London Class Battleship (1899)

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The five battleships of the London Class were completed between 1902 and 1904. They are sometime considered a subclass of the Formidables.

Overview of 5 vessels
Citations for this data available on individual ship pages
Name Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
Bulwark Devonport Royal Dockyard 20 Mar, 1899 18 Oct, 1899 11 Mar, 1902 Exploded 26 Nov, 1914
London Portsmouth Royal Dockyard 8 Dec, 1898 21 Sep, 1899 7 Jun, 1902 Sold 4 Jun, 1920
Venerable Chatham Royal Dockyard 2 Jan, 1899 2 Nov, 1899 12 Nov, 1902 Sold 4 Jun, 1920
Prince of Wales Chatham Royal Dockyard 20 Mar, 1901 25 Mar, 1902 18 May, 1904 Sold 12 Apr, 1920
Queen Devonport Royal Dockyard 12 Mar, 1901 8 Mar, 1902 7 Apr, 1904 Sold 4 Nov, 1920

Contents

Searchlights

In 1907, these ships, along with battleships of the Majestic, Canopus, and Duncan classes, along with armoured cruisers of the Powerful, Drake, Cressy, Monmouth and Devonshire classes were to land their searchlights from their tops and obtain two additional 24-inch models from their dockyards for placement on the shelter or boat deck. These were to be augmented by (or further upgraded to?) a pair of 36-in searchlights when they became available.[1]

Armament

During the war, along with those of other older ships, the eight 6-inch guns casemated on the first deck proved of little use in practical sea states. It was decided to remove the eight casemate guns, plate their ports over and move 4 of them to the upper deck. Four of the twelve 12-pdr guns were also surrendered due to this alteration.[2]

Main Battery

The four 12-in guns were Mark IX in two twin turret designated "Fore" and "Aft".[3] However, some vessels had twin B. VI mountings and others twin B. VII mountings.

In 1906, all ships with older 12-in mountings B V, VI and VII were retrofitted with semi-direct "Africa sights" in the centre position and vertical column sights in the side positions, with telescopes (periscopes would not debut until the St. Vincent class) .

B. VI Ships

Queen, London and probably Bulwark (as well as Duncan, Implacable and Cornwallis) used B. VI mountings with the following characteristics.[4]

The mountings could be elevated 13.5 degrees and depressed 5 degrees.

The centre sights could match this 13.5 degree elevation, which was 15,800 yards for full charge.[5] They had a range gearing constant of 43.33 and range drums provided for full charge at 2475 fps, reduced charge at 2075 fps, as well as for 6-pdr sub-calibre guns and .303-in aiming rifles. Muzzle velocity was corrected by adjustable pointer between +/- 75 fps.

The deflection gearing constant for the centre sights was 72.3, with 1 knot equalling 2.7 arc minutes, calculated as 2475 fps at 5000 yards. Drift was corrected by inclining the pivot 1 degree. The sighting lines were 44.03 inches above and 39 inches abreast the bore. No explicit mention is made of a temperature corrector, but there was a "C" corrector able to at least modify the ballistic coefficient by +/- 8%.

The side sighting positions had vertical column sights in which 1 degree of elevation corresponded to 1.05 inches on the strip. Strips were provided for full charge at 2525, 2500, 2475 and 2450 fps, and for reduced charge at 2150, 2125, 2100 and 2050 fps, as well as for 6-pdr sub-calibre and 1-in aiming rifles. M.V. was corrected by strip selection. A deflection gearing constant of 146.7 gave 1 knot equal to 1.4 arc minutes, or 2433 fps at 5000 yards. Drift was allowed for by inclining the sight column 1.833 degrees. The sight line was 42 inches above the bore; its lateral position is not documented. There was no temperature corrector or a "C" corrector.

B. VII Ships

Venerable and Prince of Wales, generally in common with Albemarle and Exmouth, had B. VII mountings with the following characteristics.[6]

The mountings could be elevated 13.5 degrees and depressed 5 degrees.

The centre sights could match this 13.5 degree elevation, which was 15,800 yards for full charge.[7] They had a range gearing constant of 43.33 and range drums provided for full charge at 2475 fps, reduced charge at 2075 fps, as well as for 6-pdr sub-calibre guns and 1-in aiming rifles, as well as "strips" for 2575 and 2400 fps. Muzzle velocity was corrected by adjustable pointer between +/- 75 fps.

The deflection gearing constant for the centre sights was 72.26, with 1 knot equalling 2.7 arc minutes, calculated as 2433 fps at 5000 yards. Drift was corrected by inclining the sight carrier 1 degree. The sighting lines were 42.64 inches above (though this varied) and 42 inches abreast the bore. 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%.

The side sighting positions had vertical column sights in which 1 degree of elevation corresponded to 1.05 inches on the strip. Strips were provided for full charge at 2575, 2525, 2500, 2475, 2450 and 2400 fps, and for reduced charge at 2150, 2125, 2100 and 2050 fps, as well as for 6-pdr sub-calibre and 1-in aiming rifles. M.V. was corrected by strip selection. A deflection gearing constant of 146.7 gave 1 knot equal to 1.4 arc minutes, or 2433 fps at 5000 yards. Drift was allowed for by inclining the sight column 1.833 degrees. The sight line was 52.75 inches above the bore, and 48.6 inches abreast it. There was no temperature corrector or a "C" corrector.

Secondary Battery

Other Guns

Twelve 12-pdr guns, later reduced to eight when the 6-in casemate guns were relocated.

Torpedoes

The ships carried four 18-in submerged tubes:[8]

  • two forward, depressed 1 degree and angled directly abeam, axis of tube 10 foot 8 inches below load water line and 2 foot 5 inches above the deck.
  • two aft, depressed 1 degree and angled at 20 degrees abaft the beam; axis of tube 10 foot 8 inches below load water line and 2 foot 5 inches above the deck.

In 1909, as heater torpedo supplies were still growing, these ships were to receive two 18-in Fiume Mark III** H. Torpedoes each.[9]

Fire Control

Though it may have little relevance given the age difference, the general system of wiring between the TSs in ships prior to Lord Nelson class is illustrated in Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914.[10]

Rangefinders

Evershed Bearing Indicators

It is not known if this equipment was ever provided.

Directors

These ships never received directors for main or secondary batteries.[11]

Gunnery Control

The ship's guns were organized in 3 groups:[12][Inference]

  1. Two 12-in turrets
  2. Starboard 6-in guns ("A" & "X")
  3. Port 6-in guns ("B" & "Y")

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.[13]

Transmitting Stations

These ships likely had fore and aft T.S.es.[14][Inference]

A C.O.S. allowed[Inference] control options of

  1. Fore
  2. After
  3. Separate

Each control group had transmitters (of various type, 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."[15]

Dreyer Table

Prince of Wales was the original home to the Original Dreyer Table for some period between early-mid 1911 until Captain Dreyer took it with him to Hercules.[16] Beyond that, these ships never received Dreyer tables.[17]

Fire Control Instruments

By 1909, the ships were equipped with Vickers, Son and Maxim instruments for range, deflection and orders and with Barr and Stroud Fire Control Instruments for rate.[18]

The equipment listed in the Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909 is as follows:[19]

  • Vickers range transmitters: 6
  • Vickers deflection transmitters: 6
  • Vickers combined range and deflection receivers: 26
  • Vickers C.O.S.: 3
  • Vickers Check fire switches: 6
  • Barr and Stroud rate transmitters: 4
  • Barr and Stroud rate receivers: 8
  • Siemens turret fire gongs: 8 with 2 keys
  • Vickers fire gongs: 12 with 4 keys
  • Captain's Cease Fire Bells: 18 with 1 key (supplier not stated)

These ships lacked Target Visible and Gun Ready signals.[20]

Radio

Based on initiatives in 1901 to equip older battleships, these vessel were likely completed with W/T equipment in place or received them soonafter completion.[21]

See Also

Footnotes

  1. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1907. p. 35. The location for each ship type was placement stipulated in C.N.2 11884/13066, 13.12.1906.
  2. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 4, Part 36. p. 9.
  3. Manual of Gunnery in H.M. Fleet (Volume I), 1907, pp. 1, 2.
  4. The Sight Manual, 1916. pp. 47, 51, 108-9. Plates 17 and 20. Bulwark's mountings inferred from her constructor.
  5. Range Tables for His Majesty's Fleet. Volume I. 1918. p. 248.
  6. The Sight Manual, 1916. p. 46, 108-9, Plates 17 and 20.
  7. Range Tables for His Majesty's Fleet. Volume I. 1918. p. 248.
  8. Torpedo Manual, Vol. III, 1909. p. 265.
  9. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1909. p. 14.
  10. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 50 & Plates 50 and 54(I).
  11. Director Firing Handbook, 1917, pp. 142-3.
  12. possibly omitted from a section at Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914, p. 8.
  13. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 50.
  14. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 50 & Plates 50 and 54(I).
  15. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. pp. 50-1.
  16. Pollen Aim Correction System, Part I. p. 12.
  17. Handbook of Captain F. C. Dreyer's Fire Control Tables, 1918. p. 3.
  18. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. p. 56.
  19. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. p. 60.
  20. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 11.
  21. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1901. pp. 111-112.

Bibliography

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dreyer, Frederic; Usborne, Cecil through Gunnery Branch, Admiralty. (1913). Pollen Aim Corrector System, Part I. Technical History and Technical Comparison with Commander F. C. Dreyer's Fire Control System. P. 1024. in Admiralty Library, Portsmouth.


London Class Pre-dreadnought
Bulwark London Venerable Prince of Wales Queen
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