HMS Dreadnought History

When she was commissioned in 1906, HMS Dreadnought was the dominant battleship class of her era. Dreadnought was anointed the revolutionary ship of the age even when, in World War 1, she did not sink another battleship in combat or even participate in the famous Battle of Jutland. The reason was based simply on her revolutionary armament scheme, an electronic range-finding weapons system and increased speed technology which were brought together in a modern design for the first time.

For some time, many warship engineers were planning a new type of battleship. In 1903 Vittorio Cuniberti, an Italian naval engineer, wrote of the concept of an "all-big-gun" ship design. British Admiral Jackie Fisher also formulated a like-concept around 1900. However, while others pondered, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) began construction of the first all-big-gun ship to become the IJN Satsuma of 1904. Laid down five months before Dreadnought, she was intended to have mounted 12 of the Armstrong 12-inch (30cm) main guns and displace 19,700 tons. Conversely only 4 of the 12 big guns ordered were shipped to Japan due to the stock on hand at the Armstrong British factory and 10 inch guns were therefore substituted. As such, the British design took center stage and therefore all like-warships appearing soon after would take on the generic name of "Dreadnought" as their type. Conversely, all previous steel battleships of the same era became known as "Pre-Dreadnought" battleships.

Dreadnought was commissioned for trials in December of 1906 and, in January of 1907, she sailed for the Mediterranean Sea and then to Port of Spain, Trinidad. Her successful trials were observed by many navies from around the world and inspired a naval arms race with all major fleets adding Dreadnought-type battleships in time. At Dreadnought's commissioning, Britain possessed a lead of 25 first-class battleships over the fleets of foreign navies. With Dreadnought, Britain now possessed a lead of only one ship - all other British first class battleships became second class Pre-Deadnaught vessels.

At the start of World War 1 in the summer of 1914, Dreadnought was the flagship of the Fourth Battle Squadron based at Scapa Flow. Interestingly, for a vessel designed to engage enemy battleships, her only major action was the the ramming and sinking of German submarine U-29 on March 18th, 1915, thus becoming the only battleship to ever sink a submarine. As a result, she missed the Battle of Jutland while undergoing refit. Like most of the older battleships she was in bad condition from constant touring of the North Sea and was put up for sale in 1920 and sold for scrap at 44,000 pounds in 1921.

All of the constructed dreadnoughts followed suit and were either scrapped or used as targets after the end of World War 1. Some of the advanced "super-dreadnoughts" continued in service through World War 2 until they had met their useful service lives in turn. The term "dreadnought", therefore, gradually dropped from slang beginning at the conclusion of World War 1. They were superceded by battleships who showcased superior performance and firepower characteristics.

HMS Dreadnought Specification

BASICS

Year:
1906

ROLES

- Blue Water Operations

- Fleet Support

- Hunter

- Direct-Attack

DIMENSIONS

Length:

527 ft (160. 63 m)

Width / Beam:

82 ft (24. 99 m)

Height / Draught:

26 ft (7. 92 m)

WEIGHTS

Displacement (Surface):

18,420 tons

POWER

18 x Babcock & Wilcox 3-drum water-tube boilers with Parsons single-reduction geared steam turbines developing 22,500 horsepower to 4 x Shafts.

PERFORMANCE

Speed (Surface):

21 kts (24 mph)

Range:

10,654 nm (12,260 miles; 19,731 km)

ARMAMENT

10 x BL 12" (304. 8mm) Mk X guns in

5 x Twin B Mk. VIII turrets (1 forward, 2 midship, 2 aft, 1 port and 1 starboard).

27 x 12-pdr 18 cwt L/50 Mk. I guns in single mountings.

5 x 18" (457mm) submerged torpedo tubes

AIR WING

None.

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