Revenge Class Battleship - HMS Resolution
The name Resolution
The name Resolution first appeared in the Royal Navy when the HMS Prince Royal launched in 1641 was renamed in 1660 following her another eleven ships have borne the name.
- Was a 50 gun frigate launched as the Tredaghin 1654 and renamed Resolution in 1660, she was destroyed by a Dutch fireship in 1666
- Was a 70 gun third rate ship of the line launched in 1667, she sank in 1703
- was another 70 gun third rater launched in 1705 she was run ashore to avoid capture by the Dutch in 1707.
- Was another 70 gun third rater launched in 1708 and wrecked in 1711
- Was yet another third rader but of 74 guns built in 1758 and lost in the battle of Quiberon Bay in 1759
- Was another 74 gun third rater built in 1770 and scrapped 1813.
- Was perhaps the most famous ship to bear the name, she started out as the lowly North Sea collier Marquis of Granby built in Whitby in 1770, she was bought by the Royal navy and renamed Resolution in 1772, she became Cooks flagship on his voyages of discovery, she was last seen in the Sunda Strait in June 1783 her end is unknown.
- Was a cutter bought in 1779 and wrecked in 1797.
- Was a Royal Sovereigh class pre-Dreadnought battleship, she was built by Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company at Jarrow on the Tyne in 1890-3 and was 411 feet long displacing 15,600 tons and was aremed with four 13.5" and ten 6" guns, she was sold for scrap in 1914 freeing up thename for a new battleship.
- Was the Revenge class battleship of this article.
- Was the Nuclear submarine S22 lead ship of the resolution class of Polaris ballistic missile submarine she was built by Vickers Armstrong at their Barrow yard in 1964-7 she was decommissioned for the final time in October 1994 and laid up for disposal at Rosyth Dockyard, she was 425 feet long and displaced 8,500 tons when submerged.
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 too 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.
Resolution was built at the Palmers shipyard, Jarrow On Tyne, her Yard No being 838, she was laid down on Saturday 29th November 1913, launched on Thursday 14th January 1915 and on completion of her trials commisioned into the 1st Battle Squadron (1BS) of the Grand Fleet on Thursday 7th December 1916.
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 at 235 psi was provided by 18 large tube Yarrow oil fired boilers which were fitted with three oil burners per boiler, 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
Main battery : 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.
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 1924 the two 12 pounder AA guns were replaced with two single 4" HA AA guns and later in 1928 two more 4" were fitted, at this time the two focsle deck 6" casemate guns were removed. In her 1933/4 refit two eight barrelled 2 pounder pompoms were fitted on platforms one either side of the funnel and the four single 4" were replaced with four twin C40 Mk19 HA AA guns also fitted were two quadruple 0.5" machine guns one either side of the control tower. In 1938 four twin 4" C40 Mk16 HA AA guns replaced the four single 4" these new guns had a surface range of 19,700 yards and an AA ceiling of 39.000 feet. In 1941 during her refit in Philladelphia USA two quadruple 2 pounder pompoms, one on B and one on X turret and ten single 20mm oerlikons were fitted , the two useless Quad .5 inch MG's were removed at this time. In 1943 four more 6" casemate guns were removed and ten single 20mm oerlikons added
This undated image courtesy of the MartimeQuest website is quite easy to date, examination of B gun turret reveals the red white and blue national markings of the RN, these were only painted on during the Spanish Civil War 1936-9 so this image is between those dates, also note that she is fitted with the Mk16 twin 4" guns these were fitted in 1938 so this must be 1938-9 as the photo below which was obviously taken at the same time
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 1941 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. During her 1942 refit an extra 2" of High tensile steel was added to the armour deck over the magazine areas
Resolution was completed her sea trials on the 07th December 1916 and commissioned into the 1st battle squadron ( 1BS) of the Grand Fleet that same day, her duties were that of the other capital ships of the Grand Fleet, to blockade sea-bourne trade in and out of Germany, her life was one of routine sweeps of the |North Sea and practice manoeuvres largely based on Scapa Flow. On the 17th November 1917 Resolution was part of the supporting forces during the second battle of the Heligoland Bight but the action between German light forces, minesweepers and the supporting battleships Kaiser and Kaiserin and the British light cruisers Calyso and Caledon supported by the Ist Battle-cruiser squadron, Tiger, Renown, Repulse, Courageous and Glorious did not involve the Resolution. On the 21st November 1918 Resolution was one of the 250 or so British and American warships which accepted the surrender of the German High seas fleet of 80 ships as they arrived off the Firth of Forth were they were inspected for compliance with the disarmament instructions before being interned in Scapa Flow. In April 1919 Resolution transferred to the Atlantic fleet on the dissolution of the Grand Fleet becoming Flagship of the 2BS, but she only remained here for a few months before transferring to the Mediterranean fleet in 1920 were she assumed the role of Flagship of the IBS, here she was at Gallipoli due to traditional trouble flaring up between the Turkish and Greek forces In the period November to December 1923 she was refitted back in the UK at Portsmouth were the two 3” HA AA guns were replaced with 4” Mk5 HA AA guns and a change to her appearance was made by the fitting of a funnel cap to deflect smoke and gasses away from the spotting top. Returning down channel to the Mediterranean she collided with and sank the British submarine L24 in the Portland Bill area shortly before noon on the 10th January 1924, it is though the Submarine was tragically un-aware of the presence of the battleship and started to surface, a lookout on the Resolution spotted a disturbance ahead and a small bump was felt, 43 men died on the L24. After a short inspection period the battleship returned to the Mediterranean fleet were she remained until returning to the UK for a major refit which lasted from December 1926 to Jan 1928, during this refit she was fitted with the anti-torpedo bulges each some seven feet wide which increased her beam to 101’05”, the bulges slight slimmer than the other ships ran from just aft of the forward torpedo tubes to just forward of the after tubes effectively covering the ship from the forward end of A gun to the aft end of Y and ran from the turn of the bilge to just below the 6” gun casemates, the bulges were filled with cement, wood and closed steel crushing tubes to absorb the gas bubble from a torpedo explosion. During this refit the a second pair of Mk5 4” HA AA guns were added and the foretop replaced , on completion she re-commissioned into the Mediterranean fleet . In December 1929 she had a minor refit in which a catapult fitted on the quarter deck, this was not successful and was removed about In December 1930 this is a useful tool in dating the ship in any photo showing her with a catapult. In 1930 0r 1931 she had a further refit in which the starboard forward 4” single HA AA gun was replaced with a twin 4” gun for experimental purposes, a HIACS Mk1 ( High Angle Control Station) was fitted to the foretop reflecting that air attack was now being taken seriously, the torpedo bulges were slightly streamlined in shape and the after torpedo tubes removed In January 1932 Structural alteration were made to the bridge, the useless flying off platforms were removed from the roofs of B and X turrets , in 1933 two of the utterly useless Vickers 0.5” four barrel machine guns were fitted, one either side of the conning tower, there was nothing wrong with the guns themselves, they just lacked hitting power and range. In 1936 during a further refit a catapult was fitted atop X turret for her new aircraft – a Fairy Swordfish of which she carried two until 1941 when they were replaced by Walrus aircraft, on completion of the refit she transferred to the Home Fleet and a training ship. In 1938 Resolution underwent a further refit in which her very poor AA defences were upgraded, all the existing four inch ( three singles and the experimental twin) were landed and replaced with four twin Mk16 4” C45 Dual purpose guns fitted in a Mk19 mounting, this was a good AA gun but lack punch against surface targets, this weapon fired a fixed type round weighing just under 67 pounds with 37 of this being the Semi AP shell, unfortunately they also had a poor barrel life, they were hand operated but had a good rate of fire- 15-20 RPM. In addition two platforms, one either side of the funnel were constructed and an eight-barrel 2 pounder pompom fitted. Her superstructure was again modified, for AA fire control the HIACS Mk was replaced with a Mk2 unit and a second unit installed on the main mast aft. The outbreak of WW2 saw her still in the Home Fleet and her first major role was to transport some of Britain’s gold reserves to Canada and to form part of the escort for a Canadian troop convoy to the UK in December 1939. In early 1940 with the threat of invasion a major worry Resolution and sister-ship Revenge were based at Portland to guard the English channel, in May 1940 she sailed to assist in the Norwegian campaign, assigned to assist the French foreign legion troops in their landing at Herjangsfjord to the North of Narvik On the 16th march 1940 Resolution came under air attack by Ju88 aircraft of the German II/KG30, she was hit by one bomb, British records give it as 250Lb armour piercing bomb however German records give as a 1,000 kg weapon, as it was their bomb I tend to believe the German records on this. It hit the Resolution aft between X and Y turrets and penetrated three decks before exploding on the Royal marines bands-men’s mess-deck killing two men and injuring another 27, although a lot of damage was done the ships staff carried out temporary repairs and Reso remained on station until June covering the allied withdrawal from the rather disastrous counter invasion campaign. Repaired in the UK Resolution then sailed for the Med in late June 1940 joining the force H ships Hood, Valiant and Ark Royal and the cruisers Enterprise, Arethusa and Delhi with the screening destroyers Foxhound, fearless, Forrester, Douglas, escort and Active, on the 03rd July 1940 this force, after the rejection of the internment plans by the Vichy French fleet based at Mers-el-Kebir in North Africa, reluctantly opened fire on the French fleet, hitting and sinking the battleship Bretagne and damaging the battleships Provence and Dunkerque which were moored in the middle of the harbour, the Strasbourg moored alongside managed to sail, without waiting to unmoor she simply parted her moorings in the haste of escape, although pursued by the Hood she fled back to France. On the 8th of July Reso was scheduled to attack the port of Cagliari but as the force was discovered by Italian airplanes the attack was cancelled, here Reso received minor splinter damage by an Italian Bomb dropped by an SM79 aircraft. At the end of July beginning of August 1940 Resolution formed part of the escort for a convoy delivering Hurricane fighters to Malta following this she took part in Operation Menace, the attack on the Vichy French forces in the port of Dakar, West Africa. Here Resolution and Bar ham, accompanied by the heavy cruisers Devonshire and Australia, were to bombard the French ships including the battleship Richelieu, the attack began on the 24th September , the troop landings failed and both battleships failed to silence the shore batteries, the shore batteries however did return fire hitting both battleships forcing them to retire, on the 25th the attack was resumed but the French submarine Beveziers managed to hit the Resolution with a torpedo, the torpedo hit the anti torpedo bulge abreast the port boiler room, damage was substantial with the torpedo bulge failing in it’s job of protecting the main hull, some fifty feet of the bulge was destroyed and thirty feet of the hull also destroyed, flooding was fairly extensive and the large list of 15 degrees which developed meant her guns could no longer fire so she withdrew, as flooding progressed she slowly lost power and eventually had to be towed to Freetown Sierra Leone by the Bar ham so that she could receive temporary repairs to get her home. She arrived at Freetown on the 29th September and after the temporary repairs sailed for Gibraltar, after more temporary repairs she sailed for Portsmouth arriving in March 1941, UK yards being already fully employed repairing war damage she sailed for Philadelphia in April, full repairs were completed by the navy yard in October, during this refit the useless 0.5” machine guns were removed and nine single 20mm AA guns were added, the elevation of A and b turrets was increased to 30 degrees giving these guns a range of 32,000 yards, X and Y however remained at 20 degrees and 23,000 yards. Whilst under repair a large proportion of her crew formed the nuclei of crews for 30 lend lease old four funnel destroyers loaned to the UK. As resolution was readying to sail in October 1941 the battle damaged Warspite arrived for repairs at Philadelphia, a large proportion of her crew transferred to the Resolution, she then sailed back to Plymouth to continue her refit, here following the loss of the Hood an additional 2” of armour was added over the magazine areas and two quadruple 2 pounder pompoms added, one on B and one on X turret roofs, an additional 20mm Oerlikon was also fitted. Her first radar sets were also fitted these were the types 284 and 285 for her main armament fire control, type 273 surface warning and type 79 air warning sets. Repairs completed she sailed from Plymouth of the 24th November 1941 for working up with the Home fleet at Scapa Flow, she completed her working up in January 1942 and sailed with the destination as Singapore, en-route she was part of the escort for convoy WS15 a military convoy to Cape Town however the progress of the Japanese assaults in this area changed her destination to Colombo were she arrived on the 26th march 1942 and joined the eastern fleet as Flagship of the 3rd BS which consisted of the remaining four revenge class ships, Resolution, Ramillies, Revenge and Royal Sovereign with the supporting cruisers Caledon Dragon and the Dutch Heemskeerk and a mixed bag of eight destroyers,. The other half of this fleet under Admiral Sommerville with his flag In Warspite consisted of Warspite, four aircraft carriers – Formidable, Illustrious, Indomitable and Hermes and the two heavy cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire. In late March a Japanese fleet was known to be intending to attack Colombo, this had been well predicted and the majority of the british fleet with drawn to island bases further afield out of reach of the Japanese fleet. A daylight battle between the two fleets would have been a disaster for the British so a hasty set of night exercises were carried out with the plan to catch the Japanese fleet during the night, however the British fleet ran low on fuel and returned to the Maldives to refuel whilst the japans were surprised to find Colombo almost empty although they did find and sink the old aircraft carrier Hermes and the two county class cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire were also similarly caught, the Japanese fleet themselves short of fuel returned to Singapore. It is as well that the two fleets did not meet, Admiral Chuichi Nagumo’s forces included six battle hardened carriers - Akagi, Hiryu, Soryu, Shokaku, Ryujo and Zuikaku plus a battleship supporting force. Although Britain was not able to defeat the Janese fleet at this time the non-destruction of the British fleet was one of the deciding factors in the Japanese not invading Ceylon. After this Sommerville was instructed directly not to engage the Japanese fleet . On the 05th May 1942 Resolution and her sister-ships took part in the invasion of Diego Suarez ( now called Antsirana) on the Northern tip of Madagascar to occupy the old Vichy French naval base after the completion of this she assumed her earlier role of convoy escort on the Indian Ocean routes over the next 18 months or so.
This undated short of Resolution, shows her ( I believe) during her time in the Indian Ocean circa 1942-3, she clearly has a surface search radar set type 273 on her main mast ( installed at the end of 1941) below this can be seen the aft HIACS Mk3 and on the catapult aft is a walrus amphibian aircraft carried post 1941, this image is Courtesy of the MaritimeQuest Website
One of the major convoys she escorted was operation pamphlet were Resolution, Warspite, Revenge and the large light cruiser Mauritius escort a troop convoy including the liners Queen Mary, Ille de France, Nieuw Amsterdam, Queen of Bermuda and Aquitania on it’s return journey to Australia from the Middle East in February 1943. In October 1943 the worn out old battleship was withdrawn from active duties and sailed for the UK arriving at Southampton in November here she was reduced to reserve there being more pressing duties for her crew on more escorts and the like, she was then used as a stokers training ship for new crews and in June 1944 she was transferred to Devonport, here her main armament was removed so that the 15” rifles formed spares for the ships that would be bombarding Normandy – Ramillies and Warspite. In 1948 her work done Resolution was paid off and placed on the disposal list in February, sold to BISCO ( British Iron and Steel Company) she was allocated to Metal Industries of Faslane arriving on the 13th may 1948.
- Jutland – John Campbell,
- Jutland - Geoffrey Bennett,
- Conway’s 1906-21
This article completed by Steve Woodward on the 31st January 2008
Revenge Class Battleships
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