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HMS Inflexible (1876)

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HMS Inflexible was a Victorian ironclad battleship carrying her main armament in centrally placed turrets. The ship was constructed in the 1870s for the Royal Navy to oppose the perceived growing threat from the Italian Regia Marina in the Mediterranean.

Quick facts: Class overview, History, United Kingdom, Gene...
HMS Inflexible with the pole masts fitted in 1885,[1] replacing the original full sailing rig
Class overview
Succeeded byAjax class
Naval_Ensign_of_the_United_Kingdom.svgUnited Kingdom
BuilderPortsmouth Dockyard
Laid down24 February 1874
Launched27 April 1876
Commissioned5 July 1881
FateScrapped 1903
General characteristics
  • 10,880 tons
  • 11,880 tons full load
  • 320 ft (98 m) pp
  • 344 ft (105 m) oa
Beam75 ft (23 m)
Draught26.3 ft (8.0 m)
Propulsion12 coal-fired boilers, two single-expansion Elder and Co. steam engines, 2 twin-bladed 20 ft (6.1 m) diameter screws
Speed14.73 knots (27 km/h) @ 6,500 hp (4.8 MW)
Range"Cross-Atlantic at economical speed"
  • 24-in (610 mm) waterline belt + 17-in (432 mm) teak
  • 3-in (76 mm) deck
  • 20-in (508 mm) citadel (reducing to 16 inches) + 21-in (533 mm) teak
  • 17-in (432 mm) front, 16-inch back, turrets
  • 22-in bulkheads, reducing to 14 inches (360 mm)

The Italian Navy had started constructing a pair of battleships, Duilio and Enrico Dandolo, equipped with four Armstrong 17.7-inch (450 mm) guns weighing 100 tons each. These were superior to the armament of any ship in the British Mediterranean Squadron, and Inflexible was designed as a counter to them.

Inflexible mounted larger guns than those of any previous British warship and had the thickest armour ever to be fitted to a Royal Navy ship. Controversially, she was designed so that if her un-armoured ends should be seriously damaged in action and become water-logged, the buoyancy of the armoured centre section of the ship would keep her afloat and upright.

The ship was the first major warship to depend in part for the protection of her buoyancy on a horizontal armoured deck below the water-line rather than armoured sides along the waterline.