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26-knotters class destroyers (A Class)

United Kingdom (1892-1912)
Destroyers HMS Havock, Hornet, Daring, Decoy, ferret, Lynx.

The lineage of British Destroyers started with the experimental “26-knotters” in 1892 when Yarrow, Thornycroft and Laird were ordered ships tailored to hunt down torpedo boats.
First envisioned by the Admiralty in 1891, they were ordered on the 1892–1893 naval programmes. Certainly the oldest destroyers in service with the Royal Navy in 1912 when the last were discarded, they were relatively small ships, barely able to sustain long cruises by bad weather. Not even intended for operational role, they were ordered as prototypes, spread between three yards and in a sense a preserie for the next 36 “27 knotters” ordered from many more yards. Retrospectively in 1913, both the 26-knotters, and 27-knotters were called collectively the “A” class.

HMS Daring, 26-knotters of the Thornycoft order. At that time these ships had a black hull and sand colour superstructures.

Origins: The destroyer programme

The Torpedo Gunboats

The origin of the “destroyer” (other nations has different names for these, like France with the “Contre-Torpilleur”, Italy with the “cacciatorpediniere” or Germany with the “Hochseetorpedoboote”). The first true “destroyer” however is not perfectmy sure to pinpoint. Most authors agrees with the “Spanish Connection” however. In the 1880s, there was a short-lived ship type which could have played a role in torpedo-boat hunting. These were called the “torpedo-cruisers”, a fad that lasted roughly from the mid-1880s to the mid-1890s and centered around this new, yet to be refined “mobile mine”, the torpedo. In British service, they were the RATTLESNAKE (1887), GRASSHOPPER class (1888), SHARPSHOOTER class (13, 1889-1892), ALARM class (11, 1893-1894) and DRYAD class (5, 1894-1895) already designed as “torpedo boat killers”. Why this lineage was ended ? They were too slow to cacth TBs, and too costly when a larger torpedo boat could on paper do the same job, faster.

The Torpedo Boat

As for the torpedo, it was born in the Adriatic, at Whitehead’s office in Fiume from a Serbian invention of the 1860s, later refined in the 1870s and eventually marketed, the torpedo gradually ended on all ships types on order, as the new “wonder weapon” that can sink a ship by itself in a more proactive way than a mine.
Some navies were keen on capitalizing on this new weapon, and in various nations, as soon as these devices were purchased, a consensus was gradually established about how best way to deliver them: As a small and light weapon any small steam cutter could carry them. Thus, based on previous spar torpedo ships that existed from the American civil War (1861-65) to the mid-1870s, some thought about adapting fast steamers to deliver the new weapon in the same way.
In fact any onboard steamboat of a battleship could in theory do the job. The concept of mothership was tried by most nations, in a more or less cautious or experimental way, until establishing the inanity of the concept of “midget torpedo boat”.

The development of torpedo boats started in France after the war of 1870, which triggered immense doctrinal changes (priority to the army, the navy is reduced and focus on new technologies) and in Great Britain, in order to at least test the concept. See the British torpedo boats page for more. In britain, the lineage started in 1879, and first series were delivered by various yards, later also involved in building the first destroyers.
In the 1880s so, most fleets had torpedo boats in their inventory. This new ship type was seen by some as “disloyal” and for others as a “great equalizer”, enabling to reduce fleet disparity before a more conventional, “Mahanian”, clash could take place.
By 1891, it was clear already that Torpedo Gunboats had their limits given the latest machinery innovations and speed of the new torpedo boats, and the surest way to intercept and destroy a torpedo boat… was another one. Albeit gun-armed. Indeed, already on paper, fast torpedo boats posed a real threat to battleships, overwhelming her close defences or distract her, making her dodging torpedoes instead of presenting a broadside, and thus making her more vulnerable to opposing capital ships.

Wake up call and 1891 order

But moreover, torpedo boats proved devastatingly effective in the 1891 Chilean Civil War. Indeed in the Battle of Caldera Bay, Loyalist flagship armored frigate Blanco Encalada was sunk by the Balmaceda Faction’s, Almirante Lynch, a torpedo gunboat. This was a wakeup call for all admiralties about the torpedo, still largely unproven at that time.
Already the 1886 British-built Destructor for the Spanish Navy was designed as “torpedo boat hunter” and had some in the RN interested in the new concept. Sir William Henry White, which designed her, was appealed as the lack of reaction of the RN for such concept. He knew the admiralty was worried about TBs but most still relied on the torpedo gunboat concept. However many realized they lacked the range and speed to keep up with the fleet they were supposed to protect…

Enters Sir Jackie Fisher (again!) at the time Third Sea Lord and Rear Admiral, he was perfectly aware of torpedo “catchers”, “interceptors” “hunters” concept looked after in other nations, but often doubling simply as larger sea going TBs. This included France which built massive fleets of Torpedo Boats and sea going TBs in 1886 to lead or catch enemy TBs if needed. France’s first true “contre-torpilleurs” were ordered in fact much later in 1898. Germany soon stuck with the “hochseetorpedoboote” up towards the end of WW1. Italy introduced the concept of Cacciatorpediniere also a bit later in 1896.

Thornycroft’s contemporary 140 footer TB, the “prey”.

So Britain was an early bird in this game eventually, under the impulsion of the impulsive Fisher, which argued that this experiment would not be that costly compared to a new battleship or even cruiser, and the full technical support of Yarrow, eventually managed to have ordered three pairs of TBs as experimental measure, seen by some as a long overdue in 1892. News from Chile helped him to sell the idea to the admiralty.

The start of a lineage

Model of HMS Hornet. Note the slightly flared bow, turtleback forecastle, rounded stern, large leaf-style rudder. Technically the steering wheel was located both in the conning tower, below the fore gun platform, and aft, close to the stern. The low-mounted CT offered some protection agains splinters but also a lot of sea spray by heavy weather as the ships ploughed heavily. Note also the projector af for night operations. The four guns (later five) were fast-firing and could deliver quite a punch (see later).

The 1880s had seen several attempts to produce an effective counter to the torpedo boat by enlarging it and giving it more guns, the “125-footers” and HMS Swift (TB 81) being cases in point, and the term ‘torpedo boat destroyer’ had already been used for some of these types. The Germans’s “Division Boats”, though admittedly not for anti-torpedo boat work and without a strengthened gun armament had been watched closely also. Leading torpedo boat firms (with both Thornycroft and Yarrow to the fore) had been producing designs for destroyer-type vessels for some years before the first destroyers were ordered officially by the Admiralty.

The catalysts which produced the first order for the new type were the combination of the fear of the increasing number of new, large and fast torpedo boats being built by the French, the continuing insufficiency of the torpedo gunboat designs, and the presence of a dynamic Controller in Fisher, backed by an equally active and powerful Board of Admiralty. Fisher consulted with both the leading torpedo boat special lists (it is worth noting that Thornycroft actually obtained their order for destroyers a couple of days before Yarrow) and several other builders were given an opportunity to tender for vessels of 200 or 300 tons, capable of 27kts . (Thornycroft actually offered 28kts for their larger design.) Eventually the Board decided on the smaller design, but with the armament of the larger one, which resulted in some increase in dimensions and tonnage in the designs which were built.

From the start, though the primary purpose was to sink torpedo boats, the possibility of using the new vessels to replace TBs for torpedo attack was borne in mind. The earliest destroyers had alternative armaments for one purpose or the other, but their immediate successors had a single outfit which combined the two. As the faster, more powerful and more seaworthy destroyer rendered the torpedo boat virtually obsolescent, it took over the rôle of the smaller vessel. Inevitably the destroyers themselves increased in size as time went on, and the need for, in the first instance, more speed, and, later, greater seaworthiness, influenced new designs. By the end of our period, with the “River” class , the torpedo boat destroyer, which was only a slightly larger torpedo boat, had changed into the true destroyer, a very different sort of vessel and one which fitted the 1870s conception of a purpose-designed seagoing torpedo vessel.

Most reference works split early British destroyers into ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ classes, but it was a classification adopted for ease of recognition in September 1913, and is of little use in giving a historical account of the development of the destroyer. The ‘A’ class were the ’27-knotters’ (the “26-knotters being their preserie), the ‘B’ , ‘C’ and ‘D’ classes corresponding to the ’30-notters’ with, respectively, four (or more), three or two funnels. The diversity is in fact far greater, as each builder produced his own design , within certain broad outlines set by the Admiralty, and then usually built slightly modified versions…
This had two main advantages:
-Testing and comparing various Yard designs, for in case of war, larger series being ordered to the best.
-This enabled still to have numerous, relatively homogeneous boats quickly and place them in squadrons for useful service.
The only understandable backdrop being training (machinery crews especially) due to this lack of standards, maintenance and supply in some way. They still at the end had the same armament and speed.

Design of the 26-knotters

Depiction of the HMS Lynx in 1894 by painter James Scott Maxwell.

The order being placed on 27 June 1892 asked for two designs based on similar specifications. One to Yarrow (or course) and one to Thornycroft, the other great specialist of fast boats and instrumental in TBs development. This was hoped to produce comparable test boats as each yard was free to come with its own machinery solution (which was the main stringent specification here): They needed to at least reach 26 knots on trials and maintain it as a practicable top speed. For the remainder of the specifications, Fisher and Yarrow, which was closely associated in the concept, just asked for an engarged torpedo boat, better armed and if possible faster. Contemporary TBs of the RN indeed just ordered the same year in 1892 were the “140 footer” serie. Note the class designation here, speed for TBDs, size for TBs.

The Yarrow’s 140 footers were 105 tons ships capable of 23.5 knots and armed with three 3-pdrs and three TTs. The corresponding TBDs (the RN adopted the term “destroyer” perhaps in reference to the 1886 Spanish ship) needed to be at least three knots faster, and far better armed, with a single 12-pdr and six 6-pdr, but still retaining three TTs to act themselves as TBs. Overall, they had to be provided with the novel water-tube boilers and quick-firing small calibre guns to make the difference.
In 1893 (date unknown) was ordered a follow-up serie, this time to Laird, a strange choice as it was not a specialist, it had been building TBs as well, and met success with its own design, so it was chosen for a follow-up order, on the same specification, and again, a pair of ship with some leeway to test variants between the two.
It should be noted that the term “26 knotters” did not existed in the specifications or anywhere at the time. It was later brought back in a way of convencience to describe this serie compared to the “27”, “30”, and “33” knotters in the following years.

All differed according to their manufacturer and their displacement ranged from 275 to 280 tonnes fully loaded for 56-60 meters long. Their engine power also varied greatly, from 4,000 to 4,700 HP. Their shape also, according to their arrangements of machines and artillery. At the time they ran on triple-expansion machines and could reach a bit more than 27 knots, despite being classed as “26-knotters” which was more a convenience based on the programme year and the Yarrow boats, effectively capable of 26 knots.

Hull and general design

Plan of HMS Havock
The six ships group was consistent in specifications, but all diverged depending of their construction yard.
As for their displacement (see the specs), they were comprised between 240 and 300 tonnes standard, with the Yarrow boats being the heaviest at 350 tonnes fully loaded. The Yarrow and Thornycroft boats share the same hull lenght, but the former were beamer at feets (5.94 meters versus 5.67). The Laird boats were noticeably longer at 196 ft (60 meters) versus 183 ft (56 meters). They were also a bit beamier at 19 ft (6 meters)


All had to shaft propellers. The Yarrow boats diverged between themeslves. As the small tubes boilers were complicated to setup, the prototype HMS Havock was given a four-cylinder Vertical Triple Expansion stea engine (VTE) fed by two heavy locomotive fire-tube boilers, already proven. However HMS Hornet which was completed later has the same VTE but fed by eight Yarrow water-tube boilers. Later Havock was retrofitted with the same boilers. In case you wonder, eight boilers is A LOT for a torpedo boat sized ship. They occupied a good 1/4 of the hull, mounted at the very center, and were caracterized by two narrowly placed funnels in the center, as both loco boilers were turned head to head, fed by the back. This enabled to have a good weight repartition in the ship as again, they were pretty heavy compared to marine boilers. Later as reboilered she ended with three funnels. Her sister Hornet had four.

The Thornycroft boats were the most unique in the bunch, with just two short, widely spaced funnels. They had two 4-cyl VTE engines like the first serie, but fed by three Thornycroft boilers for an output of 4,200 shp, more than the 3,500-3,700 of the Yarrow boats. They looked also better built, more stocky and taller.
The Laird boats were both four-funneled like HMS Hornet, with three-cylinder VTE engines fed by four French-type Normand small tubes boilers, and were the most powerful of the group at 4,475 shp. However speed wise, the latter the were also the fastest, at 27.2 knots (50.3 kph, 31 mph), and going back to the first serie, 27 and 26 knots respectively. So technically speaking only the Havock class was a “26-knotter”. The latter designation was made based on the initial order, and kept by convenience.
They also carried 45 to 58 tonnes of coal (in order) for an autonomy ranging from 865 (Thornycroft boats) to 1,195 nm for the first serie.


It was the same for all boats as asked for by the admiralty: Three torpedo tubes, including one fixed in the bow like torpedo boats, but a considerable artillery: One 12-pdr or 3-in gun and six 6-pdr guns, all rapid-fire to inflict maximum damage to torpedo boats. Their primary target at the time were French TBs, and the sea-going ones (the 24.5 kts Corsaire serie) were just armed by two 37 mm (1-pdr) guns. The smaller coastal ones of the ‘126’ type were armed the same. After their rearmament, they lost their TTs, gained two more at five 57mm/40 6pdr Hotchkiss Mk I guns.

Main: QF 12-pounder 12 cwt naval gun

The QF 12-pounder 12 cwt naval gun was brand new when the new destroyers were in construction. It enterered service in 1894, as they were completing. This 0.6 tons (510 kg) ordnance made a superb career going up to 1945, with more than 8,000 delivered. It was also used by Italy and Japan and became the staple of light artillery on most RN ships, especially those of WW1. In the case of these destroyers, the Mark I was shielded and placed on the conning tower platform, high enough to avoid water spray. But in heavy weather, as the ship were ploughing deep due to their turtleback, they were wet anyway.
It used a Separate-loading QF round, caliber 7.62 cm, with a single-motion screw breech.
Rate of fire was 15 rounds per minute, at 2,210 ft/s (670 m/s) for an effective range of 11,750 yd (10,740 m) at 40° for the latter version.

Secondary: 3-5 QF 6-pdr Hotchkiss

This “classic among classic” was developed in 1883 by Hotchkiss et Cie and a licenced was acquired by Elswick in Britain for mass manufacturing. It became the go-to light QF gun, still very much in favor by the 1890s. Weighting around 821–849 lb (372–385 kg) and shielded, the three guns were located forward for the first pair, abreast the main 12-pdr behind bulwark (but they were wet also) and the third was located on an axial platform aft, close to the stern.
Later in the early 1900s the side TTs were removed and replaced by two more, also shielded, placed on sponsoned platforms for a better arc of fire forward and aft.
Together with the 3-in gun (12 pdr) they could send 140 rounds every minute at the infortunate TB that could cross their path.
57x307R 57-millimetre (2.244 in), Vertical sliding-block breech, 4 inch hydro-spring recoil
Rate of fire 25/minute at 1,818 feet per second (554 m/s), range 4,000 yards (3,700 m)

Torpedo Tubes

The Type used was likely the 18-inches Whitehead (45 cm) type, developed in 1888, and introduced as the 26-27 knotters were completed in 1894:
They weighted 845 lbs. (383 kg) for 140 in (3.556 m) in lenght, with an explosive charge of 118 lbs. (53.5 kg) using wet gun-cotton, single setting, 800 yards (730 m) at 26.5 knots (which was actually slower than the destroyer’s top speed!). It was driven by a three cylinder radial Brotherhood pattern engine, fed by an Air-flask (cold running) of compressed air.
No upgrade as they were ultimately all retired. Outside the bow tube, the two other ones were axial, located aft, often before the aftermost funnel and close to the aft steering post and before the stern gun. Six torpedoes were carried, the three already in the tubes, and three spares.

Evaluation & Succession

As the 26-knotters were built, the naval programme of 1893-94 saw further orders of a type defined also about the specified top speed of the time. More yards took part in it, namely in addition of the former, Doxford, Pamler, Earle, White, Donald & Wilson, Fairfield, Hawthorn Leslie, J&G Thomson, NCO, Armstrong, and Thames Iron Works. At 280 tonnes on average and without forecastle but a turtleback, they were just glorified torpedo boats. It would take the 30 and 33 knotters and prototype turbines destroyers for the concept to mature into the River class in 1903. For the ucoming months, this will a serie of articles looking at the early history of British destroyers leading up to the Great War. Apart nine exceptions, these 36 ships were discarded before the war.

Havock class (Yarrow)

HMS Havock was laid down at Yarrow, Poplar on 7.1892, launched 12.8.1893 and comp. 1.1894. She became a despatch vessel in 1905.
HMS Hornet was laid down on 7.1892, launched 23.12.1893, comp. 7.1894 she also was reclassified as despatch vessel in 1905.

Havock “behaved well” on trials (late 1893) and she demonstrated better fuel efficiency than Hornet. By 1896 Havock was in reserve at Portsmouth and reboilered in 1899–1900. Her career was spent entirely around the British Isles under Lieutenant H. C. J. R. West from March 1902, and she served with the Medway Instructional Flotilla. By May 1902 her crew was transferred to the destroyer HMS Haughty and by 8 May she became a tender to Wildfire (shore establishment at Sheerness) but took part in 16 August 1902 Coronation Review for King Edward VII.

HMS Hornet in sea trials, 1893.
As for HMS Hornet her trials was generally successful but a slight vibration noted. She steering well and could reach an average top speed of 27.6 knots over three-hour. Like her sister she spent her career in Home waters, with a short assignation in the Mediterranean in 1900.
Her bow structure was strengthened in 1901 and the bow torpedo tube was removed for three reasons (this was done for all other 26-knotters):
The bow TT was found to be of little use
-It adversely affected seakeeping, restricted space forward
-The torpedo was actually slower than the ship, leading to the fear she could could over-run it at full speed.
In February 1902 she replaced HLS Zebra as tender to Wildfire, for the Sheerness Gunnery School. She also took part in the Coronation Review on 16 August 1902.

Displacement: 240t standard, 275t FL
Dimensions: 56.4m oa (54.9m pp), 5.67 x 2.21m
Powerplant: 2 shafts 4-cyl VTE, 2 locomotive fire-tube boilers (Hornet 2x 4-cyl VTE, 8 Yarrow water-tube boilers)
Performances: 3,700hp (Hornet) 3,500hp (Havock) 47t Fuel for Endurance 1,195 nm/11kts
Armament: 1x 76mm/40 12pdr 12cwt QF Mk I, 3 x 1 – 57/40 6pdr Hotchkiss Mk I, 1 – 450 TT (bow aw), 2 x 1 – 450 TT (6 at all)
Complement 46

Daring class (Thornycroft)

The first 5 destroyers were 26-knotters with an armament of 3-450mm TT (one fixed bow tube, two single deck tubes), and three QF guns. This was the armament carried, but provision was made for landing the two deck tubes and replacing them by an extra tow more 6-pdr if they were to be used entirely for anti-torpedo boat work. All these destroyers had twin shafts and triple expansion engines, though the Thornycroft boats had a special four cylinder triple expansion design.

Rather more strongly built than the Yarrow vessels, these two were also faster, though they took longer to build. Daring made nearly 28.2kts with 4644ihp on the measured mile. Like most subsequent Thornycroft destroyers they had two funnels (so that they would resemble torpedo boats) and flat sterns.
Both were built at Thornycroft, Chiswick.
HMS Daring was laid down on 7.1892, launched 25.11.1893, completed, 2.1895. She became a despatch vessel in 1905.
HMS Decoy was laid down on 7.1892, launched 2.2.1894 and completed, 6.1895, but was lost in collision on 13 August 1904

HMS Daring have served in home waters in 1895-1912. Commissioned at Portsmouth on 23 February 1900 as tender at the HMS Excellent gunnery school (Whale Island). By early June 1901 she suffered a boiler explosion at anchor (one death, 6 injured). The inquiry showed tubes blown out of the lower drum, puncturing and flooding. She was in the Fleet reserve and joined the instructional flotilla under Lt. A. S. Susmann from August. She was tender to gunnery school HMS Cambridge, Plymouth and by September was part of a squadron visiting Nauplia, Souda Bay, Crete. On 26 October 1907 she suffered a minor collision with HMS Starfish at Devonport.

HMS Decoy took part in the 1896 British Naval Manoeuvres, Channel Fleet. She became an instructional tender to gunnery school Cambridge by August 1901. Lt. Cyril Asser was in command the next year, when part of the Devonport instructional flotilla, and later H. Ralph Heathcote in July, then J. I. Hammond on 8 August 1902. She took par tin the fleet review at Spithead on 16 August 1902, returned as instructional tender to Cambridge and then to HMS Ostrich and back to the instructional flotilla.
He loss in collision with HMS Arun off the Scilly Islands on 13 August 1904 happened during night exercises, with one killed. The 40-strong crew were rescued by Arun and Sturgeon. Two Courts martial were assembled aboard HMS Conqueror, blaming Arun’s commander Reginald Tyrwhitt followed by an appeal dismissing charge of neglect.

Displacement: 260t standard, 288t fully loaded
Dimensions: 56.4m oa, 5.79m width, 2.13m
Powerplant: 2 shafts 4-cyl VCE, 3 Thornycroft boilers 4200 hp, 27 knots, coal 45 tons, 865nm/11 kts
Armament: 1x 76mm/40 12pdr 12cwt QF Mk I, 3x 57mm/40 6pdr Hotchkiss Mk I, 1x 450 TT (bow aw), 2x 450mm TT (6 at all)
Complement: 48

Ferret class (Laird)

Whilst not specializing in building torpedo boats, Laird had already had some success in building torpedo vessels and were a logical choice to follow Thornycroft and Yarrow in laying down destroyers. They produced a four funnelled design with French-designed (Normand) boilers.
In 1900, both lost a 450mm TT and in 1902 for Lynx and in 1906 for Ferret their remaining tubes. They had instead two 57mm/40 6pdr Hotchkiss Mk I installed/

HMS Ferret was started 7.1893, launched 9.12.1893 and completed 3.1895, she was used as a test vessel 12.1908.
HMS Lynx was laid down on 7.1893, launched 24.1.1894, comp. 8.1895.

HMS Ferret served in the Devonport instructional flotilla, and by 1900 transferred to HMS Cambridge (gunnery ship) off Plymouth. She had boilers repaired in the Spring of 1902 and became tender to HMS Defiance at Devonport. She took part in the Coronation Review.
In 1907 Ferret was surveyed and found to be worn out, in December 1908 she was used in experiments, charging boom defences before being dismantled at Chatham in 1910. In 1911 she was sunk as a target.

On 26 December 1894, HMS Lynx ran aground off the coast of Cornwall. Damage was repaired in drydock and in July 1896, she took part in the Royal Navy’s annual manoeuvres. By June 1897 she was present at the Spithead Jubilee Fleet Review and on 30 September 1897, she ran aground in thick fog off Dodman Point, Cornwall. Refloated, she ws repaired in Devonport. There was a court martial, but her commanding officer was acquitted as she followed HMS Thrasher in her manoeuver that day.
Lynx served with the Devonport instructional flotilla. By February 1900 she became tender for HMS Defiance torpedo school, Devonport. In 1902 she was in the Channel Squadron and had new boiler tubes by May, by August, she took part in the Coronation Review.
However by February 1908 an inspection revealed that her deck plating and bulkheads were severely rusted. She was mothballed, but only sold for scrap on 10 April 1912.

Displacement: 300t standard, 350t fully loaded
Dimensions: 60.1m oa (59.4m pp) x 6.04 x 2.74m
Powerplant: 2 shafts 3-cyl VTE, 4 Normand boilers, 4,475 shp, 27.2 kts, coal 58t, 1,155nm/11 kts
Armament: 1x 76mm/40 12pdr 12cwt QF Mk I, 3x 57mm/40 6pdr Hotchkiss Mk I, 1x 450 TT (bow aw), 2x 450mm TT
Complement: 46

Active service


The first six 26-knotters had an armament of three 450 mm TT or 18 inches torpedo tubes, between the fixed bow tube and two single deck tubes, plus a generous QF armament. But provision was made for landing the two deck tubes, replacing them by an extra 6-pdr (57mm) if used entirely for anti-torpedo boat work. It was done eventually, and they served all their career with an all-gun armament, better justifying their existence.

All these also had twin shafts, triple expansion engines, albeit only the Thornycroft boats had the special four cylinder triple expansion design that really innovated the type. HMS Havock was the also the only destroyer fitted with locomotive boilers, a well-tried installation, and she could therefore be completed before the others, becoming in effect the very first, British destroyer. She had only two funnels very close together. Upon insistence of Fisher her sister, HMS Hornet, also from Yarrow, tested for her part the water-tube boilers her craved for. She had four of them. During sea trials, all these boats reached and then went ahead of their intended admiralty speed of 26 knots. When the boilers were pushed harded and half-loaded, they all went above 27 knots.

In 1900 HMS Havock however was re-boilered with three Yarrow water-tube boilers (3800hp, 26kts) instead of four as on her sister. And she had one 450mm TT removed. Like the others, she had no spare torpedoes. In 1905, the same ship had her two remaining 450mm TT removed and in place were installed two single 6-pdr (57mm)/40 Hotchkiss Mk I. This was done on Hornet also.
in 1900, both Decoy and Daring had one 450mm TT removed and in 1905 HMS Daring like her sister lost her two remaining torpedo tubes and had two 6-pdr Hotchkiss Mk I installed at their place.


Decoy sank after collision with destroyer HMS Arun on 13 august 1904 off Wolf Rock. She was never recovered and stricken afterwards, the only loss of the 26-knotter class.
In 1907, Ferret was surveyed and found to be worn out. By December 1908 she was used for experiments, notaboy to charg boom defences to see if that kind of attack was practicable. She was eventually dismantled at Chatham in 1910 and the next year sunk as a target. HMS Lynx was also used for tests since 1902.

All in all:
Daring was sold for breaking up 10 April 1912.
Havock was sold for breaking up 14 May 1912.
Hornet was sold for breaking up 12 October 1909.
Ferret was dismantled in 1910, sunk as target by 1911.
Lynx was sold for breaking up 10 April 1912.
None was ever reclassified as “A class” therefore but in later publications and today’s naval literrature, making a distinguo between them and the 27 knotters.

General Assessment

A detailed cutaway of HMS Hornet, reddit.

Some 42 vessels constituted the “A” class, in two broadly similar orders, the 26 and the 27 knottes. They were constructed to individual own builder designs to meet Admiralty specifications, specifying a top speed of 26 and later (1893) 27 knots (50 km/h). The initial six shipe were differentiated by a slightly lower speed and differed in that to the following thirty-six vessels. Akk the surviving ships (none of the 26-knotters) were reclassified by the Admiralty for simplification as the “A class” in 1913, making a difference with the following named destroyers. Only a small numbers of the “27-knotters” were still active in 1914. They all greatly varied in funnels numbers, size and peculiarities, but all had the same “turtleback” forecastle, and were generally seen as very “wet” at their conning tower and command post.

They were also the first named “destroyers” short for “torpedo boat destroyers”, and in 1892, placed Britain at the forefront of this design. But it was not its invention as Spanish Vilaamil initiated the concept as a test in 1886 already and waters were already tried, not strickly speaking as such, with larger TBs than usual, wether they were called “high seas” or “division” boats. It’s really Britain that strictly speaking introduced the proper destroyer type, with a relatively large order to boot, denoting its will to make them operational (likely against France, later against Germany).

The 26 knotters were not very successful. Due to the fact little attention was paid on seaworhtiness, to the expense on speed, which was the main criteria, these boats were a bit too small to operate on all weather, albeite their speed, range and numerous QF guns made them ideal for their role. Neither were the following 30 and 33 knots. It’s really with the latter “special” types fitted for the first time with turbines, and next, the addition of a proper forecastle on the river class, that destroyers reached maturity, a few years before WWI broke out.
The Havock class not only was well observed round the world (The Spaniards ordered very similar ships with the Audaz class), but the design was copied outright faithfully by the Russian Imperial Navy which derived the Sokol-class destroyers from it, the very first Russian Destroyers. The British style also influenced the design in some ways of the Japanese Ikazuchi class, notably the armament.
The Havock class was also built by Yarrow for Argentina as the Corrientes class, launched 1896-97 (Corrientes, Misiones, Entre Ríos, Santa Fe).
Unlike their British counterparts, they served until 1930 but ARA Santa Fe, sunk in Uruguay by 1897.

Read More

Another view of the HMS Hornet Model (CC)


Chesneau, Roger & Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds. (1979) J.Gardiner Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1870-1905.
Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: Complete Record. Chatham Publishing.
Friedman, Norman (2009). British Destroyers. Barnsley, Seaforth Publishing.
Lyon, David (2001) [1996]. The First Destroyers. London: Caxton Editions.
Manning, T. D. (1961). The British Destroyer. Putnam & Co.
March, Edgar J. (1966). British Destroyers: A History of Development, 1892–1953. London: Seeley Service.
Brown, D. K. (2003). Warrior to Dreadnought: Warship Development 1860–1905. London: Caxton Editions.
Burt, R. A. (1986). Warships Illustrated No 7: British Destroyers in World War One. Arms & Armour Press.


Early start
navypedia.org/ havock
navypedia.org daring
navypedia.org ferret
List on navypedia
battleships-cruisers.co.uk: hms hornet
Model of the Havock on Bonhams, looking like the canvas beige for superstructures was replaced by blue green
A detailed rendition, 2D illustration

Model Kits

Kombrig’s 1:700 Havock in 1894, 78 mm long model.
There is also the HMS Hornet, same coll.
In fact Kombrig covered most WWI and 1890s classes of British destroyers in resin.

Sverige class (1915)

Sverige class coastal battleships (1915)

Swedish Navy 1912-70
HSwMS Sverige, Drottning Victoria, Gustav V

Sweden’s last Pansarkepp

Sweden’s very last coastal battleships is a saga out of itself. Largest ships ever built in Sweden before even the Great War broke out, completed after many delays in 1917, 21 and 22, they became the flagships of the coastal defence until faster, more modern cruisers (The Tre Kronor class) were chosen for the task of leading the three resident naval forces of the country. Largely funded by popular support, these three vessel looked superficially like regular-pre-dreadnoughts, but were every bit tailored for the need of Svenska Marinen.
By size and tonnage they dwarved everything built before, notably 1906 Oskar II. They would have a very long career, as customary in the Swedish Navy, being rebuilt and modernized to face WW2 and a large part of the Cold War, although completely obsolete by that time and relegated since a long time to secondary duties.

Design Development

Rendition of the future Sverige in 1912 during the fundraising campaign, now at the Sjöhistoriska museet

Sweden witnessed the naval arms race after dissolving the union with Norway in 1905, tensions rose again with the Russian Empire, Germany, and Norway and by 1911, their ships were cruising around in the North Sea. In these circumstances, the Swedish Government only avalized the construction of Oscar II, a typical pre-dreadnought but with 8-inch guns for 17.8 knots and she was found totally inadequate, especially after the launch of HMD Dreadnought, likely to be followed by other nations.
The admiralty pushed fir a new class with extra seaworthiness, better armament, better protection and extra speed, and with the latest technologies, notably in fire control. In 1911, with the dreadnought race ongoing, the parliament voted at a small majority funds for the “F-boat” program the last of all proposals prepared and examined, A, B, C, D, D1, D2, E, E1, E2 and F, ranging from 4,800 to 7,500 metric tons and with various armaments and speed to match.

The Sverige-class coastal battleships were the largest ships ever to serve in the Swedish Navy at that point. Their design was totally new and inspired by other nations’ own dreadnought designs. Their armament was head and shoulders above the previous Oscar II (see below) with four 283 mm (11 in)/45 cal.
Bofors guns in twin turrets (rather than two 210 mm in single turrets) and eight 152 mm (6 in) Bofors guns a single superfiring twin turret and six single broadside made her battery. Just one on three of the Pansarkepp was ready on time to serve at the end of WW1 but all three formed the backbone of the Swedish Navy during WW2, next interwar constructions revolving around cruisers, destroyers, and submersibles.

Enhanced swerige-class coastal battleship project, before the post-war ban of new constructions: She would have been armed with six 305 mm in twin turrets and six single 105 mm guns.

The Sverige-class was a new take on the coastal Defence ship, with an heavier armament, better speed, and armor. But still, the hull was tailored not for high seas but for local archipelagos and shallow waters. Their tactical doctrine and operations were also new. Indeed they formed the core of an open-sea battle group (which should have originally comprised four and not three ships), and were meant to operate with cruisers, destroyers, torpedo boats, but also air reconnaissance. This small battle group was to operate as a defensive force only.


Painting at the Sjohistoriska museet
“Sverige” (“Sweden”) was initially decided in 1911 to start the type F, submitted by the Admiralty, approved by the parliament. She was properly funded and voted. However, there was a change of government the next year. The new liberal majority prime minister Karl Staaff decided against new military spendings and against this ship. Thus, the project was postponed until an exhaustive analysis took place, before motivating any further decision.
However soon, a national move (parlty helped by a critical press and fuelled by international nationalism) a campaign was quickly setup to raise more money. In total, over 15 million crowns were gathered, and this helped the ship to be voted in 1911 (under a price bill of 12 million). This law was called the “Pansarbåtinsamlingen”. Breween the press, popular optinion, the parliament and funding, the government was cornered to authorize construction. The ship was also called called “the people’s gift to the country”.

The two next were voted in 1914 by the same government, now with a war to motivate it. These were called HMS Drottning Victoria and Gustav V. Both were laid down in 1915 due to material shortages, launched in September 1917 and January 1918 respectively. The war ended before any could be operational, but fortunately the country never left its neutrality stance. Both last vessels were completed in 1921 and 1922, modified with the experience from Sverige and modified in the interwar during completion.

Design of the Sverige class

Brassey’s Naval annual armour scheme of the class, 1923

Hull and general design

The hull was 120 meters long (390 ft) for a 6,852 tons standard displacement which rose to 7,516 tons fully loaded for HSwMS Sverige, of another level also compared to Oscar II. Probably in 1914 they were the meanest coastal ship in any navy of the time, worthy of a “pocket dreadnought”. Other sources gives 6,961 tonnes tons standard, 7,758 tons deep load for Sverige initially.
With reconstruction and additions in WW2 they rose to 7,239 tonnes standard, 7,755 tonnes full load.
As for dimensions, her two sister ships were slightly different, at 121.6 m (399 ft) long, but the rest was the same at 18.6 m (61 ft) in beam and 6.2 m (20 ft) in draught but 6.3 m (21 ft) for Sverige.

Armour protection layout

Armor scheme included the following:
-200 mm (7.9 in) thick belt, central section tapered down to 100 mm (3.9 in) and 60 mm (2.4 in) both ends
-Upper belt 100 mm (3.9 in) behind fore barbette and aft barbettes.
-Main turret 200 mm (7.9 in) front, 100 mm (3.9 in) sides, 50 mm (2.0 in) roof.
-Main Barbettes 150 mm (5.9 in) above the ammo wells,
-Secondary turrets 125 mm (4.9 in), 100 mm (3.9 in) barbettes.
-Forward conning Tower 175 mm (6.9 in)
-Armor decks ranged from 45 to 30 mm (1.8 to 1.2 in).
All in all it was 50 mm more for all figures compared to Oscar II, sufficient to deal against Armoured cruisers of the time, but a bit light to face contemporary battleships.


Engine telegraph on Drotting Victoria
To propel these 7,000 tons monsters, the machinery comprised four shafts coupled to Curtis turbines rated for 20,000 SHP total and 12 Yarrow-type coal-fired boilers. This figure was for the Sverige only. The two others had Westinghouse geared turbines rated for 22,000 SHP and were upgraded in the interwar to oil-fired models. The Westinghouse geared turbines manufactured by Motala Company for Gustaf V and Drottning Victoria, and rated for 22,000 SHP.
As for the range, Sverige carried initially 776 tons of coal, and later was added 100 tonnes of oil and it was 761 tons for the two sister ships (same for oil).


The armament comprised four 283 mm (11 in) 45 cal. Bofors that were equivalent to the German main battleship caliber of the time. The rate of fire was good at 17 sec. between shots but the turrets were rather cramped because of the partition between guns inside both turrets. The eight 6-in/50 caliber QF guns in twin and single turrets were rather a modern arrangement, more than usual broadside barbettes.


The Bofors 28.3 cm/45 (11.1″) Model 1912 were designed from 1912 for the Sverige class, and in service by 1917. Further projects of Pansarkepp were never followed-up in the interwar so they were the last. These guns were of built-up construction, with a hand-operated screw breech-block of the typical ogival type. They had a rather high rate of fire for the time (3-4 rounds per minute) and were considered to be quite accurate, making the ships quite a deterrent indeed for any capital ship.
In the 1930s a new and more aerodynamic “Arrow Nose Shell” was developed for increased range and compensate for the apparition of new, larger guns, notably in Germany the Schanrhorst’s 28 cm SK C/34 naval guns which had a 40,930 m (44,760 yd) at 40° elevation.
One of these guns (from Drottning Victoria) was preserved, now at the Karlskrona Naval Base.
They weighted 43.4 tons (44.1 mt) for a barrel lenght of 501.4 in (12.735 m), bore alone 484.1 in (12.295 m) and rifling of 414.0 in (10.515 m), 80 grooves.
They fired a Bagged type projectiles, 672.4 lbs. (305 kg) AP shells with a 220.5 lbs. (100 kg) charge.

Muzzle Velocity was 2,854 fps (870 mps), enabling a range of 21,435 yards (19,600 m)/18° later ported with the 672.4 lbs. (305 kg) Arrow Nose shell to 31,700 yards (29,000 m) at 25°, after gun cradle modifications. The penetration at 6,560 yards (6,000 m) was 350 mm of hardened KC steel at 0° (13.77 in) and at 19,690 yards (18,000 m) 155 mm (6 in) down to 87 mm (3.4 in) on a horizontal armor. The 350 tonnes turret elevated initially to 18°, later to 25, at 5° per second and traversed at 4°. Gun axes were about 83 in (210 cm) apart to avoid interference.


These eight 152 mm (6 in)/50 cal. guns were placed in a single twin turret forward, superfiring above the main 11-in forward turret, and six single mounts in single turrets, not unlike the British 1906 Lord Nelson class pre-dreadnoughts.
These 15.2 cm/50 (6″) Model 1912 were unique to the Sverige class. They were rather similar to the earlier Model 1903, used a hand-operated screw breech-block (ogival type).
In short, these 7.63 tons guns had a bore lenght of circa 300 in (7.620 m) and fired like the main guns at 3-4 rounds per minute.
They used a bagged AP 101 lbs. (46 kg) shell at 2,789 fps (850 mps) up to 15,000 yards (13,716 m) at 30° elevation.
Some ended after WW2 as land artillery, notably at the top secret “Kalix line” (northern Sweden), near Vuollerim in service until the 1990s amazingly. The fort was turned into a museum.


In addition, four 75 mm (3 in) Bofors AA cannons were mounted forward of the rear turret. No infos on these, even on the excellent navweaps.com.
There were also two anti-ship QF 57 mm (2.2 in) short-barreled Bofors and nine 6.5 mm (0.26 in) Machine-Guns
As customary for the time, the armament was rounded to two 457 mm (18 in) torpedo tubes.

⚙ specifications

Displacement 6850 tonnes, 7700 tonnes FL
Dimensions 120/122 x 18.6 x 6.25 m (390/399 x 61 x 20 feets)
Propulsion 4 shafts, Kockums-Curtis Turbines, 12 Yarrow boilers, 20,000 shp
Speed 22.5 knots as designed
Range 2,720 nm at 14 knots
Armament 4 x283, 8 (1×2, 6×1)x 152, 2x 75, 2x 57, 2x 6.5mm MG, 2x 450mm TTs
Protection Belt 200, Barbettes 150, turrets 200, sec turrets 125, decks 45-30 mm, CT 175mm
Crew 427

Reconstructions and modernizations

Sverige in 1929, before her major reconstruction
During WW2 this doctrine was still active and indeed they offered a smaller target to submarines, torpedo crafts or dive-bombers and minefields, some authors suggested they were taken in consideration in the decision by the Germans high command in WW2 not to invade Sweden in 1940. In fact, Jane’s 1938 edition classed these ships as battleships due to their use in a coherent battle group.


The 12 Yarrow boilers were later upgraded to oil-fired boilers in the 1930s on Sverige, but not on Gustaf V and Drottning Victoria for strategic reasons. It was decided to keep the ability to burn coal if Swedish oil supply was cut off. Also after reconstruction they started to diverged widely in appearance:
Gustav V had funnels trunked into a single one, upper works well modified.
Sverige had her fore funnel trunked back away from the superstructure (also modified) but kept the second funnel.

Armament Upgrades

-The underwater torpedo tubes were removed and the room was converted into an artillery central, feeding data from modern range meters, coupled with new fire control systems for the heavy, secondary and AA-gunnery
-Small guns and two 6 in guns were removed. Modern Bofors 75mm, 40mm and 20mm AA guns were installed instead.
-Gustav V had her forward superfiring twin 152 mm (6 in) turret removed but a gyro-stabilized AA artillery (4×40 mm bofors) mount placed instead.
-Sverige and Drottning Victoria had their midship single 152 mm (6 in) guns removed, replaced by the same.
-Main 11 in guns range augmented, between the 25° elevation and new shells (as seen above).
-New complement reached 450, making these ships appear even more cramped. They were not popular in WW2, but still the country’s “insurance card” against a menacing Kriegsmarine.

Modernization History

Sverige in 1931, in sea trials, post reconstruction
In 1924-1926 Sverige was given a new tripod mast, new director and fire-control centre and later on Drottning Victoria, same tripod mast and director, fire-control centre and both received paravanes. Gustav V was moderned later, between 1927 and 1930. Same midifications, but with her main mast cut and moved forward, delettion of six original 75mm/49 Bofors guns and addition of two twin 75mm/56 K/60 M28 guns.
In 1931-1937 all three saw radical armametn upgrades. Sverige received machinery and funnel modifications, mast too, new Curtis geared turbines and same armament upgrade as Gustav V.
It was the same for Drottning Victoria but she had 6 Yarrow mixed-burning boilers replaced by two oil-burning Penhöet, with fuel stowage modified to 360ts of coal and 273ts of oil. In additon to the twin 75mm/56 K/60 M28 she also received three single 25mm/55 K/58 M32 AA guns.
Gustaf V completed her prewar modernization last, with 6 Yarrow mixed-burning boilers replaced by two same oil-burning Penhöet (same figures) and same armament upgrade with in addition four single 25mm/55 K/58 M32 AA guns.

Gustav V in WW2

From 1938 and until 1942 they had limited upgrades. Sverige had four oil-burning Penhöet boilers installed, lost two 152mm/49 guns for two twin 40mm/56 K/60 M32, tw twin 25mm/55 K/58 M32 AA guns, and Drottning Victoria followed suite, but with two single 25mm/55 K/58 M32 and then twi more a year later.
In 1942 all three were upgraded again. Sverige had the two twin old 25mm/55 retired and instead a single twin 40mm/56 K/60 M32 installed as well as two twin 20mm/63 K/66 M40 (Licenced Oerlikon).
Drottning Victoria had all her seven 25mm/55 retired for the same, but instead of twio twin, seven 20mm/63 K/66 M40 (they replaced the 25 mm as a one-per-one basis).
Gustaf V had initially two twin and four single (8 total) 25mm/55 and they were all retired for four single 25mm/55, the twin 40mm Bofors and two twin plus four single 20mm/63 K/66 M40 AA guns.
In 1943 Drottning Victoria was the first equipped with a Swedish-built radar and after the war Gustaf V was equipped with a British radar. Sverige never received this upgrade.

Operational service
SMG 31738. Pansarbåten “Sverige” 3 maj 1915

The launch of Sverige, on 3 May 1915, by then the largest, heaviest ship ever in Sweden. King Gustaf V and his family but also Prince Wilhelm, Prince Eugen and Prime Minister Hjalmar Hammarskjöld were in attendance. After a short speech, the king pressed a button which released the ship from the stack bed. The launch ended with a concert at Gothenburg’s concert hall, followed by a banquet at the stock exchange. During firring out, the 28 cm guns were too heavy for the existing crane and thus, two special cranes were built for the task in Gothenburg.
Total cost armounted to 13,450,000 crows, (SEK 350 million by 2009 value).

HSwMS Sverige the only ship of her class ready to take part in WW1. After completion in 10.5.1917 in Götaverken, Gothenborg. Sweden remaining neutral in two wars and between, their career was not outstanding, but interesting and quite long nonetheless.


Sverige as completed

On May 10, 1917, the ship received her first crew and when fully equipped, departed with from Gothenburg to Karlskrona Royal Arsenal under command of captain Fredrik Riben, where she was to be docked for preparations and final acceptance sea trials. In Karlskrona it was found that her displacement was 90 tons less than calculated, which was something good for the standards of the time (it was often above). After ammunition and equipment were loaded, the new battleships left for Stockholm and dropped anchor on June 13, there and the following day, officialy commissioned with a grand ceremony.
The next months and in January 1918, she trained in home waters, including gunnery drills at the range, fleet manoeuvers and a short refit.

The Åland Expedition 1918:
As the war raged in Finland, by February 1918, it was requested fro Sverige to moved to the Åland islands, for protection against unrest. On February 13, a first expedition was sent there with the old HMS Thor. As the situation worsened, on the 17th both Sverige and Oscar II were sent to Åland. They sailed on the 18th after mustering crews and supplies, and arrived on the 20th at Arholma, waited into the ice, and were ordered afterwards to head directly towards Eckerö, Åland. Sverige monitored there the situation and helped evacuating civilians, together with the gunboat Svensksund.

The interwar:

Sverige in 1929 and 1931

The spring and summer of 1918, saw the battleship back with the fleet as flagship, performing exercises on the west coast. As the Spanish flu ravaged the country, many ships were de facto out of commission, with quarantined, ill or absent crews. Every day steamboats picked sick sailors ashore and there were normal military funerals. On October 4, 1918, Sverige was in drydock refit at Karlskrona.
She took part in the celebrations of Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf’s marriage to Louise Mountbatten, with her sister HMS Drottning Victoria, escorted by the destroyers Wrangel and Wachtmeister in 1923 in England, joined by the cruiser Fylgia recalled from an overseas expedition, in Sheerness, by 2 July. Queen Victoria later visited Sweden, and assisted to rowing competitions against English ship crews.
In 1924–1925, Sverige was modernized a first time, quite extensively. By that time, her new captain was in 1926–1927 Gunnar Bjurner. The next one was performed in 1931–1933, and by 1936, she had her anti-aircraft artillery strengthened and further modernizations, plus new steam boilers. In 1938, all coal-fired boilers were removed and replaced by new oil-fired ones and this choice was dictated by the poor accuracy results when Drottning Victoria had to cancel an anti-aircraft exercise due to smoke interference, totally obscuring targets.

On March 15, 1939, Sverige returned to Karlskrona shipyard for another efit, with oil tanks installed and extra accomodations for the crew, new ammunition bins for the main and secondary artillery, new pole and boom, 110 cm gyro-stabilized headlights and 40 mm m/36 AA guns mounted.

Second World War
By September the other planned modifications were cancelled. On April 9, 1940, the ship was back in service with the coastal fleet.
She will soon have neutrality bands painted on her hull, like all other Swedish ships at the time. With the occupation of Denmark and Norway and weakening out of Finland, Sweden’s strategic position seemed jeopardized. The defense entire east coast needed to be defended, both against the Soviet Navy and the Kriegsmarine it seemed after the short-lived Germano-Russian pact.
On July 17, 1940, an explosion occurred in one of Gustav V’s boilers, ans since she was the flagship, it was transferred to Sverige, remaining so until the end of the war.
The winter of 1940/1941 was very severe and she was stuck in pack and it was decided to have the crews of all stuck Swedish ships trained to fight as infantry on ice in case of an invasion. Sverige also had her hull entirely sprayed with a lime-based white paint as a winter camouflage, possibly with black and white camouflage nets applied on her superstructure. Her appearance will change again in 1944.

On January 18, 1941, the submarine HMS Svärdfisken accidentally collided with Sverige while underwater and if the former suffered severe damage, towed by the battleships to Stockholm shipyard, the latter only sustained damage to her port inner propeller, shaft and struts. She was also drydocked for repairs. The remainder of 1942, 43 and 1944 so little action. She was moved from place to place depending on the evolving situation, notably receiving her final complex green-base camouflage, with several tones, something interneded for her to blend-in close to any archipelago island. When stationary camouflage netting was added to mask her superstructures.

Sverige in WW2, with neutrality bands, prior to be camouflaged in 1942.

Sverige prow at full speed in 1944, showing her side crown.

On May 7, 1945, the war seemed over in Europe, the fleet’s constant battle readiness was maintained until the 16th, and it was decided to end the night blackouts. The fleet resumed her prepwar exercizes and activities. A refresher was needed, and Sverige took part on June 6, to a shooting competition. This was followed by the entire coastal fleet entering Stockholm. King Gustaf V came aboard Sverige distributed competition’s prizes, and to thank the officers and crews present for their vigilant guard during the war.

End of Career
By August 11, 1947, the now obsolete battleship was scheduled for decommission. Her flag insignia was lowered from her top mast for the last time. After decommission, Sverige was mothballed for a time, until stricken on 30 January 1953. Placed on the disposal list, she was sold in 1958 to a Swedish company and scrapped at Karlskrona. Since 1986, one of cannons is now exhibited at Rävåskullen, Karlskoga, placed there for the city’s 400th anniversary.

Drottning Victoria

In early service, 1920s
“Queen Victoria” was launched at Götaverken on September 15, 1917. Her postwar-interwar service life resembled that of Sverige, with two major reconstructions and modernization, fleet training and ceremonial duties with Sverige.
Fast forward and Drottning Victoria during the winter of 1939–1940 was stuck by severe icing in the Horsfjärden area. Her crew was trained and reconverted as infantry in case of an invasion. In connection with reports of the Kriegsmarine movements ahead of Operation Weserübung, the Commander of the Coastal Fleet wanted Drottning Victoria and a fighter group to moved to open water as a deterrence.
As an amusing anecdote, on board the Drottning Victoria for a period there was the ship’s pet dog Nicke, a shaggy fox terrier who was taken care of by the crew. Nicke is mentioned in several places in the ship’s logs and had a specially made sailor’s suit and its own service book made. It appeared it was mustered on board on 1 January 1940 as a 3rd class seaman (ship number 900) and that he was later appointed corporal and then furrier according from October 31, 1943. Nicke remained on the ship at least until August 1946.

Ceremonial transfer of the body of Queen Victoria of Sweden from Swinemunde to Stockholm aboard “Drottning Victoria” (Bundesarchiv).

Drottning Victoria after 1931

Drottning Victoria was deactivated in 1948-49, stricken, and sold for scrap on March 22, 1957, then Scrapped in 1959 in Karlskrona.

Drottning Victoria prior to deactivation in 1959

HSwMS Gustav V

Gustav V after 1930

HSwMS Gustaf V was built at Kockums Yards, in Malmö. The yard used Sverige’s original drawings and construction work went fast, without a hitch. Shortages of materials due to other priorities during the great war meant it lagged behind especially due to bottlenecks for equipments acquired outside the country. Armor plates notably were ordered from the United States, and arrived basically months out of schedule.
On 31 January 1918, she was launched and baptised by the wife of Crown Prince Gustaf VI Adolf. Due to the large, unprecedented size of the ship there was a legitimate fear it would slip at launch and hit the opposite side of the harbor basin, a short distance manageable by previous vessels, but not this one. To prevent this, heavy chains were attached to arrest her momentum. Also on the opposite side a “buffer” of wooden logs was installed to damp a possible collision. But the launch proved successful, the chains braking her mid-way as planned.

She was fitted out and still delays arose from material shortages compounded by a strong labor shortage in 1917–1920. It was so severe the yard requested to terminate the contract in the mood of disarmament and peace some even asking the removal of their armor and rebuilt Gustaf V and Drottning Victoria as passenger ships. By the winter of 1921/1922 however work resumed eventaually and both ships were completed as intended. Gustaf V started sea trials and showed her new machinery reduction gear worked well. It total her cost has been of 14,220,000 Swedish Krona (44,022,000 USD today). Some criticized her construction concept as being already obsolete and a waste of money. But 1,293,295 crowns were obtained by the Yard to cover increased costs from procurement delays.

Aft view of Gustav V showing her Royal stern Crest, early WW2 as she has neutrality bands but is not camouflaged yet.

The early interwar new relations of Sweden with emergin states like Finland and the Baltic States, was accompanied by the Swedish Government’s goodwill and this led to several official exercises conducted in these countries. On 5 July 1924, Gustaf V and HSwMS Drottning Victoria, four minelayers went for example to Tallinn, and later the entire Swedish Coastal Fleet (36 ships) went to Helsinki. The summer of 1926 saw Gustaf V and Sverige visiting Copenhagen after exercizes in the southern Baltic.
In 1927–1930 Gustaf V her her first modernization.
After the death of Queen Victoria in the spring of 1930, Gustaf V and Drottning Victoria escorted by the destroyers HSwMS Ehrensköld and Nordenskjöld sailed to Swinemünde (9 April) to have the Queen’s remains carried onto HSwMS Drottning Victoria and they returned to Stockholm, the remains being landed and paraded on the royal barge Vasaorden.
On 4 April 1933, Gustaf V ran aground off Malmö but she was towed away on 6 April 1933 and repaired until the end of the year.

She her had second major modernization in 1936–1938 and on 9 March 1939, took part in a large air defense exercise out in Karlskrona. One aircraft attempting to land in the dark collided with Gustaf V’s combat mast. The crew was killed and the aicraft destroyed, but damage for the ship was negligible.

By 1939 Gustaf V being the most recent Swedish capital ship, she became flagship of the entire Coastal Fleet. On the night of 17 July 1940 during an exercise however, west of Gotland, she suffered a boiler explosion, which killed eight (the whole boiler room crew) and two on deck near one of the air intakes were badly burned. They were quickl evacuated by a minelayer to Visby Hospital, but one later died. While in Hårsfjärden it was decided by the commanding admiral to make HSwMS Sverige the new flagship, which she remained until the end of the war. Gustav V was repaired in Stockholm for a month and return to service. Nothing much happened during that time. Like Sverige and Drottning Victoria she had received neutrality white bands at the start of the war, and she was camouflaged by 1944.

Gustav V in 1945, showing her newly installed radar.

After the war, Gustaf V took part in a ceremony held in Stockholm, being thanked by King Gustaf V for their “vigilant guard” during the war years. Indeed the crews had been mobilierf on high alert for the duration of WW2, with few rest or leaves, abbreviated refits, and a very high availability time. She returned to Karlskrona to received a new radar facility. HSwMS Sverige was discarded in in 1947 and Gustaf V took her place again as flagship.
It seems she served mostly as training ship for the remainder of the early cold war years, with the specter of a confrontation with the Soviet Batltic Fleet.
Gustaf V was the last Pansrkepp in service in the Swedish Navy -as for any navy- and she was stricken on 1 April 1957. She was mothballed at the Berga Naval Base, south of Stockholm until 1967 however, unlike the others. There, she was used as a mooring point for destroyers. Two her her secondary 6-in guns were removed to be installed into the secret Kalix Line in Norrbotten, placed in Häggmansberget casemate.
In 1970 at last, the very last coastal battleship in the world was sold for BU in Gothenburg. This is rather sad that she was not preserved as a floating museum, but this was still rare in the late 1960s (and costly).

Gustav V towed for scrapping in Gothenburg. She still sported her wartime camouflage, something that became a feature of the Swedish Fleet in the cold war as well.

The same in scrapping

Read More

Rare original color photo, camouflaged in 1944 of Drottning Victoria (small size, cc).


Naval Weapons of World War Two” by John Campbell
Från monitorer till pansarskepp” by Per Insulander and Curt S. Ohlsson
Harris, Daniel G. (1992). “The Svierge Class Coastal Defense Ships”. In Gardiner, Robert (ed.). Warship 1992. NIP
Hore, Peter; Ireland, Bernard (2013). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Battleships & Cruisers. Anness.
Sundberg, Ulf (2018). “The heavily Armoured ShipSverige (1915)”. In Taylor, Bruce (ed.). The World of the Battleship. Seaforth Publishing.
Utredning och Forslag angaende Sjorkrigsmaterielens sammansättning m.m. avgivet jamlikt Kungl. Swedish National Archives


navweaps.com 11-in/45 1912
navweaps.com 6-in/50 m1912
navypedia.org/ sverige class
commons.wikimedia.org Sverige_class cc photos



Model Kits

3D printed modellbauray Sverige class 1:700
On scalemates: Fairy Kikaku 1:700, in addition to modellbauRay. That’s it.

WWI IJN Submersibles

IJN WW1 submarines

IJN – About 85 submarines.
16 different types, and many policy changes: The story of WW1 IJN submersibles

Holland N°1 moving out for a trial in 1908, colorized by the author

A far less well known topic than WW2, the Great War Japanese Submarines is interesting nevertheless to see how Japan started its submarine lineage (“submersible” at that time), logically with the Holland-types and stared quickly its own developments through Mitsubishi, leading to more ambitious oceanic designs in 1919 and the start of a doctrine of long-range warfare as well as the definition of new special types. Indeed, unlike the submarine arms of the western belligerents, IJN submarines saw little action in 1914-18, but observed western developments as well as the battle of the atlantic, which combined with their proper service experience, helped shaping new designs and very important doctrinal changes. #ww1 #IJN #imperialjapanesenavy #submersible #submarine #japanesesubmarine

WWI Imperial Japanese Submarines – A definition

Launch of N°1 Holland Type in the US, for Japan.

The development of IJN submarines was a cautious one. The naval staff, fresh from the alliance with Britain in 1902, saw with interest the testing of the Holland type. Soon the admiralty ordered a few of US-built, British (Vickers) built Hollands but also the French schneider Laubeuf and the Italian Laurenti Types through three naval pogrammes until 1910, in one or two models for each. All these prototypes and the Kawasaki and Mitsubishi built or assembled models brought a lot of practical experience. It’s really from 1919 so after the war with the K types (1917-21) and L types (1919-22) and the final KT types that Japan forged its submersible arm, always “testing waters” of each types produced to only a few boats, at the exception of the K3 type, first largely produced model (10 built) and perhaps the KT type. A doctrinal change in 1922 saw the elmination for good of coastal models and focus on larger ocanic ones. The rest of this history can be seen on the WW2 IJN submarines article.

A symbol of the new direction taken in 1922: The large I-125 in 1925, wolorized by irootko Jr. The practice of building a few submarine of each class was carried on in the interwar, with few exceptions.

The 1902 alliance and following Britain

N°6 Vickers Kaigun Type
Japan was not keen at first to jump in the bandwagon of submersible developments as the west, notably because the general staff was more oriented towards a projection of power rather than commerce raiding or defensive warfare. However through its prewar (1902) alliance with the Royal Navy, the general staff was also aware of such enquiries in Great Britain, looking with interest at the US experimentations of Irish inventor John Holland. This traduced by the construction in secret of the “Holland class”. It’s all happened quickly. By January 1900, Washington DC naval attaché Captain Charles Ottley reported on Holland’s progresses and the interest showed by the US government to purchase one. Since 1898 Britain worryngly saw the advances made in submersibles in France, now a potential adversary again after the Fachoda incident.

Construction of HMS Holland N°1 in Vickers’s “yacht shed”.

Japan on its side had shifted definitely interest from the French Jeune Ecole after the mixed results at Yalu in 1894 and Bertin’s ideas. Its eyes were turned to the RN as a potential supplier and for training, even before the 1902 alliance, a moved against the always tense relations with Russia, notably about the far east. Back in UK, it’s still in 1900 that Sir John A. Fisher pushed the admiralty to see adoption of a first submarine of the Holland type, to be tested. The news of the USN order started it all.

N°9, C1 Vickers Type in 1911

N°12, C2 Vickers Type, 1916

The Admiralty started negotiating with Holland’s Torpedo Boat Co., with Vickers Ltd. intended as trusted local manufacturer, but it’s really the November election which saw the conservative Lord Goschen replaced by more innovation open Earl of Selborne (first sea lord) and young Parliamentary Secretary Hugh Oakley Arnold-Forster, that changed the mood and accelerated the negociations towards a signed contract in December 1900, for a delivery in October 1901.
Construction was made in secret under a “yacht shed”, but the information was nevertheless passed later as the alliance was concluded on 30 January 1902 to the Japanese attaché, which was trusted to keep it. By then, it’s likely the attaché came to see in person the completion of N°1, which started her sea trials by 6 April 1902. Given the fact both the US and Britain went to this new type for experimentation, the IJN naval staff gave the design consideration too.


WWI numeration (1910-1924)

Submarine classes are distinguished by standard letter-number combinations, eg. C3 for Vickers ‘C’ class Model 3; S 1 – S 2 (Schneider-Laubeuf) for 2 models; F 1 – F 2 (Fiat) Laurenti class (under Kawasaki licence); and L 1 – L 4 Vickers ‘L’ class (Mitsubishi licence) as well as Mitsubishi ‘K’ (for Kobe), K 1 – K 4 and KT whuch were Navy medium classes. KD 1 was a large class based on British practice, KD 2 a large submarine based on the German U 139 which was recently obtained a was compensation.

1924 numeration changes

The submarine numbering system was changed (effective from 1 November 1924) to reflect the new priorities. The smallest boats were classified as “Ha-“, the newly coastal ones as “Ro-“, and the largest were numbered in a new I series. Formerly all submarines had been numbered in a single sequence. The numbers were not sequential but were issued in blocks. Thus the J-type cruisers were assigned I-1 through I-4; the minelayers I-20 series, the KD- type cruisers I-50 series and above. That left the numbers through I-50 blank (but minelayers were later renumbered to remove them from the original sequence), and the result is somewhat confusing: The most modern pre-1941 submarines falling into this series. Early boats were renumbered in 1942, the digit 100 being added to their numbers, to remove them from the lower-numbered parts of the series and make it more sense.

Holland type (1905)

N°1 to N°6

So, later in 1902, a Japanese delegation came to the US and went to Ford River Yard at Holland Company Design to start negociations to acquire their own type of Holland boats. However the same mission wanted still to compare designs, perfectly aware of the advances made in alternative submersibles designs in France and also in UK for a possible licence construction of the British Holland type. Again, like in Britain, utter secrecy was the rule.

Called the “HOLLAND” type submarines these very first Japanese types were ordered from the Fore River Co, Holland company design in 1902 but this was confirmed only after the Japanese naval mission visited Britain and France ending with the United States. They were sent by rail in knocked-down condition to Seattle, North Pacific coast (close to Vancouver) in crates, and from there by ships to Yokosuka, arriving on 12 December 1904. Assembly was delayed and so they were only launched only in March and May 1905, with the first being ready only by June 1905, three years after the British and US Boats. But they also differ from other Holland boats by their greater hull strength reinforced by a broad strip of bronze plating. They also had two bilge keels for better stability, of 24.5ft x 9.5in size (), and a hull further stiffened to resist greater pressure, at a maximum diving depth of 125ft ( meters). Like the British boats, they served their purposes, training a first generation of Japanese submariners and testing initial tactics, and operations. But they were also all stricken much later than the British/US boats: In 1921. No 4 was the only one sunk, at Kure by petrol explosion on 14 November 1916. She was raised and repaired however.
The class comprised the following: No 1 (launched 20.3.05, completed 1.8.05), No 2 (2.5.05, 5.9.05), No 3 16.5.05, 5.9.05), No 4 (27.5.05, 1.10.05), No 5 (13.5.05, 1.10.05).

⚙ specifications

Displacement 103t/124t
Dimensions 67ft oa, 60ft pp x 11ft 11in × 10ft 3in (20.4m/18.3m x 3.6m x 3.1m)
Propulsion 1 shaft 4-cyl gasoline engine plus electric motor, 180bhp/70hp
Speed/Range 8kts/7kts. Oil 2t. for 184nm/21nm at 8kts/7kts
Max depht 125 ft ()
Armament 1-18in (457mm) TT (2 torpedoes)
Crew 13

Kaigun-Holland type (1906)

N°6 boat, the lead one of the Kaigun-Holland serie.
These were a landmark, as the first Japanese-built submarines ever. Unlike the first Holland types built in the US based on Japanese specifications, these ones were based on the negociated licence entrusted to Kawasaki Yard in Kobe (hence the “K” in later nomenclature). As they were experimental, only two boats were made, Numbered N°6 and 7.
They were known as the “Kaigun-Holland”, meaning in some way “admiralty-Holland” type, and still heavily borrowing on the Holland design, as the team at Kawaki worked with a detached design team from the US, so directly under Holland supervision.
Alrhough longer, they were much slimmer and thus displaced less, at just 57/63 tonnes versus 103/124 tonnes, almost 50%.
Despite of this, the Japanese wanted to improved the performances in overall speed (which the narrower hull helped greatly), more power, and an even stronger hull for greater dives.
They had for example a 300 hp gasoline engine instead of the weak 180 hp Otto of the first boats (but half the electrical power), while displacing 50% less and having a better profile.

However, they diverged between themselves, N°7 displacing more at 78t/95t submerged, for 84-ft 3-in overall and larger at 7ft 11-in (25.7 x 2.4 x 2.3 m). They always had been considered as prototypes to test materials and tactical ideas and thus never were fully operational. They had a single torpedo with no reloads.
For once, surfaced speed was way better than any Holland boat at the time, in line with the 1906 new doctrine of arriving on the area surfaced and submerge for attack.
They were launched both the same day on 28 Sept. 1905 and respectively completed on 30 03 1906 the same according to Conways.
N°6 sank under 10 fathoms on 15 April 1910 after the ventilator valve failed and flooded the boat while testing in Hiroshima Bay, off Kure. Lt. Sakura and all his crew of 16 disappeared. She was raised the next day, but not repaired and kept as a monument to honor Japanese pioneering submariners, still visible today at Kure. She was stricken in 1920.

⚙ specifications N°6

Displacement 57t/63t
Dimensions 73ft 10in oa x 7ft × 6ft 8in (22.5m x 2.1m x 2m)
Propulsion 1 shaft 4-cyl gasoline engine plus electric motor, 300bhp/22hp
Speed/Range 8kts/7kts. Oil 2t. for 184nm/21nm at 8kts/7kts
Max depht 125 ft ()
Armament 1-18in (457mm) TT (2 torpedoes)
Crew 13

Vickers “C” type (1909-16)

C1, 2 boats 1909, C2 3 boats 1911, C3, 2 boats 1916

The first of three classes of “Vickers Boats”. These first two experimental boats were based on the mature British “C” class design. They were ordered under the 1904 programme, in 1907 to Vickers Barrow. The Yard completed a specially designed ships to carry them in sercret to Japan. Thrice larger than previous Hollan & Holland-Kaigun boats they were 321 tonnes submerged, and for the first time fitted with a defensive machine-gun. They served for evaluation of overseas operations but failed to reach the demands of the Admiralty on long range. The latter soon turned to Schneider Laubeuf designs and to test also the Italian Fiat-Laurenti double hulled models.
Specifications below are given for all three C types, since they shared the same caracteristics essentially, with some differences as seen in the table below (starred).

Ha-3, ex N.10, Vickers C2 Type

Ha-7, ex. N°16, C3 Type

The two C1 sported their new name Ha-1 and 2 only for four years as they were discarded in 1928.
The C2 were a slightly modified version ordered after the 1910 programme and delivered in section for assembly to Kure, and also dieactivated in 1928.
The C3 were seentially “repeat C1” and were considered obsolete when ordered under the 1915 programme, and entirely built at Kure. Both were stricken in 1928. All these C types served allegedly in the same unit (7 boats in all) without accident to test oceanic tactics. It seems they never operationally left Japanese waters.

C3 Type profile

⚙ specifications C1 Type

Displacement 286t/321t (*C2 291t/326t)
Dimensions 142ft 3in oa x 13ft 7in × 11ft 3in (43.3m x 4.1m x 3.4m)
Propulsion 1 shaft 16-cyl Vickers Diesel, electric motor,600bhp/300hp
Speed/Range 12kts/8.5kts. Oil 15t(*15.5t C2) for 660nm/60nm at 12kts/4kts
Max depht 130 ft (est.)
Armament 2-18in (457mm) TT (2 torpedoes), 1 MG
Crew 26

Vickers-Kawasaki Type (1912)

Vickers again, but of the Kawasaki design. The letters meaning “Vickers-Kawasaki”. They were built at the latter yard, based on the early holland type design and under the 1910 programme, but uner supervision by a team from Vickers. This was the “British Holland” design, also for experimental purposes. So only a single boat was made, N°13, renamd Ha 6 in 1924, and BU in 1928. She was launched at Kobe on 18 February 1912 and considered already obsolete, but its goal was to bring design ideas about the British take on the Holland type, already out of favor as in 1918, coastal types were completely abandoned and there was a deep doctrinal change. She was used for training and trials all the way to when she was stricken in home waters.

VK class, N°13 in 1920

⚙ specifications VK

Displacement 304t/340t
Dimensions 126ft 9in oa x 12ft 7in × 10ft (38.6m x 3.8m x 3.1m)
Propulsion 1 shaft 16-cyl Gas.+ electric motor, 1000bhp/300hp
Speed/Range 10.8kts/8kts. Oil 17.8t
Max depth Unknown
Armament 2-18in (457mm) TT (2 torpedoes)
Crew 26

Schneider Types S1/S2 (1916-18)

With this lot, three experimental submersibles, Japan wanted to test the alternative French design, or Schneider-Laubeuf given its reputation of great surface performances, speed and range.
In fact these were the first very long range models ordered by the IJN and they were ordered to Schneider Creusot plant in December 1911, under the 1912 programme. Doubled hulles, they had a far greater oil capacity, but delays saw these started in 1911 and 1915 and requisitions came when the great war broke out: N°14 started in July 1915 became the French Armide when launched in june 1916. N°15, started earlier in March 1911 was however delayed and only launched in July 1917, delivered in 1918. She became Ha 10 in 1924 and was stricken four years aferwards.
To compensate for the absence of delivery for N°14 a second one was ordered in Japan, built in Kure on slightly different specs. It was longer and only had two drop collars whils its Schneider-Carel diesels were imported from France. Specs below are for S1 with S2 starred in brackets. N°14 bis was started in August 1918, launched in March 1920, became Ha 9 in 1924 and was scrapped in December 1928. They were considered slow however and the drop-collar system did not convinced the admiralty.

Profile S1 1919

⚙ specifications S Type

Displacement 418t/665t (*480/737t)
Dimensions 186 x 17 x 10ft 2in (*192 x 17 x 10 ft 8in)
Propulsion 2 shaft diesels Schneider, 2 electric motor, 2000bhp/850hp(*1800bhp)
Speed/Range 10kts/4kts. Oil 32t 2050nm/60nm (*oil 35t, same)
Max depth Unknown
Armament 4-18in (457mm) torpedoes in drop collars, 1x 2-pdr(*2 Torps, 7.7mm MG)
Crew 30

F1/F2 class (1919-21)

The commission also toured Italy in 1911 and always for the 1912 programmed, visited the FIAT design bureau, and was offered a model designed by Laurenti and stated as truly ocean-going. Plans were acquired for a construction in Japan, and thus, the base model F1 was improved, for a final total of five boats. However compared to IJN standard the elliptic hull was considered weaker than round ones and modifications were done to keep the extra resistance of IJN models.

The two F1 and three F2 were virtually identical but for the wider hull for the F1.
The first serie has its scatntlings revised during construction for extra rigidity, and both N°18 and 21 were built at Kawasaki, Kobe between 1919 and 1920, renamed Ro-1 and 2 in 1924 and discarded in 1930. They had an aft deck 3-in/28 gun, and the serie F2 (N°31, 32, 33 made in 1921-22) had a reworked conning tower. They had both a dual-purpose 3-in/28 and 7.7mm MG. Both had four tubes forward, one aft and 8 reloads. The FIAT diesels were judged unsatisfactory and only procured for F1 13 kts instead of 15 and 14 instead of 17 for the F2. They were also considered unreliable and the whole follow-up serie planned for the 1919 porogramme were cancelled and replaced by K and L boats. They would have been named N°48-50, 60 and 61.
The whole F serie was stricken in 1930.

F1, N°21

F2 N°31

⚙ specifications F1/2

Displacement 689t/1047t
Dimensions 215ft 1in oa x 19ft 11in × 13ft 9in (*13ft 3in)
Propulsion 2 shafts Fiat diesels, 2 Savigliano electric motors, 2800bhp/1200hp
Speed/Range 13kts(*14kts)/8kts. Oil 58.4t Range 3500/75 nm 10/4 kts
Max depth Unknown
Armament 5-18in (457mm) TTs (8 torpedoes), 3-in/28 gun
Crew 43

1919-22 Evolution

Submarine No. 25 on sea trials off Awaji Island in the Seto Inland Sea in June 1920. She was renamed Ro-51 on 1 November 1924.
As in the case of destroyers, Japanese submarine policy changed radically towards the end of the war. It appears that attention turned from the area immediately around Japan to the East, amid the former German Pacific islands, an area through which the US Fleet would have had to pass en route to any decisive engage ment closer to Japan. Thus, large numbers of medium submarines were cancelled in 1922 in favour of smaller numbers, of much longer range submarine cruisers of the KD and J types. The coincidence in dates suggests that the change in strategy was due to the numerical inferiority in capital ships which Japan had to accept as part of the Washington Treaty. Submarines, like destroyers armed with 24-in torpedoes, became valuable equalisers.

Thus, it was reported 1921 that future Japanese policy would be to build only two types:
-Very large ocean-going cruisers (some minelayers)
-Smaller ocean boats of up to 1000 tons and moderate speed, (also some of which would be minelayers).
-Construction of 500t coastal boats would be abandoned.
In effect, the definition of coastal vs oceanic types changed. In 1921n the existing ‘K’ and ‘L’ boats were considered good for 5,000 to 6,000nm, which in other navies might be considered ocean range. Now the requirement rose to 10,000 to 20,000 nm, as the expected operational area moved well to the East.

Ro 56 circa 1925

Even before this shift the Japanese Navy emphasised long endurance, which was partly a function of the ability of crews to adapt to cramped conditions. It was reported in 1919 that No 16, a small coastal boat, made a three week cruise, only touching at three ports for a few hours during that period. During World War One, crews of Western ocean submarines found a three week cruise the limit of their endurance. That must have been partly a function of the strain of constant danger in a war zone, but a British observer, Hector Bywater (who published Sea Power in the Pacific in 1921) , concluded that, given two submarines of identical type, tonnage, and fuel capacity, one manned by a Japanese crew and the other by a Western crew, the boat with the Japanese complement could stay at sea 30% longer.

L class (1919-21)

L 1 class submarines

Ro 51 of L 1 type in the 1920s
This Mitsubishi-Vickers type was similar to the early British ‘L’ class of 1916, the standard British ‘overseas’ patrol submarine of its period, and thus the lineal successor to the earlier ‘C’ class. It was a single-hull submarine with saddle tanks, like the earlier ‘C’, and unlike the Schneider type. The Japanese Navy contracted with Vickers late in 1917 , ordering the first unit from Mitsubishi (Kobe) in March 1918. Diesel engines were imported from England or built in Japan. No 26 sank on 29 October 1923 at Kure due to a flooding error but was raised on 17 November. In all, nine were built on slightly diverged specs, two of the first, four of the second and two on the last (L3). Construction: No 25 (10.10.19, 30.6.20, Ro 51 1924, stricken 1940), No 26 (9.3.20, 30.11.20, Ro 4 1924, stricken 1930).

N°25, L1 Type

⚙ specifications L1

Displacement 893t/1195t
Dimensions 231ft 7in oa , 220ft 3in pp x 23ft 6in × 12ft 11in 70.6m (67.1m x 7.2m x 3.9m)
Propulsion 2 shafts 4-cyl Vickers diesels, 2 electric motors, 2400bhp/1600hp
Speed/Range 17/8kts. Oil 75t Range 5500/80 nm
Max depth Unknown
Armament 6-18in (4 bow, 2 beam) TTs (10 torpedoes), 3-in/28 gun, 7.7 mm MG
Crew 48

L 2 class submarines

Ro 54 of L 2 type in the 1920s
They were a slightly modified L type also built by Mitsubishi, Kobe under the the 1918 Programme. The principal difference was omission of the two beam TT and 5t more oil fuel.
Particulars as L 1 class.
construction: No 27 (6.7.20, 10.3.21, Ro 53 1924, stricken 1938), No 28 (13.10.20, 10.9.21, Ro 54 1924, stricken 1939), No 29 (10.2.21, 15.11.21, sunk 29.10.23 in accident off Kobe, raised to be Ro 55 1924, stricken 1939), No 30 (11.5.21, 16.1.22, Ro 56 1924, stricken 1940).

L 3 class submarines

Ro 68 of L 3 Type in 1925
These submarines were similar to the L 2 type but had 21-in TT tubes, and carried their 3.1 in guns atop their fairwaters instead of on deck forward of them. A minelaying version, similar to British mining submarines, with mines carried in tubes in the saddle tanks, was planned in 1921 but not built, as L(M) Type. Oil tankage was later increased to 117t. All 3 still existed in 1941 as training boats. No 46 was used to train midget submarine crews at Shodojima in 1945 and No 57 likewise at the Submarine School, Otake.
Diesign differences specs: Displacement 897t/1195t, dimensions 250ft oa , 242ft 9in x 23ft 6in × 13ft 76.2m , 74m x 7.2m x 4.0m. Machinery same except 98t oil tanks capacity for a range of 7000nm/85nm at 10kts/4kts.
Construction: No 46 (3.12.21, 30.7.22, Ro 57 1924, stricken 1.5.45, BU 1946), No 47 (2.3.22, 25.11.22, Ro 58 1924, stricken 1.5.45, BU 1946), No 57 (28.6.22, 20.3.23, Ro 59 1924, stricken 1.5.45, BU), Nos 48-50 cancelled in 1920 and replaced by minelayers of the KRS type.

K class (1917-21)

16 submarines: K1(2), K2(3), K3(10), K4(3)

K1 class:

Ro 11 of the Kaichu I type in 1919, in sea trials.
The “Kaichū type” were named after the design yard, Kawasaki, Kobe. In all, 16 boats were built in four successive variant, and a single one destined to form the first large operational submarine squadrons in the IJN, the K3. They were based on the S type (Schneider Laubeuf type) aimed at longer range and better surface speed.
Class: No 19 (Kure N Yd, launched 15.10.17, comp. 31.7.19, Ro 11 1924, stricken 1931), No 20 (Kure N Yd, launched 1.12.17, Ro 12 1924, stricken 1931)
This S7 or Kaigun (Navy) medium design, derived from the Schneider Laubeuf type, was the first fully Japanese boat, the various foreign designs having been found deficient in hull strength. Work on this class, specially adapted to Far Eastern rather than to European conditions, began in 1916. The principal difference was that Japanese and Pacific waters were much deeper than the North Sea and the Mediterranean, so that submarines could not expect to lie on the bottom very often. Thus reliable depth control was extremely important.

Moreover, powerful and erratic sub surface currents tend to drive submarines off their course and produce sudden changes of trim, hence involutary dives below operating depth. Thus the emphasis on hull strength. In 1921, it was claimed that the ‘K’ class with their beamy but enormously strong hull, were therefore more capable of resisting depth charge attacks than any other type. These boats were said to have been dived to depths at which European submarines would collapse (so below 220 m) or have survived groundings, collisions and other accidents that would have been fatal to foreign boats. For example, Nos 19 and 20, the first of the Kaigun type rammed one another in the 1919 manoeuvres. Although seriously damaged, both returned to port safely and were repaired. Besides being exceptionally strong in framing and plating, the Kaigun boats were said to have an abnormal amount of internal subdivision and bulkheading. This rendered them very cramped and uncomfortable internally. The Sulzer diesels were Swiss-built. All French submersibles of the interwar and those exported used them as alternative to MAN diesels.

K1 Profile

⚙ specifications K1

Displacement 735t/1030t
Dimensions 227ft oa x 20ft 10in × 11ft 3in (69.2m x 6.4m x 3.4m)
Propulsion 2 shafts Sulzer diesels, 2 electric motors 2600bhp/1200hp
Speed/Range 18kts/9kts, Oil 60t. Range 4000nm/85nm 10/4kts
Max depth Unknown
Armament 6-18in (457mm) TT, 2 drop collars, 10 reloads. 1x 3-in/28 gun
Crew 44

K2 class:

Ro 15 of the Kaichu II type
Kaigun type Type S18 built by Kure (3 boats) on a modified design, same powerplant and lower speed. The bow, fairwater and stern were shaped differently and the latter was overhanging. The class comprised N°22 laid down in March 1919, N°23 in August 1919, N°24 October 1920, launched 1920-21, completed in 1921. Renamed Ro 14, 13 and 11 respectively, stricken 1948, 32 and 1931. Displacement 755/1050 tonnes, 230 x 20 x 12 ft, 17 kts surfaced and 75 tons oil, range 6000 nm/40 kts.

K2 Type, N°22 in 1921

K3 class:

Ro 16 of the Kaichu III in the 1920s
Specs as K2. First serie of 9 built, through three yards.
A slightly improved version of the 1917 K 2 class, but designed by Kure N Yd under the 1918 Programme. Up to this time this was the most numerous single class (9 boats), marking the development of what must have appeared to be a satisfactory design. Nos 38 and 39 were sold to Kanagawa Prefecture in 1932 for 5000 yen each and scuttled to act as breeding grounds for fish. No 43 sank on 19 March 1924 in collision with the light cruiser Tatsuta off Sasebo, was raised on 25 April and used for trials.
A slightly improved under the 1918 Program class (9 boats), marking an overall satisfactory design.
Kure Nyd: N°34 (24.2.21, 20.10.21, R 17 1924, stricken 1.4.1932), No 35 (25.3.21, 15.12.21, Ro 18 1.11.24, stricken 1.4.36), No 36 (28.12.20, 15.3.22, Ro 19 1.11.24, stricken 1.4.36, BU 1948 at Naniwa); No 37 (22.4.21, 29.4.22, Ro 16 1.11.24, stricken 1.4.36)
Yokosuka N Yd: No 38 (26.10.20, 1.2.22, Ro 20 1.11.24, stricken 1.4.32 and sold), No 39 (26.10.20, 1.2.22, Ro 21 1.11.24, stricken 1.4.32 and sold), No 40 (15.10.21, 10.10.22, Ro 22 1.11.24, stricken 1.4.32), No 41 (25.10.21, 28.4.23, Ro 23 1.11.24, stricken 1.4.32)
Sasebo N Yd: No 42 ( 8.12.19 , 30.11.20 , Ro 24 1.11.24 , stricken 1.4.32 ) , No 43 ( 17.7.20 , 25.10.21 , Ro 25 1.11.24 , stricken 1.4.36 and BU )

K4 class (1921):

RO 26 in 1923
The Kaichū IV was also called Ro-26 class (Ro 26, 27 and 28, S18A design) very close to the earlier boats. Compared to K2 they were 4m longer, with K1 propulsion but new 21-in (533 mm) torpedo tubes. Many more were cancelled, N°48-50, 74-83, 85-87 as in 1922 the doctrine changed. The three were built at Sasebo NyD (26, 28) and Yokosuka (27), laid down in 1921, completed in 1923-24, renamed No. 45, 58 and 62. N°58 became Ro-27, in service until 1936 but not scrapped until 1948, and used in harbour duties. The two others, Ro-28 and Ro-27 were discarded in 1940, but scrapped in 1948.
This Design S18A was slightly larger than K3, with 21in rather than 18in TT, and the 3.lin gun forward of the fairwater instead of abaft it. Nos 44 and 51 reordered to new (large) designs. Note that a K5 design (Ro 33-34 of 1933) was not related to this one: It was a mobilisation design for a medium submarine. Ro 26 refitted 1932, Ro 27 and Ro 28 in 1934.
Cancellations (1922): Nos 48-50 were reordered as minelayers (KRS) in May 1923; Nos 53-56, 60-61, 63-67 were cancelled. Of the last group, all but No 67 had been ordered.
In addition, Nos 74-83, 85-87, which would have been of ‘K’ and ‘L’ types, were cancelled. The 8-8 plan envisaged another 28 subinarines (Nos 88-116), but plans were redrafted following the Washington Conference.
Class: No 45 (Sasebo N Yd, 18.10.21, 25.1.23, Ro 26 1.11.24, stricken 1.4.40 and BU 4.48 at Kanagawa), No 58 (Yokosuka N Yd, 22.7.22, 13.7.24, Ro 27 1.11.24, stricken, 1.1.40 and BU 10.47 at Iwakuni), No 62 (Sasebo N Yd, 13.4.22, 30.11.23, Ro 28 1.11.24 and BU 5.48 at Kumagaya Gumi)
Specifications: Displacement 770 t. surface 1080 t. sub., Dimensions 74.20 m long, 6.10 m wide, 3.7 m draft. Machinery 2 shafts MAN Sulzer diesels and electric motors, 2600/1200 bhp.
Top speed 19 knots surface/9 knots submerged, Armament 1 x 3.1 in/28 AA (80 mm), 1 x 7.7 mm MG, 4 TT 533 mm, Crew 45.

KT class (1922)

Ro 29 (ex N°68) in 1930, with a flight of Mitsubishi 2MR4 recce naval airplanes overhead.

These boats were built under the project number S18B for the commerce raiding role. Built at the Kawasaki-Kōbe Shipyard, with the IJN official designation being “Special Purpose-Medium Type submarine” (“Toku-Chū-gata sensuikan”) ordered in June and September 1921.
The Kaichu V sub-class were designed for anti-shipping operations, with more fuel, greater range, heavier gun armament and a deisplacement of 866 tonnes (852 long tons) surfaced, 1,036 tonnes (1,020 long tons) submerged.
For surface running they had two Sulzer diesel engines and in complement powerful electric motor for 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph) surfaced, 8.5 knots (15.7 km/h; 9.8 mph) submerged, 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km; 10,000 mi) but 6,000 announced officially. Submerged, this still was 85 nmi (157 km; 98 mi) at 4 knots.
In total they had four internal bow 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tube with one reload for each tube. Their single 120 mm (4.7 in) deck gun was a serious proposition, and this was completed by the usual 6.5 mm AA machine gun. In WW2 they were retained for training only.

Ro 31 in 1935

No.68 (Ro-29 05-12-1922 15-09-1923, Ro-29 1924. Decommissioned 01-04-1936), No. 69 (18-01-1923, 29-04-1924, Ro-30 1924. Decommissioned 01-04-1942, Scrapped 1945) No.70 (15-02-1923, Lost in an accident off Awaji Island 21-08-1923, salvaged and scrapped October 1923, hull and parts reused for Ro-31), Ro-31 (Order 20-12-1924, launched 25-09-1926, comp. 10-05-1927, Decommissioned 25-05-1945 and scuttled off Sasebo 05-04-1946), No.71, renamed Ro-32 (started 19-03-1923, launched 21-05-1924. Decommissioned 01-04-1942. Scrapped 1945).

N°68, KT classs (Kaishu V) in 1926

⚙ specifications KT

Displacement 866/1,036 tonnes.
Dimensions 243 ft 6 in x 20 ft 1 in x 12 ft 3 in (74.22 x 6.12 x 3.73 m)
Propulsion 2 shafts Sulzer diesels, 2 electric motors 1200bhp/1200hp
Speed/Range 13kts/8.5kts, Range 9000nm/85nm 10/4kts
Max depth 150 ft (45.7m)
Armament 4x 21-in (533mm) TTs, 8 reloads. 1x 5-in gun, 6.5 mm MG AA
Crew 55

Design of WW1 IJN submarines

Hull Types and engines



The very first Holland type, like the original, had no deck gun, this was introduced on the S class, with a single Maxim 2-pdr (40 mm) AA deck gun. It was replaced by a 7.7mm AA MG.
The L class introduced a new dual purpose 3.1-in/28 gun forward complemented by a 7.7mm MG in the CT, but this was for close defence. The K class were also armed the same.
Deck guns as an offensive asset were only seriously considered after WWI, for the last Kaichu V sub-type (KT class).
For the first time they were given a 120 mm (4.7 inches)/45 deck gun forward. These were clearly intended as an offensive complement to the torpedoes.
This became the new standard on interwar IJN submarines.


Experience with torpedoes in the IJN started with Kotaka, first Japanese torpedo boat, British-built in 1887. She had no less than six 360 mm (14 in) torpedo tubes.
Naturally when swapping on a first submersible of the Holland type, US modified design, a US pattern single tube was adopted.
The first model adopted was the standard international 18 inches or 457 mm. Bring British/US designs, they adopted Whitehead Type 32 torpedoes built in Japan at Kure arsenal.
These could have been the 18″ (45 cm) Type 37 (1904), 38 N°1 or 2 and 2B.
Specs (2B): Weight 1,354 lbs. (614 kg), 200 in (5.09 m) long, 209 lbs. (95 kg) Picric Acid or Shimose warhead, 1,100 yards (1,000 m)/40 knots or 4,400 yards (4,000 m)/23 knots settings, powered by
Compressed air.
The first to introduced 21-in torpedoes were the Kaichu IV type (launched 1923): They had four in the bow. The Kaichu V or KT had the same.
These models are better known, applied to all “Ro” type submarines:
Designed in 1917, in service by 1918, they had the following specs:
Weight: 3,157 lbs. (1,432 kg)
Overall Length: 269 in (6.84 m)
Explosive Charge: 448 lbs. (203 kg) Shimose
Settings: 7,650 yds/35 kts or 10,900/32 kts or 16,400/26 kts
They were powered by a Kerosene-air wet-heater.

WW1 IJN submarines in action (Both wars)

WW1 to Interwar

From before WWI as the concept matured, the IJN considered at first small boats for limited oceanic patrols, off Japanese waters, after some service in the Pacific, notably around recently acquired islands, or the coast of China and China and Yellow seas in general. The usual service routine was spent between squadron and fleet exercizes, patrols cut by intermittent dive exercizes, fring tests at the range and on various targets. Due to the commitment of Japan to the side of the entente nations in WWI, it was intended to send some long-range models to the German-held islands, to take position and prevent any escape towards the Indian Ocean or Panama Canal.

War Prizes and influence on IJN design

Japan for her participation in WWI to the side of the entente won territories and experience but also obtained the following:
Mittel-U types: U-55 and U-46 as O1 and O2. They constituted the medium-light WW1 German submarines.
UB types: UB-III class UB-125 and UB-143, precursors of the ww2 type VII U-Boat. Oceanic types, range patrols. They were called O6 and O7.
UE type: Minelayer submarine U-125, in service as O1, later inspiring the KRS class of 1926.
UC III type: UC-90 and 99, in service as O4 and O5 respectively, helping to refine the oceanic type.
U-Kreuzers: No full boats but plans, which inspired KD2 class, starting with the Junsen or J1, modelled after U-142. 1922-23 program subs were designed and built under supervision of engineer Dr. Ing. H Techel, invited in Japan from the Krupp Germania yard and using German MAN diesels.

The KT class in WW2

The KT class (Or Kaichu V type) are the last submersibles treated here, and the only ones that saw action in WW2 due to their late completion: Only four of the 665 tons boats (surfaced), considered as medium coastal, launched in 1922 were completed in 1923-24 and thus missed any action for the first war, but they had extensively well trained crews when Japan attacked China in 1937. Of the Schneider Laubeuf Type, they had good surface performances. The obtention of German U-Boats which followed the same trend (they were initially started with Laubeuf types) confirmed the type was preferred over the older Holland-derivative Vickers/Mitsubishi designs. The “K” stands for Kobe, where they were constructed.

So previousy Called ‘S’ types, N°68 to 71 were later renamed at completion in 1924 as Ro-29 to 32. Only two in the end saw service along the Chinese coast and in the confines of Japanese waters for training: Inded, Ro 29 was discarded already in 1936. The other three served in 1941 as well but Ro 32 became in March 1942 a training hulk as Ro 30 at Otake. It seems only Ro 31 (which sunk on trials in 1924 but was refloated and repaired) saw no more “active service” in WW2, as like the other she was used as a training submarine due to her age: Recommissioned on 9 February 1942 to serve as a training submarine, she was initially attached to the Kure Naval District, then to the Yokosuka Naval District, from 14 July 1942 to 15 January 1943, and Kure Naval District until 15 January 1944. Decommissioned again, she was placed in the Fourth Reserve, Kure Naval District. Stricken on 25 May 1945, it seems she only had a skeleton maintenance crew and she was was the only one to be scuttled in 1946 by the USN after surrendering to the allies. Ro 30 and Ro 32 were stricken and BU after August 1945.

Kaichu Type, a direct successor of the Kai-toku-chu (KT). They were numbered “RO” and built from 1935 to 1944 constructed at four shipyards (K.5 or RO-33 class and K.6 or RO-35 class) as medium double-huller submarines.

Read more


Submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy Hardcover 1986 by Dorr Carpenter, Norman Polmar
Conways all the world’s fighting ships 1906-1921 and 1922-47
The Japanese Submarine Force and World War II (Bluejacket Books) Carl Boyd, Akihiko Yoshida
Osprey New Vanguard IJN Submarines 1941-45 Mark Stille, Tony Bryan
Sunk: The Story of the Japanese Submarine Fleet, 1941-1945
USN Fleet Destroyer Vs IJN Fleet Submarine Pacific 1941–42 by Mark Still & Mochitsura Hashimoto


Type L submarines
thediplomat.com/ imperial-japans-naval-contributions-to-the-first-world-war/
navweaps.com Pre-WWII IJN torps
combinedfleet.com ss. tyeps
on militaryfactory.com ww2-japanese-submarines
on ibiblio.org
combinedfleet.com torpedoes
Type 1 submarines
Type 6 submarines
Ha-1 class submarines
Kaichu type submarine


None found

Model’s corner:

None found

HDMS Niels Juel (1918)

HDMS Niels Juel (1918)

Denmark Coast Defence ship laid down 1914, rebuilt 1918, 1929, 1937, captured 1943

HDMS Niels Juel was a Danish warship built in WWI, named after probably the most famous Danish admiral of the 17th century, winning a battle against Sweden. Initially she was laid down in 1914, and classified as a coastal defense ship, but later as an armoured cruiser, and rearmed as such in 1918. She was modernized in 1929 and 1935-1936. During World War II, HDMS Niels Juel served served with the Danish Navy, neutral but occupied by the Germans. Her fate was settled at the Battle of Isefjord 29 August 1943 by the Luftwaffe. She was beached and captured, re-floated and recommissioned as KMS Nordland, but scuttled again in 1945. #ww1 #ww2 #danishnavy #nielsjuel

Design development of Niels Juel

A Coastal Battleship (1914)

Niels Juel first 1914 design, with two 305 mm guns (12-in).
Defined as the new Coastal battleship, HDMS Niels Juel was laid down in September 1914. She was sightly larger than Peder Skram, but featured a more modern propulsion, with mixed coal/oil boilers and a heavier armament: Two 12-inch guns (305 mm) as initially planned. Most importantly she had a taller hull with better seakeping, fit for the high seas, rather than the monitor-like low freeboard of the previous Peder Skram. The Krupp guns however were seized by the German army before delivery in August 1914 and soon converted into railroad artillery.
Her initial data comprised the following:
Displacement 3,800/4,100t, two 12-in(305mm) guns in single turrets for and aft, eight 120mm QF guns (as of 1917) in side casemates open deck mounts, two 75mm AA guns admiship.

The previous HDMS Peder Skram in 1908

Therefore, not only construction was stopped and resumed slowly, but the ,naval staff had to rethink the design entirely. In addition further delays came with the Copenhagen navy yard being busy trying to maintain the existing fleet now the country had to provide an extensive neutrality patrol service to protect its assets and trade. After the war ended the Allies forbade Krupp to honor the contract, leaving the Danish Navy little choice but to completely change the original coastal battleship layout into something else.

Redesign as armoured cruiser (1918)

The Danish admiralty looked at other providers for the main artillery, not willing to compromise the design too much, but they were opposed by the Danish parliament, which estimated that heavy guns should look theatening to neighbours, notably Germany, and instead looked to purchase ten 150mm (5.9-inch) guns from Bofors, Sweden. Thy also asked the design should be changed into a training vessel instead. The tall and roomy hull could help in this already. The main guns had to be at least shielded, placed in a pair forward and superfiring pair aft, with three more on each broadside amidships. Thus, apart its stocky and tall appearance, Niels Juel was much closer to a cruiser.

Procurement of the guns, before Sweden accepted, was difficult. France, UK and Sweden competed and their offers rejected until an agreement was found with Bofors. A secondary armament of 120 mm (4.7 in guns) was asked for by the Admiralty, based on 1917 post-Jutland battle reports. They showed this intermediate, quick-firing caliber was still quite effective. But there was no room left and it was dropped, as the proposal to keep four 15 cm and the rest in 12 cm for the sake of supply and fire homogeneity.
Also a pair of 57 mm (2.2 in) A.B.K. L/30 anti-aircraft guns was chosen to complete the panoply and procure AA defence. They were to be mounted abaft the funnel. Like the original, she kept a pair of submerged 18 in (457 mm) torpedo tubes.

Design-wise she was more an armoured cruiser and was seen as such in most publocations of the day. The term “coast defence ship” however is retained by most due to her limited speed. Two points has been privileged in the design, armament and protection to the detriment of speed indeed. Being stillinternall cramped, she could not be equipped with a generous powerplant, and her ration of lenght-width could not support high speeds anyway, even compared to most pre-dreadnoughts at 15 knots.

This fit her coastal duty and confirmed her “classification”. The new design was eventually approved in 1920. She had been originally laid down on 21 September 1914 at the Orlogsværftet (Royal Danish Naval Shipyard) in Copenhagen, but construction proceeded slowly and she was launched on 3 July 1918. This launch was interrupted by a stop mid-way through the slipway, for over an hour. This was before she could be freed and slide into the water. But Construction was halted a few months later and her design reconsidered. Construction only restarted in 1920 to a new design. She was at last commissioned in May 1923, nine years before being laid down.

Plan of the construction/modernization of the Niels Juel

Hull and general design of the “Artilleriskibet”

Short (90 m) for a 16.3 m width, almost 1/5 ratio, her hull was divided into 10 watertight compartments and fitted with a double bottom for extra ASW protection, another adjustment inherited from WW1 lessons. The ship was called by the Danes themselves as an “artilleriskibet”, almost a gunboat in essence. Her final appearance diverged greatly from the first draft, with a tall superstructure and high freeboard, forecastle, unique funnel and tower bridge atop a communicating tube as well as her armament. The conning towwer forward of the bridge was two-stage, with the wheel section lower forward and firing station higher behind, in tandem.

She had a single mainmast on top of her military mast tripod and a single pol mast aft to support radio cables. She had three heavenly spaced sponsons guns, two fire spotting stations fore and aft with two telemeters (type unknown) atop her forward bridge and on the aft platform. He tripod supported a firing direction top.
She also had three projectors for night action: Two on the tripod, two aft on the platform close to the aft telemeter.
Her crew comprised originally 310 officers and ratings in 1924, but was expanded to 369 in WW2 due to her numerous AA additions.
They were evacuated by eight service boats: Four amidship under inner davits and four aft under outer davits.

Armour protection layout

She was protected by Krupp cemented armor made by Bethlehem Steel after an international tender for procurement, about 195 mm (7.7 in) on the belt, down to 150 mm (6 in), with 175-165 mm transverse bulkheads (6.5-7-in) to close the citadel. The shields ranged from 10 to 50 mm for the frontal arc (2 in) and the deck was 55 mm (2.1 in) thick while the conning tower was 170 mm (7 in). Overall, this was an excellent protection, even for an armoured cruiser, giving it was way superior to her own armament.
So in short:
Belt: 155–195 mm (6.1–7.7 in)
Deck: 55 mm (2.2 in)
Gun shields: 50 mm (2.0 in)
Conning tower: 170 mm (6.7 in)
Bulkheads: 165 or 175 mm (6.5 or 6.9 in)


There was aboard a single pair of vertical triple-expansion steam engines, driving two shafts, with three-meters diameter and three-bladed propellers. These steam engines were fed by four Yarrow boilers with superheaters, two pairs running on oil, and the second on coal. This also was a modification of the 1914 design, which was all-coal, and a lesson of WWI. The 6,000 indicated horsepower (4,500 kW) allowed only 14.5 knots (26.9 km/h; 16.7 mph) but on trials, HDMS Niels Juel was able to reach 16 knots. Her internal mixed capacity still allowed a generous 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) range for Denmark’s limited coastal waters, at 9 knots. She could patrol around the entire coast and back, with extra incursions in Noorwegian waters and through the Skagerrak along the Baltic German coast. This also fit her role as training cruiser.


Although certainly less potent as deterrence than 12-in guns, her final armament was quick-firing and still capable to inflict damage to any incoming ship, provided she was not out-ranged. For her limited size, it was quite impressive nevertheless, and made her somewhat a “crowded” ship.

Main: 12x 15cm Bofors (1923)

There is little information about these Bofors models other than by default of Krupp, they were extremely close in design and performances to the well-known German 15 cm SK L/45.
We can deduce they were made of an A tube with two layers of hoops and an horizontal sliding-wedge breech block and Hydro-spring recoil. They used separate loading quick fire shell, for a 5-7 rpm,
Muzzle velocity of circa 840 ms (2,800 ft/s). For each broadside they could deliver six shells, four in chase, four in retreat. Ammunition aboard supply unknown.

AA: 2x 5.7cm (1936)

There was no secondary armament so they swapped directly to a pair of rapid-fire guns of small caliber to deal with aviation, also usable against ships and as saluting guns as well. But there is no information about these before 1936 when they were implemented. They assumed to be Swedish Bofors (later evolved into the 57 mm/60 (2.25″) SAK Model 1950, itself a scaled-up version of the famous 40mm Bofors).


She had two beam, submerged torpedo tubes installed, firing type H torpedo fitted with a 121.5-kg (268 lb) warhead, hitting their mark up to 8,000 meters at 27 knots.


HDMS Niels Juel in 1938
Niels Juel’s first operational cruise started in May 1923. She made numerous visits and later state visits as Royal Yacht, carrying the Royal family. In this role she toured the Mediterranean in 1929.
-1929-1930: At the same time she received modifications: The two three-meter rangefinders were transferred to older ships like the Peder Skram and Olfert Fischer and she received instead a single modern modern Barr & Stroud 3.66 m coincidence rangefinder, replaced a year later by a German Zeiss 5 m coincidence rangefinder.

-She was modernized in 1935-1936, and the fire-control systems were changed again, with the tripod mast replaced by a pole mast, two-stage director-control tower. She received then a Dutch Hazemeyer gunnery director and analog gunnery computer with three Zeiss 6 m rangefinders. The 57 mm AA guns were replaced by ten Madsen 20 mm RK M/31 autocannons in five twin mounts.
Smoke screen projectors were fitted at the stern. She would also received in 1937 seven twin mount 8 mm (0.3 in) Madsen R.K. L/75 M/37 machine guns.
Her aft pole mast was replaced by two lattice extensions aft of the funnel’s top cap, supporting the wireless radio cables hanging from the mainmast forward.
-In early 1941 she received an extra pair of 40 mm Bofors AA guns (single) and in 1942 ten faster-firing Madsen 20-millimeter L/60 M/41 autocannons fitted in place of the older models.

Profile in WW2, with neutrality markings (src alchetron). In reality her livery was brighter than this dark grey shown here. Personal HD profile coming.

⚙ specifications

Displacement 3,800 long tons (3,861 t) (standard)
Dimensions 90 x 16.3 x 5m (295 ft 3 in x 53 ft 6 in x 16 ft 5 in)
Propulsion 2 shafts VTE, 4 Yarrow boilers oil/coal 6,000 ihp (4,500 kW)
Speed 14.5 knots (26.9 km/h; 16.7 mph)
Range 6,000 nmi (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) at 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph)
Armament 10 × 150 mm (5.9 in), 2 × 57 mm (2.2 in), 2 × 450 mm (17.7 in) TTs
Protection Belt 155–195, Deck: 55 mmn Gun shields 50 mm, Conning tower 170 mm, Bulkheads: 165 or 175 mm
Crew 310–369

HDMS Niels Juel’s Career

Early Interwar Career 1924-1939

HDMS Niels Juel made her sea trials following her commission in 1923 and her shakedown cruise on 28 May with Crown Prince Frederick aboard. The brand new ship visiting the Faeroe Islands, Bergen in Norway, Leith in Scotland and Gothenburg in Sweden, before before being back home in Stockholm on 6 August.
On 21 October, after working up some issues and preparing, she made her first training cruise. She had for port calls Dartmouth (UK), Cadiz (Spain), Madeira (Portugal) Cape Verde Islands, and went south-west to South America.

On her return trip she was battered by quite a severe Atlantic storm after leaving the Azores. She rocked so much her rudder chains broke and she became unable to steer. She had to resume her trip by using output alone, turning by alternating her steam engines, until until emergency steering was rigged to resume and trip home, arriving on 23 February 1924. After repairs in Plymouth she became flagship, gunnery training squadron. Later she became flagship of the general training squadron.

In 1925, she made a short baltic cruise, visited Finland (taking part in a parade and saluting), as well as nearby Estonia, Latvia and Germany. In 1926 she cruised to the Faeroe Islands and Iceland with the royal family aboard. She was also the royal yacht for a state visit in Finland in 1928 escorted by the cruiser Heimdal, making another round of gunnery salutes as part of the Danish Squadron.

No record for 1926n 27 or 1928, but in 1929 she made an intensive training cruise into the Mediterranean making port calles in France, Spain, Italy and Libya, and Portugal on her way back, showing her range was totally adequate for these trips. She was back into her flagship, training squadron routine for the remainder of the year but on 22 May 1930 regained her status and function as royal yacht for a tour of the Faeroes and Iceland, still training naval cadets. In 1931, she made refuelling stops in her second Mediterranean cruise, and became the first Danish warship ever to visit the Black Sea via Istanbul, and stopped in Odessa. On her return trip she stopped in Greece, Italy, Algeria, and France.

Niels Juel was eventually decommissioned on 3 September 1931. It seems she was in limited commission in 1932-34 (photos shows her at sea), and she was modernized in 1935 and 1936, recommissioned on 9 July and spent the rest of 1936 in sea trials and working up her new crew.
1937 saw her as flagship of the Danish squadron in the Fleet review in Spithead for the coronation of George VI, 20 May 1937. She later took part in a fleet exercise which ended in Helsingborg, Sweden. In 1938, she led the Danish torpedo boat flotilla to Turku in Finland by August, stopped in Sønderborg (Denmarkp in September and pet here the whole training squadron. In 1939 it was planned her first training cruise to the United States cilumating with the New York World’s Fair by May. But this was cancelled due to rising tensions. She stayed trining with HDMS Peder Skram until July 1939.
By late August, she prepared a small cruise to Oslo, but it too, was cancelled. The admiralty order to prepare her for war, starting by having all shell fuzes setup for combat. Her training crew was fully completed, she received additional AA MGs soon and she was fully mobilized, joining the fleet near Aarhus. Winter ice however forced her back in Copenhagen by January 1940. The crew was soon given leave but recalled on 8 April and the 9th, the Germans invaded the country while her crew was still not all aboard. After the country surrendered after a few hours of fighting, the Germans allowed the Danes to keep their fleet and resume training in Danish waters.

Neutrality (1940-1943)

The only waters, where the German occupying power had allowed such training cruises to be held by the ship limited her movements. In between limited fuel supplies (requisitioned, Niels Juel was not frequently at sea. During the was she was under command of 49-year-old ship captain Carl Westermann, which knew his ship well. He had for several periods been commander and second-in-command aboard, and also had several years’ experience as a torpedo boat commander.
But it was not just an experienced captain who decided to escape with ship and crew to Sweden on 29 August 1943. Carl Westermann had been a member of the Folketing since 1933, and earlier in the year 1943 had been elected as the 1st Deputy Chairman of the Folketing. The lead-up to 29 August 1943 was, from the Danish side, a clear no from the government and people’s government to continued cooperation with the German occupying power, and the increased German demands. One can therefore almost see something symbolic in the fact that the fight between NIELS IUEL and the German armed forces, from the Danish side, is led by the 1st Deputy Speaker of the Folketing, in his capacity as ship’s captain.

Operation Safari (August 1943)

In 1943, Danish resistance to German rule hd ramped up considerably and local German authorities started to crack down on some groups, also instituting martial law on 28 August 1943, then like they did in France by November 1942, they moved to seize the Danish fleet in Copenhagen at dawn on the 29th. This übung was codenamed Operation Safari. On the 27th already, Captain Westermann was warned by the Admiralty that somehing was cooking up. The following evening he held a meeting with the ship’s officers and they agreed that ailors were to remain aboard and that the ship was prepared to leave at the shortest notice. On the 28th he still awaited orders, but on the morning of August 29, he anchored in Holbæk.
Niels Juel was preparting for departure at 4:00 am, when Carl Westermann received the radio order fro the Danish admiralty to steam to be interned in Sweden. At 04:20 the order also precised, in case she was stopped or disabled, to sink the ship.
Niels Juel left Holbæk around 06:00, setting a course for Sweden. The Germans however caught the message and sent planes, until they spotted her just after departure.
Before she could exit the Isefjord, Westermann learned the Germans claimed mining the exit -which was a bluff- to try to stop her. He proceeded anyway but soon spotted three German ships in the distance: These were the torpedo boat T17 and two E-boats, dispatched in interception. Soon also the Luftwaffe was sent in, and Ju-87 Stukas appeared.

Battle of Isefjord

From 08:55 till 09:35 Niels Juel was repeatedly attacked by German aircraft south of Hundested. A few Stukas based in Denmark dropped bombs and used strafing. None of the bombs hit Niels Juel. There was however some rude near-misses, which badly shook her hull and and knocked out electrical power; Hull plating and bulkheads were also deformed and unhinged. Meanwhile the crew manning the AA put up quite a fight, but the machine guns could do little. Pilots respected however her two 40 mm Bofors, backed by several 20 mm guns. it is not known is she damaged any of her assaulters, but none was reported down. In all she had five Danish sailors injured, rather seriously, no dead until artillery quartermaster H. E. Andreasen a few days later from the injuries he had sustained in the last air raid.

Realising there was little hope of reaching Sweden now, between these air attacks and “greeting committee” of three fast TBs blocking his way, Westermann decided to save his crew and run his ship aground near Nykøbing Sjælland. The crew tried to scuttle the ship by using the explosive charges, but the attempt failed. Next it was decided to flood the magazine, and all the sea-cocks to flood the rest of the hull and systematically destroying all sensible or useful equipment before the Germans could takje over her. Indeed soon the TBs arrived on the scene and capttured the entire crew.
Before this, Commander-in-Chief Carl Westermann, received unconfirmed information that the Danish fleet at Holmen, Copenhagen had been sunk/scuttled in the morning hours.
At 10:48 NIELS IUEL was effectively beached, sea cocks opened, and she slowly settled to the bottom. The crew was made prisoner only the following day, on August 30th, leaving them plenty of time to scuttle the ship as best they could.

Kriegsmarine service and Postwar Fate (1944-52)

As shelied grounded, a Danish salvage company was sent by to inspected the wreck only a few days after her sinking. They failed to see see any damage to the hull, rudder or propellers, so ensuring she could be refloated. But they noted she was still heavily flooded, up to 1.5 meters (4 ft 11 in) below the armored deck. The Germans wanted to have her rised and rebuilt her likely into a Flakschiff, and commanded a German company to proceed. By October 1943, they did so using pumps, and she was refloated and towed it to Kiel, Germany, for repair and transformation.
She was however disarmed and renamed Nordland, and commissioned into the Kriegsmarine in September 1944, not as Flakschiff but stationary training ship based in Stolpmünde (modern Ustka, in Poland). Her removed armament was not lost, it was used for close defense of a number of German artillery positions on the west coast of Jutland.

On 18 February 1945 she steamed to Kiel to avoid capture by the raidly advancing Russian army. By 3 May 1945 she was scuttled in the Eckernførde inlet. The wreck was partially dismantled by unauthorized scrappers before the Danes officially sold the wreck to a German company that BU her in 1952, after removing everything above the sea bed and left the bottom wreck, no longer a navigation hazard, still laying under 28 meters (92 ft) of water.

Read More

Admiralty Model of the Niels Juel at the Royal Arsenalen Museum (2017 photo)


Westerlund, Karl-Erik (1985). “Denmark” in J. Gardiner Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1906-1921
Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War II. Annapolis, Maryland NIP
Wisman, Tom (2018). “Niels Juel: ‘A Funny Little Danish Warship'”. Warship 2018. Oxford, UK: Osprey.


On navalhistory.dk
navalhistory.dk/ Niels_Juel
navweaps.com/ swedish ordnance
on navypedia.org/

Painting Gallery


Cassin class destroyers (1913)

Cassin class destroyers (1913)

USN Fleet Destroyers (1912-1935): USS Cassin, Cummings, Downes, Duncan, Aylwin, Parker, Benham, Balch (DD-43-50)

US WW1 Destroyers
Bainbridge | Truxtun | Smith | Paulding | Cassin | O'Brien | Tucker | Sampson | Caldwell | Wickes | Clemson

The first USN “1000 tonners” Destroyers

After the very early Bainbrige and the 800-tonners (late called “flivvers” – Paulding & Smith) the USN seeked a new incremental step based on the same desig, just upscaled the previous design, prpducing a four-stacked class reaching 1,000 tonnes standard and thus called retrospectively the “1000-tonners”. Four were ordered first, known as the Cassin class. They innovated as being the first to carry the new 4-inch (102 mm)/50 caliber gun while gaining two more torpedo tubes. Despite of a more powerful machinery, top speed fell to 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph). All served as co,voy escorts and three agains as USCG’s “rum-runners” until 1932. They led to the Aylwin class. #USN #destroyer #ww1 #usnavy

The need for new scouts

USS Cassin, date unknown
The initial motivation was to increase the standard to a normal displacement of over 1,000 tons to combine a heavier armament with better cruising range. The main goal was to be able to cross the Atlantic in one go if possible. The USN’s three modern scout cruisers of the Chester class, totally unsufficient to offer screeing to the fleet of new battleships, and so, these new fleet destroyers were to be used as scouts. The two-shaft direct drive turbines engineering arrangement was repeated as globally satisfactory, although poor performance of the early cruising turbines conducted to reciprocating engines being recalled for cruising. In fact, DD-43 and DD-44 (the first two) used triple expansion engines which could be clutched to one shaft for cruising and the other two followed suite.

Order and Contruction

Two classes of “1000-tonners” were defined in FY1912. It was hoped that during the short span between the Cassin and Aylwin, a few incremental improvements could be made, before swapping on a new, bolder upgrade (which were ordered in FY1913) turning to be the eight O’Brien class. In fact both the Cassin and Aylwin ended built concurrently, and the whole considered by many authors to be a sub-class of the Cassins, or all the same so much so differences were tiny.
So for the sake of clarity we are going to see them in one swoop.

A new standard: The “1000 tonners”

What is really important there, is that the Cassin and following constituted five classes (or five depending of who is speaking). In all, this “superclass” included 26 destroyers. After the Cassins/Aylwins, the six O’Briens, six Tuckers, and six Sampsons. Arguably the Tucker were repeats of the O’Brien, so it left use with three main types in reality. They were commissioned in 1913–17 and thus the last prewar US destroyers.

They all combined the same gun armament of four 4 inch (102 mm) but torpedo armament was greatly increased, with a displacement rising to 100 tons. The Cassin/Aylwin stuck to the previous 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes but had two more, in four twin broadside mounts but O’Briens had a new 21-inch (533 mm) caliber torpedo, still keeping eight, as the Tucker. The new Sampsons went further and stocked no less than twelve 21 inch (533 mm) tubes, when switching on triple mounts. The first brand new design, first “flush deck” types were the Caldwell class, which retained both gun and torpedo armament of the Sampsons with 100 tons more and a new, more powerful engineering plant. They were the true prototypes for the wartime Wickes/Clemsons. The Sampson class was also the first to introduce an anti-aircraft armament with two 1-pounder (37 mm) autocannons. After getting rid of the issues causes by turbines they were reintroduced with the Tucker/Sampson classes. The arrangemen was repeated and improved on the Caldwell, and adopted for the mass-built “four stackers” of 1917-1921.

Design of the class

Aylwin: 2nd Generation of “1000 tonners”

The Aylwin were four destroyers built at Cramp (William Cramp & Sons in Philadelphia). In fact USS Aylwin was launched well before USS Cassin (23 November 1912 vs. 20 May 1913) and so the class in European publications is sometimes called “Aylwin class”. They were full repeats of the Cassin class assimilated as the very same Cassin class in Conways, which however made a distinction between the Pauldings and Monaghans.

Design of the class

Hull and general design

As the first “thousand tonner” the Cassin and Aylwins were a significant improvement over the Paulding/Monaghan, Based on a displacement of 1,036 tons (on normal load), 1,165 tons fully loaded, for an overall lenght 305 ft 3 in (93.04 m) overall and 30 ft 4 in (9.25 m) in beam. Their mean draft reached 9 ft 5 in (2.87 m). The previous ships reached 289-293 ft for 26-27 ft in beam and “only” 885 tonnes fully loaded.
Externally they shared the same basic silhouette, with the caracteristic short forecastle, small open bridge and four tall funnels, close together. The “four stacker” pattern remained standard until 1921 on all US DDs. Wireless telegraphy as installed had cabled resting on the two masts, foremast behind the bridge and mainmast. Unfortunately profiles and plans are near-impossible to find. Only those of the following O’Brien are known. So photos shows a relatively large quarterdeck house aft, on which the mainmast was planted. It also housed the radio room. The axial aft gun was located behind, but no TT. They were all on the broadside amidships.


The Cassin/Aylwin were given the same powerplant in principle but dependong of the yard, various brands of turbines and boilers.
The Cassin/Cummings defined the standard although the Data Book for 1912 shows the first two indeed had the same four Normand boilers (They were built at Bath Iron Works) and two direct-drive Parsons-type steam turbines on two shafts. They produced a total of 16,000 shp (12,000 kW). Theu would inaugrate two small triple-expansion engines which could be clutched to one shaft for economical cruising. Only better, higher temp/pressure boilers would resolve the poor performances of early steam turbines with new geared cruising turbines of the Caldwell and following. The next USS Downes (from New York SB) had Thornycroft boilers, USS Duncan (From Fore River Yard, Mass.) had Yarrow boilers and both were given Curtis steam turbines and the same two triple-expansion cruising engines. The choice of having both turbines and TE engines dictated a longer hull indeed.

Downes made 29.14 knots (53.97 km/h; 33.53 mph) on trials at 14,254 shp (10,629 kW). Normal fuel oil capacity was 312 tons.[4]
The Aylwin were all from Cramp and thus, had the same four White-Forster boilers feeding stem to two Cramp direct-drive turbines. The four destroyers exceeded the 16,000 shp output on trials. But like the Cassins they had the same Compound steam engines clutchable onto shafts for economical and medium-speed cruising. Aylwin managed to reach 29.6 knots (54.8 km/h; 34.1 mph) on trials based on 16,286 shp (12,144 kW) like her sisters (so less than the requested 30 kts), and standard fuel oil capacity was 307 tons in peacetime. It could be increased in wartime.


USS Cassin’s crew

The Cassin class were a true improvement in terms of firepower, by introducing 4-in/50 guns (102 mm) which shells had twice the weight of the previous 3-in (76 mm) of the Pauldings. This choice had them trading one gun (from five to four) but the new caliber was such an improvement there was no second though about it. In fact this became the standard for all US Destroyers until 1922. The only difference was their organization: On the Cassins and up to the Sampsons, it was the same configuration as before, with a forescastle gun, two at the lower deck under recess, also facing forward, and one aft, axial. The 1917 Caldwell would introduce the new “lozenge” pattern.
During early phases of the design, the board even hoped to replace at least one of 3-in/50 gun with a long-recoil 5-in (127mm) but C&R managed though it was a stability issue and promoted instead a uniform battery of four 102mm/50, and a fourth twin 450mm TT as replacing the fifth gun in a way.

They Aylwin retained the Cassins’ armament of four 4-inch (102 mm)/50 caliber Mark 9 guns and eight 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes in twin broadside mounts. This broadside with twin mounts each side reflected the General Board’s desire to have torpedoes remaining for a second one instead of having to retire and reload. The class also received one or two depth charge racks for convoy escort in 1917-18. USS Benham tested four twin 4-inch mounts in 1917. But she proved top-heavy an reverted back to single mounts before her first overseas deployment. The idea of stacking double mounts would resurface in 1918 on the larger Clemsons though. In 1929 they all recuved the same additional 3-inch (76 mm)/23 anti-aircraft gun, placed immediately aft of the forecastle main gun.

Main guns: Four 4-in/50 Mark 9

The serie started with the Mark 7 (1898), first used as secondary guns on the Arkansas class monitors. The Mark 8 were an improved version designed from 1905, but they gave apparently little satisfaction and were reworked from 1910, ending with threat standard Mark 9. Its general performances were such that it became also an allied standard with more than 400 transferred to the British. They were still in service in WW2 on a large quantity of ships by the way.
It was light weight and thus easy to handle, fast-firing, fast revolving and traversing.

Quick Specs:
ROF 8-9 rpm, 64.75 lbs. (29.4 kg) complete round, 2,900 fps (884 mps), 15,000 yards (13,720 m/19°. Each destroyer carried 300 rounds total.
More on navweaps.com

Torpedo Tubes: Four twin 18-in Mark 5

They used the standard Whitehead torpedo Mk.5, available since 1910.
Diameter: 17.7 in (45 cm)
Length: 204 in (520 cm)
Weight: 1,452 lb (659 kg)
Warhead: 200 lb (91 kg) Guncotton
powerplant: Heated Air-flask Brotherhood pattern engine
Speed settings: 27 kn (50 km/h)4,000 yd (3,700 m) or 36 kn (67 km/h)/2,000 yd (1,800 m) or 40 kn (74 km/h)/1,000 yd (910 m)

ASW armament (1917-18)

In 1917-1918 to perform better as ASW ships, the class was equipped with two depht charge racks (DCR) and a single thrower or DCT, which was the “Y-gun”, called that way before its shape. It throwed two depht-charges at once.
The latter were probably of the Mark I type (1916) weighting 100 lbs. (45 kg) with a 50 lbs. (23 kg) wet gun-cotton exploser ad two settings, 25 and 100 feet (8 – 30 m).

⚙ Cassin class specifications

Displacement 1,020 tons (normal) 1,139 tons (full load)
Dimensions 305 ft 3 in x 30 ft 4 in x 9 ft 3 in (93.04 x 9.25 x 2.82 m)
Propulsion 2 shafts DD Turbines, 4 boilers 16,000 shp (12,000 kW) as designed
Speed 29 kn (54 km/h; 33 mph)
Range 312-290 tons oil (fuel) 4,500 nmi () at 16 kn
Armament 4 x 4-in/50 guns, 4×2 18-in torpedo tubes*
Crew 5 officers, 93 ratings

*In 1918, One DCT Y-gun, 2 DCR.


The prow of USS Cassin
In addition to the dedicated ASW armament added in 1917-18, it seems the most obvious change was their new bridge. All eight ships arrived like their predecessors wit a barebones “open deck”, meaning the small tower supported a platform on which was installed all the essential command for the captain and bridge officers: A chadburn and voice pipes. There was also a telephone to communicate with the machinery spaced. The forward steering wheel was located in the structure below and there was an open deck aft backup steering wheel aft, before the rear gun.
In 1917 however when prepared for overseas deployment they were given a new, fixed bridge. Indeed only canvas on barriers were the standard, but they had a hard time coping with heavy weather spray as the forecastle as short.
The same approach and standard design recommanded bu BuShip was called upon as used on the prevous Paulding/Monaghans. It was composed of a triangular-shaped beak like structure, lighlty buil, but still enough to break incoming waves and bedind were located a serie of ten glass windows, five on either size of the angled face, and two larger ones on sides. This was still open top though. Right behind was located a platform with a single projector. The main mast receiceved also a larger spotting top, designed for submarine spotting, alshough ealry hydrophones were probably fitted as standard in 1918.

The lower level forward guns either side of the forecastle behind recesses were excessively “wet” in even moderate weather and so canvas were applied when not in use. This issue of “wet guns” also common on early USN battleships barbette, was resolved only from the Caldwell class, which had them replocated on either beam between funnels on high platforms, way out of any sprey. This explains why the artillery arrangement and limited speed was seen as drawbacks of the design and they did not stayed long in service unlike the flush-deckers.
In the 1920-30s patroling for the Coast Guard on the great lakes was no longer an issue for these guns…
Speaking of which, modifications also occured in Coast Guard service:
They lost all their main guns bar one, and all their torpedo tubes but retained their newly added AA gun. This allowed them to reclaim some speed also, although moderated by their worn-out machinery.

Read More


Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the USN, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Greenwood Press.
Friedman, Norman (2004). US Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History (Revised ed.). NIP
Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal (1985). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906–1921
Silverstone, Paul H. (1970). U.S. Warships of World War I. London: Ian Allan.

Author’s profile:

USS Duncan 1916



Model Kits

None found so far

USS Cassin

USS Cassin, date unknown
USS Cassin was commissioned on 9 August 1913, her first captain was Lieutenant Commander Harris Laning. She started training with the Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla.
Later she moved to Key West in Florida and from 5 December 1913 to 16 June 1914 she operated with the 6th Division in the Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico in maneuvers. On 19 May she was dispatched to recue passengers of SS Atlantis which sunk north of Tampico. After her post-shakedown overhaul, Cassin stayed along the east coast until 27 January 1915 abnd took part in the Carribean winter maneuvers.

Soon after the US entered war, she started neutrality patrols in and from the Caribbean and later prepared for overseas service. She crossed the Atlantic to Queenstown in Ireland where most USS DDs were stationed for atlantic convoy escprt service and western approaches waters patrols against U-Boats. on 17 May, she started her first American troopships convoy, ventilated to England and France. On 15 October, she spotted U-61, some 20 nmi south of Mine Head Lighthouse, Monagoush (County Waterford) in Ireland. A chase began but she lost her from view an at 13:30, she was hit on her port stern by a torpedo. There, it ignited several depth charges, killing Gunner’s Mate First Class Osmond Ingram. The latter (posthumously awarded the MoH) saw where the torpedo was coming and started to throw the DCs overboard but was still here when it hit.

USS Cassin’s mushed stern 1917,which allows to see her peculiar triangular framing

Nine other were wounded but there was no more victim but Dudley Walton Queen by his wounds later.
USS Cassin had her rudder blown off, stern mushed, and started to circle, while still firing on the U-Boat until she submerged. She was assisted by USS Porter and HMS Jessamine, HMS Tamarisk until the morning, towed back in Queenstown. After repairs in Newport she was back escorting on 2 July 1918.

On 12–13 December 1918 she escorted SS George Washington carrying President Woodrow Wilson into Brest in France for the Versailles Peace Conference. She was back to Boston on 3 January 1919, resumed her training career in the Caribbean and assisted the transatlantic NC-4 flight. She was overhauled in Philadelphia on 18 June. From 14 February 1921 she joined the Flotilla 5 training off New England and was decommissioned again in Philadelphia on 7 June 1922. On 28 April 1924 she started her service with the Coast Guard as CG-1 after a refit in Maine and based in New London for the “Rum Patrol” and with Division 3 as flagship, decommissioned a final time in Philadelphia by 5 June 1933.
Stricken on 5 July 1934 she was sold on 22 August 1934 and BU.

USCG Tucker and Cassin in the interwar, prohibition partrols

USS Cumming DD44

USS Cumming was commissioned on 19 September 1913, trained in the Caribbean and from June 1915, joined the Neutrality Patrol. She was in New York Navy Yard on 12 May 1917, refitted for overseas service and sailed for Queenstown, arriving on 26 May under command of Henry Kent Hewitt (future admiral). Between escort and anti-submarine patrols off the southern Irish coast she had 14 encounters with U-Boats. She also escorted in 1918 SS George Washington to France.

USCG-3 Cummings during the rum patrols

Departing on 16 December 1918 she resumed peactime service in Guantanamo Bay, Newport, in reserve for a short time in Philadelphia, back in operation off the east coast and decomm, again in Philadelphia on 23 June 1922. She also served with the Treasury Department (Coast Guard) from 6 June 1924 from New London. Stricken on 23 May 1932 she was sold for BU on 22 August 1934.

USS Downes DD45

USS Downes was commissioned on 11 February 1915. After her shakedown off New York and the Chesapeake Bay, her training off new england, she was refitted in Philadelphia from 4 October 1915 to 26 May 1917 for distant service and sailed from New York (18 October 1917) for Devonport (7 November) and then Queenstown (17th) and until 5 December 1918, operated in convoy escort, notably across the channel. She made a dozen spotting and attacks with no sure result but also aided distressed ships. She also won British commendations when protecting the torpedoed HMS Manley and rescue and salvage of a British submarine.

USS Downes as Coast Guard ship CG-45

In late December she departed back in Norfolk and from January 1919 alternatied between the Carribean, New York and Norfolk, for an overhaul. She was later back to Newport and Charleston in 1922 for exercizes. Decommissioned in Philadelphia in June she was reactivated for the coast guard on 28 April 1924 but at first as Academy practice ship and later, Rum Patrol. Back to Philadelphia in May 1931, she was stricken and sold for BU on 22 August 1934.

USS Duncan DD46

USS Duncan was commissioned on 30 August 1913, with Lieutenant Commander C. E. Courtney in command. After her carribean shakedown and training on the East Coast she was decommissioned for a refit in Boston and back in neutrality patrol from January 1916 from Rhode Island. In addition of fleet manoeuvers with battleships and patrolling the entrance to the York River from 8–30 September 1917, she escorted a convoy.

USS Duncan – NARA

Next she was prepared in NY for Irish service, departing at first to Brest from 30 October 1917. From 15 November she started her convoy escort, making several sightings and attacks. On 17 July 1918 she rescued survivors of the Norwegian bark Miefield and later Shaw. She also escorted SS G.Washington and by December 1918, left Queenstown for home, Norfolk.
She spent five months training off the East Coast and Caribbean, decomm. from 1st January 1920 and full reserve in August. After a long period she was stricken, sold and scrapped on 8 March 1935.

USS Aylwin DD-47

USS Aylwin was commissioned on 17 January 1914 (Lt. Cdr. Leigh C. Palmer, former aide of U.S. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels). She made her shakedown to Cuba and trained off the North Carolina coast, training with sisters Benham and Parker. During one of these she suffered an internal explosion 15 nm off the Diamond Shoals lightship, in her forward fire room. She had three wounded, one later died. She was towed into Norfolk by USS Parker and the tug Sonoma on 7 April for repairs. According to the captain she was flooded so much she barely had five hours of buoyancy to spare.

A short enquiry determined faulty metal in her No. 1 boiler’s mud drum was the probable cause and her whole machinery was carefully monitored for defects; Repairs dragged one for more than a year at Norfolk, being recommissioned on 25 May 1915, 6th TBD Division, Atlantic Fleet. After retraining on the east coast she took part in Neutrality Patrols, based from Newport, Rhode Island by early October 1916. At 05:30 on 8 October reports of a U-Boat near the Lightship Nantucket (off Long Island) and British SOS she was rushed to investigate by Rear Admiral Albert Gleaves.

She arrived on the scene on 17:00 and caught U-53 (Kapitänleutnant Hans Rose) red-handed, after stopping the Holland-America Line Blommersdijk, the passenger ship Stephano and three other ships. But the destroyer had strict neutrality rules observances and could only respond to Rose’s signal to the destroyer to move away from Stephano for him to torpedo the ship after gathering the crew. Aylwin complied and gathered in turn the 226 survivors from various U-Boat victims. This “attitude” was criticized at the house of Lords.
In early 1917, USS Aylwin was back in manoeuvers, and off the Virginia capes by April.

From June 1917 to January 1918 unlike her sisters she was not sent to Europe but instead was used for special experimental work led by Reginald Fessenden, off Boston and Newport. On 4 January 1918, at last she sailed for Queenstown after some patorls, was detached to join the RN in Portsmouth and Devonport, learning new ASW patrol drills.
On 26 December 1918, she sailed with USS Chester for the Baltic, toured German ports and escorted some war prize ships, as part of the Inter-Allied Naval Armistice Commission. By May 1919, she was based in Brest and later Antwerp. She was back in New York on 26 June and inactivated in Philadelphia, decommissioned on 23 February 1921. Renamed on 1 July 1933 (new Mahan class destroyer renamed after her) “DD-47” was stricken on 8 March 1935, sold for BU on 23 April.

USS Parker DD-48

Commissioned in January 1914, USS Parker assisted Aylwin after her dramatic explosion in April.

In early April 1915 with USS McDougal she was sent to patrol near the New York City Quarantine Station. It was suspected that Dudley Field Malone (local port collector) would allow after a bribe interned German steamships at New York to slip out, using a heavy snowstorm as cover. The New York Times titled also a “widespread conspiracy” as NY ships at the contrar were supplying British warships outside U.S. territorial waters…

USS Parker went through the usual Carribean-East Coast training routine and neutrality patrols. From April 1917, she was part of the fourth group, escorting the first troopship convoy to Europe. She was relocated to Queenstown and made many patrols, a few sighting, no sure kill. She rescued 9 survivors of a torpedoed British hospital ship in February 1918, being congratulated by the British Parliament and U.S. Navy officials. She had a probable “kill” or at least sever damage to an U-Boat on 3 August 1917. As the others in late 1918 she was moved to Brest and Antwerp.
She was back home July 1919, Atlantic Fleet and resuming peactime training.

In July 1920, she was sent to the Mediterranean, searching a missing American missionary couple (Paul Nilson and Harriet Fisher Nilson) thought abducted by Turkish Nationalists. She located them later was while off Mersina demanded under the cover of her guns, their release, dispatching messages by airplane to Tarsus and Adana.
Decommissioned in June 1922, she was kept in reserve until stricke March 1935, sold for BU in April.

USS Benham DD-49

USS Benham was commissioned on 20 January 1914 under command of Lt. Cdr. Charles J. Train. In February-March she made a shakedown cruise to the West Indies. From April she trained off Hampton Roads with USS Aylwin and Parker, assiting the first after her boiler explosion. In August 1916, she took part in the largest USN war game to date, scouting for “Blue force” and first to spot the inbound “Red” transports and escorts.

After her tour of duty in Neutrality Patrols from Newport, on 8 October, wireless reports signalled an U-Boat near the Lightship Nantucket (U-53) and later evacuated part of the 226 survivors she carried. From 6 April 1917 she was one of the first chosen to be sent in Europe, departing Tompkinsville, New York on 17 May for Queenstown. On 13 July she reported her attack by two U-Boats, spotting three torpedoes, evaded. She had them repelled by agressive depth charge attacks. On 30 July she spotted the wake of another torpedo 1,500 yd away and charged to the attack with guns and depth charges, spotting later air bubbles and surfaced oil, gaining a “probable” damage. By June 1918 she was sent to Brest until December.
In September however she was was rammed by the British Azalea-class sloop HMS Zinnia (future flagship of the Belgian Navy).

On 21 December she left for home, Atlantic Fleet for the annual fleet maneuvers and a trip to the Azores in May 1919. Place in provisional decomm. in Norfolk on 28 June and back in service in 1921, on the eastern seaboard, plane guard and tender for the Atlantic Fleet Air Squadrons until May 1922. She was inactivated and later decomm. in Philadelphia, stricken on 8 March 1935 and BU.

USS Balch DD-50

USS Balch was commissioned on 26 March 1914 (Lt. Cdr. David C. Hanrahan).

After shakedown and Carribean training with the Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet, she took part in a Presidential Fleet Review on 7 May in NYC. She would take part also in Narragansett Bay maneuvers organized by the Naval War College. After a short decommissioned in July-December 1914 she resumed her training. In June 1915 one of her torpedoes was unloaded at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a display for the “Peace and Preparation” conference of the National Security League. In 1916 she served as an observation platform for the Seawanhaka-Corinthian Yacht Club’s annual regatta. After Neutrality Patrols from Newport, on 8 October 1916 she took part in the action which implied U-53, alsop picking up part of the crews of the sunken ships.

From April 1917, USS Balch was refited with depth charge racks, a new bridge and other modifications for her overseas deployment, to Queenstown from 17 November. She started her first patrol on 24 November, having later two encounters with German submarines. On 29 January 1918 off Liverpool and on 12 May, while escorting convoy HS 60; No kill, but she drove the latter off.

On 20 October 1918 she collided with USS Balch during a convoy in foul weather, which had her port depth charge knocked overboard, fortunately set to “safe” by three of the crew seeing the immiment collision. They earned commendations later. The destroyer still suffered steering gear damage, being repaired in Queenstown. On 5 November she helped USS Sterett rescuing 29 survivors from the cargo Dipton. She left Ireland for hime, Norfolk, on 16 November via Ponta Delgada in the Azores.

Fully recommissioned by early April she was back in normal drills routines on the West Indies and east coast. After an overhaul by July 1920 she was renamed “DD-50” and was left in port due to funding shortages, resuling service with the Torpedo Flotilla before inactivation, decommission at Philadelphia (20 June 1922), stricken on 8 March 1935, sold for BU on 23 April.

Caracciolo class battleships (1917)

Caracciolo class battleships (1917)

Italy – Regia Marina: RN Francesco Caracciolo, Marcantonio Colonna, Cristoforo Colombo, Francesco Morosini (1914-1921)

The first Italian Fast Battleships

The last class of Italian dreadnoughts conceived before the war was the Caracciolo class, started in 1914-15. They were radically new battleships, much faster and heavily armed: They presented the new generation of Italian ‘super dreadnought’ and first fast battleships, but were condemned by the Washington treaty. Because of war priorities, none was completed and they had to be broken up after the Washington treaty was signed, despite completion projects, notably as an aircraft carrier conversion.


When the Washington Treaty was ratified in 1923, it put an end to an industrial and military escalation started in 1913, towards even faster and better-armed dreadnoughts. Italy was no exception to the rule. In 1916, her last dreadnought to enter service, the Doria class, was only equipped with 12-in guns and limited to 21 knots. But the Royal Navy with its five Queen Elizabeth in 1913 and later confirmed with the five Revenge launched in 1915, all armed 6-in guns (381 mm) and capable of 23 knots with oil-burn for better range and seemed to lead the pack in Battleship design. Conscious of this fact, the Italian admiralty already in 1914 (Italy was still neutral at this point and both the British and French were potential adversaries) ordered a study as early as 1914. The new new project was intended to give some parity with to the Royal Navy and the study was conducted by Chief Engineer Rear Admiral Edgardo Ferrati.

The 1911 Italian super-dreadnought competition

But even further back in time, in 1911, Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Giovanni Bettolo and the Minister of the Navy, Vice Admiral Pasquale Leonardi Cattolica announced a competition for a “super-dreadnought” design. The basic characteristics concerned a 35,000 tons standard ship, which was quite ambitious for the time, with a top speed of no less than 28 knots speed, and and armament of twelve 381 mm (15 inches) and twenty 152 mm (6 inches) guns. Nothing was said about the armor, which was likely lighter than contemporaty designs in order to reach the desired speed, and in the tendency of the time.

The Ansaldo shipyards (Sestri Ponente), the Orlando Yards of and the Odero shipyard also of Livorno, the only ones with drydocks large enough, took part in the competition. The Regia Marina reunited all the major generals around Naval Engineers Edgardo Ferrati and Agostino Carpi. The reunion was also attended by colonels G.N. Giuseppe Rota and Gioacchino Russo. After a careful examination of the projects, Major General Ferrati was entrusted with making the preliminary draft. He had to work, keeping in mind the various solutions presented and attempting to make a fusion of these proposals.
The definitive draft was ready in December 1913. For practicity reasons, and to rationalize protection, the initial top speed of 28 knots was maintained by the displacement was reduced to 30,900 tons, the armament to eight 381 (15 in) in four twin main turrets. For the secondary, it was reduced to eighteen 152mm adnd completed by twenty-four 76 (3-in) guns for anti-torpedo warfare as well as eight torpedo tubes of 450 mm (18 in), all fixed.

The design is drastically scaled down in 1913

The first plan calling a battleship armed with no less than twelve 381 mm (16-in) distributed in four triple turrets and twenty 6-in barbettes guns if completed in 1917, would have been the most powerful warships in the world. But this project was visibly too ambitious for the means of the Regia Marina’s limited budget. It was drastically scaled down. The second project had twin turrets, resulting in smaller barbette and thus, a narrower and short hull. It enabled to scale down the ship considerably, towards a more classic equivalent of the Queen Elisabeth class.

Among its specificities, the 6-in (152 mm) adopted as a secondary caliber and four inches (102 mm) rather than 3-in (76 mm) for the QF guns mounted on top of the turrets, were completed by 2-pdr (40 mm) rapid fire anti-aircraft mounts. These were wise, even avant-garde choices for the Italian Navy, giving the initial design the best AA protection of any warship at the time. However in 1914 it was recoignised that the “all-in the citadel” protection motto was a danegrous one, and that speed could be curtailed a bit if allowing to significantly reinforcement armor overall, alongside a revised torpedo armament distribution, less ambitious but more rational.

Eng. Orlando’s fast alt battleship design, 1913

Knowing that the “grandi ammiragli” class battleships design was still not fixed, engineer Giuseppe Orlando (his father Luigi was even perhaps more famous) redacted in his hotel’s invoice and notes, and drafted his own proposal for the Odero-Terni yard he directed. He also worked at La Spezia with Vickers, adapting many armaments designs.
src: stefsap site (see credits/src at the end of the article)

Design Approval in 1914 of the “grandi ammiragli”

After the approval by new Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Paolo Thaon di Revel in 1912, construction of the four new battleship was started, preceded by a more refined design.
Shortly before the start of construction of Francesco Caracciolo in October 1914, it was decided protect the forward area of the ships (beyond the citadel) with a 150 mm vertical armour over two bridges in height. There were also last-minutes changes in 1914, as the displacement rose to 31,400 tons. The secondary armament lost six guns, and the 76mm/40 Mod. 1916 R.M. were replaced by lighter and faster Vickers-Armstrong QF 2 lb automatic QF guns manufactured in Italy under licence.

The names were also in balance: The four Francesco Caracciolo class were prior to their renaming known as the “Grandi Ammiragli” (“great admirals”) when ordered in 1914. The lead ship was eventually ordered on 12 October at the Royal Naval Shipyard of Castellammare di Stabia, the most trusted and prestigious of the Regia Marina and work started with the keel laying ceremony on the next 16 October. By June 1915, work started at last on the remaining three which by consequences would end as the least advanced of the class. But they were launched anyway.

General Ferrati ‘F’ 1915 alternative proposal for a quadruple turrets battleship SOURCE. By that time the initial design had been approved. These were possibly applied to a better protected successors of the Ammiragli, to be started in 1916 when the docks would be free and the launched vessels in completion.


The keel of the first ship was laid in Castellamare di Stabia in October 1914 and construction went on well, while three other keels (Cristoforo Colombo, Marcantonio Colonna, and Francesco Morosini) were laid in Ansaldo, Odero and Orlando yards respectively in March and June 1915. But as soon as the war broke out, it seemed impossible to complete them, due to the lack of manpower and resources. After a while construction was halted entirely.
Francesco Caracciolo: Regio Cantiere di Castellammare di Stabia -Naples. 16 October 1914. Launched 12 May 1920: Cancelled on 2 January 1921
Marcantonio Colonna: Cantieri navali Odero -Genoa-Sestri Ponente. 3 March 1915. Never launched, BU on slip 1921.
Cristoforo Colombo: Ansaldo, Genoa. 14 March 1915. Never launched, BU on slip 1921.
Francesco Morosini: Cantiere navale fratelli Orlando (Livorno) 27 June 1915. Never launched, BU on slip 1921.
Apart Colomb which was an explorator, the remainder three were renown renaissance admirals.

Launch of the Caracciolo in October 1920

Whatif rendition of the caracciolo SOURCE

Design of the class

Since the start, requirements had the final design down to eight main guns, 381 mm caliber, and to 31,000 tons. Water tank trials conducted in La Spezia helped identifying the best hull shapes, and scale models were use to also test the best underwater protection. This process in fact went one even after the construction was ordered and helped furtther refining the underwater protection as well. Venica arsenal was put in charge of testing indeed the horizontal protection and La Spezia for the oil boilers and connected pipes, so changed were made also to the machinery spaces design to the last minute.

The final drawings were approved in December 1914 and setup overa a 30,900 tons design (standard) but a revised secondary battery of eighteen 6-in/50 QF guns, twenty-four 3-in QF guns and still eight torpedo tubes, plus a still “light” 300 down to 220 mm vertical armor(but with sloped sections, layered armor made of Krupp cemented plating) and just 35+16 mm horizontal armor (that is deck armor) with a final revised underwater protection which integrated a main 24 mm longitudinal bulkhead and 10 mm layers for the crush tubes and inner compartment separating the machinery spaces from the hull. Additional protection close to the bow section comprised two 2 levels of 150 mm thick plating, which rose the displacement and obliged to removed some artillery and TTs.

Hull and general design

The Francesco Caracciolo class was 201.6 m (661 ft) long (waterline), 212 m (696 ft) overall combined with a beam of 29.6 m (97 ft) making for a favourable lenght-to-beam ration for speed. This was helped by the twin turret barbettes. The mean draft was calculated at 9.5 m (31 ft). Displacement as planned was 31,400 metric tons (30,900 long tons) normal load but 34,000 t (33,000 long tons) fully loaded. This was well below the Washington treaty limits.

As for the way the main armament was staged and superstructures kept to the mininum, which wa caracteritic of Italian capital ships: The bridge was compact, with a short tower composed of the conning tower and a two-story structure above supporting the main telemeter and fire control system. The small bridge was a rapported piece in front of the conning tower, just above “B” turret’s roof line. They were to be equipped with two tripod masts, although some designers, like Orlando, professed the idea of corbel or lattice masts. The two tripods were of equal height and size, the foremast supporting a spotting top and two projectors, and the main mast, located just in front of the aft funnel (which was shorter than the forefunnel) supported the rear spotting top.

The estimated crew comprised 40 officers and 1,200 ratings. There were around six service boats located in between funnels, served with an axial crane, with probably more planned under davits (location unknown). But the real innovation of the design was the placement of the main turrets: In 1914, the initial design shown a classic superfiring arrangement with the two pairs relatively close together like the previous Doria class. However as the construction was well engaged in 1915, last minute changes were operated, confirmed past-mid 1916 and shown in the final draft in 1919: The four barbettes had been moved far apart of each others.

The driving idea was to keep themelves widely separated for security reasons: If one was hit, the fire could spread in theory in the second one, destriying half the armament in one go. By spreading the turrets this way, this was less likely. Similar design solutions were also chosen in Germany as shown by the caracteristic aft turrets far apart of late battlecruisers. “B” and “X” turrets therefore were placed not in barbettes but in superstructures, which was needed to increase accomodations, and added the benefit of a supplementary protection around the barbettes.
It should be said by keeping the turrets closer together, engineers could have saved armour weight by considerably reducing the citadel’s lenght, and thus reinforced it considerably, possibly reaching 350-360 mm instead of 300 and making it immune to same caliber instead of 12-in or 14-in caliber only. Would have it be worthwile in the end ? Between the use of sloped armor and Krupp Cemented plating, and due to the high speed requirement, the choice made in the end seemed valid at the time.


The Caracciolo class were to be powered by four Parsons steam turbines. They were built locally under licence. Each of these was driving a single shaft, with staged outer and inner pairs. As usual in this configuration, a play was made between lower and higher pressure turbines, the inner ones kept for cruising and the outer ones for speed. The turbines themelves had a double stage, of low and higher pressure.

Steam came from twenty oil-fired Yarrow type boilers. Their exhausts were trunked into two large funnels of various heights, equal in the 1914 design and anf with a taller forefunnel (and caps) in the revised 1919 design. The turbines were rated at 105,000 shaft horsepower (78,000 kW). This enabled a top speed of 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph). At economical speed of 10 knots range was still of 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km; 9,200 mi), perfectly adequate for the Mediterranean. It was 4800 nm for the Doria class for example. It was in small part due to efficiency but moreover of a far larger fuel capacity given the larger hull and greater compartimentation. Keeping the same 20 boilers from the Doria to the Caracciolo, even all oil-fed (mixed on the Doria) did not explained the enormous output difference between the 30,000 shp of the former and 105,000 shp (more than trice as much !).

Both the turbines and boilers were larger, the latter being higher pressure and using superheated steam, in short more efficient overall. Indeed going from 21 to 28 knots was an enormous change, which proportionally forced the tripling of output given the also larger hull, from 23,000 to 32,000 tonnes standard, 9,000 tonnes more. In any circumstances 28 knots for a capital ship was considerable. This was five knots more than the British QE class, way more than the French planned Normandie class, and about the same as battlecruisers. This alone made the Caracciolo the first true “fast battleships” ever built, even if they were never completed. It could be argued that the German battlecruisers were so well protected that the 28-kts Mackensen class were equivalent to the Caracciolo in overall caracteristics, which included the main armament. Italy had at the same time started its next generation battleships as well as its first battlecruisers in the same package. They would have been certainly more relevant that the Doria/Cavour class in 1940, but postwar conditions completely changed the deal and we are left with conjectures.

Armour protection layout

As planned, Early 1915

The main armor was entirely made of Krupp cemented steel, manufactured under licence by Terni (Odero Yard, Sestri Ponente). The main belt armor reached 303 mm (11.9 in) only. The horizontal protection (armor deck and battery deck above) consisted of a 50 mm (2 in) thick deck, with a two-layered approach, a 35 mm (1.37 in) KCA main layer and a softer steel layer of 16 mm. The battery deck was proably only 16 mm (0.6 in) thick, as the weather deck.

The main conning tower was massive, both in height (she went down to the citadel and towered above the roofline of “B” turret) and thickness with walls 400 mm (16 in) thick. The same protection was applied to the main battery turrets with faces the same thickness (and slopes, making them immune to even 16-in caliber), the secondary casemate guns being protected by 220 mm (8.7 in) plating.
The vertical armor did not exceeded 300 mm, but the 30° slope artificially accentuated its thickness, although it was still weak against parabolic shells. The citadel was closed fore and aft by 220 mm (8.7 in) transverse bulkheads.

As revised 1917-19

In the meanwhile, war experience showed the importance of a good ASW defence and the designed was revised by adopting a common solution also chosen by the Royal Navy and derived from experiences conducted on old, discarded hulls. The solution chosen though was not as efficient as the one adopted by the Kaiserliche Marine, which was based on a larger large range of simulation, each time verifying the effects of the explosion on a 1:1 mock up hull.

The Jutland/Skagerrak experiences on long, parabolic fire also had an effect on revising the obviously insufficient horizontal protection still possible at this stage of contruction. This led to a further revision of the design but that that stage, forced to add the extra armour, 90-110 mm (3.5 – 4.3 in) directly over the weather deck. This enhanced the usual curved shape but this compromised stability. The barbettes where also increased up to 400 mm (300 mm before). The new protected deck was added to the same lateral protection still comprising a double layer of 300 and 220 mm in thickness, but the underwater protection remained whoefully insufficient. If these vessels would have been still around in 1941-42, they could have been defeated even by aerial torpedoes.


The main armament was unchanged basically since 1913 when fixed on only eight guns. The development of this ordnance however took time. Secondary armament was also revised and in 1914, the light armament took a far more AA or dual purpose coloration which was avant-guard for the time. The torpedo tubes were not however, but Jutland would soon relativise their utility.


Francesco Caracciolo and her sisters had the same main battery of eight 40-caliber Cannone navale da 381/40 guns. They were located in in four twin gun turrets mounted on the centerline in “superfiring pairs” fore and aft, but pushed as the design progress further apart.

Italy planned four dreadnought battleships to succeed the two Andrea Doria with 381 mm (15 in) guns already in 1912 when the construction of the British Queen Elizabeth class was decided. Thirty guns were ordered in 1913 as soon as a proposition submitted to Ansaldo-Schneider, Armstrong-Pozzuoli, and Vickers-Terni. They all had identical ballistic performance, but differed in construction. The British Vickers-Terni in the end was the preffered design, and ten more ordered in 1914 from Armstrong-Pozzuoli. The Italo-French Ansaldo guns however were close contenders, weighing only 63 long tons (64 t) whereas the Armstrong’s 83.56 long tons.

The Cannone navale tested in 1913-1915 were 381mm/40 with a total overall length, barrel included, of 15.74 meters (51 ft 8 in), the barrel itself being 15.24 meters (50 ft) long. The propellant depending on the shell type was weighting between 148 or 150 kilograms (326 or 331 lb). Rate of fire depending on the loading angle and mount, circa one round per minute for the battleships guns. Indeed they were used instead on improvized monitor mounts and railways during the war. They fired a standard AP shell at 885-kilogram (1,951 lb) and 700 meters per second (2,300 ft/s), up to 19,800 meters (21,700 yd) in range. To compare the British 15-in Mark 1 fired twice as fast (2 rpm), faster at 2,450–2,640 feet per second (750–800 m/s) with supercharge and way further at 33,550 yards (30,680 m) on the later war version. However this range was on the standard naval round, at 20°, the Monitor’s mounts could elevate for some to 30° and enable a range of 27,300 m (29,900 yd) which was closer. These were compatrable shells, the British ones being slightly lighter at 1,938 pounds (879 kg). More on navweaps
As said above, if the ships were suspended, the 26 guns manufactured in all were put to good use on a variety of monitors on the north adriatic front (Isonzo). Those not ported on railway cars mounts, were used in fortifications. Post-WW1 these were increasingly seen as an obsolete gun, with plans either to rechambered these or work on the mount to obtain a better range and faster loading. A highly modified version was developed in the late 1920s and adopted for the Littorio class many years later.


The secondary armament of the ships was planned to be eighteen and then only twelve Cannone navale da 152/50 (6 in) guns, 6-inches guns of Italo-British design. They were still quite a heavier, longer range caliber compared to the 135 mm of the Doria class.
They were classically mounted in casemates, clustered amidships in the battery deck which opened in two series broadly forward covering well the weather deck. This ensured six in chase, retreat and on broadside as well.
It should be said that these casemate guns did not made unanimity. Some Italian engineers (Like General Ferretti) defended turrets instead, placed above the deck and less subject to water spray, as well as a greater arc of fire fore and aft. However experience of twin 6-in turrets in 1913 was limited and pose problems of its own, notably the size of wings barbettes and complications for loading and citadel protection. They fired 50-kilogram (110 lb) AP or HE shells at a muzzle velocity of 850 meters per second (2,800 ft/s), one roudn a minute, and a mount allowing a 20° elevation max, making for a range of 19.4 km (12 mi). They could traverse 60 degrees and also depress to −5 degrees and were still “wet” in heavy seas as waves crashing on the foredeck could reach all the way to the battery. Instead of placing them in the hull instead, which would have force to raise the whole hull (and increase weight), this was a sensible weight-saving solution. Superstructure casemates seems also a new tendency in 1912-14, in France and Germany also.

DP/AA/light Guns

The anti-torpedo armament was to comprise originallt standard 57 and 47 mm, probably Arsmtrong and Hotchkiss. But in 1914 it was entirely revise and boldly, dual purpose armament with good anti-aircraft capabilities was chosen with eight Cannone da 102/45 (4 in)/45 guns. These were a rather modern Franco-British design from Amstrong-Schneider, as both countries were looking at the same type dual puspose gun in WWI. The Cannone 102/45 was in tuen licensed copy of the QF 4 inch Mk V, using a horizontal or vertical sliding breech block and semi-automatic action, fixed quick-fire ammunition. They fired a 13.75-kilogram (30.3 lb) unitary HE shell at 850 meters per second (2,800 ft/s) wich could reach 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) at +35° against ships and had a ceiling of 8,000 m (26,000 ft). They could have shattered any biplane of the time, being able in addition of 7rpm, so seven volleys for each main and secondary battery shots. These were located either on the main turrets and/or battery deck roof.

This was further reinforced by twelve 40-millimeter (1.6 in) guns, essentially British Bofors equivalents (QF 2-pdr) which was well complementing the 102 mm guns. These were essentially the same as the British models, made under licence by Ansalso as the ships were built in 1917. Same performances, short range but very high rate of fire. They were presumably to be located on the the main turrets (eight) and the remainder four in the bridge structure or deck. Indeed the smaller calibers are nor shown in plans.


As was typical for capital ships of the period, the Francesco Caracciolo class were also given their initially planned eight torpedo tubes. These were either 450 mm (17.7 in) or 533 mm (21 in) in diameter. This has no tbeen clarified. The exact type is not known either. Read more.

⚙ F. Caracciolo super-dreadnoughts specifications

Displacement 31 400 – 34 000 T. FL (33,000 long tons full load)
Dimensions 212 x 29,6 x 9,5 m (696 ft x 97 ft 1 in x 31 ft 2 in)
Propulsion 4 shafts Parsons turbines, 20 Yarrow boilers, 105,000 shp (78,000 kW)
Speed 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph)
Range 8,000 nmi (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Armament (1917) 8 x 381 (4×2), 12 x 152, 8 x 102, 12 x 40, 8 x 533 mm TTs sub
Protection Belt 303, Decks 40, Blockhaus 400, turrets 400, casemates 220 mm
Crew 1400

Caracciolo – author’s illustration

Construction and Fate

From the entry of Italy into the war in April 1915, priorities were entirely reshuffled by the Admiralty. The latter wanted construction of lighter units more economical and faster to build to cover the needs notably of interdicting the Adriatic to the Austro-Hungarian Navy and operate in the confines of the Ionian sea against the Turks. The maintenance and repair of existing units was soon also completely overruling congoing construction, especially four ships as complex, ciostly and cost-intensive as the Caracciolo class. They were no longer relevant in the new context. Entente Navies indeed had a clear advantage in battleships over the central empires, making the acceptance of new battleships even less desirable in the immediate context of the time.

The construction of the four Caracciolo was thus officially suspended in March 1916. Shortages of steel slowed their construction already before Italy entered the war, and after being suspended it was estimated that 9,000 t (8,900 long tons) of steel had been assembled for Francesco Caracciolo alone at this point. On her side, Cristoforo Colombo had just seen 12.5 percent of her hull completed, 5 percent of the machinery assembled. It was even far less for the remainder two, below 8%. Apart the bottom plates aroud the keel and some framing, little more was assembled. Two of the heavy guns intended from Cristoforo Colombo were soon removed and shipped to be installed aboard the monitor Faà di Bruno, those from Alfredo Cappellini coming from Francesco Morosini, the two Monte Santo and four Monte Grappa-class monitors having the remaining ones. The Regia Esercito also took delivery of four Cannone da 381/40 AVS railroad guns for its opetations on the Isonzo front, the remaining spare gns being pressed into coast-defense fortifications, notably around venice.

A nice what-if of the Caracciolo if completed and in service in 1940-43 SRC

RN Caracciolo herself, whose commissioning was originally planned to happen in late 1917 was still impressive on paper and no decision was taken about her fate and of her sister still in the slipways. Too much has been built to justify their demolition, other than that a particular need of steel. Which never presented this emergency until 1918. In 1919, Italy entirely reassessed her priority again. The cost of the war and prominent pacifism of the time precluded any “large fleet” plans and the admiraklty itself was still digestin the lessons of WWI before choosing any future orientation. The situation was also still “volatile”, especially in the Balnkans with the recent creation of Yugoslavia, a civil war in Turkey and conflict with Greece.

At least, the international context brought a fast decision: The treaty of Washington not only capped the Italian Tonnage, it also excluded completion of new battleships, even those planned before the war. France was in no better shape with her four Normandie class either. However the path taken was not to convert the completed hull as an aircraft carrier, as France did with the Bearn. The Admiralty was rather conservative towards the idea of using carriers.

When the official cancellation occurred, 9,000 tons of the Carracciolo hull had been assembled already and its new owner, the “Navigazione Generale Italiana”, proposed a reconversion into a civilian ships, ideally a liner. She was purchased, launched in October 1920 for a future completion. But the conversion project into a liner on the engineering point made little sense, and it was seemed in the end not realistic, dropped afterwards. There has been discissions about a conversion as an aicraft carrier (see later), but in the end, the admiralty wanted quality steel for its new heavy cruisers and decided to have all four scrapped on their slipways for the last three, and the hull of Caracciolo dismantled. Their precious artillery was kapt where it wa sinstalled until WW2, and that included the twin turret on Faa’ di Bruno.

1919: The construction is relaunched

Revised design in 1919 src: Le navi da battaglia classe “Caracciolo”, A Mascolo, Storia Militare. via https://stefsap.wordpress.com.

Work resumed on Francesco Caracciolo in October 1919 but completion was still far away. Not only resourcves but also manpower was lacking. The Regia Marina however considered a flush-decked aircraft carrier conversion (like HMS Argus), but in 1919 the poor economic situation of Italy and the soon costly Italian pacification campaigns in Libya saw the naval budget curtailed. In 1919 ship’s design specs were: 31.400 tons standard, 34.000 tons full load, 212,08 m x 29,6 m x ,50 m draught, 20 Yarrow boilers, 4 Parsons turbine, 70.000 HP up to 105.000 HP forced, 8,0000 miles ranges based on 1,800 oil tons, same armamenr but eight 102mm/35 AA and sixteen 40mm/39 QF, main belt 300 mm (max vertical) and 90 mm to 110mm for the armored decks and horizontal protection in general).

The last-ditch aircraft carrier conversion project

The first conversion project of Caracciolo in 1920.
In 1919, the Regia Marina considered the idea of converting her into an aircraft carrier (see also Italian interwar carrier projects). Duing negotiations at the Washington Naval Conference the 61,000 metric tons (60,000 long tons) battleship limit now included a converted Francesco Caracciolo and newly purpose-built ships. But still, limits on aicraft carriers were left open. Inexistant limits under 10,000 tonnes, and some global tonnage. Thus, a new conversion design was prepared, this time, not “flush deck”, but more mature. In between before the Washington treaty was signed, the Ansaldo shipyard still proposed converting Francesco Caracciolo into a floatplane carrier which was a cheaper alternative. But even this was too expensive for the Regia Marina in 1920.
In 1922, the new design examined by the Regia Marina was featuring an island superstructure, and specially prepared for Francesco Caracciolo. It receive a favouable overview, but again, chronic budgetary problems led to a thord cancellation.

Ultimate Fate

As well as budgetary problems, the senior Italian navy commanders could not agree on the shape of the post-war Regia Marina, with one faction advocating for aa traditional surface battle fleet, while a second (Romeo Bernotti, his assistant and Giuseppe Fioravanzo) believed in a fleet composed of aircraft carriers and small vessels such as torpedo boats, and submarines. The third faction was led by Admiral Giovanni Sechi. Her argued that a balanced fleet was ideal: A core of battleships and carriers seemed the most flexible composition. In this, he was right; although many still saw carriers like “screening auxiliaries” for the fleet. The other issue was absolute control of the Regia Aeronautica which prevented the birth of an independent naval aviation in Italy to its great detriment in WW2.

To secure budgetary space for new construction however, Admiral Sechi had to make axe cuts into the older ships still in service, cancelling altogether the Francesco Caracciolo class. Francesco Caracciolo was sold on 25 October 1920 to the Navigazione Generale Italiana shipping company in an attempt of a last-ditch trade reconversion. She was to be converted into a fast merchant ship, probably a mix of liner and cargo carrier, but the work was deemed too expensive for engineering reasons. So she was temporarily mothballed in Baia Bay outside Naples. Eventually returned to the Navy, the latter mothballed her untilk finding a company that can proceed to broken her up for scrap, which started by late 1926. Her other three sister ships had been long dismantled, in 1919-20. Machinery from Cristoforo Columbo however was at least recycled into the new prestige ocean liner Roma…

Read More


Fraccaroli, Aldo (1974). Italian Warships of World War II. London: Ian Allan Publishing.
Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-459-4.
Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth.
John Gardiner Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1905-1921
Cernuschi, Enrico & O’Hara, Vincent P. (2007). “Search for a Flattop: The Italian Navy and the Aircraft Carrier 1907–2007”. In Preston, Anthony (ed.). Warship. NIP
Clerici, Carlo; Robbins, Charles B. & Flocchini, Alfredo (1999). “The 15″ (381mm)/40 Guns of the Francesco Caracciolo Class Battleships”. Warship International.
Fraccaroli, Aldo (1985). “Italy”. In Gray, Randal (ed.). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906–1921. NIP
Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One: Guns, Torpedoes, Mines and ASW Weapons of All Nations; An Illustrated Directory. Seaforth Publishing.
Goldstein, Erik & Maurer, John H. (1994). The Washington Conference, 1921–22: Naval Rivalry, East Asian Stability and the Road to Pearl Harbor. Routledge.
Ordovini, Aldo F.; Petronio, Fulvio; et al. (2017). “Capital Ships of the Royal Italian Navy, 1860–1918: Part 4: Dreadnought Battleships”. Warship International. LIV (4)
Romanych, Marc & Heuer, Greg (2017). Railway Guns of World War I. London: Osprey Publishing.
Sandler, Stanley (2004). Battleships: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.
Silverstone, Paul H. (1984). Directory of the World’s Capital Ships. New York: Hippocrene Books.
Zabecki, David T. (1999). World War II in Europe. New York: Garland Publishing.



WW2 Italian battleships

Francesco Caracciolo class battleships
General Ferrati’s 1915 battleship “G” series designs
General Ferrati’s 1915 battleship “D” series designs
RN Caracciolo – Article from “La Lettura”
RN Francesco Caracciolo 1919 design
Eng. Orlando’s fast battleship design, 1913


Note: I am not aware of any model maker making the Caracciolo.

A 3D reconstitution of a “modernized WW2 Caracciolo by world of warships

Calabria (1894)

Calabria (1890)

Italian Colonial Cruiser (1892-1924)

Calabria was a small protected cruiser of the Italian Regia Marina which was to serve across the growing Italian empire. Construction took six years, and she was armed with four 6-in main guns, four 4.7 in guns with the size and displacement of a typical large gunboat. She saw a lot of naval mileage, being assigned to stations in China, North American and Australian waters, in addition to East Africa and the Mediterranean, seeing action in the Italo-Turkish War and reclassified as a gunboat in 1921, then training ship in 1924.

Design of the class

Calabria was a protected cruiser designed by naval engineer Edoardo Masdea, part of the “Regioni” superclass also comprising the classes Elba, Lombardy, Umbria, Etruria, Liguria and Puglia. However she differed from the others by having three masts and single funnel, looking like more of a gunboat than a regular cruiser.

Hull and general design

The choice of three shorter masts coud have been dictated by the need of easier rigging management, but photos shows an improper set of two Yards (fore and mainmast) and three spanker heads. But this was in 1890. The rigging was never installed if ever intended and the masts were transformed into propoer military masts anyway around 1905. The foremast in its original form carried two tops, oa projector platform and a spotting platform above, barely at the level of the funnel top.

Edoardo Masdea plan to have her using a steel hull sheathed with wood and zinc to “tropicalize” the hull from fouling, during lengthy stays far away stations in mostly tropical conditions. She was to be serviceable with minium maintenance and quasi-absent or limited shipyard facilities and so capable of long periods without proper overhauls. For a cruiser, even for 1890, she was small and “stubby”, with a 76 meters (249 ft 4 in) long hull long between perpendiculars, 81 m (265 ft 9 in) overall combined with a beam of 12.71 m (41 ft 8 in) making for a 6.2 ratio.
She had an important draft of 5.05 m (16 ft 7 in) so allowing only limited inlets, bays and rivers (like the YangTse).

Normal displacement was 2,453 long tons (2,492 t) and reaching 2,660 long tons (2,700 t) fully loaded. Her design included a flush deck and ram bow with minimalistic superstructures: Apart a small conning tower aft of the forward barbette, a small bridge platform above, another aft, she had three pole masts with planned rigging, but mostly intended for signaling and spotting. The central section of the structure, around the single round funnel, comprised pathways and air intakes, as well as 8 service boats mostly on davits, and she carried a crew of 214-254 officers and ratings.

Armour protection layout

Armor protection was limited, to the level of a protected cruiser. It consisted of a curved 50 mm (2 in) thick deck sloping downward on each sides to offer a slope to incoming fire. There was not proper armor belt. Her conning tower had walls 50 mm thick with steel plating, enough to top shell fragments up to a medium caliber round. The ASW compartimentation alongside the macihinery space comprised ten sections, but no armored walls, nothing which would have resisted a heavy torpedo impact on WWI. It is likely these sections were filled with coal as customary at the time, up to waterline level, with extra compartments above the armored turtledeck.


Calabria was given by two vertical triple-expansion steam engines driving each a propeller shaft. They were fed by steam supplied by four coal-fired and cylindrical fire-tube boilers. In turn, these were exhausted into truncated single funnel located amidships behind the bridge and conning tower. Tootal output on trials was 4,260 indicated horsepower (ihp) or 3,180 kW. This enabled a top speed of 16.4 knots (30.4 km/h; 18.9 mph). Let’s remind here that the Garibaldi class, a couple of years later and definitely better protected, were capable of 20 knots. Calabria however had sufficient range for its intended role, at 2,500 nautical miles (4,600 km; 2,900 mi) while cruising at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). Although a sailing rig was planned, it was never installed given its absence on the rare photos of the ship.


Calabria was armed with a mix of “secondary guns” heavy and medium fast cannons of neighbouring calibers making in firepower what she lacked in range. Her two torpedo tubes were the only reason she was classed as a “torpedo ram” in the first place.


Calabria’s main battery comprised four 15 cm (5.9 in) L/40 guns. They were located fore and aft of the deck, in the axis, and two on sponsons forward, to have three in chase but two in retreat, their arc of fire was limited rearwards. The guns were British QF 6-inch 40 calibre naval guns, from Elswick Ordnance Company manufactured at the Elswick Ordnance Companyn Royal Arsenal, Woolwich.
They fire a 100 pounds (45 kg) QF, separate cartridge and shell round, the mount elevated and depressed to -5/+20 degrees, ROF was 5-7 rpm, Muzzle velocity 2,154 feet per second (657 m/s) and effective 10,000 yards (9,140 m) at 20° elevation.


The secondary battery comprised four 12 cm (4.7 in) L/40 guns, all mounted individually on side sponsons, amidship along the hull. These were also classic Elswick guns designed in 1885, QF 4.7-inch Mk II (presumably), which used Separate loading AP and HE 45 pounds (20.41 kg) rounds. The gun used a single motion interrupted screw breech, with 12 inches (305 mm) recoil. The mount elevated and depressed to -6° – 20°, ROF 5–6 rpm, Muzzle velocity 1,786 fps (544 m/s) with gunpowder or 2,150 feet per second (660 m/s) with cordite bags. Max range was about the same as the main guns at 10,000 yards (9,100 m) at 20°. So they had the same range and rate of fire. An average broadside volley was five shells strong every ten seconds…


Light armament for close-range defense against torpedo boats comprised eight 5.7 cm (2.2 in) L/40 Hotchkiss guns. They were located along the weather deck and protected by shields just thick enough to stop light fire and shrapnel, four either side. These were capable of 25 rpm (mv 1,818 fps) and also 10,000 yds, but 4,000 (3,700 m) effective.
This was complemented by eight 3.7 cm (1.5 in) L/20 guns which type and location are unknown. This was complemented by a pair of machine guns, liekly liquid-cooled Maxim type. They could have been dismounted to be placed on the steam cutters to cover and landing party, also a part of colonial duties in case of insurrections.

Torpedo Tubes

Calabria was also equipped with a pair of 450 mm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes, likely underwater and broadside. The torpedo type was probably the Siluranti B57 (Schwarzkopff & Rijeka, 1888). Provision is unknown.


In 1914 she had still her four 152mm/40 maintained, all 4.7-in guns removed (two more modern added) also and two single QF 57mm/40 (Two 5.7 cm guns, six of the 3.7 cm removed).
In 1921 when used as a training ship, she had her two 450mm TTs removed, a single 152mm/40 A1891 kept, two single 57mm/40 kept, but a single 40mm/39 M1917 added.

⚙ Calabria specifications

Displacement 2,453 long tons standard, 2,660 long tons FL
Dimensions 81 x 12.71 x 5.05 m (265 ft 9 in x 41 ft 8 in x 16 ft 7 in)
Propulsion 2 shaft TE, 4 FT boilers 4,260 ihp (3,180 kW)
Speed 16.4 knots (30.4 km/h; 18.9 mph)
Range 2,500 nmi (4,600 km; 2,900 mi) at 10 knots
Armament 4× 15 cm, 4× 12 cm, 8× 5.7 cm, 8× 3.7 cm, 2× 450 mm TT
Protection Turtledeck 50 mm (2 in), Conning tower 50 mm
Crew 214–254

Good Gunboat, Poor cruiser design

Calabria, date unknown, prewar, Stae Library of Queensland Australia. Note this is one of the very rare photo showing a semblance of rigging, with folded spanker sails.
Calabria was built in the Military Maritime Arsenal of La Spezia. Her hull was laid down on 22 September 1890. She was officially classified as a “torpedo boat ram” (ariete torpediniere) when launched on 20 September 1894, and then again reclassified as a “protected cruiser” (incrociatore protetto) and after being completed in 1897 she entered service on 21 July 1897.

Her career was colorful: She took part in an expedition to China during the Boxer Rebellion, with a landing party retaking the Taku forts. She served in the Carribean, Atlantic, Pacific (Tuamotu, Marshall), Shanghai and made two more world trips before taking part in the Italo-Turkish war in 1911, from the Red Sea, useing her guns for coastal bombardment. In 1914 she protected Italian interest during the Mexican revolution and from 1915 patrolled off Eastern Africa (24 missions). Postwar she returned in the Far East and back home was replaced in 1924 by the cruiser Libya (herself was classified as a gunboat).

Initially this type of small cruiser had little success, lacking protection and being slow. However she was still able to show it’s excellent agility and seaworthiness in difficult weather and heavy seas, having great stability due to the low lenght-weight ratio. This favored artillery accuracy in her posting role of “quasi-gunboat”. This armament was modified several times in 1905, 1914 and 1921 and her size and speed made her reclassified logically as a “gunboat” (cannoniera). Despite of this, she went on in service as a far from home TS until the mid-1920s which was not bad for a ship designed in 1890.

Calabria’s 24 years career (1897-1924)

Calabria as completed, 1897 to 1900.
Calabrian was built at La Spezia dockyard, laid down in February 1892, launched on 20 September 1894, fitted-out work completed by mid-1897. She was commissioned on 12 July. Part of the Reserve Division (ironclads Lepanto, Italia, Duilio, Francesco Morosini, Ruggiero di Lauria) with the protected cruiser Lombardia, torpedo cruiser Calatafimi, two torpedo boats she started training until prepared for her first overseas deployment.
Calabria’s first mission was to show the flag during a crisis on Crete that could spread into the eastern Mediterranean, with the Ottoman Empire in high tension. In 1898, the Spanish-American War saw her redeployed in the Carribean until the end of the conflict. She safeguarded Italian trade and her own citizen’s interests in Cuba. Back home after a refit she started the first of many, long overseas deployments marking her first decade. She was in Chinese waters in 1899 as the Boxer Uprising started and soon joined an international squadron (“Eight Nation Alliance”). She entered the mouth of the Hai River carrying a contingent of 475 Italian Marine Rifles, which were landed and traveled to Beijing in order to reinforce the Legation Quarter. She landed her own party also to retake the Taku forts which protect the entrance of the Peiho (Hai river).

Back home after another upkeep, she was sent on 20 May 1902 to Cuba, whuich was granted its independence from the US and found there the British protected cruiser HMS Psyche. Both fired salutes to USS Brooklyn. In April 1903, Calabria was in Kobe, Japan, as part of her far east station. She took part in a naval review in presence of Japanese Emperor Meiji. Also included were the British Battleship HMS Glory and protected cruiser HMS Blenheim, German protected cruiser SMS Hansa, French protected cruiser Pascal, Russian protected cruiser Askold.

Calabria made another long overseas cruise from early 1905 with a midshipman of mark aboard, Prince Ferdinando. She departed Venice on 4 February, fitted with wireless telegraphy for testings. She called Gibraltar, which was a success. She crossed the Atlantic to the West Indies, visiting Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) for “gunboat diplomacy” as the country developed huge debts from Italian nationals. She went on along the West South American coast, calling Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Callao and Lima, and rounding the cape, Valparaiso, and finally Acapulco in Mexico.

Calabria in white livery, moored at Fremantle, Australia, November 1905 (Reddit)

On 11 September she visited San Francisco and after crew’s leave, she went on with her circumnavigation, heading to Oceania, visiting Australia and several Pacific islands. In May 1906, Calabria was back in Chinese waters. On the 18th, she saluted in Nanking the French cruiser Descartes and German gunboat SMS Vorwärts. By October 1909, she was back on the west coast, taking part in the Portola Festival of San Francisco (140th anniversary of the Portolà expedition). 1910 was about the same long trip, but not much more is known.

Italo-Turkish War
On 29 September 1911 war was declared between Italya and the Ottoman Empire. The goal was to seize Ottoman Tripolitania (Libya), and the Ottomans made a move to threaten Italiean Eritrea by lauanching an attack across the Red Sea from Arabia. The staff started to support anti-Ottoman rebels in Yemen to free their move to Tripolitania. Calabria was still in the Far East at the time, and received an urgent communication to sail back to the red sea via the Indian ocean. She was to reinforce the small naval force in Eritrea.

After arrival, she was soon joined by the cruiser Puglia, and both started bombarding the Turkish port of Aqaba (19 November 1911) and force the contingent to leave. Hostilities ceased when King George V crossed the Red Sea after his coronation ceremony in India. They resumed on 26 November and on the 30th, Calabria and the gunboat Volturno bombarded a quarantine station near Perim and later to Mocha and Cheikh Saïd.

In early 1912, the Italian Red Sea Fleet tried to locate seven Ottoman gunboats which carried contingents to attack Eritrea. They ignored the flotilla never departed due coal shortages. Calabria and Puglia executed several diversionary bombardments: Jebl Tahr, Al Luḩayyah, and with the cruiser Piemonte (escorted by the destroyers Artigliere and Garibaldino) she resumed her search for the Turkish gunboats. On 7 January, they located them and engage the (unequal) fight at the Battle of Kunfuda Bay. Four were sunk, the others so badly damaged they were beached to avoid sinking. On the 8th, the Italian flotilla landed a shore party to finish off the grounded gunboats, now deserted, with explosives. Calabria and the rest of the flotilla were back shelling Turkish ports in the Red Sea which ended with a blockade of Al Hudaydah on 26 January. Calabria, short of coal and ammunition then was ordered back to Italy in April. Xorn-out, she also needed a dydock refi and compehensive overhaul. The war ened in absentia, the Turkish Ottoman Empire accepting surrender tems in October.

WW1 and late career
In 1914, after her overhaul she had less armament but more modern 12 cm guns and less light guns. This enabled to reduce the crew and overall maintenance costs as well, although she was still classified as a cruiser. She took part in the safeguarding of Italian interests and Citizens in mexico during the revolution in 1914. In January 1915, while still neutral, Calabria roamed the coast of Ottoman Syria, assisting refugees with the armoured cruiser USS North Carolina. Her records are not known for late 1915 and 1916, she was likely stationed in East Africa.

She was sent in July 1917 for a diplomatic mission, departing Massawa and crossing the Red Sea to visit Hussein bin Ali (autoproclaimed King of Hejaz), to the Mecca and was back to East African waters, in January 1918. She showed the flag off Somalia and visited Aden and Djibouti. The war ended and Calabria was still stationed in East Africa, but sailed back home for a refut, being reclassified as a gunboat in 1921, with her armament curtailed again (since 15 cm gun, two 5.7 cm guns, 4 cm (1.6 in) L/39 autocannon). She was used as a gunboat until early 1924, acting as a gunnery training ship for a few months. Due to her age, she was condemned and discarded, then sold for BU on 13 November 1924.

Read More


Annual Reports of the Navy Department for the Year 1902. Washington, DC
Beehler, William Henry (1913). The History of the Italian-Turkish War. USNA
Cresciani, Gianfranco (2003). The Italians in Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Esposito, Gabriele (2020). Armies of the Italian-Turkish War: Conquest of Libya, 1911–1912. Oxford: Osprey.
Fraccaroli, Aldo (1979). “Italy”. In Gardiner, Robert (ed.). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1860–1905.
Garbett, H., ed. (June 1897). “Naval Notes—Italy”. Journal of the Royal United Service Institution.
Robinson, C. N. (1912). Hythe, Thomas (ed.). “The Turco-Italian War”. The Naval Annual. Portsmouth: J. Griffin & Co.
Willmott, H. P. (2009). The Last Century of Sea Power. Vol. I: From Port Arthur to Chanak, 1894–1922. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.


Photo of the launch (De Agostini coll.)

Holland class Submersibles (1901)

Holland Type submersibles (1901)

HMS N°1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (1900-1921)

British WWI subs: Holland | A-class | B-class | C-Class | D-Class | E-class | S-class | V-Class | W-class | F-class | HMS Nautilus | HMS Swordfish | G-class | J-class | K-class | M-class | H-class | R-class | L-class

The start of the British sub. lineage

HMS N°1 on sea trials.

Initial Resistance

The Royal Navy long resisted the idea of having submarines (submersibles would be more exact) in its ranks, ajthopugh the type gained traction already before the US Civil war and especially in Europe in the 1870-80s. France in particular, betting on the young school concept of asymetric warfare, largely invested as submersibles as complement of is expansive torpedo boats fleet, and worked on many prototypes and first series already in the 1890s. The US was not far behind with already renowned manufacturers such as Irish-born engineer J.P. Holland.

The move towards submersibles was not an easy one. There was quite some resistance from the admiralty to this new “dishonorable and ungentlemanly” form of warfare, or basically a sneaky weapon only good for inferior navies. In the 1890s that position was near-impossible to move and indeed, as a weapon of war, the submersible was still not impressive, slow and dangerous, carrying a single spar torpedo or “dynamite gun” as on the USS Holland. In its early infancy with no series in adoption in any navy yet, its future was all but uncertain as some called it a “fad”, like the torpedo rams and torpedo cruisers.

USS Holland

Initial Forays

Captain Henry Jackson was a British naval attaché in Paris, reporting on French submarine developments in the 1890s. In 1898 he witnessed trials of “Goubet” a small 11-ton submersible designed to be carried aboard any large warship. In January 1899, he informed the Admiralty of exercises made by the much lager (270-ton= experimental Gustave Zédé. And its success when torpedoing the battleship Magenta. The Board of Admiralty however dismissed the idea France had ordered 12 submarines based on technical issues and political propaganda in France.
In January 1900 however, Washington DC attaché Captain Charles Ottley reported on his side on Holland’s progresses and the real interest showed by the US government to purchase one. Soon he also sent a complete set of specifications and trial performances figured to the admiralty, even a a set of blueprints.

In February 1899, new came from Paris, that Gustave Zédé was mre successful that anticipated and that a class was on its way. Meanwhile, Admiral Fisher (see later) at the head of the Mediterranean Fleet and concerned that the French might have some of these subs, asked the Admiralty defensive instructions, himself suggesting mines. In May 1899, the Admiralty asked the torpedo school to investigate on the question while requesting a submarine to provide a basis for these experiments. The same month news from the US confirmed the US purchase. Thus Sea Lord Walter Kerr and Controller Rear Admiral Arthur K. Wilson confirmed the need of purchasing one of these to investigate its capabilities, to better combat it in the Mediterranean.

Enters Sir John A. Fisher

Before being a first sea lord (appointed First Sea Lord in 1904), John Arbuthnot Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher, was already in influencial figure in the naval staff. A 1856 cadet in the “wooden fleet”, narrowly missing the Crimean war, with mentors that knew and worked with veterans of Trafalgar, he soon became aware of rapid technological developments, new powerplants with VTE, new casting techniques and the birth of ironclads, pivot breech-loading rifled cannons and central batteries as well as the first turrets, and the birth of the torpedo in the late 1870s. This coincided with the rise of the “Jeune Ecole” in France, which saw the 2nd largest fleet sinking to the 4th rank in 1910, betting everything on new development. Fisher looked at it with great attention in the 1880s and started to sense a possible counter to the absolute dominance of the RN, established as twice as powerful of the next two fleets combined.

In 1891-92, Fisher was Admiral Superintendent of the dockyard at Portsmouth, fighting inertia, accelerate shipyards output, and fight bureaucratic bottlenecks. When Third Naval Lord and Controller of the Navy, she pushed forward for the adoption of the first torpedo-boats units in the navy, and soon the first destroyers. But it’s really as First Sea Lord he drove forward the construction of HMS Dreadnought, and accelerate submarines development with the “A” class. In order to accelerate things, rather than going through the pain of many prototypes, adopting the Holland design, which had an excellent reputation at the time, as paradox since the admiralty suspected the Irish inventor’s proposal was a way to combat the British in the first place, and support the nationalist cause.

A Few works about John Holland

John Philip Holland was born in Ireland in 1841. He emigrated to America to create his first successful submarine, since Ireland lacked suitable facilities for this (clandestine at that), but it was still paid for by Irish nationalists, seeking Ireland’s liberation from Britain. His first experimental submarine was a succes which impressed everyone. He convinced his backers to pay for a bigger vessel launched in 1878, named the “Fenian Ram” (another irish reference).
In 1900, after decades of struggle and disappointment, the US Navy accepted Holland’s Type 6 design. One US newspaper described as “Uncle Sam’s Devil of the Deep”. The Holland Type 6 was the culmination of decades of research and design. The father of submarine in the US would soon turned out to be also the father of British Submarines, quite an irony. But this still was a bold move from the British Admiralty, with probably some arms torned off in the process. It’s only on October 12th, 1900, That US Navy commissioned it first official submarine, USS Holland (SS-1). It should be said that due to the soon established British-Japanese alliance, the IJN will soon have its own Holland type in 1905.

The Vickers-Holland Agreements

The Admiralty naturally started negotiating with Holland’s Torpedo Boat Co., with Vickers Ltd as trusted manufacturer. It was agreed that The Electric Boat Co. which was granted the patents rights from Holland, would license Vickers for a local construction rather than just assemble boats shipps from the US. An order was placed for five. The Board of Admiralty on its trajectory even considered using them on offensive role if trials of defensive purposes were successful, and even to place further orders.

The general election of November 1900 saw the Earl of Selborne as new first sea lord, and new Parliamentary Secretary Hugh Oakley Arnold-Forster, which previously criticized Goschen for his resistance towards submarines, now informed of the secret development, but also worried about the advancement compared to the French. Contract was at last signed by December 1900, for a delivery in October 1901. Arnold-Forster also wanted to involve other companies but this was opposed Vice Admiral Archibald Douglass and Wilson, still unwilling to encourage such developments and give other navies encouragement this was the way forward (since the RN would lead the way).

Wilson considered that by range, the new class would only be able to operate in French waters, and the contrary was also true and French subs could well threat home ports. He saw potential to prevent maritime trade and that it was more advisable to slow down submarine development and rather focus in ant-submarine defence. This was the general state of mind before Fisher came in turn as first sea lord in 1904. However the admiralty was baffle to see the secret construction of a submarine was leaked by a Glasgow newspaper in February 1900.
The Admiralty had to acknowlede it officially in March but Arnold-Forster continued to press for more submarines, always opposed by the Sea Lords. His plans were to order three per yearas a minimum to maintain Vicker’s expertis and involvment in developing this specialization. Again from Paris came news and data showing he French design was technically superior to the Holland boats but there was no alternative to the type chosen.

A secret start

The threat posed by foreign submersibles was recoignised in 1900 at last and eventually led to the secret commissioning of a first submarine from Holland Company. The dock hoising it was labeled as “yacht shed” and there was to be no launching ceremony when HMS Holland 1 was completed in 1901. John Holland provided not only a chief engineer to Vickers but also a team of experienced submariners to train Royal Navy personnel. The first feedback was not encouraging: The British crew dislike the cramped contraption for its complicated operation.

When decision was made to continue serie through the same licence from Electric Boats Co., manufacturer for the USN, the Licence was negociated for a first boat, but was soon extended for four more, and eventually went with brand new facilities created at Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness. They were simply denominated the “Holland” serie. Secret no longer applied since March 1900, and completion proceeded much faster. Holland HMS N°1 or “Holland 1” was launched on 2 October 1901.
The five Hollands built only saw training in home waters. Their all-important task was to train future British submariners. The contract included support from the Electric Boat Co. (which sent a chief engineer at Vickers as adviser and later send USN personal already working on USS Holland and the following). Initially a sixth one was to be built but so considerably altered it became the HMS A-1, first of the A class and really the start of a proper British submersible design lineage.

Hollands’s designs were famous to be fast and deep diving, with excellent agility underwater due to their electrical propulsion, but suffered of being relatively complicated and having poor range and surface speed. In short they were good “submarines” and poor “submersibles”. Perhaps not the best start. It should be said however that the British already had a potential model to be improved, dating back the 1880s: The Nordenfelt type. Although its prime creator was the namesake Swedish industrialist, it’s designer was Manchester Parish’s Reverend George Garrett. The thing worked on coal and steam and was nothing more than a reactualisation of the Confederate “David” of civil war fame. It was sold to both Greece and Turkey through the shady work of arms dealer Basil Zaharoff. However Holland’s boat was clearly a brand new league forward, combining gasoline-electric propulsion, a conning tower, ballast and trim tanks, and dynamite gun rather than a spar torpedo. Clearly the forerunner of modern submarines.

Construction and further developments

Construction however for such small vessels, despite secret was lifted, still took longer than anticipated. The first boat ready to dive was on 6 April 1902. The actual design, from engineer Fulton, was an untested, but improved version of the original Holland design. The main difference was its use od a 180 hp petrol engine. A “Captain of Submarines” was created anew to oversee development work, Reginald Bacon being appointed in this role by May 1901.

He was engineer-minded and quite experienced already with torpedo boats. He soon signalled that the Holland models were likely inferior to current French designs and unable to operate on the surface but in rare, perfectly calm sea conditions. He also criticized their limitation to just 20 miles (32 km) underwater. Finally he suggested that the boats 4 and 5, not yet started, should be revised to improve their seaworthiness. The Admiralty feared Holland would retired it’s “warranty” and thus only authorized the sixth boat to be of a brand new design, the A1, first of the “A-class” and official start of British submarine design.

Design of the British Holland Type

The single-hull was built from “s” grade steel which had been only used previously for the Forth Bridge. She displaced 110 long tons (112 t) surfaced and 123 long tons (125 t) submerged, so with limited ballast. The hull was 63 ft 10 in (19.46 m) long for a beam of 11 ft 9 in (3.58 m). The hull was well profiled according to the design of the time, of cyclindircal section and gradual beam up to amidships. It was however with with an inverted prow fitted with a hook eye, and a deck prolongated to a spine over the upper rudder. This was a “X” type system with four rudders enabling axcellent agility underwater, but no trim vane.
The only protruding element of the bridge was a conning tower, just large enough for a man, reinforced by spinal frames in case of collisions, and dotted with four portholes, the only internal light source in case electric lighting failed.

Vickers, Sons and Maxim in Barrow-in-Furness did not modified one bit of the original design; Except she was equipped with one of the first periscopes in the world a that times, of British design, using a ball socket joint on the hull for raise and lowering it. Her pressure hull contained the fuel tanks, ballast and internal equipments but there was no compartimentation nor bulkhead. Due to this particulars, she was limited to a maximum depth of just 100 feet (30 m). This was however well enough to completely disappear underwater, so out of view. There was no aviation at the time, and ballooning war rare, so no way to detect her but from a spotting top of a war vessel, at the time about 40 m (131 ft) above the waterline, at best. The crew was limited to eight men. Four were dedicated to manage the ballasts and pumps, one the diving controls and rudder, two the single torpedo tube and it’s reload. The only officer aboard had such an inferior rank that a Lieutenant could command a whole flotilla at least on paper. There were not so many candidates for this contraption at the time. Officers and sailors in the RN had an innate distrust for these new vessels.

Cross-section of the Type


The holland type was powered by a Vickers Petrol engine, rated for 160 hp (119 kW), to run while surfaced, venting through a telecopic pipe close to the conning tower. There was also another telescopic air intake behind. To run submerged, she had a Electric motor ratd for 74 hp (55 kW). She ran at 8 knots (9.2 mph; 15 km/h) surfaced and 7 knots (8.1 mph; 13 km/h) submerged, so almost the same, typical of Holland’s boat at the time. Such speed precluded any fleet use, but only harbour defence service as planned.
This was compounded by their poor rang, 250 nmi (460 km) surfaced at 8 knots and just 20 nmi (37 km) at 7 knots while submerged, more at lower speeds.


The Holland boat had limited internal space and also to avoid complications, a single torpedo tube was fitted, a standard caliber at the time of 14 in (360 mm) with just enough space for two more torpedoes, stored on either sides of the tube. The tube itself depending on a compressed air tank located just above. The space there was quite cramped. The opening and closing of the round torpedo hatch was manual.
The torpedo was likely the 14-in Mark IX Torpedo made by Royal Gun Factory at Woolwich. It averaged 27 knots over 600 yards in 44.7 degree water when tested in 1896-97.


⚙ Holland 1 specifications

Displacement 110 long tons (112 t) surfaced, 123 long tons (125 t) submerged
Dimensions 63 ft 10 in x 11 ft 9 in (19.46 m x 3.58 m)
Propulsion Petrol engine, 160 hp (119 kW) + Electric motor, 74 hp (55 kW)
Speed 8 knots surfaced, 7 knots submerged
Range 250 nmi (460 km)/8 kn surf. 20 nmi (37 km)/7 kn sub.
Max Depht 30 m (100 ft)
Armament 1 × 14 in (360 mm) torpedo tube, 2 torpedoes

General assessment

The “Holland 1” and its class had its limitations but they impressed the Navy enough to commission a first fully proprietary British design patented by Vickers in 1902 – the A1. This new class boasted a double propulsion system, both with electric drive while submerged and petrol engines when surfaceed. HMS A13 was the first to test a diesel engine but without success. It was however clar that gasoline vapors into such a confined environment was not thre greatest idea and the diesel would come forward again. Unlike the Holland serie, the A class provided active service for two decades, mostly to train personal, quite an achievement for Vickers.
It proved however still notoriously accident-prone. But nothing could have been done withut the Holland class that came with a fully matured design that Vickers had just to improve. The other important role of the Holland class, which missed WWI entirely, was of course to provide this early submarines training, the next generation starting on the A-class instead. They will all be promoted to officers when WWI and greatly participated in the role played by the British submarine fleet in that conflict.

Another incentive to order more submarines came during the Russian Baltic Fleet redeployment in the Pacific (Russo-Japanese War, up to Tsushima). While transiting in 1904 while in the fog, the “Dogger Bank incident” saw these ships taking some British fishing trawlers for Japanese torpedo boats and fire, before recoignising their mistake.

They were indeed aware of the 1902 alliance and some believed that it was a possible scenario that freshly delivered britush-built TBs to the IJN could await in ambush in international waters. The chaos saw one trawler sunk, two fishermen killed and several more injured, another one badly damaged, further degrading very difficult Russo-British relations since the late 1880s “war scare” over Asian russian crisers and decade long arm’s race. The Parliament obtained for the Royal Navy and order for 28 battleships… but also the Holland and A-class submarines, that can ambush indeed Russian Ships coming from the Baltic.

Experiments with the first boats went on in 1901 at the torpedo school as planned, to devise at first easly ASW tactics. Before the first boat was there, underwater charges were launched at a moving torpedo. From November 1902 when HMS Holland 1 arrived, she was used as target, with live explosive charges. A 200 lb (91 kg) guncotton charge at 80 yards (73 m) caused almost no damage. It was also soon realized how hard ot was to locate a submarine and even concluded it was impossible to attack submerged submarines, only raising more alarm bells at the admiralty about French plans.

Destroyers could carry such experimental charges, that could ideally be thrown off the stern (fore-runners of the depht charges) and put themselves at risk, while inneficient if too small to effectively damage a submarine. Only two charges were to be carried. Other were resolutely optimistic about the subs offensive capabilities. They planned that a flotilla of 3–5 were a perfect deterrence for any fleet close to the port where they were based. And indeed a few years later in 1904, they were scrambled to meet the Russian Battle fleet.

The Holland type initially suffered from serious reliability problems. In 1903 an attempted circumnavigation around the Isle of Wight, on the surface, resulted in four boats breaking down after just 4 miles (6.4 km). The boats were so frequently unable to operate they were lmerely used for testing and training. As soon as the A-class boats were available, which cured all the Holland’s past issues, they would in turn be kept for training submariners and the Holland boats directed to the scrapyard.


Holland 1’s keel was laid down 4 February 1901, assembled in the new famous “Yacht Shed”. In addition, parts fabricated in the general yard were marked for “pontoon no 1”. She was still launched in secrecy with only the yards and some navy personal present, on 2 October 1901. After initial training or British sailors with US ones, she dived for the first time in an enclosed basin on 20 March 1902. Her sea trials only begun from April 1902.

In September 1902 the First Submarine Flotilla, commanded by Captain Reginald Bacon arrived in Portsmouth. It consisted of two completed Holland boats and the gunboat H.M.S. Hazard that served as a floating submarine base. Captain Bacon recognized how dangerous the new submarines could be and proceeded cautiously with training his small band of volunteer officers and men. There were accidents and disappointments but just a few months later Captain Bacon reported that :

“Even these Little Boats would be a terror to any ship attempting to remain or pass near a harbour holding them”.

And also:

“…..the ingenious designer in New York evidently did not realize that the average Naval Officer has only two eyes and two hands: the little conning tower was simply plastered with wheels, levers and gauges with which some superman was to fire torpedoes, dive and steer and do everything else at the same time…”
From the 1902 diary of Lt. Arnold Fosters Royal Navy’s first submarine commander.

While in Portsmouth, along with HMS Holland 2 boat they were soon joined by their dedicated tender HMS Hazard. The latter was a former Dryad-class torpedo gunboat (1892), reconverted for the purpose that year. Together the two subs and their tenders made the Royal Navy’s “First Submarine Flotilla” under overall command of Captain Reginald Bacon. HMS Holland 1 however suffered an explosion on 3 March 1903 due to gasoline vapors, but fortunately only caused four injuries.

On 24 October 1904, she was scrambled with the four other Holland boats and three freshly commissioned A-class boats, from Portsmouth to the north sea, looking to attack the Russian Baltic fleet which just mistakenly sunk a fishing trawler near the Dogger Bank. They were all recalled before interception as dimolacy prevailed though.
Eventually Holland 1, used to train until then future A and B class submariners, arrived at the end of her useful life in 1913. She had been also caught up by rapidly advanced technology and in the worst shape compared to her sisters.
HMS Holland 1 was thus decommissioned, sold for BU in 1913 to Thos. W. Ward for “just” £410. (not many steel to cut out here !). However what happened next added a new twist to her history. When sold she did not have been even stripped of her fittings, which were all intact. However before purchase, Thos. W. Ward wanted her torpedo tube to be deactivated.
While towed to the scrapyard, the towed boat encountered foul weather, and due to leakage or possibly caused by the torpedo hatch being left open, she sank a mile and a half off Eddystone Lighthouse. The Tug’s crew saw her already slowly sinking beforehand and simply released the tow rope, preventing damage to the tug and knowing there was nobody onboard anyway. This was considered a small loss for the Yard anyway.

The wreck was located in 1981 by Plymouth historian Michael Pearn. She was raised, with the full support of the RN, in November 1982. From 1983 she was coated with anti-corrosion chemicals, restored the best possible and first displayed at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum. But in her state, she was not suitable for a visit. Thus, full restoration plans started soon and went on until September 1988. By 1993 the treatment she had soon proved inadequate and she degraded fast again. To prevent further damage it was decided to immerse her in a A fibreglass tank filled with a sodium carbonate solution, and she stayed there from 1995 to 1999. The corrosive chloride ions being removed, painted anew and reequipped for display she reopened in 2000.

She is now listed as part of the National Historic Fleet (alongside HMS Victory and Warrior among others). In 2001 for her centenary, a new purpose-built climate-controlled building was created around her financed by the Countess Mountbatten. In 2011 she was given an Engineering Heritage Award, by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Her original batteries were later restored by their original manufacturer, Chloride Industrial Batteries Ltd (Swinton) and even recharged and tested. She is now cutout for easy access, opened to public at Gosport.


Holland 2 was the second Royal Navy submarine built and had now a non-secret launch in February 1902, being laid down on 4 February 1901. She was commissioned on 1 August 1902 and during her first trials, set the depth record for any British Holland-class. It however was not willful, but an accident. She dove way to quickly to 78 feet. Technically these were rated for 100 feets, but of calculated crushing depht, certainly not a reachable value in normal times. In usual, dives were done at less than 15m (50 fts). In December 1902 she sustained minor damage: A strong current was sufficient due to her anemic power sending off course. She surfaced directly underneath a brigantine and “scrapped her belly”. After a training and tasting career withut much else to report, she was quitely retired in 1911 and sold for BU on 7 October 1913.


Number 3 was launched on 9 May 1902, laid down on 4 February 1901, commissioned on 1 August 1902. Her frist captain was John Alfred Moreton, appointed to the submarine depot ship HMS Hazard and also of HM Submarine No.3. She was the first truly accepted in service with N°5 as the others went into many mishaps delaying it. She went on testing until 1911, and sank during a dive. She was refloated later and sold for BU on 7 October 1913.


Holland No 4 was laid down in 1902, launched on 23 May 190 and completed, then went through its deep sea trials in the Irish Sea, in August 1902. She was commissioned at last on 2 August 1903. Apparently she was completed with the same small conning tower as the others but a “sail” was added in 1905, although there is no photo to show it. After an uneventful short career of test dives and manoeuvers, she was stricken in 1912. Probably under tow to her breaker, she foundered on 3 September 1912, was salvaged and ended as gunnery target on 17 October 1914.


HMS N°5 was the second (after N°3) submarine accepted into Royal Navy service. This was on on 19 January 1903. On 4 March 1903 she was assigned the five-boat Holland-class flotilla, providing a demonstration for Captain Reginald Bacon in Stokes Bay. During this event there was a spark and emanations from the gasoline engine that trigerred an explosion on Holland 1, whic cut shot the even. Reduced to the role of harbor defense and training afterwards she made another display on the Thames River on 1909, and not considered “seaworthy” anymore by the media otr the navy istelf. In 1910, Holland 5 ran aground off Fort Blockhouse close to HMS Dolphin, home of the Royal Navy Submarine Service, not a good omen.
By 1912, decision was made to scrap her and her sisters. While en route under tow bound to Sheerness, she sank in the English Channel off Beachy Head, Sussex for unknown reasons. The same was advanced as for HMS Holland 1: A leaking or unshut torpedo tube hatch, which cause a massive leakage.

Her Wreck was discovery in September 2000, under 98 ft (30 m), 6 miles (9.7 km) off Eastbourne. In April 2001 an Archaeological Diving Unit scanned the area and recoignised, confirmed it as she sat upright on the seabed, reinforcing the hypothesis of a gradual flooding. On 4 January 2005, Andrew McIntosh (Minister for Tourism and Heritage) announced it was added to the list of Protection of Wrecks Act. Despite of this in 2010, it was discovered that the torpedo tube hatch had been stolen. The last dive on her wreck was on 2008, and she had been further damaged by fishing nets, torning off the periscope and deck implements.

Read More


Hutchinson, Robert (2001). Submarines War Beneath the Waves From 1776 to the present day. HarperCollinsPublishers.
Compton-Hall, Richard (1983). Submarine boats The beginnings of underwater warfare. London: Conway maritime press.
Dunmore, Spencer (2002). Lost Subs From the Hunley to the Kursk, the greatest submarines ever lost – and found. Madison press books.
Tait, Simon (1989). Palaces of Discovery The Changing World of Britain’s Museums. Quiller Press.
“Holland I Conservation”. Holland 1. The Royal Navy Submarine Museum.
Chamberlain, Zoe (6 April 2001). “Sailors give a stamp of approval”. Mail (Birmingham).
“Holland One submarine given engineering award”. BBC News. BBC. 4 May 2011.
Hutchinson, Robert (2001). Submarines War Beneath the Waves From 1776 to the present day. HarperCollinsPublishers.
“Naval & Military intelligence”. The Times. No. 36903. London. 20 October 1902
Compton-Hall, Richard (1983). Submarine boats The beginnings of underwater warfare. London: Conway maritime press.
Gray, Edwyn (2003). Disasters of the Deep A Comprehensive Survey of Submarine Accidents & Disasters. Leo Cooper.
Hutchinson, Robert (2001). Jane’s submarines : war beneath the waves from 1776 to the present day. HarperCollins.


The Evolution of Early Naval Submarines: Part 2



Model Kits

Gloire class Armoured Cruisers (1900)

Gloire class Armoured Cruisers (1900)

Marine Nationale, 1899-1954:
Gloire, Marseillaise, Sully, Amiral Aube, Condé

The Gloire class consisted of five armored cruisers built for the French Marine Nationale in 1901-1904, designed after a long internal debate in the Navy staff between three factions to determine the best type of cruiser in the next decade. A compromise was found and the Gloire class was approved in 1897 With a mixed armament of 7.6 in/6.5 in guns, and fleet-capable operations. Completed in 1903–1904, they served with the Northern Squadron, some operating in the far east, Mediterranean Squadron, where all met in 1910 in the 2nd Light Squadron, quite active in WWI. They served in the Far East, North sea, and Mediterranean and all fronts in WWI, including the black sea in 1919. Two survived in the 1920s, and on was still a training ship in 1944. #ww1 #marinenationale #frenchnavy.

Design Development of the Gloire class (1896-1899)

A nice view of Gloire’s forward section during an hommage to Vendemiaire (agence Rol). It shows in order, the capstan, main battery forward turret, conning tower, bridge and concidene rangefinders above, and fighting top with the four 37 mm Hotchkiss. Above was a spotting top and a platform for a projector.

By mid-1897 the three factions inside the navy staff, the Jeune École, traditionalists and modernists fiercely debated since 1896 over a newly authorized class of five cruisers:
-The Jeune Ecole (Young School) wanted fast, lightly armed ships for commerce raiding, faithful to their asymetric naval warfare credo.
-The traditionalists wanted cruisers to defend colonies, a quite extensive network between Africa, the Indian Ocean, Pacific and far East.
-The modernists desired both armored cruisers and small scout cruisers to operate with the fleet. Only their first would be accepted. They had to wait for 1912 for the second.

The previous Jeanne D’Arc, that quickstarted this new serie.

They came to a consensus that balanced armored cruisers could fulfill all these roles. The five cruisers intended to work with the fleet had been authorized already as part of the 1896 construction program but only three, the Gueydon class, would be ordered in 1897. Later Navy Minister and Vice Admiral Armand Besnard ordered Louis-Émile Bertin, Director of Naval Construction (“Directeur central des constructions navales”) started design work on an enlarged successor to the Gueydons with 500 metric tons (490 long tons) of extra displacement as room for improvements.

Artist depiction of the class in Brassey’s naval annual 1904

The 1896 construction program was amended in 1898. It was now to include six more armored cruisers, three of which were intended to be laid down under FY 1898. Édouard Lockroy (new Naval Minister), a politician, approved the new design based on the DNC previous work, and on 17 September ordered the first two in naval dockyards, while the remaining three would have their orders confirmed in 1899.

Detailed Design

Hull and general design

Comparison between the Gueydon and Gloire (Brasseys naval annual 1906 and 1912).

The additional weight decided by Besnard, on advices from Bertin, enabled the new Gloire-class to have an increasing height above the waterline and higher armored belt, with the extra benefit of adding more torpedo tubes. The final hull was established at 139.78 meters (458 ft 7 in) in overall lenght, 20.2 meters (66 ft 3 in) in beam, and 7.55 meters (24 ft 9 in) draft, more comfortable dimensions indeed compared to the Gueydons. This went for a displacement of 9,996 metric tons (9,838 long tons) compared to the Gueydon’s 9,516 tonnes for 139.90 m (459 ft) in lenght but 19.38 meters (63 ft 7 in) in beam.

Conway’s profile of the class.

The crew amounted to 25 officers and 590 enlisted men, more than the 566 officers and ratings of the Gueydon’s. Now, on the general design itself, they still resembled their forebears, with a long forecastle, limited tumblehome and modest ram bow, almost straight, a bridge with a thick military mast forward (with fighting and spotting top, going up), tall mainmast aft, two pairs of heavenly spaced funnels, and service boats on davits either side. For more, plans kept at Chatelleraut seems to not have been digitzed for this class yet.

Armour protection layout

The Gloire class had a main armored belt made with Harvey face-hardened armor plates.
-The main waterline belt was 150 mm (5.9 in) amidships and tapered down to 90 mm (3.5 in) forward past the barbette and 80 mm (3.1 in) aft.
-The upper belt strake was 130 mm (5 in) amidships tapered down 80 mm fwd and 70 mmm (2.8 in) aft. These outer strakes however were in less resistant nickel steel.
-ASW compartimentation extensive: (Bertin-style ship) Watertight internal cofferdam, backed by a longitudinal watertight bulkhead.

-Main-gun turrets 161 mm (6.3 in), Harvey armor all around.
-Main barbettes 174 mm (6.9 in) in ordinary steel.
-Secondary turrets faces/sides 92 millimeters (3.6 in)
-Secondary turrets barbettes 102 millimeters (4 in).
-164.7 mm casemates 102 millimeters.
-Conning tower 174 mm thick walls.
-Forward transverse bulkhead 100 mm (3.9 in) thick
-Aft transverse bulkhead 40-84 mm (1.6 and 3.3 in).
-Lower armored deck (made in mild steel plates) 25 mm (0.98 in), flat and sloped sections.
-Upper armored deck 24 mm (0.94 in) hardened steel.


These cruisers innovated little in this field and retook the Gueydon’s machinery essentially: They had three vertical triple-expansion steam engines each on a single propeller shaft. The idea of three shaft was that the axial one would be reserve fo cruising and the outer ones for speed and manoeuver, with different pressures.
In total this machinery was rated for 20,500 metric horsepower (15,100 kW) – To compare with Gueydon’s 21,500 shp), with the steam coming from 28 Belleville water-tube boilers.
Condé and Gloire had Niclausse boilers instead, a choice of their Yard.
This enabled a speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph), but 21.27–21.88 knots (39.39–40.52 km/h; 24.48–25.18 mph) on trials based on 20,110–22,331 PS (14,791–16,424 kW). To compare with the Gueydon’s 21,4 nœuds. For range, they carried 1,660 long tons (1,690 t) of coal, enough for 6,500 nautical miles (12,000 km; 7,500 mi) at 10 knots. To compare, the Gueydons carried 1,575 tons of coal, for a 5,000 nm raduis at 18 knots according to some sources.


The main difference betwen the Gloires and Gueydons were in the armament’s repartition. They carried the same battery, but the Gloires had four of the previously casemated secondary guns relocated in deck turrets. It was homogeneous, with three calibers, main, secondary and light QF (2 calibers) anti-torpedo boat armament. But the torpedo armament was also superior to the Gueydon’s.


The main battery of the Gloire class rested on two quick-firing (QF) 194 mm (7.6 in) Mod. 1893–1896 guns. Same as the Gueydons. They were mounted in single-gun turrets fore and aft.
These fired a 75–90.3-kilogram (165–199 lb) shells (depending of its AP or HE nature) at a muzzle velocity of around 770-800 meters per second (2,500 to 2,600 ft/s).
Range was about 11,500 meters (12,600 yd) at +15° elevation. Each had a reserve of 100 shells. ROF (Rate of Fire) was two rounds a minute.


The secondary armament was split in two caliber, consisting of eight QF 164.7 mm (6.5 in) Mod. 1893–1896 guns plus six QF Canon de 100 mm (3.9 in) Mod. 1893 (two more compared to the Gueydons).
Four 164.7 mm were in two single-gun wing turrets on the broadside, forming a triangle pattern with the axial main turrets fore and aft.
The remaining ones were in single hull casemates.
They fired 45–54.9-kgs (99–121 lb) shells, HE or AP, fired at 900 meters per second (3,000 ft/s) and with a ROF of 3 rounds per minute. At +15° elevation they reached 10,800 meters (11,800 yd), which was almost the same as the main guns. Thus they completed well the slower-firing main guns.
200 rounds were in store for each of these gun.
The six 100 mm guns were located in casemates, two in the froward section of the hull, close to the bow, two in upper superstructure forward, and two in recesses aft, also above the main secondary casemates.
They fired a 14–16-kilogram (31–35 lb) shell (AP/HE) with a muzzle velocity of 710-740 meters per second (2,300 to 2,400 ft/s). Each had a storage of 250 rounds, all stowed in the casemates, and ROF was six rounds per minute.

Anti Torpedo-Boat armament

Their anti-torpedo boat defence rested on eighteen Hotchkiss M1886 47mm/40 -instead of 10 on the Gueydons- (1.9 in) and four Hotchkiss 37mm/40 (1.5 in) guns, the latter usable as saluting guns but not usable for a landing party as they were located in the fighting top. They were all in single mounts. Oddly enough, according to the photos above, these guns were presented as “AA guns”. They indeed had quite an important elevation that could enable this possibility. But being shoulder-moved and slow-firing contact-exploding shells, they would have been inefficient for this role.
These 47 mm guns were located in various positions: Four on the superstructure’s roof, on the corners, four in hull’s casemated position in recesses, one in stern chase, three either broadside also in casemates, just above the main belt. Their usefulness in heavy weather was dubious.

Torpedo Tubes

The Gloire class received a better torpedo armament, with five 450 mm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes: A submerged pair and another above water (4), broadside, and the last in the stern and also above water, on pivot mount like the ones of the broadside. Underwater tubes were fixed. In between they shared a stock of sixteen torpedoes. The ships could also be equipped to carry between 10 and 14 naval mines. This capability was never exploited.


During WWI, it’s likely that many of these Hotchkiss guns were landed at some point during a refit and replaced by at least two high-angle 75 mm AA guns. Only Marseillaise was thoroughly modified to be used as training ship.
Condé was largely disarmed as demoted as a barrack ships and later depot ship for submarines in the interwar. She was used as a tender for German U-Boats while in Lorient in WW2 and thus, perhaps rearmed with some modern AA by the Germans, but this information is researched right now for the WW2 section. As for Marseilaise again, she had her main fore and aft guns replaced by 164 mm guns instead, also in turrets in 1925. That’s about all which is known. She was retired in 1929.

Author’s profile.

⚙ Gloire class specifications as built

Displacement 9,996 t (9,838 lt) standard
Dimensions 139.78 x 20.2 x 7.55m (458 ft 7 in x 66 ft 3 in x 24.8 ft)
Propulsion 3 shafts VTE, 28 wt boilers 20,500 PS (15,100 kW)
Speed 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph)
Range 6,500 nautical miles (12,000 km; 7,500 mi) at 10 knots
Armament 2× 194, 8× 164, 6× 100, 18× 47, 4× 37, 5x 450 mm TTS
Protection Main belt 5.9-2.8 in, turrets 6.3-in, bkhds 3.9-in, CT 6.9-in
Crew 615

General Assessment of the Gloire class

Victor Hugo of the next Gambetta class. They were much larger, reaching 13,000 tonnes FL, and carried almost double the armament.

Design-wise, the Gloire class were surely an improvement on their commerce-raiding capabilities, with a slightly better range (but not better speed), larger armament and more flexible secondary turrets for better arc of fire, more guns of intermedediate and light armament plus more torpedo tubes for closer quarters. Armour was generally better, and their main armament was still ranged enough for a battlefleet use at the time. But in general they were too weak to engage anything else but their own kind.

Note that in this post, no word as been said about the Dupleix class, which will be seen next. They were started in the same 1896 programme, but the three cruisers were only 7000 tonnes, seen as weaker versions for the Gueydon/Gloire and one-off pure commerce raider experiment (not fleet capable) armed only with lighter caliber, 6.4-in and 4-in guns. But still armoured cruisers capable of combating other escorting cruisers.

It should be also said at this point that the “Jeune Ecole” wanted and had it’s serie of “pure” commerce raider, largely unarmoured or lightly protected from 1894, D’Entrecasteaux, Guichen, Chateaurenault (which even faked a liner’s silhouette !) and Jurien de la Gravière. Better jugdment prevented more to be built and greater efforts put into more versatile and capable armoured cruisers instead. As for “scouts” asked for the modernists, the last closest to home was “Milan” in… 1884. The French scout program was planned by Admiral and Navy minister Boué de Lapeyrière in 1912 but never realized. It was eventually the basis for the 1920s Duguay-Trouin class.

The armoured cruiser design really started to improve afer the Gloire class, which were more an in-between. A transitional class that made in numbers for what deficiences they possessed. From the next Léon Gambetta, the French Navy went for a brand new standard, way more impressive, and ended with the last “six pipers” just before the Dreadnought age, impressive commerce raiders but also very competent armoured cruisers considering the competition at the time.

Career-wise, the Gloire class had a short existence, on average 15 years of active service. The only exception were Marseillaise, a TS until 1929, and Condé, a barrack ships and later U-Boat depot ship, thus surviving the interwar treaties and still used in WW2. She was the only one to survive the war and be spent as target. The others had a rather dull existence. Apart Sully, sunk in the far east, all four were mostly deployed in largely uneventful escort missions during the Great War.

Read More


Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1860–1905.
Dai, Wei (September 2020). “A Discussion on French Armored Cruiser Identification: From the Gueydon Class to the Edgar Quinet Class”. Warship International. LVII
Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One: Guns, Torpedoes, Mines and ASW Weapons of All Nations. Seaforth
Jordan, John & Caresse, Philippe (2019). French Armoured Cruisers 1887–1932. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing.
Silverstone, Paul H. (1984). Directory of the World’s Capital Ships. New York: Hippocrene Books.



Model Kits

None (even Kombrig) but small 1/1750 models for wargaming.

FS Gloire (1899)

FS Gloire (“Glory”) was authorized in the 1896 Naval Program, ordered from Arsenal de Lorient on 17 September 1898, laid down on 5 September 1899, launched 27 June 1900, completed 28 April 1904 (cost 22,081,725 francs).

Prewar Service

She was assigned as flagship, Rear Admiral Joseph Bugard, 1st Cruiser Divisio, Northern Squadron, until 4 August 1905, participating in many exercises between the North sea, Channel, Bay of Biscaye, and Atlantic. With her sisters Condé and Amiral Aube, she carried the remains of John Paul Jones from France to Annapolis in April 1906, also stopping in NyC. Later the 2nd Cruiser Division formed in January 1907 in the Mediterranean. Gloire was transferred there and became its flagship. On 7–8 August she took part in the bombardment of Casablanca at the start of the conquest of Morocco. In October 1907 she was the flagship again, but carrying the flag of Rear Admiral Joseph-Alphonse Philibert.

Bombardment of Casablanca

A reorganization that saw the Mediterranean Squadron becoming the 1st Squadron again and Gloire with Condé and Marseillaise went to the 2nd Light Division of this 1st Squadron, by June 1910. Gloire was still divisional flagship and saw service with Amiral Aube and Condé in January 1911 while the Northern Squadron was fusioned in the same division. All ships but Sully, lost in Indochina years prior, were in March visiting New York City again.

As the turbine-driven Danton-class battleships entered service the 2nd Squadron became the 3rd in September. Gloire hoisted the colors as flagship of Rear Admiral Charles-Eugène Favereau. She took part in a fleet review for President Armand Fallières off Toulon. During a gunnery training on 20 September, a propellant charge exploded prematurely in a main turret, killing all operators instantly, badly wounding another five. The Agadir Crisis of 1911 had a treaty signed between the French and British governments in 1912, a famous agreement that was still valid in 1939. From then on, the Royal Navy would be tasked of protecting the northern French coast and the French would focus on the Mediterranean and defend British (and French) interests, notably Malta, Gibraltar and Suez. The norther squadron was all but reduced to a few vessels, and the 2nd-3rd Light Squadrons were fusioned into the 1st Cruiser Squadron. Gloire was sent back to the Atlantic Training Division by 10 November 1913 as flagship for Rear Admiral Auguste-Georges Bouxin.

WWI Service

During the July Crisis of 1914, Gloire and the other training cruisers of her unit, with reduced crews, were fully reactivated, assigned to the 2nd Light Division, 2nd Light Squadron to defend the English Channel with the Royal Navy. The 2nd DL was posted at the western end of the Channel on 4 August, to spot and captured German shipping as well as escorting troop convoys to France, notably General French British Expeditionary Force to France. On 27 October Channel patrols fell under command of Rear Admiral François le Canellier (flagship Gloire).

Nevertheless some German merchant raiders (like Möwe) did such a rampage that in 1916 the Allies had to transfer more cruisers to the Atlantic. Gloire ended in the 3rd DL and was sent to Dakar, French West Africa in February 1916. She was back to her post in May. A new reorganization saw her assigned to the 3rd DL patrolling the West Indies (Carribean), still hunting down German commerce raiders. Amiral Aube and Gloire left Brest on 20 May for Fort-de-France (Martinique) where Marseillaise and Condé already operated. The four armored cruisers were replaced by the 4th DL in September 1916.

Gloire was just barely back when recalled while trying to intercept Möwe by late December, off Halifax. She was back 17 January 1917. After some upkeep she was sent back to the West Indies as flagship, 3rd DL, until this unit was disbanded on 18 May. The cruisers were sent to the 4th DL, redesignated “Atlantic and Antilles Division” on 1 June 1917, Gloire still a flagship. From then on, the “four musketeers” were only tasked of escorting convoys from Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This work started on 15 February 1918 and by May, Gloire collided by night with the American ocean liner SS City of Athens. Repaired in France she was back as flagship in the West Indies for which was now simply the “Atlantic Division” from 25 June. On 7 July the French were reassigned the protection of convoys from New York City to the Bay of Biscay. On 11 November she was still in this role.

Postwar Service

After leave, upkeep and refresher training, Gloire was still active. On 1 September 1919 she was escorting the ocean liner SS Leviathan carrying General “Blackjack” John Pershing back home. After this, she was placed in reserve for many more years, and stricken eventually on 7 July 1922 due to her age, sold for BU in 1923.

FS Marseillaise (1900)

FS Marseillaise (after the French national anthem) was authorized in the 1898 Naval Program. She was ordered from the Arsenal de Brest (Britanny peninsula, Northwest France) on 19 June 1899. Laid down on 10 January 1900 she was launched on 14 July 1900, completed in October 1903 as a cost of 22,031,750 francs.

Prewar Service

Marseillaise joined at first the 1st Cruiser Division, Northern Squadron, like Gloire and her sisters. She however carried President Emile Loubet to Naples for a state visit, in April 1904. She was then transferred to the Light Squadron, Mediterranean by October 1904. In September 1905 like Gloire, she became flagship, Rear Admiral Paul Campion until placed in reserve by July 1907.

Fully recommissioned in January 1908, still as flagship, but hoisting the colors of Rear Admiral Thierry, 2nd Cruiser Division, Northern Squadron. Thierry was soon relieved by Rear Admiral Paul Auvert by July 1909. In October the Mediterranean Squadron became the 1st Squadron, the Northern one, the 2nd Squadron. Marseillaise and Gloire in the latter were part of the 1st Squadron, 2nd DLC (Light Cruiser Division). From August 1911, they were now part of the renumbered 3rd squadron, 2nd DLC, then 3rd DLC, 3rd Squadron in September. After a fleet review and 1912 reorganization, their unit was reconcentrated in the Mediterranean, 2nd Light Squadron, 1st Cruiser Squadron with Marseillaise flagship again for Rear Admiral Albert Royer from 10 November 1913.

WWI Service

From 3 August, the 1st Cruiser Division became the 1st Light Division, retransferred to Cherbourg as distant cover to catch ships going through the recently created blockade at the western entrance to the Channel, for all German ships which would want to cross there. The 1st DL covered also troop transports of the British 6th Infantry Division, BEF, from Southampton to Saint-Nazaire in September and from 27 they patrolled the Channel at the head of an armada of smaller cruisers.

When the eastern Channel entrance was sealed off by a barrage of anti-submarine nets and minefields in 1915, Marseillaise, Gloire and sisters were relocated to the West Indies. By May 1916 the four sisters were now part of the 3rd DLC, trying to spot and catch German commerce raiders in the Carribean. The 3rd DL was disbanded on 18 May 1917. All four cruisers were reassigned the 4th DL “Atlantic and Antilles Division” from 1st June.
After escorting a convoy of nine tugboats from Brazil to Agadir in Morocco, stopping at Dakar in French West Africa, Marseillaise had an outbreak of malaria, infecting 420 men. The few remaining were only able to had her underway at 4 knots to Fort-de-France (Martinique) on 12 November and the rpidemic only ended in December. Marseillaise escorted convoys from Saint Thomas from 15 February 1918 and until the end of the war.

Postwar Service

Marseillaise was in general good condition post-war and reassigned to the Baltic Division on 18 December 1918 until relieved by Gueydon in November 1919, watching over the Bolsheviks manoeuvers and supporting the allies there themslves supporting “white Russians”. Reaassigned to the Atlantic Division in March 1920, she escorted on 29 June the ocean liner SS George Washington with president Woodrow Wilson back to the US. Placed in reserve the next year in 1921 she became a gunnery training ship, with a few modifications (uniform main artillery, new accomodations) based in Toulon in 1925–1929. Stricken in 1929 and renamed “Marseilles II” to free the name for a new light cruiser (La Galissonière class). On 13 February 1932 she was stricken and sold for BU in December 1933.

FS Sully (1901)

Sully (named after Henry IV marshall and statesman Maximilien de Béthune, Duke of Sully 1559-1641) was authorized in 1898, ordered from Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée on 24 May 1899, laid down the same in La Seyne-sur-Mer, and launched on 4 June 1901. She was completed in June 1904 and soon sent to French Indochina for her first commission. After a few weeks of servuce there, she struck an uncharted reef on 7 February 1905, in Hạ Long Bay. Fortunately where she was, the flooding was gradual and she settled, leaving time for her crew to evacuate in good order, without any casualty. Later small ships tried to salvage what could be, such as ammunitions and guns, or equipment in order to lighten her up. But while trying to refloat her due to tide movements she eventually broke in two. It was decided to abandon the wreck, stricken and considered a total constructive loss.

FS Amiral Aube (1902)

FS Amiral Aube (named after Théophile Aube, 1826-1890, a colonial veteran of the war with China) was authorized in 1898, ordered from Chantiers de Penhoët on 9 August 1899. Laid down in February 1901 at Saint-Nazaire she was launched on 9 May 1902. Completed on 1 April 1904 at a cost of 24,336,000 francs, her crew came from the just paid off protected cruiser Guichen. Assigned to the 1st Cruiser Division, Northern Squadron, she carried out exercizes in the Atlantic and English channel in the same group as Condé and Gloire (flagship). They escorted the remains of John Paul Jones from France to Annapolis in April 1906. She visited New York City (enabling taking many photos, now in the libray of congress coll.). Later she was assigned to the 2nd Cruiser Division in January 1907. Amiral Aube was later versed to the 1st Cruiser Division (in October) and took part in the Quebec Tercentenary in Canada, berthed in quebeck city, just below the famous “Frontenac Hotel”, the occasion to take many more photos.

As the new République-class battleships entered service in late 1909, the French Navy reorganized these cruisers into the 2nd Squadron. From January 1911, she was in this unit with Gloire and Condé and from March she visited New York City. Deployed in the Mediterranean and training by mid-1911 she took part in the fleet review off in September. Reassigned to Reserve Group by November 1911 she was only fully reactivated by January 1914, assigned the 1st Cruiser Division, 2nd Light Squadron.
Now part of the 1st Light Division she was based in Cherbourg, trying to catch german vessels trying to pass the western Channel entrance blockade. Next, she also escorted troopships of the BEF to France, notably the 6th Infantry Division from Southampton. On 27 October, Amiral Aube and Gloire led a fleet of smaller cruisers patrolling until the eastern entrance was seal off by a barrage in 1915.

Reassigned in the Eastern Mediterranean from 24 December, 2nd Division, 3rd Squadron, Amiral Aube, Marseillaise and Gloire patrolled Egyptian waters, protecting Suez, as well as the Ottoman-held Levantine coasts. After all this time at sea without a proper refit, Marseillaise’s machinery needed more and more repairs until the general staff had enough and ordered her to Brest for a full drydock refit in March 1916. In May she was reassigned to the West Indies, looking for German commerce raiders with Gloire from Fort-de-France. The 3rd DL was disbanded and renamed “Atlantic and Antilles Division” from 1 June 1917 and she escorted convoys from Saint Thomas, from 15 February 1918 until the end of the war.

With the Bolsheviks signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on 3 March 1918, she was sent to North Russia, supportig the Allied intervention from Murmansk on 18 March. She covered the occupation of Arkhangelsk on 10 August and was back home on 18 October, relieved by Gueydon. In early 1919, Amiral Aube was reassigned like her sisters to the Atlantic Division and eventually placed in reserve in March 1920, in Lorient. She was stricken on 7 July 1922 and sold for BU in 1924.

FS Condé (1902)

FS Condé (after Louis Condé, famous Louis XIV’s generalissimo) was authorized in the 1896 Naval Program. Ordered from Arsenal de Cherbourg, on 17 September 1898 and then Arsenal de Lorient, 8 April 1898, she was eventually laid down on 29 January 1901 in the same slipway of FS Gloire. Launched the last in her class, on 12 March 1902, she was completed on 12 August 1904 at a cost of 21,594,975 francs.

Assigned to the 1st Cruiser Division, Northern Squadron with Gloire and Amiral Aube she had about the same career as the latter. She was in the Mediterranean Squadron by 1906. When the Light Squadron was split in half, Condé, Gloire and Amiral Aube went into the 2nd Light Division and from January 1911, 2nd Squadron. By August, she was in the 3rd Sqn, 3rd DL. Next the 2nd Light Squadron, 1st Cruiser Squadron, Atlantic Division in the French West Indies by early 1914. She took part in the US occupation of Veracruz by April 1914, protecting French citizens and interests off Mexico during the Revolution.

After the July Crisis, Condé and Descartes were at Veracruz in Mexico when recalled home. On 4 August they were assigned to the British 4th Cruiser Squadron trying to catch SMS Karlsruhe last spotted in the area. On 16 October, Condé teamed with HMS Berwick looking for other ships reported off the coast of Brazil. They were looking for the approaching German East Asia Squadron and prevent it to cross the Panama Canal as the US at the time were still neutral. The British Admiralty concentrated all its assets in the West Indies, including Condé on 8 November. However Von Spee was spotted off Chile five days later while Karlsruhe had been destroyed by an internal explosion on 8 November. Condé and Descartes remained in the West Indies until August 1915 and from 14 February HMAS Sydney reluieved Condé which could join her sisters in Martinique.

By January 1916 in the 3rd DL she took part in the search for German commerce raiders. Condé hiwever was pretty worn out after all this time and sent in France for a major overhaul at the Forges et Chantiers de la Gironde shipyard, Bordeaux, Western France, by July 1916. Since commerce raiders were now quite rare, by 1917, the local armored cruisers of the Atlantic and Antilles Division were tasked of escorts from late 1917, and started to cover the line St Thomas-St Nazaire from February 1918. Condé was ordered back alone however to the West Indies on 1 March. She later replaced the torpedoed armored cruiser Dupetit-Thouars in August 1918 and still in the Atlantic Division when the war ended.

Back to France by 28 May 1919, she carried 176 mutineers from French colonial infantry units to Casablanca, to be judged and interned. Condé relieved Gueydon in the Arctic on 25 June. There, she covered the French troops withdrawing from Arkhangelsk and later Murmansk on 12 October as the “reds” were advancing steadily. Reduced to “special reserve” on 15 March 1920 in Brest, Condé became a barracks ship in 1922 for the naval infantry in Lorient. In 1928, she became the HQ for the Naval Infantry School, but was stricken on 15 February 1933. From there, she was converted into a hulk instead of being scrapped. She was captured by the Germans in June 1940. They considerably modified her to be usable as a U-Boat depot ship. She was therefore spotted and sunk by Allied aviation in 1944. Her wreck was refloated in 1954 to be broken up.


Devonshire class Armored Cruisers (1903)

Devonshire class Armored Cruisers (1903)

HMS Devonshire, Antrim, Argyll, Carnarvon, Hampshire, Roxburg (1902-1922)

The synthesis of past designs

The Devonshire class were follows-up of the previous Monmouth an attempt to improve their general characteristics while keeping dimensions and tonnage acceptable in peacetime. Nothing really changed between the armament quite close but with larger main guns, same machinery but lower speed. They all six (Devonshire, Antrim, Argyll, Carnarvon, Hampshire, Roxburg) were completed in 1905 and saw action in WWI: Argyll was wrecked, Hampshire was sunk by a naval mine and the four survivors were disposed of soon after the war.

Design of the class

The Devonshire class followed a path of incemental improvements caracteristic of great navies of the time. They were improved versions of the preceding Monmouth class (launched 1901) with three years of design gap, and also intended for commerce protection, a vital role given the extensive network of long globe-spanning trade lines of the Empire. Their armament was made however powerful to deal with the new generation of armoured cruisers of many nations (including the Russians) and instead of the previous twin 6-inch (152 mm) turrets, they were replaced by four 7.5-inch (190 mm) single turrets, in a diamond arrangement (two broadside forward). Displacement was at the higher en of the type, at 10,850 long tons (11,020 t). The rest was constutited by casemated guns and light anti-torpedo artillery.

As usal to rapidly provide the Navy a full homogenous class without design revisions, the construction spanned six yards at the same time, all ordered in 1902, laid down from march to September to HM Dockyard, Chatham, John Brown, Clydebank, Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering at Greenock, William Beardmore & Company in Dalmuir, Armstrong Whitworth ar Elswick and London & Glasgow Shipbuilding in Govan. Average construction cost was between £866,199 and £912,588 pounds BNA 1905. They were followed by the more powerful Duke of Edinburgh class that were leaning towards 13-15,000 tonnes and with 10 inches guns.

Hull and general design

The previous Monmouth class to compare

The class as depicted On Brassey’s 1905 naval annual

The Devonshire class measured overall 473 feet 6 inches (144.3 m), for a beam of 68 feet 6 inches (20.9 m) (6.8/10 ratio) and deep draught of 24 feet (7.3 m). The general appearance was quite not the same as the previous monmouth class: They had four funnels instead of three, but taking about the same space, so closer together. They looked a bit “hibrid” with their forward side turrets replacing stacked secondary casemate guns, kept aft. The forward bridge was built above the conning tower, which was tall enough to peek above the roof of the froward turret. There was the usual open bridge above. The two masts were raked, the forward one supporting a spotting top and small platform below for the forward projector. The mainmast aft supported a lower observation post and the projector platform was located at the upper level.
The ships carried twelve service boats: Six were suspended on davits along the battery deck, framing the funnels and air intakes, and the larger picket boats and steam cutters used for landing parties and laison in harbor and bteween ships were located on the deck aft, at the foot of the mainmast, served with a crane boom. The crew consisted of 610 officers and ratings.

Armour protection layout

Harvey armour for the main protection. The same scheme as the Monmounth was kept, albeit with minor differences:
-Waterline armour belt: 6 inches (152 mm).
-Weterline belt, outer (fore and aft ends): 2-inches (51mm)
-Transverse bulkheads: 5-inch (127 mm) fore and aft barbettes.
-Main gun turrets: 5 inches
-Main barbettes: 6 inches (above protective deck).
-Main armored deck armour; 0.75 inches flat section, 2 in sloped section (19–51 mm)
-Conning tower; 12 inches (305 mm) walls.


HMS Hampshire’s propeller

The Devonshire-class ships were powered by two 4-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines connected to a shaft each and fed by 15 to 17 and six cylindrical boilers, the whole producing a total of 21,000 indicated horsepower (16,000 kW). This enabled a top speed of 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph). However this changed between ships and yards: Hampshire and Antrim had 17 Yarrow, 6 cylindrical boilers, Carnarvon 17 Niclausse and same, Roxburgh 17 Durr boilers, Argyll 16 Babcock boilers and Devonshir the lead ship, 15 Niclausse boilers
For autonomy they carried 1,033 long tons (1,050 t) of coal in peacetime up to 1,950 in wartime, ensuring a 4,900 nautical miles at 13 kts range.


In short they were better armed compared to the Monmouth, with four single BL 7.5-inch, sinx single BL 6-inch, two single 12-podr, eighteen QF 3-pounder (47 mm) Hotchkiss and the usual torpedo tubes.


The main armament consisted in four breech-loading (BL) 7.5-inch Mk I guns in single-gun turrets. This optimised forward firing and chase firing unlike a twin-turret solution, since all three guns could be brough to bear at any angle, chase in retreat. Designed circa 1901 by Vickers and introduced from 1905, only 33 were built, for the Devonshire class. They weighted 13.7 long tons (13.9 t) for a barrel length o 28 feet (8.534 m) (bore 45 calibres), then firing a 200 pounds (90.7 kg) shell. They used the classic Welin breech block and could elevate -5° to +15°, for a ROF of 4-5 rpm
and 2,700 ft/s (820 m/s) muzzle velocity. This elevation have them a range of only 7.9 mi (12.7 km). However after latr modifications it was alleged ported to 13,800 yards (12,600 m) in WW1.


Their secondary armament comprised six BL 6-inch Mk VII guns, all arranged in casemates amidships. Four mounted on the main deck level, usable by calm weather, the aft one on a two-storey casemate.
Designed by Vickers these fairly common models started in 1899 and arrived in the navy in 1901, with 898 produced (some saw field use). They weighted 16,875 lb (7,654 kg) for 25 tons and needed nine operators. They used a Welin interrupted screw for 8 rpm, firing a Lyddite, HE, Shrapnel 100 lb (45 kg) at between 2,525 ft/s and 2,775 ft/s (846 m/s) and up to 12,200 yards (11,200 m).

Anti-TB armament

The ships also carried 18 quick-firing (QF) 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns along the battery deck, with masks, and two 12-pounder 8-cwt guns (76mm/40 12pdr 12cwt QF Mk I) on the wings, that could be dismounted for landing parties ashore.

Torpedo Tubes

They also carried two single 18-inch (45 cm) torpedo tubes (submerged). One reload each. Whitehead 1900 model.

Design Modifications

During their WWI overhauls, their lower main deck 6-in guns were moved to the upper deck, with gun shields. The four casemates were plated over, improving seakeeping. Also four 3-pdr guns which were located there were landed. They carried their grey livery all along their WW1 service as camouflage was rare on this class, there is no photo to show it, even in 1918 and despite their escort missions against submersibles.

Author’s profile of the Devonshire class in 1914.

⚙ Devonshire specifications

Dimensions 144,32 x 20,9 x 7,3 m
Displacement 9 600 t, 10 850 T FL
Crew 665
Propulsion 2 shafts 4-cyl. TE, 21 boilers, 21 000 hp.
Speed 22 knots (41 km/h)
Range 6,680 nautical miles (12,370 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h)
Armament 4 x 190 (4×1), 6 x 152, 2 x 76, 18 x 47, 2 x 457mm TTs (sub).
Armor Belt 152, Battery 105, Barbettes 152, turrets 76, CT 305, decks 60 mm.

General assessment

Devonshire in 1904. These cruisers stayed with the Grand Fleet in Atlantic escort missions and northern patrols, seeing little to no combat.
After completion, these ships were based in territorial waters within the Home Fleet, except for HMS Carnarvon, which was posted to Gibraltar for 2 years, and Hampshire, which did the same in 1911 and then moved to Hong Kong in 1912.
HMS Antrim captured a German freighter as early as August 6, 1914, then in the Grand Fleet. She narrowly escaped October 9 the attack of an unidentified U-Boote. Based in Arkhengeslk from June 1916, she was later based in South America and the Indian Ocean. In Dec. 1917 she was back home, reserve and back in service in August-September 1918. She became postwar an experimental ship for the Asdic then cadets TS cadets until 1922.
HMS Argyll captured a German freighter on 6 August 1914 but ran aground at Bell Rock reef on 28 October 1915, a constructive loss. HMS Carnarvon captured a German freighter. She patrolled from Cape Verde in August 1914 was in Montevideo by October, leading a squadron and taking part in the the battle of the Falklands in December, suffering extensive damage on the Abrolhos reefs. Repaired in Rio she was assigned the North America station, and Indian Ocean NS until 1918. HMS Devonshire captured a German freighter in the Atlantic Ocean too in August 1914. She spent her time between Scapa Flow and Norway and from December 1916 in the East Indies until V-Day.
HMS Hampshire also captured a German freighter then took part in the search for Admiral Graf Spee and Emden squadrons. Back in the Grand Fleet she started escorting convoys to the White Sea but took part in the Battle of Jutland with the 2nd cruiser squadron. She carried Lord Kitchener to Russia but hit a mine and sank off the Shetlands in June 1916.
HMS Roxburg was torpedoed on June 20, 1915, but saved by her crews. Towed and repaired, from April 1916 she was based in Norway, then East Indies/North America Station until the armistice. During this service she managed to ram and sink U89.
These records shows rare ship-to-ship encounters, but a varied escort service on all seas. They fell to mines and U-Boat torpedoes typical of WW1, plus the usual uncharted rock “surprise” when not a collision. Their anti-shipping campaign in 1914 was successful. But on the grand scheme of things, their combat service history was rather unglamorous as only one, Hampshire, took part in a significant naval battle and had the occasion to fight. Apart their usual ASW protection weakness caracteristic of the time, the fact that one could be saved denoted that still possible, given the place hit, officer’s reaction and crew’s skills. But design-wise they suffered no particular issue, being considered good sea boats (their useless lower deck guns were replaced one deck above), having a good compromise for artillery that was repeated on the next classes of British armoured cruisers.

Read More


Brassey, T.A. (ed)The Naval Annual 1905
Chesneau, Roger & Kolesnik, Eugene M., Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1860–1905.
Corbett, Julian. Naval Operations to the Battle of the Falklands. Vol. I, London and Nashville IWM & Battery Press6-X.
Friedman, Norman (2012). British Cruisers of the Victorian Era. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth.
Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth.
Leyland, J. and Brassey, T.A. (ed) Brassey’s Naval Annual|The Naval Annual 1906
Massie, Robert K. (2004). Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea. Jonathan Cape.
Silverstone, Paul H. (1984). Directory of the World’s Capital Ships. New York: Hippocrene Books.


The Devonshire class on wikipedia

Model Kits

None known. Feel free to add one kit on the comments below.

First Published in June 2018

HMS Devonshire

Devonshire was ordered to HM Dockyard, Chatham, laid down 25 Mar 1902, launched 30 Apr 1904 and completed on 24 Aug 1905 at a coast in 1905 of £900,792. She was at first assigned to the 1st Cruiser Squadron, Channel Fleet. Transferred to the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, Atlantic Fleet (March 1907), by August 1909 she was reassigned to reserve Third Fleet based in Devonport. By 1913 she was fully reactivated and assigned to the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, Second Fleet together consisting of most of her sister ships.

As war grew near, she was reaffected to the Grand Fleet by mid-1914 and fully mobilized, but from August she spent her time in patrols near the Shetland and Faeroe Islands, and eastwards to the Norwegian coast, whereas Devonshire captured a German merchantman (on 6 August). Refitted in September and February that year she resume the same routine without incident. Patrolling the Norwegian coast however from April 1916 she was reassigned to the Nore and later to the 7th Cruiser Squadron, Grand Fleet, then transferred to the Atlantic, protecting Allied shipping by December 1916. This was the North America and West Indies Station, escorting further ships trans-atlantic. She went on until decommissioned in 1919, and stricken, on disposal in May 1920, then sold on 9 May 1921, BU at Barrow-in-Furness, 1923. Her name was assigned to a County class cruiser, just ordered.

HMS Antrim

Armoured cruiser HMS Antrim; IWM.

HMS Antrim was built at John Brown, Clydebank, laod down on 27 Aug 1902, launched 8 Oct 1903 and completed on 23 Jun 1905 at a cost of £899,050 all included. She was assigned to the 1st Cruiser Squadron, Channel Fleet together her sisters. Then she was sent in Casablanca, Morocco by August 1907 to assist a coalition againsy an insurrection thteatening westerner citizens. This led ultimately to the bombardment of Casablanca. Transferred to the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, Atlantic Fleet in March she later joined in April the reserve Third Fleet, Devonport. In 1911 she was sent to the Mersey fo show her guns during the 1911 Liverpool general transport strike. In December 1912, she became flagship of the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, second Fleet.

By mid-1914 she joined the grand fleet at Scapa flow, reinforcing patrols near the Shetland and Faeroe and eastwards to the Norwegian coast. At this occasion she captured a German merchantman on 6 August. In October she saw the trays of torpedo waves close to her, launched from U-16 on 9 October. She multiplied sorties with the Grand Fleet but failed to see active combat. In the end she ws sent to Archangelsk, white sea, to assist convoy escorts from June 1916 before transferred to the North America and West Indies Station, far warmer waters. HMS Antrim was back to the home fleet by December 1917, paid off to free crews, but recommissioned in August 1918 for the same escort missiones until the capitulation. Place in reserve at the Nore in 1919 she carried out Asdic trials in March 1920 and became cadet TS in 1922, then sold for BU on 19 December 1922 at Blyth, Northumberland.

HMS Argyll

HMS Argyll was laid down at Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering (Greenock, Scotland) on 1st Sep 1902, launched 3 Mar 1904 and completed on December 1905 (construction cost £912,588). Name after a Scottish county, she was assigned to the 1st Cruiser Squadron, Channel Fleet, in January 1906. Transferred to the 5th Cruiser Squadron, Atlantic Fleet in 1909, in 1910 she escorted the Royal Yacht Medina during the King’s Delhi 1911–12 cruise. When back to Plymouth she ran aground on 28 December. After repairs in 1913 she was attacjed to the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, Second Fleet.

By mid-1914 she joined the Grand Fleet and stayed in patrols in the Shetland-Faeroe area, and Norwegian coast, allowing her to capture a German merchantman, on 6 August. She ran aground again, this time on the Bell Rock, near Dundee on 28 October 1915. Thus happened during a storm since lighthouses were switch shut off for fear of assisting U-boats. She sent a signal requesting the light to be turned on on a special permission, but the lighthouse had no radio to receive it, not could see the ship’s lights visuals. Unable to modify the lighthouse she proceeded, still expecting using the light at some point, until ran aground at 04:30 (on charted but unseen reefs). The damage was massive and a fire started in her machinery, the crews fought for hours. By radio a SOS sscrambled all ships available and soon, two destroyers, HMS Hornet and Jackal on site, evacuating the entire crew. The salvaged followed when the weather allowed it the new days, for all valuable items on board and this included guns and ammunitions, then she was broken up by the salvage team. Her propellers were recovered only in 1970. The rest of the wreck is still there, a popular diver’s spot.

HMS Carnarvon

HMS Carnarvon was ordered and laid down to William Beardmore & Company, Dalmuir on 1 Oct 1902, launched 17 Oct 1903 and completed on 29 May 1905 (cost £899,465), Carnarvon, named after the Welsh county. She was assigned to the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet but retransferred to the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, Atlantic Fleet in June 1907, and next, reserve, Third Fleet at Devonport by April 1909. Next she joined the Second Fleet still there in March 1912 and flagship of the 5th Cruiser Squadron until the war. She took part in both the July–August 1913 and July 1914 fleet manoeuvers.
On 5 August she was now flagship of Rear Admiral Archibald Stoddart, heading to the Canary Islands from Gibraltar, then Cape Verde. There, she intercept the German merchant ship SS Professor Woermann, on 23 August 1914. The prize ship was escorted to Freetown, Sierra Leone for disposal. Next she patrolled along the Brazilian coast by October 1914 and arrived in the Falkland Islands, joining Vice-Admiral Doveton Sturdee’s squadron. Hence her participation to the battle. (See the article: Battle of the Falklands)

After she arrived at Port Stanley on 7 December, Sturdee wanted to have all ships recoaling from the two available colliers and then start searching for Von Spee’s East Asia Squadron, believed rounding the cape at that time. Meanwhile von Spee planned to destroy Port Stanley’s radio station on 8 December. Sturdee first spotted them at 07:30, caught off-guard, and scrambled the ships. At first HMS Canopus main guns drive them out, and Carnarvon completed her recoaling at 08:00 so the entire sqaudron was made ready to leave at 10:30 with “general chase” ordered. Carnarvon could only achieve 18 knots and fell behind and the pack was led bt the two battlecruisers followed by the cruisers, opening fire at 12:55.

SMS Leipzig was straddled first. Von Spee’s own armoured crusiers were slower and soon her order his fleet to scatter, covering their retreat by boldly engaging Sturdee with Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. The three light cruisers started their made escape at 13:20 and Carnarvon which closed op to 10 nautical miles (19 km; 12 mi) was only able to trail the battlecruisers as theu engaged Von Spee. When she eventually came within range, she opened fire on them but alread Scharnhorst capsized at 16:17. She turned to Gneisenau until the “cease fire” ordered at 17:50. The latter’s captain was asked to scuttle his ship and it was done at 18:00. Carnarvon rescued 20 survivors and then turned to the sinking spot of the other, but failed to pick up more.

Next, the hunt for SMS Dresden started in anchorages in Argentina, Chile and South Georgia. Failing to find her, Carnarvon sailed to Brazil in February but struck a coral reef off the Abrolhos Archipelago (22 February 1915), beached to avoid sinking. By that point she was probably the most unlucky cruiser in her class and perhaps of all British cruisers. After temporary repairs at Rio de Janeiro in March, she received permanent ones in Montreal, Canada (May-July). She departed to escort Canadian-built H-class submarines from Halifax to Devonport. Back to Halifax she stayed there to escort other east-bound convoys.
Later she was assigned to tje North America and West Indies Station, home port Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda’s Imperial fortress, and she went on escorting more convoys until V-Day. She also assisted the grounded USS Stewart at Bermuda on 16 August 1917. In 1919, she became a cadet TS until decommissioned, stricken on March 1921 and sold for BU in November 1921, in Germany.

HMS Hampshire

HMS Hampshire was ordered to Armstrong Whitworth, Elswick, started on 1 Sep 1902, launched 24 Sep 1903 and completed on 15 Jul 1905 at a cost of £872,327. She at first served wit the 1st Cruiser Squadron, Channel Fleet, was refitted at Portsmouth Royal Dockyard in December 1908 and reassigned to the reserve Third Fleet by August 1909. Fully recommissioned in December 1911 she was assigned to the 6th Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet and then China Station in 1912.

In August 1914 she was stationed in Wei Hai Wei, reassigned to Vice Admiral Martyn Jerram’s squadron. Her first mission was to deal with the German radio station at Yap with Minotaur and Newcastle. En route they captured the German collier SS Elspeth on 11 August. HMS Hampshire was soon running out of coal and ordered head back to Hong Kong with the crew of the Elspeth. Next, she proceeded to the Dutch East Indies, again looking for German ships. SMS Emden passed nearby but she was too far away to spot her. She was soon in chase in October-November, assisted by the armed merchant cruiser Empress of Asia, but Emden was eventually sunk on 9 November by HMAS Sydney.

She escorted an ANZAC troop convoy through in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea, then Egypt and crossed the Mediterranean to be refitted and overhauled at Gibraltar in December. She was then sent back to the Grand Fleet, 7th Cruiser Squadron, by January 1915. In November she escorted convoys to the White Sea and was back in time to take part in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916 as part of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron. She was never engaged and only fired four salvos on the II Scouting Group making no hits.

Next she carried Lord Kitchener from Scapa Flow to Russia, Arkhangelsk. Gale-force winds forced her to sail through the Pentland Firth and turn north west of the Orkney Islands. At 17:45 she met her escorts, HMS Unity and Victor adn the gale forced them to face it head on, caused both destroyers to fall behind until HMS Hampshire’s Captain Savill ordered both back. While 1.5 mi (2.4 km) off Orkney’s Brough of Birsay, Marwick Head at 19:40, 5 June 1916 and explosion was heeard, and she took a list rapidly to starboard. It appeared she struck mines laid by the German minelaying submarine U-75 in later May before the battle, part of Scheer’s plans. Not only she had flooding from several holes but her lifeboats were smashed during the gale and in 15 minutes she sank by the bow with only 12 survivors, 737 lost, including lord Kitchener the whole mission to Russia’s staff. Her wreck is now protected, but the propellers were salvaged and are now in display.

HMS Roxburgh

HMS Roxburgh – IWM

HMS Rosburg (after a Scottish County) was laid down at London & Glasgow Shipbuilding in Govan on 13 Jun 1902. She was launched on 9 Jan 1904 and completed 5 Sep 1905 at a cost of £866,199. Construction was slowed due to a late boilers delivery. At first sher was assigned to the 1st Cruiser Squadron, Channel Fleet before a refit at Devonport Royal Dockyard, by December 1908. She joined the reserve Third Fleet until June 1912, then the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, Second Fleet. She assisted the stranded merchantman SS Ludgate off Morocco.

When the war broke out she was with the Grand Fleet by mid-1914, speinf much time in patrols in the Shetland-Faeroe and Norway, captured a German merchantman on 6 August (same as her sisters). On 18 June 1915, she sailed to Rosyth with the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron for a large North Sea foray. They spotted several U-Boats, HMS Roxburgh being hit by a torpedo in her bow (launched by SM U-38) on 20 June. He damage control teams did wonders and stopped the flooding and since she still has her machinery intact, she managed to return to Rosyth, but remained in repairs until April 1916.

At that time she returned to the Norwegian coast before joining the North America and West Indies Station in September like may of her sisters, for escort. On 13 February 1918 Roxburgh rammed and sank U-89, north of Malin Head (Ireland). She was placed in reserve, Plymouth by June 1919, recommissioned for testing radio equipments and train radoo specialists until paid off in February 1920, sold on 8 November 1921.