HMS PRINCE OF WALES
The second ship of the 'King George V' class, HMS Prince of Wales was laid down in January 1937, launched in May 1939 and completed at the end of March 1941. She was still working up to operational efficiency on 23 May when she was ordered to leave Scapa Flow, with the flagship HMS Hood, to engage the German battleship KMS Bismarck. The Prince of Wales was still suffering from teething troubles: one of her 356-mm (14-in) turrets could only fire one shell, the turrets were all subject to minor breakdowns, and the new Type 284 gunnery radar was not working. To make matters worse the inexperienced crew of T quadruple 356-mm (14-in) turret made an error in loading drill which jammed the turret. When the flagship Hood blew up, the Prince of Wales was thus badly placed to withstand the fire of two undamaged German ships. In spite of this she acquitted herself well, The Type 281 airwarning set was used to provide ranges to the guns, enabling her to get 'straddles' on the Bismarck resulting in two or three underwater hits. One of these hits caused serious contamination of the oil fuel and another reduced the Bismarcks speed by 2 kts, so it can be fairly said that the Prince of Wales initiated the chain of events which brought the Bismarck to her doom. Although hit seven times the Prince of Wales suffered comparatively little damage as only three of the shells detonated. The most serious damage was caused by a ricochet on the compass platform, which killed or wounded all but the captain.
In August 1941 the 'PoW' carried Winston Churchill across the Atlantic to the Atlantic Charter meeting with President Roosevelt in Newfoundland. She hoisted the flag of Sir Tom Phillips, C-in-C Eastern Fleet in October, and The 'King George V class reflected the impact of air power on British battleship design, with the first combined high angle/low angle secondary armament and the first integral aircraft and catapult.
Left for Singapore on 25 October, in company with HMS Repulse. Force 'Z', as the two ships were designated, arrived at Singapore on 2 December, but eight days later they were sunk by Japanese torpedo-bombers, The Prince of Wales was crippled by a single torpedo which struck the port side abreast of the aftermost 133-mm (5.25-in) gun turret. The port outer propeller shaft was badly distorted, and because it was not rapidly disconnected it continued to revolve, making an enormous hole in the after bulkheads. Then the shock-effect of nearmisses from bombs put five of the eight dynamos out of action, robbing the ship of pumping and power for the anti-aircraft guns. Out of control, she was unable to avoid another four torpedoes. She finally sank an hour and twenty minutes after the first attack, with the loss of Admiral Phillips and Captain Leach.
Specification HMS Prince of Wales
Displacement: 38,000 tons standard, 43,350 tons full load
Dimensions: length 227.0 m (745 ft); beam 31,4 m (103 ft); draught 8.5 m (28 ft) mean
Machinery: 4-shaft geared steam turbines delivering 110,000 shp (82027 kW)
Speed: 28 kts
Armour: belt 356-381 mm (14-15 in); decks 127-152 mm (5-6 in); turrets and barbettes 305 mm (12 in)
Armament: 10 356-mm (14-in), 16 133-mm (5.25-in) DP, 32 2-pdr pom-pom, and 16 12.7-mm (0.5 in) AA guns
Aircraft: two Supermarine Walrus amphibians
Complement: 1,422 officers and men