Grossmont Class Armoured Cruisers

 

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1900 and a new century, the Alentejo class is under construction and the Admiralty want cruisers to see off the French 'croiseur-de-guerre' types. These were big cruisers with armoured belts and big guns (usually 7.6 inch and smaller) with a rasonable turn of speed, to be used to attack an enemies commerce and trade routes. The Algarvian designers produced a design to counter these ships. An armoured cruiser with 10" and 6" guns.

Laid down in 1902 the name unit of the class entered service in 1906, at the same time as the Dreadnought. From looking brilliant to obsolete in just months. Once the Invincible class started appearing these four ships looked even worse. These were the type of ships the Invincibles had been designed to kill. All four ships had entered service by the end of 1907 and became the 1st Cruiser Squadron. Like other 'semi' ships of the time, the use of two calibers whose shell splashed were hard to distinguish with the optical instruments of the time. The other problem was the 6" gun type used was the 1892 model that was short ranged and became notorious for its inaccuracy. The Andros class had introduced the new 1905 model 4.5" weapon which was a superb gun and would be used aboard Algarvian ships for the next 30 years. The casemate 6" were removed in 1909-10 and replaced one for one with the new 4.5" guns. 



The other armaments aboard ship were a set of seven 4" anti-torpedo boat guns, and from 1914-15 onwards the 35mm AA machineguns were fitted.

The four ships had a fairly dull war with patrolling the sea lanes and escorting convoys being their lot. The Grossmont had the most excitement, chasing and sinking the Berlin after that ship had been dropping mines (one of which sunk HMS Audacious) and trying to pass close to Gibraltar to drop floating mines into the Straits. Three hits from the 10" and the Berlin exploded in a great ball of fire, one of the shells must have triggered off the remaining mines. Being triple expansion engined and coal fired, the four ships were quickly discarded and scrapped in 1920. If they had been kept they would have had to count against Capital Ship tonnage, and these ships were just not worth it. The 10" turrets and guns however proved so good the Algarve designers had no problem fitting them to the later Vengeance class cruisers.


Cleaning up after a shoot with the port 4.5" guns.


Displacement: 12,300 tons standard, 16,800 tons full load.
Dimensions: 453 x 72 x 23 feet
Machinery: 2 shafts, triple expansion, 28,000shp
Speed: 24 knots
Endurance: 7,000 miles at 12 knots
Armour: 8 belt, 2 deck, 8/3/2 turrets
Armament:
4 x 10 (2x2)
10 x 4.5 (10x1)
7 x 4" (7x1)
6 x 35mm (6x1)
4 x 18" torpedoes (4x1) submerged
Crew: 725

 

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