Thanks for your input guys!
After the disastrous rout in the Spanish-American War, the Spanish fleet was to being reconstructed thanks to the Naval Law of 1908 (Plan Maura-Ferrandiz), which included the construction a 3 battleships, 3 destroyers, 4 gunboats and 24 torpedo boats.
After a competition between Italian (Ansaldo), French (Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée) and british designs (SECN, a Spanish-British consortium that grouped Vickers, Armstrong-Withworth and John Brown), the British design was selected. It was a dreadnought of a very constricted size and displacement (in fact, it was the smallest dreadnought class ever built), with a main 12 inch battery of 4 twin turrets placed one forward, one aft, and two amidships "en echelon". The secondary battery was made by 20 4 inch guns in side casemates, and two Vickers 47 mm guns over the fore and aft turrets as modest AA artillery. The main belt armor was 8 inch thick (but only 4 inch on either end of the central citadel). The casemate guns were protected by a 6 inch thick belt. Each turret had 8 in sides and a 10 in thick barbette. The propulsion system consisted of four-shaft Parsons steam turbines and twelve coal-fired Yarrow boilers for a total of 15500 SHP giving a rather low top speed of only 19.5 knots.
The first battleship, España, gives her name to the class and was completed in October 1913, the next vessel was Alfonso XII in August 1915 and the final of the trio was Jaime I which was hampered by logical supply problems derived of WWI was not ready until December 1921. The 3 battleships formed the First Battle Squadron and were active during the Moroccan Rif War (1921-1926). During a bombardment mission off Melilla, España ran aground in Cape Tres Forcas and become a total loss (but the artillery was saved).
In 1931, after the overthrow of King Alfonso XIII and the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic, his namesake battleship was renamed España to erase links of the former ruling Borbon dinasty.
During the Great Depression both battleships were decommissioned to reduce costs, though Jaime I was recommissioned in 1933 and served as fleet flagship. In 1936 España was drydocked at Ferrol. when the coup of July 1936 initiated the SCW. España was seized by the rebel forces. In Jaime I, the sailors mutinied against the rebel officers and gained the ship for the Republic, forming a committee of anarchist nature.
After being quickly returned to service (only 12 out of 20 4 inch guns, but with the addition of 4 88 AA guns of german origin and 2 x 20 mm over the fore and aft turrets, also of german origin), España was used together with the cruiser Cervera and the destroyer Velasco to enforce the blockade of Republican ports in northern Spain, including Gijón, Santander, and Bilbao, frequently seizing vessels carrying supplies to the Republicans.
España was lost on 30 April 1937 off Santander while on blockade duty, having struck a single mine that had been laid some days earlier by the Nationalist minelayer Jupiter. She remained afloat long enough for the destroyer Velasco to take off most of her crew and only 5 men were lost.
Jaime I was the core of the Spanish Republican Navy. The Republican fleet tried to block the Army of Africa in Morocco and in August 7th 1936, Jaime I shelled Algeciras, sinking the gunboat Eduardo Dato. In August 12th that year, Jaime I was attacked by two Junkers Ju-52 from the Condor Legion off Malaga, being slightly damaged by a hit in the bow.
The Republican Navy briefly deployed Jaime I, a pair of light cruisers, and six destroyers to the Bay of Biscay arriving Gijon on 25 September, but the squadron departed already on 13 October without any particular success, at the cost of lefting behind the Gibraltar strait unprotected, which allowed the complete passing of the francoist Army of Africa from Morocco to the peninsula. When the Republican ships departed Jaime I's left 4 secondary guns, which were later being installed on four armed bous.
After the fall of Malaga to rebel troops, the republican Navy placed Jaime I in Almeria as a floating battery, with the complete secondary battery and the addition of a twin 25 mm Hotchkiss ligth AA guns in the stern, and 2 twin 13.2 mm Hotchkiss machine guns in the opposite side of the amidships turrets. In May 21st 1937, the battleship was attacked by 5 italian Savoia SM-79, more than 60 220 pounder bombs were launched, attained 3 hits which caused damage beyond local repairs, so the vessel went to Cartagena.
In June 17th that year, a huge internal explosion crippled the battleship (causes could be sabotage, lack of care while using torches in repairing plates near the powder rooms or lack of discipline with sailors smoking in the powder rooms) which sunk in the harbor, with heavy loss of live (between 170 and 300 deaths). A year after, the hull was refloated, but was beyond economical return to service, so the secondary battery was used to arm several coastal fortifications. Six of the main guns were landed, but only placed near Tarifa during the francoist rule, until being discarded in 1999.
Credits: Well, this is until now, my most complex project. I had done the drawings, but the brain behind me was Colombamike: he aids me with surprisingly good blueprints (1.400 scale
), his very trained eye even for minor details, and excellent documentation (from placing the armor belts and the light AA guns in Jaime I, to the variation of the armament due the dates, and so). Lots of thanks to him! Cheers.