The Admiral-class battlecruisers were a group of four British Royal Navy battlecruisers designed near the end of World War I. These ships were intended to counter the German Kaiserliche Marine Mackensen-class battlecruisers that were then under construction. The class was originally intended to consist of HMS Anson, Howe, Rodney, and HMS Hood (51). After the Germans stopped working on the Mackensen class, HMS Anson, Howe, and Rodney were cancelled. The Hood, however, was completed and later saw service in World War II.
In 1915 the Admiralty were considering the next generation of warship to follow the Queen Elizabeth-class. The Director of Naval Construction, Sir Eustace Tennyson-d'Eyncourt, was given instructions to prepare designs for a new "fast battleship". The designs should incorporate the lessons already learned from Royal Navy vessels operating under wartime conditions; they needed a high freeboard, with secondary armament mounting clear of spray, shallow draught, make in at least 30 knots and use 15 in guns. While the Queen Elizabeths had pioneered many significant advancements, they did not quite fulfil their extremely demanding requirement, being seriously overweight, as a result of which the draught was excessive and they were unable to reach their planned 25 knots in service.
Admiral Jellicoe changed the requirement from fast battleship to large battlecruiser since the rumoured Mackensens would outperform the current British battlecruisers.
In early 1916, the choice was between two designs by E.L. Attwood. In April 1916, the design choice was made. They would be large ships 860 ft long, displacing 36,000 tons. The narrow hull, lightly armoured with small boilers meant that she should be able to reach 32 knot. The orders for the first three were placed the same month, the fourth a while later.
- Displacement: 42,100 tons
- Length: 860 feet (262 m)
- Complement: 1,341
- Eight 15 in guns in four turrets
- Twelve single mount 5.5 in guns
- Eight 4 in AA guns in 4 mounts
- Two underwater torpedo tubes
The loss of British battlecruisers at the Battle of Jutland in 1916 led to changes in the design. These included additional armour and changes to the armament. The extra weight of the armour necessitated strengthening the hull and the keel of the first, Hood, was not laid until September 1916. The new displacement would be 42,100 tons. However, the reworking was done hastily and flawed, as they were trying to rush the Hood into war service.
The non-arrival of the German Mackensens meant that there was no longer a rush to build four ships. At the same time the US was starting on the Lexington class battlecruisers (later to become the Lexington class aircraft carriers) and South Dakota class battleships in her bid to create a navy without equal. The Royal Navy needed better ships than the Admiral class and started looking forward to the G3 battlecruisers and N3 battleships. As her build was already underway the Hood was retained but the other three were cancelled.
Ships in class
- Builder: John Brown & Company in Clydebank, Scotland
- Laid down: September 1 1916
- Launched: August 22 1918
- Commissioned: May 15 1920
- Operations: Cruise of the Special Service Squadron, Invergordon Mutiny, Mers-el-Kebir, Battle of the Denmark Strait
- Victories: None
- Fate: Sunk May 24 1941 by Kriegsmarine battleship Bismarck
Anson, Howe, Rodney
- Laid down in 1916, construction suspended in March 1917 and cancelled in October 1918.
- List of battleship classes
- List of World War II ship classes
- List of ship launches in 1918
- List of ship commissionings in 1920
- List of shipwrecks in 1941