Highflyer class second class cruisers

The Highflyer class of second class cruisers were virtual repeats of the Eclipse class, but carried eleven 6in guns instead of the mix of 6in and 4.7in guns used on the earlier ships. Like the Arrogant class, they used watertube boilers, but unlike the Arrogant class they were not designed to act as rams. The watertube boilers raised the speed of the ships by half a knot, and were 100 tons lighter than the boilers used in the Eclipse class ships, almost making up for the increased weight of the guns. With the very similar Challenger Class ships they were the last British light cruisers before HMS Bristol was laid down in 1909.

In 1913 HMS Hermes was converted into a seaplane carrier, with a storage platform at the rear and a launching platform at the front. After trials in 1913 the platforms were removed, but at the start of the First World War they were restored, and she was used to ferry aircraft to France. On 31 October 1914, while returning from Dunkirk she was sunk by U-27 with the loss of 22 men.

Side view of HMS Highflyer
Side view of HMS Highflyer

HMS Highflyer began the war as part of the 9th Cruise Squadron, on the Finisterre station. During August 1914 she moved south to support Admiral Stoddart’s 5th Cruiser Sqaudron on the Cape Verde station. On 26 August she sank the German commerce raider Kaiser Wilhelm de Grosse. She remained off West Africa until 1917, when she was transferred to the West Indies and North American Squadron. On 10 July 1917 she provided the escort for convoy HS 1, the first transatlantic convoy from Canada to Britain.

HMS Hyacinth spent the entire war on the Cape and East Africa station, intermittently serving as flagship. In 1915 she intercepted the German blockade runner Rubens, a captured British merchant ship which was being used to get supplies to German East Africa. The Rubens was forced to run aground, and was set on fire, but most of her cargo survived. The Hyacinth was paid off in August 1919.



Top Speed


Armour – deck

1.5in – 3in

 - conning tower


 - gunshields


 - engine hatches





Eleven 6in quick firing guns
Nine 12pdr quick firing guns
Six 3prd quick firing guns
Two 18in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Ships in class

HMS Hermes
HMS Highflyer
HMS Hyacinth

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 November 2007), Highflyer class second class cruisers , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_highflyer_class_cruisers.html

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