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APOLLO 2 class cruisers (21, 1891 - 1894)


Rainbow as built


Name No Yard No Builder Laid down Launched Comp Fate Modification
Latona P51, N49, N67 175 Naval Construction & Armaments, Barrow 22.8.1889 22.5.1890 4.1891 minelayer 6.1908, depot ship 1917 unsheathed ships
Melampus   176 Naval Construction & Armaments, Barrow 30.8.1889 2.8.1890 12.1891 sold 5.1911 unsheathed ships
Andromache N22, N03   Chatham DYd 29.4.1889 14.8.1890 12.1891 minelayer 9.1909, depot ship 1.1918 unsheathed ships
Terpsichore   247 Thompson, Glasgow 27.8.1889 30.10.1890 4.1892 sold 5.1914 unsheathed ships
Naiad P52, N71 177 Naval Construction & Armaments, Barrow 3.10.1889 29.11.1890 1.1892 minelayer 10.1910, depot ship 1917 unsheathed ships
Thetis P85, P0C 248 Thompson, Glasgow 29.10.1889 13.12.1890 4.1892 minelayer 8.1907, depot ship 1916 unsheathed ships
Sybille   17 Stephenson, Newcastle 11.10.1889 27.12.1890 5.1894 wrecked 16.1.1901 unsheathed ships
Apollo N36, N05   Chatham DYd 27.5.1889 10.2.1891 4.1892 minelayer 8.1909, depot ship 1.1918 unsheathed ships
Tribune   249 Thompson, Glasgow 11.12.1889 24.2.1891 5.1892 sold 5.1911 unsheathed ships
Sappho P41, PA1   Samuda, Poplar 29.10.1889 9.5.1891 2.1893 tender 4.1912 unsheathed ships
Scylla     Samuda, Poplar 29.10.1889 17.10.1891 4.1893 sold 4.1914 unsheathed ships
Sirius N20, N94 564 Armstrong, Elswick 7.10.1889 27.10.1890 4.1892 sunk as blockship 23.4.1918 sheathed ships
Pique   644 Palmer, Jarrow 30.10.1889 13.12.1890 3.1893 sold 5.1911 sheathed ships
Spartan   565 Armstrong, Elswick 16.12.1889 25.2.1891 7.1892 accommodation hulk 1906 sheathed ships
Indefatigable, 1.1910- Melpomene   264 London & Glasgow, Glasgow 6.9.1889 12.3.1891 4.1892 sold 5.1914 sheathed ships
Iphigenia N27, N60 265 London & Glasgow, Glasgow 17.3.1890 19.11.1891 5.1893 minelayer 12.1908, depot ship 1916 sheathed ships
Rainbow (8/1910- RCN)   645 Palmer, Jarrow 30.12.1889 25.3.1891 1.1893 depot ship 1914 sheathed ships
Intrepid N30, N59, N21 266 London & Glasgow, Glasgow 6.9.1889 20.6.1891 11.1892 minelayer 9.1910, depot ship 1916 sheathed ships
Brilliant N16, N14   Sheerness DYd 24.3.1890 24.6.1891 4.1893 depot ship 8.1914 sheathed ships
Retribution   646 Palmer, Jarrow 31.1.1890 6.8.1891 5.1893 sold 4.1911 sheathed ships
Aeolus     Devonport DYd 10.3.1890 13.11.1891 6.1.1894 sold 5.1914 sheathed ships

Technical data

Displacement normal, t

unsheathed: 3400

sheathed: 3600

Displacement full, t 
Length, m

91.4 pp 95.7 oa

Breadth, m

unsheathed: 13.1

sheathed: 13.3

Draught, m

unsheathed: 5.33

sheathed: 5.64

No of shafts



2 3-cyl VTE, 3 double-ended and 2 single-ended cylindrical boilers

Power, h. p.

natural draught: 7000

forced draught: 9000

Max speed, kts

unsheathed ships - natural draught: 18.5, forced draught: 20

sheathed ships - natural draught: 18.5, forced draught: 19.7

Fuel, t

coal 535

Endurance, nm(kts)


Armour, mmsteel; deck: 51 - 32, gunshields: 114, engine hatch: 127, CT: 76

2 x 1 - 152/40 QF Mk I/II, 6 x 1 - 120/40 QF Mk I/II/III/IV, 8 x 1 - 57/40 6pdr Hotchkiss Mk I, 1 x 1 - 47/40 3pdr Hotchkiss Mk I, 4 x 1 - 11.4/87, 4 - 356 TT (aw, 1 bow, 2 beam, 1 aft)



Standard scale images

<i>Sirius </i>1891
Sirius 1891


<i>Rainbow </i>as built
Rainbow as built

Project history

The 21 ships of this class were provided under the Naval Defence Act of 1889. In design they were enlarged versions of the Medea class with the main armament modified to mixed calibre QF guns only. The two 152mm guns were placed on the centreline of the forecastle and poop and the 120mm were mounted 3 on each side of the upper deck amidships. The 57mm guns were all on the upper deck, 4 being amidships, between the 120mm, and 2 forward and 2 aft firing through embrasured ports for ahead and astern fire. The 120mm guns were not fitted on sponsons and the class were severely criticised for their lack of ahead and astern fire and for lack of gunpower generally in comparison to foreign cruisers of similar type. Two TT were fitted broadside abreast the mainmast on the upper deck and could be trained through an arc of 90°; one was carried in the bow, also on the upper deck; and a stern tube was fitted at main deck level.     The engines, being vertical instead of horizontal, were mounted side by side and separated from each other by a centreline bulkhead. The after boiler room contained two double-ended boilers while the forward room contained one double-ended and two single-ended boilers. Most of the class achieved the designed speed on trial and they were generally regarded as good steamers, and while several suffered early deterioration of their machinery and consequent loss of speed many others proved capable of achieving their designed speed until late in their careers. Ten of the class were sheathed in wood and copper for tropical service which added 200t to the displacement and resulted in a 0.3kt loss in designed speed.

Although larger than the Medea class, the Apollos had the same layout with a turtle back forecastle and a low freeboard, and although slightly better than their predecessors, they were wet ships and poor sea boats which would have found great difficulty in fighting their waist guns in a seaway.

Ship protection

The protective deck was 32mm thick on the flat and 51mm on the slope, and the engine cylinders, where they projected above this deck, were protected by a 127mm armoured glacis around the engine room hatch.


(1906-8/1907, Portsmouth DYd), Thetis; (5/1906-6/1908, Portsmouth DYd), Latona; (11/1906-12/1908, Portsmouth DYd), Iphigenia; (1906-8/1909, Chatham DYd), Apollo; (1907-9/1909, Chatham DYd), Andromache; (1907-9/1910), Intrepid; (1907-10/1910, Chatham DYd), Naiad: as minelayers were armed with 4 x 1 - 120/40 QF Mk I/II/III/IV, 100 - 140 mines

Naval service

  During 1906-10 seven ships were converted to minelayers with double sets of mine-tracks running from the break of the forecastle to the poop. The first conversions, Thetis and Iphigenia, are reported to have carried their mines slung from overhead travellers, but this method was found unsuitable and was replaced in them and later conversions by a more conventional double trackway on the deck, allowing the sinkers to be winched aft and rolled off chutes projecting over the stern.     In 1910 Rainbow was transferred to the RCN.

Brilliant was laid up for disposal in August 1914 but recommissioned as depot ship. In 1918 she was converted to blockship and scuttled at Ostend 23.4.1918. Intrepid was converted to depot ship in 1916, in 1918 to blockship and scuttled at Zeebrugge 23.4.1918. Iphigenia was converted to depot ship in 1916, to blockship in 1918 and scuttled at Zeebrugge 23.4.1918. Sirius in 1918 was converted to blockship and scuttled at Ostend 23.4.1918. Thetis became depot ship in 1916, converted to blockship in 1918 and scuttled at Zeebtrugge 23.4.1918.

Many thanks to Wolfgang Stöhr for additional information on this page.