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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
  • 1 The name Indefatigable
  • 2 Class information
  • 3 Building data
  • 4 Basic Details
  • 5 Machinery
  • 6 Armament
  • 7 Torpedo armament
  • 8 Armour Protection
  • 9 Service History
  • 10 Bibliography
The name Indefatigable[edit]

Indefatigable is a well used name in the Royal navy having been used for seven ships, the first use being for an Ardent class frigate in 1781

  1. An Ardent class frigate built at the Hampshire yard of Henry Adams at Bucklers Hard on the Beaulieu River, she was laid down in 1781 and launched in 1784, originally intended to be a Third rate Ship of the line with 64 guns but when launched she was already obsolescent so one of her two decks was cut down to convert her into a Razee, a type of armed frigate to carry 44 guns, she was finally commissioned in 1794 or 5 some 160 feet long on the gun deck and of approximately 1,400 tons, she was scrapped in Chatham in 1816.
  2. The second use of the name was for a purchased in merchant ship in 1804 she was only in use for one year.
  3. Was a 50 gun Fourth Rate Ship of the line of 50 guns, built 1848-51 she was used as a training ship in the mid 1860's and sold on in 1914
  4. Was a member of the 21 strong class of Apollo second class cruisers, she was built by the London & Glasgow Engineering & Iron Shipbuilding Co Ltd at Govan on the Clyde between 1890 and 1892 L 314' B 43'08" Dr 18'06" and displacing 3,600 tons, armed with Two 6", six 4.7", eight 6 Pounder, one 3 pounder and four machine guns, the class were also fitted with four above water torpedo tubes she was twin screw ship powered by a pair of two cylinder compound steam engines fed by 3 double ended and two single ended boilers and developed 7,000 ihp on normal draught for 17.5 knots, forced draught increased this to 9,000 ihp and 20 knots, she carried 535 tons of coal which gave her a range of 8,000 miles at 10 knots, and had a crew of 273 men. She was built of steel but sheathed with teak and copper for service in the tropics, she was scrapped or sold in 1913.
  5. Was the Indefatigable class battle-cruiser of this article.
  6. Was the Leander class second class cruiser renamed Indefatigable, a training ship, in 1913- the second to carry the name as a training ship, she was renamed again in 1943 as the Carrick II she served as a training ship throughout WW2. She was built by Napiers of Glasgow from 1880 to 1886 L 315' B 46' D 20'06" Disp. 4,300 tons full load, powered by twin screws driven by a pair of two cylinder Horizontal direct acting compound steam engines developing 5,500 IHP from 12 cylindrical boilers she could make 16.5 knots and her bunkers of 1,016 tons of coal gave her a prodigious range of 11,000 miles at 10 knots, she was also rigged as a barquentine. She carried ten 6" , and sixteen machine guns and was also fitted with four 14" above water torpedo tubes . As a training ship she was stationed in the Mersey off rock Ferry from the 15th January 1914, in WW1 the Admiralty requisitioned her and used her as a Q ship in the war against U-boats following this service she was returned as a training ship until 1941 when she was sold for scrap at Wards of Preston, but the Admiralty had a change of mind and bought her back again and converted her into an accommodation Hulk to be moored off Gourock, she was renamed Carrick II ( not to be confused with Carrick the former City of Adelaide). In 1946 the old ship finally came to the end of her life she was sold back to Wards of Preston and arrived on the 24th January 1947 to be scrapped after a service life of 61 years.
  7. The final Indefatigable was an aircraft carrier of the Implacable class built by John Browns on the Clyde 1939 to 1944, 766 feet long and displacing 32,600 tons full load she had a wide and varied career, she was also the first British carrier to be hit by a Kamikaze suicide attack on the 01st April 1945 but having an armoured flight deck saved the ship and she was back in action in just 5 hours but she had 14 men killed. She became a training ship in 1950 and was scrapped in 1956
Class information[edit]

The indefatigable class of three battle-cruisers - Indefatigable, Australia and New Zealand were intended to be a battle-cruiser variant of the single ship of class HMS Neptune, a battleship, however financial constraints dictated that costs were kept down and instead the class was a virtual repeat of the previous Invincible class but some 23 feet longer to allow the two mid-ships turrets ( P and Q) to be placed on the centre line thus giving them better arcs of fire and removing the problems of cross-deck firing associated with the Invincible class. The armour scheme of the Indefatigable class was virtually identical to the Invincible class apart from the enclosing bulkheads of the citadel, inadequate in the Invincible's, was actually thinner in the Indefatigable's. Much has been written about the poor comparison between the Armour of the British battle-cruisers and their German Counter-parts but it should be remembered that the role for the battle-cruiser was not to engage similar ships, in the days before radar and aerial scouting fleets sent ahead fast scouting cruisers, these would make contact with an enemies ships and then steam back at high speed to report to the slower heavy ships in the main fleet. Battle-cruisers were intended to be as fast, if not faster , than these scouting cruisers and to be armed with heavy long range guns, they would then sink these scouting cruisers thus depriving an enemy of its 'eyes'. For this role the British designed battle-cruisers were ideally suited unfortunately it was all to easy for an Admiral to look at these ships and include their eight heavy guns into the main battle-line, this was a major error, once the battle-cruisers were kept in the main gun line they became a target for ships similarly armed and they were just not protected against this sort of battle and the end results were inevitable, three Invincible, Indefatigable and Queen Mary were to be lost during the Battle Of Jutland., exposed to fire against which they had no armoured defence.Although similar in many ways the Invincible and Indefatigable classes were easy to tell apart, the Invincible two mid-ships turret s were fitted en-echelon and were also together between the second and third funnels whilst the Indefatigable class had the two mid-ships turrets separated by the middle funnel.


This undated image shows Indefatigable in her as built condition - note that she retains her anti-torpedo nets which were removed circa 1914 - image courtesy of website MaritimeQuest

Building data[edit]

Indefatigable was built by Devonport Royal Dockyard being laid down on the 23rd. February 1909 and launched on the 28th October 1909, she commissioned in April 1911. Her building costs were £1,520,591.

Basic Details[edit]

Length 590'00" Beam 80'00" Draft 26'06" Displacement 18,470 tons standard and 22,080 tons full load


Quadruple propellers were driven by Parsons direct drive steam turbines in a virtually identical layout to that of the Invincible class battle-cruisers , the turbines consisted of a high pressure ahead and astern turbine on the outboard shafts and a low pressure ahead and astern on the two inboard shafts, the inboard shafts also incorporated an ahead cruising turbine for fuel economy, the turbines developed a total of 43,000 shp giving a speed of 25 knots, on her trials on overload she attained 55,140 shp which gave her a speed of 26.89 knots.Steam was supplied from a total of 32 Babcock and Wilcox coal fired boilers, the boilers were also fitted with oil sprayers to facilitate raising steam quickly and to provide maximum power when required, the bunker capacity of 3,340 tons of coal and a 870 tons of oil gave them a range of 6,330 miles at 10 knots. The class was fitted with twin rudders which made them quite manoeuvrable with a small tactical diameter.


Main battery

Eight 12" C45 Mk10 guns in four twin turrets with one turret - A - on the foc'sle deck, Y was right aft and two turrets were amidships P forward of the No2 funnel and Q aft , although P and Q turrets still had restricted arcs of fire ahead and astern they were in a better position than the echelon arrangement in the previous Invincible class and could fire an eight-gun broadside without risking blast damage to the ship,.Construction of the gun barrels was of wire winding of several miles of thin flat wire onto a steel inner tube, this was then covered with a steel jacket, bore length was 45 calibre's or 540 inches and the guns were fitted with an improved mechanical type breech, each gun weighed approximately 57 tons with the two gun turret weighing a total of 450-500 tons, although of a calibre favoured by the Admiralty these guns were not a good weapon at long range as the shell tended to wobble in flight giving poor accuracy. The guns had a range of 16,500 yards at an elevation of 13.5 degrees and fired a shell weighing 850 to 859lbs using a propellant charge of 258lbs. of Cordite MD45 ( MD standing for Cordite Modified - now obsolescent and comprised 65% guncotton and 30% nitro-glycerine and 5% Vaseline) the number indicates this is a rod shaped propellant i.e. it is in long rods not granular. The charges were in four silk bags, the silk was a special type called 'Shallon' much coarser than normal silk this ensured that it burnt completely in the barrel so as to leave no residue that might ignite a following charge. The shell life of the guns was reasonable at 220 rounds per gun (RPG) with on board stowage being 800 rounds or 80 RPG. Rate of firing was two rounds per minute on gun-layers tests but in battle it was nearer one round per minute Penetration was given as 10.5" of armour plate at a range of 10,000 yards.

Idefarm.jpg This image scanned from a very old manual shows the layout of the main and secondary weapons of the Indefatigable class battle-cruisers. Note that the two midships (P and Q) turrets are offset, this was to keep the additional length of the ship to a minimun from the original Invincible design. The proximity of the guns to the ships side and thus lack of protection from interior structures entailed a patch of armour having to be added to the side of each respective side of the ship in the area of the vulnerable turret. The side elevation shows the outline of the armour scheme

Secondary battery

Sixteen single 4" C50 Mk7 guns were fitted to this class of ship, thankfully none were installed on the main turret roofs a place that was untenable when the main armament was in action instead they were all in either casemates open mounts around the deck houses.


Although this image is dated 1912 I feel it is later - perhaps 1916 just before her loss as it shows her without her anti-torpedo nets which were removed on a fleet wide basis in 1914 and also with a large range finder on top of the foretop which was fitted later in her life - image is courtesy of the martimeQuest website

Torpedo armament[edit]

The class were originally fitted with three 18" submerged torpedo tubes, one aft and one on either beam, about 1915 the stern tube was removed from all three of the ships.

Armour Protection[edit]

As already mentioned above the armour scheme of these ships was not great nor was it intended to be, fighting a heavily armed opponent was not originally intended, the class was particularly weakly defended against long-range plunging shell-fire. The main belt consisted of a shallow belt just 6" thick with a 4" upper belt, closing the armoured citadel off were two armoured bulkheads which were just 4" thick, The decks over the magazines and machinery spaces were just 2.5" thick and reduced to an inch elsewhere, the barbettes protecting the turret machinery and shell hoists were a little better at 7" were they were outside of other armour but reduced to just 3" inside of other armour. The main turret faces were 10" thick with 6" side and back plates and the control tower armour was 2.75" thick.


This undated image of Indefatigable shows her with anti-torpedo nets and booms so is pre 1914, also note the large square patch of armour on the hull alongside P turret P is the forward of the two centre turrets and is off-set to port so needed extra armour protection in that area, there is a coreesponding patch on the starboard side in way-of Q turret - which is just aft of the centre funnel - image courtesy of the MaritimeQuest website

Service History[edit]

Indefatigable commissioned in February 1911 into the First Cruiser Squadron which became the First Battle Cruiser Squadron (1BCS) in January 1913, she remained here until transferred to the 2BCS serving in the Mediterranean in December 1913. In August 1914 she was part of the British fleets attempt to intercept the German Mittelmeer Division comprising the battle-cruiser Goeben and light cruiser Breslau in their passage through the Mediterranean to Turkey, the German ships eluded the british fleet and on arrival in Constantinople were transferred to the Turkish navy - although they retained German crews - becoming the battle- cruiser TCG Yavuz Sultan Selim, later Yavuz and the cruiser the Midilli were they remained a thorn in the british side until the Midilli was sunk by a mine in 1918, Yavuz however remained in service with the Turks until 1973 when she was scrapped.In late October / early November 1914 she bombarded the Turks on Cape Helles at the mouth of the Dardanelles passage during the troop landings of the Gallipoli campaign. On the 03rd October 1914 she became the Flagship for the campaign flying the flag of Admiral Cardin. In early 1915 she eas relieved by HMS Inflexible, another battle-cruiser, and left the Dardanelles area for a refit in Malta following which she sailed for home waters joining the 2BCS of the Grand Fleet at Scapa flow In February 1915. Her life in the 2BCS was that of any other capital ship in the Grand Fleet in war, she carried out routine sweeps and manoeuvres in the North sea .On the 31st May 1916 she was to take part in the Battle of Jutland as part of the 2BCS, as Australia had been damaged and was under repair this was a two ship squadron with New Zealand in the lead as flagship under Rear Admiral W.C. Packenham and commanded by Captain John FE. Green followed by the Indefatigable under Captain Charles F Sowerby. The 2BCS were attached to Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty in the Lion with the 1BCSWe join the Indefatigable at 1534 when the 2BCS was ordered to take station astern of Beatty' ships, the 1BCS with Lion leading as flag followed by the Princess Royal , Queen Mary and Tiger, thus all six battle-cruisers formed into a single line with NZ as the fifth ship, at this time Hippers five battle-cruisers of the first Scouting group ( 1SG): Lutzow ( Flag) , followed by Defflinger, Seydlitz, Moltke and Von der Tann were 18 miles away bearing 065 from the New Zealand - which at that time was the nearest British ship to the German 1SG, the British were steaming at 25 knots on a NE'ly course whilst Hipper was at 15 knots on a NNW'ly course. Normally the 3BCS: Invincible, Inflexible and Indomitable would have been detached from the grand Fleet by Jellicoe to join Beatty's forces but instead they had been stationed to the North West to trap any retreating enemy light forces. Contact was made between the two battle cruisers with Hipper sighting Beatty each other at 1535 for some unknown reason the British ships did not do what Hipper feared and that was to open fire using the greater ranges of their 13.5" and 12" guns over Hippers 11" guns, instead they held their fire until about 1550 when the range had fallen from 23,000 to 18,000 yards or less. Indefatigable opened fire at 1551 or perhaps a little later engaging the Von der Tann with the VDT returning the fire , both sides initially over-estimated the ranges and missed, At 1602 or 1603 the Von der Tann hit the Indefatigable with two shells each out of two salvoes, a small explosion occurred aft and she swung out of line sinking by the stern, almost at the same time she was hit again near A turret she then listed over rapidly to port and commenced a massive explosion beginning forwards and moving aft sinking her in less than 4 minutes under a huge cloud of black smoke, just two survivors from her crew of 1,017 were rescue by the destroyer S16 at 1950, these were Able Seaman Elliot and Leading Signalman Falmer.


Indefatigable sinking at Jutland 31st May 1916

The Indefatigable today is unrecognisable, during the 1950's a German salvage company destroyed what was left of her, the also desecrated the wrecks of two other Jutland losses the Pommern and Lutzow, today the wreck is designated a war-grave and is protected as such

To see a list of all the men lost on the Indefatigable this website

It provides the details of her and the other casualties that day.


Bibliography: IWM,

  1. Jutland - John Campbell,
  2. Jutland - Geoffrey Bennett,
  3. Conway's 1906-21
  4. Conway's 1860-1905

Article completed 27th May 2008 - Steve Woodward

Template:Indefatigable class class battle-cruisers

Indefatigable class battle-cruisers
Indefatigable class battle-cruiser - HMS Indefatigable Indefatigable class battle-cruiser - HMS Australia Indefatigable class battle-cruiser - HMS New Zealand
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