In the first decade of the 20th Century the weapon that distinguished a major naval power from a wantabee was the battleship. Strength was measured in capital ships not cruisers. Every country that could build their own battleships, built them as
quickly as possible. Russia contracted with yards in France and the USA for additional battleships, as the Russian yards were already at capacity. If a country did not have the facilities to construct their own battleship, they would go shopping on the
world market. China and originally Japan in the east, Turkey and Greece in the Mediterranean and the richest market of all, the big three of South America , Chile , Argentina and Brazil .

With the introduction of
HMS Dreadnought, the smaller navies also desired their own versions of the all big gun battleship. All of the big shipyards had traveling designers/salesmen that would go from one smaller country to another selling the newest
designs for a battleship. Krupps and Blohm und Voss, New York Shipbuilding, Fore River and Cramps from the USA, Ansaldo from Italy and Chanticler de Nantes and La Seyne from France. However, the most experienced salesmen in this game were
those from the great British firms of Vickers and Armstrong. The life of Newcastle was tied with the fortunes of Armstrong, Whitworth and Co. The yards, gun shops and metal working facilities of this great arms manufacturer extended up and down
the river Tyne from Newcastle . When times were good and the company had contracts in hand for new construction from the Royal Navy and overseas buyers, 30,000 men would be employed in this massive arms complex in northeastern England .
The prosperity of this chill, dark city rose and fell with international anxiety. A peace conference spelt depression: a rash of South American jingoism, a spot of trouble in the Balkans, could put colour in the cheeks of the children playing
between the workmen’s dwellings of Westmorland Road and Bell Terrace.
The Great Dreadnought, 1966, by Richard Hough, at page 14”

Since 1904 Armstrongs had Eustace Hugh Tennyson d’Eyncourt as their chief designer/salesman. D’Eyncourt had the pedigree and intelligence to surpass in this position. With one of his uncles an Admiral in the Royal Navy and Alfred Lord Tennyson as
one of his cousins, his background was impeccable. After completion of his formal education he had his formal introduction to Sir William White DNC. With connections like these Armstrongs quickly took Tennyson d’Eyncourt in as an apprentice. For
the next six years, he learned from personal experience, all of the steps and processes that went into completing the hull, fittings, machinery, armament and all other items required to produce a warship. This was followed by more formal education in
naval architecture at the Royal Naval College , and assignments in the design departments of Armstrongs-Elswick and Clydeside Shipbuilding. His first foreign assignment came when Armstrongs sent him to Turkey to conduct the formal handover of
three ships built by Armstrongs for Turkey . The Turks were so impressed with Tennyson d’Eyncourt that they kept him over for him to conduct a complete survey of the Turkish Navy.
Most of the large warship export firms relied upon lavish parties for possible purchasers in their efforts to secure contracts. Tennyson d’Eyncourt was not like that. He relied upon his tremendous talent and the Armstrong’s reputation to make his sales
and he was very successful at it. It is somewhat odd that South America provided the most fertile ground for large warship sales. He big three of Brazil , Argentina and Chile had some territorial disputes in the past accompanied with minor wars.
However, most of these had been resolved and relationships among the three largest South American powers were at their most friendly state ever. Chile was the first off of the mark when in 1901 Sir Edward Reed of Armstrongs designed two fast
battleships for that nation, who felt that their navy was greatly outgunned by the navy of Argentina . These two ships,
Constitution and Libertad were ordered from Armstrongs. After tensions eased between Chile and Argentina , Chile put the
unfinished construction up for sale on the international market. To prevent their acquisition by Imperial Russia, the Royal Navy acquired the pair as
Triumph and Swiftsure. Argentina had also acted as a result of the tensions with Chile and ordered
armored cruisers from Italy of the
Garibaldi design.

However, now Brazil felt threatened and she wanted a major navy. She didn’t need it as she had no ambitions against her neighbor and was not under any threat. She certainly couldn’t afford it as modern battleships were extremely expensive
propositions not only to manufacturer but continuing costs in maintenance. That didn’t matter as it was the prestige of possession of modern battleships that was desired by Brazil . To insure her status as the preeminent naval power of South America
three battleships were authorized. Tennyson d’Eyncourt of Armstrongs was quickly at the forefront of  the bidders for this new construction. He counseled the Brazilians towards patience. Something was in the works that was new and different. Brazil
’s navy would be better served by waiting for this unknown development. That development was
HMS Dreadnought and since Brazil had followed the counsel of Tennyson d’Eybcourt and waited, Brazil was first of all other naval powers to order
dreadnought style battleships. Two were ordered, the
Minas Geraes and Sao Paulo , to an Armstrong design which reflected many improvements over the Dreadnought. As a consequence Brazil had dreadnought battleships in her navy before
Germany , Italy , France , Russia or Japan .

Argentina instantly felt threatened and immediately authorized the construction of two of her own dreadnoughts. More than twenty firms jumped into the competition but here Armstrongs was on the outside looking in. Argentina had not ordered a
warship from Armstrongs in 20 years and all indications reflected a favoritism to Italian companies. For months Argentina played out the competitors, one against the other. Four different waves of designs were invited all to the expense of every
competitor. With each step Tennyson d’Eyncourt duly redesigned the Armstrong tender. Some of the governments of the bidders endeavored to see their native companies get the bid by sweetening the pot with favorable trade agreements. The US and
Italy were especially active in this manner. In the end Fore River of Quincey, Massassacusetts, decided to offer their design at a minimal profit to get the bid. The Argentines accepted the American proposal and the
Rivadavia and Moreno were the
The Argentine purchase triggered another wave of South American acquisitions. Chile decided that now she needed a dreadnought and other smaller South American powers such as Uruguay , Peru , and Venezuela bought assorted cruisers and gun
boats. In Brazil , the government had already approved three dreadnoughts. The first two were not even delivered from the yards and already been trumped by the more powerful twins just purchased from America by Argentina. Navy Minister
Admiral Alexandrino de Alencar wanted not just another battleship but one that was more powerful than any found in or building for any other navy. He wanted a ship armed with twelve 14-inch guns, fourteen 6-inch, and fourteen 4-inch guns on a
displacement of 31,600-tons. Armstrongs and Tennyson d’Eyncourt were delighted with the prospect. A new super battleship for Brazil would clearly upset all equilibrium among the navies of the continent and the jump in size and armament couldn’t
be ignored by the other navies of the world. Nothing is more conducive for more sales than an imbalance and the new Brazilian giant would create a huge imbalance in South America and was calculated to upset any number of applecarts across the
road. After some negotiation, Armstrongs, which was always the favorite of the Brazilian Navy, secured the contract for the third Brazilian dreadnought, designed to the requirements of de Alencar. Brazil was going to name the ship
Rio de Janeiro
but along the Tyne this new windfall to local shipbuilders was called Deign 690 or “The Big Battleship”.

In October 1910 the keel plate for the 31,600-ton giant was laid down along the Tyne . Materials were accumulated and three years of full employment glimmered ahead for the thousand’s of workmen that would be required to complete the giant.
The new contract between Armstrongs and Brazil did contain an odd escape clause. In fall 1910 when the contract was signed a change in administrations was scheduled in Brazil that November. The contract stated that the contract must be ratified
and approved by the incoming Brazilian naval administration. The new minister of the Navy was to be Admiral Marques Leao. While Armstrong’s had been dealing with de Alencar and the outgoing administration in the summer of 1910, Leao had
been touring the shipyards of Europe . The German firm of Krupps laid aside everything to go after Leao. Although the Germans knew that Armstrongs had already snagged the contract for the 3rd Brazilian battleship, they also knew of the escape
clause and that Leao was the key man to convince. In a thoroughly systematic campaign Krupps used every effort to undermine the Armstrong contract and seize the design of the new Brazilian battleship for Germany . Why get 14-inch guns when a
Krupp 12-inch shell could penetrate any armor known? The Germans argued persuasively that Brazil would be better served with three ships using 12-inch guns as this would simplify and reduce in expense of resupply. They then launched a
campaign for a scaled down
Rio de Janeiro armed with Krupps 12-inch guns and built in Germany . As icing on the cake Krupps arranged an audience between Admiral Leao and the Kaiser. During their interview the Kaiser assured the Brazilian that
the 12-inch Krupp guns were magnificent weapons and that Krupps would do a superb job on the third Brazilian dreadnought.

When Admiral Leao took office in November, he took a few days before making an announcement on the 3rd Brazilian battleship. Armstrongs, Tennyson d’Eyncourt and de Alencar had all expected a prompt ratification of the huge
Rio de Janeiro
and were totally shocked and dismayed when Leao announced that the new battleship would be, “
a powerful unit which will not be built on exaggerated lines such as have not yet stood the test of experience.” He then unveiled the Krupp’s design
for the
Rio de Janeiro . However, when the disastrous news was transmitted to Armstrongs from their agents in Brazil , no one realized that the weapons system now wanted by Brazil was the 12-inch gun. Armstrongs immediately ginned up a
whole series of new designs, eight in all, smaller than the 31,600-ton de Alencar design but mounting weapons from 13.5 to 16 inches. Tennyson d’Eyncourt was quickly dispatched to Brazil to seize the contract back to Armstrongs from Krupps.
When Tennyson d’Eyncourt finally saw Leao, it soon became obvious that the Kaiser had imposed a strong influence on the Brazilian admiral and that the Krupp’s design incorporating twelve 12-inch guns was almost a lock with the Admiral.
Tennyson d’Eyncourt was undismayed that none of his eight designs met the requirement for guns of 12-inch. He persuaded Leao to wait a few days just to see the new Armstrong’s design that would exceed in all expectations the Krupp design and
be affordable to boot. In his conversation with Leao, Tennyson d’Eyncourt detected a lingering regret that Brazil   would not have the biggest battleship in the world as she would have with the 31,600-ton
Rio . Tennyson d’Eyncourt in a masterpiece
of design effort, sat down that night and worked up a design that incorporated not the twelve 12-inch guns of the Krupp design but fourteen of the guns all mounted on centerline, more than any other battleship. Plus add twenty 6-inch guns for the
secondary battery and that would be another world record. To do this required a hull of extensive length, so the Armstrong design would not only offer two more guns than the German design but also would be the longest and heaviest battleship in the
world, playing up to those Brazilian desires. All of this could be given to the Brazilian Navy at a price several hundred thousands pounds cheaper than that of the earlier Armstrong
Rio design. This was a master-stroke as here in this design Brazil would
spend less than originally planned but also have a ship that would be the world’s greatest in four areas; number of main guns, number of secondary guns, length and displacement. Armstrongs had pulled off a coup and seized the contract out of the
jaws of Krupp. Leao had to have the new 12-inch Tennyson d’Eyncourt design just as de Alencar had to have the Tennyson d’Eyncourt design the previous year. Time to celebrate along the Tyne . This coup by Tennyson d”Eyncourt had another
unforeseen consequence. As he announced that Armstrongs had seized the new contract, he in turn received news that the Royal Navy was looking for a new Director of Naval Construction DNC. Tennyson d’Eyncourt, who had never been a
constructor at the Admiralty, thought that he would have no chance at this most prestigious of all design positions. However, he submitted for the post anyway and after an interview with the new First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, was
given the post.

By October 1911 metal workers and naval craftsmen of every stripe were being signed on by Armstrongs. They had promised a battleship in 1913 and to do this night-shifts and overtime were required. As scaffolding went up in November it was
clear that this ship would be a monster in size. To those that paced out the length it was clear that it was longer than any ship ever built on the Tyne, but only a few knew that she was larger than any battleship anywhere. Formerly known as 690A, the
workmen called her the “
Rio ” or the “Big Battleship”.  When a workman at Newcastle stated that he was “Working on the Giant” everyone knew which ship he meant.

By 1912 there was economic uncertainty on the horizon. Brazil had a monopoly on rubber but years earlier a British consortium had smuggled rubber trees out of Brazil and artificially raised them at Kew Gardens . They were then transferred to a
specially prepared plantation in Malaysia , where they flourished. It was not evident in 1912 but the Brazilian monopoly on rubber had been broken with disastrous consequences for the Brazilian economy. However, building continued apace. In late
1912 the first of the 12-inch guns for
Rio de Janeiro were shipped up to the moors at Ridsdale at the Armstrong proofing range. Each gun was tested to the satisfaction of the builders and the Brazilian observers. Launching of the giant was scheduled
for January 22, 1913. Armstrongs wanted to meet the schedule. They already were building a battleship for Chile next to the
Rio and the Rios’ slip was needed for the 2nd Chilean battleship. Armstrongs knew how to put on a good show for their best
clients, of which Brazil was one and pulled out the stops for the launching festivities. Of course representatives of Chile and Argentina were invited to witness the launch of the newest symbol of Brazilian power, as well as representatives of every
major and minor power. Shortly after 3:00 PM on that day the new battleship was christened
Rio de Janeiro and launched into the Tyne . Even as toasts were being made by Armstrong management to the Brazilian Navy and Rio de Janiero,
Armstrong workmen were busily clearing the slip recently vacated by
Rio for one of Rios’ possible opponents, the 2nd Chilean dreadnought.
Payments to Armstrongs from Brazil continued as normal through June 1913. However, while Brazilian exports of rubber could have purchased three dreadnoughts in 1912, they couldn’t afford one in 1913. The Malayan rubber had seriously reduced
sales of Brazilian rubber, Brazil reduced taxes on their rubber in a series of reductions designed to regain market share. However, it didn’t work and Brazil no longer had the funds for the
Rio . De Alencar was now back in the post of Minister of the
Marine and made the announcement that the new battleship did not harmonize with the present fleet and would be sold to the highest bidder. He also hinted that the other two Brazilian battleships might be up for sale. In an instant the South American
battleship race had come to an end. 800 workmen at Armstrong were instantly terminated from employment. Although worried for the future due to the loss of the South American market, a new market had emerged for battleships, the eastern
Mediterranean .

In 1911 Turkey had gone to war against Italy over Italian colonial policy and in 1912 there was the Balkans War involving Turkey against Greece , Serbia , Bulgaria and Montenegro . In 1912 the Greek ship which had made a difference was the Italian
built armored cruiser
Averoff, which was handled aggressively throughout the contract. For the Turks the only ship that showed any aggressive spirit was the cruiser Hamidieh built by Armstrongs and delivered by Tennyson d’Eyncourt nine years
earlier. During this war the
Hamidieh was commanded by Raouf Orbay. As a result of the war Turkey lost most of her European holdings as well as most of her Aegean islands. War in the Aegean is a naval war and Turkey had no modern warships
other than the protected cruiser
Hamidieh. British Admirals with their staffs advised both the navies of Greece and Turkey . For Greece it was Mark Kerr and for Turkey is was Rear Admiral Sir Douglas Gamble. Gamble arranged for the purchase of
two old predreadnought battleships from Germany but advised the Turks that what they really needed was modern battleships. Turkey ordered two battleships in 1911 but with the Balkans War of 1912 only one, the
Reshadsieh, was continued at
Vickers, which was launched in September 1913. Although Kerr recommended against the purchase of battleships, Greece inked a contract to have the battlecruiser
Salamis built in Germany armed with 14-inch guns supplied from the United States. In
this heated environment the
Rio de Janiero was put on the block. From the start there were only two serious contenders in the sale Greece and Turkey . Sure other countries were interested in the giant but the starting price of around three million
pounds put the others out of the bidding. Both countries scrambled for financial backing but the Turks proved far more astute than the Greeks. Turkey secured a loan of 4 million pounds and on December 28, 1913 bought the
Rio de Janiero for
2,750,000 pounds. The next day Turkey proudly announced that it possessed the largest battleship in the world, the
Sultan Osman I, ex-Rio de Janeiro to be commanded by Raouf Orbay. Both Sultan Osman I and Reshadsieh were expected at
Constantinople in June 1914 and no later than June. The Greeks scrambled looking for their own battleships. New York Shipbuilding suggested that if Greece contracted for a new super-battleship with them, then they could help Greece obtain five old
USN battleships now. When Greek officials looked into this deal, they found that the ships included the ancient
Kearsarge and Kentucky . No, Greece didn’t want ships that old.

Greece complained to Britain about allowing Armstrongs selling the ship to Turkey but the British government crisply replied that since Greece chose to build her battlecruiser in Germany, HM Government had no control over what an independent firm
did with their products. Finally Greece signed a deal for two dreadnoughts of 23,000-tons, mounting ten 13.5-inch guns and built in France with delivery in 1917. But what would Greece do in the meantime, before her modern battlecruiser and
battleships arrived? Oddly enough the President of the United States , Woodrow Wilson, man of peace, himself turned into an arms dealer and let the Greeks know that in order to maintain stability in the Aegean, the US may be persuaded to part with
two of its newest predreadnoughts,
Mississippi and Idaho , if the price was right. The price amounted to the costs of constructions of both ships when new. There was no discount for age or deficiency. It was that or nothing. Greece was desperate
and jumped at the offer. The funds of this purchase allowed the USN to expand the
New Mexico Class battleships from two to three units. Although there was some small opposition this sale for a total of $11,500,000, was passed by Congress in June
and arrangements immediately made to transfer them to Greek crews. They should be in the Aegean by mid July.
As indecision hung about the Rio de Janeiro in the fall of 1913, she was tied up at the quay but no work was done on her. By early winter she had acquired a deep red color and was now known as HMS Rust. But with the new year surprising news
arrived on the Tyne . The Turks had bought the Giant! It was time for a rush job! Employment soared again at Newcastle as workers were hired on to complete what was now called The Sultan. After four months of inactivity, the ship was completely
filthy. The first few days were needed just to clean her from her rust and dust. In June 1914
Sultan Osman I first preceded under her own power down the Tyne for her final fitting out. To do this her tripod masts had to be hinged downward to slip
beneath several bridges. However, she made it without incident and it was hoped to put the ship on trials by the end of June. Captain Bey was assured that the
Sultan Osman I would be completed by July 7, except for the last two 14-inch guns for #5
turret, a few 6-inch guns and gun sights. However, down at the quay workmen wondered why the last two 14-inch guns and the gun sights were just sitting there and were not being installed. At first the brass instruction plates were written in
Portuguese. A new batch of course would have to be etched in Turkish, but why was there an inscription in English on the back of every Turkish plaque? “
Even with two of her guns still absent, she offered an overwhelming handsome aspect: an
impression of lordly arrogance combined with pugnaciousness – a credit to her builders and to the unique talents of Eustace Hugh Tennyson d’Eyncourt
.” (The Great Dreadnought, 1966, by Richard Hough, at page 96) In Constantinople the British
naval legation was entrusted with the job of finding 500 crewmen as a nucleus for the
Sultan Osman I. The recruits were drafted out fishing villages and coastal town with a leavening of herdsmen from the interior. There was no way to adequately train
them with the material at hand but the legation did the best that they could until May 1914 when the nucleus crew was dispatched to Britain . At this time the Turkish military posed a clear division with the Turkish Army solidly for Germany and the
Turkish Navy solidly pro-British. With the impending delivery of the
Sultan Osman I and Reshadiah, the public tended to be wild for the navy.  

On July 7, 1914
Sultan Osman I took to the North Sea for the first time for trials. By the 8th she was cruising south through the English Channel and by the 9th was off Devonshire . She went to the Devonport Drydock in order to check her under water
fittings. After being in the water for 18 months, mostly stationary, the bottom of the battleship was filthy and needed cleaning. As the ship returned to Newcastle she passed Spithead which was in the midst of a review of the British fleet by King George
V. The horizon was lit with searchlights of 59 British battleships and 40 miles of British warships during that night. She steamed 80 miles north of the Tyne for her measured mile. For that test she developed 40,000 shp and hit 22.42 knots. However the
Sultan Osman I continued to steam north after the trials, rather than to return to Newcastle . In response to queries from the Turkish officers, the response was that they were just following the orders from Armstrongs. On July 18th she anchored at
Forth in Scotland . For three days the battleship lay anchored here. The reason for all of the mysterious delays was the simple fact that Europe was sliding towards war. Ever since the Austrian Grand Duke had been assassinated in Serajevo prior to the
battleship's departure for trials, the political situation had only worsened. One benefit to the British government of having foreign battleships constructed by British yards was that they provided insurance for the Royal Navy. Whether built at Armstrongs,
Vickers or any of the smaller yards, there was always a provision in the contract that allowed the Royal Navy to take over the ship in time of war with sufficient remuneration to the foreign power whose ship was seized. In the summer of 1914 the lead of
the Royal Navy over the German fleet was at its slenderest with 24 dreadnoughts/battle cruisers for the British and 17 for the Germans. Since June Armstrongs had been asked to slow the finishing of the
Sultan Osman I as Vickers had been asked to
slow the completion of the
Reshadieh. However, that game was up on July 27, 1914 as the Turkish steamer Neshid Pasha anchored in the Tyne . She carried the Turkish crew for the battleship. August 2 was promised to Raouf Bey as the day of turn
over and the 13th 14-inch gun was fitted on August 1 as well as the gun sights. However, there was still no sign of the ammunition for the guns. However, the die had already been cast. On July 31 Churchill had sent a letter to both Armstrongs and
Vickers that the two battleships could not be turned over to the Turks. In light of the strong pro-German sympathy of the Turkish Army two modern battleships in the eastern Mediterranean under the Turkish flag could pose a threat to the Royal Navy and
worse was the possibility that the Turks may immediately sail the ships to Germany . Before noon on August 1 armed guards suddenly appeared at the yards. On August 2nd an infantry company boarded the
Sultan Osman I and all of the Turks were
conducted off of the ship and to the
Neshid Pasha. Winston had seized the Sultan.

The effect of these seizures was immediate in Turkey. As never before a ship, the
Sultan Osman I, had become associated with the common people and national pride. There had been countrywide drives to raise money to buy the ship. Everywhere in
Turkey the peasant, fisherman and tradesman had done what they could to contribute money to buy this ship. Peasant women had cut of their hair as a contribution in the battleship drive. It didn’t matter what clauses were in the contract, to every Turk
the seizure of the two battleships by the British government was a national humiliation and slap in the face of Turkey . For years Germany had been warning the government about Perfidious Albion and now her was proof in its fullest. The
Sultan Osman
was completely paid for by Turkey and yet the British had thrown off every member of her rightful crew at bayonet point. Any and all pro-British feeling was transformed into resentment or hatred and the pro-German party became supremely dominant.
In a very shrewd move, Germany sent the
Goeben and Breslau, which had been stationed in the Mediterranean for the past six months to Turkey as a gift from the German Kaiser, government and people for the injuries inflicted on Turkey by those lying
and stealing English. Of course, it was likely that the pair would have been destroyed if they had tried to leave the Mediterranean and rejoin the High Seas Fleet. Although the
Goeben may have flown a Turkish flag and had a Turkish name, Sultan Selim
, she was still commanded and crewed by Germans. One of her first actions upon raising the flag of Turkey was to go out into the Black Sea in a Russian hunting expedition, thus making sure that Turkey entered the war on the side of Germany .
Who knows what had happened if the two battleships had been delivered to Turkey? They may have still entered the war as an alley of Germany as the pro-German Army was very strong. On the other hand they may have remained neutral with a pro-
Britain navy as a counterbalance. What is clear is that with this seizure, Britain acquired two dreadnoughts but also destroyed whatever influence and goodwill she had developed in Turkey. Although it would be only a matter of time, it surely locked in
Turkey as an alley of Germany . This in turn spawned other events. The failed Gallippolli Campaign, which in addition to huge loss of life, led to Churchill’s resignation as First Lord. The war added another theater for the already over stretched Russian
Army to cover and denied to Russia a possible rout of resupply her. These were just two more factors that eventually caused the Russian Army to fall apart. Of course any of these events could have branched off in alternate directions but the seizure of
Sultan Osman I and Reshadieh was the rather large pebble that started the avalanche.

The Royal Navy was not exactly eager to crew their new battleship, whose name was selected as
HMS Agincourt, after the great victory of King Henry V over the French in the 100 Years War. It was not built to RN specifications, and was too lightly
armored for RN tastes. The British ratings soon gave
Agincourt her new nickname, The Gin Palace. To provide the over 1,000 men for the crew, the Admiralty went from the highest to the lowest rungs of the navy. As Sultan Osman I was returning
to the Tyne from Devonport she had passed the great naval review in which King George V had inspected the fleet from the Royal yacht,
Victoria and Albert. The core of the new crew for HMS Agincourt was made up of a near total transfer of the
crew of the
Victoria and Albert from the commanding officer, Captain Douglas Romilly Lothian “White Nick” Nicholson on down. As the former crew of the Royal yacht boarded their new ship on the last day of peace for Britain , all from ratings to
wardroom were impressed with the size and grandeur of fittings of
Agincourt . “Like the ruddy Mauretania !” The last 14-inch gun was finally fitted to number 5 turret as the ship geared for war. The crew quickly named the seven main gun turrets
after the seven days of the week from turret #1 Sunday through turret #7 Saturday.

In addition to reversing instructions from their Turkish side to their English side other internal changes were made such as removing Turkish latrine facilities to common English WC fixtures. There were some other important structural changes. As
built there was a massive and distinctive flying boat deck that spanned the two middle turrets, #3 and #4, on which ships’ boats were stowed. The problem with these structures was that any battle damage could cause this structure to collapse onto the
turrets below, rendering them unusable. Called the Marble Arch, the flying boat decks were quickly removed. Other immediate changes were the removal of the anti-torpedo nets and booms, the addition of two shielded 6-inch guns one on either side of
the forward superstructure, top masts and top gallants were removed and the bridge wings were shortened in length. In the midst of changes, White Nick didn’t strip the Gin Palace of all of her luxuries. Although the Turkish carpets and some
mahogany fittings were removed, enough of the ruddy
Mauretania luxury remained for the Agincourt officer’s quarters to remain the most spacious and luxurious of any ship in the Royal Navy.
It didn’t take long to finish off these changes and by August 20 she was ready. Germany of course didn’t like the RN’s instant reinforcement by seizing the two Turkish battleships. A German minelayer was dispatched to lay a mine field 30 miles north
of the Tyne in an effort to sink or damage the
Agincourt when she steamed north to join the Grand Fleet. Early in the morning of August 25, 1914 Agincourt was towed stern first down the Tyne by five tugs. Upon reaching the North Sea she turned
her prowl to the north and started the voyage to Scapa Flow. She passed the German minefield without incident. By mid morning in clear sunlight, she cleared her decks for her first gunnery practice. For safety it was decided not to fire a full 14 gun
salvo and only half charges were used for the gunnery. The gunnery training was a failure. None of the guns fired correctly under the installed electrical firing system and the crews had to go to a more primitive percussion firing system to get their
charges to fire. The new experimental “churn lever” designed to speed up loading failed to work. Many of the 12-inch rounds fired by
Agincourt simply broke apart in flight.  A number of causes were examined from shells that were from the bottom
of supplies and marked “Repaired 1892” to the gun chamber design, which was finally chosen as the reason for the shells’ break up in flight. Early in the morning of August 26, 1914 The Gin Palace arrived at her home for the next four years, Scapa
Flow where she joined the 4th Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet.

Under the eye of gunnery officer Commander Valentine Gibbs,
Agincourt gunnery rose greatly. Val Gibbs used every opportunity to engage in gunnery practice. Instead of waiting to go to open sea, he consistently employed tugs and drifters within
Scapa Flow to engage in sub-caliber practice in which 2-pdrs were inserted into the breaches of the 12-inch guns. This allowed for full battle training for spotters, gun layers, sighters and the entire gunnery system. Only the loaders had a lighter job
than they would under normal conditions. These were punctuated with open sea shots in which rarely were more than four guns fired at once.
Agincourt had yet to fire a full 14-gun salvo. There were still some that thought that a full salvo would
break her back. Yet White Nick and Val Gibbs now had every confidence in their battleship, which had developed an aggressive reputation among the battleships of the Grand Fleet. One day north of Ireland it was decided to give a full salvo a try. “
result was shattering and memorable, and justified every fine calculation made by Tennyson d’Eyncourt, Perrett, and the design team of Armstrongs. There was not a stoved-in bulkhead, not a twisted plate or rib in the vessel. But it was a nerve
shattering business that was not to be repeated until the need arose. The broadside of ten big guns in a British battleship was a thunderous business not often indulged in. Many of the Agincourt ’s company had never suffered even this impact.
With almost half as many guns again the concussion was well-neigh unbearable. No one escaped it, even down in the engine room. The Turkish crockery and glass were smashed in hundreds, and the coal dust found its way out of the bunkers
and percolated everywhere. For days afterward the men were still picking it out of their bunks and hammocks and their clothes. Once was enough. But of course none of the other ships believed the story, and the Agincourt retained her
reputation that she was the only ship the Germans could never sink because she would do it herself first.
” (The Great Dreadnought, 1966, by Richard Hough, at page 160)

The battleships rode at anchor at Scapa Flow for months with occasional sweeps of the North Sea . As the time grew it became difficult to keep the crew motivated. The Gin Palace was a spic and span ship, as befits the core crew coming from the
Royal yacht. In the darkness of a bitterly cold January morning, the crew would be turned out at 05:40 and would fall in by 06:00. Then they would start holy-stoning the decks to gleaming whiteness. The morale of the crew was not helped by the
schedule of the
HMS Erin, formerly the other Turkish battleship, Reshadieh. The command philosophy of the Erin, which always anchored close to Agincourt , could have not been more different. No battleship coaled, or shot, or signaled or drilled
more efficiently than the
Erin and as long as the Erin excelled in those operational sectors, her command could care less that she displayed rust and looked down at the heels. The crew of Agincourt would have been scrubbing their decks for over an
hour when they would hear across the water the first turn-to of the crew of the
Erin . During the long months at Scapa, the crews of the two Turkish battleships, Agincourt and Erin became arch-rivals in friendly sporting events. The Agincourters
were particular favorites of Queen Mary.
With the assumption of command of the High Seas Fleet by Admiral Scheer, German naval activity increased significantly. Scheer instituted a series of plans designed to draw the Grand Fleet over prepositioned U-Boat picket lines but none of them
worked. Early on May 31, 1916 another of his operations was underway but the Royal Navy already knew of it because of the lax German wireless discipline and the fact that the British had the German naval code. Jellicoe knew the Germans were
coming out and had the Grand Fleet out of Scapa Flow before the German Fleet departed their harbor. As the sun came up early on the 31st
Agincourt was the forth and last ship in the starboard column of the Grand Fleet, cruising at the fleet speed
of 15-knots.  This was the 6th Division of the 1st Battle Squadron and comprised
Marlborough (flag), Revenge, Hercules and Agincourt.

Everything was cleared and ready. Extra White Ensigns were run up in case some were carried away. Ready use ammunition was placed next to the guns. Fleet speed rose to 18-knots and the entire ship vibrated, as the throbbing of the engines was
heard throughout the ship. One mile to port was the next column of dreadnoughts,
Colossus, Collingwood, Neptune and St. Vincent . At 15:45 Agincourt picked up the message that Beatty was engaging German battle cruisers and fleet speed
climbed to the maximum of 20-knots, as the fleet turned towards the action. One hour later at 16:47 came the news that the High Seas Fleet had been sighted by Beatty’s light forces. Beatty turned north to lead the German ships right to the Grand
Fleet speeding south. Finally at 17:33 Beatty’s advance forces going north sighted Jellicoe’s ships coming south and Beatty made for the east to mask the approach of the Grand Fleet from the Germans. From the sighting hood of Wednesday (Turret
4), the four surviving ships of the 1st and 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadrons could be seen crossing ahead of them, punctuated with flashes of fire as they fired southward towards the unseen Germans. Rippling orange flame was seen on the horizon as
tall water spouts mushroomed among Beatty’s ships. They were close. Away to the south west could be faintly seen the
Queen Elizabeth’s of the 5th Battle Squadron.

The order went out from
Iron Duke to deploy to the port with the ships of the port column heading the line. The fleet formation went from a series of columns to a lone line headed by the port column. Since Agincourt was last ship in the most
starboard column, under this formation, she would be last in line. One by one the ships of her column pivoted into line at the same turning point. When it came time for
Agincourt, German shells were churning the area. At this turn she was closer to
the German battle line than any other British battleship and was the first to spot the German battleships in the mist. Although never a handy ship, because of her extreme length, the Gin Palace made her 90-degree turn perfectly and remained
untouched. By 18:40 the six columns of battleships had deployed into a line led by
King George V and with Agincourt at the rear a curving six mile long line of heavy cannon, which crossed the T of the German fleet.
The fire control crew picked up a silhouette five miles to the south and in unison fourteen 12-inch barrels turned towards the unknown target. Bearings and elevations were flashed down to the gunlayers and finally the gong of the firing bell as all
guns recoiled backwards. The electric loaders worked perfectly this time and new charges were quickly in place. New elevation and deflection information were received, adjustments made and again the fire gongs sounded. The target, now clearly a
German battle cruiser, probably
Lutzow, was closer now. “These were full broadsides that the Agincourt was firing. Each time her structure shuddered under the immense recoil impact. But she withstood it all with massive unconcern; and
‘the sheet of flame,’ as one eyewitness in a nearby ship commentated later, ‘was big enough to create the impression that a battle cruiser had blown up; it was awe-inspiring.’ If she survived the battle, ‘The Gin Palace ’ could never again be
mocked for the supposed weakness of her ostentatious size and length.
” (The Great Dreadnought, 1966, by Richard Hough, at page 181)

Scheer saw that he was in a trap, executed a battle turn in which each of his ships executed an 180 degree turn at the same time away from the British. The turn was executed flawlessly and it took some time before the British realized that the
Germans had completely disengaged from battle. One minute the German fleet was steaming northwards towards the British line and then in the next minute, there were no targets as they had all disappeared into the mist. The Germans launched a
torpedo attack from massed destroyers and torpedo boats as a diversion. As
Agincourt’s 12-inch battery fell silent from lack of targets the ten 6-inch guns of the starboard secondary battery opened up. The Gin Palace made two hits on German
destroyers. As torpedo tracks approached, the ship heeled over to evade. Three tracks passed the Gin Palace and the 4th track stopped just short of the ship as the torpedo had run out of propellant. Division flagship
Marlborough was not as lucky
and listed from a torpedo hit. Scheer timed his next move to get behind the Grand Fleet. He executed another battle turn but his timing was off and by 19:00 his ragged formations again ran into the Grand Fleet. By 19:15 the German battle cruisers
and leading battleships again popped up in British sights at ranges extending from 6 to 12 miles. A
Kaiser Class battleship was selected as Agincourt ’s next target from the controlling fore top position at a range of 11,000-yards.  Again the Gin
Palace cut loose with full salvoes. Soon it became apparent that the range was increasing. When range hit 15,000-yards the target disappeared. Scheer had executed his third 180-degree battle turn to take his battered fleet away from the guns of the
Grand Fleet. To cover this turn he sent what remained of his battle cruisers on their famous Death Ride charge against the Grand Fleet.

During the night unexplained flashes were seen from
Agincourt and at one point an unidentified large ship loomed out of the darkness, only to disappear as quickly as she had appeared. By daybreak the four ships of 6th Division, 1st Battle Squadron
were alone.
Marlborough was damaged to such extent that the flag was transferred to the Revenge. The damaged Marlborough was detached and sent back to the nearest British base under destroyer escort as the other three battleships sought out
the balance of the Grand Fleet. However, the only things observed were debris covering the water and a German Zeppelin on the horizon. Finally it was realized that the battle was over and the three battleships turned towards Scapa Flow . During the
Agincourt had fired ten full salvoes, a total of 144 twelve-inch shells. As the Gin Palace cruised towards home a thorough damage survey was conducted. There were no direct hits. The remaining Turkish crockery had been smashed by the
concussion of the
Agincourt’s own salvoes. There was some splinter damage to the aft superstructure and it was discovered that the cage to the five pet white ferrets of the ship was broken open by a splinter and that there was no sign of the
animals. Weeks later the ferrets, now black in color, were discovered alive and well, inhabiting a coal bunker where they had fed on a diet of rats. On June 2, 1916 as the Gin Palace again anchored at Scapa Flow , it was not realized that her war was
over. When the war ended a foreign buyer was again sought for her. Brazil thought about it and turned her down. Plans were put in hand to convert her to fuel oil and add more protection but these came to nothing as there were no buyers to be
found. It was then decided to use the ship for gunnery testing by 1922 as the result of the terms of the Washington Treaty, she was scheduled for breaking. The Great Dreadnought was gone before the end of the year. No ship in the Grand Fleet had
been better loved by her crew than the Gin Palace and for years afterward the Agincourters mourned her passage.
Flyhawk 1:700 scale HMS Agincourt – First off, in my opinion Flyhawk Model produces the best injected plastic model warships in the world. Release after release Flyhawk has never let you down. Starting with Royal Navy warships of World
War Two, Flyhawk has branched off to other navies and other periods. With their
Lutzow and Derfflinger Flyhawk started with their World War One kits. Now it is time for World War One Royal Navy warships with the Gin Palace, HMS
in 1:700 scale. It is, as usual, a stunning kit, produced with the highest quality. This review is on the more expensive deluxe version with brass barrels, wooden decks, and painting mask for the wooden deck. You can also get the basic
kit for a lower price. About the only thing that I did not get is a lower hull. In 1:700 I prefer waterline with a preference for full hull in 1:350 scale.

The kit comes with a decal sheet for three nations, Great Britain, Turkey and Brazil. However, the fit is definitely Royal Navy from 1914 to 1915. When the Royal Navy seized the ship in August 1914, she was equipped with anti-torpedo nets and
booms. These were removed prior to
Agincourt being commissioned in the Royal Navy but the net shelves remained. In the instructions Flyhawk shows portions of the net shelves removed for an early 1915 fit and mid-1915 fit. At the end of 1915
the main control top and side legs for the mainmast were removed. (
The British Battleship 1906-1946, by Norman Friedman at page 162) So to do the Jutland fit, you would have to make these modifications. To build the model as the Turkish
Sultan Osman I, you would have to add the net and net booms, which is fairly easy. However, you would also have to scratch build the flying boat deck stretching between the forward and aft superstructure, know as The Marble Arch. This
would be more difficult to accomplish but perhaps an aftermarket producer with come up with one. To build it as the original Brazilian
Rio de Janeiro poses even greater problems, as the ship was in an unfinished state and a number of the guns
were not installed and there is probably even greater changes to represent the ship before it was sold to Turkey.

The hull has the two sides, divided along the centerline. The deck parts provide strength and shape at the top and there is a bottom plate to provide the strength and shape at the bottom. This base plate can be plated black to represent the boot
topping. The hull sides are beautifully done. There are prominent hull anchor hawse at the bow, two to port and one to starboard. The hull sides have plate lines. At the bow there are two rows of port holes with fine rigolles (eyebrows). This is a
rarity in 1:700 scale models. Also present are three water exhaust chutes on each side of the bow. At the transition from the bow to amidships, each side has a nicely done cut-back for the first hull 6-inch gun casemate. There are four more
casemates on each side amidships. All of the casemate positions are closed with detailed shutters and an opening for the barrel. Aft the two rows of port holes pick up again, as does the side plate lines. There are an additional two water exhaust
chutes and a side door to the captain’s quarters. At the top of the hull from bow to stern are four delicate open chocks.
There are two deck pieces. One is the long forecastle deck running 2/3 the length of the ship and the shorter quarter deck. Both parts are loaded with detail. Although the Flyhawk Deluxe Agincourt comes with a wooden deck, the plastic decks for those
that want the standard version of the kit or those who do not like to use wooden decks, has exquisite detail. The planking is fine and has butt end detail. The deck anchor hawse are deep and have detail not normally found on a 1:350 deck, much less one
in 1:700 scale. Anchor chain is molded on the chain plates but is also very fine. The deck entry hatches and coamings are superb. Twin and single bollards in different sizes litter the forward forecastle. There is a placement line for attachment of the
separate breakwater. Aft of the breakwater the circumference of the A barbette is surrounded by mushroom ventilators of different sizes. This area also has single and twin hatch deck access coamings. Additionally, there is a three hatch pyramid access
coaming offset to port. Some cable reels are molded as part of the deck. The numerous coal scuttle plates are slightly raised, making them prominent. The amidships barbettes repeat the extraordinary detail found around A barbette. Also found here are
double and single deck access coaming, which also include a new design of single hatch coaming. Boat cradles, single & twin bollards and lockers round out the amidships deck detail. The quarterdeck is equally fabulous with many triple hatch deck
access coamings offset to starboard. The three aft barbettes with all of the mushroom vents, deck coamings, boat cradles and lockers present a very busy and cluttered appearance. The coal scuttles are on each side of the deck ending just forward of X
barbette. The very rear of the quarterdeck has its own share of detail, including a skylight, But it is not quite as cluttered as the deck around the barbettes.

Three superstructure parts, numbered K, L, & M, are numbered separately and are large pieces of the superstructure. Two of the parts are for the forward superstructure and the third is for the aft superstructure. Detail is excellent. The cable reels, gun
shutters, doors, platform supports, lockers, deck access coamings, and bulkhead ventilation louver are loaded with detail. Three of the sprues of smaller parts have only one or two parts on them. Both funnels are on a sprue. They are cast whole and
have deep cut-outs at the top. The top and bottom aprons are thin and crisp. They also have fine band and vertical lines. The big derrick amidships is prominent with detailed platforms and searchlights.  The large forward and small aft conning towers
have their fair share of detail, including fine vision slits.  There are two large F sprues. Each has five turrets (in two styles), four turret bases and eight 12-inch guns. The turrets have thin aprons. The crown detail is superb with armor plate lines, gun
and turret commander’s cupolas forward, turret directors in two styles and access hatches. The F sprue also has parts for the very fine QF guns, davits, open 6-inch mount, anchors and streaming anchors, gun shields and gun barrels for the enclosed 6-
inchers, small searchlights, navigation equipment, flag staves, boat booms, starfish, boats, raft and other items. The N sprue has some very nice items. Among them are the bulkheads for the aft superstructure. They have closed shutters for the two
lower levels of 6-inch gun positions and open shutters for the top level guns. Shutter detail is outstanding and the closed shutters have holes for location of gun barrels. The top deck for the aft superstructure is also on this sprue. There are locater holes
for the 4th level shielded guns. Other noteworthy items are the detailed funnel grills/clinker screens, breakwater with support gussets, upper bridge levels, smaller superstructure bulkheads, sternwalk base with supports and awning, control tops, and an
extraordinarily detailed wheel house. Other parts on this sprue include tripod legs, top masts, deck house, large ventilators, B barbette, and many others. The small G sprue concentrates on the ship’s boats with two sizes of steam launch and three open
boats. The launches have separate upper and lower full with detailed decks and cabin bulkheads. The open boats have excellent planking and thwart details. There are also some small booms and other parts on this sprue.

A large and a small brass photo-etch frets are included. Some of the parts on the large fret are optional replacements for plastic pieces, such as a boat lattice structure, sternwalk awning, flagstaffs, funnel grates/clinker screen, relief-etched cable reels,
starfish and supports, and a relief etched small platform with canvas dodger covered railing. Also included are inclined ladders with safety railing and posable treads, long davits, derrick rigging and pulleys, long boat davits, and boat davit rigging and
pulleys. There is also a glorious relief-etched sternwalk base with supports and railing (replacing the plastic part). There is a good supply of three and four bar railing, as well as vertical ladders. The small fret has relief-etched dropped gun shutters. The
deluxe set comes with turned brass barrels and brass rods. For the main guns and open mounts, you will have to cut off the plastic barrels and attach the brass barrels with the blast bags for 12-inch barrels or gun mount for the open guns. A small decal
sheet has flags of Great Britain, Turkey and Brazil. I doubt that a Brazilian flag was ever flown on the ship. The deluxe set comes with wooden decks by Chuan Yu. This company does superb wooden decks that are far easier to use than others. You don’
t have to punch out openings because every deck opening and locater hole already comes open. The
Agincourt wooden deck is outstanding. You also get a masking sheet to cover and protect the wooden decks while you are painting the model. Anchor
chain is included. Two back-printed sheets of instructions are included. The large sheet is for the overall assembly. Assembly is presented in a series of modules with options for plastic or brass parts and options for an early 1915 or middle 1915 fits.
The instructions are color coded and easy to follow. The second sheet of instructions covers various brass parts.
The Flyhawk 1:700 scale HMS Agincourt is a superb kit. Whether you get the basic version or deluxe version, you will get one of the finest plastic warship models in this most popular scale.

Steve Backer
Huntsville, Alabama