History of HMS King George V
HMS King George V, launched in 1939, was the lead ship of her class of five battleships; at the time of her commissioning, she was fastest battleship in the British Royal Navy. She was built by Vickers-Armstrong at Walker's Naval Yard at Newcastle upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom. Her main armament of 360-millimeter guns were configured in two different types of turrets; two of the guns were in a 915-ton Mk II turret, while the remaining guns were housed by two Mk III turrets with four guns and weighing 1,582 tons each. Her secondary armament of 16 133-millimeter guns were housed in eight twin turrets, each weighing 81 tons. She initially had 0.5-inch quadruple machine gun mounts for anti-aircraft defense, but starting in 1939 they were gradually replaced by 40-millimeter "pom-pom" guns. After sea trials, she joined the British Home Fleet at Scapa Flow, Scotland, United Kingdom. In early 1941, she embarked Lord Halifax for his journey to the United States, making port call at Annapolis, Maryland, United States.
On 24 May 1941 HMS King George V was about 300 to 400 miles away from the site where German battleship Bismarck sank HMS Hood in the Battle of Denmark Strait; after an intense hunt and a subsequent chase, HMS King George V opened fire on Bismarck at 0849 hours, joining other warships already firing on the German battleship. At 0859 hours, she was at the distance of about 16,000 yards from Bismarck and became Bismarck's target, though Bismarck failed to hit her. At 0914 hours, at the distance of 12,000 yards, her secondary armament began to fire. At about 0930 her primary guns briefly ceased firing due to troubles in the safety interlocks for anti-flash protection. Low on fuel, she was sent home as Bismarck had already been seriously damaged; British cruiser Dorsetshire remained behind to ensure Bismarck's sinking.
Starting in late-1941, HMS King George V operated off Norway to raid German shipping and to provide distant cover for Allied convoys. On 1 May 1942, in foggy weather, she collided with destroyer HMS Punjabi, which was cut in two and was destroyed; King George V suffered a badly damaged bow and was under repair at the Gladstone Dock in Liverpool, England, United Kingdom for nearly two months.
HMS King George V moved to Gibraltar in May 1943 in preparation for the Allied invasion of Sicily, Italy. During the operation, she bombarded the Sicilian port city of Trapani, bombarded the islands of Levanzo and Favignana, and provided anti-aircraft support. After the Italian surrender, she was among the British warships that escorted Italian battleships Andrea Doria and Caio Duilio and other vessels to Malta. After escorting a convoy to deliver an occupation force to Taranto, Italy, she escorted surrendered Italian ships from Malta to Alexandria, Egypt. During the Allied landings at Salerno, Italy, she provided gunfire support.
In late 1943, HMS King George V received 20 20-millimeter Oerlikon cannon.
Between Feb and Jul 1944, HMS King George V remained in Liverpool for an overhaul, receiving additional radar gear, anti-aircraft weapons, among other things. Her full displacement increased to 44,460 tons after this overhaul.
In late 1944, HMS King George V set sail for Alexandria, Egypt, and was diverted briefly to bombard German positions in the Mediterranean Sea. She arrived in Ceylon on 15 Dec 1944. On 16 Jan 1945, she set sail with other warships, bombarding Japanese oil refineries on Sumatra, Dutch East Indies. In late Mar 1945, she bombarded airfields on the Sakishimo Islands of Ryukyu Islands, Japan. On 4 May, she bombarded airfields in the Ryukyu Islands. In mid-Jul, she joined American battleships in the bombardment of Honshu, Japan. She supported carriers during the Okinawa Campaign. During the night of 29 to 30 Jul 1945, she bombarded Hamamatsu, Honshu, Japan, which would prove to be her final combat action in the Pacific War. She was present at the Japanese surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay, Japan.
In Jan 1946, HMS King George V provided transport for the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester on their official visit to Australia, returning to Portsmouth, England in Mar 1946. She was the flagship of the British Royal Navy Home Fleet until Dec 1946 when she became a training ship. In Jun 1950, she was placed in reserve, and in Dec 1955 her status was demoted to extended reserve. In 1958, she was moved from her berth in Gare Loch, Scotland as she was sold to the firm Arnott Young and Company of Dalmuir, Scotland for scrapping.