Our today's история - a history of not giving a damn about all these treaties, Washington and London combined, which, however, gave birth to very, very good ships.
It will be about the Southampton-class cruisers. Five light cruisers of this type were built, and they plowed the war, as they say, "from bell to bell." And four out of five ended the war. And after the war they served in full, and the last, the most famous, perhaps, "Sheffield", was dismantled for metal in 1968. However - the career was successful ...
So, "Southamptons" - this is the first series of ships of the "Town" class, which rushed to design, after learning that the insidious Japanese built "Mogami".
15 barrels of 155-mm - and the British realized that if they had to (but had to in the end!) Collide somewhere in the area of the colonies, then the British light cruisers of the "Linder" class with their 8 152-mm guns simply would not have a chance ... I don’t even want to remember the "Aretyuzas" with their six 152-mm guns.
In general, a defender was urgently needed. Because intelligence reported that the Japanese were going to build a dozen ships of the Mogami class, respectively, the British needed to have two dozen (or even more) of the same Linders in order to somehow resist.
Britain could not afford that many cruisers, despite the fact that they had a large number of colonies in the region where Japan was salivating and would still have to protect them.
In general, no matter how much the Lords of the Admiralty would like to build cheap "Aretyuses", alas, they had to strain both the budget and the designers. Because 35 knots on which the Mogami and its 15 155-mm barrels could go was very unpleasant to understand. The lords understood, the admirals howled and demanded money for ships. The plans were revised on the go. When necessary, the British forgot about conservatism and began to tear and throw.
Actually, this is how empires were built. And in empires, cruisers and battleships were built to protect the interests of empires.
And in 1933 Great Britain rushed to develop a cruiser with 12 152-mm guns. Vertical armor was supposed to hold 152-mm shells at all distances, horizontal protection of the cellars - up to 105 cables, protection of the power plant - up to 80 cables.
It was also believed that a good cruiser must carry a squadron (okay, half) of seaplanes. 3 to 5 pieces.
The cruising range had to be no less than that of the "Linder", otherwise there was no point at all to fence the garden, but the speed was allowed to be reduced - 30 knots.
Everything looks strange with speed. If we are talking about the fact that the new cruisers were supposed to oppose the Mogami, then as if for this they should have been able to do two things:
- catch up with "Mogami" if necessary;
- if necessary, get away from the same "Mogami".
How to do this with a difference of 5 knots is not clear, to put it mildly.
Nevertheless, the work began. In order not to waste time on development "from scratch", it was decided to take the cruiser "Amfion" as a basis. This is an improved version of the Linder, which could be expanded without much effort to install three-gun turrets instead of the standard two-gun turrets.
As a result of the work, a project of a cruiser was obtained, which was armed with 4 x 3 152-mm guns, 3 x 2 102-mm anti-aircraft guns, 3 x 4 12,7-mm machine guns, 2 x 3 533-mm torpedo tubes and from 3 to 5 aircraft ...
Reservation consisted of a 127-mm belt, a 31-mm deck above the power plant and a 51-mm above the ammunition cellars. Standard displacement ranged from 7 to 800 tons, speed - from 8 to 835 knots.
In total, four projects were submitted, which did not differ much from each other. With the exception of the number of aircraft deployed on the ship and the auxiliary caliber guns, all four designs met the requirements set by the Admiralty. The most difficult option was taken as a basis.
As a result, the Admiralty came to the conclusion that 32 knots is the minimum minimum that a cruiser should have. Better still.
In addition, as soon as the project was approved, rework began. First, the number of aircraft was reduced to three. The rotary catapult was replaced with a fixed one, which was located across the deck. We decided that it would be easier to turn the cruiser, but save weight.
It was decided to strengthen the anti-aircraft armament with two quadruple 40-mm pom-pom mounts, another twin 102-mm gun mount, and a second anti-aircraft director for control.
The displacement is expected to have increased to 9 tons. Already not quite a light cruiser, but also not a heavy one, which started from 110 tons. But everything was ahead ...
In 1934, construction began on the first two ships, which were given the names "Minotaur" and "Polyphemus". However, after a while, the Admiralty decided to give the entire series names in honor of British cities, and these ships were renamed Southampton and Newcastle. The next three cruisers were named Sheffield, Glasgow and Birmingham.
During the construction of the ships, slight changes were made to the design, such as an increase in fuel tanks, the installation of a third anti-aircraft director. However, the ships entered service even with a slight underload in displacement.
The real displacement of the Southampton was 9090 tons, Newcastle - 9083 tons, Sheffield - 9070 tons, Glasgow - 9020 tons, Birmingham - 9394 tons.
This provided a very good opportunity for maneuvering the armament and equipment of ships.
This primarily affected the booking. Compared to the Amfion, it was increased. Increased the length and thickness of the armor belt. Now the armored belt covered not only the power plant and artillery cellars, but also the anti-aircraft artillery ammunition cellars. The central post was also protected.
A belt of 114-mm cemented armor dropped 0,91 m below the waterline, and reached the main deck in height. The belt was closed with a 63-mm traverse, and a 32-mm armored deck was superimposed on top, which went from the cellars of tower A to the tiller compartment.
The artillery cellars looked like a box with a 114-mm-thick wall.
Towers and barbets were a weak point, as their armor was only 25 mm thick.
For the rest, the cruisers could be considered completely protected ships. The total weight of the armor was 1431 tons, or 15,7% of the standard displacement.
The power plant consisted of standard boilers and TZA of the Admiralty type, with a total capacity of 78 hp. On trials, Southampton reached a speed of 600 knots, and with a full load of 33 tons, 10 knots.
The volume of the fuel tanks made it possible to take 2 tons of oil and travel 060 miles on this quantity at a speed of 7 knots.
The crew consisted of 748 people, the number on the flagship was 796 people.
Southampton became the first British cruiser to be fitted with the new three-gun turret mounts Mk.XXII, albeit with the old 152mm / 50 Mk.XXIII guns. They had a high degree of automation, which in theory provided a very decent rate of fire of 12 rounds per minute. In fact, the combat rate of fire was no more than 6 rounds per minute.
The maximum elevation angle of the barrels was 45 degrees, which provided a firing range of 23,2 km. The initial velocity of the projectile is 841 m / s, armor penetration at a distance of 11 km - 76 mm of armor, at a distance of 20 km - 51 mm.
A noticeable feature of all British three-gun turrets, including on subsequent cruisers, was the shift of the middle barrel by 76 cm back. This was done in order to eliminate the mutual influence of muzzle gases during a salvo and to prevent the dispersion of shells when fired.
The long-range anti-aircraft artillery was exactly the same as on the cruisers of the previous series, that is, eight 102-mm Mk.XVI guns in four twin Mk.XIX mounts.
The combat rate of fire of these guns is 15-20 rounds per minute, the muzzle velocity is 811 m / s, the firing range at an elevation angle of 45 degrees is 18,15 km, and at an elevation angle of 80 degrees - 11,89 km.
Melee anti-aircraft artillery in the form of two 40-mm Vicker Mk VII quad assault rifles mounted on the roofs of aircraft hangars on light cruisers appeared for the first time.
40-mm QF 2 pdr Mk VIII guns fired at a range of 347 to 4,57 km, depending on the type of ammunition.
The initial flight speed of the projectile ranged from 585 to 700 m / s, vertical guidance angles from
-10 to +80 degrees.
12,7 mm Vickers machine guns in quad mounts
Mine torpedo armament
Two three-pipe 533-mm torpedo tubes were located on the upper deck between 102-mm mounts.
The cruisers were equipped with D-IH-type transverse deck catapults and could receive up to three Supermarine Walrus seaplanes (two for hangars, one for a catapult), but most often only two were taken at sea.
Naturally, as soon as the ships entered service, the cruiser modernization programs began.
Southampton received a Type 1940 radar in May 279.
"Newcastle". It turned out interesting. First, in May 1940, two 20-barrel launchers of unguided rockets UP were mounted on the cruiser. In May 1941, the ship received a type 286 radar. In November 1941, rocket launchers, quad 12,7-mm machine guns, a type 286 radar were removed from the cruiser. Instead, they installed 5 single-barrel 20-mm Oerlikon assault rifles and two radars, type 273 and type 291 ...
At the end of 1942, the catapult, hangars and aircraft were removed from the cruiser, aviation and radar type 291 were removed. Instead, 10 single-barreled 20-mm Oerlikon assault rifles and radars of types 281, 282, 284 and 285 were installed. In September 1943, 6 20-mm assault rifles were replaced by 4 paired installations of 20-mm machine guns of the same Oerlikon.
"Sheffield" already in August 1938 was equipped with an experimental prototype radar type 79Y. The ability to use the radar was very useful to the crew in the ensuing war.
In September 1941, instead of 12,7-mm machine guns, they installed 6 single-barreled 20-mm Oerlikon assault rifles and radar types 284 and 285. In mid-1942, the radar type 279 was replaced with a whole set of radars: types 281, 282, 283 and 273. In the spring of 1943 installed another 8 single-barreled 20-mm machine guns.
In January 1944, all aviation equipment was dismantled from Sheffield and 8 more Oerlikon assault rifles were installed in its place. During the overhaul in 1944-45, one artillery turret was removed from the cruiser and 4 quad 40-mm installations from Bofors were installed in its place, and 15 single-barreled 20-mm Oerlikons were replaced with 10 twin installations of the same company. The radar type 273 was replaced with a newer type 277.
"Glasgow" in July 1940 received a type 286 radar and two 20-barrel NUR UP installations. In the summer of 1941, the rocket launchers were removed. In the summer of 1942, 12,7-mm machine guns and type 286 radars were removed, instead of them, 9 single-barreled 20-mm Oerlikon assault rifles and radars of types 281, 282, 284, 285 and 273 were installed. In December of the same year, 5 single-barreled 20-mm machines were replaced by 8 paired installations.
In October 1943, 2 more single-barreled 20-mm assault rifles were added, by the end of 1944 - four more. During the overhaul in 1944-45, the main engine turret, aviation equipment, 2 paired and 4 single-barreled 20-mm assault rifles, radar types 281, 284, 273 were dismantled. Instead of this equipment, 2 quadruple and 4 single-barreled 40-mm Bofors assault rifles were installed and radar types 281b, 294, 274.
Birmingham received one UP 1940-barreled rocket launcher in June 20, which was dismantled in July 1941. In March 1942, instead of 12,7-mm machine guns, 7 single-barreled 20-mm "Erlikons" and radars of types 291 and 284 were installed. In the summer of 1943, aviation equipment was dismantled, 5 single-barreled machine guns were replaced with 8 twin 20-mm installations, and radar type 291 replaced by radars types 281b and 273.
At the end of 1944 the turret was removed, 4 quad 40-mm Bofors mounts, 2 twin and 7 single-barreled 20-mm assault rifles were installed.
It is logical that the total displacement of the cruisers by the end of the war had increased to 12 - 190 tons. For comparison, the Hawkins-class heavy cruiser had a displacement of 12 tons. Yes, the difference between the old heavy cruiser and the new light cruiser was not very significant, despite all the limitations.
At the beginning of the war, he took part in search operations in the Atlantic, together with the destroyers Jervis and Jersey he sank the German steamer Melkenbur.
He took part in the Norwegian operation, covered the actions of the destroyers, was hit by a 500-kg bomb, which did no harm and came under attack by a German submarine, but the torpedoes did not explode due to a defect.
He was transferred to the Mediterranean, where he covered convoys to Africa and Malta. Participated in the battle at Spartivento. For a short time he was transferred to the anti-raider forces in the Indian Ocean. Then he returned to the Mediterranean Sea.
January 11, 1941 Southampton in convoy ME6. 220 miles east of the Sicilian coast, the convoy was attacked by 12 Ju.87.
Six planes attacked Southampton, getting two hits of 500-kg bombs. "Southampton" was badly damaged, it raged on fires, which immediately got out of control. It was decided to leave the ship and sink it, which was done by the cruiser Orion.
At the beginning of the war, he performed assignments in the Atlantic and North Sea. I was looking for German blockade breakers and raiders.
In November 1940 he was transferred to the Mediterranean Sea, took part in the battle at Spartivento.
In December, he operated in the South Atlantic, looking for German blockade-breakers and raiders. In 1942 he conducted convoys in the Indian Ocean.
In June 1942, while in the Mediterranean, he was seriously damaged by a torpedo from a German torpedo boat. After repairs, in 1943, he was transferred to the Indian Ocean, where he operated against Japan until the end of the war.
Probably the most active of the British light cruisers. 12 stars for successful combat operations is an indicator that the cruiser was good and the crew matched her.
Throughout 1939, the cruiser operated in the North Sea and Atlantic, looking for German raiders and transports.
He took part in landing operations in Norway, covered landings and evacuated troops.
He was transferred to the Mediterranean Sea, where he covered the Maltese convoys as part of Compound H. Took part in the battle at Spartivento. He intercepted Vichy convoys, hunted for the "Admiral Hipper", who drove British convoys in the Atlantic.
Participated in the search and battle with the battleship Bismarck. After the battle, while patrolling his sector, the German submarine supply tanker "Fredriche Breme" sank and sank.
Until November 1941, the cruiser operated in the North Atlantic, after which she was assigned to the covering forces for North Atlantic convoys. Until January 1943 he took part in 11 convoys.
Participant in the "New Year's Battle" in the Barents Sea. It was the artillerymen of Sheffidla and Jamaica who sank the destroyer Friedrich Eckholdt and threw the Admiral Hipper on the full program.
In 1943, he was briefly transferred to the Mediterranean, where he covered the landing of American troops in Sicily and in Italy itself.
Then he was again transferred to the North and took part in escorting convoys and the battle at North Cape. Received a salvo from the Scharnhorst that damaged the engines. But in the end, the Scharnhorst was sunk.
Then he performed various tasks off the coast of Norway.
Few ships in the British navy can boast participation in such operations as the cruiser "Sheffield". And escorting 13 convoys is a very significant help.
Not as rich in awards as its predecessor, but 4 stars for successful operations is also not bad.
At the beginning of the war, until the end of 1939, he patrolled the North Sea.
In 1940 he took part in the Norwegian operation. He covered the landing of troops, evacuated, took out part of Norway's gold reserves to Great Britain, and evacuated the royal family of Norway.
In 1941 he was transferred to the Mediterranean. He covered British aircraft carriers during the raid on Taranto. On December 3, he received two torpedoes from Italian aircraft and stood up for repairs.
After repairs, he was transferred to the Indian Ocean, where he led convoys and hunted for German raiders. Found "Admiral Scheer" who was pirating but was unable to maintain contact due to lack of fuel.
Was transferred back to the metropolis. Took part in the battle in the Bay of Biscay on December 28, 1943. Two cruisers, "Glasgow" and "Enterprise", clashed in battle with 5 German destroyers and 6 destroyers. As a result, 1 destroyer and 2 destroyers were sunk.
Took part in the landing of allied troops in Normandy. He was damaged in a battle with German coastal batteries, after repairs until the end of the war he operated in the Indian Ocean.
He met the beginning of the war in Singapore and until 1940 carried out assignments in the Indian Ocean.
In 1940 he was transferred to participate in the Norwegian operation.
In 1941 he took part in operations in the Mediterranean. He was again transferred to the Indian Ocean, where until mid-1943 he performed various tasks.
On November 27, 1943, the cruiser arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean, and on November 28, off the coast of Cyrenaica, she received a torpedo from the German submarine U-407. As a result of the hit, 29 people died, the cruiser's bow cellars were flooded, the ship got a trim of 8 degrees, and its speed dropped to 20 knots. The renovation continued until April 1944.
In 1944 he took part in operations near Norway, after which he was again transferred to the Indian Ocean, where he met the end of the war.
The active and fruitful service of the Southampton-class cruisers as the workhorses of the British navy shows that in reality they have turned out to be very balanced, strong and tenacious ships. With a very decent potential for further development.
Yes, these cruisers were light only in terms of armament, which did not prevent them from going out on opponents that surpassed them in all respects. The best example of this is the battle in the Bay of Biscay, where against 17 152-mm guns and 22 British cruisers torpedo tubes there were 20 150-mm guns and 24 105-mm guns, plus 64 torpedo tubes from German ships. Yes, destroyers and torpedo boats did not hold the shells of the 152mm British guns, but both sides had a chance.
The huge distances that the ships could cover made it possible to transfer them from one ocean to another in order to complete tasks.
In general, they turned out to be very good cruisers.