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KING EDWARD VII
Notes: The eight ships of the KING EDWARD VII class were ordered in three separate groups in the period 1901-1904. They were the first Royal Navy battleships to mount the 9.2" gun in their secondary armaments. As it turned out, this jump to 9.2" guns proved to be problematic in action, as the difference in splashes between the 12" guns of the main battery and the 9.2" guns of the secondary was very small, which made gunlaying corrections very difficult. This difficulty gave impetus to the development of the "all-big-gun" type both in England and in other navies. They were also the first class to have fire control positions on both masts, in place of the "fighting tops" found in the older ships.
The KING EDWARD VII class was over 1,000 tons heavier than the preceding DUNCAN class. This increase in weight was not only due to increased size, but also due to an increase in the armor; the casemate protection of the 6" guns was abandoned in favor of a central battery layout. The armor here was 7" thick, and increased the area covered by one deck higher than in the DUNCAN class. The machinery installed in the eight ships differed greatly, as the entire class served as "test beds" for varying combinations of boilers. However, they all exceeded their design speeds on trials. They had very good turning circles (noted as being as little as 340 yards at 15 knots). But their balanced rudders (the first installed in front-line ships since the 1870's) did not function as desired; it proved to be difficult to steer a steady course, and the subsequent, nearly-constant corrections that had to be made earned the class the nickname "The Wobbly Eight". The KING EDWARD VII class were noted as being good gun platforms, but with a lower freeboard, they were noted as being wet ships in heavy weather.
At the beginning of World War I, KING EDWARD VII was serving as the Flagship of the 3rd Battle Squadron, Grand Fleet. The Squadron was often used in support of cruisers on Northern Patrol. In November, 1914, KING EDWARD VII was detached to reinforce the Channel Fleet, but later returned to the Grand Fleet. On 6 January 1916, KING EDWARD VII hit a mine while being towed from Rosyth to Devonport around the Northern coast of Scotland for a refit. The mine had been laid by the German auxiliary cruiser MOEWE off Cape Wrath. The explosion occurred under the starboard engine room and attempts to tow her were abandoned because of a heavy sea and strong winds. After about five hours, the list had become so great that the crew were taken off by destroyers. KING EDWARD VII capsized and sank around nine hours after the explosion. Fortunately, none of her crew were lost. At the time it was not clear whether she had hit a mine or a torpedo; the presence of the minefield was determined from German records after the war.