Battleship HMS Warspite

The battleship HMS Warspite 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 Warspite took place on 26 November 1913, the commissioning on 19 March 1915.



HMS Warspite




Use in the war:

After the commissioning and the test drives the HMS Warspite was assigned together with the sister ships the 5th battle squadron.

On the night of 31 May to 1 June 1916 the ship took part in the Battle of the Skagerrak. Together with the battlecruisers, the battleships formed the front line, which is why the ships also had the most firefights with the German ships. When the main battle took place in the evening and a course change was ordered for the British ships, the helm of the HMS Warspite got stuck, causing the ship to go in a circle. It received several hits from the German battlecruisers SMS Lützow and SMS Derfflinger. Overall, the ship received 13 hits, but it was not sunk by the strong armor and had no deaths. When the helmets worked again, the Warspite had to leave the battle early.

The repair of the ship lasted until August 1916.

By the end of the war, the squadron was still making some forays in the North Sea, but there was no further contact with the enemy.



Damage on the HMS Warspite after the Battle of the Skagerrak


Damage on the HMS Warspite after the Battle of the Skagerrak




Use after the war:

After the First World War, the HMS Warspite remained in the 5th Battle Squadron.

The first conversion took place from 1924 to 1926. Here, the protection against topredo attacks was particularly reinforced in the torpedo bulges were attached to the hull. In addition, the drive system was rebuilt and the two chimneys combined into one.

After the conversion, the ship moved to the Mediterranean fleet and served there as a flagship. This function also exercised it later in the Atlantic Fleet.

1934 began the second reconstruction of the ship. In the process, large parts of the structures were removed and replaced by new ones. The drive system was exchanged, so that now 5,000 hp were available more. The savings in weight was put into reinforced deck armor, as the risk of air attacks on large warships increased and they were poorly equipped against such attacks from above. As a defense of the air defense eight 102-mm guns in double gun carriages, 32 40-mm guns in four eight-horse carriages and 16 added 12 12.7 -inch Vickers machine guns in four quads.

After the conversion work was completed, the ship was re-incorporated into the Home Fleet.




Use in the Second World War:

When World War II broke out in Europe, HMS Warspite was in the Mediterranean, but was ordered back to Britain in early September 1939.

When the occupation of Norway by Germany began on 9 April 1940 and the first British attack on the German ships in Narvik failed on 10 April, the British closed the exit of the fjord. On the afternoon of April 13, HMS Warspite entered the port of Narvik with five destroyers. After several hits first the German destroyer Erich Koellner was sunk and afterwards the Erich Giese. The German submarine U-64 fell victim to one of the aircraft on board the Warspite. In the evening, the British ships left the harbor again, as the threat of attacks by German submarines was reported. After landing Allied troops, the Warspite was withdrawn from Norway and relocated to the Mediterranean.

It came on March 24, 1941 in the eastern Mediterranean between Cape Matapan and the island of Gavdos to a battle with the Italian Navy. After Germany had to intervene in the war between Italy and Greece, the Allies began with the transfer of troops from North Africa to Greece. To stop these transports, Hitler put pressure on Mussolini to let his warships run out and attack. The British convoy had to run west of Crete around the island to stay out of range of German bombers. The Italian squadron leader Vice Admiral Angelo Iachino intended to attack the British ships there. However, by deciphering German radio traffic, the British were aware of the attack and even let their battleships run out. After the battle of the small cruisers in the morning, British planes tried to find the Italian ships in the afternoon. By luck, they could be found in the evening, as they accompanied the damaged battleship Vittorio Veneto. The British battleships then opened the fire and could sink the destroyer Alfieri and the small cruiser Fiume and Zara within a short time.

In May 1941, the German Wehrmacht began the occupation of Crete. The drawn to support HMS Warspite was hit on 22 May by a bomb from a German bomber. The bomb broke through the deck and exploded in the casemate deck, which in turn led to further fires on the ship. The hit cost 38 crew members the life, also both the middle artillery and the anti-aircraft guns on the starboard side. The ship therefore had to cancel the support and ran in Alexandria for a makeshift repair.

On 23 June, the port of Alexandria was attacked by German bombers and the Warspite was again damaged by an aerial bomb. Two days after the attack, the ship was relocated to Bremerton in the United States, where it was fully operational again until the end of December 1941.

Following the Warspite moved to the Indian Ocean and served there until mid-1943 as the flagship of the Eastern Fleet.

As part of the Allied landing in Sicily and Salerno the HMS Warspite was relocated to support in the Mediterranean. While the landing in Sicily was without major losses, the landing at Salerno was different. On September 13, 1943, the German Kampfgeschwader 100 attacks on the Allied ships and thereby used the new sliding bomb FX 1400 (Fritz X). The ships USS Savannah, HMS Uganda and the HMS Warspite were severely damaged. The Warspite then had to be taken to the shipyard for repair by two tugs to Malta.

As the ship was already scheduled to land in Normandy, it was repaired in Malta only temporarily and then brought to the UK.

During the landing in northern France, the ship with only three operational turrets support the soldiers by the bombardment of the fortifications and bunkers of the German Atlantic Wall. After the completion of the operation, the ship ran back to the UK.



View of the deck of HMS Warspite on July 3, 1943


The HMS Warspite during the bombardment of the German Atlantic Wall





After World War II, HMS Warspite was decommissioned and sold in March 1946.

On the way to the port where the ship was to be scrapped, the tow ripped and the ship ran aground at Land's End, southwest of Britain. The demolition work could finally be carried out from 1950 on site and lasted until 1956.




Ship data:


HMS Warspite


Great Britain

Ship Type:  





Devonport Dockyard, Plymouth


around 2.500.00 pounds sterling


November 26, 1913


March 19, 1915


Sold in 1946, ran aground during the crossing at Land's End and scrapped on site from 1950 to 1956


195 meters


27,6 meters


Max. 9,3 meters


Max. 33.000 tons


925 - 1.184 men


24 Yarrow boiler

4 Brown-Curtis steam turbines

from 1937:
6 Admiralty cauldron

4 Parsons transmission turbines


77.510 PS (57.009 kW)

Maximum speed:  

24 kn (44 km/h)




8 x 38,1 cm L/42 BL guns

12 x 15,2 cm L/45 BL guns

2 x 10,2 cm L/45 anti-aircraft guns

2 x 76 mm anti-aircraft guns

4 x torpedo tubes ∅ 53,3 cm

from 1937:

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

8 x 15,2 cm L/45 Rapid fire guns

8 x 10,2 cm L/45 guns

16 x 12,7 mm machine guns


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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