Preface to the comments in the previous article.
Next in line we have British light cruisers of the Leander class.
In Russian transcription, for some reason, the type was voiced as "Linder", but if you look into the legends and myths of Ancient Greece, then the character Λέανδρος in translation was named Leander. There was such a waterfowl sex maniac-loser.
After the end of the First World War, having rested and shared the fruits of victory, the British seriously thought about modernizing the fleet.
It cannot be said that Britain had a shortage of light cruisers. There were enough ships. However, after the First World War, it became clear that the cruisers of the Danae and Caledon class, of course, still serve, the only question is how effective. Older, pre-war buildings - and at all sadness.
I repeat, the British had enough ships, it was not difficult to keep the colonies in check. And therefore, for new projects, designers were imprisoned only in 1928, when the curse of the Washington Naval Treaty had already collapsed on the decks.
No wonder they took the Washington freaks, the "light heavy" Exeter and York, as the basis. And on the basis of their projects, they created a new ship, a light cruiser, a series of which traditionally received names in honor of mythological heroes.
By the way, if you're interested, check out the story of Leandre himself. I would not be very willing to serve on such a ship … "What do you call a yacht …"
5 units were built Leandrov. Leander, Orion, Achilles, Ajax and Neptune. It is not entirely logical with Neptune, it is still the Greek Poseidon in Roman mythology. And, by the way, the only one who didn’t go to bed, but died in a minefield. "Greeks" quite normally served up to the natural dismantling for metal.
What is Leander in British ship history? This is the beginning of a long and spectacular journey. The cruiser, which became the first ship of a really new type.
First of all, "Leandras" became the first cruisers of modern design with multi-barrel turret artillery of the main caliber and aviation weapons, which were included in the project.
The main emphasis in the design of "Leandrov" was placed not on the power of weapons or the achievement of high speed, but on increasing seaworthiness and cruising range.
The designers tried to make the cruiser a stable artillery platform, and they succeeded. "Leandras" generally looked more like escort cruisers and work in subunits consisting of ships of different classes.
And there was one more installation from the Admiralty. Two new light cruisers were supposed to successfully resist any one (even heavy) enemy cruiser. By the way, during the war, this approach was fully justified during operations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The British Navy, according to calculations made after the First World War, needed 75 cruisers. 45 for the protection of sea routes of trade and supply, 15 - for the defense of the coast of Britain itself, 15 - for operations in the Pacific Ocean.
Although the empire was still strong, the sunset was not far off. Especially in terms of finance. Therefore, the first steps in the creation of a new cruising fleet were "light-heavy" cruisers of the Exeter class, which turned out to be even smaller than the pure "Washington" cruisers and "Leandra", which became smaller versions of the Exeter.
In general - cheaper and more.
Paradoxically, Leander became a kind of ideal solution to the topic of "How to get out of the Washington agreements."He had almost everything he needed for a ship designed to carry out tasks such as patrolling, escorting, and guarding.
The British managed to increase the power of the power plant, modify the booking and aircraft armament.
The armor was supposed to protect against 120-mm shells from destroyers at a distance of over 35 cables, and from 152-mm shells of cruisers and battleships - at distances from 50 to 80 cables.
For the autonomy of actions on communications, a second aircraft was added and the catapult was reinforced for the float reconnaissance biplane "Fairy IMF".
A novelty in air defense systems were the quadruple 12, 7-mm anti-aircraft machine guns "Vickers" Mk. III. It was assumed that long-range air defense against torpedo bombers and bombers would be provided by 102-mm guns, and machine guns would successfully work against attack aircraft and dive bombers.
The performance characteristics of the ships were as follows:
Standard: 6985-7270 t, full: 8904-9189 t.
Length 159, 1/169 m. Width 16, 8-17 m. Draft 5, 8-6 m.
Engines. 4 TZA Parsons, 72,000 liters. with.
Travel speed 32.5 knots.
The cruising range is 5,730 nautical miles at 13 knots.
The crew is 570 people.
Main caliber: 4 × 2 - 152 mm / 50 Mk XXIII.
Secondary caliber: 4 × 2 - 102 mm / 45.
Anti-aircraft artillery: 3 × 4 machine guns "Vickers" 12, 7-mm.
Mine-torpedo armament: 2 × 4 torpedo tubes 533 mm.
Aviation group: 1 catapult, 1 seaplane.
- belt: 76 mm;
- traverse: 32 mm;
- deck: 32 mm;
- cellars: up to 89 mm;
- towers: 25 mm;
- barbets: 25 mm.
Of course, with the outbreak of World War II, the composition of weapons began to change.
"Leander" in June 1941 parted with the catapult, instead of which they installed a 40-mm quadruple anti-aircraft machine gun from "Vickers". Then the catapult was returned, but 5 20-mm guns from the Erlikon were shoved into the ship. In mid-1942, a radar was installed on the ship, and at the beginning of 1943, the catapult and aviation equipment were finally dismantled, adding four more 20-mm Oerlikon assault rifles to the ship's air defense.
"Achilles" in 1942 lost all 102-mm universal guns, but they were temporarily replaced with several 20-mm machine guns. But during the modernization of 1943-1944, the cruiser received a whole air defense battery:
- 4 paired 102 mm universal mounts;
- 4 four-barreled 40-mm anti-aircraft guns;
- 5 paired and 6 single 20 mm Oerlikon submachine guns.
As on the Leandre, the catapult and the damaged main caliber turret were dismantled, radar and fighter guidance equipment were installed.
In the spring of 1941, Neptune received three additional 12.7 mm quad machine guns, three single 40 mm anti-aircraft guns and a radar.
"Orion" in August 1941 also lost its aircraft weapons, and at the beginning of 1942 all 12, 7-mm machine guns. Instead, 2 quad 40-mm Vickers anti-aircraft guns, 7x20-mm Oerlikon submachine guns and a radar were installed.
"Ajax" first survived the replacement of the catapult with a longer one, in 1940 it received its own radar for detecting air targets, and in May 1941 the catapult, crane beams and aircraft were completely removed. Instead, they have traditionally put a quad 40-mm machine gun from "Vickers". In February 1942, they installed one more quadruple 40-mm machine gun and 6 single 20-mm machine guns from Oerlikon.
Enough overall? Of course not. But it was definitely more than nothing. And for the beginning of the war, at the time of 1941, it was quite sane.
Just a few more words about the case. The hull had a semi-canopy design with a so-called "trawler" bow and cruising stern. A distinctive feature of the silhouette, which makes it unique, is the wide and high chimney.
The hull was divided into 15 compartments. The cruiser had one continuous deck - the upper one. The main deck was interrupted in the area of boiler rooms, and the lower deck in the area of engine rooms. All decks were watertight. The deck flooring was wood, from a hardwood variety of teak. The British have never had a problem with steep woods. Throughout the entire length of the hull, there was a double bottom, in the area of the cellars - a triple bottom.
The main power plant consisted of four Parsons turbo-gear units and six three-collector steam boilers of the Admiralty type. The power plant provided the cruisers with a maximum speed of up to 32 knots. During tests in December 1932, "Leander" showed 32, 45 knots. The power plants of the cruisers of the series have proven to be reliable and unpretentious in operation.
In general, "Leandras" were the last British cruisers to have a traditional linear arrangement of the power plant.
The cruising range was 5730 miles at a 13-knot speed, 5100 miles at a 20-knot speed, at a speed of 30 knots the cruisers could cover 1910 miles. Some reference books give the cruisers' cruising range of 10,300 miles in 12-knot speed.
The crew consisted of 570 sailors, but in wartime, mainly due to air defense calculations, the number was increased and reached 767 people on the Neptune.
The ships' booking was an exact copy of the Exeter's booking scheme. The difference was in the thickness of the individual booking sections. There was no constructive torpedo protection. The total weight of the armor of the lead Leander was 871 tons (11.7% of the displacement), for subsequent ships it increased to 882 tons.
The main caliber was represented by eight 152 mm BL 6 Mk XXIII guns mounted in four twin Mk XXI turrets.
All eight guns could participate in an onboard salvo, the elevation angle was 60 °, and the declination angle was -5 °.
The rate of fire of the guns was 8 rounds per minute (the figure is quite real), and the firing range was 22,700 m.
The ammunition capacity consisted of 200 rounds per gun. The shells were of two types, equally divided: semi-armor-piercing with a ballistic cap and high-explosive.
Anti-aircraft, and, however, universal artillery consisted of four 102-mm rapid-fire Mk V guns, which were mounted in single installations without shields on a platform around the chimney. These guns could be used against aircraft at an altitude of 8, 5 km or against surface targets at a distance of up to 15 km. During upgrades, these guns were replaced with four twin mounts of the same caliber Mk XVI cannons.
About anti-aircraft machine guns from "Vickers" or nothing, or … In general, 13, 2-mm quad mounts showed nothing. The effectiveness was close to zero, since the rate of fire left much to be desired.
Torpedo armament consisted of two 533 mm QR Mk VII four-tube torpedo tubes. The ships had one device for dropping depth charges and 15 depth charges Mk. VII.
Aircraft weapons were. Point. It was not long, because one plane is not so much. At first, the ships received the Fairy Sea Fox, which were later replaced by the Supermarine Valrus. In general, these planes were too much about anything.
True, "Ajax" really successfully used its aircraft to adjust the fire, but this was more likely the exception than the rule. And the appearance of radars completely destroyed seaplanes as a class of ships' weapons. Therefore, aviation equipment was dismantled from many cruisers as unnecessary.
How did you fight? In general, like all British cruisers of that period. We did everything and everywhere. Someone was more fortunate, someone less fortunate.
Leander. Probably lucky. On April 30, 1937, the cruiser was transferred to the New Zealand Navy. Participated in the protection of convoys in the Indian Ocean, and then as part of the allied forces ended up in the Mediterranean Sea. On February 27, 1941, she sank the Italian auxiliary cruiser Ramb I. After it was again transferred to the east, and on July 13, 1943, in the battle of about. Kolombangara received a 610-mm torpedo from one of the Japanese destroyers.
The crew of the ship defended, but a bold cross was put on combat effectiveness, and the Leander went for repairs, in which it stood until May 1944. After repairs, it was returned to the British Navy, was used as a training ship and eventually retired on December 15, 1949, when it was sold for scrap.
"Achilles". The longest-lived cruiser of this type. Transferred to the New Zealand Navy on March 31, 1936. He participated in the battle at La Plata, where he received injuries that were eliminated for more than two months. Then he participated in the protection of communications in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Returned to the British Navy on September 12, 1946.
On July 5, 1948, the Achilles was handed over to the Indian Navy. The Indians renamed the cruiser Delhi, and until 1957 the ship was the flagship of the Indian fleet. June 30, 1978 expelled from the fleet and sold for scrap.
"Neptune". He took part in hostilities in the Atlantic Ocean and in the Mediterranean Sea. On June 28, 1940, he co-authored the destruction of the Italian destroyer Espero. He died on December 19, 1941 in the Tripoli region as a result of a sea mine explosion. 766 crew members were killed.
"Orion". The main actions of the cruiser fell on the Mediterranean Sea. On June 28, 1940, together with Neptune, she sank the Italian destroyer Espero. Participated in the battle at Cape Matapan, in the Cretan campaign. May 29, 1941 heavily damaged by dive bombers of the Luftwaffe in the area of Crete. Received two hits of 250-kg bombs spent almost a year in repair. Participated in Operation Overlord. Sold for scrap on July 19, 1949.
Ajax. The most productive and, perhaps, the most famous ship of this type. He worked in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Participated in the battle at La Plata, where he served as a target for the gunners of the raider "Admiral Graf Spee". But he survived, even though the Germans finished it for six months of repair.
On October 12, 1940, near Cape Passero, a group of Italian ships (4 destroyers and 3 destroyers) attacked the Ajax. The British did not immediately find the Italian detachment, more precisely, they found it already when the shells of the destroyers pounded on the cruiser hull.
But the Ajax crew decided to accept the battle and coped with this task just fine. The crews fired about 500 shells of the main caliber and four torpedoes.
As a result, two destroyers such as "Spica", "Ariel" and "Airone" sank. Then the British, who caught the courage, cut the destroyer Avieri into a nut, and the shells turned the bow so that the ship was miraculously able to return to base. Dodging the Italians' torpedoes, "Ajax" continued to work on the destroyer "Artillery", which it also very hard to pick up. Most of the crew and the commander of the flotilla, Captain Carlo Margottini, were killed. They tried to drag the Artillery away in tow, but the next day the cruiser York stumbled upon the destroyer, which simply finished off the Italian ship with a torpedo.
This is not to say that the Italians could not do anything with the cruiser, but in fact, they could have fought better. The destroyed radar, which, I will note, the British can easily do without, and the destroyed bridge is not the price for three destroyed ships at all. Moreover, the repair of "Ajax" lasted only a month.
Further, the cruiser participated in the battle at Cape Matapan, in the Cretan campaign, in the campaign in Syria. There, on January 1, 1943, hot guys from the Luftwaffe treated the cruiser with a 500 kg bomb, and the ship went for repairs for a year. After the repairs, Operation Overlord arrived just in time. Sold for scrap on November 8, 1949.
In general, the life of the ships (except for "Neptune") is a success. With special effects, as befits a British warship.
On the whole, combat work can only be assessed positively. Two sunk Italian destroyers, two destroyers, the heavy cruiser "Admiral Graf Spee", which was brought to a self-siphoning capacity - it seems to me. "Leandras" paid for themselves with interest.
How can a project be evaluated?
In general, the Leandras turned out to be very decent ships on the one hand, but not as versatile as the British would like. For the squadron service, they turned out to be somewhat large, for leading the destroyers there was not enough speed and maneuverability, and there was not enough cruising range for operations in the ocean.
There was (obviously) not enough displacement for the installation of upgrades, additional systems and air defense barrels, which is why I had to constantly unscrew something from the ships.
On the other hand, the French cruisers of the Duguet-Truin class, the article about which appeared before this one and aroused the righteous anger of readers, and the Italian Condottieri could not compare with the British.
With equality in the artillery of the main caliber, the Italians and the French were significantly inferior in armor, cruising range and seaworthiness. Perhaps the British had stronger air defenses. And the speed of Italian ships, which has become a hallmark, could not always be useful.
Even the German cruisers of the "K" type (and the "Nuremberg" too) that appeared later in time had weaker armor and a shorter cruising range.
I note that in the Mediterranean, the cruising range was not particularly important, as well as the seaworthiness, because the closed Mediterranean Sea is not the Sulawesi Sea or the Java Sea, is it?
But when we start talking about Japanese light cruisers like "Kuma" or "Nagara", then we will compare them with "Leandras", although they have not met at all.
If you look closely, then, despite the fact that the Leandras did not turn out the way the Admiralty wanted them to be, the cruisers simply turned out. They were really good ships, which their track record only confirms.