Cruisers in 1880s

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The first iron warships for the Royal Navy. The Admiralty in 1842, started a program of iron warships which included HMS Rattler, the screw frigate HMS Dauntless, HMS Dover, HMS Mohawk, HMS Trident.

HMS Crescent 30th March 1892 Used as a depot ship in 1917 and then broken up 22nd September 1921.
HMS Edgar 24th November 1890 Broken up 9th May 1921.
HMS Endymion 22nd July 1891 Broken up 16th March 1921.
HMS Gibraltar 27th April 1892 Used as a depot ship in June 1915 and then broken up September 1923.
HMS Grafton 30th January 1892 Broken up 1st July 1920.
HMS Hawke 11th March 1891 Sunk by torpedo 15th October 1914.
HMS Royal Arthur 26th February 1891 Used as a depot ship in 1915 and then broken up 22nd September 1921.
HMS St George 23rd June 1892 Used as a depot ship in March 1910 and then broken up 1st July 1920.
HMS Theseus 8th September 1892 Broken up 1921 and then resold 8th November 1921.
Imperieuse Class
HMS Imperieuse 18th December 1883 Flagship on China Station 1889-94 and Pacific Station 1896-99. Became destroyer depot ship at Portland in 1905 renamed Sapphire II. Renamed Imperieuse in 1909. Sold
HMS Warspite 29th January 1884 Flagship Pacific Station 1890-93 then Portguard ship at Queenstown 1893-196. Flagship again 1899-1902. Sold in 1904 and broken up 1906.
Barham Class 3rd Class Cruiser
HMS Barham 11th September 1889 Sold in 1914.
HMS Bellona 29th August 1890. Commissioned August 1894. Sold in 1906.
                              Emerald Class Cruiser
HMS Emerald 18th August 1876 Sold to breakers 1906.
HMS Garnet 30th June 1877 Sold to breakers 1904.
HMS Opal 9th March 1875 Sold to breakers 1892.
HMS Ruby 9th August 1876 Sold to breakers 1921.
HMS Tourmaline 30th October 1875 Sold to breakers 1921.
HMS Turquoise 22nd April 1876 Sold to breakers 1892.
                              Eclipse Class Cruiser
HMS Diana 5thDecember1895 Sold for scrap in1920.
HMS Dido 20thMarch1896 Sold for scrap in 1926.
HMS Doris 3rdMarch1896 Sold for scrap in1919.
HMS Eclipse 19th July Sold in 1921.
HMS Isis 27thJune1896 Sold for scrap in
HMS Juno 16thNovember1895 Sold for scrap in1920.
HMS Minerva 23rdSeptember1895 Sold in 1920.
HMS Venus 5thSeptember1895 Sold in 1921.
HMS Talbot 25thApril1895 Sold for scrap in1921.
                              Astraea Class Cruiser
HMS Astraea 17th March 1893 Sold to breakers 1920.
HMS Bonaventure 2nd December 1892 Sold to breakers 1920.
HMS Cambrian 30th January 1893 Sold to breakers 1923.
HMS Charybdis 15th June 1893 Sold to breakers 1922.
HMS Flora 21st November 1893 Sold to breakers 1922.
HMS Forte 9th December 1893 Sold to breakers 1914.
HMS Fox 15th June 1893 Sold to breakers 1920.
HMS Hermione 7th November 1893 Sold in 1922 became TS Warspite until 1940.
                              Archer Class Cruiser
HMS Archer 23rd December 1885 Sold for scrap in 1905.
HMS Brisk 8th April 1886 Sold for scrap in 1905.
HMS Cossack 3rd June 1886 Sold for scrap in 1905.
HMS Mohawk 6th February 1886 Sold to breakers 1905.
HMS Porpoise 7th May 1886 Sold for scrap in 1905.
HMS Raccoon 6th May 1887 Sold for scrap in 1905.
HMS Serpent 10th March 1887 Wrecked on 10th November 1890.
HMS Tartar 28th October 1886 Sold for scrap in 1906.
                              Leander Class Cruiser
HMS Amphion 13th October 1883 Sold in 1906.
HMS Arethusa 23rd December 1882 Sold in 1905.
HMS Leander 28th October 1882 Sold in 1920.
HMS Phaeton 27th February 1883 Phaeton, harbour service, Plymouth 1904, hulk 1913-1947 Sold in 1947.
 

In 1842, the Admiralty seriously took up the question of propellers. The Rattler, of 777 tons and 200 horse power was lashed stern-to-stern with the paddle yacht Electro of the same displacement and horse power. Both ships were driven away from each other at full speed, and the Rattler succeeded in towing the Electro after her. After this, in 1844, construction was ordered for a screw frigate, the Dauntless, but as late as 1850, steam was merely regarded as an auxiliary and received little or no consideration outside that.

The use of iron instead of oak as a material for shipbuilding was first seriously considered about 1800. In 1821, an iron steamer was in existence and in 1839 the Dover was ordered to be built for Government service as a steam packet. In 1841, the Mohawk was ordered by the Admiralty for service on Lake Huron, but the first iron warship for the Royal Navy proper was the Trident, of 1850 tons and 300 horse power, built at Blackwall by Admiralty orders in 1843.

Iron, as a material for warship construction was looked on with considerable suspicion, both in England and in France. Experiments were conducted at Woolwich with some plates riveted together like the sides of an iron ship, these plates being lined inside with cork and india-rubber, (the first idea of a cofferdam). It was expected that this preparation, which was known as "kamptulicon", would close up after shot had passed through and prevent ingress of water. This was found to be quite correct, but the egress of shot on the other side had quite the opposite result. The plates were sometimes packed with wood and sometimes cased with it, but the general result of the experiments was held prejudicial to the use of iron, which was supposed to splinter unduly compared to wood.

The importance of deciding whether warships should be built of iron or wood was accentuated by the necessity of replacing those heavy warships which had been converted to auxiliary steam vessels. All such proved to be cramped in stowage and bad sea boats. So long ago as 1822, shell guns had been adopted. Consequently, in the experiments as regards iron, shell fire had to be taken into consideration.

In 1842 experiments were made with iron plates three eighths of an inch thick, rivetted together to make a total thickness of six inches. It was, however, reported that at 400 yards these were not proof against eight inch guns or heavy 32 pounders. These matters were taken into consideration by Captain Chads, whose official report was as follows:

"The shot going through the exposed or near side generally makes a clean smooth hole of its own size, which might be readily stopped; and even where it strikes a rib it has much the same effect; but on the opposite side all the mischief occurs; the shot meets with so little resistance that it must inevitable go through the vessel, and should it strike on a rib on the opposite side the effect is terrific, tearing off the iron sheets to a considerable extent; and even those shot that go clean through the fracture being on the off side, the rough edges are outside the vessel, precluding the possibility of almost stopping them."

Modifications were introduced in 1850 but Captain Chad was "confirmed in the opinion that iron cannot be beneficially employed as a material for the construction of vessels of war." As a result of this 17 iron ships were condemned and it was decided that ships must be built of wood, and that iron was disadvantageous in any form.

It was during the Crimean War where the French had constructed 5 floating batteries carrying armour which helped destroy the forts at Kinburn in October 1855 that Britain decided to build 4 copies of the French batteries.

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