Battleship HMS Vanguard

The battleship HMS Vanguard belonged to the St. Vincent class, which consisted of three ships and should replace the ships of the Bellerophon class.


Launching and design:

In 1907, three battleships were approved by the British Parliament, which should replace the three ships of the 1906 introduced Bellerophon class in a few years.

The construction of the ships of the St. Vincent class were based almost exclusively on those of the previous models, only in the main armament was chosen a larger caliber. As used in other classes, five twin towers were again used, with three in the center line and two slightly offset.

Another tank bulkhead in the foredeck should also be able to ensure stability in a torpedo hit and thus complicate the sinking of the ships.

The launch of the HMS Vanguard took place on February 22, 1909, the commissioning on March 1, 1910.



HMS Vanguard


HMS Vanguard


One of the main guns of HMS Vanguard




History of HMS Vanguard:

After commissioning and testing, the ship was assigned to the 1st Division of Home Fleet.

The ship was visited at the end of July 1910 by King George V at Torbay as well as by civilians on June 24, 1911 at the Coronation Fleet Review in Spithead.

This was followed by several exercises and maneuvers with the Atlantic Fleet before the ship had to go to the shipyard for the first overhaul.

On March 28, 1912, the ship was ready again and relocated to the 1st Division, which was renamed a short time later in the 1st Battle Squadron.




Use in the war:

Already on 17 and 20 July 1914 was carried out with the ships of the Grand Fleet exercises to increase the readiness and prepare for war.

On July 27, the HMS Vanguard was initially ordered to Portland, but already on July 29, the ship had to the port of Scapa Flow, as the British government feared a surprise attack by the German Navy.

Due to unconfirmed submarine sightings and the threat of attack by German submarines, the squadron had to move from October 22 to November 3, 1914, to the port of Lough Swilly in Ireland until the port of Scapa Flow became more fortified and resistant to attacks was secured by submarines.

In 1915, several attempts were made in the North Sea, but no German ships were encountered. Also some maneuvers were held.

From 31 May to 1 June 1916, the ship participated in the Battle of the Skagerrak, but scored or received no hits.





At around 11:30 pm on July 9, 1917, the HMS Vanguard was in the port of Scapa Flow when a massive explosion occurred on the ship and the ship sank completely within a few seconds.

The exact cause of the explosion has not been found to this day, but most likely, the explosive cordite itself ignited and one of the ammunition magazines exploded.

According to estimates, around 843 crew members were killed in the explosion.



Advertisement in the Springfield Republican of 14 July 1917 about the explosion of the ship




Ship data:


HMS Vanguard


Great Britain

Ship Type:  





Vickers, Barrow


around 1.600.000 pounds sterling


February 22, 1909


March 1, 1910


On 9 July 1917 dropped by an explosion in a munitions magazine in Scapa Flow


163,3 meters


25,6 meters


Max. 8,7 meters


Max. 23.030 tons


758 men


18 Babcock-boiler

4 Parsons turbines


24.500 PS

Maximum speed:  

21,75 kn




10 x 30,5 cm L/50 Mk.XI guns in double turrets

20 x 10,2 cm L/50 Mk.VIII guns

4 x 3 pound salute guns

3 x 45,7 cm torpedo tubes


Side armor 51 mm to 254 mm

Upper armoured deck 19 - 38 mm

Lower armoured deck 19 - 76 mm

Bar beds 229 mm

Gun turrets 279 mm

Command tower 254 mm

Armour bulkheads 102 - 203 mm

Torpedo bulkheads 38 - 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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