HMS Tiger

HMS Tiger was the last British battlecruiser laid down before the start of the First World War. Despite initial enthusiasm for the concept it was becoming clear that the battlecruiser was not a good design. They were too expensive to be produced in large enough numbers to be used for commerce protection, and not strong enough for the battle fleet. Once the Germans began to built their own battlecruisers with 12in guns, the British battlecruisers became very vulnerable.

HMS Tiger at Scapa Flow
HMS Tiger at Scapa Flow

HMS Tiger was an improved version of HMS Queen Mary, herself an improvement on the Lion class battlecruisers. The biggest improvement came in the armament. While the Tiger carried the same number of 13.5in guns as the earlier ships, their awkward middle battery was moved aft of the rearmost funnel, giving it a much better field of fire, while the 4in guns of the Queen Mary were replaced with 6in guns.

The Tiger retained the weak armour of earlier battlecruisers. Speed was still the primary purpose of the battlecruiser, and so despite a big increase in displacement, the armour remained the same. The extra weight was used to provide a big increase in horsepower, but despite an extra 10,000 ship horsepower, speed only increased by half a knot.

HMS Tiger was completed in October 1914, after the outbreak of the First World War. She joined the Grand Fleet, and was present at the battle of Dogger Bank (24 January 1915). There she was hit by six shells, and suffered 21 casualties.

At the battle of Jutland the Tiger fired 303 of her 13.5in shells, scoring three hits. She suffered 15 hits herself, including one to “Q” turret and one to “X” barbette, and was perhaps lucky not to suffer the fate of the Queen Mary, who exploded after being hit by only three shells.

The Tiger remained in service until 1931, first on the Atlantic Fleet (1919-1922) and then as a sea-going gunnery training ship (1924-1929). In 1929-1931 she was part of the Battle Cruiser Squadron, replacing HMS Hood, before being sold off in 1932.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



4,650 nautical miles at 10kts

Armour - deck


 - belt


 - bulkheads


 - barbettes


 - turret faces


 - conning tower





Eight 13.5in, 45 calibre Mk V guns
Twelve 6in 45 calibre Mk VII guns
Two 3in Mk I anti-aircraft guns
Four 3pdr saluting guns
Four 21in submerged torpedo tubes (beam)

Crew complement



15 December 1913


October 1914

Sold for break up

February 1932

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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Years of Endurance – Life about the battlecruiser Tiger 1914-16, John R Muir. A fascinating autobiographic account of life onboard a British battlecruiser in the North Sea during the first half of the First World War, including the response to the German raid on Scarborough, the battle of Dogger Bank, and the battle of Jutland. Written from the point of view of her Chief Medical Officer, so we get a very unusual view of life onboard a warship, including his experiences below decks during Jutland, with no idea of what was happening outside his armoured sick bay. The title was well chosen – the key emotion that comes across throughout the book is one of frustration – sometimes with the tedium of life onboard, sometimes with the inability to get to grips with the German fleet, and sometimes with the wider reaction to the Navy’s performance (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 (13 September 2007), HMS Tiger ,

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