HMS Tiger was a battlecruiser warship developed for the British Royal Navy and the only ship of her Tiger-class. She became the Royal Navy's final coal-burning capital ship and served with distinction during World War 1. She was laid down on June 20th, 1912 by the John Brown and Company shipyard, launched on December 15th, 1913, and commissioned on October 3rd, 1914. By this time, Britain was committed to the war which began in July of that year and would soon bog down into trench warfare by the beginning of 1915. HMS Tiger participated in the Battle of Dogger Bank (a British victory of January 1915) as well as the Battle of Jutland (a nominal Allied victory of May-June 1916).
HMS Tiger became something of a rarity in the grand scope of naval programs of the period, being the sole member of her class. She carried a propulsion arrangement headed by 39 x water-tube boilers coupled with 2 x direct-drive steam turbines driving 4 x shafts with an output of 85,000 horsepower. The allowed her to make headway at 28 knots in ideal conditions. Her crew complement numbered 1,112 at the start of the war and this total ballooned to 1,459 by April of 1918 - the last year of the conflict. Dimensions included an overall length of 704 feet with a beam of 90.5 feet and a draught of 32.4 feet. Her displacement was 29,000 tons under normal load and 33,800 tons under full load. Armor protection ranged from 229mm thickness at the belt to 76mm along the belt and 229mm at the main gun turrets. The conning tower carried up to 254mm armor protection. Her profile was dominated by three smoke funnels are center and a foremast at the bridge superstructure.
As a battlecruiser, the Tiger was well-armed through 8 x 13.5" (343mm) BL Mk V main guns set across four twin-gunned turrets. Turrets One and Two were mounted ahead of the bridge superstructure with turrets Three and Four set aft of amidships. Additionally, she carried 12 x 6" (152mm) BL Mk VII guns in single-gunned turrets and 2 x 3" (76mm) cannons for air defense. Consistent with warships of the period, Tiger also fielded 4 x 21" (533mm) submerged torpedo launchers. HMS Tiger was the only Royal Navy battlecruiser outfitted with 6" guns.
The battlecruiser, as a ship type, was another British naval invention which attempted to combine the firepower of a battleship with the cruising speeds of a cruiser. As such, HMS Tiger held a formidable armament display capable of tangling with capital ships of the enemy but was less armed as a battleship would be, instead relying on her speed to escape trouble. Battlecruisers did not prove a revolution as the HMS Dreadnought began in 1906 and were only adopted by the navies of Britain, Germany, and Japan. Several of these vessels found successful careers but the design initiative was flawed.
HMS Tiger's first actions were in the Battle of Dogger Bank taking place on January 24th, 1915. Dogger Bank lay in North Sea waters and the battle involved the British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet. As Britain's greatest strength heading into the war proved her navy, it was imperative that the Germans deliver decisive blows to the force and retain control of vital waterways.
The battle formed with a German raiding force headed to Dogger Bank and the British intercepting the communications. Alerted to the inbound threat, the Grand Fleet set sail to meet them. Once spotted, the German fleet turned to flee and was pursued by the faster British vessels which eventually came into gun range and opened fire. Shells were then exchanged as both sides lost use of vessels. Miscommunications eventually saw the British fleet break their action and the battle ended. Losses included one British battlecruiser and destroyer put out of action along with 15 killed and 32 wounded and one German cruiser sunk (SMS Blucher) and a battlecruiser damaged. However, the Germans suffered mightily with 954 dead and 80 wounded. A further 189 became prisoners of war. The battle proved a decisive British naval victory - an early motivational claim in what would turn out to be a year's long war. During the battle, HMS Tiger received six direct hits, losing control of turret Three. In turn, her fast-firing guns landed only two direct hits despite the 355 shells fired.
After refit in December of 1915, her next action was during the famous Battle of Jutland - the grandest of the naval battles of World War 1. The confrontation also marked the only battle of the war which showcased battleships on both sides. A combined British-Australian-Canadian force faced off against the German High Seas Fleet in the area near Denmark, north of the German shoreline and sought of the Norwegian shoreline. The battle ranged from May 31st to June 1st, 1916.
The battle included 151 Allied ships versus 99 German vessels. The Allied contingent was headed by 28 battleships supported by 9 battlecruisers, 8 armored cruisers, 26 light cruisers, 78 destroyers, a minelayer and a seaplane carrier. Facing them would be 16 battleships, 5 battlecruisers, 6 predreadnought vessels, 11 light cruisers and 61 torpedo boats.
Results of the battle were tactically inconclusive. The Allies lost three battlecruisers, three armored cruisers, and eight destroyers with 6,094 personnel killed and 674 wounded in action. The Germans lost a battlecruiser, predreadnought battleship, four light cruisers, and five of their torpedo boats in the fighting in addition to 2,551 personnel killed and 507 wounded. Despite the numbers seemingly favoring the Germans, they failed to net control of the North Sea which still remained under British ownership.
During Jutland, Tiger took eighteen direct hits - primarily from SMS Moltke - killing twenty-four and wounding forty-six, but was not knocked out of action. Despite her light armor scheme, Tiger managed hits across non-vital sections of her design. As such, battlecruisers held a "sink-or-swim" nature about them, their survival largely dependent on where they were hit and by what weapon. Again, Tiger fired projectiles numbered in the hundreds and managed fewer than 50% as direct hits on the enemy. After the battle. Tiger sailed to Rosyth Dockyard in Scottish waters for repairs.
Following the work, she replaced HMS Lion as flagship of 1st Battlecruiser Squadron and then sailed with the Grand Fleet until entering a period of refit from November 10th, 1916 to January 29th, 1917. The work included additional armoring at the turrets and deck and her Fire Control System (FCS) was improved. Her final days of wartime service saw her on patrol throughout the North Sea. Equipment was added for the launching of an aircraft during late 1917 and she entered a refit in 1918 in which her profile was slightly redrawn.
The war was over in November of 1918 with the Armistice. HMS Tiger was retained in post-war service as part of the Atlantic Fleet before being set in reserve in August of 1921 and relegated as a training vessel from 1924 onwards. HMS Tiger was in active commissioned service until 1931and decommissioned on May 15th of that year. Like other storied warships before and after her, she was sold for scrapping - this in February 1932, bringing about an unfitting end to her sea-going career.
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