Battleship HMS Malaya

The battleship HMS Malaya belonged to the Queen Elizabeth class, which were put into service during the First World War and belonged to the most modern warships of the time.


Launching and design:

The ships of the Queen Elizabeth class were intended as a successor to the Iron Duke class, but these should exceed in many respects.

So the main armament of the caliber was to be increased 343 mm to 381 mm. Appropriate prototypes of such new guns were still in the testing, but only by the pressure of the First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill these were included in the construction, which represents a significant risk, should the guns are not yet mature enough.

Also, the armor was significantly strengthened in the area of the sides and under water, as especially mines and torpedoes could be dangerous to the warships and severe damage, if not the destruction of the ship could result. The cover armor, on the other hand, was not reinforced because it was considered sufficient.

In the subsequent construction program of 1912 initially three battleships of the class were considered, in addition to an improved battle cruiser HMS Tiger, which was intended as HMS Leopard. After the ships were expected at a speed of 25 knots, the Navy Department decided to renounce the Leopard and to build a fourth battleship of the Queen Elizabeth class. Then, when the Federated Malay States promised to finance a fifth battleship, this too was included in the planning.

Criticism from the Director of Naval Construction that such a project could only be realized by using fuels with heavy oil and not in connection with coal was filed by Winston Churchill, who guaranteed oil supply even during wartime as responsible.

The launching of the HMS Malaya took place on 18 March 1915, the commissioning on 19 February 1916.



HMS Malaya


HMS Malaya


HMS Malaya guns




Use in the war:

Shortly after commissioning the HMS Malaya was assigned to the 5th Battleship Squadron.

With this squadron, the ship took part in the Battle of the Skagerrak from 31 May to 1 June 1916, the Malaya led together with her sister ship HMS Warspite the brunt of the battle with the German advance guard and later with the German battlecruisers. The ship received a total of eight hits, which led to the loss of almost all guns of the middle artillery of the starboard side and to a strong flooding. 63 crew members lost their lives in this battle, another later succumbed to his injuries. Despite the damage, the impact and the subsequent damage to the hull by a collision on the seabed, the ship could go back to Britain by itself. There it was repaired in Invergordon until July 27, 1916.

For the remainder of the war, the HMS Malaya remained in the 5th Battleship Squadron. Apart from the interception of a German fleet advance on 19 August 1916, in which there was no enemy contact, no further missions were carried out.




Use after the war:

After the First World War, HMS Malaya was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet until 1924. During this time it transferred among other things an allied control commission to Germany, which controlled the disarmament regulations in the harbors. In November 1922, after the collapse of the monarchy in Turkey, the Malaya was established around the last ruler Sultan Mehmed VI. to exile to Malta.

From 1924 to 1927, the deployment in the Mediterranean Fleet was to observe the situation in the Middle East, especially in the newly founded Turkey.

From 1927 extensive modernization measures and conversions were made. The 12 152-mm guns were exchanged for four 102-mm anti-aircraft guns, the two chimneys combined into one and eight 40-mm anti-aircraft guns additionally mounted. The alterations lasted until the year 1929.

Between 1930 and 1934, there was a shift between the Atlantic Fleet and the Mediterranean Fleet, depending on where the diplomatic tensions were greatest. Following the transfer to the Home Fleet and the stay in Devonport, where again modifications were made. The armor was strengthened and a hanger and a crane were mounted to accommodate a Supermarine Walrus-type aircraft. In addition, the air defense of the ship was reinforced again. The conversion took another two years, after this was completed, the HMS Malaya was relocated back to the Mediterranean.




Use in the Second World War:

When the Second World War broke out, the HMS Malaya was used to track down and destroy German commercial troublemakers in the Mediterranean as well as in the Gulf of Aden.

In January 1940, the ship was withdrawn to secure convoys between Freetown (now Sierra Leone) and Britain. After two months of use, the ship returned to the Mediterranean.

With Italy's entry into the war against Britain on 10 June 1940, the ship was used to supply supplies to the British units on the island of Malta. It came on 9 July 1940 for the first meeting with the Italian Navy and the battle at Punta Stilo. An attack by the Italian Air Force damaged the fire line of the heavy 102mm anti-aircraft guns and was temporarily unable to operate.

With the fighting in North Africa between the British and the Italian and German troops, were bombarded by the Malaya Italian positions along the Kyrenaika coast, later also positions at Bardia and Sollum. Under the name Operation Hats British troops were subsequently brought from Gibraltar to Alexandria.

From 6 to 11 February 1941, the ship was again used to secure convoys to Malta, before it participated in the attack on Genoa, where the Italian port was fired at. It could sunk four cargo ships and 18 more damaged.

After the Genoa attack, convoys were secured between Sierra Leone, Gibraltar and Britain. It came on 20 March 1941 to an attack by the German submarine U-106. A torpedo hit the Malaya and caused so much damage that the ship had to leave the convoy and enter Trinidad for an emergency repair. Following the transfer to New York, where the ship was completely repaired until July 1941.

From November 1941 until the summer of 1943, the ship was used almost exclusively for securing convoys in both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. In the process, the ship's propulsion system was consumed to such an extent that it entered Faslane in August 1943 and was taken out of service.

As part of the landing operation in Normandy, the HMS Malaya was reactivated in June 1944. Shortly before the Allied troops began to land, the German fortifications of the Atlantic Wall along the French and partially Dutch coast were shot at by the ship.

The last use during the war took place on 1 September 1944 with the bombardment of the German positions on the lying near Saint Malo island Cézembre on which were about 100 German soldiers. As these capitulated, the ship returned to Britain and was assigned to the reserve in October 1944.



The HMS Eagle together with HMS Malaya on March 7, 1942


HMS Malaya in Greenock, Schottland 1945


HMS Malaya





After the Second World War, the ship was handed over on May 15, 1945 as a training ship torpedo school and renamed HMS Vernon II. There it still served for training until August 1945.

In 1947, HMS Malaya was finally decommissioned, in February 1948 to BISCO Ltd. sold and scrapped on April 12, 1948 in Faslane.




Ship data:


HMS Malaya


Great Britain

Ship Type:  





Armstrong-Whitworth, Newcastle


around 2.500.00 pounds sterling


March 18, 1915


February 19, 1916


Sold in February 1948 and scrapped on April 12, 1948 in Faslane


195 meters


27,6 meters


Max. 9,3 meters


Max. 33.000 tons


925 to 951 men


24 Babcock & Wilcox cauldrons

4 Parsons turbines


76.074 PS (55.952 kW)

Maximum speed:  

24 kn (44 km/h)




8 x 381 mm L/42 Rapid fire gun

12 x 152 mm L/45 Rapid fire gun

2 x 102 mm L/45 anti-aircraft gun

2 x 76 mm anti-aircraft gun

4 x torpedo tubes ∅ 533 mm


Belt: 102 - 330 mm

Citadel: 152 mm

Upper deck: 25 mm

Upper armoured deck: 32 - 45 mm

Lower armoured deck: 25 - 76 mm

Towers: 127 - 330 mm

Bar beds: 102 - 254 mm

Casemate: 152 mm

Front command tower: 102 - 279 mm

Aft control station: 102 - 152 mm

Cross bulkheads: 51 - 152 mm

Torpedo bulkhead: 51 mm

Chimneys: 38 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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