:: TOWN CLASS (1936-1938) ::

HMS Sheffield light cruiser (1936) High resolution picture

HMS Manchester light cruiser (1937) High resolution picture

The cruisers of the Town class, launched between 1936 and 1938, were the British equivalent to the Japanese cruisers of the Mogami class. The project had triple turrets able to withstand the impact of 152-millimeter projectiles at normal combat distances, as well as a catapult and hangar for two aircraft. To achieve a reasonable speed the armor thickness was reduced in respect of the initial project, and the masts and funnels were inclined backwards to direct the smoke away from the bridge. This one had a rounded shape on its front to save weight. The result was a powerful and well balanced design with a well disposed antiaircraft battery and extended armored protection.

These cruisers were able to compete with the largest part of the cruisers armed with 203-millimeter cannons built under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, and the intention was that the higher rate of fire of their 152-millimeter cannons could overwhelm their opponents, more poorly armed overall except for the extreme distances. The central cannon in the triple turrets was moved backward to avoid the collision of the projectiles while on their trajectory.

The Town class was built in three groups or types. The second group differed from the first one mainly in the installation of an additional high angle director to improve antiaircraft fire control. The war experience, specially in the Mediterranean, demonstrated that the number of high angle directors, and hence the number of targets that could be hit simultaneously by controlled fire, was much more important than the number of antiaircraft cannons.

A large opinion group, either inside or outside the Admiralty, considered mistakenly that the types I and II of the class were inferior to the Japanese Mogami class or the American Brooklyn class because they had less 152-millimeter pieces. The war experience would prove again that while the disparity in the armament was not so large other factors such as the fire control and the protection resulted more significant than the number of cannons. The ships of the Town class suffered considerable modifications during their lifespan. The turret X was removed from all the units that survived the war except the HMS Belfast, the antiaircraft armament was improved and a radar device was installed.

During the war all of them performed a notable service. The HMS Belfast took part in the sinking of the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst and years later in the Korean War, becoming finally a museum ship. The HMS Manchester, shown in the lower picture, was torpedoed and sunk in August 1942 by Italian torpedo craft. The HMS Southampton, HMS Gloucester and HMS Edinburgh were lost as well during the war. The HMS Sheffield is shown in the upper picture as she was after the modifications made in 1949-1951; note the suppressed aft turret. She was the last unit of the class scrapped, in 1967.

Town class: Type I (5 units - Birmingham, Glasgow, Newcastle, Sheffield, Southampton) Type II (3 units - Gloucester, Liverpool, Manchester) Type III (2 units - Belfast, Edinburgh)

Type: Light cruiser

Length: 180.6 meters in Type I and Type II; 187 meters in Type III

Beam: 18.9 meters in Type I; 19 meters in Type II; 21 meters in Type III

Draught: 5.2 meters in Type I; 5.3 meters in Type II; 5.8 meters in Type III

Displacement (standard): 9246 tonnes in Type I; 9544 tonnes in Type II; 10719 tonnes in Type III

Propulsion (Type I as built): 4 x shaft, 4 x steam turbine Parsons, 4 x boiler Admiralty, 75000 horsepower

Propulsion (Type II as built): 4 x shaft, 4 x steam turbine Parsons, 4 x boiler Admiralty, 82500 horsepower

Propulsion (Type III as built): 4 x shaft, 4 x steam turbine Parsons, 4 x boiler Admiralty, 80000 horsepower

Speed: 32 knots (59.2 kilometers/hour) in Type I and Type III; 32.5 knots (60.2 kilometers/hour) in Type II

Range: 7000 nautical miles (12964 kilometers) at 16 knots in Type I and Type II; 10000 nautical miles (18520 kilometers) at 16 knots in Type III

Complement: 700 in Type I and Type II; 850 in Type III

Armament (Type I and Type II as built): 12 x 152-millimeter 50-caliber cannon, 8 x 102-millimeter 45-caliber cannon, 8 x 40-millimeter cannon, 8 x 12.7-millimeter machine gun, 6 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube, 2 x aircraft

Armament (Type III as built): 12 x 152-millimeter 50-caliber cannon, 12 x 102-millimeter 45-caliber cannon, 16 x 40-millimeter cannon, 8 x 12.7-millimeter machine gun, 6 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube, 2 x aircraft

Armor (Type I and Type II as built): 76-102 millimeters in belt, 51 millimeters in deck, 25-51 millimeters in main turrets

Armor (Type III as built): 114 millimeters in belt, 51 millimeters in deck, 25-63 millimeters in main turrets



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