List of dreadnought battleships of the Royal Navy

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This is a list of dreadnought battleships of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom.

In 1907, before the revolution in design brought about by HMS Dreadnought of 1906, the Royal Navy had 62 battleships in commission or building, a lead of 26 over France and 50 over Germany.[1] However, the launch of Dreadnought in 1906 prompted an arms race with major strategic consequences. Major naval powers raced to build their own dreadnoughts. Possession of modern battleships was not only vital to naval power, but also, as with nuclear weapons today, represented a nation's standing in the world. Germany, France, Russia, Japan, Italy, Austria, and the United States all began dreadnought programmes; and second-rank powers including Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile commissioned dreadnoughts to be built in British and American yards.[2]

The Royal Navy at the start of the First World War was the largest navy in the world due, in the most part, to The Naval Defence Act 1889 and the two-power standard which called for the navy to maintain a number of battleships such as their strength was at least equal to the combined strength of the next two largest navies in the world, which at that point were France and Russia.[3] The majority of the Royal Navy's strength was deployed at home in the Grand Fleet, with the primary aim of drawing the German High Seas Fleet into an engagement. No decisive victory ever came. The Royal Navy and the German Imperial Navy did come into contact, notably in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, and the Battle of Jutland.[4]

The inter-war period saw the battleship subjected to strict international limitations to prevent a costly arms race breaking out.[5] Many of the major naval powers were crippled after the war. Faced with the prospect of a naval arms race against Great Britain and Japan, which would in turn have led to a possible Pacific war, the United States was keen to conclude the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. This treaty limited the number and size of battleships that each major nation could possess, and required Britain to accept parity with the U.S. and to abandon the British alliance with Japan.[6] The Washington treaty was followed by a series of other naval treaties to limit warship size and numbers, concluding with the Second London Naval Treaty in 1936. These treaties became effectively obsolete on 1 September 1939 at the beginning of Second World War.[7]

The treaty limitations meant that fewer new battleships were launched from 1919–1939 than from 1905–1914. The treaties also inhibited development by putting maximum limits on the weights of ships and forced the Royal Navy into compromise designs for the Nelson and King George V classes. Designs like the projected British N3-class battleship continued the trend to larger ships with bigger guns and thicker armour, but never got off the drawing board. Those designs which were commissioned during this period were referred to as treaty battleships.[8] After the Second World War, the Royal Navy's four surviving King George V-class ships were scrapped in 1957 and Vanguard followed in 1960.[9] All other surviving British battleships had been sold or broken up by 1949.[10]

A row of three black battleships underway with smoke coming out of their funnels.
Benbow leads a line of three battleships.


Main guns The number and type of the main battery guns
Displacement Ship displacement at full combat load
Propulsion Number of shafts, type of propulsion system, and top speed generated
Service The dates work began and finished on the ship and its ultimate fate
Laid down The date the keel began to be assembled
Commissioned The date the ship was commissioned

HMS Dreadnought[edit]

HMS Dreadnought

HMS Dreadnought was the first dreadnought-type battleships, a classification to which she gave her name, in the world and she revolutionized naval power.[11] Her design, the brainchild of Vittorio Cuniberti and modified using observations made by a commission under First Sea Lord Admiral Sir John Fisher from the Russo-Japanese War,[12][13] sparked a naval arms race that soon had all the world's major powers building new and bigger warships in the image of Dreadnought,[11] and her construction set an unbeaten record (15 months) for the speediest construction of a battleship ever.[14] Dreadnought's new Parsons turbines weighed 300 long tons (305 t) lighter than similar engines of the same power and gave her a speed of 21 knots - this made Dreadnought the fastest ship on the waves at the time,[15] even with a displacement of 18,120 long tons (18,410 t).[16] Her five 12-inch (305 mm) main armament was arranged in such a way that only eight of her ten guns could fire a broadside.[17] Secondary armament consisted of ten 12-pounder guns and five 18-inch (460 mm) torpedo tubes.[18]

From 1907 until 1911, HMS Dreadnought served as the flagship of the entire Home Fleet until being replaced by HMS Neptune (1909) in March 1911, assigned to the 1st Division of the Home Fleet, and then was present at the Fleet Review for the coronation King George V.[19] In December of 1912, Dreadnought was transferred from the 1st Battle Squadron and became the flagship of the 4th Battle Squadron until 10 December 1914.[20] While patrolling the North sea on 18 March 1915, she rammed and sank U-29 becoming the only battleship to have sunk a submarine.[21][a] Dreadnought did not participate in the Battle of Jutland as she was undergoing a refit. Two years later, she resumed her role as flagship of the 4th BS, was moved into the reserve in February 1925 and sold for scrap in 9 May 1921,[23] and then subsequently broken up 2 January 1923.[24]

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS Dreadnought 10 × 12 in (305 mm)[17] 18,120 long tons (18,410 t)[16] 4 × shafts
Parsons turbines
18 × boilers[25]
2 October 1905[18] 2 December 1906[18] Sold for scrap 9 May 1921[18]

Bellerophon class[edit]

HMS Bellerophon

The Bellerophon-class were the first Royal Navy dreadnoughts to be built after HMS Dreadnought, from 1906–1909. The class of three ships, HMS Bellerophon, HMS Superb, and HMS Temeraire, mostly followed the same design save for some small differences such as the same guns and arrangement as HMS Dreadnought.[26] The forward tripod mast was moved in front the forward funnel to channel hot fumes away from the spotting top and a second tripod was placed in front of the aft funnel to support the derrick.[27] Armament was also improved by replacing Dreadnought's 28 12-pounder 3-inch (76 mm) anti-torpedo guns with 16 50-calibre 4-inch (102 mm) quick-firing guns placed on the superstructure's forecastle deck and on the roofs of the turrets.[28][b] In 1917, a 4-inch anti-aircraft gun was added to the after deck and a 3-inch (76 mm) one to the superstructure (HMS Superb's 4-inch was located on the after 12-inch turret).[32]

Upon commissioning, all three ships were assigned to the 1st division of the Home Fleet, later the 1st Battle Squadron, and took part in the Coronation Review for King George V. From 17–20 July, all three took part in the mobilisation and review of the Royal Navy during the July Crisis following the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Bellerophon and Superb joined the Home Fleet but Temeraire did not until 1915.[33] All three ships participated in the Battle of Jutland, firing at the battleships SMS Wiesbaden and SMS Derfflinger but without success.[34] Later, Bellerophon served as the junior flagship of the 4th Battle Squadron from June–September 1917 while its usual flagship (HMS Colossus) was being refitted.[35] Superb and Temeraire were transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet, where Superb served as fleet flagship until the armistice.[36] After the war, the now obsolete ships were placed in the reserve. Temeraire became a training vessel until decommissioned and scrapped in 1921,[29] Bellerophon was made a gunnery ship in March 1919 at The Nore and was sold for scrap 8 November 1921 and broken up 14 September 1922,[37] and Superb relieved Bellerophon as a gunnery training vessel and then served briefly as a target ship before sold for scrapping in December 1923.[36]

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS Bellerophon 10 × 12 in (305 mm)[26] 18,596 long tons (18,890 t)[29] 4 × shafts
Parsons turbines
18 × boilers[38]
3 December 1906[39] 27 February 1909[39] Sold for scrap 8 November 1921[37]
HMS Superb 6 February 1907[30] 29 May 1909[40] Sold for scrap 12 December 1923[36]
HMS Temeraire 1 January 1907[30] 15 May 1910[41] Sold for scrap 7 December 1921[29]

St. Vincent class[edit]

HMS Vanguard

The St. Vincent-class was a line of three dreadnought battleships, HMS St. Vincent, HMS Collingwood, and HMS Vanguard (1909),[c] that again closely followed the design of the previous line of vessels, but this time with more powerful 50-calibre breech-loading (BL) 12-inch (305 mm) Mark XI gun main guns and 20 50-calibre BL 4-inch (100 mm) Mark VII guns.[43][44] Each St. Vincent-class battleship displaced 19,700 long tons (20,000 t) and was powered by two sets of Parsons direct-drive steam turbines, giving the class a speed of 21.7 knots (40.2 km/h; 25.0 mph) - a speed that amazed its designers.[45]

Upon commissioning, the St. Vincent-class battleships were all assigned to the 1st Division of the Home Fleet and HMS St. Vincent became the division's junior flagship. The ships were present at the Coronation Review of King George V on 24 June 1911 and HMS Collingwood became the flagship of the 1st Battle Squadron two days to a year later. After a lengthy refit in mid-1914, the sisters participated in the mobilisation and British responses to the July Crisis and joined the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow on 22 July 1914.[46] All three sisters participated in the Battle of Jutland and fired upon SMS Wiesbaden, though only Collingwood and HMS Vanguard were able to fire at SMS Moltke and SMS Derfflinger, inflicting very little amounts of damage despite the totality of 98 shots fired during the battle by the sisters.[47] After the battle, Collingwood and St. Vincent joined their sister Vanguard in the 4th Battle Squadron, who had been transferred there in April 1916,[48] and continued to serve with the Home Fleet until the end of the war.[49] On 9 July 1917, one of Vanguard' magazines exploded, killing 840 of her crew and two Australian sailors aboard HMAS Sydney.[50][51] After the war, St. Vincent became a gunnery training ship March 1919, before being made the flagship of the Reserve Fleet in June. In December, she was relieved and then sold for scrap 1 December 1921.[49] Collingwood was also assigned to the Reserve Fleet, briefly served as a training vessel, and then was also sold for scrap 12 December 1922.[52] Since 1984, Vanguard has been an official war grave and diving on the site is prohibited without the explicit permission of the Ministry of Defence since 2002.[53]

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS St. Vincent 10 × 12 in (305 mm)[43] 19,700 long tons (20,000 t)[54] 4 × shafts
Parsons turbines
18 × boilers[45]
30 December 1907[44] 3 May 1910[49] Sold for scrap 1 December 1921[49]
HMS Collingwood 3 February 1908[44] 19 April 1910[49] Sold for scrap 12 December 1922[49]
HMS Vanguard 2 April 1908[44] 1 March 1910[49] Sunk by internal explosion 9 July 1917 with 840 of her crew.[55][56]

HMS Neptune[edit]

HMS Neptune

HMS Neptune, the only ship of her class, was the only battleship constructed during the 1908–1909 Naval Programme. She was designed to answer the flaws of the preceding battleships, being the first British battleship built with superfiring guns and also shortened by various methods.[57] Just as with the previous class, Neptune used two sets of Parsons steam turbines and 18 boilers that gave the ship, giving her a speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph). Despite her shortened length, Neptune still displaced 19,680 long tons (20,000 t) and maintained the same speed.[58] Neptune retained the St. Vincent-class's 50-calibre 12 in (305 mm), but now they were arranged differently so that her five main guns could be more efficiently used in battle.[59]

Upon commission on 19 January 1909, HMS Neptune began sea trials for two weeks replaced HMS Dreadnought as the flagship of the Home Fleet and of the 1st Division 25 March 1909, two weeks after the completion of sea trials. Neptune then participated in the Coronation review of King George V, was replaced as the Home Fleet's flagship by HMS Iron Duke 10 March 1914,[60] and then participated in the British naval mustering an response to the July Crisis from 17-20 July 1914.[61] She participated in many Royal Navy actions until the Battle of Jutland, at which she fired a totality of 48 12-inch shells, scoring several ineffectual or unconfirmed hits of SMS Wiesbaden and SMS Derfflinger and an assortment of German destroyers.[62] After Jutland, she was transferred to the 4th Battle Squadron and would never again see combat. Neptune was place in the reserve 1 February 1919, and then sold for scrap in September of 1922.[60]

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS Neptune 10 × 12 in (305 mm)[58] 19,680 long tons (20,000 t)[58] 4 × shafts
Parsons turbines
18 × boilers[38]
19 January 1909[63] 11 January 1911[60] Sold for scrap September 1922[60]

Colossus class[edit]

HMS Colossus

The Colossus class of ships were the first two of eight battleships proposed for 1909. The Liberal government of the time being under pressure by reports that Germany were secretly building Dreadnoughts and would soon have 21 in service. These ships were very similar to the proceeding Neptune with only minor changes. The main armament and the secondary armament of sixteen 4-inch and three 3-pounder guns remained the same. The only difference being the three torpedo tubes were now a new 21-inch (533 mm) design. During the Battle of Jutland, Colossus had the distinction of being the only British Grand Fleet battleship hit by gunfire. Hercules was involved in a collision with a merchant ship on 22 March 1913, but was repaired in time to also take part in the battle of Jutland.

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS Colossus 10 × 12 in (305 mm) 20,225 long tons (20,550 t) 4 × shafts
Parsons turbines
18 × boilers
8 July 1909 8 August 1911 Sold for scrap July 1928
HMS Hercules 30 July 1909 31 July 1911 Sold for scrap November 1921

Orion class[edit]

HMS Orion

The Orion class were the first class of second generation dreadnoughts constructed for the Royal Navy. The class composed of four ships, Orion, Monarch, Conqueror, and Thunderer. The lead ship of the class, Orion, was launched in 1910. The Orion class had much heavier armour than their predecessors and were the first class of Royal Navy dreadnoughts to have all their main guns in the centreline. The main armament was also a new 13.5-inch (343 mm) gun with a range of 25,000 yards (23,000 m), that proved to be very accurate and reliable. This increase in size also delivered a heavier broadside. The 12-inch shells weighed 850 pounds (390 kg), while the 13.5-inch shells weighed 1,250 pounds (570 kg) each.[64] The members of the Orion class cost almost £1.9 million to construct. All four of the battleships were present at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, but took no damage. They had a relatively short career, all being decommissioned in 1921, due to the Washington Naval Treaty. Orion and Conqueror were scrapped in 1922. Monarch served as a target ship, surviving a full day of shelling and bombing on 20 January 1925 before being sunk by fire from Revenge. Thunderer served longest, acting as a training ship from 1922 until she, too, was sold for scrap in December 1926.

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS Orion 10 × 13.5 in (343 mm) 22,000 long tons (22,350 t) 4 × shaft
Parsons turbines
18 × boilers
29 November 1909 2 January 1912[65] Sold for scrap December 1922
HMS Monarch 1 April 1910[66] March 1912 Sunk as a target 1925
HMS Conqueror 5 April 1910 1 December 1912[67] Sold for scrap December 1922
HMS Thunderer 13 April 1910 June 1912 Sold for scrap December 1926

King George V class[edit]

HMS Ajax

The King George V class of ships had the 13.5-inch main armament in five twin turrets. The secondary armament was sixteen 4-inch, four 3-pounder guns, and three 21-inch torpedoes. The government of the day resisted calls to upgrade the 4-inch to 6-inch (152 mm) guns in an attempt to reduce naval expenditure. In 1915 two 4-inch anti-aircraft guns were added on the quarterdeck and the four 4-inch guns, two either side of 'A' and 'B' turrets were removed as they became swamped in heavy weather. After commissioning King George V became the flagship of the 2nd Battle Squadron. During trials in December 1912 Centurion was in a collision with an Italian merchant ship which delayed her completion until 1913. Ajax fought at Jutland and then served in the Mediterranean and the Black sea. After the war Centurion was decommissioned as a battleship to comply with the naval treaties. She served as a radio controlled target ship between the war. In the Second World War she served as a decoy and as a static anti-aircraft ship on the Suez Canal. She was sunk on 9 June 1944 as a Mulberry harbour block ship off Normandy.

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS King George V
ex-Royal George
10 × 13.5 in (343 mm) 23,000 long tons (23,370 t) 4 × shafts
Parsons turbines
18 × Babcock & Wilcox boilers
16 January 1911 1912 Sold for scrap December 1926
HMS Centurion 4 × shafts
Parsons turbines
18 × Yarrow boilers
16 January 1911 March 1913 Sunk in 1944 as a block ship
HMS Audacious February 1911 1913 Struck a mine, 27 October 1914
HMS Ajax 4 × shafts
Parsons turbines
18 × Babcock & Wilcox boilers
27 February 1911 October 1913 Sold for scrap 9 November 1926

Iron Duke class[edit]

HMS Iron Duke

The Iron Duke class of ships had the 13.5-inch main armament and to combat the increased range of the 21-inch torpedo, had 12 × 6-inch (152 mm) secondary guns to engage torpedo boats at a greater range. The ships were slightly longer and had a greater beam and depth than the King George V ships to overcome the heavier armament. All were fitted with a tripod forward mast to house the fire director control station, which was a shortcoming of the preceding ships. They were the first class of battleships to have anti-aircraft guns fitted as part of the design, with two 12-pounder guns mounted on the aft superstructure, intended to be used against airships. The ships also did away with the stern torpedo tube, having provision for only one 21-inch tube on each side. Marlborough was the only dreadnought-type ship to be torpedoed at Jutland and had a 70-by-20-foot (21.3 by 6.1 m) hole blown in her side. After the First World War they were -apart from Iron Duke - scrapped to comply with the Washington Naval Treaty. Iron Duke became a gunnery training ship in 1931.[68]

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS Iron Duke 10 × 13.5 in (343 mm) 25,000 long tons (25,400 t) 4 × shafts
Parsons turbines
18 × boilers
12 January 1912 March 1914 Sold for scrap March 1946
HMS Marlborough 25 January 1912 June 1914 Sold for scrap June 1932
HMS Benbow 30 May 1912 October 1914 Sold for scrap March 1931
HMS Emperor of India 31 May 1912 November 1914 Sunk as target ship 1 September 1931

HMS Agincourt[edit]

HMS Agincourt

HMS Agincourt started life as the Brazilian warship Rio de Janeiro, and was to be built in Britain. She was initially intended to have a 12 × 14-inch (356 mm) main armament but a change in the Brazilian government cancelled the order. A new design was however authorized, which was to be armed with the maximum possible number of guns. The new ship was now designed to have seven turrets with two 12-inch guns each. Secondary armament consisted of twenty 6-inch, ten 3-inch, two 3-inch anti-aircraft guns and three 21-inch torpedoes. In July 1912 while she was still being built Brazil sold her to Turkey and she was renamed Sultân Osmân-ı Evvel. The ship had been completed just before the start of the First World War and her handover was delayed to ascertain what position Turkey would take in the war. When Turkey sided with the Germans the ship was seized and renamed HMS Agincourt. She immediately had to be refitted to bring her up to Royal Navy standards.

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS Agincourt 14 × 12 in (305 mm) 27,500 long tons (27,940 t) 4 × shafts
Parsons turbines
22 × boilers
September 1911 August 1914 Sold for scrap December 1922

HMS Erin[edit]

HMS Erin

Erin was one of two ships being built for Turkey that were seized by the Admiralty at the start of the First World War. The design was based on the King George V class with some of the features of the Iron Duke class. Secondary armament included sixteen 6-inch guns, six 6-pounder guns, two 3-inch anti-aircraft guns and four 21-inch torpedoes tubes. Designed by Vickers for the Turkish navy, the armoured belt was three inches thinner than on the King George ships. Her hull was shorter and beamier than the King George design. This gave her a shorter endurance, her bunkers carrying 1,130 tons less coal. A cleaver type bow in place of the traditional ram type improved sea keeping. In September 1914 she was assigned to the 2nd Battle Squadron and took part in the Battle of Jutland. In 1918 she was given aircraft platforms on top of 'B' and 'Q' turrets. She was sold for break up in 1922 as part of the Washington Naval Treaty.

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS Erin 10 × 13.5 in (343 mm) 22,780 long tons (23,150 t) 4 × shafts
Parsons turbines
15 × boilers
1 August 1911 August 1914 Sold for scrap December 1922

HMS Canada[edit]

HMS Canada

In 1911, the Chilean Navy ordered two 28,000-ton displacement super-dreadnought battleships, each to be armed with ten 14-inch and sixteen 6-inch guns, to be named Almirante Latorre and Almirante Cochrane.[69] Almirante Latorre was laid down in November 1911, with Almirante Cochrane being laid down at the Armstrong yards at Newcastle-on-Tyne on 20 February 1913.[70] On the outbreak of the First World War, construction of the two ships was suspended. As Almirante Latorre was almost complete, she was purchased for the Royal Navy, entering service as HMS Canada in 1915. Construction of Almirante Cochrane was much less advanced, and no work was carried out until 1917, when the British decided to complete her as an aircraft carrier for the Royal Navy. She was therefore purchased from Chile at a cost of £1.3 million to be converted into the carrier Eagle. She was the fourteenth ship to bear that name.

Her initial redesign was as a base for seaplane operations. After trials with other ships the design was changed to a proper fleet carrier with a full flight deck and "island". She was launched on 8 June 1918 but the delays meant that Eagle was unfinished at the end of hostilities. Construction was slowed by industrial action following the end of the war, and was suspended in October 1919 as Chile wanted to repurchase the ship and have it re-converted to a battleship. The Royal Navy's need to carry out trials with a carrier fitted with an island meant that construction was resumed in November,[70] carrying out sea trials and initial flying trials in February 1920. It was then sent to Devonport dockyard for completion, with its machinery being converted from part-coal burning to all oil burning, a much longer island being fitted and anti-torpedo bulges added,[70] finally being commissioned on 26 February 1924.[71]

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS Canada 10 × 14 in (356 mm) 28,600 long tons (29,060 t) 4 × shafts
Brown & Curtiss and Parsons turbines
21 × boilers
27 November 1911[72] 15 October 1915[72] Resold to the Chilean Navy, April 1920.[72]
HMS Eagle
converted to an aircraft carrier from 28 February 1918
20 February 1913[70] 26 February 1924[71] Torpedoed 11 August 1942, with the loss of 160 men.[73]

Queen Elizabeth class[edit]

HMS Queen Elizabeth

The Queen Elizabeth class had its main armament of eight BL 15-inch (381 mm) Mk 1 guns arranged in four double turrets. The new calibre guns were intended to still give the Royal Navy and an advantage in range over newer American and Japanese ships which the Admiralty expected were to be armed with 14-inch guns. The initial design was for a five turret ship, being reduced to four when it was realized its greater range and hitting power with a broadside of 15,000 pounds (6,800 kg) compared to 14,000 pounds (6,400 kg) in the Iron Duke class. Secondary armament was fourteen 6-inch, two 3-inch anti-aircraft and four 21-inch torpedoes tubes. The space saved by the reduction of one turret was used to house additional boilers which gave the ships a speed of 24–25 knots (44–46 km/h; 28–29 mph).

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS Queen Elizabeth 8 × 15 in (381 mm) 27,500 long tons (27,940 t) 4 × shafts
Parsons turbines
24 × boilers
21 October 1912 January 1915 Sold for scrap April 1948
HMS Warspite 31 October 1912 March 1915 Sold for scrap July 1946
HMS Barham 24 February 1913 October 1915 Torpedoed and sunk 25 November 1941
HMS Valiant 31 January 1913 February 1916 Sold for scrap March 1948
HMS Malaya 20 October 1913 February 1916 Sold for scrap February 1948

Revenge class[edit]

HMS Royal Oak

The Revenge class (sometimes known as the Royal Sovereign class) were designed as a cheaper alternative to the Queen Elizabeth class. Plans had initially been for a class of eight ships, but at the start of the First World War work stopped on all new capital ships. The last three ships Renown, Repulse and Resistance were cancelled. The first two of these were eventually redesigned as battlecruisers. During design they were planned to have a maximum speed of just over 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph) and had reverted to being coal- and oil-fuelled. However, in 1915, this was changed and they became oil-fuelled only. Secondary armament was fourteen 6-inch, two 3-inch anti-aircraft, four 3-pounder guns and four 21-inch torpedoes. Both Revenge and Royal Oak were completed in time to take part in the Battle of Jutland. Royal Oak was torpedoed at anchor in the supposedly safe harbour of Scapa Flow soon after the start of Second World War.

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS Revenge
8 × 15 in (381 mm) 28,000 long tons (28,450 t) 4 × shafts
Parsons turbines
18 × boilers
22 December 1913 March 1916 Sold for scrap February 1948
HMS Royal Sovereign 15 January 1914 May 1916 Sold for scrap February 1949
HMS Royal Oak 15 January 1914 May 1916 Torpedoed and sunk by U-47 14 October 1939
HMS Resolution 29 November 1913 May 1916 Sold for scrap February 1949
HMS Ramillies 12 November 1913 September 1917 Sold for scrap 1948

N3 class[edit]

The N3, like the contemporary G3-class battlecruiser design, were planned in response to other nations intentions to build superior navies. The design concentrated the main guns forward of the bridge to reduce weight while allowing very thick armour over the critical parts but they would still be about twice the displacement of predecessors. The design was approved in 1921 but in 1922 the major naval powers agreed the Washington Naval Treaty to limit the size and number of warships in their navies. The treaty set an upper limit of 35,000 tons displacement and 16-inch guns; the ships had not been ordered and no construction had been started.

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Notes
4 ships 9 × 18 in (457 mm) about 48,000 long tons (48,800 t) 2 shafts, geared steam turbines Never ordered

Nelson class[edit]

HMS Nelson

The two ships of the Nelson class were the only new battleships the Royal Navy were allowed to build under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty. The layout was based on that of the N3 battleship and G3 battlecruiser but further reduced to come under the weight limit. Nine BL 16 inch Mk I guns – the same as were to have been used on the G3 battlecruisers – were carried in three forward turrets. Secondary armament was twelve 6-inch guns mounted in six turrets at the rear of the ship, six 4.7-inch (119 mm) anti-aircraft guns, seven eight-barrelled 2-pounder "pompom" mountings, four quadruple 40 mm Bofors guns and sixty five 20 mm Oerlikon cannon.

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS Nelson 9 × 16 in (406 mm)[74] 33,900 long tons (34,440 t) 2 × shafts
Brown-Curtis turbines
8 × boilers
28 December 1922[75] 15 August 1927 Sold for scrap 15 March 1949
HMS Rodney 28 December 1922[75] 10 November 1927 Sold for scrap 26 March 1948

King George V class (1939)[edit]

HMS Anson at Devonport March 1945.

The King George V class of ships were criticized for having 14-inch main guns (the preceding Nelson class had larger, though relatively lighter 16 inch guns). The decision to use 14-inch guns was taken in October 1935, while the United Kingdom was negotiating for a continuation of the Naval Treaties with the other parties to the London Treaty. The British Government favoured a reduction in the maximum gun calibre to 14 inches and, in early October, the government learned that the United States would support this position if the Japanese could also be persuaded to do so. Since the large guns needed to be ordered by the end of the year in order for ships to enter service on time, the British Admiralty decided on 14-inch guns for the King George V class. The guns were arranged in three turrets, two with four and one (behind and above the forward turret) with two guns. Secondary armament was sixteen QF 5.25-inch Mk I guns, four eight-barrelled 2-pounder "pom-pom" anti-aircraft mountings (King George V and Prince of Wales the later ships all had six mountings). Anson and Howe had eighteen Oerlikon 20 mm cannon and the Duke of York six. They were all fitted with amidships catapults for the three Supermarine Walrus spotter/patrol aircraft they carried. The King George V class were designed to reach a speed of over 27 knots. As the treaty negotiations collapsed, this lack of speed and the smaller size of their main armament left them slower and with a lesser broadside than foreign battleships that were being produced around the same time. However, their main armour belt was thicker than others, with the exception of the two very large ships of the Yamato class from Japan.[76]

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS King George V 10 × 14 in (356 mm) 36,730 long tons (37,320 t) 4 × shafts
Parsons turbines
8 × boilers[77]
1 January 1937 1 October 1940 Sold for scrap 1957
HMS Prince of Wales 1 January 1937 31 March 1940 Sunk December 1941 by Japanese air attack
HMS Duke of York 5 May 1937 4 November 1941 Sold for scrap 1957
HMS Anson 20 July 1937 22 June 1942 Sold for scrap 1957
HMS Howe 1 June 1937 29 August 1942 Sold for scrap 1958

Lion class[edit]

Lion Drawing

During the Second London Naval Treaty of 1936, the upper limit for battleships was agreed by the powers attending but an escalator clause allowed for increases if parties defaulted. By 1938 concerns about the Japanese prompted Britain and the United States to raise the limits allowed to 45,000 long tons (46,000 t) and 16 in (406 mm) guns. The Admiralty had planned to scrap the ineffective Revenge class when the King George V ships entered service. These plans were soon changed, the Admiralty's new ambition was to raise a battle fleet of 20 ships, 15 of them to match the new standard, keeping the Revenge class until at least 1942. To meet this target the navy wanted three battleships added to the 1938 plans, but in the end only two were given the go ahead and even then they had to use reserve slipways, normally only used in emergencies.[78] At the same time it was identified that unless the 1938 ships were completed by 1942, the Royal Navy between 1940 and 1943 would be at a disadvantage with only twelve modern and eight older battleships against a combined German–Japanese fleet of twenty modern ships.[79] Construction work was halted at start of war so that resources could be diverted to more important production and although design was revised during war no further work took place.

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS Lion 9 × 16 in (410 mm) 40,000 long tons (41,000 t) 4 July 1939[80] Scrapped 15 October 1945[81]
HMS Temeraire 1 June 1939[80]
HMS Conqueror Cancelled[82]
HMS Thunderer

HMS Vanguard[edit]

Vanguard in 1950.

Vanguard was the last Royal Navy battleship, she was designed to use four available 15-inch gun mountings (which had been in storage since they were removed from Glorious and Courageous when they were converted to aircraft carriers). Vanguard was launched in 1944 but not completed until after the Second World War in 1946. Vanguard was never involved in any conflict and never fired a shot in anger before she was finally scrapped in 1960. Secondary armaments was sixteen 5.25-inch dual purpose guns in twin turrets. There were also 73 Bofors 40mm guns in ten six-barreled mounts, one twin STAAG mount and eleven mountings.[81]

Ship Main guns Displacement Propulsion Service
Laid down Commissioned Fate
HMS Vanguard 8 × 15 in (381 mm) 44,500 long tons (45,210 t)[81] 4 × shafts
Parsons turbines
8 × boilers[81]
2 October 1942[81] 25 April 1946[81] Sold for scrap 4 August 1960[81]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ USS New York may have sunk a submarine in October 1918, when she accidentally collided with what was suspected to be a submerged U-boat but this was never confirmed.[22]
  2. ^ Sources disagree on the type and composition of the secondary armament. Burt claims that they were the older quick-firing QF Mark III guns.[29] Gardiner and Gray do not identify the type, but do call them quick-firers.[30] Parkes also does not identify the type, but he does say that they were 50-calibre guns[28] and Gardiner & Gray agree.[30] Friedman shows the QF Mark III as a 40-calibre gun and states that the 50-calibre BL Mark VII gun armed all of the early dreadnoughts.[31]
  3. ^ There were to be four, but the British government cut one of them. Later, this fourth ship would become HMS Neptune.[42]


  1. ^ Keegan (1999), p. 209.
  2. ^ Keegan (1999), p. 281.
  3. ^ Sondhaus (2001), p. 161.
  4. ^ "The First World War and the Inter-war years 1914–1939". Royal Navy. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  5. ^ Friedman (1985), pp. 181-82.
  6. ^ Kennedy (1983), p. 277.
  7. ^ Ireland (1997), pp. 124-126, 139-142.
  8. ^ Sumrall (1973), pp. 25–28.
  9. ^ "Vanguard to Trident 1945–2000". Royal Navy. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  10. ^ Gardiner (2001), pp. 7, 14.
  11. ^ a b Gardiner (1992), p. 18.
  12. ^ Brown (2003), p. 182.
  13. ^ Massie (1991), p. 474.
  14. ^ Roberts (1992), pp. 13, 16.
  15. ^ Sturton (2008), pp. 76-77.
  16. ^ a b Burt (1986), p. 29.
  17. ^ a b Roberts (1992), p. 28.
  18. ^ a b c d Gardiner Gray (1985), p. 21.
  19. ^ Roberts (1992), pp. 18-20, 50.
  20. ^ Roberts (1992), p. 21.
  21. ^ Sturton (2008), p. 79.
  22. ^ Jones (1995), pp. 66-67.
  23. ^ Burt (1992), pp. 41, 44.
  24. ^ Roberts (1992), pp. 22-23.
  25. ^ Gardiner Gray(1985), p. 21.
  26. ^ a b Friedman (2015), p. 97.
  27. ^ Brooks (1995), pp. 41–42.
  28. ^ a b Parkes (1990), p. 498.
  29. ^ a b c d Burt (1986), p. 64.
  30. ^ a b c d Gardiner Gray (1984), p. 22.
  31. ^ Friedman (2015), pp. 97-98.
  32. ^ Burt (1986), pp. 66, 68-71.
  33. ^ Burt (1986), pp. 71, 73-74.
  34. ^ Campbell (1986), pp. 156-57, 208, 210, 212, 231-32, 349.
  35. ^ "H.M.S. Bellerophon (1907)". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  36. ^ a b c Burt (1986), p. 73.
  37. ^ a b Burt (1986), pp. 71-72.
  38. ^ a b Burt (1986), pp. 31, 64.
  39. ^ a b Gardiner Gray (1985), p. 22.
  40. ^ Burt (1986), pp. 72-73.
  41. ^ Burt (1986), pp. 73-74.
  42. ^ Friedman (2015), pp. 97-102.
  43. ^ a b Friedman (2011), pp. 59, 62.
  44. ^ a b c d Parkes (1990), p. 503.
  45. ^ a b Burt (1986), pp. 31, 64, 76, 80.
  46. ^ Burt (1986) & pp 86, 88.
  47. ^ Campbelll (1986), pp. 157, 205, 208, 212, 214, 229-30, 232–34, 349..
  48. ^ Burt (1986), pp. 86, 88.
  49. ^ a b c d e f g Burt (1986), p. 86.
  50. ^ Saunders, Jonathan. "Vanguard's Casualties + Survivors". The World War I Document Archive. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  51. ^ "HMS Vanguard People: Scapa Flow Wrecks". Retrieved 23 December 2016. 
  52. ^ Corbett (1997), p. 431.
  53. ^ "The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 (Designation of Vessels and Controlled Sites) Order 2002". Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  54. ^ Burt (1986), p. 76.
  55. ^ Saunders, Jonathan. "Vanguard's Casualties + Survivors". The World War I Document Archive. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  56. ^ "HMS Vanguard People: Scapa Flow Wrecks". Retrieved 23 December 2016. 
  57. ^ Friedman (2015), pp. 105-07, 109.
  58. ^ a b c Burt (1986), p. 112.
  59. ^ Friedman (2011), pp. 62-63.
  60. ^ a b c d Burt (1986), p. 116.
  61. ^ Burt (1986), p. 122.
  62. ^ Campbell (1986), pp. 156, 202, 205, 207, 210, 212, 349, 358.
  63. ^ Gardiner (1984), p. 25.
  64. ^ Butler (2006), pp. 39-40.
  65. ^ The Times (London), Tuesday, 2 January 1912, p.6
  66. ^ The Times (London), Thursday, 30 March 1911, p.8.
  67. ^ The Times (London), Wednesday, 13 November 1912, p.16 col. F.
  68. ^ Hore (2006), pp. 44-45.
  69. ^ Archibald (1971), pp. 77-79.
  70. ^ a b c d Gardiner Gray (1985), p. 70.
  71. ^ a b Brown (1972), p. 14.
  72. ^ a b c Burt (1988), p. 240.
  73. ^ Brown (1972), p. 20.
  74. ^ Bennett (2008), p. 118.
  75. ^ a b Garzke (1985), p. 5.
  76. ^ Roberts (1989), p. 13.
  77. ^ Roberts (1989), p. 14.
  78. ^ Maiolo (1988), pp. 148-150.
  79. ^ Maiolo (1988), p. 151.
  80. ^ a b Garzke Dulin (1980), p. 263.
  81. ^ a b c d e f g "Vanguard official journal of the Royal Naval Association" (PDF). October 2007. Retrieved 17 September 2010. 
  82. ^ Garzke Dulin (1980), p. 263, 276.