The British Battleship Magnificent (1895-1921)
Article Excerpt from Munsey’s Magazine October 1896
With Great Britain staggering under a naval budget aggregating $100,000,000 for the current year, and trying her best to maintain a navy equal to any two which might combine against her, the two extremes of the British sea arm form interesting types for study. Not more marked is the contrast between Nelson’s old flagship, the Foudroyant, and the modern Magnificent, than between the latter day battleship and the tiny but speedy and spiteful Lightening intended to catch and destroy the torpedo boat that might send the great floating fortress to the bottom with one shot from her torpedo tubes.
The Magnificent has given her name to a class of fighting ships which are without peers on the seas, combining as they do the latest developments in marine architecture, in engine building, and in the adaptation of armament and armor to the purposes it is desired to carry out. With her 390 feet of length, and 75 feet beam, her displacement, or floating weight, is 14,900 tons, and her keel is twenty seven feet six inches below the surface of the water. Inside her steel walls, which range in thickness from fourteen to nine inches, is a maze of powerful, intricate, and costly machinery, the principal portion being her twin screw engines, which develop 12,000 horse power, and drive her along at the rate of seventeen and a half knots (a little more than twenty miles) an hour. Electric light engines, engines for running fans, hoisting ammunition, making ice, operating turrets, steering the ship, and all the other uses to which marine engines can be put, swell the total of her steam users to more than a hundred, and make her almost as much a machine shop as she is a fighting machine.
All this tremendous power and speed is used in the service of batteries which, while not reaching the maximum of the hundred and eleven ton guns of the Benbow, are much better adapted to the probable requirements of the coming sea fight. Four twelve inch, or fifty ton, guns form the main reliance of vessels of the Magnificent class, for both offense and defense. These are supplemented by a secondary battery of 12 six inch rapid fire rifles, 16 twelve pounders, 12 three pounders, and 8 machine guns, mostly of the Hotchkiss type or a modification of that style of weapon. Five torpedo tubes, four of which are submerged, carrying eighteen inch Whitehead torpedoes, complete this terrible array of implements of destruction.