The County class was a class of heavy cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the years between the First and Second World Wars. They were the first post-war cruiser construction for the Royal Navy and were designed within the limits of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. Such ships, with a limit of 10,000 tons, standard displacement and 8-inch calibre main guns may be referred to as "treaty cruisers" (the term "heavy cruiser" was not defined until the London Naval Treaty of 1930).
The thirteen Counties were built in three distinct sub-classes: the Kent, London and Norfolk classes. They were the only 10,000-ton 8-inch gun, or "A", cruisers that the Royal Navy built. The Counties are remembered for their distinctive three-funnel layout and service in all the major naval theatres of the Second World War.
In an attempt to extract more ships from the treaty limits, the navy planned to construct 8,250-ton "B" ships, six of which could be built in place of five Counties. The extra ship that this afforded was an attractive proposition for a navy that had the immense peacetime commitments of empire. In the event, peacetime economies and politics intervened and only two B-type cruisers were built, an 8-inch gun modified County design: the York class.
In 1929, the mean cost of each "A" ship was estimated to be £2,180,000, whilst the mean cost of each "B" ship was estimated to be £1,800,000.
Australia in 1937
|Preceded by:||Hawkins class|
|Succeeded by:||York class|
|Subclasses:||Kent, London, Norfolk|
|General characteristics Kent class|
|Beam:||68 ft (21 m) across bulges|
|Propulsion:||8 × Admiralty three-drum boilers, Parsons (Brown-Curtis in Berwick) geared steam turbines on 4 shafts, 80,000 shp (60,000 kW)|
|Speed:||31.5 knots (58.3 km/h; 36.2 mph)|
|Complement:||685 standard, 710 as flagship, 784 during wartime|
|General characteristics London class|
|Beam:||66 ft (20 m)|
|Speed:||32.25 knots (59.73 km/h; 37.11 mph)|
|Complement:||700 standard, 852 during war|
|Notes:||Other characteristics as per Kent|
|General characteristics Norfolk class|
|Beam:||66 ft (20 m)|
|Complement:||710 standard, 819 during war|
|Notes:||Other characteristics as per London|
The 10,000-ton treaty cruisers were the first type of warships built to internationally agreed restrictions. These restrictions posed new engineering challenges and forced compromises upon designers in how to extract the best balance of speed, armament and protection. The United States Navy adopted a design with triple-gun turrets, allowing the hull to be shortened thus saving weight that could be put into protection. This approach, however, was at the expense of requiring increased installed power, as the speed of a ship is a function of the ratio of length to beam. The Royal Navy had a requirement for a vessel for colonial trade route defence, which required a good cruising range and speed and independent fighting power. This determined the need for a long hull and the use of four twin-gun turrets, with any remaining displacement invested in protection.
The design was conservative in nature, especially when compared to the contemporary Nelson-class battleships built to satisfy the same treaty. The long (630 feet overall) hull was flush decked and with a high freeboard, and was strongly built. This afforded high initial stability, which contributed to the protection scheme. The machinery spaces followed the traditional layout of boiler rooms ahead of engine rooms, separated by an amidships magazine. The two boiler rooms exhausted into four uptakes, the central pair being combined to form a thickened central funnel. The three-funnel design was handsome, but somewhat impractical in terms of utilisation of internal space.
As had been tested in the wartime cruiser HMS Emerald, whose completion had been delayed post-war, the Counties featured a new design of forward superstructure incorporating the navigating bridge, wheelhouse, signalling and compass platforms and gunnery director in a single block. This advance considerably rationalised the separate armoured conning tower and myriad of decks and platforms of older designs. Moving the fire-control equipment from the mast negated the need for a heavy tripod, and light pole masts sufficed for signalling yards and the spread of wireless antennae.
The guns, BL 8-inch Mark VIII (203 mm, L/50), were equally disposed in superfiring twin turrets fore and aft. The turret design was needlessly complicated by the original requirement that they should be capable of anti-aircraft fire and were thus provided with a maximum elevation of 70°, despite the inability to train and elevate sufficiently quickly to track aerial targets and the complete lack of a suitable fire control system.
Secondary armament consisted of four QF 4-inch (102 mm) (L/45) Mark V guns in single mounts HA Mk.III fed from the amidships magazine. There were quadruple-tube torpedo launchers, one each side, amidships. The single 4-inch Mk V guns were later replaced by Mk XVI guns in paired mountings. In a fruitless attempt to keep within treaty limits, the Mark XVI mounting was stripped down to reduce the weight, the result being the Mark XVII, an exercise described as "ridiculous punctiliousness". They were later converted back to standard Mark XVI mounts.
The initial design called for two octuple mountings for the QF 2-pounder Mk.VIII anti-aircraft autocannon, but as a weight-saving exercise these were not initially shipped, and the existing QF 2-pounder Mark II was carried in lieu on four single mounts. Space was provided for a rotating catapult and a crane for operating aircraft, although again these were initially not provided.
The initial design left little weight to distribute amongst protection. Thus, the traditional side-belt of armour was dispensed with, and the 1-inch (25 mm) side plating was sufficient to only give protection against shell splinters. A 1.25-inch (32 mm) protective deck covered the machinery spaces, and there were "box citadels" protecting the magazines and shell rooms; 2.5-inch (64 mm) crowns and 4-inch (100 mm) sides, closed by 2.5-inch bulkheads. The aft box citadel had slightly reduced thicknesses at the ends, and the citadel amidships had thinner armour as it lay within the confines of the armoured deck and side plating. There was a 1.5-inch (38 mm) arch over the steering gear closed by a 1-inch-thick forward bulkhead. The turrets and barbettes received only thin splinter plating, as did the compass platform. There were external bulges to provide torpedo protection.
The initial seven ships – Berwick, Cornwall, Cumberland, Kent, and Suffolk, built for the Royal Navy, and Australia and Canberra for the Royal Australian Navy – formed the Kent class. All were ordered in 1924 and commissioned in 1928. It was quickly found necessary to heighten the funnels by some 15 feet (4.6 m) to clear the flue gasses from the aft superstructure. The Australian ships, Australia and Canberra had them raised a further 3 feet (0.91 m). Between 1930 and 1933 the aircraft and catapult were added, as was a high-angle HACS director for the 4-inch guns. Kent received an additional pair of 4-inch guns in 1934, and she, Berwick and Cornwall each received a pair of QF 0.5-inch Vickers machine guns added abreast the fore funnel.
By the mid-1930s, the British Kents were due for modernisation. However, there was little surplus weight for the designers to work with while remaining within the Treaty requirements; they were between 150 and 250 tons under the treaty limits and it was estimated that a further 200-odd tons could be gained through various savings. A 6-foot-deep (1.8 m) armoured belt, 4.5-inch (110 mm) thick, was added amidships, extending down from the armoured deck to 1 foot below the waterline. Cumberland and Suffolk had the aft superstructure razed and replaced by a large hangar for two aircraft and a fixed athwartships catapult. A crane was fitted on either side of the after funnel, and the rear gunnery, navigation and control positions were relocated to the hangar roof. The single 2-pounder guns were removed, and quadruple mountings, Mark VII, were added on either side of the bridge. The 4-inch guns were relocated, and the rearmost pair were replaced by twin mountings Mark XIX for the QF 4-inch Mark XVI. To keep weight within acceptable margins, the hull was cut down by one deck aft of "Y" turret. Berwick and Cornwall were similarly converted, but with more weight in hand the hull was not cut down; all four 4-inch mounts were twins and the 2-pounder guns were octuple mounts. By 1939, the torpedo tubes had been removed in all four ships.
Kent had less weight available for improvements and therefore was not given such an extensive modernisation. While she received the 4-inch armour belt and the double 4-inch gun mounts like her sisters, she retained the rotating catapult and after superstructure, with an additional fire-control position mounted on a distinctive lattice structure aft. Her anti-aircraft armaments were improved as for her sisters, but the multiple 2-pounders and their directors were carried aft, by the lattice structure. The naval historian H. Trevor Lenton estimates that despite the best attempts, none of these ships stayed within the treaty limits; Kent's full load displacement was 14,197 tons, indicating a standard displacement of around 10,600 tons. Lenton expresses doubts whether the Admiralty ever informed the Government of these excesses, as with war imminent, "there were more pressing demands on their time".
The second group, the four ships of the London class (Devonshire, London, Shropshire and Sussex), closely followed the design of the Kents. The external bulges were not present, reducing the beam by 2 feet (0.61 m), and the hull was lengthened by 2 feet 9 inches (0.84 m); these changes translated into a 3⁄4-knot increase in speed. To remedy the loss of the bulge protection, there was a second skin of inner plating to provide the same effect. The bridge was moved aft to lessen the effects of muzzle blast from B turret when the guns were trained abaft the beam. They had heightened funnels as built. The aircraft and catapult had been fitted by 1932.
In all ships bar Sussex, four 4-inch guns were added in single mountings abreast the funnels. The single 2-pounder guns were removed, and two quadruple mounts for 0.5-inch Vickers machine guns were added. Shropshire acquired an additional anti-aircraft fire control director. Early in the war, the additional 4-inch guns were removed, and the original 4-inch guns altered to the Mark XVI twin mounts. The octuple 2-pounder guns that had originally been designed in were also finally added.
From 1938 to 1941, London received an altogether more comprehensive modernisation. Her upperworks were removed and replaced by new fore and aft superstructures and two upright funnels modelled on the contemporary Crown Colony-class cruisers. The forward superstructure block incorporated a large hangar opening onto an athwartships catapult between the superstructure blocks. There was a catapult on either side of the after funnel. The 4-inch anti-aircraft guns were replaced by twin mountings and relocated to the after superstructure, with the torpedoes a deck below. The 2-pounder guns were carried on the hangar roof and the multiple Vickers guns mounted, one each, on the roofs of "B" and "X" turrets. A 3.5-inch (89 mm) belt, 8 feet (2.4 m) deep, was added abreast the machinery spaces, extending up to the armoured deck. However, the hull had originally been carefully designed to reduce weight based on the initial arrangements. The modifications to London added heavy weights fore and aft and severely overstressed the hull. As a result cracks and loose rivets began to appear on the upper deck. The upper deck was reinforced, which caused the stress to be transmitted through the lower hull instead and cracks began to appear under the waterline. It took underwater reinforcements and refits extending into 1943 to remedy the situation.
The outbreak of war prevented what had ended up being a rather fruitless cosmetic rebuild being extended to the rest of her sisters, as had originally been intended. The remaining Londons thus never received side armouring or the improved aircraft complement.
During wartime refits, the last three Londons underwent similar alterations as the Kents did, having their eight 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes removed, and "X" 8-inch (203 mm) turret removed, although both London and Shropshire retained it. Shropshire, unlike her two un-converted sisters retained her torpedo armament, and was transferred to the Royal Australian Navy in early 1943 to replace Canberra.
The final pair of Counties – Norfolk and Dorsetshire – formed the Norfolk class. Another two ships that had been deferred from the 1927–1928 and 1928–1929 programmes – to have been named Northumberland and Surrey – were ordered on 15 May 1929, but suspended on 23 August and finally cancelled on 14 January 1930. This was due to the change in administration in 1929 that ushered in a minority Labour government under Ramsay MacDonald. The new government cancelled the ships as an economy measure and as a gesture to the forthcoming London Naval Conference.
The Norfolks were repeats of the Londons with minor alterations. The bridge and after superstructure were lowered. The 8-inch gun turrets were Mark II variants that were intended to offer weight savings, but ended up being heavier than the Mark I variant. The 4-inch guns were relocated forwards in order that they did not obstruct the catapult and aircraft which had been mounted lower down than in their predecessors. During 1937, the 4-inch guns were replaced by twins, octuple 2-pounders were added around the after superstructure and the single guns forward were removed. These improvements pushed the standard displacement over 10,400 tons.
The Surreys were a modified design, more heavily armoured but 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph) slower. [ADM 1/9301 10,000ton Cruiser: legend and design. 1929 and ADM 1/9306 "Y" design Cruiser: report and details. 1929]
During the war, UP rocket launchers were initially added, but they were later removed along with the Vickers guns. These were replaced by the altogether more useful 20 mm Oerlikon gun. An additional director for the 4-inch guns was added, and the pole masts were replaced by tripods to support the additional weight of masthead electronics. Dorsetshire was sunk in 1942, and so it was only Norfolk that underwent a refit in 1944, during which her aircraft, catapult and X turret were removed. This allowed four quadruple 2-pounder mounts and their directors and four single 40 mm Bofors guns to be added. An extra superstructure was added aft to carry barrage directors, fitted with radar Type 283, which finally allowed the main armament to serve in its intended anti-aircraft role.
(full load, knots)
|Kent||7 of 7||1924||630||68||31½||10,570||8 × 8-inch||4.5*||8||685|
|London||4 of 4||1925–1926||632¾||66||32¼||9,830||8 × 8-inch||3.5**||8||700|
|Norfolk||2 of 4||1926–1927||632¾||66||32¼||10,300||8 × 8-inch||n/a||8||725|
|York||2 of 5||1926–1928||575||58||31½||8,250||6 × 8-inch||3||6||623|
|Berwick||65||Fairfield Shipbuilding &
Engineering Company, Govan
|15 September 1924||30 March 1926||15 February 1928||Broken up at Blyth, 1948|
|Cumberland||57||Vickers-Armstrongs, Barrow in Furness||18 October 1924||16 March 1926||21 January 1928||Broken up at Newport, 1959|
|Suffolk||55||HM Dockyard Portsmouth||30 September 1924||16 February 1926||31 May 1928||Broken up at Newport, 1948|
|Kent||54||HM Dockyard Chatham||15 November 1924||16 March 1926||22 June 1928||Broken up at Troon, 1948|
|Cornwall||56||HM Dockyard Devonport||9 October 1924||11 March 1926||10 May 1928||Sunk by Japanese aircraft south of Ceylon, 5 April 1942|
|Royal Australian Navy|
|Australia||I84||John Brown & Company, Clydebank||9 June 1925||17 March 1927||24 April 1928||Broken up at Barrow-in-Furness, 1955|
|Canberra||I85||9 September 1925||31 May 1927||10 July 1928||Damaged at Battle of Savo Island 9 August 1942 and scuttled|
|London||69||HM Dockyard, Portsmouth||23 February 1926||14 September 1927||31 January 1929||Broken up at Barrow-in-Furness, 1950|
|Devonshire||39||HM Dockyard, Devonport||16 March 1926||22 October 1927||18 March 1929||Broken up at Newport, 1954|
|Sussex||96||Hawthorn Leslie & Company, Hebburn||1 February 1927||22 February 1928||19 March 1929||Broken up at Dalmuir, 1950|
|Shropshire||73||William Beardmore & Company, Dalmuir||24 February 1927||5 July 1928||12 September 1929||To RAN 1943|
Broken up at Troon, 1954
|Norfolk||78||Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company, Govan||8 July 1927||12 December 1928||1 May 1930||Broken up at Newport, 1950|
|Dorsetshire||40||HM Dockyard, Portsmouth||21 September 1927||24 January 1929||30 September 1930||Sunk by Japanese aircraft south of Ceylon, 5 April 1942|
|Surrey||N/A||HM Dockyard, Devonport||N/A||Cancelled 14 January 1930|
|Northumberland||N/A||HM Dockyard, Portsmouth|
The County class saw much service during the Second World War. Norfolk and Suffolk were equipped with radar which was used to good advantage when they shadowed the German battleship Bismarck during the RN's attempts to hunt her down after the sinking of HMS Hood.
The class saw service in nearly every theatre of the war. Norfolk, Suffolk, and Dorsetshire were involved in the pursuit of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. Berwick fought a gunnery action with the German cruiser Admiral Hipper, and Norfolk again fought German Navy surface units during Battle of the North Cape. Suffolk and Sussex suffered bomb damage from Luftwaffe aircraft, and both required substantial repairs. Three of the class were lost, with Canberra being hit by naval gunfire at the Battle of Savo Island then scuttled by a U.S. destroyer, and Cornwall and Dorsetshire both bombed and sunk by Japanese carrier-borne aircraft during the Indian Ocean raid.
The survivors began decommissioning in 1948, and were all decommissioned by the mid-1950s, except Cumberland, which was an armaments trials ship testing the automatic 6-inch and 3-inch guns that would be fitted to the Tiger class. She was scrapped in 1959.
Two ships based on the County class, Canarias and Baleares of the Canarias class, were designed in the UK and constructed in Spain by the Vickers-Armstrongs subsidiary Sociedad Española de Construcción Naval. Completed in the late 1930s for the Spanish Navy, they saw service during the Spanish Civil War. Although they shared a common hull, machinery and main armament, the Spanish ships had a notably different appearance, with an enormous single funnel – though Canarias received two funnels in a later refit – and an equally tall forward superstructure.
The Commander-in-Chief, The Nore was an operational commander of the Royal Navy. His subordinate units, establishments, and staff were sometimes informally known as the Nore Station or Nore Command.Convoy PQ 12
Convoy PQ 12 was an Arctic convoy sent from Great Britain by the Western Allies to aid the Soviet Union during World War II. It sailed in March 1942, reaching Murmansk despite a sortie against it by the German battleship Tirpitz.
All ships arrived safely.County class
County class may refer to:
County class destroyer, a post–World War II class of guided missile destroyers
County class cruiser, pre–World War II class of heavy cruiser
The County class of Great Western Railway locomotives, were both a class of 4-4-0 locomotives built between 1904 and 1912 and a class of 4-6-0 locomotives built between 1945 and 1947
Monmouth class cruiser of pre–World War I armoured cruisers, also known as County class
Talbot County class tank landing ship, a post–World War II class of landing ships
County-class patrol vessel, a class of patrol vessel operated by the Jamaican Coast GuardDavid Murray Anderson
Admiral Sir David Murray Anderson (11 April 1874 – 30 October 1936) was a British naval officer and governor. Anderson served in the Royal Navy from the age of 13 and served in many Colonial wars and was given various Empire postings, rising to the rank of admiral in 1931. He retired a year later and took up the posting as Governor of Newfoundland, where he also took up the role of Chairman of the Government following the suspension of self-government in the Dominion of Newfoundland. Leaving Newfoundland in 1935, he was appointed as Governor of New South Wales but served only briefly due to his ill health. He died while in office aged 62.Eustace Tennyson d'Eyncourt
Sir Eustace Henry William Tennyson d'Eyncourt, 1st Baronet (1 April 1868 – 1 February 1951) was a British naval architect and engineer. As Director of Naval Construction for the Royal Navy, 1912–1924, he was responsible for the design and construction of some of the most famous British warships. He was also chairman of the Landship Committee at the Admiralty, which was responsible for the design and production of the first military tanks to be used in warfare.Gloucester Cup
The Gloucester Cup is the common name for three awards of the Australian Defence Force. Formally referred to as the Duke of Gloucester Cup, the three awards are presented to the most efficient infantry battalion of the Australian Army, ship of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), and squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during the previous year. The awards were created by Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester in 1946, while he was serving as the Governor-General of Australia, and were first presented in 1947.HMAS Canberra
Three ships of the Royal Australian Navy have been named HMAS Canberra, for Canberra, the capital city of Australia.
HMAS Canberra (D33), a County-class cruiser launched in 1927 and sunk after the Battle of Savo Island in 1942
HMAS Canberra (FFG 02), an Adelaide-class guided missile frigate launched in 1978, decommissioned in 2005, and scuttled as a dive wreck in 2009
HMAS Canberra (L02), lead vessel of the Canberra-class landing helicopter docks, launched in 2011, and active as of 2016HMAS Canberra (D33)
HMAS Canberra (I33/D33), named after the Australian capital city of Canberra, was a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) heavy cruiser of the Kent sub-class of County-class cruisers. Constructed in Scotland during the mid-1920s, the ship was commissioned in 1928, and spent the first part of her career primarily operating in Australian waters, with some deployments to the China Station.
At the start of World War II, Canberra was initially used for patrols and convoy escort around Australia. In July 1940, she was reassigned as a convoy escort between Western Australia, Sri Lanka, and South Africa. During this deployment, which ended in mid-1941, Canberra was involved in the hunt for several German auxiliary cruisers. The cruiser resumed operations in Australian waters, but when Japan entered the war, she was quickly reassigned to convoy duties around New Guinea, interspersed with operations in Malaysian and Javanese waters. Canberra later joined Task Force 44, and was involved in the Guadalcanal Campaign and the Tulagi landings.
On 9 August 1942, Canberra was struck by the opening Japanese shots of the Battle of Savo Island, and was quickly damaged. Unable to propel herself, the cruiser was evacuated and sunk in Ironbottom Sound by two American destroyers. The United States Navy Baltimore-class cruiser USS Canberra was named in honour of the Australian ship, and is the only American warship named for either a foreign warship or a foreign capital city.HMS Shropshire
HMS Shropshire was a Royal Navy (RN) heavy cruiser of the London sub-class of County-class cruisers. She is the only warship to have been named after Shropshire, England. Completed in 1929, Shropshire served with the RN until 1942, when she was transferred to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) following the loss of sister ship HMAS Canberra. Commissioned as HMAS Shropshire, the ship remained in RAN service until 1949, and was sold for scrap in 1954.List of ship commissionings in 1927
The list of ship commissionings in 1927 includes a chronological list of all ships commissioned in 1927.List of ship commissionings in 1930
The list of ship commissionings in 1930 includes a chronological list of ships commissioned in 1930. In cases where no official commissioning ceremony was held, the date of service entry may be used instead.List of ship launches in 1926
The list of ship launches in 1926 includes a chronological list of ships launched in 1926.List of ship launches in 1927
The list of ship launches in 1927 includes a chronological list of some ships launched in 1927.List of ship launches in 1928
The list of ship launches in 1928 includes a chronological list of some ships launched in 1928.Order of battle for Convoy PQ 18
Convoy PQ 18 was the last of the PQ/QP series of arctic convoys during World War II, bound from US and British ports via Reykjavík to the Barents Sea and White Sea ports of the Soviet Union, particularly Murmansk and Archangel. The convoy sailed on 2 September 1942 and arrived three weeks later on 21 September 1942.
It was opposed by German sea and air forces based in occupied Norway.
The convoy comprised 40 merchant ships and 4 naval auxiliaries, plus contingents to and from Iceland (48 in all) and was defended by a close escort and a “Fighting Destroyer Escort”, as well as local escort forces, and two distant escort forces (74 warships in total).
These were supported by aircraft of the RAF based in the Soviet Union.
The German forces comprised a U-boat group, code-named "Ice Palace", of 12 U-Boats and a surface attack force of 8 warships, though in the event these were not engaged. These were assisted by the aircraft of Luftflotte 5.Pensacola-class cruiser
The Pensacola class was a class of United States Navy heavy cruiser, the first "treaty cruisers" designed under the limitations set by the Washington Naval Treaty, which limited cruisers to a maximum of 10,000 long tons (10,160 t) displacement and a maximum main battery caliber of 8-inch (203 mm).Richard Peek (admiral)
Vice Admiral Sir Richard Innes Peek (30 July 1914 – 28 August 2010) was a senior officer in the Royal Australian Navy, who served as First Naval Member of the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board from 1970 to 1973.Ship class
A ship class is a group of ships of a similar design. This is distinct from a ship type, which might reflect a similarity of tonnage or intended use. For example, USS Carl Vinson is a nuclear aircraft carrier (ship type) of the Nimitz class (ship class).
In the course of building a class of ships, design changes might be implemented. In such a case, the ships of different design might not be considered of the same class; each variation would either be its own class, or a subclass of the original class (see County-class cruiser for an example). If ships are built of a class whose production had been discontinued, a similar distinction might be made.
Ships in a class often have names linked by a common factor: e.g. Trafalgar-class submarines' names all begin with T (Turbulent, Tireless, Torbay); and Ticonderoga-class cruisers are named after American battles (Yorktown, Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, Anzio). Ships of the same class may be referred to as sister ships.
|Light aircraft carriers|