HMS King George V (1911)

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King George V 1917
United Kingdom
Name: HMS King George V
Ordered: 1910
Builder: Portsmouth Dockyard
Laid down: 16 January 1911
Launched: 9 October 1911
Commissioned: 1912
Decommissioned: 1924
Fate: Scrapped in December 1926
General characteristics [1]
Class & type: King George V-class battleship
  • 23,000 long tons (23,370 t) load
  • 25,700 long tons (26,100 t) deep load
Length: 597 ft 6 in (182.1 m) oa
Beam: 89 ft (27.1 m)
Draught: 28 ft 8 in (8.74 m)
  • 4 shafts
  • Parsons steam turbines
  • 18 Babcock & Wilcox boilers
  • 31,000 shp (23,000 kW)
Speed: 21 kn (39 km/h; 24 mph)
Range: 6,730 nmi (12,460 km; 7,740 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 782
  • Belt: 8–12 in (203–305 mm)
  • Deck: 1–4 in (25–102 mm)
  • Bulkheads: 4–10 in (102–254 mm)
  • Barbettes: 3–10 in (76–254 mm)
  • Turret Faces: 11 in (279 mm)

The first HMS King George V was a King George V class of 1911 dreadnought, with a displacement of 23,400 tonnes and an armament of ten 13.5 inch guns in twin gun turrets and a secondary armament of sixteen 4 inch guns and had a crew complement of 870, though this increased substantially by 1916 to 1,110, and had a length of 597 feet.

She took part in the Battle of Jutland, being the lead ship of the 1st Division of the 2nd Battle Squadron. Her sister-ships were HMS Centurion, HMS Audacious and HMS Ajax. HMS Audacious was sunk by a mine off the northern coast of Ireland; the rest survived World War I and were all decommissioned by 1924. King George V herself was decommissioned in 1919, used as a training ship between 1923–26 and scrapped in 1926.

Design and construction

The 1910 construction programme for the Royal Navy included four super-dreadnought battleships as a follow-on to the four Orion-class battleships that had been ordered the previous year. The new ships were originally to be of the same design as the Orions, but trials of the battlecruiser HMS Lion had shown that the location of the foremast between the two funnels, as standard in British battleships and battlecruisers, resulted in the fire-control platforms on the foremast being affected by smoke, and the foremast was moved before the fore funnel. The King George V class were ended up slightly larger than the Orions, allowing a little more deck armour to be carried.[1]

While the layout of the main armament of ten 13.5 in (343 mm) guns in five twin turrets on the ship's centreline, (with two turrets forward, two aft and one amidships) the guns were modified to fire a heavier shell (1,400 lb (640 kg) rather than 1,250 lb (570 kg)) giving improved ballistics. Secondary gun armament consisted of the same sixteen 4 in (102 mm) guns in casemates as carried in the Orions, although their arrangement was changed, with more guns concentrated forward. Four 3-pounder (47 mm) guns and five machine guns completed the ship's gun armament, while the torpedo armament, with two submerged tubes on the broadside and one at the ship's stern, was the same as the Orions.[1][3]

King George V was laid down at Portsmouth Royal Dockyard on 16 January 1911, and launched on 9 October 1911.[1] The ship reached a maximum speed of 22.13 knots (40.98 km/h; 25.47 mph) on trials,[4] before completing in November 1912.[1]

King George V, like Centurion was completed with a simple pole foremast, but when a director was fitted to the foremast to improve aiming of the ship's main armament,[nb 1] King George V's foremast was fitted with stiffening flanges to help take the extra weight of the director, eventually being fitted with a tripod mast in 1918.[1] Two 4-inch anti-aircraft guns were mounted on the ship's quarterdeck in 1915, while four 4-in guns mounted in casemates low down in the bow of the ship, which were unusable in a heavy sea, were removed.[1]


On commissioning in November 1912, King George V entered service with the 2nd Battle Squadron, becoming the flagship of the Home Fleet.[1]

1914 Kiel Regatta

George V and a squadron of British ships were invited to attend the Kiel regatta in 1914 just before World War I. The visit was described by a German officer, Georg von Hase, who was assigned as aide to Vice Admiral Warrender and lived on board during the visit. He described the admiral's quarters, which included a large office, capacious bedroom, bathroom and dressing room. The dining room for the admiral's mess, where the visitors were entertained, occupied the entire width of the ship. A separate drawing room accompanied it. A second smaller suite was available, which Hase temporarily enjoyed before the arrival on board of the British ambassador to Germany, Edward Goschen. Thereafter he had to make do with a cabin on a lower deck, which was still roomy compared to German naval ships, but uncomfortable and hot. Cabins were not equipped with steam heating, as on German ships, but instead most had fireplaces. Each cabin had a large leather club chair and mahogany furniture. There was a separate wardroom for the officers, consisting of a dining room and separate lounge furnished with club chairs and leather sofas.

Hase described life for an English sailor, which might typically involve a tour of duty of two years on board ship, followed by a six-month period ashore in which the crew might have leave. Sporting competitions were arranged in Kiel between English and German teams. Hase noted that the Germans won most of the events, except for football. He described the English sailors as noticeably small, that 70 men from George V were under 17, while he considered that there was also a disproportionate number of older men. Comparing notes with the Gunnery Officer, Commander Brownrigg, he noted that whereas gunnery posts were considered the most prestigious on British ships, the torpedo division was the preferred appointment for German officers. Brownrigg discussed successful practice firings at ranges of 15 km, which seemed an enormous range to Hase. A few years later in World War I both sides strove to engage at even greater ranges.

Kaiser Wilhelm II visited the ship on an inspection tour, signing the visitors book which already contained the names of many famous people. An 'at home' was held on board to which all the notables of Kiel were invited, with Admiral Warrender's wife acting as hostess.[6]

First World War

On the outbreak of the First World War, the 2nd Battle Squadron became part of the Grand Fleet, with King George V serving as flagship for the squadron.[1] In November 1914, King George V was found to suffer from problems with her condensers. This forced the ship to be withdrawn from operations while her port condenser was retubed, which took until 12 December, with her starboard condenser being retubed in January.[7] The 2nd Battle Squadron, including King George V sailed from Scapa Flow on 15 December in an attempt to combat German warships that were bombarding towns on the East coast of England. When German battlecruisers and cruisers under the command of Franz von Hipper attacked Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby on 16 December, the 2nd Battle Squadron and the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron was deployed to try and intercept the German force, unaware that the German entire High Seas Fleet had been deployed to support Hipper's ships. While the 2nd Battle Squadron came to within 10 miles of the much larger High Seas Fleet, no engagement occurred.[8]

At the Battle of Jutland, the 2nd Battle Squadron was divided into two divisions, with Vice Admiral Martyn Jerram, in command of the 1st Division, flying his flag aboard King George V, while Captain Frederick Field served as the ship's captain.[9][10] King George V was lightly engaged during the battle, firing nine 13.5 in rounds at the German battlecruiser SMS Derfflinger,[11] which missed.[12] King George V was undamaged in the battle.[13]

Post war

King George V entered the Reserve Fleet at Devonport in 1919. In 1923, the ship became a gunnery training ship, serving in that role until 1926. King George V was then sold for scrap as required by the provisions of the Washington Naval Treaty.[1]

See also


  1. Tests with director controlled gunfire on the Orion-class battleship HMS Thunderer in 1912 showed Thunderer scoring six times as many hits as the otherwise similar Orion.[5]
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Gardiner and Gray 1985, p. 30.
  2. Pears 1979, facing p. 99.
  3. Pears 1979, p. 99.
  4. Moore 1990, p. 38.
  5. Gardiner and Gray 1985, p. 28.
  6. George von Hase (c. 1920). Kiel and Jutland. Skeffington and Son Ltd.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Jellicoe 1919, pp. 168–169, 174, 191.
  8. Campbell 1998, p. 5.
  9. Campbell 1998, p. 16.
  10. Jellicoe 1919, p. 466.
  11. Campbell 1998, p. 208.
  12. Campbell 1998, pp. 220–231.
  13. Campbell 1998, pp. 354, 362.


  • Brassey, Earl. Brassey's Naval Annual 1915. London:William Clowes and Sons, 1915.
  • Campbell, John. Jutland: An Analysis of the Fighting. London: Conway Maritime Press, 1998. ISBN 0-85177-750-3.
  • British Warships 1914–1919 by Dittmar, F.J. and Colledge, J.J. Ian Allan, London; (1972), ISBN 0-7110-0380-7
  • Gardiner, Robert and Randal Gray. Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906–1922. London: Conway Maritime Press, 1985. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.
  • Jellicoe, Viscount. The Grand Fleet 1914–1916: Its Creation, Development and Work. London: Cassell and Company, 1919.
  • Pears, Randolph. British Battleships 1892–1957 London: Godfrey Cave Associates, Facilimile of 1957 edition, 1979. ISBN 0-906223-14-8.
  • Moore, John. Jane's Fighting Ships of World War I. London:Studio, 1990. ISBN 1-85170-378-0.

External links