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HMS Britannia

 

HMS Britannia was a World War One era battleship. The only ship of her class, she was originally built for an order for the Argentine navy, but the outbreak of World War One cancelled these plans. Designed by Vickers, she was praised as one of the prettiest ships of her time, and even gained the nickname “Little Hood” (2 years after the launch of Battlecruiser HMS Hood) Despite her looks, she packed a powerful punch and had a speed that almost equal the Queen Elizabeth class, while retaining decent armor.

 

Design

NAqkRdp.png 

*Britannia as of 1914*

 

Built by Vickers, the design of Britannia heavily resembled that of Queen Elizabeth and Royal Sovereign. Though her speed was somewhat in between the two classes. She was somewhat sleeker and longer than other Battleships, giving her a Battlecruiser like look.

Her keel was laid down in early 1911 and she was launched in 1913. Britannia would finish her Fitting out stage on the eve of the First World War. With the completion with a rather advanced battleship, and Argentina looking to stay neural, the Admiralty voted to keep Britannia in England until the end of the war.

 

Her specifications upon completion were as followed:

 

Displacement:

30,600 tons (Standard)

32,500 (Full)

 

Length: 201 meters

Beam: 27 meters

Draught: 9 meters

 

Armament:

8 x 381 mm guns

14 x 152mm guns

10 x 101mm guns

4 x 76mm AA guns

4 x 533mm torpedo tubes, fixed, underwater (Removed in 1918) 

 

Armor:

Main belt: 343mm

Upper belt: 288mm

Barrettes: 343mm

Conning Tower: 343mm

Deck armor 76mm

Torpedo bulkhead: 76mm

 

Propulsion: Parsons Geared Turbines, 4 shafts at 41,000shp = 23.5~ knots.

Babcock and Wilcox boilers. Coal, Oil mix. Oil only after (1923)


 

Early Years

Britannia spent the first year in training, and apart from a few training patrols, she didn't leave port for any combat operations nor patrols. Warspite would occasionally accompany Britannia on her training patrols, especially when it came to damage control and gunnery practice and by the end of the year, Britannia’s crew was the best drilled and disciplined crew in the entire Royal Navy.

Churchill was impressed when he observed Britannia during one of her last gunnery practices. He praised the crew for their “excellent shooting” though he was slightly disappointed by her rate of fire. Nonetheless, Britannia joined the Grand Fleet on the 16th of May, 1915 where she idled around until the Battle of Jutland.

 

Jutland

Accidentally attached to Beatty’s 5th Squadron consisting of the Queen Elizabeth sisters, Britannia ended up sailing out with the Battleships as they departed to intercept the German High Seas fleet. Beatty at first noticed the Battleship as she shyly took her place behind Warspite. Beatty, assuming the ship was out on patrol didn’t question it, and the captain of Britannia not wanting to break radio silence and not wanting to question the orders of the Admiralty followed Beatty’s ships.

While Britannia was by far not a slow ship, she was slow enough to drop slightly behind the faster Battlecruisers. Nonetheless, 5th Squadron was sailing just slow enough to allow Britannia to stay in line. Originally the Queen Elizabeth class was supposed to sail behind Beatty’s Battlecruiser but a signalling error had ordered them to stay behind the Battlecruisers. This resulted in the British Battlecruisers attacking understrength.

By the time 5th Squadron reached the battle zone, Beatty’s flag ships were in full retreat from the pursuing German ships and the Battleships, soon found themselves sailing past their injured Battlecruisers. At 16:55 5th Squadron entered the range of the German Battleships and began taking fire. Outnumbered and outgunned. Commander Evan-Thomas of the 5th Squadron, acted on his own accord and ordered a turn north to follow Beatty, which was the original plan but Beatty failed to give the order in time.

5th Squadron now became the rearguard for Beatty's fleet and began to take sustained hits from the German ships. Britannia joined Warspite and Malaya as they engaged Sheer’s battleship line. The battleships having thicker armor fared better in the battle against the German ships, compared to their thinly armored Battlecrusiers.

 

Britannia opened her first salvo on the German Battleship Ostfriesland. Scoring an early hit which damaged one of the forward turrets. Britannia fired 6 more salvos which completely wrecked the German ship but was unable to sink her.

Britannia, Warspite and Malaya then all focused fire on the damaged Markgraf, sinking the German battleship at 17:20, followed by the Battleship Ostfriesland at 17:35 which capsized from the early hits from Britannia. But apart from these successes, 5th Squadron achieved nothing notable for the next few minutes.

At 18:15 Beatty ordered 5th squadron eastward, to meet up with Admiral Jellicoe’s ships.

 

Britannia broke from the line to cover Warspite when she started circling due to steering problems, While Britannia took some pressure off Warspite, Britannia ended up taking 4 massive hits, knocking out power for her rear turrets and one of her rangefinders. But she stayed afloat and returned fire.  However with the death of Admiral Scheer who was killed in the massive British Broadside after Jellicoe crossed his T, Hipper was forced to take command and ordered his battlecruisers to retreat back to Germany. What remained of the German High Seas fleet soon surrendered to the British ships.

 

The battle of Jutland was a major tactical and strategic victory for the allies, in short cutting down the war by a whole year. The British had gained massive prestige for defeating the German fleet and once again showed its dominance over the seas.

However, the British did suffer to some extent, as the weaknesses of Beatty’s battlecruisers where shown in the early stages of the battle. When news of the victory was broken, there were mass celebrations in the U.K. A wave of pride swept through England it was the most anticipated battle of the time and it had delivered on its hype.

 

Vanguard Explosion

In 1917, two weeks from the German surrender, Britannia was docked directly across from HMS Vanguard. The crew of Britannia watched the crew of Vanguard during an Afternoon damage control drill. A few of the officers of Britannia helped time the crew as they practiced evacuating the Battleship.

That evening at 23:20. The magazines of Vanguard suddenly detonated without warning, killing some 843 sailors on board, only 2 survived. The massive explosion injured 5 members on Brittania who suffered some light fragmentation and burns. Captain George Bly, however was found dead on the bridge with a wound to the head.

A massive 25m steel piece from Vanguard was later found on the deck of Britannia. It had been thrown an amazing 100m from the stricken Battleship. 

 

Death Of Bly

The death of Captain Bly is shrouded in mystery, the official cause was shrapnel from the explosion from Vanguard. However many are skeptical about the claims. As there are several major holes in this “theory" presented by the Admiralty shortly after Bly's death.

Firstly, Bly was on the opposite side from Vanguard, with the bridge shielding him from any possible fragments, furthermore, it was claimed he was facing the explosion, though his death was caused by a "fragment" entering from the back of his head. Further suspicion is drawn to the fact his burial was quick and swift and many of his men didn’t even know of his death until 3 days later.

Some have pointed fingers at Vice Admiral Beatty, as he had a well know distaste for the Captain, especially after the battle of Jutland and his failed attempt at court marshaling Bly.

Whether Bly’s death was indeed caused by some unforeseen accident or it was the result of petty jealousy, the death of Captain Bly is still an unsolved mystery.

 

Refits

Britannia received a minor refit in 1918 with a change to Oil fuel only. Her main battery was refurbished and the guns gained a few degrees of elevation, extending her range. The change to oil also allowed her to gain a .5 of a knot which allowed her to maintain a speed of 24 knots as boiler temperatures were now more constant thanks to to switch to fuel oil. Though she retained her two funnels until 1932.

036FQA2.png

*Britannia as of 1918*

 

 

Loss of Status 

With the launch of HMS Hood that year in 1918, Britannia finally had the spotlight taken away from her. When Britannia was first launched she was one of the best looking battleships of her time. With good proportions, and was rather thin, unlike her more tubbier battleship counterparts.

In fact she looked like a mix of a Battlecruiser and Battleship. But with the launch of Hood, a new sleek young face had entered the stage, Britannia an old WW1 battleship, found herself losing the spotlight to Hood and was soon in the backseat as Hood became the poster girl for the might of the Royal Navy and the Might of the British Empire. And for a period was neglected by the public and Navy.

 

After returning from a world Cruise with Warspite, a Catapult was fitted over C turret as an experiment but was not retained. She did however, receive new Admiralty Boilers, refurbished Turbines and finally was given an Anti Torpedo Bulge. However it did reduce her speed by a knot as her new engines would have allowed her to reach a speed of 25 knots, meaning she retained her 24 knot speed.

qLeVvpI.png

*Britannia as she appeared in 1932

 

Britannia was cast back into the public view after she joined Hood for a trip to the Caribbean Sea and as a replacement for Renown after one of her Boilers exploded, for a Mediterranean cruise. Britannia hastily readied herself for a cruise with Hood to the Mediterranean Sea.  It was during these cruises were Britannia earned the nickname “Little Hood” stemming from her popularity back in the 1910s as a wave of nostalgia washed over the senior officers after seeing her steam her way out of port. From then forward Hood and Britannia were almost inseparable despite the fact that Britannia was a battleship and Hood was a Battlecruiser and in war time doctrine would definitely separate the two.

Nonetheless the crews of Britannia and Hood enjoyed friendly competition and would often challenge each other to competitions, such as the “best looking ship contest” where the crews competed to decorate the ship in the most festive gear possible for the Christmas of 1930. Churchill who judged the two ships was unable to decide and was forced to declare a draw.

 

Britannia completed her last refit in 1937 which saw a new fighting top installed with new range finders, her rear superstructure was enlarged and the rear conning tower was incorporated into the structure. Her engine exhaust was finally trucked into one massive funnel, changing her appearance and giving her a sleek modern look.

3fo1ZTo.png

*Britannia in 1937*

 

 

With Britannia refitted and acting as the face while Hood went into refit, Hood was given an extensive refit which removed her three decks of thin armor and a new thicker armored deck was installed, significantly improve her survivalbility. New armor was fitted which was lighter and far stronger than her original. This armor was also fitted over the magazines. Internal components were also replaced and she was reboiled and re-turbined. Hoods main Guns were calibrated and other structure issues corrected.  Despite all the steps to save weight, The refit still caused Hood to ride even lower in the water, and by now even a flat calm would still cause her to be wet.

Nonetheless it would be these improvements that would save her from a early death at the hands of Bismark.

 

Duel with Bismarck

Background

With the news of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen sorting out into the Atlantic, Hood and Britannia were dispatched  to intercept the two German ships, originally HMS Prince Of Wales was supposed to support Hood, but it was reasoned that Britannia had large caliber guns and a more experienced crew would be a better fit then Prince Of Whales, plus the two ships had operated together frequently.

While the British held the advantage of having a greater broadside weight, Sixteen, 381 mm guns to the Germans eight. Both Hood and Britannia were old Warships. Britannia was a seasoned veteran but she was still a WW1 design, Hood while Younger was still a Battlecruiser. The Admiralty had considered briefly sending Prince of Wales as well but they were overconfident in the ships abilities and ultimate neglected to send Prince Of Wales.

 

Battle

Spoiler

vMCbQur.jpg

Order of Battle

 

 

Britannia opened fire first at 6:00 at a range of 240,000m followed by Hood at 6:05. Holland ordered to fire on the rear ship assuming the bigger ship was Bismarck. He had originally wanted to fire on the lead but corrected his order at the last minute. Holland knew he had to close the range if he could, if he wanted to minimize the risk for Hood and to some degree Britannia.

The Germans also had the Weather Gauge advantage, this meant the British Ships were sailing into the wind, with sea spay splashing into the primary rangefinders of both ships. Hood struck Bismarck first, followed by Britannia. With the range found, Hood relinquished her main battery fire control over to Britannia who used her Admiralty Fire Control Table to direct the fire of both ships. At 6:15 The two ships opened fire together, a total of 8 shots hit Bismarck, causing moderate damage the German.  

 

Bismarck and Prinz Eugen returned fire at 6:20, the German ships straddled Britannia but landed no hits. Holland realizing that German fire was getting to accurate ordered both ships to adjust their course and speed but still close toward the German Battleship.

The British Ships fired again at 6:32 and scored a few more hits on Bismark but again caused minor damage only a small fire was observed.

 

At 6:40, Britannia’s bridge was hit by two 15 inch shells, one wreaked her bridge, and the other knocked down her forward mast. Britannia losing control, made a sharp turn to port, exposing her broadside to Bismarck. Bismarck Fired two shots, which penetrated Britannia's main belt, knocking out her engine room. Britannia started to drift away, however she was at least turning away from the German.

 

Hood realizing her comrade was in trouble sped ahead to try to distract the German Battleship. No longer receiving information from Britannia’s Fire Control Computer, she had to guess the range of the German ship, there was no time to recalculate it with the Computer.  Vice-Admiral Holland personality gave the range. Hood unleashed her broadside at Bismarck. The 381 mm shells tore through the bow of Bismarck and caused a massive oil leak from the German Battleship.

 

Bismarck was forced to break off her attack on Britannia and focus her fire on Hood. While Hood had saved Britannia, she was in danger of being sunk and with Britannia still incapacitated she was on her own. Hood and Bismarck dueled each other with with none really scoring any hits. At 7:12 Hood was hit by a shell from Bismarck starting a fire astern.

She was hit again, which knocked out power for her rear turrets. That’s when Holland ordered Hood to fall back, there was no way she could fight Bismarck with just two turrets. That’s when the shells of Britannia whistled through the air, smashing into the deck of the German Battleship. A massive fire soon broke out aboard Bismarck. Hood used the opportunity to retreat as quickly as possible, reaching a speed of 30 knots in the opposite direction from Bismarck.

 

Britannia continued slugging it out with Bismarck, but it was clear that the British ships were losing. Holland was forced to make a choice.

 

He could stay and fight or hold out until the arrival of the Heavy cruisers Suffolk and Norfolk.

It was a difficult choice, if he retreated he risked not only the loss of National prestige, but Bismarck would be free to slaughter the Merchants at her leisure.

If he stayed he risked losing Hood and Britannia.

 

Holland choose the first option and cut his losses, he ordered both ships to retreat. Calculating that even with the help of the Cruisers, it still might to be enough to take on the German Battleship.

 

Bismarck would eluded the pursuing Royal Navy and managed to slip into France.

 

Post Battle

Holland was ridiculed by the Admiralty for is this lack luster battle, with Hood and Britannia both severely injured in the battle, the Admiralty felt that this battle was an embarrassment to the Royal navy. They especially found him at fault for his decision to bring Britannia instead of the New Prince Of Wales. The Admiralty believed that if Holland had brought Prince Of Wales the battle would have gone differently.

Holland agreed:

 

“Indeed it would have, very differently, in that Hood would have been sunk.”

 

Holland argued that there was no way the highly inexperienced crew of Prince Of Whales not to mention her faulty guns, would have been able to protect Hood like Britannia was able to. He also argued that:

 

“While she (Prince Of Whales) is newer and has more guns, I'm not confident in their ability to hit the enemy when it counts, nor do I believe in the policy of ‘throwing crap at the wall’. Accuracy counts to, have we not learned anything from Jutland?”

 

Holland was soon dismissed from his post and would spend his days disgraced until he was called back into service a year later.

 

After the battle both ships were repaired, there was even a plan to rebuild Hood while she was still in port but this plan never came to fruition.

 

Convoy Duties

Britannia was removed from active service and placed in the reserve pool, she was mostly called upon to escort Convoys from America. Nothing notable was achieved during this time. She remained in this role until 1942.

 

The Battle of the North Sea

Spoiler

OvwCXe5.jpg 

Order of Battle 

Britannia along with Hood, Prince Of Wales, Warspite and Nelson sorted to intercept the German Battleships, Bismarck, Tirpitz and Scharnhorst who with their escorts, planned to escape north to German Occupied Norway. The German plan stipulated that Scharnhorst and Tirpitz where to break out into the Atlantic, while Bismarck and Prinz Eugen stayed in Norway.

The Royal Navy, once again alerted to this plan, dispatched their fleet to intercept the German fleet with the hope of completely eradicating the German Force.

 

Prelude

The British Fleet were divided into groups, based off the speed. Hood and Prince Of Wales formed the advanced fleet, while the slower ships, Britannia, Warspite and Nelson sailed behind. Holland, was summoned and was given command of the squadron as an opportunity to redeem himself.

 

Battle

Hood and Prince Of Wales steamed ahead of the main battle fleet, and at 7:20, Hood spotted her old Adversary Bismarck, leading, Tirpitz followed by Scharnhorst and Prinz Eugen.

Holland planned to use the same strategy used he had used the previous year. He had Hood’s fire control would be directed by Prince of Whales  Admiralty Fire Control Table MK XI. The British ships opened fire first, landing short of their target. The German Capital ships replied with their broadside soon after.

 

At 7:50 The Main fleet British Fleet Arrived, firing at long Range, Britannia, Warspite and Nelson fired at the lead German ship, also missing their mark.

First blood came at the British hands, with a hit on Bismarck by Nelson, which knocked out one of her forward Rangefinders. The British ships then split their fire, Hood and Britannia dueled with their old adversaries Bismarck and Prinz Eugen, while Nelson, fought with Tirpitz. Warspite and Prince Of Wales attacked Scharnhorst and the Escorts.

 

The British planned to circle the German ships and sink them with fire from all sides, The faster ships, Hood, Britannia, Warspite and Prince Of Wales, moved to close the trap while Nelson held the line. At 8:10 Hood landed a massive hit on Prinz Eugen, forcing the Heavy Cruiser to disengage. Five minutes later, Bismarck scored two hits on Britannia, starting a fire amidships. Meanwhile, Nelson was still dueling with Tirpitz, the two ships slugging it out with each other, both landing hits on the other. Warspite was torpedoed by Z-34, but Heavy Cruiser Suffolk sank Z-34 before she could attack the Battleship again, luckily for Warspite her Torpedo bulge absorbed most of the Damage.

 

Prince Of Wales fired spratacily at Scharnhorst, her guns had once again failed her leaving Warspite to deal with Scharnhorst alone.

At 8:40 Scharnhorst forward magazines detonated sending a massive explosion through the air, a shell form Warspite or possibly Prince of Wales had penetrated her armor belt with devastating result. Sharnhorst quickly sank with all hands at 8:43.

 

Encouraged by this, the British ships sailed closer in to close the trap. The Germans realizing they were about to be surrounded, looked for a way to break from the trap. They concentrated fire on the older Britannia and Hood, seeing them to be softer and easier to disable then the lone yet sturdy Nelson or attacking the experienced Warspite and the newer Prince of Whales.

 

Huge columns of water sprang up around Hood and Britannia, Holland aboard Hood was forced to maintain his course and engage Bismarck and Tirpitz. At 8:55, Hood was hit by two Shells from Tirpitz, Britannia moved in to set a smokescreen for the crippled Battlecruiser. Britannia returned fire at Tirpitz, striking the German in the bridge, Tirpitz losing control broke from the line.

Warspite, Nelson and Prince of Wales closed in. Britannia then entered a close range knife fight with Bismarck, but against, a much powerful opponent, she could only hope to moderately damage Bismarck. Britannia’s old secondary batteries caused minor damage, while Bismarck's set countless fires on Britannia. Both Battleships unleashed their broadsides at each other at a range of just 15 Kilometers. When the smoke cleared, Britannia was completely wrecked, Bismarck had developed a heavily list but was still operational.

Hood, finally left her smokescreen at 8:55 and attacked Bismarck, causing heavy damage and by 9:10 Bismarck was also a burning wreck. That’s when Tirpitz stepped in, firing a full broadside of all her guns. Hood, was stuck by 6 shells, practically incapacitating the entire ship. All but one of her forward guns could was able to return fire. Holland was killed on Hood's Bridge.

Hood fired two more rounds both landing far from Tirpitz. Tirpitz fired another broadside at Hood, finally sinking the Flagship of the Royal Navy. Hood sank in a massive explosion and quickly sank stern first. Firing one last shot from her gun before slipping beneath the waves.

Britannia, rolled over to port, and like Hood, her Magazines also exploded. She slipped below the waves at 9:30, taking all but 10 of her crew with her. Bismarck, dead in the water with fires still burning was scuttled by her crew. And sank at 9:33. Tirpitz, abandoned her dying sister, and made at full speed back to Germany. 

The remaining British ships, furious at the loss of two of their most famous capital ships, relentlessly chased after Tirpitz. A hit from Warspite disabled her engines, and she was beaten into submission by Nelson and Warspite. sinking at 10:47.

 

Post Battle

Over 5000 lives were lost from both sides, the British had won a major victory but at a heavy cost. A battleship and Battlecruiser, another heavily damaged and two moderately wounded.

The Germans had lost a major portion of their fleet and would never again venture out of port. In Britain the news of the victory was bittersweet, with the loss of two great ships and so many lives, it was hard to celebrate such victory.


By far one of the most exicting AU's I've written, imagine the the ships as Ship girls fighting it out while listening to the Kancolle sound tack was quite the experience. 

Welp, that concludes that, Thanks to all the Community members who pitched in for suggestions in sinking her, and for providing me a a Captain.

Members who gave me suggestions: 

XXRed_DawnXX for the name 

and GreyFox78659 for Captain Bly 

And a big thanks to anyone who helped me! 

 

Oh god I hope I didn't miss a few spelling mistakes in there.....

Edited by Incendiary_Tanker
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Great story!

I did notice some mistakes though (almost all grammar, spelling was great)

Spoiler
15 hours ago, Incendiary_Tanker said:

Oh god I hope I didn't miss a few spelling mistakes in there.....

15 hours ago, Incendiary_Tanker said:

Bismarck would eluded the pursuing Royal Navy and managed to slip into France.

"Bismarck would elude the pursuing Royal Navy and managed to slip into France" may be better grammar.

15 hours ago, Incendiary_Tanker said:

The change to oil also allowed her to gain a .5 of a knot which allowed her to maintain a speed of 24 knots as boiler temperatures were now more constant thanks to to switch to fuel oil. Though she retained her two funnels until 1932.

I personally would have preferred that this was a single sentence. Also, perhaps consistent may be a better choice of words than constant.

15 hours ago, Incendiary_Tanker said:

Sixteen, 381 mm guns to the Germans eight

Normally I love sticking commas everywhere, but there really shouldn't be one here.

15 hours ago, Incendiary_Tanker said:

Hoods main Guns were calibrated and other structure issues corrected.  Despite all the steps to save weight, The refit still caused Hood to ride even lower in the water, and by now even a flat calm would still cause her to be wet.

"Hood's main guns were calibrated and other structural issues corrected. Despite all the steps taken to save weight, the refit still caused Hood to ride even lower in the water, and now even a flat calm sea would cause her decks to be awash with water." (not so sure about awash)

Lots of words that shouldn't be capitalized are.

 

Those were all grammar issues. The spelling was on point.

Except for this:

15 hours ago, Incendiary_Tanker said:

Prince Of Wales fired spratacily

I would assume you meant "sporadically"

also you spelled alternative wrong in the tags

 

Still, it was a great read.

15 hours ago, Incendiary_Tanker said:

10 x 101mm guns

This is just me being super nitpicky, but you probably meant 102mm guns.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BL_4_inch_naval_gun_Mk_VII

http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNBR_4-50_mk7.php

101.6 if you trust Wikipedia

 

Edited by warpath_33
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