Lion Class Battlecruiser (1910)

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Overview of 3 vessels
Citations for this data available on individual ship pages
Name Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
Lion Devonport Royal Dockyard 29 Nov, 1909 6 Aug, 1910 4 Jun, 1912 Sold 31 Jan, 1924
Princess Royal Vickers 2 May, 1910 29 Apr, 1911 14 Nov, 1912 Sold 19 Dec, 1922
Queen Mary Palmer Shipbuilding and Iron Company 6 Mar, 1911 20 Mar, 1912 Aug, 1913 Sunk 31 May, 1916


In early 1914, Lion complained of insufficient frying capacity in the galley for preparing breakfast. A call was made for reports from her sisters and other battlecruisers to determine whether this was a serious problem.[1]

In October 1914, the ships were to be given 12 Pattern 1582 Electric Radiators to warm cabins whose stoves could not be used for heating them.[2]


According to the ambitions of 1909, these ships had Service Gear Mark II wireless upon completion.[3]


Lion and Princess Royal (but seemingly not Queen Mary, whose twin projectors may have been Vickers-made[Inference]) were fitted with Siemens' No. 3 Twin Mountings for 24-in projectors. In 1914, some or all of these were to be modified to permit 90 degree elevation for use in anti-aircraft work.[4]


The ships were ordered in July 1914 to surrender their 30-foot cutters.[5]

In October 1914, Lion and Princess Royal were to be provided 42-foot sailing launches after these boats had motors installed.[6]


In September 1914, the ships were each to be sent eight 3/9 power telescopes and to return the same number of 2.5 power scopes, Pattern G. 329 upon receipt.  These were likely to serve as trainer telescopes.  Constrained supplies meant that 26% of the scopes actually supplied her may have wound up being 5/12 or 5/21 scopes.[7]


Main Battery

This section is sourced from The Sight Manual, 1916.[8]

The eight 13.5-in Mark V(L) guns (Mark V (H) in Queen Mary) were in Mark II (or Mark II*) mountings, able to elevate twenty degrees and be depressed three. The sights for Lion and Princess Royal were similar to those in the Orion class. Those in Queen Mary may have more closely resembled those in the the King George V class which also fired the heavier 13.5-in shells. The rest of this section pertains specifically to the Mark V (L) ships.

The sights were limited to 15 degrees elevation, but the central sights had "20 degree super-elevation strips". Additionally, 6 degree super-elevation prisms would have been provided by 1916. The deflection gearing constant was 59.47, with 1 knot equalling 2.51 arc minutes, calculated as 2550 fps at 5000 yards. Range drums were provided for full charge at 2500 fps, three-quarter charge at 2100 fps, as well as 6-pdr sub-calibre gun and .303-in aiming rifle.

Muzzle velocity was corrected by adjustable scale plate between 2560 and 2260 fps. The adjustable temperature scale plate could vary between 40 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and a "C" corrector could alter the ballistic coefficient by +/- 20%.

These sights were luxuriously equipped with a cam to correct for drift, which afforded a more precise correction than simply inclining the sight.

The side position sighting lines (parenthetically different in Conqueror) were 41.25 (22.35) inches above and 39 (40.2) inches abreast the bore, and the central scopes were 56.25 (35.85) inches above and 42 (43.5) inches abreast. The left-hand centre position sight was a free trainer's sight, able to swing freely in pitch.

O.O.Q. Open Director Sights capable of 20 degrees elevation had been fitted to Orion by 1916, and the others were to be fitted with them.

A box of tools was provided for every 4 sights.

The hydraulic controls in training were mature; operated by a single handwheel, they could permit continual aim in most conditions. Elevation also seemed to support continual aim well, and the elevation speed was increased slightly from 3 degrees per second in previous mountings.[9]

Secondary Battery

This section is sourced in The Sight Manual, 1916.[10]

The three ships were not identical in their secondary batteries. Lion had a different 4-in mounting (P. IV*); her particulars are documented on her ship's pagePrincess Royal's configuration is documented here. I am not sure which best describes Queen Mary's, but possibly this one.[Inference]

Sixteen 4-in B.L. Mark VII guns on P. II* mountings were arranged for broadside fire. They were similar to the P. II and P. II* equipment fitted in the Bellerophon, Neptune, Indefatigable classes and other ships.

The mounting could elevate 15 degrees and depress 7 degrees, but though its sight could match the 15 degree elevation, the range dial was only graduated to 11.5 degrees (10,000 yards).

These cam-worked sights had range dials for 2750 fps, and 1-in and .303-in aiming rifles. M.V. could be corrected by adjustable pointer through +/- 150 fps.

Unlike earlier P. II* sights such as on Neptune, these sights were F.T.P. sights.

The deflection gearing constant was 64.277 with 1 knot equal to 2.41 arc minutes, corresponding to 2800 fps at 2000 yards. Drift was corrected by inclining the sight 2 degrees.

The layer's sight line was 14 inches above the bore, and 15.25 inches left. The trainer's sight line was 15.25 inches above and 12.5 inches right.

The sight had a temperature corrector, but not a "C" corrector.

The layer had an open sight. The trainer's sight could be used as a free sight with a counterweight.

In February, 1913, Princess Royal's mountings, along with many other 4-in and 6-in mountings in various capital ships and cruisers were to have illumination added for their training index racers. Apparently, Lion and Queen Mary were excluded from this order.[11]

In August of 1913, Portsmouth Royal Dockyard was to supply head rests for the 4-in guns in Lion and Princess Royal, to be fitted in the dockyard when the opportunity arose. Queen Mary was omitted from that order.[12]


  • two 21-in submerged broadside tubes forward depressed 2 degrees with the axis of the tube 1 foot 9 inches above the deck.[13]

In 1917, these tubes were firing 21-in Mark II**** torpedoes.[14]

Torpedo Control

Torpedo control arrangements for Queen Mary were generally similar to those of the King George V. class, except that she lacked a stern torpedo tube.[15]

Fire Control

Phones and Voicepipes

In early 1914, the ships had a voicepipe between T.S. and G.C.T..[16]

By mid-1918, it was approved to fit Pattern 3331 Navyphones with loud-sounding bells in the auxiliary machinery compartments of Lion and Orion classes and later where existing navyphones have proven ineffective.[17]

Range Dials

As of 1920, each surviving ship had two Range Dial Type Bs and a single Type D.[18]


Lion and Princess Royal were given 9-foot rangefinders in "B" and "X" turrets, and Queen Mary was completed with 9-foot rangefinders in all four turrets — the first capital ship equipped in the lavish pattern that was to be applied to earlier ships in retrofit when possible.[19]

Lion was completed with a 9-ft rangefinder in the forward top dismally situated abaft the forward funnel. It proved untenable, and was moved to a newly added armoured hood atop the conning tower in a refit in 1912. Queen Mary and Princess Royal had the armoured hood from completion.[20][21]

Queen Mary differed by having a 9-ft rangefinder in an armoured hood atop her torpedo control tower aft, whereas the other ships had smaller structure here and an open rangefinder mounting.

In July 1914, Lion and Princess Royal were requested to arrange directly with Ottway & Co. to have the trainers' periscopes for their armoured hood rangefinders, altered – apparently to have them attached to the rangefinder as opposed to the revolving hood.[22]

Sometime during or after 1917, an additional 15-foot rangefinder on an open mounting was to be added specifically to augment torpedo control.[23]

Evershed Bearing Indicators

All units were likely fitted with this equipment by late 1914.[24]

The transmitting positions were

  • Gun control tower
  • Conning tower (transmitters to port and starboard with a local switch to select one in use)
  • "B" turret
  • "X" turret[25]

The protocols for how her crew should handle wooding of the turrets was outlined in the Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914.[26]

In 1917, it was approved that capital ships of Dreadnought class and later should have Evershed equipment added to their C.T., able to communicate with either the fore top or the G.C.T.. If there were not enough room in the C.T., a bearing plate with open sights and 6-power binoculars would be added to the C.T.. At the same time, all directors were to be fitted with receivers and, "as far as possible", ships were to have fore top, G.C.T. and controlling turrets fitted to transmit as well as receive, though this was noted as being impossible in some earlier ships.[27]

Mechanical Aid-to-Spotter

At some point, Lion and Princess Royal were equipped with two Mechanical Aid-to-Spotter Mark Is, one on each side of the foretop, keyed off the Evershed rack on the director. As the need for such gear was apparently first identified in early 1916, it seems likely that these installations were effected well after Jutland.[28]

In 1917, it was decided that these should have mechanical links from the director and pointers indicating the aloft Evershed's bearing.[29]

Gunnery Control

Queen Mary differed from her sisters by mimicking King George V whereas Lion and Princess Royal were likened to Orion.[30] The control arrangements were likely as follows, with some inferences being drawn due to fundamental differences between these ships and their dreadnought archetypes.

Control Positions

Some ships had within the control positions so they could be connected to either T.S..[32] It is not clear if this applied to Lion and Princess Royal.

Control Groups

The four 13.5-in turrets were separate groups, each with a local C.O.S. so that it could be connected to

  • Forward T.S.
  • After T.S.
  • Local control from officer's position within turret


Main Battery

At some point, the ships were fitted with a cam-type tripod-mounted director in a light aloft tower on the foremast along with a directing gun (in "Y" turret?).[33] The battery was divisible into forward ("A" and "B") and aft ("Q" and "Y") groups, and a C.O.S. in the T.S. allowed the following modes of control:[34]

  • All turrets on aloft director
  • All turrets on directing gun
  • Forward group on aloft, aft group on directing gun

In May, 1917, in recognition of shortcomings in the use of directing guns, it was ordered that Lion and Princess Royal should be fitted with a second tripod-type director aft,[35] at which time they would have been fitted with a 5-way C.O.S., possibly in the manner:[36]

  • All turrets on forward aloft director
  • All turrets on aft director
  • All turrets on directing gun
  • Forward group on forward director, aft group on aft director
  • Forward group on forward director, aft group on directing gun

It appears that Lion had her alternative director fitted in September 1918, and that Princess Royal may have never had hers installed, though the tower and sights had been delivered.[37]

The turret Elevation Receivers were pattern number H. 4, capable of indicating 20 degrees of elevation. The Training Receivers were the single dial type, pattern number 5.[38]

Secondary Battery

The 4-in broadside guns are not listed as ever having had directors installed.[39]

Torpedo Control

Alternative Torpedo Director Position proposed c1911
In 1911, it was decided to equip the ships (or possibly just Queen Mary[40]) with hoods situated near the broadside tubes.[41]

The ships were to have had small armoured hoods added around 1911-12 which would enjoy frontal protection from the ship's side armour and obviate the need for tangent bars on the torpedo director. A 4-inch embrasure as drawn here gave a line of sight from 70 degrees before to 80 degrees abaft the line of the tube, but this was later modified before construction to do 80 degrees on either side of the tube. Hinged shutters allowed the embrasure to be closed when not in use, and the stand for the director could be swiveled to match any gyro angle in use at the tube.[42] There is no evidence that this work was ever undertaken. Iron Duke was completed with such hoods in place, and they were vacated in favor of the C.T. after testing revealed they were too susceptible to blast from the guns.[Citation needed]

By mid 1917 and likely a considerable time before,[Inference] Lion and Princess Royal were provided a Torpedo Control Plotting Instrument Mark I in the T.C.T.. It is not certain that Queen Mary was so equipped at the time of her loss, but it seems likely.[Inference][43]

In 1919, the two surviving ships were selected to eventually receive a Renouf Torpedo Tactical Instrument Type B, and Lion was to additionally receive a Renouf Torpedo Tactical Instrument Type F manufactured by Elliott Brothers.[44] In 1920, however, it was decided to send Lion's Type F to Orion or to the the Staff College at Greenwich.[45]

Transmitting Stations

Like most previous large British ships of the era, Lion and Princess Royal[46] had 2, but Queen Mary established the new pattern of using a single T.S.[47]

Dreyer Table

At the Battle of Jutland, Lion and Princess Royal the Mark III Dreyer Tables[48] they were completed with,[49] while Queen Mary was using a Mark II Dreyer Table when she was destroyed.[50][51]

Sometime prior to 1919, Lion and Princess Royal had been upgraded to Mark IV* Dreyer Tables, but seemingly did not have any Dreyer Turret Control Tables installed at the time when Tiger and later battlecruisers received some.[52]

Fire Control Instruments

Vickers F.T.P. Mark III instruments sent range and deflection data to gun sights (likely with cross-connected Mark III* range transmitters[53]), and Barr and Stroud (probably Mark II*[Inference]) instruments used elsewhere.[54]

Gun Ready signals mounted in the T.S.(es) and control positions indicated which which guns were ready.[55]

Lion and Princess Royal also had Target Visible signals mounted in their and control positions to indicated which turrets could see the target. Queen Mary and later ships lacked this equipment.[56]

In mid 1913, the ships (likely not Queen Mary) were ordered to re-label the reduced charge weight stamped on their 13.5-in range repeat receiver dials to read 21934 pounds rather than the erroneous figure of 22714 pounds presently in place.[57]

See Also


  1. Admiralty Weekly Orders. 2 Jan 1914. The National Archives. ADM 182/5.
  2. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 512 of 16 Oct, 1914.
  3. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1908. Wireless Appendix, p. 13.
  4. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1914. p. 52.
  5. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 131 of 10 July 1914.
  6. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 493 of 13 Oct, 1914.
  7. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 408 of 25 Sep, 1914.
  8. The Sight Manual, 1916. pp. 4, 29-31, 106, 109.
  9. Brooks. Dreadnought Gunnery and the Battle of Jutland, pp. 45-46.
  10. The Sight Manual, 1916. pp. 89-90, 108, Plate 39.
  11. Admiralty Weekly Orders. The National Archives. ADM 182/4. 21 Feb, 1913 entries. pp. 3-4.
  12. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 470 of 22 Aug, 1913.
  13. Addenda (1911) to Torpedo Manual, Vol. III, 1909. p. 155.
  14. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 61.
  15. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1913. p. 63.
  16. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 1012 of 9 Apr, 1914.
  17. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 233.
  18. Manual of Gunnery (Volume III) for His Majesty's Fleet, 1920. p. 44.
  19. Roberts. Battlecruisers. pp. 91-92.
  20. Burt. British Battleships of World War One. pp 151, 152, 154.
  21. Roberts. Battlecruisers. p. 35.
  22. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 91 of 3 July, 1914.
  23. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 198. (C.I.O. 481/17).
  24. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 37.
  25. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. pp. 7-8, 37.
  26. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 37.
  27. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 230.
  28. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 23. pp. 25-6.
  29. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 230.
  30. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 8.
  31. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. pp. 7-8, 37.
  32. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 7.
  33. The Director Firing Handbook. pp. 88, 142.
  34. The Director Firing Handbook. p. 88.
  35. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 23. p. 18.
  36. The Director Firing Handbook. p. 88.
  37. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 23. pp. 18-9.
  38. The Director Firing Handbook. pp. 144-6.
  39. The Director Firing Handbook. pp. 143.
  40. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1911. p. 43.
  41. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1911. Plate 14.
  42. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1911. p. 43.
  43. Handbook of Torpedo Control, 1916. p. 38. Inferences based on Mark II gear being in place in other ships in 1915.
  44. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1919. pp. 118, 119.
  45. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1920. p. 91.
  46. Battle of Jutland Official Despatches. p. 387.
  47. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. pp. 6-7.
  48. In Defence of Naval Supremacy. p. 300.
  49. Brooks. Dreadnought Gunnery. p. 8.
  50. In Defence of Naval Supremacy. p. 252.
  51. Brooks. Dreadnought Gunnery. p. 166.
  52. Handbook of Captain F. C. Dreyer's Fire Control Tables, 1918. p. 3.
  53. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1910. p. 148.
  54. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. pp. 72.
  55. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 11.
  56. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 11.
  57. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 263 of 30 May 1913.


  • Admiralty, Technical History Section (1919). The Technical History and Index: Fire Control in H.M. Ships. Vol. 3, Part 23. C.B. 1515 (23) now O.U. 6171/14. At The National Archives. ADM 275/19.
  • Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1917). The Director Firing Handbook. O.U. 6125 (late C.B. 1259). Copy No. 322 at The National Archives. ADM 186/227.
  • Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1918). Handbook of Captain F. C. Dreyer's Fire Control Tables, 1918. C.B. 1456. Copy No. 10 at Admiralty Library, Portsmouth, United Kingdom.
  • Sumida, Jon Tetsuro (1989). In Defence of Naval Supremacy: Finance, Technology and British Naval Policy, 1889-1914. Winchester, Mass.: Unwin Hyman, Inc.. ISBN 0044451040. (on and
  • Brooks, John (2005). Dreadnought Gunnery and the Battle of Jutland: The Question of Fire Control. Oxon: Routledge. ISBN 0714657026. (on and
  • Admiralty (1920). Battle of Jutland 30th May to 1st June 1916: Official Despatches with Appendices. Cmd. 1068. London: His Majesty's Stationary Office.

Lion Class Battlecruiser
  Lion Princess Royal Queen Mary  
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