Battleship design 1890 - 1914

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Dreadnoughts and battlecruisers

Leaps in naval technologies and intense rivalry with Germany spurred on massive changes to Britain’s senior service in a century famous for the biggest wars the world has ever seen.

From 1890 to 1914 the increase in size, speed and power was immense. The Royal Sovereign-class ships, built during the 1890s, marked a significant improvement in ship design for its time.

However, the advent of HMS Dreadnought in 1906 heralded a revolution in battleship design with subsequent improvements and technological advances.

By 1914 the Queen Elizabeth-class of dreadnought battleships had made even the original dreadnought obsolete with its superior speed, armour and firepower.

The invention of the battlecruiser, a ship combining the speed of an armoured cruiser with the big guns of a battleship, was also a celebrated leap in ship design. But the use of the battlecruiser in close fire sea battles had dreadful consequences in World War One.

HMS Ajax (1912) in dry dock. (RNM)
HMS Ajax (1912) in dry dock. (RNM)

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