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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
  • 1 The name Marlborough
  • 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 Marlborough[edit]

There have been six ships named Marlborough in the Royal Navy, they were named after John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough an English Statesman and Soldier -1650-1722

  1. Was a second Rate ship originally named Saint Michael, she became the Marlborough in 1706
  2. Was a 1767 built third rate ship of the line, she was lost through shipwreck in 1800
  3. Was another third rate ship of the line built 1807 and scrapped 1835
  4. Was a first rate screw driven ship built in 1855, renamed Vernon 2, sank in 1924
  5. Was The Iron Duke class battleship and the subject of this article
  6. Is the present type 23 frigate built 1987-91 and is still in existence although sold to the Chilean Navy in 2005 and is now renamed Almirante Condell.


Undated photograph of Marlborough courtesy of Wikipedia

Class information[edit]

The Iron Duke class were a modified King George V class battleship , they were followed by the Queen Elizabeth class which was a radically different design and a far better class making the Iron dukes the final development of the Dreadnought battleship.A major difference was that at last the very weak 4" secondary battery gun used in all previous classes was replaced with a 6" weapon, far more capable of repelling the larger destroyers and torpedo boats then being built, these guns were no longer fitted in the deck houses, although still in casemates ten were situated five either side of the foc'sle deck and two right aft in the hull below the quarter deck.Although only 2" larger in calibre the additional weight of these 12 guns resulting in the ships being 25 feet longer, 1 foot wider and 10 inches deeper and 2,000 tons heavier.Fire direction was now an established need and to carry the weight of the direction gear the class had heavy tripod masts fitted from new, and compared to the preceding KGV class the funnels were taller and thinner which made them very easy to distinguish from the KGV class.Although the Iron Duke was initially fitted with Anti Torpedo nets these were removed during her sea trials, these nets were not fitted to the Marlborough or her sisters.

Building data[edit]

Ordered under the 1911 naval estimates The Marlborough was built by the Devonport Dockyard being laid down on the 25th. January 1912 and launched on the 24th. October 1912.On completion she commissioned in the 6th Division of the 01st battle Squadron in June 1914her building costs were approximately £2,043,000.

Basic Details[edit]

L 622'09" B 90'00" Draft 29'06" standard to 32'09" full load. Disp 25,000 tons standard and 29,560 tons full load.


The machinery for the ship was built by R. & W. Hawthorn, Leslie & Co. Ltd of Newcastle upon Tyne using virtually the same layout as that of the preceeding King george V and earlier classes of Dreadnought was used with quadruple propellers being driven by Parsons direct drive steam turbines. The machinery spaces were split into three with the inboard shafts leading to the centre engine room and the outer shafts the port and starboard wing engine rooms. The two inboard shafts were driven by the high pressure ahead and astern turbines with the ahead turbines having an extra stage for cruising, this was separated from the main turbine by a bypass valve. The outer shafts were driven by the ahead and astern low pressure turbines, for cruising the out board turbines would be shut down , the ship relying on the inboard shafts alone. The eighteen Yarrow boilers remained in three groups of six , although coal fired oil spraying equipment was fitted for quickly raising steam. The normal power for the iron Duke was 29,000 SHP giving 21.25 knots on her trials in late 1912 she attained 32,013 SHP which gave 21.6 knots over 30 hours.

Bunker capacity was up to 3,250 tons of coal and 1,050 tons of oil, this gave a range of 7,780 miles at 10 knots.

Finding details of the machinery layout of these old ships is quite daunting, I obtained details of the layout from studying a minute plan with a magnifying glass, the details are as accurate as I can get them for the moment SW 21 oct 2007


Main battery

Ten 13.5" C45 Mk5 guns were carried in five twin turrets all on the centre line with B and X superfiring over A and Y turrets , Q turret sited amidships was the only one with restricted firing arcs although B and X were still restricted from firing directly over A & Y due to the very real possibility of muzzle blast entering the lower turrets sighting hoods which were still placed in the forward ends of the turret roofs, because of this B & Y guns were restricted from firing over from right ahead / astern to 30 degrees either side.

The main battery of the Iron Duke class was identical to that of the preceeding KGV class and was very similar to that of the preceeding Orion class battleships. Britain had learnt from the rather poor performance of the high velocity 12" C50 gun fitted to the St Vincent, Neptune and Colossus classes that higher velocity was not the answer to greater range and hitting power, the answer lay in a heavier shell. The 13.5" gun which had reappeared in the Royal navy after a gap of many years, and was first fitted in the Orion class, was an excellent weapon with very good range, accuracy and hitting power, it also had a good safety margin allowing it to fire a heavier shell, the increase from the 1260lb early shells fired by the Orions to the 1410 lbs heavy shell did not increase the range even though the propellant charge was now four quarter charges of almost 106 lbs of MD450 (rod based) cordite, the gun still had a maximum range of just under 24,000 yards. The barrel construction was of a liner in an inner tube (A) which was wire wound with many miles of flat wire, over this was shrunk a steel jacket, there were problems with wire winding, the barrel could droop and it is often quoted that the german solid guns were better made. Solid guns took a lot longer and much more machining to make whereas the wire wound gun was much quicker in manufacture. With a navy with such a large number of weapons speed of manufacture was of the essence and the Royal Navy never had supply problems for replacement barrells that the German navy had. There were five main magaines and an associated shell room, each serving it's own gun, there were 112 rounds for each gun so each magaine would hold 896 106lb quarter charges of cordite a total of 474,880 lbs of explosive and a total of 1,120 shells weighed 1,568,000 lbs or 700 tons. The excellent barrel life of 400 rounds for the lighter shell was reduced to 220 rounds, which was still good.


A scan of a picture collected by my father, although this shows A and b turrets on Marlborough I have no other information of this picture as to the date

Secondary battery

The Iron Dukes were the first of the Dreadnought classes to drop the under-weight 4" secondary gun and instead fitted twelve 6" C45 Mk7 guns all in case mates, Initially ten guns were mounted in casemates under the focsle deck, five either side and a further two guns in the stern of the vessel in case mates below the quarter deck abreast Y gun - these two guns proved so wet and useless they were removed and the case mates plated over. They were re-installed at the aft end of the focsle deck above the original foward guns in an unarmoured placement.Case mate guns tended to be wet so the Iron Dukes mouted theirs as far aft as possible even still this caused problems, the clam shell type doors which were intended to keep out the weather leaked badly and rubber seals were designed which improved matters but by no means cured the problem.

To compare the two weapons the 4" fired a shell of 31lbs whilst at just 2" bigger in bore the the 6" fired a 100 to 112lb shell, the 6" had a much bigger stopping power when used against an attacking torpedo boat or destroyer. The rate of fire was given at 12 rounds per minute (RPM) but in reality this would be closer to 6 or 8 RPM , it should be noted that this was not a new weapon, designed and manufactured arround 1900 by Vickers and was of partially wire wound construction, a very large number of these wepaons was produced -about 900 - and some remained in service until britain scrapped it's remaining 6" coastal guns in the mid 1950's.The range of these weapons was just under 18,000 yards using a charge of 28 to 29 lbs of SC140 cordite contained in a silk bag. SC140 cordite is a solvent free cordite contained rod shaped elements of the propellant 140 being the diameter of the rods in thousands of an inch.

The class were also fitted with four 3 pounder signalling guns and a first for a British battleship, two 3" or 12 pounder anti aircraft guns fitted in 1914 to the aft deck house.

Torpedo armament[edit]

The stern torpedo tube was dropped on this class and all subsequent battleships, they were however fitted with four 21" submerged beam mounted ( two a side) submerged torpedo tubes. For Whitehead type RGF Mk2 torpedoes, these were about long with a 515lb TNT warhead and having a range of 4,500 yards at 45 knots and 11,000 yards at 30 knots.

RGF is short for the Royal Gun factory which is were these weapons were made when the Royal navy took over the manufacture of these weapons.

Armour Protection[edit]

Very similar to previous designs, however the internal protection was better than the King GeorgeC class, the main armour belt was of Krupp Cemented Armour (KCA) and 12 inches thick at the water line trapering down to 8" at the lower edge. The upper armour belt being 4" KCA.The fore and aft armoured bulkheads were of 8" KCA tapering down to 3" at the lower edges, whilst the discontintinous foer and aft torpedo or screen bulkheads were just 1.5" thick, these covered the engines rooms and magazines only, the boiler room torpedo protection was afforded by the wing coal bunker spaces.Barbettes were of 10" KCA were they were either above deck or outside of other armour but inside other armour they reduce to just 3", turret faces were of 11" KCA with lesser armour on the sides,roofs and backs.The decks remained rather lacking at just 2.5" over machinery psaces and magazines reducing to 1" in non-vulnerable areas.


Unadated photograph of Marlborough courtesy of MartimeQuest

Service History[edit]

On her commissioning in June 1914 Marlborough joined the Home Fleet as the second flagship and in August of 1914 she joined the 6th Division of the 1st Battle Squadron (1BS) of the Grand Fleet, becoming Flagship of the 1BS, she was still in this role at the Battle of Jutland on the 31st may-01st June 1916, she was in the van of the 6th division flying the flag of Vice Admiral 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. HM Doughty.During the main part of the battle Marlborough and the 6th Division were at the easterly end of the British line of battleships and perhaps one of the nearest divisions.Her action began at 1812, she sighted the German light cruiser Wiesbaden, which had been previously disabled by the British battle-cruiser Invincible, however this target disappeared into the mist and smoke of the battle-cruiser engagement and Marlborough was one of the few leading British battleships which did not fire on this hapless vessel.At 1817 she sighted the dim outline of what was thought to be four Kaiser and four Helgoland class battleships, range finding was difficult at first thought to be 10,000 yards then 13,000 yards she opened fire with seven salvoes fired in four minutes claiming two hits but later this claim was not upheld, she then checked fire due to a burning cruiser ( thought to be HMS Warrior) obscuring the range.At 1825 she sighted the Wiesbaden again and fired five salvos during this firing the right gun of A turret was put out of action by a premature detonation, she also engaged the unlucky cruiser with her 6" secondary battery.At 1839 she fired a single salvo at what was thought to be a Kaiser class ship, at 1844 Jellicoe desperate to receive information on his enemy and were they were signalled for contact reports, Burney in Marlborough signalled in the negative.At 1857 Marlborough was hit by a single torpedo but at the time was not sure of whether it was a torpedo or mine and signalled such to Jellicoe, it is not known for certain were the torpedo originated but it is though to have come from the either the crippled Wiesbaden or another crippled ship the destroyer V48 with the former more likely to be the culprit.The following is of interest as Marlborough was the only Dreadnought type battleship to be hit by a torpedo.The torpedo hit the Marlborough on the starboard diesel generator room, which was located outboard of the starboard 62 magazine, which in turn was located immediately aft of the main B turret magazine, the hit was 25 feet below the water line from a torpedo with a 440lb Hexanite-TNT charge on plating ¾ of an inch thick, plating over 28 feet was destroyed as were all transverse and longitudinal frames, the hull was deeply distorted over a length of 70 feet.The diesel generator room and the hydraulic engine room above were destroyed and flooded immediately, The longitudinal bulkhead of the forward boiler room was distorted , and the water-tight door between the boiler room at lower coal bunker was also damaged allowing water to leak into the forward boiler room, initially this rise in water was rapid and the fires in four boilers were pulled. With the Bilge, Fire, Ash expeller and steam ejector pumps now working the level was held and then reduced to below the floor plates. And 1930 just the ash expeller pump of 425 TPH was holding back the water, at no time had the list exceeded 7 or 8 degrees and no counter-flooding was needed. The ship was still making 17 knots in-spite of the damage.There were two casualties, both stokers and both killed, William Rustage (K/20877) aged 21 was buried in his home town Salford's Weaste Cemetery, the other was Edgar George Monk K/4266 (age not known) he was buried in Tynemouth Preston Cemetery. A further two men were injured.It should be noted that the bilge pumping arrangement on the Iron Duke class was the best of any British Dreadnought.At 1903 Marlborough again engaged the Wiesbaden with four salvoes of 13.5" at 9,800 yards scoring two hits and although the cruiser remained afloat she was now put out of action before sinking several hours later.At 1910 Marlborough fired two torpedoes one of which was at the Wiesbaden, there were thought to be no hits from these.At 1912 she opened fire at 10.500 yards on the left ship of three Konig class battleships firing fourteen salvos in six minutes, this was the grosser Kurfurst which turned to starboard into the smoke to disengage, although Marlborough claimed six hits she could only credited with three.The first, possibly a 13.5 CPC was ricochet of the sea which struck the upper edge of the 6" armour 73 feet back from the bows with little damage being caused.The second was a 13.5" APC which hit further aft on the same plate as the first hit, although the shell exploded outside the ship it still left a 4.25 x 3 foot hole in the 6" armour, fragments pierced the hull and made a hole 4' by 3'06" in the longitudinal bulkhead inboard of the hit.The hull was bulged in below the water line causing some leakage, over time this flooded almost the whole of the for-part of the ship including that below the armour deck.The third hit appeared to have exploded short of the ship causing some splinter damage and flooding, the main deck at the ships side was severely buckled and a lot of damage was done to cabins in this area.

At about 1920 she fired one salvo of 13.5" at the attacking German destroyers of the 6th and 9th flotillas with no hits seen, at 1930 she turned to port to avoid two torpedoes from the destroyers before turning back to starboard. The successful turn to the south and disengagement by the German High seas fleet brought to an end the Marlborough's battle and although damaged and making just 17 knots she continued with the chase of the retiring High Seas fleet. At 0156 Burney sent a wireless signal to Jellicoe advising that the 17 knots speed was starting to damage the forward boiler room bulkhead and that he was reducing to 12 knots and that the rest of the 6th Div would proceed without him, Jellicoe then ordered the Marlborough back to the Tyne or Rosyth , Burney then transferred to the Fearless.At 0400 Marlborough fired on the airship L11 without success whilst making about 14 knots, at 0830 screening destroyers Lafforey, lookout, lawford and laverock joined her as a screening force later joined by the Lance, Lasso, Lysander and lark. At 1835 the admiralty was advised that Marlborough's draft was now 39 feet and she was advised to steer for Rosyth, during the night a portable pump in A boiler room accidentally damage shores on the bulkhead and things turned serious with the ship making for the lee of Flamborough and tugs were despatched to assist, but the shores were replaced and she carried on cancelling plans to lift off the crew using the destroyer escorts. Her draft was now forty feet and she diverted to the Humber arriving at 0800 on the 02nd June and mooring to No3 buoy off Immingham.On the 06th June after what repairs could be done, strong tides and muddy water prevented any diving repairs, she left for the Tyne arriving on the 07th June.At Jutland Marlborough fired a total of 162 rounds of 13.5" of which 24 were CPC and 138 APCCPC = Common Percussion Capped. APC = Armour Piercing Capped.Repairs took three months and in September she was back in service joining the Grand fleet for routine patrols and manoeuvres.On the 9 July 1917 she was at anchor in Scapa Flow when one of her crew, Charles William Mynott a signalman, witnessed the explosion which destroyed and sank the battleship HMS Vanguard with the loss of more than 800 of her crew.In 1919 she was part of the Black Sea squadron in support of the White Russians against the reds, duty mainly involved shore bombardments,Here she rescued members of the Russian Imperial family, King George V's aunt the dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, the Grand Duke Nicholas and Prince Felix Yusupov.

Between 1920 and 1922 the Marlborough was modernised and refitted , in 1926 she left the Grand fleet to join the Atlantic fleet were she remained until 1929 she was then paid off into reserve until being sold for scrap in in May of 1932 to the Alloa Shipbreaking Co. and arrived at Rosyth for breaking up in 25 June 1932.


An undated but well known picture of my fathers this shows Benbow leading Marlborough followed by the Iron Duke


Bibliography: IWM,

  1. Jutland - John Campbell,
  2. Jutland - Geoffrey Bennett,
  3. Conway's 1906-21
  4. History of the Torpedo by Geoff Kirby

This article was completed on the 05th december 2007 by Steve Woodward

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