Formidable-class battleship

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Formidable-class battleship
HMS Implacable.jpg
HMS Implacable of the Formidable class
Class overview
Name: Formidable/London/Queen-class battleship
Operators:  Royal Navy
Preceded by: Canopus class
Succeeded by: Duncan class
Subclasses: London class
Queen class (sometimes considered a subclass of the London class)
Built: 1898–1904
In commission: 1901–1919
Completed: 8 (3 Formidable class, 3 London class, 2 Queen class)
Lost: 3 (2 Formidable class, 1 London class)
Retired: 5 (1 Formidable class, 2 London class, 2 Queen class)
General characteristics
Class & type: Formidable, London, and Queen classes
Type: Pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: Formidable class: 15,800 long tons (deep)
London class: 15,700 tons (deep)
Queen class: 15,400 tons (deep)
Length: 431 ft (131.4 m) overall
Beam: 75 ft (22.9 m)
Draught: Formidable class: 25 ft 11 in (7.90 m)
London and Queen classes: (26 ft 0 in (7.92 m)
Propulsion: 20 Belleville water tube boilers
2 × 3-cylinder vertical triple-expansion engines
2 shafts
15,000 ihp (11.6 megawatts); on trials Formidables averaged 15,500 ihp
Speed: 18.0 kn (33.3 km/h); on trials Formidables averaged 18.2 knots
Complement: Formidable class: 780
London and Queen classes: 714
Armament:

4 × BL 12-inch (304.8 mm) Mk IX guns
12 × BL 6-inch (152.4 mm) Mk VII guns
16 × 12-pounder QF guns
6 × 3-pounder QF guns

4 × 18 inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes (submerged)
Armour:

Belt: 9 inches (229 mm)
Bulkheads: 9–12 inches (229–305 mm)
Barbettes: 12 inches (305 mm)
Gunhouses: 8–10 inches (203–254 mm)
Casemates: 6 inches (152 mm)
Conning tower: 14 inches (356 mm)

Deck: Formidable class: 1–3 inches (25.4−76.2 mm)
London and Queen classes: 1–2.5 inches (25.4−64 mm)

The Royal Navy's Formidable-class battleships were an eight-ship class of pre-dreadnoughts designed by Sir William White and built in the late 1890s. The class is often further divided into a separate London class, and the London class sometimes is divided further into a separate Queen class.

Technical characteristics[edit]

Formidable class[edit]

Right elevation and deck plan as depicted in Brassey's Naval Annual 1906

The Formidables were similar in appearance to and had the same armament as the Majestic and Canopus classes that preceded them. The Formidables are often described as improved Majestics, but in design they really were enlarged Canopuses; while the Canopus class took advantage of the greater strength of the Krupp armour employed in their construction to allow the ships to remain the same size as the Majestics with increased tonnage devoted to higher speed and less to armour without sacrificing protection, in the Formidables Krupp armour was used to improve protection without reducing the size of the ships.[1] The Formidables thus were larger than the two preceding classes, and enjoyed both greater protection than the Majestics and the higher speed of the Canopus class. The Formidables' armour scheme was similar to that of the Canopuses, although, unlike in the Canopuses, the armour belt ran all the way to the stern; it was 215 feet (66 m) long and 15 feet (4.6 m) deep and 9 inches (229 mm) thick, tapering at the stem to 3 inches (76 mm) thick and 12 feet (3.7 m) deep and at the stern to 1.5 inches (38 mm) thick and 8 feet (2.4 m) deep. The main battery turrets had Krupp armour, 10 inches (254 mm) on their sides and 8 inches (203 mm) on their backs.[1]

Right elevation of 12 inch gun turret & ammunition hoists

The Formidables improved on the main and secondary armament of previous classes, being upgunned from 35-calibre to 40-calibre 12 inch (305 mm) guns and from 40-calibre to 45-calibre 6 inch (152 mm) guns. The 12 inch guns could be loaded at any bearing and elevation, and beneath the turrets the ships had a split hoist with a working chamber beneath the guns that reduced the chance of a cordite fire spreading from the turret to the shell and powder handling rooms and to the magazines.[1]

The Formidables had an improved hull form that made them handier at high speeds than the Majestics. They also had inward-turning screws, which allowed reduced fuel consumption and slightly higher speeds than in previous classes but at the expense of less manoeuvrability at low speeds.[1]

London subclass[edit]

After the first three Formidables, there was a change in design for the last five ships, starting with London; as a result they are often considered to constitute the London class,[2] but also can be viewed as in effect a sub-class of the Formidable class. The main difference in the Londons was thinner deck armour and some other detail changes to the armor scheme. and the consequent lower displacement.[3]

Queen subclass[edit]

The last two London class ships to be built, Prince of Wales and Queen, were identical to the other Londons except that they had open 12-pounder gun batteries mounted in the open on the upper deck amidships and had a lower displacement.[3] Queen and Prince of Wales were laid down after the Duncan-class battleships that succeeded the Formidables and Londons, and were completed after the Duncans as well. They are generally considered part of the Formidable[4] or London class,[3] but the difference in the mounting of their 12-pounder guns, their lower displacement, and their later construction than the Duncans lead some authors to view them as constituting a Queen class separate from the Formidable and London classes.[5]

The last of the ships to commission, Prince of Wales, was the last battleship for which Director of Naval Construction Sir William Henry White had sole design responsibility. She also was the last of the 29 battleships of the Majestic, Canopus, Formidable, London, Duncan, and Queen classes, commissioned between 1895 and 1904, which had all been based on the single, standard Majestic design and reached their final development in Queen and Prince of Wales.[6]

Like all pre-dreadnoughts, the Formidables, Londons, and Queens were outclassed by the dreadnought battleships that began to appear in 1906. However, they continued in front-line duties through the early part of World War I.

Operational history[edit]

The ships saw peacetime service in the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and home waters. With the appearance of the new dreadnought-type battleships and battlecruisers beginning in 1906, predreadnoughts such as the Formidables, Londons, and Queens were consigned to less demanding roles for much of the First World War, during which two were lost in action and a third was destroyed by an accidental explosion. Early war service in home waters was followed by duty in the Mediterranean including the Dardanelles campaign. The survivors were discarded soon after the war ended.

Formidable class[edit]

HMS Formidable[edit]

HMS Formidable served in the Mediterranean Fleet (1904–08), Channel Fleet (1908), Home Fleet (1909), Atlantic Fleet (1909–14), and Home Fleet again (1912–14). Her World War I service was in the Channel Fleet (1914–15). She was torpedoed by German submarine U-24 off Portland Bill while on patrol in the English Channel on 1 January 1915 with the loss of 547 of her 750 complement.[7]

HMS Irresistible[edit]

HMS Irresistible served in the Mediterranean Fleet (1902–1908), Channel Fleet (1908–1910), and Home Fleet (1911–1914). Her World War I service was in the Channel Fleet (1914–1915), and at the Dardanelles in 1915. She hit a mine on 18 March 1915 during the Dardanelles campaign and sank three hours later.[8]

HMS Implacable[edit]

HMS Implacable served in the Mediterranean Fleet (1901–1909), Atlantic Fleet (1909–1912), and Home Fleet (1912–1914). Her World War I service was in the Channel Fleet (1914–1915), the Dardanelles campaign (1915), the Adriatic (1915), and the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean (1915–1917), and then in subsidiary duties in home waters. She was sold for scrap in 1921.[9]

London subclass[10][edit]

HMS London[edit]

HMS London served in the Mediterranean Fleet (1902–1907), Home Fleet (1907–1908), Channel Fleet (1908–1909), Atlantic Fleet (1910–1912), and Second Home Fleet (1912–1914). Her World War I service was in the Channel Fleet (1914–1915), Dardanelles campaign (1915), and Adriatic (1915–1916). She then was converted into a minelayer, serving as such in laying the Northern Mine Barrage in 1918, and was sold for scrapping in 1920.[11]

HMS Bulwark[edit]

HMS Bulwark served in the Mediterranean Fleet (1902–1907), Home Fleet (1907–1908), Channel Fleet (1908–1909), and Home Fleet again (1909–1914). Her World War I service was in the Channel Fleet (1914). She was destroyed while at anchor at Sheerness on 26 November 1914 by an internal explosion that killed all but 12 out of her 750 crew.[12]

HMS Venerable[edit]

HMS Venerable served in Mediterranean Fleet (1902–1908), Channel Fleet (1908–1909), Atlantic Fleet (1909–1912), and Second Home Fleet (1912–1914). Her World War I service was in the Channel Fleet (1914–1915), the Dardanelles campaign (1915), and the Adriatic (1915–1916). She then served in subsidiary duties in home waters and was sold for scrapping in 1920.[11]

Queen subclass[13][edit]

HMS Queen[edit]

HMS Queen served in the Mediterranean Fleet (1904–1908), Atlantic Fleet (1908–1912), and Second Home Fleet (1912–1914). Her World War I service was in the Channel Fleet (1914–1915), Dardanelles campaign (1915), and Adriatic (1915–1916). She then was disarmed and continued in the Adriatic in subsidiary roles (1917–1919). She was sold for scrapping in 1920.[14]

HMS Prince of Wales[edit]

HMS Prince of Wales served in the Mediterranean Fleet (1904–1909), Atlantic Fleet (1909–1912), and Home Fleet (1912–1914). Her World War I service was in the Channel Fleet (1914–1915), Dardanelles campaign (1915), and Adriatic (1915–1917). She then was decommissioned and was sold for scrapping in 1920.[14]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905, p. 36
  2. ^ For example, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905, p. 37, and Burt, pp. 175–194, refer to the Londons as a separate class while Gibbons, p. 151, lists them all as part of the Formidable class. Burt refers to the Londons as the Bulwark class.
  3. ^ a b c Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905, p. 37
  4. ^ Gibbons, p. 151
  5. ^ Burt, pp. 215–228
  6. ^ Burt, p. 217
  7. ^ Burt, pp. 170–172
  8. ^ Burt, pp. 173–174
  9. ^ Burt, p. 172–173
  10. ^ Burt, pp. 175–194, refers to this as the Bulwark class
  11. ^ a b Burt, pp. 192, 194
  12. ^ Burt, p. 191
  13. ^ Burt considers these ships to constitute a separate Queen class; Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905 lists them as part of the London class; Gibbons lists all Londons and Queens as part of the Formidable class.
  14. ^ a b Burt, pp. 227–228

References[edit]

  • Burt, R. A. (1988). British Battleships 1889–1904. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-061-0. 
  • Chesneau, Roger; Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4. 
  • Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-84832-100-7. 
  • Gibbons, Tony. The Complete Encyclopedia of Battleships and Battlecruisers: A Technical Directory of All the World's Capital Ships From 1860 to the Present Day. London: Salamander Books Ltd., 1983.
  • Gray, Randal, Ed. Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1985. ISBN 0-87021-907-3.
  • Parkes, Oscar (1990). British Battleships (reprint of the 1957 edition ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-075-4. 

External links[edit]