For a decade Armored Cruiser Madness ruled the world's navies. Part of the French strategy to overcome their ancient foe, Great Britain, was to go after the British merchant fleet. The chief weapon for this purpose was to be the large, swift, armored cruiser. The armor, heavier weapons fit than the average British trade route cruiser, and high speed were deemed more than sufficient to shred British commerce. The Royal Navy saw this development and instantly saw the threat to her life line. In an accelerating game of one-upsmanship the Royal Navy started producing a new armored cruiser design every year. This was the final armored cruiser design, the Minotaur class of the 1904 program with all large guns in turrets. The Minotaur Class consisted of three cruisers, HMS Minotaur, HMS Defence and HMS Shannon. All three were laid down in 1905. With a displacement of 14,600-tons and armed with four 9.2-inch/50 Mk XI guns, ten 7.5-inch/50 Mk II guns, fourteen 12 pdrs and five submerged torpedo tubes they were well armed. Designed to work with the fleet, rather than on trade routes, their 22-kt maximum speed was slightly lower than most of the previous designs.
The armored cruiser craze took a dramatic turn with the British estimates of the 1905 program. The new design for an armored cruiser for that year was the brain child of Jackie Fisher and displayed in full his desire for speed and hitting power. Although called armored cruisers for several years, the Invincible class was the first of the battle cruisers. With her 12-inch guns and top speed of 26-knots Invincible was clearly far superior to any armored cruiser in existence. The bubble had been broken and navies that could afford the huge ships dropped the armored cruiser like a hot potato and started building battle cruisers. HMS Defence was laid down at Pembroke on February 22, 1905 and completed in 1908. She was the only one of the sisters to hit 23 knots on trials. At the start of World War One Defence was slated to join Rear Admiral Christopher Cradock's cruiser squadron but was diverted before joining. Defence would have certainly have put up a better fight at the Battle of Coronel against Admiral von Spee's Asiatic Squadron but her fight came in May 1916. The newer armored cruisers were deployed with the Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland. All they proved was that they didn't belong in the same arena with German battle cruisers. HMS Defence was blown up with the loss of all hands. The Navis neu range has this beautiful model of HMS Defence.