Armoured cruiser HMS Cornwall

The armoured cruiser HMS Cornwall belonged to the Monmouth class, which consisted of a total of 10 ships, were weakly armed and armored and should only serve the rapid construction of many armored cruisers.


Launching and design:

End of the 20th century, the construction of a successor of the Drake and Cressy class was decided. However, the British Navy Ministry put less emphasis on quality in the new ship class but wanted a large amount of armored cruisers that were quick and inexpensive to build.

The class, which was designed for 10 ships, accordingly had less displacement and was also armored rather lightly, with large-caliber projectiles penetrating the armor without much resistance. The armament was relatively weak with fourteen 6-inch (15.2-cm) guns and would have done little damage to heavily armored ships. Of the 14 guns four were placed in twin towers at the stern and at the bow, the rest were in casemates on the side, where only the upper were used in medium and heavy seas there.

The HMS Cornwall was completed as the last ship of the class. The propulsion system used in this ship was 31 Babcock boilers instead of the Belleville boilers, as used on the other ships.

The launching of the HMS Cornwall took place on 29 October 1902, the commissioning on 1 December 1904.



HMS Cornwall




History of HMS Cornwall:

After commissioning and test drives, the ship was assigned to the Cruiser Squadron of the Channel Fleet, which divided in 1905 in the 1st and 2nd Kreuzergeschwader.

From mid-1905, the squadron went first in the Mediterranean, later in the US and Canada and returned at the end of the year to Gibraltar.

After the incorporation into the Home Fleet round trip were carried out in the Baltic region, including in the German Empire.

In 1911, the ship was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet in which the ship also participated in round trips.




Use in the war:

When World War I broke out, HMS Cornwall was assigned to the 5th Cruiser Squadron and sent to West Africa. On the way to their place of work, the ship brought on August 6, 1914 on the German merchant ship Syra.

On December 8, 1914, Cornwall was together with other British warships in the port of the Falkland Islands when two ships of the German East Asia squadron were spotted. Since almost all ships were still busy with the loading of coal, they could only phased out gradually. The Cornwall ran after the battlecruisers HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible, but could not follow the ships because of their lower speed. As the German commander Graf Spee gave his cruisers the order to leave the battle and escape, pursued the Cornwall together with the HMS Kent and HMS Glasgow, the German light cruiser SMS Leipzig. Several hits from the Glasgow Leipzig was damaged and made little drive, so that the Cornwall could sink the ship. Although it received some hits, two bunkers had to be flooded and the ship received a light list, but were dead to complain.

In January 1915, the HMS Cornwall was sent to East Africa to assist the British ships sinking the small German cruiser SMS Königsberg, which had withdrawn Rufijidelta.

In the middle of the year, the ship had to go to the Mediterranean to support the British landing in the Dardanelles. When the operation had to be canceled, the transfer was first to the China Station, then in October 1916 then to the East Indies Station to protect the sea routes against attacks.

In 1917, the ship was brought back to the UK so that it could be overhauled and repaired there. After the US entry into the war on the British side, HMS Cornwall was used to escort the convoys until the end of the war.





After the war, the ship returned to the UK, was decommissioned there in 1919 and sold in July 1920 and scrapped.




Ship data:


HMS Cornwall


Great Britain

Ship Type:  

Armoured cruiser




Pembroke Dockyard




October 29, 1902


December 1, 1904


Sold and scrapped in July 1920


141,42 meters


20,12 meters


Max. 7,6 meters


Max. 9.800 tons


678 man


31 Babcock & Wilcox water tube boilers

2 four-cylinder
Triple expansion engines


22.000 PSi

Maximum speed:  

23 kn




14 × 6 " 152mm-L/45 Mk.VII / Mk.VIII guns

9 × 12-pdr 76 mm rapid-fire guns

2 × 45,7 cm torpedo tubes


Belted tank 50-100 mm

Casemates 50-100 mm

Towers 127 mm

Barbettes 127 mm

Deck 50-170 mm

Command tower 250 mm






You can find the right literature here:


British Battleships of World War One

British Battleships of World War One Hardcover – November 15, 2012

This new edition of a classic work on British battleships is the most sought after book on the subject. Containing many new photographs from the author's exhaustive collection this superb reference book presents the complete technical history of British capital ship design and construction during the dreadnought era. Beginning with Dreadnought, all of the fifty dreadnoughts, 'super-dreadnoughts' and battlecruisers that served the Royal Navy during this era are described and superbly illustrated with photographs and line drawings.

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The British Battleship: 1906-1946

The British Battleship: 1906-1946 Hardcover – October 15, 2015

Norman Friedman brings a new perspective to an ever-popular subject in The British Battleship: 1906-1946. With a unique ability to frame technologies within the context of politics, economics, and strategy, he offers unique insight into the development of the Royal Navy capital ships. With plans of the important classes commissioned from John Roberts and A D Baker III and a color section featuring the original Admiralty draughts, this book offers something to even the most knowledgeable enthusiast.

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British Battlecruisers 1905-1920

British Battlecruisers 1905-1920 Hardcover – December 15, 2016

The brainchild of Admiral Sir John Fisher, battlecruisers combined heavy guns and high speed in the largest hulls of their era. Conceived as "super-cruisers" whose job it was to hunt down and destroy commerce raiders, their size and gun-power led to their inclusion in the battlefleet as a fast squadron of capital ships. This book traces in detail the development of Fisher's original idea into the first battlecruiser Invincible of 1908, through to the "Splendid Cats" of the Lion class, and culminating in HMS Hood in 1920, the largest warship in the world for the next twenty years. The origins of the unusual "light battlecruisers" of the Courageous type are also covered.

The well-publicized problems of British battlecruisers are examined, including the latest research throwing light on the catastrophic loss of three of the ships at the Battle of Jutland. The developmental history is backed by chapters covering machinery, armament, and armor, with a full listing of important technical data. The comprehensive collection of illustrations includes the author's superb drawings and original Admiralty plans reproduced in full color. This revised and updated edition of the classic work first published in 1997 will be welcomed by anyone with an interest in the most charismatic and controversial warships of the dreadnought era.

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British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser: 1914–16 (Duel)

British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser: 1914–16 (Duel) Paperback – November 19, 2013

Battles at Dogger Bank and Jutland revealed critical firepower, armor, and speed differences in Royal Navy and Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy) Battlecruiser designs.

Fast-moving and formidably armed, the battlecruisers of the British and German navies first encountered one another in 1915 at Dogger Bank and in the following year clashed near Jutland in the biggest battleship action of all time. In the decade before World War I Britain and Germany were locked in a naval arms race that saw the advent of first the revolutionary dreadnought, the powerful, fast-moving battleship that rendered earlier designs obsolete, and then an entirely new kind of vessel - the battlecruiser. The brainchild of the visionary British admiral John 'Jacky' Fisher, the battlecruiser was designed to operate at long range in 'flying squadrons', using its superior speed and powerful armament to hunt, outmanoeuvre and destroy any opponent. The penalty paid to reach higher speeds was a relative lack of armour, but Fisher believed that 'speed equals protection'. By 1914 the British had ten battlecruisers in service and they proved their worth when two battlecruisers, Invincible and Inflexible, sank the German armoured cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off the Falklands in December 1914.

Based on a divergent design philosophy that emphasised protection over firepower, the Germans' battlecruisers numbered six by January 1915, when the rival battlecruisers first clashed at Dogger Bank in the North Sea. By this time the British battlecruisers had been given a new role - to locate the enemy fleet. Five British battlecruisers accompanied by other vessels intercepted and pursued a German force including three battlecruisers; although the battle was a British tactical victory with neither side losing any of its battlecruisers, the differences in the designs of the British and German ships were already apparent. The two sides responded very differently to this first clash; while the Germans improved their ammunition-handling procedures to lessen the risk of disabling explosions, the British drew the opposite lesson and stockpiled ammunition in an effort to improve their rate of fire, rendering their battlecruisers more vulnerable. The British also failed to improve the quality of their ammunition, which had often failed to penetrate the German ships' armour.

These differences were highlighted more starkly during the battle of Jutland in May 1916. Of the nine British battlecruisers committed, three were destroyed, all by their German counterparts. Five German battlecruisers were present, and of these, only one was sunk and the remainder damaged. The limitations of some of the British battlecruisers' fire-control systems, range-finders and ammunition quality were made clear; the Germans not only found the range more quickly, but spread their fire more effectively, and the German battlecruisers' superior protection meant that despite being severely mauled, all but one were able to evade the British fleet at the close of the battle. British communication was poor, with British crews relying on ship-to-ship flag and lamp signals even though wireless communication was available. Even so, both sides claimed victory and the controversy continues to this day.

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