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In late 19th-century naval terminology, torpedo gunboats
or, in north European usage, torpedo cruisers
, were a form of gunboat
A gunboat is a naval watercraft designed for the express purpose of carrying one or more guns to bombard coastal targets, as opposed to those military craft designed for naval warfare, or for ferrying troops or supplies.-History:...
armed with torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...
es and designed for hunting and destroying smaller torpedo boats. By the end of the 1890s torpedo gunboats were superseded by their more successful contemporaries, the torpedo boat destroyers.
A number of torpedo gunboats, such as the Alarm class
The Alarm-class torpedo gunboat was the penultimate class of torpedo gunboat built for the Royal Navy. The class was contemporary with the early torpedo boat destroyers, which were faster and better suited to accompanting the battlefleet. By World War I the class had either been sold, converted...
and the Dryad class
The Dryad-class torpedo gunboat was the last class of torpedo gunboat built for the Royal Navy. This type of vessel was rapidly replaced by the faster torpedo boat destroyer, and all of the class were converted to minesweepers during World War I, with the exception of Hazard, which became a...
, were built for the Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...
during the 1880s and the 1890s; similar vessels were also constructed or otherwise acquired by a number of European nations and Japan. Essentially very small cruiser
A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...
s, torpedo gunboats were equipped with torpedo tubes and an adequate gun armament, intended for hunting down smaller enemy torpedo boat. In practice they failed in their primary objective, as they were not fast enough to keep up with torpedo boats. One of the faster torpedo gunboats was the Spanish warship Destructor
Destructor was a 19th-century Spanish warship. She was a fast ocean-going torpedo gunboat and a precursor of the destroyer type of vessel. Destructor was the first warship classified as a "destroyer" at the time of her commissioning...
, commissioned in 1887.
- Roger Chesneau, Eugène Kolesnik: Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860-1905, Conway Maritime Press, London, 1979, ISBN 0-85177-133-5.