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Queen Elizabeth Class (1915) BB

The five ships of the Queen Elizabeth Class followed on from the Iron Duke Class (1914) battleships and Tiger Class (1914) battlecruiser. But the changes made, gave them a major step forward in battleship design.

They mounted a new 42 calibre15in gun, capable of sending a 1,920ld (870kg) shell 23,400yd. So the 8 x 15in broadside was similar in weight to that of a 10 x 13.5in broadside. The removal of the Q turret meant that space in the centre of the ship, previously devote to magazines and shell rooms could now be used for  another boiler room. The Queen Elizabeth's had 24 boilers in four rooms against 18 boilers in three rooms in the Iron Duke's. This gave an increase in speed to 24kts. They were also all oil fired, with no provision for coal.

Secondary armament was mounted in batteries along the side of the upper deck from B turret to the after funnel, but with improvements to reduce flooding in a seaway compared to the Iron Duke's. The rearmost gun was only mounted in HMS Queen Elizabeth so all the others had only 14 x 6in guns. 

Armoured protection was similar to the Iron Duke's and all ships had main armament directors fitted during build. They had particularly high metacentric heights and so were very stable. 

They were a very successful class and their ability to fight during both World Wars was possible only due to a program of major modifications during their lives.

 

Modifications

1916-20

Stiffening added to the fore part of the ship and improvements to watertight integrity. 
Anti-flash arrangements fitted to magazines.
Searchlight control positions added.
Aircraft flying off platforms added to B and X turrets in 1918.
Alterations made to masts.

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1924-30

Queen Elizabeth, Warspite, Malaya and Valiant.

Anti-torpedo bulges fitted to improve torpedo protection and also give additional buoyancy.
The 2 x 3in AA guns replaced by 4in HA (High Angle) mounts and High Angle Control Position (HACP) fitted.
Bridge, control positions and tops all modified to improve arrangement of gunnery control positions.
Twin funnels trunked into a single funnel to solve problems of funnel gasses around the bridge.
Minor changes in wireless equipment, searchlights etc.
Valiant had an aircraft catapult fitted on the quarterdeck, pom-pom anti-aircraft guns mounted, and her submerged torpedo tubes removed.
Barham, her only changes were from 2 x 3in AA to 4 x 4in HA guns, and the fitting of a temporary HACP.

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1930-33

Barham underwent her only major modification.
Anti-torpedo bulges fitted as in the other ships.
An additional 4in (10.2cm) of deck armour mounted over the magazines as further protection against plunging fire and bombs.
Pom-pom guns fitted together with permanent HACP's for the 4in HA  guns.
After submerged torpedo tubes removed.
Aircraft launching platforms removed and a single catapult mounted on X turret.
Bridge and control positions modified.
Funnels trunked into one. 

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1934-37

Malaya was modified for the second time in a similar way to Barham
Additional deck armour was fitted over the magazines and engine rooms.
The four single 4in HA guns were replaced by twin mountings.
Pom-pom AA guns were added abreast the funnel. 
The submerged torpedo tubes were removed.
An aircraft catapult fitted behind the funnel.
Bridge area remodelled and conning tower reduced.

Warspite underwent a major reconstruction.
The 15in turrets were modified to increase gun elevation from 20 to 30, and new director fitted.
The 6in battery was reduced to four guns each side, and additional AA armament mounted.
Deck armour was placed over magazines, engine and boiler rooms.
New boilers and engines fitted, which gave greatly reduced fuel consumption and greater power.
A midships catapult fitted.
Bridge and superstructure rebuilt.

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1937-41

Valiant and Queen Elizabeth were reconstructed along similar lines to Warspite. The main additional change was the complete removal of the 6in guns, and replacement with 20 x 4.5in guns in twin mountings.

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World War 2

All except Barham had radar and additional AA guns fitted.
Warspite had her 6in guns removed in 1944.

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- Class Ship
- Specifications as built
- Ships
- Modifications 1916-20
- Modifications 1924-30
- Modifications 1930-33
- Modifications 1934-37
- Modifications 1937-41
- Modifications WW2
- Specifications 1943
- Plans/Schematics
- Pictures

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- References
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This page last edited - 08 September, 2012.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.