ADM 1/8397/365: WARSHIP DESIGN, 1914-1922
Updated 18-Oct-2007

This document is a modern transcription of Admiralty record ADM 1/9387. It highlights considerations and factors concerning proposed battleship/battle cruiser designs. It was transcribed by David Chessum on behalf of the the Royal Navy Flag Officers 1904-1945 website. The original file is held at the The National Archives at Kew, London. This Crown Copyrighted material is reproduced here by kind permission of The National Archives.



Admiralty 12 October 1914

1914 Memorandum by D.N.C. on New Construction. Future design by light of experience gained in war.
1915 Letter from Admiral Jellicoe stressing the needs to build fast Battle Cruisers.
1916 Sketch of modification to design of Flotilla Leaders to enable them to carry heavy gun.
1919 Design for new Battle Cruiser. Construction of "Howe", "Rodney" and "Anson" cancelled.
Comparison of H.M.S. "Hood" with U.S.A. 35 knot Battle Cruiser design.
1921 Design of new Battleship by Sir George Thurston of Messrs. Vickers. Question of patent.
1922 Capital ships of small dimensions compared with those of 35,000 tons. Comparative table for R.N. College, Greenwich.

Wallet cover


From Whom: Director of Naval Construction

Date: 12 October 1914

Submitted to:


Third Sea Lord

First Sea L

Subject: Memorandum relating to New Construction.

Submission and Minutes:

Referring to conversation you had with me on this subject, I now submit a memorandum.

(Signed) EHT d’Enycourt


Third Sea Lord’s minute enclosed.

Third Sea Lord submitted
Memorandum relating to New Construction
Points for consideration in future design by the light of experience so far gained in the War.

As far as can be seen at present it appears certain that modifications in the design of ships will be required, and certain points already stand out clearly for consideration in the designs for our new construction.


As regards battleship design there is, I think, no question that under-water attack must be regarded as a greater menace than has hitherto been the case,

(a)  from Mines,
(b)  from Torpedoes, especially considered as the weapon of the Submarine.

Protection against Aircraft should not be forgotten.

Taking the danger from Mines first, our present knowledge seems to show that for ships of the First Line, which at any time may have to steam at full speed, it is out of the question to attempt anything in the nature of antennae or under-water booms to explode the mines in front of the ship as she advances. This work must be undertaken by slower vessels specially fitted for the purpose.

Ships of the Line must therefore be protected by other means from mines,

(1)  by other ships sweeping,
(2)  by their own structural arrangements.

Anything in the way of structural protection against mines should also be generally effective as protection against Torpedoes and Submarine attack.

In endeavouring to reduce as far as possible the danger from torpedoes or other explosive attack below water against the skin of the ship, it must be remembered that the effect of an explosion at any point is reduced directly in a proportion at least equal to the square of the distance of the centre of the explosion from the point in question, and probably more nearly as the cube of that distance. Therefore our object must be to make the explosion take place at a sufficient distance from any vital part of the ship, such as the machinery compartments, magazines &c., and secondly to localise the damage by watertight subdivision.

The “Hood” & other experiments all point to this conclusion & shew that underwater external armour is useless & is liable to be driven into the ship in pieces which act as projectiles of high velocity.

The ideal method of under-water protection, whilst still preserving the form & speed of the ship would be to have an outer shell build around the inner hull at such a distance & in such a manner as to absorb the effects of the explosion & preserve the ship proper, intact.

It is probably impossible to achieve this ideal. We must therefore endeavour to come as near it as we can. The danger from explosion right under the bottom is certainly much less than that against the ship’s sides; and, since from almost every point of view, it is desirable not to increase the draft of the ship more than is absolutely necessary, it remains that our chief objective must be to protect the sides of the ship, & leave the slat bottom underneath with the usual double bottom and W.T. subdivision.

Now the breadth occupied by the engines and boilers in our present ships hardly admits of the inner bulkheads being far enough from the outer skin to keep the explosion at a safe distance. It therefore becomes necessary, if possible, to broaden our battleships. This at first sight is not an easy matter, because to broaden to a sufficient extent battleships as hitherto designed would increase the stability to an undesirable extent, but I have worked out a design of the new form, which enables us to increase the breadth of the ship below water for a great portion of the length amidships without unduly increasing the stability, and also (a most important point) without detriment to the speed or other good qualities of the ship. That speed is not adversely affected has been amply shown by recent experiments which I have had carried out at our Haslar tank.

By the arrangement I propose it will be possible to keep the inner ship further from the outer skin and very greatly reduce the risk from submarine torpedo attack. (As I venture to think that considerable importance attaches to this proposal, it should be kept secret as long as possible.)

If such an arrangement as indicated above be adopted, our capital ships may have an extreme beam of over 100ft, possibly 110 or even more. Such and increase would involve broader docks that we at present, with very few exceptions, possess; and greater beams still might become necessary if the power of torpedoes further increases. I therefore consider that any new docks, for capital ships, which may be ordered in future, should have a clear breadth of at least 125ft. It should be mentioned that in conjunction with the increased  beam a considerable reduction in draft can be effected, which besides other advantages will have that of presenting a smaller target to under-water attack.

With regard to the general question of the size of our future battleships, as far as it can be seen at present the tendency will be rather in the direction of increased displacement, for several reasons.

In view of the danger from submarine attack, for a given area of damage done by a mine or torpedo, the larger the ship (if properly subdivided) the smaller is the relative amount of damage and risk of foundering.

It is not necessary here to recapitulate what has so often been pointed out as to the advantage in economy of having one big ship instead of two smaller ships to carry a given number of guns with the same speed, protection &c.; and, as there is not any likelihood of the weight of armament being reduced, (the advantage of heavy calibre attack against armoured turrets has been fully demonstrated in recent siege operations) it is therefore impossible to reduce the size of our ships much below that of the “Queen Elizabeth”, and it is for consideration whether even heavier armour may not become necessary.

This view as regards larger ships is apparently accepted by American naval opinion, as I understand they have recently, since the commencement of the War, confirmed the order for two ships of 32000 tons normal displacement with 12-14” guns and heavy armour, some of which is 16” thick.

As regards the minor consideration of protection against Air-craft, if this is necessary at all, it could be achieved to a great extent by having a light superstructure deck over the midship portion as in the “Royal Sovereign” design, which would explode any bomb at a distance from the vital protective or structural decks below, just as the outer skin will explode a torpedo at a distance from the inner hull. If thought necessary gratings or nets could be put over the funnels &c., which would prevent the explosion of bombs inside the ship.

With reference to the Report received from the C in C. about the “Marlborough” and “Iron Duke”, I am strongly of the opinion that a two-storeyed battery for the 6” guns, such as I proposed some time ago, and again in a recent paper for “Renown” and “Repulse”, would be much more valuable in bad weather  than the present arrangement of 6” battery in “Iron Duke” , “Queen Elizabeth” and “Royal Sovereign” classes. The embrasure or cut-away portion forward is with the two storeys reduced to a minimum, and the foremost 6” guns are carried much further aft, and the upper pair of guns are in a much more commanding position. The arrangement at the same time can be made such as to give very much better protection to the funnel bases; and, whilst adding perhaps 1% to the cost of the ship, probably increases the fighting value by more than that proportion.

As other nations are building battleships of 23 and 23 knots, it appears that all our new capital ships should have speed of at least 23 knots.


For Commerce protection on the Ocean routes it appears that vessels of the “Birmingham” type, but somewhat larger and faster with a good radius of action should be adopted. These vessels should burn coal, and, or, oil, and with the two fuels in conjunction a higher rate of speed can be obtained and maintained than with coal only, though of course it will fall short of what could be got with oil only. Whether such ships should have rather better protection than the Birminghams, in order to give them a fair chance against 6” gun attack, is a matter for consideration; but, if thicker side armour is decided on, it will of course greatly add to their size and cost.

For work nearer home our present Light Cruisers of the “Arethusa” and “Callopie” classes are, I think, well suited, and the protection given appears to be adequate against 4” gun attack, and could not be increased on the present dimensions. When we have a little more experience of the trials of these two classes, some of which will shortly take place, and also of their performance when in commission, it will be more easy to speak.

Torpedo Boat Destroyers

The vessels of the M class, some of which are completed, and some now under construction, appear to meet the requirements for which they are designed; and, in view of the work they will have to perform in winter weather in the North Sea, they will probably be found much more serviceable after a few months in commission than vessels of lighter construction and possibly of higher trial speed.


The latest of these boats seem to be giving every satisfaction, but I think that the larger vessels of higher speed on the surface will soon be considered necessary for overseas work. If possible too the under-water speed should be increased, but this is a difficulty in view of the heavy weight of the electric batteries necessary.


EHT d’Eyncourt


12 Oct 1914

First Lord

Herewith the statement you asked me for, showing this ships ordered this year, and a normal programme for next year. I have added some general remarks over the various types of vessels required in the future, together with a memorandum on our new construction drawn up for me by DNC some weeks ago.

I have also attached some remarks and criticisms (not typed) on the proposed new ?Polyphemus? designs, which I do not care about.


Remarks on the design of Torpedo Cruiser got out by DNC in accordance with verbal instructions from First Lord, and originated by Admiral Bayley.


Only 28 knots. I.e.  from 6 to 8 knots slower than M class TBDs, M could easily intercept or overhaul & torpedo her.

Gun power.

2-12 pdrs against 3-4” in M. Practically no means of stopping the M by gunfire.

Torpedo Target.

She would present a much larger torpedo target than a destroyer, namely 3 ½ times as great.

  Length Mean Draft Max draft
Cruiser 420ft 15ft 17ft
M 265ft 8ft 9ft


Owing to her great length will have much larger turning circle than a TBD.


Will probably roll considerably owing to her narrow lines.

Vunerability (sic)

Most vulnerable to Torpedo attack from TBDs, submarines, fast cruisers or from any other ships owing to her great length, considerable draft and unhandiness.

Not proof against gunfire any A.P. forms of large projectile would probably destroy 3” Vanadium steel.

So far experiments against roof plates have been made with “weighted” shell only, not with shell filled with H.E.

Moreover, owing to rolling, her plates may not receive the blows at the desired angle.

Night work

More vulnerable to TBD attack, than dangerous to enemy’s large ships.


4400 tons as against 900 to 1000 tons of Ms.


Estimated £350,000 against £125,000 (normal times) for an M, i.e. nearly three times the cost.

Time to construct

20 to 24 months at least against 12 to 18 months for M.

Torpedo Fire

In this war no less strong 63 torpedoes had been fired by our vessels before one small cruiser was destroyed by torpedo fire alone: in all other cases the guns had done all that was necessary.


It appears a mistake for a stronger power to build entirely new types. The weaker power soon heard of it & builds something better if it be a success, or does not copy it if a failure. Secret cannot be wrapped up until a war comes.


Such a vessel will be entirely confined  to the one purpose of attacking a fleet under the conditions given in Admiral Bayly’s remark.

Until the enemy’s fleet was encountered it would be practically useless.

Its effective use is based on our assumptions that the enemy will advance or ??? in the manner shown in the diagrams; that he has not look outs, and that he has no cruisers with which to counter such an attack.

To the reply that such an attack would not be expected by him, I would make the rejoinder that an attack on the head of the fleet by TBDs or other fast craft is what we have been expecting for years.






The table shows that we have obtained one more on the balance than provided for in 1914/15 Estimates: on the other hand, we are under agreement to return one of these to Chili (sic) after the War.

The normal programme for 1915/16 would be for four Battleships.

There is no doubt an opinion prevalent that the day of the Battleships is over. I am quite unable to share that view; my opinion being that Battleships will be as necessary as ever, but that their construction will have to be modified to meet the menaces of mines and torpedoes.

The Director of Naval Construction in his Memorandum attached considers that the future Battleships will be much broader, and thought I agree as far as he goes, I go much further, and consider that we shall have to build vessels of far less draught, of much greater length and breadth; the increased beam would not be all below water as he proposes, and this position will have to be faced.


So long as possible adversaries build ships of this class, we shall have to continue to build more and better ones, whether their general shape be altered or not, as, not to do so would be to make a present of our commerce to the enemy. The recent “GOBEN” incident in the Mediterranean has a very direct bearing on this question; on fact, the great calls for this type of cruiser in all directions during the present War, so far as it has gone, show the value attached to them.

As the sphere of the Battlecruisers lies more in open waters, they are not subject to the submarine menace as are Battleships; and, although the radius of the submarine will gradually extend to more open water, their menace to a Battlecruiser will never be so great in proportion, owing to the large areas over which the number of Submarines available will have to spread.


As Armstrongs have just been authorised to build two Light Cruisers, we shall have ordered two in excess of 1914/15 Estimates, and the number due on a normal 1915/16 Programme would, therefore, be reduced from eight to six.

The question arises, however, as to the type of Cruiser required, and it appears to me that what we shall really be in want of will be something in the nature of improved “BIRMINGHAMS” for overseas work, rather than more Light Cruisers of the ‘C’ Class.


We shall have ordered this year seven in excess of 1915/16 normal programme, We must, I think, wait for more experience as to the necessity and usefulness of this type before arriving at any conclusive opinion.


48 in excess of 1914/15, and 38 in excess of a normal 1915/16 programme up to present!

We appear to have evolved an exceedingly efficient type of vessel in the ‘M’ Class, as far as can be judged at present. It must be pointed out, however, that ‘M’ Class vessels will differ considerably amongst themselves, especially as regards speed. Yarrow’s and Thornycroft’s boats may be considered good for 33 to 37 knots, according to the amount of fuel, etc., on board; but the Admiralty ‘M’ design are unlikely, as far as I can judge at present, to obtain such high speeds; on the other hand, they will probably be more economical and have a larger radius of action.


Without counting 20 we hope to get from the United States, we shall have ordered in 46 excess of 1914/15 Estimates, and 36 in excess of normal 1915/16 Programme.

The ‘G’, or ‘Improved E’ Class, is the natural evolution from the “E” Class, and will have double hulls. They should be good all-round boats.

Submarines will undoubtedly increase in size, so as to extend their radius of action very greatly, and we shall eventually obtain experience in this direction with the “NAUTILUS” and “SWORDFISH”; but, on the other hand it must be borne in mind that increase in size militates against their value in narrow and shallow waters, so that we shall always require two or more types. – Probably the direction in which improvement will be sought is radius of action submerged.



5th December, 1914

Image 1960

From whom: Secretary

Date: 2nd January 1915

Subject: Battle Cruisers: Admiral Sir J.R. Jellicoe’s views

Image 1962


Secretary (inits) 1/1/15

Second Sea Lord (inits) 1/1/15

Third Sea Lord (inits) 1/1/15

Fourth Sea Lord (inits) 1/1/15

C in C Lord

Sir J Hopwood?

Financial Secretary


??? Chief


First Sea Lord

Jan 1 1915

I have sent the original of the enclosed to the First Lord. I think my colleagues will be interested in ?reading? it and to see that we have anticipated (though by so short a time) Sir John Jellicoe’s views (??? Have not yet ??? him of the nre renown so kindly forwarded by my colleagues) but he has put the matter more fittingly that I did so I circulate his letter.




29th December, 1914.

My dear Lord Fisher,

I am having this letter typed in order that it may be clearer.

I have been much concerned ever since the commencement on the war on the subject of the gradual lessening of our preponderance in battle cruisers as compared with Germany, owing to our having ceased to build these vessels of recent years, whilst Germany has been annually adding one battle cruiser to her Navy.

In 1912, we ceased the policy of building battle cruisers, and substituted for them a number of ships of the “QUEEN ELIZABETH” class. I quite realise the advantages of the “QUEEN ELIZABETH” class, as regards their speed, over the battleships which preceded them, but I argued at the same time that they were laid down that their excess of speed was not really sufficient to make the a thoroughly effective fast wing division, the difference between their speed and that of the battle line being only nominally 5 or 6 knots. But there is a weaker feature than this, which is that, unless the policy of building much faster battle cruisers is reverted to, we shall find ourselves in a position of not having any sufficient number of vessels to catch up and engage the increasing number of vessels of this type possessed by Germany.

We know that the latest German battle cruisers will certainly attain a speed, when chased, of 29 knots. We know that the Germans use small tube boilers, which they are able to force, at any rate for short periods, which would be sufficient for them to escape from our pursuing vessels.

I am therefore most strongly of opinion that we should immediately, if we have not already done so, commence to lay down battle cruisers possessing a speed of at least 30 to 31 knots. If we can get higher speeds by the use of oil fuel, it is most eminently desirable to do so. I think oil fuel, in fact, is almost a necessity for these vessels on account of the great difficulty that is experienced in our present battle cruisers of getting the coal to the furnaces sufficiently rapidly to keep up their full speed after the amount of coal on board has been reduced to from 50 to 60 % of its full stowage.

The war, so far, has proved what you have yourself so often stated would be proved, first, the immense value of high speed, and secondly, the overwhelming value of the big gun. In every engagement that has taken place, this latter point has been most strongly emphasised, and for this reason, I am perfectly convinced that our new battle cruisers should carry 15-inch guns.

Our experience in the most recent battleships of the “IRON DUKE” type have show what has been consistently shown before, but which, I fear, was overlooked when this class of ship was designed, the utter futility of placing anti-torpedoboat guns, or in fact guns of any sort, in low positions relative to the water-line of the ship.

Those of us who have served, or have seen the behaviour at sea of the ships of the “KING EDWARD” type, “DUKE OF EDINBURGH” class, “DRAKE” class and “County” class, have always protested strongly against the placing of guns low down. It was our protests from ships of the “DRAKE” class which led to the alterations of the “NATAL” class, namely, the replacement of 6-inch guns on the main deck by 7.5-inch turrets on the upper deck. In the battleships from the “LORD NELSON” up to the “IRON DUKE” class this lesson was remembered. It was departed from in the “IRON DUKE” class with the result that the 6-inch guns cannot really be fought except in a flat calm sea; but I do trust that in any future design we shall revert to the sound policy of mounting the guns high up.

I have always been opposed to the 6-inch gun for anti-torpedoboat work, as I considered the 4-inch was good enough. I still hold that opinion, and should advise the battle cruiser as well as the battleship of the future having 4-inch guns for her anti-torpedoboat armament.

I hope you will forgive me for writing at this length, but I feel so strongly that we should at once lay down battle cruisers of very high speed that I thought it my duty to write to you on the subject.

Yours very sincerely,

(Signed) J.R. JELLICOE.


DATE: 31st March, 1919



With reference to the last paragraph of Board minute 658.

In order that these designs may be prepared I should be glad to receive a statement of your requirements in so far as the principal characteristics of the ship are concerned.

In consider that in view of the recent American practice we should get out alternative designs for propelling machinery on the electric and geared principles.



31st March, 1919

Minute sheet:

To help further with his special requirements. The problem of electric propulsion to be ??? deferred. Though its ??? is still to be pursued with such staff as available.

To note -

DNC to be ???? and forwarded on 7 July if question is not ?revised? before.



Noted EL Attwood for DNC

Noted ?HR Crooke? DNO 16 IV 1919

Noted FL Field DTM 17 APR 1919

Noted ???? DNS 23/4/19

Noted ????? DNE 30.4.19

Noted GG Goodwin E in C 28/4/19

Noted WW ???? DEE 30/4/19

Minute sheet No. 35

Paper brought forward in accordance with Controller's Minute

EHT d'Eyncourt
DNC 8 Jul 1919



658. The Board had before them a paper by D.N.A.& T., together with the observations of D.N.C. and various Members of the Board, dealing with the position which has arisen in regard to the armour of capital ships in consequence of the recent development of the new type of A.P.C. shell which has had the effect of placing the Gun well ahead of its oponent (sic) - Armour protection.

A discussion ensued, and it was generally agreed that it is impractical for the problems raised to be finally dealt with without further examination from many points of view, and that the policy to be pursued in regard to new construction of capital ships cannot be determined until the results of the peace conference are available.

In this connection the Controller raised the question of either proceeding or cancelling the construction of "HOWE", "RODNEY" and "ANSON", the settlement of which had been further deferred by the War Cabinet in January last until after the Peace is signed.

In addition to the considerations mentioned in Board Minute 553, the Controller explained that in order to avoid unemployment labour is now being employed on certain destroyers that are not actually required, which labour might, to a considerable extent be diverted to building Passenger Liners if the slips which these three vessels are occupying were set free for the purpose. He also pointed out that the design of the ships is nearly four years old, so that they would on completion be far from up-to-date vessels, and in the event of its being decided to complete them it would probably be necessary for a portion of the hull work to be taken down owing to improvements in design and for other reasons.

On the other hand, it appeared that if the slips were once given up the could not be recovered for Admiralty use for many months.

Having regard to all the circumstances the Board agree that the construction of "HOWE", "RODNEY" and "ANSON" should forthwith be cancelled, and the slips set free for Merchant ship construction and that in communicating the decision to the War Cabinet it should be made clear that the question of building additional Battle Cruisers will be reconsidered at the earliest moment possible after the terms of Peace are finally settled; as unless further Battle Cruisers are built in the near future we shall before long fall behind the United States Navy in ships of that class.

In the meantime it was agreed that the preparation of fresh designs for the Battle Cruiser type should be at once taken in hand.

D.N.C for information

(sgd,) J.A.C. Champion 3/3


DATE: July, 1919

Submitted to:- CONTROLLER


Comparison with H.M.S. "HOOD"


Submitted with reference to the enclosed memo (here several words have been obliterated with a heavy marker pen) the latest available particulars of the 35 knot U.S.A. Battle Cruiser design are given in the attached table in comparison with the "Hood", displacement being about 6,000 tons less.

A print showing comparative sections is also attached.

The main differences affecting weight are:-

(1) Poor armour protection of the U.S. ship, the belt and barbettes being only 5 inches. The turrets are 6 inches in front and 4½ inches at sides.
(2) Poor deck protection.
(3) No side protection at ends.
(4) Absence of any attempt to provide underwater protection against torpedoes, which is very complete in the case of "Hood".

The protective qualities of the U.S. design have been almost completely sacrificed to obtain speed.

Judging from the experience we have gained with our large Cruisers, it is doubtful whether the U.S. ship would ever have reached 35 knots - 34 being more probable.

It has been shown that with the U.S. type of gun mounting it is possible to instal (sic) a twin 16 inch mounting [continued on the next page]

In a barbette of practically the same diameter for a twin 15 inch British mounting.

It is observed that in a later design of Battle Cruiser with similar armament prepared in the U.S.A., the increase of the belt armour to 9 inches and the barbette armour to 8 inches involved an increase of displacement to 45,000 tons and a reduction of speed to 33 knots. This design embodied the U.S.A. system of torpedo protection by means of internal bulkheads, which is considered inferior to that adopted in the "Hood".

It should be borne in mind that "Hood" has all the attributes of a first class Battleship as to armament and protection both above and below water combined with 31 knots speed. The American design has protection more comparable to that of a light cruiser.

EHT d'Eyncourt

  U.S.A. Battle Cruiser “HOOD”
Length on W.L. 850 850
Breadth 91 104
Draught 31 ½ 28 ½
Displacement 35,250 41,200
Horse-power 180,000 144,000
Speed in knots 35 31
Main battery 8-16 inch 8-15 inch
Secr. Battery 16-6 inch 15- 51/2 inch
Torpedo Tubes Sub 2 2
Torpedo Tubes A.W. 8 8
Belt max 5 inch 12 inch
Barbette max 5 inch 12 inch
Gun shields max 6 inch 15 inch

Battle Cruisers

Is there any idea how the Americans can manage to get

8 - 16" guns
16 - 6" guns
8 Torpedo tubes
2 Submerged tubes

into a displacement 6,200 tons than that of the "Hood"?

Their designed speed is ??? as being 35 knots. ???31.25.

??? Phillimore
22. VII 19



The Controller would like to have your comments, please, on the attached memo from Admiral Phillimore.

JAC Champion CA


FROM WHOM: Messrs. Vickers, Ltd.

DATE: 9th January 1920



1st Lord




Sir George Thurston, of Vickers, has brought the accompanying designs to the First Lord, and has made the request that before they are turned down as being unsuitable, or rejected, because they are rejected because they are already included in existing designs, he may have the opportunity of a personal interview.

The First Lord is inclined to think that his request is a reasonable one.

JS Barnes


DNC Personal

I should be glad if you would look at these designs & discuss them with me as early as practicable.



Report submitted herewith.

EHT d'Eyncourt 29.1.21


These designs, though the documents are undated, were, it has been ascertained, handed in to the First Lord by Sir George Thurston, of Messrs. Vickers, on the 20th instant. This date is important, because the designs, by a curious coincidence, embody certain very important new features which have been considered, and in some cases adopted, in our most recent designs.

Perhaps the most important of these features is the arrangement with the funnels placed well aft, this involving a considerable arc on the after bearing through which it is impossible to train and fire any of the big guns.

In developing our designs at the Admiralty, I have been for some time considering how we could get over the great disadvantages of having the boiler spaces between the magazines, which with their large openings for the funnel uptakes and for the air downtakes, are very bad from a protective point of view and also from the proximity of the hot spaces under the magazines themselves. This led me to consider the placing of the boilers aft, and after rejecting the idea of carrying the smoke through a long horizontal duct towards the stern, as in "AGRUS" (this being an objectionable feature from the point of view of the possibility of damage to this duct by shell and the resulting smoke and fire between decks) I decided to try a design placing the boilers and engines well aft, with the main armament and magazines all forward of the machinery and boilers. This design was [continued on the next page]

Considered by me during September and October, and on the 1st November I gave instructions for such a design to be proceeded with, after a preliminary discussion with Controller and A.C.N.S., from which I gathered that the blind arc of fire aft was not considered to be really a disadvantage. Outline designs were got out early in November and submitted officially on 27th, the great advantages of the reduction in weight, size and cost which it was possible to make, being pointed out in my minute.

These Admiralty designs also had a double bottom 7 ft. in depth - a feature which is shown in Messrs. Vickers' designs - and were also provided with 3 triple big gun mountings and twin-mounted 6" guns - another feature of the Vickers designs.

In the Vickers designs, although they have placed the funnels aft, the importance of having the boilers themselves aft and away from the magazines has been entirely missed, there being 3 boiler rooms with magazines in close proximity to each of them. This is a very objectionable feature, and Messrs. Vickers have apparently missed entirely the importance of having the boiler rooms as well as the funnels abaft and away from the magazines. This feature also does not enable them to reduce the armour protection over the boilers rooms, as we have found it possible to do in out designs where the boiler rooms are clear of the magazines. The very long smoke-duct also is very undesirable, as mentioned above.

An important feature of the Vickers "A" design, is, [continued on next page]

That all the 9 big guns can, under certain conditions, fire right ahead; the arrangements of the big guns in "B" and "C" designs are not considered good.

The arrangement of the twin 6" guns in Messrs. Vickers' design is interesting, but it is thought that these guns would in some cases be very severely blasted by the fire of the big guns, and it has only been possible to place the 6" guns alongside the turrets of the big guns and at a level below the muzzles of the letter, by having the weather deck on which the 6" guns are placed at a much lower level than in the Admiralty design. This low level is a very bad feature, as it involves much less freeboard than we have been able to give, and it is thought that certainly the 4 forward 6" guns shown in the design, and probably the other 6" guns on the weather side, would be exceedingly wet in any sea, as they are low down and exposed.

The large number of trunks to the 6" magazines, involve risks which it is desirable to avoid, if possible.

The worst feature of Messrs. Vickers' design, however, is the arrangement of the main armour belt, which is kept so far inboard that a comparatively moderate amount of damage to the unarmoured outboard portion of the ship which extends over the whole length of the ship, would involve complete loss of stability, and the ship would consequently turn turtle. Special attention had to be given to this arrangement in our designs, and very much greater armoured [continued on next page]

Breadth was given to the waterline, the armour sloping outwards above the water, so that as the ship either heels or sinks in the water the stability improves. In Vickers' design, the belt armour is worked vertical, so they get neither the advantage of increased stability nor increased virtual thickness of armour due to the outward slope.

As regards the underwater protection, the design is practically a copy of what we have done with the "HOOD", with somewhat increased width from the outside shell to the inner oil bulkhead. This width, however, is very nearly the same as that of the most recently submitted Admiralty design, and there is nothing new in it at all.

Apart from the above mentioned vital error in the disposition of the main armour, the protection is much the same as proposed in our designs, the main belt being of the same actual thickness, though of somewhat less virtual thickness owing to being vertical and is of less length. The deck armour is the same thickness as we proposed for the Admiralty designs, but, as explained above, has more weak places where it is pierced for the large boiler ventilators and for the 6" ammunition hatches. The decks have thicker steel backing than in our design, but forward and aft the deck has less thickness than the Admiralty design.

The freeboard being low compared with that of our ships reduced not only the stability but the seaworthiness of the ship, and one point of our designs has been to increase this seaworthiness, as in some of our later ships the deck at the sides becomes immersed in heavy seas [continued on next page]

The position of the navigating bridge, which is 475 ft. from the bow is thought not so good as in the arrangement we propose, and it will be difficult to get satisfactory control positions.

The arrangement of the bulkheads in the Vickers design to support the enormous weight of barbettes and the triple mountings is altogether adequate, and as far as can be seen from the rough sketch design, insufficient space has been taken for the stowage of ammunition and shell for the big guns.

It is difficult to criticise in detail a rough sketch design, but it is evident that the space for living accommodation for both officers and crew is very curtailed and insufficient to suit present requirements. The spaces amidships are largely taken up over a great length by the smoke-ducts from boilers to funnels. There are other minor points which would require thorough reconsideration. It is doubtful even whether the speed of 25 knots " the protection &c. proposed could be obtained on the displacement given.

On the whole. It appears that these Vickers designs, which are certainly interesting as embodying some of the latest features of our own designs, appear to have not been very carefully considered, and the many difficulties that would arise in working out their proposals have hardly been fully appreciated. In particular, the stability conditions are far from satisfactory, and the low freeboard and the very large spaces along the wholly unprotected [continued on next page]

Sides outside the main belt could not possibly be recommended.

I(t is for consideration whether all the defects of his design should be pointed out to Sir George Thurston, as it will be instructing him how to correct them and bring his design up to Admiralty requirements; but should an order ever be placed with Messrs. Vickers for such a ship these points would, of course, be made clear.

In the meantime, it is suggested that he should be thanked for his design and perhaps told that it has had full consideration, but that does not entirely come up to our requirements.

EHT d'Eyncourt

29 Jan 1921

NOTE: A section of the Admiralty design is attached which shows at a glance how the freeboard and arrangement of armour compares with the Vickers design.


[we need to collect this image for posting herein]


Three designs are submitted herewith, namely, 'A', 'B' and 'C', all three having the same dimensions, displacement, armament and protection, the differences consisting only of the arrangements of the main armament.

It is not proposed here to go fully into the detailed dimensions and particulars of these designs, but simply to draw attention to their principal characteristics.

The displacement, in each case, is about 44,500 tons, with a waterline length of about 750ft., a beam of 105ft., a mean draft in the normal condition of 32ft., and a speed of 25 knots.

The armament consists of 9 - 18" 45-calibre guns, in triple mounted barbettes; 12 to 16 - 6" 50 calibre B.L. guns, twin mounted in shields, and number and size of submerged torpedo tubes and high angles guns as may be considered desirable.


The whole of the side armour, together with the barbettes and the transverse armoured bulkheads at the end of citadel, are of 14" armour, the sides and the bulkheads having 2" steel backing, giving a total thickness of 16". The whole of the citadel armour is crowned by an 8" armour deck with 2" steel backing. Giving a total thickness of 10", the unarmoured ends being protected by a 4" deck throughout in the region of the waterline.


The main propelling machinery to consist of turbines supplied by small tube oil-fired boilers.

Attention is drawn to the following features:-


The whole of the main armament is arranged to fire directly [continued on next page]

Forward, thus giving a forward fire of 9 - 18" guns. The arrangement is such as to permit, when the guns are firing forwards, of the three guns in the forward barbette firing from a depression of 5( to the maximum elevation, the second barbette from an elevation of about 3( to the maximum elevation, and the third barbette from the horizontal to the maximum elevation, whereas when firing slightly off the centre line, all the guns can be depressed to 5( and elevated to the maximum.

The arrangement of this armament appears to be unique in the respect that:-

1. At point blank range ahead we have six 18" guns firing forward.

2. At 5,000 yards range, the whole of the nine guns would be able to bear on the target, whereas from about 5,000 yards upwards the whole nine guns could be brought into action for forward fire.

3. If the necessity arises for aft firing, the guns of the forward turret may be usefully employed for this purpose, having a range of 80( abaft the beam when elevated 5(. In this design, whereas the guns of the forward barbette are practically at the same height above the water as those of the "HOOD", the fact that the barbette itself is about 100 feet further aft than the corresponding guns in the "HOOD" renders the guns of this barbette less liable to be interfered with by water breaking over the decks.


This provides for the same number of 18" guns, but arranged so that only 6 of these can fire forward and 3 aft, the two barbettes forward being of the same height above the water as the second and third barbettes in design 'A'. All these guns when firing along the centre line on the vessel can be used from the maximum depression to the maximum elevation.


This again provides for the same number of 18" guns arranged, however, in this case to have all 9 guns firing forward and 2 guns in each of the aft barbettes ( a total of 4 guns in all) firing direct aft. All these guns can be used from at least the horizontal position to maximum elevation, except through the angles shewn in the plan. The forward barbettes in this design are at practically the same heights as the second and third barbettes in Design'A'.

With respect to the auxiliary armament in Designs 'A' and 'B', ti will be noted that these guns are twin mounted in gun shields, those in design 'A' having their bases efficiently protected throughout by the Citadel armour.


It will be seen from the midship section given on Design 'A' that the beam of the vessel is large enough to allow the whole of the vitals of the ship, including the main propelling machinery, boilers, and magazines to be kept well in from the side, and to be efficiently protected by armoured longitudinal bulkheads, air and water spaces, the outer chamber being so arranged so as to allow any gasses caused by an explosion to escape from the top of the chamber, special provision being made for the same. The longitudinal steel bulkhead protecting such spaces is at least 15' 0" away from the side of the vessel and is of 2" in thickness, in addition to a second longitudinal bulkhead 1" in thickness, protecting the whole of the magazines and boiler rooms. The protection, as arranged, extends for the full length of the magazine and machinery spaces and for a length of about 50' 0" forward and aft of these spaces.

In addition to the above mentioned bulkheads, intermediate longitudinal bulkheads will be fitted about 9' 0" and 13' 0" respectively from the ship's side, as shown in the midship section. The [continued on next page]

Wing compartments will be well sub-divided by transverse bulkheads in order to reduce to a minimum the loss of buoyancy in case of mine or torpedo explosion. Above the armour shelf in the vicinity of the water line, the wing compartments will be specially sub divided in order to reduce to a minimum the loss of stability due to explosion or shell fire. The inner bottom will be kept at a distance of at least 7' 0" from the outer bottom and will be 2" in thickness in way of the magazines and machinery spaces, extending right across the ship to join up with the 2" longitudinal bulkheads.

The ends of the vessel, forward and aft of the main protection, would be efficiently sub-divided to the height of the main deck to reduce to a minimum the loss of buoyancy in case of mine or torpedo explosion.


In order to arrange for a concentrated armour base for the main armament, and to allow of the forward guns of the battery to be brought as far aft as possible, a special feature is proposed viz., to carry away by means of ducts the smoke and fumes from the boilers to a funnel or uptake situated at some considerable distance from the boiler room.

This also allows of a much more satisfactory horizontal deck protection, as it dispenses with the large funnel openings and their corresponding armoured gratings and covers.


It is considered desirable that the central control compartment should be arranged within armoured protection, from which the heel and trim of the vessel may be, as far as possible, controlled, in the case of under-water damage from any cause to a single compartment of the vessel.

In Design 'A' we have shown the modern conning tower reduced in size, and in Designs 'B' and 'C' they are shown as now [continued on next page]

Fitted. It would appear to be more satisfactory to arrange, as in Design 'A', for the conning tower to be purely a tower from which the navigation of the ship is conducted, and to take away from it altogether that part dealing with the range finding, for which purpose in Design 'A' a special armoured tower has been provided at a more effective height, in addition to which, of course, there would be the usual positions in the armoured gun shields themselves.


It is considered that, as the main rudder, however, well protected, is liable to be disabled in action, it is important, seeing how much depends on same, that positions should be found for auxiliary rudders. So far little success has attended efforts to find satisfactory positions for same, but from experiments which are being carried out at the moment there is every reason to believe that an effective alternative can be provided, and in such case would be proposed in these designs.








1. Description of the Vickers Designs
2. Midship Section
3. Design 'A'
4. Design 'B'
5. Design 'C'

22nd January, 1922.

My dear Dawson,

Could you possibly make it convenient to call and see me at the Admiralty any time during the forenoon on Monday, 24th instant? I want to talk to you about a rather urgent matter, and will not keep you more than three minutes.

Believe me,

Yours sincerely,


Commander Sir Trevor Dawson, Bart.,
Vickers House,

[Minute sheet]


Please see enclosed designs and suggest a date for a conference after you have considered them.

It is desirable to decide as early as possible whether any of the points claimed by Vickers merit consideration in our new design and what action is desirable with regard to the interview Sir George Thurston has asked for.


31 Jan 21

Suggest a conference Friday or Monday next. There are some advantages in ?? 4 ?Paras? ??? with ?? magazines fully protected, but I do not like the ?? weather deck. ?? is ?? a snag and perhaps DNC can say that ?? know as to this. I agree Sir G Thurston might be seen by you (perhaps alone) & should be told that we should not alter our designs any of his features without informing him first.



A conference on these designs was held by the Controller, A.C.N.S. and D.N.C. on 4th February, and it was decided that no modification in the general arrangement of the designs, which were provisionally approved by the Board last December, was desirable in regard to any particulars of Sir George Thurston's designs.

I propose to send the enclosed draft letter marked 'A' to Sir George Thurston if C.N.S. and First Lord agree.



[Minute sheet]

Concur with Controller



L of F

I presume the Controller is writing and signing the letter.



Letter signed for Controller & forwarded dated 23 Feb 21

?FM Arley?

??? Controller


The position as regards patent is further dealt with on CP patents 9749/21



3rd February, 1021

My dear Dawson,

Referring to our conversation of 2nd instant, at which you informed me that Vickers had lodged an application to patent Sir George Thurston's design of a new Battleship and asked me whether the Admiralty had any objection to this action being taken by you, I have been thinking carefully about the possible effect such a course may have on the Admiralty and have come to the conclusion that the matter is not as simple as it appeared at first sight.

As I indicated to you in our interview on 24th January, Sir George Thurston's design is similar in a few important particulars to the design on which the Admiralty have been working for some months and which was formally accepted by the Board over two months ago. It therefore is a matter of supreme importance to us that these particulars should be kept from publication as long as possible.

As we have the future to consider as well as the present, you will judge that it is difficult for me, without seeing the specification, to give an opinion as to the effect your Patent might have on the Admiralty.

If you could see your way to allowing me to see the specification, I would be in a much better position to give you an opinion. You may rest assured that any information contained in the specification will be treated in the strictest confidence. I hope you are having a good time in the South.

Yours sincerely,


Commander Sir Trevor Dawson, Bart.,
Vickers House,

Naval Dept.
Enclosures: one.

Telephone VICTORIA 6900 (13 lines)
BY HAND, No. 3980
Vickers House,
Broadway, Westminster
London S.W.1.
7th February 1921






Rear-Admiral F.L.Field, C.B., C.M.G.,
Controller of the Admiralty,

In the absence of Sir Trevor Dawson at Monte Carlo, his private secretary has told me you have written to Sir Trevor asking to see the Patent Specification referring to a Battleship design we had in hand.

I am therefore taking the liberty of sending on to you the Specification in question, and have given instructions that in the meantime no steps will be taken in this matter until I get word from you.

Yours faithfully,

???? ????

7th February 1921

Dear Sir George Thurston,
Please accept my best thanks for your kindness in sending along the patent specification for the Battleship design which you have in hand.

So far as the Admiralty is concerned, there is no objection to your proceeding with the patent, but, as already explained to Sir Trevor Dawson, your design resembles in some important particulars the design for a Capital ship which has already received the approval of the Board of Admiralty. In view of this, you will judge how essential it is that your design should not be published for the present, and I should be obliged if you would inform the Admiralty in good time so that they can, of necessary, take steps to keep the patent secret before the Patent office make the design public in the normal course.

I am returning the specification herewith.

Yours sincerely,


Sir George Thurston

Enclosures: one.

Telephone VICTORIA 6900 (13 lines)

BY HAND, No. 4016

Vickers House,
Broadway, Westminster
London S.W.1.
9th February 1921





Dear Admiral Field,

I am much obliged for your letter of 7th instant returning the Patent Specification for the Battleship design which I sent to you.

In view of what you say, I have told our Patent Agents that, before anything is done in the way of publishing anything in connection with the design, they should let us know so that we can take the matter up with you again.

Faithfully yours,


Rear-Admiral F.L. Field, C.B./ C.M.G.,
Controller of the Admiralty,



Dear Sir George Thurston,

With reference to the designs of Battleship which you submitted to the First Lord on 20th ultimo, these designs have been examined and it has been found, as has already been indicated to Sir Trevor Dawson, that they resemble in some important particulars the Capital Ship designs which were, a few months back, approved by the Board of Admiralty. If is therefore of importance to us that publication of these designs should not be made, and I am in correspondence with Sir Trevor Dawson on this point.

Points of difference between your designs and those of the Admiralty have been most carefully considered, and the Board have come to the conclusion not to make any modifications in the design already approved by them.

Should you still desire a personal interview, I should have pleasure in seeing you.

Yours sincerely,


Telephone VICTORIA 6900 (13 lines)
BY HAND, No. 4128
Vickers House,
Broadway, Westminster
London S.W.1.
24th February 1921






Dear Admiral Field,
I beg to thank you for your letter of 23rd instant re the designs for the Battleship.

So far as I am concerned, you may rely upon it that no publication of these designs will be made, and I am quite sure that Sir Trevor Dawson will also be in agreement with the suggestion, as you consider same important.

As the points of difference between our designs and those of the Admiralty have been most carefully considered and the Board have come to the conclusion not to make any modifications in the design already approved by them, I do not think that a personal interview would be of any service, as it would simply take up your time.

I am much obliged for the consideration which you have given the designs, and, of course, [continued on next page]

If at any time you should wish to see me on the matter, I am always at your disaposal.

Faithfully yours,

??George Thurston??

Rear-Admiral F.L. Field, C.B./ C.M.G.,
Controller of the Admiralty,


DATE: 22nd February 1921



1st Sea Lord
1st Lord


By Board minute 1290, paragraph 2, it was decided that the Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet should consider the sketch designs and report his views for the consideration of the Board.

As far as is known, no report has yet been received from the Commander-in-Chief and possibly he may not have fully understood the wishes of the Board, unless an Official communication on the subject was also sent to him.

If, however, his views are to receive consideration it is necessary that they should be forwarded forthwith, and it is for consideration whether immediate action should be taken to obtain them.



C-in-C., Atlantic Fleet, was present at the Board meeting on 17th December and expressed his concurrence verbally in the sketch design.

He has been in foreign waters since the middle of January and does not return to England until 22nd March.

I think it would be best for him to visit Admiralty immediately on his return and any proposals could then be given consideration in the detailed design.

28 Feb 21


C in C Atlantic Fleet

With ref to the Board meeting held 17th Decr last at which you were present to consider sketch designs of new ships, I am to acquaint you that their Lordships desire that you will visit the Admy immediately your return to Home waters in order that consideration may be given to any proposals in connection with the detailed designs.

B Command


28th February

The Commander-in-Chief,

With reference to the Board Meeting held on 17th December last, to consider sketch designs of new ships, at which you were present, I am to acquaint you that their Lordships desire that you will visit the Admy immediately your return to Home waters in order that consideration may be given to any proposals in connection with the detailed designs.


FROM WHOM: C in C Atlantic Fleet. See No 147

DATE: 10. 3. 21

SUBJECT: design of new ships will attend Admiralty on 23rd March

From C in C.A.F. VIA GLORIOUS Devonport
To - Admiralty. & C in C Devonport for information

147 IN
DATE: 10.3.21
RECD 5.27 pm



Cypher F.D. 147.

Proposed visit to Admiralty at noon Wednesday 23rd March in compliance with A.L. of 28th February S.O. 101 relative to designs for new ships. May I be informed whether that will be convenient, 1531 ends 1629

C. in C. Devonport informed

1 SL
2 SL
3 SL
4 SL
E. in C.
C. sec for action

This is convenient to Controller


Convenient to A.C.N.S.

43 S Block

Tel sent to C in C

Dear Mr Lee, A.C.N.S. would be glad if a reply could be sent today to CinC AF stating that 23rd March will be convenient. He has not been able to consult C.N.S., who is away today, but it is understood from his secretary that the date will suit him as far as is known at present; possibly he may not wish to attend.

Your sincerely,

NC Jerram
Secy to ACNS


S. 3222/22


DATE: 20 July 1922





DNC 28 JUL 1922


DNC 8 AUG 1922

Register No S. 3222/22

Minute sheet No. 77

A table is attached indicating the possibilities of Capital ships of small dimensions as compared with those of 35,000 tons, the Washington Conference limit.

The particulars for the 35,000 ton Battleship are those of the design approved by the Board and it is, of course, assumed that the Captain of the Staff College will treat these particulars and those of the other vessels as secret.

The particulars of the other ships must be regarded as academic as they have been somewhat hurriedly worked out and time has not permitted of full consideration being paid to certain features as would be necessary if the results were to be applied practically.

These last remarks apply most particularly to the three smallest ships for which there are no comparable precedents. In those three cases to satisfy the relatively high speed and underwater protection requirements, fine vessels with relatively great beam and shallow draft are necessary; such dimensions are unusual, and before it could be stated with certainty that the vessels outlined are thoroughly practicable, it would be necessary to investigate the form, stability properties, and structural arrangements in the wake of magazines and shell rooms, both in regard to underwater protection and space for stowage purposes.

The above remarks are not intended to weaken the general deduction which can be drawn from the table, namely that small Capital Ships are extremely wasteful as protected carriers of heavy artillery.

It is hoped that the figures given will be of sufficient general assistance for the matter to be studied at the Staff College.

EHT d'Eyncourt.

20 Jul 1922

This table has been prepared at the at the request of the R.A. in charge of the Senior Officers Course at Greenwich with a view to consideration of possible variations of the number of Capital ships that could be constructed in the total tonnage approved to by the Washington Conference and comparison of their tactical value.

Propose to send a copy for his information with directions that dimensions and armament should be considered strictly confidential.


22 July 22







Register No S. 3222/22

Minute sheet No. 79

Draft letter referred.

?G Copper



Concur in draft letter.

Copy of ??? letter and table to DNC please.

EL Attwood

2 AUG 22

Lr sent

Type Displacement in tons. Armament Speed Underwater defence against Explosive on weight Draft Length between perpendiculars Beam ARMOUR
    Primary Secondary           Turrets Side abreast magazines Deck over magazines Side abreast Machinery Deck over Machinery
35,000 9-16 in 12 – 6 in
6-4.7” H.A.
2 – 24 ½” TT
23 750 lbs head. 30 660 105 15” 14” 6 ¾ “ 13” 4 ¼ “
35,000 6-16 in Do. 28 500 lbs head. 30 680 106 15” 13” 6 ½ “ 12” 3 ½ “
Do. 20,000 4-15 in Do. 28 500 lbs head. 22 580 98 12” 11” 3” 10” 2”
Do. 15,000 4-12 in Do. 28 500 lbs head. 20 530 90 8” 9” 2” 6” 1”
Do. 17,500 4-13 in Do. 28 500 lbs head 21 500 94 9” 9” 2” 9” 2”

EHT d'Eyncourt


Admiral President,


I am to transmit for the information of the Rear-Admiral in charge of the Senior Officers' Course the accompanying table indicating the possibilities of Capital ships of small dimensions as compared with those of 35,000 tons, the Washington Conference limit.

2 .This table has been prepared at the request of Rear-Admiral Richmond during a recent visit to the ??? with a view to the consideration of possible variation in the number of Capital Ships that could be constructed on the total tonnage agreed by the Washington Conference and comparison of their tactical value. He should be informed that the particulars for the 35,000 ton Battleship are those of the design approved by the Board and that their Lordships desire that these particulars and those of the other vessels may be treated as strictly secret.

3. The particulars of the other ships must be regarded as academic as they have been somewhat hurriedly worked out and time has not permitted of full consideration being paid to certain features as would be necessary if the results were to be applied practically.

These last remarks apply most particularly [continued on next page]

to the three smallest ships for which there are no comparable precedents. In those three cases to satisfy the relatively high speed and underwater protection requirements, fine vessels with relatively great beam and shallow draft are necessary; such dimensions are unusual, and before it could be stated with certainty that the vessels outlined are thoroughly practicable, it would be necessary to investigate the form, stability properties, and structural arrangements in the wake of magazines and shell rooms, both in regard to underwater protection and space for stowage purposes.

5. The above remarks are not intended to weaken the general deduction which can be drawn from the table, namely that small Capital Ships are extremely wasteful as protected carriers of heavy artillery.


Copy of the above copy of table to D.N.C.