Colossus class battleships

The two Colossus class dreadnoughts were built as a result of a public panic caused by false reports about German plans to build a dozen dreadnoughts. After a period of public agitation the number of battleships planned for 1909 was doubled from four to eight. The Colossus class ships became the first two of those eight, and were closely related to HMS Neptune, laid down in January 1909.

A number of minor changes were made. The central echeloned guns were moved closer together, allowing for an improved arrangement of the 4in guns. The belt and barbette armour was thickened.

These two ships served together in the Grand Fleet, first in the First Battle Squadron and then after Jutland in the Fourth. HMS Colossus was the only battleship of the Grand Fleet to be hit during the two short battleship actions at Jutland, suffering two hits from large shells. Casualties were light – only five wounded – and she was soon repaired. HMS Hercules was also present at Jutland, suffering no damage. 

HMS Hercules was the first Grand Fleet battleship to use a kite balloon on an active operation, during the August 1916 sortie of the Grand Fleet. This was a test launch, with no crew on the balloon, but the kite balloon soon became a valuable anti-submarine weapon. At the end of the war she carried the Allied Naval Commission to Kiel to make sure the naval terms of the Armistice were being carried out.

Plans of HMS Neptune
Plans of HMS Neptune

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



6,680 nautical miles at 10kts

Armour – deck


 - belt


 - bulkheads


 - barbettes


 - turret faces


 - conning tower





Ten 12in Mk XI guns
Sixteen 4in Mk VIII guns
Four 3pdr guns
Three 21in torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Ships in class

HMS Colossus
HMS Hercules

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (8 November 2007), Colossus class battleships ,

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