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Thread: The King George V Class battleship (1939)

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    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    The King George V Class battleship (1939)

    I would like to start a discussion of the KGV battleship class of 1939. I hope you'll all contribute pictures and comments, stories, and information. I have run across some old issues of Warship, which have a detailed 4 part technical series about this class, written by Robert Dumas. I will try to post regular summaries about them over the next few weeks. They also saw a lot of action, one was lost, and they had some notable victories against enemy battleships, and they were the last large class of British battleships (only one ship followed them). If we have some good stuff in older threads that you find, please post links to it in this thread. I am inspired by the success of the ongoing Fletcher class thread, if we end up with something half that good, this would exceed expectations.

    There were five King George V class battleships completed:
    Ship, Laid Down, Launched, Commissioned, Fate
    King George V, 1937, 1939, 12/11/1940 scrapped 1957
    Prince of Wales, 1937, 1939, 3/31/1941 sunk, 12/10/1941
    Duke of York, 1937, 1940, 11/4/1941 scrapped 1957
    Howe, 1937, 1940, 6/22/1942 scrapped 1957
    Anson, 1937, 1940, 8/29/1942 scrapped 1958

    Specs:
    38,000 tons Std disp 1940. 44,460 tons full load 1944
    745'x103'x32.6'
    8 boilers, 4 geared turbines, 4 screws; 134,000 SHP, 28 knots, 5,400 nm @ 18 knots
    Complement: 1,631
    10 x 14"/45 (2x4, 1x2), 16 x 5.25"/50 (8x2), 32 x 2pdr (4x8) (additional AA weapons added later)
    Armor: 14.7" belt, 12.75" turrets & barbettes, 5.9" deck
    4 aircraft (Walrus) 1 double ended catapult

    links
    H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: H.M.S. Hood Reference Materials - ADM 234/509: H.M.S. Prince of Wales' Gunnery Aspects of the "Bismarck" Pursuit (gunnery at denmark strait)
    http://funsite.unc.edu/hyperwar/UN/U...ette/38038.pdf (sinking of Scharnhorst)
    http://www.rina.org.uk/c2/uploads/de...battleship.pdf (sinking of POW)
    HMS King George V, British battleship, WW2 (KGV history)
    HMS Duke of York, British battleship, WW2 (DOY history)
    HMS Anson, British battleship, WW2 (Anson history)
    British 14"/45 (35.6 cm) Mark VII (Main guns)
    Britain 5.25"/50 (13.4 cm) QF Mark I (secondary guns)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Ge...ttleship_(1939) (Class overview)

    Royal Navy Flag Officers 1904-1945: Reference Documents and Resources-Admiralty Documents - ADM 239/268: C.B.04039, Armour Protection (1939) (good comparitive specs)
    ARMOR PROTECTION OF KM BISMARCK by Nathan Okun 9/6/91 (Bismark is the primary subject but KGV is discussed in detail)
    H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood–The History of H.M.S. Hood: The Battle of the Denmark Strait Documentation Resource, Battle Damage Sustained by H.M.S. Prince of Wales, 24 May 1941 (damage done to POW by Bismark)
    MaritimeQuest - HMS Prince of Wales Page 1 (good POW pictures)

    Below: HMS Howe, and the engine room of HMS PoW, armor plan view, view of POW showing wide beam
    Last edited by USSWisconsin; 24 Jan 11, at 20:18.
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    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    More than any other full size battleship commissioned*, the KGV's were treaty battleships, they adhered to the 14" gun limit that no other nation followed, and they were designed to the 35,000 ton limit - but since WWII had started and invalidated any treaties, the ships were heavier as completed. While they weren't the fastest and their guns were among the smallest, their armor protection was second to none, they were built to stay in a fight, and proved themselves quite well, the POW did succumb to aerial attack, but any other battleship under the same conditions probably would have faced a similar fate. The distribution of the armor was quite different than on the US battleships, with a relatively light conning tower and moderate protection on the turret faces, the belt was very thick, as was the deck, underwater protection was good, but the torpedo hit on the PoW was very lucky - hitting a shaft -which tore loose and ripped the bottom up.

    *The Dunkerque and Scharnhorst were also treaty battleships, even more than the KGV, but were often considered battlecruisers, I would classify these as Light Battleships due to their smaller guns and main gun equivalent armor protection.

    They were involved in more surface actions against enemy battleships than any other Allied class, with PoW and KGV taking on Bismark, and DoY sinking Scharnhorst. Only the Japanese Kongo class of WWII saw as much action against other battleships.

    The ships carried an impressive array of boats as designed:

    KGV, PoW, DoY
    3 x 45' fast motor boats
    1 x 45' motor launch
    3 x 25' fast motor boats
    2 x 27' whaleboats
    1 x 16' fast motor dingy
    1 x 14' sailing dingy's (DoY had 2)
    2 x 32' cutters

    Anson & Howe
    2 x 45' fast motor boats
    1 x 45' motor launch
    1 x 36' motor pinnace
    4 x 32' cutters
    2 x 25' fast motor boats
    1 x 27' whaleboats (Howe had 2)
    1 x 16' fast motor dingy
    2 x 14' sailing dingy's

    The majority of the boats were stored on the after superstructure, between the aft funnel and the main mast, positions varied among the ships. Some of the smaller boats (< 32') were stored around the catapult. A number of these boats were removed to make room for increased AA gun armament. Single 20mm Oerlikons were the first upgrades to be made starting in 1940, the UP rocket system was installed atop the B and X turrets and were soon removed, because they created more of a hazard to the ship than to the enemy aircraft.

    light AA guns (max numbers)
    KGV - 18 x 20mm/70
    PoW 7 x 20mm/70
    DoY 32 x 20mm/70
    Anson 17 x 20mm/70
    Howe 24 x 20mm/70

    The number of 20mm guns was increased frequently, and later in the war it was reduced, with some twin guns replacing numbers of single mounts. They were all removed after the war.


    Originally planned with three quadruple turrets, a decision was made to reduce the number to ten and add to the armor protection. The new Mk VII 14"/45 guns proved to be very good, but the quadruple turrets had some troubles, though this was addressed and the ships handled themselves well in battle, particularly later in the war. The concern over "small" guns was not validated by experience, no battleship could ignore these projectiles, and they were able to do their jobs effectively -particularly in the North Sea, with its shorter gunnery ranges, where the ships were often operated.

    The ships acheived a maximum speed of 29.5 knots and a maximum endurance of 14,000 nm @ 10 knots, dropping to 2,700 nm @ 27 knots. They had a bunker capacity of 3700 tons, with an additional 35 tons of aircraft fuel.

    Source: Warship III (1979), The King George V Class Part I, by Robert Dumas, Conway Naval Institute Press, ISBN 0-85177-204-8

    Here are some pictures of DoY
    Last edited by USSWisconsin; 25 Jan 11, at 03:23.
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    Defense Professional Dreadnought's Avatar
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    Loading KGV's main battery. This is HMS Howe.
    YouTube - Battleship guns

    King George V's stand in for the movie "Sink the Bismark" HMS Vangard provides the gunnery footage.
    YouTube - Sink The Bismark 9/10
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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Why quad gun turrets? I like the standard 3 triple gun turrets better. They don't require as much beam and are less complex than a quad gun turret. I imagine the quad would be very cramped for the men working inside. Twin turrets are nice but they don't pack as much punch as the triples. I figure the triples are the best blend between complexity, punch, weight, and beam requirements.
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    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnut View Post
    Why quad gun turrets? I like the standard 3 triple gun turrets better. They don't require as much beam and are less complex than a quad gun turret. I imagine the quad would be very cramped for the men working inside. Twin turrets are nice but they don't pack as much punch as the triples. I figure the triples are the best blend between complexity, punch, weight, and beam requirements.
    The quads were driven by the treaties, less weight for the same number of guns, they didn't turn out better than triples in practice. The North Carolinas were planned with 14" quads too - but were changed to 16" triples just in time, and the Russians had some 16" quad designs at the end of WWI. But only the British and French built battleships with quad turrets.
    Last edited by USSWisconsin; 24 Jan 11, at 21:44.
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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by USSWisconsin View Post
    The quads were driven by the treaties, less weight for the same number of guns, they didn't turn out better than triples in practice. The North Carolinas were planned with 14" quads too - but were changed to 16" triples just in time, and the Russians had some 16" quad designs at the end of WWI. But only the British and French built battleships with quad turrets.
    Treaties....gotcha. That makes sense now. Thanks.
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    Resident Curmudgeon Military Professional Gun Grape's Avatar
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    I know I'll take some flak for this but the class is the best looking Battleships ever made.

    Even though, in this pic she looks "Rode hard and put away wet"

    Hate those silly 8 barrel, 2Lb ,PomPoms

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    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    I always thought that the earlier Nelson Class looked more modern.

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    the bridge

    more pictures
    Attachment 23737
    This image of HMS Prince of Wales’ bridge shows the ADP most clearly. From this picture follows that the sight on HMS Hood’s ADP is the same. The three ALOs are seen clustered together with the pom pom directors fitted a level lower. The searchlight sight (SLS) is just out of view.

    Attachment 23738
    Attachment 23739
    Forward guns and starboard view of bridge, DOY

    Attachment 23740
    A clear top view of the bridge of HMS Duke of York. The three ALOs are well visible. HMS Prince of Wales and HMS King George V have their ALOs clustered together in a single position, but one of the ALOs aboard HMS Duke of York appears to be placed a but further aft. The searchlight sights (SLS) are seen at left below the main fire control director and are wrapped in covers, as are the pom pom directors (PPD). The captains sight is inside the fore bridge and is not visible.

    The ADP has a control team consisted of the Air Defense Officer (ADO) and his assistant. He has a special ADO sight that can indicate the to-be-engaged aircraft by relaying a target bearing. Such an ADO sight is thus an aircraft bearing indicator but this sight also functions as a star shell sight at night. The other ADO sight is manned by his assistant, so two of these sights are present. There are six so-called Air-Lookouts (ALOs), three on each side of the ship’s bridge. Each ALO continuously observes an arc of the sky around the ship, watching for aircraft to appear. The ALO uses a position with a pair of binoculars. Once an aircraft is spotted and marked by the ADO, the High-Angle Control System (HACS) will determine the target’s speed and bearing so that it can be engaged by the heavy anti-aircraft artillery. Each large capital ship was typically fitted with three or four of such HACS directors. The model of the HACS is described here. Next to the HACS directors, a series of close-range pompom directors are fitted. HMS Hood was fitted with one such director for each pom pom gun, one Mark I and two mark IIs ). The pom pom and HACS directors in the Royal Navy were all fitted with the Yagi radar aerials later, but HMS Hood was sunk before those radars were fitted. One piece of equipment present on other ships that probably would have been fitted to HMS Hood was the Auto-Barrage Unit (ABU) that determined the range of the enemy aircraft, in order for all anti-air guns to fire a single barrage.

    Several directors for the searchlights were also present next to these air-defence positions. There is a single searchlight sight per searchlight, but as the two ADO sights can also act as a searchlight bearing indicators, HMS Hood was fitted with four additional searchlight sights.

    The captain himself also has a bearing indicator that was placed on HMS Hood, but not on the inside of the bridge probably due to space constrains. On the King George V class, these sights were placed inside. A final sight, according to John Roberts, is a UP sight placed near the upper ADP of HMS Hood. No information was found on this particular sight.

    So, the typical equipment found on RN warships is one pair of captain sights, a pair of ADO sights, two pair of searchlight sights (depending on the number of searchlights), three pairs of ALO sights, a pompom director per gun and a number HACS directors. The latter is the only one that is clearly visible on warships.

    http://blog.ontheslipway.com/?cat=11
    Last edited by USSWisconsin; 25 Jan 11, at 04:20.
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    Quote Originally Posted by USSWisconsin View Post
    More than any other full size battleship commissioned*, the KGV's were treaty battleships,
    weren't rodney and nelson also treaty builds?

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    Great thread. The KGV's are my favorite RN Battleship class.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gf0012-aust View Post
    weren't rodney and nelson also treaty builds?
    Yes, Nelson and Rodney were built after the Washington Treaty of 1922. These were the only two battleships built for the British between the "R" or Revenge Class and the KGV class.
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    The Nelson class is interesting that all of main batteries are located forward of the superstructure. It actually makes sense in that they would never attempt to flee an enemy force and to attempt to fend them off with the aft battery as they would have been too slow to outrun anything built after WWI (as I understand their rated speed was only about 22 knots). So, they might as well go full in with the three main batteries blazing!

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    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gf0012-aust View Post
    weren't rodney and nelson also treaty builds?
    They were treaty ships, but there was a special clause for them that permitted them to have 16" guns, and be built during the builders holiday - so they got around the treaties more restrictive parts, no battleships for anyone else during the holiday, and a 14" gun limit after the holiday. The special clause was in view of the average battleship in the British fleet being older than their contemporaries the US and Japanese fleets - and the fact that Japan and the US already had 16" gun ships. The two actually turned out a little light when completed, the weight savings measures were more successful than expected (this lightness was soon "corrected" by additional equipment being added). Since they had special clauses they weren't restricted by the treaties as much as the KGV class (smaller guns and 35K limit). All the other treaty battleships evoked the escallator clause for larger guns, and the Axis blatently cheated on the displacement (Bismark, Littorio). The battleships completed after the war started pretty much abandoned the treaty weight limits, though things like armor and gun size were already fixed by that stage in the construction. Due to the large class, the KGV 14" Mk VII guns had been ordered early, and it was too late to change when the Japanese withdrew from the treaty, the US was able to manage the change to 16" guns for the two ship North Carolina class, though considerable work had been done on 14" quad turrets.

    The had many of the features and even the guns from the G3 "battlecruiser", but used the smaller engines of the N3 battleship design. They were a combination of these two unbuilt types, designed to meet the treaties requirements, and were considered very successful when commissioned. The Japanese had been very secretive about the speed of the Nagato, and the new Nelsons were almost as fast as the older QE class - so they weren't thought of as slow by battleship standards in 1927. Only battlecruisers were faster at the time (for capital ships).
    Attachment 23806
    G3 class Battlecruisers: Four ships planned, but not built (1921), these ships had armor befitting a battleship and were classified as battlecruisers due to their speed. They would have been very powerful well balanced ships with excellent protection. They were far ahead of their time in antiaircraft protection. Much of the work on this class went into the Nelson class.
    Proposed G3 Fast battleship (1921), plan view
    Dimensions:862.5' x 106' x 32.5', 48,800 tons std displacement
    Armament: nine 16”/45 BL guns in three triple turrets, sixteen 6”/50 BL guns in eight twin turrets, six 4.7”/40 QF AA guns in six single mounts, forty 2 Pdr. pom-pom guns (4x10), two 24.5” submerged torpedo tubes.
    Armor: 14' Belt, 18” Turrets, 15” Barbettes, 9” Deck, 15” Conning Tower
    Machinery: 160,000 SHP, four geared turbines, four screws
    Speed: 32 knots
    Crew:1200
    Attachment 23807
    N3 battleships -(4 planned for 1921 - never built) The Washington treaty eliminated the N3 class and her sisters the G3 class, these ships took a radical approach to armor protection with all the main guns forward. Besides very heavy armor, they were to have been armed with nine 18”/45 guns in three triple turrets. They would have been the best protected and most heavy armed battleships ever built and were only surpassed by the Japanese Yamato class years later. They sacrificed speed for fire power and armor, having a twin screw propulsion arrangement capable of about 23 knots.
    Dimensions: 810' x 106' x 33', 48,000 tons
    Armament: nine 18”/45 BL guns in three triple turrets, sixteen 6”/50 BL guns in eight twin turrets, six 4.7”/40 QF AA guns in six single mounts, thirty two 2 Pdr. pom-pom guns (4x8), two 24.5” submerged torpedo tubes.
    Armor, 15” Belt, 15: Turrets, 8” Decks, 15”Conning Tower.
    Machinery: 56,000 SHP, two geared turbines, 2 screws
    Speed, 23.5 knots
    Crew 900

    Attachment 23808
    Nelson class: The Nelson class was a modified G3/N3 design, downsized to meet treaty restrictions and built during the treaty's “builders holiday” because of a special clause that allowed the RN to replace two of its aging ships with new 16” gun battleships. The ships employed many of the system developed for the proposed G3 class, with a more modest propulsion and armor scheme, still they were very advanced ships, but the superstructure's placement so far aft proved to be a problem and tended to steer the ship in heavy winds. Still these ships served successfully through out WWII and were worn out from extensive steaming by the end of the war. Rodney played a major role in the sinking of the Bismark. These were the last super dreadnoughts to be built by any nation, all later designs were fast battleships. They were the only British battleships to be completed with 16” guns.
    HMS Nelson (1927), plan view
    Dimensions: 710', 106' x 34'
    Armament: nine 16”/45 BL guns in three triple turrets, twelve 6”/50 BL guns in six twin turrets, six 4.7”/40 QF AA guns in six single mounts, eight single 2 Pdr pom-poms, two 24.5” submerged torpedo tubes.
    WWII upgrades: fifty four 2 Pdr. pom-pom guns (7x8), sixteen 40mm/56 Bofors guns (4x4) and sixty seven 20mm Oerlikon guns (67x1) for a total of 156 guns
    Armor: 14” Belt, 16” Turrets, 15” Barbettes, 6.25” Deck, 13.5” Conning Tower
    Machinery: 45,000 SHP, two geared turbines, 2 screws
    Speed, 23.5 knots. 7000 nm @ 16 knots
    Crew 1361
    Nelson (1927) – 41,200 tons, BU 1948
    Rodney (1927) – 38,000 tons, BU 1948

    Attachment 23809
    King George V class: The last class of British battleships, followed only by the single ship Vanguard. With five ships in the class, no dreadnought or later class had more members. The King George V class was a treaty battleship and adhered to the treaty mandated armament of 14” guns and the strict weight limits of 35,000 tons. Still they were well balanced fast ships with good protection, and adequate firepower. The 14” Mk VII guns were very powerful, despite their relatively small caliber. The ships were wet forward, due to the requirement to fire forward precluding the implementation of a shear bow. They were very well armored for a treaty battleship, and took many heavy caliber hits in combat without serious damage. One weak point was the thin conning tower and secondary weapons mounts which had only moderate splinter protection. The class acquitted themselves well in combat, and one, Prince of Wales, was lost to a massive torpedo attack in 1941, two Prince of Wales and King George V participated in the defeat of the Bismark.

    Dimensions: 745' x 103' x 32.5'
    Armament: ten 14”/45 Mk VII BL guns in two quadruple and one twin turrets, sixteen 5.25”/50 QF DP guns in eight twin turrets, sixty four 2 Pdr pom pom (8x8), ten 40mm/56 Bofors (10 x 1), ten 20mm/70 Oerlikon AA guns (10x1)
    Armor, 15” Belt, 13” Turrets, 13” Barbettes, 5.5” Decks, 3” - 4” Conning Tower
    •Machinery, 125,000 SHP; four geared turbines, four screws
    Speed, 28 - 29 knots, 6000 nm @ 14 knots
    Crew 1631
    King George V (1940) – 42,200 tons, BU 1957
    Prince of Wales (1941) – 43,786 tons, Sunk 1941
    Duke of York (ex-Anson) (1941) – 42.500 tons, BU 1957
    Anson (ex-Jellicoe) (1942) – 42,751 tons, BU 1958



    Temeraire or Lion class (4 planned, 1940): Essentially an enlarged 16” gun version of the King George V class, with extra speed, three triple turrets, and heavier deck armor. A later 1944 redesign added 10,000 tons and carried 12” deck armor and enhanced torpedo protection. Had these ships been completed they would have been contemporaries of the USN WWII fast battleships with many of the same excellent fire control systems seen on the Vanguard. The heavy deck version would have been protected against the Long Lance torpedo and the Fritz -X guided bombs with a displacement of over 58,000 tons. Her armor would have been heavier than the US Iowa class but her guns were slightly less powerful.
    HMS Lion (1940), not completed
    Dimensions: 785' x 104' x 30', 46,500 tons
    Armament: nine 16”/45 BL guns in three triple turrets, twelve 6”/45 QF guns in six twin turrets, sixteen 5.25”/50 Mk I QF AA DP guns in eight twin turrets, forty eight 2 Pdr. pom-pom guns (6x8), sixteen 40mm/56 Bofors guns (4x4) and sixty 20mm Oerlikon guns (60x1).
    Armor, 5.5” - 15” Belt, 15” Turrets, 12” - 15” Barbettes, 6” Decks, 2.5” - 4.5” Conning Tower.
    Machinery, 130,000 SHP; four geared turbines, four screws
    Speed, 30 knots
    Crew 1600

    Lion Laid down 1939, (not completed) the original plans were updated in 1944 to provide 12” decks for bomb protection
    Temeraire: Laid down 1939, (not completed)
    Conqueror (planned)
    Thunderer (planned)

    Attachment 23811
    Vanguard: The Vanguard began as a plan to produce a pair of battleships quickly using surplus guns and turrets from the Courageous and Revenge class. The construction was started in 1941, but delayed due to war priorities, and only one was completed following WWII. A number of lessons were incorporated into the design, and what emerged was the probably the finest battleship ever completed by Britain. Vanguard used the best of USN radar and fire control technology, with a graceful and well designed hull form that gave her great economy and made her fine dry sea boat. Aircraft were omitted from her design as they were not deemed necessary with the carrier aircraft and radar gunnery available. A unique six barrel 40mm Bofors gun debuted on the ship and never appeared elsewhere. The cramped 5.25” gun houses from the King George class were enlarged and improved, raising the rate of fire, elevation and train rates. She carried the most effective antiaircraft battery ever on a British battleship, though it was obsolete by the time she was commissioned. The spacious hull, air conditioning, and electrically powered equipment provided unprecedented comfort for her crew and she was a well liked ship. She served as a Royal Yacht in 1947 when she carried Princess Elizabeth II to South Africa. The Vanguard participated in the Suez Intervention where she was damaged by a magnetic mine, she was NATO flagship for several years and ended her career as a training ship.
    HMS Vanguard (1946), plan view
    Dimensions: 814' x 108' x 30.5'
    Armament: eight 15”/42 Mk I guns in four twin turrets, sixteen 5.25”/50 Mk I QF AA DP guns in eight twin turrets, ten sextuple 40mm/56 Bofors guns (10x6), one twin 40mm/56 Bofors, and eleven single air cooled 40mm/56 Bofors guns, four 3 Pdr. saluting guns.
    Armor, 4,5” - 14” Belt, 4” - 13” Turrets, 16” Barbettes, 5” - 6” Decks, 2.5” - 3” Conning Tower.
    Machinery, 130,000 SHP; four geared turbines, four screws
    Speed, 30 knots, 9000 nm @ 20 knots
    Crew 1500
    Vanguard (1946) – 51,820 tons, the last battleship built for the Royal Navy; BU 1960
    Last edited by USSWisconsin; 28 Jan 11, at 22:14.
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    In Memoriam/Battleship Enthusiast Defense Professional USSWisconsin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gun Grape View Post
    I know I'll take some flak for this but the class is the best looking Battleships ever made.

    Even though, in this pic she looks "Rode hard and put away wet"

    Hate those silly 8 barrel, 2Lb ,PomPoms
    I like them too, they had a purposeful modern look, handsome ships. They had a few problems with their armament, in all three areas, the 14" quad turrets, the 5.25" guns, and the 2 pdr's. All inferior to US or even German counterparts - but they managed to be involved in sinking half the German WWII battleships. I think they earned their keep pretty well. Too bad about POW, but what ship of the time could have survived 70 torpedo planes with no air cover?
    "If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
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