Protected cruiser HMS Challenger

The HMS Challenger belonged to the consisting of only two ships cruiser class of the same name, which was developed from the Highflyer class and was one of the largest British cruisers.


Launching and design:

The two Challenger-class ships based on the cruisers of the Highflyer class and hardly differed externally from these. Therefore, it occasionally happened that the ships were assigned to the predecessor class.

Both ships, however, were slightly longer and wider, but differed significantly in the performance of the drive. Two different boiler systems were installed in the ships, so that the British Navy Ministry received comparable values ​​for future ships. In the HMS Challenger two four-cylinder triple expansion machines of the American company Babcock & Wilcox were installed. Despite an increase in performance over its predecessor ships of 25%, the maximum speed could only be increased by one node.

The main armament consisted of eleven 6-inch rapid-fire guns, with one gun at the bow, two at the stern, and the rest at the sides.

The launch of the HMS Challenger took place on May 27, 1902, the commissioning on May 30, 1904.



HMS Challenger


HMS Challenger


HMS Challenger




History of HMS Challenger:

Already during the construction phase of the two ships, the Australia Station was selected as the site to monitor the construction of the Australian Federal Navy.

After the commissioning of the ship was first manned with British sailors, after training in Australia, the team should, however, consist solely of Australian sailors. In July 1904, the ship was already in the station.

In addition to the training of Australian and New Zealand sailors, the ship made several trips to New Zealand, where it temporarily stayed for a longer period. To exchange the British fuselage crew again and again Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney were called.

In 1911, as a retrospective tribute to the 100th anniversary of independence, Chile was launched, where the HMS Challenger remained at anchor for two weeks in Valparaíso.

After it was decided that the Australian Navy should be built with modern ships, the sister ship HMS Encounter was left for further training in Australia. The HMS Challenger, however, returned in September 1912 back to the UK.




Use in the war:

When the First World War broke out, the HMS Challenger was assigned to the 9th Cruiser Squadron in Portland and was to secure the Bristol Channel between Cornwall and Wales against German miners and intercept German merchant ships.

On August 30, 1914, it was decided to send the Challenger to Africa and fight against the German colonial forces there. Together with the British armored cruiser HMS Cumberland and the French cruiser Bruix began the attack on the capital of the German colony of Cameroon on September 25, 1914. Already on September 27, the city had to surrender.

In January 1915, the supply of the city of Edea was blocked by the Challenger, so they had to surrender as well. Following the ship was replaced by the HMS Astraea and relocated to German East Africa to participate in the destruction of the Rufiji delta included German cruiser SMS Königsberg.

In the aftermath of the Challenger on September 29, 1915, the German steamer president and on March 23, 1916, the Imperial Post steamer Tabora sunk.

The HMS Challenger remained until the end of the war in German East Africa, as this was the only German colony that could resist until the end of the war.





On February 3, 1919, the HMS Challenger returned to the UK, where the ship was decommissioned and sold in 1920 for scrapping.




Ship data:


HMS Challenger


Great Britain

Ship Type:  

Protected cruiser




Chatham Dockyard,
Chatham (Kent)




May 27, 1902


May 30, 1904


Sold and scrapped in 1920


114,6 meters


17 meters


Max. 6,6 meters


Max. 5.880 tons


475 mam


18 Babcock & Wilcox water tube boilers

2 four-cylinder triple expansion machines


12.500 PSi

Maximum speed:  

21 kn




11 × 6 " 152 mm L / 45 Mk.VII guns

8 × 12 pdr 76mm guns

6 × 3-pdr 47 mm Hotchkiss guns

2 × 45,7 cm torpedo tubes wide


Deck 37-76 mm

Gun shields 76 mm






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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.

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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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