|A famous picture of the remains of HMS Invincible. Her Squadron, intervened in the Battle of Jutland at a key time, diverting and confusing the Germans when they were unwittingly about to cross Jellicoe's T before he had deployed his battle line. Invincible managed to knock out Wiesbaden's engines and scored two hits, which played a significant part in her loss, on Lützow before being sunk.
Losses at the Battle of Jutland
Capital Ship Dry Dock Repair Completion Dates
|Von der Tann
|Another well known picture, this time of HMS Queen Mary exploding. German observers estimated that the plume of smoke was 2,000 feet high, turret roofs were thrown over 100 feet up and Tiger, next ship in the line, was showered with hot wreckage. Only eight survivors were picked up, 1268 crew were lost.
Heavy Shells Fired at Jutland
Heavy Shell Hits Received (Approximate)
|HMS Indefatigable has the dubious distinction of being the first battlecruiser ever to be sunk and the first ship to be lost at Jutland. Her class were similar to Invincible but were longer to permit both 'P' and 'Q' turrets to fire on broadside and had 1000shp more, making them fractionally faster. Her two sisters were paid for by New Zealand and Australia and named after their respective sponsors. New Zealand was given to the RN and Australia became that countries fleet flagship but operated with the Grand Fleet for much of the war.
Jutland was undoubtedly a material victory for the German High Seas Fleet whilst being a strategic victory for the British Grand Fleet. The Germans had inflicted heavier losses on the numerically superior Grand Fleet and had escaped near destruction but had failed to break the British blockade or control of the North Sea and had not altered the balance of power in any meaningful way.
The Royal Navy had failed to achieve a new Trafalgar, to both it's and the British public's disappointment, although it had ended the battle in control of the battlefield and with the balance of power unchanged, still being the dominant power in the North Sea. Despite it's heavier losses, damage to German ships kept the RNs margin of superiority in all categories, except Battlecruisers, unaltered and the Grand Fleet was ready for sea before the High Seas Fleet.
Jellicoe always had to bear in mind that a heavy defeat for the German navy would not have brought German to her knees but a heavy defeat for the British could quite easily result in Britain being knocked out of the war. Winston Churchill, a strong critic of Jellicoe, commented that he was the only person on either side who could loose the war in an afternoon.
|HMS Warrior and her sisters were a considerable improvement on previous designs. They increased the secondary battery to 7.5in and mounted them at main deck level rather than in casemates. This also gave them a higher centre of gravity and made them steadier ships and excellent gun platforms. Highly regarded by the British before the war they were considered by those that had served in them to be the best cruisers in the Royal Navy.
The Germans were shown to have good seamanship skills and their night fighting skills were in advance of those of the British - with star shell, better recognition signalling, superior searchlights and better co-ordination between guns and searchlights. Their shooting was also good with their rangefinders proving superior to the British at getting an initial range though inferior at maintaining it and in general their fire control equipment was inferior to the British director system. Excepting Beattys battlecruisers German hit rates were not superior, especially if you take into account the large number of hits (37) scored against the three sunk armoured cruisers at short range and the poor shooting of Beattys battlecruisers which dragged the British average down. The Germans were not impressed with the accuracy of the British battlecruisers, a feeling which was mirrored by the British Battlefleet where the battlecruisers accuracy had a generally poor reputation, the more serious consequences of this are mentioned below. Visibility proved to be the most important factor in accuracy. Rates of sustained heavy gun fire were similar for both fleets at around one round per minute, although on paper the Germans lighter guns had a higher rate.
The British were shown to have several tactical and material flaws. As already mentioned their night fighting skills were poor, they also suffered from poor destroyer flotilla attack tactics and, worst of all, dreadful reporting. Jellicoe was repeatedly not informed of vital information and thus missed the opportunity of rejoining battle on the morning of June 1. Materially British heavy shells failed on striking armour at oblique angles, a problem which should have been noticed in testing, leading to many shells failing to penetrate armour they should have, although it should also be mentioned that German shells were far from perfect but they were more reliable than the British shells. After Jutland the British developed much improved shells although these did not enter service until 1918.
Both sides improved their fire control equipment after Jutland, the British also adopting the German 'ladder' technique for spotting which halved the time it took the British to straddle targets. The Germans continued a programme of increasing the elevation of their main guns to cut the range advantage British guns had. They also removed torpedo net from their ships as they proved a potential hazard in combat.
The key British material weakness was cordite instability, all three battlecruisers and two of the armoured cruiser losses were mainly attributable to this. When turrets of the sunk ships were damaged the cordite stored there caught fire, which then spread to the magazines causing major explosions. It is often stated that British anti-flash arrangements were poor whilst the Germans had learnt of this risk from experience at Dogger Bank and had improved their arrangements. This is not entirely true, British anti-flash protection was not inferior to that of the Germans, and the only change made by the Germans after Dogger Bank was to reduce the amount of cordite stored in the turrets. The biggest problem with the British flash protection was that in the battlecruisers the safety procedures were widely ignored, too much cordite was stored outside the magazine in unprotected areas and many of the doors designed to keep flash from spreading were kept open. The reason for this can be traced to the battlecruisers being forward based at Rosyth. There were no safe training ranges here, so the battlecruisers pursued a policy of concentrating on rate of fire to compensate for the lack of accuracy. This meant safety was compromised to increase rate of fire. The policy was endorsed from a senior level within the Battlecruiser Force but the RN covered this up after the battle and blamed the losses on inferior armour, and not on lax safety. To compound this problem British cordite was less stable than the German equivalent and under certain conditions exploded more easily than it was expected to, making safe handling procedures even more important. Had German ships used British cordite it is highly likely that Derfflinger and Seydlitz would have been sunk and Von der Tann would have probably sunk.
The most far reaching result of Jutland was that it convinced Scheer and the German Naval staff that the only way of gaining naval victory was via unrestricted submarine warfare, and not by defeating the British in battle. The Germans had fought Jutland as well or better than could be expected, whilst the British could be expected to perform better next time, and yet nothing had changed. However it was not the German submarine blockade of Britain but the British blockade of Germany, maintained under the guns of the Grand Fleet, that eventually did most to bring the war to an end.
|SMS Lützow was Germany's most serious loss of the war and the best ship on either side lost at Jutland. Although Queen Mary had larger main guns, Lützow was the first German battlecruiser class to have 12in guns which were in superfiring pairs fore and aft, unlike the Queen Mary with her limited 'Q' turret. Lützow also had considerably superior armour both in terms of thickness and arrangement.