-What time is it?
- Reeeeeeenown time!
This battlecruiser as well as her sistership HMS Repulse was built because of efforts of single man - John Fisher. In November 1914, he became First Sea Lord (thanks to Winston S. Churchill who was First Lord of the Admiralty that time). This rank allowed him to satisfy his ardent desire to build some new battlecruisers. It's unclear why Fisher loved such a ships with sufficient speed and armament, but cardboard armor. Admirals and even Churchill himself cast doubt on Fisher's ideas. But Fisher was lucky. Immediately after the Battle of the Falkland Islands, in which british battlecruisers destroyed entire German squadron, Fisher suggested to Churchill to build several new battlecruisers. But wise Churchill declined. The Fisher's last argument was so-called Baltic Project. It was a plan of a landing operation on the North German coast. This plan required some shallow draft battlecruisers to support the invasion fleet. Churchill and Prime Minister liked this plan, so permission to build battlecruisers was granted.
The Director of Naval Construction Eustace Tennyson-D'Eyncourt produced preliminary project of the ship within only a day, and after all consultations with Fisher the project was completed within nine days (!). Fisher’s desire was to get both ships within 15 months, but builders failed because of lack of resources and workers. Renown was built within 19 months, while her sistership was completed within 18 months. But Admiralty didn’t hurry to use them in battle. Everybody remembered the Jutland, where Germans sunk 3 British battlecruisers with 3000 men on them. Fisher couldn’t force the Admiralty to use the sisterships, because Fisher and his friend Churchill were kicked out from their posts because of fail of the Gallipoli campaign. So Repulse was used only once in minor operation, while Renown never saw the enemy during WWI. Seamen even called these battlecruisers ‘white elephants’, because they were very expensive and almost useless because of their paper armor.
After the war battlecruisers were under never-ending repairs and modernizations. Their armor became thicker and heavier, while their speed became lower and lower. Total cost of their inter-war modernizations was several times higher than their starting cost. Seamen even called these ships Refit and Repair.
But during WWII seamen changed their attitude to these ships. Only they and the mighty Hood could catch up and destroy German pocket battleships. The fates of Repulse and Renown were different. Repulse was destroyed by the Japanese base aviation near Malaya in December, 1941. The Renown survived the war. She fought with Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in 1940 during Norwegian Campaign, than she was attached to admiral Sommerville’s Force H based at Gibraltar, where she fought against Axis side by side with other famous ships, such as HMS Arc Royal. Than Renown was transferred to the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean to support the attacks on the territories occupied by Japanese Forces. In 1948 Renown was scrapped.
This picture represents Renown in Australian waters in 1920. That time this mighty ship used as a yacht for Prince of Wales in his foreign voyages. The ship still had no his recognizable Queen Elizabeth class battleship-style superstructure. It was made only during modernization of 1936-39.