TIGER, THE LAST SECOND-GENERATION BATTLECRUISER II

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Tiger as completed in 1914, showing the massive 13.5in superfiring turrets and the secondary armament on her port side. The battlecruiser was fitted with just a single mast; a very high tripod.

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General Features

Tiger was easily recognisable because of her three equally-spaced funnels and ‘Q’ turret located well abaft the third funnel, which allowed a very large arc of fire. The long forecastle deck extended up to ‘Y’ turret, while the hull maintained the rounded bow. In Tiger, the superstructure was more compact than it had been in previous battlecruisers and was grouped in a single block. The forward portion supported the tripod mast and housed an enlarged bridge while the aft portion housed the funnels, the service boats and their handling equipment, including an aft derrick that was as high as the third funnel. This overall layout was the result of placing almost all of the secondary battery into the forecastle deck.

When completed, Tiger had an overall length of 704ft, a beam of 90ft 6in and a draught of about 32ft 3in at a deep displacement of 33,677 tons. Her main characteristics are summarised in in the table on pages 112-13. The amidships freeboard was 24ft 6in, slightly lower than in the Lions. This feature was risky for the safe operation of the secondary battery. To overcome rolling, Tiger was designed with anti-rolling tanks but, during her construction, the Admiralty decided not to install these tanks and increased the size of her bilge keels instead.

Tiger had four dynamos. For the first time on British battlecruisers, there was one oil-driven diesel dynamo, generating 150kW. Two turbine-driven dynamos generated 200kW each, while the only reciprocating engine-driven dynamo another generated 200kW. Total output power was therefore 750kW at 220 volts, an indication of the increased importance given to electrical equipment on board warships. Tiger had the same W/T equipment as the Lions, but this was gradually improved during the First World War, including the provision of a W/T set for fire-control purposes. When completed, Tiger had a crew of 1,112 officers and men, which gradually increased during the conflict, and peaked at 1,459 in 1918. A few days before the action at Dogger Bank in January 1915, Tiger had white stripes applied to her funnels and the mast and dark grey panels added to the central portion of the hull. This camouflage was removed shortly after Dogger Bank but that on the hull sides was restored in 1917.

Protection

The armour scheme was an improvement in comparison with the Lions, especially because the forward and aft 4in belt was longer. Furthermore, the secondary battery casemate had 10in of protection that ran from abreast the conning tower to the rear side of ‘Y’ barbette and contributed to the overall armour scheme. Another 5in plate ran from abreast the conning tower to the front face of ‘A’ barbette, giving continuity to the protection of the forecastle deck and representing an innovation in the design of British battlecruisers, but the depth of the 9in main belt inherited from the Lions was reduced from 3ft to 2ft 3in. However, an additional 3in strip was placed below the 9in portion and ran from the rear face of ‘Y’ turret to the front face of ‘A’ barbette. Two 4in transverse bulkheads closed in the citadel. Horizontal protection varied from 1.5in at the forecastle and upper decks to 3in at the lower deck. This deck was also sloped along its extension as in the Lions. The barbettes of the four main gun mountings had a thickness that varied from 9in on the upper part to 1in in the lower part. The turrets had 9in faces, 8in rears and around 3in roofs. The conning tower’s sides were 10in, the roof was 3in and its lower part was 2in. The communication tube had a maximum thickness of 4in. The torpedo-control tower located at the aft end of the forecastle had 6in sides and a 4in roof. The spotting top had 6in and the magazines were protected by screens whose thickness varied from 2.5in to 1in. The vertical protection was mainly made of KC steel plates, while HT steel plates protected the decks.

Machinery

An advantage that favoured a balanced arrangement of the boiler uptakes into the three funnels was the grouping of all five boiler rooms in a row forward of ‘Q’ turret magazine. Another difference from the Lions was that the boiler rooms, each being 35ft long, were not provided with longitudinal bulkheads. Tiger had thirty-nine Babcock & Wilcox boilers: the foremost boiler room housed seven boilers, while each of the other four boiler rooms housed eight. During both the design and the construction of Tiger, the DNC pushed to equip her with small-tube boilers that would decrease overall weight and space taken by machinery. However, the Admiralty rejected this proposal because this type of boiler required more maintenance time, which reduced the ship’s operational availability. Tiger was also the first battlecruiser fitted with Brown-Curtis turbines, manufactured by John Brown under licence from the American firm Curtis. The turbines, the main condensers and the auxiliary equipment were placed into two separate compartments, which were in turn separated by longitudinal bulkheads. The working layout for both turbines and shafts was the same as in the Lions.

Tiger had a maximum stowage of 3,320 tons for coal and 3,480 for oil. However, in practice these figures were 2,800 and 2,100 tons, respectively. Discussions took place regarding equipping Tiger with all oil-fired boilers, but this was rejected and she had oil sprayed over coal. An estimated unofficial figure for Tiger’s daily coal consumption was 1,245 tons per day at 59,500shp. This power corresponded to a speed of 24 knots, which in turn gave an endurance of 3,300 miles with the maximum calculated fuel stowage. At 25 knots, the corresponding endurance was 2,800 miles, which increased to 5,200 miles at 12 knots.

Armament

The main battery was as in Queen Mary, with the Vickers 13.5in BII* mountings slightly modified to achieve an elevation of 20°. Wartime ammunition outfit was as in the Lions. When the Admiralty discussed the secondary battery for Tiger, they assumed that the 15cm/5.9in guns fitted on German capital ships were intended to destroy the 4in guns on board British capital ships, thus facilitating their own torpedo attack. In fact, by 1909, the increased range of in-service torpedoes and the greater size of German destroyers appeared to justify larger secondary guns on British battlecruisers as well. However, firing trials carried out at that time demonstrated that 6in guns were unsatisfactory, expensive and the location of their ammunition could pose a serious risk to the ship.

Nevertheless, Tiger was fitted with twelve Vickers 6in 45cal Mk VII guns in single PVIII mountings. Ten mounts were placed on the forecastle deck and two on the upper deck, thus allowing a good concentration of fire astern. The 6in mount had an elevation of 14°, while the gun’s maximum range was 3,000yd. Rate of fire was five to seven rounds per minute. This gun used Common Pointed Ballistic Cap (CPBC), CPC and HE projectiles, each weighing almost 100lb. Wartime ammunition outfit was 130 rounds per gun, which was considered a poor allowance.

Unlike previous battlecruisers, Tiger had an antiaircraft battery made up of two 3in/20cwt Mark I guns mounted on the shelter deck, abreast the conning tower. Their wartime ammunition outfit was 120 HE and thirty incendiary rounds for each gun. Four 21in submerged torpedo tubes were fitted on the beam, one pair port and starboard, forward of ‘A’ barbette and aft of ‘Y’ barbette, respectively. Ammunition outfit for the torpedo tubes was twenty weapons. As with previous battlecruisers, by the end of the First World War, Tiger a flying-off platform on top the ‘Q’ turret that was used by a Sopwith Camel. A canvas hangar placed around this platform gave the aircraft some protection.

As for fire control, Tiger represented a great leap forward since she had been fitted with a director since her construction, and benefitted from improved devices during her service career. The director was placed on the spotting top’s roof, which also had a 9ft B&S rangefinder, and another director was placed on top of the conning tower. When completed, Tiger also had 9ft rangefinders on each of her four turrets, and in armoured hoods on top the conning tower and on the torpedo-control station placed at the after end of the forecastle deck. All this equipment was greatly improved during wartime. In 1918, ‘A’ and ‘Q’ turrets had 25ft rangefinders; 15ft rangefinders replaced the earlier models in ‘Y’ turret, in the torpedo-control tower and in the gun-control tower while a 12ft model equipped the spotting top. Finally, a small 2m FT 29-type rangefinder for anti-aircraft purposes was fitted in a shielded position above the spotting top. Tiger had a transmitting station for her main battery, which was located on the main deck. The secondary battery had its own transmitting station, with two control positions located on the upper deck, starboard and port, abreast the first funnel.

Tiger was initially fitted with sixteen 24in searchlights. They were placed on the sides of the superstructure (four port and starboard), a pair on a small platform on top the derrick stump between the first and the second funnel and a pair on top the torpedo-control station.

Service History and Main Alterations

Tiger joined the First BCS on 3 October 1914, although shipyard staff continued to work on board to ready her for war service. On 24 January, Tiger participated in the Dogger Bank action, engaged Seydlitz, Blücher and Moltke and was damaged in return. During the battle of Jutland, Tiger was hit several times and seriously damaged but was able to return to Rosyth for repair. In July 1916, she rejoined the Grand Fleet and became the temporary flagship of the First BCS while Lion was being repaired. After a refit from November 1916 to January 1917, Tiger took part in the action at Heligoland Bight on 17 November 1917. After the end of the war, Tiger was part of the newly-established Atlantic Fleet but was placed in reserve in August 1921. After the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, the Admiralty initially decided to keep Tiger in service and from 1924 she was used as a gunnery training ship at Portsmouth. In summer 1926, Tiger rejoined the battle fleet and was included in the Atlantic Fleet’s Battlecruiser Squadron. She retained this position until May 1931, being paid off for disposal on 26 July 1931 and dismantled eight months later.

Tiger was a more impressive-looking ship than her predecessor battlecruisers and received several external changes that altered her profile. Apart from the changes in fire control equipment mentioned above, Tiger had her spotting top enlarged after Dogger Bank. In 1915-16, Tiger had 6in gun directors placed in the compass platform and there were some changes in the boats’ handling equipment. After Jutland, her armour was improved, especially around the magazines. In 1917, six 36in searchlights replaced almost all the smaller types and they were also redistributed. In 1918-19, Tiger underwent alterations because of lessons learned during the war. The forward mast was shortened, the bridge was enclosed and the spotting top was further enlarged. A rangefinder position was placed abaft the spotting top’s director. Two positions for fore torpedo control and a concentration director were installed low on the forward mast. In the early 1920s, Tiger’s anti-aircraft armament was increased, the aft derrick was raised well above the third funnel and fitted with a very high topgallant and other minor alterations were made until the end of her service life.

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