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HMS Queen Elizabeth (1913)

Queen Elizabeth in the 1930s
Name: HMS Queen Elizabeth
Namesake: Elizabeth I
Laid down: 21 October 1912
Launched: 16 October 1913
Commissioned: 22 December 1914
Decommissioned: 1948
Struck: 7 July 1948
Identification: Pennant number: 00
Fate: Sold to Arnott Young and scrapped in Dalmuir, Scotland
General characteristics
Class & type: Queen Elizabeth-class battleship
  • As built:
  • 31,100 tons deep
  • 640 ft 10.5 in (195.339 m) (overall)
  • 646 ft 1 in (196.93 m) (with stern-walk fitted)
  • 601 ft 4.5 in (183.299 m) (waterline)
Beam: 90 feet 6 inches

30 feet 6 inches–30 feet 11.5 inches (mean)

33 feet 10 inches–34 feet 2.5 inches (deep)
  • 24 × boilers at 285 psi maximum pressure
  • 4 × direct drive turbines
  • 4 × shafts
  • 75,000 shp at 300 rpm
  • 2 × oil driven 450 kW dynamos
  • 2 × turbine driven 200 Kw dynamos
  • 1 × reciprocating engine driven 200 kW dynamo added shortly after commissioning
Speed: 24 knots (design)
  • 8,600 nmi (16,000 km) at 12.5 knots (23 km/h)
  • 3,900 nmi (7,200 km) at 21 knots (39 km/h)
  • 3,300 tons of oil
  • 100 tons of coal
Complement: 950–1300
Crew: As of 1913: 1124
  • As built armour:
    • Belt: 13 inch tapering to 6 inch forward and 4 inch aft
    • Upper belt: 6 inches
    • Bulkheads: 6 inch and 4 inch forward; 6 in ch and 4 inch aft
    • 15 inch Turrets: 11 inch sides; 13 inch faces; 4.25 inch top
    • Barbettes: 10 to 7 inches above belt; 6 to 4 inches below belt
    • 6 inch guns: 6 inch
    • Conning tower: 11 inch side; 3 inch roof; 4 inch revolving hood
    • Conning tower tube: 6 inches to upper deck; 4 inches below
    • Torpedo conning tower: 6 inch
    • Torpedo conning tower tube: 4 inches to upper deck
  • As built protective plate:
    • Vertical:
      • Torpedo bulkheads: 1 inch + 1 inch
      • Magazine-end bulkheads: 1 inch + 1 inch (extra 1 inch layer added after Battle of Jutland)
      • Funnel uptakes: 1.5 inches
    • Horizontal:
      • Forecastle: 1 inch over 6 inch battery
      • Upperdeck 2 to 1.25 inches from A–Y barbettes
      • Main deck: 1.25 inches at forward and aft ends
      • Middle deck: 1 inch (2 inches after Battle of Jutland)
      • Lower deck: 3 inches at extreme ends; 2.25 inches over steering gear; 1 inch forward

HMS Queen Elizabeth was the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth-class of dreadnought battleships, named in honour of Elizabeth I of England. She saw service in both World Wars. She and the other super-dreadnought battleships were the first of their type to be powered by oil instead of coal.


  • History 1
    • First World War 1.1
    • Inter war period 1.2
    • Second World War 1.3
  • Acclaimed model 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


First World War

She was launched on 16 October 1913 at Portsmouth, Hampshire, and entered service in January 1915 during World War I.

Queen Elizabeth at the Dardanelles 1915

While still undergoing testing in the Mediterranean, the Queen Elizabeth was sent to the Dardanelles for the Allied attempt to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war. The Queen Elizabeth was the only modern battleship to participate, though a number of battlecruisers and pre-dreadnought battleships were also involved. She became the flagship for the preliminary naval operations in the Dardanelles Campaign, leading the first line of British battleships in the battle of 18 March 1915. During the attempted military invasion of the Gallipoli on 25 April, the Queen Elizabeth was the flagship for General Sir Ian Hamilton, commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. However, after the sinking of HMS Goliath by a Turkish destroyer on 12 May, the Queen Elizabeth was immediately withdrawn to a safer position.

She joined Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas's 5th Battle Squadron (consisting of Queen Elizabeth-class battleships) of the Grand Fleet based at Scapa Flow, but she missed the Battle of Jutland due to being in dock for maintenance.

Inter war period

With trunked funnels, circa 1936

Between the wars she was the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet from 1919 to 1924. The future First Sea Lord John H. D. Cunningham served aboard her as Master of the Fleet, in 1922. From 1924 she was the flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet. Following a refit, she rejoined the Mediterranean Fleet in 1927, went to the Atlantic Fleet in 1929, and later that year returned to the Mediterranean, where she served until 1937.[1] During the 1930s she participated in the non-intervention blockade during the Spanish Civil War.

She was rebuilt twice between the world wars; in 1926–1927 bulges were added, the funnels were trunked, four 4 inch guns were added, and a new foretop was installed. In her 1937–1941 rebuild she was fitted with a tower bridge in place of her old bridge; her 6 inch (152 mm) guns were removed and replaced by 20 (10 x 2) 4.5 in (114 mm) guns and several smaller anti-aircraft guns; horizontal armour was added; engines and boilers were replaced; and the elevation of her main battery was increased to 30 degrees. Deck armour was increased to 5 inches over the magazines, 2.5 inches over the machinery, while the new 4.5" guns had between 1 and 2 inches of armour.[2] She also received facilities for aircraft with a launching catapult amidships.[1] New fire control equipment was installed, including the HACS MkIV AA fire control system and the Admiralty Fire Control Table Mk VII for surface fire control of the main armament. This reconstruction was completed in January 1941, when Britain had been at war for over a year.

Second World War

HMS Queen Elizabeth in Alexandria harbour surrounded by anti-torpedo nets

When her reconstruction was complete, Queen Elizabeth rejoined the Mediterranean Fleet, covering the evacuation of Crete in June 1941.[1] She, along with HMS Valiant, was mined and seriously damaged by Italian frogmen (Antonio Marceglia and Spartaco Schergat), in an attack on 19 December 1941 in shallow water in the harbour at Alexandria, Egypt, with the loss of nine men of her complement.

Although badly damaged, with her draught increased to 41.8 feet (12.5m), Queen Elizabeth was not grounded on the harbour bottom,[3][4] her decks were clear and the Italian crews were captured. For this reason, the British maintained the illusion of full operational status, to conceal the weak British position in the Mediterranean during the period the two ships were patched and refloated. However, this concealing action lasted through a few days only, whereas the Valiant went back into service after many months and the Queen Elizabeth after more than a year and half. Following completion of temporary repairs in an Alexandria drydock in June 1942, she steamed through the Suez Canal and around Africa to the Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia in the United States. From September of that year until June 1943, she was comprehensively repaired.

Queen Elizabeth went to the Home Fleet in July 1943, and in December she left for the Eastern Fleet, which she joined in January 1945. She took part in raids on Japanese bases in Indonesia, and was placed in reserve in August 1945.

The vessel was paid off in June and scrapped in July 1948.[1]

Acclaimed model

A model of HMS Queen Elizabeth by renowned marine model maker Norman A. Ough is held by the National Maritime Museum.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Lyon, Hugh; Moore, John E. The Encyclopedia of the World's Warships. London: Salamander Books. pp. 32–33.  
  2. ^ Raven and Roberts, British Battleships of WW2, p247
  3. ^ Burt, R. A. (2012). British Battleships 1919–1945. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781591140528, pp.120-121: "Prior to the attack Queen Elizabeth had a draught of 33ft 5in forward and 32ft 7in aft; after the explosion: draught 41ft 10in forward, 33ft 10in aft." Queen Elizabeth was moored in approximately 48ft (8 fathoms) of water.
  4. ^ Brown, David (2002). The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean: November 1940 - December 1941, Volume II. Routledge, ISBN 0-7146-5205-9, p. 225.
  5. ^ "Queen Elizabeth"Norman Ough's HMS . Royal Museums Greenwich. 

External links

  • Royal Navy History HMS Queen Elizabeth loading cordite and shells for firing.
  • Photo GalleryQueen ElizabethMaritimequest HMS
  • at navalhistoriesQueen ElizabethHMS
  • IWM Interview with Geoffrey Norman, who commanded HMS Queen Elizabeth from 1943 to 1945
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