Monmouth Class first class armoured cruisers

The Monmouth Class first class armoured cruisers were designed to be significantly cheaper than the previous Drake class cruisers, while still reaching the same high speeds as that class. The Drake class cruisers were 14,150 tonne ships, carrying a crew of 900 and capable of reaching 23 knots.

HMS Monmouth
HMS Monmouth

HMS Monmouth - the guns
HMS Monmouth - the guns

The Monmouth class ships were more than 4,000 tonnes lighter, carried two inch thinner belt armour, a crew of 678 and significantly reduced firepower. While the Drake classes carried two 9.2in and sixteen 6in guns, the Monmouth class replaced the two 9.2in guns with four 6in guns (in two twin gun turrets) and the number of side guns were reduced from eight on each side to five.

The Monmouth class cruisers were much criticised at the time for their weak armament. The Monmouth herself was lost at the battle of Coronel, where her six inch guns were outranged by the superior firepower of the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, each of which carried eight 8.2in guns. The experiment was quickly abandoned – the Devonshire class cruisers were given 7.5in guns and the Duke of Edinburgh class reverted to the 9.2in guns used in the earlier Cressy and Drake classes. 

HMS Bedford was wrecked at sea in the China Sea on 21 January 1910. The surviving Monmouth Class cruisers all had active careers during the First World War, serving on a wide variety of stations, from China to the West Indies. HMS Monmouth was lost at the battle of Coronel (1 November 1914). Both HMS Cornwall and HMS Kent were present at the battle of the Falklands, where the Kent played a part in the sinking of the Nurnberg. The Cornwall then remained in the South Atlantic and was part of the squadron that found the Dresden. The surviving ships of the class were sold off in 1920-21.

Plans of Monmouth Class First Class Armoured Cruisers
Plans of Monmouth Class First Class Armoured Cruisers

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck


 - belt


 - bulkhead


 - barbettes


 - turrets


 - casemates


 - ammo hoists


 - conning tower





Fourteen 6in quick firing guns
Ten 12pdr quick firing guns
Three 3prd quick firing guns
Two 18in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Ships in class

HMS Bedford
HMS Berwick
HMS Cornwall
HMS Cumberland
HMS Donegal
HMS Essex
HMS Kent
HMS Lancaster
HMS Monmouth
HMS Suffolk

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), Monmouth Class first class armoured cruisers ,

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