Just for Fun Miscellaneous
Tanks Trains Contact
Pennant Number: 04
Notes: Under the 1912 Programme, three battleships and a battlecruiser were planned. Intended to be improved IRON DUKEs, growing unease about rumors that Germany was planning an increase in caliber, plus the certainty that American and Japanese capital ships were being armed with 14" guns, suggested that these new ships should be up-gunned. The gunmakers, the Elswick Ordinance Company, assured the Admiralty that a 15" gun, firing a 1,920-lb. shell, was feasible. Because no 15" gun had yet been made, it would be necessary to start the ships with no certainty that the new gun would be successful -- but the Director of Naval Ordinance had no doubts at all. It turned out the DNO's confidence was justified, as the new Mark I 15" / 42-cal. gun proved even more accurate than the IRON DUKE's 13.5" guns, with the same long barrel life and even greater hitting power. New designs were hurriedly prepared, initially for a five-turret, 21-knot battleship, similar to the IRON DUKE class in layout. It was soon realized that a reduction of one turret (mounting the new 15" guns) would still give a broadside of 15,000 lbs., compared to the 14,000 lbs. in the IRON DUKEs. The space thus saved could be used for additional boilers to give a speed of 24-25 knots. War College studies had shown that a fast wing to the battlefleet would be far more effective than a force of a battlecruisers. To achieve 25 knots on 27,000 tons would be impossible if the ship were coal-fired, but the greater thermal efficiency of oil would solve the problem, and at the same time, reduce weight. The only practical objection was that oil fuel was imported from the Middle East. After considerable thought, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, made the decision to buy shares in the Iranian oil companies, and thus secure access to the oil fields. Now that a fast wing to the battlefleet was possible, there was little point in keeping with the battlecruiser in the 1912 Programme, and a fourth fast battleship was ordered to create a complete fast division. Then, the Federated Malay States offered to pay for a fifth unit. To commemorate the gift, she was named MALAYA. A sixth unit, AGINCOURT, was ordered under the 1914 Programme, but she was cancelled soon after the outbreak of World War I.
Although a great step forward, the QUEEN ELIZABETH class design attempted too much on too small a displacement; they were seriously overweight when built (nearly 34,000 tons), and the refusal once again to sanction small-tube boilers made 25 knots impossible to achieve. That speed was only intended to be reached at the overload rating of 72,000shp. In practice, they were good for nearly 24 knots. And they still "revolutionized" naval warfare by the creation of the "fast battleship", combining battlecruiser speed with battleship armor and armament.
BARHAM was commissioned to the 5th Battle Squadron, Grand Fleet, in August 1915, and became flagship in October. She was damaged in a collision with WARSPITE on 1 December 1915; repairs took nearly three weeks to complete. BARHAM took part in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916 and fired 337 rounds of 15" and 25 rounds of 6" ammunition (three hits claimed on a KAISER-class battleship; the GROSSER KURFÜRST also took four 15" hits, but it is uncertain if they were from BARHAM or VALIANT). She also scored a 15" hit on VON DER TANN, and possibly three more on DERFFLINGER. BARHAM was hit by five 12" (four from DERFFLINGER and one from LÜTZOW) and one 11" (VON DER TANN) shell (26 killed and 46 wounded). Her repairs took slightly over a month, and she subsequently returned to service. In 1920, BARHAM became the flagship of the 1st BS, Atlantic Fleet; in 1924, she was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet.
By 1926, four - 4" AA (4x1) had been added, while the two - 3" guns were removed. A major refit took place in 1931-34; the two funnels were trunked into one and torpedo bulges added, increasing her beam to 104'; displacement was raised to over 35,000 tons, but the 23.5 knot speed was retained.. Two 8-barreled 2-pdr. "pom-poms" and a catapult were also added, and two torpedo tubes removed. The remaining two torpedo tubes were removed in 1938, and the 4" guns added in 1926 were replaced by 8-4" QF Mk. XVI in four twin mounts. In April, 1940, two more 8-barrelled "pom-poms" were added. During these refits, several 20mm AA guns were also added.
BARHAM served with Home Fleet until 1940, when she was transferred to "Force H". With RESOLUTION, BARHAM bombarded the Vichy French fleet at Dakar on 24 and 25 September 1940; however, results were generally ineffective She did score one 15" hit on the battleship RICHELIEU, but that hit failed to penetrate her armor and little damage was done. On 28 March 1941, BARHAM, VALIANT and WARSPITE took part in the Battle of Cape Matapan; they sunk the Italian heavy cruiser FIUME by gunfire, and heavily damaged the heavy cruiser ZARA; ZARA and POLA (along with two destroyers) were torpedoed and sunk by British destroyers. BARHAM suffered a direct hit and a near miss by 550-pound bombs during an air attack on 27 May 1941; repairs at Alexandria took two months. While in company of QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT and eight destroyers, BARHAM was torpedoed by U-331 on 25 November 1941 (three hits out of four torpedoes fired); it is believed that a fire began in one of the 4" magazines and quickly spread to the main magazine. Following a massive explosion, BARHAM sank within five minutes with the loss of 862 of her crew.