King George V class battleship (1939): Wikis


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HMS King George V in 1941.jpg
HMS King George V in 1941
Class overview
Name: King George V
Operators: United Kingdom Royal Navy
Preceded by: Nelson-class
Succeeded by: Lion-class (planned)
Completed: Five
Lost: One
General characteristics
Class and type: battleship

38,031 tons (1940) Standard; 42,237 (1940) to 44,460 tons (1944) at Full Load

(figures for King George V)
Length: 745 ft (227 m)
Beam: 103 ft (31 m)
Draught: 32.6 ft (9.9 m)
Propulsion: Eight Admiralty three-drum small-tube boilers with superheaters
Four Parsons single-reduction geared turbines
Four three-bladed propellers, 14 ft 6 in diameter (4.42 m)
128,000-134,000 SHP achieved in service[1]
Speed: 28.0 knots at 111,700 SHP (1941 trials)
Range: 5,400+ nm at 18 knots (11.9 tons/hour fuel burn)
Complement: 1,314 to 1,631
Armour: Main belt: 14.7 in (374 mm)
lower belt: 5.4 in (137 mm)
deck: up to 5.38 in (136 mm)
main turrets: 12.75 in (324 mm)
barbettes: 12.75 in (324 mm)
Aircraft carried: Four Supermarine Walrus seaplanes
Aviation facilities: one double-ended catapult

The King George V-class battleships (KGV) were the penultimate battleship design completed for the Royal Navy (RN). Five ships of the class were commissioned: King George V (1940), Prince of Wales (1941), Duke of York (1941), Howe (1942), and Anson (1942).

The Washington Naval Treaty limiting both the quantity, size (in tonnage), and armament of post World War I battleship construction had been extended by the First London Naval Treaty, but the treaty was due to expire in 1936. With increased tension between the various major naval nations, it was expected by planners that the treaty might not be renewed and the King George V-class was designed with this loss of restriction in mind.

All five ships served in the Second World War. Prince of Wales was the only one lost when she, along with the battlecruiser Repulse were sunk by Japanese air attack near Singapore. The survivors were broken in the late 1950s.



The King George V-class were the outcome of a design process dating from 1928. Under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, a 'holiday' from building capital ships was in force until 1931. The battleship element of the British Navy consisted of only those battleships retained after the end of the First World War and the two new but slow Nelson class battleships. In 1928 the Royal Navy commenced discussion of the staff requirements for the ships it expected to begin in 1931.[2]

In the event, the First London Naval Treaty of 1930 extended the 'building holiday' to 1937. Planning recommenced in 1935, drawing on previous design work. The new class would be built up to the Treaty maximum displacement of 35,000 tons. Alternatives with 16-inch, 15-inch and 14-inch main guns were considered, and it was considered that the 15-inch armament would give the best balance. Most designs were intended to make about 27 knots, and it was considered that the likely decisive range in a battle would be 12,000 to 16,000 yards. Armour and torpedo protection would form a much greater proportion of the design than previous British battleships.[3]

In October 1935, the decision was made to use the 14-inch guns. At the time, Britain was negotiating a continuation of the Naval Treaties. The British favoured a reduction in the maximum calibre of battleship gun to 14-inch calibre, and in early October learnt that the USA would support this position if the Japanese could also be persuaded to do so. Therefore, the Admiralty decided to use a 14-inch gun on the King George V-class.[3] The Second London Naval Treaty, a result of the Second London Naval Conference began in December 1935, was signed in March 1936 by the US France and the UK confirming 14 inch guns as the treaty limit; however Japan left the conference in January and Italy refused to sign.


The King George Vs were the first British battleships to alternate engine rooms and boilers in the machine spaces. This reduced the likelihood of a single hit causing the loss of all power.[4]




One of the King George V battleships, Prince of Wales

The armour protection of the King George V-class battleships was designed after consideration of the Royal Navy's experience of the First World War and upon full scale testing between the wars.[5] Magazine protection was given priority[6] through the provision of a thick belt and deck armour and by placing the magazines at the lowest levels of the ship.[7]

The horizontal protection over the magazines consisted of three layers with a total thickness of 9.13 inches ; the weather deck consisted of 1.25 inches of D steel[8], the main armoured deck was 5.88 inches thick over a .5 inch D[9] steel deck, and above the shell rooms there was another 1.5 inch splinter deck.[10][11] The powder magazines were located below the shell rooms for added protection, a practise that was begun with the Nelson class battleships..[7] The weatherdeck thickness was the same over the machinery spaces, but there the main armoured deck was reduced to 4.88 inches over a .5 inch D steel deck. The main armoured deck was continued forward of the forward armoured bulkhead and gradually reduced from full thickness to 2.5 inches, while aft of the after magazines an armoured turtle deck covered the steering gear with 4.5-5 inches of armour whilst also providing protection along the waterline.[10]

The main armour belt was 23.5 feet (7.2 m) high and covered the hull side from the main armoured deck to finish 15 feet (4.6 m)[6] below the deep waterline.[12] Post First World War studies had indicated that it was possible for delayed-action AP shells to dive under a shallow belt and penetrate into vital areas of the ship and therefore the main belt was made to extend as far below the waterline as possible.[13] Along the ship, the belt started just forward of the forward turret and finished just aft of the aft turret. The belt was at its thickest above, and at, the waterline. Along the magazines, the belt was 15 inches thick (381 mm)[14]; over the machinery spaces, the belt was 14 inches (356 mm). The lower section of belt tapered to a thickness of between 4.5 in and 5.5 in.[15][16] Armour protection was even better than the thickness of armour would indicate due to the improved qualities of the cemented[17] armour which provided excellent resistance.[18][19] The armoured belt, together with armoured bulkheads fore and aft and the armoured main deck, formed an "armoured citadel" protecting magazines and machinery. The armoured bulkhead was 12 in (305 mm) thick forward and 10 in (254 mm) thick at the after end of the citadel[20] The main armoured belt extended forward and aft of the main armoured bulkheads with reduced height to protect the waterline and gradually reduced in thickness from 13 to 5.5 inches.[21] Immune zone calculations vary wide from source to source.[22][23][24][25]

The main gun turrets were relatively lightly protected in comparison to contemporary battleships.[26] Maximum turret and barbette armour was reduced to 12.75 inches in this class from the 16 inches of the Nelson class. The turret faces had 12.75 in (324 mm) of armour at the front; 8.84 inches (225 mm) sides (at the gun chamber); 6.86 inches (284–174 mm) on the sides and rear; the roof plate was 5.88 in (149 mm) thick. The main armament barbettes were of varying thickness: 12.75 in (324 mm) thick on the sides, 11.76 in (298 mm) forward and 10.82 in (275 mm) aft of the turret. To some extent the higher quality of the armour minimized the loss of protection and the turret's flat face improved ballistic resistance at long ranges, while the low profile of the turret minimized target area at closer ranges. However the reduction in turret and barbette armour was a design trade off in favour of the thickest possible protection for the magazines.[6] The extensive anti-flash protection in the turrets and barbettes was designed to ensure that the magazines would remain safe even if the turrets and/or barbettes were penetrated.[7] The secondary gun mounts, casements and handling rooms[27] received only light plating of 0.98 in (25 mm) to protect against splinters.[28][29]

Unlike contemporary foreign battleships and the preceding Nelson class battleships, the KGV class had comparatively light conning tower protection with 2.94 inches (75 mm) inches sides, 3.94 in (100 mm) forward and aft and a 1.47 in (38 mm) roof plate.[30][31] The RN's analysis of the First World War revealed that command personnel were unlikely to use an armoured conning tower, preferring the superior visibility of unarmoured bridge positions[6][32] Stability and weight considerations clearly played an important part in the British decision to limit superstructure armour.[33] The conning tower armour was sufficient to protect against smaller ship guns and shell fragments.

Underwater protection

Armour and underwater protection of King George V

The hull below the waterline, along the main armour belt, formed the Side Protection System (SPS). It was subdivided into series of longitudinal compartments in a void-liquid-void layout; the outer and inner were filled with air, and the middle compartment with liquid (fuel or water). The outer hull plating in the region of the SPS was made as thin as possible to minimize splinter damage in the event of a torpedo hit. The outer compartment of the SPS was normally an empty or void space (containing only air) and this allowed the initial explosion from a torpedo to expand while minimizing damage to the ship. The centre compartment was filled with oil or seawater and this spread the pressure pulse over a larger area while the liquid contained any metal splinters that were created from the torpedo explosion. The inboard compartment was another void space and served to contain any liquid leaking from the liquid layer and any remaining pressure pulse from the torpedo explosion. Inboard of the final void space was an armoured bulkhead which varied in thickness from 1.5 in (37 mm) over the machinery spaces to 1.75 inch (44 mm) abreast of the magazines. This bulkhead formed the "holding bulkhead" and it was designed to resist the residual blast effects from the torpedo hit. If this final inner bulkhead was penetrated a further set of subdivided compartments would contain any leaks; inboard of the holding bulkhead the ship was highly subdivided into small compartments containing auxiliary machinery spaces. The SPS void-liquid-void layer was generally about 13 feet wide, and the auxiliary machinery spaces added approximately another 8 feet of space from the outer hull plating to the major machinery spaces. The only exception to this was abreast A and B Engine Rooms, where the auxiliary machinery spaces were omitted, but another void space, about 3 feet wide was substituted in its place.[34] Above the SPS, and directly behind the armour belt, was a series of compartments, typically used for washrooms or storage spaces, which were designed to allow for upward venting of overpressure from a torpedo hit. This scheme was designed to protect against a 1000 lb warhead, and had been tested and found effective in full-scale trials.[35] The SPS was also a key component of the ship's damage control system, as lists resulting from flooding could be corrected by counterflooding empty void spaces, and/or draining normally liquid filled compartments. In the case of the loss of the Prince of Wales these spaces were used for counterflooding to reduce list.[36]

HMS Prince of Wales was sunk on 10 December 1941, from what was believed to have been hits by 6 aerial launched torpedoes[37] and a 500 kg bomb. However, an extensive 2007 survey by divers of the wreck of Prince of Wales determined definitively that there had been only 4 torpedo hits.[38] Three of these four hits had struck the hull outside the area protected by the SPS. In the case of the fourth, the SPS holding bulkhead appeared intact abreast the area where the hull was hit.[39] The conclusion of the subsequent 2009 paper and analysis [40] was that the primary cause of the sinking was uncontained flooding along "B" propeller shaft.[41] The propeller shaft external shaft bracket failed, and the movement of the unsupported shaft then tore up the bulkheads all the way from the external propeller shaft gland through to B Engine Room itself. This allowed flooding into the primary machinery spaces. The damage and flooding was exacerbated by poor damage control and the premature abandonment of the after magazines and a telephone communications switchboard.[42] "B" propeller shaft had been stopped, and then restarted several minutes after being struck by a torpedo.[43] Subsequent inquiries into her loss at the time[44] identified the need for a number of design improvements, which were implemented to a lesser or greater degree on the other four ships of the class.[45] Ventilation and the watertightness of the ventilation system was improved, while internal passageways within the machinery spaces were redesigned and the communications system made more robust.[46] Improved propeller shaft glands and shaft locking gear was introduced.[47] Some of the supposed failures of the ship were nevertheless predicated on the assumption that a torpedo had hit and defeated the SPS at or about frame 206 [48][49] at the same time as the hit that damaged B propeller shaft. The 2007 survey's [50] video footage evidence showed however that the hull is basically intact in this area.[51] The inability to survey the wreck during the war no doubt frustrated efforts [52] to arrive at a definitive cause for the loss of Prince of Wales and, subsequently, that somewhat flawed analysis[53] has led to a number of incorrect theories regarding the reasons for the sinking being inadvertently disseminated over the years.[54]

On examination of the Prince of Wales after her encounter with the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, three damaging hits were discovered which had caused about 400 tons of water, from all three hits, to enter the ship.[55][56][57] One of these hits, fired from Bismarck, had penetrated the torpedo protection outer bulkhead in a region very close to an auxiliary machinery space causing local flooding within the SPS, while the inner, 1.5 inch ( 2x19 mm)[58][59][60] D-steel holding bulkhead, however, remained intact, as the German shell was a dud. The German shell would have actually exploded in the water if its fuse had worked properly[61], due to the depth which the shell had to dive before striking the Prince of Wales under her armoured belt.


Main battery

British 14-inch naval gun as used on King George V-class battleships. This example, never installed, is now on display at the Royal Armoury Fort Nelson, Hampshire, UK

The King George V and the four other ships of the class as built carried ten BL 14 inch Mk VII naval guns, in two quadruple turrets fore and aft and a single twin turret behind and above the fore turret.[62] There was debate within the Admiralty over the choice of gun calibre;[63] though there was little or no debate within Parliament;[64] other European powers preferred 15 inch, and the USN, 16 inch main guns.[65] Initially the Admiralty studied vessels armed with a variety of differing main armament layouts including nine 15-inch (381 mm)[66] guns in three turrets, 2 forward and 1 aft. While this was well within the capabilities of the British shipyards, the design was quickly rejected as they felt compelled to adhere to the Second London Naval Treaty signed in 1936, and there was a serious shortage of skilled technicians and ordnance designers, along with compelling pressures to reduce weight.[67] As a result, the class was designed to carry twelve 14-inch guns in three quadruple turrets and this configuration had a heavier broadside than the nine 15-inch guns. Unfortunately it proved impossible to include this amount of firepower and the desired level of protection into a 35,000 ton displacement[67], and the weight of the superimposed quadruple turret brought the stability of the vessel into question. In the end, the second forward turret was changed to a smaller two gun turret in exchange for better armour protection, reducing the broadside weight to below that of the nine gun arrangement.[67] The 14 inch Armour Piercing (AP) shell also carried a very large[68][69] bursting charge of 48.5 lb.[70][71] The last naval treaty had a clause that permitted a change to 16 inch guns if another signatory did not conform to it by 1 January 1937. Although they could have invoked this clause, the effect would have been to delay construction and it was considered prudent to build with 14 inch rather than find themselves without the new battleships. The US opted to absorb a delay and built its ships with larger guns.[72]

In service, the quad turrets proved to be less reliable than was hoped for. Wartime haste in building, insufficient clearance between the rotating and fixed structure of the turret, insufficient full calibre firing exercises and extensive arrangements to prevent flash from reaching the magazines made it mechanically complex [73], leading to problems during prolonged actions. Improved clearances, improved mechanical linkages, and better training[73] led to greater reliability in the quadruple turrets but they remained controversial.

During the combat against the German battleship Bismarck, the main battery of the newly commissioned Prince of Wales had mechanical problems: it started to fire three-round salvos instead of five-round salvos, and there were problems in all except for the twin "B" turret.[74] The main battery output was reduced to 74 percent during the engagement, as out of seventy-four rounds ordered fired, only fifty-five were possible.[75][76][77][78]. 'A' turret was taking in water leading to discomfort for its crew[79] and "Y" turret jammed at salvo 20.[76][80] The number of known defects in the main armament that was hampering 14 inch fire, the damage sustained and the worsening tactical situation forced Captain Leach to disengage from combat.[81][82][83][84][85][86] With the range down to 14500 yds and with five of his 14 inch guns out of action, Leach decided to break off his engagement with a superior enemy.[87] Roskill in the War at Sea, volume 1, describes the decision to turn away: " In addition to the defective gun in her forward turret another 4 gun turret was temporarily incapacitated by mechanical breakdowns. In these circumstances Leach decided to break off the action and, at 0613, turned away under cover of smoke."[88][89] During the later action with Bismarck, King George V was also having trouble with her main battery, and by 0927 every gun missed at least one salvo due to failures in the safety interlocks for antiflash protection.[90] John Roberts wrote of main gunnery problems encountered by HMS King George V:

"Initially she did well achieving 1.7 salvoes per minute while employing radar control but she began to suffer severe problems from 0920 onward [Note: KGV had opened fire at 0850]. 'A' turret was completely out of action for 30 minutes, after firing about 23 rounds per gun, due to a jam between the fixed and revolving structure in the shell room and Y turret was out of action for 7 minutes due to drill errors. . . Both guns in B turret, guns 2 and 4 in A turret and gun 2 in Y turret were put out of action by jams and remained so until after the action - 5 guns out of 10! There were a multitude of other problems with mechanical failures and drill errors that caused delays and missed salvoes. There were also some misfires - one gun (3 of A turret) misfired twice and was out of action for 30 minutes before it was considered safe to open the breech."
—John Roberts, The Final Action[91]

During the early part of her action against the Scharnhorst at the Battle of the North Cape on 26 December 1943, HMS Duke of York scored 31 straddles out of 52 broadsides fired and during the latter part she scored 21 straddles out of 25 broadsides, a very creditable gunnery performance. In total, Duke of York fired 450 shells in 77 broadsides. "However, HMS Duke of York still fired less than 70% of her possible output during this battle because of mechanical and "errors in drill" problems."[92]

The KGVs were the only British battleships to use the 14 inch guns and turrets; their planned successors, free of treaty limitations, were to use a new 16 inch gun and triple mounts.

Dual use secondary battery

The QF 5.25 inch Mark I dual purpose gun has been dogged with controversy as well. The RN Gunnery Pocket Book published in 1945 states that: "The maximum rate of fire should be 10-12 rounds per minute.".[93][94] Wartime experience revealed that the maximum weight which the loading numbers could handle comfortably was much lower than 80-90 lb and the weight of the 5.25 in ammunition have caused serious difficulties; to manage only 7-8 rpm instead of the designed 10-12.[95][96] The mount had a maximum elevation of only +70 degrees.[96]; the slow elevating and training speeds of the mounts were inadequate for engaging modern high-speed aircraft.[97] Despite these failings, HMS Prince of Wales was credited with several 5.25 inch kills during Operation Halberd[98], and damaged 10 of 16 [99] high level bombers in two formations during her last engagement, two of which subsequently crash landed.[100] HMS Anson had her 5.25 inch turrets upgraded to RP10 control[101] which increased training and elevating speeds to 20 degrees per second.[102] These ships were equipped with the HACS AA fire control system and the Admiralty Fire Control Table Mk IX for surface fire control of the main armament.


For anti-aircraft defence, the KGV were built with 4- and 8-barrelled QF 2 pounder "pom-pom" mounts and UP rockets. To this were added 20mm Oerlikon and 40mm Bofors guns.

The 2 pdr mounts were Director controlled - this placed the aiming of the guns separate from the guns themselves which generated large amounts of smoke and vibration. The mounts with be upgraded later with Remote Power Control and radar for improved performance.

The UP proved to be largely ineffective and were removed in the course of the war.

By the end of the war, the AA defences were more than 50 20mm, 8 40mm, and 88 2pdr guns in various single and multiple mounts. Anson carried 65 20 mm Oerlikons, six 8-barrel and six 4-barrel pom-poms by the end of the war.


Ships of the King George V class
Name Pennant Namesake Builder Ordered Laid down Launched Completed Fate
King George V 41 King George V
the King's father
Vickers-Armstrong 1 January 1937 21 February 1939 11 December 1940
Sold for scrap 1957
Prince of Wales 53 Prince of Wales
former title of the King's brother
Cammell Laird, Birkenhead 29 July 1936 1 January 1937 3 May 1939 31 March 1941 [103] sunk 10 December 1941 South China Sea
Duke of York 17 Duke of York
former title of the King
John Brown and Company, Clydebank, 16 November 1936 5 May 1937 28 February 1940 4 November 1941
Scrapped 1957
Anson 79 George Anson Swan Hunter 20 July 1937 24 February 1940 22 June 1942 Scrapped 1957
Howe 32 Richard Howe Fairfields 28 April 1937 1 June 1937 9 April 1940 29 August 1942
scrapped 1958


The King George V-class was built in an era where the aircraft carrier was supplanting the battleship as focal point of maritime operations, but nonetheless King George V, Prince of Wales, and Duke of York all saw the battleship-to-battleship action for which they were designed. The King George V and the Prince of Wales both fought the Bismarck in late May 1941, while the Duke of York duelled with the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst in the battle of North Cape, contributing to the latter's sinking in December 1943.[104]

Poor endurance was another characteristic of these ships, and embarrassed them in Pacific operations.[105] Contributing to this low endurance were the Parson turbines - standard British equipment for some time before the class was designed - and the large number of steam-driven auxiliaries.[106]

Four of the five King George V-class ships survived World War II; Prince of Wales was sunk near Singapore by air attack in December 1941, a poignant foretelling of the rise of airpower over the conventional battleship. The remaining ships never suffered any serious wartime damage, except for King George V, which accidentally collided with and sank HMS Punjabi in May 1942.

On return from the Far East in March 1946, King George V was made flagship of the Home Fleet, a position she kept until 1950.[107]

In mid-1949, the decision was made to lay up the battleships. Four were put into "mothballs", armament and machinery sealed and dehumidified at Gareloch[108]. Howe was flagship of the Training Squadron at Portland and then of the Devonport Division of the Reserve Fleet at Devonport.

All of them, including the King George V, were scrapped in 1957 and 1958.[109]

The planned successors to the KGV class were to have be the Lion-class battleships of some 40,000 tonnes with nine 16-inch (406 mm) guns. These were first postponed because of other priorities then cancelled, and the KGV were followed by only Vanguard.


The ships of the KGV were refitted during the war to make improvements to AA defences and radar equipment and to make modifications for service in the Far East.

The ventilation was improved after reports of heat prostration on HMS Prince of Wales during her last engagement.

In 1944 the aircraft capabilities (the Supermarine Walruses and the double-ended catapult) of King George V, Duke of York Anson and Howe were removed.

King George V was in refit duing the early part of 1944. As well as the removal of the aircraft facilities, the A/A armament was altered. A quad pom-pom was removed and three octuple pom-poms added. Single barrelled Oerlikons were exchanged for six twin-barrel Oerlikons and quad mount 40mm Bofors. The radars were upgraded.[110]

Duke of York was in refit from December 1942 to February 1943 and October 1944 to early 1945..[111]

Howe went into refit and post refit trials for Pacific service from December 1943 to April 1944..[112]

Anson was in refit from July 1944 to February 1945 for improvements to her AA and radar and then in trials (including the new Type 277P radar) until April..[113]

See also


  1. ^ Allied Battleships in WW2, Garzke and Dulin, p191
  2. ^ Brown, D.K. Nelson to Vanguard, p.25
  3. ^ a b Brown, Nelson to Vanguard, p.28-9
  4. ^ Brown p 164-165
  5. ^ Raven and Roberts, British Battleships, p263
  6. ^ a b c d Raven and Roberts, British Battleships, p415
  7. ^ a b c Raven and Roberts p285
  8. ^ Okun, Nathan. Armor protection of the battleship KM Bismarck. D or Ducol steel was a High Tensile Steel developed after WW1. It had very good armour properties and was used extensively on the KGV class battleships as a support for deck and belt armour and for hull, deck, and splinter proof plating.
  9. ^ Okun, Nathan. Armor protection of the battleship KM Bismarck.
  10. ^ a b Raven and Roberts, British Battleships, p284
  11. ^ Garzke and Dulin, Allied Battleships, p252-255
  12. ^ Raven and Roberts, British Battleships of WW2, p154.
  13. ^ G&D, Allied Battleships, p230: "The armour thicknesses and underwater protection scheme evolved from tests completed prior to design work...tests on Baden, Superb, Monarch and Empress of India [sic] led to the conclusion that side armour should extend as far below the standard load waterline as practicable."
  14. ^ specifically 14.7 inches of cemented armour, composite material and 0.88 inches Ducol steel hull plate
  15. ^ Brown, Nelson to Vanguard, pp29-30
  16. ^ Breyer, Battleships and Battlecruisers of the World, p.182-4.
  17. ^ Face hardened
  18. ^ Garzke and Dulin, 1980. pp. 247: "Side armour protection of these ships was better than indicated in mere thickness tabulations, as the excellent quality of British Cemented armour provided the resistance of about 25% greater thickness of US Class "A" armour."
  19. ^ "Bismarck Armour". "Post WWII proving ground test indicated that KC was only slightly less resistant than British cemented armour (CA), and markedly superior to US Class A plates." 
  20. ^ Raven and Roberts, British Battleships of WW2, p284. These values differ slightly from source to source.
  21. ^ Raven and Roberts, British Battleships, p284. These values differ slightly from source to source.
  22. ^ ADM 239/268: C.B.04039, ARMOUR PROTECTION (1939)
  23. ^ Raven and Roberts, British Battleships of WW2, p293 state:" was estimated that the belt armour would withstand 15 inch shells at a range of about 13,500 yards (15 inch armour) and 15600 yards (14 inch armour at normal inclination..." . The Magazines were stated to withstand 15" plunging fire up to 33500 yards.
  24. ^ Garzke and Dullin, 1980. pp. 251, state: Against the British 15 inch Mark I naval gun, firing an 1,938 lb shell, this protection scheme provided an immunity zone from 17,200 to 32,000 yards over the magazines, 19,500 to 28,000 yards over the machinery.
  25. ^ Okun, Nathan. Armor protection of the battleship KM Bismarck.Nathan Okun calculated against the German 38 cm SK C/34 naval gun (15 inch) mounted on the contemporary Bismarck class battleships, the immunity zone was from 21,500 to 36,600 yards yards over the magazines, 23,800 to 33,200 yards yards over the machinery. Okun's calculations omit the 1.5" splinter deck over the magazine, as his article states that there is no armour over the magazines below the 5.88" armour deck.
  26. ^ Garzke and Dulin, 1980. pp. 252-255
  27. ^ G&D refer to "magazines" but this refers to the 5.25 inch handling rooms as the 5.25 inch magazines were located within the armoured citadel.
  28. ^ Garzke and Dulin, 1980. pp. 252-255
  29. ^ Raven and Roberts, British Battleships, p284, gives 1.5 inch for the 5.25 inch turret faces, 1 inch sides and rears, and 2 inch and 1 inch casements.
  30. ^ Garzke & Dulin, 1980. p.252
  31. ^ Raven and Roberts, British Battleships of WW2, p284 gives 4.5 inches sides, 3 inch front and rear, and 2 inch roof and deck.
  32. ^ Testimony of Ted Briggs. For example, Captain Kerr and Admiral Holland commanded the Hood from her unarmoured bridge.
  33. ^ Garzke and Dulin, 1980. pp. 247
  34. ^ Raven and Roberts, British Battleships of World War Two, p294-297.
  35. ^ Brown, Nelson to Vanguard, pp30-1
  36. ^ Death of a Battleship p 17
  37. ^ Middlebrook & Mahoney, Battleship, page 288. The figure of 6 hits seems to stem from post sinking analysis, probably by the Bucknill Committee and some survivor reports. However Appendix 1, Prince of Wales Compass Platform Narrative (recorded during the action) on pages 329-330, states 4 torpedo hits, one on the port side and 3 on the starboard side. Appendix 4, Post Action Statement by Gunnery Officer of HMS Prince of Wales, pages 338-339, by Lt Cdr McMullen, also states one torpedo hit on the port side and three on the starboard side.
  38. ^ "Expedition 'Job 74', page 10" (pdf). 
  39. ^ Garzke, Dulin and Denlay. "Death of a Battleship" (pdf). p. 35. 
  40. ^ Death of a Battleship, Garzke, Dulin and Denlay
  41. ^ B was the outermost shaft on the port side
  42. ^ Death of a Battleship, Garzke, Dulin and Denlay, p15-20
  43. ^ Garzke, Dulin and Denlay, Death of a Battleship
  44. ^ Middlebrook, Battleship, p310: "...the Second Bucknill Committee started its sittings...on 16 March 1942."
  45. ^ Raven and Roberts, British Battleships of WW2, p388
  46. ^ "Raven and Roberts"
  47. ^ Garzke and Dulin, Allied Battleships, p247
  48. ^ G&D, Allied Battleships, P368. Frame 206 is the location of a bulkhead that runs across the ship from port to starboard, about 1/3 of its length from the stern and separates Y Action Machinery Room from the Port Diesel Dynamo room. 'B' Engine Room begins about 20 feet forward of frame 206.
  49. ^ Middlebrook, Battleship, p198-203 Middlebrook also assumed a hit at frame 206 based upon the Bucknill Committee analysis but discounted the likelihood of defeat of the SPS.
  50. ^ "Expedition 'Job 74'" (pdf). 
  51. ^ Death of a Battleship, Garzke, Dulin and Denlay. While the hull area around Frame 206 is indented, and with split seams and popped rivets, there is no torpedo hole. See 3D images made from the study of Expedition 'Job 74' video footage.
  52. ^ Middlebrook, Battleship, p311: "The committee could not have known two things: first, that the Japanese torpedoes contained only 330 or 450 lb of explosive charge (which knowledge would have only increased their dilemma) and secondly, that the extensive damage and flooding had been caused not by the explosion seen on PoW's port side abreast frame 206 but by the unseen torpedo hit underneath the stern. This was the torpedo that damaged the bracket of the port-outer shaft, distorted the shaft itself, and permitted the vast inrush of water. It is small wonder that the committee was baffled..."
  53. ^ The Bucknill Committee Inquiry, 1942
  54. ^ Garzke and Dulin, Allied Battleships, p241. This volume, for example, proposed three alternative theories based upon a torpedo hit or hits at frame 206 that defeated the SPS.
  55. ^ ADM267/111 Battle Damage Sustained by H.M.S. Prince of Wales, 24 May 1941:"About 400 tons water in ship mainly abaft after bulkhead"
  56. ^ G&D, Allied Battleships, p190, states that Captain Leach had informed Admiral Wake-Walker " speed was 27 knots because of 600 tons of flooding water...", but this is contradicted by the official damage report, ADM 267/111.
  57. ^ 234/509: Sinking of the 'Bismarck', 27 May 1941: Official Despatches, paragraph 24: "The effects of all this on her gunnery had been witnessed by the Rear-Admiral (Wake-Walker) Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron, and he knew, in addition, that her bridge was seriously damaged, that she had taken in 400 tons of water aft..."
  58. ^ G&D,Allied Battleships, P252 and p234: "*Two plate construction"
  59. ^ R&R, British Battleships, p284
  60. ^ Tarrent, King George V class Battleships, p31
  61. ^ Nathan Okun. "Underwater Projectile Hits". 
  62. ^ Allied Battleships in WW2, Garzke and Dulin, p176
  63. ^ Roskill, Naval Policy between the wars, volume II p 327-329.
    This describes a normal debate within the Admiralty regarding gun size, armour, speed, torpedo protection and AA fire-power and what should be the correct ratio between these attributes for the King George V battleships. In the end the Admiralty chose a ship with high speed, enhanced protection, heavy AA and 10 14 inch guns. The Admiralty controller wrote that a change to 15 inch guns would entail an 18 month delay (which would have meant no new RN battleships until 1942). Roskill noted that the London Naval Treaty stipulated a 14 inch maximum gun size, with an opt out clause, which Britain was very reluctant to exercise, since the Admiralty was hoping to persuade the other naval powers to stick to 14 inch guns.
  64. ^ Hansard HC Deb 20 July 1936 vol 315 cc32-3
    Hansard HC Deb 20 July 1937 vol 326 cc2001-53
    Hansard HC Deb 20 July 1937 vol 326 cc2054-65 London Navy Treaty Bill.
    The member from Epping, Mr Churchill, criticised the choice of 14 inch main armament, as the US and Japan were believed to have selected 16 inch guns for their new ships, see also: Garzke and Dulin, Allied Battleships in WW2, p. 227.
  65. ^ Allied Battleships in WW2, Garzke and Dulin, p. 227
  66. ^ Allied Battleships in WW2, Garzke and Dulin, p. 167-170
  67. ^ a b c Allied Battleships in WW2, Garzke and Dulin, p175
  68. ^ Naval Weapons index,The KM 38 cm/52 SK C/34 carried a 41.4lb bursting charge, while the USN 16 inch Mk VI 2700 lb AP shell carried a 40.9lb bursting charge
  69. ^ USN Bureau of Ordnance, NAVAL ORDNANCE 1937 EDITION, paragraph 1318: "The impact damage which a projectile itself does is entirely secondary to that which results from its burst. The design of most naval projectiles is based primarily on using the projectile as a vehicle with which to carry a quantity of explosive into a ship and secondarily to provide missiles with which to carry the force of the explosion."
  70. ^ "British 14"/45 (35.6 cm) Mark VII". 
  71. ^ Campbell.
  72. ^ US Battleships, Friedman, p270-271
  73. ^ a b Allied Battleships, Garzke and Dulin, p. 228
  74. ^ Tarrant, V.E. (1991). King George V-class battleships. London: Arms and Armour Press, p59. Tarrant notes, on page 63 that "Information on Prince of Wales Gunnery is from PRO Adm 234/509"
  75. ^ Asmussen, John. "The Battle of the Denmark Strait". "Bismarck and Prinz Eugen also suffered a loss of output. Bismarck had a "total 104 possible shots Actually fired = 93". Prinz Eugen "Total 184 possible shots Actually fired = 157"" 
  76. ^ a b Garzke and Dulin, 1980. pp. 189-190.
  77. ^ Tarrant, V.E. (1991) p59.
  78. ^ ADM 234/509: H.M.S. Prince of Wales' Gunnery Aspects of the "Bismarck" Pursuit,. 
  79. ^ Tarrant, V.E. (1991). King George V-class battleships. London: Arms and Armour Press, p54
  80. ^ ADM 234/509: H.M.S. Prince of Wales' Gunnery Aspects of the "Bismarck" Pursuit,.  Problems in Prince of Wales turrets during her first action against Bismarck, according to her Gunnery Aspects Report: "A" Turret: No. 1 gun failed after the 1st salvo, from a previously known defect. No. 2 and no.4 guns suffered from intermittent safety interlock problems. "A" turret suffered from water entering the lower portion of the turret/barbette structure, but there is no indication that this caused any problems other than discomfort for the crew. At Salvo 18, when Prince of Wales turned away, 3 of 'A' turret's guns were in operation. "B" Turret: No problems reported. At Salvo 18, when Prince of Wales turned away, both (2) of 'B' turrets guns were in operation. "Y" Turret No.2 gun had loading problems and missed salvo 14 onwards. No.3 gun had problems with safety interlocks causing it to miss salvos 15 to 20. At salvo 18 when Prince of Wales turned away, 2 of "Y" turrets guns were in operation. "Y" turrets shell transfer ring jammed at salvo 20, due to a shell sliding out of its tray due to the motion of the ship as Prince of Wales turned.
  81. ^ Garzke and Dulin, 1980. p. 190.
  82. ^ The Bismarck Episode by Russel Grenfell, page 54
  83. ^ The loss of the Bismarck, by Graham Rhys-jones, p119-20
  84. ^ German Capital Ships and Raiders in WW2, A naval Staff History, Battle Summary 5, p8.
  85. ^ The Battle of the Denmark Strait, May 24th 1941, Written by Antonio Bonomi & translated by Phil Isaacs
  86. ^ The Battle of the Denmark Strait by John Asmussen
  87. ^ Bennett, Naval Battles of WW2, p.141
  88. ^ Roskill, The War at Sea, Vol 1, p406.
  89. ^ Axis Battleships of WW2, Garzke and Dulin, page 190, states: "As Prince of Wales turned away at 0613, Y turret jammed, temporarily leaving only two out of ten 14 inch guns operational". This is not supported by Bennett, Roskill and ADM 234-509.
  90. ^ Garzke and Dulin, 1980, p. 213-214: "At 0927 a shell hit the Bismarck...By that time KGV was having trouble with her main battery and every gun missed at least one salvo..."
  91. ^ The Final Action by John Roberts, Warship 28
  92. ^ British 14"/45 (35.6 cm) Mark VII
  93. ^ The Gunnery Pocket Book. 1945. p. 51. 
  94. ^ The Gunnery Pocket Book. 1945. p. 51. "These guns are combined High Angle and Low Angle Guns. The Mark II Mounting is found in all Dido-class cruisers. The Mark I Mounting is found in King George V-class battleships, where they fulfil the combined functions of H.A. Long Range Armament and Secondary Armament against surface craft. The main differences between the two mountings lie in the arrangements of the shellrooms and magazines, and the supply of ammunition to the guns. In this chapter, only the Mark II Mounting, as found in Dido-class cruisers, is discussed. The 5.25 in. calibre with separate ammunition is used for dual High Angle and Low Angle Armament, since it gives the reasonable maximum weight of shell which can be loaded by the average gun's crew for sustained periods at all angles of elevation. The maximum rate of fire should be 10-12 rounds per minute." 
  95. ^ Campbell, 1985. p. 44
  96. ^ a b Williams, Anthony G. "Medium Calibre guns of the Royal Navy in World War II". 
  97. ^ Naval Weapons of the World From 1880 to Today - British 5.25"/50 (13.4 cm) QF Mark I
  98. ^ Allied Battleships in WW2, Garzke and Dulin, p. 191
  99. ^ Garzke and Dulin. Allied Battleships in WW2. pp. 195, 206–207. 
  100. ^ Battleship, Middlebrook
  101. ^ Naval Weapons of WW2, Campbell, p45
  102. ^ unmodified the training speed was 10 degrees per second
  103. ^ commissioned on 19 January 1941
  104. ^ * Fraser, Bruce A. (1947-08-5). "Sinking of the German Battlecruiser Scharnhorst on the 26th December 1943". Supplement to the London Gazette No. 38038 (The London Gazette). Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  105. ^ Garzke and Dullin, 1980. pp. 247, "that twice they had to refuel from USN frigates". However the occasions nor the ships are given and other works do not note this. (eg History of United States Naval Operations in World War II by Morrison The War at Sea by Roskill, King George V class battleships, by Tarrent, Battleships of the World 1905-1970, by Breyer, British Battleships of WW2, by Raven and Roberts, The forgotten fleet: The story of the British Pacific fleet 1944/45, Winton, and Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 2 – Navy - Volume II Volume II – Royal Australian Navy, 1942–1945 (1st edition, 1968), by Gill.
  106. ^ Garzke and Dulin, 1980. pp. 247"
  107. ^ Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason (2003). "King George V". SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2,. 
  108. ^ Battleships in Gareloch
  109. ^ Allied Battleships in WW2, Garzke and Dulin, p249
  110. ^ "HMS King George V". 
  111. ^ "HMS duke of York". 
  112. ^ "HMS Howe". 
  113. ^ "HMS Anson". 


  • Tarrant, V.E. (1991). King George V-class battleships. London: Arms and Armour Press. 
  • William H. Garzke, Robert O. Dulin, Thomas G. Webb (1980). Battleships: Allied Battleships in World War II. Naval Institute Press. 
  • Brown, D K (2006). Nelson to Vanguard: Warship Design and Development 1923-1945. Chatham Publishing. 
  • Breyer, Siegfried. Battleships of the World 1905-1970. Conway Maritime Press. 
  • Raven and Roberts. British Battleships of World War 2: The Development and Technical History of the Royal Navy's Battleships and Battlecruisers from 1911 to 1946. Weidenfeld & Nicholson. ISBN 978-0853681410. 
  • Garzke, Dulin and Denlay. "Death of a Battleship" (pdf). 

External links


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