Weight of Shell Must Tell: A Lanchestrian reappraisal of the Battle of Jutland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We re-analyse the 1916 Battle of Jutland (German: Skagerrak), the major naval engagement of the First World War, in the light of the understanding of dreadnought fleet tactics developed over the decade leading up to it. In particular, we consider the interaction of the calculus of Lanchester’s Square Law with fleet geometry and the commanders’ decisions that determined it, and with the shipbuilding decisions associated with the Lanchestrian trade-off between quality and quantity. We re-examine the behaviour of the commanders in the light of this tactical analysis, and conclude that the outcome of Jutland, in spite of apparent British tactical and technological failings, was the culmination of a decade of consistent and professionally insightful decision-making by the Royal Navy, which built and correctly wielded its decisive weapon, the Grand Fleet, to achieve the required strategic victory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-563
Number of pages28
Issue number347
Early online date26 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016 The Authors. History © 2016 The Historical Association and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details. Embargo period (AAM): 24 months

Cite this