HMS Nelson (BB-1927)


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The Nelson and Rodney came into being through a painful pregnancy that lasted 6 years. At the end of World War One a new warship arms race nearly came about. The Japanese started their 8x8 building program and laid down ships of the Tosa and Amagi classes while the 2 Nagato class were just completing. The United States could not let this go unanswered and the Lexington and South Dakota class were laid down with ships of the Colorado class completing. Even though the Empire was under severe financial stress the British designed and went to lay down its G3 and N3 16" & 18" battlecruiser and battleships. Costs of this new arms race were set to spiral out of control. All of the parties were called together for disarmament talks that led to the Washington Treaty. The eventual signatories were United States, Great Britain, (as major powers), Japan, France, Italy, Australis, Canada (as minor powers) while Germany was under the Versailles Treaty and Russia did not have a government that the participants recognised. France and Britain were still assisting the White Russians in their resistance to Communism. No other country had significant ship building power. The so called 5:3 ratio for ships and replacement tonnage really satisfied no one except the United States who at one stroke had gained partial parity with the British fleet. I say 'partial' as one of the most heated arguments centered on the status of Australis (and Canada, Southern Africa, and Zealandia, depending which scenario is in force). The other nations wanted the fleets of those two nations included with the British Empire fleets while Australis and Canadian representatives told the rest to politely stuff themselves. They were connected to the British in the same way as most other nations by mutual defense treaties. If Canada and Australis were to be added to Britain then so were France, Italy, Japan and the US who were all Allied to each other one way or another.

The Nelson class in the Fisherless RN, may or may not be built, as the 2nd and 3rd units of the Majestic class would be completed in place of the Nelson Class. (See HMS Majestic).

With the Japanese and Americans completing two 16" gunned ships each (US had to scrap one) the British Empire only were to be able to build 2 new battleships to the new Treaty limits of 35,000 tons standard displacement and 16" guns for the main armament. Other nations were to be able to build replacement ships from 1930 (Italy, France and Australis). The Royal Navy planners had been designing the G3 and N3 ships and with those ships being discarded by the Treaty a replacement design was literally being designed day by day while the Washington conference was in progress. A hybrid utilising features of both the G3 and N3 designs was worked on while a third M3 design was worked up to the same standard.

Hybrid G3 / N3 design, with 3 triple 16" and 34,000 tons standard, length 700 feet.

The M3 design featured 2 quadruple turrets in place of the 3 triples which gave a shorter hull and therefore shorter again armour belt, which is the whole point of the forward mounted heavy weapons. A heavy secondary armament and a group of weapons for anti-aircraft defence completed the armament. A larger propulsion unit tightened up space even more but the space saved by utilising the quadruple main guns allowed just enough room to fit everything in. Which is what design teams are supposed to arrive at, a ship design ready to build.

This was a very early drawing, one of my first. The idea was ok but the execution could be better. The second attempt was better thought out.

Nelson was taken in hand at the same time as Hood for rebuilding ie. June 1939 with completion for 1941. The Rodney was supposed to be taken in hand six months later but war had broken out and Rodney fought its war in its original state with updates/refits as available. Both ships lost the aircraft handling facilities during refits in 1942.

Displacement 35,600 tons std, 43,500 tons full load
Length 688.5 ft
Breadth 106 ft
Draught 30 ft
Machinery 4 shaft geared turbines, 110,000shp
Speed 27 knots
Range 6500 at 16 knots
Armour 14" side, 6.5" deck, 13/9/6" turrets
Armament Rodney
8 x 16" (2x4)
16 x 6" (8x2)
6 x 4.7" (6x1)
48 x 2pd (6x8)
4 x 40mm (4x1)
8 x 16" (2x4)
16 x 5.25" (8x2)
80 x 2pd (10x8)
6 x 20mm (6x1)
Aircraft 4 till removed 1942
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1400

I have redone the above ships with them being based on the original Nelson hull rather than a cut down KGV. The overall balance of the ships improves with better layout of magazines and machinery. The ships also look more like a 1920's ship design than a late 1930's design.

Another type of Battleship I looked at for a Nelson class was the Quad 15" ship out of the G3/N3 series of drawings (this was one of the L's). It featured a set of twin 4.7" turrets mounting the same 4.7" gun as shown above.


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