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A History of Sea Power by Stevens and Westcott

Three minutes after the first salvo


A

glance shows the superiority of the British in guns and the German superiority in armor. The British had six ships to the German five, and if the four new battleships of Evan-Thomas's division could be effectively brought into action, the British superiority in force would be reckoned as considerably more than two to one. These battleships had 13" armor, eight 15" guns each, and a speed of 25 knots. They were the most powerful ships afloat.

[Illustration: TYPE OF BRITISH BATTLE CRUISER: THE LION

From Jane, _Fighting Ships_, 1918

Normal displacement, 26,350 tons. Full load, 29,700. Length (w. l.). 675 feet. Beam, 88-1/2, feet.

Mean draught, 27-2/3 feet. Max. draught, 31-2/3 feet. Length over all, 700 feet. Length, p. p., 660 feet.

Guns: (P. R. 2--2 pdr. pom-pom) 8--13.5 inch (M. V.). Dir. Con. 5 M. G. (1 landing) 16--4 inch, 50 cal, Dir. Con. Torpedo tubes (21 inch): 2--3 inch (anti-aircraft) 2 submerged (broadside) 4--3 pdr.]

In speed, Beatty had a marked advantage. He could make 29 knots with all six of his cruisers and 32 knots with his four best,--_Queen Mary, Tiger, Lion_, and _Princess Royal_. Hipper's squadron could make but 28 knots, though the _Luetzow_ and _Derfflinger_ were probably capable

of 30.

At 3.48 British and German battle cruisers opened fire. According to Beatty's report the range at this moment was 18,500 yards. Beatty then turned to starboard, assuming a course nearly parallel to that of Hipper. Almost immediately, three minutes after the first salvo, the _Lion_, the _Tiger_, and the _Princess Royal_ were hit by shells. In these opening minutes the fire of the Germans seems to have been fast and astonishingly accurate. The _Lion_ was hit repeatedly, and at four o'clock the roof of one of her turrets was blown off. It is said that the presence of mind and heroic self-sacrifice of an officer saved the ship from the fate that subsequently overwhelmed two of her consorts. By this time the range had decreased to 16,000 yards (British reckoning) and Beatty shifted his course more to the south to confuse the enemy's fire control. Apparently this move did not succeed in its purpose for at 4.06 a salvo struck the _Indefatigable_ on a line with her after turret, and exploded a magazine. As she staggered out of column and began sinking, another salvo smashed into her forward decks and she rolled over and sank like a stone.

About this time the Fifth Battle Squadron came into action, but it was not able to do effective service. The range was extreme, about 20,000 yards, and being some distance astern of the battle cruisers, on account of its inferior speed, it had to contend with the battle smoke of the squadron ahead as well as the gradually thickening atmospheric conditions. In addition the Germans frequently laid smoke screens and zigzagged. Evan-Thomas's division never saw more than two enemy ships at a time.


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