Herald of the era of the Steam and Steel Battleship, The First Pre-Dreadnought... Sort Of: HMS Royal Sovereign (1891)(Refits as of 1906)

Should Royal Sovereign be added to WT?
  • Yes! Researchable! adding the first Pre-Dreadnought means all the others can come as well!
  • Yes! Squadron Research! its characteristics make it better suited for those specifically interested in it!
  • Yes! Premium! its characteristics make it better suited for the premium bonus!
  • Yes! Event Rare! its characteristics make it the definition of a meme ship and collector’s prize!
  • Yes! Battle Pass Prize! its characteristics make it perfect for a mid-level battle pass reward!
  • uhhhhh thanks but no thanks.
0 voters
what BR should it be placed at and alongside? (please keep in mind it’s main gun fire rate)
  • 4.3 (largely Rank 2 Destroyers)
  • 4.7 (bottom of Rank 3 Destroyers)
  • 5.0 (highest Destroyers, lowest cruisers)
  • 5.3 (low/mid level cruisers)
  • 5.7 (mid/high level cruisers, risk of facing BBs/BCs)
  • 6.0 (best cruisers, worst dreadnoughts/BCs)
  • no.not happening
0 voters

This is/was the first in a series of suggestions detailing the first modern battleships of many of the great and great-ish powers of the world- usually but not necessarily always entirely quite of full pre-dreadnought status, yet were the opening salvos of the era, and are a good gauge of how pre-dreadnought battleships improved as these first ones were often the least powerful or effective for being what they are

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…And i think this is going to be my lifetime record longest WT suggestion ever… by a country mile… at about 35 pages long in google documents, and a very short scroll bar in your browser…
probably even shorter in the new forum now.

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And with that, this is the suggestion for lead ship of the leading class that technically started that era: the Royal Sovereign-class Pre-Dreadnought, HMS Royal Sovereign of 1891. specifically this is for HMS Royal Sovereign as she was by the time of 1906, where she had all her refits, rebuilt secondary casemates, and Mark I fire control instrumentation.

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1892 painting of HMS Royal Sovereign and frontpiece of the 1892 edition of Brassey’s Naval Annual - upon their respective commissionings, this is what all in the class looked like, save for HMS Hood

1024px-HMS_Royal_Sovereign_First_Class_B

profile shot
HMS Royal Sovereign at anchor, June 25th, 1897

HMSRoyalSovereign1897.jpg

for comparison here’s HMS Hood and its ginormous turrets- you can VERY clearly see just how much lower this ship is in the water, from just two turrets
hood_by_aruon_dfbx5xg-pre.jpg?token=eyJ0

1913 postcard of HMS Royal Sovereign from the stern- this is her in the very last days prior to scrapping, doing what pre-dreadnoughts did best- swamping the casemates.
1024px-HMS_Royal_Sovereign_(1891_ship).j

detailed artistic cross section
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Rifle training on the deck of Royal Sovereign- yep those guns really don’t have anything on them, and i’m not talking about the Lee-Metfords

800px-HMS_Royal_Sovereign_Quarterdeck_-_
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The 8-strong Royal Sovereign-class is the progenitor of the classical pre-dreadnought battleship design, and is essentially the prototype of the steam-and-steel battleship as a concept, being partially an Ironclad with their largely compound armor protection and low freeboard; especially with one particular ship of the series, the HMS Hood, really being outright more of a full-blooded Ironclad Turret Ship than a proto-pre-dreadnought; but showing some (but not all) of the features standardized on all later pre-dreadnoughts.

With the use of nickel steels and even 1st generation Krupp Steel as armor in some areas, barbettes below and around a turntable platform, much higher freeboards than those seen in the previous era of ironclads (save for on HMS Hood), and use of the intermediate Brown Powder and later newly developed smokeless powder Cordite as a propellant rather than the instantly obsolete and chronically unstable black powder.

The Royal Sovereign-Class of Royal Sovereign, Empress of India (originally Renown), Repulse, Hood, Ramiles, Resolution, Revenge, and Royal Oak; are a rare example of a paradigm shift that doesn’t instantly shock the world such as how USS Monitor did 30 years prior and HMS Dreadnought did 15 years later, but as a change that gently drifts into view, and thus is why the Royal Sovereign-class and followup Majestic-class that fully developed the concept both sort of jointly occupy the title of “1st Pre-Dreadnought Battleships”- it depends on your point of view.


BACKGROUND:

Considering just how pivotal of a class this is, the Why is as important as the Who.

Despite being the most dominant nation on earth since Waterloo, the 1880s were not exactly the most carefree decade for the Royal Navy and the British Empire.

Catastrophically revealing fleet maneuvers showed that raiders could break out of a port even when blockaded in by the Royal Navy, subsequent press exposes showing the Royal Navy to be incapable of effectively guarding the ocean from a stiff breeze… let alone raiders breaking out of blockaded port in a fleet exercise, and a hefty dose of introspection showing that the wacky and haphazard collection of experimental, developmental, and sometimes innovative… but otherwise completely useless and impractical ironclads dating back to 1860 that was the mighty Royal Navy… 39 years later… had almost no actual practicality in a war vs their classical rival of France without having to dedicate a stupid number of ships to each and every basic task… which to be fair being the Royal Navy, they DID have a stupid number of ships to chuck at every small issue.

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This unwelcome epiphany led the British parliament to do something exceptionally rare to see from the UK government at any time from antiquity to now-

actually DO something.

MEANINGFUL.

and NOT cut corners only to have it blow up in their collective faces ten minutes later.

Yeah that actually happens- without even needing a world war and god-tier orators. Crazy, I know.

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And this meaningful act and colossal bombshell, was the Naval Defense Act of 1889.

This act was a 3-for-1 package deal that both contained a program to effectively crash-build a whole new modern navy- this time in a much more stable and orderly manner rather than the anything goes paradigm that characterized the basically 30-year open testing period that was the entire era of steam-and-iron.
Most shockingly of all, it actually even provided the money to actually PAY for it all too- an extreme rarity even to today, and the absolute bane of navies trying to justify the expense of massive new capital ships.

And what would become the Royal Sovereign-class 1st Class Battleship was the crown jewel of this act, with an incredible 8 ships (7 if you discount Hood as its own tangent) ordered in order to realize the 3rd part of the act- the Two-Power Standard.

This particular ambition; which is one of those ways you can put into perspective the true power of the British Empire at the peak of its golden age; demanded the Royal Navy be AT LEAST as powerful as both the second (France) and third (Russia) most powerful navies on earth; combined; at any given time.

The Naval Defense Act of 1889 authorized and funded the construction of ten new battleships: 8 1st class battleships (Royal Sovereign-class), 2 2nd class battleships (Centurion-class), 9 first class cruisers (Edgar-class) 29 second class cruisers (21 Apollo-class, 8 Astrea-class) and 4 third class cruisers (Pearl class) were provided… and god knows how many more smaller ships.

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Again, just to further point out the incredible force and direction with which the winds were blowing in British politics towards this massive naval expenditure- later in 1894 a similar act came to parliament; the Spencer Programme; to keep this insane building spree going strong…

Literally the only objection in parliament came from Prime Minister William Gladstone, who would resign basically in protest upon this realization of absolutely no support anywhere.

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Because of this “go conquer yet another continent or go home” mentality to naval buildup the UK had, the old haphazard order of naval construction would be replaced with 15 years of solid stability and clearheadedness in Royal Navy R&D, and a trendsetting mainstay in battleship development.


DESIGN:

The Royal Sovereign-class began their design cycle as enlarged improvements of what would become the penultimate Ironclad battleships in the Trafalgar-class Turret Ship.

1024px-Royal_Sovereign_class_diagrams_Br

And here is where the first difference would quickly emerge: the turret, or rather the lack thereof.

The Open Barbette not-a-turret of Royal Sovereign:
TR_DqDAbnUqJy8UMc6V95AT9VN9ZjAbqFmf97fu-

You see, one of the defining issues of Ironclads of all sizes is the inescapable fact that wrought iron armor in just about any meaningful thickness is really REALLY, ****ing heavy, and provides a suboptimal level of protection compared to just about anything that’s not wood. The brief heyday of compound armor and its 25% increase in effective protection began the progressive decline of the insane thicknesses that iron required to be effective against the largest cannons of the day.

But that was only the beginning.

Ironclad-era turrets are absolutely massive and heavy objects high up in the ship, and still kept final-generation ironclads and the odd near-semi-pre-dreadnought like HMS Hood to a very low freeboard. This is why the Open Barbette style main gun mounting came about in the Steam-and-Iron era by just simply bypassing the weight issue entirely with a “the-best-defense-is-to-not-get-hit” mentality, by just not having colossal turrets.

Fortunately for the Royal Sovereigns, the director of naval construction for the Royal Navy; Sir William White was the chief designer, and he opted for the use of the open barbette- a circular, less heavily armored enclosure built around the rotating mount and extending down into the hull, with the naval guns nakedly mounted on top and completely open to the elements; rather than the old monolithic turret.

It took a long argument with the admiralty to bring them around, but it eventually was approved with one caveat- one of the ships laid down; the HMS Hood named in deference to the Hood family (that all HMS Hood’s to date are named in honor of various members) in honor of the recently retired First Sea Lord Arthur Hood, 1st Baron Hood of Avalon; that would have to be a low freeboard design with the colossal turret that Lord Hood greatly favored.

This is also a unique occurrence that allowed the new ideas to be compared against the established paradigm in a truly 1:1 perspective- Hood was after all built the same as the others in the class, it just had 2 massive ****ing turrets that singlehandedly made an entire battleship float 8 feet lower in the water.

The result of the open barbette system vs the old style monolithic turret was substantial and is the first sign of one of the definitive features of a pre-dreadnought (though they of course quickly brought back the now-much lighter Harvey and later Krupp Steel turrets)- on the 7 main Royal Sovereigns they would have a freeboard of 19 feet, 6 inches; while on the Hood, there was only 11 feet, 3 inches of freeboard… which is kind of terrifying if you are ever outside in an Atlantic Ocean maelstrom

To further improve their seakeeping, White would also add a mild tumblehome (see top left of above cross section) to slightly reduce topweight- not that this helped the short and stout Hood, which due to her poor freeboard would still basically just crash headlong into waves and constantly sap her speed more and more as the sea state got progressively worse and keep her weather deck constantly swamped at any appreciable speeds.

photo of the cannons on i think HMS Empress of India
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The Royal Sovereigns would all feature a semi-common gun caliber of early 1st-generation pre-dreadnoughts: 13.5 inch. Specifically the Ordinance BL 13.5-inch/30 “67-Ton Gun” Mark IV, (actually 32 calibers) and as seen in the video below, this is clearly the Mark IV version, as the Mark III was a one-off disappearing mount version for coastal fortification, and the reload process on the Royal Sovereign-class follows this same process of elevating and descending.

These were… an unfortunate and completely unnecessary holdover from the Admiral and Trafalgar-class Ironclads forced by the Board of Admiralty; with the Royal Sovereigns originally being slated for under development 12-inch/40 cannons that would themselves eventually mature into the 12-inch/35 Mark VIII on the followup Majestic and Canopus classes; instead being stuck with the heaviest guns available… guns now fundamentally obsolete as their design dated to 1883, had a suboptimal bore diameter (for the time), and 32 caliber length barrel; all which left them with a poor fire rate and a muzzle velocity that was good for the early 1890s but that could’ve been better. All advances of which were seen later with the 12-inch/35 Mark VIII, and the fully matured 13-inch/40 Mark IX.

Lastly, the final development was something that initially was only fitted on HMS Repulse- Bilge Keels. While not exactly a revolutionary development, no less than by 1895 when the whole class had been in service for at least a couple years, they would all have them added… Though of course, Hood having to be the odd man out they would only have so much effect as Hood’s high metacentric height to counteract the low freeboard meant that her period of rolling was shorter than on the other Royal Sovereigns, and thus made her less accurate of a gunnery platform as being a superstable platform meant she wasn’t so much rolling from side to side as being jerked around in a limited arc.


HISTORY:

HMS Royal Sovereign was laid down at Portsmouth Dockyard on September 30th, 1889; launched on February 26th, 1891, being personally christened by Queen Victoria; and completed and commissioned into service on May 31st, 1892, just after finishing her sea trials.

As pointed out above with the segment on the Naval Defense Act 1889 the Royal Sovereign-class was the crown jewel of this act, and HMS Royal Sovereign herself was the centerpiece- immediately replacing the Admiral-class Ironclad HMS Camperdown as flagship of the Channel Squadron for roughly two and a half months before serving as the flagship of a formation called the Red Fleet for a variety of fleet maneuvers from August 1892 to August 1893, and possibly remaining flagship of this formation for at least a year up to likely late 1894.

The period from the very end of 1894 up to mid-1897 started off on a high note, with the whole class that didn’t already have them being fitted with bilge keels to cut their somewhat excessive roll in half. Royal Sovereign would then have a fairly quiet couple of years, being present along with Empress of India, Repulse, and Resolution for the opening of the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal in Germany in mid-1895 as seen below alongside the old Bismarck-class Corvette-turned training ship SMS Stosch

Brit.Geschwader_mit_den_Linienschiffes

…and then back to the annual maneuvers in the Irish Sea in July 1896- not named Red Fleet this time, the Royal Navy got really creative: Fleet A. bloody brilliant!

On June 7th, 1897, Royal Sovereign had something happen that could only really happen when you had vast excesses of capital ships milling about- she was decommissioned (in British parlance “paid off”), and her crew transferred to the Majestic-class pre-dreadnought HMS Mars.

This operation paradigm lasted literally one day.
On June 8th, Royal Sovereign was recommissioned and recrewed in this apparent policy of phasing out old Ironclads via battleship crew musical chairs, and soon set off bound for the Mediterranean to replace her immediate design predecessor, the Trafalgar-class Ironclad battleship HMS Trafalgar in the Mediterranean Fleet, with a fleet review for Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee and yet another Irish Sea fleet maneuver as an interlude.

After a year and a half in the Mediterranean Fleet, Royal Sovereign would again be a flagship- on January 18th, 1899, with fleet second in command Rear Admiral Gerard Noel aboard.

February 1899 would feature the last 19th century tour of Royal Sovereign in a tour of Italy at the beginning of the month, followed by its first brush with weapons issues off the coast of Greece in the unwelcome surfacing of the occasional issue of one of its 6-inch guns deciding to unexpectedly and prematurely explode a shell when the breech wasn’t fully screwed shut… in a hapless gunnery crew’s collective faces… all to round out the end of the month. Spicy!

The next event of note is when Royal Sovereign would; like any proper British battleship; attend the August 16th, 1902, Spithead Naval Review coinciding with the coronation of King Edward VII, followed by being decommissioned again at the end of the month on the 29th… But this time not even waiting until the next day to be recommissioned when YET ANOTHER full crew from HMS Trafalgar performed another battleship crew musical chairs once again, with the new crew resuming the activity of the now-decommissioned HMS Trafalgar, as a Portsmouth coast guard… because when you have a gazillion battleships at your beckon call you can just have them sit on a station off of your shoreline like glorified freaking coast guard cutters.

It would take a few more years of standard proceedings for the next event of note- and this time it was meaningful too! Spanning from 1903 to 1904 in the case of Royal Sovereign, Her 6-inch casemate guns were renovated from open gunshields into actual proper 6-inch thick Krupp Cemented Armor (so fully up to date armor steel) armored casemates.

A few years later, the sunset years for Royal Sovereign became apparent in 1907, when at the age of 16 years from launch, she was relisted as a “special service vessel” in the reserve; AKA “we don’t quite know what to do with this ancient and/or obsolete tub, but Lord Fisher hasn’t ordered it obliterated yet”; with a September 1909 development being her addition to a reserve fleet, the 4th Division of the Home Fleet, and decommissioned for the last time.

A quiet 4 years would then pass until HMS Royal Sovereign, The herald of the naval era of Steam-and-Steel Battleships that would last until the start of the Cold War, was finally sold for scrapping (twice somehow) on October 7th, 1913, and scrapped in Genoa, Italy soon after.


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS (in general across class excluding HMS Hood):

Displacement:
14,150 long tons (14,380 t) at normal load
15,580 long tons (15,830 t) at deep load.
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Length:
380 feet (115.8 m) between perpendiculars
410 feet 6 inches (125.1 m) overall
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Beam:
75 feet (22.9 m)
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Draft:
27 feet 6 inches (8.4 m)
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Powerplant:

The entire class were powered by 8 cylindrical Scotch Marine Fire-Tube Boilers, feeding into a pair of Humphrys & Tennant Vertical Triple Expansion Steam Engines, powering a pair of propellers through 2 shafts.
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SPEED ESTIMATES:

As designed, at natural draft the power produced was estimated to be 9,000 indicated horsepower for a top speed of 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)

And with forced draft (overpressurizing the boilers), they were estimated to produce 11,000 ihp for a speed of 17.5 knots (32.4 km/h; 20.1 mph)…

SPEEDS IN PRACTICE:

As Royal Sovereign was the first ship of the class to be completed, she was put through the most lengthy set of sea trials, though apparently only a few sets of figures have survived and/or not been misplaced.

Royal Sovereign as it turns out was so enthusiastic that while on trials, even her standard operations produced in excess of 9661 ihp and 16.41 knot speeds, and after undergoing forced draft to the very limits of the machinery, she was overpressured to the point that she produced 13,360 ihp (~147% of standard operating pressures in the boilers) and 18 knot speeds for 3 hours… in which time her boiler tubes were being seen in real time to develop very noticeable cracks over those 3 hours and; most terrifyingly; visible superheated steam vapor leaks in those cracking pipes during this impromptu powerplant torture test…

…as exploding boilers are effectively giant steam pipe bombs that both explode, shred, and broil their victims, this is quite terrifying when they are noticeably becoming more and more likely to explode directly into your face as you working around them.

Royal Navy policy thus decided not to tempt fate and push the boilers of the Royal Sovereign-class past 11,000 ihp; producing 17.5 knot speeds; to get the most out of the powerplant without turning the boilers into ultra-slow-fuze time bombs.

speeds made:

(normal draft) 16.41 knots (30.39 km/h; 18.88 mph), producing 9,661 ihp (7,204 kW)
(limited forced draft) 17.5 knots at 11,000 ihp
(unlimited forced draft) 18 knots at a dangerously overpressured (after 3+ hours) forced draft at 13,360 ihp (which would be fine ingame as WT matches generally don’t last 3 hours)
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Range:
4,720 nmi (8,740 km; 5,430 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
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Fuel:
1450 tons of coal
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Crew:
670


ARMOR:

Armor used is by default compound armor unless specifically stated

1024px-Royal_Sovereign_class_diagrams_Br

Hms_royals_plan.gif
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MAIN ARMOR BELT AND CITADEL:

The Main Belt is emblematic of the transition from Iron armor to steel in its thickness and layout, being ironically modern in that it technically conforms to the “All Or Nothing” layout- though previous Ironclads used this not to optimize defense for the citadel, but simply to reduce the enormous weight that massive slabs of wrought iron required to be sufficiently protective.

The belt was 76.9 meters long, spanning from the front of the forward barbette to the rear of the aft barbette.

The waterline belt was 2.6 meters tall, with 1.1 meters above the waterline and 1.5 meters below the waterline.

This entire span was a full 18 inches (457mm) thick, albeit of Compound Armor.

to complete the citadel, it was closed at the front of the forwards barbette with a 16-inch (406mm) thick bulkhead; and from the back of the aft barbette by a 14-inch (356mm) bulkhead
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UPPER ARMOR BELT:

The Upper Belt extending from the top of the main belt featured a brand new development in battleship design: Steel!

Uniquely for Royal Sovereign herself, the upper belt strake was Harvey Steel (face hardened nickel steel), while the rest of the class just used regular Nickel Steel, so clearly this ship was a naval steel practical testbed of sorts to make sure that these new steels weren’t just yet another dead end that 1860s-1880s attempts at serious steel armors always resulted in.

Extending from the top of the main belt, the upper belt was 4 inches (102mm) thick on the sides, and 3 inches (76mm) thick at the bow and aft ends

ADDITIONAL BELT PROTECTION:

coal bunkers behind the main and upper belts doubled as additional protection, as full/mostly full coal bunkers are basically anti-shrapnel standoff armor.
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ARMORED DECKS:

LOWER DECK:

As seen above, there was an additional waterline strake extending in both directions from the citadel- this is the Lower Deck armor:

with a comparatively tiny strake extending from both bottom ends of the citadel to each end of the ship, and with the forward section gradually curving downwards towards the bow to terminate as the actual armored ram of the ram bow, and that also formed the floor of the entire citadel, was 2.5 inches (63.5mm) thick across the entire span.

MIDDLE DECK:

The middle deck is the intervening deck between the main waterline belt and the much thinner upper belt and is effectively the ceiling of the citadel- this was 3 inches (76mm) thick.
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BARBETTES:

Royal Sovereign used barbettes rather than the monolithic all-in-one turret of previous Ironclads, and oddly the barbette dimensions were actually shaped more like a pear or rounded arrow, providing unusual and oblique angles to further aid against internal penetration (as seen on Brassey’s cross section above) of the guns mountings, related internal machinery, and ammunition hoists.

The barbette was protected by 17 inches (432mm) on the upper part (“major diameter”) of the barbette (navypedia wrongly states 18 inches), 16 inches (406mm) on the lower part (“minor diameter” AKA the middle span), and 11 inches (279mm) thick for the bottom part behind the upper belt

General diagram of the Royal Sovereign-class, showing bold lines showing the extent of the Barbette and armor sections, as well as machinery placement, gun placement rear torpedo tube, and fully defined armor layout.

RS-%D0%BE%D0%B1%D1%89%D0%B0%D1%8F_%D1%81
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CONNING TOWERS:

The forward conning tower had a 14-inch thick face, while the side and back walls were 12 inches. It’s communications tube was 8 inches thick (203mm), and ran from the tower down to the armor deck.

The rear conning tower and its communications tube however were both 3 inches thick all around.
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SECONDARY GUNS PROTECTION:

The ammo hoists for the two main deck guns on each side were 2 inches (51mm) thick

The ammo hoists for the three upper deck guns on each side above the main deck were 4 inches (102mm) thick

Between 1903 and 1904 (for Royal Sovereign) the effectively unarmored gun shields for the upper deck guns were replaced with actual armored casemates extending from the original wall of the hull to the profile seen in the pictures above, those being 6 inches (152mm) thick, made of Krupp Cemented Armor (KCA). this was done from 1902-1904 depending on the ship, across the entire class save for HMS Hood, which simply didn’t have the freeboard to spare for all that extra weight.


ARMAMENT:

2x2 BL 13.5-inch/30 Mark IV “67 Ton Gun”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BL_13.5-inch_Mk_I_–_IV_naval_gun

http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNBR_135-30_mk1.php

barrel length was actually L/32 caliber. like many militaries, calibers were rounded up or down.
years later this is still amazing to see is something that still exists as this is possibly a pre-1900 film of a VERY niche subject.
here is a 2 minute video showing the guns on a royal sovereign-class if not Royal Sovereign herself in action, showing the firing (clearly using brown powder because wow that muzzle blast, and even showing how it reloads- and making it clear that the Mark IV version of the gun is actually a navalized version of the one-off Mark III disappearing coastal fort mount, as the entire platform retracts slightly into the hull to both reload and protect the spotter (and his wooden chair).

https://youtu.be/dBy-Ft64LBg?si=Aas7TxzGRxUPL8k2

As seen on HMS royal Sovereign, from the quarterdeck, the guns at neutral elevation

TR_DqDAbnUqJy8UMc6V95AT9VN9ZjAbqFmf97fu-

and from the back

Barbetteguns_RS.jpg

Mounted atop the pear-shaped open barbettes, these guns were completely open to the elements without any kind of hood, gunshields, or gunhouse- which would become the turret of all battleships going forwards).

Originally the class was going to be fitted with a new 12-inch/40 caliber cannon under development with the new smokeless powders in mind like the also-still-under development Cordite, however delays in this development and the admiralty board forced the usage of the largest guns on hand- older 13.5-inch guns dating from the early 1880s previously seen in various Mk.Is and IIs on the Admiral, Trafalgar, and Italian Re Umberto-class Ironclads; as well as the use of the transitional Brown Powder as propellant, which uniquely for the Royal Navy was actually a 2/3rds Brown Powder-1/3rd Black Powder mixture abbreviated EXE- for Extra Experimental.

The ammo hoists for the main guns were at the top of the barbette, just underneath the platform the main guns and their turntables were seated on- to begin reloading the guns (and likely was part of their abysmal reload rate) they had to be facing directly forwards and at a neutral elevation of 0 degrees, where at this point the entire platform and guns were partially retracted into the mounting for the mechanical rammer to insert the new shell.

Hms_royal_sovereign_barbette_mount.gif

Shells fired from these beasts all weighed 1250 pounds (570 kg) regardless of shell type… speaking of which- it featured AP, Common, Shrapnel (aka HE), and Palliser shells (though the Palliser shell was comically obsolete and a laughingstock by the 1890s), with a historical loadout of 39 common, 20 AP, 12 Palliser, and 10 shrapnel across an 80-round magazine for each pair of guns. Bursting charge was 84.5 pounds (38.3 kg) (for all but the AP rounds i’m guessing?), and likely was composed of Guncotton.

Penetration of (I presume) the AP shells was estimated at ~28 inches (711.2mm) of wrought iron at a range of 1000 yards (910 meters)… and for a uhhhhhh somewhat more modern and MEANINGFUL penetration statistic, against Krupp Steel (the 1st generation 1890s Kruppstahl, not later generation and slightly better Krupp Cemented Armor) a figure of 11 inches (279mm) from 3000 yards out (2740 meters) was shown.

These figures were attained by use of the transitional propellant Brown Powder, also called “Smokeless Brown Cocoa” (SBC) in British service, so the later usage of cordite has ever so slightly better qualities.

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so just to show how weak these guns were against WWI era capital ships, the only ones the AP shells could pen are SOME of the battlecruisers (Von Der Tann may be just barely too thick), and only at ranges so short you can easily target magazines.
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To show how ludicrous these obsolete propellants are vs Cordite; let alone any other smokeless powder; and why this suggestion is only for Royal Sovereign in her final refitted state when her guns used cordite, take a look at the figures for propelling these shells:

With a propellant charge of 630 pounds (290 kg) of Brown Powder (remember that the actual shell projectile is 1250 pounds itself), the shell had a muzzle velocity of 614 m/s and a max range of 10,930 meters at the maximum 13.5 degree elevation.

Compare with:

a propellant charge of 187 pounds (87 kg) of Cordite Mk I (Cordite 50 specifically I believe), for a muzzle velocity of 640 m/s and a maximum elevation range of 11,540 meters.
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Unfortunately the biggest weakness of these guns and their outdated design and loading mechanisms was their just utterly appalling fire rate- 0.5 RPM, or 1 reload every two minutes. the last vestige of the issue that made the most powerful ironclads of the royal navy kind of impractical in a pitched battle, as the Royal Navy took quite a long time just to switch to breechloading cannons that had sub-hourly fire rates and move away from Rifled Muzzle Loaders, and so were a bit behind in this development by 1890, hence 12-inch cannons still being under development by the designing of the Royal Sovereign-class.


PERFORMANCE IN WAR THUNDER:

NOW KEEP IN MIND THIS IS JUST MY OWN OPINION AND CONJECTURE:

Considering this fire rate, i feel it’s worth explaining just WHERE this ship would likely go in the British bluewater tech tree considering its main guns are effectively useless as a practical weapon in naval AB/RB outside of nuking nearby Destroyers trying to run up and salvo off torpedoes:
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Without any doubt, this is the single worst fire rate of any partially or fully developed pre-dreadnought EVER. which makes sense, this IS the first partially or fully developed pre-dreadnought ever.

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This very much would be like the KV-2 or Maus of ships, or more closely a really, REALLY fat and slow light cruiser, or something somewhat comparable to a converted training battleship like USS Wyoming in 1944- so let’s treat it like that.

This would be the first researchable battleship playable by any nation by way of cumulative RP costs, and at BRs facing the best WWII Destroyers and weaker Light Cruisers (roughly around 5.3 BR currently) with the 6-inch/40 guns (and their slower fire rate and muzzle velocity) really being the main effective armament.

conversely having that incredibly thick (if not particularly durable) armor forcing destroyers and cruisers to aim for the superstructure (which itself is actually what the 6-inch/40 was actually meant for against capital ships), and unarmored bow and aft sections of the hull with HE, Common, and SAP, and salvoing off torpedoes; which are all absolutely devastating to a ship like this regardless of age or payload; like its going out of style.
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TL;DR: playing as this ship as with fighting against it will require slightly more thought than just the standard aiming and angling… and being just a little bit nimble when those 13.5-inch shells are flying towards you… somewhat slowly.


10 x 1 QF 6-inch/40 Mark I EOC Pattern Z

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QF_6-inch_naval_gun
http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNBR_6-40_mk1.php

6-inch/40 in its basic (and likely export-ready) gunshielded deck mounting configuration (which is what the upper deck guns were until 1904), ft. early long charge case needed for EXE propellant.

The Royal Sovereign-class carried the 1st generation of quick firing 6-inch smokeless powder cannons replacing the smaller 120mm QF 4.7-inch guns and largely reigning as the definitive pre-dreadnought secondary battery caliber for almost all of the pre-dreadnought design era.

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ammunition supply was 200 rounds per gun.

The Royal Sovereign-class specifically used the Mk I Pattern Z cannon- you can tell from the below 1901 photo that this is an Elswick-produced Mark I and not a Royal Arsenal Woolwich-produced Mark II as it is on a CPI (Central Pivot) mount, which has a small built-in platform for the gunners to stand on to pivot along with the entire gun mounting.

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The qualities of the 6-inch/40 ammunition changed quite a bit over time thanks to the changing nature of the propellant.

The 6-inch/40 used 100-pound CPC Common and HE shells as these guns were meant to be for use specifically against unarmored and very lightly protected sections of capital ships (and by definition anything else) like the superstructure, and over time would come to use 3 different explosive propellants (the second of which is the one in use for this suggestion):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_British_ordnance_terms#Gunpowder

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordite#Cordite_(Mk_I)_and_Cordite_MD

http://www.navweaps.com/index_tech/tech-100.php

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Extra Experimental (E.X.E): the propellant used by the original BL 6-inch series, and carried over to the vastly improved QF 6-inch Mark I, II, and III guns. E.X.E as it was abbreviated was a ⅔ Brown Powder - ⅓ Black Powder mix and was probably an attempt to get the (relatively) best of worlds results between the sharp recoil of black powder and the compatibility with longer barrels allowed by the slower burning brown powder. Immediately began to be replaced by Cordite Mk I in 1892, though the now-deprecated and obsolete 13.5-inch guns were likely pretty far down the list for upgraded artillery-caliber munitions that themselves only started getting those in mid-1895.

Cordite 30 (Cordite Mk I): the British numbered their Cordite variations by the size of cord, so this is the Cordite Mk I formula extruded as cords of .300-inch (.30 caliber / 7.62mm) in diameter, the optimal cord size as propellant for the 6-inch spectrum of British artillery. This is the formula used by HMS Royal Sovereign in its penetration tests against Krupp Steel armor. - this is the formula used in 1904

MD26 Cordite: MD (Modified) is the less powerful but more stable and less catastrophically corrosive and hot-burning Cordite formula. Coming into service in 1901, and likely not for naval artillery for a few more years like with the Mk I rollout. It worked the same way in measurement as Mk I, but with the size of “1” being .010 inches; so MD26 was an MD Cordite cord .260-inch in diameter. The now very obsolete Royal Sovereign-class used this only in their late lifetimes several years into the adoption of MD Cordite, and with some like Royal Sovereign herself being put in reserve in 1907 possibly never even stocked it while in active service, with likely only HMS Revenge/Redoubtable lasting long enough even equip their 6-inch/40s with it

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16 x 1 57mm/40 6-pounder Hotchkiss Mk I

In this era, the 6-pounder was still ascendant in its use as the primary anti-torpedo boat armament in capital ships before increasing ship sizes mandated larger ~3-4 inch calibers

Various sources state “unknown type” for exactly which 6-pounder was used, but considering as there’s only the Hotchkiss and Nordenfelt 57mm 6-pounders that are applicable, and considering that the Royal Navy really never truly warmed up to the Nordenfelt 6-pounder and its proprietary fuzes and such, it’s honestly almost certain regardless of ambiguity that the famous M1885 Hotchkiss 6-pounder that was cranked out by the gross was used.

the 6-pounders were scattered throughout the upper deck on mounts and through the middle deck in casemates as shown in some of the diagrams above

12 x 1 47mm 3-pounder Hotchkiss

…and to further reinforce the likelihood of the Hotchkiss 6-pounder being used, the Hotchkiss 3-pounder was used as well in the secondary anti-torpedo boat role.

the 3-pounder were placed largely on the superstructure and the fighting tops in the masts

800px-HMS_Royal_Sovereign_-_Fighting_top

on this profile shot of Royal Sovereign you can clearly see where almost all the 3-pounders are- on the masts fighting tops, three in the central section, two at the very top

HMSRoyalSovereign1897.jpg

3 (originally 7) x 1 450mm (17.7-inch) M1894 Mark IV torpedoes

In the era when even as extremely short range as torpedoes were, they were absolutely terrifying as they could gut a battleship with even their fairly small warheads due to very little attention being paid to underwater protection below the area just below the waterline- a critical weakness seen in the very first Pre-Dreadnought (which again literally was HMS Royal Sovereign) all the way to the very last.

And being of the generation when torpedo boats were ascendant in the theoretical role of cheap capital ship killers and the Jeune Ecole doctrine claimed to bring a lesser nation to an asymmetrical parity with the traditional battlefleet (AKA the Royal Navy) via mass quantity of small ships and spamming torpedoes at point blank range, the Royal Sovereign-class as well as other pre-dreadnoughts were also equipped with torpedoes- which while seeming immensely goofy considering these torpedoes largely couldn’t even range out to a kilometer, makes sense in context as… well… battleship guns didn’t practically get that much farther… thanks to central fire control and fire directors only just barely coming into service just after the dawn of the pre-dreadnought.

With that said: the Royal Sovereign-class originally had 7 torpedo tube launchers, 3 firing on each broadside, with 1 underwater and 2 abovewater broadsiding on a side, with a 7th launcher abovewater in the stern, with multiple sources claiming that abovewater torpedo tubes (others specifying all 4 of the abovewater tubes) were removed

according to Dreadnought Project:

“Originally, there were five above-water and two submerged 18-in tubes, four above-water, fixed broadside tubes at corners of armoured citadel with the projecting lips having a 3-in armoured trunk. two at 50 degrees abaft the beam and 2 degrees depression, and two at 42 degrees ahead, horizontal. one above water fixed tube astern, horizontal, with a 3-inch armoured shutter. two submerged broadside forward, depressed 1 degree and angled directly abeam; axis of tube was 11 foot 9 inches below load water line and 2 foot 3.5 inches above the deck. It is possible that the above water tubes were later removed.”

These were the Model 1894 Mark IV torpedo- so old that most sources simply just call it the “Whitehead 18-inch”, despite it outright being the standard 18-inch torpedo across all 18-inch launcher-equipped ships of the Royal Navy in 1895.

And the Royal Sovereign-class ships were never upgraded/replaced for better torpedoes during the entire class’s lifetimes- even by the end of WWI in 1918, the Royal Navy still had 40 of these Mark IV 18-inch torpedoes in stock, as well as a wide swath of other ludicrously obsolete torpedoes.

It also doesn’t help that seemingly literally every source has wildly differing stats of what the Mark IV torpedo is, so i’m going off the figures given by the most reliable source for this: Naval Weapons of World War One by Norman Friedman-

Date In Service:
1894
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Overall Weight:
1287 pounds (561 kg)
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Warhead:
200 pounds (90.7 kg)
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Overall Length:
190.4 inches
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Range:
800 yards (730 m)
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Speed:
27.5 knots


SOURCES:

online:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Sovereign-class_battleship

https://www.navypedia.org/ships/uk/brit_bb1_royal_sovereign.html

https://www.navypedia.org/ships/uk/brit_bb1_hood.html

https://www.worldnavalships.com/hms_royal_sovereign.htm

https://www.battleships-cruisers.co.uk/royal_sovereign_class1.htm

http://dreadnoughtproject.org/tfs/index.php/Royal_Sovereign_Class_Battleship_(1891)

https://wiki.wargaming.net/ru/Navy:HMS_Royal_Sovereign_(1891) - wargaming actually has a really good writeup on the class, just make sure you can autotranslate as it’s all in Russian

Literary:

Naval Weapons of World War One by Norman Friedman

Conway’s All the Worlds Fighting Ships 1860-1905