In a cycle of four weeks the destroyers would go to sea each Monday at noon and stay out until Thursday night for three weeks in succession. On Fridays and during the fourth week we did harbour drills. In the intervals we coaled and tried to keep
our ships clean. Weather made no difference. Whether it was thick fog or a gale of wind we still went to sea, even though we could do nothing in the way of gunnery or torpedo exercises, night attacks, steaming without lights, tactics, taking each
other in tow, or any of the other exercises or evolutions that Sir Robert thought would be good for us. It was no wonder that the flotilla became known as the ‘Outer Gabbard Yacht Club’, so-called from the Outer Gabbard Lightship, well out in the
North Sea, which was our usual rendezvous by day and by night. It was a hard life but we learnt a lot.
” Lieutenant, later Admiral, Cunningham, Commander of HMS Scorpion, Beagle Class destroyer, of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, comprising 16 Beagle
destroyers, under the command of Commodore Sir Robert Arbuthnot. (Hard Lying by Peter Smith, Naval Institute Press, 1971, at pages 108-109.)

When sail gave way to steam the nomenclature of the types of warships changed. Ships of the line, whose function was to serve as the primary battle platforms of the world’s navies, became ironclads and then battleships. Frigates, sloops and brigs, whose
primary duties were to serve as scouts, messengers and in waters where a ship of the line was not warranted, became cruisers of various types. However some new types of warships evolved based on a specific mission. At the end of the century the
torpedo boat became the rage, especially among the opponents of the Royal Navy. Due to the invention and development of the self-propelled torpedo, lesser navies had the opportunity to build small, cheap warships with the ability to sink expensive
battleships. This type threatened the Royal Navy most of all, whose power rested on the large, expensive battleships.
One of the earliest proponents of the torpedo boat was Alfred Yarrow, who started with fast steam launches and then went to spar torpedo boats before going on to torpedo boats carrying the Whitehead self-propelled torpedo. In 1877 Yarrow was
constructing two torpedo boats for Russia but Russia was at war against Turkey and the British government refused to allow Yarrow to sell the boats to Russia. Instead, the Royal Navy agreed to buy the boats but Yarrow would have to pay a penalty if
the Yarrow boats didn’t reach 18-knots, the same requirement imposed on the first torpedo boat ordered for the Royal Navy from Thorneycroft in 1877, which became the
HMS Lightning. Yarrow agreed to the speed clause as long as he received a
bonus for speeds above 18-knots. Since no one in the Admiralty believed this was possible, they agreed. The London Times reported the results in their coverage of the 1878 Naval Review. “
One of the features of the Review was the performance of two
long double-funnel torpedo-boats, built by Yarrow, which have realized the extraordinary speed of 21 knots. The manner in which these malevolent-looking craft rushed up and down the lines and round the ships was the astonishment of all
” Malevolent was indeed the adjective to be applied to this new type by the Admiralty. As First Sea Lord, Lord Northbrook stated, “The torpedo would be the most powerful weapon of offence, and would be able to dispose of the most
formidable ships in the service of this or any other country.

What was the answer to this new threat? Secondary guns were put on battleships but there were no fast firing (QF) guns yet developed. Torpedo nets were developed to stop the torpedo or prematurely explode it before it hit the hull of the warship.
However, these nets added weight to the ship and had a huge negative impact on the speed of the ship when they were deployed. However, Sir Nathaniel Barnaby, the Director of Naval Construction, thought he had the answer, the Torpedo Boat Catcher,
as this new type was named. The firm of Laird was contracted to build this new type of vessel, which became
HMS Rattlesnake and was launched in 1886. The Rattlesnake certainly had the armament with one 4inch and six 3-pdr QF guns and also
carried four torpedo tubes on a displacement of 525-tons. However, Barnaby was off in his speed requirements. He stipulated a maximum speed of 18.5-knots, which was too slow for catching the constantly improving torpedo boats. In tests in April 1887
against British torpedo boats, the
Rattlesnake failed to catch any in any sort of seaway. The new DNC, Sir William White, came up with a new class of Catcher, the Sharp Shooter Class of Catcher with a speed of 21-knots under forced draught.
Displacement rose to 735-tons and armament rose to two 4.7-inch QF guns and five torpedo tubes. This class failed as average trials speed was 19.5-knots. The improved
Rattlesnakes of the Alarm Class of 1890 of the Catcher type were again flops.
These were up to 810-tons but could manage only 19.5-knots, except for one, the
HMS Speedy, which hit 20-knots, as she alone used water tube boilers instead of locomotive boilers. Rather than admit error in the use of locomotive boilers, the Admiralty
compounded their error in building a final class of Catchers, the five catchers of the
Dryad Class of 1,070-tons but with only a top speed of 19.7-knots under forced draught. Clearly the Catchers couldn’t catch a cold, much less a torpedo boat.
In 1892 Alfred Yarrow went to the young 3rd Sea Lord, Rear Admiral John “Jackie” Fisher to report on what the French were developing. Torpedo boats of up to 26-knots, while the German yards were achieving 27-knots. The threat was real. France
had 220 torpedo boats, while Russia had 152 boats and Germany 143. Yarrow said he had the answer to the torpedo boat, unlike the failed Catcher type. In June 1892 the Admiralty contracted with Yarrow for two boats of the new type. They were much
smaller but much faster than the Catchers, so what should be called? “
Fisher asked Yarrow what they should be called. ‘That’s your job,’ replied Yarrow. ‘Well,’ said Fisher, ‘we’ll call them Destroyers as they’re meant to destroy the French boats’,
and their original name of Torpedo-Boat Destroyer’- TBD - was in due course abbreviated to ‘Destroyer’ and has so remained.
” (Hard Lying, by Peter Smith, Naval Institute Press 1971 at page 21)

There were six prototype destroyers ordered, two each from three specialized firms. The Admiralty wanted boats able to achieve 27-knots but initially 26-knots was acceptable without a penalty and armament able to destroy foreign torpedo boats. They
didn’t even try to build to these specifications from Royal dockyards, as it was considered that they couldn’t even come close to meeting the requirements. Yarrow of London was first off the mark with the
Havock and Hornet, which became the world’
s first destroyers.
Havock was launched in October 1893 and underwent trials on October 28, 1893. With a displacement of 240-tons and length of 180-feet, Havock was one fourth the displacement of the later Catchers. Yarrow gave her a turtle-back
forecastle and armament was one 12-pdr and two 6-pdr guns and three torpedo tubes. Her mean speed on trials was 26.7-knots with two locomotive boilers. The
Hornet used eight water tube boilers and had four funnels because of the additional boilers
and on March 19. 1894 averaged 27.6-knots over three hours to become the fastest ship in the world. Thorneycroft of Chiswick on the Thames built the
Daring and Decoy, which were slightly larger than the Yarrow boats and were launched in August
1894. As with
Hornet, this pair used water tube boilers. Daring hit a mean speed of 28.65-knots, while Decoy hit 27.64-knots without forcing the engines. The two Laird Brothers boats were built at Birkenhead and at 195-feet in length and 280-tons
displacement were the largest of the six prototypes.
Ferret was launched in December 1893 and Lynx followed in January 1894. Their machinery spaces were arranged differently with engine rooms between two boiler rooms. Normand boilers were used
to compare them with the Yarrow and Thorneycroft boilers.
Ferret hit 28.25-knots and Lynx 27-knots. All of the prototypes were fine tuned for the trials and ran light, without armament. They did not achieve 27-knots in active service. Nonetheless,
these six were called 27 knotters.

The Admiralty was so pleased with the results produced by Yarrow, Thorneycroft and Laird that over the next two years fourteen firms were awarded contracts. Yarrow discovered that each of the other firms had copies of the Yarrow plans and put out
a reward to discover the culprit who had stolen and sold the Yarrow plans to her competitors. The Admiralty was the culprit and eventually gave Yarrow credit but not compensation. After the initial six prototypes the
27-Knot Class boats were ordered
with 36 boats coming from 14 different firms. Size, weight and appearance varied from boat to boat as their only commonality was their 27-knot speed. Later, on August 30, 1912, all of the destroyers were placed in a letter class. The
27-Knot Class was
renamed the
A Class Destroyers. Because the boats were so cramped the officers and crewmen were much closer to each other than on the cruisers and battleships of the fleet. The Admiralty recognized that serving on a destroyer was uncomfortable and
crewmen were paid extra “Hard Lying” money. As completed the
A Class was painted in Victorian livery of a black hull and white upper works. The coal fired A Class would soon cast soot all over the decks and minimal superstructure aft of the funnels.
As the Estimates for the 1894-1895 program were being worked up, it was decided to have a new class of destroyers constructed with higher speed than the 27-Knot Class. No less than 30-knots was desired, so the next, huge class of destroyers, were
initially called the
Thirty Knot Class. In 1912, when the 27-Knot Class became the A Class, the Thirty Knot Class were assigned to three different classes. Those with four funnels became the B Class, those with three funnels the C Class and those with
two funnels the
D Class. On August 14, 1894 the DNC invited Yarrow, Thorneycroft and Laird to submit designs in three months. Main characteristics were a top speed of 30-knots, a displacement of between 280 to 300-tons with a 30-ton load, bunker
capacity of 80-tons compared to 60-tons of the 27-knotters and crew of 60 compared to the 50 of the 27-knotters. After discussions about a mixed armament of 12-pdr, 6-pdr and machine guns, it was decided to use the same armament as the
27 Knot
. All three firms came back with designs exceeding 300-tons and were turned down. They were asked to resubmit but with a 300-ton limit. This was done and eight boats were ordered, four from Thorneycroft and four from Laird. This limit was
later removed. Yarrow was not awarded a contract because of their higher price. The 1895-1896 program had orders for 21 with the 1896 to 1897 orders for 16 more. There was a cutback to six in the 1897 to 1898 program but in 1899 the last of the
class were ordered for nine and eight additional purchases, three larger specials and three prototypes with turbine machinery. The
30-Knot Class had the turtleback forecastle, as the 27-Knot Class before them.

Most of the 30-knotters used locomotive boilers to develop steam but Thornycroft wished to use three of their own design Thorneycroft water tube boilers in their design. Vickers, Fairfield, Hawthorn Leslie and Earle’s also used Thornycroft boilers in
their 30-knotter designs. They were larger than the locomotive boilers and because they allowed trunking, the design had two funnels. At first there was resistance because the large boilers were thought to limit space for coal bunkers. In April 1895 eight
destroyers were ordered, four from Laird and four from Thornycroft. The Thornycroft design was 213-feet in length with a displacement of 272-tons. The Thornycroft design had its two funnels but also used twin rudders, which was very much liked in
service. The rudders allowed protection against propeller damage and were very handing in going astern. There were complaints about the Thorneycroft design. Accommodation was considered indifferent and Commander Mark Kerr said the bow design
was the worst of the 30-knotter designs because it threw up so much water over the bridge. In bad weather the Thornycroft destroyers were always the first to reduce speed because the amount of water coming over the bow threatened to wash away
railings, screens and bridge personnel. Kerr also considered the Thornycroft cutaway sterns, which enhanced maneuverability, made the difficult to steer in a following seaway. In 1912 the two funnel 30-knotters were designated the
D Class. The first six
Thorneycroft ships had a cutaway stern but the last four had a standard stern with the rudder showing above water (
Fame, Foam, Mallard and Stag). The D Class also used high tensile steel allowing thinner plating to save weight. The platting was very
thin. The hull was always very vulnerable to damage in heavy weather or scrapes against other ships.

All of the early classes of destroyers had turtleback forecastles. This was fine for operations in coastal waters but posed a significant disadvantage in the open seas. The turtleback sloped upward from the cutwater to the navigation position. If the boat was
taking water over the bow, the slope of the turtleback forecastle would force the water to the conning tower/navigation position, which acted as a break water. Because of this the boats were very wet and navigation, as well as speed were problematic in
any type of seaway. In December 1900 Jackie Fisher indirectly became involved in the development of the next British destroyer. Fisher’s senior destroyer officer, Commander John de Robeck, with Fisher’s endorsement wrote the Admiralty that a new
destroyer design was needed. The result was a new design called the River Class and after 1912 designated as the E Class. The River Class was a huge departure from the earlier turtlebacks. It was delibertly designed to be slower than the 30-knotters,
with a maximum designed speed of only 26 knots. What de Robeck wanted was far greater endurance and better sea-keeping. The new design had another deck forward with a raised forecastle. The deck break to the lower main deck was at the forward
superstructure. This created the pattern of British destroyer that was utilized into World War One. The
River Class had almost twice the range of the 30-knotters and the raised forecastle made the ships drier and far better able to maintain speed in a
seaway. The DNC was more concerned with the cost of such a new design. They would have to be larger and costlier. However, as winter turned to spring in 1901 RN destroyer commanders spoke up and sided with de Robeck. Admiral Hotham,
Commander Portsmouth joined in for a new destroyer design. In July 1901 the DNC started with sketches to the new design to determine the feasibility of the design for orders in 1902. The Controller approved the design in October but wanted the hulls
to have greater structural strength. To do this a half a knot of speed was sacrificed and the class picked up another name, the 25 and a half knotters.
Admiral Fisher became First Sea Lord in October 1904. The turtlebacks had displaced around 350-tons, while the Rivers jumped to around 550-tons. Fisher wanted large fast destroyers of around 900-tons. The big jump in displacement was for more
powerful machinery and therefore a significant jump in speed. Fisher wanted 36-knots. In January 1905 the Navy Board approved one of Fisher’s 36-knotters, which became
HMS Swift, and a high low mix of other destroyers. The high part became the
Tribal Class and the low part became the Cricket Class.  Fisher’s HMS Swift made 35.037-knots on trials in March 1909. These big fast destroyers would go well with his battlecruisers but the Swift turned out to be a one-off design.. The Tribals were
to have a 33-knot designed speed and were to carry three 12-pounders. Originally called the
Mohawk Class but in 1912 became the F Class. They were almost a collection of samples as each one differed from the others in the class because the builders
could exercise their whim in each builder’s design.  They had speed but also poor endurance. In a retrograde step the low end of the mix were thought of coastal destroyers with a displacement of around 250-tons, speed of 26-knots, and were to carry
two 12-pounders and three 18-inch torpedo tubes. They were called the
Insect Class because each was named after an insect. By October 1906 it was clear that to call these small ships destroyers was a farce and they were re-rated as torpedo boats and
assigned numbers to replace their names. However, these small destroyers/ first class torpedo boats were popular with young officers and they were nicknamed the
Oily Wads.

By June 1907 the Admiralty had shifted its gaze towards Germany’s High Seas Fleet. The Royal Navy didn’t need destroyers good for coastal work only. They needed ships capable of realistically operating on the far side of the North Sea against
Germany ports. Seakeeping and endurance were critical and had to be better than the most recent German destroyers (which the class failed to do). Sixteen of the design were to be purchased in the 1908-1909 Programme with another 24 for the 1909-
1910 Programme. Initially an improved
River Class was examined, carrying five 12-pounders and two torpedo tubes. With previous destroyer designs, the different ship-builders could to a large extent customize their designs to suit there building practice.
With this new design, the Admiralty standardized the design, allowing the builders little wiggle room from the standard Admiralty design. Allowing the builders free rein had proved to be a problem with the
Tribals, as each ship handled differently causing
navigation problems when operating together as a flotilla. To save costs coal was chosen over oil in spite that it was far less efficent than oil. In July a final design was approved of 850-tons, carrying five 12-pounders and two torpedo tubes. For the first
time the position for the two forward 12-pounders, which were to be side by side was on a raised deck on the forward superstructure, higher than the forecastle. This made for a much drier position with excellent observation. This superb feature was
dropped with subsequent classes and not reappearing until the late War
V Class design. Another design factor which made the ships drier than previous designs was the decision to add an outward flare to the bow, which would force water outwards.
During construction a single 4-inch gun was substituted for the two forward 12-pounders on the raised deck. The torpedo tubes were short 21-inch mounts. This is the first British destroyer design to mount 21-inch torpedoes and the last design to be
coal fired. The standard design had five Yarrow boilers in three boiler rooms, feeding steam to three Parsons turbines. The aft round funnel was smaller than the other two, which were slab sided, because it was needed for only one of the boilers. Eight of
the ships, from five different builders, were built with this arrangement. However, with Admiralty permission, three firms built eight of the ships with all three round funnels of the same dimensions. The initial ship was to be
HMS Beagle and the class
became the
Beagle Class and in 1912 the G Class. They were also the first class of destroyers with stockless anchors. The rear torpedo tube was poorly placed on centerline at the end of the quarterdeck. During World War One some of the ships
received a 3-inch high angle gun replacing this aft torpedo tube.
The size and design of the Beagle Class made them more roomy and comfortable than previous designs. The complement was 104 and the ships were equipped with two whalers, two gigs, a dinghy, and 24 lifebuoys, as well as a lifebelt for every
member of the crew. When completed they became the 1st Flotilla under the command of Commodore Sir Robert Arbuthnot. Built for operations in the North Sea, the Admiralty in its infinite wisdom, transferred the class to the Mediterranean in 1912,
as the 5th Flotilla. They were good sea boats had a far superior range over the previous
Tribal Class. In 1913 to early 1914 they were painted with white funnel bands, later changed to black or red bands. By 1914 the number of destroyers exceeded the
combination of possible colored funnel bands and each destroyer was assigned a Pendant Number. At the start of the war eight of the
Beagle Class were with Admiral Troubridge in his attempt to catch battlecruiser Goeben and light cruiser Breslau
with his old armored cruisers. All but three of the
Beagles had to drop out to recoal. A number of Beagles supported the French Fleet in a sweep of the Adriatic, which caught only the Austrian light cruiser SMS Zenta. “ Not a very glorious victory.” as
Admiral Cunningham would later recall. It was at the Dardanelles earned their nickname of the '
Mediterranean Beagles’. In March 1915 four of the Beagles escorted minesweepers up the straight and two of them also rescued survivors of the
HMS Irresistible, one of the three pre-dreadnoughts sunk in the naval attempt to force the Dardanelles on March 18, 1915. After this failure and the failure of the minesweepers to clear the narrows, some of the Beagles were fitted as
fast minesweepers. “
Not very pleasant paddling along at 12 knots against a 2 or 3 knot current, tied by the tail to another destroyer and being fairly constantly straddled by the salvoes from those high-velocity guns.” (Hard Lying by Peter Smith,
Naval Institute Press, 1971, at page 113.)  The destroyers of the
Beagle Class operated from the depot ship, HMS Blenheim and published a newspaper called the Tenedos Times.  Later in 1915 eight of the G Class were returned to England for a while
before being sent back to the Mediterranean. For the evacuations of Anzac Cove and Suvla Bay over December 18 through 20, 1915, three
Beagles, the Wolverine, Grasshopper and Bulldog took part. Late in 1917 the entire class returned to home
waters. Three of the class were lost during the war. On December 12, 1917
HMS Wolverine sank after a collision off Ireland. In January 1918 HMS Racoon ran aground in a snowstorm and lost the entire crew. HMS Pincher also ran aground on July
24, 1918 at Seven Stones. The surviving ships were sold and broken up in 1921 and 1922.

HMS Beagle was built to the standard Admiralty design at John Brown Shipyard at Clydebank. John Brown also built the Bulldog and Foxhound from the first order. She was 278-feet, 9-inches long (overall) 271-feet, 9-inches (PP), with a beam of 28-
feet 6-inches and a draught of 9-feet.  Displacement was 980.5-tons (normal), 1098-tons (deep load). The five Yarrow boilers developed 14,309 shp producing a top speed of 27.1-knots. On March 17, 1909
HMS Beagle was laid down, launched on
October 16, 1909 and completed in June 1910. As with the other
Beagles, the Beagle was assigned to the 1st Flotilla. On August 6, 1914 HMS Beagle, along with sistership HMS Bulldog, both John Brown built ships, escorted the light cruiser HMS
out of Malta in an effort to chase the Goeben. After the war started she was an escort for the transfer of the BEF to France. During this time her boilers were lit for 26 days out of 28. In April 1915 HMS Beagle, along with the Bulldog,
Foxhound and Scourge were successful in supporting landings at Anzac Cove. Over August 6 to 7. 1915, the Beagles towed troop filled barges for landings at Suvla Bay. HMS Beagle, with Bulldog and Grampus took their troop barges to the wrong
landing point. In November 1921
HMS Beagle was sold for scrap. (Bulk of history is from: Hard Lying by Peter Smith, Naval Institute Press, 1971: British Destroyers, From Earliest Days to the Second World War by Norman Friedman, Naval
Institute Press 2009;
The British Destroyer by T. D. Manning, Putnam & Company, London, 1961)

The Combrig 1:700 Scale HMS Beagle - As with the earlier Combrig turtleback kits, the Combrig HMS Beagle is a fairly small kit but has many additional parts. In fact the it will take far more time to attach the significant number of brass parts to
the model than it will take to assemble all of the resin parts. The quality of the casting is excellent. There were no voids of any type, even on the bottom of the hull. The only clean up will be light sanding along the waterline. The hull lines make it clear
that the
Beagle Class was the basis for the fleet destroyer that was developed for the Royal Navy into World War One. The hull side detail clearly reflect the flare to the forecastle, which did much to contribute to the dryness of this class. The raised 01
deck on which the forward 4-inch gun was located extends to the sides of the hull, with a slight knuckle where it meets the hull sides. Bow side detail includes small hull anchor hawse fittings and two rows of portholes. A single row of portholes
resumes about midship and carries to the stern.
For a small destroyer there are plenty of deck details. The decks were metal, so there are no wooden plank lines. The short forecastle starts with two small, but very nicely done anchor hawse with oval collar fittings. At deck edge are crisp open chocks
and twin bollard fittings. Chain locker entrance fittings are also present. Finally there are locater holes for mushroom ventilators and anchor windlasses. The raised 01 deck has the locater hole for the 4-inch gun and two deck access fittings. The big
payoff for deck details is midship, in the form of two long rows of raised coal scuttles. This is the last class of British destroyers which have coal scuttles. Curved solid bulkheads lead from the 01 level to the main deck,Right behind the deck break is the
chart house trailed by a long, low level, running centerline. This level has loctaer wells for the three funnels, small deck houses and numerous fittings, at the end of which is the turntable for the first torpedo tube. On the quarterdeck are mushroom
ventilators, pedestal for the aft 12-pounder, skylights, curved deck access fitting, open chocks, twin bollards and aft torpedo tube turntable. Numerous locater holes are for small cowled ventilators.

Surprisingly, for a small pre-WWI destroyer, there are seven runners of smaller resin parts. All of the runners have the kit number of 70634 on them but clearly there are extra parts on some of the runners. One runner with five parts has the extension of
the 01 level at the deck, break, forward superstructure, and tubs for two searchlight positions and the stern 12-pounder position, Another runner has the three funnels for the Admiralty standard
Beagle design (one small round funnel and two larger slab-
sided funnels), as well as the base deck house for the superstructure with a detailed door. The funnels have nice bottom and top aprons but the funnel openings are rather shallow. The armament is all on one runner. Included are four 4-inchers (although
only one is required), three 12-pounders and two single 21-inch torpedo tubes. Detail on all of the armament is quite good. Two runners have cowled ventilators. One has the larger ventilators, as well as those with slanted bases. The other runner has the
smaller ventilators. One runner has the search lights, navigation equipment, cable reels, anchors and smaller fittings. The last runner has the five boats allowed to the destroyer, two small whalers, two gigs and a dinghy.

Combrig HMS Beagle has a rather large brass photo-etch fret dedicated to the Beagle, although the presence of numerous variations of funnel grates make it clear that the fret is also used for other Combrig kits. Eight grates are included of six
different designs. Ten boat davits are on the fret. Other brass parts are first funnel siren steam-pipe, flag staffs, staff brace, galley funnel, ship’s wheels, 4-inch gun top brace, semaphore, 12-pounder sponson, inclined ladders, vertical ladders, and side
bulkhead extensions. There are four runs of railing. There is a one page, double sided instruction set. Page one has the plan and profile of the
Beagle. This will be helpful in locating positions of same parts and also provides the rigging scheme. Also on
the page are the parts laydown for resin and brass parts. Page two is the actual assembly. This has two drawings of the hull showing initial and final assembly. There are two smaller inset drawings. One is for the superstructure/bridge and the other is
for the 4-inch gun. Masts, spars, yards and most steam pipes will need to be cut from rod, so page two has templates for these parts.
Join Admiral Cunningham as a member of the Outer Gabbard Yacht Club with the Combrig HMS Beagle 1909, G Class Destroyer in 1:700 scale. Whether chasing the SMS Goeben or supporting landings of the Aussies at Anzac Cove, this ‘Mediterranean
’ presents a fine model of the last coal fired destroyer class of the Royal Navy.

Steve Backer
Huntsville, Alabama