A history of Destroyer development is beyond the scope of this site, and covered elsewhere in many places. Destroyers have always captured the imagination: fast, sleek giant killers it is hardly surprising. But the glamour associated with the Destroyer caused the RN considerable problems in both wars.
From it's first design the RN developed the Destroyer to protect the Fleet, at first from Torpedo Boats, then - armed with torpedoes themselves - from other capital ships. Destroyers were also used offensively during WWI both in Fleet actions and operating in Destroyer groups. Older Destroyers were relegated to convoy escort duty, but proved unsuitable, lack of range and poor performance at low speeds meant they were only really effective as coastal escorts.
Inter war the philosophy continued, the Sloop continued to be developed as the convoy escort and the Destroyer remained a high speed unit that would keep up with, and protect the Fleet. Depth charges and Asdic were added but only to add an Anti-Submarine screen for the Fleet.
Japanese and German designs tended to large ships compared to British and American, the RN did rise to this with the Tribal Class, reducing torpedo armament in favour of guns, though disasterously the gun used was the 4.7" L/45 Mk XII which could only elevate to 40 degrees leaving the ships vulnerable to air attack, though that was not considered a threat at the time.
After the Tribals however, and in answer to the build up of the German and Japanese Navy, the RN reversed this decision and went for heavier torpedo armament with the J Class Destroyer.
The J Class is often referred to as being a lot smaller than the Tribal, this is not really the case with less than 200 tons displacement difference and 20 ft length. The J Class, also known as the Emergency Class, though differed fundementaly in design.
The three boilers of the Traditional Destroyer (or four) was reduced to two, improvements in engineering and design meant the J Class could still develop 40,000 HP compared to the 44,000 of the Tribal. Placing the boilers adjacent to each other allowed the use of a single funnel which increased upperdeck space and firing arcs, but left the Class vulnerable to crippling damage.
Longitudinal framing was adopted in addition to the traditional transverse frames, which coupled with Electric Arc Welding made the ships fast and relatively easy to build compared to earlier designs.
With a max load of 30 depth charges in one rack and with two throwers the ships carried the barest minimum of anti submarine weaponry. I mention it because the J Class and those that followed based on the same hull and machinary would form the basic building block for the first post war Frigates to be built, the Type 15 & 16 "Fast Frigates."
In 1939 the Admiralty finaly addressed the need for a Convoy Escort that could be mass produced, not surprisingly the design was based on the Sloops already being produced, the Bittern Class and it's follow ons, lately the Bird Class. But the new class were named as Destroyers, even though they carried no torpodoes, which had become part of the defining factor of an RN Destroyer, like a Destroyer though more attention was given to surface weapons than anti-submarine, and range was sacrificed for speed, which again reflected the old adage about preparing to fight the last war, no consideration was given to the longer range of the new submarines. Though supposedly a dedicated escort the reluctant planners had tried to get the best of both and have a ship that could also double as a Fleet Escort.
Post war saw the RN Destroyer firmly back in it's role as a Fleet defender, in particular as an Aircraft Carrier screening vessel, it was left to the new Frigate Class to deal with the Submarine threat, although confusion was to reign here too, the end of WWII had seen the deployment of Anti-Aircraft escorts as well as anti-submarine, American (and British it should be remembered!) experience in the Pacific showed the immense value of the outer screen of radar pickets to warn a carrier task group of incoming enemy air attacks and for a while the RN would dabble with the idea longer of the idea of the Anti-Aircraft Frigate which had been introduced with the Bay Class modification of the Loch Class.
In 1947 all escort vessels were re-classified as Frigates, the move coincided with the abandonment of attempting to design a catch all escort vessel that would serve as both anti-aircraft and anti-submarine, the bastard Hunts were down graded to Frigates and the few corvettes left bumped up, the Sloops were also gathered into the fold. The Destroyer was firmly back in it's pedigree stable.
Hunt Class Destroyer
I am including some details on the Hunt Class as it was an Escort ship, even if conservatism left it as something of a mix. In the event the ship filled a desperate gap, convoys to Malta were often in reach of air attack and surface attack from the Italian Navy, by good luck and economy the Class had been fitted with 4" guns rather than the preferred 4.7" and so could give a good account of themselves against aircraft and their speed and monouverability increased their chances of survival. But although given the name Frigate post war they were too cramped and too top heavy to be adapted to the new Anti submarine weapons, and their speed fell short of the magic 30 knots demanded of a Fleet Escort.
Although based on the Bittern Sloop and carrying the same main armament the original Hunt design was 8 ft narrower in the beam and had a more powerful engine fit to provide 19,000 giving almost 27 knots compared to 3,300 and 19 knots. Intended as a coastal UK Escort where the bulk of the submarine action was anticipated they actualy ended up playing a large part in the Mediterranean war when France fell. Pre war plans had left the Mediterranean to the French Fleet to defend.
The Hunts were fin stabilised, though this was removed to provide extra fuel space on the Type III, 86 were built, 72 serving in the RN and 14 to the free Greek, Polish, Nowegian and French.
The Hunt had an inauspicious start to life, when being equipped with it's turrets the lead ship promptly heeled heavily and might well have rolled over had it not been in dock. A shocking design fault had made the ship too top heavy to float upright. X turret had to be omitted, reducing the main armament to four guns.
The Hunt would be the RNs only Escort Destroyer and unlike the US the designation did not stick, post war they were officially re-designated Frigates.
Construction of Hunts ceased in 1942, by the end of that year the battle for the Mediterranean had been turned, though there were still battles to be fought there, construction of the more conventional destroyers continued, and heavier destroyers with greater AA ability were being laid down. The RN firmly washed it's hands of the concept of the Escort Destroyer.
The Type II Hunt addressed the stability problems, the beam was increased by 2.5 ft to allow the designed number of guns to be fitted, the Bridge was also modified . Top speed was reduced by half a knot.
The Type III betrayed the RN's unease with this strange Destroyer, the Y gun was removed and replaced with a pair of 21" torpedo tubes.
The Type IV were an alternate design put forward by Thornycroft, only two were built, but the hull design was optimised for cruising instead of sprinting and proved much more efficient and stable, lengthening the forecastle further aft improved internal space and provided better weather protection for crews at action stations.
Radar fits varied over time and availability, but generally 271 sea search (3 GHz), 285 which was the Director radar with a range of 15 miles and gave range and bearing. Type 286 air warning was fitted to the formast, later 291. A few had their midships searchlight replaed with Type 272 centimetric target indication.
Althouth the Type I carried a bow chaser those
Type II and Type III which were assigned to East Coast Convoy escorts
also mounted the 2 Pdr against E Boats.
HMS Albrighton, Type III Hunt Class Destroyer
|Berkeley||L17||29-1-1940||9-8-1944 sunk by aircraft off Dunkirk|
|Cleveland||L46||24-4-1940||28-6-1957 wrecked on route to breaker yard|
|Cottesmore||L78||5-9-1940||1950 sold to Egypt as Port Siad, served as a training ship until 1980|
|Exmoor||L61||25-1-1940||25-2-1941 torpedoed by E boats|
|Mendip||L60||9-4-1940||Loaned to China 1948 as Lin Fu, recovered by RN in 1949 at about the time of the Yangtze incident, sold to Egypt 1950 as Mohamed Ali El-Kebir, renamed Ibrahim El-Awal 1951, captured by Israel 1956 and renamed Haifa, sunk as target for Gabriel missiles 1968.|
|Meynell||L82||7-6-1940||Sold to Equador 1954 as Presidente Velasco Ibarra|
|Quantock||L58||22-4-1940||Sold to Ecuador in 1954 as Presidente Alfaro|
|Quorn||L66||27-3-1940||3-8-1944 sunk by Marder human torpedo off Normandy|
|Tynedale||L96||5-6-1940||12-12-1943 sunk by U-Boat off Bougie|
|Avon Vale||L06||23-10-1940||Scrapped 1958|
|Badsworth||L03||17-3-1941||To Norway in 1946 as Arendal|
|Beaufort||L14||9-9-1941||To Norway 1946 as Haugesund|
|Bedale||L26||23-7-1941||1942 Free Polish Navy as Slazak, sold to India 1953 as Godavari|
|Blackmore||L43||2-12-1941||To Denmark 1952 as Esbern Snare, scrapped 1966|
|Bramham||L51||29-1-1942||To free Greek Navy in 1943 as Themistocles, scrapped 1966|
|Calpe||L71||28-4-1941||To Denmark in 1952 as Rolfe Krake|
|Chiddingfold||L31||10-3-1941||To India in 1953 as Ganga|
|Dulverton||L63||1-4-1941||13-11-1943 sunk by aircraft off Kos Island|
|Eridge||L68||20-8-1940||29-8-1942 hit by tropedo from Italian MTB, damaged beyond repair, served as a Base Ship in Alexandria until scrapped in 1946|
|Exmoor||L08||7-6-1940||Laid down as HMS Burton, renamed after lost Exmoor before commissioning, sold to Danish Navy 1952 as Valdemar Sejr, scrapped 1966|
|Grove||L77||29-5-1941||12-6-1942 sunk by U-Boat off Sollum|
|Heythrop||L85||30-10-1940||20-3-1942 sunk by U-Boat off Sollum|
|Hursley||L84||25-7-1941||To Free Greek Navy in 1943 as Kriti, scrapped 1960|
|Hurworth||L28||10-4-1941||22-10-1943 sunk by mine off Kalymnos|
|Lamerton||L88||14-12-1940||Sold to India in 1953 as Gomati|
|Lauderdale||L95||5-8-1941||Sold to Greece 1946, scrapped 1960|
|Oakley||L72||30-10-1940||To Free Polish in 1941 as Krakowiak, sunk 16-6-1042 my mines off Malta|
|Oakley||L98||15-1-1942||Laid down as HMS Tickham, sold to Germany in 1958 as Gneisenau|
|Puckeridge||L108||6-3-1940||6-9-1943 sunk by U-Boat off Gibralter|
|Silverton||L115||4-12-1940||To Free Polish as replacement for Krakowiak, scrapped 1959|
|Southwold||L10||29-5-1941||24-3-1942 sunk by mine off Malta|
|Zetlans||L59||7-3-1942||Sold to Norway 1954 as Tromso, scrapped 1965|
|Airedale||L07||12-8-1941||15-6-1942 sunk by aircraft off Sollum|
|Albrighton||L12||11-10-1941||Sold to Germany in 1958 as Raule|
|Aldenham||L22||27-8-1942||14-12-1944 sunk by mine|
|Blean||L47||15-1-1942||11-12-1942 sunk by U-Boat off Oran, 89 killed|
|Bolebroke||L65||5-11-1941||To Free Greek Navy in 1942 as Pindos, scrapped 1960|
|Border||L67||3-2-1942||To Free Greek Navy in 1942 as Adrias, damaged beyond repair 22-10-1942 off Kalymnos|
|Catterick||L81||22-11-1941||Sold to Greece in 1946 as Hastings, scrapped in 1963|
|Eggesford||L15||12-9-1942||Sold to Germany 1958 as Brommy|
|Eskdale||L36||16-3-1942||Free Norway in 1942, 14-4-1943 sunk by E Boat in the English Channel|
|Glaisdale||L44||5-1-1942||Sold to Norway 1946 as Narvik, scrapped 1962|
|Goathland||L27||3-2-1942||Damaged beyond repair 24-7-1944 by mines off Normandy, scrapped 1946|
|Haldon||L19||27-4-1942||To Free French 1942 as La Combattante, 23-2-1945 sunk by midget submarine in North Sea|
|Hatherleigh||L53||18-12-1941||To Free Greek Navy in 1942 as Kanaris, scrapped 1960|
|Holcombe||L56||14-4-1942||12-12-1943 sunk by U-Boat off Bougie|
|Limbourne||L57||12-5-1942||23-10-1943 sunk by E Boats off French coast|
|Modbury||L91||13-4-1942||To Free Greek Navy in 1942 as Miaoulis, scrapped 1960|
|Penylan||L89||17-3-1942||3-12-1942 sunk by E Boat torpedo in the English Channel|
|Rockwood||L39||13-6-1942||11-11-1943 damaged beyond repair by glider bomb, scrapped 1946|
|Tanatside||L69||30-4-1942||Sold to Greece in 1946 and named Adrias, scrapped 1964|
|Wensleydale||L86||20-6-1942||Damaged beyond repair in collision Nov 1944, scrapped 1946|
Type 16 Frigate
Even before the end of the second world war the need was identified for faster ASW ships. The German's had developed boats that could match or even outrun the Frigates and Corvettes that made up the Escort Fleet. These boats were introduced too late and in too few numbers to effect the outcome but to the rising horror of the Western Alliances they saw captured German technology taking shape on the slipways of the Soviet Union.
Doenitz had had a clear battle plan to defeat Britain, and it might well have worked had he not been betrayed by Hitler who had promised he would not go to war until the means to fight it were in place. Stalin was of an entirely different metal, he would not be rushed, the lessons of Britain's near defeat were not lost on him either, he observed the two great navies of the west, the USN and the RN and knew he could not hope to match them ship for ship, but if his plans to spread Communism across the globe was to succeed then he needed a counter. Russia already had an impressive submarine fleet, now he ordered the new Whiskey Class boats to add to it - by the hundred.
The Whiskey had a range of 13,500 miles, 6,000 without even surfacing, speed of 18.5 knots surfaced, 13 knots submerged on batteries and 7 knots cruising on snorkel.
Western thinking was that an attacked Whiskey would simply outrun escort vessels and return again and again to wipe out a convoy, conventional thinking was that you needed to be faster than your enemy to beat him. The truth of that has never been tested, there is much to cast doubt on it: a submarine travelling at speed sacrifices the greatest strength of the submarine: stealth, it would also be unlikely to achieve a good firing solution and even the fastest submarine could not outrun an aircraft; and German U-Boats had been faster than the average convoy, and still they had been defeated.
Whatever, the perception was that any Escort would have to match and better the speed of the enemy submarine. In the RN the problem was exacerbated by the avoidance of using Destroyers as submarine screens, that meant ASW ships had to be developed that could keep up with a carrier task group, the magic figure was 30 knots and it would remain the all consuming grail of the Cold War, even after the submarine went nuclear and reached speeds no surface ship could hope to match.
Britain had no suitable escort, and could not produce one in time or in the numbers needed to avoid the balance of power swinging hopelessly over to the Soviets. Money too was a problem, and that with a capital P. Labour had won a landslide victory on the back of promises to create the welfare system and full employment, with memories fresh of the austerity after WWI the public and military voted for them and turned their backs on Churchill. Now Labour had to deliver, but the country was broke, worse it was hugely in debt to the USA and yet forced to go and plead for more to meet the election promises. There was no money to spare for new ships, the Navy mothballed all it's battleships and most of it's cruisers just to keep the carriers and destroyers and escorts running, huge cuts were being made and among them were the Emergency Class Destroyers, those based on the J Class hull, 112 in total.
Mindful of it's promise not to execute huge redundancies in the ship yards as had happened after WWI the Government approved the conversion of nearly half of these Destroyers into Escort Ships, utilising their hull and machinary they were refitted as Fast Frigates, the Type 15 was a dedicated Anti-Submarine vessel and the Type 16 a more conservative general purpose ship.
The Type 16 was based on the hulls of the O & P Class Destroyer, these were J Class hulls and machinary but with a greater sheer on the forward hull to improve sea keeping.
O & P Class
Armament: 4 x 4" guns in single turrets on P class and Type I "O" class, 4 x 4.7" in single turrets on remainder of O Class. All ships carried quad pom-pom, up to 6 x 20mm Oerlikon in single mounts, 4 throwers and 2 racks with 70 depth charges. 4.7" armed ships carried 1 x quad 21" torpedo tubes and a 4" high angle in place of aft tubes, 4" ships 2 x quad 21" torpedo tubes.
The 4" armed ships were from the bitter lessons of the Mediterranean, swapping the 4.7" guns with their lack of high angle firing for faster firing high angle 4".
Type 16 Conversion
Teazer, Terpischore and Tumult are fitted with
higher, lighter and squarer new bridges.
|Orwell||F98||1952||Converted to Minelayer, date unknown. Scrapped 1965|
|Paladin||F169||1954||Sep 1959 converted to Minelayer, carried 30 mines. Scrapped 1962|
Type 15 Frigate
The Type 15 conversion was much more than the weapons make over of the Type 16. The hulls of U, R, W, V and one T & Z Class were used. The ships were stripped down to deck level and beyond, all machinary was overhauled and then the ship built back up, fuel bunkarage was increased to improve range.
The hull was increased in height and integrated into the superstructure, forming the "cheekbone" effect that would become a feature of the next generation of Frigates. Interior space was greatly increased, allowing for not only additional equipment, but an Operations Room in which to co-ordinate attacks with other units. Accomodation was also greatly improved, an important factor, post war sailors were no longer prepared to put up with being left to find some damp noisy corner of the ship in which to sling a hammock while the officers slept in the comfort of their cabins. Despite huge cuts the Navy was haemorraging men at an unsustainable rate and the new equipment needed trained and skilled men to operate it, conditions had to improve and now, "Jam tomorrow" the old hands sneered at promises of better conditions to come.
The new ships were being built around the Limbo Mortar, a development on the Squid. But where the Squid was fixed and needed the ship to manouvre to aim it the Limbo could fire over 360 degrees out to a mile, it meant for the first time a ship was free to manouvre while still engaging a submarine, a huge advantage, a submarine captain could no longer predict when and where the depth charges would fall by the position of the attacking ship.
Like the Squid the Limbo had it's own dedicated sonar, the 170 attack that combined the depth and bearing sonars used in the Squid. Depth setting and even firing was automatic, two Limbos would fire a pattern of six charges above and below a submarine and crush it between the converging shock waves.
The Limbo was mounted astern and muzzle loaded with hydraulic bomb handling gear, it could be loaded and ready in seconds.
The ship's also mounted a twin 4" gun midships and a twin 40mm Bofors Mk V and a varying number of 20mm Oerlikons.
The classes used as "donors" were all very similar to those for the Type 16, being based on the J Class hull and machinary with four single mount 4" or 4.7" guns and 1 or 2 quad torpedo launchers.
Conversion included the novelty of an enclosed Bridge, unheard of in smaller vessels, most were equipped with a half round Bridge but three: Troubridge, Ursa and Ulster, were fitted with an experimental shape that would be later used on the early Type 12 Frigates.
Anyone could be forgiven for mistaking the shot of HMS Ursa as a Type 12 or Type 12I, apart from the upswept bow there is little to tell them apart. Althouh the lineage of the Frigate goes from the Loch and Bay class to the Type 12 which was the next to be built post war I think this shot clearly demonstrates the Type 15 was hugely influential in the design.
|Grenville||R97 / F197||1953-1956||Scrapped 1981 Actualy a U Class named for a G Class sunk earlier in the war.|
|Rapid||H32 / F138||1952-1953||Sunk as target 3-9-1981|
|Relentless||H85 / F185||1949-1951||Scrapped 1971|
|Rocket||H92 / F193||1949-1951||Scrapped 1967|
|Roebuck||H95 / F195||1952-1953||Scrapped 1968|
|Troubridge||R00 / F09||1955-1957||Scrapped 1970, Type 12 Bridge fitted|
|Ulster||D83 / F83||1953-1956||Training ship from 1977, scrapped 1981, Type 12 Bridge layout|
|Ulysses||D169 / F17||1952-1953||Scrapped 1970|
|Undaunted||R53 / F53||1953-1954||Sunk as target 1982|
|Ursa||R22 / F200||1953-1954||Scrapped 1967, Type 12 Bridge|
|Verulam||R28 / F29||1952||Scrapped 1972|
|Vigilant||R93 / F93||1951-1952||Scrapped 1965|
|Wrangler||F157||1951-1952||Sold to South Africa 1957 as Vrystaat, sunk as a target 1976|