At the beginning of the First World War United States started a wide program for constructing destroyers. These units were characteristic due to their
flush deck and four-stack design, which earned the class as a whole the names Flush Deck or Four Stack. The class was integrated by three groups or
subclasses denominated Caldwell, Wickes and Clemson, built in this chronological order. These were largely experimental ships, with variations between
groups and individual units. Around 1922 all the ships had been completed; the war had ended and United States suddenly possessed a
large number of new units that would be soon rendered obsolete by the intense investigations that were being carried by other nations
following the experience acquired during the war.
In September 1940 a good number of these destroyers was delivered to Great Britain in exchange of bases, becoming members of the British Town class. In December 1941,
of the 273 initial ships, 102 had been already scrapped, 50 adapted to other roles and another 50 were those transferred to Great Britain. Seventeen were lost during
the war and the rest scrapped during the two years following the end of the conflict. None survived to remember those ships that were a vital element
for the resistance of England during the worst days of the war in the Atlantic.
The upper illustration shows the general appearance of these ships and the lower illustration shows the HMS Campbeltown, initially the "Four Stacker"
Buchanan (DD-131), as she was modified in March 1942 to resemble a German torpedo boat from the Mowe class, in occassion of the raid at Saint Nazaire. This
ship, surely the most famous of the whole class, was fitted with explosives and a timer fuze and rammed against a floodgate on the dock. The raid
was not fully successful and the fuze took more time than expected to activate the explosives, but this was precisely the disgrace of those that
ventured to approach and even enter the ship after the raid were neutralized; not less than 150 personnel died with the explosion and the dock remained
out of operation until the mid 1950s.
Flush Deck class: 273 units - Caldwell class (6 units), Wickes class (111 units from DD-75 to DD-185),
Clemson class (156 units from DD-186 to DD-347)
Length: 96.16 meters (Caldwell); 95.82 meters (Wickes and Clemson)
Beam: 9.53 meters (Caldwell); 9.43 meters (Wickes and Clemson)
Draught: 2.4 meters (Caldwell); 2.74 meters (Wickes); 2.84 meters (Clemson)
Displacement (normal): 1143 tonnes (Caldwell); 1172-1210 tonnes (Wickes); 1230-1234 tonnes (Clemson)
Propulsion (Caldwell): 2-3 x shaft, 2-3 x steam turbine Parsons, 4 x boiler Normand/Babcock and Wilcox, 18500-20000 horsepower
Propulsion (Wickes): 2 x shaft, 2 x steam turbine Westinghouse, 4 x boiler Yarrow/Thornycroft/White-Forster, 26000-27000 horsepower
Propulsion (Clemson): 2 x shaft, 2 x steam turbine Curtis, 4 x boiler Yarrow/Thornycroft/White-Forster, 27000 horsepower
Speed: 30-32 knots (55.5-59.2 kilometers/hour) (Caldwell); 35 knots (64.8 kilometers/hour) (Wickes and Clemson)
Range: 4900 nautical miles (9074 kilometers) at 15 knots (Clemson)
Armament: 4 x 102-millimeter 50-caliber cannon, 1 x 76-millimeter 23-caliber cannon, 12 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube
Armament (HMS Campbeltown in March 1942): 1 x 76.2-millimeter 40-caliber cannon, 8 x 20-millimeter cannon, 4.5 tonnes of explosive formed by 24 x Mk VII depth charge