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Great Britain's King George V class battleships

Photos

HMS Anson during trials in the North Sea on June 21, 1942:
HMS Anson during trials in the North Sea on June 21, 1942
©IWM, A-10154

One of HMS Anson's pom pom gun on August 19, 1942:
One of HMS Anson's pom pom gun on August 19, 1942
©IWM, A-11469

HMS Anson's Walrus arriving:
HMS Anson's Walrus arriving
©IWM, A-10137
HMS Anson during trials in the North Sea on June 21, 1942:
HMS Anson during trials in the North Sea on June 21, 1942
©IWM, A-10155

HMS Anson in the Arctic Ocean on February 9, 1943:
HMS Anson in the Arctic Ocean on February 9, 1943
©IWM, A-14456
HMS Anson during trials in the North Sea in June 1942:
HMS Anson during trials in the North Sea in June 1942
©IWM, A-10150

HMS Anson's crew scrubbing the deck:
HMS Anson's crew scrubbing the deck
©IWM, A-10135
HMS Anson's crew enjoying a boxing match on August 19, 1942:
HMS Anson's crew enjoying a boxing match on August 19, 1942
©IWM, A-11479

HMS Anson in Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong:
HMS Anson in Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong
©IWM, A-30746
HMS Duke of York on December 7, 1941:
HMS Duke of York on December 7, 1941
©IWM, A-6678

HMS Duke of York's crew enjoying a canvas bath under the 14" guns:
HMS Duke of York's crew enjoying a canvas bath under the 14" guns
©IWM, A-30890

HMS Duke of York's steering position in the engine room:
HMS Duke of York's steering position in the engine room
©IWM, A-18116
HMS Duke of York in the Pacific Ocean in September 1945:
HMS Duke of York in the Pacific Ocean in September 1945
©IWM, A-30080

HMS Duke of York with Force H off North Africa with the HMS Nelson, HMS Renown, HMS Formidable, and HMS Argonaut:
HMS Duke of York with Force H off North Africa with the HMS Nelson, HMS Renown, HMS Formidable, and HMS Argonaut
©IWM, A-12958
HMS Duke of York escorting an Arctic convoy to the Soviet Union:
HMS Duke of York escorting an Arctic convoy to the Soviet Union
©IWM, A-7894

HMS Duke of York leaving dry dock at Rosyth:
HMS Duke of York leaving dry dock at Rosyth
©IWM, A-20167
HMS Duke of York's Royal Marines working in the butcher shop:
HMS Duke of York's Royal Marines working in the butcher shop
©IWM, A-17450

HMS Duke of York's print shop:
HMS Duke of York's print shop
©IWM, A-17449
HMS Howe on July 2, 1942:
HMS Howe on July 2, 1942
©IWM, A-10513

HMS Howe's Walrus being hauled aboard in August 1942:
HMS Howe's Walrus being hauled aboard in August 1942
©IWM, A-11759

HMS Howe on patrol in the Atlantic:
HMS Howe on patrol in the Atlantic
©IWM, A-15427

HMS Howe in the Suez Canal:
HMS Howe in the Suez Canal
©IWM, A-24897
HMS Howe in Glasgow in July 1942:
HMS Howe in Glasgow in July 1942
©IWM, A-10386

HMS Howe's Royal Marines removing tampens at Scapa Flow on October 17, 1942:
HMS Howe's Royal Marines removing tampens at Scapa Flow on October 17, 1942
©IWM, A-12329

HMS Howe, as flag ship of the Pacific Fleet, in Auckland, New Zealand:
HMS Howe, as flag ship of the Pacific Fleet, in Auckland, New Zealand
©IWM, A-28876
HMS Howe's Oerlikon gun in August 1942:
HMS Howe's Oerlikon gun in August 1942
©IWM, A-11761

HMS Howe in the Suez Canal going to go join the Pacific Fleet on July 14, 1944:
HMS Howe in the Suez Canal going to go join the Pacific Fleet on July 14, 1944
©IWM, TR-2618

HMS Howe:
HMS Howe
©IWM, A-10512
HMS Howe's Walrus being catapulted in August 1942:
HMS Rodney at Devonport in December 1927
©IWM, A-11756

HMS Howe in the Suez Canal going to go join the Pacific Fleet on July 14, 1944:
HMS Howe in the Suez Canal going to go join the Pacific Fleet on July 14, 1944
©IWM, TR-2619

HMS Howe's Royal Marines practicing with bayonets:
HMS Howe's Royal Marines practicing with bayonets
©IWM, A-16290
HMS King George V in 1940:
HMS King George V in 1940
©IWM, A-2706

HMS King George V in March 1941:
HMS King George V in March 1941
©IWM, A-3656

HMS King George V on May 3, 1942, after its collision with the HMS Punjabi, in Seidesfjord, Iceland:
HMS King George V on May 3, 1942, after its collision with the HMS Punjabi, in Seidesfjord, Iceland
©IWM, A-9947
HMS King George V at Rosyth dry dock in 1940:
HMS King George V at Rosyth dry dock in 1940
©IWM, A-1486

HMS King George V in March 1941:
HMS King George V in March 1941
©IWM, A-3657

HMS King George V in Scapa Flow on October 17, 1942:
HMS King George V in Scapa Flow on October 17, 1942
©IWM, A-12331
HMS King George V in February 1941:
HMS King George V in February 1941
©IWM, A-3236

HMS King George V in March 1941 launching its Walrus:
HMS King George V in March 1941 launching its Walrus
©IWM, A-3658

HMS King George V in Scapa Flow on October 17, 1942:
HMS King George V in Scapa Flow on October 17, 1942
©IWM, A-12335
HMS King George V in March 1941:
HMS King George V in March 1941
©IWM, A-3653

HMS King George V in March 1941 with HMS Rodney:
HMS King George V in March 1941 with HMS Rodney
©IWM, A-3678
HMS Prince of Wales in dry dock at Rosyth in 1940:
HMS Prince of Wales in dry dock at Rosyth in 1940
©IWM, A-9407

HMS Prince of Wales during the Atlantic Charter Conference from August 10 - 12, 1941:
HMS Prince of Wales during the Atlantic Charter Conference from August 10 - 12, 1941
US Naval History and Heritage Command, NH-67194A

HMS Prince of Wales arriving in Singapore on December 4, 1941:
HMS <em>Prince of Wales</em> arriving in Singapore on December 4, 1941
©IWM, A-6785
HMS Prince of Wales firing its 14" guns on April 20, 1941:
HMS Prince of Wales firing its 14" guns on April 20, 1941
©IWM, A-3918

HMS Prince of Wales during the Atlantic Charter Conference from August 10 - 12, 1941, with Admiral Ernest J. King, USN; General George C. Marshall, U.S. Army; General Sir John Dill, British Army; Admiral Harold R. Stark, USN; Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, RN; President Roosevelt; and Prime Minister Churchill:
HMS Prince of Wales during the Atlantic Charter Conference from August 10 - 12, 1941, with Admiral Ernest J. King, USN; General George C. Marshall, U.S. Army; General Sir John Dill, British Army; Admiral Harold R. Stark, USN; Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, RN; President Roosevelt; and Prime Minister Churchill
US Naval History and Heritage Command, NH-67209

HMS Prince of Wales at the top and HMS Repulse at the bottom while under attack from the Japanese:
HMS Prince of Wales at the top and HMS Repulse at the bottom while under attack from the Japanese
US Naval History and Heritage Command, NH-60566
HMS Prince of Wales in April 1941:
HMS Prince of Wales in April 1941
©IWM, A-3895

HMS Prince of Wales during the Atlantic Charter Conference from August 10 - 12, 1941, with the USS Arkansas:
HMS Prince of Wales during the Atlantic Charter Conference from August 10 - 12, 1941, with the USS Arkansas
US Naval History and Heritage Command, NH-67208

HMS Prince of Wales:
HMS Prince of Wales
US Navy, 80-G-190724
HMS Prince of Wales arriving at La Palencia on August 9, 1941:
HMS Prince of Wales arriving at La Palencia on August 9, 1941
©IWM, A-4826

HMS Prince of Wales during the Atlantic Charter Conference from August 10 - 12, 1941, with the USS McDougal:
HMS Prince of Wales during the Atlantic Charter Conference from August 10 - 12, 1941, with the USS McDougal
US Naval History and Heritage Command, NH-67195

Design

The King George V class were designed under the London Treaty limits of 35,000 tons with 14" guns.

The King George V and Prince of Wales were ordered under the 1936 Program on July 19, 1936. The Duke of York, Anson, and Howe were ordered under the 1937 Program on November 16, 1936.

Aircraft

There were two hangers that held 1 aircraft each. Two additional aircraft were stored on the catapult itself. However, most of the time only two aircraft were carried.

The four remaining King George V class ships had the catapults removed during 1943 to 1945.

Armament

The 14" L/45 BL Mk VII guns could elevate to 40° and fire a 1,590 lb shell 38,560 yards.

The 5.25" L/50 QF Mk I guns could elevate to 70° and fire a 80 lb shell up to 46,500'. At 45° it could fire out to 24,070 yards.

Ships

HMS Anson

  • Original name: Jellicoe
  • Manufacturer: Swan Hunter at Wallsend
  • July 20, 1937: Laid down.
  • February 1940: Renamed Anson.
  • February 24, 1940: Launched.
  • May - November 1940: Suspended while construction of merchant ships and escorts commenced.
  • 1942 - 1945: With the Home Fleet.
  • June 22, 1942: Completed.
  • September 1942: Covered convoy PQ18.
  • December 1942: Distant cover for convoy JW51B/RA51 which was attacked by KMS Lützow and KMS Admiral Hipper. HMS Anson did not get into action.
  • January 1943: Covered convoy JW52/RA52.
  • July 1943: With USS Alabama and USS South Dakota for diversionary action off Norway.
  • October 4, 1943: Participated in raid with USS Ranger against ships off Bodö, Norway.
  • November 1943: Covered convoy JW54.
  • February 1944: Covered convoy JW57. With HMS Furious raided Norwegian coast, Operation Bayleaf.
  • March 30, 1944: Covered convoy JW58.
  • April 3, 1944: Raid against KMS Tirpitz, Operation Tungsten.
  • April 21, 1944: Raid against KMS Tirpitz.
  • April 26, 1944: Raid against ships off Bodö, Norway.
  • May 21 and 28, 1944: Raids against KMS Tirpitz.
  • July 1944 - March 1945: Refit at Devonport. Two US 40 mm Bofors quad mounts added. Four 2 pdr Mk VII quad mounts added. Two 2 pdr Mk VI pom pom added. Eight 2 pdr Mk V twin mounts added. Thirteen 20 mm added.
  • 1945: With the Home Fleet.
  • April 25, 1945: Sailed from Scapa Flow with HMS Duke of York for Pacific.
  • August 29, 1945: Flagship at reoccupation of Hong Kong.

HMS Duke of York

  • Original name: Anson
  • Manufacturer: Clydebank, John Brown
  • May 5, 1937: Laid down.
  • February 28, 1940: Launched.
  • November 4, 1941: Completed.
  • 1941 - 1945: With the Home Fleet.
  • January 1942: A 20 mm gun added.
  • January 30, 1942: Returned to Scapa Flow. Covered Soviet Union bound convoys.
  • April 1942: Eight 20 mm guns added.
  • June 1942: Covered convoy PQ17.
  • August 1942: 20 mm gun removed.
  • September 1942: Covered convoy PQ18.
  • October 1942: Became flagship of Force H and participated in North Africa landings.
  • November 26, 1942: Returned to Scapa Flow.
  • December 1942 - March 1943: Refit at Rosyth.
  • March 1943: 24 20 mm guns added.
  • May 8, 1943: Became flagship of Home Fleet.
  • October 4, 1943: Participated in raid with USS Ranger against ships off Bodö, Norway.
  • December 26, 1943: Sunk KMS Scharnhorst. 446 14" rounds and 686 5" rounds were fired.
  • January 1, 1944: Returned to Scapa Flow.
  • June 1944: Eight 20 mm guns removed. Two 20 mm Mk V twin mounts added.
  • July 9 and 28, and August 22, 24, and 29, 1944: Participated in carrier raid against KMS Tirpitz.
  • September 1944 - March 1945: Refit at Liverpool. Aircraft removed.
  • July 1945: Arrived in Sydney.
  • September 1945: Tokyo Bay for surrender.

HMS Howe

  • Original name: Beatty
  • Manufacturer: Fairfield
  • June 1, 1937: Laid down.
  • February 1940: Renamed Howe.
  • April 9, 1940: Launched.
  • May - July 1940: Suspended while construction of merchant ships and escorts commenced.
  • August 29, 1942: Completed. Joined 2nd Battle Squadron of the Home Fleet.
  • 1942 - 1943: With Force H.
  • 1943: With the Home Fleet.
  • January - February 1943: Provided cover for Soviet Union bound convoys.
  • March - April 1943: Provided cover for North Atlantic convoys.
  • Mid 1943: 22 20 mm guns added.
  • May 21, 1943: Left Scapa Flow to go join Force H for invasion of Sicily.
  • July 11 - 12, 1943: Diversionary bombardment of Favignana.
  • September 7, 1943: In Augusta as reserve for Salerno invasion.
  • September 1943: Escorted surrendering Italian fleet to Malta.
  • December 1943 - May 1944: Refit at Devonport. Two US 40 mm Bofors quad mounts added. Two 2 pdr Mk VI pom pom added. Four 20 mm Mk V added. Aircraft were removed.
  • 1944 - 1945: With the Eastern Fleet.
  • July 1, 1944: Sailed for Ceylon.
  • August 3, 1944: Arrived at Trincomalee.
  • August 24, 1944: Covered carrier raid on Sumartra, Operation Banquet.
  • September 1944: Covered HMS Victorious and HMS Indomitable in raid on Sumatra, Operation Light.
  • December 2, 1944: Became flagship of Pacific Fleet.
  • February 28, 1945: Sailed from Australia.
  • March 26, 1945: Member of TF57 in raid on Formosa.
  • June - September 1945: Refit at Durban. Six 2 pdr Mk VII quad mounts added. 18 40 mm Bofors added. All 20 mm guns removed.

HMS King George V

  • Manufacturer: Vickers Armstrong at Tyne
  • January 1, 1937: Laid down.
  • February 21, 1939: Launched.
  • December 11, 1940: Completed.
  • 1940 - 1943: With the Home Fleet. Joined 2nd Battle Squadron at Scapa Flow.
  • March 1941: Participated in Lofoten raid.
  • May 1941: Hunt for KMS Bismarck.
  • April 1, 1941: Became flagship of Home Fleet.
  • November 1941: Ordered to south of Iceland for expected break out of KMS Admiral Sheer.
  • December 1941: 2pdr Mk VII four barrel added to Y turret. 2 pdr Mk VI added to B turret. Eighteen 20 mm guns added.
  • February 1942: Covered HMS Victorious on raid against Tromosö.
  • March 1942: Covered convoys to Soviet Union.
  • May 1, 1942: Collided with HMS Punjabi slicing it in half in the fog east of Iceland.
  • May - July 1942: Repairs in Liverpool.
  • July 11, 1942: Rejoined fleet as flagship.
  • February - April 1943: Covered convoys to Soviet Union.
  • 1943, May 1943: With Force H. Covered invasion of Sicily.
  • 1943 - 1944: With the Home Fleet.
  • May 1943: Had total of 38 20 mm guns.
  • July 10 - 11, 1943: Shelled Marsala and Trapani.
  • September 10, 1943: Covered seizure of Taranto. Escorted surrendered ships of Italian fleet to Malta.
  • September 14 - 16, 1943: Escorted Italian ships to Alexandria.
  • October 1943: Rejoined Home Fleet.
  • February - July 1944: Refit at Liverpool. 2 pdr Mk VI replaced gun on Y turret. Two 2 pdr Mk VI guns added. Two US 40 mm Mk V quad mounts added. Six 20 mm Mk V twin mounts added.
  • October 28, 1944: Sailed for Ceylon.
  • November 15, 1944: Bombarded Milos.
  • December 15, 1944: Arrived in Trincomalee. Joined Pacific Fleet.
  • 1945: With the Pacific Fleet.
  • January 19, 1945: Sailed with TF63 to Sydney.
  • January 24 and January 29, 1945: Covered carrier raids on Palembang.
  • February 28, 1945: Sailed to join US 5th Fleet in operation against Okinawa.
  • March 26, 1945: Bombarded Sakashimo Gunto Islands and Formosa.
  • May 4, 1945: Bombarded Mijako Shima Island with 185 14" shells and 378 5.25" shells.
  • July - August 1945: Bombarded mainland Japan.
  • July 17, 1945: 277 14" shells fired on engineering works north of Tokyo.
  • July 29, 1945: 265 14" shells fired on industrial works south of Tokyo.
  • September 2, 1945: In Tokyo Bay for surrender of Japan.

HMS Prince of Wales

  • Manufacturer: Cammell Laird
  • January 1, 1937, January 1937: Laid down.
  • 1939, May 1939, May 3, 1939: Launched.
  • 1940 - 1941: With the Home Fleet.
  • August 1940: 30' of plating was damaged at Cammell Laird. Caused delays in completion.
  • March 31, 1941, March 1941: Completed.
  • May 23, 1941, May 1941: Left Scapa Flow to hunt for KMS Bismarck with HMS Hood.
  • July 1941: Repairs at Rosyth. Two 2 pdr 8 barrel pom pom added, one each, to B and Y turrets.
  • July 16, 1941: Rejoined fleet at Scapa Flow.
  • August 1941: Carried Prime Minister Winston Churchill to Placentia Bay, New Foundland to meet President Roosevelt.
  • September 24 - 30, 1941: Participated in Operation Halberd.
  • 1941: With the Eastern Fleet.
  • October 25, 1941: Left Clyde for Singapore. Under flag of Sir Tom Phillips, Commander in Chief Eastern Fleet.
  • November 28, 1941: Joined HMS Repulse in Colombo.
  • December 2, 1941: Arrived in Singapore. Formed Force Z.
  • December 1941: Seven 20 mm guns added.
  • December 10, 1941: Sunk.

Usage

Hunting the Bismarck

The HMS Prince of Wales joined the HMS Hood on May 22, 1941, despite two of her turrets not working properly. On May 24, 1941, the HMS Prince of Wales hit the KMS Bismarck three times. One of those shells hit below the waterline by a 15" shell from the KMS Bismarck. The KMS Bismarck hit the HMS Prince of Wales with five 15" rounds and the KMS Prinz Eugen hit her with three 8" rounds. The Prince of Wales' A turret was flooded and jammed, and the Y turret's guns were jammed while elevated which were caused by construction defects.

During the hunt for the KMS Bismarck the 14" gun mounts had technical faults in the HMS Prince of Wales and HMS King George V.

HMS King George V fired 339 14" shells and 660 5.25" shells.

Force Z Destroyed

HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales left Singapore on December 8, 1941, headed towards a reported Japanese invasion fleet of Malaya. Having found nothing they were on their way back to Singapore when Japanese aircraft attacked on December 10, 1941.

The HMS Prince of Wales was badly damaged by a torpedo and lost power. Four additional torpedoes hit on the starboard side along and hit by a bomb. One and a half hours later she sank.

 

Specifications

  King George V class
Crew 1,422, 1,553 - 1,558
Crew - At War 1,990
Displacement 35,000 tons, 36,727 tons
Displacement - Loaded 42,046 tons, 42,076 tons, 44,650 tons
Physical Characteristics  
Length 745'
227.07 m
Length - Between Perpendiculars 700', 739' 8"
213.36 m
Length - Water Line  
Beam 103
31.39 m
Draft / Height 27' 8", 27' 9", 29'
8.84 m
Draft / Height - Maximum 32' 7"
9.93 m
Performance  
Speed 27 knots, 28 knots, 28.5 knots, 29 knots
Range at 10 knots 15,600 nautical miles
Armament 14": 10
14" quad turrets: 2
14" L/45 Mk VII quad turrets: 2
14" twin turret: 1
14" L/45 Mk VII twin turret: 1
5.25": 16
5.25" twin turrets: 8
5.25" L/50 QF Mk I twin turrets: 8
Anti-Aircraft 2 pdr pom pom: 64 - 88
2 pdr 8 barrel pom pom: 4, 6
40 mm Bofors: 8
20 mm Oerlikon: 25 - 38
Aircraft 2, 4
Torpedo Tubes None
Armor  
Barbettes 11" - 13"
Belt - Main 4.5" - 15", 14" - 15"
Bulkheads 4" - 12", 10" - 12"
Bulkhead - Torpedo 1.5" - 1.75"
Deck 1" - 6"
Deck - Lower 2.5" - 5"
Deck - Main 5" - 6"
Turrets 6" - 13", 9" - 16"
Turrets - Front 12.75"
Turrets - Rear 6.75"
Turrets - Side 8.75"
Turrets - Top 6"
Engines  
Boilers Admiralty: 8
Shafts 4
Turbines Geared
Parsons Geared
HP 110,000
Oil 3,700 tons, 3,770 tons
  HMS Prince of Wales
Crew 1,422
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 38,000 tons
Displacement - Loaded 43,350 tons
Length 745'
227 m
Beam 103'
31.4 m
Draft / Height 28'
8.5 m
Performance  
Speed 28 knots
Armament 14": 10
Anti-Aircraft 5.25" / 13.3 cm DP: 16
2 pdr pom poms: 32
12.7 mm: 16
Aircraft Supermarine Walrus: 2
Armor  
Barbettes 12"
30.5 cm
Belt - Main 14" - 15"
28.1 cm - 35.6 cm
Decks 5" - 6"
12.7 cm - 15.2 cm
Turrets 12"
30.5 cm
Engines  
Shafts 4
Turbines Geared Steam
HP 110,000

Sources:

  1. Warships of World War II, H. T. Lenton and J. J. Colledge, 1964
  2. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Robert Gardiner, 1987
  3. Battleships of World War Two an International Encyclopedia, M. J. Whitley, 1998
  4. Janes' Fighting Ships of World War II, 1989
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site