Battleship HMS Royal Oak

The battleship HMS Royal Oak belonged to the Revenge class, which consisted of a total of five ships, were put into service during the First World War, with only two ships could be used.


Launching and design:

The battleships of the Revenge class were ordered in 1913 by the Royal Navy. First, the number of pieces was set to eight ships, the end of 1914, it was apparent that the calculated construction time could not be met, so three ships were canceled.

The construction was similar to the Queen Elizabeth class, but was smaller in size and the speed was slightly lower. In return, the belt armor was strengthened and the deck armor set higher and also reinforced. In addition, the ships were equipped with Torpedowülsten to strengthen the protection against torpedoes.

The ships of the Queen Elizabeth class, a pure oil-fired drive system was installed. In the ships of the Revenge class, an oil mixed coal plant should be installed again, as the Marineleitung feared to become too dependent on oil supplies. However, after Lord John Fisher retired from his retirement in November 1914 as First Sea Lord, he also insisted that the Revenge-class ships should receive a pure oil-fueled propulsion system. This should reduce the operator crew by 75, increasing performance and speed.

The launch of the HMS Royal Oak took place on 17 November 1914, the commissioning on May 1, 1916.



HMS Royal Oak


View on the front heavy guns of HMS Royal Oak


HMS Royal Oak




Use in the war:

After commissioning and testing, the HMS Royal Oak was assigned to the 1st Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet.

With this squadron, the ship also participated in the May 31, 1 June 1916 at the Skagerrakschlacht part, it began the HMS Royal Oak at 18:29 clock with the bombardment of the small German cruiser SMS Wiesbaden. At about 7:00 pm German torpedo boats approached, so that the Royal Oak had to bombard them with their medium artillery. Some time later, the ship was also hit on the SMS Derfflinger and the SMS Seydlitz achieve, but without causing serious damage.

Until the end of the war, some attempts were made in the North Sea, but there was no more contact with the enemy.

On November 5, 1918, it came before Burntisland in the Firth of Forth to an accident when the anchor chain of the seaplane carrier HMS Campania ripped and the ship rammed there also lying HMS Royal Oak. The damage to the Royal Oak was small, but the Campania were so strong that the ship sank five hours after the collision.



The HMS Royal Oak next to the sunken HMS Campania




Use after the war:

After the First World War, the HMS Royal Oak was assigned to the 2nd Battle Squadron of the Atlantic Fleet.

From 1922 to 1924 the first modernization measures were carried out, after which the ship was transferred to Gibraltar in the Mediterranean fleet, where exercises and maneuvers were carried out every year.

When civil war broke out in Spain, the HMS Royal Oak was tasked with monitoring the coast around the Iberian Peninsula. It came on 2 February 1937 to an attack by three aircraft of the Republican armed forces, which dropped their bombs several hundred meters from the ship. Although the ship was not damaged, the republican leadership had to officially apologize to Great Britain. Later, on February 23, 1937, the ship lay in front of Valencia, when the city was bombed by planes of nationalist forces. Some of the anti-aircraft guns accidentally hit the ship, injuring five crew members. However, this time around, there was no protest from Britain. For the remainder of the civil war, the Royal Oak accompanied passenger ships and steamers that brought refugees to the UK.

In 1938, the HMS Royal Oak was ordered back to Britain and served as flagship in the 2nd Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet. In this position, on November 24, 1938, the ship also delivered the body of the late British Queen Maud from Norway to Oslo, where the funeral took place.

In the middle of 1939 a training trip took place in the English Channel to prepare the ship and the crew for a journey of several months in the Mediterranean. However, as the diplomatic tensions in Europe intensified, the trip was canceled and the ship had to go back to Scapa Flow.



Transfer of the body of the deceased British Queen Maud from Norway to Oslo by HMS Royal Oak




Use in the Second World War:

The first World War II operation for the HMS Royal Oak took place in October 1939 when British warships drove to the North Sea to search for the German battleship Gneisenau, which was to be there. The search proved unsuccessful, also proved the Royal Oak as too slow and could no longer keep up with the speed of the modern British warships.

On October 12, the ship returned to Scapa Flow, which was heavily damaged by a heavy storm. Since several German reconnaissance aircraft were spotted on Scapa Flow, the British Navy feared that in the near future the port could be attacked by German bombers. Most of the warships were therefore taken to other ports, which were either out of reach of German bombers or had a modern air defense.

However, the Royal Oak remained in Scapa Flow. On the one hand because the ship was considered outdated and thus would have been a non-rewarding goal, on the other hand, the anti-aircraft of the ship should support the port, if it should be bombed.



The HMS Royal Oak in October 1939 in search of the Gneisenau





In the night of 13 to 14 October 1939, the German submarine U-47 succeeded under the leadership of Günther Prien to bypass the mine locks of the port and penetrate into the harbor.

At 00:58 clock, the submarine shot down three torpedoes with magneto, with only one detonated. The damage, however, was very small at the HMS Royal Oak.

Since the crew assumed an explosion on the ship rather than an attack, the German submarine remained undetected. At 01:16 clock two torpedoes fired with impact fuze on the ship. The explosion meant that the Royal Oak sank within 13 minutes and 833 crew members died.




Ship data:


HMS Royal Oak


Great Britain

Ship Type:  





Devonport Dockyard, Devon


2.468.269 pounds sterling


November 17, 1914


May 1, 1916


Sunk on 14 October 1939 by the German submarine U-47 in Scapa Flow


189,1 meters


27 meters


8,7 meters


Max. 31.200 tons


997 men


18 Yarrow steam boiler

4 sets of steam turbines
with Parson gear


40.360 PS (29.685 kW)

Maximum speed:  

21 kn (39 km/h)




8 x 38,1 cm Rapid fire gun L/42

14 x 15,2 cm Rapid fire gun L/45

2 x 7,6 cm Anti-aircraft guns

4 x Torpedo tubes ⌀ 53,3 cm (under water)


Belt 102-330 mm

Citadel 152 mm

Panzer transverse bulkheads 38-152 mm

Upper armored deck 25-51 mm

Lower armored deck 25-102 mm

Torpedo bulkhead 25-38 mm

Towers 108-330 mm

Barbettes 102-254 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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