By Redditor gbd31985.
Launched: 1906 Standard Displacement: 18,110 tons Speed: 21 knots Main Armament: 10 x 12in guns Secondary Armament: 24 x 12 pdrs Crew: 695 With her massive main armament, high speed provided by her turbine engines, and central fire control system, Dreadnought immediately rendered every battleship in the world obsolete.
She did have some drawbacks. At full load, she exceeded her designed displacement by several thousand tons. This caused her to sit so low in the water that her armor belt was completely submerged. Her tripod mainmast, which housed the fire control platform, was placed directly behind the forward funnel. Smoke and exhaust fumes from the funnel would often blind and choke the director crews. Her secondary armament was insufficient for dealing with the larger and better protected destroyers and torpedo boats that were entering service at home and abroad. Despite having 10 main guns, only eight could be fired on the broadside due to the placement of two turrets alongside the superstructure.
Launched: 1907 Standard Displacement: 18,800 tons Speed: 21 knots Main Armament: 10 x 12in guns Secondary Armament: 16 x 4in guns Crew: 733 Ships in class: 3 – HMS Bellerophon, HMS Superb, HMS Temeraire The Bellerophon class retained Dreadnought’s main gun layout while attempting to address some of her other problems. The foremast, housing the fire control station, was moved in front of the forward funnel. The 12 pounders were replaced by the much more effective 4in gun.
The Bellerophons also gained a new aft fire control station. However, smoke and gasses from the forward funnel would render the station unusable when under way. They were later removed from all three ships.
St. Vincent-class battleship
Launched: 1908 – 1909 Standard Displacement: 19,560 tons Speed: 21 knots Main Armament: 10 x 12in guns Secondary Armament: 20 x 4in guns Crew: 718 Ships in class: 3 – HMS St. Vincent, HMS Collingwood, HMS Vanguard
St. Vincent-class battleship
The three St. Vincents were almost identical to the Bellerophon class, the main differences being a slight increase in size, additional secondary weapons, and a slightly refined hull shape. One of the class, HMS Vanguard, experienced an ammunition explosion and sank while at anchor on July 9, 1917, with the loss of 804 men.
Launched: 1909 Standard Displacement: 19,680 tons Speed: 21 knots Main Armament: 10 x 12in guns Secondary Armament: 16 x 4in guns Crew: 759 With Neptune, British designers made the first serious changes to the Dreadnought’s weapon layout. The secondary guns were removed from the turret tops and placed in the superstructure. In an attempt to maximise broadside firepower, Neptune’s wing turrets were placed ‘en echelon’ or staggered. This theoretically would allow them to fire across the deck onto the opposite beam. A pair of flying bridges connected the fore and aft superstructures, as well as housing the ship’s boats. To save space, the ‘X’ turret was raised into a superfiring position able to fire directly over ‘Y’ turret.
The design was a disappointment. When the wing turrets fired across the ship, it strained the ship’s hull. When fired directly forward or astern, the blast effect caused serious damage to the superstructure. The superfiring ‘X’ turret severly concussed the gun crews in ‘Y’ turret when fired directly astern, limiting ‘X’ turret to broadside fire. It was also realised that during battle, hits on the flying bridges would cause debris to fall on the ‘P’ and ‘Q’ turrets, hampering or even completely jamming them. The bridges and tripod mainmast were later removed.
Launched: 1910 Standard Displacement: 20,225 tons Speed: 21 knots Main Armament: 10 x 12in guns Secondary Armament: 16 x 4in guns Crew: 755 Ships in class: 2 – HMS Colossus, HMS Hercules
The two Colossus-class ships were basically repeats of Neptune, with two major changes. The first was the omission of the heavy mainmast from Neptune. Secondly (and unfortunately), the foremast housing the fire control station was again placed behind the forward funnel, a return to the unsatisfactory arrangement on Dreadnought. The design was rushed mainly due to public pressure for more dreadnought battleships.
Launched: 1910 – 1911 Standard Displacement: 22,200 tons Speed: 21 knots Main Armament: 10 x 13.5in guns Secondary Armament: 16 x 4in guns Crew: 752 Ships in class: 4 – HMS Orion, HMS Conqueror, HMS Monarch, HMS Thunderer With their more powerful 13.5in main battery, the Orions became the first class of ‘super-dreadnoughts’. The class introduced several new design features. The most notable was the placement of all main turrets on the ship’s centerline, with the forward (‘A’ and ‘B’) and aft (‘X’ and ‘Y’) turrets in a superfiring configuration. The main armor belt was extended higher up the sides of the hull. The hull also had bilge keels installed, reducing roll.
The Orions still suffered from some of the same design defects of earlier ships. The foremast was still aft of the forward funnel, though the interference was lessened by the fact the the funnel served fewer boilers than previous designs. The problem of blast effects harming the lower turret crews had not yet been solved, limiting ‘B’ and ‘X’ turrets to broadside fire.
King George V-class battleship (1911)
Launched: 1911 – 1912 Standard Displacement: 23,000 tons Speed: 21 knots Main Armament: 10 x 13.5in guns Secondary Armament: 16 x 4in guns Crew: 782 Ships in class: 4 – HMS King George V, HMS Centurion, HMS Audacious, HMS Ajax This class was a near repeat of the Orions, with one major difference: the foremast was finally and permanently moved in front of the forward funnel. One of the class, HMS Audacious, was lost after striking a German mine on Oct. 27, 1914. There were no fatalities.
Iron Duke-class battleship
Launched: 1912 – 1913 Standard Displacement: 25,000 tons Speed: 21 knots Main Armament: 10 x 13.5in guns Secondary Armament: 12 x 6in guns Crew: 995 Ships in class: 4 – HMS Iron Duke, HMS Marlborough, HMS Emperor of India, HMS Benbow
Iron Duke-class battleship
The Iron Dukes saw British designers increase the secondary armament to 6in guns to counteract the longer effective range from which destroyers and torpedo boats could launch their weapons. This was the main reason for their higher displacement.
Queen Elizabeth-class battleship
Launched: 1913 – 1915 Standard Displacement: 27,500 tons Speed: 25 knots Main Armament: 8 x 15in guns Secondary Armament: 14 x 6in guns Crew: 925 Ships in class: 5 – HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Warspite, HMS Valiant, HMS Barham, HMS Malaya With the increase to 15in main battery, designers realized that they could deliver a heavier broadside with eight guns than the Iron Dukes could with ten 13.5in guns. By eliminating the midships ‘Q’ turret, more space could be devoted to engines, which would burn oil instead of coal. This was done without sacrificing armor protection; thus, the ‘fast battleship’ was born. The Queen Elizabeths were the first British battleships with the necssary speed to operate alongside battlecruisers. Between wars, Queen Elizabeth, Valiant, and Warspite were extensively rebuilt and given heavier AA armament, with Barham and Malaya receiving minor refits. All saw heavy service in WWII, with HMS Barham being torpedoed on Nov. 25, 1941 by a German U-boat. She capsized, exploded, and sank with the loss of 841 men.
Queen Elizabeth-class battleship
HMS Queen Elizabeth, in her WWII configuration. HMS Valiant and HMS Warspite both looked similar entering WWII.
Launched: 1914 – 1916 Standard Displacement: 28,000 tons Speed: 21 knots Main Armament: 8 x 15in guns Secondary Armament: 14 x 6in guns Crew: 937 Ships in class: 5 – HMS Ramillies, HMS Resolution, HMS Revenge, HMS Royal Oak, HMS Royal Sovereign British designers, now painfully aware of the dangers of modern torpedoes, built a large bulge into the sides of the Revenge class, to provide additional underwater protection. The resulting increase in width and drag caused a reduction in speed from the Queen Elizabeths. All five ships served in WWII. HMS Royal Sovereign was loaned to the Soviet Union in 1944 and renamed Archangelsk. She served mainly as a convoy escort, and was return to Britain in 1949. HMS Royal Oak was torpedoed while at anchor in Scapa Flow on Oct. 14, 1939. She rolled over and sank with the loss of 833 men.
Launched: 1913 Standard Displacement: 28,600 tons Speed: 23 knots Main Armament: 10 x 14in guns Secondary Armament: 16 x 6in guns Crew: 1,167 Originally ordered by Chile and named Almirante Latorre, she was sold to Great Britain in 1914 and renamed HMS Canada. She served throughout WWI and afterwards, was sold back to Chile.
Launched: 1913 Standard Displacement: 27,500 tons Speed: 22 knots Main Armament: 14 x 12in guns Secondary Armament: 20 x 6in guns, 10 x 3in guns Crew: 1,115 Originally ordered for Brazil as Rio de Janeiro, she was sold to Turkey in 1913 and renamed Sultan Osman I. However, with hostilities rising, and unsure of who Turkey would side with, she was seized by Great Britain before she could be sailed home. The ship had been paid for partly by public subscription at home, and her seizure pushed Turkey into joining the Central Powers later that year. Though powerful, most of her equipment and machinery was non-standard, and as a result required more frequent refits.
Launched: 1913 Standard Displacement: 22,780 Speed: 21 knots Main Armament: 10 x 13.5in guns Secondary Armament: 16 x 6in guns Crew: 1,070 Originally ordered by Turkey as Reshadieh, she was seized in August 1914 along with Sultan Osman I. Like that ship, Reshadieh had been paid for partly with funds raised by the Turkish people, and her seizure caused outrage at home.
Launched: 1925 Standard Displacement: 33,313 tons Speed: 23 knots Main Armament: 9 x 16in guns Secondary Armament: 12 x 6in guns, 6 x 4.7in guns Crew: 1,314 Ships in class: 2 – HMS Nelson, HMS Rodney Designed under the constraints of the Washington Naval Treaty, British designers sought the heaviest armament and heaviest protection with the smallest displacement. This resulted in the unusual layout of the main battery, which was meant to shorten the length of the ship’s armored belt.
Though slow by the standard of the day, Nelson and Rodney boasted the heaviest guns and some of the best armor protection of any British battleship. Both ships saw extensive service in WWII, mainly as heavy escorts for convoys and providing naval gunfire support for shore landings. The most famous contribution by either ship was Rodney’s participation in the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck on May 27, 1941.
King George V-class battleship (1939)
Launched: 1939 – 1940 Standard Displacement: 36,727 tons Speed: 28 knots Main Armament: 10 x 14in guns Secondary Armament: 16 x 5.25in guns, 32 x 2pdr guns Crew: 1,422 Ships in class: 5 – HMS King George V, HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Duke of York, HMS Anson, HMS Howe The unorthodox battery layout of this class, with quadruple ‘A’ and ‘X’ turrets and double ‘B’ turret, represented the sacrifice of some firepower to maintain a high level of protection. The use of 14in guns was approved when it was realized that there wouldn’t be enough 16in guns available before the likely outbreak of war.
King George V-class battleship
All five ships saw heavy service in WWII. King George V, along with HMS Rodney, famously saw to the final destruction of the German battleship Bismarck in May, 1941. Prince of Wales had been in company with HMS Hood when Bismarck sank her days earlier. Towards the end of the year, along with HMS Repulse, Price of Wales deployed to Singapore to prevent any Japanese landings in Malay. Both ships were sunk by Japanese aircraft on Dec. 10, 1941. On Dec. 26, 1943, Duke of York helped sink the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst. By April, 1945, all four remaining ships were serving in the Far East, with King George V and Duke of York present in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender.
Launched: 1944 Standard Displacement: 44,500 tons Speed: 30 knots Main Armament: 8 x 15in guns Secondary Armament: 16 x 5.25in guns, 73 x 1.57in guns Crew: 1,893 With the conversion of the light battlecruisers Glorious and Courageous into aircraft carriers, the British Admiralty had enough guns to outfit a single battleship. Vanguard was designed with an eye towards service in the Pacific, with a heavy AA armament and high speed for operating with aircraft carriers. The last, and many considered finest, battleship built by Great Britain, Vanguard carried King George VI on a royal tour to South Africa in 1947, then served as a training ship until she was sold for scrap in 1960.
Launched: 1907 Standard Displacement: 17,373 tons Speed: 26 knots Main Armament: 8 x 12in guns Secondary Armament: 16 x 4in guns Crew: 784 Ships in class: 3 – HMS Invincible, HMS Inflexible, HMS Indomitable Sporting the same heavy guns as a battleship, but much lighter armor and higher speed, battlecruisers were designed to hunt down enemy commerce raiders. The theory was proved sound on Dec. 8, 1914, when Invincible and Inflexible ran down and sank the German armored cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau at the Battle of the Falkland Islands. When placed in the line of battle in a fleet action though, their light armor proved deadly. All three ships served at Jutland on May 31, 1916, where 3 British battlecruisers were sunk in similar fashion. Invincible was one of the casualties. A German shell penetrated her thin armor and struck a main magazine. Invincible exploded, killing all but six of her crew.
Launched: 1909 – 1911 Standard Displacement: 18,500 tons Speed: 25 knots Main Armament: 8 x 12in guns Secondary Armament: 16 x 4in guns Crew: 800 Ships in class: 3 – HMS Indefatigable, HMS Australia, HMS New Zealand Basically a stretched Invincible, designers lengthened the hull of the Indefatigables to provide a better theoretical arc of fire for the wing turrets. Their armor was no better than the Invincibles, with tragic results. Indefatigable and New Zealand both served at Jutland, where Indefatigable was hit by several German shells in quick succession. Her main magazines ignited, and the ship exploded, with the loss of all but two of her crew.
Launched: 1910 – 1911 Standard Displacement: 26,270 tons Speed: 27 knots Main Armament: 8 x 13.5in guns Secondary Armament: 16 x 4in guns Crew: 997 Ships in class: 2 – HMS Lion, HMS Princess Royal The two Lions were, along with the very similar Queen Mary, were nicknamed the ‘Splendid Cats’ due to their handsome appearance. Like the Orion class battleships that were being launched the same year, the Lions had all their guns on the centerline, with ‘A’ and ‘B’ turrets superfiring. Both ships served at Jutland, where Lion very nearly became another German victim. A shell penetrated the midships ‘Q’ turret and ignited the ready ammunition in the handling rooms. Only quick action by a mortally wounded Marine officer, who ordered the magazine be flooded, saved the ship from a catastrophic explosion.
HMS Queen Mary
Launched: 1912 Standard Displacement: 26,770 tons Speed: 27.5 knots Main Armament: 8 x 13.5in guns Secondary Armament: 16 x 4in guns Crew: 997 Nearly identical to the Lion class, Queen Mary differed in only a few minor ways. The captain’s quarters were moved to the rear of the ship, and the accompanying stern gallery allowed for her to be identified apart from Lion and Princess Royal. She also sported a slightly longer variant of the 13.5in gun. While serving at Jutland in May, 1916, Queen Mary was struck by several shells near her ‘Q’, ‘A’, and ‘B’ turrets. At least one of these hits penetrated to a main magazine, and the ship disintegrated in a series of massive explosions. All but nine of her crew were lost.
Launched: 1913 Standard Displacement: 28,430 tons Speed: 29 knots Main Armament: 8 x 13.5in guns Secondary Armament: 12 x 6in guns Crew: 1,121 The last battlecruiser built prior to the start of WWI, Tiger was very nearly destroyed at the Battle of Dogger Bank on Jan. 24, 1915. Quick flooding of her magazines after a shell penetrated ‘Q’ turret prevented her destruction. Afterwards, strict procedures and regulations regarding ammunition handling were observed by the ship’s crew. These were cited as a major reason Tiger survived Jutland, where she was struck by 15 German shells.
Launched: 1918 Standard Displacement: 42,670 tons Speed: 31 knots Main Armament: 8 x 15in guns Secondary Armament: 12 x 5.5in guns, 4 x 4in guns Crew: 1,477 With her exceptionally handsome appearance, Hood quickly became the symbol of British naval power. She often was chosen to show the flag at ports around the world. However, her armor was considered to thin, and she was to have been given a substantial refit, but this was delayed by the start of World War II. Hood participated in the bombardment of French warships at Mers-el-Kebir on July 3, 1940. Her career was cut short in May, 1941, when, together with the battleship Prince of Wales, she engaged the German battleship Bismarck and cruiser Prinz Eugen in the Denmark Strait. A shell from Bismarck punched through her thin armor and detonated in a main magazine. Hood was broken in two by an enormous explosion and quickly sank, taking all but three of her crew with her.
Launched: 1916 Standard Displacement: 27,650 tons Speed: 30 knots Main Armament: 6 x 15in guns Secondary Armament: 17 x 4in guns Crew: 967 Ships in class: 2 – HMS Renown, HMS Repulse Neither ship was finished in time to see much service in WWI. Additional armor was added several times during their careers, and Renown was given an especially thorough rebuild in the inter-war years. Repulse was to have received a similar refit, but the outbreak of war delayed this.
Both saw serivce in WWII. Repulse was sunk in Dec., 1941, along with the battleship Prince of Wales, off the coast of Malaya, by Japanese aircraft. Renown spent most of the war as a heavy escort for convoys in various theaters.