King George V Class Battleship (1911)

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Fire Control


Evershed Bearing Indicators

All 4 units were likely fitted with this equipment before late 1914.[1]

The transmitting positions were

  • Conning Tower (transmitters to port and starboard with C.O.S. to select one in use)
  • Gunnery control tower
  • 'B' turret
  • 'X' turret

The protocols for handling wooding of the turrets is outlined in the Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914.[2]

Mechanical Aid-to-Spotter

At some point, all ships were equipped with two Mark I Mechanical Aid-to-Spotters, 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.[3]

Gunnery Control

The control arrangements were as follows.[4]

Control Positions

  • Gunnery control tower
  • 'B' turret
  • 'X' turret

Some ships had C.O.S.s within the control positions so they could be connected to either TS.[5]

Control Groups

The five 13.5-in turrets were each a separate group with a local C.O.S.[Inference] so that it could be connected to

  • Forward TS
  • After TS
  • Local control from officer's position within turret


Main Battery

Training and Elevation Circuits
As shown in Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1913.

The ships were fitted with a cam-type tripod-type director in a light aloft tower on the foremast along with a directing gun in 'X' turret.[6]

The main battery could be divided into forward ('A', 'B' & 'Q') and aft ('X' & 'Y') groups for split director control.[7]

A C.O.S. in the TS afforded these options:[8]

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

Secondary Battery

The 4-in guns never had directors installed.[9]

Torpedo Control

Alternative Torpedo Director Position[10]
These were found in 1915 to be too susceptible to gun blast.[11]

The ships had small armoured hoods fitted and enjoyed frontal protection from the ship's side armour. 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.[12]

Torpedo Control in King George V
Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1912, Plate 32.

The Torpedo Control Tower had a rangefinder with object glasses in an armoured hood which was dedicated to torpedo control (G. 0639/12). The tower also had a Forbes Speed Indicator. From 1913, it was planned to also equip it with a deflection plotting system of indeterminate type as there was no yet a proven system to choose.

The TCT was to use its own equipment to determine the range, course and speed (or deflection) of the enemy and then to transmit it to all torpedo positions by Barr and Stroud instruments. A C.O.S. in the Transmitting Station permits its transmitters, rather than the TCT's to supply this data.

The broadside tubes could be fired either from the Conning Tower or from secondary torpedo control positions in armoured hoods on the beam, situated directly over the broadside tube. The tubes received gyro angles and orders from either the CT or their secondary control position, as determined by in the torpedo flat. The stern tube could only be fired from the TCT, and so had no C.O.S.

The broadside tubes had voicepipes to both the CT and to their secondary control position. A navyphone with a special transmitter connected the TCT to the stern tube.

The TS had 4 navyphone connections to the CT, the TCT and to the two secondary torpedo control positions at port and starboard. The TCT had a voicepipe as well as a navyphone connecting it to the CT and a navyphone to the Fun Control Tower. Additionally, navyphones at the ship's exchange could be used as alternatives to the hard-wired network.[13]

In all, the system is a condemning illustration of the Royal Navy's absurd over-emphasis on torpedo armaments in their capital ships. At most, one could expect a single torpedo tube to be pointing toward an enemy, and we see the context created to realize its puny threat if we count up the hardware that would have no use without the torpedo outfit remained in place:

  1. 3 torpedo tubes and stocks of torpedoes
  2. 2 floodable spaces, one large and transverse
  3. 2 dedicated director positions
  4. 12 dedicated navyphones
  5. 2 exchange navyphones
  6. 5 triggers
  7. 6 C.O.S.
  8. 1 Forbes speed indicator
  9. 10 gongs
  10. 3 circuit breakers
  11. 4 voice pipes
  12. 8 orders instruments
  13. 6 gyro angle instruments
  14. 8 course and speed instruments
  15. 8 range instruments
  16. personnel to maintain and serve this equipment
  17. space taken up in Conning Tower and Transmitting Station

Transmitting Stations

These ships discarded the second TS found in earlier dreadnoughts and relied on a single TS.[14]

Dreyer Table

King George V had a Mark III Dreyer Table while the other three units received Mark II Dreyer Tables.[15][16] As of June 1918, they had not been provided Dreyer Turret Control Tables.[17]

Fire Control Instruments

Continuing the pattern established in the Colossus class, all 4 units used Vickers F.T.P. Mark III range and deflection instruments to the gun sights and Barr and Stroud (probably Mark II*[Inference]) instruments for other purposes.[18]

The ships had Gun Ready signals in the TS and control positions, but were the first dreadnoughts to discontinue the use of Target Visible signals that appeared in earlier classes.[19]

See Also


  1. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914, p. 36.
  2. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914, p. 38.
  3. The Technical History and Index: Fire Control in HM Ships, 1919, pp. 25-6.
  4. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914, p. 7.
  5. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914, p. 7.
  6. The Director Firing Handbook, 1917. pp. 88, 142.
  7. The Director Firing Handbook, 1917, p. 88.
  8. The Director Firing Handbook, 1917. p. 88.
  9. absent from list in The Director Firing Handbook, 1917. pp. 143.
  10. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1911, Plate 14.
  11. The Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1915, p. 30.
  12. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1911, p. 43.
  13. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1912, p. 63.
  14. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914, pp. 6-7.
  15. Handbook of Capt. F.C. Dreyer's Fire Control Tables, p. 3.
  16. Brooks, John. Dreadnought Gunnery and the Battle of Jutland, p. 166.
  17. absent from list in Handbook of Capt. F.C. Dreyer's Fire Control Tables, p. 3.
  18. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914, pp. 72.
  19. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914, p. 11.



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