"R" Class Destroyer (1916)

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A total of 62 destroyers of the "R" Class were completed in 1916-1917 as part of the War Emergency Programme.

There was a mix of Admiralty design vessels (39) and a diverse set of builder's specials (12 ships). Feedback on the performance of the early units led to the final 11 being adapted into the Modified "R" Class, which had slightly different armament, a bridge placed further aft, and an altered arrangement of boiler rooms that permitted two of the the three funnels to be trunked together.[1]


The ships' capacity for 300 tons of fuel, delivered the following endurance.[2]

The Modified "R" delivered much the same endurance. It's actually surprising that someone thought it worthwhile documenting them separately, given the variance between individual ships.

Knots Tons / hour Endurance
radius (nm)
Where Modified "R" differs, data
is displayed as "R" / Modified "R"
14 1.7 170 2,380
16 2.0 142 2,272
18 2.6 110 1,980
20 3.4/3.6 80 1,600
22 4.5/4.4 63/64 1,386/1,408
24 5.5/5.8 50 1,200
26 7.2/7.5 40/38 960/988
28 9.0 30 840
30 11.5/11.0 24/26 720/780



In 1916, it was stated that "new destroyers" have two 26.25 kw dynamos arranged in parallel.[3] It is likely that this applied to this class.


4-in Guns

Three 4-in Q.F. Mark IV guns on P. IX mountings, as in the preceding "M" class destroyers.

While the 51 "R" class ships had three 4-in Q.F. Mark IV guns on P. IX mountings as in the preceding "M" class destroyers, the eleven modified "R" class ships had three 4-in Q.F. Mark V guns on C.P. II mountings capable of 30 degree elevation, increasing extreme range by 20%.[4]

Other Guns

By 1920, some or all had one 2-pdr pom-pom for air defence.[5]


  • two double revolving 21-in torpedo tubes on the centreline

These, along with those in Fearless may have been among the first A.W. tubes built with screw plugs to permit the alteration of range and depth and perhaps gyro angle to be adjusted, the stop and charging valve to be access, and the collision head to be filled while the torpedo was in the tube.[6][7]

In 1917, at least some of these ships were using 21-in Mark II*** torpedoes and 21-in Mark II***** torpedoes.[8]

Other Weapons

Fire Control

Mid-1916 Outfit

Experiments from February with two Grand Fleet destroyers employing dumaresqs and Vickers Range Clocks and voicepipes showed definite advantages over ships using unaided spotting and voicepipes, even when the crews had no special training in the new equipment. Tests were also conducted to find a rangefinder suitable to the lively and cramped platform that destroyers provided. This led to an order on 3 April, 1916 that each T.B.D. of "M" class and later should be equipped with:[9]

  • one sextant rangefinder
  • one VIckers Clock
  • one Dumaresq
  • range and deflection receivers at each gun

Two ratings, trained before coming aboard, were added to the crew to work the equipment. The clocks and rangefinders were issued in the following three months, and the dumaresqs a few months later. The data instruments did not become available in numbers until 1917. By mid-1917, the whole system was broadly in place in the destroyers of the Grand Fleet and in the Harwich Force.[10]


The first installations of the British Destroyer Director Firing System were being effected in May 1918.[11]

Torpedo Control

Electrical Torpedo Control Instruments[12]
found in most or all "R" class destroyers

A single sighting position was located high up in the centre of the bridge, thus requiring only a single set of firing pushes or keys as well as keys for operating a buzzer at the forward torpedo mount and a rattler at the aft mount.[13]

The control position had a single Mark I deflection transmitter and separate order transmitters and keys for the forward and aft tubes. Each torpedo mount had a combined receiver for these signals.[14]


By November 1918, those ships operating with the Twentieth Destroyer Flotilla, Telemachus, Tarpon and Venturous, were fitted to carry 44 mines. The torpedo tubes and guns removed when the mines were shipped could be placed back aboard with enough notice.[15]

See Also


  1. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. pp. 76-77, 79-80.
  2. Battlecruiser Force Signal Orders (1 August, 1918), The National Archives. ADM 137/2135
  3. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1916. p. 120.
  4. March. British Destroyers. p. 190. N.B.: Technical History and Index, Vol 4, Part 34. pp. 12-13. indicates the mountings were C.P. III.
  5. Technical History and Index, Vol 4, Part 34, p. 16.
  6. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1911. p. 48.
  7. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1912. p. 36.
  8. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 61.
  9. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 23. p. 31.
  10. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 23. pp. 31, 32.
  11. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 23. p. 12.
  12. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. Plate 84.
  13. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 211.
  14. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 211, Plate 84. (C.I.O. 439/17.).
  15. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, Mining Appendix, 1917-18. p. 11. Plate 7.


"R" Class Destroyer
Admiralty Design
Radstock Raider Romola Rowena Restless
Rigorous Rocket Rob Roy Redgauntlet Redoubt
Recruit Sturgeon Sceptre Salmon Sylph
Sarpedon Sable Setter Sorceress Satyr
Sharpshooter Simoom Skate Starfish Stork
Skilful Springbok Tancred Tarpon Telemachus
Tempest Tetrarch Tenacious Thisbe Thruster
  Tormentor Tornado Torrent Torrid  
Thornycroft Specials
Rosalind Radiant Retriever Taurus Teazer
Yarrow Specials
Sabrina Strongbow Surprise Sybille Truculent
  Tyrant Ulleswater  
Modified "R" Class
Ulster Undine Tower Trenchant Tristram
  Tirade Ursula Ulysses  
  Umpire Urchin Ursa  
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