Sissoi Veliky class battleships (1896)

Russia (1896)
Battleships – Rostislav, Sissoi Veliky

About Rostislav and Sissoi Veliky

Both battleships were very similar, in fact they were near-sister ships, built at New Admiralty and Nicolaiev yards. They were relatively small, and only differed in armament (see later), that’s why they are seen together here.

Rostislav at sea
Rostislav with the black sea fleet

Sissoi Veliky

Contrary to past battleships like the Tri Svititelia and Navarin, she had as designed an higher freeboard, at 23 feets. She was a 10,400 ton ship, armed with pivot-type turrets and four 305 mm (12 in) as main armament. Her secondary armament consisted in a battery of six 152 mm in barbettes (6 in, 45 caliber), and her anti-TBs battery consisted in 12 x 3 pdr (47 mm) and 18 x 1-pdr (37 mm) and for close encounters, there were three 18 in (457 mm) torpedo tubes above the waterline, each side. The Sissoi Veliky was laid down in may 1892, launched in june 1894 and completed in 1896.

Her armour was made of nickel steel, her belt was up to 406 mm in the central section (4 to 16 in) thick, turrets 305 mm (12 in) overall, barbettes for the secondary guns were 127 mm (5 in), and the conning tower 203 mm (8 in) thick. Propulsion was assured by 12 bellevilles boilers steaming two Vertical Tubes engines producing 8500 ihp for 15.7 knots in top speed, and a reserve of 500 to 800 tons of coal.


The Rostislav was started in Nicolaiev in 1895 and completed in 1898, the Rostislav was the sister ship of Sissoi Veliky (1894). It differed from the first one, sunk at sushima, by a few details: It has a draft of less than a meter and a light armor. With comparable machines, it was not much faster. But the biggest difference with the Sissoi Veliky was its main armament, reduced to 234 mm instead of 305 mm guns, in French-type turrets. In addition her secondary battery was amidship on either beam.

Sissoi Veliky

Her main belt was 227 feets long, 7 feets wide, 14 inches on the waterline with 6 to 8 inches on the lower edge. Bulkhead were made in compound steel, not Harvey, 5 to 9in while the 5 in upper belt was 150 feets by 7,5 feets. The armour deck was 2 in over the main belt, 3 in at the ends, and the turret crowns were 2,5 in. She has 12 boilers, 2 shafts and a VTE engine for 8700 ihp (200 more than Sissoi), for 15.6 knots, so even slower than her sister ship.

The Sissoi Veliky in action

This ship experienced a sever accident in 1897, so just one year after its acceptance in service. A 12 in gun fired while the breech has not been properly closed. All the crew did as a result. She spent some time in exercises, and was eventually part of the fleet that met the Japanese at Tsushima in 1905. She was badly damaged by gunfire, hit by a torpedo right aft, but survived. However, as she was to be surrendered to the Japanese officers valves were opened, and the ship flooded and sank.

Turret explosion damage in the Sissoi Veliky

The Rostislav first life

Captain Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich assumed command of the ship in 1898, the first Romanov to do so. The ship served as an ambassador in Istanbul and also transported other high profiles of the Imperial family, therefore Shipyards and contractors treated Rostislav with utter priority and care. The ship had its rudder frame reinforced and installation of a backup control post deep under the conning tower.

The Rostislav served as the junior flagship of the Black Sea Fleet until September 1912. Exercisez showed its high coal consumption and revealing smoke panache, severe local overheating, buckling of fireboxes and sudden backdrafts which necessitated repairs and alterations, which weighted the ship so much that its main defensive belt was sunk below the waterline. In 1905 her crew was on the verge of open mutiny, while being ordered to deal with Potemkine’s mutineers, even destroy the rebels by force. The captains refrained to do so. But that occurred at the time of the Ochakov mutiny in November 1905. In 1907 there was a plan to remove elements up to 250 tons to help the ship’s overweight problem, but this was cancelled because of funds shortages.

Rostislav's main guns being cleaned
Rostislav’s main guns being cleaned.

The Rostislav in the Great War

By 1914 she was of questionable military value, despite the removal of a dozen of her 37 mm guns and addition of a modern rangefinder, probably made by Barr and Stroud in 1908. She was versed into the reserve in August 1914. Still, she was an important part of the Black Sea fleet, and as such was engaged intensively in operations, notably to compensate for the absence of other more modern battleships. Between two sorties, her armament was changed considerably: The Torpedo-tubes and tertiary artillery were taken out for the benefit of four 75 mm AA pieces. In 1917 she was engaged against the Yavuz (ex-Goeben) and bombarded Turkish coastal installations.

Revolution and aftermath

Like other ships in Sevastopol, her career was turbulent: In April 1918, she passed under Ukrainian control and flag. She was then captured by the Germans when they advanced, and then by the British after the German capitulation. She the was partially made unusable by the sabotage of its machines in April 1919 to prevent capture by the Bolsheviks. She was eventually recaptured by the white Russians supported by the allies during the Crimean offensive, and used as coastal battery, but finally scuttled the 16 November 1920 in Kerch.

Specifications (Rostislav)

Dimensions (L-w-h) 107.23 x 20.73 x 6.71 m 351’1”x68′ x22′
Total weight, fully loaded 8,880 tons as designed
Armament 2×2 254 mm (12 in), 8 x152 mm (6 in) 20x 47 mm (3pdr), 16x 37 mm (1pdr), 6 457 mm (18 in) Torpedo tubes, 4 above waterline, 2 submarines
Armor Belt: 5–14 in (203–356 mm)
Turrets: 10 in (280 mm)
Barbettes: 5 in (127 mm)
Conning tower: 6 in (152 mm)
Crew 650
Propulsion 2 shafts, 2 VTE engines, 12 boilers, 8,700 ihp
Speed (road) 15.6 knots (28 km/h; 14 mph)

Links, sources

Rostislav on Wikipedia
Sissoi Veliky on wikipedia
Conways all the world’s fighting ships 1860-1905


Sissoi Veliky first proposal

Sissoi Veliky final drawing

Danton class battleships

France (1909)

France’s last pre-dreadnought battleships

The six Dantons (Condorcet, Danton, Diderot, Mirabeau, Vergniaud, Voltaire) were the last French pre-dreadnoughts. They had the misfortune to be ordered in 1906-1908, while HMS Dreadnought was launched. However, the planned construction resumed until the delivery of the six units in 1911, to be succeeded by the first French Dreadnoughts, the Courbets. The Danton spent their career in the Mediterranean, quite active in many theaters of operation.

Danton Marius-Bar
Danton at sea, Marius Bar coll.


So France was delayed in this race because of these particular ships, but at the same time the Dantons were quite improved compared to the previous Patrie/Liberté classes. They claimed 18,300 tons instead of 14,800, to receive the first turbines installed on a French battleship.
Practically regarded as “fast battleships” (20.6 knots in the tests against 18-19 on previous classes, they however had a low autonomy due to excessive coal consumption. For operating in the Mediterranean, however this was not such of a problem. Not dreadnoughts, they however took into account Cuniberti’s design ideas and in addition to their main 305 mm armament, had a sizeable provision of 240 mm turrets, a compromise between the two types of battleships, a bit like the British Nelson class.

Danton class - Brasseys naval annual 1915
Brassey’s naval annual 1915 – Danton class armour scheme



They used a new firing system modeled on that of the HMS Dreadnought in 1918: The British Barr & Stroud coincidence rangefinder. Range of their 240 mm guns increased from 13,700 to 18,000 meters. Rate of fire was also very good, and firing tests proved the validity of the combination of main and secondary calibers. The armor was not that advanced, but tertiary armament was singularly reinforced at the beginning of the great war: Indeed in addition were fitted twelve 75 mm mounted on the turrets which sufficient elevation and caliber to be used as AA weapons. These ships also carrid six Modèle 1909R torpedoes (114 kg (251 lb) warhead, 3,000 meters (3,300 yd) at 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph) or 2,000 meters (2,200 yd) at 33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph) settings. There was also a storage space for 10 Harlé Modèle 1906 mines (explosive charge of 60 kgs (130 lb)).


Total weight of the armor accounted for 36%, so 6700 metric tons.
The main turrets had 340 mm (13.4 in) of frontal armor, 260 mm (10 in) sides and the roofs were given three layers of 24 mm (0.94 in) mild-steel plates. Barbettes had 246 mm (9.7 in) of armor thickness, down to 66 mm (2.6 in) below the upper deck. Secondary turrets had 225 mm (8.9 in) front, 188 mm (7.4 in) sides, 3x 17 mm (0.67 in) plates roof. The 240 mm barbettes were protected by 154 to 148 mm (6.1 to 5.8 in). The conning tower front had 266 mm (10.5 in) thick walls, 216 mm (8.5 in) sides. The communication tube down to the fire-control center was 200 millimeters thick. Noticeably, the ships had two protected decks formed from triple layers of mild steel, 15 mm (0.59 in) or 16 mm (0.63 in) thick.

Mirabeau 305mm gun replaced at Sebastopol
Mirabeau’s 305mm gun being replaced at Sebastopol


Each ship was fitted with four license-built Parsons direct-drive steam turbines. The steam was drown from 26 coal-fired Belleville or Niclausse boilers, each type being alternated on groups of three ships of the class. They were housed in two large compartments, 17 forward, 9 aft boiler room corresponding to the numerous funnels. The turbines developed 22,500 shaft horsepower (16,800 kW) total using steam at a working pressure of 18 kg/cm2 (1,765 kPa; 256 psi). Maximum speed as designed was 19.25 knots (35.65 km/h; 22.15 mph), but at sea trials they reached from 19.7 to 20.66 knots (36.5 to 38.3 km/h; 22.7 to 23.8 mph). Niclausse boilers burned however much more coal than Belleville boilers and copious amounts of smoke and sparks, even flames from incomplete combustion. Estimated range from 3,120–4,866 nautical miles (5,778–9,012 km; 3,590–5,600 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) was almost half that of their predecessors and they needed frequent coaling stops during the war.


Condorcet was built at A. C. de la Loire, St Nazaire, Danton at Arsenal de Brest, Diderot at Chantiers de Penhoët, St Nazaire, Mirabeau at Arsenal de Lorient, Vergniaud at A. C. de la Gironde, Bordeaux, and Voltaire at F. C. de la Méditerranée, La Seyne-sur-Mer. The ships were named after Enlightment figures.
Construction was prolonged by a number of factors: 500+ changes made to the original design and inability of the chief engineer to make timely decisions, meaning that the builders had to rip out some completed sections to incorporate modifications. Shortages of infrastructure at the shipyards, long delays in parts delivery, labor shortages, and lack of large building slips in the dockyards also explains it.

Battleship Vergniaud

The Danton class in action

Danton’s class career was not spectacular, the Danton being the only recorded loss, torpedoed by the U-64 off Sardinia, while the Voltaire survived in 1918 to those of the UB-18. These ships fired warning shots at the Greek government in Athens to force the Greeks to rally to the allies. The same vessels (Diderot, Vergniaud, Voltaire, and Mirabeau) formed the squadron of the Aegean Sea alongs with dreadnoughts, deployed against the Austro-Hungarian fleet.

On November 13, 1918, they were stationed in Constantinople. After the war, Vergniaud and Mirabeau set out for operations in the Crimea in 1919, bombing Sevastopol in the hands of the “reds”. But Mirabeau underwent a storm and was stranded, but saved and towed back to dock in 1919. Never repaired, she served as a pontoon for experiments, while the others undergone some modernization in 1922-25. This particularly concerned underwater protection, with fitting of bulges. These three ships (Condorcet, Diderot and Voltaire) spent the rest of their career as school ships.

Mirabeau bombarding Athens
Mirabeau bombarding Athens

The Condorcet was removed from the lists in 1931 but still served as a training ship for torpedo boat crews, cleared of its armament but equipped with 4 Torpedo tubes on its deck, and was extant in Toulon in 1939. In November 1942 she was scuttled like the rest of the fleet, but remained afloat and was later repaired as a pontoon. In 1944, she was struck by an raid raid. She was towed and sunk by the Germans at the entrance of Toulon harbor and, after the landings in Provence, refloated. She was finally stored before demolition, which took place in 1945.

Vergniaud at Toulon

The Voltaire had been converted into a pontoon since 1930, and was definitively condemned in 1935, but sold for scrap only in 1939. The Vergniaud served as a target ship after 1921 and was scrapped In 1929. Finally, the Diderot also served as a pontoon, condemned in 1936 and srapped in 1937.


Bretagne class BB on wikipedia
Individual: The Provence
Specs Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1906-1921.

Danton class specifications

Dimensions 146,6 x 25,8 x 9.20 m
Displacement 18 320t, 19 760t FL
Crew 681
Propulsion 4 screws, 4 Parsons turbines, 26 Belleville/Niclausse boilers, 22 500 hp.
Speed 19,6 knots. max. (40 km/h; 25 mph)
Range 4,600 nmi (8,500 km; 5,300 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Armament 4 x 305 mm, 12 x 240 mm, 17 x 75 mm, 10 x 47 mm et 2 TT sides 457 mm
Armor Belt 300, turrets 300, blockhaus 300, barbettes 170 mm, Decks 75 mm


Illustration of Danton class battleships

Danton class battleships full
Another illustration of the Danton class, below the waterline

Profile of the class.

Model - Musee de la marine
Shipbuilder model at the Musee de la Marine, Paris.

Blueprint of the class

Detailed vectorial illustration by J.Gimello (


Austro-Hungarian Navy ensign Austria-Hungary (1893)

The Coastal Battleships

This type of “pocket” battleships existed in any second or third-rate navy alongside torpedo-boats for self-defense purposes. With still relatively big guns and decent armour, they were a potent deterrent in 1914. But in the 1890s they were the cornerstone of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. The Monarch class has been the first to used proper turrets instead of barbettes. They served for the duration of ww1 but Trieste was sank in 1917.

SMS Wien before the war

Development history

By 1890, SMS Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf and SMS Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie were former sail ironclads dating back from the 1870s, although modernized, they were hopelessly outmatched, in particular by 1880s Italian Brin’s battleships. By 1893, funds were available to build three new battleships, but the Hungarian and Austrian parliaments only authorized coastal defense ships according to the naval policy of the day. Indeed displacement was to be about 5,600 tonnes (5,512 long tons). The new ships were named Budapest, Wien, and Monarch. They were the brainchild of the newly appointed director of naval construction, Siegfried Popper. The first two were built at Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino yards in Trieste and the Monarch at Naval Arsenal in Pola. They were laid down in 1893, launched in 1895-96 and commissioned in 1897-98.


The three ships displacement was about 5,878 tonnes (5,785 long tons), making them early “pocket batteships”. Their armament was not negligible though, with four turreted 240 mm (9 in) L/40 guns, six individual masked 150 mm (6 in) L/40 guns, ten 47 mm (1.9 in) L/44 and four L/33 guns, one 8 mm (0.31 in) MG gun, and four torpedo tubes. Later in the war, in 1917, a Škoda 7 cm K16 anti-aircraft gun was added on two ships but the SMS Monarch, which contented with an older L/45 BAG.

Brassey’s diagram of the Monarch class

All three ships were fitted with Harvey armour. Belt armor thickness was 270 mm (11 in), the turrets had 203 mm (8.0 in), the conning tower 220 mm (8.7 in), the deck by 64 mm (2.5 in) and the redoubt and casemates 76 mm (3.0 in). Crew was 26 officers and 397 sailors, 423 personnel total per ship.

Propulsion varied by ship. Budapest used 12 coal-fired Belleville boilers without economizers, giving an output of 9,180 hp (6,846 kW) for a top speed of 17.5 knots (32.4 km/h; 20.1 mph). Wien and Monarch had coal-fired cylindrical boilers and vertical triple expansion engines giving 8,500 hp (6,338 kW) for a maximum speed of 15.5 knots (28.7 km/h; 17.8 mph). Monarch-class ships normally carried 300 tons of coal, with a maximum of 500 tons, for a range of about 2,200 nmi (4,100 km), quite sufficient for extended raids in the Adriatic.

Model of the Budapest
Model of the Budapest


Service History

Soon after being commissioned, the Budapest, Monarch and Wien began a cruise around the Adriatic and Aegean in 1899 to display the flag in foreign waters, as the Ist Battleship Division. Early on Wien participated in the Diamond Jubilee of the crowning of Queen Victoria in 1897 and the international blockade off Crete during the Greco-Turkish War of 1897.

The newly completed SMS Habsburg conducted a training cruise with the three Monarch-class battleships in January 1903, and the next year, they were joined by the SMS Árpád. Eventually the three Habsburg-class battleships engaged the three Monarchs in simulated combat. The three new ships also were given the 1st Battleship Division while the three Monarch were versed into the newly created 2nd battleship division, which was changed to the IIIrd, IVth and the Vth with the arrival of the Erzherzog Karl and Radetzky classes.

The SMS Monarch during the war

In 1914 the Monarch class served as coastal defense ships, training ships, and bombarded coastal positions during the early years of the war: Budapest was transferred to Cattaro to shell Mount Lovcen, Monarch shelled the French radio station at Budva, Montenegrin radio station off Bar, as well as the barracks and radio HQ at Volovica Point in August. On 28–29 December 1915 Budapest participated in the aborted raid to Durazzo. In January 1916, Budapest shelled fortifications on Mount Lovcen, helping capture the city while Budapest and Wien shelled Italian troops in the Gulf of Trieste.

However the latter were torpedoed on 10 December 1917, by two Italian boats which managed to penetrate the port of Trieste undetected. Wien was hit twice and sank in less than five minutes, Forty-six men going down with her. Her executioner was MAS 9, manned by Luigi Rizzo (He also sank the Szent Istvan dreadnought) which became a national hero at home. Budapest was demoted to a floating barrack for German U-boat crews, but in June 1918 she received a 380 mm (15 in) L/17 howitzer in her bow for coastal bombardment, which was never used. The Monarch was anchored at Cattaro when in February 1918 a mutiny took place on board. The two ships were handed over to Great Britain as war reparations and left to UK which sold her to be broken up in Italy in 1920 and 1922. In 1914, replacement were planned, the Ersatz Monarch-class, which were improved Tegetthoff class dreadnoughts.

Links and sources

The Monarch class on wikipedia
3D versions on
Index of ww1 Austro-Hungarian ships
Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1865-1905

Monarch specifications

Dimensions 99,2 x 17 x 6,6 m (325 x 55 x 22ft)
Displacement 5800 t FL
Crew 469
Propulsion 2 screws, 2 TE 3 cyl., 12 boilers, 8500-9000 hp
Speed 15,5-17 knots (32.4 km/h; 20.1 mph Budapest)
Range 2,200 nmi (4100 km) at cruise speed
Armament 4 x 240, 6 x 150, 1 x 70AA, 10 x 47, 4 x 37, 4 TT 445 mm SM (ft, rear, sides)
Armor Turrets 280, Casemate 76, Belt 270, Blockhaus 220, Deck 60 mm


Illustration of the Monarch – 1/730

Painting of the SMS Wien
Painting of the SMS Wien

Iron Duke class Dreadnoughts

United Kingdom (1911)
Iron Duke, Marlborough, Benbow, Emperor of India

The last prewar dreadnought class

Last dreadnoughts before the revolutionary Queen Elisabeth class largely completed during the war, the Iron Dukes were the last of a lineage started with the HMS Dreadnought a few years ago. The class consisted in four ships which design was in straight line with the previous King Georges V and Orion. The main battery of twin 13.5 in turrets (343 mm) were centerline, with a central turret encased between the rear funnel and rear blockhaus.

HMS Emperor of India

The four battleships of this class (Iron Duke, Marlborough, Benbow and Delhi – later renamed Emperor of India) were laid down in Portsmouth, Devonport, Beardmore and Vickers in 1912 (two in January and two in May). They were not the idea of Sir John Fisher, who left his post as lord of the sea in 1910, but of the Admiralty under the pressure of those practicing naval exercises, wishing for a less dogmatic approach than partisans of “speed and heavy artillery only” school. Importantly enough, 6 in (152 mm) cannons were reintroduced into the secondary battery, as 5 in (102 mm) were considered too weak, and the 533 mm torpedo tubes were adopted as a new standard.

Jane’s Fighting Ship 1911 depiction of the Iron Duke class and armour scheme.

For the rest, these battleships were inspired by the King Georges V but reached out a level close to 30,000 tons, with a speed slightly higher than 21 knots. HMS Benbow and Emperor of India may not have been the best known of British prewar battleships, but they undoubtedly closed an important chapter in British battleship design, stretching from 1910 with a total of 18 dreadnoughts of relatively similar design. Only HMS Duke of York made it into WW2, leaving much for speculation towards Washington treaty’s limitations and possible wartime modernization (see later).


Iron Duke’s design was slightly enlarged, 25ft longer, a bit beamier and deeper. That increase was related to the new secondary artillery, much heavier, in order to preserve buoyancy forward and aft. This secondary battery was also moved further aft to reduce interference in bad weather. The configuration of their secondary batteries meant that all but two of the guns pointed at the front, and the two rear ones were soon considered too low and inefficient in heavy weather. They were removed during the war and carried over to the Upper, firing forward.

The firing station was much reinforced, as an even more essential organ of control, enlarged and supported by a solid tripod. The Iron Dukes were also the first battleships equipped with anti-aircraft guns, the “12-pounders” (76 mm). Very long in caliber, these anti-aircraft Mk.1 20cwt pieces were meant to shoot down no less than Zeppelins.

Cranston Fine Arts splendid depiction of the type.

The HMS Iron Duke tested a new model of anti-torpedo nets, quickly removed and never adopted by other ships in its class. As for protection, barbettes had a new type of reinforced integral shield that was also adopted on the HMS Tiger and later battleships of the Queen Elisabeth class. They saw also reinforced their light armor after the Battle of Jutland, around the searchlights, the deck and ammunition bunkers. In 1918 their shooting range was considerably enhanced and their mast shortened while airplane platforms were placed on the central and second front turrets for advanced reconnaissance.

HMS Iron Duke and floatplane

The Iron Dukes in service

These four ships spent nearly all their career within the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow. Their completion was achieved at the eve of the war (March and June 1914 for the first two, October and November 1914 for the last two). As a result, their crews were not yet well trained at the beginning of the war, but nevertheless these powerful ships became the spearhead Of the Royal Navy. HMS Iron Duke was the general flagship of the Great Fleet until November 1916. The Iron Duke served the longest, being converted as a training ship in 1930, then depot from 1939, and retired in 1946. The three others also served in Jutland. The Marlborough was torpedoed and repaired in three months while serving in the Atlantic, and was sent to the Mediterranean after the war. These ships were reformed in 1929-32.

HMS Iron Duke under way

HMS Iron Duke

HMS Iron Duke fought in Jutland with the 2nd battle squadron, and after the war, sent to the Mediterranean in 1919, reaching the Black Sea to support the White Russians until 1920. She then served in the North Atlantic squadron until 1929 before being reformed, following the limitations of the Washington Treaty, and converted the next year as a training ship. She was partially disarmed, cleared of its armor, and its powerplant flanged for an effective speed of 18 knots, conditions required by the treaty for such category of ship.

The Iron Duke in berth, pending conversion.

In this second chapter of her life, she served as the main advanced training battleship of the Royal Navy until 1939. Based at Scapa Flow, she then served as pontoon, totally disarmed. On 17 October 1939 she suffered a German air attack and was damaged. Summarily repaired but beached, at anchor, she was eventually stricken out and sent to the breaking yard as scrap metal value in 1946. The Iron Duke’s bell is on display at Winchester Cathedral.

What-if photoshop of the Iron Duke rearmed and used in WW2 (here on the Mediterranean theater).

HMS Benbow

She teamed with HMS Emperor of India at the 4th Battle Squadron in December 1914, shortly after completion. Her rearmost 6-inch guns were removed and the casemates sealed off. She replaced HMS Dreadnought as the flagship of the 4th Squadron, then took part in various naval drills in 1915 without noticeable incident off the Orkneys and Shetlands and along the North Sea. The routine of gunnery drills restarted in 1916, but on the night of 25 March, Benbow and the rest of the fleet sailed from Scapa Flow to support the Battlecruiser Fleet and other ships raiding the German zeppelin base at Tondern. However as she approached the area on 26 March, opposite forces had already disengaged, and a severe gale prevented any further action. The Benbow also took part in the diversion action off Horns Reef on 21 April. Another similar action will take place in early May.

HMS Benbow in the battle line

On May, 31, 1916 she took part in the battle of Jutland, as the flagship of Vice Admiral Doveton Sturdee, stationed toward the center of the British line. Benbow’s gunners however did not scored any hit because of poor visibility at first. Gunners later claimed incorrectly some hits on the SMS Derfflinger. But she engaged successfully German TBs with her secondary battery, repelling these before any efficient torpedo launch. In the course of the battle, Benbow fired forty 13.5-inch armour-piercing, capped shells and sixty 6-inch rounds. After the battle, the routine of drills restarted, as the German Fleet never ventured in force again in the North Sea. She was at Scapa Flow to see the Hochseeflotte being interned, escorted by 320 ships of an international coalition, following the Versailles treaty conditions.

HMS Benbow exeprimenting with an observation kite balloon in 1916

By 1919, she was stationed with the 4th Squadron of the Mediterranean fleet, and served until 1926, supporting the White Russians in the Black sea, then as an observer in the Greek-Turkish war of 1920. Prior to her departure she received like her sister-ships flying off ramps on B and Q turrets, rangefinder baffles, funnel caps, additional searchlights and armour. On July 1920 however she landed a force at Gemlik to secure the harbor for the Greeks to take over. She trained in the sea of Marmara in 1921 and in September and October took part in further operations against Turkish forces. Her unit, renamed 3rd Squadron was transferred to the Atlantic in 1926. In 1929 she was paid off and broken up in 1931 as part of the tonnage limitation of the Washington Treaty.

HMS Marlborough

Marlborough was assigned as the flagship of the 1st Battle Squadron, for all the war. In December she was second-in-command flagship for the Grand Fleet. She took part in gunnery drills during 10–13 January 1915 and later sailed in support of Beatty’s Battlecruiser Fleet (battle of Dogger Bank). She spent the rest of the year and the next performing drilling exercises. She supported the raid Trondern and sortied for a demonstration off Horns Reef in favor of Russian fleet efforts in the Baltic. However in May 1916 she took part in the battle of Jutland, scoring three hits on the König-class battleship’s SMS Grosser Kurfürst during the battle.

HMS Marlborough secondary artillery

This was on the second part of the battle. During the action however she was engaged by the SMS Wiesbaden a torpedo hit around the starboard diesel generator room. She engaged her twice, firing salvos at ranges of 9,500 to 9,800 yards (8,700 to 9,000 m). She also fired two torpedoes that missed their targets. However she listed the torpedo hit damaging forty watertight compartments, thought the torpedo bulkhead resisted. Evasing action took her out of harm from other German TBs as she avoided several more hits. On its way back however the whole 6th Division was slowed down by Marlborough, at 15 knots. She proceeded to the Humber for temporary repairs, and later departed for Cromarty where she was repaired but also received an extra 100 tons of deck armour.

By February 1917 she was relegated as second command flagship. In 1918 she received flying-off platforms on her “B” and “Q” turrets for reconnaissance aircrafts. In March 1919, she was recommissioned at Devonport and assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet, 4th Battle Squadron where she served until 1926. She also took part in the support to the Whites against the Red Bolsheviks in the Black sea. Sailing to Yalta she took Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and other members of the deposed Russian Imperial Family including Grand Duke Nicholas and Prince Felix Yusupov and later anchored off Halki Island, near Constantinople. Part of her guests then boarded HMS Lord Nelson destined for Genoa.

HMS Marlborough

She later took part in high-explosive 6-inch shells trials off the Kerch Peninsula, and operated a kite balloon. She was also an observer in the 1920 Greco-Turkish War. She departed for Devonport in 1920, received some modifications, then returned to the Mediterranean, and in March 1926, her unit renamed the 3rd Battle Squadron was relocated in the Atlantic. In 1930, however, according to the Washington Treaty she was disarmed, then used as a target in the summer of 1931, before being disposed of in 1932 and broken up the same year by the Alloa Shipbreaking Co.

HMS Emperor of India

She served with the 4th Battle Squadron as the second division flagship, for the first two years of the war. By December 1915, her rearmost 6-inch guns were removed (like for the four Iron Duke-class ships) and casemates sealed off. These had been a liability in bad weather as water regularly gushed in. She served with 4th and 2nd Squadrons, conducting drills west of the Orkneys and Shetlands, supported the squadron engaged at the first battle of Dogger bank. Other exercises in the north sea followed in March and April, May, and up to the fall of the year. In January 1916 Jellicoe had intended to use the Harwich Force to sweep the Heligoland Bight, but bad weather prevented operations in the area. Later on the battleship supported the action of the battlecruiser fleet that raided the German zeppelin base at Tondern.

HMS Emperor of India aft 13.5 in gun turrets

In April 21, 1916, she took part of a demonstration off Horns Reef to distract the Germans while the Russian Navy relaid its defensive minefields in the Baltic Sea. In May missed however the battle of Jutland, refitting in drydock. She was transferred to the 1st Battle Squadron, and in August was equipped to handle a kite balloon, for spotting mines and U-boats. She also received an additional 100 t (98 long tons; 110 short tons) of armour over the magazines between October and December 1916. Next years she was given larger, additional searchlights, funnel caps, rangefinder baffles (later removed).

Ammunitions loaded onboard HMS Emperor of India

She was assigned in 1919 to the Mediterranean 4th Battle Squadron and served in the Black Sea, supporting the white Russians, bombarding Bolshevik troops on 5 May 1919 outside Theodosia, and later at Novorossiysk, even duelling with an armoured train ! She was also an observer in the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–22. After a refite in 1922 (long-base rangefinders installed on “X” turret), she served in the Mediterranean until 1926, had a refit the next year in Devonport, served as squadron flagship from until January 1931, and was disarmed following the Washington Treaty, then Broken up in 1932.

The burning of Smyrna (Gerco-Turkish war of 1920) as seen from the King Georges V. The Iron Duke is on the foreground.

The Dreadnought on wikipedia
On the dreadnought project
Article by Steve Woodward
On Royal Navy’s portal
Another article on the Iron Duke
Specs Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1906-1921.


Dimensions 189,9 x 27.4 x 9 m (622’9” x 90′ x 29’6”)
Displacement 25 000t, 29 560t FL
Crew 995 to 1022 (wartime)
Propulsion 4 screws, 4 Parsons turbines, 18 Babcock & Wilcox boilers 29,000 hp
Speed 21.5 knots (39 km/h; 24.7 mph)
Range 7780 nmi @10 knots (18.5 km, 11.5 mi)
Armament 10 x 13.5 in/45 cal Mk V (343 mm) (5×2), 12 x 6 in/45 cal (152 mm) BL Mk VII, 2 x 4 in (76 mm) Mk I AA, 4 x 3pdr (47 mm), 5 TT 21 in (553 mm) (sub)
Armor (max figures) Belt 12 in (300 mm), Bulkheads 8 in (200 mm), Barbettes 10 in (250 mm), turrets 11 in (280 mm -face) as the conning tower, deck 4 in (76 mm)


Iron Duke
Illustration of the Iron Duke