With Jabba's kind permission, I have begun to work on the Royal Navy's Invincible Class Battlecruisers!
I will be working on the Invincibles alongside the Bellerophons--just as in real life, the Royal Navy's dreadnought and battlecruiser programs will be proceeding in parallel
HMS Invincible, 1909
HMS Invincible as she appeared when commissioned in 1909.
The Invincible class was conceived as a standard cruiser in 1905, alongside the initial designs for HMS Dreadnought. The decision was made to arm the next cruiser class with 12in guns, equaling the firepower of a battleship and allowing them to outrange and outgun other cruisers while still being capable of high speed. These ships were intended for reconnaissance in force and for engaging enemy cruisers. As such, they were armored to the same degree as previous cruiser classes. The armor protection was sufficient to keep out medium caliber shells, but would be incapable of defeating heavy rounds except at extreme range. However, the size and armament of these new battlecruisers (formally named in 1911) made it unthinkable for admirals to exclude them from a major fleet action, even though the battlecruisers were never designed to be able to stand in the line of battle against battleships (or even other battlecruisers). In action, the battlecruisers were effective in independent actions against enemy cruisers, but proved to be fatally vulnerable when employed against battleships.
The Invincibles were armed with eight 12in guns, mounted in 4 turrets, disposed to allow 6 guns to bear in any direction. The ships had a theoretical 8 gun broadside, but the narrow arc of fire of the masked turret and severe blast effects limited the broadside to 6 guns in general practice. The battlecruisers also mounted 16 4in guns for torpedo boat defense, and carried 5 torpedo tubes, two on each broadside and one in the stern.
Invincible was completed in September 1908, and underwent extensive trials, being commissioned into the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Home Fleet in March 1909. Invincible’s beam turrets were fitted with experimental electrical drives, which proved to be inferior to the standard hydraulic machinery. She could be distinguished from her sisters by white stripes on her three funnels.
HMS Invincible, 1912
HMS Invincible as she appeared in 1912.
Invincible’s range indicator was removed, her 24in searchlight was remounted abaft of the fore funnel, and an extra yard on the foremast was fitted. Blast screens were added around the 4in guns on A and Y (fore and aft) turrets to increase the protection afforded to those mounts. An additional pair of 36in searchlights was fitted on an extended platform abeam the fore funnel.
HMS Invincible, 1914
HMS Invincible as she appeared during the Battle of the Falkland Islands on December 8, 1914.
By 1914, Invincible’s torpedo nets had been removed, and her foretop was rebuilt as on her sisters. Director control was fitted for the main armament, placed on the platform below the foretop. Her topgallants were removed, and her secondary armament was redistributed—the 4 in guns previously mounted on A and Y turrets were removed and remounted in the forward superstructure, one pair above the fore pair of 4 in guns and the second pair below the boat deck. All 4 in guns in the forward superstructure were plated in, and the open gallery of the superstructure was largely enclosed. At the outbreak of war, the funnel recognition bands were painted out. Prior to the Falklands action, anti-rangefinder spirals were fitted on Invincible’s masts. She flies the flag of Vice-Admiral Doveton Sturdee, commanding the battlecruiser squadron during the Falkland Islands engagement.
In late 1913, Invincible was attached to the newly organized 2nd Battlecruiser Squadron, and in 1914 she was made flagship of the 2nd BCS, consisting of Invincible herself and the battlecruiser New Zealand. On August 28, 1914, Invincible led the 2nd BCS into the Battle of Heligoland Bight, supporting the withdrawal of the Harwich Light Forces. Invincible engaged and sunk the German cruiser Koln during this action. In September, Invincible was transferred to the 1st BCS Grand Fleet, and participated in frequent patrols of the North Sea. In October she was transferred back to the 2nd BCS, and patrolled off the Shetland Islands during the Atlantic crossing of the First Canadian Contingent.
On November 4, immediately following the news of the disastrous defeat at the Coronel Islands by the German Overseas Squadron, Invincible and Inflexible were detached as a special squadron for operations against Count Von Spee’s force. Invincible was relieved as flagship of the 2nd BCS by New Zealand, and the two battlecruisers made ready in Devonport. On November 11, the two battlecruisers, under the command of Vice-Admiral Doveton Sturdee aboard Invincible, weighed anchor for the South Atlantic. Invincible and Inflexible rendezvoused with the cruisers Cornwall, Kent, Carnarvon, Bristol, and Glasgow, and reached Port William in the Falkland Islands on December 7.
Early in the morning, while Invincible and Inflexible were coaling, the German squadron was spotted approaching the harbor. Von Spee, realizing immediately that British heavy units were now in the area, retreated with his squadron. The battlecruisers made steam, and at 10:20 general chase was ordered. Invincible opened fire on the German cruiser Leipzig at 12:58, and soon afterwards the German light cruisers broke away to the southwest. The British cruisers gave chase, while the two battlecruisers focused on the heavier German cruisers—Gneisenau and flagship Scharnhorst. Invincible and Inflexible generally stayed out of range of the German cruisers, unloading heavy 12 in shells into the two German ships. The Scharnhorst sank first, capsizing at 16:10, followed by Gneisenau at 18:02. Throughout the action, Invincible had drawn most of the enemy fire and was hit 22 times, but suffered no casualties and no serious damage. The action off the Falklands demonstrated the lethal effectiveness of the battlecruiser when employed in the mission it was intended for—cruiser hunting.
HMS Indomitable, 1909
HMS Indomitable as she appeared in 1909.
Indomitable had a white stripe on her third funnel, and could be distinguished from Invincible by her two range indicators, one on each mast. She flies the flag of Rear-Admiral Stanley Colville.
Indomitable was completed in 1908, and commissioned to carry HRH Prince George to Canada. Upon her return, she joined the Nore Division of the Home Fleet, being assigned to the newly created 1st Cruiser Squadron in 1909. In July, she relieved HMS Drake to become flagship of the 1st CS, under Rear-Admiral Stanley Colville.
HMS Indomitable, 1912
HMS Indomitable as she appeared in 1912.
Indomitable’s fore funnel was heightened in an attempt to clear the bridge of smoke. Other changes include the removal of the 24in searchlight and the fitting of an extra yard on the foremast. The range indicators were removed, and the forward control top was rebuilt with a narrow face. Blast screens were added around the 4in guns on A and Y (fore and aft) turrets to increase the protection afforded to those mounts.
HMS Inflexible, 1909
HMS Inflexible as she appeared in 1909.
Inflexible had a white stripe on her fore funnel, and could be distinguished from Invincible by her two range indicators, one on each mast. Additionally, she had unique brackets for the siren mounting abaft the fore funnel.
Inflexible was completed in 1908, and commissioned into the Nore Division of the Home Fleet. In 1909 she joined the 1st CS, and late in the year she carried Admiral of the Fleet Sir Edward Seymour to New York as part of the Royal Navy squadron attending the Hudson-Fulton celebrations.
HMS Inflexible, 1911
Inflexible as she appeared in 1911.
The most notable change is the heightening of the fore funnel, which was done to clear the bridge of smoke and fumes. Other changes include the remounting of the 24in searchlight and the fitting of an extra yard on the foremast.
HMS Inflexible, 1914
HMS Inflexible as she appeared during the Battle of the Falkland Islands on December 8, 1914.
By 1914, Inflexible’s torpedo nets had been removed, and her foretop was rebuilt as on her sisters. Her topgallants were removed, and 4 in guns previously mounted on A and Y turrets were removed. The 24in searchlight was also removed. At the outbreak of war, the funnel recognition bands were painted out.