Nelson Class (1927) BB

The two ships of the Nelson Class were the first British battleships to be designed within the constraints of the Washington Treaty 1922. Which allowed ships to be built with 16in guns to match those of the USA 'Maryland' Class and Japanese 'Nagato Class' ships, but with a maximum displacement of 35,000 tons. 

The unusual layout of Nelson and Rodney resulted from those restrictions in order to concentrate the maximum armoured protection  as much as possible. The entire design revolved around saving weight everywhere in order to allow armoured protection as a whole to reach adequate standards, even to the extent that lighter steels were used for unarmoured sections and aluminium fittings used for furniture.

The main machinery was also unusual as it reverted to twin screws, and with the engine room forward of the boiler rooms. Allowing the funnel to be placed behind the bridge.

Overall the armour was superior to earlier ships, especially for deck armour which was significantly increased.

The 16in guns were a new design as were the triple turrets which housed them. But they gave many problems in their early days. The guns arcs of fire were restricted not only because all the turrets were forward of the bridge but any fire directed to the rear of the beam caused considerable damage. to the bridge, particularly if X turret fired.

Anti-aircraft guns were improved over previous classes, as they were the first ships to be fitted with 2pdr AA guns for close range protection.

They had a reputation as being ugly ships which were difficult to manoeuvre. But they had an aura of power about them which was enhance by the tower construction of the bridge. A feature which was to be repeated in the few remaining battleships constructed and also incorporated into ships which were reconstructed between the wars.



In common with their contemporaries, anti-aircraft armament was greatly enhanced throughout their life. Other changes included;
fitting an aircraft catapult during the 1930's;
Radar fitted during WW2;
Rodney's forward hull strengthened.

By the end of WW2 their armament was;
9 x 16in guns, main;
12 x 6in guns, secondary;
6 x 4.7in AA;
48 x 2pdr pom-poms AA (Nelson);
44 x 2prd pom-poms AA (Rodney);
16 x 40mm Bofors (Nelson only);
61 x 20mm (Nelson);
68 x 20mm (Rodney).


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This page last edited - 02 March, 2013.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.