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4,004 Posts
  • 1 The name Agincourt
  • 2 Building data
  • 3 Basic Details
  • 4 Machinery
  • 5 Armament
  • 6 Torpedo armament
  • 7 Armour Protection
  • 8 Service History
  • 9 Bibliography
The name Agincourt[edit]

The name stems from the battle fought on the 25th October 1415 at Agincourt in Northern France during the Hundred years war between the armies of King Henry V of England and King Charles VI of France.The name has been used six times within the Royal Navy, the name first appeared in the fleet lists in the late 18th century.

  1. Was a third rate frigate bought from the East India company in 1796 originally named Earl Talbot, she was decommissioned in 1809 becoming a prison ship and scrapped in 1814
  2. Was another 3rd rate ship of the line built in 1816-8
  3. Was an Iron clad frigate of the three ship strong Minotaur class, built at Birkenhead between 1861 and 1867 she was 672 feet long and of nearly 11,000 tons displacement she was a powerful ship for her time being armed with four 9" and twenty-four 7" muzzle loading guns powered by a Maudsley steam engine she could make nearly 15 knots but retaine her full ship rig. After a chequered career she ended up first at Shotley as the Ganges2 in 1905 before becoming a coal hulk on the Thames at Sheerness and was only scrapped in 1960
  4. Was the was the Dreadnought battleship of this article.
  5. was to have been a battle-cruiser based on the Queen Elizabeth class battleships however she was cancelled in 1914 before work started
  6. Was The battle class destroyer - follow this link for details on this ship which was built in 1945 and scrapped in 1974

Vehicle Naval ship Warship Ship Heavy cruiser
This image courtesy of the website MatimeQuest shows Agincourt in her as built condition, it was most likely taken during her trials, when she was taken over by the RN the huge flying bridge structure between the funnels over the top of the Wednesday and Thursday gun turrest was removed - it could have collapsed in battle obstructing the turrets

Building data[edit]

Agincourt was a single ship of class but started out life not as a Royal Navy vessel, instead she was born out of the rivalries of three South American navies, Argentina, brazil and Chile, Argentina had built the sister-ships Moreno and Rivadavia ordered in 1920 these ships each had twelve 12" guns, to go one better and to have the world's most powerful battleship Brazil ordered from Armstrong's on the Tyne a battleship with several gun options including eight 16" and twelve 12" guns, however a change in Government resulted in a revised order for a ship carrying an un-heard of fourteen 12" guns in a never before, and never since. Seven gun turrets. Named Rio de Janiero she was laid down on the 14th September 1911 at Armstrong's Elswick Works on the River Tyne, her chief designer being Mr Eustace Tennyson D'Eyncourt. She was launched on the 22nd January 1913.Whist under construction Brazil underwent a change in fortunes and could no longer afford this expensive vessel so she was sold to the Turkish navy in January 1914 and renamed the Sultan Osman 1, her sale price being £2.75 million.She was completed in July and had undergone her sea trials and was in the process of being dry-docked in Portsmouth prior to delivery when the second war broke out.First Sea Lord Winston Churchill gave the order to suspend the delivery of the ship until the Turkish position on the war became clear . Turkey showed that she was amenable to the German position so the ship was seized for the use of the Royal Navy, if Turkey had favoured the German position before this did nothing for the British argument, however the Royal navy had just obtained a brand new battleship for free, even if she had three owners in a single year.Initially the ship was not suitable for inclusion in the RN, she lacked the degree of subdivision required of an RN built ship and her armour was also not up to standard and although taken in hand and partially rebuilt she was not well regarded, she was however the longest battleship in the RN at that time, Agincourts nickname in the RN was the Gin Palace.

Warship Battleship Naval ship Armored cruiser Vehicle
This freely available image shows Agincourt in her as built condition prior to the removal of the boat deck flying bridge over Wednesday and Thursday turrets, the picture is probably taken during her August 1914 trials.

Basic Details[edit]

L 671'06" B 89'00" Draft 29'10" max, Displacement 27,500 tons standard and 30,250 tons full load, crew 1,115 men.


Quadruple propellers driven by Parsons direct drive steam turbines developing 34,000 SHP gave her a speed of 22 knots, steam was supplied by 22 Babcock and Wilcox large tube coal fired boilers, the boilers were also equipped with oil sprayers to raise steam quickly and attain higher speeds at full load, on trials and on overload she attained 22.42 knots on 40,129 SHP.Her bunker capacity was 3,200 tons of coal and 620 tons of oil giving her a range of 4,500 miles at 10 knots.


Main battery

Fourteen 12" C45 Mk8 Elswick 'W' pattern guns in seven twin turrets, of wire wound construction they were similar to but not inter-changeable with other 12 inch guns in the Royal Navy, they were also the last 12" guns fitted to a RN ship.They fired an identical shell however, the heaviest being the armour piercing ( AP) shell weighing 859lbs using a charge of cordite weighing approximately 300lbs, this gave them a range of just over 20,000 yards, rate of fire was just over 1 round per minute and about 80 rounds per gun was carried aboard.A unique feature of the turrets on the Agincourt was their naming, traditionally in the RN they are given letters of the alphabet but on the Agincourt they were named after days of the week with Monday being the forward most turret, another unusual feature of the Agincourt was the single lever operation for loading the guns, rather than the more usual lever for each operation

Vehicle Line art Watercraft Naval architecture Light cruiser
This freely available image is the genral arrangement of the Agincourt, the seven centre-line gun turrest show up very well, the image is of her as she was built before the 1916 removal of her main mast.

Secondary battery

Twenty 6" C50 Mk3 guns all in casemate mounts , once again a non standard weapon specifically built for the Rio de Janiero, these fired a 100 lb shell using approximately 25 lbs of cordite which gave a range of just under 15,000 yards , rate of fire was 6 rounds per minute with about 150 rounds per gun being carried.Additionally she carried ten 3"( 12 pounder) C45 QF guns and a further two 3"twelve pounder AA guns.

Torpedo armament[edit]

As was usual for the day Agincourt was fitted with three submerged type 21" torpedo tubes, one on each beam and one aft.

Armour Protection[edit]

Agincourt was not particularly well armoured , the main belt just 9" thick tapered at it's ends and lower edges to 4", the upper belt was 6" thick, the enclosing armoured bulkheads were 8" forwards and just 4" aft. The barbettes were 9" thick on the beam were outside of other armour and 3" fore and aft and inside of other armour protection.The turret faces were 12" thick and sides 8", the conning tower was 12" thick but the decks were very poor at just 2.5" over the magazines and machinery spaces and 1" elsewhere.

Warship Vehicle Naval ship Boat Armored cruiser
This freely available image shows Agincourt of manouevres with the Grand fleet in 1918, she is following HMS Erin, the other battleship intended for the Turks but taken over by the RN, here you can see that the main mast has been removed and it's topmast stepped on the midships derrick post, making for a better looking profile

Service History[edit]

As soon as she was requisitioned Agincourt was commissioned in the Royal navy becoming part of the 4th Battle Squadron (4BS) of Grand Fleet on the 25th August 1914, in 1915 she joined the 6th Division of the 1st Battle Squadron (1BS) were she remained for most of the war. In 1916 during her first major refit the main mast aft, a tripod type, was removed and the topmast section stepped on the derrick post situated amidships between the two funnels, this modification assists in dating any pictures of the ship.

Vehicle Naval ship Warship Battleship Watercraft
This image courtesy of the MartimeQuest website shows Agincourt late in her operational life in late 1918, her bridge structure has been modified and her search-lights are in the the towers built in 1918 refit

On the 31st may 1916 she took part in the battle of Jutland as part of the 6D1BS, the division was led by the Marlborough - Captain G.P. Ross and flying the flag of Vice Admiral Sir Cecil Burney who was Vice admiral of the 1BS, flowing her was the Revenge -Capt. ES Kiddle, the Hercules - Captain Clinton-Baker and finally the Agincourt - Capt. HM Doughty.Agincourt's first action came quite late, due to being at the rear of her division smoke had obscured her view of events but at 1824 she opened on and is thought to have hit an unknown battle-cruiser, this action was brief before the range was once again obscured by smoke from ships on her own side, the range given as 10,000 yards indicates she fired at not a battle-cruiser but the hapless German light cruiser Weisbaden which had been disabled earlier by the battle-cruiser Invincible and as the British battle-fleet steamed past she was taken under fire in turn by the battleships, so many ships fired at the Weisbaden it is impossible to say who hit her.At 1832 the same ship appeared again to the Agincourt and she again fired a couple of salvoes before losing the target in the smoke.At 1906 the Agincourt reported four battleships appearing out of the mist at 11,000 yards she opened fire immediately on the clearest target and at 1908 altered course to starboard to avoid a torpedo from either the attacking German destroyers or the Weisbaden, the source is unknown, but it was a near miss astern.The 'Gin Palace' now disproved her detractors, it was always said that she capsize or suffer serious damage if she fired all her guns but she now fired full fourteen gun broadsides, viewed from nearby ships Agincourt completely disappeared in the muzzle flash and cordite smoke as she fired each broadside only to reappear undamaged ( apart from a few sheared rivets) moments later. She continued firing, although with a few interruptions due to smoke, until 1926 and claimed straddles and four hits , these were probably one on the Markgraf at 1914 and two certain hits on the Kaiser at 1923 and 1924, she fired TNT filled CPC ( common Percussion capped) shell throughout.At 1916 the German destroyers of the 6th and 9th Flotillas counter attacked with torpedoes whilst laying smoke to allow the now beleaguered Highs Seas Fleet to escape certain destruction at the hands of Jellicoe's Grand Fleet Agincourt opened fire with her 6" batteries at 1918 firing over 100 rounds at the destroyers, hits are unknown, at about 1835 she again altered course to avoid a torpedo this time it passed close ahead.The 1914 hit on the Margraf believed to have come from the Agincourt hit between the two forward gun turrets on the 8" upper armour belt , this shell broke up on the armour and apart from some minor distortion of the armour and nearby main deck plating little damage was done. Of the two hits on the Kaiser the first at 1923 burst short of the ship as it hit the water and exploded, little damage other than splinter damage was incurred. The second at 1926 hit and pierced the 1" upper-deck just forward of the No7 5.9" gun making a hole in the deck some 8 feet by 3 feet, this shell failed to explode it's TNT filling burning instead in the hammock stowage, the main damage was caused to the telephone exchange by water from the fire-fighting attempts.The attack by the German destroyers and the turn away by the High Seas Fleet was effectively the end of the battle and the German Fleet was now steaming as fast as possible to the south back to the Horns Reff passage to return to base, their objective had been to destroy part of the Grand Fleet, in this case Beattie's battle-cruisers not engage the whole Grand Fleet.During the course of the battle Agincourt fired a total of 144 rounds of 12" shell all being TNT filled CPC, she also fired 11 rounds of 6" shell, the second highest of any RN ship, Tiger fired the most at 135 rounds.

Following Jutland Agincourt stayed with the 1BS on manoeuvres and sweeps of the North sea but never went to action stations again, in 1918 she underwent another refit with her bridge being enlarged and her searchlights reposition around the after funnel, following this refit she joined the 2BS and was paid off into reserve in 1919 and placed on the disposal list, however she escaped scrapping and in 1921 she was re-commissioned for experimental work in 1921.Following this all armament except the forward two turrets, Monday and Tuesday, were removed and she was converted into a mobile depot ship, extra fuel and ammunition storage was worked into the ship, before the work was completed it was cancelled and a rumoured resale to Brazil fell through and in 1922 went back into reserve, the naval arms limitation treaty of 1922 now sealed her fate and she was sold for scrap on the 19th December and scrapped at Rosyth over 1924-5.


Bibliography: IWM,

  1. Jutland - John Campbell,
  2. Jutland - Geoffrey Bennett,
  3. Conway's 1906-21

Article completed 02nd February 2008 by Steve Woodward
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