Indefatigable Class battlecruisers

The Indefatigable class battlecruisers were very similar to the earlier Invincible class battlecruisers. HMS Indefatigable was built under the 1908 naval construction programme, while the Australia and the New Zealand were funded by the respective Dominion governments and their construction overlapped with that of the superior Lion class ships. The new ships were longer than the Invincible class ships, which gave more space for their amidships turrets, giving then a wider arc of fire when firing across the ship. The weaknesses that would later discredit the British battlecruisers would not become apparent until the battle of Jutland, six years after the Australia and New Zealand were laid down.

HMS Indefatigable from the right
HMS Indefatigable from the right

The two dominion ships had a slightly better layout of armour, with no belt armour at the bow and stern, but thicker armour by the sides of the fore and aft turrets (“A” and “X”). They were also given slightly more powerful engines. They were further modified after the battle of Jutland, when their deck armour was improved.

HMS Indefatigable was in the Mediterranean at the start of the First World War, taking part in the unsuccessful attempt to catch the German battlecruiser Goeben. She then took part in the first bombardment of the Dardanelles forts on 3 November 1914. She returned to Britain early in 1915, joining the Grand Fleet. At the battle of Jutland she was hit by 11in shells from the Von der Tann, exploding with the loss of all but two of her crew.

HMS New Zealand was paid for by New Zealand, but served with the Grand Fleet. She took part in the battle of Heligoland Bight (1914), the battle of Dogger Bank (1915), the battle of Jutland (1916) and the action of Heligoland Bight (1917).

HMAS Australia before being scuttled, 1924
HMAS Australia before being scuttled, 1924

HMS Australia was paid for by Australia, and served as the flagship of the Australian fleet. At the start of the First World War she supported the New Zealand and Australian expeditions that captured Samoa and German New Guinea, before being sent across the Pacific as part of the concentration against Admiral von Spee. After the battle of the Falklands she joined the Grand Fleet, serving as the flagship of the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron. She missed the battle of Jutland after colliding with HMS New Zealand  on 22 April 1916.  

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



6,330 nautical miles at 10kts

Armour – deck


 - belt


 - bulkheads


 - barbettes


 - turret faces


 - conning tower





Eight 12in Mk X guns
Sixteen 4in Mk VIII guns
Four 3pdr guns
Three 18in torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Ships in class

HMS Indefatigable
HMAS Australia
HMS New Zealand

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]
cover cover cover


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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (15 November 2007), Indefatigable Class battlecruisers ,

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