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ARCHER torpedo cruisers (8, 1888 - 1891)


Brisk as built


Name No Yard No Builder Laid down Launched Comp Fate
Archer   226 Thomson, Clydebank 2.3.1885 23.12.1885 7.1887 (commissioned 11.12.1888) sold 4.1905
Mohawk   227 Thomson, Clydebank 2.3.1885 6.2.1886 7.1887 (commissioned 16.12.1890) sold 4.1905
Brisk   228 Thomson, Clydebank 2.3.1885 8.4.1886 20.3.1888 sold 5.1906
Porpoise   229 Thomson, Clydebank 2.3.1885 7.5.1886 12.2.1888 sold 2.1905
Cossack   230 Thomson, Clydebank 2.3.1885 2.6.1886 7.1888 (commissioned 1.1.1889) sold 4.1905
Tartar   231 Thomson, Clydebank 2.3.1885 28.10.1886 7.1888 (commissioned 30.6.1891) sold 4.1906
Serpent     Devonport DYd 9.11.1885 10.3.1887 3.1888 wrecked 10.11.1890
Racoon     Devonport DYd 1.2.1886 6.5.1887 7.1888 sold 4.1905

Technical data

Displacement normal, t


Displacement full, t


Length, m

68.6 pp 73.2 oa

Breadth, m


Draught, m


No of shafts



sails + 2 2-cyl HC direct action, 4 boilers

Power, h. p.

natural draught: 2500

Archer, Mohawk, Brisk, Porpoise, Cossack, Tartar: forced draught: 3500

Serpent, Racoon: forced draught: 4500

Max speed, kts

natural draught: 15

Archer, Mohawk, Brisk, Porpoise, Cossack, Tartar: forced draught: 16.5

Serpent, Racoon: forced draught: 17.5

Fuel, t

coal 475

Endurance, nm(kts)


Armour, mmsteel; deck: 10, gunshields: 25, TT: 25, CT: 76

Archer, Mohawk, Brisk, Porpoise, Cossack, Tartar: 6 x 1 - 152/26 BL Mk VI, 8 x 1 - 47/40 3pdr Hotchkiss Mk I, 2 x 1 - 11.4/78, 1 - 356 TT (bow aw), 4 - 356 TC

Serpent, Racoon: 6 x 1 - 152/26 QFC Mk I/VI / II/VI / III/VI, 8 x 1 - 47/40 3pdr Hotchkiss Mk I, 2 x 1 - 11.4/78, 1 - 356 TT (bow aw), 4 - 356 TC



Standard scale images

<i>Archer </i>1888
Archer 1888


<i>Brisk </i>as built
Brisk as built

Project history

These vessels were modified versions of Scout class with dimensions increased to accommodate a main armament of six 152mm guns. Four of these weapons were disposed as in the earlier class while the extra pair were mounted one each side on the upper deck amidships. The remaining weapons and the system of protection was arranged as in the Scout. Machinery power was increased but the wider beam and increased displacement resulted in a 0.5kt drop in design speed except in the two ships built in die Royal Dockyard, Serpent and Racoon, in which the engine power was raised to 4500ihp for a designed speed of 17.5kts. All exceeded their designed power on trials (which were ran light) and most exceeded 17kts while the Royal Dockyard pair exceeded 18kts. The machinery was arranged as in the Scout except that the two engines were filled in separate engine rooms, that forward driving the port shaft and that aft the starboard shaft. The machinery power was comparatively high for the size of ship and the engine and boiler rooms were very cramped but the plant proved reliable and most of the ships of the class enjoyed long careers. They were the last British cruisers to be fitted with horizontal engines. In appearance they differed from the Scout class in having three masts instead of two, and a clipper stem. They were reasonable sea boats but were overgunned for their size which caused them to roll abnormally at times and made them very wet in heavy weather. Like the Scout class they were too small and too slow to serve as effective torpedo vessels and were reclassified third class cruisers shortly after completion.

Ship protection

A 10mm steel deck, just below water level, provided splinter protection to the machinery compartments, and 25mm plating was fitted around the torpedo ports, but the main forms of protection were extensive watertight subdivision and the provision of wing coal bunkers abreast the boiler rooms and above the protective deck over the length of the machinery compartments.



Naval service

Serpent wrecked near Corcubion Bay (Northern Spain) 10.11.1890.

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