Battleship HMS Centurion

The battleship HMS Centurion belonged to the King George V class and was a typical ship of the Dreadnought battleships, which were used at that time in the Royal Navy.


Launching and design:

The battleships of the King George V-Class were based on the experience of the Orion class and were typical representatives of the Dreadnought battleships used in Great Britain, which were developed at the beginning of the 20th century.

In contrast to the predecessor ships, the King George V-class had a greater displacement and the armor was reinforced especially in the side area and under water against torpedoes and maritime mines.

The main armament of 10 x 343 mm Mark V guns in 5 twin towers remained in place, however, a new ammunition was used, which was heavier than the previous one and thus had a greater range and penetration.

The launching of the HMS Centurion took place on 18 November 1911, the commissioning in May 1913.


HMS Centurion




Use in the war:

Shortly after the commissioning, the test drives and the division into the 2nd Battleship Squadron broke out the First World War.

As part of the First Division 2nd Battle Squadron, the ship participated in the June 31, 1916 on June 1, 1916 at the Skagerrakschlacht part, but had no enemy contact.

Until the end of the war, the HMS Centurion remained in the North Sea. After the capitulation of the German Empire, the ship was sent together with the HMS Superb in the eastern Mediterranean, when the Ottoman Empire broke up after the surrender and a civil war was feared.




Use after the war:

By 1924, the ship remained in active service, then it had to be rebuilt under the terms of the Washington Naval Conference of 1922 to a target ship and replace the older HMS Agamemnon.



HMS Centurion as target ship

HMS Centurion as target ship




Use in the Second World War:

When the Second World War broke out, the HMS Centurion still served as a target ship. In order to protect the HMS Anson under construction from attacks by the German Air Force, the Centurion was rebuilt in 1941 and was thus intended to be a target for the German attacks and to divert attention from the actual target.

At the beginning of 1942 anti-aircraft guns were retrofitted on the ship to use the battleship as a floating anti-aircraft battery. When the modifications were completed, the ship remained until the beginning of 1944 in Sues to protect the British forces there from attacks by the German Air Force.

Planning for an invasion of Northern France included HMS Centurion. The ship was to be sunk for Operation Neptune as a breakwater for the artificial harbors.



HMS Centurion as a target ship in World War II


HMS Centurion as a breakwater off Omaha Beach





After the successful landing of the Allies in northern France, the HMS Centurion was sunk off Vierville-sur-Mer (Omaha Beach) and served as a breakwater for the artificial ports, so that the transport ships could safely unload soldiers and material.




Ship data:


HMS Centurion


Great Britain

Ship Type:  





HM Dockyard Devonport (Plymouth)




November 18, 1911


May 1913


Sunk in June 1944 after landing in Normandy as a breakwater


182,1 meters


27,1 meters


Max. 8,74 meters


Max. 25.700 tons


759 - 782 men


4 sets of Parsons steam turbines

18 Yarrow steam boiler
in 4 boiler rooms


27.000 WPS

Maximum speed:  

21,7 kn




10 × 13,5-inch (343 mm) Mark XI L / 50 in 5 twin towers

16 × 4-inch (102 mm) Mark VII L / 50 in single case

4 × 3 pounder cannon

3 × 53,3 cm torpedo tubes


Belt armor 64 to 152 mm

Side armor 203 mm to 304 mm

Armor deck 25 mm to 102 mm

Barbettes 229 mm to 254 mm

Turrets 279 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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