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The Last Dreadnought

The Last Dreadnought : HMS Vanguard was the last battleship ever built, though not the last to be completed, was the end of the line for her species of ships

In 1906 Britain commissioned a new design of battleship with two and a half times as many main guns as current battleships. HMS Dreadnought was seen as able to defeat two of the earlier battleships so other navies then commenced building dreadnought type battleships.

The feature that defined a dreadnought type was an all big gun main armament of the same calibre.

The older battleships were called pre-dreadnought types while some with a mixed large calibre armament were called semi-dreadnoughts.

HMS Dreadnought also used turbines rather that triple expansion engines but some dreadnought stayed with triple expansion engines.

After WW1 just about all pre-dreadnoughts were scrapped so the term “Dreadnought” was not required but all the battleships and battlecruisers built were still dreadnought types. To highlight the increase in calibre from 12 inch to 13.5 inch the media or Wills cigarette cards coined the term “Super dreadnought” but this was not an official term or changed the dreadnought features as it was still an all same calibre main armament of more 6 guns or more.

By 1920 the size of ship building had increased from HMS Dreadnought’s 18,100 tons std and 20,750 tons deep load, 10 x 12 inch guns, 527 ft long and 21 knots to 41,700 tons standard and 46,680 tons deep, 8 x 15 inch guns, 860 ft long and 32.1 knots.

By 1941 the largest battleship was 64,000 tons standard and  70,500 tons deep load and was armed with 9 x 18.1 inch guns.

HMS Vanguard the last battleship to be built was larger and faster than HMS Dreadnought but in design was the same, a heavily armoured ship with multiple same calibre guns. The size had increased, the calibre increased, the technology greatly improved but still the same type of ship.

HMS Vanguard conducting gunnery trials off Malta 1947. 

During these trials she managed to straddle the Target first salvo at 23’000 yards, and consistently scored straddles at various ranges while at high speed. 

Had the Target been a Bismarck sized warship its thought she would have made hits from the start and would have kept the target under constant barrage. 

The trials showed that Vanguard was an incredible gunnery platform, very stable in a wide range of conditions. 

HMS Vanguard and USS Midway (CVA-41) at anchor in the Firth of Clyde, during the NATO exercise “Operation Mainbrace”, in September 1952, Sept 1952.

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