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JeeWeeJ

January 16 - Focus: King George V-class (1911)

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General



Well, Ari is recovering from yet another failed assasination attempt from yours truely, NGTM is busy with work and Capcon was providing extra CPR and catnip to Ari...so I'm afraid you'll have to make do with me! But not to worry, I have some fine British ladies for you!



 



Ships of interest for today



1911 - HMS King George V - King George V-class - laid down



1911 - HMS Centurion - King George V-class - laid down



1912 - SMS Prinz Eugen - Tegetthoff-class - laid down



1936 - RM Eugenio di Savoia - Condottieri-class - commissioned



 



General stats for today



Allies: 20 surface ships laid down, 54 launched, 28 commissioned, 5 lost



Austria-Hungary: 1 surface ship laid down



Great Britain (pre-WW2): 2 surface ships laid down



Italy: 1 surface ship commissioned



 



1911



It is the year 1911, and the naval arms race is more or less at its peak and while Germany was steadily increasing its fleet, the British went on a building spree unmatched by anyone in the world. Millions upon millions of pounds were spent in an effort to construct the biggest and strongest navy the world had ever seen.



 



Let’s put all these classes in a row, shall we? (the year is when they were laid down)



 



1905
wk0mdh.jpg



HMS Dreadnought

1909
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The Bellerophon-class: HMS Bellerophon, HMS Superb and HMS Temeraire



 



1906/1907



640px-HMS_St_Vincent_%281908%29.jpg



The St. Vincent-class: HMS St. Vincent, HMS Collingwood and HMS Vanguard



 



1909
2ahabsk.jpg
HMS Neptune



 



1909
19tpnp.jpg
The Colossus-class: HMS Colossus and HMS Hercules



 



1910
2ih8hn7.jpg
The Orion-class: HMS Orion, HMS Monarch, HMS Thunderer and HMS Conqueror



 



1911
sfcynr.jpg



The King George V-class: HMS King George V, HMS Centurion, HMS Audacious and HMS Ajax



 



As you can see, within just six years eighteen dreadnoughts were laid down, and this is ignoring the battlecruisers and everything smaller. Both in Germany and in the UK the media manipulated the public in supporting this expensive endeavour with slogans like “We want eight, and we won’t wait!” (even though it has never been proven that that slogan has been used, it does give a good idea on the mindset of the time) people were kept busy and with the government promising to build two dreadnoughts for every German one, the naval arms race continued.



 



But there was a bit of a revolution in dreadnought designs in 1910. While the previous ships (up to the Colossus-class) were evolutions of the original Dreadnought design, the new Orion-class was to be bigger, better and stronger in every aspect. Using the brand new 13.5”/45 Mark V BL guns and with all the turrets in superfiring positions on the centreline these were the first of the Royal Navy’s superdreadnoughts. But the Orion-class did not come without flaws: the 4”/50 Mark VIII secondary guns were deemed not powerful enough to defeat the newer classes of destroyers and torpedo boats and with the foremast still placed behind a smokestack (like all preceding classes) smoke was still obscuring rangefinding equipment.



 



So, what better way to solve these problems than to order a whole new and improved batch of dreadnoughts? And with the 1910 naval budget, the order was placed for four new, improved Orion’s: the King George V-class, of which the first to ships, HMS King George V and HMS Centurion, were laid down today in 1911.



 



35j9zyd.jpg



The forward 13.5"/45 Mark V's of HMS Ajax. Note the deflection scale on 'A' turret.



 



Well, I said improved…and they were…somewhat. Biggest change was that they learned on the new battlecruiser HMS Lion that if you move the foremast IN FRONT of the smokestacks, you wouldn’t have smoke obscuring your rangefinders! BRILLIANT IDEA! So the designers moved the foremast a bit to the front, smoke problem SOLVED! Then they modified the 13.5” guns so they were capable of firing a slightly heavier shell of 1,400 pound instead of 1,250. Heavier shells means more armor penetration which means more (German) ships sent to the bottom! Great work chaps!



 



And then there was this little issue of those 4” peashooters. Well, there were these nice 6” guns which would do the job nicely…but that would add 2,000 tons to the displacement…and while it was recommended by the new Director of Naval Construction (DNC) (Rear Admiral Moore) to use 6” guns, a promise had been made that the new ships wouldn’t displace or cost more than the ships of the Orion-class.



 



So, the designers were once again stuck with the 4” guns, but it wasn’t all bad. They placed the 4” casemates on better locations so they had a better field of fire and were better protected. Then there were the less obvious, but effective, enhancements to the design. The fire control system was improved and ‘Q’ turret (the one in the center) was given a wider arc of fire when compared to the Orions.



 



2zoghtz.jpg



HMS King George V's 'Q' turret during a gunnery exercise. The barrels of 'X' and 'Y' turrets are in the background



 



When it came to the powerplant and armor protection the ships of the King George V-class were identical to those of the Orion-class. There were minor differences though, the engines (direct-drive Parsons steam turbines) proved to provide more power than those on the Orions, but due to the slight increase in displacement the speed remained the same 21 knots. Furthermore the King George V’s had an improved internal protection system with thicker longitudinal bulkheads…but these would still prove to be inadequate, but more on that later.



 



So, while the ships were slightly bigger (800 tons heavier), slightly better and within the set budget constraints, the ships were actually a bit of a disappointment to the general public. They had expected (as lord Fisher had promised) that each new dreadnought class would be superior over the preceding class…and the King George V’s were just same-ish but slightly better-ish.



 



It would take another class of dreadnoughts to incorporate all these desired enhancements: the Iron Duke-class.



 



5mw9wj.jpg



The forecastle of HMS King George V during a visit of the king, just after the surrender of the German fleet in 1918



 



Ships in class



HMS King George V

Laid down: 01-16-1911 at Portsmouth Dockyard

Launched: 10-09-1911

Commissioned: Sometime in November of 1912

Fate: Sold and broken up in 1926



 



HMS Centurion

Laid down: 01-16-1911 at Devonport Dockyard

Launched: 11-18-1911

Commissioned: Sometime in May 1913

Fate: Scuttled in 1944



 



HMS Audacious

Laid down: Sometime in February 1911 at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead

Launched: 09-14-1912

Commissioned: Sometime in October of 1913

Fate: Sunk by a German mine on 10-27-1914



 



HMS Ajax

Laid down: 02-27-1911 at Scotts, Greenock

Launched: 03-21-1912

Commissioned: Sometime in October of 1913

Fate: Sold and broken up in 1926



 



wgvymv.jpg



Side view of HMS Audacious, note the experimental zebra camouflage on the top of the image which was used from time to time



 



Service life



As with most dreadnoughts, the service life of these ships isn’t all that interesting, with the exception of a few events. The first was that Audacious was one of the few superdreadnoughts to sink during the war. While executing a gunnery exercise in the waters off northern Ireland, she ran into a German mine on October the 27th, 1914 at 08:45. While a single mine isn’t usually fatal to a battleship, this one was.



 



The damage caused by the mine immediately flooded the port engine room, machine room and the shell room of ‘X’ turret. While all watertight doors were closed, water still continued to get into adjacent compartments, probably due to faults in the bulkheads OR due to damage to the bulkheads caused by the explosion. Even though nearby vessels rushed in to help (among which RMS Olypmic, sister ship of the infamous RMS Titanic) and efforts were made to tow the Audacious to a safer location, the water continued to spread. It was all in vain, however, and at 20:45 she capsized. But that wasn’t the end of all the bad things that happened! She remained afloat in an upside down position until at 21:00 multiple explosions blew the ship apart, probably caused by high-explosive shells in ‘B’ magazine falling off their racks, which exploded and which in turn caused the cordite in the magazine to explode. Wreckage was blown 300 feet in the air, which killed a petty officer on HMS Liverpool when it came down, even though that ship was 800 yards away.



 



2e5tfrb.jpg



HMS Audacious sinking after hitting a mine



 



The killed petty officer was the only reported casualty.



 



The remaining ships didn’t see much action during the war, although all three were present during the Battle of Jutland. Due to the large number of ships active, it is unclear if they scored any hits. It is known, however, that HMS King George V only engaged the German battlecruiser SMS Derfflinger and that she fired a grand total of nine shells at her: they all missed. HMS Centurion fired four full salvo’s at SMS Lützow before her sight was blocked by HMS Orion, but once again failed to score hits.



 



After WW1 the ships took part in actions in the Black sea against the Ottomans and the Russian Bolsheviks, but both King George V and Ajax were sold and scrapped shortly after that.



 



Centurion would have a long life, even though as a radio controlled target ship. When WW2 broke out, she was fitted with a false superstructure to resemble HMS Anson of the new King George V-class. She was later modified to resemble an active battleship and was stationed at Suez with the job of being a floating AA battery and to scare the Italians that there was an “active” British battleship around. It worked though as no Italian battleship dared to get in the area.



 



HMS Centurion was finally scuttled to be used as a breakwater off the beaches of Normandy in 1944. Funnily enough, the Germans were under the impression that their coastal artillery had sunk her and had caused massive casualties as only 70 crewmen made it off the ship. In reality, those 70 men were the entire crew required to run Centurion.



 



11aflhc.jpg



Experimental zebra camouflage as used on HMS Audacious



 



Stats



Dimensions

Length (total): 597’ 6”

Beam: 89’

Draft: 28’ 8”

Dispacement: 23,000t



 



Weapons

13.5”/45 Mark V BL: 10

4”/45 QF Mark VIII: 16

Vickers 3-pdr QF: 4

21” torpedo tubes: 3

 



Armor

Belt: 8” to 12”

Turrets: 11”

Barbettes: 3” to 10”

Deck: 1” to 4”

Conning tower: 11”

Bulkheads: 4” to 12”

Casemates: 3”



 



Engines

Shafts: 4

Engines: 4

Type: Direct drive Parsons steam turbines



 



Performance

Total Performance: 31,000ihp

Max speed: 21kts

Range: 6,730 nautical miles at 10kn



 



Crew

Total: 782 men



 



Sources



British Battleships 1914-1918 part 2 – The Super Dreadnoughts by Angus Konstam (also the source of most of the pictures)

Conway’s Battleships: Revised and expanded edition

Wikipedia



 



2zstxeq.jpg



Painting of HMS King George V in action at the Battle of Jutland


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Alpha Tester
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Nice series of pics there JeeWeeJ. Pay a little attention to the position of the tripod legs and the foremast, and the gunnery control position at the top. See how on Dreadnought the position is AFT of the funnel? Quite bad that. Coal firing makes lots of heated fumes, dense smoke, and throws a good deal of sparks. At speed these positions could neither be reached nor manned. The positions switches to ahead of the funnel for a while then AFT again in Colossus and Orion classes. This position was so bad in the HMS Lion that it was changed at great expense before the ship was full accepted for service.

 

World War I ships are still my favorite.

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Nice series of pics there JeeWeeJ. Pay a little attention to the position of the tripod legs and the foremast, and the gunnery control position at the top. See how on Dreadnought the position is AFT of the funnel? Quite bad that. Coal firing makes lots of heated fumes, dense smoke, and throws a good deal of sparks. At speed these positions could neither be reached nor manned. The positions switches to ahead of the funnel for a while then AFT again in Colossus and Orion classes. This position was so bad in the HMS Lion that it was changed at great expense before the ship was full accepted for service.

 

World War I ships are still my favorite.

Indeed! Funny thing though: in a few classes (like the Neptune and St. Vincent-classes) the forward masts were place in front of the funnels, while in other classes (like the Colossus) they were placed behind it. I fint it odd that the designers didn't realise what a bad idea that was until they worked on Lion!

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Well, Ari is recovering from yet another failed assasination attempt from yours truely, 

Saving this for my lawyers ...

 

h2B279EAB.jpg

Edited by Ariecho
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This is the era when battleships looked their best.

 

Reminds me of Star Trek's TMP era. The looks, the romaticism, the adventure..

 

 

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