County class cruiser
Canberra passing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1930
Class overview Operators: Royal Navy
Royal Australian Navy
Succeeded by: York class Subclasses: Kent, London, Norfolk In commission: 1928 - 1959 Planned: 2 Completed: 13 Lost: 3 Retired: 10 General characteristics Kent class Type: Heavy cruiser Displacement: 10,400 tons average standard
14,150 tons average full load
Length: 590 ft (180 m) p/p
630 ft (190 m) (o/a)
Beam: 68 ft (21 m) across bulges Draught: 17.25 ft (5.26 m) standard
21.5 ft (6.6 m) full load
Propulsion: 8 × Admiralty three-drum boilers, Parsons (Brown-Curtis in Berwick) geared steam turbines on 4 shafts, 80,000 shp Speed: 31.5 knots (58.3 km/h; 36.2 mph) Range: 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
2,300 nautical miles (4,300 km; 2,600 mi) at 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Complement: 685 standard, 710 as flagship, 784 during wartime Armament:
- 8 x BL 8 inch (203 mm L/50) Mk.VIII guns in twin mounts Mk.I
- 4 x QF 4 inch (102 mm) L/45 Mk.V guns in single mounts HA Mk.III
- 8 x QF 2 pdr (40 mm) L/39 Mk.VIII guns in quad mounts HA Mk.VII (from 1925-)
- except Berwick; 16 in oct mounts Mk.VIII
- 8 x 0.5 inch (12.7 mm L/50) Mk.III machine guns in quad mounts Mk.I (from 1924-)
- 8 x 21 inch (533 mm) torpedoes in quad mounts (removed from 1935-)
Armour: Main belt:
- 4.5-inch (110 mm) with 1-inch (25 mm) closing bulkheads (Berwick, Cumberland, Suffolk, Kent & Cornwall only, from 1935-)
- 1.25-inch (32 mm) over machinery
- 1.5-inch (38 mm) over steering gear
- 1–4-inch (25–100 mm) sides
- 1-to-2.5-inch (25 to 63 mm) crowns
- 1-inch (25 mm) faces, sides, rears, crowns & barbettes
General characteristics London class Displacement: 9,840 tons standard average
13,315 tons full load
Length: 595 ft (181 m) p/p
632 ft 9 in (192.86 m) o/a
Beam: 66 ft (20 m) Draught: 17 ft (5.2 m) standard
21 ft 6 in (6.55 m)
Speed: 32.25 knots (59.73 km/h; 37.11 mph) Complement: 700 standard, 852 during war Armament:
- 8 x BL 8 inch (203 mm) L/50 Mk.VIII guns in twin mounts Mk.I*
- 4-8 x QF 4 inch (102 mm) L/45 Mk.V guns in single mounts HA Mk.III
- 4 x QF 2 pdr (40 mm) L/39 Mk.II guns in single mounts HA Mk.I
- 8 x 0.5 inch (12.7 mm) L/50 Mk.III machine guns in quad mounts Mk.I
- 8 x 21 inch (533 mm) torpedoes in quad mounts
Armour: Main belt:
- 3.5-inch (89 mm) with 1-inch (25 mm) closing bulkheads (London only, from 1938-)
Notes: Other characteristics as per Kent General characteristics Norfolk class Displacement: 10,400 tons standard
13,775 tons full load
Length: 595 ft 1 in (181.38 m) p/p
632 ft 9 in (192.86 m) o/a
Beam: 66 ft (20 m) Draught: 18 ft (5.5 m) standard
21 ft 6 in (6.55 m)
Complement: 710 standard, 819 during war Armament: Notes: Other characteristics as per London
The County class was a class of heavy cruisers built for the British 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 Conference 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 fifteen 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 World War II.
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, a 6-gun modified County design; the York class.
Design & development
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. This determined the need for a long hull and the use of 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 trialled 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 Mark V (102 mm, L/45) 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, particularly in light of the fastidiousness of the designers to stick to the letter of the treaty. Thus, the traditional side-belt of armour was dispensed with, and the 1 inch (25 mm) side plating afforded only splinter protection. A 1.25 inch (32 mm) protective deck covered the machinery spaced, and there were "box citadels" protecting the magazines and shell rooms; 2.5 inch (64 mm) crowns and 4 inch (102 mm) sides, closed by 2.5 inch bulkheads. The aft box citadel had slightly reduced thicknesses at the ends, and that amidships was thinned 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 forward bulkhead. The turrets and barbettes received only thin splinter plating, as did the compass platform. There were external bulges to provide torpedo protection.
Differences and modifications
The initial seven ships – HM Ships Berwick, Cornwall, Cumberland, Kent, and Suffolk and HMAS 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 (4.5 m) to clear the flue gasses from the aft superstructure. The Australian ships, Australia and Canberra had them raised a further 3 feet (0.9 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 of weights for the designers to work with; 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 inches thick, was added amidships, extending 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 pdr guns were removed and quadruple moutings, Mark VII, were added on either side of the bridge. The 4-inch 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, therefore was not given such an extensive modernisation. While she received the 4" armour belt and the double 4" 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 per her sisters, but the multiple 2 pounders and their directors were carried aft, by the lattice structure.
Naval historian H. Trevor Lenton estimates that despite the best attempts, none of these ships stayed truly within the treaty limits; Kents 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 (HMS Devonshire, London, Shropshire and Sussex), closely followed the design of the Kents. The external bulges were lost, reducing the beam by 2 feet, and the hull was lengthened by 2.75 feet, which translated into a ¾ knot increase in speed. To remedy the loss of bulge protection, instead there was a second skin of inner plating to provide the same effect. The bridge was moved aft to lessen the effects of blast from B turret when training 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 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 razed, and replaced by new fore and aft superstructures and two upright funnels modelled on the contemporary Crown Colony class. 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 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. London's modifications, with heavy weights added fore and aft, resulted in a severely overstressed hull, and 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, 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.
In the 1930s, the last three Londons underwent similar alterations as the Kents did, having their eight 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes removed, and one twin 8 inch (203 mm) turret removed, although London retained it. One ship, Shropshire, retained her "X" Turret as well as her Torpedoes 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. Orders for another two ships that had been deferred from the 1927-8 and 1928-9 programmes – Northumberland and Surrey – were never placed. This was due to a change in administration in 1929 that ushered in a minority Labour government under Ramsay Macdonald, which cancelled the ships as an economy measure and a gesture to the forthcoming London Naval Conference. They 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.
During the war, UP launchers were initially added, but 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. A refit in 1944 saw the Norfolk, by now a singleton in the class, lose her aircraft, catapult and X turret. 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.
Comparison of classes
Table of the classes Number built
(full load, knots)
Torpedoes Complement 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
- *: Post 1935 refit, not in Australia or Canberra
- **: Post 1938 rebuild, London only
Pennant Builder Laid down Launched Completed Fate Kent class Berwick 65 Fairfield Shipbuilding &
Engineering Company, Govan
15 September 1924 30 March 1926 15 February 1928 Sold for scrapping 1948 Cumberland 57 Vickers-Armstrongs, Barrow in Furness 18 October 1924 16 March 1926 21 January 1928 Sold for scrapping 1959 Suffolk 55 HM Dockyard, Portsmouth 30 September 1924 16 February 1926 31 May 1928 Sold for scrapping 1948 Kent 54 HM Dockyard, Chatham 15 November 1924 16 March 1926 22 June 1928 Sold for scrapping 1948 Cornwall 56 HM Dockyard, Devonport 9 October 1924 11 March 1926 10 May 1928 Bombed and sunk by Japanese aircraft south of Ceylon, 5 April 1942 Australia I84 John Brown & Company, Clydebank 9 June 1925 17 March 1927 24 April 1928 Sold for scrapping, 1955 Canberra I85 John Brown 9 September 1925 31 May 1927 10 July 1928 Shelled by Japanese ships off Savo Island 9 August 1942 and sunk by USS Ellet London class London 69 Portsmouth 23 February 1926 14 September 1927 31 January 1929 Sold for scrapping 1950 Devonshire 39 Devonport 16 March 1926 22 October 1927 18 March 1929 Sold for scrapping 1954 Shropshire 73 William Beardmore & Company, Dalmuir 24 February 1927 5 July 1928 12 September 1929 To RAN 1943, sold for scrapping 1954 Sussex 96 Hawthorn Leslie & Company, Hebburn 1 February 1927 22 February 1928 19 March 1929 Sold for scrapping, 1950 Norfolk class Dorsetshire 40 Portsmouth 21 September 1927 24 January 1929 30 September 1930 Bombed and sunk by Japanese aircraft south of Ceylon, 5 April 1942 Norfolk 78 Fairfields 8 July 1927 12 December 1928 1 May 1930 Sold for scrapping, 1950
The County class saw much service during the Second World War. HMS Norfolk and Suffolk were equipped with radar which was used to good advantage when they shadowed the 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, Dorsetshire, and Berwick fought gunnery actions (and received shell damage) from German Navy surface units, while Suffolk, and Sussex suffered bomb damage from Luftwaffe aircraft. A number of losses were suffered by the class; with Canberra being hit by naval gunfire at the Battle of Savo Island then scuttled by an American destroyer, and Cornwall and Dorsetshire both bombed and sunk by Japanese carrier borne aircraft during the Indian Ocean raid (1942).
The survivors were all decommissioned by the 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, sporting an enormous single funnel and an equally tall forward superstructure.
County class cruisers
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k British and Empire Warships of the Second World War, H. T. Lenton, Greenhill Books, ISBN 1-85367-277-7
- ^ a b c d e f Treaty Cruisers: The First International Warship Building Competition, Leo Marriot, 2005, Leo Cooper Ltd., ISBN 1-8441-5188-3
- ^ Naval Weapons of World War Two, John Campbell, Conway Maritime, 2002, ISBN 0-8517-7924-7
Kent class London class Norfolk classPreceded by: Hawkins class · Followed by: York class
List of cruiser classes of the Royal Navy
List of major warship classes of the Royal Australian NavyBritish naval ship classes of the Second World War
Aircraft carriers Escort carriers Battleships Battlecruisers Heavy cruisers Light cruisers Minelayers Destroyer leaders Destroyers Frigates Corvettes Sloops Minesweepers Submarines OtherA - American built • X - Cancelled • C - Completed after the war
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
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 GWR 1000 Class or County class of Great Western Railway locomotives, built 1945–1947… … Wikipedia
Canarias class cruiser — The Canarias class was a class of heavy cruiser of the Spanish Navy. Two ships of the class were completed in the 1930s. They were designed in the United Kingdom and were modified versions of the Royal Navy s County class cruiser. They were built … Wikipedia
Emerald class cruiser — The Emerald or E class was a class of two light cruisers built for the Royal Navy. Following the Cavendish Class, three ships of a new class were ordered in March 1918, towards the end of World War I, designed to emphasise high speed at the cost… … Wikipedia
Monmouth class cruiser — HMS Monmouth, on postcard Class overview Name: Monmouth Preceded by: Drake class cruiser … Wikipedia
C class cruiser — For the Royal Navy third class cruisers of the late nineteenth century, see C class corvette. HMS Capetown Class overview Name: C class cruiser … Wikipedia
Dido class cruiser — HMS Argonaut in wartime camouflage, November 1943 just after repairs at Philadelphia Navy yard Class overview Name: Dido Operators … Wikipedia
Danae class cruiser — HMS Delhi; note 5 /38 caliber guns fitted after refit Class overview Name: Danae Operators … Wikipedia
York class cruiser — The York class was the second and last class of convert|8|in|mm|0|sing=on gunned (heavy) cruisers built for the Royal Navy under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. The were essentially a reduced version of the preceding County… … Wikipedia
Devonshire class cruiser — Two classes of cruiser of the Royal Navy are known as the Devonshire class: The Devonshire class of six ships launched in 1903–1904. A subclass of four ships of the County class, launched in 1927–1928. This disambiguation page lists articles… … Wikipedia
Admiral Hipper class cruiser — The Admiral Hipper class was a series of five heavy cruisers of which three served with the Kriegsmarine of Germany in World War II, one was sold unfinished to the Soviet Union in 1939, and one was converted to an aircraft carrier but never… … Wikipedia