Cressy Class first class armoured cruisers

The Cresy Class first class armoured cruisers represented an important step in the process that eventually led to the production of the battlecruiser. They were very similar to the previous Diadem class, but with two big changes. The first was the restoration of the 9.2in guns, removed in the Diadem class in favour of four shielded 6in guns.

The second was far more important. Previous first class cruisers had been protected ships. This meant that their vital parts were protected by deck armour and by the placement of the coal bunkers. The Cressy class cruisers were given a belt of 6in thick side armour. This ran along half of the length of the ship, and ran from the main deck to a depth of five feet below water level. An armoured box was created by placed 5in armoured bulkheads across the ship at each end of the armoured belt. The area between the bow and the forward bulkhead was given 2in armour. The armour was constructed from Krupp steel, which gave much better protection than the equivalent weight of older armour.

The armoured cruiser gained a new role. Protected cruisers performed two very different sets of duties, protecting British commerce and acting as scouts for the fleet. The armoured cruiser soon be seen as an aid to the battlefleet, forming a rapid wing that could take on damaged battleships.

The Cressy class ships are most famous for suffering three disasters in rapid succession at the start of the First World War. On 22 November 1914 Hogue, Aboukir and Cressy were all sunk by the German submarine U-9 in a single incident. The loss of three cruisers in home waters in eleven days came as a real shock to the Royal Navy and made it clear how dangerous the U-boat could be. 

Plans of Cressy Class First Class Armoured Cruisers
Plans of Cressy Class First Class Armoured Cruisers

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed




Armour – deck


 - belt


 - bulkheads


 - casemates


 - turrets


 - barbettes


 - ammo tubes


 - conning tower



472 ft


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

Crew complement






Ships in class

HMS Aboukir
HMS Bacchante
HMS Cressy
HMS Euryalus
HMS Hogue
HMS Sutlej

Armoured Cruiser Cressy, detailed in the original builders’ plan, Andrew Choong. Looks at the Cressy class armoured cruisers, using the beautifully drawn ‘as-fitted’plans produced after they were completed, to illustrate their actual layout in great detail. Part of a splendid series, this is a good example of a particular type of armoured cruiser, with many of its guns carried in two layers of casemates along the sides. By 1914 the armoured cruiser was almost obsolete, and the Cressy class is most famous for the loss of three to one U-boat on a single day, but when new they were were powerful modern ships. As with all of these books, this answers all sorts of questions about the layout of these ships, and is fascinating to look through.(Read Full Review)
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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)
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Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 September 2007), Cressy Class first class armoured cruisers ,

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