"C" Class Destroyer (1896)

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Forty of the 30 Knotters built for the Royal Navy that entered service in the years following 1897 had three funnels. They were designated as the "C" Class destroyers on 30 August 1912.[1]

Their average cost was £60,000.[2]

In July, 1918, twenty-eight ships were listed as being in service, serving in local defence forces in Portsmouth and Devonport and in the Irish Sea.[3] By May 1920, thirty-one of the ships were still worth documenting as regards their armament.[4]


In 1907 it was decided that Velox alone would be among 42 destroyers (primarily Tribals and Rivers) and Swift to receive radio equipment fixed to the "D" tune of 700 feet wavelength for transmission and with a Mark II receiver tunable to 8,300 feet. One P.O. telegraphist would be allowed each ship. She had her mast fitted with a 12 foot yard 60 feet above the water and received the aft end of the aerial via a pair of 20 foot long spars fitted aft. Her W/T office was placed on the upper deck underneath the bridge.

The short wavelength meant the sets worked less well during the day than at night, and tests between Portsmouth and Portland showed strength 8 by night and 6 by day. Practical tests with Usk showed the following strengths over 50 miles of water:[5]

Signal Strengths from/to
Large Ship Scout T.B.D.
D -/6 -/6 6/6
R 8/- 6/- -/-
S 7/- 6/- -/-
T 7/- 5/- -/-
U 6/- 5/- -/-

In mid-1914, when Flirt was in Portsmouth Royal Dockyard, it was decided that an extension of her docking should be provided so she may be given a wireless system.[6]


As had been done since the 27 knotters within the "B" class, the ships mounted:

  • One 12-pdr 12 cwt on a P. I mounting. The gun recoiled 12 inches and the mounting and its sights were capable of 30 degree elevations (9500 yards).[4]
  • Five Q.F. 6-pdr on Mark I* mountings recoiling 5 inches. The mounting could elevate 30 degrees, but the sight only 25 degrees (4000 yards). By 1920, two 6-pdrs had been removed.[7] [4]

In late-1913, the 12-pdr mountings were equipped with percussion firing gear.[8]

By 1920, those remaining had also been fitted with a Q.F. 6-pdr on Mark IV H.A. mounting.[4]


Two 18-in single torpedo tubes on the centre line.

In 1905-06, it was decreed that Avon, Cheerful, Bittern and Fairy were to have their 10 cubic foot air compressors replaced by 20 cubic foot models to be able to pump to 2,500 psi. In 1906-07, Falcon, Gipsy, Leopard, Leven, Osprey, Mermaid, Ostrich, Otter, Vixen and Albatross were to receive the same.[9]

From 1907, the decision was made to standardise the "A" through "D"s with torpedoes set for short range, allotting them the Mark IV S.R..[10]

Other Weapons


Fire Control

The Technical History and Index indicates that destroyers prior to the Acorn class relied on a visual system for transmitting fire control information.[11]

By mid-1918, these destroyers were among several earlier classes for which "alarm circuits" were to be fitted.[12]

See Also


  1. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. p. 18.
  2. Smith. Hard Lying. Table 4.
  3. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (July, 1918). pp. 16, 17, 19, 28.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Technical History and Index Vol. 4, Part 34, p. 15.
  5. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1907. Wireless Appendix pp. 32-34.
  6. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 36 of 19 June, 1914.
  7. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860-1905, p. 93.
  8. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 430 of 1 Aug, 1913.
  9. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1904. p. 75.
  10. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1907. p. 32.
  11. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 4, Part 34. pp. 15-16.
  12. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 232.


"C" Class Destroyer
Star Whiting Bat Chamois Crane
Flying Fish Fawn Flirt Bullfinch Dove
Violet Sylvia Lee Avon Bittern
Otter Leopard Vixen Brazen Electra
Recruit Vulture Kestrel Cheerful Mermaid
Greyhound Racehorse Roebuck Gipsy Fairy
Osprey Leven Falcon Ostrich Thorn
Tiger Vigilant Albatross Viper Velox
<– "B" Class Destroyers (UK) "D" Class –>