Battlecruiser HMS Inflexible

The battlecruiser HMS Inflexible belonged to the Invincible class, in which the characteristics of armored cruisers and battleships were united and thus founded the new type of battlecruisers.


Launching and design:

As early as the beginning of the 20th century, British analysts, led by Admiral Jackie Fisher, began drafting new types of ships. The focus was on the areas of speed and firepower. In 1905, the features of the Minotaur class could be summarized with the heavy armament of the new HMS Dreadnought.

In order to achieve a correspondingly high speed of over 25 knots, two modifications were necessary. For one, it was dispensed with a thick armor. The high range of the large guns should allow the ships to attack enemy warships without being hit themselves. On the other hand, the hull should be extended in order to create more space for boilers and thus achieve a higher performance.

As a field of operation, the reconnaissance and the fight against enemy battleship was intended as the new battlecruisers would have been superior to the armored cruisers of the other naval forces.

As the main armament four turrets were selected, each with two 30.5-cm L / 45 marine cannons. These guns fired armor piercing shells up to 22 kilometers away. The medium artillery consisted of sixteen 10.2-cm guns, this time mounted on the deck and no longer housed in side casemates. This had the advantage that even in medium and heavy swell the guns were operational. In addition, 5 × 21 "torpedo tubes were installed, which were customary in the interior of the fuselage at that time, and thus the entire ship had to be steered and set on course for aiming.

For the propulsion plant and the necessary power, 31 water-tube boilers from the manufacturer Babcock & Wilcox were taken, which powered four Parsons steam turbines with the steam generated, produced an output of around 41,000 HP and thus accelerated the ship to just under 25 knots.

The launch of the HMS Inflexible took place on June 26, 1907, the commissioning in October 1908.



HMS Inflexible




History of HMS Inflexible:

After commissioning and the usual test drives took place with the sister ship HMS Indomitable the incorporation into the Nore Division of Home Fleet. Then, as the last ship of the class, the HMS Invincible was operational, these three ships were assigned to the 1st Cruiser Squadron.

In the following years, the squadron participated in several maneuvers and exercises. In addition, these were overhauled each year in the shipyards.

In August 1913, the HMS Inflexible was ordered together with the HMS Invincible and the HMS Indomitable in the Mediterranean and incorporated into the 2nd Battlecruiser Squadron, where the ship was used as the flagship.




Use in the war:

When the war broke out between France and the German Empire, the British ships in Malta were ordered to supervise the German Mediterranean division. Then the ships ran on 3 August 1914 from Malta from the direction of the Adriatic Sea, since it was assumed that the German would unite with the Austrian ships. After the order was changed and the British ships were sent to Gibraltar to prevent German ships from breaking away, they discovered the ships they were looking for on 4 August and started the pursuit. Because of problems with the boilers, the British ships, except for the HMS Dublin had to stop the pursuit of the SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau, even the Dublin lost during the evening contact. When German ships were rediscovered on 6 August, the persecution started again. Although the state of war now prevailed between Britain and the German Reich, the two ships could not be prevented from entering the Dardanelles.

From 1 to 10 October 1914, the HMS Inflexible patrolled the Shetland Islands sea routes to protect incoming troop transports with British reservists from attacks by German warships and submarines.

After the Royal Navy had suffered a defeat on 1 November 1914 in the naval battle at Coronel against the German ships, the Inflexible was relocated on 4 November in the South Atlantic to participate in the hunt for the German East Asia squadron. On December 7, 1914, the ship reached Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. One day later, the German ships were sighted in the morning. First, HMS Kent and HMS Canopus ran to track the ships. Because of the necessary intake of coal, the British battle cruiser could expire only an hour later. As the German commander Admiral Graf Spee dismissed his small cruisers from the association, developed between the German ships SMS Scharnhorst, SMS Gneisenau and the British battlecruisers the real battle. Together with the sister ship HMS Invincible, the HMS Inflexible fired at the Scharnhorst until it was damaged so badly by a decisive hit on the port side that it sank. The Gneisenau subsequently also received several serious hits, but was sunk by its own crew.

With the start of preparations for a landing company in the Dardanelles, the HMS Inflexible was ordered back to the Mediterranean on December 19, 1914, where it was appointed on January 24, 1915 the flagship of the fleet deployed. When an attempt was made on 18 March 1915 to break through the strait of the Dardanelles, the ship received two hits of the Ottoman coastal guns, with nine crew members died. Shortly thereafter, the ship ran on a sea mine and had to break through this damage the breakthrough and drive to Gibraltar in the yard. After the repair was completed, the ship was relocated to Britain and assigned to the Grand Fleet.

From May 31 to June 1, 1916, the HMS Inflexible, as the two sister ships participated in the Battle of the Skagerrak. The HMS Invincible was sunk, but the inflexible remained undamaged.

On the evening of January 31, 1918, a group of 40 ships left the Scottish naval base Rosyth to drive towards Scapa Flow, to unite with the local ships and to hold a large maneuver. It came shortly after the departure to an accident of two of the submarines had rammed. As the HMS Inflexible rode behind the submarines, she did not notice the U22 submarine and rammed it. The submarine sank then.

Until the end of the war, the HMS Inflexible remained in the Grand Fleet, but participated in no further missions.



The HMS Inflexible in the rescue of survivors of SMS Gneisenau shortly after 18 clock





After the war, HMS Inflexible was assigned to the reserve fleet in early 1919 and decommissioned on March 31, 1919.

In December 1922 the sale and the scrapping took place.




Ship data:


HMS Inflexible


Great Britain

Ship Type:  





John Brown & Company, Clydebank




June 26, 1907


Oktober 1908


Sold and scrapped in December 1922


171 meters


23,9 meters


8,2 meters


Max. 20.135 tons


784 - 1000 men


31 Babcock-water tube boiler

4 Parsons turbines


41.000 PSw

Maximum speed:  

28 kn




8 x 30,5-cm Mk.X guns in twin turrets

16 x 10,2-cm Mk.III guns

5 x 21 inch underwater torpedo tubes


Belt armour up to 152 mm

Bar beds 178 mm

Battle bridge 254 mm

Gun turrets:

Front 178 mm

Pages 178 mm

Top side 70 mm






You can find the right literature here:


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British Battleships of World War One Hardcover – November 15, 2012

This new edition of a classic work on British battleships is the most sought after book on the subject. Containing many new photographs from the author's exhaustive collection this superb reference book presents the complete technical history of British capital ship design and construction during the dreadnought era. Beginning with Dreadnought, all of the fifty dreadnoughts, 'super-dreadnoughts' and battlecruisers that served the Royal Navy during this era are described and superbly illustrated with photographs and line drawings.

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The British Battleship: 1906-1946

The British Battleship: 1906-1946 Hardcover – October 15, 2015

Norman Friedman brings a new perspective to an ever-popular subject in The British Battleship: 1906-1946. With a unique ability to frame technologies within the context of politics, economics, and strategy, he offers unique insight into the development of the Royal Navy capital ships. With plans of the important classes commissioned from John Roberts and A D Baker III and a color section featuring the original Admiralty draughts, this book offers something to even the most knowledgeable enthusiast.

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British Battlecruisers 1905-1920 Hardcover – December 15, 2016

The brainchild of Admiral Sir John Fisher, battlecruisers combined heavy guns and high speed in the largest hulls of their era. Conceived as "super-cruisers" whose job it was to hunt down and destroy commerce raiders, their size and gun-power led to their inclusion in the battlefleet as a fast squadron of capital ships. This book traces in detail the development of Fisher's original idea into the first battlecruiser Invincible of 1908, through to the "Splendid Cats" of the Lion class, and culminating in HMS Hood in 1920, the largest warship in the world for the next twenty years. The origins of the unusual "light battlecruisers" of the Courageous type are also covered.

The well-publicized problems of British battlecruisers are examined, including the latest research throwing light on the catastrophic loss of three of the ships at the Battle of Jutland. The developmental history is backed by chapters covering machinery, armament, and armor, with a full listing of important technical data. The comprehensive collection of illustrations includes the author's superb drawings and original Admiralty plans reproduced in full color. This revised and updated edition of the classic work first published in 1997 will be welcomed by anyone with an interest in the most charismatic and controversial warships of the dreadnought era.

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British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser: 1914–16 (Duel)

British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser: 1914–16 (Duel) Paperback – November 19, 2013

Battles at Dogger Bank and Jutland revealed critical firepower, armor, and speed differences in Royal Navy and Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy) Battlecruiser designs.

Fast-moving and formidably armed, the battlecruisers of the British and German navies first encountered one another in 1915 at Dogger Bank and in the following year clashed near Jutland in the biggest battleship action of all time. In the decade before World War I Britain and Germany were locked in a naval arms race that saw the advent of first the revolutionary dreadnought, the powerful, fast-moving battleship that rendered earlier designs obsolete, and then an entirely new kind of vessel - the battlecruiser. The brainchild of the visionary British admiral John 'Jacky' Fisher, the battlecruiser was designed to operate at long range in 'flying squadrons', using its superior speed and powerful armament to hunt, outmanoeuvre and destroy any opponent. The penalty paid to reach higher speeds was a relative lack of armour, but Fisher believed that 'speed equals protection'. By 1914 the British had ten battlecruisers in service and they proved their worth when two battlecruisers, Invincible and Inflexible, sank the German armoured cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off the Falklands in December 1914.

Based on a divergent design philosophy that emphasised protection over firepower, the Germans' battlecruisers numbered six by January 1915, when the rival battlecruisers first clashed at Dogger Bank in the North Sea. By this time the British battlecruisers had been given a new role - to locate the enemy fleet. Five British battlecruisers accompanied by other vessels intercepted and pursued a German force including three battlecruisers; although the battle was a British tactical victory with neither side losing any of its battlecruisers, the differences in the designs of the British and German ships were already apparent. The two sides responded very differently to this first clash; while the Germans improved their ammunition-handling procedures to lessen the risk of disabling explosions, the British drew the opposite lesson and stockpiled ammunition in an effort to improve their rate of fire, rendering their battlecruisers more vulnerable. The British also failed to improve the quality of their ammunition, which had often failed to penetrate the German ships' armour.

These differences were highlighted more starkly during the battle of Jutland in May 1916. Of the nine British battlecruisers committed, three were destroyed, all by their German counterparts. Five German battlecruisers were present, and of these, only one was sunk and the remainder damaged. The limitations of some of the British battlecruisers' fire-control systems, range-finders and ammunition quality were made clear; the Germans not only found the range more quickly, but spread their fire more effectively, and the German battlecruisers' superior protection meant that despite being severely mauled, all but one were able to evade the British fleet at the close of the battle. British communication was poor, with British crews relying on ship-to-ship flag and lamp signals even though wireless communication was available. Even so, both sides claimed victory and the controversy continues to this day.

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