Category: Gallery

The launch of HMS Prince of Wales

HMS Prince of Wales was launched at Cammell Laird’s shipyard in Birkenhead on Merseyside  on the 3rd of May 1939. A number of photographs of the launching ceremony is being held by the Wirral Archives service; a number of these images show the keel laying ceremony as previously posted Laying the keel of HMS Prince of Wales.

A brief press clip can be viewed at British Pathe.I find this clip of particular interest as it mentions other nations not keeping to their treaty limits as well as the Royal Navy soon receiving three more ships of the same class Duke of York, Jellicoe and Beaty, (the latter renamed Anson and Howe), plus, the Lion-class battleships Lion and Temeraire. The keels of both of these ships would be laid a few months after HMS Prince of Wales was launched but work on both ships was suspended in 1940.

Please note these images have been reproduced with the permission of both BAE Systems and the Wirral Archives.

“Copyright © 2018 BAE Systems. All Rights Reserved. This work is reproduced with the kind permission of BAE Systems. BAE Systems is a registered trademark of BAE Systems plc”

I would like the express my gratitude to both the Wirral Archival Service and BAE systems both for their assistance and for making it possible to publish these photographs.

You can visit the Wirral Archival Service here:https://www.wirral.gov.uk/libraries-and-archives/wirral-archives-service


Note the many cameras in the background recording the launch.

Although some welding was applied in HMS Prince of Wale’s hull construction, most of it was still riveted. The overlapping hull plates were caulked and then a sealing compound called Aranbee was added to vertical raised plate edges (roughly perpendicular to the flow direction), between butt ends, and, in the bow and stern region—outside the region of the main armoured belt—to all raised plate edges in steamwise direction, giving the hull a smooth appearance

In the background the foremast and funnels of RMS Mauretania, launched a year earlier, are visible (not to be confused with RMS Mauretania from 1906).

The Princess Royal prior to her commissioning speech.













HMS Prince of Wales takes her place in Cammell Laird’s wet basin next to the RMS Mauretania.


A particularly striking view. Note that the side armour has not yet been fitted.

This collection contains only one well-known image of HMS Prince of Wales during her fitting-out. HMS King George V was the only of the class to have square scuttles at the Admiral’s dining and day cabin located in the stern. Although the scuttles here are clearly round, six rectangular cut-outs appear to be visible in the hull. At right, next to the ladder, the storage rack for the night lifebuoy can be seen. This rack was removed before she sailed for her historic Atlantic Charter meeting.

Thrown in for good measure; the launch of HMS King George V. Note: the scuttles of the Admiral’s dining and day cabin are not yet present.

The launch of HMS Hood

HMS Hood was launched on the 22nd of August 1918 at John Brown & Co shipyard. These images were originally owned by Sir Thomas Bell, the MD of John Brown & Co and I was fortunate to obtain them. Some of these images—and quite a few others—can also be found in Ian Johnston’s highly recommended “Clydebank Battlecruisers”, (2011) and “A Shipyard at War” ( 2014),  Seaforth Publishing.

A wonderful shot of HMS Hood’s hull on No 3 slip (Johnston, 2011). This is my favourite image, showing the chains used to stop the hull during launch (more clearly visible in the following image bottom right), the large 150 ton derrick crane in the foreground, the yard’s shops and stores, a forest of cranes, the buildings and train yard, church towers at right.

This close-up shows the port side underwater torpedo tube; the starboard tube on the opposite side was slightly more upstream. The openings in the hull upstream and downstream of the torpedo tube are seacock openings with discharge openings above them.

As my work focuses mainly on propeller design a close-up is in order.

The crowd after the launch, with traces of Champagne visible on the ramp at left.

HMS Hood on the 18th of March 1920 running her speed trials.

Gallery: HMS Prince of Wales; laying the keel

The keel of HMS Prince of Wales was laid at Cammell Laird’s shipyard in Birkenhead on 1 January 1937. A number of photographs of the ceremony is being held by the Wirral Archives service; I order a digital copy for personal use. I was so excited by both the quality of the images and how the event was captured that I asked the archives if the images could be published in small format on my blog. They replied I would need the express permission of the copyright holder, BAE systems. As the archives explained “BAE Systems took over Cammell Laird, including its intellectual property rights, as follows: Cammell Laird was nationalised in 1977, and was then privatised again in 1986 when it became part of VSEL Consortium; subsequently the VSEL Consortium was the subject of a takeover and became Marconi Marine, which then passed to BAE Systems. The present company shares the same name and site as the old Cammell Laird, but is in fact a different company.” I contacted the legal department of BAE systems; they agreed to my request provided I would place the following disclaimer

“Copyright © 2018 BAE Systems. All Rights Reserved. This work is reproduced with the kind permission of BAE Systems. BAE Systems is a registered trademark of BAE Systems plc”

I would like the express my gratitude to both the Wirral Archival Services and BAE systems both for their assistance and for making it possible to publish these photographs.

Unfortunately, the accompanying information regarding these images is no longer in the archives. However, the photographs are all marked “Stewart Bale, Liverpool”, a well-known photographer, with nearly 200,000 negatives in storage at the Stewart Bale collection of the Mersey Side Maritime Museum. I have not written to them, but they may hold some more information.

I’ve manually cleaned up the images, removing dust & scratches and repairing damage where I could. It’s not always easy to see the difference between damage or a pocket handkerchief as is the case with the gentleman standing at the bottom of the staircase—comparing with other photographs can rule such errors out— but I’ve tried to leave the images as close to the original as possible. Note that one of the photographers is captured , as well has a small furnace heating the rivets.

Gallery: HMS Rodney, main guns

Nearly all photographs of HMS Rodney could be classified under the “main gun” header with the main armament so prevalent in most images, so I made a small collection with either the barrel or the turret clearly in view (and not part of a larger series).

The crew receiving the following proclamation by King Edward VIII by the Captain (Wilfred Custance based on the date)

Royal Marine Guard for King Edward VIII

Hoisting a cutter

At the Canary Islands


Invergordon.

“Gun jam practise” (?)

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