Published Resources Details Journal Article

Torpedo boat destroyers
The Engineer
vol. 79, 24 May 1895, p. 440

Accession No.385


John Isaac Thornycroft reviewed torpedo boat destroyer development in paper presented at the Royal United Services Institution on the 17th of May 1895. In 1885 it was decided to build the torpedo boat catcher which was in effect a large torpedo boat armed with two 3-pounder quick-firing guns, and three double-barrelled Nordefeldt guns, as an alternative to torpedo tubes. In 1886 a new class of torpedo catcher was built, the Rattlesnake (displacement 550 tons; speed 19 knots) was armed with one 4-inch gun, six 3-pounder quick-firing guns, and torpedo tubes. It was later found that it was necessary to increase the size of the next class of torpedo boat catchers to about 800 tons, and between 1888 and 1890 a considerable number of these vessels (the Sharpshooter class) were built Between 1888 and 1890 a large number of the Sharpshooter class of torpedo boat catchers with a displacement of about 800 tons were built, their engines were intended to develop 4,500 indicated horsepower which would have given them a speed of 21 knots, but it was found that only 3,500 indicated horsepower with a corresponding drop in speed could be achieved. In 1892 a new class of torpedo boat catchers represented by the Speedy was built, these were slightly larger than the Sharpshooter, and the Speedy built by J. I. Thornycroft was fitted with water-tube boilers was able to develop about 1,000 indicated horsepower more than her sister vessels fitted with locomotive boilers. It was evident that under certain weather conditions torpedo gun boats had an advantage over torpedo boats despite the fact that torpedo boats had a speed advantage of six to seven knots in smooth water, yet they could not be considered efficient torpedo boat destroyers unless they had a considerable speed advantage over torpedo boats under all weather conditions. Hence the introduction of a new type of torpedo boat destroyer that had, firstly, the all-important element of speed, and secondly was large enough to maintain it in moderate weather. This new type of torpedo boat destroyer once again resembled an enlarged torpedo boat, its dimensions were kept as small as possible in order to fulfil the speed requirement of 27 knots for 3 hours, and carry all stores and ammunition for it's gun, and torpedo armament which consisted of one 12-pounder quick-firing gun, five 6-pounder quick-firing guns and two 18 inch torpedo tubes. The Daring (length 185 feet, beam 19 feet; draught 7 feet) was the first of a new series of destroyers ordered by the British Government. In the second order the length was increased to 200 feet providing much needed extra accommodation for additional crew. Messrs. Thornycroft and Co. of Chiswick undertook the construction of a series of 33-knot destroyers in which there was a further increase in size. Although there were economies of power with associated with increased size, the high speeds required of these vessels were only achieved with great difficulty.

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