HMS Vanguard was the last battleship launched anywhere in the world, and the last battleship to see service in the Royal Navy. Work on her design began just before the outbreak of war in 1939 and as a result work on her progressed very slowly. She wasn’t launched until 1944, and commissioned after the end of the war. As a result many of the lessons of the war were integrated into her final form, especially the need for large numbers of 40mm anti-aircraft guns.
The Royal Navy never really found a use for the Vanguard. All of the other British battleships had either been scrapped or mothballed by 1951. The Vanguard limped on for a few more years, but during a 1955 refit it was announced that she was going into the reserve, and she was decommissioned and sold for scrap in 1960. Unlike the American Iowa class ships she didn’t take part in the Korean War, with the Royal Navy preferring to send aircraft carriers. The highpoint of her career was thus the Royal Tour of 1947, when she took the King and Queen and the two Princesses on a prolonged cruise.
As a result this is a very detailed design study, looking at the design of the Vanguard, the details of her machinery and armament, her radar equipment etc. There is thus space for a look at the work that went into reducing the impact of smoke from her funnels, as well as some atmospheric photographs of the Royal suite during her grand tour.
This book completed Burt’s study of the British battleship, which now stretches from the pre-dreadnought era to the end of the battleship. As well as the Vanguard there is a brief look at the designs that were abandoned under the pressure of war, the precursors of the Vanguard, to give a total picture of the Royal Navy’s final thoughts on this iconic type of warship.
Design and Construction
Launch, 30 November 1944
Vanguard: As-Completed Data
Hull and Special Features
Bridgework and Funnels
The Royal Tour of 1947
Battleship Design after Vanguard
Criticism of Vanguard and the Demise of the Battleship
Appendix A: Service History
Appendix B: Comparison with the French Jean Bart and the US Iowa
Author: R. A. Burt