HMS Colossus (1910)
HMS Colossus 1916
|Ordered:||1908 Naval Estimates|
|Laid down:||8 July 1909|
|Launched:||9 April 1910|
|Commissioned:||8 August 1911|
|Fate:||Sold for scrapping July 1928|
|Class & type:||Colossus-class battleship|
|Displacement:||19,680 tons (normal)
22,700 tons (fully laden)
|Length:||546 ft (166 m)|
|Beam:||85 ft (26 m)|
|Draught:||26.3 ft (8.0 m)|
|Propulsion:||Steam turbines, 18 boilers, 4 shafts, 25,000 hp|
|Speed:||21 knots (39 km/h)|
|Complement:||755; up to 800 in wartime|
|Armour:||11 inch (280 mm) waterline belt
3 inch (76.2 mm) deck
11 inch (280 mm) turrets
She was launched on 9 April 1910 and commissioned in 1911. Although very similar to Neptune she was not part of Neptune's class as Colossus and her sister-ship, Hercules, had greater armour. She joined the 2nd Battle Squadron of the Home Fleet.
When the First World War began in August 1914 Colossus became the flagship of the 1st Battle Squadron. While commanded by Captain Dudley Pound she fought with distinction at the Battle of Jutland in 1916 while acting as the flagship of Rear-Admiral Ernest Gaunt. During the battle, Colossus took two hits which caused minor damage and six casualties. When the war came to a close, Colossus became a training ship until 1920 when, under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, she was stricken and eventually broken up in 1928. Her sister-ship was scrapped in 1921.
In 1908 the Lords of the Admiralty became alarmed at information reaching them which suggested that Germany, seen as the most likely opponent in any future naval conflict, was building dreadnoughts in secret in a bid to exceed the number operated by the Royal Navy. Agitation to accelerate the British dreadnought building programme was led by Admiral Fisher, the First Sea Lord at the time.1 There was considerable opposition to the proposal, led by Winston Churchill who was at that time President of the Board of Trade. This opposition was ultimately overruled, and Colossus and her sister ship HMS Hercules were approved for construction in the 1909 programme. She was launched on April 9, 1910 and completed and commissioned in July 1911.
The main armament was ten 12-inch Mark XI 50-calibre guns, arranged in five twin turrets. More correctly referred to as hooded-barbettes, the term "turret" had by this time entered common usage.2 "A" turret was positioned on the forecastle on the centre line. "P" and "Q" turrets were arranged en echelon on the main deck with "P" on the port side being forward of "Q" on the starboard. The wing turrets had a theoretical arc of bearing on the side on which they were positioned of some 170 degrees, that is to say from five degrees off the bow to five degrees off the stern. They also has a limited arc of fire on their opposite beam if the other midship turret were to be disabled. "Y" turret was situated on the quarterdeck at main deck level, and "X" was immediately forward of and superfiring over "Y" at quarterdeck level. The arcs of fire of "A", "X" and "Y" were all some 270 degrees. The weight of the shell fired was 850 kg, and the maximum rate of fire per gun was two rounds per minute, although allowing for spotting of shell fall one round per minute was the anticipated battle rate.
The secondary armament consisted of sixteen 4-inch (102mm) Mark VII guns in single mountings. In order to maximise the effect of these guns in their primary role of defence against torpedo attack by small craft ten were carried in the forward superstructure, it being assumed that most torpedo attacks would be launched from forward of the beam. The remaining six were carried in the after superstructure. In 1917 three of these guns were removed, and a 4-inch anti-aircraft gun and a 3-inch anti-aircraft gun were added.3
Four 3-pounder (57mm) guns were also carried high in the superstructure.
In common with the majority of battleships of the period, Colossus was equipped with torpedo tubes. They were contained within the hull and discharged underwater, being positioned one on either beam and one aimed directly astern. The weapons carried were 21-inch (533mm) Hardcastle torpedoes, with a maximum speed of 45 knots (83 km/h) and an effective range of some 7,000 yards.4
The armour protection in this ship was greater than that of the preceding three classes, all of which had had thinner armour than HMS Dreadnought. The main belt, which ran from a position on the forecastle to the quarterdeck at the level of the main armament muzzles, was eleven inches thick. The upper belt was the same overall length, being eight inches thick amidships over the machinery spaces and magazines, tapering down to two and a half inches forward and two inches aft.5
Over the length of the citadel the upper deck was 1.5 inches thick, while the lower deck was 1.75 inches. Aft of "X" turret the lower deck thickness was three inches, and this deck was increased to four inches over the extreme stern as a protection for the rudder and screws.
The forward bulkhead, which was positioned immediately before "A" turret, was ten inches at the top, tapering to five inches below armoured deck level. The after bulkhead, immediately astern of "Y" turret was eight inches tapering to four.
The turret faces were eleven inches thick, tapering to seven inches on the sides. The turret roofs were four inches thick. The armour of the barbettes varied from eleven inches to four inches, varying according to the degree of protection afforded by surrounding armour: the other barbette, the adjacent side armour and overlying deck armour.
The conning tower was protected by eleven inch armour, and its communication tube by five inch thickness.6
The total weight of armour in the ship was 5,474 tons, of which the armoured belt accounted for 1,610 tons.7
Power was provided by Parsons high pressure steam turbines, driving four shafts. There were eighteen boilers, manufactured by Babcock and Wilcox. The boiler working pressure was 235-240 pounds per square inch. Each boiler was heated by three single-orifice burners of standard Admiralty type; each burner could consume 300 lb (140 kg) of oil per hour.8 Maximum claimed horse power was 25,000. Up to 2,900 tons of coal and 900 tons of oil could be carried as fuel; a full load gave a radius of 6,680 nautical miles (12,370 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) or 4,050 nautical miles (7,500 km) at 18.5 knots (34.3 km/h). Trial performance figures, which were normally run under best possible conditions and would not have been normally attainable in service, show a maximum speed of 22.6 knots (41.9 km/h), 8-hour speed at full power of 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h), and 30-hour speed at 18.000 horsepower (13.423 kW) of 19.6 knots (36.3 km/h).9
Colossus began trials on 28 February 1911, and these continued until July of the same year. She took on board a full crew on 31 July and was commissioned at Devonport on 8 August in the second division of the home fleet. This division was renamed the Second Battle Squadron (2BS) on 1 May 1912. She took part in the Parliamentary review of the Fleet in July 1912, and exercised with the Home Fleet in October and November. She visited Cherbourg with part of the fleet in March 1913. In December she was transferred to form part of the First Battle Squadron (1BS). On 29 July 1914 she sailed for Scapa Flow as the possibility of war loomed.
In November 1915 she was made flagship of 1BS, relieving HMS St Vincent. On 31 May 1916 she was present at the only major battleship engagement of World War I, the Battle of Jutland. In this engagement she led a battle squadron comprising HMS Neptune, HMS Collingwood and HMS St Vincent. After the Grand Fleet had deployed, Colossus was seventeenth in line, and her look-out sighted the head of the German High Seas Fleet at 17.51. She opened fire at 18.30, when the range had closed, but without discernible effect. At 19.00 she fired at an armoured cruiser, believed to be SMS Wiesbaden, at a range of under 10,000 yards. This cruiser later sank, having been fired on by several ships. From 19.00 to 19.20 she was, together with HMS Collingwood, in action with the I Scouting Group, which comprised the German battlecruiser force. Several hits were reported on SMS Derfflinger. At 19.16 Colossus was damaged by heavy shellfire on the forward superstructure. There was no serious damage and the fighting efficiency of the ship was not affected. Six men were injured.10 Other than the ships of the Fifth Battle Squadron - HMS Warspite, HMS Malaya, HMS Barham and HMS Valiant - Colossus was the only British battleship hit by gunfire at Jutland.
From June to September 1917 she was under refit, and moved with the Grand fleet when the main base was transferred to Rosyth in April 1918. She was present at the surrender of the German fleet on 21 November 1918.
On the dispersal of the Grand Fleet after the war she became flagship of Vice-Admiral, Reserve Fleet, at Devonport. On 30 June 1921 she was put on the disposal list as being surplus to requirement, but was rescued to become a boys' training ship, in a militarily non-effective state. On 23 July 1923 she was reduced to a training hulk; she was sold to Charlestown Shipbreaking Industries in August 1928 and broken up from 5 September that year.11
||Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (October 2010)|
- British Battleships, Oscar Parkes p. 528 ISBN 0-85052-604-3
- The Grand Fleet D.K. Brown p.37 ISBN 1-86176-099-X
- Conway All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921 p. 26 ISBN 0-87021-903-3
- Ibid pp.47-8
- Parkes p519
- Brown p48
- British Battleships of world War One R.A. Burt ISBN 0-85368-771-4
- Parkes pp. 521-2
- Burt p. 129
- British Warships 1914-1919 by Dittmar, F.J. and Colledge, J.J. Ian Allan, London; (1972), ISBN 0-7110-0380-7
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