Two decades on the verge of XIX and XX centuries were years of turning the cruiser into a real fighting machine. Continuously growing sizes; armored vehicles gave way to armored, the latter suddenly replaced by a linear one. In parallel, there is a subclass of fast light cruisers scouts, which gradually became the main one. But all these types and varieties intended for combat — or as part of squadrons of “large fleets”, or when solitary hunt for their own kind. Naval experts and the developers did not forget about such tasks as intelligence (in the interests of the same “big boys”) or mine production. But the result in the famous “paddock” was a major historical mission of the cruiser hunt for the merchant ships of the enemy.
Of course, for this purpose, in principle, approached from a universal cruisers of the early XX century, which had sufficient range and autonomy. But their predecessors such problems enough. The steam engine 1890s years, though constantly improved, but still remained very uneconomical; ferry they provided a working coal-fired boilers, consuming this “delicacy” in infinite quantities. (No wonder one of the leaders of the Admiralty during the First world war, somehow in the hearts protested their cruisers: “Coal! Yes, they devour it like chocolate!”) The range of stroke between the loading seldom corresponded to passport data. Often, when bad fuel, she was barely half the estimated. No wonder for operations of its Pacific squadron of Vice-Admiral Spee the Ministry of the Navy of Germany had to allocate more than two dozen coal miners, dispersing them in all ports of the Americas. It is the desire to maintain a stock of fuel at the maximum level caused a fatal delay with a campaign Spee to the Falkland Islands, where it was waited already by a British cruiser engaged in the same main cruising-loading of coal.
It is quite clear that the country, assuming in the case of a sea war to conduct active operations against the trade, such a situation does not suit. And from time to time, they have the desire and attempts were made to create a specialized ship, designed if not exclusively, mainly to hunt for “merchants.” The efforts of Russia in this region we have been told. But Russia was not alone: the British oceanic trade, enveloped in its network the whole world. put your eyes and unequivocally gave England supremacy on the water the French and the Americans, well remembered about the humiliation of 1812 and the troubles that brought them to the “enlightened sailors” during the Civil war.
I must say that the problem of creating high-quality “hunting” was not limited to attempts to maximally load the vehicle special construction coal. Remained, in particular, the problem of speed. In those days, the best of passenger and mail vessels (respectively. and called — liners and steamers) had high speed. equal to or greater than the maximum stroke, the then cruisers traditional 18 — 20 knots. Especially distinguished in this respect, the steamers carrying passengers across the Atlantic. With such a speed transatlantic could maintain for days, without accidents and breakdowns, unlike their military colleagues, who have so much trouble on the big course was very common.
So, the task was to develop a vehicle with a very large supply of coal, high speed and reliable machines and boilers. While not too big because of financial constraints has not been canceled. As a sort of specialized “extreme” was not able to remain versatile. Satisfaction of the above requirements raider could be carried out only at the expense of combat abilities: weapons and defense. All these considerations sharply limit the desire to begin creating specialized hunters for trade in time of peace.
It is not surprising that among the pioneers in the creation of these “pirates” became the United States of America. The success of Confederate raiders and the urgent desire to have a reliable tool for a possible fight with “mistress of the seas” was a weighty weights on one of the cups weights on another Cup which was required to put a fair amount needed to implement the idea of money. After many doubts and estimations of the order received private firm “crump and sons” from Philadelphia, while rapidly “gaining speed”. In the mid 1890 Congress approved the “Columbia”, and after another nine months — the same type of “Minneapolis”. Crump coped with the task, to build each of the ships for three years rather short for the time. But if the timing was fine, then to the project itself, there were many complaints. Cruiser came with a very impressive, almost 7.5 thousand tons displacement, but the weapons could not boast. It is based on two six-inch guns in the nose and one vosmidesyati in the feed. We have already seen on cruisers in different countries such asymmetric decision related to the then tactical “razmyshlizmy”, according to which it was believed that the “hunter” must develop in pursuit of the maximum density of fire to stop his victim. During the withdrawal he was fired from guns of the largest caliber, in the hope that successful hit the heavy projectile will force enemies to stop chase. (Subsequently referred the subtleties admitted irrelevant and just replaced the 203-mm gun on the third 152-mm) This strange set was supplemented with eight rapid-fire 102-millimetrovogo, located in the dungeons, protected by four-inch armor. Here American idea difficult to understand: to kill a merchant ship can, in principle, any gun that it is not necessary to book, and to fight with cruisers special built chetyrehmetrovy obviously weak. In addition, the Board “columbium” was decorated with a dozen favorite overseas admirals, 57 mm skorostrel, which was considered a very promising weapon for melee. Not forgotten and torpedo their Grand range of 3 cable lengths. And again it is unclear — who was supposed to compete for the raiders at small distances?
In General, abundant criticism about the weak weapons had their base. An apology could serve only good quality running. But here, the successes were rather modest. Design speed of up to 21 knots both cruisers even exceeded, but by the time of their entry into operation it was no longer something exceptional. To achieve long-range ships has supplied three machines is considered the most economical. (Thought that in the normal hikes will be enough of one in krakerstva two, and in pursuit of a “runner” thing to let all three). The place they took pretty, and all the remaining corners were set aside for coal, complete stock which amounted to almost a third of the displacement. However, this does not help on: “mechanics” were very voracious, and planned range was not achieved. The only thing a potential raiders succeeded, it’s the ability to long maintain a high speed. But here they have not shown any of the expected results: go through the traditional route of “transatlantico” took a few minutes to 7 days. But by that time, some passenger ships have passed this way on the day faster, like a number of warships. SAC, for example, the German “fürst Bismarck” gave a head start about half a day — quite a lot, given the fact that “German” was radically stronger than the us raiders in armament and protection.
As no special arguments in favor of “Columbia” and “Minneapolis” is not found, attempt to create ocean “hunters” rightly considered failed and must be repeated were not moreover, after the first campaigns and high-profile advertising, which the Americans quite successfully covered up its failure, the cruiser slowly brought into the reserve, where they stayed for about ten years. Only after the United States entered the First world war the losers “reanimated” by reducing the already powerful weapons, and used for a purely ancillary tasks. At the end of hostilities save in the ranks of large “boxes” with a minimum number of trunks and at the first opportunity sent for scrapping.
The second approach was for France. There the initiator of the corresponding ideas became the Minister of marine, Felix Faure, a supporter of the “Young school”, which ordered its designers the project “ultra-fast cruiser-Corsair”. (Later on this term too calling the French refused to “British not to tease geese”.) Already, preliminary calculations showed that the ship was quite large, approaching eight thousand tons. And this despite the fact that decided to confine the artillery of medium caliber and modest protection, and the estimated range with full stock of coal and a speed of 12 knots does not exceed 7,500 miles. In the end, the “Guichen” and “château-Renault” in the course of construction reclassified to cruiser of the 1st rank are definitely the weakest from the “classmates”.
Interestingly, one of them, “Guichen”, was unique for the French Navy ship, left without a specific Creator – the author of the project. The drawings were signed by many different officials, but the designer chose to remain anonymous. Modern researchers assume that they, most likely, was a famous shipbuilder Emile Bertin. This is suggested, in particular, linking with native offices in the heart of the case, framed with fore and aft boiler room, and posted to two groups of pipes — a feature for future cruisers Bertana.