King Edward VII Class Battleship (1903)
|Overview of 8 vessels|
|Citations for this data available on individual ship pages|
|Africa||Chatham Royal Dockyard||27 Jan, 1904||20 May, 1905||Nov, 1906||Sold 30 Jun, 1920|
|Britannia||Portsmouth Royal Dockyard||4 Feb, 1904||10 Dec, 1904||Sep, 1906||Torpedoed 9 Nov, 1918|
|Commonwealth||Fairfield||17 Jun, 1902||13 May, 1903||Mar, 1905||Sold 18 Nov, 1921|
|Dominion||Vickers||23 May, 1902||25 Aug, 1903||Jul, 1905||Sold 9 May, 1921|
|Hibernia||Devonport Royal Dockyard||6 Jan, 1904||17 Jun, 1905||2 Jan, 1907||Sold 8 Nov, 1921|
|Hindustan||John Brown||25 Oct, 1902||19 Dec, 1903||22 Aug, 1905||Sold 9 May, 1921|
|King Edward VII||Devonport Royal Dockyard||8 Mar, 1902||23 Jul, 1903||7 Feb, 1905||Mined 6 Jan, 1916|
|Zealandia||Portsmouth Royal Dockyard||9 Feb, 1903||4 Feb, 1904||11 Jul, 1905||Sold 8 Nov, 1921|
- 1 Binoculars
- 2 Radio
- 3 Magazines
- 4 Armament
- 5 Fire Control
- 6 See Also
- 7 Footnotes
- 8 Bibliography
In September 1914, the ships were allowed four additional pairs of Pattern 343 Service Binoculars.
The class was the first to generally be fitted with Service Gear Mark II, but in 1908, King Edward VII and Hindustan were two of just nine equipped with the "C" Tune Gear, capable of transmitting on "S", "U" and "W" tunes. Those two were slated to receive a Service Mark II set in 1909.
In late 1903, Excellent reported that the pipes for flooding the magazines for the 6-in guns appeared too small. On 22 December, the D.N.O. asked how long it would take to switch the plumbing to a 6-inch pipe. An estimate of 18 minutes (using the two existing 4-inch pipes 7.75 feet below water line) was reported for the 5,100 sq. ft. forward magazine if the powder cases were watertight, else 30 to 45 minutes. The 3,100 sq. foot aft magazine had a single 4-inch pipe, giving times of 25 minutes in the best case, else 40 to 60 minutes. In February 1904, Percy Scott, captain of Excellent considered this too slow. In 1902, it had been determined that an acceptable time for flooding the 12-in magazines was 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 hour. In April 1904, the longer duration was chosen as a standard for future construction. In late May, the D.N.C. decided that the King Edwards met the standard, except in their 9.2-in magazines and for the 12-pdrs on the platform deck, which would require 6-inch and 4-inch pipes, respectively. There was time yet to do this in Britannia, Hibernia and Africa only.
Actual testing of the flooding arrangements was requested, on 6 August, 1904 is was reported that Commonwealth had her two forward 9.2-in magazines flooded on her steam trials. Two hours and 14 minutes were needed to fill the completely empty magazine; it was estimated that one hour 11 minutes would have been required were it in use. Fromt this, it was determined that the following alterations were required to make all magazines flood in the newly mandated half hour.
|Magazine||Present Arrangement||Proposed Arrangement|
|9.2-in forward||One 4-inch pipe||One 5-inch and one 4-inch pipe|
|6-in forward||No change|
|6-in aft||One 4-inch pipe||One 5-inch pipe|
|12-pdr forward||Two 3-inch pipes||Two 4-inch pipes|
|12-pdr aft||One 4-inch pipe||One 6-inch pipe|
|3-pdr||One 3-inch pipe||One 4-inch|
|Small arms||One 3-inch pipe||One 4-inch|
In early 1913, new pattern G. 329 trainer's telescopes of 2.5 power and 20 degree field were issued to these and many other capital ships, to replace the 5/12, 5/15 and 5/21 variable power G.S. telescopes that had previously been in use.
During the war, along with those of other older ships, the ten 6-inch guns casemated on the first deck proved of little use in practical sea states. It was first proposed to remove all of them, but this would have left the ships too weak against torpedo craft or in low visibility. Eventually, it was decided to remove the ten casemate guns, plate their ports over with 2 inch armour and move 4 of them to the upper deck (where two were already located).
This section is sourced in The Sight Manual, 1916 except where otherwise noted.
The four 12-in guns were Mark IX mounted in twin B. VII S turrets, designated "fore" and "aft". The mountings could be elevated 13.5 degrees and depressed 5 degrees.
These turrets were the first to have a central sighting position with sights for both guns within. This pattern was to persist in later capital ships, giving each twin turret a total of 4 sights, with the training of the mount generally being done from the central position.
The gun sights were gear-worked sights with telescopes (periscopes would not debut until the St. Vincent class) and limited to 13.5 degrees elevation, which was 15,000 yards for full charge.
Somewhat unusually, the side and centre position sights differed in many particulars. Additionally, Africa, Britannia and Hibernia had sights, often called the "Africa sight" that differed in some details, which are noted parenthetically below. In 1906, ships with older 12-in mountings B V, VI and VII were retrofitted with "Africa sights".
The side sights had a range gearing constant of 22.5 (40) and range drums provided for full charge at 2525 fps, reduced charge at 2100 fps, as well as for 6-pdr sub-calibre guns and .303-in aiming rifles. Muzzle velocity was corrected by adjustable pointer between +/- 100 fps.
The deflection gearing constant for the side sights was 80 (72.3), with 1 knot equalling 2.64 arc minutes, calculated as 2600 fps (2525) at 5000 yards.
Drift was corrected in the side sights by inclining the pivot 1 degree. The side position sighting lines were 40.3 inches above and 41.35 inches abreast the bore.
The centre position sights had a range gearing constant of 22.5 (43.3). The centre sights lacked MV correction devices and instead had more range drums provided: five drums proceeded from 2475 to 2575 fps by 25 fps, and another five drums range from 2050 to 2150 fps. 6-pdr sub-calibre and .030-in aiming rifle drums were also provided.
The centre sight's deflection gearing constant was 80 (72.6 in ABH) with 1 knot equalling 2.64 (2.63) arc minutes, calculated as 2600 fps at 5000 yards.
Drift was corrected in the centre sights by inclining the pivot 1.833 degrees. The centre position sighting lines were 44.9 (42.3) inches above and 43 (20.7) abreast in the centre position.
No explicit mention is made of a temperature corrector, but there was a "C" corrector able to at least modify the ballistic coefficient by +/- 10%.
This section is sourced in The Sight Manual, 1916.
The 9.2-in guns were B.L. Mark X on Mark V S mountings, as also used in the Warrior class cruisers, able to elevate 15 degrees and depress 5 degrees.
The sights were gear-worked with a range gearing constant of 37.04, graduated to 15 degrees (or 15,400 yards, full charge). Range dials were provided for full charge at 2850 fps, a second for 2750 fps, reduced charge at 2225 fps and 3-pdr sub-calibre and .303-in aiming rifle. The 2850 fps dial was noted as having range errors exceeding 25 yards, as it employed the same cam cut for the 2750 fps dial. The 2750 fps dial would be used for calibrating the sight. MV was corrected by adjustable pointer allowing a 100 fps decrease (only).
The deflection was on a gearing constant of 77.98, 1 knot being 2.61 arc minutes, calibrated for 2750 fps at 5000 yards.
Drift was corrected by inclining the sight bracket 1.5 degrees. The sighting lines were 14.5 inches above the bore and 45 inches abreast the bore.
A "C" corrector was fitted, presumably also a temperature corrector.
The twelve 6-in guns (on Dominion, Commonwealth, Hindustan and Zealandia, at least) were Mark VII, on P. III, P. III*, P. III S and/or P. IV mountings. Ten were casemate guns on the main deck, and two were on the upper deck between the 9.2-in gun turrets.
The gear-worked sights were similar to those in Albemarle and Cornwall, but sturdier, with a range gearing constant of 51.41 and range dials for 2730 fps, 1970 fps, 3-pdr sub-caliber, 1-in aiming rifle and .303-in aiming rifle. M.V. correction was by adjustable pointer for +/- 50 fps.
The deflection gearing constant was 82.62, with one knot of deflection being 2.77 arc minutes, calibrated as 2730 fps at 3000 yards.
Drift correction was achieved by inclining the sight 1.5 degrees.
The sighting lines were 14.45 inches above the bore and 13.1 inches to the side for both sighting positions.
In early 1905, it was approved that the B.L. 6-in guns in Majestics and later battleships should have "A" class cross connected sights, with one V.P. 7 to 21 scope and one V.P.D.N. 5 to 12 scope.
In February, 1913, these mountings, along with many other 4-in and 6-in mountings in various capital ships and cruisers were to have illumination added for their training index racers.
The mounting could elevate to 20 degrees and depress to 10 degrees, but though its sight could match the 20 degree elevation, the range dial was only graduated to 14.5 degrees (7,900 yards). This was fine, as there was limited fire control support provided for them and the weapons proved to have little effectiveness at the ranges where torpedo attack became deeply worrying.
The gear-worked sights were similar to the P. IV type, but added a cross-connected trainer's sight. They had a range gearing contant of 54 and range dials for 2550 fps, 1962 fps, and 1-in and .303-in aiming rifles. The first series produced corrected for M.V. with detachable cams for 2600, 2575, 2550, 2525 and 2500 fps. The second series replaced these with an adjustable pointer for +/- 50 fps.
The deflection gearing constant was 63.38 with 1 knot equal to 2.96 arc minutes, corresponding to 2600 fps at 2000 yards. Drift was corrected by inclining the sight carrier arm 2 degrees.
The layer's and trainer's sight lines were 10 inches above the bore, and 10.25 inches abreast.
The sight lacked a "C" corrector. There do not seem to be temperature correctors or open sights.
The ships carried four submerged 18-in tubes:
- two forward, depressed 1 degree and angled 10 degrees before the beam, axis of tube 11 feet below load water line and 2 foot 5 inches above the deck.
- two aft, depressed 1 degree and angled at 25 degrees abaft the beam; axis of tube 11 feet below load water line and 2 foot 5 inches above the deck.
The stern casting was made to accept a submerged tube "if required", but the vanishing utility of stern tubes would suggest this equipment was never fitted.
In 1909, it was decided that ships of this class were to carry 10 heater torpedoes, distributed with six in the forward submerged flat, two in the aft, and two at the stern tube. The goal, when supplies were made good, was to have the ten heaters be Mark VI* H. or Mark VI** H..
In early 1914, all ships except Britannia had four Torpedo Director Pattern 2006s and were to have them exchanged for -A models which supported gyro angling. Britannia was different in that she had two Patterns 2391 and two 2392s that were to undergo the same upgrade.
Evershed Bearing Indicators
Installed by late 1914, these ships had transmitting positions in the fore control top and in the forward 12-in turret. The control top had transmitting telescopes to port and starboard with a COS to select the one to use. Both 12-in and all 4 9.2-in turrets were receiving positions, each with an open-face indicator and a turret trainer's indicator.
The ships' guns were organized in 5 groups:
- Two 12-in turrets
- Two Starboard 9.2-in turrets
- Two Port 9.2-in turrets
- Starboard 6-in guns
- Port 6-in guns
Local Control in Turrets
There was no provision in these ships for local turret control wherein the receivers in the turret could be driven by transmitters in the officer's position at the back of the turret.
Although directors for Commonwealth and Hindustan were approved in 1917, plans were apparently altered, as directors were ordered only for Commonwealth and Zealandia on 23 July, 1917 for use in bombardment. Commonwealth was fitted with her director at Portsmouth in April 1918, a Mr. B. Baker joining her as director gunner on the 18th and the ship sailing on the 25th, but Zealandia's installation was suspended by the cessation of work on ships at war's end.
These ships never received directors for their secondary batteries.
A C.O.S. allowed control options of
Each group had transmitters (of various kind, see below) with a pair of receivers, one wired directly to the transmitter as a tell-tale, and the other fed off the wires going to the distant guns (i.e., the aft guns for the fore TS and vice-versa) as a repeat. "These repeat receivers are necessary to keep the idle transmitters in step; when changing back from separate control they are required to enable both halves of the group to be set alike before being paralleled on to one transmitter."
Referring to the illustrations of alterations proposed in 1908, the intent was to reduce the compartmentation of transmitters from five to three, which would permit addition of a plotting table or for time-and-distance scale as well as mechanical transmitters for range. While this was seen as causing some problems should four separate targets be required (two handled by each T.S.), this was not seen as an important requirement.
These ships never received Dreyer tables.
Fire Control Instruments
The ships in this class varied in their instruments.
In 1905, Commonwealth, Hindustan, King Edward VII and Zealandia were slated to be equipped with Barr and Stroud Mark I range and order instruments (the range instruments probably changed to Mark II before installation), and Vickers deflection instruments. However, by 1909, these 4 were apparently equipped entirely with Barr and Stroud Mark II equipment. I think it most likely that plans had changed before the ships received the earlier assortment of instruments.
The Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909 lists the Barr and Stroud Mark II equipment on this class (presumably, only Commonwealth, Hindustan, King Edward VII and Zealandia) as:
- Combined Range, Order, Deflection: 10 transmitters, 46 receivers
- Group Switches: 5
- Rate: 4 transmitters, 12 receivers
- Bearing: 2 transmitters, 2 receivers (King Edward VII only)
Additionally, this class had the following Graham fire control equipment:
- Turret fire gongs: 14 with 6 keys
- Fire Gongs: 10 with 4 keys
- Captain's Cease Fire Bells: 20 with 1 key
By 1909, Africa, Britannia, Dominion and Hibernia were equipped with instruments from Vickers paired with Barr and Stroud rate instruments. The Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909 lists their equipment as:
- Vickers range transmitters: 10
- Vickers deflection transmitters: 10
- Vickers combined range and deflection receivers: 36 (28 in Dominion)
- C.O.S.: 5
- Check fire switches: 10 (6 in Dominion)
- Barr and Stroud rate transmitters: 4 transmitters
- Barr and Stroud rate receivers: 12 receivers
- Siemens turret fire gongs: 14 with 6 keys
- Vickers fire gongs: 10 with 4 keys (12 and 4 and Siemens in Dominion)
- Captain's Cease Fire Bells: 20 with 1 key (supplier not stated)
None of the ships had Target Visible or Gun Ready signals.
In 1911, it was decided that Africa, Dominion, Hibernia and Britannia should have Siemens Pattern 120 turret fire gongs adapted so they could be rung mechanically.
- Admiralty Weekly Order No. 331 of 8 Sep, 1914.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1908. Wireless Appendix, p. 13.
- Principal Questions Dealt with by the Director of Naval Ordnance, 1904. (See G. 2520/02) pp. 320-3.
- Admiralty Weekly Orders. 28 Feb, 1913.The National Archives. ADM 182/4.
- The Technical History and Index, Vol. 4, Part 36. p. 9.
- The Sight Manual, 1916. pp. 4, 42-45, 105, 108-109. Plates 16-17.
- Manual of Gunnery in H.M. Fleet (Volume I), 1907, p. 2.
- The Sight Manual, 1916. pp 55-6, 105, 108, 110. Plate 21.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1904. Plate 40.
- The Sight Manual, 1916. pp. 72.
- Principal Questions Dealt with by the Director of Naval Ordnance, 1905. pp. 489-91.
- Admiralty Weekly Orders. The National Archives. ADM 182/4. 21 Feb, 1913 entries. pp. 3-4.
- The Sight Manual, 1916. p. 94, 108, Plate 47.
- Torpedo Manual, Vol. III, 1909. p. 265.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1909. pp. 13-4.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1913. p. 8.
- Admiralty Weekly Order No. 1019 of 17 Apr, 1914.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1904. Plate 40a.
- Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 50 & Plates 50 and 54(I).
- Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. Plate 45.
- Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. Plate 45. Oddly, not mentioned on pp. 39-40.
- Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 8.
- Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 50.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 229.
- Her log at The National Archives. ADM 53/38343
- The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 23. p. 15.
- The Director Firing Handbook. pp. 142-3.
- Fire Control, 1908. Enclosure XV.
- Fire Control, 1908. Enclosure XV.
- Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 50 & Plates 50 and 54(I).
- Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. pp. 50-1.
- Fire Control, 1908. p. 45.
- Handbook of Captain F. C. Dreyer's Fire Control Tables, 1918. p. 3.
- Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. p. 56.
- Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. p. 58.
- Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. p. 58.
- Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. p. 60.
- Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 11.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1911. p. 95.
- Admiralty, Technical History Section (1920). The Technical History and Index: Alteration in Armaments of H.M. Ships during the War. Vol. 4, Part 34. C.B. 1515 (34) now O.U. 6171/20. At The National Archives, Kew, United Kingdom.
- H.M.S. Vernon. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1911, with Appendix (Wireless Telegraphy). Copy 15 at The National Archives. ADM 189/31.
- Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1910). Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. Copy No. 173 is Ja 345a at Admiralty Library, Portsmouth, United Kingdom.
- Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1914). Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. G. 01627/14. C.B. 1030. Copy 1235 at The National Archives. ADM 186/191.
- Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1917). The Director Firing Handbook. O.U. 6125 (late C.B. 1259). Copy No. 322 at The National Archives. ADM 186/227.
- Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1918). Handbook of Captain F. C. Dreyer's Fire Control Tables, 1918. C.B. 1456. Copy No. 10 at Admiralty Library, Portsmouth, United Kingdom.
- Admiralty, Technical History Section (1919). The Technical History and Index: Fire Control in H.M. Ships. Vol. 3, Part 23. C.B. 1515 (23) now O.U. 6171/14. At The National Archives. ADM 275/19.
- McBride, Keith. "The Wobbly Eight": King Edward VIII Class Battleships, 1897-1922, Warship 2001-2002
|King Edward VII Class Pre-dreadnought|
|Hibernia||Hindustan||King Edward VII||Zealandia|
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