The Royal Navy planned to build four fast battleships of the Queen Elizabeth Class but a fifth was added , the Malaya, as a gift of the Malay States. The last of the original four to be laid down was HMS Barham, which was laid down February 24, 1913, launched December 31, 1914 and commissioned in October 1915. Planned with a top speed of 25 knots, the ships seemed to have achieved 24 knots with a power plant 150% greater than the preceding Iron Duke Class. Barham was at the Battle of Jutland, where she received six hits and fired 337 15-Inch rounds.
The original design of the Queen Elizabeth Class presented a very elegant appearance. With balanced twin funnels and classic British tripod, the ships were the epitome of the battleship force of the Royal Navy. In the 1920s the class was sent in for refits, one at a time. First to go was HMS Warspite, which went in in 1924. Next to go was the Queen Elizabeth, which was refitted from June 1926 to October 1927. Malaya received her refit from September 1927 to March 1929 and Valiant was in from March 1929 to December 1930. Last to receive the refit was Barham, which was at the yard from January 1931 to January 1934. In this process each ship received additional bridge levels and fittings, anti-torpedo bulges and the trunking of the twin funnels into one massive, slab-sided funnel. No longer could the class be described as elegant, as the trunked funnel did mar her appearance. As the last refitted, the Barham also received a catapult on top of X turret, the only one of the class to receive this. Barham had only just completed this initial refit when Warspite went in for the major rebuild in March 1934, that gave her the tower bridge. Afterwards Barham only received minor modifications here and there.
HMS Barham seems to have been plagued by bad luck in World War Two. On December 12, 1939 she collided with and sank the destroyer, Duchess. Two weeks later on the 28th Barham was torpedoed by U-30. After repairs her next operation was as part on Operation Menace as the descent on the French fleet on Dakar was called. In this aborted operation Barham was hit by 9.4-Inch and 6.1-Inch shore batteries. She was transferred to the Mediterranean and was part of the British force at the Battle of Cape Matapan on March 28, 1941. In May she was hit on Y turret from a bomb from a Ju-88 in action off of Crete and was sent to Durban, South Africa for repairs. After returning to the Mediterranean, on November 24, 1941 Barham was hit by three torpedoes from U-331. As she was capsizing, her magazines exploded when she reached 85 to 90 degrees. Captured on film, this catastrophe has been used to represent multitudes of events in subsequent films and documentaries. (Bulk of History from Battleships of World War Two by M.J. Whitley.)
John Currie, serving member of the Royal Navy with HMS Exeter, has provided the photographs of the 1:700 scale resin model of HMS Barham, as she appeared in her last year in 1941. The kit is produced by H-P Models.