Torpedo cruiser

A torpedo cruiser is a type of warship that is armed primarily with torpedoes. The major navies began building torpedo cruisers shortly after the invention of the locomotive Whitehead torpedo in the 1860s. The development of the torpedo gave rise to the Jeune École doctrine, which held that small warships armed with torpedoes could effectively and cheaply defeat much larger battleships. Torpedo cruisers fell out of favor in most of the great power navies in the 1890s, though many other navies continued to acquire them into the early 1900s.

The Imperial Japanese Navy rebuilt two Kuma-class light cruisers into torpedo cruisers during World War II. Unlike the earlier vessels, these ships were intended to launch their Long Lance oxygen torpedoes at extreme range at night to surprise enemy warships. They never saw action in their intended role, however, and were quickly converted into troop transports.

History

SMS Zieten in port
Zieten, one of the first torpedo cruisers

The torpedo cruiser emerged from the Jeune École, a strategic naval concept that argued that the large ironclad battleships then being built in Europe could be easily—and more importantly, cheaply—defeated by small torpedo-armed warships.[1] In newly unified Germany, the new torpedo cruiser was embraced as a powerful weapon for a new navy which had no real blue-water traditions of shipbuilding or seafaring. Early German torpedo vessels were classified as avisos, the first being SMS Zieten, launched in 1876.[2] She was initially armed with just two 380 mm (15-inch) torpedo tubes, supplemented in 1878 by two 120mm (4.7-inch) guns and six machine guns.

The enthusiasm of the German Kaiserliche Admiralität (Imperial Admiralty) was particularly marked during the tenure of General Leo von Caprivi: a total of eight vessels were built, designed to serve with flotillas of smaller torpedo boats, and integrated into a defensive system of minefields and coastal artillery. The typical German torpedokreuzer came to be armed with a salvo of three torpedo tubes, one fixed in the bows and two on rotating mounts on either side of the hull. Their gun armament was relatively modest, with two medium-calibre weapons mounted fore and aft, and a number of smaller broadside guns in sponsons, designed primarily to defend against smaller attackers such as torpedo boats.

Concurrently with the German procurement of Zieten, the Italian Regia Marina laid down the small cruiser Pietro Micca in 1875, which was armed with a single torpedo tube and two machine guns. The Regia Marina built a further seventeen torpedo cruisers over five classes over the course of the following twenty years.[3] Starting in 1879, the French Navy also began experimenting with the type, first with the cruiser Milan, before building a series of smaller torpedo avisos similar to Zieten.[4] The Austro-Hungarian Navy adopted a similar organization for the confined waters of the Adriatic Sea, with flotillas of torpedo boats grouped with torpedo cruisers, which were intended to defeat enemy battleships attacking the Austro-Hungarian coast.[5]

Archer class cruiser diagrams Brasseys 1888
The plans of the British torpedo cruiser HMS Archer

Two of the Austro-Hungarian torpedo cruisers, Panther and Leopard, were designed by the English naval architect Sir William White, in the mid-1880s, when there was also a period of intense enthusiasm for the type at the British Admiralty. The one-off HMS Rattlesnake and the two ships of the Scout class were promptly followed by numerous torpedo gunboats, two Curlew class torpedo gunvessels, and the larger ships of the Archer class. The torpedo cruiser was seen as a ship which had the potential to become the worldwide mainstay of the fleet, combining the utility of the gunboat, the speed of a dispatch vessel, and an attacking potential comparable to a larger ironclad - "valuable during peace, and invaluable during war". However, the Archer class were badly over-gunned, which compromised their seaworthiness, and this damaged the type's reputation in Britain: the total order for the class was reduced from twenty ships to eight, and the Royal Navy promptly abandoned the "torpedo cruiser" designation completely. This may have been an overreaction: sea-officers and ship-designers alike had urged the high command to simply reduce the gun armament, and White continued to produce what were effectively torpedo cruisers under different designations, the "third-class cruisers" of the Barracouta class and the larger Medea class, designated as "second-class protected cruisers".[6]

Torpedo cruisers were also procured by a number of South American navies, and in 1891, the type achieved a notable military success during a civil war in Chile, when Almirante Lynch sank the ironclad Blanco Encalada. The United States Navy was perhaps the only world navy which did not acquire any torpedo cruisers during this period - their procurement process for "Torpedo Cruiser No. 1" faltered due to unrealistically ambitious demands for high performance at low cost.[7]

By this point, however, the type was falling into disfavor. The publication of Alfred Thayer Mahan's seminal work, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, in 1890 persuaded many experts to abandon the Jeune École theory in favor of a fleet centered on powerful battleships.[8] Simultaneously, the first modern light cruisers began to emerge. These ships, such as the German Gazelle class, had the speed and torpedo armament of the earlier torpedo cruiser, but had a bigger hull which also allowed them to carry the gun armament and armor of a larger protected cruisers.[9] Reflecting the change in thinking, Gazelle was designed as an enlarged torpedokreuzer, combining the standard salvo of three torpedo tubes with a stronger gun armament, but the later ships of the same class were completed with just one fixed tube on either broadside, designed for line of battle tactics.

Another new type which threatened to usurp the torpedo cruiser's role was the "torpedo-boat destroyer", soon simply known as the destroyer. The concept was influenced by the Spanish torpedo cruiser Destructor launched in 1886, but the subsequent British type pioneered in 1892 was smaller and faster, and was quickly adopted by all the great power navies of the 1890s.

Berk-i Satvet class cruiser
One of the two Peyk-i Şevket-class cruisers

However, ships of the German torpedokreuzer type continued to be built for a number of navies outside the great powers. The five vessels of the Swedish Örnen class, which were built in the late 1890s, continued in service for many decades.[10] German shipyards also produced a number of torpedo cruisers for export to various foreign clients, with Krupp building three for the Brazilian Navy, one for the National Navy of Uruguay,[11] and two for the Ottoman Navy Peyk-i Şevket class, which were completed in 1907.[12]

One great power battlefleet which did keep faith with the torpedo cruiser was the Imperial Russian Navy. They had employed torpedo-armed warships since the 1870s, using "torpedo cutters" successfully against the Ottomans in the 1870s, and launched the large "torpedo vessel" Vzryv in 1877, but their first ship specifically designated as a torpedo cruiser was Leytenant Ilyin of 1886, followed by one sister-ship in 1889, and in the 1890s by the six ships of the Kazarskiy class and the more heavily-armed Abrek. These coexisted with conventional destroyers of the British type, and the onset of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 prompted the construction of another twenty-four ships of the type - they were distinguished from contemporary destroyers by being slightly slower, but larger, more heavily-armed and more seaworthy. In order to accelerate production, most of them were built in collaboration with German shipyards, although the Leytenant Shestakov class were an entirely domestic design. All were similar in size and capabilities, typically with a speed of around 25 knots, three 457mm (18-inch) torpedo tubes, two 75mm (3-inch guns), and four 57mm guns, and in a departure from the high-freeboard hullform of earlier torpedo cruisers, they were low-freeboard ships with a high forecastle: this style of hull had originated with late-nineteenth century cruisers, but was coming to be associated with destroyers (such as the British River class), and in 1907, as part of the review of naval thinking after the Battle of Tsushima, the Russians opted to reclassify all their torpedo cruisers as part of the destroyer fleet.

World War II

The Imperial Japanese Navy faced a numerical disadvantage against the United States Navy, and prior to the Pacific War, they formulated a strategy of attacking the American fleets through ambush tactics, with heavy reliance on torpedoes. This plan principally emphasized submarines, but with the development of the type 93 torpedo, there was a need for surface vessels that could accommodate such weapons. Three vessels of the Kuma-class of light cruisers were appointed for renovation, namely Kitakami, Ōi and Kiso. Renovation of Ōi and Kitakami began in 1941, with large-scale expansion of the hull, enlargement of the bridge, and removal of main and secondary artillery armaments. 61 cm quadruple torpedo tubes were mounted on the vessel, with 5 mounts and 20 bays on each side, adding to a total of 10 mounts and 40 bays. Kiso was planned for modification, however the renovations never took place. Kitakami and Ōi served only briefly in this new role, but were not used operationally before being converted into high speed troop transports in 1942.[13]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Ropp, p. 128
  2. ^ Gardiner, pp. 256–257
  3. ^ Gardiner, pp. 346–348
  4. ^ Ropp, pp. 129–130
  5. ^ Ropp, pp. 134–136
  6. ^ Friedman, pp. 147, 151, 174-184.
  7. ^ "Torpedo Cruiser No.1" on the GlobalSecurity.org website
  8. ^ Wawro, pp. 160–162
  9. ^ Gardiner, pp. 249, 258
  10. ^ Gardiner & Gray, p. 357
  11. ^ Navypedia.org records two Tupi class ships in 1897 and Tamoio in 1900 for Brazil, while Uruguay was delivered as late as 1910.[www.navypedia.org/ships/brazil/br_dd_tupi.htm][1][www.navypedia.org/ships/uruguay/uru_dd_uruguay.htm]
  12. ^ Fleets of the World, p. 140
  13. ^ Stille, pp. 14–18

References

  • Fleets of the World 1915. Philadelphia: Lippincott. 1915. OCLC 8418713.
  • Friedman, Norman (2012). British Cruisers of the Victorian Era. Barnsley: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-84832-099-4.
  • Gardiner, Robert, ed. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-133-5.
  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds. (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1922. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-907-3.
  • Ropp, Theodore (1987). Roberts, Stephen S. (ed.). The Development of a Modern Navy: French Naval Policy, 1871–1904. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-141-6.
  • Stille, Mark (2012). Imperial Japanese Navy Light Cruisers 1941–45. Oxford: Osprey. ISBN 1-84908-562-5.
  • Wawro, G. (2000). Warfare and Society in Europe, 1792–1914. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-21445-9.
Archer-class torpedo cruiser

The Archer class was a class of eight cruisers of the Royal Navy. Five ships were built at J & G Thomson in Glasgow while three ships were built at the Devonport Dockyard with all ships completed between 1885 and 1886. These ships mainly served in the British Empire's foreign fleets being on various stations throughout the north Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. Throughout their careers they were involved in a number of local conflicts including the Anglo-Zanzibar War, First Sino-Japanese War, and the Boxer Rebellion.

Berk

Berk may refer to:

Berk (name), a surname, given name, or any of several people with that name

Berk, Bolu, Turkey, a village

Berk Trade and Business School, New York City

Berk, a fictional island in the How to Train Your Dragon series of books and films

Berk-i Satvet, a torpedo cruiser of the Ottoman Navy later renamed Berk

Berk, rhyming slang often used to mean "foolish person"

HMS Archer (1885)

HMS Archer was an Archer-class torpedo cruiser of the British Royal Navy which built by the Glasgow shipbuilder J & G Thomson between 1885 and 1888. She served on overseas stations, including operations off Africa, China and Australia. She was sold for scrap in 1905.

HMS Porpoise (1886)

HMS Porpoise was an Archer-class torpedo cruiser of the Royal Navy, built by J. & G. Thompson at Glasgow and launched on 7 May 1886.Commenced service on the Australia Station in December 1897. During the Samoan civil unrest in 1899, she took part in operations with HMS Royalist and HMS Tauranga. She left the Australia Station and was paid off at Portsmouth 20 May 1901.

She was sold at Bombay on 10 February 1905.

HMS Racoon (1887)

HMS Racoon, sometimes spelled HMS Raccoon, was an Archer-class torpedo cruiser of the Royal Navy. Racoon was laid down on 1 February 1886 and came into service on 1 March 1888. She served on the East Indies Station where, on 27 August 1896, she was involved in the bombardment of Sultan Khalid's palace during the 40 minute Anglo–Zanzibar War.In early May 1901 Racoon returned to the United Kingdom, and was paid off at Sheerness on 6 July 1901.She was decommissioned on 1 January 1905 and sold for scrap.

HMS Serpent (1887)

HMS Serpent, was an Archer-class torpedo cruiser of the Royal Navy. Serpent was built at Devonport Dockyard, entering service in 1888. She was lost when she ran aground off Cape Vilan in northwest Spain with the loss of 173 people out of 176 in her crew.

HSwMS Claes Uggla

HSwMS Claes Uggla was a torpedo cruiser of the Swedish Navy. She was named after the 17th-century admiral Claes Uggla. The ship's name is spelled as Clas Uggla in some English-language sources.

Claes Uggla ran aground and sank on 22 June 1917.

Italian cruiser Agordat

Agordat was a torpedo cruiser of the Italian Regia Marina built in the late 1890s. She was the lead ship of the Agordat class, which had one other member, Coatit. The ship, which was armed with twelve 76 mm (3.0 in) guns and two 450 mm (18 in) torpedo tubes, was too slow and short-ranged to be able to scout effectively for the fleet, so her career was limited. She saw action during the Italo-Turkish War in 1911–12, where she provided gunfire support to Italian troops in North Africa. She assisted in the occupation of Constantinople in the aftermath of World War I, and in 1919 she was reclassified as a gunboat. In January 1923, Agordat was sold for scrapping.

Italian cruiser Aretusa

Aretusa was a torpedo cruiser of the Partenope class built for the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) in the 1880s. Laid down in June 1889 at the Cantiere navale fratelli Orlando shipyard, she was launched in March 1891 and was commissioned in September 1892. Her main armament were her six torpedo tubes, which were supported by a battery of ten small-caliber guns. Aretusa spent most of her career in the main Italian fleet, where she was primarily occupied with training exercises. At the start of the Italo-Turkish War in September 1911, she was assigned to the Red Sea Squadron in Italian Eritrea. She bombarded Ottoman positions in the Arabian Peninsula and took part in a blockade of the coast. Worn out by the end of the war in October 1912, Aretusa was sold for scrap that December and broken up.

Italian cruiser Calatafimi

Calatafimi was a torpedo cruiser of the Partenope class built for the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) in the 1880s. She was built by the Cantiere navale fratelli Orlando shipyard; her keel was laid in July 1891, she was launched in May 1894, and was commissioned in December 1895. Her main armament were her five torpedo tubes, which were supported by a battery of eleven small-caliber guns. Calatafimi spent most of her career in the main Italian fleet, where she was primarily occupied with training exercises. The ship was sold in March 1907 and broken up for scrap.

Italian cruiser Euridice

Euridice was a torpedo cruiser of the Partenope class built for the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) in the 1880s. She was built by the Regio Cantiere di Castellammare di Stabia shipyard, with her keel laying in February 1889, her launching in September 1890, and her commissioning in May 1891. Her main armament were her six torpedo tubes, which were supported by a battery of ten small-caliber guns. Euridice spent most of her career in the main Italian fleet, where she was primarily occupied with training exercises. She was withdrawn from service in 1907 and sold for scrapping.

Italian cruiser Folgore

Folgore was a torpedo cruiser built for the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy), the lead ship of the Folgore class. Armed with three 14 in (356 mm) torpedo tubes and six light guns, she was capable of a top speed of 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph). She was built in the mid-1880s, was launched in September 1886, and was completed in February 1887. The ship spent her first two years in service either conducting training maneuvers with the main Italian fleet or in reserve status. She was badly damaged in a collision with the cruiser Giovanni Bausan in 1889, which reduced her effectiveness and cut her career short. Folgore spent the next eleven years primarily in the reserve, until she was sold for scrap in April 1901 and broken up.

Italian cruiser Iride

Iride was a torpedo cruiser of the Partenope class built for the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) in the 1880s. Laid down in February 1889 at the Regio Cantiere di Castellammare di Stabia shipyard, she was launched in July 1890 and was commissioned in November 1892. Her main armament were her six torpedo tubes, which were supported by a battery of ten small-caliber guns. Iride spent most of her career in the main Italian fleet, where she was primarily occupied with training exercises. During the Italo-Turkish War in September 1911, she remained in Italian waters until late in the conflict; she escorted a troop convoy to North Africa in April 1912 and bombarded Ottoman positions in June and July. Iride was eventually broken up for scrap in December 1920.

Italian cruiser Monzambano

Monzambano was a torpedo cruiser of the Goito class built for the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) in the 1880s. The ship was built at the Arsenale di La Spezia, beginning with her keel laying in August 1885 and ending with her completion in August 1889. She was armed with a variety of light guns and five 14-inch (356 mm) torpedo tubes, and was capable of a top speed of 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph). The ship spent her career in the main Italian fleet conducting training exercises, and did not see action. She spent 1898 patrolling the eastern Mediterranean Sea with the Levant Squadron. Monzambano was withdrawn from service in 1901 and broken up for scrap that year.

Italian cruiser Pietro Micca

Pietro Micca was the first torpedo cruiser built by the Italian Regia Marina, and one of the first vessels of the type to built by any navy. She was laid down in February 1875, launched in August 1876, and completed in July 1877. Armed with a single 16-inch (410 mm) torpedo tube, she proved to be unable to reach the projected speed of 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph), and so she did not see much active service. She remained in the Regia Marina's inventory until 1893, but spent most of her 16-year life in the reserve.

Italian cruiser Saetta

Saetta was a Folgore-class torpedo cruiser built for the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) in the 1880s. Armed with three 14 in (356 mm) torpedo tubes and six light guns, she was capable of a top speed of 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph). She was built in the mid-1880s, was launched in May 1887, and was completed in February 1888. Saetta spent the first decade of her career serving in the main Italian fleet, where she conducted peacetime training exercises. In 1897, she was withdrawn from front-line service and employed as a gunnery training ship, a role she filled for another decade. The Regia Marina ultimately sold Saetta for scrap in May 1908.

Italian cruiser Tripoli

Tripoli was the first modern torpedo cruiser built for the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy). She was built by the Regio Cantiere di Castellammare di Stabia shipyard in 1885–86. The only vessel of her class, she provided the basis for the Goito and Partenope classes that followed. She was armed with five 14-inch (356 mm) torpedo tubes and a battery of light guns, and was capable of a top speed of 17.5 knots (32.4 km/h; 20.1 mph). Tripoli spent her career in the main Italian fleet, where she was occupied primarily with peacetime training exercises. She was modernized several times throughout her career, and in 1910, was converted into a minelayer, a role she served in for another thirteen years, including during World War I. She was the longest serving torpedo cruiser in the Italian fleet, with over 36 years in service by the time she was discarded in March 1923.

Italian cruiser Urania

Urania was a torpedo cruiser of the Partenope class built for the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) in the 1880s. She was built by the Cantieri navali Odero shipyard; her keel was laid in February 1889, she was launched in June 1891, and was commissioned in July 1893. Her main armament were her six torpedo tubes, which were supported by a battery of ten small-caliber guns. Urania spent most of her career in the main Italian fleet, where she was primarily occupied with training exercises. She was still in service at the outbreak of the Italo-Turkish War in September 1911, but she did not take part in any operations. Instead, she remained in Italian waters and was broken up for scrap in January 1912.

Zara-class cruiser (1879)

The Zara class was a class of three torpedo cruisers built for the Austro-Hungarian Navy in the late 1870s and early 1880s; they were the first large torpedo-armed warships built by Austria-Hungary. The class comprised three ships, Zara, Spalato, and Sebenico; the last vessel was built to a slightly different design, and is sometimes not counted as a member of the class. The design was prepared by Josef von Romako, the Chief Constructor of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, after a lengthy design process throughout the 1870s. The first two ships were armed with deck-mounted torpedo tubes, while Sebenico received an experimental tube in her bow, submerged below the waterline.

Despite the lengthy design process, the ships proved to be failures in service, primarily as a result of their low speed. Intended to reach a speed of at least 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph), none of the vessels were able to steam that fast. The changes made to Sebenico during construction were meant to address the problem, but she was unable to reach her design speed either. As a result, they saw very little active service, spending much of their careers in reserve. By the 1890s, they were reactivated for training ship duties, and in 1897 Sebenico took part in an international naval demonstration off Crete, where she sank a Greek blockade runner. Training ship duties continued through the early 1910s. During World War I, all three vessels were used as guard ships, but none saw action. After the war, they were seized as war prizes by the Allies and awarded to Italy in 1920; all were broken up immediately thereafter.

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