HMS Repulse (1916)

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HMS Repulse

Repulse on manoeuvres in the 1920s
Career RN Ensign
Laid down: 25 January 1915
Launched: 8 January 1916
Commissioned: 18 August 1916
Fate: Sunk by Japanese air attack off Malaya on 10 December 1941
General Characteristics
Displacement: 32,000 tons
Length: 794 ft (240 m)
Beam: 90 ft (30 m)
Draught: 31.75 ft (9.68 m)
Armament: 6 15 inch (380 mm), 20 4 inch (100 mm), 16 2pdr
Aircraft: 4
Propulsion: Geared turbines, 4 shafts, 112,000 hp (83.5 MW)
Speed: 29 knots (54 km/h)
Range:3,650 miles
Complement: 1,181 officers and enlisted

HMS Repulse was a Renown-class battlecruiser, the second to last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy. She was launched in 1916, too late to take part in the battle of Jutland, but also too early to incorporate the lessons of that battle. In September 1916 she joined the Grand Fleet as flagship of the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron. Its sinking during in World War II by aerial attack along with the HMS Prince of Wales signaled the subordination of the ship class in favor of the aircraft carrier.

Repulse first saw action on 17 November 1917 at the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight. The next month, Repulse was damaged in collision with HMAS Australia.

Repulse's first major rebuild occurred at Portsmouth Naval Yard from 1933 to 1936. This rebuild included improvements to anti-aircraft armament which was to be no avail against heavy Japanese attack in late 1941, better armour, and facilities for a spotter aircraft.

After the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Repulse operated in various hunting groups that were formed to hunt down German commerce raiders. However, it did not engage any. The start of the Allied campaign in Norway saw Repulse covering minelaying by British forces. When Glowworm was lost attacking the Admiral Hipper, Repulse took part in the search, but failed to make contact. Towards the end of the campaign, during the evacuation of British troops, it was feared that an invasion of Iceland was in process, and so the ship was detached from protecting Norway convoys to search for the potential invasion force. However, no invasion was in fact taking place. Consequently Repulse was returned to convoy protection.

During 1941, Repulse mainly operated on convoy duty. However, it did take part in the running down of the Bismarck. Repulse operated as part of the Home Fleet, but was detached from the main body prior to the last engagement due to fears of a repeat of the loss of Hood and to lack of fuel.

At the end of 1941, as the threat of war with Japan loomed ever larger, Repulse was detached to the Far East as a deterrent to further Japanese aggression. Shortly after the outbreak of war, Repulse left Singapore in company with the other major element of the Eastern Fleet, the fast battleship Prince of Wales, to try and intercept Japanese invasion convoys heading towards Malaya.

The commander of the fleet, Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, knew that British forces could not guarantee to provide air cover for his forces, but elected to proceed anyway because he thought that Japanese forces could not operate so far from land, and he also thought that his ships were relatively immune from fatal damage via air attack, since up to that point, no capital ship at sea had ever been sunk by air attack. The largest unit which had done so was a heavy cruiser.

However, on 10 December 1941, after failing to find any Japanese invasion forces, and turning south, Japanese aircraft were spotted. The fleet was attacked by upwards of ninety Japanese aircraft which sank both Prince of Wales and Repulse.

See HMS Repulse for other ships of the same name.

Renown-class battlecruiser
Renown | Repulse

List of battlecruisers of the Royal Navy

de:HMS Repulse ja:レパルス (巡洋戦艦)


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