Drake Class Cruiser (1901)

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The four armoured cruisers of the Drake Class were completed in 1902 and 1903.

Overview of 4 vessels
Citations for this data available on individual ship pages
Name Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
Drake Pembroke Royal Dockyard 24 Apr, 1899 5 Mar, 1901 13 Jan, 1903 Torpedoed 2 Oct, 1917
Good Hope Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Govan 11 Sep, 1899 21 Feb, 1901 8 Nov, 1902 Sunk 1 Nov, 1914
King Alfred Vickers, Barrow 11 Aug, 1899 28 Oct, 1901 22 Dec, 1903 Sold 30 Jan, 1920
Leviathan John Brown, Clydebank 30 Nov, 1899 3 Jul, 1901 16 Jun, 1903 Sold 3 Mar, 1920


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


In April 1913, a previous order to fit these ships with a Type 10 Cruiser Auxiliary set was rescinded.[2]


In 1907, these ships, along with the Powerful, Cressy, Monmouth and Devonshire classes and battleships of the Majestic, Canopus, London, and Duncan classes, were to land their searchlights from their tops and obtain two additional 24-inch models from their dockyards for placement on the shelter or boat deck. These were to be augmented by (or further upgraded to?) a pair of 36-in searchlights when they became available.[3]


In early 1913, new pattern G. 329 trainer's telescopes of 2.5 power and 20 degree field were issued to these and many other capital ships, to replace the 5/12, 5/15 and 5/21 variable power G.S. telescopes that had previously been in use.[4]

During the war, along with those of other older ships, the eight 6-inch guns casemated on the main deck proved of little use in practical sea states. The three foremost main deck guns on each side were moved to the upper deck and the aftmost gun on each side remaining in situ. Four of the twelve original 12-pdr guns were displaced and surrendered by this reconfiguration.[5][Fact Check]

Main Battery

This section is sourced in The Sight Manual, 1916.[6]

King Alfred's mountings differed from those of Drake and Leviathan and were similar to those in the Cressy class. It is unknown which pattern Good Hope fit. The equipment of Drake and Leviathan (only) is documented here.

The two 9.2-in B.L. guns Mark X were arranged in single Mark V mountings fore and aft, able to elevate 13 degrees and depress 5 degrees.

The sights were gear-worked with a range gearing constant of 49.26, graduated to only 12.5 degrees or 14,000 yards, full charge. There was no MV correction, but a generous supply of range dials was provided: 2700/2675/2643/2625/2600/2575/2550 fps for full charge, 2250/2225/2196/2175/2150/2125/2100 fps for reduced charge, and 3-pdr sub-calibre and 1-in aiming rifle. The 2850 fps dial was noted as having range errors exceeding 25 yards, as it employed the same cam cut for the 2750 fps dial. The 2750 fps dial would be used for calibrating the sight. MV was corrected by adjustable pointer allowing a 100 fps decrease (only).

The deflection was on a gearing constant of 51.11, 1 knot being 2.61 arc minutes, calibrated for 2643 fps at 5000 yards.

Drift was corrected by inclining the sight bracket 1.5 degrees. The sighting lines were 14 inches above the bore and 45 inches to the left and 50 inches to the right. The right sight was a vertical columns sight entirely different in nature than the left, which was similar to that used on the 7.5-in Mark II.

Neither "C" corrector nor temperature corrector are mentioned explicitly and none are visible in drawings.

Secondary Battery

In February, 1913, the 6-in mountings, along with many other 4-in and 6-in mountings in various capital ships and cruisers were to have illumination added for their training index racers.[7]

Other Weapons

  • Originally, twelve 12-pdr guns. When 6-in guns were moved about, four of these guns were lost with the remainder on shelter decks and atop casemates.

Prior to reductions in such provisions enacted in mid-1903, the ships had been allowed 267 cutlasses.[8]


  • two 18-in submerged broadside tubes forward, depressed three degrees and bearing abeam; axis of tube was 6 foot 10.5 inches below load water line and 1 feet 6 inches above deck.[9]

Dreyer Table

These ships never received Dreyer tables.[10]

Fire Control Instruments

By 1909, the four ships in this class were split into two different types of fire control equipment.

King Alfred differed from the other 3 ships in the class by having Barr and Stroud Mark II instruments for range and rate, B & S Mark I for orders, and Vickers instruments for deflection:[11]

  • Range (B. & S. Mark II): 6 transmitters, 33 receivers
  • Orders (B. & S. Mark I): 6 transmitters, 20 receivers
  • Rate (B. & S. Mark II): 4 transmitters, 8 receivers
  • Deflection (Vickers): 6 transmitters, 27 receivers
  • Group Switches: 3 (converted by Chatham)
  • Siemens Turret fire gongs: 4 with 2 keys
  • Vickers Fire Gongs: 16 with 4 keys
  • Siemens Captain's Cease Fire Bells: 20 with 1 key

Drake, Good Hope and Leviathan were equipped with Vickers, Son and Maxim instruments for range, deflection and orders and with Barr and Stroud rate instruments:[12]

  • Vickers range transmitters: 6
  • Vickers deflection transmitters: 6
  • Vickers combined range and deflection receivers: 28 (27 in Drake)
  • Vickers C.O.S.: 3
  • Vickers Check fire switches: 6
  • Barr and Stroud rate transmitters: 4
  • Barr and Stroud rate receivers: 8
  • Siemens Fire Gongs (turrets): 4 with 2 keys
  • Vickers Fire Gongs (elsewhere): 16 with 4 keys (Siemens in Good Hope)
  • Siemens Captain's Cease Fire Bells: 20 with 1 key

These ships lacked Target Visible and Gun Ready signals.[13]

See Also


  1. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 331 of 8 Sep, 1914.
  2. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1913. W/T Appendix, p. 13.
  3. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1907. p. 35. The location for each ship type was placement stipulated in C.N.2 11884/13066, 13.12.1906.
  4. Admiralty Weekly Orders. 28 Feb, 1913. The National Archives. ADM 182/4.
  5. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 4, Part 36. p. 9-10. I do not understand this configuration.
  6. The Sight Manual, 1916. pp 57, 105, 108, 110. Plate 20, 21.
  7. Admiralty Weekly Orders. The National Archives. ADM 182/4. 21 Feb, 1913 entries. pp. 3-4.
  8. Principal Questions Dealt with by the Director of Naval Ordnance, 1904. pp. 249-253.
  9. Torpedo Manual, Vol. III, 1909. p. 265.
  10. Handbook of Captain F. C. Dreyer's Fire Control Tables, 1918. p. 3.
  11. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. pp. 56, 59.
  12. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. pp. 56, 60.
  13. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 11.


  • Friedman, Norman (2012). British Cruisers of the Victorian Era. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1591140684 (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
  • Admiralty, Technical History Section (1920). The Technical History and Index: Alteration in Armaments of H.M. Ships during the War. Vol. 4, Part 34. C.B. 1515 (34) now O.U. 6171/20. At The National Archives, Kew, United Kingdom.
  • 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 (1914). Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. G. 01627/14. C.B. 1030. Copy 1235 at The National Archives. ADM 186/191.
  • Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1917). The Director Firing Handbook. O.U. 6125 (late C.B. 1259). Copy No. 322 at The National Archives. ADM 186/227.
  • 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.
  • Brooks, John (2005). Dreadnought Gunnery and the Battle of Jutland: The Question of Fire Control. Oxon: Routledge. ISBN 0714657026. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).

Drake Class Armoured Cruiser
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