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Inflexible Class

Line drawing of Inflexible

Displacement 36,000 tons
Armament 2 x 3 16"
6 x 2 6" + AA
Speed 23 knots
VTS Rating   3   8   3

There were supposed to be several of the 48,000-ton "Saints" class of giant battlecruisers until the Washington Treaty set limitations on tonnage and gun caliber. Now no capital ship was supposed to be larger than 35,000 tons and have guns no larger than 16 inches. A radical rethinking of the original design led to reducing speed and caliber of armament in the Nelson Class, and sacrificing speed, caliber and number of guns (but substantially increasing the protection) in the Inflexible Class. Six 16" guns would give them fairly respectable firepower, and the weight saved from the lesser armament was put into armor and liquid layers for superior "staying power" when fighting battleships or submarines. Her battlecruiser armament coupled with her slow speed earned her the name "battlecreeper". She was intended to be a flagship to a battlefleet of slow older battleships, or as an "escort" battleship waiting for commerce raiders of other nations to come to her. The striking power of the six British 16" guns exceeded the six new-model 11" guns the Germans had on their commerce-raiding "pocket battleships", and was roughly equivalent to the nine such guns found on Germany's latest battlecruisers. Even the Bismarck-Class battleships would find the Inflexible-class ships a tough adversary.

While escorting a Murmansk convoy, Invincible and Tirpitz duelled inconclusively until Tirpitz turned away. Though Invincible was also damaged, all six guns were still operating smoothly, whereas Tirpitz's radar was put out of action, and other damage made further engagement too risky.

Inflexible spent most of her time in the Mediterranean battling the Italians and sustaining damaging hits no other 35,000 tonner could have taken and remained afloat. Partially repaired in Alexandria, Inflexible fan afoul of the Japanese Indian Ocean Striking Force and was so badly damaged she had to be towed to Durban to be laid up, then scrapped after the war.

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