Category:Destroyer Class (UK)

From The Dreadnought Project
Jump to: navigation, search

British destroyers were initially built in a hodge-podge fashion as Britain, and her shipbuilders, tried to quickly determine the best design practices to produce the optimum weapons platform.

Early T.B.Ds.: 1894-1904

The first British destroyers were small vessels built in a great variety of designs featuring little freeboard and a turtleback hull. Armament consisted of a pair of single 18-in torpedo tubes and a modest gun armament centered on a 12-pdr on a forward platform before a tiny bridge. Coal-burning boilers driving a Vertical Triple Expansion engine produced unreliable performance, particularly during high speed operation.

Although it was measured under conditions that were highly unrealistic, speed was the early design emphasis for British T.B.Ds.. Twenty-six (soon twenty-seven) knots was mandated new ships, with financial penalties or outright rejection being charged for units that failed to make the specified standard performance. Conversely, ships which exceeded the benchmark could earn the manufacturer a bounty and increase the odds of future orders. The first of the 26- and 27-knotters were launched in 1894, and units built to this level of performance continued to appear until late in the 1890s. A total of forty-two were eventually constructed.

The ships were soon made obsolete by later designs. In 1912, the fifteen 26 and 27 knotters that remained in service were re-classified as the "A" Class torpedoboat destroyers even though they differed considerably in their details. Some seven would survive to 1920.

The nominal speed requirement for new destroyers was raised to 30 knots around 1895. Production continued in much the same manner as before, drawing upon the competitive energies of design and construction efficiency of the firms of Thornycroft, Palmer, Earle's, John Brown and many others. In 1912, these many variations were re-grouped into the "B" class (twenty-two ships with four funnels), "C" class (thirty-six with three funnels) and "D" class (ten ships with two funnels and the similar H.M.S. Taku, which had been captured in China).

River class (1903)

The first of thirty-six "River class" T.B.Ds. was launched in 1903, and a new era of construction was born, in which experimental contracts for one to four units were replaced by orders large enough to provide a large uniform flotilla based upon a standard design. The displacement of these vessels, at about 550 tons, was considerably more than the 350 tons of the 27 and 30 knotters. This permitted more freeboard and better sea-keeping, using an elevated forecastle in lieu of a turtleback hullform. Moreover, the endurance was modestly increased while supporting a higher economical speed.

The Rivers were built with the same armament as the earlier destroyers, but in 1906-1907 the five 6-pdr guns were replaced with three more 12-pdr guns, yielding an armament of four of the more powerful weapon which had proven far more likely in testing to stop enemy torpedo boats with a well-placed hit. Three of the ships were powered by turbine engines – a first step toward a more economical and powerful plant for reliable high speed operation.

Tribal class (1907)

Twelve "Tribal class" destroyers followed the Rivers. Now displacing over 800 tons, the Tribals armament varied, but they did introduce the four-inch gun to British destroyers and standardised the use oil fuel for turbine propulsion, which here finally replaced use of the Vertical Triple Expansion engine.

Beagle class (1909)

Sixteen Beagle class destroyers were delivered in 1909-1911. These ships were of approximately the same displacement as the Tribals, and featured a little "bandstand" platform forward for the single 4-in gun. Moreover, the 18-in torpedo tubes were here replaced with 21-in tubes.

Acorn class (1910)

Twenty Acorn class destroyers were delivered in 1910-1911. Slightly smaller in displacement that the Beagles, the class established a heavier armament that would be replicated in the following Acheron class: two 4-in guns (fore and aft) and a pair of 12-pdr guns in the cheek after the break of the forecastle. The ugly bandstand for the forward gun was eliminated, and the aesthetic that would be common to most R.N. designs of the Great War was finally realised.

Acheron class (1910)

Twenty-three Acheron class destroyers, a number of them builder's "specials", were delivered to the Royal Navy in 1910-1912. An additional six would serve in the Royal Australian Navy.

Acasta class (1912)

Twenty Acasta class destroyers were delivered in 1912-1914 disposed of the 12-pdr guns and featured a uniform armament of three 4-in guns, the third situated on the centreline either between the torpedo tubes or abaft them.

Laforey class (1913)

Twenty Laforey class destroyers were delivered in 1913-1914 and an additional two in 1915. The last pre-war British destroyer design, the most important aspect of their design was that the torpedo outfit was essentially doubled by replacing the single torpedo tubes of previous designs with double mounts.

"M" class (1914)

Thirteen "M" class destroyers were ordered in 1913-14, six of the Admiralty design and seven "builders specials". They featured cruising turbines for economical cruising and an armament similar to the Laforey class. When war broke out, a greatly increased rate of destroyer production to meet wartime demands was required, and the "M" class was to be the core pattern for this massive endeavour. An additional ninety units were built in all, in four programme orders: sixteen units in September 1914, nine in early November 1914, twenty-two in late November 1914, eighteen in February 1915 and twenty-two in May, 1915. Eighty-five of the 103 built were to the Admiralty pattern, but the War Emergency Order units lacked the cruising turbines as a matter of expediency.

Four Medea class destroyers were also completed to a very similar design in 1915, intended for Greece but taken up for service in the Royal Navy.