Battlecruiser HMS Repulse

The battlecruiser HMS Repulse belonged to the Renown class, which consisted of two ships and were originally planned as battleships before the First World War.


Launching and design:

1913 were ordered by the Royal Navy eight battleships Revenge class. When it became apparent at the end of 1914 that the planned construction times could not be met, the order was reduced from eight to five ships.

However, after Lord John Fisher returned to the First Sea Lord's office in 1915, he ordered new works to be commissioned, with the material of the planned battleships already used for three battlecruisers. For this purpose, the British naval architect and engineer Sir Eustace Henry William Tennyson d 'Eyncourt presented the desired design. He provided for the reduction of the main armament from four to three towers and a lighter armor. This should reduce the construction costs and the construction time and give the ships a higher speed. Due to the war and the resulting limited resources, however, the order had to be reduced from three to two ships before the start of construction.

The launch of the HMS Repulse took place on 8 January 1916, the commissioning on 18 August 1916.



HMS Repulse


Top view of the HMS Repulse




Use in the war:

After commissioning and testing, the HMS Repulse was used as a flagship in the 1st battle cruiser squadron of the Grand Fleet.

On November 17, 1917, the ship was involved in the second naval battle near Heligoland. The ship pursued the German minesweeping boats until they were covered by the German battleships SMS Kaiser and SMS Kaiserin. In the subsequent firefight, the Repulse scored or received no hit.

On December 12, 1917, there was a clash with the battle cruiser HMAS Australia. The damage was so severe that the ship was in the shipyard for repair until the end of the war.



The HMS Repulse around 1916-17 in the Firth of Forth (Scotland)


HMS Repulse in August 1918




Use after the war:

After the First World War, the ship remained in the Grand Fleet, but was partially modernized from late 1918 to early 1921 for the first time. The weak side armor was replaced and reinforced from 152 mm to 229 mm. In addition, an armor was installed in the area above, as this area was previously unarmored. The torpedo tubes were added. These were initially under water, these were now mounted on the deck.

After the first conversion, the ship was from 1922 to 1924 initially on a world tour on the road until it had the second time in the shipyard for further reconstruction work. This time, the center artillery was unified and mounted 12 102 mm guns. Also the air defense was strengthened and attached a small plant for airplanes.

From 1933 to 1936 the third and last reconstruction of the ship took place. Again, the armor was renewed and particularly critical area reinforced again. In addition to the improvement of the propulsion system was again strengthened the center artillery and air defense. The small system for the onboard aircraft was exchanged for two hangars and a catapult, which eventually four Fairey Swordfish float planes, four later Supermarine Walrus, could be excluded.

After the third conversion, HMS Repulse relocated to Gibraltar, Malta and Alexandria. Back to the UK in August 1938.

For the fall of 1939, a renewed, this time much larger conversion for the ship was planned, as it was already carried out with the sister ship HMS Renown. However, since at that time the diplomatic tensions in Europe intensified and a war was feared, the project was postponed indefinitely.



The HMS Repulse during the round trip 1923 to 1924


HMS Repulse in July 1938


The HMS Repulse in the harbor of Haifa in July 1938




Use in the Second World War:

When World War II broke out, the HMS Repulse was first deployed in the North Sea and the North Atlantic to find German warships conducting trade warfare against Great Britain. After no German ships were found, the ship was used as a backup of convoys from Canada to Britain until April 1940.

With the beginning of Operation Wilfred, the British occupation of Norway from 8 April 1940, the HMS Repulse was one of the ships used. As on the day the British destroyer HMS Glowworm was sunk, the ship was used for the search for the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper, this could not be detected. Also unsuccessful was the search for the German battleship Gneisenau in June, when this was damaged by a torpedo hit.

At the time of the evacuation of British troops from Norway, the British naval leadership simultaneously feared an invasion of Iceland by the German Wehrmacht. To search for a suspected invasion fleet, the repulse was withdrawn from Norway and sent to Iceland.

From early to mid-1941, the ship remained in the Grand Fleet. During this period, it participated in the search for the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the Bismarck.

As the diplomatic situation worsened with Japan in late 1941 and a war was feared there too, the HMS Repulse was relocated to Southeast Asia to assist Malaysia in an expected attack by the Japanese. Together with the destroyers HMS Electra, HMS Express, HMS Tenedos, HMS Vampire and the battleship HMS Prince of Wales, the Force Z was set up under the leadership of Admiral Sir Tom Phillips to protect British interests from the Japanese. When on December 8, 1941, the feared attack on the US base Pearl Harbor took place and thus also the war in the Pacific had begun, the British ships ran shortly after the attack from the port of Singapore to intercept a Japanese convoy. When this was not found, HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales returned to Singapore.



The HMS Repulse at the Port of Singapore on December 8, 1941


The HMS Repulse (bottom left) and the HMS Prince of Wales during the attacks by the Japanese bombers on December 10, 1941





On the way back to Singapore, the two British ships were attacked on 10 December 1941 by 86 Japanese bombers and torpedo bombers. After a short time, the HMS Prince of Wales received several heavy bombs and torpedo hits and sank. Subsequently, the Japanese aircraft began to focus their attack on the HMS Repulse.

After five torpedo hits, the ship also began to sink. The incoming destroyers HMS Electra and HMS Vampire could still save 797 crew members, 513 were killed.




Ship data:


HMS Repulse


Great Britain

Ship Type:  





John Brown & Company,
Clydebank (Scotland)


2,627,401 pounds sterling


January 8, 1916


August 18, 1916


Sunk on 10th December 1941 by Japanese planes


240 meters


30 meters


10,12 meters


Max. 36.800 tons


1310 men


42 oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers

2 sets of direct-acting Brown Curtis steam turbines


112.000 WPS (83.550 WkW)

Maximum speed:  

31,7 kn (59,7 km/h)




6 x 38,1 cm L/42 Mark I
guns in 3 double turrets

9 x 10,2 cm L/40 guns in 3 triple mounts

8 x 10,2 cm anti-aircraft guns

24 x 40 mm guns

8 x 20 mm anti-aircraft guns

8 x torpedo tubes 53,3 cm


Side armor 229 mm

Armored deck 64 - 102 mm

Lower deck 102 mm

Main Artillery 178 - 279 mm

Conning tower 254 mm

Exhaust ducts 51 mm






You can find the right literature here:


British Battleships of World War One

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

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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