Nelson Class, British Battleships

  Photograph of Nelson-class battleship

Wikipedia Commons


Tonnage 33,950 tons standard
Dimensions 710' by 106' by 30'
216.4m by 32.3m by 9.1m
Maximum speed       23 knots
Complement 1640
1 seaplane
Armament 3x3 16"/45 guns
6x2 6"/50 guns
6 4.7"/45 AA guns
16 40mm Bofors AA guns
48 2pdr AA guns
61 20mm Oerlikon AA guns
Protection 14" (356mm) belt
6.25" (159mm) armored deck over magazines
3" (76mm) armored deck over machinery spaces
16" (406mm) front/9" (229mm) side turret
15" (381mm) barbette
2-shaft Brown-Curtis geared turbine (45,000 shp)
8 Admiralty three-drum superheated boilers
Bunkerage 4000 tons fuel oil
Range 16,500 nautical miles (30,600 km) at 12 knots

The Nelsons were completed in 1927 and have been described by one authority as "misbegotten twins fathered by disarmament." The Washington Treaty allowed Britain to build two battleships to match the U.S. Colorados and the Japanese Nagatos. The British design team chose to base the new ships on a battle cruiser design (G3) that had proven too ambitious for the straining British economy, trimming weight wherever possible, crowding the three turrets onto the foredeck to reduce the length of the armored citadel, and replacing the battle cruiser machinery with battleship machinery generating 28% the original shaft horsepower.

The result was a pair of ships incorporating numerous innovations, few of them successful. The guns proved no more effective than the older 15" guns and had poor arcs of fire. The secondary battery lacked the elevation to be effective in an antiaircraft role and was inadequately protected. The massive superstructure, placed well to the rear to make room for the main turrets, badly degraded maneuverability. The torpedo armament created a weakness in the hull that was remedied in 1941 by removing the torpedo tubes. On the other hand, the use of the new high-strength "D" steel permitted significant weight savings.

Rodney was laid up in late 1944 and never saw service thereafter. Nelson arrived at Ceylon as the war in the Pacific was winding down.

Units in the Pacific:


Arrived 1945-7 (Colombo)


Preston (1998)
Worth (2001)

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