HMS Marshal Soult (Mon-1915)


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In real life the Marshal class monitors were as good as the others except for one thing - their engines were unreliable and while the ships were designed for 9-10 knots, neither ship made more than 6 knots on trials. This meant they had very little distance to travel and they could even be towed into position. They had been fitted with diesels made for much smaller vessels and those engines never handled the strain of moving such big and unwieldly ships. The guns for these ships came from the spare turrets off the Repulse and Renown when those two ships were re-ordered from R Class battleships to Battlecruisers. Once trials with the Marshal Ney had been completed and the engines had broken down completely the twin 15" was removed and fitted to HMS Erebus instead. The Marshal Ney then being fitted with single 6" and 4" and used as the Guardship for the Downs. Marshal Soult, its engines still straining away and with help from tugs anchored the end of the British line in Belgium along with the other monitors.

With the advent of the Fisherless RN the source of turrets for these ships disappears. No ugly sisters (Courageous class) or Renown class ships are constructed. The 6th and 7th R class battleships are cancelled and reordered as triple 15" turreted Barfleur class battleships. The eight twin turrets to arm those ships were not cancelled with six being allocated to monitors and the other pair to be spares for the ten ships of the Queen Elizabeth and Resolution Classes. This would provide for the two ship class Marshal class and four ship Erebus class. Instead of the low power diesels, two sets of low power steam turbines being built for cross Channel ferries were installed instead. These gave the ships speeds of 14-15 knots and a much better radius of action. Eventually ten of this type of hull and machinery were built with different armaments and superstructures being fitted. Two Marshal Class, four Abercrombie Class (US 14"), four Skirmisher Class (completed post war).

By 1941, the Marshal Ney had been lost off Dunkirk, and the Marshal Soult was in the Mediterranean supporting the troops in Greece and North Africa. The look of the ships were altered quite a lot through the inter-war years when you compare the two drawings. The 4" are grouped together and fitted with full shields and Mk-V AA mountings controlled with a single HACS unit. Where the forward 4" had been, was placed a tub for a quad 2 pounder pom pom mounting which was controlled by a radar predictor unit mounted at the back of the conning position level. Search Radars were fitted at the mastheads while gunnery targeting radar was fitted to the main gunnery director.

The Marshal Soult never left the Mediterranean, supporting the Army at Tobruk, clearing out North Africa of German troops, Supporting the Husky landings in Sicily, chasing the Germans and Italians up the 'boot' of Italy. Salerno, Anzio, the Marshal Soult was there. The poor old ship took damage from hits and near misses and glued back together to get the ship back in the firing line where its 15" guns were sorely needed. The end of the war found the ship anchored off Genoa where the ship was sold for scrap.

Displacement 6650 tons std, 7360 tons full load.
Length 355 ft
Breadth 90.5 ft
Draught 10 ft
Machinery 2 shaft Steam turbines 6,500shp
Speed 14 knots
Range 3000 miles at 10 knots
Armour 4" side, 3" deck, 13-8" turret
Armament As completed

2 x 15" (1x2)
6 x 4" LA (6x1)
2 x 3" AA (2x1)
2 x 2pd (2x1)
Refits to 1941

2 x 15" (1x2)
6 x4" AA (6x1)
8 x 2pd (2x4)
8 x 20mm (8x1)
Complement 180 198
Notes Fate
Marshal Soult Deleted and scrapped 1946
Marshal Ney Sunk by Stukas off Dunkirk 1940

1915 on trials. Tripod stiffeners, larger funnel and conning position added after trials showed that these were a necessity.


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