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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2
by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 1995-2005

CLASS INFORMATION, Part 2 of 2 - Heavy, Light and AA Cruisers, Cruiser Minelayers

 
 

above left - HMS Galatea
(
NavyPhotos, click photographs for enlargements)
return to Contents List


 

Part 1

 

Battleship, Battlecruisers, Monitors, Fleet Aircraft Carriers, Escort Carriers

 

Part 2

 

Heavy Cruisers, Light Cruisers, AA Cruisers, Cruiser Minelayers

 


 

 

H E A V Y   C R U I S E R S

 

 

K E N T  C L A S S  

County classes

 

HMS Kent (NavyPhotos)

 

G e n e r a l      I n f o r m a t i o n

 

This Class of ship displaced 10,000 tons and were designed by Sir Tennyson D'Eyncourt a renowned Admiralty naval constructor. They proved superior in operational conditions compared with foreign cruisers of similar build. Their accommodation and habitability was superior to that of previous British cruisers. More importantly they could sustain their designed speed indefinitely in all weathers without exceeding designed power. During WW2 their high endurance made them ideal ships for patrol in distant waters at a time when fuelling at sea was not practiced. In addition structural design ensured good strength and protection of vital areas.

 

KENT Class cruisers were armed with eight 8in guns in twin turrets for surface targets and four single 4in mountings as well as smaller weapons for anti-aircraft defence. Originally they were fitted with two quadruple Torpedo Tube mountings but these were removed later. The 8in mountings had a very high rate of fire and could be elevated to over 65 degrees. Facilities for carrying aircraft with a hangar were added after build although removed during WW2 in most ships when war experience showed them of limited value.

 

The overall length of the Class varied at about 630 feet, a beam of and a minimum draught of 16 feet and 3 inches Four propellers driven by steam turbines with shaft horsepower of 80,000 produced a speed of 32.5 knots in service. Deck armour protection was provided as well as for the machinery compartments, steering gear, magazines and gunnery equipment. Protection by external bulges was provided against torpedo attack.. The original Complement of 680 significantly increased after 1939 due to addition of new armament and radar equipment.

 

The changes made during pre-war refits included increasing the height of the funnels, the provision of aircraft facilities (See above) and replacement of the 4in single AA guns by twin mountings. Armour protection was added at water line over the machinery spaces. Close range anti-aircraft armament was progressively increased during refits after 1939. Radar outfits for aircraft warning and fire-control of main armament was also fitted when it became available.

 

Without exception all KENT Class cruisers (including HMS BERWICK), made notable contributions to winning the war at sea. They were particularly effective in the trade defence role where their long endurance qualities proved their value. HMS CORNWALL was the only ship of the Class not to survive the war. Of the remainder only one, HMS CUMBERLAND, remained in service after 1948.

 

Royal Australian Navy

 

Two ships of this Class were ordered by the Australian Government in 1924 and a third was transferred in 1943 to replace a War Loss. The pre-war changes made in the first 2 ships were as for the RN builds. These included the provision of aircraft facilities and the replacement of single 4in secondary armament by twin mountings. Wartime changes were similar in the ships which survived the war.

 

HMAS Australia (Navy Photos)

 

HMAS AUSTRALIA - Modernised 1938-39 and refitted in Liverpool in 1940 when torpedo tubes were removed and AA armament increased. This ship survived WW2 and one of the after 8in mountings (X) was removed during a post war refit.

 

HMAS CANBERRA - During a refit in 1941 additional AA armament was fitted. This ships was lost in August 1942 (See Chronology).

 

HMAS SHROPSHIRE - Transferred to replace HMAS CANBERRA. During wartime refits the AA armament was improved and twin 4in mountings were fitted. Aircraft facilities were removed prior to transfer and after 1945 torpedo torpedo tubes were removed and twin 20mm and 40mm Bofor mountings fitted to replace the single 20mn mountings.

 


 

L O N D O N    C L A S  S 

County classes

 

HMS London (NP/Mark Teadham)

 

General Information

  

This Class of ships - DEVONSHIRE, LONDON, SHROPSHIRE, SUSSEX - displaced 9,850 tons and were designed by Sir William J Berry of the Admiralty Naval Construction Department. Like the KENT Class they proved to be superior under operational conditions compared with foreign cruisers of similar build. In particular their accommodation arid habitability were much better than those found in previous types of British cruisers. More importantly these ships were able to sustain their designed speed indefinitely in all weathers without exceeding their designed power.

 

During WW2 their high endurance made them ideal ships for patrol in distant waters at a time when refuelling at sea was not practised .In addition their structural design was very strong and provided protection for vital areas.

 

LONDON Class cruisers were armed with eight 8in guns in twin turrets for engagement of surface targets. Four single 4in mountings and smaller weapons were fitted to give anti-aircraft defence. The two quadruple Torpedo Tube mountings also provided on build were not removed later unlike those in the KENT Class which were taken out. The 8in mountings had a very high rate of fire and could be elevated to over 65 degrees. An aircraft with a maintenance hangar were added after build and were retained in HMS DEVONSHIRE although removed in other ships when war experience had shown these facilities had only a limited value.

 

The overall length of the Class varied at about 630 feet, a beam of 68 feet 3 inches arid a minimum draught of 17 feet at standard displacement. Four propellers driven by steam turbines with shaft horsepower of 80,000 produced a speed of 32 knots in service. Deck armour protection was provided as well as for machinery compartments, steering gear and gunnery equipment. Internal bulges gave the hull protection against torpedoes. The original. Complement was 650 but this increased to over 800 after 1939.

 

The changes made during Pre-war refits included the provision of aircraft facilities (See above) and replacement of 4in single AA guns by twin mountings (Only two in some ships. Extensive improvements to AA protection were made progressively after 1941.

  

Without exception all LONDON Class cruisers made notable contributions to winning the war at sea. They were particularly effective in the trade defence role where their long endurance qualities proved their value. None of this Class was lost but only HMS DEVONSHIRE was retained in service after 1950.

 

 


 

 N O R F O L K       C L A S S 

County classes

 

HMS Norfolk (NavyPhotos)

 

General Information

 

The fifth Royal Navy ship to bear the name NORFOLK and ordered under the 1926 - 27 Programme with HMS DORSETSHIRE. Two others to be named NORTHUMBERLAND and SURREY were also provided for but were subsequently cancelled as an economy measure.

 

This ship displaced 9,925 tons and was designed by Sir William Berry, an Admiralty naval constructor. Like the earlier KENT Class they proved superior in operational conditions compared with foreign cruisers of similar build. Their accommodation and habitability was of a good standard compared with British cruisers built before 1925. Distinguishing features of the two ships are their Stern Walk, their lower Bridge structure and the positions of their AA armament abreast the funnels. During WW2 their high endurance made them ideal ships for patrol in distant waters at a time when refuelling at sea was not practiced. In addition the structural design ensured good strength and protection of vital areas.

 

NORFOLK-Class cruisers were originally armed with eight 8in guns in twin turrets for engaging surface targets and four 4in single mountings as well as smaller weapons for anti-aircraft defence. The AA armament was later changed to four twin 4in mountings and one of the 8in turrets aft was removed. On build two quadruple Torpedo Tube mountings were installed. but these also were later removed. The 8in mountings had a very high rate of fire and could be elevated to over 65 degrees. Facilities for carrying an aircraft remained until war experience had shown these had only a limited value.

 

The overall .length of ships of this Class was 630 feet, a beam of 66 feet 3 and a mean draught of 17 feet. Four propellers driven by steam turbines with shaft horsepower of 80,000 produced a speed of 33 knots in service. Deck armour protection was provided for the machinery compartments, steering gear and gunnery equipment. The original Complement was 650 but this increased to 710 after 1939.

 

HMS NORFOLK was ordered from Faifields at Govan and was laid down in July 1927. She was launched 12th December 1928 and completed in June 1930.

 

During wartime refits the AA armament was significantly increased as more modem weapons became available. Radar equipment including fire control units were also added as shown in details of war service.

 

Both ships of this Class gave notable service and were particularly effective in the trade defence role in which their long endurance proved their value. HMS DORSETSHIRE was lost in action against Japanese aircraft in the Indian Ocean on 5th April 1942. HMS NORFOLK survived the war and became Flagship for CinC Far East Station in December 1945 after a refit at Devonport Dockyard. She came back to UK to pay-off in May  1949 and was laid up in Reserve at Falmouth until 1950 when sold for breaking- up at Newport.

 


 

 

 

 Y O R K     C L A S S

 

HMS York (NavyPhotos)

 

G e n e r a l    I n f o r m a t i o n

 

The eleventh Royal Navy ship to bear the name YORK and ordered under the 1927-28 Programme as the first of Class. The design was the first British attempt to break away from the heavier 10,000 ton type of cruiser. Bysacrificing one twin 8in gun turret a saving of about 1,600 tons was achieved without significantly reducing the overall capability required. Although five ships of this type were originally planned only two were built, the other being cancelled for economic reasons.

 

Designed by Sir William Berry, HMS YORK displaced 8,250 tons but HMS EXETER which was ordered a year later had a slightly wider beam of 1 foot (58 ft) which thereby increased the displacement to 8,390 tons. Their accommodation and habitability was not as good as that of the earlier cruisers of the LONDON and KENT Classes. When first designed the ships were to have had three funnels but in a subsequent change one was eliminated by trunking the boiler up-takes for the forward funnels. HMS YORK is easily distinguished by her high funnels necessary to keep fumes away from the bridge and which like the masts were raked. She also had a larger bridge structure compared with HMS EXETER which had straight funnels and a smaller more compact bridge structure.

 

YORK Class cruisers were armed with six 8in guns in twin turrets for engagement of surface targets. Four single 4in mountings and smaller weapons were fitted to provide anti-aircraft defence. Two triple Torpedo Tube mountings were installed instead of the quadruple type previously found in cruisers, as the space needed to train the quadruple mountings was restricted. The original design allowed for two seaplanes to be carried, one of which was to be launched from a forward turret. However the strength of the turret structure proved to be inadequate and the catapult was never fitted. As a result only one aircraft was carried and launched from the midship catapult abaft the after funnel. A crane was fitted for recovery of the seaplane.

 

The overall length of the Class was 575 feet, a beam of 57 and a mean draught of 17 feet. Four propellers driven by steam turbines with shaft horsepower of 80,000 produced a speed of 32 knots in service. Deck and side armour protection was fitted as well as 3in armour for the Gunnery Director and 1 1/2  inches over steering gear . The designed Complement was 600 but this increased after 1939 when more personnel were required for additional AA armament and other war requirements.

 

Some improvements were made In HMS YORK during a refit in 1931 when the upper deck plating was extended farther aft to the forward funnel. This provided additional accommodation and also improved habitability in rough weather. There were no other major changes during war service.

 

Both ships were lost during WW2. HMS YORK was sunk by air attacks at Suda Bay in Crete after being seriously damaged by an Italian explosive motor boat . HMS EXETER was lost in a valiant action with Japanese warships during the defence of the Dutch East Indies in 1941 . She is also renowned for her part in the action with German battleship ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE off the Plate estuary in 1939.

 

 


               

L I G H T     C R U I S E R S

 

 

 

C  - C L A S S E S

 

HMS Caledon (NP/Paul Simpson)

 

G e n e r a l     I n f o r m a t i o n

 

In all fourteen ships of this type were ordered under Emergency War Programmes between 1915 and 1918. They were a development of the 1912 ARETHUSA Class. The first orders for three were followed by a second batch of five the next year. Orders for a third batch, also of five ships were placed in 1917. One ship of the first batch, HMS CASSANDRA was

lost in 1918 after being mined in the Baltic Sea.

 

They were built to reinforce the Royal Navy's strength in this type of warship. Ships in the second and third batches were designed with a Trawler bow to reduce the effect of the sea in rough weather or when at high speed. An aircraft hangar was fitted in HMS CARLISLE and HMS CAPETOWN during build but removed before 1938. Some of this Class were fitted for use as Flagships and deployed before 1935 on foreign stations.

 

HMS Ceres (NP/Mark Teadham)

 

As part of the re-armament programme in 1935 two C Class Cruisers were selected for conversion into Anti-Aircraft Cruisers and were known as COVENTRY Class. Before the outbreak of WW2 conversion of the others was planned but only five more were completed.

 

Name

Builder

Launch date

Remarks

CALEDON Class - 1915 Emergency War Programme 

CALEDON

Cammell Laird

25.11.16

Converted 1942 - 1943

CASSANDRA

Vickers

25-11.16

Lost in Baltic 12.1918.

CARADOC

Scotts

23.12.16

Not converted.

CALYPSO

Hawthorn Leslie

24. 1.18

Not converted.

CERES Class - 1916 Emergency War Programme 

CERES

John Brown

24. 3-17

Conversion cancelled 1939

CARDIFF

Fairfields

12. 1.17

Conversion cancelled 1939.

CURACOA

Harland & Wolff

5.5 17

Converted 1939 - 1940.

CURLEW

Vickers

5.7.17

Converted 1936 - 1937

COVENTRY

Swan Hunter

6.7.17

Converted 1935-

CARLISLE Class -1917 Emergency War Programme 

CARLISLE

Fairfields

9. 7-18

Converted 1939 - 1940.

CALCUTTA

Vickers

9. 7.18

Converted 1939 - 1940.

CAIRO

Cammell Laird

19.11.18

Converted 1939 - 1940

COLOMBO

Fairfields

18.12.19

Converted 1942 - 1943

CAPETOWN

Cammell Laird

28. 6.19

Not converted.

 

HMS Carlisle (NavyPhotos)

 

Particulars (CALEDON Class as designed). Others similar

               

Displacement

4,180 tons on build.

Armament

5 - 6in; 2 - 3in; smaller AA weapons; 1 Twin 21in Torpedo Tubes.

Dimensions

Length 150 feet: Beam : 12 feet 9 inches. Draught : 11 feet 3 inches.

Machinery

2 Shafts : Steam turbines 10,000 SHP : Speed 29 knots.

Endurance

6,000 miles at 12 knots; 1,300 miles at maximum continuous speed.

Armour

Protection was provided on the decks and for the gunnery Director.

Complement

437 (Increased to 500 in converted ships during WW2)

 

The ships converted proved invaluable during WW2 and they served with great distinction during the Norwegian operations and later in the Mediterranean. Six ships were lost and one damaged beyond repair.

 

Name

Date

Details

CURLEW

26. 5.40

By aircraft bombs off Norway.

CALYPSO

12. 6.40

By submarine torpedo off Crete.

CALCUTTA

1. 6.11

By aircraft bombs off Crete.

CAIRO

12. 8.12

By submarine torpedo off Bizerta.

COVENTRY

14. 9-42

By aircraft bombs off Tobruk.

CURACOA

2.10.12

In collision with rms QUEEN MARY.

CARLISLE

11.43

Declared Constructive Total Loss after damage.

 

 


 

 

 

       I M P R O V E D    B I R M I N G H A M    o r    H A W K I N S    C L A S S

 

 HMS Frobisher (NP/Paul Simpson)

 

G e n e r a l     I n f o r m a t i o n

 

Five Light Cruisers of this Class were built. Later, after WW1, they became known as HAWKINS Class. They were ordered under War Emergency Programmes but were not ready for service until after November 1918

 

Name

Builder

Launched

Remarks

EFFINGHAM

HM Dockyard Portsmouth

8th June 1921

Ran aground off Norway and wrecked May 1940

FROBISHER

HM Dockyard Devonport

20th March 1920

Broken-up at Newport 1949

HAWKINS

HM Dockyard Chatham

3rd June 1916

Broken up at Dalmuir, 1947.

RALEIGH

Beardmore

28th August 1919

Ran aground off Labrador, August 1922.

VINDICTIVE

(Ex CAVENDISH)

Harland and Wolff

17th January 1918

Launched as CAVENDISH. Completed as an Aircraft Carrier and renamed. Converted to Cruiser 1923-5. Demilitarised for use as Cadet Training Ship 1936-7. Converted to Repair Ship 1940. Broken up at Blyth.1946.

 

These ships displaced 9,750 tons as designed and were 605 feet long overall with a beam of 65 feet and a draught of 17 feet 3 inches. By 1945 the two ships still in an operational use had an increased displacement due to changes of equipment fitted. Their main armament as designed comprised seven 7-5in single mountings with twelve 2 Pdr guns. In addition they carried six. 21in torpedo tubes, two being submerged and 4 deck mounted. HMS HAWKINS was the only ship in the Class completed with the designed armament. Some armour protection was fitted for sides, upper deck and over machinery and steering gear. These ships also had external bulges to give protection against torpedo hits.

 

Extensive changes in the armament were made in all ships and in 1939 after re-arming HMS HAWKINS had seven 7.5in for surface engagements with four 4in single mountings and four 2Pdr pom-pom guns for anti- aircraft defence. Six 21in torpedo tubes were fitted. During refits later in WW2 additional close range AA guns and radar were installed.

 

The propulsion machinery as designed provided 65,000 shaft horse power driving four shafts. It included 6 oil fired and two coal fired boilers. However HMS HAWKINS was converted to full oil firing in 1929 when two boilers were removed. This reduced, the shaft horsepower to 55,000 and speed from 30 knots to 29 knots. Her endurance at full speed after this change was 2,900 miles and at 10 knots 10,600 miles.

 

All ships in this Class were designed to be used as Flagships having a complement of over 700 but this increased during WW2 in the two ships in service after 1940 due to addition of radar and close range AA guns.

 

HAWKINS Class cruisers, being of WW1 design were unsuited to the demands placed on the Royal Navy in WW2 except in the trade defence role. The modernisation and refit carried out during the 1930's did not include the addition of adequate AA armament and their main contribution was in trade defence, particularly in the Indian Ocean.

 

It is worth recording that two of this Class were wrecked after running aground and that three were specially altered for use as Cadet training ships.

 


 

 

L E A N D E R     C L A S S

  

HMNZS Leander (NP/Mark Teadham)

 

D e t a i l s    o f     C l a s s

 

 Estimates

 Name

 Remarks

First Group (single funnel)

1929

LEANDER

Lead ship. Scrapped at Blyth 13/1/50

1930

ORION

Scrapped at Troon 19/7/49.

 

NEPTUNE

Lost in Mediterranean 19/12/41.

 

ACHILLES

At Battle of River Plate.

Transferred to India as DELHI on 1948 (Note : Serving with tine New Zealand Division as HMS ACHILLES at the outbreak of WW2 and integrated into the Royal New Zealand Navy when it was established by Order in Council in July 1941. She was formally transferred on 1st October 1941 and then became HMNZS ACHILLES.)

1931

AJAX

At Battle of River Plate. Scrapped at Newport 11/49.

Second Group (two funnels

 

AMPHION

Built for Royal Australian Navy. Renamed HMAS PERTH. Lost in action 1/3/42.

1932

HOBART

Built for Royal Australian Navy. (Ex APOLLO) . Scrapped in Japan 1962

 

SYDNEY

Built for Royal Australian Navy.  Lost in action 19/11/41.

 

 

HMAS Perth (NP/Bruce Constable)

 

This Class of ship displaced about 7,000 and represented a return to a moderate size compared with the earlier 10,000 ton heavy cruisers. Their main armament of 6 inch guns was of a new design using the Auto-frettage system of barrel rifling instead of being wire wound. These guns were mounted in twin turrets which were believed to to be superior in performance compared with the triple mountings used in the German KOLN Class cruisers. The roomy turrets allowed guns to elevate to 60 degrees.

 

In addition to the four twin 6in mountings used for engaging surface targets, LEANDER Class cruisers had four single 4in guns and smaller weapons for anti-aircraft defence. These ships were also fitted with two quadruple 21 inch torpedo tube mountings.

 

Although the design was criticised as being underarmed for its size and considered vulnerable because of adjacent boiler rooms their service in WW2 belied these misgivings since they survived shell, torpedo and bomb damage. The initial design also included facilities for a seaplane and a catapult used for its launch. A crane was provided for recovery of the aircraft. During a refit in 1937, the single 4in AA mountings were replaced by four twin mountings of a modem design. Later during WW2 the aircraft facilities were removed to enable the fitting of more close-range anti-aircraft guns. Extensive additions were made to the number of Close Range AA weapons and several radar sets were fitted for aircraft warning and surface warning as well as for fire control of main and AA armament. Two ships of the Class, HMS LEANDER and HMS ACHILLES, had one of the after 6in turrets removed so as to save top-weight when the additional AA weapons were fitted.

 

The overall length of this Class was about 554 feet with a beam of 55 feet 8 inches and a draught of 16 feet at standard displacement. Four propellers driven by turbines with shaft horsepower of 72,000 produced a speed of 32 knots in service. Design arrangements for propulsion machinery in ships of Group 2 were significantly changed by adoption of the Unit System in which Boiler and Engine Rooms were separately associated with drive for Inner or Outer propeller shafts. This arrangement introduced use of two funnels and enables these ships to be easily identified. Four boilers were used as opposed to six in Group 1 and layout of machinery compartments differed. Upper deck layout differed with aircraft catapult sited between the funnels, secondary armament and torpedo tubes were re-position further aft. The armour protection was provided for decks and side as well as for the machinery compartments and gunnery equipment. Complement as designed was 550 in peace and 715 in war, but it increased in WW2 due to fitting of additional equipment.

 

Three of the Class had been broken-up by 1951 and the fourth which survived WW2 was transferred to India. She served with the Indian Navy until the mid 1970's.

 


 

 

 

A R E T H U S A      C L A S S        

 

HMS Arethusa (NP/Mark Teadham)

 

G e n e r a l     I n f o r m a t i o n

 

This Class was designed within Treaty limits and were intended primarily for the defence of ocean trade and to be easily produced in large numbers. Costs were kept low by extensive use of welding and provision of aluminium covered plywood for the bulkheads of accommodation spaces. The cost of building each ship was over 1.2M excluding items supplied by Admiralty such as weapons and communication equipment.

 

Four ships were built to this basic design but the last two (HMS PENELOPE and HMS AURORA) were fitted with four twin 4 inch High Angle guns instead of single 4 inch mountings. These ships also had a gunnery control director fitted for these anti-aircraft mountings which was sited abaft the mainmast. The searchlight in that position was placed aft of the second funnel.

 

D e t a i l s    o f     C l a s s

               

Estimates

Name

Remarks

1931

ARETHUSA

Lead ship. Broken up in 1950

1932

GALATEA

Sunk off Alexandria on 11/12/41

1933

PENELOPE

Sunk off Anzio 8/2/44.

1934

AURORA

Sold to China as CHUNGKING in 1948.

 

This Class of ship displaced about 5,270 tons and were smaller than the earlier 7,000tons LEANDER Class. Their main armament comprised six 6 inch guns mounted in twin turrets for engaging surface targets. As described above the AA defence was improved in the last two ships which had 4 twin mountings. Close range AA defence was further implemented during WW2 following bitter experience in Norway by the addition of 20mm Oerlikon guns. All four ships carried two triple 21 inch torpedo tube mountings fitted on the upper deck.

 

The initial design also included aircraft facilities with hangar and a catapult, except in HMS AURORA which had additional superstructure amidships. A crane was provided for recovery of the aircraft and handling boats. The  aircraft facilities were removed during WW2 to allow the installation of acre close-range AA guns.

 

The overall length of this Class was 506 feet with a beam of 51 feet and a draught of about 14 feet at standard displacement. Four propellers driven by turbines of 64,000 shaft horsepower produced a speed of 32 knots in service. Armour protection was provided for decks and sides including the machinery compartments and turrets. The arrangements of machinery compartments in the ARETHUSA Class differed from the earlier LEANDER Class design. These four ships had two sets of turbines and boilers fitted in two separate compartments to prevent total flooding of the boiler rooms In the event of damage in action or in collision. As a result they had two funnels, unlike the single funnelled LEANDERS. Another engineering feature was the use of fluid flywheel transmission forthe speedy transfer of power from the main engines to cruising turbines.

 

 As designed the Complement was 550 in peace and 715 in war, but this increased in WW2 due to fitting of additional equipment such as radar and AA guns.

 

 During WW2 ARETHUSA Class cruisers served with distinction both in Home waters in Norway and in the  Mediterranean for the defence of supply convoys to Malta and the support of military operations in North Africa. HMS AURORA served in Home waters, including the Norwegian campaign before going to the Mediterranean to join Force K for operations against enemy supply convoys to North Africa. She was twice badly damaged but survived the war as shown in the Chronology. Some names of this Class were again used for LEANDER Class Frigates built after 1961.

 


 

 

S O U T H A M P T O N     O R    T O W N   C L A S S E S

 

HMS Southampton (NP/Bruce constable)

 

G e n e r a l    I n f o r m a t i o n

 

Eight SOUTHAMPTONS were constructed and all entered service before the outbreak of war in September 1939. They were the British response to the American SAVANNAH Class and Japanese MOGAMI Class cruisers of a similar size and armament. The British ships had a striking appearance easily recognised by their two raked funnels which were a departure from the design of earlier Classes of cruiser.

 

Ships in this batch displaced 9,100 tons and were armed with four triple 6 inch turrets for engaging surface targets and four twin 4in gun mountings with several other types of smaller guns for anti- aircraft defence. Facilities were provided for carrying three WALRUS seaplanes which were launched using an athwartships catapult and recovered by a crane. The basic design included a maintenance hangar.

 

Changes were made to the armament of the Class including the addition of several close close range AA guns and the removal of X turret. The latter major alteration was not implemented in HMS MANCHESTER because of her premature loss. The overall length of the batch was 591 feet and 6 inches, a beam of 62 feet 8 inches and a draught of 20 feet. Four propellers driven by steam turbines with shaft horsepower of 82,500 gave a speed of 32 knots. Armour protection was provided for machinery compartments and for the main armament turrets.

 

After the outbreak of war radar was fitted for detection of aircraft and also for fire control of both main armament and anti-aircraft weapons. Improved outfits were installed during refits and when ships were modernised. The original Complement was 700 but this increased very significantly during WW2 due to the addition of more equipment.

          

Details of Ships

 

Programme

Name

Builder

Launched

Completed

Remarks

1933

SOUTHAMPTON

John Brown

10. 3.36

6. 3.37

Ex POLYPHEMUS. Lost 11. 1.41 in air attacks

 

NEWCASTLE

Vickers, Tyne

23 1.36

5. 3.37

Ex MINOTAUR. Scrapped 8.59.

1934

SHEFFIELD

Vickers, Tyne

23. 7.36

25. 8.37

Scrapped 9.67.

 

BIRMINGHAM

Devonport Dyd.

1. 9.36

18.11.37

Scrapped 9.60.

 

GLASGOW

Scotts,Greenock

20. 6.36

8. 9.37

Scrapped 7.58.

1935

GLOUCESTER

Devonport Dyd.

19.10.37

31. 1.39

Lost 22.5.41 in air attack.

 

LIVERPOOL

Fairfield, Govan

24. 3.37

25.10.38

Scrapped 7.58.

 

MANCHESTER

Hawthorn Leslie

12. 4.37

4. 8.38

Lost 13. 8.42 in air attack.

 

Three ships of the Class HMS SOUTHAMPTON, HMS MANCHESTER and HMS GLOUCESTER were lost in action in the Mediterranean. Four of the surviving ships served for ten years after 1945 and the other cruiser of the Class, HMS LIVERPOOL Paid-off in 1953. Between 1950 and 1952 HMS NEWCASTLE and HMS BIRMINGHAM underwent major reconstruction including the fit of air conditioning in some compartments. Structural changes in these two ships included a new design lattice foremast and a rounded Bridge structure which make them easy to identify. The excellence of the design arrangements is proved by the fact that it was followed in the later Classes of cruisers and by their excellent record of war service.

 

Two ships of an Improved SOUTHAMPTON Class were ordered in the 1936 Build Programme and named:-HMS EDINBURGH and HMS BELFAST.

 

 


 

 

 

  I M P R O V E D    S O U T H A M P T O N     O R    E D I N B U R G H     C L A S S

               

HMS Edinburgh (NavyPhotos)

 

General   Information

 

Two ships of this type were ordered on 15th August 1936 and were larger than those of the SOUTHAMPTON Class

ordered under the 1933, 1934 and 1935 Estimates.  The Improved SOUTHAMPTON Class comprised :

 

                HMS BELFAST from Harland and Wolff, Belfast.

                HMS EDINBURGH from Swan Hunter, Newcastle.

 

Both ships were completed before the outbreak of war in September 1939- The earlier SOUTHAMPTON Class heavy cruisers were designed as the British response to American SAVANNAH Class and Japanese MOGAMI Class of a similar size and armament. Both Improved SOUTHAMPTON Class cruisers had their two slightly raked funnels in a position much nearer the stem, the second being sited abaft the mainmast. This feature makes them easily distinguished from any other British cruiser.

 

Their Standard Displacement was 11,580 tons (14,930 tons at Full load). They had a main armament of four triple 6 inch gun turrets for engaging surface targets and had four twin 4in gun mountings with several other smaller anti- aircraft weapons. In addition they were fitted with two sets of triple torpedo tubes mounted amidships on either beam on the upper deck for attacks on surface ships. Three WALRUS type seaplanes launched using an athwartships catapult and recovered using a crane were also provided. A hangar was included in the original design but the requirement to carry aircraft in cruisers was changed during WW2 as a matter of policy and this facility was removed.

 

The overall length of the batch was 613 feet and 6 inches,  beam of 63 feet 4 inches and a draught of 17 feet 3 inches.  Four propellers driven by steam turbines having a shaft horsepower of 82,000 produced a speed of 32 knots. The endurance at 14 knots was 8,000 miles. Improved armour protection was provided in these two ships, compared with the earlier SOUTHAMPTON Class and covered sides, machinery compartments and the main armament.

 

The original Complement was 710 but this increased significantly after 1939 due to the fitting of radar outfits and additional close range AA weapons. After their completion and following the extensive structural damage caused when HMS BELFAST detonated a magnetic mine in December 1939, the design of both ships had to be extensively reviewed. As a result it was decided to provide more strengthening. War experience with both ships showed that their design arrangement were not satisfactory comparedwith the original SOUTHAMPTON Class.

 

HMS EDINBURGH had a very active career in every sense and saw service in Home waters and in the Mediterranean. Whilst returning from Murmansk with a cargo of bullion she was torpedoed soon after joining the escort for a returning Russian Convoy. Extensive damage was caused including loss of rudder. Despite the efforts made to return to Murmansk these were frustrated by an attack by German destroyers. Although one was sunk by HMS EDINURGH after a surface gun action the ship was again hit by 2 torpedoes fired by one of the enemy destroyers and sustained further damage that proved beyond control. HMS EDINBURGH had therefore to be abandoned and was sunk by our own forces.

 

HMS BELFAST was out of comnission for many months after detonating a magnetic mine in 1939 but after rejoining the Fleet in 1943 saw extensive service and took part in the Battle of North Cape in December when the German battleship SCHARNHORST was sunk in an action with the Hone Fleet. As shown in the Chronology she remained in service after WW2 and is still afloat in the Pool of London as Museum ship.

 


 

 

                D I D O    C L A S S    A N T I - A I R C R A FT     C R U I S E R S

 

HMS Dido (NavyPhotos)

 

                G e n e r a l      I n f o r ma t i o n

 

This type of cruiser was developed from the earlier ARETHUSA Class and was intended to improve the anti-aircraft defences of the Fleet. Despite the lack of an effective fire-control system and the selection of the 5.25in Dual Purpose gun mounting which was too heavy for its role, this Class of ship had an outstanding record during WW2. Owing to a shortage of 5.25in mountings two of the four ships in the third batch were fitted with twin 4.5in mountings (*). Eleven DIDO Class ships were ordered before the outbreak of war in September 1939 and these were followed by five of the Improved DIDO Class. The later ships mounted  only four twin 5.25in mountings.

 

 Details of Ships

               

Build Programme

Name

Builder

Launched

Remarks

1936

DIDO

Cammell Laird

18. 7.39

Scrapped 1958

 

EURYALUS

HM Dockyard Chatham

6. 6.39

Scrapped 1959

 

NAIAD

Hawthorn Leslie

3.2.39

Lost 11 March 1942

 

PHOEBE

Fairfield

25. 3.39

Scrapped 1956

 

SIRIUS

HM Dockyard, Portsmouth

18. 9.40

Scrapped 1956

1937

BONAVENTURE

Scotts

19. 4.39

Lost 31 March 1941

 

HERMIONE

Stephen

18. 5.39

Lost 16 June 1942

1938

CHARYBDIS *

Cammell Laird

17. 9 39

Lost 23 October 1943

 

CLEOPATRA

Hawthorn Leslie

27. 3.40

Scrapped 1958

 

SCYLLA*

Scotts

24. 7.40

Scrapped 1950

 

ARGONAUT

Cammell Laird

6. 9.41

Scrapped 1955

 

 

                Improved DIDO Class 1939 Programme

 

HMS Bellona (NavyPhotos)

 

BELLONA

Fairfield

29. 9 42

RNZN 1948-56. Scrapped 1959

BLACK PRINCE

Harland & Wolff

27. 8.42

RNZN 1948. Scrapped 1962

DIADEM

Hawthorn Leslie

28. 8.42

Transferred to Pakistan 1956

ROYALIST

Scotts

30 5. 42

RNZN 1956

SPARTAN

Vickers Barrow

27.8.42

Lost 29th January 1944

 

Particulars as Designed

 

 

DIDO Class

Improved DIDO Class

Displacement :

5,450 tons

5,770 tons

Armament

5 Twin 5-25in

(Except * see above)

4 Twin 5.25in

 

2 Triple 21in Torpedo Tubes

2 Triple Torpedo Tubes

Length

512 feet

512 feet

Beam

50 feet 6 inches

50 feet 6 inches

Draught

14 feet

14 feet 9 inches

Machinery

2 Shafts: Turbines 62,000 SHP

2 shafts :Turbines 62,000 SHP

Speed

33 Knots

33 knots

Armour

Decks, Machinery & Armament

Decks, Machinery and Armament

Complement

550

530

 

Many additional Close Range 20mm mountings were fitted during build and during refit In service. Three ships had Q Turret forward removed and replaced by this type of weapon. By 1947 six of the Class had been placed in Reserve and one put on the Disposal List. Ships remaining in service had all been Paid-off by 1956, except HMS BLACK PRINCE transferred to the RNZN which remained in commission until 1961.HMS DIADEM was sold to Pakistan and renamed BABAR after a refit paid by US funds.

 


 

 

C O L O N Y    O R    F I J I     C L A S S E S 

 

HMS Fiji (NP/Bruce Constable)

 

G e n e r a l     I n f o r m a t i o n

 

The first five ships of the FIJI Class were ordered under the 1937 Estimates and were followed by another four in the Programme for 1938. Their basic design evolved from the earlier SOUTHAMPTON Class of heavy cruiser. However war experience showed the need for a much greater anti-aircraft defence and the main armament was changed after they entered service, except for ships which had been lost. Ships built to the new design were known as Modified FIJI Class Cruisers.

 

Original FIJI Class

 

Build Programme

Name

Builder

Launched

Completed

Remarks

1937

FIJI

John Brown

31. 5.39

5 .40

Lost by air attack off Crete 22. 5.41

 

KENYA *

Stephens, Govan

18. 8.39

8.40

Scrapped Faslane 10.62

 

MAURITIUS

Swan Hunter

19. 7.39

12.40

Scrapped Rosyth 1965

 

NIGERIA *

Vickers,Tyne

18. 7 39

9.40.

Transferred to Indian Navy as MYSORE 1967.

 

TRINIDAD

Devonport Dyd

21. 3.40

10.41

Completion delayed by air raid damage. Sunk in Barents Sea by own forces after damage in air attacks.

1938

GAMBIA*

Swan Hunter

30.11.40

2.42

Scrapped Rosyth 1969

 

JAMAICA *

Vickers, Barrow

16.11.40

6.42

Scrapped Dalmuir 1960

1939

BERMUDA*

John Brown

11. 9.41

8.42

Scrapped 1965


                *  Ships converted to Modified design during service.

 

Modified FIJI Class

 

1938

CEYLON

John Brown

30. 7.42

7.43

Sold to Peru 1959

 

UGANDA

Vickers,Tyne

7. 8.41

1.43

Presented to Canada 1944. Renamed QUEBEC in 1952

1939

NEWFOUNDLAND

Swan Hunter

19.12.41

12.42

Sold to Peru 1959

 

The original design incorporating four triple 6in turrets as main armament was changed to three triple turrets during  service by removal of X turret. The facilities for carrying three seaplanes were also removed after 1942 when experience in war had shown them to be of limited value.

 

COLONY Class cruisers displaced 8,000 tons as originally designed but increased due to changes made during and after WW2. They were 555 feet 6 inches in overall length with a beam of 62 feet and a mean draught of 16 feet. Main armament was originally 4 triple 6in turrets and four twin 4in secondary armament plus close range 20mm guns. The number of these was increased during WW2 and was not the same in all ships. After 1945 the close range 20mm weapons were replaced by 40mm Bofor type mountings. The original design included a pair of 21in Torpedo Tube mountings but these were removed in the Modified design. Four propellers driven by steam turbines with shaft horsepower of 72,500 gave a speed of 29 knots in service. Deck and side armour protection was provided as well as that for the armament equipment. The designed Complement was 750 but this increased significantly when radar and additional weapon equipment was installed.

 

Ships of this Class were extensively deployed both at Horns and overseas during WW2 as is shown by their Battle Honours. Two of the Class were lost in action during WW2. HMS FIJI was sunk after air attacks during the defence of Crete in May 1941 .HMS TRINIDAD had been damaged by one of her own torpedoes which had malfunctioned after an action against German destroyers in defence of a Russian convoy. Following temporary repair in a North Russian port, during passage to UK she sustained further major damage in air attacks and had to be sunk boy own forces

 


 

 

 

M I N O T A U R    O R    S W I F T S U R E   C L A S S

 

HMS Swiftsure (NavyPhotos)

 

 General  Information

 

This Class of cruiser was a modification of the improved design of the later FIJI Class which were completed with only three triple 6in turrets as dual purpose main armament for surface or anti-aircraft use. Six ship were ordered in 1941 and a further two the next year, but only six were completed.

 

The displacement of the first six ships was 8,800 tons, increased to 15,280 tons in the last two. The overall length was 555 feet in the first six with a beam of 64 feet and draught of 17 feet. In the last two ships  these were 650 feet x 75 feet x 24 feet (full load).

 

The main armament comprised three triple 6in turrets, two mounted forward and one aft. Fit of an additional twin 4in AA mounting to increase the defence against air attacks gave a secondary armament of five twin 4in mountings. The first six ships had four quadruple 2Pdr mountings and six 40 mm single mountings. The Close range AA defence in the last two was significantly increased by having ten twin 40mm mountings and 16 twin 20mm mountings in the final design. Four sets of quadruple torpedo tubes were provided in place of the two triple mountings in the earlier design. No provision was made for any aircraft..

 

Main Propulsion machinery in the first six ships comprised 4 geared turbines with 72,500 SHP driving four shafts to give a designed speed of 32 knots, In the last two ships the turbines were up-rated to 100,000 SHP giving the same speed to a larger ship.

 

War complement in the first batch was about 1,000 and in the last two ships over 1,200 because of the increased equipment fit, especially for manning and support of weapon equipment.

 

Extensive radar equipment was fitted to provide warning of aircraft, warning of surface ships or land and for fire control of main, secondary and close range armament.

 

The ships of this Class were :

 

               

Ship

Builder

Launched

Completed

Notes

SWIFTSURE

Vickers, Tyne

4/2/43

22/6/44

Scrapped 17/10/62

ONTARIO (RCN)

Harland & Wolff

29/7/43

25/25/45

Ex MINOTAUR  Scrapped 19/11/60

*TIGER

Clyde

25/10/45

18/3/59

Ex BELLEROPHON.  Post war redesign

*LION

Scotts, Greenock. Completed by Swan Hunter

2/9/44

20//7/60

Ex DEFENCE.

Post war redesign.

SUPERB

Swan Hunter

31/8/43

16/11/45

Scrapped 8/8/60

BELLERPHON

Vickers, Tyne

not launched

-

Ex TIGER (i) 1945,  Ex BLAKE(ii) 1944. Cancelled 3/46

*BLAKE

Fairfield, Govan

20/12/45

8/3/61

Ex TIGER 1944

HAWKE

Portsmouth Dyd

not launched

-

Cancelled 3/46

 

                Notes: *Work on these three ships was suspended after 1946 and in 1954 build recommenced to

                a revised design.

 

                HMS TIGER was first deployed as a cruiser between 1959 and 1966 and then converted

                for use as a Helicopter cruiser for amphibious operations. She paid-off in 1978.

 

                HMS LION was deployed as a cruiser until 1972 when placed in Reserve.

 

                HMS BLAKE was deployed as a cruiser till 1964 and converted for use as a Helicopter

                Cruiser in which role she served until paying off in 1979.

 


 

 

 

 C R U I S E R    M I N E L A Y E R S

 

 

A B D I E L     C L A S S    F A S T    M I N E L A Y E R S

 

HMS Abdiel (NP/Bob Hanley)

 

General   Information

 

Four ships of this type were ordered under the 1938 Estimates and described as LATONA Class Cruiser Minelayers. Since the loss of HMS LATONA they have generally been called ABDIEL Class Fast Minelayers and were designed for speedy minelaying operations in hostile waters. These ships ware the fastest cruisers in the Royal Navy at the time of their build and had a designed speed of 40 knots but this was not attained in service. A second batch of two ships was ordered under War Estimates.

 

Build Programme

Ship

Builder

Launched

Completion

Disposal

1938

MANXMAN

Alex. Stephen

05/09/40

20/6/41

Scrapped 10/72

 

ABDIEL

J S White

23/04/40

15/04/41

Mined 10/09/43

 

LATONA

Thornycroft

20/08/40

04/05/41

Air attack 25/10/41

 

WELSHMAN

Hawthorn Leslie

04/09/40

25/08/41

Torpedoed 01/02/43

1942

APOLLO

Hawthorn Leslie

05/04/43

12/02/44

Scrapped 28/11/62

 

ARIADNE

Alex. Stephen

16/02/43

09/10/43

Scrapped 14/02/65

 

ABDIEL Class minelayers displaced 2,650 tons and had an overall length of 418 feet, a beam of 40 feet and a mean draught of 11 feet 2 inches. During build the first batch of four ships ware fitted with three twin 4.7in mountings for surface defence. After 1942 these mountings were replaced by twin 4in HA to provide defence against air attack but still retaining a surface capability. The last two ships were fitted with two twin 4in HA mountings during build, one mounted forward and the other aft. All ships had radar fire control of the main armament. Progressive improvements in Close range AA weapons were made in all ships during war service. Their minelaying capacity was 160 mines.

 

Two propellers driven by steam turbines with shaft horsepower of 72,000 gave a speed of over 35 knots in service. Endurance at full speed was about 1,000 miles. The original Complement was about 300 in war but reduced in peace to about 250.

 

During WW2 the ABDIEL Class Fast Minelayers carried out extensive minelaying in many parts of the world. However, between 1941 and 1943 they were frequently used for other duties which required the use of a ship capable of sustained periods at high speed. In particular they were in demand for high priority requirements such as the transport of personnel and stores to Crete, Malta, Cyprus and Tobruk. Their spacious design and high speed made them very successful but also vulnerable, especially to air attack.

 

Three ABDIEL Class Fast Minelayers were lost. HMS WELSHMAN was the only one in use at the time for a minelaying operation. She was returning to Alexandria from a minelay in the central Mediterranean when torpedoed by U617 off Crete. HMS ABDIEL sank after she detonated a mine at Taranto during the allied occupation in September 1943, and  HMS LATONA was sunk in air attack during support of the Tobruk garrison in October 1941 and had never been deployed on a minelaying operation.  The remaining three ships survived the war and were then reduced to Reserve. HMS MANXMAN was seriously damaged when torpedoed by U375 during passage to Gibraltar from Algiers in December 1943- Major repair kept the ship out of service until May 1945.

 

After VJ Day the remaining ships were deployed in the Pacific to carry personnel, mail and stores in support of repatriation and other British Pacific Fleet activities. They returned to UK in 1946 and were placed in Reserve. HMS APOLLO was brought forward for Home Fleet service in 1951 and after 1954 used as Flagship. She went on the Disposal List in 1961 and was broken up the next year. HMS MANXMAN came out of Reserve in 1951 and after Fleet service underwent conversion for use as a Minesweeper Support Ship in 1963. Structural changes made to provide workshops and improved accommodation and the removal of two boiler rooms reduced speed to 26 knots. She was deployed at Singapore from 1963 until 1968. On return again altered for use as a training ship for engineer officers. After damage by fire in 1969 she want on the Disposal List and scrapped three years later. HMS ARIADNE refitted in 1951/52 but stayed in Reserve till 1962 when placed on the Disposal List and scrapped in 1965.

 

 

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