HMS King George V (BB-1939)


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With the 16" mk1 fitted into the Nelson class having proved a disappointment in service the Royal Navy was left with the dilemma of what type of weapon should arm their next generation of Treaty battleships. With the London Treaty of 1930 failing to curb the Japanese expansion programs and another arms race in view, the British (like the other nations), had to lay down ships or be left behind. The 3 choices for the new ships were, 12x14" in 3 quadruple turrets, 9x15" in three triple turrets or 9x16" again in three triple turrets. New designs for the 14" and 16" would have been required while the navy had the battle proven 15" guns in service. A new modernised version of both gun and turret to improve range to compete with other modern guns was required. The lesser weight could be used to further improve protection.

Going to the 9x15" also allowed a return to a standard layout of 2 turrets forward and 1 turret aft. While the Nelsons had been a good use of available resources the ships had proved cramped internally and crew comfort was a constant source of problems. It turned out that the allowance of cold space for food was below expectation and this more than anything else kept the ships tied to home waters as their ability to steam long distances was compromised through to the removal of their aircraft when new cool rooms were fitted in the space provided. The 15" choice was a good one considering the other European navies laying down battleships were also choosing 15" or smaller for main armaments.

King George V stream:

(12x14", 9x15", 9x16")

Original 12 x 14", 20x4.5".

Original 12x14", 16x5.25". This is the planned version accepted with the 'B' turret being replaced with the twin to give the 10x14" version accepted.

Optional Layout for the 12x14", 20x4.5".

Preferred Admiralty layout. 9x15", 20x4.5". Two versions were proposed. Type 1, had new version 15" triple turrets. Type 2, was designed with the spare triple 15" turrets from the Majestic class. (my preference as well)

Majestic Turrets: would have been completed much quicker with the armament already available. One to four examples may have been built depending on what happens to the Majestic class 1920-23.

9x15", 16x5.25".

9x16", 12x5.25", the next two designs were to have been chosen for the last two ships (of five KGV) but it ended up quicker (and cheaper) to continue with the 14" rather than promulgate a new 16" gun system.

9x16", 16x5.25, this version deleted the aircraft handling facilities to be replaced with extra AA weapons.

What was finally accepted to be built was a 12x14" design with the 16x5.25" dual purpose weapons as secondary armament. While under construction it was found the design would go over the 35,000 ton standard displacement limit, and to bring the ship back within limits the 'B' turret was changed from a quad to a twin to give the well known ten gun main armament.


Displacement 37,250 tons std, 44,500 tons full load
Length 745 ft
Breadth 104 ft
Draught 31 ft
Machinery 4 shaft geared turbines, 125,000shp
Speed 28 knots
Range 5500 at 18 knots
Armour 14.7" side, 6" deck, 13" turrets
Armament 9 x 15" (3x3)

20 x 4.5" (10x2)

56 x 2pd (7x8)

8 x 20mm (2x2 4x1)

Aircraft 4 till removed 1942
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1600
Notes King George V Type:
HMS King George V
HMS Duke of York
HMS Prince of Wales
HMS Duke of Kent
HMS Duke of Gloucester


King George V and Vanguard 1944.


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