Royal Sovereign Class (1916) BB

The five ships of the Royal Sovereign Class (1916) are sometimes referred to as 'R' Class battleships, from the first letters of each of their names. They are very similar to the preceding Queen Elizabeth Class (1915), except for one important area. They were designed for coal fired boilers with lower powered engines than the 'Queen Elizabeth's'. Although they were altered to oil fired boilers while under construction they remained limited in power. So their speed of 21kts, adequate for WW1 was not fast enough to make them first line ships in WW2.

Their armament was similar to the 'Queen Elizabeth's. But the secondary 6in guns were mounted further towards the rear along the side of the ship, which made them less vulnerable to flooding during a seaway. They had directors for their main guns fitted during construction.

Armoured protection was similar to the 'Queen Elizabeth's', but with  slightly improved deck armour.

Ramillies had anti-torpedo bulges fitted during construction, all the others had them fitted later. 

They were unusual for their period in having one funnel, which gave them a distinctive silhouette. They also had an smaller auxiliary rudder ahead of a single balanced main rudder fitted on the centreline. This auxiliary rudder was found to be unnecessary.

Like the 'Queen Elizabeth's they all underwent a series of modifications up to WW2. However these modifications were limited by a number of factors. 
Lack of speed. (Although this could have been increased with new engines and boilers).
Lack of power. (As they only had room for three boiler rooms against four in the 'Queen Elizabeth's).
More limited space available in the bridge area, which made it more difficult to rebuilt the superstructure.



Watertight integrity and anti-flash arrangements for cordite hoists improved. 
Stiffening fitted to the forward part of the hull. 
1in deck armour fitted over the magazines.
Secondary directors added and flying off platforms for aircraft fitted on B and X turrets.
Anti-torpedo bulges fitted to Royal Sovereign, Revenge and Resolution.

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Anti-torpedo bulges fitted to Royal Oak.
3in guns removed and replaced with 4in HA, with the exact number varying between each ship.
2 x6in guns removed from all ships except for Royal Oak which retained them. 

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Further changes made to the 4in guns.
Pom-pom AA guns fitted.
0.5in machine guns fitted as close-in AA.
Flying off platforms removed form B and X turrets.
Single catapult fitted.
Deck armour improved in Royal Oak.
Submerged torpedo tubes removed.

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World War 2

Several improvements made to AA armament as the war progressed.
Further deck armour fitted.
Radar fitted.

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- Specifications as built  
- Modifications 1916-20
- Modifications 1921-29
- Modifications 1930-39
- Modifications WW2
- Specifications 1942
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Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.

This page last edited - 27 February, 2013.