HMS Inflexible

HMS Inflexible was an Invincible class battle cruiser, the first of the three to be laid down, but second to be completed. She was initially posted to the Nore Division of the Home Fleet, but suffered serious damage during gun trials that took four months to repair. In March 1909 she joined the 1st Cruiser Squadron, becoming flagship of that squadron in May 1912.

Plans of Invincible Class Battlecruisers
Plans of
Invincible Class

In November 1912 she was commissioned as the flagship of Admiral Berkeley Milne, the Command in Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet. At the outbreak of the First World War, the Inflexible led the hunt for the SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau, two German ships that were on their way to Constantinople. The German ships safely slipped past the British Mediterranean Fleet, and their arrival in Constantinople encouraged Turkey to enter the war on the German side. On 18 August the Inflexible was removed from the hunt and ordered to return to Scotland. In September she joined the 2nd Battlecruiser Squadron.

On 1 November 1914 Admiral von Spee defeated the Royal Navy’s South American Squadron at the Battle of Coronel. At the time the Inflexible was heading to Devonport for a refit, arriving on 5 November. She was then ordered south, with the Invincible, as part of the British response to von Spee’s victory.

The Inflexible and the Invincible reached the Falkland Islands on 7 December. Luckily for the British squadron, the next day von Spee’s squadron arrived at the islands. In the ensuing battle the British battle cruisers concentrated on von Spee’s best two ships, the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau. The 12in guns on the battle cruisers outranged von Spee’s best guns, and the two German heavy cruisers were sunk without being able to inflict any significant damage on the British ships.

In the aftermath of the Battle of the Falklands, the Inflexible was sent back to the Mediterranean as the flagship of the Commander in Chief of the Mediterranean fleet. There she took part in the bombardments of the Dardanelles forts on 19 February and 15 March. On 19 March she ran into a Turkish mine, and was out of service for two months.

After undergoing repairs at Malta the Inflexible returned to the Home Fleet, joining the Third Battlecruiser Squadron, where she remained for the rest of the war, taking part in the Battle of Jutland. The Inflexible joined the Nore Reserve in January 1919, was paid off in March 1920 and sold in 1922.  

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



3090 nautical miles at 10kts

Belt Armour


Bulkhead Armour




Turret faces armour


Conning Tower armour


Deck armour





Eight 12in guns in four turrets
Sixteen quick firing 4in guns
Seven Maxim machine guns
Five 18in submerged torpedo tubes, 4 on beam one on stern

Crew complement



26 June 1907


October 1908


Sold 1922

British and German Battlecruisers - Their Development and Operations, Michele Cosentino & Ruggero Stanglini. A useful volume that covers the development, design and construction of British and German battlecruisers, their wartime deployments and both side's plans for the next generation of battlecruisers, of which only HMS Hood was ever completed. Having all of this material in a single volume gives a much better overview of the two Navy's battlecruisers, their advantages and flaws, and their performance in and out of battle. Concludes with a look at other nation's battlecruisers and battlecruiser designs [read full review]
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Clydebank Battlecruisers, Ian Johnston. An impressive collection of photographs taken at John Brown & Sons during the construction of the battlecruisers Inflexible, Australia, Tiger, Repulse and Hood during their construction between 1906 and 1920. The pictures are very crisp and provide a fascinating view of these powerful warships under construction. [read full review]
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Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (20 August 2007), HMS Inflexible,

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