Revenge Class Battleship - HMS Revenge
The name Revenge
The name revenge first appears over 400 years ago in 1577 and was the name of a galleon.
- Was the galleon designed by Master Shipwright Matthew Baker and built in 1577 she was smaller than average at 154 feet long and 4,000 tons but packed a hefty punch with 46 cannon, Sir francis Drakes falgship at the armada, she was caught and captured by the Spanish off the Azores and was on her way to Spain when she waas wreck in a storm.
- Was a 58 gun third rater named Newbury and launched in 1654 at Limehouse, she was renamed Revenge she was scrapped in 1678
- Was a 70 gun third rate built as the swiftsure in 1673 and renamed Revenge in 1696 she was scrapped in 1787.
- Was a 70 gun third rater launched in 1699 at Deptford, she was renamed Buckingham in 1711.
- Was a 74 gun third rate ship of the line built in 1805, she fought alongside Victory at Trafalgar.
- Was a second rater of 91 guns launched in 1859 and renamed Empress in 1890
- Was a Royal Sovereign class battleship built by palmers on the Tyne in 1891-4 she was 411 feet long and of 15,580 tons displacement and armed with four 13.5" and ten 6" guns. She was renamed Redoubtable in 1913 to free up the name revenge for the new battleship of that name and in November she took part under this name in the bombardment of Ostende, she then became an accomodation ship until her scrapping by Wards in 1919.
Courtesy ofSN member Dick Sloan this image shows the Royal Sovereign class battleship Revenge built in 1891-4, the seventh ship of the name
8. Was the Revenge class battleship the subject of this article, when construction started she was originally to be named Renown but this name was assigned to one of the pair of battle-cruisers which came about due to the cancelling of the final three of the Revenge class. 9. Was the Resolution class Nuclear submarine S27 built by Cammel lairds at Birkenhead in 1967-70 she was paid off for the final time in May 1992 for disposal. This was the last use of the famous name.
This image taken in 1915 shows Revenge in her as built condition and is courtesy of MaritimeQuest
In 1913 a programme was started for the construction of a class of five battleships which for some reason are frequently referred to as the Royal Sovereign class, however the correct name for them was the Revenge class as that is how they were referred to in the Admiralty at their time of building. There was an original plan to built eight of the class but in 1914 all future capital ship building was cancelled , Jackie Fisher then the new First Sea Lord managed to get two of the classes construction suspended, these were the Renown and Repulse – the materials for these ships were later to become the battle-cruisers of that name, the eight ship Resistance was cancelled altogether. They followed the Queen Elizabeth class and if ever a design can be called a retrograde step then this is that design, once again costs and the need to keep these down reared it’s unwanted head, the Revenge class were smaller and cheaper than the QE’s and they were to be coal fired thankfully during construction the design was altered and they reverted back to oil firing, original bunker capacity had been planned at 3,000 tons of coal and 1,500 tons of oil, this was changed to 3,400 tons of oil and 150 tons of coal but still gave a rather short range of action. Another strange feature was the single rudder, all other battleships had had twin rudders whilst the revenge class were fitted with a single main rudder on a centre-line skeg aft with a smaller auxiliary rudder immediately forwards of it. The secondary rudder was for use if the main rudder was damaged and it was the only one able to be operated by hand. in use the rudder was proved as ineffective and was later removed. From ahead the class looked similar to the preceding QE class but the secondary battery 6” guns in their casemates were set much further aft, although almost amidships these guns were still much to low in the ship and as such suffered badly in any seaway, and as they could not be closed watertight posed a threat to the ship by allowing flooding of the ship should she be damaged, from beam on the single upright funnel made them easily distinguishable. One good feature of the design was the better disposition of the armoured protection, the middle deck was no longer the armoured deck, instead this was moved up one level to the main deck. They were also steady sea boats which made them good gun platforms however the later fitting of anti torpedo bulges somewhat reduced this by making them prone to roll more.
Revenge was built By Vickers at their Barrow shipyard being laid down on the 22 December 1913 and launched on the 29 May 1915, she finnished her trials and commissioned into 1st Battle Squadron (1BS) of the grand fleet in March 1916. Her original name was to have been Renown but during construction her name eas changed to revenge to free up the name for the renown class battle-cruiser of that name.
As built :- L 624'03" B 88'06" Draft 28'06" inc to 30'06" Disp 28,000 tons standard and 31,000 tons full load
The machinery of the Revenge class was a virtual repeat of that first fitted in the Queen Elizabeth class except that as a cost saving measure the designed power was considerably less. The installation consisted of Parsons reaction type direct drive steam turbines driving quadruple three bladed propellers each 9.5 feet in diameter, and developing 36,000 SHP for 21 knots, overload power being 40,000 SHP at 320 RPM giving 23 knots. There were three engine rooms, the two wing spaces contained the HP turbines which drove the outboard shafts with a small cruising turbine driving through a set of reduction gears , the two low pressure turbines were sited in the centre engine room driving the inboard shafts.
Steam was provided by 18 large tube Babcock and Wilcox oil fired boilers at 235 psi, bunker capacity was 3,400 tons of oil and 160 tons of coal which gave a range of 7,500 n. miles at 12.5 knots and 2,400 n. miles at 21 knots, on her trials she attained 21.9 knots on 42,962 shp.
Eight 15” C42 Mk1 guns in four twin Mk1 turrets, these guns fired an AP shell weighing 1,920 lbs out to approximately 23,500 yards at 20 degrees elevation and using 428 lbs of MD45 propellant in four quarter charges contained in 'Shallon’ silk bags. The 15 inch gun was without a doubt the finest gun ever produced by the UK, it was first test fired for the Queen Elizabeth class in 1912 and it’s last firing was on the Vanguard in 1954, ( Vanguard was fitted with the 15” turrets and guns originally intended for the 1916 Glorious class battlecruisers – it was often said that she was the best battleship but was fitted with her Great Aunts teeth!). . The 15” gun was very powerful but had a very good wear rate and could fire 330 to 340 rounds with a full charge before needing relining, they were constructed of a steel liner inside a steel inner or A tube over this to reinforce the gun 185 miles of thin flat wire was wound at a set tension , over the wire windings a steel jacket was shrunk on, the entire gun was 54 feet long and weighed about a hundred tons and the entire two gun turret a total of 770 tons.
An undated image courtesy of MartimeQuest this sterm shot of Revenge shows her post 1919 - she was fitted with the stern gallery in that year and pre 1931 as she has no pompom platforms
As built the class were fitted with fourteen 6” C45 Mk12 guns all on single Mk9 pedestal mountings, all in casemates with six either side of the upper-deck and one either side of the foc’sle deck above the Number two gun in the lower casemates. This was the same secondary weapon as fitted to the Queen Elizabeth class and a large number of cruisers as their main battery, they suffered from flooding at sea but to a slightly lesser degree that those of the Queen Elizabeth class and in a even a moderate sea were difficult if not impossible to use. They had a very similar construction to that of the main battery with a liner inside an A tube, then wire wound with a shrunk on jacket , the guns were just over 23 feet long and weighed about 7 tons, maximum elevation was 15 degrees giving a range of about 14,000 yards. They fired a 100 lb shell using a charge of 27lbs of cordite contained in a single silk shallon bag. Rate of fire would be about 6 rounds per minute and 130 rounds per gun were carried, this gun could also fire star-shell with just 100 rounds carried on the ship. Designed to combat the larger torpedo boats then appearing the gun was not a success, at the same time aircraft were appearing and the low elevation of these guns was useless for AA fire. One improvement on this class was that from the outset director firing was fitted for the 6” batteries however the directors themselves were not fitted until 1917-18.
AA weapons : as new two 12 pounder (3”) C45 Mk1 guns were fitted, one either side of the boat deck, this was the first purpose built British AA weapon which weighed 20 cwt ( one ton) and was just over 10 feet long, ammunition was of the fixed type with the shell and charge/ cartridge loaded as one unit the original round weighed 12.5 lbs but rose later to 17.5 lbs and used a 2.1 lb charge of cordite. Normal ceiling was 23-24,000 yards and range when used as a surface gun was just under 11,000 yards.
The class were also fitted with four 3 pounder signalling guns
In 1925 the two twelve ponder AA guns were replaced with two single 4" Mk4 HA AA guns and in 1928 the two foclse deck 6" casemate guns were removed and two more 4" HA AA guns fitted. In 1931 she was fitted with a single eight barrelled 2 pounder pompom on a platform on the starboard side of the funnel, she should have received a second gun but shortages in supply prevented this. In 1939 the four single 4" were replaced with four twin 4" C40 Mk16 HA AA guns these had a range of 19,700 yards as a surface gun and had an AA ceiling of 39.000 feet, and at last the second eight barrelled pompom wa fitted on its platform on the port side of the funnel, she was also fitted with a pair of quadruple 0.5" MG's - one either side of the control tower. In 1941 two quadruple 2 ponder pompoms were fitted one on B and one on X turet roof, ten single 20mm Oerlioks were also fitted and the useless 0.5" mG's removed. In 1943 two more 6" casemate guns ( the forward pair on the main deck) were removed.
Taken from the Royal Oak this image is the Revenge, followed by the Royal Sovereign and the Ramillies
The original outfit was four submerged 21" torpedo tubes, two on either n beam, one pair forward of A turret and the other pair aft of Y turret, in 1931 the after pair of tubes were removed and in 1939 the forward pair went.
The Revenge class were armoured very much like the Queen Elizabeth class, reputedly with better distribution but by the fact that the class as a whole was kept out of harms way during WW2 showed they were very much under protected. The main belt, 13” thick, ran from just forward of A barbette to just aft of Y barbette and was just under 13 feet deep and projected 5 feet below the load waterline, forward and aft of the two end barbettes the armour tapered to 6” and finally 4” forwards , above this was a lighter belt 6” thick protecting the 6” gun batteries and running from A to Y barbette. The ends of the armoured belt were closed off with armoured bulkheads 6” thick forwards and 4” inches aft forming the armoured citadel. Torpedo protection was afforded by a a bulkhead covering the magazines and machinery spaces, 1.5” thick over the magazines and 1” elsewhere, this was considered rather poor and the small size and narrow beam of this class made improving this very difficult. Deck armouring was 1” on the foc’sle deck, the next deck the upper or battery deck was 1.5”, the armoured deck below this was just 2” thick, although this was one deck higher than the QE class it was still woefully inadequate against modern long range gunnery with steeply falling shells, the steering gear was in an armoured box of 3 or 4” plate. The barbette armour was 10” when on the beam and outside of other armour this tapered to 4” on the fore and aft line and also reduced to 4” when behind the side armour belts. The Turrets had 13” faces, 11” sides and a 4.5” roof whilst the control tower had 11” sides a 3” roof and a 4” hood, the armoured communications tube down into the ship from the control tower was 6” thick when outside of other armour and 4” inside. At an unknown date during WW2 circa 1942 she had a further 2" of High Tensile steel added to the armour deck over the magazine areas
Revenge firing her 15" guns during target practice probably in the early 1920's
On completion the Revenge commissioned into the 6th Division of the 1st Battle Squadron ( 6D1BS) of the Grand Fleet at the beginning in March 1916, barely fully worked up she was involved in her first action, the Battle of Jutland on the 31st May and O1st June 1916. In the Sixth Division the line up was : Marlborough flying the flag of Vice Admiral, 6D1BS,Sir Cecil Burney, and her C/O was Captain G.P. Ross astern of her was Revenge- Capt. ES Kiddle, Hercules- Captain Clinton-Baker and Agincourt - Capt. H.M. Doughty, there position whilst the Grand Fleet was steaming in six parallel columns of four battleships in each column, was three columns west of Jellicoe in the Iron Duke, in-fact they were the furthest west in the Grand fleet battleships and all steering a course of 133 at 20 knots, Jellicoe’s problem at this point was how far the enemy was away from his ships, he need time to get his ships from cruising formation to line astern. At 1815 Jellicoe gave his signal to deploy into line astern on a course of 043, this crossed the ‘T’ of the advancing High Seas fleet led by Vice Admiral Scheer in the battleship Friederich der Grosse, the scheme was now set for the biggest meeting of battle-fleets in history, this was not what Sheer had planned, he wanted to meet a small portion of the British fleet, isolate and overwhelm it, now he was to meet the full power of the Grand fleet. Returning to our ship the Revenge, she first came to action at 1822 initially her target was the light cruiser Weisbaden which had been disabled by the battle-cruiser Invincible in the earlier class between Beattie’s and Hippers battle-cruisers, this hapless light cruiser was lying power-less directly in the path of the Grand Fleet and as she appeared out of the mist she was taken under fire, so many ships fired at her it is not known who hit her or even sank her, shortly after engaging the light cruiser the leading German battleships appeared hazily through the mist, although presenting a poor target fire was shifted to what was thought to be the lead-ship of the second line, visibility was so poor no hits were claimed, at 1839 she checked fire due to lack of a target in sight. At around 1903 the Revenge re-engaged the Weisbaden with her 6” batteries, the Weisbaden had recently fired a torpedo which had hit the Marlborough ahead of Revenge. At 1911 revenge sighted the German battle-cruiser Derfflinger and opened fire at 11,000 yards, her first salvo was over and she reduced the range by 800 yards and her second salvo straddled, out of sixteen salvoes of APC ( Armour Piercing Capped) shell she scored five hits on the Derfflinger before she disappeared in the smoke and mist at 1919 she briefly fired on the Von der Tann and scored a single hit, this was on a ventilator shaft near to the contol tower, the shaft and nearby superstructure were badly damage and the control tower holed by splinters. Around 1925 Revenge opened fire with her 6” secondary batteries of the German 6th and 9th destroyer flotillas who were making a torpedo attack on the British battle-fleet under to smoke to enable the German battle-fleet to disengage as they were now being over-whelmed by Heavy fire from the British battleships. At 1935 Revenge made an emergency turn to port to avoid two torpedoes fired by the 6th and 9th DF’s and 1943 made another turn to port to avoid two more torpedoes, although when clear of the of the destroyers torpedoes the turn away from their opponents brilliant withdrawal manoeuvre had left the Grand Fleet to far away from the retreat High Seas Fleet to regain contact before dark thus effectively ending the major part of the battle. Late in the evening a German zeppelin L11 was sighted and engaed with the 12 pounder (3”) AA guns.
Of the five hits made by the Revenge on the Derfflinger the first at 1915 hit the after main turret , the turret trained 37 degrees abaft the port beam was slammed round to the limit of its stops on the port side, the hit on the join of the sloping sides of the turret and the roof plate, blowing a 15” hole into the turret side and a 26 by 18” hole in the roof plate, the shell entered the turret and exploded on the right gun upper cartridge hoist igniting a fore and main charge, the flash from this fire penetrated down into the handling chamber and ignited another set of charges on the lower cartridge hoist, from here the flash travelled down the turret trunk to the magazine handling room and ignited a main and a fore charge in both of the main cartridge hoists, additionally seven main and thirteen fore charges ready for loading into the main cages were also ignited , the flames and the gas from this ammunition fire killed 74 of the 75 man crew of the turret. The next hit came at 1916 struck the aft super-firing turrets barbette piercing the 101/4” armour it exploded on the gun turntable again a full charge on the lower hoists and two full charges on the upper hoists were ignited with the flash spreading down the turret trunk to the magazine handling room igniting two sets of charges in the lower hoists and also seven full charges ready for the hoists, this time 6 men from the 75 man turret crew survived, gas from this hit spread to all four main engine rooms, both dynamo rooms and other spaces but use of gas masks enabled the crew to remain on station, this was the only time the poorly designed shells of a British ship actually penetrated heavy armour and exploded inside the target. From both of the above it can be seen that too many charges were out of the magazines and in the loading trains of the guns, if this had been a British ship then the very different nature of the charges would have resulted in the loss of the ship from a magazine explosion. The next hit from the Revenge was aft were the shell burst before piercing the hull some 50 feet forwards of the stern, the port longitudinal bulkhead was hold and a large amount of damage was caused to cabins in the area. The next hit was 10 feet further forwards hitting just below the quarter deck it exploded inside blasting holes 16 feet in diameter in both the quarter and main decks and severely damaging the port longitudinal bulkhead, the shell then pierced three longitudinal bulkheads a transverse water-tight, then passed through ten light cabin bulkheads , the starboard 5/8” hull plating before coming to a halt on the 4” armoured belt forcing it out 11/2 inches. The sixth and final hit from the Revenge passed through the upper section of the fore funnel without exploding.
Just before 0200 as the British fleet pursued the German ships through the night Marlborough’s bulkheads began to leak due to the torpedo damage received earlier forcing her to reduce speed, Vice Admiral Burney transferred to the Revenge using the destroyer Fearless, due to the restricted speed of the Marlborough the 6D1BS were now 45 miles behind the main fleet, once the chase had been given up the three ships of Burney’s division turned for home and finally joined up with the main fleet at 1930 on the 01st June. The Revenge fired a total of 102 rounds of 15” shell, all APC, and 87 rounds of 6”, she also fired a single 21” torpedo during the battle without hitting anything.
Post Jutland she performed manoeuvres and sweeps of the North Sea but the German fleet never again put to sea in force, in November 1916 Revenge became the flagship of Admiral Madden – the second in command of the Grand Fleet,.
In 1917 she was refitted at an unknown port and on the 05th November 1918 she was at anchor in the Firth of Forth when the Campania, an auxiliary sea-plane carrier dragged her anchor and collided with the bows of the Revenge, Revenge received moderate damage repaired at Rosyth but the Campania sank In 1919 Revenge had a stern-walk added for her role as flagship, she was the only one of her class so fitted and thus easily identified.
In 1920 she was sent to the Mediterranean to Ismid off Turkey in June along with her sister-ship Ramillies during the disturbance between Greece and Turkey, along with the 1BS they guarded British interests in the area, in August she returned to the Atlantic fleet.
Further instability in the area in 1922 resulted Revenge and three of her sisters, Ramillies, Resolution and Royal Sovereign returning to the Med when King Constantine of Greece abdicated, Revenge was in the Dardanelles area before returning to the Atlantic fleet in March 1923
On the 21st. January 1925 during a live firing exercise the old Orion class battleship battle-ship Monarch, Decommissioned under the 1922 Washington treaty was used as a target, first by a wave of bombers who scored a few hits, then by four C class cruisers, then by V&W class destroyers, next to have a go were the battle-cruisers Hood and Repulse, finally the five Revenge class ships had their turn, revenge was the last ship to fire at the tortured old hull of the Monarch which then sank in the Hurd deep off Portsmouth. Most of her time in the Atlantic fleet was spent as fleet flagship, she was relieved of this position by the new and much more powerful battleship Nelson in October of 1927 and went into a major refit at Plymouth, paying off in early January 1928, in this the second pair of 3” HA AA guns were replaced by 4” guns and the two 6” guns were removed from the foc’sle deck and a High Angle Control Station Mk1 ( HIACS1) was fitted on the top of the foremast . this would control the AA batteries in the event of an air attack, the refit was completed in March 1929 when she re-commissioned into the Med fleet.
In May to November 1931 she returned to Plymouth of a minor refit and docking in this she received the gun platforms either side of the funnel for the new eight-barreled 2 pounder pompom’s however shortages in the supply of these guns meant she received only the starboard gun, the port platform remained empty and the aircraft platform on X gun was removed and in 1933 she lost the one on B gun as well, Revenge was the only ship of her class not to receive a catapult so this marked the end of onboard aircraft for her., the forward torpedo tubes were removed at this time. On the 16th July 1935 King George V celebrated his silver jubilee and revenge was one of the 160 warships gathered at Spithead for a fleet review, in 1939 she took part in another review for KGVI
In 1939 her four single 4” guns were replaced with four twin Mk9 guns and the HIACS1 was replaced with a Mk3 system, a second HIACS3 was fitted aft, she also received the second 2 pounder pompom and two four barrel 0.5” Vickers MG’s – one either side of the control tower and to relieve smoke problems on the foremast a funnel cap was fitted, the aft set of submerged tubes were removed at this time. At the start of WW2 although now really showing their age and with their top speed down to something like 19 knots the revenge class still had a fairly major role to play, Revenge and Resolution became part of the escort forces for North Atlantic convoys and with the threat of invasion and the possibility Britain took steps to safeguard it’s gold reserves, in October 1939 Revenge made a trip to Canada carrying some of these reserves. The presence of the two elderly battleships within the convoys ( they steamed in the middle of the convoys) was to deter any German surface raiders from attacking and this strategy worked on a number of occasions. In 1940 revenge whilst entering Halifax after an Atlantic convoy crossing collided with and sank the small escort trawler HMCS Ypres, a battle class ship just 130 feet long and displacing just over 300 tons, after this debacle every time the old battleship entered Halifax other ships would stage mock panic abandon ship drills. In mid 1940 Revenge transferred to the Plymouth command due to the threat of invasion and in august or September bombarded Cherbourg with 120 rounds of 15” HE from nine miles out at sea. She then took part in the hunt for the Bismarck, it is probably fortunate for the Revenge that the two did not meet, following this she was transferred to the Eastern Fleet again on convoy escort duties , then worn out and in very poor condition she returned to the UK in October 1943 and was placed in reserve as a stokers training ship, in November 1943 she made one final passage as a commissioned warship, she took Churchill to Malta. On her return in January 1944 she was in reserve in Portsmouth, not even the need for bombardment ships in Normandy saved her, instead her 15” guns were removed in May 1944 as spares for the ships taking part. In December 1944 she became part of HMS Imperiuse as a training ship and remained here until placed on the disposal list on the 08th March 1948 when she was handed over to BISCO ( British Iron and Steel Company) , she was allocated to T.W. Ward and Company and arrived for breaking at Inverkeithing on the 05th September 1948. One relic of this old ship still survives and is still in use – the 1950’s built Jodrell Bank large radio telescope, the rack and pinion drive on this is part of the drive for one of Revenges 15” gun turrets.
Revenges formast topples forwards in the scrapyard - image courtesy of SN member Dick Sloan
- Jutland – John Campbell,
- Jutland - Geoffrey Bennett,
- Conway’s 1906-21
- Wikipedia for the list of previous ships
- MartimeQuest website for the use of the two images so marked
Article completed 13th January 2008 by steve Woodward
Revenge Class Battleships
|Revenge Class Battleships|
|Revenge Class Battleship - HMS Ramillies||Revenge Class Battleship - HMS Resolution||Revenge Class Battleship - HMS Revenge||Revenge Class Battleship - HMS Royal Oak||Revenge Class Battleship - HMS Royal Sovereign|