Saturday, July 28, 2007

A rare photograph of the US cruiser Topeka in 1898

I have this photograph of the USS Topeka, an unarmoured cruiser built by Howaldt, at Kiel in 1881. The Topeka was one of the purchases made for the Spanish-American War in 1898. The Topeka was later classed as a gunboat (PG). The original armament was 8-4in, 2-6pdr, 4-3pdr, and 2-1pdr guns. The main armament was later reduced to just 6-4in guns from the original eight. The old information that I have gives the displacment as 2,375 tons and the dimensions as 250ft x 35ft x 15ft-6in. I have seen the draft given as deep as 17ft-9in. The length may be between perpendiculars, and the overall length might be as great as 259 feet. A sister ship served in the Peruvian navy as the Lima (ex-Socrates). The two ships were built for Portugal as merchant ships by Howaldt. The Topeka was originally to be named Diogenes. Apparently, the sale never occurred. The ship was almost sold to Japan for the Sino-Japanese War, but the transaction never happened. The Socrates was sold as a merchant ship and named El Cid. The Americans were rapidly arming in 1898, so they bought the ship.

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