Thursday, 24 September 2009

Battleships are cool (an occasional series)

HMS Iron Duke was a battleship of the Royal Navy, the lead ship of her class, named in honour of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. She served as the flagship of the Grand Fleet during the First World War, including at the Battle of Jutland. For the majority of the Great War, she was based with the rest of the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow, Scotland.

Iron Duke was launched on 12 October 1912 at Portsmouth, England, the first of her class. After commissioning, she joined the Home Fleet as the flagship of Admiral Sir George Callaghan. Shortly before the beginning of hostilities, Callaghan was relieved by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, who made Iron Duke the flagship of the newly organized Grand Fleet. Her only major combat service during the First World War came in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916, where she served in the Fourth Battle Squadron.

The Iron Duke class ships were 189.9 metres (622 feet 9 inches) long overall, and had a beam of 27.4 m (90 ft) and a draught of 8.8 m (29 ft). This was an increase of 7.7 m (25 ft) in length and .3 m (1 ft) in width over the preceding King George V class ships. The Iron Dukes displaced 25,400 tonnes (25,000 long tons). This was some 2,032 tonnes (2,000 tons) heavier than the preceding King George Vs, and was primarily due to the increase in calibre of the secondary battery.

Iron Duke was the first British battleship to be mounted with anti-aircraft weaponry. In 1914, two 3 in (7.62 cm) QF guns were fitted to the aft superstructure, primarily to defend against German airships.[6] The guns fired between 12–14 rounds per minute, and were expected to fire approximately 1,250 shells before replacement or repair was necessary. The shells fired were 5.67 kg (12.5 lb) with a high-explosive warhead. They were manually operated, and had a maximum effective ceiling of 7,160 m (23,500)

In 1931, after the London Naval Treaty, Iron Duke was disarmed and she served as a gunnery training vessel. "B" and "Y" turrets and the torpedo tubes were removed, two 4 in (100 mm) AA guns were mounted and another AA gun was mounted in place of the "B" turret. In 1939, another twin 4.5 in (110 mm) turret was mounted at the "X" turret.

During the Second World War, she was used as a base ship at Scapa Flow, where she was forced to beach during an air attack in 1939. She was refloated and saw continued service until the conclusion of hostilities. She was sold in 1946 as scrap, and broken up in Glasgow in 1948. Iron Duke's bell is on display at Winchester Cathedral. A wide variety of domestic nick-nacks made of teak from Iron Duke [1] are sold to the public.

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