Yes, our today's story about them, about the forerunners of the class of heavy cruisers and the first Washington cruisers. Well, about how it all worked out.
It all started during the First World War. If you look like this, then the whole Royal Navy was engaged in such a peculiar game of catch-up. Because it was in the First World War (in August 1914) that Britain really stood on the brink of collapse, faced with a naval blockade. For a country that imported everything from wheat to ore, this is very serious.
And throughout the war, British ships chased after someone. Either for the German submarines, which organized uniform chaos, or for the raiders who almost paralyzed the Indian Ocean, they fought with the squadron of Count Spee, who drank so much British blood that Dracula would envy.
An unpleasant surprise for the British command was that throughout the Royal navy for example, there was no ship capable of catching up with the German cruiser Karlsruhe with its 27 knots.
German light cruiser Karlsruhe
And intelligence reported that the Germans were working on new light cruisers, capable of walking at an even greater speed, from 28 knots and with weapons from 150-mm guns.
In general, it was necessary to do something.
The British, as pragmatic people, created two projects. The first is cruisers of the “D” type, which are inferior to the German ships in armament (6 x 152 mm versus 8 x 150 mm for the Germans), surpassed them in speed by 1,5-2 knots.
British light cruiser Danae
In general, there were scouts who could catch up with a German ship and tie it in battle. And then someone else had to come up to finish off the German ship.
To create this ship, a project of Birmingham type cruisers was taken. The cruisers were so-so, therefore it was necessary to increase everything for the new conditions: speed, range, and armament power.
With weapons, the good choice was at least where: from 234 mm to 152 mm. By the way, the choice was stopped by the time-tested, reliable and fast-firing BL 7,5 inch Mark VI, 190-mm naval guns.
Well, squeeze "a little bit" from the power plant - for British engineers it was a child’s fun.
The lead ship of this type was laid down in December 1915 and initially all five cruisers received the designation “Relie type”, but after the frankly stupid death of the lead ship in 1922 they renamed it “Hawkins type”.
In total, 5 cruisers were built, and the planned sixth ship of the series, which did not even receive a name, was never laid down.
It's not about finances, as many might think, but about changing priorities. The main enemy of the British Empire were German submarines.
So the cruiser was built slowly, with feeling, really. And they built it only towards the end of the First World War, and someone else after it.
Only two ships of this type, the Raleigh and the Hawkins, were built in full accordance with the original design. The rest during the construction were converted to oil as fuel.
The name of the cruiser was given in honor of the English admirals of the Elizabethan era, which is why they were nicknamed the "Elizabethans" in the Navy. At the time of their entry into service, the Hawkins became the most powerful cruisers in the world, although the official classification initially included light cruisers.
And it was thanks to them that they obtained such an upper limit in terms of tonnage and main caliber, established by the Washington Maritime Conference of 1922. The Hawkins then became the benchmark for restrictions.
It is clear that the British tried their best to push their ships, since cutting new cruisers would be unpleasant. And besides, they were insanely expensive. The cost of the Hawkins was comparable to the cost of the Dreadnought, mainly because of the long-term construction.
And so it turned out that the Hawkins, with their appearance and inclusion in the maritime contract, caused the end of the dreadnought race and began the cruising race, which I already wrote about. In general, the crazy cruising race of the 30s was founded in 1915.
As a result, restrictions on tonnage and quantity were introduced in 1930 for cruisers. And for the Hawkins and their followers, the Washington cruisers, who had 10 thousand tons of displacement and a 203 mm gun, introduced a new class - heavy cruisers.
At the same time, the 1930 conference almost sentenced the Hawkins, since, according to the decisions of 1936, the British had to remove the Hawkins from the fleet and cut them into metal or rearm them with 152 mm guns and transfer them to light cruisers for the sake of building new ships .
But the outbreak of the war canceled all plans and restrictions with all the ensuing consequences.
So four of the five ships built went to fight for the glory of His Majesty King George VI.
HMS "Raleigh", which was laid down on October 4, 1916, launched on September 28, 1919, entered service on April 15, 1921. It is named after Sir Walter Raleigh. He was stranded on August 8, 1922, by an oak-commander. Scrapped in December 1926.
The rest went to fight ... We will talk about how Hawkins, Cavendish, Frobisher and Effingham did it a little later, and first we will briefly wipe three and one ships.
I'll start with one. Which got the most in terms of restructuring.
Cavendish. Named after the explorer Thomas Cavendish. It was laid down on June 29, 1916, launched on January 17, 1918, went into operation on September 21, 1918. Everything is fine here, but from June 1918 it began ...
To begin with, the cruiser was renamed “Vindiktiv”, in honor of the cruiser, who made a raid operation at the German base in Ostend. And he received from the Germans "damage that is not compatible ..."
Next, the cruiser was converted into an aircraft carrier. The bow towers were removed, in their place equipped with a take-off and landing deck, and under it a hangar for aircraft.
In the hangar, it was possible to place 4 seaplane “Short” and 6 deck aircraft Sopvich “Pap”. Or 2 Pap fighters and 4 Griffin scouts.
The stern armament was not touched, it consisted of 4 x 190 mm, 6 x 102 mm and 4 anti-aircraft guns of 76 mm. Plus 4 torpedo tubes.
Then the cruiser aircraft carrier was transformed into a completely aircraft carrier, following the example of the Furies. The aft towers were removed and a landing deck was made there. Instead of the main caliber, 10 140-mm guns were put on the sides, the number of aircraft increased to 20 pieces.
It didn’t. Rolling aircraft from stern to bow took a long time, in addition, imperfect landing systems constantly threatened to hit the aircraft in superstructures. In general, the Furies and the Vindiktiv were definitely a bold experiment, but it cannot be said to be successful.
In general, having experimented enough, having tested the new catapults at Vindiktivit, the British decided to return everything back. Having been transported for two years, from 1923 to 1925, the aircraft carrier was still turned into a cruiser.
During perestroika, both flight decks were dismantled on the ship and strengthened artillery weapons, returning the main guns of the main caliber No. 5 and No. 6 to their regular places, however, due to the preservation of the aircraft hangar, the No. 2 gun was not installed.
In general, it turned out very so-so, the displacement increased to 12 tons, the speed, respectively, dropped to 000 knots.
True, the Vindiktiv did not have to fight, after 1935 it was used on secondary roles as a training ship or transport.
To do this, dismantled the old weapons, putting two new 120-mm guns, aviation the hangar was converted into classrooms, and in the middle of the building they built a superstructure with living quarters for 200 cadets.
Boiler room No. 3 was eliminated, the aft chimney was dismantled. The power of the EC has dropped to 25 hp, speed - up to 000 knots.
In 1938, the ship was converted into a floating workshop and, as a result, in 1945 it was scrapped.
In general, if you estimate the volume of alterations - a cruiser - a cruiser-air transport - an aircraft carrier - a cruiser - a training ship - a floating workshop, then we can say with confidence that it would be worthwhile to simply build three ships of this class and not fool yourself.
However, cutting the budget is such a thing; advisers are useless there.
As for the other three cruisers, who managed not to fall under alterations, it was still sadder with them. At the 1930 London Conference, they were simply sentenced to death, like cruisers, with weapons over 155 mm, exceeding the British limit.
The first came under the distribution of Frobisher. The cruiser was laid down on August 2, 1916, launched on March 20, 1920, went into operation on September 20, 1924. It was named after the navigator Martin Frobisher.
The Frobisher didn’t even have time to serve as a warship, however, it was noted by the action to drown junks off the coast of China. Already in 1932 he was converted into a training ship. To begin with, they dismantled two (and then two more) 190-mm GK guns and removed surface torpedo tubes. In 1937, the cruiser was withdrawn to the reserve and only with the outbreak of war did they decide to make the cruiser again.
They did not begin to modernize, they simply returned the previous armament and in 1942 sent to Asia. There, the cruiser for two years carried the convoy and patrol service, after which he returned to Britain. He took part in the landing of troops in Normandy. First received a bomb, and then aviatorpedi. After the repair, he again became a training ship and served until 1947.
Hawkins. It was laid down on June 3, 1916, launched on October 1, 1917, and went into operation July 23, 1919. Named in honor of Admiral John Hawkins.
In 1919 he was sent to the Far East as part of the forces of the Chinese station as the flagship of the 5th squadron of light cruisers. He visited Japan and involuntarily became an occasion to work on the Furutaka, because the cruiser was impressed by the Japanese, and they wanted something better.
He served at various times in the Atlantic, then in the Indian Ocean, then since 1935 he was in reserve, they also wanted to make a training ship out of it, but the war started.
With the outbreak of war, the cruiser was busy for its intended purpose: it hunted German raiders in the South Atlantic. In 1944 he took part in the landing in Normandy. Then he was still a training ship, a target ship, and in 1947 it was finally disposed of.
Effingham. It was laid down on April 6, 1917, launched on June 8, 1921, went into operation July 2, 1925. Named in honor of Charles Howard, Lord Effingham.
He began military service in the Indian Ocean with the flagship of the 4th cruiser squadron. He served until 1932, when he handed over the "post" to Hawkins and went to the metropolis. He fell into the reserve, where he was until 1937, when he was converted into a light cruiser by replacing 190 mm guns with 152 mm.
From the beginning of the war, he carried out the naval blockade of Germany, as part of the Northern Patrol. The patrol included the old cruisers of the 7th and 12th cruising squadrons. Their tasks included patrolling the waters between the Shetland and Faroe Islands and between the Faroe Islands and Iceland, opposing attempts by German raiders to break into the Atlantic and intercepting German merchant ships returning to Germany.
It was a pretty intense job. During the first three weeks of the war, the patrol cruiser was stopped for inspection 108 ships, of which 28 were sent for a more detailed inspection in Kirkwall.
Further, Effingham participated in escorting convoys to the North Atlantic from Jamaica to Scapa Flow. Chased in the South Atlantic (fortunately, the range more than allowed) for raiders, including the "Admiral Count Spee." After the Atlantic, he was sent to the waters of Norway, where the Germans had just begun the invasion. There the cruiser came to the finals.
On May 17, 1940, together with the cruisers Cairo and Covertree and the destroyers Matabele and Echo, taking on board a battalion of the 24th Guards Brigade with equipment, weapons and the headquarters of the brigade, Effingham headed for Bodeau.
The British were very afraid of the Luftwaffe raids, which on the eve of the drowned transport "Hrobry", so they sent ships along the inner, poorly studied channel, which ran between the numerous islands.
At 23.00:18 p.m. on May 12, 20 miles from the purpose of the campaign, already having Bodeau within sight, the Effingham, which was walking at a XNUMX-knot speed, hit an underwater rock that was not marked on the maps. Following him, he jumped to the sandbank of the Matabele. The destroyer was soon able to steal into deep water, but the cruiser, due to the inability to remove it from the cliff in combat conditions, was doomed.
The ships of the detachment removed the crew and the soldiers on board from it, and then it was finished off by torpedoes from the same Matabele.
Not the most worthy ending.
What constituted a cruiser.
- normal: 9800 t,
- full: 12 190 t.
Length: 172,2 / 184,4 m.
Width: 17,7 m
Draft: 6,3 m.
- belt: 76 mm;
- traverses: 25 mm;
- deck: 37 mm;
- cellar: 25 mm;
- shields of guns GK: 51 mm.
Engines: 4 ТЗА Parsons or Brown Curtis, 60 000 - 65 000 l. from.
Speed: 29,5 - 30,5 knots.
Cruising range of 5400 nautical miles at 14 knots.
Crew 690 man.
Main caliber: 7 × 1 - 190 mm / 50.
Auxiliary caliber: 6 × 1 - 102 mm / 45.
4 × 1 - 76 mm / 45,
4 × 1 - 40 mm / 40.
Torpedo armament: four single-tube 533 mm torpedo tubes.
Armament data are given at the time of entry into service. As the cruiser was undergoing modernization, during which the armament changed.
The Frobisher in March 1942 received another fifth, 102-mm cannon in the utah between the main caliber fodder guns. The ship was equipped with four four-barreled installations of "pom-pom" MkVIII / MkVII. Plus, the cruiser had seven more single-barrel 20-mm Oerlikon 0.787 "/ L70 Mkll guns. The Hawkins received the same amount of Erlikons in May 1942.
In general, the British in the second half of the war clearly had such a tendency as a decrease in the barrels of conventional weapons in order to increase air defense. They were the first to understand with whom to fight first.
By the way, having tested such a system at the Hawkins, where the Frobisher had fewer guns, but much more air defense barrels than the Hawkins, the British naval leadership began to shoot one tower with 203-mm guns in cruisers of the County type for the sake of deployment anti-aircraft weapons.
They also installed radars. The Frobisher received the Type 286 airborne detection radar, Type 271 surface detection radar, Type 285 artillery radar antenna and Type 282 anti-aircraft radar. Later, the Hawkins received the same equipment.
Torpedo tubes were also dismantled, with the Hawkins losing only surface, and the Frobisher both surface and underwater.
By September 1944, when they were simultaneously put into reserve, and their conversion to training ships began, the number of Erlikons on the Hawkins cruiser reached nine, and on the Frobisher — 19.
The reservation was reliable enough for that time, however, by standards for light cruisers. The freeboard was protected by armor over almost the entire length of the hull, and below the waterline, the lower edge of the armor belt reached the level of constructive underwater protection covering machine and boiler rooms — a boule. Only small sections of the side at the ends remained unprotected, where the upper edge of the reservation ledges descended to the level of the main deck.
The appearance of the Hawkins type cruisers produced a less significant effect in the naval community than the birth of the Dreadnought, but it had no less effect, because it also led to the creation of a whole class of ships. Maybe less spectacular than the dreadnought, but no less (and in many cases more) effective.
A heavy (armed) cruiser as a raider hunter was a pretty good idea. Which was developed precisely because it was good initially. And all countries liked the heavy cruisers, especially those who could build, because some made very good money on this.
So the “Hawkins” can be safely called both the first and the ancestors, only in terms of service they were not very lucky. Although they found the initial period of World War II, unfortunately, they could not boast of any military achievements. Due to the fact that they have already become outdated.
Moreover, one ship was constantly in experimental alterations, and two stupidly died on the rocks. There is definitely no luck with the managers.
However, for the beginning of the 20s, and even in the 30s of the last century, these were just masterpieces. With very good weapons, with good speed, excellent range, and most importantly - with a mixed power plant, where you could burn everything from oil to parquet from the captain’s cabin. That is, for raider hunters where the supply is so-so - that’s it.
Another question is that before the war, progress spurred so that in general these good ships did not find a place in the forefront - well, this happens.
But in storieswithout even gaining any laurels in battles, the Hawkins will still remain as the first heavy cruisers. What was, was.