HMS London

HMS London was the name ship of the London class of battleships. During the First World War she served at the Dardanelles, before forming part of the British squadron in the Adriatic. Before the war she had served as the flagship of the Rear-Admiral of both the Channel and Atlantic Fleets. In 1912 she had been placed in the 3rd Battle Squadron of the reserve, but had then been reactivated to take part in seaplane experiments. She was one of the first ships to have a seaplane take off from her decks, using a ramp fitted over the forecastle.

Plans of Formidable and London Class Battleships
Plans of
Formidable and
London Class
Battleships

In August 1914 the entire London class (with the very similar Formidable class ships) formed the 5th Battle Squadron of the Channel Fleet, helping to guard the BEF as it crossed the channel. The strong pre-dreadnought battleship squadrons of the Channel Fleet were gradually reduced in size, until in February 1915 HMS London was one of only four battleships left at Portland, many of the rest having been dispatched either to support cruiser squadrons or to the Dardanelles.

On 18 March 1915 the British and French fleets attempted to force their way through the Dardanelles. During the attempt three battleships were sunk and a fourth badly damaged. On 19 March the British War Council Met, and decided to sent HMS London and HMS Prince of Wales to replaced some of the losses. Their departure left the Channel Fleet without any battleships.

On 25 April HMS London was part of the Second Squadron of the fleet, supporting the Gallipoli Landings. London, Queen and Prince of Wales were used to transport 1,500 men from the 3rd Australian Brigade to their landing beaches.

In May 1915 Queen, Prince of Wales, Implacable and London were dispatched to Taranto under the terms of the agreement that brought Italy into the war. They left the Dardanelles on 18 May, arriving at Taranto on 27 May. The Italians had been worried that the Austro-Hungarian battle fleet would attempt to break out of the Adriatic or attack their own fleet, but after an initial sortie against the Italian coast, the Austrian fleet remained largely dormant, and the British battleships found themselves largely inactive.

HMS London returned to Britain early in 1917 to be converted to a minelayer. Her forward 12in guns were removed, her rear guns replaced by a 6in gun, and the rear part of the main deck converted to carry 240 mines. In 1918 she joined the 1st Minelaying Squadron. In the last year of the war a vast number of mines were laid, in an attempt to stop the German submarine campaign, but the only result of this effort was to force the German submarines to use the Baltic route into the North Sea, slightly reducing the length of time they could spend in the battle zone.

Displacement (loaded)

15,700t 

Displacement (Queen and Prince of Wales)

15,400t

Top Speed

18kts

Armour – deck

2.5in-1in

 - belt

9in

 - bulkheads

12in-9in

 - barbettes

12in

 - gun houses

10in-8in

 - casemates

6in

 - conning tower

14in

Length

431ft 9in

Armaments

Four 12in guns
Twelve 6in quick firing guns
Sixteen 12pdr quick firing guns
Six 3pdr guns
Four 18in torpedo tubes

Crew complement

714

Launched

21 September 1899

Completed

June 1902

Captains

J. G. Armstrong (1914, 1915)

Sold for break up

1920

British Battleships 1889-1904 New Revised Edition, R A Burt. Magnificent study of the Royal Navy's pre-dreadnought battleships, amongst the most powerful ships in the world when built, but seen as obsolete by the outbreak of war in 1914. Traces the development of the 'classic' pre-dreadnought design and the slow increase in the power of the secondary armament, leading up to the all-big gun ships that followed. [read full review]
cover cover cover

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 November 2007), HMS London , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_London.html

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