Military Wiki
Albacore-class gunboat (1883)
HMS Watchful
HMS Watchful
Class overview
Name: Albacore class
Builders: Laird Brothers, Birkenhead
Operators:  Royal Navy
Preceded by: Banterer class
Succeeded by: Bramble class
Built: 1883
In commission: 1884 - 1907
Completed: 3
Lost: 0
General characteristics [1]
Type: Composite screw gunboat
Displacement: 560 tons standard
Length: 135 ft 0 in (41.1 m) pp
Beam: 26 ft 6 in (8.1 m)
Draught: 10 ft 3 in (3.1 m)
Depth of hold: 11 ft 6 in (3.5 m)
Installed power: 650 ihp (480 kW)
  • 2-cylinder compound-expansion steam engine
  • Single screw
Speed: 10.7 kn (19.8 km/h)
Crew: 60

The Albacore-class gunboat was a class of three gunboats built for the Royal Navy in 1883. The name had already been used for a class of 98 gunboats built during the Great Armament of the Crimean War.


The Albacore class was designed by Nathaniel Barnaby, the Admiralty Director of Naval Construction. The ships were of composite construction, meaning that the iron keel, frames, stem and stern posts were of iron, while the hull was planked with timber. This had the advantage of allowing the vessels to be coppered, thus keeping marine growth under control, a problem that caused iron-hulled ships to be frequently docked. They were 135 feet (41 m) in length and displaced 560 tons.[1] They were a slightly larger version of the Forester-class and Banterer classs that preceded them. They pioneered the use of modern breech-loading guns as the main armament, but were the last gunboats to mount their weapons on traversing mountings.[1]


Two-cylinder compound-expansion steam engines built by the builder, Laird Brothers of Birkenhead, provided 650 indicated horsepower through a single screw, sufficient for 10.7 knots (19.8 km/h; 12.3 mph).[1]


Ships of the class were armed with two 5-inch/50-pdr (38cwt) breech-loading guns and two 4-inch/20-pdr breech-loading guns. A pair of machine guns was also fitted.[1]


Name Ship builder Launched Fate
Albacore Laird Brothers, Birkenhead 13 January 1883 Sold on 18 May 1906.[2]
Mistletoe Laird Brothers, Birkenhead 7 February 1883 Boom defence in 1903. Sold to Shipbreaking Company, London on 14 May 1907.[2]
Watchful Laird Brothers, Birkenhead 13 February 1883 Boom defence in 1903. Sold to Shipbreaking Company, London on 14 May 1907.[2]


  1. Watchful received the 40cwt Mk III version of the same gun.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Winfield (2004), p.298
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Preston, Major (2007), pp.176-177

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).