Bristol Class Cruiser (1909)

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The five light cruisers of the Bristol Class were completed by 1911.

They were sometimes treated as the first sub-type of the encompassing "Town Class" which also included the four Weymouth, six Chatham, four Birmingham class and two Birkenhead class cruisers.

Overview of 5 vessels
Citations for this data available on individual ship pages
Name Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
Bristol John Brown & Company 23 Mar, 1909 23 Feb, 1910 Dec, 1910 Sold 9 May, 1921
Glasgow Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company 25 Mar, 1909 30 Sep, 1909 Sep, 1910 Sold 29 Apr, 1927
Gloucester William Beardmore & Company 15 Apr, 1909 28 Oct, 1909 Oct, 1910 Sold 9 May, 1921
Liverpool Vickers 17 Feb, 1909 30 Oct, 1909 Oct, 1910 Sold 8 Nov, 1921
Newcastle Armstrong, Whitworth & Company 14 Apr, 1909 25 Nov, 1909 Sep, 1910 Sold 9 May, 1921


In September 1914, the ships were allowed five additional pairs of Pattern 343 Service Binoculars.[1]


6-in Guns

4-in Guns

This section is sourced in The Sight Manual, 1916.[2]

Ten 4-in B.L. Mark VII guns on P. IV* mountings were arranged for broadside fire.

The mounting could elevate 15 degrees and depress 10 degrees, but though its sight could match the 15 degree elevation, the range dial was only graduated to 11.5 degrees (10,000 yards).

These cam-worked sights had range dials for 2750 fps, and 1-in and .303-in aiming rifles. M.V. could be corrected by adjustable pointer through +/- 150 fps.

All ships had F.T.P. sights except Gloucester, whose earlier series sights (like those in the Colossus class) lacked this feature.

The deflection gearing constant was 64.277 with 1 knot equal to 2.41 arc minutes, corresponding to 2800 fps at 2000 yards. Drift was corrected by inclining the sight 2 degrees.

The layer's sight line was 13.73 inches above the bore, and 15.85 inches left. The trainer's sight line was 15.08 inches above and 14.9 inches right.

The sight had a temperature correcting scale plate and a "C" corrector.

The layer had an open sight. The trainer's sight could be used as a free sight with a counterweight.

In February, 1913, the 4-in mountings, and possibly also the 6-in ones, were to have illumination added for their training index racers.[3] In August of that 1913, Portsmouth Royal Dockyard was to supply head rests for these guns, to be fitted in the dockyard when the opportunity arose.[4]

In October 1913, it was decided that the mountings (possibly also the 6-in guns) for all ships but Bristol should also have buzzers for their firing circuits.[5]


Two 18-in submerged broadside tubes aft, 4.5 feet below the load waterline, depressed 3 degrees with the axis of the tube 14.75 inches above the deck.[6]

In 1913, it was approved, as part of a general reallocation of 18-in torpedoes, to replace the torpedoes on Minotaur class (except Shannon), Duke of Edinburgh and Bristol classes with F III** torpedoes.[7]

In 1915, it was a source of complaint that Gloucester and Liverpool still lacked heater torpedoes.[8] They were rearmed with 18-in Mark VII*** torpedoes in that same year.[9]

Fire Control

Mechanical Aid-to-Spotter

As late as 1920, these ships were not equipped, generally being the most modern light cruisers (except the Centaurs) to fail to make the cut.[10]

Range Dials

As of 1920, it appears that none of the ships had been so equipped.[11]


By June 1918, it was determined that the "Town" class cruisers would probably eventually carry two 12-foot and one 9-foot rangefinders.[12]

Evershed Bearing Indicators

This equipment was unlikely to have been fitted for gun or searchlight control.[13]

Gunnery Control

Dreyer Table

These ships had no fire control tables.[14]

Fire Control Instruments

In 1909, it was planned that all five ships in this class were to be completed with the latest Vickers F.T.P. Fire Control Instruments Mark II as follows:[15][16]

  • Range Transmitters: 4
  • Deflection Transmitters: 4
  • Range Receivers: 12
  • Deflection Receivers: 12
  • C.O.S.: 1
  • Vickers Fire Gongs: 12 with 4 keys

However, Gloucester's 4-in gun sights could not accomodate FTP.[17]

In February 1913, it was decided that the Weymouth and Bristol class light cruisers (except Falmouth) should have improved voice pipes installed for fire control upon their next refit.[18]

None of the ships had Target Visible or Gun Ready signals.[19]

In mid-1913 it was approved that these ships receive a Mark III Dumaresq, Pattern 760.[20]

By mid-1918, the "Town" class cruisers were to receive two "Graham type" bearing transmitters in their spotting tops. The Bristols, however, were apparently not to receive range repeat receivers that were being issued to the others.[21]

Torpedo Control

In 1916, it was decided that all light cruisers of Bristol class and later should have torpedo firing keys (Pattern 2333) fitted on the fore bridge, in parallel with those in the CT, and that a flexible voice pipe be fitted between these positions. Additionally, those with submerged tubes were to be equipped with gyro angle and order instruments from fore bridge (and after control position, if present) to the tubes. Bristol class already has (or will have) Barr and Stroud for this purpose.[22]


  1. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 331 of 8 Sep, 1914.
  2. The Sight Manual, 1916. pp. 86, 108, Plate 39.
  3. Admiralty Weekly Orders. The National Archives. ADM 182/4. 21 Feb, 1913 entries. pp. 3-4.
  4. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 470 of 22 Aug, 1913.
  5. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 569 of 17 Oct, 1913.
  6. Addenda (1911) to Torpedo Manual, Vol. III., 1909, p. 155.
  7. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1913. p. 8.
  8. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1915. p. 58.
  9. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1915. p. 59.
  10. Manual of Gunnery (Volume III) for His Majesty's Fleet, 1920. p. 35.
  11. absent from Manual of Gunnery of H.M. Fleet, Volume III, 1920, p. 45.
  12. Grand Fleet Gunnery and Torpedo Orders. 21/6/1918, p. 116.
  13. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 23. p. 29.
  14. absent from list in Handbook of Capt. F.C. Dreyer's Fire Control Tables, p. 3.
  15. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. pp. 57, 60.
  16. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1909. p. 148.
  17. The Sight Manual, 1916. p. 86.
  18. The National Archives. ADM 182/4. 7th Feb., 1912, p. 4.
  19. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 11.
  20. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 283 of 6 June, 1913.
  21. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 230.
  22. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1916. p. 146.


  • Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1910). Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. Copy No. 173 is Ja 345a at Admiralty Library, Portsmouth, United Kingdom.
  • Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1918). Handbook of Captain F. C. Dreyer's Fire Control Tables, 1918. C.B. 1456. Copy No. 10 at Admiralty Library, Portsmouth, United Kingdom.

See Also

Bristol Class Light Cruiser
Bristol Glasgow Gloucester Liverpool Newcastle
<– Boadicea Class Minor Cruisers (UK) Weymouth Class –>