Drake Class first class armoured cruisers

The Drake Class first class armoured cruisers were armoured versions of the earlier Powerful class. When originally built the Powerful class ships had been the longest warships then in existence and the largest cruisers ever built, and had been seen as too large and too expensive. The intervening Diadem and Cressy class cruisers had been smaller versions of the Powerful class ships while the Drake Class ships were only five feet shorter and fifty tonnes lighter than the Powerful class.

The Drake Class cruisers were very similar to the Powerful class cruisers as they had been modified. They carried their two 9.2in guns in single turrets at the bow and stern, and their sixteen 6in guns in four two storey casemates in each side of the ship, mimicking the arrangement eventually adopted on the Powerful class. The main difference was that the Drake Class ships carried a 257 foot long belt of 6in side armour.

Despite the increase in weight, the Drake Class cruisers were amongst the fastest cruisers of their day, with the Drake reaching 24 knots. This faster speed would become standard on later cruiser classes. The increased size would not – the Monmouth class cruisers would be 4,000 tonnes lighter than the Drakes and the next class of similar size would be the Minotaur class of 1905-1909.

All four Drake class cruisers served as squadron flagships during their careers. The Good Hope was the flagship of Admiral Christopher Cradock during the battle of Coronel, and was destroyed with the loss of all hands. HMS Drake was torpedoed by U-79 off Northern Island in 1917, having served in the Grand Fleet and on escort duty. Leviathan spent most of the war as flagship of the North America and West Indies Squadron. King Alfred served with the Grand Fleet and on convoy duty.

HMS Good Hope
HMS Good Hope

HMS Good Hope forward guns
HMS Good Hope

Plans of Drake Class First Class Armoured Cruisers
Plans of Drake Class First Class Armoured Cruisers

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck


 - belt


 - bulkhead


 - turrets


 - barbettes


 - casemates


 - ammo hoists


 - conning tower





Two 9.2in guns
Sixteen 6in quick firing guns
Fourteen 12pdr quick firing guns
Three 3pdr quick firing guns
Two 18in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Ships in class

HMS Drake
HMS Good Hope
HMS King Alfred
HMS Leviathan

Before the Battlecruiser - The Big Cruiser in the World’s Navies 1865-1910, Aidan Dodson. Looks at the development and careers of the ‘big cruiser’, the most heavily armed cruisers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and a type that eventually evolved in the battlecruiser. Covers the development of the type, its combat experience while still state of the art, its role in the First World War, as well as looking at the technical specifications of all of the ships that fell into this category (Read Full Review)
cover cover cover


Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 September 2007), Drake Class first class armoured cruisers , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_drake_class_cruisers.html

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