Tribal Class Destroyer (1907)

From The Dreadnought Project
Jump to: navigation, search

Twelve destroyers of the Tribal Class (sometimes called Tribal Group, owing to greater diversity in detail than normal, before being re-designated the "F" Class in October 1913)[1] were ordered in three installments as part of the 1905-1906, 1906-1907 and 1907-1908 Naval Programmes.

They had turbines and burned oil fuel and were the first destroyers to carry 4-in guns. All could steam in excess of 33 knots, well beyond the 25 knots of the "River" class.[2]

In May 1912, they were placed in the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla along with four later destroyers.[3] Later, they were among the ships comprising the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, operating out of Dover.[4]


In 1907 it was decided that five Tribals 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. Afridi, Cossack, Tartar and Mohawk required 20 foot spars to be fitted each side aft to receive their aerial, with their office being between the mast and fore funnel. Amazon differed by having a 40 foot mast aft, Ghurka differed in having her office be an extension to her chart house, and Saracen had both the chart house office and the 40 foot mast variations. All ships had their mast fitted with a 12 foot yard 60 feet above the water. 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/- -/-

Contradicting this in part, the following nine destroyers were listed as among the eleven provided equipment during the year 1909:[6] Ghurka, Crusader, Amazon, Nubian, Cossack, Saracen, Mohawk, Tartar and Maori.[7]


The diversity of this class certainly extended to the armament.[8]

In late September, 1914, the Admiralty ordered that the guns on this and later classes were to be given loading lights, initially on temporary circuits.[9]

12-pdr Guns

The five ships of the 1905-1906 programme, Afridi, Cossack, Ghurka, Mohawk and Tartar originally carried three 12-pdr guns carried two in tandem on the bridge and one right aft. [10]

The weapons were 12-pdr 12 cwt Q.F. guns on P. I or P. I* mountings with 100 steel common shells per gun.[11] The mountings could elevate to 20 degrees and depress to 10.

In 1909, two more were added, presumably "one each side, in the waist" as approved in October of 1908, though Afridi was going to require special packing rings due to her uniquely rounded gunwale. By December, it had been approved to give the ships seven more men to work the guns and to allot the same 100 round storage for them as the other guns enjoyed.[12]

The sights were gear-worked with a range gearing constant of 54 and range dials for 2225, 2200 and 2175 fps, 1-in and .303-in aiming rifles. They could elevate to 20 degrees but their graduations ended at 19.25 degrees (8100 yards full charge). There was no means of applying M.V. correction.

Deflection gearing constant was 50.76, with 1 knot equalling 3.76 arc minutes, corresponding to a M.V. of 2197 fps at 2000 yards.

Drift was corrected by inclining the sight carrier arm 2 degrees.

There was only one sight with sighting lines 10 inches above the bore and 12 inches left. Open sights were provided (for the layer at least), but there is no sign of temperature correctors. A telescope was provided from 1906. Prior to that, it must have only had an open sight.[Inference]

In late-1913, the P. I mountings (at least) were equipped with percussion firing gear.[13]

By 1920, the ships with 4-in guns had three 12-pdr 8 cwt guns on G. I* mountings recoiling 13.25 inches and elevating to 30 degrees though the sights only went to 25 degrees (4000 yards). Those with only 12-pdrs were listed as having P. I mountings recoiling 12 inches and able to elevate 25 degrees with sights to 30 degrees (8100/9500 yards).[14]

Also by 1920, these ships carried one Q.F. 2-pdr pom-pom.[14]

4-in Guns

The seven later ships abandoned the use of 12-pdr guns to ship two 4-in guns, fore and aft. [15]

They were 4-in B.L. Mark VIII guns on P. III mountings with 120 rounds per gun, half lyddite, half common.[16] This combination was also to serve aboard the successive "G" and "H" classes.

The mounting could elevate to 20 degrees and depress to 10 degrees, but though its sight could match the 20 degree elevation, the range dial was only graduated to 9,300 yards (14 degrees 44 arc minutes) at 2,225 fps.

The gear-worked sight had a range gearing contant of 54 and spiral-reading range dials were provided for 2225 fps, 1-in aiming rifle and .303-in aiming rifle. M.V. could be corrected by adjustable pointer to +/- 75 fps.

The deflection gearing constant was 50.69 with 1 knot equal to 3.05 arc minutes, corresponding to 2275 fps at 2000 yards. Drift was corrected by inclining the sight 2 degrees.

Sight lines were 10 inches above the bore, and 16 inches left and 15 inches right. Open sights and temperature correctors were provided.

Percussion firing gear to be fitted as soon as conveniently possible in dockyard was ordered for these guns in April, 1914.[17]

By 1920, the mounting is described as a P. III* recoiling 38 inches.[14]

Other Guns

To address the discovery in July 1916 that German destroyer guns outranged British 4-in weapons, Viking (in parallel with flotilla leader Swift) replaced her forward 4-in gun with a 6-in Mark VII on a P. III mounting, adding 16.5 tons in weight. The destroyer was quickly found too small to accomodate the weapon, and a 4-in Q.F. Mark V gun was swapped in on a P. X mounting capable of 25 degree elevation. Ships also were then equipped with two 2-pdr pom poms.[18] In 1920, some or all of the ships retained a single Q.F. 2-pdr pom-pom.[19]

Also in the same timeframe, Afridi landed her 12-pdr guns in exchange for two 4.7-in Q.F. Mark III to VI guns on a P. VI mounting. These proved workable, at an appreciable cost in reduced stability and radius of action. They were kept, but no other Tribals were so modified in light of the penalties.[20]

Around late 1916, Amazon had two 4-in guns, one 2pdr pom-pom, one .303 Maxim, four Lewis machine guns, eight depth charges and two throwers. Crusader was similar, with eight type D charges. Saracen had two depth charge chutes. Afridi two 4.7-in guns, a pompom, a Maxim, four depth charger and two throwers.[21]


  • two single 18-in tubes on the centre line.

The 1905-1906 programme ships had "light type" single tubes; the later ships may have had a different type.

In 1909, as heater torpedo supplies were still growing, these ships were to receive a handsome allotment of six each: Mark VII, Mark VII* or Weymouth Mark Is.[22] In this class, the Mark VII seems to have been chosen, with settings for 41 knots to 3,00 yards and 30 knots to 6-7,000 yards.[23] In 1912, the torpedo Marks ranged from VII to VII**.[24] In 1916, those weapons were still in use.[25]

Some of the ships were equipped with Fore Bridge Firing Gear, either upon completion or prior to 1911.[26]

In September, 1918, two 14-in torpedo tubes surrendered by "P" boats were added to at least some and perhaps all Tribals for use in night action.[27]


The Tribals were the first British destroyers to have two rather than one searchlight.[28]

Fire Control

By 1915, at least, these ships had fixed voice pipes installed between decks with the last lengths being flexible (one voice pipe for gunnery, one for torpedoes) fitted between bridge and guns, torpedo tubes, and searchlights. A third voicepipe, entirely flexible, ran from bridge to the forward gun.[29]

A 1-m base rangefinder was supplied to all destroyers of the "Tribal" class and later around 1916, but this was later withdrawn.[30]

The Technical History and Index indicates that destroyers prior to the Acorn class relied on a visual system for transmitting fire control information.[31]

By mid-1918, these destroyers were among several earlier classes for which "alarm circuits" were to be fitted.[32]

Torpedo Control

In 1917, it was approved that "D" through "G" class destroyers should receive firing gongs at the tubes, operated from the bridge.[33]


A Rear Admiral (D) inspected the Tribals and was critical of cramped conditions on the bridge: "No one can get round the compass, and the telegraphs are grouped so close to the pedestal of the compass that any person the least inclined to stoutness cannot get near it to take a bearing."[34] Moreover, the ships

  • lacked heat for the living spaces and so suffered from condensation between October and April. Electric radiators were eventually added, but had to be switched off if the searchlight was in use.
  • lacked semaphore machines
  • had useless voice pipes and wanted navyphones despite tests in Leopard showing the engine room to be noisy at 15 knots or over.
  • had a poorly-sited C.P.O.'s mess
  • engine telegraphs were not arranged such that adding revolutions or for motion ahead were commanded by the natural forward rotation of their handles

Anchors were changed from two 15-cwt models with eight shackles to an 18- and 15-cwt with 11 shackles.

In May 1906, the earlier requirement for increasing provisions stowage from the original four days to a full 28 days, requiring space for 76 cases and jars.[35]

See Also


  1. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. p. 72.
  2. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 4, Part 34. p. 10.
  3. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1912. p. 36.
  4. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. p. 72.
  5. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1907. Wireless Appendix pp. 32-34.
  6. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1909. Wireless Appendix, p. 25.
  7. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1909. Wireless Appendix, p. 25.
  8. March. British Destroyers. p. 84.
  9. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 416 of 29 Sep, 1914.
  10. The Sight Manual, 1916. pp. 4, 98, 108.
  11. March. British Destroyers. pp. 84, 92.
  12. Principal Questions Dealt with by the Director of Naval Ordnance, 1908-1911. pp. 153-4.
  13. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 430 of 1 Aug, 1913.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Technical History and Index Vol. 4, Part 34, p. 15.
  15. The Sight Manual, 1916. pp. 4, 88, 108, Plate 42.
  16. March. British Destroyers. p. 84.
  17. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 1045 of 24 Apr, 1914.
  18. March. British Destroyers. p. 95.
  19. Technical History and Index, Vol 4 Part 34, p. 15.
  20. Technical History and Index, Vol 4 Part 34, p. 14.
  21. March. British Destroyers. p. 95.
  22. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1909. p. 14.
  23. March. British Destroyers. p. 92.
  24. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1912. p. 36.
  25. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1916. p. 87.
  26. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1916. p. 31.
  27. March. British Destroyers. p. 95.
  28. Manual of Gunnery, Vol. III., 1915., p. 161.
  29. Manual of Gunnery, Vol. III., 1915., p. 150.
  30. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 23. pp. 31, 32.
  31. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 4, Part 34. pp. 15-16.
  32. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 232.
  33. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 211. (A.L. G. 57852/17; C.I.O. 1705/17.).
  34. March. British Destroyers. p. 86.
  35. March. British Destroyers. p. 87.


Tribal Class Destroyer
Afridi Cossack Ghurka Mohawk Tartar
  Amazon Saracen Crusader Maori  
  Nubian Viking Zulu Zubian  
<– River Class Destroyers (UK) Beagle Class –>