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|Preceded by:||Nelson class|
|Succeeded by:||Orlando class|
|Length:||315 ft (96 m)|
|Beam:||62 ft (19 m)|
|Draught:||26 ft 9 in (8.15 m)|
|Installed power:||8,000 indicated horsepower (6,000 kW)|
|Speed:||16 knots (30 km/h)|
|Range:||6,500 nautical miles (12,000 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h)|
In an 1886 magazine article, Sir Edward Reed complained that these ships did not deserve to be called "armoured", as they were not armoured at bow or stern, only along the middle 140 feet (43 m) of each side. This armor belt was additionally only 8 feet (2.4 m) wide, and as designed would have extended 3 feet 3 inches (0.99 m) above the waterline. As completed, the two ships were overweight, with the result that the belt was completely submerged, leaving them armoured in name only.
The layout of the main armament was unusual for the time, having one gun each forward and aft, and another gun mounted on either beam – in a lozenge arrangement similar to that employed by the French. The original secondary battery comprised ten 6-inch (152mm) guns, but the overweight condition of these ships forced the elimination of four of these weapons.
Intended for prolonged deployments on distant foreign stations, the ships were sheathed with wood and copper to prevent marine growth on the hull, and were originally fitted with a brig sailing rig to economize on coal. After trials showed them to be sluggish under sail, the masts and yards were removed and replaced by a single pole mast between the funnels. This reduction in rig and the weight saved thereby allowed the reinstallation of two 6-inch guns, for a total of eight.
- Imperieuse – launched in 1883, converted to a depot ship in 1905 and renamed Sapphire II, later reverted to Imperieuse in 1909, and sold in 1913.
- Warspite – launched in 1884, scrapped 1906. One of Warspite's 9.2-inch breech-blocks is/was held at the Royal Military College of Science (RMCS) at Shrivenham.
The following table gives the build details and purchase cost of the members of the Imperieuse class. Standard British practice at that time was for these costs to exclude armament and stores. In the table:
- Machinery meant "propelling machinery".
- Hull included "hydraulic machinery, gun mountings, etc."
|Date of||Cost according to|
|Laid Down||Launch||Completion||(BNA 1895)||(BNA 1903)||Parkes|
|Imperieuse||Portsmouth Dockyard||Maudslay||10 Aug 1881||18 Dec 1883||Sep 1886||£417,437||£113,377||£530,814||Details of cost
|Warspite||Chatham Dockyard||Penn||25 Oct 1881||29 Jan 1884||Jun 1888||£415,546||£113,786||£529,332||£653,072||£538,797|
- Sir Edward Reed, "The British Navy", Harper's Monthly Magazine (European edition), February 1886
- Note that the costs quoted in the 1895 edition and the 1903 edition are not the same. There seems to have been a revision of the costs quoted for British warships in The Naval Annual between the 1902 and 1903 editions, and a further revision between the 1905 and 1906 editions. (The 1906 edition costs cannot be quoted for the Imperieuse class because the class is not listed in the 1906 edition.)
- The Naval Annual 1895 , p192-200
- The Naval Annual 1895, p192-200
- The Naval Annual 1903, p236-243
- Parkes, Oscar, British Battleships, p307-313.
- Brassey, T.A. (ed) The Naval Annual 1895
- Brassey, T.A. (ed) The Naval Annual 1903
- Chesneau, Roger & Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4.
- Friedman, Norman (2012). British Cruisers of the Victorian Era. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-59114-068-9.
- Lyon, David; Winfield, Rif (2004). The Sail & Steam Navy List. London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 1-86176-032-9.
- Parkes, Oscar (1990). British Battleships (reprint of the 1957 ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-075-4.
- Silverstone, Paul H. (1984). Directory of the World's Capital Ships. New York: Hippocrene Books. ISBN 0-88254-979-0.
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