the Battle of the Dogger Bank, the only fight exclusively involving battlecruisers on 24 January 1915, a shot from Lion knocked out the rear turret of Admiral Hipper’s flagship Seydlitz, but Lion sustained 17 hits including two on the waterline, narrowly avoided flooding of the engine room, and fell out of the action. Towed back by Indomitable, it spent four months under repair.

At the Battle of Jutland, 31 May 1916, Lion took a direct hit on ‘Q’ turret, whose officer, Major Harvey, died as he flooded the magazines, saving the ship. But its sister ship Queen Mary was blown up, with Indefatigable and Invincible. Lion was repaired by 19 July and continued in North Sea operations until the end of the war. In 1921 it was decommissioned under the Washington Agreement and was sold for breaking up in January 1924.


HMS Princess Royal

She became flagship of the 1st squadron of battle cruisers in 1914. She fought at Heligoland, was sent to the Far East to intercept Von Spee’s pacific squadron, then came back to the North Sea to participated in the Dogger bank engagement, without damage. However in May 1916 this was not the same music anymore. Targeted by concentrated and accurate fire from Derrflinger, Markgraf and Posen, she took eight hits and had to drown her ammunition bunkers to avoid the fire trigerring yet again an explosion (the fate suffered by the Queen Mary). Despite being still operational and remaining so until the end of the battle with part of her artillery useless she escaped. From Rosyth, she still did a number of missions before disarmament in 1922.


Princess Royal, Andrey Pervozvannyy, Admiral Makarov & Queen Mary in Kronstadt


Nomenclature of WW1 British Battlecruisers

Invincible class Battlecruisers (1907)

Invincible, Indomitable, Infexible

The first battle cruisers: Cruisers, naturally faster than heavy battleships, have always been seen as “scouts” or vanguard vessels, compared to light cavalry – all things considered – on a conventional battlefield. Hadn’t the first single-caliber battleship, the Dreadnought, itself been influenced by the armoured cruisers developed by Cuniberti. In addition, a continuity within the Royal Navy saw each new class of battleship aided by a new class of cruiser-battleship, with the same advances and artillery management, like the Minotaur versus the Nelson. So it couldn’t be otherwise with the new Dreadnoughts.

From the announcement of the HMS Dreadnought’s start-up, discussions went well between Admiral Fisher and the shipyard design offices. The latter, after the demonstration of the Russo-Japanese war, had rallied to his views the rest of the Admiralty. Speed ​​was the deciding factor, he said, and armored cruisers were just too slow. The speed was a much better “active” protection, by protecting the ship from enemy than the passive protection, armor being relevant only against submersibles, torpedo boats and destroyers.

It is on these assumptions that the concept of “battle cruiser” was created, to clearly mark the break and at the same time the continuity with the previous cruiser-battleships. Because indeed, unlike the latter, these new ships would be equipped with the same monocaliber armament as the Dreadnoughts, but trading protection for a higher speed, they had no protection against enemy fire, except for some areas protected by 6-in plating, the standard of light cruisers of the time. Their artillery range on paper protected them from all kind of cruisers which were as fast, and this same speed enabled them to evade battleships, but also to “harass” them, thanks to their greater mobility. The speed as a concept of active protection became successful in many naval staffs around the world, and battle cruisers stayed relevant until their ultimate test and moment of truth, at the Battle of Jutland.

Design

The Three Invincible, started in Fairfield, Clydebank and Elswick from February to April 1906, were launched in early 1907 and completed in June 1908 (Indomitable), October 1908 (Inflexible) and March 1909 (Invincible). But the final plans revealed ships that weren’t light and elongated clones of the Dreadnought, but rather new kind of armored cruisers. Admittedly, they had the same – lightened – turrets as the Dreadnought, but only eight instead of ten main guns. In addition, the central turrets were staggered, an arrangement contemporary of the battleships USS Neptune and Colossus. Theoretically, this provision in echelon allowed a complete broadside of the 8 guns, although in that case their angle of fire was limited, and six in chase and retreat.

The design of these ships took time, as did their construction. They were also 50% more expensive than previous Minotaur-class battleship cruisers, but fulfilled the specifications perfectly and obtained excellent results in their trials. The criticisms against them were later, and specific to the whole category. Confusion was maintained in the admiralties. Armed with large guns, and even in their denomination, they were integrated from the start within the line of battle, with battleships, while their real role was that, classic, of cruisers: To wage war on trade and hunting down cruisers of all sizes. They had never been designed as fast battleships but were used as such.

Their machines were very powerful, matched with no less than 31 B&W or Yarrow boilers. They reached 25.5 knots, 2.5 more than the last armoured cruisers. Some later changes affected them. Successively, all three saw their raised front funnel, canvas cowls protect their light parts on the roofs of the turrets, and in 1914, the removal of their anti-torpedo nets and the addition of fire directors. Later, they were fitted with a 3-in (76 mm) anti-aircraft guns, their upper masts were reduced, and their front upper mast was removed. Aircraft platforms were added to the turrets which received additional armor, over ammunition stores, following the Jutland experience in May 1916.

The Invincible class in action

HMS Invincible

HMS Invincible collided with the submersible C13 in 1913. At the time of the declaration of war, she was in Queenstown, preventing a German sortie. Then he returned to the Humber, took part in the Battle of Heligoland Bay on the 28th, was then detached with the Indomitable to the Falklands, under Commodore Sturdee’s orders, and took part in this second battle of the Falklands in November 1914, avenging the destruction of Sir Cradock’s squadron by sinking Vice-Admiral Von Spee’s battleship cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, pivots of the German Pacific squadron. After a short overhaul in Gibraltar, the Invincible was detached to Rosyth, forming with his two twins the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron. In May 1916, further modifications, then shooting exercises at Scapa Flow followed by a change of assignment (the third squadron of battle cruisers), were his last moments before the legendary Battle of Jutland.

Bearing the mark of Rear Admiral Horace Hood, Invincible engaged the German light cruisers Pillau and Wiesbaden, knocking them out, then crossed swords with the battle cruiser Lützow, inflicting her two severe hits. But soon SMS Derfflinger framed her, and she took 5 hits, the last being fatal: It blew up its side turret and caused an explosive fire fuelled by the cordite dust accumulated in the ammunition pit. The fire immediately spread to the nearby charges magazine and a gigantic explosion ensued, breaking her hull in two. She quickly sank, carrying with her nearly all of the crew.

HMS Indomitable

The Indomitable, who interrupted trials to take the Prince of Wales to Montreal, served in the Home Fleet. He was then transferred with the Invincible to the Mediterranean, underwent some modifications in Malta in June 1914. In August, they took part in the hunt for German Goeben and Breslau, escaped from Port Said, then in the bombardments of the forts of the Dardanelles. He was then back in Rosyth, and engaged in January 1915 in the Battle of Dogger Bank, encircling the Blücher with his shots, finally sunk by the Queen Mary. He even managed to destroy a Zeppelin with two hits from his maximum rise 305mm guns! … He towed the heavily damaged HMS Lion to Rosyth. Shortly after, the Indomitable was itself the victim of a fire, quickly subdued, caused by an electrical short-circuit. After a short overhaul, they were detached to the Grand Fleet, and took part in the Battle of Jutland, successively hitting the Derfflinger and Seydlitz and damaging the battleship Pommern. The rest of her career was fairly calm, in the 2nd battle squadron until 1919, when he was placed in reserve. She was BU in 1922.

HMS Inflexible

Inflexible suffered damage during test fire, and then from the explosion of a coal barge. She bore the mark of Sir Edward Seymour during its visit to New York at the end of 1909. In 1911, it collided with the Bellerophon, and repaired, it was then posted in the Mediterranean, bearing the mark of Admiral Milne and serving as Fleet Headquarters. He participated in the hunt for Goeben and Breslau in the hours following the declaration of war, and after an overhaul, was sent to the Falklands, fighting and destroying the Von Spee squadron. In 1915, sent to the Mediterranean, he replaced the Indefatigable, bombarding the forts of the Dardanelles. He suffered blows on Turkish goals, losing two 305mm guns on March 18, and was struck the next day by a mine, forcing him to break off the fight and be towed for repairs to Malta. Back in Rosyth, he fought in the Battle of Jutland, without sustaining damage. Then it was a long inactivity and its participation in the short “Battle of the Isle of May” in February 1918. It was put in reserve in 1920 and demolished two years later.

Technical specifications

Displacement: 17,373 t, 20,080 T FL
Dimensions: 172.8 x 22.1 x 8 m
Propulsion: 4 shafts Parsons turbines, 31 Babcock and Wilcox boilers, 41,000 hp. 25.5 knots
Armor: Belt 150, Battery 180, Barbettes 180, turrets 180, blockhouse 250mm, bridges 65 mm.
Armament: 8 x 12-in (305)(4ࡨ), 16 x 4 in (102mm), 7 Maxim 0.3 in MGs, 4 21-in TTS.
Crew 784

Indefatigable class battlecruisers (1907)

This second class of battle cruisers in the 1908 plan was modelled on that of the Neptune in terms of armament. On the other hand, they resumed the armor configuration of the Invincible, and their faults. The rationale for building these three ships in a short time was also to provide two of these for the Pacific squadron, HMAS Australia and HMNZS New Zealand. They were the subject of some exaggeration from both Sir John Fisher in terms of firepower and Fred T. Jane in his armor review. In fact, they were neither faster nor better armed. The additional length of the hull was only justified to allow a side plating, unlike the Invincible. The first configuration of this ship mentioned a front funnel of the same height as the others, but for obvious reasons of inconvenience caused by the smoke, this one was raised during the tests, and in completion on the two others. The problem was the same with the aft tripod fire control post, and it was dismantled during the war on all three ships.

HMS Indefatigable was put on hold in 1909, launched in 1909 and completed in April 1911 while HMAS Australia was delivered in June 1913 and HMNZS New Zealand in November 1912. The latter received a 76mm AA gun and a 57mm . The other two received a 76 mm AA gun in March 1915. After Jutland, they received a number of modifications, armor plating, new projectors, a new extended fire control post, shortened masts. Their aft stern 533 torpedo tube was also removed. An additional 76mm gun was added to them in 1917, and in 1918 aircraft takeoff platforms on the two central turrets, accommodating a reconnaissance Sopwith Strutter and an escort Camel. In 1919-20, they still received some modifications of DCA.

The Indefatigable in action

HMS Indefatigable was operational within the 1st squadron of battle cruisers, then was sent to the Mediterranean with the 2nd squadron of battle cruisers. He took part in the hunt for the German Souchon squadron at the start of the war, then left for the Aegean. He became Carden’s flagship, then replaced by the Unyielding. He was back in the Grand Fleet in early 1915. He was at the forefront of Beatty’s ships during the Battle of Jutland in May 1916 and suffered several hits from the Von der Tann, including two in the aft turret ammunition bay. The whole hull fell apart aft and the ship quickly sank from the stern. Another salvo detonated the central holds and the ship was literally disintegrated, leaving no chance for its crew.

HMAS Australia was sent to Ausralia where she became the flagship of the RAN. He was mobilized within a large Australian-New Zealand squadron to respond to Von Spee’s incursion into the South Pacific. He took part in the second battle of the Falklands, then after having tracked down the supply vessels of the German squadron, returned to France within the Grand Fleet. He was not present at the Battle of Jutland, as under repair after a collision at sea with his sister-ship, New Zealand in April 1916. He remained the flagship of the 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadron until 1919 before returning to Australia and serving there until 1922 when he was condemned for respecting the restrictive tonnage resulting from the Treaty of Washington. The Australian government therefore decided to scuttle it with a grand ceremony on April 12, 1924 in Sydney Bay. Today it is a large artificial corral reef.

HMS New Zealand, which should definitely have been HMNZS New Zealand, flagship of the small RNZN, was finally taken over after completion by the Royal Navy, to reinforce its strength within the Grand Fleet. He began by touring the world, with many courtesy visits, then left for the Baltic in 1913. He was the Naval Admiral of the 2nd Battalion Cruiser Squadron in August 1914. He fought at Dogger Bank without tangible results, becoming the battlefield Beatty’s flagship when the Lion was disabled. It collided with Australia but was repaired in time to compete in Jutland. He fired 420 shots from his big guns with just 4 shots on goal and took a 280mm impact behind his rear turret. She went on another cruise, taking Admiral Jellicoe around the world in 1919, but was decommissioned and demolished under the Treaty of Washington.

Technical specifications

Displacement: 18,500 t, 22,110 T FL
Dimensions: 179.8 x 24.4 x 8.1 m
Propulsion: 4 shafts Parsons turbines, 32 Babcock and Wilcox boilers, 44,000 hp. 25 knots
Armor: Belt 150, Battery 180, Barbettes 180, turrets 180, blockhouse 250mm, bridges 65 mm.
Armament: 8 x 305 (4ࡨ), 16 x 102, 4 x 47 mm, 3 x 457 mm TTs (uw).
Crew 800

Lion class battlecruisers (1910)

The Lion and the Princess Royal, as well as the Queen Mary launched in 1912, were three ships of a new standard, following the Invincible and Indefatigable. Much larger, they opted for a 13.5 in (343 mm) caliber, that of the Orions, becoming in fact formidable capital ships, faster than battleships, but able to pound them hard while remaining out of range. They perfectly embodied the essence of the battle cruiser concept. The hull was huge, the artillery distributed using a central turret like the Orions, and the power was increased by 150% compared to that of the Orions. Despite a displacement of 29,700 tonnes with a plain load against 25,900, the speed gain was only of the order of 6 knots.

In addition, these ships suffered from fairly significant design faults: The central amidship turret was in itself an error, being inserted with its ammunition and bunker equipment, between the front and rear boilers, the hull was fragile and vibrated, but also very impartially protected in places, even though the press spoke of them as a “capital ship”, of a “fast battleship”, which was perfectly false. In addition, the fire direction post placed very close to the forward boilers was a prison for its servants because the mast which allowed access was made so hot that it was impractical. Despite this, the three Lions, built in Devonport, Vickers and Palmers, launched in 1910, 1911 and 1912, completed in 1912 and 1913 were upon their release the largest warships in the world and were the pride of the Royal Navy.

This pride relayed by the press exaggerated their speed figures reached or exceeded in tests, with peaks at 34 knots while in reality by turning their boilers red (for more than 90,000 hp) this speed remained frozen under the 28.1 knots. These “splendid cats” adored by the Press were in any case despite their youthful defects always naturally at the forefront of the action in 1914-18. They received AA artillery, their mast became tripod and the arc of fire enlarged while the anti-torpedo nets were removed.

The Lion class in action

HMS Lion was part of Rear Admiral Beatty’s 1st Battlecruiser Squadron in 1914. He participated in the Heligoland Bay Action in August 1914, then in the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1915, claiming three shots at goal but conceding three hits on goal with serious consequences: Almost immobilized after its machines stopped (port turbines flooded) It had to be towed to Rosyth by the Indomitable. Repaired, she was then the flagship of the squadron and had its moment of truth in Jutland in 1916. It suffered no less than 13 hits on goal from the Lützow. The battle cruiser escaped certain destruction by the explosion of its bunkers on fire thanks to the guts of the only surviving officer on site, seriously injured and burned, who ordered the intercom the order to drown the bunker where he was. Lion was once again brought with great difficulty to Rosyth and repaired once again. She returned to sea in September. She then made numerous sorties until the armistice under the orders of Rear Admiral Packenham. She was finally disarmed in 1924 following the Treaty of Washington.

HMS Princess Royal was the other spearhead of the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron in 1914. She fought at Heligoland, was sent to the Far East to intercept Von Spee’s squadron, then to Dogger Bank without recording any damage, This was no longer the case in Jutland where, taken to task by the shots of Derrflinger, Markgraf and Posen, suffered 8 hits and had to drown its bunkers to avoid explosions following the fires. Despite this the ship was operational and remained so until the end of the battle with some of his artillery out of service. Out of Rosyth, she made many more sorties before a disarmament in 1922.

HMS Queen Mary differed from the first two in a few details: She was slightly faster, taller and heavier. Her late completion (August 1913) was due to strikes and social unrest at the sites. Nevertheless, she passed her tests successfully, and joined Beatty’s 1st Squadron for the duration of the war. She took part in Heligoland’s action but not in the Dogger Bank because it was being redesigned at the time. The battle of Jutland was however fatal: After having fired 150 shells and reached the Seydlitz, she was taken to task by the Derrflinger. The latter knocked out one of the two pieces in the third turret. Another shell then fell on the same turret, causing it to explode even as a second made its way into the ammunition bunkers of the front turrets. A terrifying explosion ensued that vaporized the entire front section, including the bridge. The ship slowly sank forward while burning from the inside, with further explosions before sinking with almost all of its crew 38 minutes into the battle.

Technical specifications

Displacement: 26,270 t, 29,690 T. FL
Dimensions: 213.4 x 27 x 8.4 m
Propulsion 4 shafts Parsons turbines, 42 Yarrow boilers, 70,000 hp. 27 knots
Armor: Belt 230, Battery 230, Barbettes 230, turrets 250, blockhouse 250mm, bridges 65mm.
Armament: 8 x 15 in (343mm) (4ࡨ), 16 x 54 in (102mm), 4 x 2-pdr (37mm), 2向 in TTs (533 mm).
Crew: 997

HMS Tiger (1913)

Despite active lobbying from Sir Lord Fisher, the Admiralty was beginning to doubt the merits of the battle cruiser concept as early as 1911. Instead of launching a new class following the three Lions, the 1912 plan was satisfied with adding a single ship, less expensive than the previous “splendid cats”. The focus was on the improvements to the Queen Mary as a basis for work, and the experience gained in exercises. The positioning of the turrets and superstructures was completely revised, as well as the position and height of the chimneys and the front firing station. It was chosen in particular a powerful secondary armament, in hull battery, and on the central deckhouse, and a large clearance for the aft artillery, according to the recipe applied to the Japanese vessels of the Kongo class, the first of which was under construction at Vickers. Here again, a very high speed was specified, and no less than 85,000 hp were expected to give 28 knots, and over 105,000 by “white-heating” the boilers, which in theory was likely to give 30 knots. In fact, during testing, just 29 knots were reached with 104,000 hp but with daily consumption rising to 1245 tonnes of fuel oil. The smaller hull thus required wonders of invention to find the deficient storage space.

Although not yet having good protection, Tiger was a ship with fine and pleasant lines, original although without descendants. Although she was started after the Kongo, the chief engineer of Vickers drew heavily on the design ideas contained in the Tiger, whose plans had been drawn up early on. In fact, the last of the “splendid cats” – a little less expensive than the others, was launched in December 1913 and completed, then accepted into service after testing, in October 1914. She joined the Grand Fleet in November, naturally versed in the 1st squadron of battle cruisers. Participating in the Dogger Bank, her first important engagement, she suffered 6 blows including a large caliber which disabled his first rear turret, but suffered only 11 dead and 11 wounded.

She was repaired in February 1915 and then took part in its second major engagement in Jutland. In the midst of the fray within David Beatty’s squadron, she fired no less than 303 large caliber shots, but made only three punches to the bit, taking on the other hand 15 heavy impacts, without however compromising his chances of survival too much. This was however a miracle: The ‘Q’ turret (central rear) exploded, as well as a barbette, but the ammunition compartments were spared. Returning to Rosyth, partially on fire and giving band, hms Tiger had 24 dead and 46 wounded. The repairs were not completed until July 1916, and she returned to service with the well-started 1st Squadron, carrying out other sorties. She served in the Atlantic squadron from 1919 to 1922, and after the Treaty of Washington as a gunners training ship, after two years of conversion work, from 1924 to 1929, then replaced the Hood in redesign between 1929 and 1931, and was retired in 1931 to Devonport, demolished in 1932.

Technical specifications
Displacement & Dimensions 28,430 t, 35,710 T PC, 214.6 x 27.6 x 8.7 m
Propulsion 4 shafts Brown-Curtis turbines, 39 B&W boilers, 85,000 hp. and 28 knots max.
Armor: CT 254, belt 230, Casemates 100, barbettes 230, turrets 230, decks 75 mm.
Armament 8 guns x 343, 12 x 152, 2 x 76 AA, 4 x 47 parade, 4 TTs 533 mm SM.
Crew 1121

Courageous class battlecruisers (1915)


Three large light battle cruisers emerge from Sir Lord Fisher’s fertile brain in 1915 for his plan to land in the Baltic. They had to support the landings with their heavy artillery and flee the units of the Hochseeflotte line. Speed ​​was once again the key. We therefore based ourselves, not on the previous battalion cruisers, drastically reduced, but as extensions of the light cruisers of the time such as the many “class C”. Their armor arrangement, including a superposition of a 51 mm plate on a 25 mm plate, their machines taken from the Calliope class ships and simply doubled, and in the end this arrangement allowed them to provide 90,000 hp with machines light. Compared to previous Renowns, they carried one heavier turret less, but had the same secondary armament, were also large while claiming 8000 tons less and spinning two knots more. Their large, light hull was however subject to vibration and deterioration.

Their active service was long but indecisive: Operations in the Baltic were never done, and they were regarded as great white elephants. The Courageous was converted for a time (April-Nov. 1917) as a minelayer, and on the 17th, he engaged the German light fleet with the Glorious and Furious in the Battle of Heligoland. After the armistice, he was transferred to the training of the gunners and then made to the reserve. Due to the Washington Treaty, it was converted into an aircraft carrier (see navis2gm). The Glorious enjoyed the same career as her sister ship and was not effective during the Battle of Heligoland. She was also converted into an aircraft carrier, and also sunk at the start of World War II.

Technical specifications
Displacement & Dimensions 19,230 t – 22,690 t PC, 239.7 x 24.7x 7.10 m
Propulsion 4 propellers, 4 Parsons turbines, 18 Yarrow water tube boilers, 90,000 hp. and 32 knots max.
Armor Belt 75, Casemate 75, Barbettes 180, Turrets 330, CT 250, decks 40 mm max.
Armament 4 x 381 (2ࡨ), 18 x 102 (6ࡩ), 2 x 76 and 2 x 47 AA, 2 x 533 mm TTs sub.
Crew 2200

Renown class battlecruisers (1916)

The Largest warships of WW1

This was not the last class of English battle cruisers, but without question the Renown class marked a new milestone in the evolution of this controversial concept. In terms of tonnage, these ships were equivalent to or even inferior to that of recent dreadnoughts, but in size, they exceeded anything that had been built to date. These were the largest warships seen at the time, a status they retained until the completion of the Hood in 1920. They also marked a logical evolution towards the 15 inches caliber (381 mm) in parallel, shared with the dreadnoughts of the Revenge and Queen Elisabeth classes. While the Admiralty did not want to hear from other battle cruisers, claiming that HMS Tiger was the last, Lord Fisher’s return in October 1914 as the first Sea Lord called this positioning into question. As expected, the latter spared no effort in requesting the construction of two new ships of this type, capitalizing on victories won by the ships of the Invincible class in the Falklands against Von Spee.

Design development

He was told that these complex ships would not be finished until the end of the war, especially since the Admiralty’s priority was to complete its dreadnoughts and ensure mass production of destroyers. The latter affirmed that it was possible to rationalize production in order to achieve shorter study times and rapid construction. He even hoped for a commissioning at the beginning of 1916. To save time he proposed to recover the sheets and materials engaged in the manufacture of the two Revenge class dreadnoughts bearing the same name, the latter being literally cannibalized and their 381 mm turrets. As again speed was to be the determining factor, Fisher was counting on 32 knots, and to establish it, he discounted new, lighter machines with thin-tube boilers and lighter turbines, but the deadlines meant that we fell back on the adoption of Tiger machines, with four additional boilers fitted into the available space. Last but not least the protection was once again sacrificed, taking up the scheme adopted on the two Invincibles – (Jutland had not yet taken place, and Fisher remained true to his credo, speed is the best protection). In fact, when leaving the yards, these ships whose weight had increased during construction, could only reach the 32 specified knots by forcing their boilers well beyond 120,000 hp, at the cost of a monster consumption of fuel oil. Their normal speed was 30 knots for 112,000 hp, which was already exceptional in itself, and much better than the German SMS Hindenburg (on the contrary much better protected). She remained the record for ships of the line until the rapid arrival of the light battle cruisers Furious and Courageous (32 knots) and of course the Hood (31 knots).

Design

From the start, the hull was equipped with light protective bulges running over the entire belt. Finally, we adopted secondary parts of a light caliber, returning to the solution of the previous buildings, but instead of barbettes, we chose to raise them and group them in simple or triple hides under masks. This triple configuration for five of these carriages was also a strangeness that was not the happiest: The three pieces of each group were independent and alone required more than 10 men for their operation, which in total represented 32 servants. , in the confined space of the armor mask. The complexity of the loading system was also criticized. Although the firing arc of this artillery was in theory excellent, better than the barbettes hampered in heavy weather, their low caliber made them ineffective. This concept turned out to be mediocre in the end and was never taken up again. These two ships were started at Fairfield and J. Brown on January 25, 1915, launched in January and March 1916, and completed in August and September 1916, with the Repulse preceding the Renown. This build had indeed taken a year and 8-9 months, more than expected, but less than the Tiger (two years and four months).

The Renown and repusle in action

When they entered service with the Grand Fleet, the Battle of Jutland had just ended and the battle cruisers had lost all credibility. The turmoil caused by these losses was such that some in the government purely and simply proposed to put these units in reserve. The admiralty, when calm was restored, decided by the voice of John Jellicoe to take over these two buildings and to add 500 tons of armor to them above mainly the ammunition bunkers and the rudder room and steering systems. . Their front chimneys had been raised in November 1916 because of the inconvenience caused by the smoke on the gangway.

The solution was taken up soon after on the Repulse, then adopted by all other recent line ships of the Royal Navy. During 1918, new modifications were used, installation of deflectors, installation of new searchlights in armored towers, while the structure of the long hull, too lightly built to withstand the powerful planks of its six heavy guns, was reinforced, and the rebuilt fire direction post. Protection still remaining problematic, it was decided to reinforce the Repulse with the armor removed from the ex-battleship Cochrane transformed into an aircraft carrier. At the end of 1918, the Renown for its part had to wait for the availability of new armor, received only in 1923-26. Their careers during the great war were insignificant, in part because the admiralty was simply afraid of exposing them to enemy fire. As late as 1918, some vital parts of the ship could be penetrated by 152 mm projectiles. While waiting, the Renown hosted the Prince of Wales during his Asian and Australian tour.

Interwar and WW2

These two ships were once again modernized, receiving a modern AA (with the removal of their 102 mm parts) and new fire direction systems. But only Renown benefited from a total overhaul, coupled with a three-year reconstruction from 1936 to 1939. The Repulse was to be rebuilt in the same way, although the war prevented it. It joined the Singapore squadron with the Prince of Wales and was sunk in December 1941 by the Japanese air force. The Renown for its part resumed service on September 2, 1939 in the escort of aircraft carriers, totally unrecognizable, and with much more armor this time, its tonnage reaching 36,000 tons. His career during World War II was much richer and it was finally demolished in 1948, after thirty-two years of loyal service to the crown.

Technical specifications
Displacement: 27,600 t, 30,800 T FL
Dimensions: 242 x 27.4 x 7.8 m
Propulsion: 4 shaft Brown-Curtis turbines, 32 B&W boilers, 112,000 hp. 30 knots
Armor: Belt 150, citadel 100, barbettes 180, turrets 280, blockhouse 250mm, bridges 75 mm.
Armament: 6 pieces of 381 (3ࡨ), 17 of 102 (5ࡩ, 3ࡧ), 2 of 76 AA, 4 of 47, 2 TLT of 533mm (SM).
Crew: 950

Admiral class battlecruisers (1917)

Genesis of the best British battlecruiser

HMS Hood is exceptional in more than one way: It was the last British battle cruiser and one of the last in service in the world (the Japanese ships of the Kongo class had seen their protection so reinforced that they were classified as “fast battleships”.). He was above all the steel ambassador of the entire Royal Navy, his pride, like that of the country. She sailed on all seas, called in all ports, and proudly displayed the flag there, during a peaceful career that lasted from 1921 to 1941. She was finally the most powerful warship in the world when it was launched and remained such until those dreadful days of May 1941, at least in the minds of the average citizen reading the newspapers in metropolitan France. A symbol therefore. But the aura of a symbolism cannot protect an outdated concept. This is what the hood did, bitterly and violently, the painful demonstration. His other share of fame is due to his legendary (but short) artillery duel with the new most powerful warship in the world, bête noire of the British and in particular of Winston Churchill: The battleship Bismarck.

The Hood in 1924. The tragedy of this superb ship was that it had never undergone the overhaul which would have enabled it to better withstand the blows of the German giant, as well as to better meet the needs of the fleet during the war. He paid dearly for it, but… you don’t touch a symbol.

Design and construction

Ordered during the war, before the Battle of Jutland (March 1916), and her keel laid in September 1916, HMS Hood was launched at John Brown on August 22, 1918, but completed after the war, to be accepted into active service on May 15 1920. Compared to previous Repulse, it was a perfect example of the “always more” that prevailed in the admiralty of the time, a race which the Treaty of Washington (1922) ended. She closed at the same time the cancellation of the series, the 4 other sister ships of the Hood, which would have been accepted in service around 1922-24. The Hoods were 33 meters longer, 4 wider, and heavier by almost 10,000 tons, with two additional 380mm pieces. It was therefore de facto the most powerful warship ever built in the world. It remained so until the end of the 1930s. But she was a battle cruiser, and by the will of her parents, notably John Jellicoe and David Beatty, her protection remained relatively weak, athough weaker than prevous ships. However, this type of ship could cross swords with a battleship – from afar, using her firing range. In no way was she ready to fight the Bismarck which was from a whole different generation.

Hood’s career, interwar to WW2

Hood, however, benefited from some concessions to progress, notably a more efficient AA consisting of 40 mm Bofors. However, her fire control was obsolete, like most of its detection and ranging equipment. The “great overhaul” was to take place between the end of 1939 and mid-1941, but the war put an end to this attempt. The Hood was requisitioned urgently, we could not do without. The Hood therefore began a series of interdiction patrols for the German fleet between Iceland and the Norwegian coast. Then she joined the H force in the Mediterranean and took part in Operation Catapult in August 1940 against the French fleet stationed at Mers-el-Kébir.

Back in Scapa for he remained stationed there to intervene in the event of a German invasion in the English Channel (operation “Sea lion”). She was later joined by the Prince of Wales. The threat of an invasion was temporarily repelled with the success of the Battle of Britain, but a new threat began to emerge. In May 1941, it took shape. The Bismarck accompanied by Prinz Eugen attempted an exit in the Atlantic. They were however intercepted by the Hood group, a priori on paper a definite advantage, but as much the Hood’s protection and fire control were obsolete, the Prince of Wales was too recent and not yet fully operational. But Churchill’s order was clear: “sink the bismarck”. The engagement was brief for the Hood, she opened fire at a distance of 16,500 meters. The Bismarck’s first salvo was too short, but the second hit the nail on the head. All the sailors of the Prince of Wales saw this astonishing sight, of a spray of fire larger than the battlecruiser itself, shoot out at the aft mast as the hull lifted and buckled under the enormous pressure. Everyone on board understood it: One of the shells had hit the ammunition bay. The ship, cut in half and on fire, sank very quickly, carrying almost all of her crew. There were three survivors.

In 2001, the wreck of HMS Hood was rediscovered, which was the subject of a BBC report. However, a close examination of the location where the explosion had started did not resolve the riddle of the exact cause of the explosion. Indeed, the descriptions and drawings made of the explosion put their finger on a problem: It started far from the rear ammunition compartment. There was hardly anything there that could provoke it, or at least not on this scale. To date, hypotheses are rife but the truth still escapes specialists.

Specifications (1920)

Displacement: 42,670 t. standard -45,200 t. Full load
Dimensions: 262.20 m long, 31.7 m wide, 8.7 m draft (full load).
Propulsion: 4 propellers, 4 Brown-Curtis turbines, 24 Yarrow boilers, 120,000 hp. Maximum speed 31 knots, RA 8000 nautical at 12 knots.
Armor: 300 mm belt, 100 mm bridges, 152 mm rangefinders, 380 mm turrets, 130 mm central reduction, 280 mm blockhouse.
Armament: 8 pieces of 381 mm (4ࡨ), 14 pieces of 102 mm (7ࡨ) DP, 8 of 40 mm AA (2࡮), 1 rocket launcher.
Crew: 1477