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Great Britain's Flag

Great Britain's Nelson class battleships

Photos

HMS Nelson at Port Rush, Northern Ireland on July 4, 1938:
HMS Nelson at Port Rush, Northern Ireland on July 4, 1938
©IWM, HU-107201

HMS Nelson in the Firth of Forth in September 1940:
HMS Nelson in the Firth of Forth in September 1940
©IWM, A-1186

HMS Nelson in 1940:
HMS Nelson in 1940
©IWM, A-2057

HMS Nelson after a refit on May 1, 1942 with American dive bombers and torpedo planes practicing:
HMS Nelson after a refit on May 1, 1940 with American dive bombers and torpedo planes practicing
©IWM, A-9676

HMS Nelson after a refit on May 7, 1942:
HMS Nelson after a refit on May 7, 1940
©IWM, A-9281

HMS Nelson:
HMS Nelson
©IWM, A-28920
HMS Nelson in the Firth of Forth in September 1940:
HMS Nelson in the Firth of Forth in September 1940
©IWM, A-1182

HMS Nelson firing 6" guns in 1940:
HMS Nelson firing 6" guns in 1940
©IWM, A-2066

HMS Nelson in 1940:
HMS Nelson in 1940
©IWM, A-1994

HMS Nelson after a refit on May 1, 1942:
HMS Nelson after a refit on May 1, 1940
©IWM, A-9684

HMS Nelson after a refit on May 7, 1942:
HMS Nelson after a refit on May 7, 1940
©IWM, A-9283

HMS Nelson:
HMS Nelson
©IWM, A-65612
HMS Nelson in the Firth of Forth in September 1940:
HMS Nelson in the Firth of Forth in September 1940
©IWM, A-1183

HMS Nelson in 1940:
HMS Nelson in 1940
©IWM, A-107

HMS Nelson during a gas drill:
HMS Nelson during a gas drill
©IWM, A-4612

HMS Nelson after a refit on May 7, 1942:
HMS Nelson after a refit on May 7, 1940
©IWM, A-9278

HMS Nelson as flagship of Force H in the Western Mediterranean in April 1943:
HMS Nelson as flagship of Force H in the Western Mediterranean in April 1943
©IWM, A-16069

HMS Nelson:
HMS Nelson
©IWM, A-70606
HMS Nelson in the Firth of Forth in September 1940:
HMS Nelson in the Firth of Forth in September 1940
©IWM, A-1184

HMS Nelson in 1940:
Great Britain's HMS Ramillies in Plymouth sound
©IWM, A-2048

HMS Nelson moving 16" shells in July 1941:
Great Britain's HMS Ramillies in Plymouth sound
©IWM, A-4613

HMS Nelson after a refit on May 7, 1942:
HMS Nelson after a refit on May 7, 1940
©IWM, A-9279

HMS Nelson entering East Indies Station:
HMS Nelson entering East Indies Station
©IWM, A-29859

HMS Nelson during physical training:
HMS Nelson during physical training
©IWM, A-30993
HMS Rodney at Devonport in December 1927:
HMS Rodney at Devonport in December 1927
©IWM, Q-83396

HMS Rodney training in September 1940:
HMS Rodney training in September 1940
©IWM, A-1150

HMS Rodney firing 4.7" guns in 1940:
HMS Rodney firing 4.7" guns in 1940
©IWM, A-2055

HMS Rodney cleaning 4.7" guns in 1940:
HMS Rodney cleaning 4.7" guns in 1940
©IWM, A-88

HMS Rodney firing Oerlikons in 1940:
HMS Rodney firing Oerlikons in 1940
©IWM, A-2063

HMS Rodney from the HMS Nelson in 1940:
HMS Rodney from the HMS Nelson in 1940
©IWM, A-1991

HMS Rodney in the Mediterranean in September 1941:
HMS Rodney in the Mediterranean in September 1941
©IWM, A-6139

HMS Rodney pom pom practice in 1941:
HMS Rodney pom pom practice in 1941
©IWM, A-6263

HMS Rodney playing deck hockey in Mers-El-Kebir on January 20, 1943:
HMS Rodney playing deck hockey in Mers-El-Kebir on January 20, 1943
©IWM, A-14364
HMS Rodney at the Firth of Forth in September 1940:
HMS Rodney at the Firth of Forth in September 1940
©IWM, A-1187

HMS Rodney at the Firth of Forth in October 1940:
HMS Rodney at the Firth of Forth in October 1940
©IWM, A-1203

HMS Rodney firing 6" guns in 1940:
HMS Rodney firing 6" guns in 1940
©IWM, A-2070

HMS Rodney cleaning 6" guns in 1940:
HMS Rodney cleaning 6" guns in 1940
©IWM, A-96

HMS Rodney in 1940:
HMS Rodney in 1940
©IWM, A-113

HMS Rodney passing boom defense in 1940:
Great Britain's HMS Resolution in September 1933
©IWM, A-2149

HMS Rodney in Hvalfjord, Iceland on November 22, 1941:
Great Britain's HMS Resolution in September 1933
©IWM, A-6606

HMS Rodney in Liverpool on May 4, 1942:
HMS Rodney passing boom defense in 1940
©IWM, A-9749
HMS Rodney at the Firth of Forth in September 1940:
HMS Rodney at the Firth of Forth in September 1940
©IWM, A-1188

HMS Rodney having rifle drill in October 1940:
HMS Rodney having rifle drill in October 1940
©IWM, A-1209

HMS Rodney at sea in 1940:
HMS Rodney at sea in 1940
©IWM, A-2128

HMS Rodney 4.7" drill in 1940:
HMS Rodney 4.7" drill in 1940
©IWM, A-99

HMS Rodney Sunday morning divisions in 1940:
HMS Rodney Sunday morning divisions in 1940
©IWM, A-121

HMS Rodney in Iceland on December 10, 1941:
HMS Rodney in Iceland on Decembe 10, 1941
©IWM, A-6636

HMS Rodney in Liverpool on May 4, 1942:
HMS Rodney in Liverpool on May 4, 1942
©IWM, A-9608

HMS Rodney:
HMS Rodney
©IWM, A-114
HMS Rodney in September 1940:
HMS Rodney in September 1940
©IWM, A-1136

HMS Rodney's 4.7" gun:
HMS Rodney's 4.7" gun
©IWM, A-87

HMS Rodney at sea in 1940:
HMS Rodney at sea in 1940
©IWM, A-2137

HMS Rodney drops anchor in 1940:
HMS Rodney drops anchor in 1940
©IWM, A-2074

HMS Rodney doing firing exercises in the North Sea in 1940:
HMS Rodney doing firing exercises in the North Sea in 1940
©IWM, A-1989

HMS Rodney Sunday morning divisions in 1940:
HMS Rodney Sunday morning divisions in 1940
©IWM, A-122

HMS Rodney launching a Walrus in 1941:
HMS Rodney launching a Walrus in 1941
©IWM, A-6266

HMS Rodney playing deck hockey at Mers-El-Kebir on January 20, 1943:
HMS Rodney playing deck hockey at Mers-El-Kebir on January 20, 1943
©IWM, A-14363

Design

The Washington Naval treaty restrictions limited the tonnage on the Nelson class which resulted in a slow speed.1,6 With Japan and the United States building battleships with 16" guns the British Navy wanted battleships with them to keep up.3

Armament

All three turrets were placed forward.2,3,5 This meant that the ships wouldn't be able to fire astern, but the British Navy felt their ships would never be in the position of being chased or retreating.3,5 First British ship to have 16" guns.4 All of the 6" guns were in the aft section of the ship.5

The mounts for the 6" and 4.7" guns didn't provide the volume of fire initially hoped for.2 Over time these were corrected.2 The 6" guns could fire a 100 lb shell a distance of 25,100 yards.3

The 16" guns could fire a 2,048 lb shell at 2,670'/sec for a distance of 39,780 yards.3 These shells caused excessive wear on the barrel and it was estimated that they would last only for 180 firings.3

The 4.7" anti-aircraft guns could fire up to 32,000'.3

Engines

The engines rooms were placed before the boiler rooms.3 There were four boiler rooms with two boilers each.2,3

Torpedo Protection

There were water loaded bulkheads below the water line to help dissipate the affects of a torpedo.5

Ships

HMS Nelson

  • Manufacturer: Armstrong1,2,3,4
  • Cost: £7,504,0554
  • September 3, 1925: Launched.1,2,3,4
  • August 1927, August 15, 19273, 19275: Completed.2,3,5
  • October 1927 - 1932: Became flagship of Atlantic Fleet.3
  • 1932 - 1933: Added enclosed compass platform on the Admiral's level.3
  • 1932 - December 1940: Became flagship of Home Fleet.3
  • 1933 - 1934: Added 2 pdr Mk V 8 barrel.3
  • 1934 - 1935: Aircraft crane added.3 Two 0.5" machine gun quad mounts added.3
  • July 1935: Spithead review.3
  • 1937 - January 1938: Refit at Portsmouth.3 2.75" - 3" armor added to forward deck.3 4" armor added to platform deck.3
  • 1939 - 1942: With the Home Fleet.1
  • November 23 - 30, 1939: Hunt for KMS Scharnhorst and KMS Gneisenau.3
  • December 1939: Hit mine at entrance to Loch Ewe that was laid by U31.3,5 74 men injured.3
  • January - August 19405, January 8, 1940 - August 1940: Refit/Repair.3,5 Three 2 pdr 8 barrel added.3
  • June 1940: Two 2 pdr 8 barrel added.2
  • November 1940: Hunt for KMS Admiral Scheer.3
  • January - March 1941: Hunt for KMS Scharnhorst and KMS Gneisenau.3
  • April - June 1941: Escort convoys to Middle East via Cape Horn.3
  • July 1941, September 19415: Joined Force H.3,5
  • July 7 - 21, 1941: Escorted Operation Substance convoy to Malta.3
  • September 1941, September 27, 19413,5: Hit by Italian 18" airborne torpedo.2,5 Went to Gibraltor5 / Malta for temporary repairs then to Rosyth.3
  • September 1941: Repairs.3 Thirteen 20 mm guns added.3 2 pdr Mk VI 8 barrel added to B turret.3 Torpedo tubes removed.3
  • January 1942: A 2 pdr 8 barrel added.2
  • April 1942: Joined Home Fleet.3
  • May 1942: Sailed to join Eastern Fleet but was recalled.3
  • August 10 - 15, 1942: Escort Operation Pedestal convoy to Malta.3
  • October 1942 - October 1943: Joined Force H.3
  • November 1942: Covered Operation Torch landings in North Africa.3,5
  • 1943: With Force H.1
  • 1943 - 1944: With the Home Fleet.1
  • July 1943: Covered Operation Husky landings in Sicily.3,5
  • Autumn 1943: 0.5" machines guns removed.3
  • August 31, 1943: Bombarded Reggio Di Calabria and Pellaro.3
  • September 9, 1943: Covered Operation Avalanche landings at Salerno.3,5
  • September 29, 1943: Surrender signed aboard in Grand Harbor, Malta.3,5
  • 1944 - 1945: Refit in the United States.1
  • June 6, 1944: Supported Normandy landings.3
  • June 18, 1944: Hit mine and went to Philadelphia for repair.3
  • September 1944 - January 1945: Refit at Philadelphia Navy Yard.3,5 Four American 40 mm Bofors quad mounts added.3 Total of 65 20 mm.3
  • November 1944: Four American 40 mm Bofors quad mounts added.2
  • January 19455, 1945: East Indies.1,5
  • April 1945: Four 20 mm removed.3
  • July 9, 1945: Arrived in Colombo and became flagship of Eastern Fleet.3

HMS Rodney

  • Manufacturer: Cammell Laird1,2,3,4
  • Cost: £7,617,7994
  • December 17, 1925: Launched.1,2,3,4
  • November 1927, December 7, 1927, 19275: Completed.2,3,5
  • December 1927: Joined 2nd Battle Squadron.3
  • June 1930: Took parliamentary delegation to Iceland for 1,000th anniversary of the Althing.3
  • 1932: Added 2 pdr Mk V 8 barrel.3
  • 1934 - 1935: Added 2 pdr.3
  • 1936: Aircraft catapult added to X turret.2,3
  • 1936 - 1937: Added 2 pdr.3
  • 1938: 2 pdr Mk VI 8 barrel added.3
  • September - November 1938: Refit at Portsmouth.3
  • 1939 - 1942: With the Home Fleet.1
  • November 1939: Hunt for KMS Scharnhorst and KMS Gneisenau.3
  • April - June 1940: Norwegian campaign.3 Was hit by a bomb.3
  • August 1940: Two 20 mm added to B turret.3
  • May 1941: Hunted KMS Bismarck and KMS Prinz Eugen.3
  • May - August 1941: Repairs at Boston Navy Yard.3
  • September 1941: A / Three3 2 pdr quad mount added.2
  • September 24 - 30, 1941: Joined Force H for Operation Halberd.3
  • October 14 - 19, 1941: Escorted HMS Ark Royal in convoy to Malta.3
  • November 1941 - February 1942: Joined Home Fleet.3 Based at Hvalfjord, Iceland.3
  • 1942 - 1943: Aircraft catapult removed.2
  • February - May 1942: Refit at Liverpool.3 Ordered to Eastern Fleet but was recalled to escort a convoy to Malta.3
  • May 1942: 0.5" machine guns removed.3 Seventeen 20 mm guns added.3
  • August 10 - 15, 1942: Covered Operation Pedestal.3
  • 1943: With Force H.1
  • 1943 - 1945: With the Home Fleet.1
  • Summer 1943: Catapult removed.3
  • July 1943: Covered Operation Husky landings in Sicily.3
  • August 1943: Bombarded Calabria.3
  • September 1943: Covered Operation Avalanche landings in Salerno.3
  • October 1943: Joined Home Fleet.3
  • January 1944: Two 20 mm guns added.3
  • June - July 1944: Covered Operation Overlord landings in Normandy.3
  • August 1944: Fired on shore batteries at Alderney.3
  • November 1944: Flagship at Scapa.3

 

Usage

Hunt for Bismarck

After the HMS Hood was sunk the HMS Rodney joined the HMS King George V south west of Ireland.3 On May 27, 1941, the Rodney fired 375 16" rounds, many 6" shells, and some torpedoes.3

The Rodney only suffered damage from her own guns.3 Afterwards she went to the Boston Navy Yard for repairs.3

 

Specifications

  Nelson class
Crew 1,3141,2,3,4
Crew - Flagship 1,3611,2,4
Displacement 33,300 tons3, 33,313 tons2
Displacement - Loaded 37,780 tons3, 38,000 tons4, 41,250 tons2
Physical Characteristics  
Length 710'1,2,3,4
216.4 m2,3
Length - Between Perpendiculars 660'1,2,3,4
201.16 m2,3
Length - Water Line 702'4
Beam 106'1,2,3
32.31 m2,3
Draft / Height 28' 1"2,3, 28' 6"1, 30'4
8.56 m2,3
Draft / Height - Maximum 33' 6"2
10.21 m2
Performance  
Speed 23 knots1,2,3,4
Range at 10 knots 14,500 nautical miles3
Armament 16" triple turrets: 31,3,4
16" L/45 Mk I triple turrets: 32
6" twin turrets: 61,3,4
6" L/50 Mk XXII twin turrets: 62
Anti-Aircraft 4.7": 61,3
4.7" L/40 QF Mk VIII HA: 62
2 pdr 8 barrel: 21
2 pdr pompom: 82, 484
2 pdr: 81,3
40 mm: 164
20 mm: 614
Aircraft 03
Torpedo Tubes 24.5": 21,2
Torpedo Tubes - Below Waterline 24.5": 23,4
Armor  
Barbettes 12" - 15"2,3, 15"4
Belt - Main 13" - 14"2,3, 14"1,4
Bulkheads 4" - 12"2, 12" - 15"3
Bulkhead - Torpedo 1.5"3
Deck 3.75" - 6.5"1, 6.25"4
Deck - Lower 4.75"3
Deck - Main 6.75"3
Turrets 7.25" - 16"2, 9" - 16"1,4
Turrets - Front 16"2,3
Turrets - Rear 9"2,3
Turrets - Side 9" - 11"2, 11"3
Turrets - Top 7.25"2,3
Engines  
Boilers Admiralty: 82,3
Shafts 21,2,3,4
Turbines Brown-Curtis geared2,3,4
HP 45,0001,2,3,4
Oil 3,800 tons3, 3,805 tons2, 4,000 tons4
  HMS Nelson
Crew 1,3145
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 33,313 tons5, 33,950 tons1,4
Displacement - Loaded - 1945 38,400 tons5, 44,054 tons2
Length 710'5
216.4 m5
Beam 106'5
32.3 m5
Draft / Height 28'5
8.5 m5
Performance  
Speed 23 knots5
Armament 16" / 40.5 cm triple turrets5: 35
Anti-Aircraft 6" / 15.2 cm5: 125
4.7"4,5 / 12 cm5: 64,5
2 pdr pompoms5: 165
12.7 mm5: 85
Anti-Aircraft - Autumn 1943 2 pdr: 483
20 mm: 413
Torpedo Tubes 24.5" / 62.2 cm5: 25
Aircraft 05, 11
Armor  
Barbettes 15" - 16"5
38.1 cm - 40.6 cm5
Belt 13" - 14"5
33 cm - 35.6 cm5
Decks 3.75" - 6.25"5
9.5 cm - 15.9 cm5
Turrets 15" - 16"5
38.1 cm - 40.6 cm5
Engines  
Shafts 25
Turbines Geared5
HP 45,0005
  HMS Rodney
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 33,730 tons2, 33,900 tons1,4
Displacement - Loaded - 1945 43,140 tons2
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 4": 84
Anti-Aircraft - Summer 1943 20 mm: 563
20 mm twin mounts: 53
Aircraft 21
Engines  
Oil 3,770 tons2

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