España as she appeared in 1913
|Builders:||Sociedad Española de Construcción Naval, El Ferrol, Spain|
|In commission:||1913 to 1937|
|Displacement:||Normal: 15,700 t (15,500 long tons)
Full Load: 16,450 t (16,190 long tons)
|Length:||140 m (460 ft) o/a|
|Beam:||24 m (79 ft)|
|Draft:||7.8 m (26 ft)|
|Propulsion:||12 × Yarrow coal-fired boilers
4 × turbines
4 × shafts
|Speed:||19.5 knots (36.1 km/h)|
|Range:||5,000 nmi (9,300 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h)|
|Armament:||8 × 305 mm (12 in)/50 cal guns
20 × 102 mm (4 in) guns
4 × 3-pounder guns
2 × machine guns
|Armor:||Belt armor: 203 mm (8 in)
Deck: 38 mm (1.5 in)
Turrets: 203 mm
Conning tower: 254 mm (10 in)
The España class was a series of three dreadnought battleships built for the Spanish Navy in 1909–1921. The construction of the ships took so long due to shortages of material supplied by Great Britain during World War I, particularly armament. The three ships were the only Spanish dreadnoughts ever built, and the smallest dreadnoughts ever built. They were armed with eight 12-inch (305 mm) guns, but their small displacement—15,700 metric tons (15,500 long tons; 17,300 short tons)—forced the designers to compromise on armor protection and speed.
España, Alfonso XIII, and Jaime I served in the 1st Squadron of the Spanish Fleet, which became the Training Squadron in the 1920s. They all saw action during the Rif War in the early 1920s supporting Spanish ground forces. España ran aground in August 1923 and was wrecked. Alfonso XIII was renamed España in 1931 after her namesake, King Alfonso XIII was exiled. The two surviving ships served on opposite sides of the Spanish Civil War, and both were destroyed during the conflict. España struck a naval mine laid by her own side in February 1937, and Jaime I was destroyed by an internal explosion in June 1937.
Following disastrous losses in the Spanish-American War of 1898, Spain lacked the money to rebuild its navy, so it was not until the Navy Law of 7 January 1908 that a new program authorizing three new battleships—España, Alfonso XIII, and Jaime I—along with other ships, was passed. The delay enabled Spain to take advantage of experience gained by Britain with the world's first commissioned all-big-gun battleship, HMS Dreadnought, and by the United States with its first ship of the type, USS South Carolina.
As Spain was incapable of building the España class herself, Armstrong Whitworth was contracted for the design and John Brown received the contracts for the construction of the shipyard and ships themselves. Armstrong's designers were constrained by the need to build ships small enough to fit in existing dockyard facilities, since there were insufficient funds to both built larger battleships and to enlarge the navy's dockyards. As a result, they were the smallest dreadnought-type battleships ever built. Built for coast defense and national pride more than for combat, the España class provided Spain with formidable ships at reasonable cost. Unfortunately, due to rapid technological change at the time and lengthy delays in completion of the later units of the class, the España class was obsolescent before completion.
General characteristics and machinery
The ships of the class were 132.6 m (435 ft) long at the waterline and 140 m (460 ft) long overall. They had a beam of 24 m (79 ft) and a draft of 7.8 m (26 ft); their freeboard was 4.6 m (15 ft) amidships, much lower than was normal for battleships of the period. They displaced 15,700 metric tons (15,500 long tons; 17,300 short tons) as designed and up to 16,450 t (16,190 long tons; 18,130 short tons) at combat load. The vessels had a single stack amidships, two tripod masts, and small superstructure. Each ship had a crew of 854 officers and enlisted men.
Their propulsion system consisted of four-shaft Parsons steam turbines and twelve coal-fired water-tube Yarrow boilers. The engines were rated at 15,500 shaft horsepower (11,600 kW) and produced a top speed of 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph). Each ship could store up to 1,900 t (1,900 long tons; 2,100 short tons) of coal, which permitted a cruising radius of 5,000 nautical miles (9,300 km; 5,800 mi) at a speed of 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph).
Armament and armor
Their main armament consisted of eight 12-inch (305 mm) 50-caliber guns manufactured by Vickers. Each weighed 65.646 metric tons (64.609 long tons; 72.362 short tons) and fired an 850-pound (385 kg) shell at a muzzle velocity of 3,000 ft/s (914 m/s). The guns had a maximum range of 23,500 yards (21,500 m) and a rate of fire of one round per minute. These guns were housed in four twin turrets, arranged with "A" and "Y" on the centerline, the others en echelon on the wings. The turrets used hydraulics to operate, and could be loaded at any angle of elevation. The en echelon arrangement was chosen over superfiring turrets—such as those used in the American dreadnoughts—to save weight and cost. All four turrets could fire on the broadside, and three could fire ahead or astern.
The secondary battery comprised twenty 4 in (102 mm) 50-caliber guns mounted individually in casemates along the length of the hull. They fired a 31-pound (14 kg) shell. The guns were too close to the waterline, however, and were unusable in heavy seas. The ships also carried four 3-pounder guns, two machine guns, and two landing guns that could be taken ashore.
Such heavy armament in a small-displacement battleship, however, forced compromises on the armor protection. The main belt armor was only 8 in (203 mm) thick, and tapered to 4 in (102 mm) on either end of the central citadel. The upper belt that protected the casemate guns was 6 in (152 mm) thick. Each turret, which had 8 in sides, sat on a barbette that was protected with 10 in (254 mm) thick plating. The conning tower also had 10-inch thick sides. Both the armored deck and the torpedo bulkhead were 1.5 in (38 mm) thick.
Although the lead unit, España, was built in less than four years, her sisters, and particularly the third unit, Jaime I, were held up by a lack of materials from Britain as a result of the outbreak of World War I.
|España||SECN, Ferrol||6 December 1909||5 February 1912||23 October 1913|
|Alfonso XIII||SECN, Ferrol||23 February 1910||7 May 1913||16 August 1915|
|Jaime I||SECN, Ferrol||5 February 1912||21 September 1914||20 December 1921|
España was the only member of the class completed by the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, though she did not see action, as Spain remained neutral for the duration of the war. In August 1914, she participated in the opening ceremonies for the Panama Canal. Alfonso XIII joined her in August 1915 in the 1st Squadron of the Spanish fleet. In late 1921, Jaime I was finally completed. Throughout the early 1920s, the three ships served in the Training Squadron. During this period, Spain became involved in the Rif War in Morocco; all three ships saw action during the conflict, primarily by providing artillery support to Spanish ground forces engaging the Rif rebels. In August 1923, while bombarding Rif positions, España ran aground off Cape Tres Forcas. A lengthy salvage operation failed to free the ship, and in November 1924, the stress of repeated tidal battering broke the wreck in half.
In 1931, after the overthrow of King Alfonso XIII, his namesake battleship was renamed España. In the mid-1930s, the Spanish Navy considered modernization programs for the two surviving battleships, but none came to fruition, primarily as a result of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. The two ships found themselves on opposite sides during the conflict; España served on the side of Francisco Franco's Nationalists, and Jaime I fought for the Republicans. In August 1936, Jaime I was attacked and moderately damaged by Nationalist bombers; while undergoing repairs in Cartagena, she was destroyed by an internal explosion in June 1937. España was meanwhile sunk in February 1937 after striking a mine laid by her own side.
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