When HMS Dreadnought was completed in October 1906 with a record building time of a year, it was evolutionary, rendering the battle line of other navies
obsolescent. Other navies scrambled to draft their own all big gun battleship designs, except for the USN, whose
USS Michigan design was finished before the
Dreadnought’s. It was not the all big gun arrangement that made the Dreadnought evolutionary but the use of turbines in place of expansion engines. The turbines
gave the ship three knots extra speed over most of the other battleships of the world. Since the
Dreadnought also made the Royal Navy predreadnought battleships
obsolescent, the prime focus of the Admiralty was to pump out as many new dreadnoughts as politicians and finance would permit to prevent other navies from gaining
near parity. The next battleship design was
Bellerophon, which was laid down in December 1906 with Temeraire in January 1907 and Superb in February 1907. This
class was a slightly revised
Dreadnought. They had fewer 4-inch secondary guns replacing the light 12-pdr secondary guns of Dreadnought and a tripod main mast
instead of the stump main mast of
Dreadnought. They also had the forward tripod in front of the first funnel, eliminating the smoke interference caused in
Dreadnought by having the tripod aft of the first funnel. The heavier weight of the heavier secondary guns and full tripod main mast caused sacrifices elsewhere and
the armor belt was reduced to 10-inches from the 11-inches of the
Dreadnought. Beam was increased by six inches but the length was the same. The main guns were
the same ten 12-inch/45 guns arranged exactly as in
Dreadnought with two wing turrets and a broadside of eight guns.

The next class was slightly improved over the
Dreadnought/Bellerophon designs. The St. Vincent was laid down in December 1907 with the Collingwood in February
1908 and
Vanguard in April 1908. The St. Vincent Class were longer at 500-feet from the 490-feet of Dreadnought/Bellerophon but with two a half less beam, 84-
feet vs. 86.5-feet. Although the turret and mast arrangement was identical to that of the
Bellerophon Class, the St. Vincent Class received 12-inch/50 guns with a
different turret design from the previous classes. The 12-inch/50 gun had a greater muzzle velocity and range over the 12-inch/45 gun but this came with a cost. The
higher gas pressure and velocity wore out the barrel liners at a much greater rate and more importantly caused a wider shot pattern at longer ranges. The secondary
guns were still 4-inchers but eighteen were fitted instead of the sixteen in the
Bellerophon Class. The longer length caused a rise in displacement to 19,560-tons, 700-
tons more than the
Bellerophon Class. To compensate for the extra weight the machinery was changed to produce 24,500ihp from the 23,000ihp in Bellerophon. The
first true change from the original
Dreadnought design came in the next years Estimates.
The HMS Neptune, laid down on January 19, 1909 was an one-off design. The Neptune still carried fore and aft tripods the main gun arrangement changed to allow
a limited ten gun broadside. P and Q turrets were placed in an arrangement as in the battlecruiser
Indefatigable to allow cross deck fire from the far turret over a
limited arc. There would still be blast damage to the deck and superstructure not to mention the flying boat deck under which the 12-inch shells would pass. The
flying boat decks connected the islands of superstructure and were used to move the ship’s boats off the main decks. The other major change was to place X turret
superimposed over Y turret.
Neptune still did not have end on fire for X turret because British designers kept placing the main gun turrets’ sighting hoods on the front
crown of the turrets, right under the muzzles of the superfiring guns. The blast of those guns would cause concussions to crew members in the lower turrets sighting
hoods. Other navies had already moved their sighting hoods to the aft crown of the turrets to prevent this so it is odd that the Royal Navy Designs retained the
forward hood location for so long. Length increased to 510-feet and beam to 85-feet. The main guns were still ten 12-inch/50 but secondary guns dropped back down
to sixteen. The belt declined another inch to 9-inches. The
HMS Neptune was the last British battleship to carry two tripods. In July 1909 Colossus and Hercules
were laid down. They are best described as half-sisters of the
Neptune. Their dimensions, and guns were identical to the Neptune but the pair eliminated the aft tripod
and unfortunately placed the fore tripod aft of the first funnel, a position that had proved poor in
Dreadnought. The reason for this unfortunate decision was to use
the tripod center pole as a base for a boat boom, a truly penny wise, pond foolish decision to save a little weight. The elimination of the tripod mainmast and increase
in displacement to 20,225-tons allowed for extra armor and the
Colossus and Hercules went back to the 11-inch belt found in Dreadnought. They also changed to
three 21-inch torpedo tubes instead of the three 18-inch torpedo tubes found in previous classes.
The initial work ups for the battleship to follow the Colossus Class went to six 12-inch/50 twin gun turrets, all on centerline. It was obvious to the Admiralty that
further development of the 12-inch gun had run its course. The loss of accuracy at long ranges and increased liner wear were steep prices to pay for increased range
and penetrating power. The Admiralty had liked the 13.5-inch gun, last mounted in the old
Revenge Class. It was decided to develop a new model 13.5-inch/45 gun,
which to deceive the Germans was called the 12-inch/50 A. This decision was made after the
Neptune was laid down and after the design of the Colossus Class but
before they were laid down. The four capitol ships for the 1909-1910 Program would be
Colossus, Hercules, a battleship and armored cruiser of new designs
mounting 13.5-inch/45 guns, which would become
Orion and Lion. The 13.5-inch/45 gun fired a shell which weighted 1250-ponds vs 850-pounds for the shell of the
12-inch/50 gun, plus it required a lighter charge. The advantages were obvious, longer range, greater penetration power, better accuracy, decreased liner wear and less
powder needs. Another major decision was to finally mount all main gun turrets on centerline, although the turrets still unfortunately had the siting hoods at the front
of the turret crowns, preventing end on fire. Sir Philip Watts prepared two designs mounting ten 13.5-inch guns, one with a maximum speed of 21-knots and another
design with a maximum speed of 23-knots but costing 150,000 pounds sterling more. The Admiralty chose to save money with the 21-knot design. These decisions
were made in the near hysteria caused rumors of an increased German building program. “
We want eight and we won’t wait!” was the motto of the press and public
who wanted to greatly expand the yearly battleship construction for the Royal Navy. Although the Prime Minister considered the four ships ordered for the 1909
Program more than sufficient, Parliament passed a Supplementary Construction Law that ordered an additional four ships to the capitol ship construction program.
These would become the other three ships of the
Orion Class, plus the battlecruiser, Princess Royal. When the press saw the jump in size and power, the Orion Class
was called

To show how fast British battleship developing had become, the last 12-inch gun battleship,
HMS Hercules, was laid down July 30, 1909 and the first 13.5-inch gun
HMS Orion, was laid down four months later on November 29, 1909. The three sisterships to Orion in the Supplemental Program were laid down between
April 1 and April 13, 1910.
Orion was launched on August 20, 1910 and the other three between February 1 and May 1, 1911. Completion of the ships were in 1912,
between January and November. There was a big jump in length and displacement from the
Colossus Class and Orion Class but very little change in beam, due to the
lack of dry docks of sufficient size. In comparison to the German
Helgoland Class laid down in 1908, the Orion Class was five-feet narrower, constraining
subdivision. Displacement was 22,200-tons load draught and 25,870-tons deep load. Length was 545-feet, with a beam of 88-feet 6-inches and draught of 28-feet 9-
inches. Armament consisted of ten 13.5-inch/45 guns in twin turrets, sixteen 4-inch QF secondary guns, four 3pdr QF and three 21-inch submerged torpedo tubes
with one mounted in the stern and two on the beam. The armored belt was 12-inches with an upper belt of 8-inches extending to the upper deck. Turrets and conning
tower had 11-inches of armor with the barbettes receiving 10-inches.  Armored decks were 4 to 1-inches. Three of the ships had 18 Babcock and Wilcox boilers with
Monarch receiving Yarrow boilers. These fed steam to four Parsons turbines, developing 27,000hp for a maximum speed of 21-knots. The Orion Class perpetuated
the unfortunate decision to mount the single tripod aft of the first funnel, making the control top very uncomfortable to unusable due to smoke and heat. This class
was the last British battleship design to have that flaw. The trials of
Orion showed that the design was subject to heavy rolling due to a higher meta centric height. The
solution was to fit larger bilge keels.
HMS Conqueror was laid down on April 5, 1910 at the Beardsmore Yard and launched on May 1, 1911. She was the last of the class to complete in November 1912.
In 1914 a gun director control stationed was added to the tripod, below the main control top and the compass platform was extended forward to give more room. At
the same time a chart house was added to the compass platform. The
Conqueror could be distinguished from the others in the class because of gun shields for her
4-inch guns, which were added in the trials and for plain top galley funnels on the forecastle. Alone in the class, the
Conqueror had her navigation platform extended
aft on either side of the forward funnel. Others had extensions added after the war started. The
Conqueror was in the 2nd Battle Squadron at the start of World War
Conqueror was given an experimental dazzle camouflage scheme with A turret, B turret and barbette, superstructure, forward funnel, lower tripod, boat boom,
and P turret painted white with gray leopard spots and the aft funnel white with gray zebra stripes. (See photograph on page 141 of
British Battleships of World War
by R. A. Burt.)  On December 27, 1914 the Grand Fleet had just concluded maneuvers and was returning to Scapa Flow. Seas were rough and viability impaired
Conqueror followed Monarch in a column. Monarch slowed and turned to avoid a patrol trawler but Conqueror continued straight, colliding with the stern of the
Monarch. The bow of Conqueror was badly damaged and 150-feet of her hull was buckled. Temporary repairs were under-taken at Scapa Flow but the battleship was
sent to Devonport for complete repairs. She reappeared at Scapa Flow in March 1915. The torpedo nets and booms were removed in 1915 but the shelves remained.
As part of the 2nd Battle Squadron the Conqueror was 7th in the column at the Battle of Jutland. Before the fleets broke from contact, she fired at SMS Konig and
other German battleships at the head of the German column and received no damage in return. After Jutland in 1916 and 1917 the 4-inch guns were reduced to
thirteen in order to move the guns to smaller ships to fight U-Boats. She was now part of the 3rd Battle Squadron of the Home Fleet. Late in 1917
received one of the 4-inch guns back, as well as a 3-inch anti-aircraft gun, as well as range finding baffles added to her funnels. Extra armor was added to the deck,
near magazines due to the results of Jutland. Also in that line, extra flash prevention and magazine flooding systems were installed. In 1918 the control top was
enlarged with range clocks fitted to the front of the top and to the rear of the aft superstructure. The range finding baffles were removed and three coffee pot search
light towers added to the aft funnel with a 36-inch search light in each position. Aircraft platforms/runways were added to the top of B and X turrets on
After the war the
Conqueror was retained in service in reserve and became flagship of the Reserve Fleet until discarded under the terms of the Washington Treaty.
She was sold to Upnor Shipbreaking Company on December 19, 1922 and broken up.

The Combrig HMS Conqueror in 1:700 Scale - The hull detail for the Combrig HMS Conqueror in 1:700 scale is very good. The model does have torpedo net
shelves that run outboard of the deck, except at the deck break where the shelves run diagonally downward across the hull sides to link the forecastle portion of the
shelves with the quarterdeck level deck. Hull sides also feature open chock plates, nice anchor hawse fittings and of course rows of port holes. As is typical with
Combrig kits, the decks of the Conqueror are loaded with detail. There is fine deck planking but lacking butt end detail. In front of the thin breakwater you’ll find the
anchor gear with slanting oval deck hawse, windlass plates with locater holes for the windlasses, and chain locker entry plates and fittings. Deck access hatches have
hatch and hinge detail. Other cast on detail includes deck edge open chocks and twin bollard fittings slightly inboard from the deck edge. Locater holes are provided
for the centerline twin bollard and various pattern mushroom ventilators. Aft of the breakwater are a host of deck access hatches, especially between A and B
barbettes. They have different patterns and have hatch and hinge detail. There are two more twin bollard fittings and four open chocks, all slightly inboard of the deck
edge. There are also numerous locater holes for cowled ventilators. Detail between the forward and aft superstructure includes large machinery space ventilation
fittings with hinge and circular skylight port detail. More twin bollard, deck access hatch and open chock fittings are also found. There are locater holes for
mushroom and cowled ventilator parts. Quarterdeck detail continues with numerous deck access hatches and pyramid skylight. There are two open chocks at the
stern and three twin bollard fittings. Locater holes are present for mushroom and cowled ventilators, and a windlass.
Combrig casts the other resin parts in three formats. Large pieces are cast separately with pour plugs at the bottom. Thin parts are cast on a thin wafer and the
other parts are on runners. There are nine large resin pieces cast separately with the Conqueror kit, forward superstructure, aft superstructure, the two funnels and
the five turrets. The forward superstructure part is the most intricate and has the 01 and 02 levels. It fits over the location lines on the hull deck and has an opening
for the boat deck between the bridge and aft funnel. The aft funnel as is integral to the casting with an enclosing ribbed bulkhead surrounding the boat deck. The
secondary gun positions have finely detailed shutters with fine detail such as the individual shutters and hinges. Solid bulkheads with supporting ribs are at the
forward end with separate 4-inch gun casemates fitting inside the triangles formed by the bulkheads. Deck detail on this parts includes numerous deck access
hatches and locater holes for the boat kingposts and mast tripod legs. The aft superstructure also has two levels with most of the deck having thin solid bulkheads.
Both levels have the detailed shutters for the 4-inch gun positions. There are more deck access hatches and open chocks for the balsa raft, along with locater holes
for mushroom ventilators. The two funnels are of different sizes with the larger one being the aft funnel. Both have casting plugs that will have to be removed and
the bottoms sanded before they can be attached. Both have nice aprons at the cap and near their bases. The forward funnel has a larger lower casing under the
lower apron. The top of the funnels are sufficiently deep to give the funnels the appearance of being hollow. The five turrets have segmented, overlapping crown
armor plates with three cupolas at the forward crown. The gun openings are deep with circular barrel attachment point inside. The aft crown has the bases for gun
directors and entry cupola.
There are two resin wafers in the kit. One has just the barbettes for B and X turrets. The other wafer has eleven parts. Found on this wafer are five decks; one
around the forward funnel, one the next higher level around the forward funnel, one on the conning tower, the observation platform above the aft superstructure
and an even higher platform on the aft superstructure. All of the decks have wooden plank detail. Bot of the bridge decks have locater holes for the legs of the
tripod and the lower, navigation bridge has locater holes for four binocular stands. The conning tower platform has the top of the conning tower with two levels.
Both forward 4-inch casemates are on the wafer, plus the chart house with windows, which fits to the rear of the navigation deck. Three other parts are positions
on the tripod’ the control top, the gun director platform underneath the control top and the tripod starfish.
There are 34 resin runners, which contain the smaller parts. Five of the runners have the guns; two with the 13.5-inch barrels, two with 4-inch casemate barrels and
one with open two-piece QF guns with detailed gun breach and a separate mount. None of the guns have hollow muzzles. Another runner has six kingposts. Another
runner has eight of the larger parts; three small houses, which will be placed on photo-etch gussets, aft conning tower, tripod director house, a curved ventilator aft
of the rear funnel, and two large mushroom ventilators. Two runners contain the windlasses. Six detailed deck winches are on one runner with a single centerline
twin bollard fitting on its own runner. More detailed parts share a runner with detailed cable reels, binnacles, speed annunciators and control top overhead. Three
detailed anchors have their own runner. Eight two-piece binocular stands have a runner. Three runners have ventilator fittings. One is all J cowl ventilators. One is
small mushroom ventilators. The third is a mix of mushroom ventilators in three sizes and more J cowl ventilators. A small runner has two splinter shields for the aft
superstructure. Two runners have the net booms. The three tripod legs are on a runner with another three runners containing yards, boat booms and more net
booms. The rest of the runners deal with the ship’s boats. One is for the boat chocks and another for the deck edge boat davits. The rest are for ship’s boats with
three steam launches, one large whaler, fifteen open boats and the balsa raft. The steam launches have cabin and deck detail with separate funnels. The open boats
have detailed bottom planking and thwarts.
A single brass photo-etch fret is provided. Deck railing is not provided so you’ll need to get third party railing. I would also recommend including third party inclined
ladders with safety rails and trainable treads. Two different relief-etched bridge faces are included. The larger face, which is used for Conqueror, has three windows
on the side faces, and the smaller bridge face has two windows on the side faces. There are eight triangular support frames, ten support gussets with weight saving
voids, eight cable reel frames and drum heads in three different patterns, four cargo loading frames, ship’s wheel and three runs of anchor chain. There are quite a
few platform frames also on the fret for the various platforms on the superstructure as well as tripod platforms. Other brass parts are launch anchors, boom
brackets, a streaming anchor, windlass heads, the funnel clinker screens/grates, two inclined ladders with platforms but with no safety railing, and two vertical
ladders, although one is supposed to be an inclined ladder.
This one of the earlier Combrig kits and therefore has the earlier format of Combrig instructions that leave a lot to be desired. In the case of the Conqueror kit,
there is two back-printed sheets. The first one has a detailed plan and profile that is invaluable in the assembly of the model on the front. Always refer to the plan
and profile before the final attachment of any part to very location and exact positioning. The profile is a very good source for the torpedo boom placement and
rigging. Also included on the first sheet are the history and ship’s specifications in English. The back of the page is a resin and brass parts laydown. The second
sheet front has the first steps of the assembly. It shows an isomorphic view of the hull with attachment of deck fittings with a template of the various ventilator
fittings to the side and three detail insets. One on forward superstructure assembly, one on bridge assembly and one on aft superstructure assembly. The second
page is final assembly with more fittings, attachment of sub-assemblies and eight detail insets. Two are on open gun assembly, one on turret assembly, one on
tripod assembly, two on cable reel assembly, one on cargo frame and inclined ladder assembly, and one on support frame assembly. Just be patient and consult the
plan and profile in assembling the kit.
The Combrig HMS Conqueror in 1:700 scale provides a detailed multi-media model of the last of the Orion Class Superdreadnoughts. Now, with the help of Combrig,
you can chant, “
We want eight and we won’t wait!” for your own Supplemental Building Program and put to shame the 1:700 building program of the Huns.
Steve Backer