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Royal Navy Cruiser Classifications 1870s to World War One

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The third-class cruisers were generally similar to second-class cruisers but were much smaller with the largest only reaching 3,000tons. They too had protection primarily centered on key components but their size meant they lacked the fuel for long distance operations and generally operated in home waters or from overseas garrisons. Naturally they were often less well armed than their first- and second-class brothers.

As well as the traditional trade route protection, guerre de corse and reconnaissance roles there were a number of third-class cruisers that had more specialized roles. These included vessels such as the Archer-class which displaced just over 1,000tons and was intended to protect the main fleet from the emerging threat posed by other torpedo boats, a role which would eventually give way to the first destroyers during the first World War”.

“Another common role for third-class cruisers was that of flotilla leader for small formations of destroyers. “The ship would carry the destroyer flotilla commander (Captain “D”) and his small crew who would direct and coordinate the small force’s operations which would often be made of convoy escort or enforcing a blockade line for the enemy or enemies in World War One.” “Vessels such as the Archer-class which was intended to protect the main fleet from the emerging threat posed by torpedo boats, a role which would eventually give way to the first destroyers”.

Before World War I steam torpedo boats which were larger and more heavily armed than hitherto were being used. The new internal combustion engine generated much more power for a given weight and size than steam engines, and allowed the development of a new class of small and fast boats. “During the First World War, three junior officers of the Harwich destroyer force suggested that small motor boats carrying a torpedo might be capable of travelling over the protective minefields and attacking ships of the Imperial German Navy at anchor in their bases. In 1915, the Admiralty produced a Staff Requirement requesting designs for a Coastal Motor Boat for service in the North Sea”.

The first new torpedo boats built after World War I were basically small destroyers with an satisfactory mix of large guns and torpedo armament. Today’s torpedoes can be divided into lightweight and heavyweight classes; and into straight-running, autonomous homers, and wire-guided. They can be launched from a variety of platforms. Torpedoes were widely used in the First World War, both against shipping and against submarines. Germany disrupted the supply lines to Britain largely by use of submarine torpedoes (though submarines also extensively used guns). “In 1917 they were conducting experiments with pure oxygen instead of compressed air. Because of explosions they abandoned the experiments but resumed them in 1926 and by 1933 had a working torpedo. They also used conventional wet-heater torpedoes.” In conclusion, Robert Fulton was responsible for several turning points in history. His torpedo, submarine, and steam warship were turning points that changed warfare forever. Fulton intended to end wars with his weapons of mass destruction. Instead, they made strong navies even more important. * Robert Fulton died in 1815 in February 25th. He is always remembered and learned about because of his inventions of the steamboat and submarines. Robert Fulton died 7 days later after the War of 1812.

The War of 1812 was a conflict fought between the United States, the United Kingdom, and their respective allies. The president at the time was James Madison, the 4th United States President. This has to do with Torpedo boats because after the submarine was made there was an idea for the Torpedo boat and I think it was made in the late 1800’s. “As the torpedo increased in capability, it naturally grew in size: by 1912, the 18-inch Mark 7 measured 17 feet in length, weighed 1,628 pounds, and carried a warhead of 326 pounds of TNT to a range of 6,000 yards at 35 knots. In 1914, the navy settled on a diameter of 21 inches for most of its new torpedoes a standard that endured for the rest of the century.” Torpedoes were widely used in the First World War, both against shipping and against submarines. Germany disrupted the supply lines to Britain largely by use of submarine torpedoes (Also used very dangerous machinery and guns). Britain and its allies also used torpedoes throughout the war. “A torpedo tube is a cylinder shaped device for launching torpedoes. There are two main types of torpedo tube: underwater tubes fitted to submarines and some surface ships, and deck-mounted units (also referred to as torpedo launchers) installed aboard surface vessels. One torpedo right now in the present time is called “Mark 48” Torpedo.

The Mark 48 Torpedo is used to sink deep-diving nuclear-powered submarines and high-performance surface ships.” The average cost of this torpedo will be about 4 Million dollars. This torpedo isn’t just used for the United States Navy, it’s also used for Brazilian Navy Royal, Australian Navy Royal, Canadian Navy Royal, Netherlands Navy, and The Republic of China Navy. This torpedo weighs about 3,700 lbs! But, the length is about 19 feet max. This torpedo goes 63 miles per hour and is only used for submarines and torpedo boats not airplanes or jets, “Air Force.” Another torpedo is called an aerial torpedo, “airborne torpedo or air-dropped torpedo is a naval weapon, a torpedo, that an aircraft fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter drops in the water, after which the weapon propels itself to the target. The term “aerial torpedo” meant flying bombs and pilotless drone aircraft used as weapons, the precursor to modern cruise missiles. Today, the term refers primarily to water-borne torpedoes launched from the air”.

“On May 1, 1917, a German seaplane loosed a torpedo and sank the 2,784-long-ton (2,829 tons) British steamship Gena off Suffolk. A second German seaplane was downed by gunfire from the sinking Gena. German torpedo bomber squadrons were subsequently assembled at Ostend and Zeebrugge for further action in the North Sea. Given the way military technology spreads, once torpedo boats were introduced, a new class of small, fast warships had to be designed and built to defend capital ships from torpedo boats”. In addition to being relatively small and swift, these new warships had to be heavily armed so they could sink a lot of torpedo boats and big enough to screen the heavy battle fleet from this fearful swarm. Technology provided an additional method for locating a submerged submarine.

The destroyers were fitted with a microphone that detects sound waves on their bow and stern from the submarines motors. Three boats acting in concert, could by surveying pinpoint the exact location of the U-boat. To the everlasting confusion of naval historians as well as those who enjoy reading naval history, after World War One, the German Navy dropped the word “destroyer” and kept the words “torpedo boat”.

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Royal Navy Cruiser Classifications 1870s to World War One. (2019, January 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from
“Royal Navy Cruiser Classifications 1870s to World War One.” GradesFixer, 15 Jan. 2019,
Royal Navy Cruiser Classifications 1870s to World War One. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Dec. 2022].
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