Minotaur-class armoured cruiser, HMS Minotaur (91, 87, 71, N.73) (1918)

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Minotaur-class armoured cruiser, HMS Minotaur (91, 87, 71, N.73)


Design History:

The Minotaur-class cruisers were the last class of armoured cruisers built for the Royal Navy as well as the last large royal navy vessels to use reciprocating engines. They were designed to be significantly larger and more heavily armed than their predecessors when they were ordered as part of the 1904-05 Naval Programme, and were initially intended to be more armoured, but this had to be reduced in an attempt to compensate for the additional weight of their substantial armament. The design was criticized at the time for this weakness, along with the wide dispersal of the 7.5-inch (191 mm) turrets which where mounted 8 a side along the length of the ship. The class was initially planned to include four vessels with Minotaur being the first of class and namesake, though the fourth ship HMS Orion was cancelled due to budgetting issues arising from the purchase of the Swiftsure-class battleships.

In terms of size, The Minotaur class displaced 14,600 long tons (14,800 t) as built and 16,630 long tons (16,900 t) at deep load, giving it comparable weights to pre-drednaught class battleships in service at the time. Minotaur had an overall length of 519 feet (158.2 m), a beam of 74 feet 6 inches (22.7 m) and a mean draught of 26 feet (7.9 m) and were 1050 long tons heavier than their predecessor “the duke of edinburgh class”. Shannon had 1 foot (0.30 m) more beam and one foot less draught than her sister ships to evaluate the theory that she might be faster with these proportions than her sisters. HMS Minotaur was powered by a pair of four-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines, each driving one shaft, which developed a total of 27,000 indicated horsepower (20,130 kW) intended to give a maximum speed of 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph). The engines were powered by 24 water-tube boilers with a working pressure of 275 psi (1,896 kPa; 19 kgf/cm2). At full capacity, the ships could steam for 8,150 nautical miles (15,090 km; 9,380 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).

In terms of armament, the ship was equipt with a main armament of four BL 9.2-inch Mark X guns in two twin-gun turrets, one each fore and aft. Complimented with a secondary armament of ten BL 7.5-inch Mark II guns which were mounted amidships in single turrets. This already hefty broadside was further enhanced by sixteen QF 12-pounder (three-inch) 18-cwt guns which were intended to protect the vessel from potential torpedo boat attacks. Once WW1 started and the potential of aircraft and zepplin attacks became a possiblity, Minotaur received a pair of AA guns consisting of a QF 12-pounder (3-inch) 12 cwt anti-aircraft (AA) gun and a QF 3-pounder (47 mm) AA gun in 1915–16, in a small refit that along with her two sister ships. The 12-pounder gun was mounted on the aft superstructure and the 3-pounder on the quarterdeck at the extreme rear. Capping off this large collection of cannons was five submerged 17.7-inch torpedo tubes, one of which was mounted in the stern, creating a package that was just as deadly above the water as it was below. The torpedos were mounted in the following configuration:

  • two on broadside forward, depressed three degrees and bearing abeam; axis of tube was 7 foot 5.75 inches below load water line and 1 feet 6 inches above deck.
  • two on broadside aft, depressed three degrees and bearing abeam; axis of tube was 7 foot 5.75 inches below load water line and 1 feet 6 inches above deck.
  • one at the stern, undepressed and with the axis of tube was 3 feet below load water line and 2 foot 7 inches above the deck

This overwelming firepower was matched by solid armour along the entire ship, as HMS Minotaur possessed a waterline Belt consisting of 6 inches (152 mm) of Krupp Cemented Armour roughly between the fore and aft 7.5-inch gun turrets. Unfortunately this could not encompass the entire ship due to the pre-explained weight constriants , resulting in it stepping down to three inches towards the fore and aft ends of the ship.The gun turrets and barbettes were protected by 6–8 in (152–203 mm) of armour. The thickness of the lower deck was 1.5–2 inches (38–51 mm). The armour of the Conning tower was 10 inches (254 mm) thick. Interestingly though she was first of class HMS minotaur was actually completed nearly a month after HMS Shannon, which was launched on march 10th compared to Minotaur’s on April 1st.

Service History:

Minotaur like her sisterships was ordered as part of the 1904–05 naval construction programme as one of three Minotaur-class armoured cruisers. She was the first to be laid down on 2 January 1905 at Devonport Royal Dockyard and was christened and launched on the 6th of June 1907 by the Countess of Crewe. The ship suffered a coal gas explosion on November 6th, resulting in the injury of three sailors and one dockyard worker, delaying her commissioning to April 1st 1908, after her sister ship HMS Shannon. The cost of HMS Minotaur came to the sum of£1,410,356, which adjusted to inflation comes to about £118,458,817.07 making her the most expensive of the three ships in her class. Upon commisioning the ship was assigned to the 5th Cruiser Squadron of the Home Fleet, where she excorted the royal yacht Victoria and Albert from Kiel, Germany to Reval when King Edward VII and his wife visited in Russia in June of that year. The moth after HMS Minotaur escorted the battlecruiser Indomitable, when she carried the Prince of Wales to Canada to commerorate the tercentenary of Quebec City. After this the ship was transferred to the 1st Cruiser Squadron, during the home fleet reorganization of 24th march 1909. After reorginization, HMS Minotaur was present for two Fleet reviews in june and july, before being ordered to the china station in January of 1910, to relieve HMS King Alfred as flagship.

When WW1 broke out, Hms Minotaur was in Wei Hai Wei, and she was ordered to assemble at the Hong Kong station. Upon arriving Hms Minotaur, along with the armoured cruiser Hampshire and the light cruiser Newcastle sailed for the German controlled island of Yap. Along the way they captured the collier Elsbeth on august 11th, and destroyed the radio station at Yap with gunfire. Upon ravaging the island, they they went on the hunt for the German East Asia Squadron, until being redirected to the bay of Bengal, due to the Emden sinking several ships there. The reposition of Minotaur to Sumatra in search of the german warship proved unsuccessfull and she was ordered to escort a troop convoy from Wellington New Zealand, to the cape of good hope and then reinforce the squadron there, upon the Admiralty learning of the loss at the battle of Coronel. Upon arrival the Minotaur became the flagship for the station, under Vice Admiral Herbert King-Hall, who proceded to escort a South African troop convoy to Ludseritz bay, located in what was the time German South-West Africa. The ship would never make it there though, as upon hearing of the East Asia Squadrons destruction at the battle of the Falklands, HMS Minotaur was ordered home on the 8th of december, as german surface vessles were no longer a threat in the resgion.

Upon returning to British waters, Minotaur became flagship of the 7th Cruiser Squadron, under the command of Rear Admiral Arthur Waymouth, and was based out of Cromarty Firth. Here she received a brief refit, and in early 1915 was assigned to the northern patrol for the next year. At this point the ship received a QF 12-pounder (three-inch) 12-cwt anti-aircraft (AA) gun and a QF three-pounder (47 mm) AA gun in 1915–16. Just like with her sister ships the 12-pounder gun was mounted on the aft superstructure and the three-pounder on the quarterdeck at the extreme rear. The 12-pounder AA gun mounted on the aft superstructure would later be moved to the roof of the forward 9.2-inch gun turret when a fire-control system was installed with a director mounted on a platform fitted to the foremast in 1918.

HMS Minotaur was transfered to the 2nd cruiser squadron on May 30th 1916, and then like her sister ships participated in the Battle of Jutland, as flagship for rear admiral Herbert Heath. Just like her sister HMS Shannon, she remained unengaged throughout the battle, and did not get a chance to fire her guns. She was also present for the attempted interception of the high seasd fleet on august 19th, though again no combat actually occured. For the remainder of the war, Minotaur, along with her sister shannon and 4 accompanying destroyers protected the northern convoy rute between Lerwick and Norway. Minotaur was paid off on 5th febuary 1919 and was placed on the disposal list in may, before being eventually sold for scrapping in april of 1920.



Class and type: Minotaur-class armoured cruiser
Displacement: 14,600 long tons (14,800 t)
Length: 490 ft (149.4 m) PP, 519 ft (158.2 m) overall
Beam: 74.5 ft (22.7 m)
Draught: 26 ft (7.9 m)
Installed power: 27,000 ihp (20,000 kW), 24 Yarrow water-tube boilers
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 Vertical triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph)
Range: 8,150 nmi (15,090 km; 9,380 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 779
Armament: 2 twin BL 9.2-inch Mk XI guns,

10 × single BL 7.5-inch Mk V guns

16 x QF 12-pounder 18 cwt guns

1 x QF 12-pounder (3-inch) 12 cwt AA gun

1 x QF 3-pounder (47 mm) AA gun
5 × 18-inch torpedo tubes equipt with 18-in Fiume Mark III** H. Torpedoes
Belt: 3–6 in (76–152 mm)
Deck: 1.5–2 in (38–51 mm)
Barbettes: 7 in (178 mm)
Gun turrets: 4.5–8 in (114–203 mm)
Conning tower: 10 in (254 mm)

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  • Archibald, Edward H.H. (1984). The Fighting Ship in the Royal Navy (reprint of The Metal Fighting Ship in the Royal Navy ed.). Poole, Dorset: Blandford Press. ISBN 0-7137-1348-8.
  • Brown, David K. (2003). The Grand Fleet: Warship Design and Development 1906–1922 (reprint of the 1999 ed.). London: Caxton Editions. ISBN 1-84067-531-4.
  • Campbell, John (1998). Jutland: An Analysis of the Fighting. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 1-55821-759-2.
  • Chesneau, Roger; Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds. (1979). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4.
  • Burt, R. A. (1987). “Minotaur: Before the Battlecruiser”. Warship. London: Conway Maritime Press.
  • Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships 1914–1919. p. 44.