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Pennant Number: 23
Notes: VANGUARD was the last and largest of the British battleships, and was the only "dreadnought" that never fired her guns against an enemy. VANGUARD's origins go back to a 1939 project for using the 15" turrets from COURAGEOUS and GLORIOUS in a 30-knot ship for the Far Eastern Fleet. As with many ships, her design was altered at several times during the building process; in 1942, consideration was given to converting VANGUARD to an aircraft carrier, but that proposal was rejected. Although of outwardly different appearance, VANGUARD resembled the KING GEORGE V class in many ways. The 5.25" guns were in improved mountings, and due to requirements to augment the anti-aircraft battery (in light of wartime experience), there was no provision for aircraft to be carried. Overall armor was improved, the 5.25" guns had up to 2.5" of armor, and splinter protection was improved. VANGUARD had a transom stern and a marked sheer forward, which made her a much better sea boat than previous British battleships. She was very maneuverable; tactical radius was 1,025 yards at full speed. VANGUARD was fitted with heating and air-conditioning for both arctic and tropical service.
During a 1947 refit, 11 of VANGUARD's 40mm guns were removed, and a saluting platform was temporarily added atop "B" turret for the Royal Tour to South Africa. Following the Royal Tour, VANGUARD served in the Mediterranean until June, 1949, when she returned to Portsmouth and served as a training ship; she acted as Home Fleet Flagship during exercises. After a refit at Devonport in 1954, she was paid off into reserve at Portsmouth, becoming Flagship of the Reserve Fleet and NATO HQ ship. VANGUARD was sold for scrapping in 1960.