Revenge class battleship

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The Revenge-class battleships were five battleships of the Royal Navy, ordered as World War I loomed on the horizon, and launched in 1914–1916. There were originally to have been eight of the class, but two were later redesigned, becoming the Renown-class battlecruisers and the other, which was to have been named Resistance, was cancelled.

The ships of the class were smaller versions of the Queen Elizabeth-class battleships. Despite sometimes being referred to as the "Royal Sovereign-class", official documents from World War I clearly state that the class was known as the Revenge class.

They were envisaged due to fears of the Queen Elizabeth class's total reliance on oil as its fuel source, which was a first for a British class of Dreadnoughts. So the Revenge class was designed to be able to use both coal and oil as its fuel source.

They were also designed to be cheaper than the Queen Elizabeths. This was achieved by reducing their size and using lower power engines - their slim single funnel design makes them easy to distinguish from the Queen Elizabeths, which had twin funnels (or thick trunked funnels after being rebuilt after WW1). The armour was very different: the armoured deck was raised much higher in the ship, and the side armour was much more extensive at its full thickness of 13 inches (330&nbsh;mm). Ironically, this was largely a cost saving measure; the Queen Elizabeth had plates that tapered at the top and bottom of the armour belt. Tapered armour was extremely expensive to produce. Overall, it was probably a superior WW1-era armoring scheme that did not lend itself to the upgrades necessitated by WW2-era weapons.

The major flaw in the class was the deliberately reduced stability, reduced so as to give the ships a slow rolling motion to make gunnery easier. This made it almost impossible to update them. In addition it was not economically possible to fit more powerful machinery later in their lives.

Anti-torpedo bulges were included, which provided superb protection against attacks by torpedo, though sadly this was not enough for Royal Oak when she was torpedoed in 1939 due to the increasing power of torpedo warheads.

Due to their smaller size, at 624 ft (190 m), which still dwarfed anything rival navies had, conditions were decidedly more cramped for the crew of a Revenge-class battleship compared to the Queen Elizabeths.

Only two ships of the class, Revenge and Royal Oak, were ready in time for the Battle of Jutland on 1916-05-31. During the engagement, neither ship suffered damage or casualties.

All ships of the class were reduced to less foreward roles during World War II, with some becoming bombardment ships, taking part in the Normandy Landings, and even the hunt for the Bismarck. The demise of the Revenge class and others soon after the war showed the advent of the aircraft carrier as the new Queen of the Seas, though it must be said, the contribution the dreadnoughts made to the Royal Navy's history was immense. Churchill writes that they were a constant anxiety, and he witnessed the Admiralty keep as many thousands of miles between them and the enemy as possible. However, they were valuable as second-class battleships, performing escort and other routine duties that freed up the first-line ships.

The Revenge class brings to a close the tale of Royal Navy World War I battleships. For subsequent British capital ships, see Renown class battlecruisers that fought in WWI, HMS Hood which was laid down during WWI, or the Nelson class of battleships laid down in 1922. For other battleships that were acquired as "war purchases", see HMS Erin, HMS Canada, and HMS Agincourt.

Ships of the class

  • Ramillies took part in the Battle of Cape Teulada in World War II. She was torpedoed by a Japanese minisub in 1942. She took part in the bombardment of German positions during the Normandy Landings. She was scrapped in 1948. One dual 15-inch gun was preserved and is now on show at the Imperial War Museum in London.
  • Resolution took part in convoy duty early in World War II. Was torpedoed by a Vichy French submarine, receiving little damage. She then joined the Far East Fleet, before becoming a training ship in late 1944. She was scrapped in 1948. One dual 15-inch gun was preserved upon scrapping and takes pride of place, along with the gun from Ramillies, at the Imperial War Museum.
  • Revenge took part in the Battle of Jutland, sustaining no damage and receiving no casualties. In World War II, Revenge undertook a number of operations, though by 1944 she become a training ship. She was scrapped in 1948.
  • Royal Oak fought at the Battle of Jutland. In 1939, during World War II, Royal Oak was sunk by three torpedoes from U-47, with the loss of 833 of her crew. She is now an official war grave.
  • Royal Sovereign had a relatively quiet career, missing the Battle of Jutland. She took part in convoy duty in the early part of World War II. She was loaned to the USSR and renamed Arkhangelsk, escorting convoys for the duration of the war. Scrapped in 1949 in the UK.

Revenge class statistics

  • Displacement: 28,000 tons standard/ 31,000 tons full load
  • Length: 624 ft (190 m)
  • Beam: 88.5 ft (27.0 m)
  • Draught: 28.6 ft (8.7 m)
  • Complement: 997–1,150
  • Armament:
    • 8 x 15 in guns (381 mm)
    • 14 x 6 in guns (152 mm)
    • 2 x 3 in guns (76 mm)
    • 4 x 47 mm guns
    • 4 x 21 in (533 mm) submerged torpedo tubes
  • Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h)
  • Propulsion: steam turbines, 24 boilers, 26,500 shp (20 MW)

See also

Revenge-class battleship
Revenge | Royal Sovereign | Ramillies | Resolution | Royal Oak

List of battleships of the Royal Navy



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