Open main menu

HMS Lightning was a torpedo boat, built by John Thornycroft at Church Wharf in Chiswick for the Royal Navy, which entered service in 1876 and was the first seagoing vessel to be armed with self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. She was later renamed Torpedo Boat No. 1.[citation needed]

HMS Lightning - Torpedo Boat 1877.jpg
HMS Lightning - illustration from Scientific American.
RN EnsignUnited Kingdom
Builder: John I. Thornycroft & Company
Launched: 1876
Renamed: Torpedo Boat No. 1
Fate: Scrapped, 1896
General characteristics
Class and type: Torpedo boat
Displacement: 32.5 long tons (33.0 t)
Length: 87 ft 6 in (26.67 m)
Beam: 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m)
Draught: 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)
Propulsion: Two-cylinder compound steam engine, 460 hp (340 kW)
Speed: 18.5 kn (34.3 km/h)
  • 2 × 14 inch Whitehead torpedoes
  • (later reduced to one)
A model of HMS Lightning

As originally built, Lightning had two drop collars to launch torpedoes; these were replaced in 1879 by a single torpedo tube in the bow. She also carried two reload torpedoes amidships.[citation needed]

The Lightning spent her life as a tender to the torpedo school HMS Vernon at Portsmouth and was used for some experiments. She was broken up in 1896.[citation needed]


  • Chesneau, Roger and Eugène Kolesnik, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press, 1979, ISBN 0-85177-133-5