HMS Hindustan was a King Edward VII-class pre-dreadnought battleship of the Royal Navy. Like all ships of the class (apart from HMS King Edward VII) she was named after an important part of the British Empire, namely the Indian Empire. Commissioned in mid 1905, she served with firstly the Atlantic Fleet and then the Channel Fleet. When the latter fleet was reorganised to the Home Fleet, she was attached to that fleet.
In 1912, Hindustan and her King Edward VII-class sister ships formed the 3rd Battle Squadron. The squadron was assigned to the Grand Fleet at the beginning of World War I, and served on the Northern Patrol. In 1916, she, with the rest of the squadron was transferred to Nore Command until she was detached in February 1918 to serve as a parent ship for the raids on Zeebrugge and Ostend. Decommissioned in May 1918, she finished the war as an accommodation ship, and was disposed of in 1919.
HMS Hindustan was built by John Brown & Company at Clydebank. She was laid down on 25 October 1902 and launched on 19 December 1903. She began trials in January 1905 and was completed in March 1905.
Although Hindustan and her seven sister ships of the King Edward VII class were a direct descendant of the Majestic class, they were also the first class to make a significant departure from the Majestic design, displacing about 1,000 tons more and mounting for the first time an intermediate battery of four 9.2-inch (234-mm) guns in addition to the standard outfit of 6-inch (152-mm) guns. The 9.2-inch was a quick-firing gun like the 6-inch, and its heavier shell made it a formidable weapon by the standards of the day when Hindustan and her sisters were designed; it was adopted out of concerns that British battleships were undergunned for their displacement and were becoming outgunned by foreign battleships that had begun to mount 8-inch (203-mm) intermediate batteries. The four 9.2-inch were mounted in single turrets abreast the foremast and mainmast, and Hindustan thus could bring two of them to bear on either broadside. Even then, Hindustan and her sisters were criticised for not having, a uniform secondary battery of 9.2-inch guns, something considered but rejected because of the length of time it would have taken to design the ships with such a radical revision of the secondary armament layout. In the end, it proved impossible to distinguish 12-inch and 9.2-inch shell splashes from one another, making fire control impractical for ships mounting both calibres, although Hindustan had fire-control platforms on her fore- and mainmasts rather than the fighting tops of earlier classes.
Like all British battleships since the Majestic class, the King Edward VII-class ships had four 12-inch (305-mm) guns in two twin turrets (one forward and one aft), the first five King Edwards, including Hindustan, mounting the Mark IX 12-inch. Mounting of the 6-inch guns in casemates was abandoned in Hindustan and her sister ships, the 6-inch instead being placed in a central battery amidships protected by 7-inch (178-mm) armoured walls. Otherwise, Hindustan's armour was much as in the London class battleships, although there were various differences in detail from the Londons.
Hindustan and her sisters were the first British battleships with balanced rudders since the 1870s and were very maneuverable, with a tactical diameter of 340 yards (311 m) at 15 knots (27.75 km/h). However, they were difficult to keep on a straight course, and this characteristic led to them being nicknamed "the Wobbly Eight" during their 1914–1916 service in the Grand Fleet. They had a slightly faster roll than previous British battleship classes, but were good gun platforms, although very wet in bad weather.
Primarily powered by coal, Hindustan had oil sprayers installed during her construction, as did all of her sisters except HMS New Zealand, the first time this had been done in British battleships. These allowed steam pressure to be rapidly increased, improving Hindustan's acceleration. The eight ships between them were given four different boiler installations for comparative purposes; Hindustan's boiler outfit is variously reported as 12 Babcock & Wilcox and three cylindrical boilers and as 18 Babcock & Wilcox and three cylindrical boilers, She exceeded her designed speed on trials, during which she slightly exceeded 19 knots (35 km/h).
Hindustan was a powerful ship when she was designed, and completely fulfilled the goals set for her at that time. However, she was unlucky in that the years of her design and construction were ones of revolutionary advancement in naval guns, fire control, armor, and propulsion. She joined the fleet in mid-1905, but quickly was made obsolete by the commissioning of the revolutionary battleship HMS Dreadnought at the end of 1906 and the large numbers of the new dreadnought battleships that commissioned in succeeding years. By 1914, Hindustan and her King Edward VII-class sisters were, like all predreadnoughts, so outclassed that they spent much of their 1914–1916 Grand Fleet service steaming at the heads of divisions of the far more valuable dreadnoughts, protecting the dreadnoughts from naval mines by being the first battleships to either sight or strike them.
Upon completion in March 1905, HMS Hindustan was placed in reserve. She went into full commission on 22 August 1905 at Portsmouth Dockyard for service in the Atlantic Fleet. She transferred to the Channel Fleet in March 1907. Under a fleet reorganization on 24 March 1909, the Channel Fleet became the 2nd Division, Home Fleet, and Hindustan became a Home Fleet unit in that division. She underwent a refit at Portsmouth in 1909–1910.
Under a fleet reorganization in May 1912, Hindustan and all seven of her sisters of the King Edward VII class (Africa, Britannia, Commonwealth, Dominion, Hibernia, King Edward VII and Zealandia) were assigned to form the 3rd Battle Squadron, assigned to the First Fleet, Home Fleet. The squadron was detached to the Mediterranean in November 1912 because of the First Balkan War (October 1912 – May 1913); it arrived at Malta on 27 November 1912 and subsequently participated in a blockade by an international force of Montenegro and in an occupation of Scutari. Hindustan and Africa returned to the United Kingdom in February 1913 and rejoined the Home Fleet; they were attached to the 4th Battle Squadron, then transferred back to the 3rd Battle Squadron upon that squadron's return to the United Kingdom and the Home Fleet on 27 June 1913.
Upon the outbreak of World War I, the 3rd Battle Squadron was assigned to the Grand Fleet and based at Rosyth. It was used to supplement the Grand Fleet's cruisers on the Northern Patrol. On 2 November 1914, the squadron was detached to reinforce the Channel Fleet and was rebased at Portland. It returned to the Grand Fleet on 13 November 1914.
Hindustan served in the Grand Fleet until April 1916. During sweeps by the fleet, she and her sister ships often steamed at the heads of divisions of the far more valuable dreadnoughts, where they could protect the dreadnoughts by watching for mines or by being the first to strike them.
On 29 April 1916, the 3rd Battle Squadron was rebased at Sheerness, and on 3 May 1916 it was separated from the Grand Fleet, being transferred to the Nore Command. Hindustan remained there with the squadron until February 1918.
Hindustan left the 3rd Battle Squadron in February 1918 when she selected to serve as a parent ship for preparations for the Zeebrugge Raid and first Ostend Raid and served as depot ship for the raids. She was stationed in the Swin in this capacity until May 1918, and collided with and badly damaged the destroyer HMS Wrestler in May 1918.
On 15 May 1918, Hindustan paid off into reserve at the Nore, and was employed as an accommodation ship for the Royal Naval Barracks at Chatham Dockyard. She was placed on the disposal list at Chatham in June 1919 and on the sale list in August 1919. She was sold for scrapping to Thos W Ward on 9 May 1921. She was towed to Belfast for stripping in 1923 and arrived at Preston for scrapping on 14 October 1923.