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HMS Warspite 1915

HMS Warspite
HMS Warspite

One of Royal Navy's most famous ships of the Twentieth Century, HMS Warspite served with distinction in both world wars. The Queen Elizabeth class super dreadnoughts marked the climax of the naval race between Britain and Germany since the launch of HMS Dreadnought in 1905. Mounting eight 15 inch/381mm guns, the Queen Elizabeths were the first oil-fired British battleships capable of a speed of 23 knots. They possessed an almost perfect combination of gun power, armour protection and speed. At the Battle of Jutland in 1916, Warspite was hit 13 times after her steering gear jammed and she circled in front of the German fleet. Thanks to her excellent construction damage was not severe.

Extensively modernised between 1934 - 1937, Warspite saw extensive action throughout the Second World War. In the Second Battle of Narvik on 13 April 1940 her reconnaissance aircraft bombed and sank submarine U-64 before the battleship and nine escorting destroyers swiftly overwhelmed eight German destroyers.

Warspite will be best remembered for her service with the Mediterranean Fleet as flagship of Admiral Andrew Cunningham . At the Battle of Calabria on 9 July 1940 she hit the Italian flagship, Guilio Cesare, at the amazing range of 21 kilometres. Accompanied by sister ships Barham and Valiant at the Battle of Cape Matapan on 28 March 1941, they sank two Italian heavy cruisers in a notable night time engagement. In 1942 Warspite was re-deployed to join the Eastern Fleet to counter the Japanese threat but did not see action. She returned to the Mediterranean to be present at the surrender of the Italian Fleet at Malta on 10 September 1943.

Warspite was severely damaged by a German radio-controlled bomb off Salerno while covering the landings in Italy on 16 September 1943. Nevertheless she was repaired and played a valuable role in the bombardments supporting the landings in Normandy and against Brest, Le Havre and Walcheren Island in 1944.

HMS Warspite Statistics (After Modernisation)
Period in service: 1915 - 1944
Displacement: 32,450 tons
Length: 196.8m / 645.8ft
Beam: 31.7m / 104ft
Complement: 1190
Speed: 23 kts
Armament: 8 x 15 inch Guns

8 x 6 inch Guns

8x 4 inch anti aircraft Guns

Armour: 6 - 13 inch belt, 3 - 5 inch deck 4 -10 inch barbettes, 13 inch turrets
Aircraft: Four
Sister Ships: Queen Elizabeth, Barham, Malaya, Valiant

Notes: The armour belt was the protection along the sides of a ship's hull. The barbette was an armoured cylinder below the turret which protected the ammunition hoists and the turret's turning mechanism. Warspite's aircraft were launched from a catapult amidships and recovered using cranes.