Minotaur Class first class armoured cruisers

The Minotaur Class first class armoured cruisers were the last British first class cruisers built with mixed main armament. They carried a slightly more consistent mix of guns than the previous Warrior class, with four 9.2in guns in twin turrets fore and aft, and ten 7.5in guns in single turrets, five on each side of the ship.

HMS Shannon from the right
HMS Shannon from the right

The Warrior class had carried two more 9.2in guns, but four were carried in side turrets, so only four could be fired on any single broadside target. The twin turrets on the Minotaur Class allowed them to retain that four-gun 9.2in broadside while adding three more 7.5in guns.

One of the biggest flaws in the two previous designs had been the use of 3pdr guns for defence against torpedo boats. On the Minotaur class cruisers there were replaced with much more powerful 12pdr guns, most of which were carried on top of the 7.5in and 9.2in turrets.

Armour protection was similar to the Warrior class, although amidships the main deck armour was reduced to 0.75in.

All three ships served together briefly in 1908-1909 with the Fifth Cruiser Squadron, before being split up during 1909. Before the First World War they served on a variety of stations, but by the end of January 1915 they were all with the Grand Fleet.

All three were present at the battle of Jutland where the Defence was sunk by gunfire from the SMS Freidrich der Grosse. The surviving two ships survived the war, and were sold off in 1920 and 1922.

Plans of Minotaur Class First Class Armoured Cruisers
Plans of Minotaur Class First Class Armoured Cruisers

The Minotaur class was followed by the Invincible class battlecruisers. Initially described as first class armoured cruisers themselves, they were 5,000 tonnes heavier than the Minotaur class, 2.5 knots faster and carried an all-big-gun armament of eight 12in guns.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed




Armour – deck


 - belt


 - barbettes


 - ammo tubes


 - turrets


 - conning tower





Four 9.2in guns
Ten 7.5in guns
Sixteen 12pdr quick firing guns
Five 18in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Ships in class

HMS Defence
HMS Minotaur
HMS Shannon

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 (14 September 2007), Minotaur Class first class armoured cruisers , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_minotaur_class_cruisers.html

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us - Privacy