St. Vincent Class Battleship (1908)

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Overview of 3 vessels
Citations for this data available on individual ship pages
Name Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
Collingwood Devonport Royal Dockyard 3 Feb, 1908 7 Nov, 1908 19 Apr, 1910 Sold 12 Dec, 1922
St. Vincent Portsmouth Royal Dockyard 30 Dec, 1907 10 Sep, 1908 3 May, 1910 Sold 1 Dec, 1921
Vanguard Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness 2 Apr, 1908 22 Feb, 1909 1 Mar, 1910 Exploded 9 Jul, 1917


According to the ambitions of 1909, these ships had Service Gear Mark II wireless upon completion.[1]


The ships were fitted with Siemens' No. 3 Twin Mountings for 24-in projectors. In 1914, some or all of these were to be modified to permit 90 degree elevation for use in anti-aircraft work.[2]


Main Battery

This section is sourced in The Sight Manual, 1916.[3]

The ten 12-in guns were Mark XI mounted in B. XI turrets. The mountings could elevate 15 degrees and depress 5 degrees.

The gun sights, the first to use periscopes rather than telescopes, were also used in Neptune, and were limited to 15 degrees elevation and the dials only marked to 14 degrees.

The deflection gearing constant was 136, with 1 knot equalling 2.30 arc minutes, calculated as 2900 fps at 5000 yards. Range drums were provided for full charge at 2850 fps, three-quarter charge at 2300 fps, as well as 6-pdr sub-calibre gun and 1-in and .303-in aiming rifles.

Muzzle velocity was corrected by adjustable scale plate between 2880 and 2580 fps. The adjustable temperature scale plate could vary between 60 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and a "C" corrector could alter the ballistic coefficient by +/- 20%.

Deflection was corrected by inclining the sight 4 degrees and by use of 4 degrees permanent right deflection.

The side position sighting lines 37.5 inches above and 39.5 inches abreast the bore, and the central scopes were 49.5 inches above and 42 inches abreast. The left-hand centre position sight was a free trainer's sight, able to swing freely in pitch.

A box of tools was provided for every 4 sights.

The original storage was 80-100 rounds per gun.[4]

Secondary Battery

This section is sourced in The Sight Manual, 1916.[5]

Twenty 4-in B.L. Mark VII guns on P. II* mountings were arranged for broadside fire. They were similar to the P II and P II* equipment fitted in the Bellerophon, Neptune, Indomitable classes and other ships.

The mounting could elevate 15 degrees and depress 7 degrees, but though its sight could match the 15 degree elevation, the range dial was only graduated to 11.5 degrees (10,000 yards).

These cam-worked sights had range dials for 2750 fps, and 1-in and .303-in aiming rifles. MV could be corrected by adjustable pointer through +/- 150 fps.

Like in Neptune, these sights were not F.T.P. sights, though the P II* sights on later ships (e.g., some Orions) were.

The deflection gearing constant was 64.277 with 1 knot equal to 2.41 arc minutes, corresponding to 2800 fps at 2000 yards. Drift was corrected by inclining the sight 2 degrees.

The layer's sight line was 14 inches above the bore, and 15.25 inches left. The trainer's sight line was 15.25 inches above and 12.5 inches right.

The sight had a temperature corrector, but no "C" corrector.

The layer had an open sight. The trainer's sight could be used as a free sight with a counterweight.

In February, 1913, these mountings, along with many other 4-in and 6-in mountings in capital ships were to have illumination added for their training index racers.[6] In August of that 1913, Portsmouth Royal Dockyard was to supply head rests for these guns, to be fitted by the ships' artificers.[7]

The original storage was 150 rounds per gun (200 in wartime),[8] but after the Battle of Jutland, when alterations to increase protection forced weight-savings to compensate, the ammunition allotment for these guns was to be reduced to 150 rounds per gun and 6 shrapnel rounds.[9]


Like the Bellerophon class, the ships carried three submerged 18-in tubes:[10]

  • two forward, depressed 2 degrees and angled directly abeam, axis of tube 12 foot 4.625 inches below load water line and 1 foot 10 inches above the deck.
  • one in the stern, depressed 1 degree; axis of tube 8 feet 6 inches below load water line and 1 foot 9 inches above the deck.

The 2 degree depression for the broadside tubes, rather than 1 degree, was a new wrinkle for Royal Navy battleships that would be applied in future ships.[11]

In 1909, it was decided that these ships should carry 10 heater torpedoes, distributed with eight in the broadside submerged flat 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..[12]

In 1913, it was approved as part of a general reallocation of 18-in torpedoes, to replace the Mark VI** H. or 18-in Mark VI*** H. torpedoes on Neptune, St. Vincent, Bellerophon and Dreadnought classes with with Mark VII* or Mark VI**.[13] The Admiralty had simultaneously imposed a limit of gyro angle settings of 20 degrees in these same ships. This restriction was lifted just before the war.[14]

The stern tubes were removed altogether in 1917-1918.[15]

Fire Control


The ships eventually boasted nine 9-foot[Inference] rangefinders: one in each spotting top, one in each turret roof, and a pair astride the aft boat deck, but Vanguard may have had its "A" turret rangefinder (which stood on a stem and may have been 12 feet, rather than being a 9 footer in a hood as was customary) added in 1910-1911 when the 4-in guns were removed from the turret, and then removed again 1911-1912. In 1918, a high angle rangefinder was added on fore control top in St. Vincent and Collingwood, likely a 2m F.T. 29.[Inference][16][17]

Sometime during or after 1917, an additional 9-foot rangefinder on an open mounting was to be added specifically to augment torpedo control.[18]

Evershed Bearing Indicators

Evershed Installation
Showing "X" as a transmitting position.[19]

All three ships were fitted with this equipment by late 1914, albeit Collingwood differed slightly.[20] St. Vincent and Vanguard had swapped out the use of "Y" turret as a transmitting position in favor of "X", while Collingwood retained the old arrangement.

Transmitting positions were

  • Fore control platform (telescope transmitters to port and starboard with a local switch to select one in use
  • "A" turret
  • "X" turret ("Y" for Collingwood)
  • Aft director tower with a periscope transmitter adapted to receive and fitted with an open-face indicator

Receiving positions were

  • all 5 turrets with both an open-face and a turret trainer indicator
  • the aft director tower with an open-face indicator

The protocols for how to handle wooding of the turrets was outlined in the Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914.[21]

In 1917, it was approved that capital ships of Dreadnought class and later should have Evershed equipment added to their C.T., able to communicate with either the fore top or a controlling turret. If there were not enough room in the C.T., a bearing plate with open sights and 6-power binoculars would be added to the C.T.. At the same time, all directors were to be fitted with receivers and, "as far as possible", ships were to have fore top, G.C.T. and controlling turrets fitted to transmit as well as receive, though this was noted as being impossible in some earlier ships.[22]

Mechanical Aid-to-Spotter

At some point, these ships were equipped with a pair of Mechanical Aid-to-Spotter Mark Is, one on each side of the foretop, keyed off the Evershed rack on the director. As the need for such gear was apparently first identified in early 1916, it seems likely that these installations were effected well after Jutland.[23]

In 1917, it was decided that these should have mechanical links from the director and pointers indicating the aloft Evershed's bearing.[24]

Gunnery Control

Control arrangements were as follows.[25]

Control Positions

Wiring to Control Positions[26]
  • Fore top
  • Main top
  • "A" turret
  • "Y" turret

The tops had 2 rate transmitters (situated to port on main, to starboard on fore) and a range transmitter, a bearing and a firing buzzer on the opposite side of each top. The two control turrets were similar but lacked rate transmitters. Each control position was wired to the nearest T.S.[27]

Some ships had within the control positions so they could be connected to either T.S.[28]

Control Groups

The five 12-in turrets were each a separate group with a local C.O.S.[Inference] so that it could be connected to

  • Forward T.S.
  • After T.S.
  • Local control from officer's position within turret


Main Battery

The ships were completed without a director, but were eventually fitted with a geared tripod-type director in a light aloft tower on the foremast along with a directing gun in "Y" turret[29]. The battery was not divisible into groups for split director firing.[30]

The turret Elevation Receivers were pattern number H. 3, capable of matching the 15 degrees elevation limit of the mounts. The Training Receivers were the single dial type, pattern number 5.[31]

Secondary Battery

The 4-in guns never had directors installed.[32]

Torpedo Control

By the end of 1917, common torpedo control additions to all capital ships were to be adopted where not already in place. Those for Dreadnought and later classes with 18-in tubes were to include:[33]

  • duplication of firing circuits and order and gyro angle instruments to allow all tubes to be directed from either C.T. or T.C.T.
  • navyphones from both control positions to all tube positions
  • bearing instruments between "control position, and R.F., and course and speed of enemy instruments where applicable, between the transmitting stations and the control positions."
  • range circuits between R.F.s and control positions

Transmitting Stations

Wiring to Guns[34]

Like all large British ships of the era prior to King George V and Queen Mary, these ships had 2[35]

The T.S. (which? both?) had 11, five for the main installation including fire gong circuit, four for the range bearing and buzzer instruments and two for rate instruments.[36]

The forward T.S. had a C.O.S. for each turret indicating whether its three combined range and deflection receivers would receive their input from the forward or the aft T.S.

Dreyer Table

Each ship was eventually retro-fitted with a Dreyer Table Mark I,[37] but was never given Dreyer Turret Control Tables.[38] It appears reasonable to assume that Vanguard had a table fitted prior to her accidental loss.

Fire Control Instruments

Indicating Lamp and Turret Fire Gongs[39]

As in the previous class, by 1909 all three ships were equipped with Barr and Stroud Mark II* Fire Control Instruments for range, deflection and orders.[40]

The Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909 lists the Barr and Stroud Mark II* equipment on this class as:[41]

  • Combined Range, Order, Deflection: 10 transmitters, 27 receivers
  • Group Switches: 11
  • Rate: 4 transmitters, 8 receivers
  • Bearing: 4 transmitters, 8 receivers
  • Range: 4 transmitters, 8 receivers

Additionally, this class had the following Graham's fire control equipment:[42]

  • Turret fire gongs: 10 Graham type with pushes in lamp boxes
  • Fire Gongs: none
  • Captain's Cease Fire Bells: 12 (Neptune had 14) Graham type with 1 key

The ships also had Target Visible and Gun Ready signals, with indications of which turret could see the target and which guns were ready being visible in the and control positions.[43]



In September 1914, the ships were each to be sent eight 3/9 power telescopes and to return the same number of 2.5 power scopes, Pattern G. 329 upon receipt. These were likely to serve as trainer telescopes. Constrained supplies meant that 26% of the scopes actually supplied her may have wound up being 5/12 or 5/21 scopes.[44]


In 1916, it was approved that the ships should have fire control instruments fitted for their 4-in armament. What precisely this means is unclear, but perhaps they did not previously have range and deflection receivers?[45]

See Also


  1. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1908. Wireless Appendix, p. 13.
  2. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1914. p. 52.
  3. The Sight Manual, 1916. pp. 4, 35-36, 106, 108-109, Plates 11-13.
  4. Burt. British Battleships of World War One. p. 83.
  5. The Sight Manual, 1916. pp. 89-90, 108, Plate 39.
  6. Admiralty Weekly Orders. The National Archives. ADM 182/4. 21 Feb, 1913 entries. pp. 3-4.
  7. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 470 of 22 Aug, 1913.
  8. Burt. British Battleships of World War One. p. 83.
  9. Grand Fleet Gunnery and Torpedo Orders. No. 167, part 5.
  10. Torpedo Manual, Vol. III, 1909. p. 265.
  11. Torpedo Manual, Vol. III, 1909. p. 262.
  12. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1909. pp. 13-4.
  13. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1913. p. 8.
  14. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 207 of 31 July 1914.
  15. Burt. British Battleships of World War One. p. 81.
  16. Burt. British Battleships of World War One. pp. 76, 80-81, photo pages 82-83. It appears likely that Burt is incorrect that the turrets had rangefinders when first completed, as the ships had two 4-in guns atop many turrets and as late as October 1914 the Admiralty was still asking that they have armoured hoods fitted atop the freshly-cut holes in the turret roofs.
  17. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 455 of 6 Oct, 1914.
  18. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 198. (C.I.O. 481/17).
  19. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. Plate 46.
  20. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 35.
  21. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. pp. 34-6.
  22. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 230.
  23. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 23. pp. 25-6.
  24. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 230.
  25. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 7.
  26. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. Plate 43.
  27. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. Plate 43. Why there were 2 rate transmitters each top is not apparent.— TONY LOVELL, Editor..
  28. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 7.
  29. The Director Firing Handbook. pp. 88, 142.
  30. The Director Firing Handbook. p. 88.
  31. The Director Firing Handbook. pp. 144, 146.
  32. absent from list in The Director Firing Handbook, 1917. p. 143.
  33. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 209. (C.I.O. 4212/17.).
  34. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. Plate 42.
  35. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. pp. 6-7.
  36. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. p. 46.
  37. Handbook of Captain F. C. Dreyer's Fire Control Tables, 1918. p. 3.
  38. absent from list in Handbook of Capt. F.C. Dreyer's Fire Control Tables, p. 3.
  39. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. Plate 32.
  40. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. p. 56.
  41. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. p. 58.
  42. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. p. 58.
  43. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 11.
  44. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 408 of 25 Sep, 1914.
  45. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1916. p. 145.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sumida, Jon Tetsuro (1989). In Defence of Naval Supremacy: Finance, Technology and British Naval Policy, 1889-1914. Winchester, Mass.: Unwin Hyman, Inc.. ISBN 0044451040. (on and
  • Brooks, John (2005). Dreadnought Gunnery and the Battle of Jutland: The Question of Fire Control. Oxon: Routledge. ISBN 0714657026. (on and
  • Admiralty (1920). Battle of Jutland 30th May to 1st June 1916: Official Despatches with Appendices. Cmd. 1068. London: His Majesty's Stationary Office.

St. Vincent Class Dreadnought
  Collingwood St. Vincent Vanguard  
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