Chao Ho Class Protected Cruiser, Chao Ho

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Chao Ho Class Protected Cruiser

Chao Ho

“Harmonious Beginnings”



The Chao Ho class was a significant component of Prince Chun’s modernization initiative during the Qing Dynasty. Its purpose was to upgrade the navy by incorporating advanced battleships, cruisers, torpedo boats, and submarines. However, the Xinhai Revolution disrupted the plans for the first sea trials, leading to the Chao Ho’s service under the Republic of China Navy. The Chao Ho class consisted of three cruisers, each with distinct characteristics in terms of size, armor, and displacement. This deliberate variation aimed to enhance the educational value of the ships and familiarize the crews with different boiler and weapons systems.

The construction of the Chao Ho took place at Armstrong Whitworth in Elswick, Tyne and Wear, commencing on October 7, 1910. It was launched on October 23, 1911, and successfully completed naval trials on February 21, 1912, a mere nine days after the Xinhai Revolution. Following extensive negotiations, the Chao Ho was finally delivered to China in March 1913.

In comparison to the Ying Rui and Fei Hung, the Chao Ho was a larger cruiser, boasting a beam that was 0.76 meters longer and weighing an additional 290 tons. It also possessed thicker armor than its counterparts. The primary armament of the Chao Ho consisted of two Armstrong Pattern NN 6-inch guns, strategically positioned on the forecastle and poop. As a protected cruiser, the Chao Ho lacked belt armor but featured armor on its deck, guns, and conning tower.

In December 1915, the Chao Ho encountered its first significant event when it was briefly seized by Southern Chinese rebels during the National Protection War. Throughout the tumultuous Warlord Era of the Republic of China, the Chao Ho was frequently deployed to shell rebel positions.

Following the defeat of the Zhili Clique in the Second Zhili-Fengtian War, the control of Qingdao and its fleet was transferred to the Manchurian warlord Zhang Zuolin of the Fengtian clique. The fleet was renamed the North East Fleet, however, at that point, a number of the ships were in a state of great despair.

In 1927, Chiang Kai-shek, leading the Kuomintang Government of the Republic of China, started the Northern Expedition to gain control over the Northern Chinese warlords. Despite a lack of a strong navy due to a mass defection in 1923, the Kuomintang, with the newly formed National Revolutionary Army, carried out various missions using the Chao Ho. After fierce fighting, the Kuomintang successfully took control of Beijing in 1928 and overcame the Warlord factions. the North East Fleet of the former Beiyang Government was reintegrated into the Republic of China Navy.

In 1930, Chao Ho received an upgrade with the addition of two QF 2 pounder anti-aircraft guns on a platform at the base of the mainmast.

The Third Squadron, formerly known as the North East Fleet, was stationed in Qingdao after being renamed. However, the troubles for the Chao Ho did not end when it returned in 1928. In 1933, a lieutenant from the auxiliary gunboat Chen Hai attempted to assassinate Admiral Shen Hung-lieh, who was also the mayor of Qingdao, due to wage disputes. this incident led to a mutiny by the Third Squadron. They sailed to Guangzhou, under the governance of General Chen Jitang, seeking support. The mutineers were welcomed as reinforcements by the Cantonese faction in the fragmented Republic of China. Unfortunately, even in Guangzhou, the former North East Fleet faced challenges such as low pay, unemployment, and lack of recognition. When Rear-Admiral Kiang Hsi-yuan was replaced by a local Cantonese commander, the three ships mutinied again and left Guangzhou on June 15, 1935. However, the Chao Ho got stuck in mud and was left behind. Tense negotiations eventually resolved the situation without any violence on July 18.

In 1937, Japan launched a full-scale invasion of China, capturing Beiping and Tianjin. Chao Ho, stationed at the naval fort in Bocca Tigris, was tasked with protecting Guangzhou and the entrance to the Pearl River. On September 14, 1937, Chao Ho and Hai Chow faced Japanese cruiser Yūbari and destroyers Hayate and Oite, resulting in their retreat. Japan then launched a strategic bombing campaign targeting the Pearl River Delta and Guangzhou city, resulting in heavy bombardment of fortifications and ports. Chao Ho was ultimately sunk by Japanese aircraft on September 30, 1937.

Technical Data


Crew - 283

Displacement - 2,750 tons

Length - 105.46 m

Beam - 12.8 m

Draught - 4.5 m

Powerplant - 4 x Yarrow Water tube Boilers, 4 x Cylindrical Boilers (4,500 kW Total)

Max Speed - 20 Knots (36 km/h)

Deck Armor - 19mm (Bows) to 25mm (Centre-Ship)

Conning Tower Armor - 76mm


2 x 1 Armstrong Pattern NN 6-Inch/50 Cannons

4 x 1 Elswick Pattern P 4-Inch/50 Cannons

4 x 1 Armstrong 3-Inch/50 Cannons

2 x 1 3-Inch Cannons (Unknown Type)

6 x 1 QF 6-Pounder 47/40 Hotchkiss Cannons

2 x 1 Maxim 1-Inch AA Cannons (QF 1-Pounder Pom-Pom)

2 x 1 18-Inch Torpedoes (One Each Side)

(1930 Retrofit) 2 x 1 QF 2-Pounder AA Cannons




Conway’s All the world’s fighting ships, 1906-1921

Chinese cruiser Chao Ho - Wikipedia

Chao Ho class cruisers

the 1930 retroift is an researchable modification, just like the 2S6 and 2S6M1