Redbreast-class gunboat

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HMS Sparrow (1889).jpg
HMS Sparrow
Class overview
Name: Redbreast-class gunboats
  •  Royal Navy
  • Government Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg New Zealand Government
  • Merchant navy Ensign of the UK British Merchant Navy
  • Between £38,000 (Widgeon)
  • and £39,300 (Ringdove)[1]
Built: 1889
In commission: 1889–1921
Completed: 9
Lost: 1
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Redbreast-class first-class gunvessel
Displacement: 805 tons
Length: 165 ft 0 in (50.3 m) pp
Beam: 31 ft 0 in (9.4 m)
Draught: 11 ft 0 in (3.35 m) min, 13 ft 9 in (4.19 m) max
Installed power: 1,200 ihp (890 kW)
  • Triple expansion steam engine
  • 2 × boilers
  • Single screw
Sail plan: Barquentine-rigged
Speed: 13 kn (24 km/h)
Range: 2,500 nmi (4,600 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h)[1]
Complement: 76

The Redbreast class comprised nine first-class screw-driven composite gunboats built for the Royal Navy in 1889, mounting 6 guns.



The Redbreast class were designed by Sir William Henry White, the Royal Navy Director of Naval Construction in 1888.[1] The hull was of composite construction, that is, iron keel, frames, stem and stern posts with wooden planking. These were the last class of composite-hulled gunboats built for the Royal Navy - the next class of gunboat, the Bramble-class gunboat of 1898, was of steel construction.


The class was fitted with a triple-expansion reciprocating steam engine developing 1,200 indicated horsepower, sufficient to propel them at 13 kn (24 km/h) through a single screw.

Sail plan[edit]

The class was given a barquentine rig.


The first four ships were armed with six 4-inch/25-pounder (25cwt) quick firing guns and four machine guns. The last five had an additional pair of 3-pounder quick firing guns in place of two of the machine guns.[1]


Name Ship builder Launched Fate
Magpie Pembroke Dockyard 15 March 1889 Boom defence vessel in 1902. Gunboat in 1915, depot ship in October 1915. Sold to Duguid & Stewart on 29 December 1921[1]
Redbreast Pembroke Dockyard 25 April 1889[2] Sold in 1910[1]
Redpole Pembroke Dockyard 13 June 1889 Served on the China Station. Sold to Cox for breaking at Falmouth on 15 May 1906[1]
Ringdove Devonport Dockyard 30 April 1889 Became a salvage vessel on 7 December 1915, renamed Melita. Sold to Ship Salvage Corporation on 22 January 1920,[1] and renamed Telima, she was broken up in the second quarter of 1926.[3]
Lapwing Devonport Dockyard 12 April 1889 Sold at Bombay on 10 November 1910[1]
Goldfinch Sheerness Dockyard 18 May 1889 Survey vessel in February 1902. Sold for breaking on 14 May 1907[1]
Thrush Scott’s, Greenock 22 June 1889 Coastguard in 1906, cable ship in 1915, salvage vessel in 1916. Wrecked off Glenarm, Northern Ireland on 11 April 1917[1]
Widgeon Pembroke Dockyard 9 August 1889 Sold to Castle for breaking at Charlton on 15 May 1906[1]
Sparrow Scott’s, Greenock 26 September 1889 Transferred to New Zealand as a training ship on 10 July 1906, renamed Amokura. Sold as a coal hulk in February 1922. Broken up in 1955[1]
HMS Ringdove dressed overall at Melbourne in 1896


External links[edit]