The only small vessels which should now be laid down are the torpedo-gunboats. In battle, and as vedettes and despatch vessels, they are indispensable auxiliaries of the heavy armoured ships. The torpedo vessel has many functions. It should be
capable of acting on the offensive and the defensive. Acting independently, it is a sea-going torpedo-boat, a commerce destroyer, or a blockade runner. In a torpedo-gunboat the characteristics which are essential are - small size, light draught,
high speed - say not less than 22 knots - and a powerful torpedo armament. The torpedo-vessel should be as small as possible, to escape in a certain measure being struck by the of hostile cruisers and ironclads. It should be large enough to go to
sea, and to mount an efficient battery of rapid-fire and machine guns of sufficient power to penetrate easily the hulls of attacking torpedo-boats.
The Naval Annual 1893, by Lord Brassey, J.Griffin & Co. Portsmouth 1893 at page 57.

What a difference a year makes. Lord Brassey would write in
The Naval Annual 1894; “The torpedo-gunboats are by far the least satisfactory of the vessels building under the Naval Defence Act. This class has gradually grown from the
Sharpshooter of 735 tons into the Alarm of 810 tons, and the five vessels of the Dryad class of 1070 tons. Originally intended to steam 21 knots with 4500 horse-power, we have had to be content with 3500 indicated horse-power and a speed of 19
to 19 ½ knots for the Alarm class, with the exception of the Speedy, which is fitted with water-tube boilers, and only 19 knots is anticipated for the Dryad class
.” (The Naval Annual 1894, by Lord Brassey, J.Griffin & Co. Portsmouth 1894 at page
8.) In this one passage Brassey summed up the regrettable history of the ill fated Torpedo-Boat Catcher, also called a Torpedo Gunboat, a type of warship too heavy and too slow to fulfill its primary mission, to catch and destroy enemy torpedo-boats.
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 beholders.
” 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 t 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 Sharpshooter 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 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 (Controller), Rear Admiral John “Jacky” 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. Fisher asked the DNC to develop a design for a ship of powerful armament
and capable of 27 knots. My May 1892 the DNC had a plan for such a ship. Armament and speed were mandated with monetary penalties for failure to reach them but details were to be left to the builders discretion. Six torpedo-boat builders
submitted bids but only the three most experienced builders, Yarrow, Thornycroft and Laird were selected for the initial construction of this new 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 laid down in July 1892, launched August 12, 1893 and underwent trials on October 28, 1893 with commissioning in July 1894. With a displacement of 240-tons with length of 180-feet, beam of 18.5 feet and
draft of 11 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. All six of the first destroyers could be termed prototypes. They all had one
feature in common that the following destroyers did not have, a fixed bow mounted torpedo tube. This mounting proved to be an abject failure. At high speeds these prototype destroyers were liable to overrun any torpedo launched from the bow
tube. The bow tube further cast a permanent spray over the bridge and would be very vulnerable to enemy fire. It further greatly restricted available space in the bow and these first destroyers had little space to begin with.

So what did Lord Brassey think of this new type of warship? In the same 1894
Naval Annual in which he bashed the lamentable history of the torpedo-boat catcher, he wrote: “During the early part of last year there was a considerable agitation in
the newspapers with regard to the deficiencies of the British Navy in torpedo-boats. France was making great strides in torpedo-boat construction. Speeds of 23, 24, and 25 knots were being obtained; even the latter has since been exceeded, and
Mr. Normand hopes shortly to obtain a speed of 30 knots. The Admiralty refused to yield to the outcry for laying down torpedo-boats for the British Navy. The torpedo-boat is the weapon of the weaker naval power; and it was determined to
meet the torpedo-boat construction in other countries by building vessels fast enough to catch, and powerful enough to destroy, foreign torpedo-boats, which yet should not be too large or too costly to admit of providing them in sufficient
numbers for the task which they were intended to perform. To this policy we owe the so-called toepedo-boat destroyer, twenty of which appeared in the naval programme of last year. This valuable class of 220 tons displacement, and with 2400
indicated horse-power, are estimated to steam 27 knots.
The Naval Annual 1894, by Lord Brassey, J.Griffin & Co. Portsmouth 1894, at page 9.
At the official trials for HMS Havock she attained the speed of 26.78 knots, which was a world record for the time. Her range was 3,000 nautical miles when steaming at economical speed on the 57 tons of coal that she carried. As launched Havock
had two funnels, one serving each of the two locomotive boilers she carried. However, the water tube boilers were more efficient so in 1900 she was fitted with water-tube boilers and received a third funnel. As originally fitted the
Havock carried on
12-pound gun on a raised platform forward on centerline atop the conning tower and three 6-pound guns, two on each side of the 12-pound gun and the third on the aft deck. She had the bow fixed 18-inch torpedo tube (later landed) and two 18-inch
single tube torpedo mounts. The bridge was a spartan affair, consisting of a canvas screen around the 12-pound gun platform. The small conning tower had half an inch of armor. Three ship’s boats were carried, one a standard dinghy on davits and
two collapsible Berthon boats. At speed the unsynchronized engines produced tremendous vibration with the worst vibrations occurring at 75% power. The captain of the ship had no cabin. His bunk was adjacent to the wardroom and while occupied
the captain’s feet would extend into the wardroom. There was no permanent head. When needed, a temporary facility was set up. The complement was 42 with more than half of them stokers. To reach full speed, the stokers had to shovel coal into
the furnaces at a furious pace. “
The furnaces were of such dazzling whiteness that colored glasses were necessary when trimming.

With the outcry over the failure of the Torpedo-Boat Catchers, the Admiralty had to win the approval of Parliament. In June 1894 politicians were invited to the Solent to see
HMS Havock outpace and destroy two “enemy” torpedo-boats in practices.
Off Portsmouth the
Havock decisively outpaced the Catcher HMS Speedy. With a metacentric height of 2.48 feet, the Havock was a quick roller. In exercises the Havock showed that she could operate at sea for four days, followed by two or three
days in port before going to sea again. The new torpedo-boat destroyer proved so superior to torpedo-boats, that world wide construction of torpedo-boats almost ceased, to be replaced by construction of destroyers and so the destroyer took over
the torpedo-boats mission as the deliverer of torpedo attacks. By 1906 the
Havock was past her prime and, although still in commission, was in reserve at the Nore with other early destroyers using HMS Pembroke as a tender. The HMS Havock
spent her career serving in the home fleet and was sold in May 1912 for scrap. (Bulk of history from:
British Destroyers, From Earliest Days to the Second World War by Norman Freeman, Naval Institute Press 2009; The British Destroyer,
by Captain T.D. Manning, Putnam & Co, London 1961;
Hard Lying, by Peter Smith, Naval Institute Press 1971;  The Naval Annual 1893, by Lord Brassey, J.Griffin & Co. Portsmouth 1893; The Naval Annual 1894, by Lord Brassey, J.Griffin &
Co. Portsmouth 1894)
The Combrig 1:700 Scale HMS Havock - Some ships are famous because of the way they met their demise, such as the Titanic or Arizona. Some ships are famous for their battle record, such as the Enterprise or Warspite. However, some ships
are famous for their impact and construction. Such is the
HMS Havock. The first destroyer was built to have the speed and power to end the torpedo-boat menace and in doing that, took over the duties of the torpedo-boat. The Combrig HMS
lets the modeler easily build the first destroyer, a type that is still in the world’s navies. The model features excellent casting with only minor cleanup of the waterline to clean up casting sheet residue. It is an easy kit to build as there are just a
small number of parts and no photo-etch. I would recommend adding 3rd party brass railing. The hull sides have two significant features. One is the faring for the bow torpedo tube and the other is the open upper rudder behind the cut-under stern.
Of course there is still a short row of portholes at the bow. However, the deck detail is replete with fine features. First is the turtleback forecastle, which has numerous circular deck access fittings, cutwater bulkhead and windlass. Then you get the
deck break with the conning tower to the fore, bulkheads on the side and the start of the multitude of deck features found the length of the deck. Chief among these are the circular and oval coal scuttle fittings. Other deck fittings include deck access
coamings, ventilator hatches, aft navigation deck, torpedo mount turntable, aft deck house for the aft 6-pounder platform as well as other lockers. Attachment holes and squares are on the deck for the ventilator cowlings and the minimal
superstructure parts.

There are only four runners of smaller resin parts. One has only the two gun platforms for the forward 12-pound gun and aft 6-pound gun on centerline. The armament is concentrated on one runner with detailed torpedo tubes, 12-pound gun and 6-
pound guns. Also included are propeller guards, air cylinder, and an aft navigation shed. The third runner has the two round funnels with hollow tops, small ventilator cowlings in two patterns, midship deck access fitting and the ships’ boats. The last
runner has larger ventilator cowlings in two patterns, davits, aft navigation spray shield with vision ports, anchors, and navigation equipment. Instructions are just one page with a parts laydown and two isometric views of the hull for a sequenced
attachment of parts. With the limited number of parts, this is sufficient. There is also a template for cutting the mast, spars, staffs, steam pipes and boom from plastic or brass rods.
What are you going to do about the swarms of malevolent French, Russian and German torpedo-boats threatening Her Majesties regal battleships? Queen Victoria will be proud of your selection of the Combrig 1:700 scale HMS Havock, the first

Steve Backer
Huntsville, Alabama