Armored cruiser

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Schematic section of a typical armoured cruiser with an armoured upper and middle deck and side belt (red), lateral protective coal bunkers (grey) and a double-bottom of watertight compartments. The machinery was arranged in the protected internal void.

The armored or armoured cruiser (see spelling differences) is a type of cruiser; a naval warship. The armoured cruiser is protected by a belt of side armor, in addition to the armored deck and protective coal bunkers that define the protected cruiser.

Armored cruisers were the chief combatants in two naval battles: the Battle off Ulsan in the Russo-Japanese War, and the Battle of Coronel in World War I, and played important supporting roles in other battles of the period.

The development of the explosive shell in the mid-1800s made the use of armored warships inevitable, despite the cost and weight. Armored cruisers began to appear in large Western navies around 1873 and the type continued to be built until 1908. Around this time they were rapidly being outclassed by the new "all big guns" dreadnought-type warships, notably battlecruisers which compared favourably in all aspects and thus succeeded armoured cruisers.

Evolution and designs

Early types

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The Russian armored cruiser General-Admiral (1873)
The first large armored cruiser-type ships were the Russian General-Admiral (1873) and the British Shannon (1875), although the latter was initially known as an Ironclad Frigate.

Modern armored cruisers

The first true armored cruiser was the French Navy Dupuy de Lôme, launched in 1887.[1] That same year, the Russian Ryurik entered service. The first ship in the form that came to be accepted as the pattern for the armored cruiser was the Clyde-built Chiyoda of the Imperial Japanese Navy[2]. The advances made in the Chiyoda were centred around the adoption of the vertical triple-expansion reciprocating engine[2]. Unlike the horizontal TE type, which occupied the width of the ship, the vertical TE engine could be kept close to the centreline of the ship and surrounded by a protective blanket of belt armor and coal bunkers to the sides and deck armor on top. This provided a large protected zone inside the ship in which the machinery was protected from exploding shell and which maintained watertight integrity[2]. Chiyoda is too small to be thought of as a true armored cruiser, but she set a mold that would be closely followed by subsequent ships.

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Armored cruiser Dupuy de Lôme, launched in 1887.
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The 1890 Japanese cruiser Chiyoda set the trend for armored cruiser design.
The last armored cruisers were built around 1910 . Around this time they were rapidly being outclassed by new technological developments such as the 'all big gun' dreadnought battleship powered by steam turbine engines and the adoption of oil firing meant that new construction could no longer rely on the protection afforded by coal bunkers. Armored cruisers were directly replaced in battle fleets by the larger, faster and better-armed battlecruisers. The large armoured cruiser was therefore rendered obsolete and only light cruisers were built from that point on. Remaining armoured cruisers were used in patrolling and minor roles until the end of World War II.

It should be noted that the British Royal Navy classified both armoured cruisers and protected cruisers of equivalent size and armament as "first class cruisers". Thus, the first class cruisers built between the Orlando class (1886) and the Cressy class (1897) were - strictly speaking - protected cruisers, as they lacked an armored belt.


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German Blücher (1908)
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British HMS Good Hope (1901)
Early armored cruisers generally displaced 6,000–12,000 tons with a speed of 18–20 knots (33–37 km/h). The type reached its zenith in 1906–1908 with displacements of 14,000–16,000 tons and speeds of 22–23 knots (41–43 km/h). Typical armament was 2 or 4 large-calibre guns at the ends of the ship, usually between 7.5–10 inches (190 to 254 mm), and some dozen guns of 6 in (152 mm) calibre or similar along the sides.

For example, the first Russian Rurik (1892) had four 8 in (203 mm) guns, sixteen 6 in (152 mm) guns and six 4.7 in (120 mm) guns and the French Victor Hugo (1904) had four 9.4 in (194 mm) guns and sixteen 7.5 in (164 mm) guns. The numerous British Monmouth class (1901) was an exception, the design of these ships giving emphasis to the class's trade protection role over fleet duties, with a uniform armament of fourteen 6 in (152 mm) guns. Later armored cruisers had increased armaments, for example the British HMS Warrior (1905) - six 9.2 in (234 mm) guns and four 7.5 in (190 mm) guns; the German SMS Blücher (1909) - twelve 210 mm (8.2 in) guns and six 150 mm (5.9 in) guns; and the second Russian Rurik (1906, built by Vickers) had four 10 in (254 mm) guns, eight 8 in (203 mm) guns, and twenty 4.7 in (120 mm) guns.

Armored cruisers in the US Navy

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Armored cruiser Brooklyn (1898)
The first armored cruiser of the United States Navy was the USS Maine, whose explosion in 1898 triggered the Spanish-American War. Launched in 1889 , she had 7 to 12 inches (178 to 305 mm) of armor around the sides ("belt armor"), and 1 to 4 inches (25 to 102 mm) on the decks. She was redesignated as a "second class battleship" in 1894 , an awkward compromise reflecting slowness compared to other cruisers, and weakness versus the first-line battleships of the time.

New York, launched in 1895 , was less well protected than Maine, with 3 inches (76 mm) of belt armor, and 3 to 6 inches (76 to 152 mm) of deck armor. The Brooklyn was an improved version of the New York and Olympia designs.

Shortly after the Spanish-American War, the Navy built six Pennsylvania class armored cruisers, almost immediately followed by four of the Tennessee class. Collectively these ten ships were referred to as the 'big ten'.

The Battle of Tsushima

Armoured cruisers were used with success in the line of battle by the Japanese at the Battle of Tsushima in 1905. Of the battle damage received by the Japanese, the armoured cruiser Nisshin received the second-most hits after the battleship Mikasa. Nisshin was hit 13 times, including six 12-inch and one 9-inch hits. Nisshin managed to stay in line throughout the battle, validating the hopes of the designer; a cruiser able to stand in the line of battle. The performance of the Japanese armored cruisers during the Battle of Tsushima, and that of Nisshin in particular, likely led to a boom in the construction of armored cruisers in the world's navies.


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The Chilean armored cruiser O'Higgins (1896), flag ship until 1931.
Armoured cruisers were already considered obsolete by 1907, when the Royal Navy introduced the Invincible class battlecruisers. The previous year, the British had launched the revolutionary "all big gun" HMS Dreadnought. The Invincibles also had a main battery of all uniform large calibre guns and higher speed at the cost of reduced armour, nonetheless they compared favourably in firepower, speed, and protection to armoured cruisers.

The last armoured cruiser built was the SMS Blücher, though it was perhaps the best of that type of ship, it still fell short in part because the British had mislead the Germans on the Invincibles' specifications.

World War I

Consequently, when armoured cruisers met modern capital ships in World War I, the deficiencies of the type were cruelly exposed; SMS Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were sunk by the battlecruisers HMS Invincible and Inflexible at the Battle of the Falkland Islands. Vice-Admiral Maximilian von Spee had already considered RAN flagship HMAS Australia superior to his force of armoured and light cruisers. At the Falkland Islands, while the German gunnery was mostly accurate, they failed to inflict serious damage on the British battlecruisers who turned the tide of battle once they started hitting von Spee's ships.

The Battle of Coronel, which had occurred shortly before the Falkland incident, was one of the last battles involving armoured cruisers as the chief adversaries; all subsequent engagements were dominated by dreadnought-era battleships and battlecruisers.

During the Battle of Dogger Bank, the SMS Blücher's slow speed proved a liability to Admiral Hipper's otherwise all-battlecruiser squadron; Hipper made the decision to sacrifice the armoured cruiser (which was sunk with great loss of life) and let his more modern and valuable ships escape.

HMS Warrior, Defence and Black Prince were lost at the Battle of Jutland when they engaged the German Navy's battle line, which included several battlecruisers and dreadnought battleships.

End of the armored cruiser

On 17 July 1920, when the standard naval hull numbering nomenclature was adopted, all existing US armored cruisers were merged with protected cruisers in a single class "cruiser" with hull classification symbol "CA", bringing to an end the use of the term in the US.

The London Naval Treaty of 1930 essentially abolished the term 'armored cruiser', and adopted the terms heavy cruiser and light cruiser. After this, the symbol "CA" was used to designate 'heavy cruiser'.

One, late-design, armored cruiser still exists: Georgios Averof, constructed in 1909-1911, is preserved as a museum in Greece.

See also


1. ^
2. ^ Chiyoda (II): First Armoured Cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy, Kathrin Milanovich, Warship 2006, Conway Maritime Press, 2006, ISBN 1-01844-86030-2

External links

cruiser is a type of warship. The nature and role of the cruiser has changed considerably over the years.

Historically a cruiser was not a type of ship but a warship role.
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warship is a ship that is built and primarily intended for combat . Warships are usually built in a completely different way than merchant ships. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuverable than merchant ships.
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Belt armor is a layer of armor-plating outside the hull of warhsips, typically on battleships, battlecruisers cruisers and some aircraft carriers.[1]

Typically the belt covered from the deck down someway below the waterline of the ship.
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armoured to withstand the impact of shrapnel, bullets, missiles, or shells, protecting the personnel inside from enemy fire. Such vehicles include tanks, aircraft, and ships.

Civilian vehicles may also be armoured.
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Protected cruisers were a type of naval cruiser of the late 19th century. They were so known because their armour protected their vital machine spaces. They were less well protected than armoured cruisers which also had a belt of armour along the sides.
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Battle off Ulsan (Japanese: 蔚山沖海戦 Urusan'oki kaisen), also known as the Battle of the Japanese Sea, took place on 14 August 1904 during the Russo-Japanese War, 4 days after the naval Battle of the Yellow Sea.
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Russo–Japanese War (Japanese: 日露戦争 Nichi-Ro Sensō, Russian:
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Battle of Coronel took place on 1 November 1914 off the coast of central Chile near the city of Coronel. German Kaiserliche Marine forces led by Vice-Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee met and defeated a Royal Navy squadron commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock.
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Clockwise from top: Trenches on the Western Front; a British Mark IV tank crossing a trench; Royal Navy battleship HMS Irresistible sinking after striking a mine at the Battle of the Dardanelles; a Vickers machine gun crew with gas masks, and German Albatros D.
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A shell is a payload-carrying projectile, which, as opposed to a bullet, contains an explosive or other filling, though modern usage includes large solid projectiles previously termed shot (AP, APCR, APCNR, APDS, APFSDS and Proof shot).
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The dreadnought was a battle ship made in the early 20th century, of a type modelled after the revolutionary HMS ''Dreadnought of 1906. Dreadnoughts were distinguished from previous battleships, known as pre-Dreadnoughts, by an 'all-big-gun' armament and by the use of steam
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Battlecruisers were large warships of the first half of the 20th century first introduced by the British Royal Navy. They evolved from armoured cruisers and in terms of ship classification they occupy a grey area between cruisers and battleships.
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General-Admiral was a warship of the Imperial Russian Navy, and is considered as one of the early types of armored cruisers. She had a sister ship, the Gerzog Edinburgski.

She was launched in 1873, and scrapped in 1938.
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HMS Shannon was the first British armoured cruiser. She was the last Royal Navy ironclad to be built which had a propeller that could be hoisted out of the water to reduce drag when she was under sail, and the first to have an armoured deck.
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ironclad was a steam-propelled warship of the later 19th century, protected by iron or steel armor plates.[1]

The ironclad was developed as a result of the vulnerability of wooden warships to explosive or incendiary shells.
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    For the bird, see Frigatebird.

    A frigate is a warship. The term has been used for warships of many sizes and roles across eras.
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    The French Navy, officially the Marine Nationale (National Navy) and often called La Royale (The Royal [Navy]), is the maritime arm of the French military.
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    Dupuy de Lôme was an armoured cruiser of the French Navy, launched in Brest in 1887, and commissioned in 1890. She is considered as the world's first armoured cruiser.[1] She was named after the naval architect Dupuy de Lôme.
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    18th century - 19th century - 20th century
    1850s  1860s  1870s  - 1880s -  1890s  1900s  1910s
    1884 1885 1886 - 1887 - 1888 1889 1890

    Subjects:     Archaeology - Architecture -
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    Origin Lowther Hills in South Lanarkshire
    Mouth Firth of Clyde
    Basin countries Scotland
    Length 106 miles (176 km)

    Avg. discharge m³/s
    Basin area 4000 km²[1]

    The River Clyde (Cluaidh
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      IJN Chiyoda (千代田 巡洋艦 Chiyoda junyōkan
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      Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) (Kyūjitai: 大日本帝國海軍 Shinjitai: 大日本帝国海軍 Dai-Nippon Teikoku Kaigun
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      The dreadnought was a battle ship made in the early 20th century, of a type modelled after the revolutionary HMS ''Dreadnought of 1906. Dreadnoughts were distinguished from previous battleships, known as pre-Dreadnoughts, by an 'all-big-gun' armament and by the use of steam
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      A Steam turbine is a mechanical device that extracts thermal energy from pressurized steam, and converts it into useful mechanical work. It has almost completely replaced the reciprocating piston steam engine, primarily because of its greater thermal efficiency and higher
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      Fuel oil is a fraction obtained from petroleum distillation, either as a distillate or a residue. Broadly speaking, fuel oil is any liquid petroleum product that is burned in a furnace or boiler for the generation of heat or used in an engine for the generation of power, except
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      Battlecruisers were large warships of the first half of the 20th century first introduced by the British Royal Navy. They evolved from armoured cruisers and in terms of ship classification they occupy a grey area between cruisers and battleships.
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      A light cruiser is a warship. The term is a shortening of the phrase "light armoured cruiser", describing a small ship that carried armour in the same way as an armoured cruiser; a protective belt and deck.
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      Allied powers:
       Soviet Union
       United States
       United Kingdom
       France al. Axis powers:
       Italy al.
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      Orlando class first class armoured cruiser

      Class Overview
      Type: first class armoured cruiser
      Name: Orlando

      Number of ships: 7
      Preceded by: Imperieuse class cruiser
      Succeeded by: Blake
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      Cressy class armoured cruiser

      HMS Cressy

      Class Overview
      Type: armoured cruiser
      Name: Cressy

      Number of ships: 6
      Preceded by: Diadem class cruiser
      Succeeded by: Drake
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