HMS Benbow (1885)
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|Namesake:||Admiral John Benbow|
|Builder:||Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co. Ltd|
|Laid down:||1 November 1882|
|Launched:||15 June 1885|
|Fate:||Broken up, 1909|
|General characteristics |
|Length:||330 ft (100 m)|
|Beam:||68 ft 6 in (20.88 m)|
|Draught:||27 ft 10 in (8.48 m)|
Two-shaft Maudslay compound invertedI.H.P.= 8,658 normal, 10,860 forced draught
|Speed:||15.7 knots (29 km/h) normal,
17.5 knots (32 km/h) forced draught
|Armament:||Two BL 16.25-inch (412.8 mm) guns
Ten BL 6-inch (152.4 mm) guns
Twelve 6 pounders
Five 14 inch above-water torpedo tubes
With the exception of her armament she was a repeat of HMS Anson and HMS Camperdown. The contract for her construction was awarded to Thames Ironworks, and stipulated delivery within three years. At the time of her construction and indeed for many years afterwards, the limiting factor in battleship construction was the great length of time taken to manufacture heavy artillery, and it was recognised that the gun of 13.5 inch calibre, scheduled to be installed in the other ships of the class, was and would remain in short supply. The shipyard was therefore faced with the choice of either reverting to armament of 12 inches calibre, which was available but which was seen as inferior to guns mounted in contemporary foreign ships, or mounting the new Elswick BL 16.25-inch gun.
Although contemporary guns of 12 inches calibre were perfectly able to destroy any ship afloat, the larger guns were chosen, and mounted singly in barbettes positioned at either end of the superstructure. With the exception of the 18 inch armament mounted in HMS Furious and in some monitors, these were the largest guns ever mounted in a ship of the Royal Navy. One of these pieces nevertheless weighed less than a pair of 13.5 inch guns, and the weight saved was used to increase the number of 6 inch guns in the broadside battery. The big guns were not a wholly satisfactory substitute for the armament in their sister-ships. They were slow to load, the rate of fire being only one round every four to five minutes; the chance of hitting the target, being a function of the number of guns in use, was reduced; there was a tendency for the muzzle to droop; and the barrel liner lasted only for some seventy-five rounds, when replacement was a difficult and time-consuming operation.
She was commissioned on June 14, 1888 for the Mediterranean Fleet, with which she served until October 1891. She was then held in the Reserve until March 1894, with two short commissions to take part in manoevres. Until April 1904, she served as guardship at Greenock, and thereafter, remained in the Reserve until sold in 1909.
- Oscar Parkes, 'British Battleships' ISBN 0-85052-604-3
- Chesneau, Roger; Koleśnik, Eugène M.; Campbell, N.J.M. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-133-5.
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