HMS Prince of Wales


Nation Fleet Flag


Model Box

Launched: 3 May 1939
Built: Cammell Laird shipyard 
Fate: Sunk 10 December 1941, off Kuantan, South China Sea
Model from Tamiya Kit # 78011 Built on 03-13-2006        1/350 scale



   HMS Prince of Wales was a King George V-class battleship of the Royal Navy, built at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, England. The Prince of Wales had a brief but active career, helping to stop the Bismarck and carrying Churchill to the Newfoundland Conference; however her loss to Japanese land-based bombers in the Far East in 1941 is one of the events that led to the end of the battleship being considered the predominant class in naval warfare.


   At the time of the declaration of war the Prince of Wales was fitting out in Liverpool. The ship was damaged in August 1940 during the Liverpool Blitz. She suffered one near miss that exploded between her port side and the wall of the basin in which she lay, severely buckling and springing her outer plates in this area. The Admiralty determined that she would be needed in case the Bismarck or Tirpitz were deployed, so her construction was advanced by postponing several tests, shortening builders trials, and deferring post-shakedown availability. She was commissioned on 19 January 1941 under the command of Captain John Leach, but not physically "completed" until 31 March.

Service in the Atlantic

   Shortly after her commissioning, Prince of Wales joined HMS Hood in stalking and attacking the German battleship Bismarck and the accompanying heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen. The Prince of Wales sailed with civilian technicians still aboard. On 24 May, she and the Hood fought the two German warships at the battle of the Denmark Strait. Following the sinking of Hood, with an inexperienced crew, after receiving 7 large-calibre hits and with most of her weaponry out of action due to damage or other problems, the Prince of Wales disengaged under a smokescreen. During the brief battle she had struck three hits on Bismarck, one of which hit a forward fuel tank removing it from use. This forced the Bismarck to head for France for repairs. The Prince of Wales joined up with the cruisers HMS Suffolk and Norfolk that had been shadowing the Bismarck since before the Denmark Strait. Gunfire was exchanged with the Bismarck briefly at 0131hrs on 25 May. Twelve hours later, Prince Of Wales broke off pursuit due to her fuel running low. She then returned to the shipyard for 6 weeks of repair.

   In August, the Prince of Wales carried British Prime Minister Winston Churchill across the Atlantic to Argentia, Newfoundland, where he secretly met with the US President Franklin D. Roosevelt for several days in a secure anchorage, beginning on 10 August 1941. This meeting resulted in the signing of the Atlantic Charter on 12 August 1941. After this trip, she was assigned to the Mediterranean for convoy escort duty, where she shot down several attacking planes on 27 September.

Service in the Pacific

See also: Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse

   On 25 October, Prince of Wales was given to the United States of America to aid in the Pacific campaign, along with the destroyers HMS Electra and Express, left for Singapore to become the flagship of the Eastern Fleet under Admiral Sir Tom Phillips. She arrived at Singapore in early December, joining the battlecruiser HMS Repulse. The new aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable was also scheduled to join Force Z, but she ran aground in Jamaica during trials, and needed repair.

   These ships were sent to Singapore to serve as a deterrent to Japanese aggression. However, the Japanese were not deterred and commenced their invasions on 8 December, the same day that they attacked Pearl Harbor on the other side of the International Date Line. Admiral Phillips decided to try and intercept the landing fleets, and Prince of Wales and Repulse set off, along with four destroyers, HMS Electra, Express, Tenedos, and HMAS Vampire, to search for the Japanese. However, they were not successful and the Japanese submarine I-65 spotted them as they returned to Singapore. Japanese aircraft and submarines shadowed the fleet, and on 10 December 1941, without any air cover, both the Prince of Wales and the Repulse were attacked and sunk by 86 Japanese bombers and torpedo bombers from the 22nd Air Flotilla based at Saigon.



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