Ship models in the Monaco Naval Museum: Battleships (Part 1)

The museum’s collection of battleships includes the following:

Pre-dreadnought Battleship Danton (France, 1909)

Danton was the lead ship of a class of pre-dreadnought battleships that were laid down and completed for the French Navy after the completion of HMS Dreadnought. Despite the fact that she was already obsolete when she entered service, she had an active career in the Mediterranean until 19th March 1917 when she was torpedoed and sunk by U-64, a German U-Boat commanded by Kapitänleutnant Robert Moraht.

Dreadnought Battleship HMS Dreadnought (Britain, 1906)

When HMS Dreadnought entered service with the Royal Navy in 1906, she revolutionised naval power and represented such a paradigm shift in naval technology. At a stroke she rendered all other battleships obsolete, and although by the time the First World War started in 1914 she was herself obsolete, her name came to be that by which all subsequent battleships would be described.

Battlecruiser HMS Hood (Britain, 1918)

HMS Hood was the last battlecruiser to be built for the Royal Navy, and during the 1920s and 1930s she came to symbolise British seapower. Long, low, fast, and well-armed, she looked both menacing and graceful. She was originally intended to be the first of a class of four battlecruisers, but after the Battle of Jutland the design was revised and this slowed down progress on her construction. Hood was eventually launched on 22nd August 1918 and commissioned on 15th May 1920.

She was scheduled to undergo a major rebuild in 1941 to correct her growing obsolescence and lack of modern armour protection, but the outbreak of World War II prevented this from happening. As a result she was essentially un-modernised when she engaged (and was sunk by) the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen on 24th May 1941.

Battleship USS Arizona (BB-39) (United States of America, 1915)

USS Arizona was one of the two Pennsylvania-class battleships that were built for the US Navy during the early years of the First World War. She served with the Pacific Fleet for most of her life, and was extensively modernised form 1929 until 1931. She was sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour of 7th December 1941. After being repeatedly hit by bombs, she exploded and sank, with the result that 1,177 officers and crew were killed. Her wreck still remains in situ, and forms the underwater part of the USS Arizona Memorial, which was dedicated on 30th May 1962 to the memory of all those who died during the attack.

Battleship Bismarck (Germany, 1939)

The design of the Bismarck was based on plans developed from those of the German World War I-era Bayern-class battleships. Bismarck and her sister ship Tirpitz were heavily armoured and had twenty two watertight compartments. This made them very tough opponents and both survived incredible amounts of punishment before they sank.

The Bismarck was sunk during her maiden raiding cruise in the North Atlantic after she had managed to sink HMS Hood and severely damage the new battleship HMS Prince of Wales. An attack by a group of Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers during the night of 24th May 1941 from the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious did sufficient damage to cause the Birmarck to turn for home.

When fifteen of HMS Ark Royal‘s Swordfish torpedo bombers launched an attack on Bismarck on 25th May, three of their torpedoes are thought to have struck the ship. Two of them did very little damage but the third hit and jammed Bismarck‘s rudders hard to starboard. This damage could not be repaired, and the battleship began turning in a large circle. This turned her into the path of her pursuers, and early on the morning of 26th May 1941 the British battleships HMS King George V and HMS Rodney began firing at the Bismarck. Within a short time Bismarck‘s main armament was silenced, and at a little after 10.15am the cruiser HMS Dorsetshire was sent in to finish her off with torpedoes. Only 110 of Bismarck’s crew were picked up after the battle, the rest having been killed, drowned, or died from exposure.

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