HMS Rodney and HMS Nelson were the only battleships of the Nelson class. HMS Rodney was built at Birkenhead Shipyards.
She was launched on 28 December 1922, took the sea on 17 December 1925 and was commissioned in November 1927, three months behind Nelson. Her name was received in honor of Admiral Sir George Brydges Rodney.
She fought her entire carrer under the motto of "Non generant aquilae columbas" ("Eagles do not breed doves").
The engeneers found the perfect balance between size, armoring and armament, paying attention to achievable speeds. Her design was particular because the ship housed all the main armament towers at the bow, instead of having them distributed in the bow and stern, as it was then in use.
Even they had a displacement that not exceed 35,000 tons, respecting the Washington Treaty of 1922, Rodney and Nelson were two of the most powerful battleships then existing, until the new generation of all big gun ships was launched in 1936.
HMS Rodney and HMS Nelson were the only British battleships to have trimmed towers, the only ones to carry 406 mm (16 inch) guns, and the liquid-loaded bulkheads under the waterline.
Before the outbreak of World War II, the HMS Rodney, along with HMS Nelson, from 1925 to September 1939, remained in service with the British Atlantic Fleet or the Home Fleet.
In May 1941 HMS Rodney had a great role in the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck, took part to Operation Torch and Normandy invasion, and she partecipated in several coastal bombardments.
Nevertheless the two battleships proved their value during the Second World War and were often in the foreground. HMS Rodney, in poor condition from extremely heavy use and lack of refits, was scrapped in 1948.
HMS Rodney and HMS Nelson had been built partially by reusing material from ships canceled after 1922.
HMS Rodney displaced 34,270 tons under standard load and this rose 38,000 tons under full load; she was 710ft long, with a beam of 106ft and a draught of 31ft. The length had been reduced cause the main armament of nine 16-inch guns was placed in three turrets at the front (not to counter the conventional tactic of "bar the T") and all the superstructure and machinery at the back, to reduce the weight of the armor, spending it on protection. Cause previous battleships had the problem that funnel smoke obscured the principal gunnery controller's vision, in HMS Rodney the funnel was well astern of a tower 16, which contained the control position for the guns, well away from magazines, where it could cause a detonation if plunging shellfire penetrated to the heart of the ship. The eight-sided (octagonal) tower provided facilities for gunnery control, torpedo controllers, a bridge for any admiral, bridges for signalling and navigation, and also accommodation and offices.
She was modernized by adding a radar and a large DCA, mainly quadruple 40mm AA Bofors and Oerlikon 20mm under masks. The shape, height and position of the superstructure acted as a "sail" which could distort the maneuvers at low speed. The ship was also little maneuvering, with a very long circle of turn.
HMS Rodney had a battleship bridge, designed to counter the plunging parabolic firing and bombs of planes. The machinery was reworked and, for the first time since the dreadnought, it came back to two propellers.
The hull had been hydrodynamically trimmed for maximum efficiency, but in the end the speed was not to exceed 23 knots.
HMS Rodney's crew consisted of 1.314 sailor-men but the number rose to 1.361 with an admiral and his staff embarked.
The ship generated a lot of electricity power so she was very well equipped: dozen telephone exchanges, an x-ray machine, a chapel, and a book stall with cigarettes, sweets, newspapers and books.
The HMS Rodney's power was provided by more efficient boilers and oil heating that made only one chimney sufficient. She was fitted out by eight Admiralty three-drum oil-fired units, feeding 2 x Brown-Curtis geared steam turbine sets developing 45,000 horsepower to 2 x shafts under stern. Carrying 4,000 tons of fuel oil, and running at top speed, she burned up 16 tons an hour. Her cruising speed would be 14,500 miles (26,900 km; 16,700 nmi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).
Armaments and fire control
Primary armament was 9 x 16 inch MK I series guns held in three triple-gunned turrets positioned ahead of midships.
HMS Rodney 16-inch guns combined a high velocity with a lighter shell, infact they could fire between 180 and 200 shells before needing to be replaced and was capable of 40 degrees maximum elevation, giving it a maximum range of 35,000 yards (22 miles).
Though HMS Rodney has no heavy armament could fire directly astern, and one of the three 16-inch turrets was unable to fire directly ahead, she could easily manoeuvre to open arcs of fire, ensuring all nine main guns were brought to bear.
The secondary armament was innovative because it was no longer in barbettes, distant legacy of the pieces in ports, but in semi-automated turrets grouped at the rear.
Beyond the 16 inch guns were 12 x 6 MK XXII guns in six double-gunned turrets, 6 x QF 4.7 inch MKVIII anti-aircraft (AA) guns in single-gunned emplacements, 8 x 2-pounder AA guns in single-gunned emplacement. and 2 x 24.5 inch (622 mm) MK I torpedo tubes. These were the largest diameter torpedoes in any Royal Navy warship: two 24.5-inch torpedo tubes fitted, one either side of the bows below the waterline, incorporated into her hull, specially shortened, easily manoeuvrable, provided with enriched air propulsion and carring a warhead packed with 743 lbs of explosives.
The 6-inch shell weighed 100lbs and they fired up six rounds a minute, although they were supposed to fire up eight rounds a minute, and they could double as anti-aircraft armament.
For the first time, an advanced semi-electronic fire control system of the HACS type was used for the DCA and Admiralty Fire Control Table Mark I for the main artillery.
In October 1938, for the first time in a battleship of the Royal Navy, a prototype type 79Y radar system was installed on Rodney's masthead. In 1940 the type 79Y radar was replaced with type 279 and UP AA rocket projectors were fitted to 'B' and 'C' turrets.
The protection was generally internal, notably using deflecting and non-straight surfaces. HMS Rodney's armour belt was 14-inches at its thickest to well protect the machinery of the 16-inch guns, magazines and shell handling rooms and the gunnery control positions.
On the turret faces the armour was 16-inches thick, with nine inches on the back, between eleven and nine inches on their sides and seven-and-a-quarter inches of protection overhead. There was 15 inches of armour around the barbettes, obviously intended to stop penetration of one of the most critical areas of the ship. The armour on the upper deck was six-and-a-half inches thick. The armoured deck over the magazines was more than 6-inches thick.
Recommended Articles about Navy