Queen Elizabeth Class Battleships Four of the Queen Elizabeth Class Battleships at sea for exercises during 1919/20. This photograph below was taken from Barham with Warspite, Valiant and Malaya following behind. Barham became flagship of the 2nd Battle Squadron of the Atlantic Fleet in April 1919 consisting of the four sisters minus Queen Elizabeth.
Super-dreadnought HMS Queen Elizabeth, the lead ship of her class. Her first action was an ill judged adventure to the Dardanelles. She was also the only one of her class not to fight at Jutland as she was in for dockyard maintenance at Rosyth. She is seen here on the slipway at Portsmouth Royal Dockyard in 1913 closely guarded by one of His Majesties finest.
Suggesting a ruling monarch should authorize the naming of a warship in his very own Royal Navy after a man who had arranged the beheading of a previous king, was not perhaps the most subtle move.
But here it was in black and white from the First Lord of the Admiralty… again!
King George V had already asked his Private Secretary to write to Winston Churchill and make it abundantly clear, when the Iron Duke Class was being built, that under no circumstances would a battleship be christened His Majesty’s Ship Oliver Cromwell.
In the end the only one of the four new warships to bear a name put forward by Churchill was the lead ship in the class, HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The rest of the names were provided by the King – King Richard I became Warspite, Henry V was Barham, Oliver Cromwell became Valiant. The fifth Queen Elizabeth Class vessel, HMS Malaya, was so named because she was built with funds provided by the Malay Federated States.
QE was the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet from 1919 to 1924.
This class lays a prominent claim as the greatest class of ships built by the Royal Navy.
The Royal Navy did build some outstanding one off ships, Hood and Vanguard for instance. But, no other class had such a vast superiority as the QE’s when they entered service.
Warspite shows blast damage caused to the starboard hull plating by a 28 cm (12 inch) shell which penetrated the port side of the upper deck, passed through the captain’s accommodation and burst in the Captain of the Fleet’s day cabin on the starboard side of the main deck under ‘Y’ 15 inch gun turret.
She is seen having her Jutland battle damage repaired after her death ride when Warspite swerved to avoid Valiant.
Warspite’s First Lieutenant Humphrey Walwyn stated – “The steering gear episode was rather extraordinary. The hit by the port wing engine room had buckled the after bulkhead of the centre engine room, on which the steering engine is secured. This gave it a hot bearing and it was labouring heavily.” “The Quartermaster got a bit rattled and forced the wheel too quick, which overrode the telemotor gear due to the engine lagging with a hot bearing.” “The ship had therefore ten degrees port helm on, and completed a circle twice, turning through 32 points towards the enemy’s fleet.”
Warspite turned two full circles under the nose of the enemy fleet and was hit by a dozen 12 Inch shells.
With an advantage of about four knots over existing battleships, these ships would constitute a genuine fast battleship division.
They were not battlecruisers, no compromise had been made to reduce protection during their planning and build.
A major step forward in propulsion was taken in the sole use of oil fuel rather than coal or a combination of the two. As a result, this allowed the great increase in horsepower required to propel the vessels at the design speed of 25 knots.
The four shafts had high pressure turbines, both ahead and astern, connected to the wing shafts and low pressure turbines, again both ahead and astern, connected to the centre shafts.
Barham and Valiant had Yarrow boilers driving Brown-Curtis turbines whilst the other three were fitted with boilers from Babcock and Wilcox driving Parsons turbines.
Total design horsepower was 56,500shp for just 23 knots (with overload to 75,000 = 25 knots).
And on trials all ships achieved between 71,000 and 76,500shp, enabling them to reach 24 knots despite increases in displacement.