Duke of Edinburgh Class first class armoured cruisers

The Duke of Edinburgh class first class cruisers were the first ships of that type designed by Phillip Watts, the designer of HMS Dreadnaught. Like that ship, the Duke of Edinburgh class featured a significant rise in firepower compared to earlier cruisers. Earlier cruisers had been armed with at most two 9.2in guns.

Plans of Duke of Edinburgh Class First Class Armoured Cruisers
Plans of
Duke of Edinburgh Class
First Class Armoured Cruisers

These ships were given six 9.2in guns, each mounted in a separate turret. Two of these turrets were placed fore and aft on the centre line, while the remaining four were placed in wing positions, at each end of the middle third of the ship. Three could be fired at targets to the front or rear, and four in the broadside.

The armoured casemates that had been a feature of British cruisers for some time were abandoned on these ships, and the ten 6in guns were carried in a central armoured battery, five on each side, in the centre of the ship. Unfortunately these ships were not high sides, and so despite being only just below main deck level, these guns were too close to the water and were very hard to use in any even slightly rough weather. In March 1916 they were removed and replaced by three shielded 6in guns on each side of the ship, located on the main deck between the main guns.

These ships also carried a large number of 3pdr guns, designed for use against torpedoes and smaller ships. These had also been used on the previous Devonshire class ships, and were retained on the upcoming Warrior class ships, but were not a particular success.

Both HMS Black Prince and HMS Duke of Edinburgh began the First World War in the Red Sea, before joining the Grand Fleet (December 1914). The Black Prince was sunk with all hands at the battle of Jutland (31 May 1916). The Duke of Edinburgh was also present at Jutland. In 1917 she performed convoy escort duty, and in 1918 was posted to the North America and West Indies Station.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck

1.5in over steering gear
1in main deck
1in over battery
0.75in lower deck

 - belt

6in amidships
4in forward

 - bulkheads


 - 6in battery


 - barbettes


 - turrets

7.5in front
5.5in sides
4.5in back

 - ammo tubes


 - conning tower



505ft 6in


Six 9.2in guns
Ten 6in quick firing guns
Twenty two 3pdr quick firing guns
Three 18in submerged torpedoes.

Crew complement






Ships in class

HMS Black Prince
HMS Duke of Edinburgh

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), Duke of Edinburgh Class first class armoured cruisers , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_duke_of_edinburgh_class_cruisers.html

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