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Sister ships: INDEFATIGABLE, AUSTRALIA
Notes: The second ship of the 1908 Program was to be a battlecruiser equivalent of the NEPTUNE, but for reasons unknown, the INDEFATIGABLE was a virtual repeat of the preceding INVINCIBLE class, complete with all of its shortcomings. Speculation was that this occurred in an effort to hasten building time and cut costs, but as the Dominions of Australia and New Zealand voted money for their own capital ships, there seems to be no justification to remedy the weaknesses which were already evident. HMAS AUSTRALIA was to become the flagship of the Royal Australian Navy, but upon completion, New Zealand presented her namesake ship to the Royal Navy. This class was credited with more fighting power then they actually possessed -- due in part to "official leaks" inspired by Admiral Fisher. For example, their main battery guns were "credited" to be 12" Mark XI 50-calibre guns, when photographic evidence (and, eventually, the official drawings) showed them to be repeats of the Mark X 45-calibre guns. Other "notes" claimed an 8" armored belt and a top speed of 29-30 knots. In fact, the class were repeat INVINCIBLEs, slightly lengthened to allow "P" and "Q" turrets to fire across their decks on a broadside. Some attempt was made to improve the armor by deleting the thin armor at the bow and stern and thickening the belt against "A" and "X" turrets to 5". The after fire control position (sited on the mainmast) proved to be untenable due to smoke from the funnels, and during World War I, it was removed.
On her trials, NEW ZEALAND reached a speed of 26.3 knots at 45,894shp, and it is reported that during the Battle of Jutland, she was credited with developing 65,000shp. NEW ZEALAND was presented to the Royal Navy upon her completion. She made a world cruise, departing in February, 1913. According to legend, while in port in New Zealand, a local Maori tribal chief paid a visit to the NEW ZEALAND's captain and presented him with a Maori kilt -- and told the officer that if he wore the kilt during battle, no harm would come to him, his ship, or his crew. (The story continues that during the Battle of Jutland, the NEW ZEALAND's captain did wear the kilt; the NEW ZEALAND was hit by a single 11" German shell during the battle, and none of her crew were wounded -- while the British lost three battlecruisers during the battle!)
Upon her return to England, NEW ZEALAND was assigned to the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron. In August, 1914, NEW ZEALAND joined the Grand Fleet as flagship of the 2nd BCS. NEW ZEALAND was present at the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28 August 1914, with little result. She was also involved in the Battle of Dogger Bank on 24 January 1915, and fired 147 12" shells at German ships; specific results are unknown. During that battle, she temporarily served as Admiral Beatty's flagship when the LION was put out of action. On 22 April 1916, NEW ZEALAND collided with the AUSTRALIA during maneuvers, but was repaired in time to take part in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916. During that battle, she was hit by a single 11" shell (fired by the battlecruiser VON DER TANN) on her "X" turret, but suffered little damage. She fired more main battery shells than any other British capital ship (420 rounds), but only scored four hits; three on the battlecruiser SEYDLITZ and one on the old battleship SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN.
Following Jutland, NEW ZEALAND received another 1" of deck armor between the "P" and "Q" barbettes, and her bridgework was expanded. The stern 18" TT was removed in 1915. In 1918, NEW ZEALAND received aircraft flying-off platforms on her "P" and "Q" turrets, to operate a Sopwith Camel fighter and a 1-1/2 Strutter spotting plane.
In 1919, NEW ZEALAND carried Admiral Jellicoe on his tour of the Dominions. But NEW ZEALAND was one of the ships listed for disposal under the Washington Treaty, and she was sold for breaking up in December, 1922.