Having for quite some time been keeping these drawings to myself in my personal archive, I've decided to share with the rest of the community what I've done. Hood has previously drawn an otherwise quite outstanding picture of the most elegant and successful battleship-class ever built, the British Queen Elizabeths of 1915-16. Five ships were built, Queen Elizabeth herself, completed in 1915, just in time to be despatched to the botched-up operations at Gallipoli, Barham, Warspite, Valiant and Malaya, the latter gifted outright by the Federated Malay States. The Four last mentioned were all completed by 1916.
If the Invincibles and the succeeding battlecruisers were the epitome of Jacky Fisher's dictum: "Speed is your best defence and your best offence", the the QEs can be described as Sir Percy Scott, Sir John Jellicoe's and other gunnery experts' final answer to the dilemma of the ever increasing range of gunnery and the raised speeds of the battle-lines, from 15 knots to 18 knots, and finally to 21 knots. Here was a complete fast wing of the First Fleet (Soon to be renamed the Grand Fleet) that could basically turn an enemy's flank, pour a devastating flanking fire and thus either cross the enemy's "T" or simply roll his line up by crushing, one by one, his individual units.
The 15" (381 mm) gun was developed by Vickers, and rushed, quite literally, into production by the erratic, impulsive, energetic, dynamic and imaginative First Lord, Winston Churchill. By omitting the usual "Q"-turret amidships, a much more powerful machinery could be installed, one that normally yielded some 56,000 ISHP, but could be forced to 75,000 ISHP, sending the ships to speeds up to 24.5 knots (In fact, the Valiant made 24.75 on her Polperro run, in March, 1916!) Churchill ordered another innovation for a capital ship: oil was to supplant coal as the fuel of these behemoths. The charismatic First Lord went all the way to buy the majority stocks in the Anglo-French-Iranian consortium that was responsible for drilling and refining the oil, so that Britain would have a secure supply, come a war.
Luckily for Churchill and, especially for Britain, all his innovative, revolutionary ideas bore fruit: the 15" gun turned out to be the, perhaps most outstanding and successful naval ordnance ever manufactured. The machinery proved to be reliable and performing as promised; and the oil proved to be a far superior means of fuelling these castles of steel.
The five units as they completed were constituted into the 5th Battle Squadron of the newly contitued Grand Fleet under Adm. Sir John Rushworth Jellicoe. Their commander was one of Jellicoe's protegee's; Rear Adm. Hon. Hugh Evan-Thomas, 53; an accomplished gunnery expert and adherent to the dictum that the safety of the big dreadnoughts was the overriding concern of the husbandry of the mighty Grand Fleet.
Since Queen Elizabeth had not yet returned from her foray to the Mediterranean, Evan-Thomas, hoisted his pennant in the Barham. After the Queen returned she was docked and slated for overhaul and repairs, so the Fifth BS was down to four units.
It was a such the 5th BS achieved immortal fame and everlasting glory at Jutland (31 May -1 June, 1916). Jellicoe had earlier decided to shuffle his squadrons around some; the Third Battlecruiser Squadron under Hon. Horace Hood, consisting of the flagship, Invincible and sisters, Inflexible and Indomitable were assigned as a fast scouting wing to the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow. However, to placate Sir David Beatty, the impetuous commander of the Battlecruiser Fleet, based at Rosyth, Jellicoe detached Evan-Thomas' fast battleship squadron, and thus it was with the battlecruisers that the four present units of the class fought at Jutland.
A lot of controversy still surrounds both Beatty's and Evan-Thomas' conduct in that battle. The Fifth Battle Squadron was in the heat of the battle; Warspite, the future "Grand Old Lady" almost coming close to blowing up as her steering failed, instead inadvertently saving the hapless armoured cruiser Warrior from sharing the grim fate of her half-sister, Defence, in Sir Robert Arbuthnot's suicidal Deathride. Malaya, too, had her entire secondary battery wrecked by an accurate salvo of 12" shells from the Derfflinger. Only good luck prevented her from sharing Queen Mary's fate! In other respects she suffered as much damage as did her sister. Uniquely among the ships at the battle, HMS Malaya flew the red-white-black-yellow ensign of the Federated Malay States. HMS Barham, Evan-Thomas' flagship drew the intense attention of Hipper's flagship, Lützow and the Seydlitz, who landed a barrage of 12" and 11" shells around her. Incredibly enough, the flagship did not suffer materially very much, but gave as good as she received.
The design had its weaknesses, as witnessed at Jutland, but overall it was, perhaps the most well-balanced and successful battleship design ever! They served for 30 years; only the Barham coming to grief in the Mediterranean on Nov. 27, 1941 when torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine.
During the Interwar period the class kept together, always forming its own squadron. They served alternatively in the Atlantic or the Mediterranean; nearly always as flagships; in fact the only one never serving as such was the Valiant! They were rebuilt in stages; bridges built-up and closed in; funnels trunked into one; anti-aircraft armament increased and bulges fitted.
Hoods earlier drawings had some glaring defects, which I've attempted to correct. The most obvious one was that he made the ships too long, setting the forward turrets too far apart on an elongated forcastle. Also there were none to really represent how the ships looked like during their one Great Moment of Glory; namely at Jutland.
Hood has graciously given his permission for me to post the corrected drawings, and he has expressed his approval of my corrections too.
In accordance with the new, upgraded standards of SB, I've striven to add more details, using, among others, my own ships' boats, and also recoloured the underwater hull to make it more realistic.
Badges and CoAs are, as usual grateful courtesy of KimWerner!
So, here to begin with, is the HMS Barham as she appeared at Jutland, wearing the flag of Rear Admiral Hon. Hugh Evan-Thomas:
Next, I've chosen to depict the Queen Elizabeth herself, as Fleet flagship, Mediterranean Fleet, 1930-36. The flag she is carrying on her foretop either belongs to Adm. Sir Alfred Ernle Montacute Chatfield, Beatty's erstwhile chief-of-staff and captain of his flagship, HMS Lion, or Adm. Sir William Wordsworth Fisher, Chatfield's successor as C-in-C MedFleet: