KMS Graf Zeppelin (1939)

Nazi Germany (1939)
Aircraft Carrier – 1 unfinished

Germany’s aircraft carrier

Contrary to most European powers, Germany never ventured into the Aircraft carrier genre, but perhaps a few ad hoc conversions as seaplane tenders. The appearance and raid of HMS Furious on Zeppelin’s base in 1918 was duly noted by the German admiralty, but it was way too late then to devise any response. If there was any project of carrying aircraft, it was through these famous airships, for self-defense. That’s perhaps not at random that the first ships of a new ambitious class based on Plan Z, which stated four aircraft carriers, was named after the famous count.

Graf Zeppelin being launched in December 1938
Graf Zeppelin being launched in December 1938

Plan Z

While the initial renewal of the Kriegsmarine included as an objective the control of the Baltic, and a war with France (her fleet was mostly in the Mediterranean) Hitler, increasingly confident, decided in 1938 he wanted also the possibility to take on the Royal Navy in a war scenario with UK in home waters. For this, Plan Z (the third proposed by the Admiralty), the most ambitious, was approved in January 1939. This was a Wagnerian-like endeavour, with a plan for 800 ships, including 4 aircraft carriers, 10 battleships (two, Bismarck class), 12 battlecruisers (none), 3 armored ships (Panzerschiffe, improved Deutschland class, none), 5 heavy cruisers (Hipper class, all built), 44 light cruisers (M-class cruiser, none), 158 destroyers and torpedo boats (about 50 destroyers and 48 TDs), 249 submarines (much more). By the beginning of the war, despite M-class cruisers, H-class battleships and O-class battlecruisers being just started, Plan Z was just 20% advanced. In all that, the Graf Zeppelin was the first of its class, but was also started way before Plan Z was approved, back in 1936.

Genesis of the Graf Zeppelin

Building an aircraft carrier from scratch was not an easy endeavor. At least the first enemy targeted, France, had some experience with seaplane carriers in WW1 and converted a Washington-banned battleship, Bearn, into its first aircraft carrier in the 1920s, gaining a considerable experience. All top three best navies also had many of these in service and planned more. Initial researches for the design could be found in Wilhelm Hadeler, a member of the Kriegsmarine construction department, which followed with attention developments in other countries in particular UK. There were heated discussions as naval aviation technology leaped forward a considerable way in the 1930s, and the lack of anything resembling pilot training for naval operations was a concern too. Everything was to be done from scratch. First sketches were presented to Hitler in 1933 and 1934, planning for a 22,000 tonnes, 35 knots ship with 50 aircraft was agreed. Eventually with the Anglo-German naval agreement, Hitler felt time was come to authorize these ships and fixed the tonnage to 19,250 about 35% of British carrier tonnage.

US Naval intelligence 1942 recoignition plate
US Naval intelligence 1942 recoignition plate.


Design had to be reworked to keep much of the original specs. Eventually before construction started, technical design studies were given to a specially setup Deutsche Werke AG design bureau. Final specs were redacted in close cooperation with the Kriegsmarine’s construction department and assistance by the Luftwaffe, which however was anything but motivated for the project and never specified requirements for their aircraft.

The general opinion of the day was an aircraft carrier was to be able to defend herself, and she was aligned on that of heavy cruiser in terms of armament and protection. Later this also included preventing destroyers night attacks and a battery of quick-firing 150mm guns was added. HMS Furious was visited in 1935 (a waste of time according to the report) and another delegation made a more fruitful trip to see the Akagi, helping to confirm the design path. Eventually the blueprints were ready and construction approved.


As the cornerstone of a future blue water navy, the lead ship of a class of two sisterships, “A”, was approved in 1935 and on 16 November 1935 a contract was awarded to Deutsche Werke shipyard in Kiel. However at that time the largest slip was occupied by Gneisenau, so construction had to wait for it to be cleared, which left time to refine the blueprints. The navy also tested models of elector-hydraulic lifts while the Luftwaffe constructed and tested an arrestor system at Travemünde. In total 2500 tests were made and the design refined until completion. To cope with wind pressure on such a tall hull, German engineers added retractable Voith-Schneider propellers in the bow for extra handling maneuvers. To prevent for aviation fuel fires, tanks fuelling systems non-liquid filled parts were filled with dry gas while serving pipes were surrounded by inert gas pipes. In addition sprinklers were added in all hangars.

A class aircraft carrier at Kiel
Flugzeugträger “A” keel in Kiel AG, 28.12.1936

Concerning the superstructure, which was rather long to accommodate the staged AA artillery 105 mm batteries, the funnel height was reduced for clearing out the belt bridge near Fredericia. This imposed mast and aerials to be retractable, which was proven later unfeasible and all such height limits were dropped. In 1939 also the hull design was altered, the straight stem be converted as a “clipper” bow. The design was altered again in 1941 and 1942.

Details specifications

The 1938 design planned a 250 m long (820 fts 2 in on the waterline) ship, 31.50 m wide at bulge width (103 feets 4 in) and 7.20 draught (23 feets 7 in). Power comprised four shafts, each propelled by a Brown Boveri turbine, fed by 16 La Mont boilers for a total of 200,000 hp and 35 knots top speed. However 1942 design extra weight and bulges reduced that to 33 knots.
Armor protection comprised a 3.5 in belt, 1.5 in hangar deck, 3,5 in flight deck, and 1.5 in casemates.
Armament included eight double 150 mm guns 55 caliber C28 in casemates, six twin 105 mm/65 C33 dual-purpose guns, twenty-two 37mm/83 C33 AA guns in eleven twin mounts, and twenty-eight single 20 mm C38 mounts and possibly quad mounts C38M.

Aircraft complement
Eventually the Luftwaffe took on the program more seriously and began modifying the three planes intended to make the onboard complement: These were initially 10 Messerschmitt 109T (T for “träger”), 13 Junkers 87G, a navalised version, and 20 Fieseler Fi 167s torpedo reconnaissance bombers. For simplification it was later modified to 12 BF109T and 30 Ju87G acting as dive bombers and torpedo launchers. The choice a the Stuka in general seemed a good one as shown by Mediterranean operations (in Crete and elsewhere). It was also a way to simplify maintenance and supplies. In September 1939, Trägergruppe 186 had been formed and tested by the Luftwaffe at Kiel Holtenau, with the planned final complement, for the pilots to be properly trained to operate from mid-1940.


On 28 December 1936, Flugzeugträger A keel was laid down and she was launched on 8 December 1938, the 24th anniversary of the Battle of the Falkland Islands. She was christened by Helene von Zeppelin, daughter of the famous Count. At the outbreak of war projected completion by the middle of 1940 was realistic. However, despite all the efforts put into such project, and progresses, the graf Zeppelin was a casualty of war: Whereas construction was almost 85% complete (the “A” being christened “Graf Zeppelin”) U-boat construction priorities saw the project suspended. There were several nails in the coffin, though.

Graf Zeppelin in Stettin 8.12.1938

The first was linked to the conquest of Norway in April 1940. Whereas priorities to defend the Norwegian coastline asked for coastal guns and anti-aircraft batteries, Raeder also argued that fitting out the ship with the planned fire control system (just sold to USSR) and final guns would take another ten month. Therefore, Hitler suspended work on the aircraft carrier and all the planned guns and FLAK artillery were diverted to Norway.

Moving from places to places and back
In July 1940, Graf Zeppelin hulk was towed from Kiel to Gotenhafen (Gdynia) for a future completion. However when war erupted in the summer of 1941 with the Soviet Union, the ship was towed again this time to Stettin, out of reach of Soviet aviation. This further complicated an hypothetical completion as teams and materials were simply not there. By November, the ship was moved again to Gotenhafen as the German advance pushed back enough the Soviets to stay out of harm’s way. She layed there as a store ship for timber.

1942 design modifications
Raeder meeting with Hitler on naval strategy in April 1942, however, pushed the project again out of obscurity as operations clearly shown the usefulness of such a type of capital ship. Work resumed on 13 May 1942, with Hitler’s authorization. Raeder wanted newer planes, but Göering had him rebuffed due to the meager industrial resources of a hard-pressed Luftwaffe then, and stick to the initial planned provision of modified planes while training of new pilots resumed at Travemünde. But since the planes were heavier than 1938 versions, numerous designs changes had to be made.

In Kiel’s drydock 24.3.43 (Bundesarchiv)

Catapults needed modernization, stronger winches for the arrestor system were also needed, flight deck, elevators and hangar floors required reinforcement, new updated radars and fire control systems were also required, new radio equipment, armored fighter director cabin mounted and new reinforced main mast, better armored bridge, new curved funnel cap, an all-quad Flakvierling 38 guns complement and finally additional bulges fitted to improve stability on a ship that passed from 26.931 tonnes to 28.090 and then nearly 30,000 for this 1942 final design. That was ambitious, but the Kriegsmarine planned completion for April 1943. As sea trials were planned to began in the summer of that years, Chief Engineer Wilhelm Hadeler was reassigned to the prject and worked on a 26-knots capable powerplant. Service was estimated to start in the winter of 1944. Graf Zeppelin was back at Kiel on 5 December 1942, and placed on a drydock for this completion.

Final Cancellation
Although light seemed to be at reach in the tunnel for the unfortunate ship, fate turned again as Hitler became so disenchanted with the surface fleet that in late January 1943 he ordered in one of these famous hot-headed decisions that all large surface ships had to be scrapped and the material recycled to built U-boats. Raeder was relieved of command and Dönitz appointed as C-in-C. Little work was done when the hull in April was towed again to Gotenhafen but she was eventually moored at a back-water wharf in the Parnitz River near Stettin. She layed there without much progress but a guarding 40-man custodial crew until the Soviets reached her in April 1945. The crew scuttled the ship by opening the Kingston valves, preventing any attempt to tow her while demolition and depth charges were placed and detonated by order on 6pm on 25 April 1945. What about her sister ship ? “B” was ordered at Germaniawerft but if work started she was cancelled in March 1940 and broken up in situ. It was envisioned she would be modified during construction after changes made on A design.

Model of the ship at the Aeronauticum
Model of the ship at the Aeronauticum, German maritime aircraft museum

A controversial fate after the war
Attributed to USSR after the war by the allied tripartite commission she was designated “Category C” ship, unable to be retrieved and operated, and therefore had to be broken up. But she was ultimately refloated in March 1946, then towed to Leningrad and according to historian Erich Gröner struck a mine en route off the coast of Finland. According to other sources she survived the hit, made it to Leningrad and was to be broken up in 1948–1949. However declassified Soviet records revealed that on 14 August Graf Zeppelin was towed into Swinemunde harbor to be sunk five series of controlled explosions and torpedo hits at Swinemunde harbor. Her exact position was rediscovered on 12 July 2006 by Polish research vessel RV St. Barbara which made a three days dive campaign and confirmed its identity. All what’s left from this ship is the shipyard’s model, now displayed at the at the Aeronauticum, German maritime aircraft museum located in Nordholz (close to Cuxhaven).

Reconstruction of the initial 1939 design by DG_alpha

Links/src (what-if livery)
(Planned torpedo-bomber v25 by Vincent Bourguignon)
Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1921-1947.

Graf Zeppelin specifications

Dimensions 262.5 x36.2 x8.5 m (861, 118, 27 ft)
Displacement 33.550/34.088t FL
Crew 1760+ aircrew
Propulsion 2 geared turbines, 16 LaMont boilers, 200,000 shaft horsepower (149,140.0 kW)
Speed 33.8 kn (62.6 km/h; 38.9 mph)
Range 8,000 nmi (14,816.0 km; 9,206.2 mi) at 19 kn (35.2 km/h; 21.9 mph)
Armament 16× 15 mm, 12× 10.5 mm, 22× 37 mm, 28× 2 mm FlaK
Aviation 12 M109 fighters & 30 Ju87 Stuka dive bombers
Armor Belt: 100 mm (3.9 in) Flight deck: 45 mm (1.8 in) Main deck: 60 mm (2.4 in)


Bulk Carriers


Bulk carriers, also called “bulkers” in their “modern” definition could be quite ancient, applied to all ships and boats that carried unpackaged cargo. This is still the definition today, and bulk carriers makes 15% to 20% of the modern carrier fleets. The modern definition is related to their particular cargo, generally unique and free-flowing, but dry contrary to liquid carriers (tankers are the most famous). Until the arrival of the first Container ships in the 1950s, cargo were diversely packed and carried inside wide holds that could receive pretty much any load, but free-flowing ones. The main cargo shifting problem obliged to compensate for the internal mass displacements in case of excessive roll. So bulkhead and ballasts systems were devised to compensate. Bulk cargo could also threatens a ship through spontaneous combustion, and cargo saturation.

Traditional bulk transport

Bulk was transported the slow way, inside sacks stacked onto pallets, deposited by a crane. The pallets and nets ensured a stability of the load, but the time required for that procedure and materials needed were clearly a problem. In alternative plywood bins purpose-built were installed into the hold, while the cargo was guided through small hatches by wooden feeders and shifting boards. But this was also labor-intensive and costly.

After specialized bulk carriers, the first self-unloader was the lake freighter Hennepin in 1902 on the Great Lakes. Lakers long has been special vessels and bulk carriers became almost the norm, notably to carry grain from the great plains or metal ore from the northern mines to the steel mills. They used conveyor belt to move the cargo. The double bottom was adopted in 1890, the triangular structure of the ballast tanks in 1905, and diesel appeared from 1911.

A model of the SS John Bowes

Origins: SS John Bowes

The first recorded, purpose-build bulk carrier was the SS John Bowes (1852). Built by Palmer Brothers & Co, Jarrow for Charles Mark Palmer, in Newcastle, this was a mixed ship but steamer-first (three masts), which made its maiden voyage in 27 July 1852, and was foundered off Ribadesella (Spain) in 12 October 1933, after being completely refitted in 1864 and 1883.

This forerunner in many ways was the first:
-Fully constructed of steel, its rigidity seemed to ensure a long life.
-Steamer (although it could be rigged in schooner), it ensured a good regularity of service.
-More importantly displayed additional ballasted holds for seawater, making operation quick and safe.
The latter were longitudinal iron tanks beneath each hold, added in 1853 after tried many solution. In her long active life, the Bowes transported coal, and other goods under Scandinavian flag (Spec, Transit) and Spanish (Carolina, Valentin Fierro, Villa Selgas).
This bulk carrier originally chartered by the General Iron Screw Collier Company, saved time and was very profitable for his owner. She was quickly imitated and became a standard.

SS John Bowes Specs:

Dimensions : 30,8 m x 5,28 m x 3,20 m
propulsion : 2 steam Reciprocating TE 2,35 hp, one screw, 9 knots, new engines in 1864 and 1883.
Capacity: Carried 650 tonnes of coal with a loading/unloading speed superior to two sail coalers of the time.

The last tall ships were often bulkers

fall 1800s/early 1900s tall ships built in metal, with hydraulic winches and steam-operated rigging, were often bulk carriers by default. The numerous masts were a liability to load and unload cargo, and the load itself was not profitable enough to use a voracious steam engine with its large coal supply. So the most glorious and noblest ships to ever roam the seas were used to carry dirty charcoal or guano, the lowest, cheapest crap around. So were the last tall ships, like the legendary 3-masted barque of the Pamir class (1905), five masted barques France II (1911) and R. C. Rickmers (1907) or the fantastic Thomas L. Lawson, the only seven-masted schooner ever.

thomas lawson
What if the Thomas Lawson has been preserved, would it be profitable now ? Is it the way forward ?

ww1 and the interwar

Until 1914, this type of steam-only ballasted ship was predominant, faced with a traffic still largely populated by tall ships in iron. In 1905 alone, about fifty of these steel vessels were launched. The sail seemed still profitable for many shipowners, used on certain segments of shipping (to spare coal). Progress would be slow with new devices to open and close the holds, new hoists to ease maneuvers, new ballasting systems.

In 1914-18, maritime traffic, British in majority, was the victim the U-Boat total war launched by the German Empire from 1917. The number of sunken sailboats increased sharply, particularly because of their slow speed and inability to evade U-boats. Steamers as well as tall ships paid their share. In 1917, the admiralty faced so much losses it was decided to launch a massive shipbuilding plan for standardized freighters. These standards ships (type A to J) defined by the Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC) still constituted about half of the shipping in 1939. Most were “regular”, universal carriers able to carry any packed cargo as well as bulk in their large holds, thanks to their ballasts. But they were also specialized bulk carriers, generally of smaller size.

A “C” type cargo in 1918

Bulk carriers in ww2

Indeed before the war, the need to transport about 25 million tons for metal ores was filled by generally coasters of relatively small size with the exception of the “lakers”. The battle of the Atlantic cost for shipping was also considerable, for the British fleet in particular until the US entered the fray. Losses reached an all-out peak in late 1942, before convoys systems improved, new specialized ships arrived en masse, and crucially new standard carriers were built, notably the famous Liberty-ships. But not too many bulk carriers were built. This was compounded by the conversion of many Merchant aircraft carriers (MAC), which retained their cargo (at least partially) while offering self-defence capabilities.

Model kit rendition of a wartime MAC ships of the Empire Mac Alpine type – Royal Museum Greenwich. These ships will be treated in a post later.

Newly-build grain ship (Empire class) based on the Ministry of War Transport’s standard accommodated Admiralty’s flight deck design and were 390 feet (120 m) long for 62 feet (19 m) large and later 413 and 424 feet (126 and 129 m). Most has been spared and were reconverted to their first role after the war.

Edward L Ryerson
“Laker” Edward L Ryerson, a bulk carrier tailored for the American great lakes, very distinctive with their “two island” configuration far apart fore and aft and the cargo in between.

Bulk carriers postwar

In 1950, the first container ship, Ideal X, revolutionized cargo transport forever. Despite of this, old style cargo carriers served for many more years (until the late 1980s) and the bulk carriers persisted, helped in particular by new self-loading systems, ballast systems, and larger construction. In fact the last ones almost reached supertanker standards like the Berge Stahl.

Berge Stahl (1986)

This bulk carrier is a monster. With its appearance of supertanker, it seems promised to transport heavy liquid bulk and was actually built in South Korea (Hyundai) in order to transport iron ore. Launched in 1986 on behalf of Norwegian shipowner Bergesen Worldwide Gas ASA, it could only unload at Europoort, Rotterdam in Holland and the Marítimo Terminal in Ponta da Madeira in Itaqui, Brazil.

It currently retains the record for a coal carrier, and that for a bulk carrier. The only larger “cargo ship” is currently the container ship Emma Maersk. Yet, like its ancestor of 1850, this giant has all its length reserved for the payload, its castle and crew, propulsion being at the extreme rear, and being ensured by a single propeller of 9 meters in diameter. Like the John Bowes, her return crossings are empty on ballasts filled with seawater. Their desalinate process and holds cleaning is part of such ship’s daily life at anchor.

Technical specifications of the Berge Stahl:

Dimensions: 342.1 meters by 63.5 m by 23 m of draft.
Propulsion: 1 Hyundai Diesel of 27610 cv for a single propeller, 13,5 knots.
Capacity: A load of 364 768 tons of iron ore.

MS Ore Brazil (2011)

First called Vale Brasil she is own by Vale Shipping Holding Pte. Ltd, Singapore. Built by Daewoo she is a true monster, larger than the Berge Stahl and Bold Challenger at 198,980 GT, 67,993 NT, 402,347 DWT, 362 m oa (1200 fts), by 65.0 m (213.3 ft) and 23.0 m (75.5 ft) (moulded) draught. She has a fiex ptched propeller, moved by a by MAN B&W 7S80ME-C8 (29,260 kW) and three uxiliary engines Hyundai-HiMSEN 6H21/32 (3 × 1,270 kW). Top speed is 15.4 knots (28.5 km/h; 17.7 mph) and crew 33. There was a controversy about this new class of ship called “Valemax” size, ordered by Vale with a deadweight tonnage of just over 400,000 tonnes, too much for most Chinese harbours. In consequence this was slimmed down to 380,000 tonnes, but only on paper. As a result they are not loaded to full capacity.

Modern bulk Carriers

Standards (recent classifications):
-Handysize: 10,000-35,000 tons
-Handymax: 35,000-50,000 tons
-Panamax: 50 000-80 000 tonnes
-Capesize/overpanamax: 80,000-300,000 tons.

Most large bulk carriers have 5 to 9 holds and are equipped with cranes between each hold, this for the less equipped ports. Some are called “self-discharging” and have a lateral strip loading system (“grasshopper”). Others are said to be “gearless”, devoid of any unloading equipment and entirely depends on well-equipped harbors. These are the most economical. There are also relatively complex OBOs (Ore Bulk carriers), BIBOs which are responsible for packing the bulk during the voyage, and finally types of specific bulk carriers such as those of the great American lakes and the “barges” Bulk carriers “. So this type would probably live on for decades, as long as containers are not used to carry bulk (which is a real possibility) so to standardized even more shipping.

Infographic about the Valemax


Links and source
Video: Largest great lakes bulk carrier
U.S. Shipping and Shipbuilding: Trends and Policy Choices

The Dardanelles Campaign (February 1915)

Dardanelles map
Turkish Navy vs Royal Navy


It was Churchill personal quest to attack the “soft underbelly” of the entente powers, reminds something ? Fortunately for the allies, this bloody campaign was halted in early 1916 instead of the campaign of Italy that lasted two solid years on a far bigger scale. Indeed at that time Turkey was seen very much as the “sick man” of Europe and an apparent easy target. Ousting Turkey from the war would have also allowed the control of the black sea, and opening a second front against the Austro-Hungarian Empire, then the south of the German Empire. It was all about underestimating the resolve of the Turks to hold their ground.

Graphic map of the Dardanelles

The latter, after the regime change, aimed at modernizing the fleet and ordered several dreadnoughts to the UK, in addition to the battleships already acquired from Germany. The seizure of these ships at the outbreak of war (already paid) ulcered the Turkish government, but soon the unexpected support of two recent German ships together with the well trained crews of Admiral Souchon presented whole new possibilities and convinced Turkey to enter the war together with the Central powers, with ambitions over an arch-enemy, Russia, and in the middle east, targeting French and British interests.

Path to the campaign

Resentment against Great Britain, which had strategic interests in the Middle East, was greatly aided by the Kaiser’s privileged relations with Sultan Mohammed and Mustafa Kemal. It began with the closing of the Dardanelles strait to allied trade in October 1914. On the 28th, the Yavuz Sultan Selim and Midilli made a coastal raid against Russia, attacking Sevastopol and Odessa, and sinking several ships. The answer was Russia’s declaration of war to the Turks on November 2, followed by the British on the 6th. A Turkish offensive was launched in December in the Caucasus, stopped by the Russians, but at the price of an obvious drain on the numbers Opposed to the Germans in the west. As a result, the Tsar formally requested the help of Great Britain in January. Sir Winston Churchill, who had already studied the contingencies of a capture of the Dardanelles, considered opposition feeble, which can be taken by a bold combined naval operation. He therefore found the pretext sought for the operation.

Combined allied fleet en route to the Dardanelles

The campaign’s preparations

Vice-Admiral Carden, in charge of the Mediterranean squadron, was contacted on 11 January by Churchill to drawn a precise plan for the attack of the Dardanelles. Carden developed a strategy based on a battleship/minesweeper/submersible triptych. Like the Crimean campaign 60 years earlier, the fleet had to muzzle the forts covering the area, allowing minesweepers to clear waters. Submarines then had to cross the strait defenses as far as possible, entering the Marmara Sea and disrupt Turkish traffic, blockading Constantinople, and sink the fleet if attempting an outbreak against the allies.

On January 13th, the operation was approved by the council of war and Carden received 14 pre-dreadnoughts battleships (the most modern being kept the Grand Fleet), but also the very modern Queen Elizabeth, and the battlecruiser HMS Inflexible. France was solicited also as a major player in the Mediterranean, and sent a squadron of four pre-dreadnoughts (Gaulois, Bouvet, Suffren, Charlemagne) together with destroyers. Russia for its part mobilized a single cruiser, the Askold. The whole system was complemented by many light vessels for a combined fleet of 90 ships. The allies settled at Lemnos, but at the time of the operations, they rejoined Imbros, not far from the strait, and still far enough from Turkish fire range. Land forces were also set up and trained in Egypt for an amphibious operation under the command of Army Corps Commander John. S. Keyes, which included several Royal Marines contingents, the 29th Regular Infantry Division, and a strong contingent of New Zealanders and Australians (the famous ANZACs).

French troops at Lemnos, 1915.

First operations (19 Feb. 1915)

In fact, a “live test” was carried out long before any formal declaration of war. That was the action of November, 3, 1914 performed by the battle cruisers Indomitable and Indefatigable assisted by French battleships Vérité and Suffren. Each battleship had to aim at a fort in particular. The fort of Sedd-ul Bahr was put out of action after 10 minutes of bombardment. After these encouraging results, Carden was allowed to continue the development of his plan. On the other hand, surprise was lost and the Turks received a stronger support from German artillery experts, with better lookouts and training.

The first phase began on 19 February 1915 at 7:30 am. Four destroyers advanced alongside the HMS Cornwallis, the first to open fire, soon joined by HMS Vengeance,had to silence forts Oranhiye Tepe and Kum Kale on the southern tip of the entrance to the Strait (see map below). Both had Krupp 240 mm guns with a very effective sight control.

Map by the author of the Dardanelles landing zones and defenses.

As can be seen on this map, the bulk of the Turkish defenses were staggered in depth, which gave them a perfect defense of the passes of the strait as well as the north coast of Galipolli. These forts totaled 80 heavy pieces including 6x 355 mm cannons, 6x 150 mm Howitzer, and the remainder 240 and 280 mm artillery pieces. No less than 10 minefields (370 mines, later increased) barring the bottom of Erin Keui Bay and Sari Sighlar Bay, the narrowest passage. Two anti-submersible nets barred the entrance and exit of it, all under crossing fire from the forts, of which only the most important ones appears on the map.

February 19-21 bombardments

On the 19th of February, three English battleships and the Suffren, firing at 10,000 meters for a quarter of an hour, temporarily silenced the forts of Kum Kale, Oraniye Tepe, Ertrugul and Sed-Ul Bahir, which had already been badly damaged. But the expected results were delayed. The offensive resumed on the 21st, stopped because of the weather and resumed on the 25th, but the Turks had evacuated the defense forts at the entrance of the strait to concentrate on the forts of the pass between Dardanos and Canakkale. In any eventuality, the Royal Marines landed and finally took the forts, encountering little resistance. But the bombardment was to resume from 26 to 31 February and concentrated on Erin Kui Bay on the 1st of March.

HMS Canopus firing

Minesweepers in action

After the bay was cleaned of artillery threats, minelayers entered the fray, English as well as French. The British ones were requisitioned converted trawlers, with a crew composed partly of civilians and officers. They had a shearing machine behind the mines submerged a few yards below the surface, and these were brought up to the surface and gunned or blasted. The operation lasted between the fall of February and early march, and on March, 4th, HMS Queen Elizabeth big guns were brought to bear on Gaba Tepe, in the Gulf of Saros, the forts of the interior defenses which range was inferior to the battleship. On March, 8, at night, the small Turkish minelayer Nusret layed a new minefield parallel to the coast in Erin Keui Bay.

The Turks observed that the British ships leaving the bay were turning to the port while aiming straight into specific area where a minefield could be wisely placed. On the night of March, 13, the cruiser HMS Amethyst, leading 6 minesweepers, cleared the first minefield of the bay. But at night this was still a perilous task, and the Turkish forts, alerted, added to the confusion. A total of four minesweepers were literally riddled by fire, and the Amethyst barely escaped destruction after being hit by a large caliber. Churchill received these first reports, and had Carden relieved of his command, replaced by Rear-Admiral John de Robeck. The latter had in view a general offensive of the whole fleet in order to close the action before the Turks were ready for a better defense.

March, 18 general offensive

The high point of the offensive against the Dardanelles took place from March 18: Rear-Admiral John de Robeck, bearing his mark on the Vengeance, mobilized no less than three battleship rows comprising successively the Queen Elisabeth, Nelson, Agamemnon and Inflexible (Bearing the mark of Carden), in the second line the 4 French battleships (including the Suffren bearing the mark of Rear Admiral Guépratte) and the Vengeance, Irresistible, Albion and Ocean in the third line, flanks being protected by HMS Majestic, Prince George, Swiftsure and Triumph, with the Canopus and Cornwallis in reserve. The objective was to silence the defenses surrounding the first 5 minefields. The Royal Navy thus used wisely its numerous old pre-dreadnoughts, of little use for the Grand Fleet.

Rolling Thunder

From 11 am to 1:25 pm, a continuous rolling fire succeeded in silencing or destroying the Turkish forts. The task was not easy. The artillery pieces were well protected by massive concrete works (Built under German supervision), while more than 50 lighter guns were remarkably hidden in the foothills of the coast, leaving only embrasures covered with branches, only revealed by their brief muzzle blast. Torpedo tubes and searchlights were also hidden for night offensives, while fake batteries were prominently displayed. Moreover, crew were trained for accurate and fast-firing, and lower batteries offering little frontal surface, were hardly destructible. In most cases only debris obstructed embrasures and interfered with Turkish fire. The cannons themselves could only be neutralized by an assault of naval companies. On the 17th, the Nusret had returned to the bay and layed the last available mines, which will cause havoc and compromise the whole operation.

Suffren and other battleships are badly damaged

The bombardment on both sides was severe, but Turkish firing revealed itsel not as precise. The fort of Rumelia-Medjidieh had held particularly long. The Suffren, Gaulois, Agamemnon and Inflexible suffered severe hits. For the anecdote, an orchestra played on the rear deck of the Suffren for more than an hour, before the intensity of the fire became too dangerous to go on. Later, a 240 mm shell would destroy a 164 mm barbette, entering through the casemate’s sighting window, decapitating the firing officer, and then enter the loading room setting fire to 200 kgs powder B charges. The ensuring ball of fire would burn alive all the servants inside the barbette. The fire control room had been devastated later by a shell, all internal communications cut off.

Worse, a flaming 164 mm charge fell into the powder bunker, where 6 tons were stored. Unfortunately the six servants evacuating the room failed to open the valves to drown it. Battery’s chief Lannuzel however stayed inside to check the filling, and drowned. Another large caliber exploded in the chimney, destroyed the fans and obturated the cooling ducts. In a few minutes the heating chamber’s temperature exceeded sixty degrees, men collapsed at their post. On her side the Bouvet’s marble (extractor of burnt gases from the gun barrel) broke down, servants were asphyxiated. On the Inflexible, the turrets’s servants had also been killed. De Robeck decided to remove the battleships and to commit his second line assisted by the Swiftsure and Majestic.

The Bouvet sinking

The Bouvet is lost, the Inflexible almost followed

Retiring after two hours of almost uninterrupted fire the Bouvet was the last to depart, preceded by the Suffren, Gaulois and Charlemagne. While veering to starboard (right) she struck a mine laid by the Nusret. Its unprotected hull was blown open and torn along its length and the flood was severe and fast. In 45 seconds, the ship began to roll on its side, and capsized from the rear, then sank vertically prow in the air. She sank with 23 officers and 619 sailors. 47 survivors would be gathered by British destroyer Mosquito, while under Turkish fire. She was not the first loss: At about 4 pm HMS Inflexible also hit hard turned to starboard when retiring, but also came into the same minefield as the Bouvet. The explosion killed 60 and injured a hundred, many trapped by the automatic closure systems in the flooded compartments (a bit like on the Titanic). Thanks to its modern protection however, the battlecruiser was able to retire at a slow speed from the bay and managed to run aground on a sand bank on the island of Tenedos, sparing the crew and allowing future repairs.

Battleship Bouvet in the Dardanelles

Battleships Irresistible and Ocean are lost

The battleship HMS Irresistible, in turn, hit a mine when also veering to starboard (the configuration of the bay and radius of these mastodons left no other choice). Her machinery compartments were flooded, but the leaks were contained also by the crew’s plugs and multiple partitioning. However, pressure inside these flooded partitions and uncontrolled infiltration made certain its capsize at some point. As the crew was preparing to evacuate, the HMS Ocean approached to take her in tow. The shallows of the shore made the operation dangerous, and at about six o’clock the Ocean struck a mine in turn, blasting her rudder.

Now she became uncontrollable and also began to fill up. The two ships, immobilized, were at the mercy of Turkish artillery, which against all expectations had cased fire, deprived of ammunitions. Then “naval dust” came to rescue the large crews, then evacuated the zone in haste with the falling evening. Thinking the ships still afloat could possibly be recovered by the Turks, a destroyer was sent to torpedo them at night. After searching for them for four hours, she saw nothing: Both battleships had sunk. The results of the day had been a triumph for the Ottoman Empire, causing the Royal Navy the worst losses in its history since Trafalgar !

HMS Irresistible sinking in the Dardanelles

Landings at Gallipoli

The landings: 25-28 April 1915

This crushing naval failure did not cost De Robeck post, as Churchill, fully assuming his responsibilities, had to explain himself to a raging House of Commons. Henceforth, instead of persevering in this direction, the HQ would try to take the forts on by troops landed on a shore seeming defenseless. On February 22, 70,000 men were assembled under the command of Sir Ian Hamilton, forming the MEF (Mediterranean Expeditionary Force). Preparations lasted a month. The Turks who expected this offensive judiciously chose the most favorable points for an amphibious operation and fortified them with lines of trenches, barbed wire, machine gun nests, mortars and casemates supported by Howitzers. A first disembarkation was planned on Cape Helles, the troops had to cross 11 km and reach the plateau of Kilitbahir which commanded the peninsula, and later the town of Krithia and the Achi Baba hill on which heavy artillery pieces were to be placed for support.

ANZAC cove

On D-Day, April 25th, three battleships landed the first wave, followed by those carried by the destroyers Usk, Ribble, Chelmer, Scourge, Foxhound, Colne and Beagle, assisted and covered by the HMS London, Prince of Wales and Queen, the Majestic and Triumph, the Bacchante in the rear, troops taking place on boats. An error had been made at the site of the landing which took place further north, in a place now called “Anzac Creek.” In spite of the numerous troops disembarked, Turkish lines held firm, inflicting terrible losses on the 29th Division and Commonwealth troops, advancing a meter at a time. The firing of the battleships was not very accurate, despite seaplanes observations from the Ark Royal and balloons from Manica which corrected the fire. The first lines would finally be taken in the evening.

HMS Majestic leaving Mudros harbor to cover landings on April, 25.

Ships of the line’s fire was found ineffective and the troops felt the same sense of helplessness than their brothers in arms stucked in trenches on the western front. The situation differed according to the beaches. At the beaches V, W, and X, farther south of Cape Helles, the artillery preparation had been considerable, but not on “Anzac Cove” conceived as a surprise. The troops, mostly Australian, arrived in front of intact enemy lines. The artillery support only came after, but was restrained by safety concerns when the troops advanced inward. Another landing took place on the beach “S”, at Kum Kale, French troops supported by the Cornwallis, who took the village and held it in spite of Turkish counter-attacks.

Unfortunately, losses of the British Forces were such that the French were ordered leave the village and reinforce the MEF stuck on the west coast of the peninsula. Naval support was not effective against entrenched positions, but much more on Turkish troops moving on open ground to counterattack on the 27th and 28th. The Queen Elizabeth proved its worth by stopping the first offensive with a single salvo, While the second was literally annihilated by 381 mm shrapnells provided for the operation. She also showed precision when on the 27th she sank at long indirect range off Gaba Tepe a Turkish transport crossing the strait, spotted by a balloon.

The failure of Land operations

Faced with obstinate resistance by the Turks masterfully commanded by general Helmuth von Sanders, the offensive never reached its original objectives. The troops disembarked at Cape Helles and never came to the sight of Krithia, while those of “Anzac Cove” advanced only a few kilometers, the interior heights remaining to the enemy. Their situation was untenable because the terrain configuration made Turkish weaponry very effective ion the open, crossing fire covering the whole area. Trenches were dug but all assaults were doomed. Many superior officers lost their lives there. Troops were only supplied by night, but the evacuation of the wounded remained problematic.

Queen Elisabeth at Lemnos, 1915

It was not until May 1st that combined forces managed to form a shallow bridgehead. But the forehead remained frozen. On May 6, Hamilton decided to land in Suvla Bay and launch an attack on Kereves-Dere and Achi Baba. This will be a bloody failure, despite a new attempt with fresh troops on the 15th. More seriously, the support of the navy was now compromised: On May 12, the Turkish TB Muavenet managed to torpedo HMS Goliath, sending it to the bottom. Later, the 25th, the HMS Triumph was sunk by U21. Two days later, the same submarine also sank HMS Majestic. In the face of such losses the Admiralty decided to withdraw all battleships still in support, starting with the Queen Elizabeth that sailed to Egypt wisely. From now on only cruisers and destroyers will provide cover, as well as some “improvised monitors” made with requisitioned local ships and artillery pieces.

Turkish Battleship Messudieh. This old ironclad has been rebuilt but was still considered merely as a glorified coast guard.

Trying to Unlock the front

The last attempt to break the deadlock was carried out on 6th August: There were plans for two attacks south, on Cape Helles and Sari-Bari. The latter is led by the Anzac and totally failed. The second met with little resistance but negligence and nonchalance of the officers prevented any progresses, leaving time for the Turks to fortify their positions and send reinforcements. When Hamilton arrived, it was too late. This last failure further aggravated first Lord of the Sea’s point -Winston Churchill- while Hamilton was replaced by Munro. The latter was seconded by Kitchener, and the two came to the conclusion that the lack of effective support, with continuous fire by large Turkish pieces and the coming winter compromised any progresses.

The final decision to withdraw troops came when the situation in the Balkans deteriorated rapidly. Allied troops, some 100,000 men, were evacuated without much losses from October 1915 to January 1916, but soon disembarked at Salonica to support the Greek front. The largest amphibious operation of the First World War ended for the Allies as a crushing failure: Constantinople was secured, the government and population’s resolve highest than never, while the allies lost 7 battleships and left 250,000 men on the ground, dead and wounded.

Submarine’s revenge

And so were gone the troops, the big guns of the fleet, and with them any hope to secure the Dardanelles. But that did not bring an halt to the operations against the Turks in this area. The amphibious operation failure was compensated by the success of one of the branches of this plan, left aside until now: Submersibles. Despite the difficulties, English and French subs attempted to cross the Straits defenses. On December 13, 1914, the British submarine B13 succeeded in crossing all minefields, the two nets, and reached the bay of Sari Sighlar, south of Cannakale. She caught the old Messoudieh, anchored as a battery, and torpedoed her. The battleship sank in ten minutes, carrying more than 600 men with it. However miraculously most left the ship which hull still emerged, perforating it get out. The exploit of the B11 went on as she managed to come back through. Captain Holbrook was the first to receive the Victoria Cross for this feat.

Australian submarine AE2

On French side, submarine Saphir also passed through the defenses on 15 January, but ran aground on Nagara, and was scuttled. The British E15 attempted the same in April 17, but ran aground on Sari Sighlar after being caught by the strong currents. She was destroyed by fort Dardanos gunfire, the crew taken prisoner without being able to scuttle it. On 26 April the Australian submarine AE2 was the first to cross the Strait entirely, reaching the the Marmara Sea, but a week rampage ended without tangible results, partly because of torpedoes detonator shortages. On the 29th she was spotted and sunk by the Turkish torpedo-boat Sultanhissar.

On 27th of April, another submarine, Commander Boyle’s E14, also crossed the Marmara Sea, fired all his torpedoes, firing her gun, and sinking a large tonnage. She returned back, Boyle received the Victoria Cross. Trade in the sea of ​​marmara was interrupted for some time. Boyle would made later two further crossings without any hindrance, still inflicting losses on Turkish traffic, despite the installation of a new net in Erin Keui Bay. On May, 23, E11 did the same, sinking 11 ships, including three in the same port on the coast of Thrace. On August, 8, during a new attempt she sank the battleship Hayredin Barbarossa, a 1890s ex-German ship armed with three double 280mm turrets. There were also individual exploits of loners, such as Lieutenant Lyon, swimming to the coast from the E2, and managing packed TNT on a railway bridge. He never came back. Lt. Hugues did the same from E11. He derailed a train and won the D.S.O. On July, 17, E7 attacked a coastal railway by gunfire, stopped and destroyed two trains.

British submarine B11

There were also brave but unlucky attempts like the case of the E7, entangled in the first net, and the French Mariotte on July 27. The Joule was sunk on the 1st of May by a mine. The Turquoise story was edifying: She succeeded in crossing the strait on 28 October, penetrated into the Marmara Sea, sank some ships, but upon her return ran aground at the foot of a fort and was captured intact. The Turks towed her, renamed and put back into service in Turkish colors. The submarine also bring with it documents detailing allied operations and a rendezvous with the British submarine E20. When the latter arrived at the appointed time without knowing it, she was torpedoed by the U14 in ambush. In the end, the allies had sunk two Turkish battleships, a destroyer, 5 gunboats, 9 troop carriers, 7 suppliers and 200 steamers and various ships, literally emptying the Sea of ​​Marmara.

Battleship Heyreddin Barbarossa
Turkish Battleship Heyreddin Barbarossa, sunk by E11

The hard lessons of the Dardanelles were not lost. If no other similar amphibious operation was undertaken in WW1 (apart from a 1918 project in the Baltic), new concepts were born that would bore fruit during the Second World War. Allied losses has been imputable to the forts but mines and submersibles. Fortunately the ships sunk were of little use in a modern battle line. Amphibious support seemed to be the only suitable task of those big guns battleship, a foretaste of their growing use in WW2. For the last few years, ultra-modern ships equipped with single, double or triple-caliber turrets for coastal support benefited from all the advances in terms of range, accuracy, and enhanced shells. Many monitors were indeed built to serve in the Adriatic by the Italians and the British in the Channel.


This campaign was also the occasion for a raising fame blue-eyed Turkish officer, Mustafa Kemal, to show his brillance as a commander and leader in the field. To this day the Dardanelles campaign is cherished by the memory of both the Turks which saw it as a brillant victory, and the Australians, which blood spilled on these bone-dry shores helped shaping a national identity. Memorials and cemeteries of all sides involved are still maintained with care, and veterans of the Anzacs visited these battlefields in the 1950-70s, followed by a trail of documentaries and Peter Weir’s movie in the 1981 starring a young Mel Gibson, “Gallipoli“.

Marco Polo (1892)

Italy (1883)
Armoured Cruiser

The First Italian Armoured Cruiser

The Marco Polo was the first Italian armoured cruiser. She was designed by chief engineer Carlo Vigna in 1889, and laid down in January 1890 in Castellamare di Stabia but was closely based on the Etna class cruisers. She was modified during construction as an armoured cruiser she was larger and theoretically faster, but without the heavy 254 mm artillery pieces of the Etna. Instead her 152 mm pieces were complemented by a large 120 mm battery. But this choice led to several criticisms, and the Marco Polo was generally considered too lightly armed. In addition, her expected speed of 19 knots was never reached and remained as slow as the Etna.


The ships was longer than the Etna at 106.05 meters (347 ft 11 in) oa versus 283 ft 6 in (86.4 m), wider at 14.67 m (48 ft 2 in) vs 13 m (42 ft 6 in), and the draft was deeper for about 8cm. Overall displacement was 4,583 t (4,511 long tons), much heavier than the Etna class at 3,474 long tons (3,530 t). Propulsion used two vertical triple-expansion steam engines fed by four Scotch marine boilers which produced 10,000 indicated horsepower (7,500 kW) versus 7,480 ihp (5,580 kW). Consequently top speed was rated (in theory) as much as 19 knots versus 17 which was a real progress, but in reality 17.2 knots was the most common figure, as she did 17.8 knots (33.0 km/h; 20.5 mph) at best by overheating its boilers and producing 10,663 ihp (7,951 kW). Radius was 5,800 nautical miles (10,700 km; 6,700 mi) versus 5,000 nautical miles (9,300 km; 5,800 mi) at 10 knots.

The armament seen the deletion of the heavy 254 mm pieces in favor of a concentrated battery of six 152 mm/40 (6.0 in) guns in single mounts which the Etna had already, for a secondary battery of ten rapid-firing single 120 mm (4.7 in) guns. The light battery was about the same, eleven 57 and 37 mm versus ten Hotchkiss revolver guns on the Etna. Its 100 mm (3.9 in) armored belt only stretched to the middle of the ship, starting and ending under the fore and aft ammunition wells. Gun shields and conning tower were protected by 51 mm of armour. Only the deck was protected on the Etna at 1.5-inch (38 mm).

Marco Polo as completed, from


Marco Polo was launched on the Royal Shipyard in Castellammare di Stabia on 27 October 1892, entering service on 21 July 1894, four years after being laid down. Her first long trip was Greece in 1897, but she departed the next year for the Far East on 26 January, visiting through the Yang Tse Nanking, Hankow, Shanghai, then Japan and back to Shanghai. She was back to Naples on 20 October 1899 and then returned to China. On her way back in 1907 she visited Zanzibar, Mogadishu, and Massawa in Eritrea before arriving at Taranto. She stays there until armament modification in 1911.

She was partially disarmed: She kept six 152-mm pieces (in a classic lozenge arrangement, one on the forecastle, another on the back, and the other four on the flanks in open casemate.), sacrificing six 120 mm guns out of the original ten, six 57 mm pieces out of nine, and four TTs out of five. Then she was affected to the 2nd Division of the 1st Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet, soon placed under the Duca di Abruzzi command, she patrolled to spot Ottoman Ships. She stopped an Austro-Hungarian ship on 5 October 1911 off San Giovanni di Medua, and the boat sent to board her was quickly fired upon by an Ottoman coastal artillery. Marco Polo replied for 45 minutes and silenced the battery, but this triggered a diplomatic tempest.

She was then affected to the 4th Division of the 2nd Squadron operating off Libya and later she shelled Homs in support to Italian landings and later on April 1912 together with Carlo Alberto, shelled Zuara. She made later a sortie with the 4th Division against the Ottoman fleet in the Aegean Sea, but never found it. By default she and other ships bombarded the entrance to the Dardanelles on 18 April. She was later back in Libya, and later helped to capture Misrata. On 25 February 1913 she returned to the Far East, visited Kobe in August 1914, was back to Shanghai in December, was later sent in Yemen and returned to Naples in March 1915. By then she was considered obsolete.

She did participated in the great war but as an accommodation ship at Venice and was taken in hand in 1917 for a conversion into troop transport, the Cortelazzo, armed in supplement with two howitzer and two heavy mortars. In October 1920 she was renamed Europa, put into reserve, then reactivated in 1921 under the name of Volta, and again placed in reserved, and finally written off and sold for scrap in 1922.


Brassey’s Naval annual depicting the general scheme of the Italian cruiser

Postcard depicting the Marco Polo

Cortelazzo 1918
Marco Polo used as the ship transport Cortelazzo in 1918 – cdts, from Conway’s Fighting ships 1906-1921

Illustration of the Marco Polo in 1914

Sardegna (1914) specifications

Dimensions 106,50 (347 ft 11 in) x 14,57 (48 ft 2 in) x 5,88 m (19 ft 3 in)
Displacement 4500 – 4820 t. FL
Crew 394
Propulsion 2 screws, 2 VTE engines, 4 cyl. boilers, 10 660 hp
Speed 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph)
Range 5,800 nmi (10,700 km; 6,700 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Armament 6 x 152, 4 x 120, 6 x 57, 2 x 37 mm, 2 howitzer, 2 ML, 4 TT 450 mm
Armor Belt 150 mm, Decks 25 mm, CT 51 mm, shields 51 mm

Conways all the world’s Fighting ships 1906-1921
Conways all the world’s fighting ships 1860-1906

Rossiya class cruisers (1896)

Russia (1896)
Armoured Cruisers – Rossiya, Gromoboi

The Giant Russian Cruisers

Back in the 1890s the fast-growing Russian Empire and its global ambition worried the British naval staff much more than the threat posed by a then still small German Navy. The Russian Navy in 1893 ordered for the pacific squadron two massive cruisers to be used as long-range commerce raider. By 1896 the first was launched , the second was to follow in 1899. But her displacement and size reached a peak for an armoured cruiser, and the Royal Navy ordered the two Powerfuls in response. Indeed by 1896 with her 12,300 tons and heavy armament, the Rossia (bearing a very significant name) was the largest warship afloat in this category. Still today the Rossia and her near sister-ship are impressive with their tall bows, spurs, striking white hulls and three lines of portholes, they looked like liners crammed with artillery. Both took a significant part in the Russo-Japanese war, and later participated in WW1, Gromoboi even duelling with SMS Von der Tann.

Gromoboi visiting Australia in 1901



Rossia counted four 8-inch (203 mm) 45-caliber, Pattern 1892 guns sponsoned on each side of the main battery decks. These guns fired a 193.5 pound (87.8 kg) shell at 2950 feets per second and 12,000 yards only due to a lower max elevation. There were therefore no main guns on the deck as the secondary battery, which comprised no less than sixteen 6-inch (152 mm)/45 Pattern 1892 guns was also entirely placed in barbettes or hull embrasures (center). Two of these Canet guns were mounted in the bow and stern. They had a better range (12,600 yd) but their twice lighter 91.4 pound (41.5 kg) shells hit the target slower (2,600 feet per second (790 m/s). Their tertiary artillery which was dealing with TBs comprised twenty 47-millimeter (1.9 in) Canet 43 1892 pattern guns, two 47 mm (1.9 in)/43 Hotchkiss AA guns and eighteen 37mm (1.5 in)/23 fast-firing revolver guns. The latter can hit any ship at the rate of 20 rounds each passing minute at 2700m. In addition for close-quarter duels, no less than five 15 inch (381 mm) torpedo tubes were mounted above the water line, but their original 1880s Whitehead torpedoes were replaced by better models in time.


A real progress on the previous Rurik’s relatively low-grade steel plates, the Rossia, like the Gromoboi, was fitted with newly developed Harvey armor. Krupp armour was a first choice, but Russian production proved too complicated. Both had their bottoms sheathed in wood and copper to reduce biofouling. Both also shared a bow that trimmed badly in bad weather, and through improvement the issue was somewhat solved, both ships estimated being good sea boats, with smooth roll due to tumblehome sides. Apart their thick conning towers (12 in or 305mm) in Krupp armour, Rossia had a better armoured belt than the Gromoboi: The waterline belt extended from the stern to almost the bow (but 80 feets), extended 1.4 m above the waterline and 1.2 m below, and 8 inches (203 mm) thick, reduced to 6 abaft the machinery spaces, 5 at the stern. This belt was closed off at the forward end by a 7 inch transverse bulkhead. Gromoboi’s belt was reduced in thickness by 2 inches (51 mm), shorter and less tall above waterline. The barbettes were 4.7 inches (119 mm) thick, decks 2–3 in (51–76 mm).

Blueprint of the Gromoboi

Blueprint of the Rossiya


To act as commerce raider, Rossia was fitted with a unusual machine arrangement, with one large vertical triple expansion steam engine driving the two external shafts and one smaller cruiser VTE engine for the central shaft. What was really unique was there was not enough steam to drive all three engines simultaneously, so either the central one, or two external shafts had to be uncoupled. No less than thirty-two Belleville water-tube boilers fed these VTEs. 15,523 ihp (11,575 kW) on trials gave about 20 knots (to be precise 19.74 knots or 36.56 km/h. 2,200 long tons of coal gave a 7,740 nautical miles (14,330 km; 8,910 mi) radius and by 1898 oil fuel was also tried.

Gromoboi and Rossiya at sea in 1904, off Vladivostock


The Rossia, often assimilated to Gromoboi as they shared the same hull, were very similar and are so presented here. However, they were not sister ships, differing in many aspects, the Gromoboi being heavily modified in the meantime. Overall, both were derivative of the Novik, a mixed cruiser with sail and steam, but their masts had only a reduced sail. both had similar length, showed four funnels, short foremast and armored tops. Rossia’s original secondary armament comprised twelve 3-in (76 mm) against 24 on the Gromoboi, which in addition only four 3-pdr (47 mm) against twenty on the Rossia, and four 1-pdr (37 mm) against fourteen on the Rossia. Distribution was also different, the secondary guns of the Rossia being placed in side ports, while those of the Gromoboi were in barbettes, giving them a better range. In addition, the belt shield was inferior on the Gromoboi, and she was significantly slower.

Artist impression of the Gromoboi at sea in 1901 (pinterest, origin unknown)

The Rossia and Gromoboi in action

The two units took part in the Russo-Japanese War: They were present at the battle of Uslan and badly hit, but resisted enough to escape. Returning to port, they were so riddled as to be nicknamed “tin strainers”. Their protection was deemed disappointing. In 1906, their drydock overhaul was used to re-arm them with six 6-in (152mm ) guns, tertiary armament being reduced to fifteen 3-in (76 mm) and two 1-pdr (37 mm) plus two TTs instead of the original five On the Rossia.

Gromoboi in 1922 grounded at Liepaja. She was broken up in situ by a German company.

Cruiser Rossiya after 1906

Rossia’s carrer

Built at Baltic Works, Saint Petersburg, the large cruiser was foundered on a sandbar en route to Kronstadt for fitting-out. Before even finishing her trials she participated in Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Fleet Review in June 1897 at Spithead, and departed for Nagasaki, Japan in March 1898, then joined Vladivostock where she remains until the outbreak of the war in 1904. She was the flagship of the far east squadron that also comprised the Gromoboi, Rurik, and Bogatyr under command of Rear Admiral Karl Jessen. They undertook sorties against Japanese shipping bound to Port Arthur, assisting the siege, with some success. She also tested an observation balloon for some time.

Rossiya testing an observation balloon

Battle off Ulsan
This was both cruiser real test of fire: Th Russian squadron blockaded at Port Arthur tried to break out but were rebuffed with heavy losses at the Battle of the Yellow Sea. Jessen’s squadron departed on August, 10 to assist it, loosing Bogatyr en route, reaching the island of Tsushima at dawn but failing to see any Russian ship leaving Vladivostock. They however found the blockading “flying” Japanese squadron (Vice Admiral Kamimura Hikonojō), and cruisers Iwate, Izumo, Tokiwa, and Azuma. However at night, both squadron failed to spot each others and passed by, but at 5:00 am, after maneuvering, both squadron this time had visual contact and battle began at 5:23, opening fire at 8500m.

All four Japanese armoured cruisers concentrated on the rear ship Rurik, and was left behind. Both squadrons tried to get in range, and at 06:00 Admiral Jessen turned back to reach Rurik and allowed her to participate in the ensuring fire fest. But as Rurik was hit again, this time Rossiya and Gromoboi placed themselves between the Japanese and the wounded cruiser. They scored many hits on Iwate but the Japanese replied and put Rossia on fire (which was extinguished 20 min later). Both ships resumed manoeuvers but at 08:15 Jessen ordered Rurik to join them to Vladivostock. Both ships fought a fighting retreat for 1h30, being slowed sown at 15 knots. Eventually the Japanese broke off and turned back to finish off the Rurik, previously sunk by the slower Naniwa and Takachiho.

Rossiya’s side damages after the battle of Uslan

Damages on the Rossiya were relatively serious, but no hit was scored under the waterline and repairs could be done in two month. She has taken 19 hits starboard and 9 port, with 44 dead and 156 wounded. Half the losses on Gromoboi, because the captain ordered his crews manning the exposed light artillery to lay down and those manning the unexposed guns to go below.

After the war, Rossiya returned to Kronstadt on 8 April 1906, for a three years refit. Masts and armament, were revised and redesigned, with the addition of four guns broadside. In 1909 she visited the Azores, participated in King George V’s Coronation Fleet Review in June 1911 and Copenhagen. She later cruised the Mediterranean from April 1914 when the war broke out. She was mobilized and quickly transformed as a minelayer for the 2nd Cruiser Brigade of the Baltic Fleet. Together with Oleg and Bogatyr she laid a large minefield in january 1915 between Kiel and the Mecklenburg coast, claiming light cruisers SMS Augsburg and SMS Gazelle (badly damaged but not sunk). In october 1915 her armament was augmented again, and she ended with a broadside of six eight-inch and seven six-inch guns. With the revolution, she came under control of the Soviet Red Fleet in September 1917 and later joined Kronstadt, making her “ice voyage” before being interned and eventually sold in 1 July 1922 to the German Company to be broken up. Foundered en route on the coast of Estonia she was later salvaged and towed to Kiel to be broken up.

Gromoboi at war

Gromoboi for “Громобой” meaning “Thunderer” was also a commerce raider and served as such during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, but was eventually severely blooded a the Battle off Ulsan when going back home to Vladivostock. Transferred to the Baltic like her sister-ship she took part in ww1. Before fitting out she was forced aground by sea ice, and later departed for repairs. She left Liepāja on 10 December 1900 for the far east, and when stopping at Kiel, she was examined by Prince Henry of Prussia. She was later present at the constitution to Australia, visiting Sydney and Melbourne and then joined Nagasaki and finally reached Port Arthur on 29 July 1901; By the time the war erupted she did several sorties against Japanese shipping, claiming for example the Hitachi Maru loaded with siege howitzer and troops, and followed the fate of Rossiya at the battle of Uslan.

Gromoboi’s battle damage after the battle of Ulsan

As a consequence of her fighting retreat towards Vladivostock she suffered at least 15 hits starboard, 7 port side of the hull and many more on the superstructures, deploring 87 dead and 170 wounded. In Vladivostock she was repaired and armament was modified, with the addition of six new 6-in guns, received Barr and Stroud rangefinders and Telefunken radio equipment but a mine hit later condemned her to extensive repairs until the end of the war.
The interwar saw a lengthy refit at Kronstadt, and she emerged with engines and boilers reconditioned, less light guns, new 460mm TTs, foremast removed, artillery rearranged, armor modified (upper-deck casemates was increased to two inches, new casemates built, telemeter towers…). After her engine refits in the summer of 1911 she reached on trials 18.5 knots.

During the great war she was part of the 2nd Cruiser Brigade of the Baltic Fleet and was used as heavy minelayer, carrying 200 mines. In one of her sorties on August 10, 1915she duelled with German battlecruiser SMS Von der Tann at the entrance to the Gulf of Finland. Until 1917 her armament was modified once more, when she traded its 6-in guns for an additional eight-inch guns. She also received two 2.5-inch and two 47 mm anti-aircraft guns while the light artillery remaining was deposed. Part of the Soviet Red Fleet in September 1917 she departed for Kronstadt and was placed here in reserve. However on October 1920, her crew mutinied and scuttled the ship. later sold for scrap to Germany she ran aground in a storm near Liepāja and was later broken up in situ.

Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1860-1906

Specifications (1914)

Dimensions (L-w-h) 146,60 x 20,9 x 8,5 m
Total weight, fully loaded 13,220 long tonnes
Armament 4x 203 mm, 22x 152 mm, 19x 76 mm, 6×47 mm, 2 TT 381 mm
Armor Blockhaus 305, deck 75, casemate 120, belt 152 mm
Crew 877
Propulsion 3 props, 3 VTE engines, 32 Belleville boilers, 15 500 hp
Speed (road) 20 knots (38 km/h; ? mph)
Range ?


Illustration profile of the Rossia in 1914

Enterprise class cruisers

United Kingdom (1920)
Light Cruisers – Enterprise, Emerald

The little known “E” class

The two Enterprise (Enterprise and Emerald) or “E” class vessels were the last British light cruisers built during the Great War. However, the lack of manpower and shipbuilding priority given to destroyers meant that their launch only took place in 1920. They were only completed, with much revisions, in 1926. They were originally built to counter Fast cruisers, the German minelayer Brummer and Bremse, operating at the end of 1917. They could achieve 33 knots, using engines from the Shakespeare class flotilla leaders mounted in pairs, with classical artillery derived from “D” class.

Three ships has been laid down, the third called HMS Euphrates being laid down at Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Govan in 1918 but cancelled shortly after on 26 November 1918. The first pencil lines had been laid in 1917 and much of their equipment was 1916 standard. With a complement of four sets of torpedo tubes, these ships were quite formidable for 1918, but in 1926 after their lengthy completion, this design was quite dated.


The two ships were thin, being longer without increase in beam. To afford the extended machinery and double the power available, reaching 33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph), gaining 30 m in length at the expense of almost 50% more displacement. Four propellers were driven from two engine rooms, four boiler rooms, the 2 and 3 being arranged side-by-side and trunked into a common funnel, while the 1 and 4 each had their own funnel, but the 4 was much further aft, which gave this very recognizable and unusual silhouette. The truth was they emphasised high speed at the cost of other qualities.

The class would be reclassified as light cruisers thereafter. Their artillery comprised only one more gun than previous Danae class, with the last 152 mm single mounts: Seven pieces including port and starboard on the fore deck for the Emerald, and a twin turret for the Enterprise, the first to experiment one at that time for this light caliber. The twin turret was a prototype, successfully tested, that led to its adoption on the Leander, Amphion and Arethusa classes. In consequence the bridge was of a new design, and some features like a single block topped by a director tower would soon appear also on the ‘County’ class cruisers.

The two ships received a catapult for a seaplane in 1936, which will be deposited in 1944, because in the meantime they were equipped with efficient radars. Their torpedo tubes were replaced in 1929. Finally, their AA artillery was reinforced in 1940, with the addition of two quadruple Bofors 40 mm mounts, while in 1942 their benches of torpedo tubes were deposited in favor of 16 to 18 20 mm pieces Oerlikon AA. Until 1939 they were both stationed in the Far East and also in the Mediterranean.

Detail of the front twin turret, HMS Enterprise 1936

Career: HMS Enterprise

The HMS Enterprise served off the coast of France, carried out escort missions, participated in the Norwegian campaign, fought in Narvik and was badly hit there. After repairs, she joined H force in the Mediterranean, participating in operation “Catapult” against the French navy anchored at Mers-el-Kebir.

She then departed for the Indian Ocean and the Far East. later she returned to France for a refit and was assigned to the hunt for the German raiders. In December 1943 she engaged and destroyed a German destroyer and two torpedo boats, taking part in escort missions until June 1944, assisting the landing by battery cover. In January 1945 she was transferred to the reserve and made only secondary missions such as the repatriation of troops. She was disarmed and demolished in 1948.

Career: HMS Emerald

The HMS Emerald received radars and new tripod masts in 1940, losing a 152 mm piece. She crossed the North Atlantic, carrying the British gold reserves to Halifax (58 million pounds). She was then assigned to the Indian Ocean. She returned in 1941 to the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. She operated on the Iraqi coast (to support the repression of a pro-German revolt in the summer of 1941) and the Red Sea. In December, she was part of famous Z force at Singapore (also Prince of Wales and Repulse). She did not departed with the ships of Tom Philips on their fatal raid, and became after their loss the only major ship left in the “Asian Gibraltar”. She had to leave nevertheless before the fall of Singapore and made it home despite Japanese lookouts and reconnaissance over the area.

HMS Enterprise in Haifa, 1936.

After her overhaul she returned in 1943 to attend the 4th cruiser squadron in the Indian Ocean. In the summer of 1944, at D-Day she assisted the landings by covering Gold Beach sector. After being paid to the reserve shortly thereafter, she was reduced to sub-divisional roles before being struck off and broken up in 1948.

HMS Emerald in the interwar. The livery would have been white/pale grey with dark sand superstructures

Considerations about the class

All in all, the Emerald class in 1939 could have been obsolete and costly compared to new classes, but they were still the fastest cruisers in the Royal Navy and the heaviest torpedo-armed at the outbreak of World War II.
They were made “bankable” in the interwar and still found their place in the Navy despite the arrival of the large “County” colonial cruisers and the modern “Town” class to chasing German raiders thanks to their long range.
They very much had the same fate and career as the “C” or Cavendish class, mainly employed on the ocean trade routes and the Far East in 1942-43 with the East Indies Fleet. The small but successful naval battle of the Enterprise against a well-armed German destroyer and torpedo boat force in December 1943 in the Bay of Biscay was considered a feat for such an old cruiser.

The HMS Emerald in the 1930s


The HMS Enterprise on wikipedia
British Light Cruisers 1939–45 By Angus Konstam
British Cruisers: Two World Wars and After. By Norman Friedman
Specs Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1921-1947.

HMS Enterprise in November 1943

Neptune specifications

Dimensions 173.7 x16.6 x6.6 m (570 x54 x16 ft)
Displacement 8250 tons S, 10220 tons FL
Crew 680
Propulsion 4 screws, 4 BC turbines, 8 Yarrow boilers, 80,000 hp
Speed 33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph)
Range 1,350nm @32 knots to 8,000nm @15 knots
Armament 7x 152mm, 5x 102mm MK VIII AA, 8 Bofors 40mm AA, 16(4×4) TT 533mm
Armor Sides 38-76 mm (1.5-3 in), deck 25 mm (1 in).


Profile of the HMS Enterprise at Haifa in 1936

Same, port side view

HMS Enteprise in June 1944, operation Overlord.

Dunkirk (26 May-4 June 1940)

dunkirk map

A legendary Retreat

That’s a name that will probably stays forever with a bitter-sweet taste for the British public and collective imagination, but its memory is still vivid after many documentaries and two movies (the first 1958) like Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. The name of the last harbor this side of the channel, pocket of resistance for the bulk of the defeated British and French Armies. Hope in despair.

Isle of Man steam ferry SS Mona’s Queen sinking after striking a mine off Dunkirk, 29 May 1940

And the the extraordinary mobilization of both the military, ground troops doing rearguard fighting, both navies loosing about 12 destroyers in the process, the Air Force, trying to contain the Luftwaffe, civilians volunteering to get the men out despite the odds, and finally the controversial “good will” gesture of Hitler that kept Panzers out of the perimeter to the last minute. This all combined for the “miracle of Dunkirk” allowing to carry back to UK far more British troops, the BEF being the cream of the small Professional British Army, and many thousand Frenchmen fighting a brave rearguard action in the outskirt of the city. As Churchill stated “a war is not won by evacuations”.

German E-Boote (British designation) or Schnellboot. They had a range of 800 nmi (1,500 km; 920 mi) at 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph). Larger German R-Boote (Räumboote) or fast minelayers/minesweepers would later rampage through the Channel. There are countless reports of allied ships sunk by torpedoes and mines, yet Kriegsmarine actions between a costly Norwegian campaign and the aborted late summer invasion (Operation Sea Lion) are yet to fully unfold. At least Bourrasque is recorded to have been sunk by E-boats S-23 and S-26 on 31 May, Wakeful by S-30 on 29 May, and Grafton by U-29 the same day.

*As a personal note i would add Dunkirk touches me in a very personal way. My father was born there, carried away under bombs. Still family on this side resides here. Spent a sizeable part of my childhood there, in front of these very beaches. My father played as a kid with none-exploded ammunitions, found numerous bones, and ventured in and around rusting hulks like the destroyed Bourrasque that layed there for some time before demolition.
My grandfather worked for a shipping company here, and my great-grandfather was a great banks schooner captain, also operating from Dunkirk. Needless to say we both saw Nolan’s eponymous movie two weeks ago. Overall a great movie, with a single odd detail about one filmed area included at the beginning in street fighting that was actually filmed in Bray-Dunes, not Dunkirk.

Premices of the campaign

When the Norway theater seems sold, much of the international attention shifted away from Scandinavia, as Norway and Denmark were occupied by the Germans, Sweden remaining neutral, and Finland was partly dismembered by the USSR after a rough winter campaign. The western front suddenly exploded in May 1940, with the invasion of the Netherlands and Belgium. This pincer movement of the Wehrmacht, the awaited thrust to the north being supported by a surprise onslaught from the Ardennes, trapping near a Million men, were the best allies has to offer. On May 20, Heinz Guderian’s panzers reached Abbeville, closing the trap.

One of the largest losses after the campaign was Cunard’s SS Lancastria, sunk off St Nazaire on June, 17, 1940, in Operation Ariel* (see below)

Allied forces retreated, bombarded by the Luftwaffe on roads still encumbered with civilians, to the only major port in the Pas de Calais: Dunkirk. It could be translated as the “church in the dunes” in Flemish. Dunkirk was already famous in 1914-1918, by its strategic position in the North Sea. Weygand was in favor of a large counter-attack at Arras so that his forces heading south could make their junction with the still preserved divisions, but Lord Gort opposed him and quickly receives the assent of the war cabinet. It was on May 26, that the decision fell, that an evacuation was decided from Dunkirk.

Medway Queen, one of the antiquated Paddled steamer that symbolized the scope of the mobilization

Operation Dynamo

This encirclement continued around Dunkirk pocket, where the Admiralty envisaged a bold but extremely risky evacuation plan, the Dynamo plan. The brain of this operation, dubbed “Dynamo” was Admiral Ramsay. In a few days he committed the Royal Navy and in June, he mobilized literally everything that could float to be sent to the English Channel. But neither the Kriegsmarine nor the Luftwaffe remained impassive. While on the ground the pressure increased, seven German divisions were held at a distance by the 30,000 French soldiers of General Molinier, encircled near Lille by Rommel, who protected this operation, fighting for four days until the last cartridge. The suburbs of the city were to assaulted by panzergrenadiers, while Goering made great efforts to annihilate the pocket of Dunkirk by the air, effectively destroying ships at the wharf, preventing troops to be evacuated any other way but the beach.

Hitler’s unexpected respite

In the midst of this terrible retreat, an unexpected respite came from the Fuhrer himself, through the intermediary of General-in-Chief Von Runstedt.

Bourrasque sinking
Famous photo of the Bourrasque, sunk at Dunkirk. The French lost four destroyers, the British seven.

Debates and controversy still rages about this decision. For some the latter was indeed anxious about Guderian’s race to the sea and possible flank counterattacks, more concerned about the capture of Paris. For others he wanted to spare the British for signing a possible truth. This respite allowed sleepless German troops running on pervitine to rest while waiting for the arrival of the fuel, and the allies to establish a real evacuation corridor between Lille and Dunkirk, still under the threat of the Luftwaffe. The decision was wildly criticized among Wehrmacht officers themselves.

Soldier waiting in line to be carried

But this town is preparing for the 25th of May, when the “Battle of Dunkirk” is about to take place, to live the worst moment of its history. The British Admiralty, under the direction of Vice-Admiral Ramsay, and under the urging of Lord Gort, is developing a rescue and evacuation operation that is still unprecedented in history: It will be Dynamo. It is a matter of saving, in the absence of material, abandoned for lack of time and priority, men, starting with 300,000 strong British Expeditionary Force, the blossom of the army and empire. By saving the “Tommies”, by all means, Ramsay and Churchill prepared the mainland to repel a future invasion.

Famous photo showing a Tommie trying to fire on a strafing German plane

In spite of the proximity of the British coast, Dover, the main English harbour is 60 km away, but the “Z road” passes in front of the German artillery at Calais. The two other roads are either threatened by mines, still in the process of being disengaged, or by the S-Bootes operating from Belgium, and of course the Luftwaffe, freshly installed at airfields in north-western France. The British still have two assets: the Royal Navy to carry out the evacuation and the Royal Air Force to protect it.

British destroyer HMS Keith, sunk at Dunkirk, like HMS Basilisk, Wakeful, Grenade, Havant.

And there is another difficulty: The port of Dunkirk had a limited capacity and only two serviceable jetties, and soon the Luftwaffe sow death and destruction: On May 28, a massive first raid of 400 aircraft, among which 180 Stukas transforms the Port in living hell. The day after, 400 bombers protected by 180 Me109 went one, sinking a freighter that would crush the city water supply at the bottom.

The huge oil tanks went ablaze and an acrid “night” envelops the city for several days, ironically preventing the Luftwaffe to perform other operations than limited strafing. Jetties were soon crowded, freighter sunk in the harbor blocked approaches and only the wooden eastern mole remains free, while the bulk of the troops had to embark from the beaches, and to cross miles of shallow water and swim to large vessels expected. In fact most had to content themselves with waiting offshore for a number of small boats to commute (from June 1st). Among these were improbable ships like paddle steamers, a fire boat, and a Thames River “sludge hopper”.

British troops trying to defend against screeming Stukas diving, conveying some idea of the chaos (Feature film re-enactment)

Soon the very large Atlantic beaches of Dunkirk, once a famous holiday’s resort, went cluttered with columns of tired, hungry and thirsty men advancing in the water up to their necks to access ships under Stukas’s relentless strafing and the clatter of artillery brought round the perimeter from the city. The defense was assured by the rear guard of the French all along. The latter had almost 500,000 men at the beginning, but less than 123,000 would take their chance through the channel, with 35,000 remaining behind. Churchill insisted that on June 3, to try to save the French rear-guard, hoping the French will continue the fight.

French destroyer Le Foudroyant, sunk at Dunkirk

In spite of the efforts of the RAF, limited in range (they could only operate one hour over Dunkirk, and many rarely ventured above the beaches, having spent their supply in dogfight at sea in between). The RAF lost 145 planes downed in nine days of fighting. It has been less spared than destroyers of the Royal Navy, for which clear orders had been passed at some point. The Luftwaffe had almost hands free and caused a carnage: Of the 39 British destroyers dispatched on the spot (and later withdrawn), six are sunk, for a dozen in all including four for the French, who lost as of the 27th the Sirroco and the Jaguar.

Amazing 1-shot Peter Robertson sequence for Joe Wright’s movie “Atonement”.

Losses were heavier for freighters and ferries, but precisely the swarm of hundreds of light units dispatched on the spot, yachts, trawlers, ferries, barges, sometimes simple rowboats, maneuvered by courageous civilians were spared precisely because of their size and could approach the beaches and carry out men in droves. Their contribution was more symbolic than other ships as they had been only informed on may 31, 18h00, and saved 26 500 men or less than 10% of the total. In all perhaps 1200 boats and ships participated in the bulk of the evacuation the last days.

Royal Daffodil, one of the steamers that participated in the evacuation cdts:

Operation Dynamo extended itself for 9 days, ending on 4 June in the middle of the night, to complete the evacuation of the British, and part of the French, who remained in the rear to defend the perimeter Of Dunkirk until there was nothing more to do. 75,000 were to be evacuated after the last Tommy was out, but 35,000 of them left behind would surrender on June 4 after 11 am, with the arrival of the panzergrenadiers who fought house by house and captured the remaining center of the city. These men, headed by General Beaufrere would be sent to Germany in the camps and some later returned to France, while those among the evacuees did so later at the demand of a government now in peace with Germany.

Only a small fraction would stay and constitute the initial core of the Free French. It should be mentioned that the French Army there deployed colonial troops from Morocco and Algeria, Tunisia made a sizeable part of those left behind to defend the perimeter (like the 8e régiment de zouaves). There was also on the British side a small detachment of Canadian troops but also Indian auxiliaries at Dunkirk. Not known is also the story of 29 Dutch trawlers and coasters fleeing German occupation that also helped evacuating 23 000 troops making several trips and loosing seven ships.

RMS Lady of Mann, which evacuated thousands. This 1930 ship operated for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company at Barrow-in-Furness.

For the French the episode would retain a certain bitterness for those “guarding the back” to be left behind, and lack of communication at some point with Admiral Abrial ensured a sense of “treason”, hoping until then the British were just moving their troops in another theater of operation like Britanny. Weygand and others from the general staff would also accuse Gort’s last move to wreck the Arras counterstroke. The alliance was definitely broken at the conference of Briare when Churchill announced his refusal to commit the RAF for a battle of France he estimated lost and in August operation “catapult” would certainly fuel a resentment (well fed by German propaganda) that durably hampered efforts of De Gaulle to recruit for his Free French Army in exile (only 3,000 would join from the men rescued at Dunkirk).

All in all, 9 destroyers has been sunk, 19 more damaged, 200 other ships, small crafts and boats sunk and about 200 damaged. Ground-wise, the British lost 68,000 BEF troops, with over 6500 killed, 13,000 wounded, 2,472 guns, 20,000 motorcycles and 65,000 other vehicles, 416,000 tons of stores, including 68,000 of ammunition and 162,000 of fuel and nearly all of the 445 tanks committed.

An aerial reconstitution of the bombings of Dunkirk by the Luftwaffe

Dunkirk, however, remained a pivot point -alternative scenario with the complete BEF killed or captured would have significantly weakened British resolve and/or perhaps add grave consequence above the rest of the war, particularly in Africa and the Suez canal.

This was however seen as a victory, 365,675 men being evacuated instead of the 50,000 originally planned, although Churchill, lucid, said at the time (“wars are not won with evacuations”). This became a watchword for all the British soldiers engaged (remember Dunkirk), especially on D-Day in June 1944. Although carried out with total improvisation and phlegm, this evacuation marked the end of all organized military resistance in continental Western Europe, announcing heavy clouds for the future. However “Dunkirk spirit” would made a lot to smith British resolve, personified by Churchill’s arguably most famous speech at Parliament on June 4, 1940 “we shall fight on the beaches…”

Forgotten evacuations: Operation Cycle & Ariel (10-25 june)

Many could think after Dunkirk all allies troops still remaining on the continent were trapped. Nothing could be further form the truth. Dynamo was indeed followed by Operation Cycle, an evacuation from Le Havre on 10-13 june. This helped evacuating part of the Highlanders (however over 6,000 Highlanders were taken prisoner on 12 June) and the French retreating to St Valery-en-Caux (Normandy).

Operation Ariel took place two weeks after Dynamo, where the remainder of British, French but also Polish and Czech forces still trapped at St Nazaire and Nantes were evacuated. Troops were also evacuated on the Atlantic coast from (north to south) Cherbourg, St Malo, Brest, La Pallice, Bordeaux, and Bayonne. This was fortunately not always under threat of the Luftwaffe. In all this represented another 191,870 troops.
Operation Ariel will saw one of the most vivid tragedies with the sinking of SS Lancastria. The 1920, 16,243 GRT liner operated by Cunard embarked between 5000 and 9000 civilians when it was attacked by Junkers Ju 88 aircraft from II. Gruppe/Kampfgeschwader 30. Some 1200 tons leaking fuel would transform the scene into a raging inferno, and those not burned and drowned were killed by strafing planes. 2,477 were saved however.

Sources/read more
British Equipments lost at Dunkirk
Evacuation of dunkirk in colour
Facts about Dunkirk – BBC Stats
About the soldiers left behind


Dunkirk War Drama 1958 John Mills
For the French side of the events, see also Henri Verneuil’s 1964 Week end at Dunkirk.

German Destroyers of WW2

Nazi Germany (1930-44)
About 50 ships


German expertise on destroyers proceeded from humble beginnings: The weak TBs from 1910-1914, barely fit for the high seas. However the influence of Royal Navy designs and an order from the Russian navy before the war gave the experience of large, well armed oceanic destroyers. In particular, the “Russian” B97 and G101 class and the S113 class. For more see German destroyers of ww1. This development was halted and all these ships had to be conducted to Scapa Flow for internment, and Versailles treaty conditions later only allowed for a police fleet for the Reichsmarine of 12 destroyers and 12 torpedo-boats. The “destroyers” were still very much of ww1 style, 1300 tons fully loaded, six built of the 1923 type and six of the 1924 types, all reclassed as TBs after the Z1 was launched. Their lineage was the basis for more modern torpedo-boats of the 1935 class with their flush-deck hull. 36 were built, plus 30 more in Dutch and German yards, mostly unfinished. But that’s another story.

There was a rebirth after the arrival of Hitler, and the first 1933 design was based on the D106 class of 1918. These were equal, if not superior to the best allied designs of destroyers leaders, with solid hulls for the north sea and reliable turbines. Soon, classed armed with cruiser-size artillery will be launched. All were denominated “Z-” (for “zestörer”), together with proper namesakes. Z1 Leberecht Maas (launched 1935) was followed by three sister ships, followed by the 1934A class (twelve units) 1936 class (six) and 1936A class (six) others being scheduled until 1946: The 1936B, 1936C designs, the smaller 1942 class, large 1944 class, and the super-destroyers of the 1940/41 class.

Interwar 1923 class

Albatross (AT2) as built.

These small vessels were inspired by the S113 and B114 design. They had a raised forecastle, two funnels far apart, three 105 mm partially under masks and two banks of three 500mm TTs. AA artillery consisted in two 20mm guns. The 1923 type were all but Albatross (Schichau) built in Whilhelmshaven, laid down in 1924-25, launched in 1925 and completed and commissioned in 1926-28. They were named after birds of prey (“Raubvogel”), Möwe (which tested a rounded bow, all the others had transom sterns), Greif, Seeadler, Albatros, Kondor, and Falke. In 1931 they were standardized with the 533 mm TTs, and funnels were shortened while the control and superstructure were modified and enlarged. Their old 105mm/45 C16 were replaced by C28 and C32 models. By 1944 they had received radars and their AA artillery was augmented to seven C38 guns (one in quad mount, three singles). They served heavily and were all lost in action: Albatros by artillery duel inh Oslofjord in 1940, Seeadler off Boulogne (Torpedoed by British MTB) in 1942, Greif bombed by the RAF in 1944 off Cherbourg as well as the remainder in Le Havre.

Möwe in April 1944

1923 type specifications

Dimensions 87.7 x 8.25 x 3.65 m
Displacement 923/1290t FL
Crew 127
Propulsion 2 shaft geared Blohm & Voss turbines (Albatross: 3 boilers) 24,000 hp
Speed 33.6 knots (62.2 km/h; 38.7 mph), 1,700 nmi (3,100 km; 2,000 mi)
Armament 3x 105 mm, 3x 20mm AA, 6(2×3) TT 500 mm

Interwar 1924 class

Several ships of the type

These six ships named after predators or “Raubtier” (Wolf, Itlis, Jaguar, Leopard, Luchs, Tiger) were slightly enlarged versions of the former, longer, wider, slightly more powerful with new shaft-geared turbines and more modern 105mm/45 C28 guns. They were built at the same yards but completed one year later in 1928-29. In 1931 they received the same modifications, new TTs, new superstructure, sights and fire control systems. However Leopard and Luchs were rearmed three 127mm/45 C34 guns, testing these for the new class of destroyer. Past 1943 the remainder received eight 20mm AA guns. All six were lost in action but Tiger in 1939 and Leopard because of collisions, Luchs torpedoed by HMS Swordfish in 1940, Wolf mined off Dover in 1941, Itlis by a MTB off Boulogne in 1942, and Jaguar bombed at le Havre in 1944 by the RAF.

Jaguar in 1942

1924 type specifications

Dimensions 92.6 x 8.65 x 3.52 m
Displacement 932/1300t FL
Crew 127
Propulsion 2 shaft geared B&V/Schichau/Brown-Boveri turbines, 3 boilers, 25,500 hp
Speed 35.2 knots (65.2 km/h; 40.5 mph), Radius 2,000 nmi (3,700 km; 2,300 mi)
Armament 3x 105 mm, 3x 20mm AA, 6(2×3) TT 500 mm

Both class counted as Torpedo Boats from 1934

1934/34A class: Z1-4 and Z-5-16

Destroyers Bernd von Arnim and Wolfgang Zenker in Bremerhaven, 1938.

Also called Leberecht Maas class after the lead ship, this was a radical departure over all previous German designs. This new class flirted with 3200 tons limits fully loaded, being twice as large as the previous 23/24 classes of the Reichsmarine. In addition to large dimensions, they had a wide and very marine prow, and a square stern. Their tonnage and size were slightly above International standards, but their armament remained standard with regard to treaties. They were handsome, powerful and fast (almost 40 knots as shown in tests for some).

The series Z1 to Z4 was designed in 1933-34 and launched in 1935. All had a straight prow, converted into a clipper prow from 1943 for the sole survivor Z4 (Richard Beitzen). The Z1 class served as pre-series for the next 1934A class. The next 1934A included the Z5 to Z16.
Launched in 1936-37 and finished in 1937-39, they were longer by 1.70 meters. All had also a straight prow, but in 1943 the Z5 and Z6 had a clipper bow, rising to 125 meters in length, and a tripod main mast. The Z5 (above), will see its armament AA reinforced by 4 bofors of 40 mm, 12 guns of 20 and 4 of 37mm in double shafts.

Z5 of the 1934A class, May 1941

They survived the war and two became the French Kleber and Desaix, remaining in service until 1951 and 1957. The Z9, 11, 12 and 13 will be sunk during operations in Norway in 1940, the Z7 sunk by HMS Edinburgh in 1942 During the attack of a convoy and the Z16 by HMS Sheffield during similar circumstances in December 1942. The Z8 was blown by a mine in January 1942 near Calais. The Z1 and Z3 were sunk in February 1940 by mines and the Z2 at Narvik in April. The Z4 survived the war and was given to UK as war reparations, soon BU.

1934 Type, various destroyers

Z1 as built, wikipedia commons, uploaded by Alexpl.

1934A Type specifications

Dimensions 121 x 11.30 x 3.90 m (119,70m 1934 class)
Displacement 1625/3165t FL
Crew 315
Propulsion 2 geared steam turbines Wagner/Blohm & Voss, 6 Wagner/Benson boilers, 70 000 hp.
Speed 38,4 knots (71 km/h; 44 mph) Radius 2000 Nautical Miles
Armament 5x 127 mm, 4x 37mm AA, 4x 20mm AA, 8 TT 533 mm

1936/36A class: Z17-22, Z23-30

Modern ships derived from class 1934a but larger. The serie 1936 comprised the Z17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22. They were completed in 1938-39. The first three had a straight bow and the other three had a clipper one and so raised from 123 to 125 meters. They were also wider by 50cm, with a 300 tons more of displacement. They were also more powerful and faster (40 knots versus 38.2), had a better AA artillery. All survivors except the Z20 survived the war and were handed over to the Soviets. However four would be famously sunk at Narvik, Z21 and 22 on April 10 and Z17, 18 and 19 on April 14, 1940 all by the battleship HMS Warspite.

The eight ships of the following class 1936A (Z23-Z30) were brand new in 1940. They were launched from December 1939 to December 1940 and completed in the end of 1940 for the first and 1941 for the others. They are (often) referred to as the “Narvik” class because they were mostly assigned to the 8 destroyers’ squadron based in Narvik from 1941 to 1944 and had nothing to do with the fighting of early 1940. Of the main changes, they all had a clipper bow, were slightly longer, their displacement increasing and their speed logically returning to 38.5 knots.

Z30 in may 1943

Z20 in 1940

On the other hand, they were heavily armed for destroyers, with 4 guns of 150 mm, usually reserved for light cruisers. In 1941, the Z28 received a modified command superstructure, and the Z30 a flight deck over its rear torpedo tubes, designed to operate a Flettner reconnaissance helicopter. The Z25s and 29s received a “Barbara” AA configuration, including 12 guns of 37 mm in single mounts and 18 of 20 mm in double and quadruple mounts. The Z26 was sunk during a 1942 convoy attack, and the Z27 in 1943 during a Homeric fight against the cruisers HMS Glasgow and Enterprise, “opening the way” to the Alsterufer blockade force. The Z24 was sunk by the RAF in 1944.

The so-called “Narvik” class was not yet operational when the Norwegian campaign started.

1936 Type specifications

Dimensions 123.20 x 11.80 x 4 m
Displacement 1811 standard, 3415t FL
Crew 1600
Propulsion like type 1934 but 70,000 hp
Speed 40 knots (74 km/h, 46 mph) Radius 2,050 nmi (3,800 km; 2,360 mi)
Armament Like Type 1934, but 7x 20mm AA

Destroyer brendt Von Arnim wreck, sunk in Oslofjord by the Warspite and scuttled.

Shipyard Model of the 1936A class on display at the Deutschen Schiffahrtsmuseum Bremerhaven

Z-29, type 36A in 1945 (USN photo).

1936A destroyer shortly after completion.

1936A destroyer – booklet for identification of ships, published by the Division of Naval Inteligence of the Navy Department of the United States.

Three Type 36A in an unindentified port (Australian Archives)

1936A (“Mobilization”) class: Z31-39

Z39 underway off Boston, September 1945

Derived from class 1936A, these 7 units (Z31-Z34 and Z37-Z39, the Z35 and 36 being reported to type 1936b), were part of the mobilization program (“Mob”). They were launched in 1941 and completed in 1942. They were virtually identical to the previous ones except for their armament, with a heavy 150 mm double turret forward. These ships were far superior to their allied counterparts. Their 20 mm AA batteries were split into two of the new quadruple mounts and two singles. The Z32 was the only loss in action during the war, and was seriously damaged by the Canadian destroyers HMCS Haida and Huron in June 1944 off the lower island. The Z34 and 37 were scuttled in 1944-45 and the others went as war reparations after the war to France (Marceau), Great Britain, the USA (Z39) and the USSR.

The 1936 B Mob were equipped with a revised weaponry (returning to 127 mm pieces after a mixed experience with their heavy turrets) also to carry more AA weaponry. They were notably lighter than the previous ones. The class included the Z35 and the 36, the Z43, 44 and 45. These were the last German destroyers of the war. However, their construction was slowed down and the Z44s and 45s were never finished, bombarded in their slipway in 1944 and 1945. The Z35 and 36, finished in 1943, were sunk across a dam of German mines. The Z43 was scuttled shortly after its completion in 1945 in Geltinger Bay. They carried their 37 mm in double mounts and their 20 mm in three quadruple ones plus two doubles.

Z32 in April 1942

Z35 in 1942

Closeup of the Z39 artillery – USN Archives, Boston NY.

1936A Type specifications

Dimensions 127 x 12 x 3.92-4.62 m
Displacement 3600t FL (3530t Z25,26,27)
Crew 321
Propulsion Like 1934 class but 70,000 hp
Speed 38,5 knots Radius ?? Nautical Miles
Armament 4x 150 mm, 6×2 105mm, 2×2 37mm AA, 5x 20mm AA, 2×4 TT 533 mm

Z39 in Annapolis, 1945.

Nice photo of an handsome destroyer, Z39 at full speed.

Details of the mast of the Z39, 1936(mob) type in 1945.

Unfinished projects
Wartime was not tender for surface ships building program, and despite the plan Z new series being approved and ordered to various shipyard, lack of manpower and soon materials, sabotages and shortages of all sorts, plus allied air raids all but condemned these series. Only a few ships were launched, and none but two were really operational.

1936B class: Z35-45

Z36 at sea, 1942

The Type 1936B destroyers abandoned the twin 15-centimetre (5.9 in) turrets because of stability concerns in heavy seas. They reverted to five single 15 cm (5.9 in) turrets and had better AA artillery, but for other aspects remained copies of the 1936A class. At 2,527 tonnes (2,487 long tons) of displacement they still can reach 36.5 knots (67.6 km/h; 42.0 mph) with a 2,600 nautical miles range at 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph). The 12.7 cm SK C/34 naval guns fired 28-kilogram (62 lb) HE shells at 830 m/sec. up to 17,400 metres at 30° max. elevation. like previous classes they had rails long enough to laid 76 mines.

Of the eight ships laid down at DeSchiMAG Bremen and Germania Werft of Kiel, only a few were completed: Z35, 36 and Z43, although the latter was scuttled in situ on 3 May 1945 after being commissioned on 24 March 1944. The first two were commissioned on 22 September 1943 and 19 February 1944 and sunk in December 1944 in the Gulf of Finland after hitting friendly mines. Z44 and 45 were bombed by the RAF before completion.

1936B Type specifications

Dimensions 127 x 12 x 4.21 m
Displacement 3100/3540 t FL
Crew 330
Propulsion 2 Wagner shaft geared turbines, 70,000 shp
Speed 36.5 knots (42.0 mph; 67.6 km/h) range 2,600 nmi (4,800 km)@ 19 kn (35 km/h)
Armament 5x 127 mm, 4-10x 37 mm, 16x 20mm AA, 8(2×4) TT 533 mm

1940/41 scout cruiser class: German super-destroyers

Spährkreuzer design, rendition by Atlas publications, 1984

Classed as scout cruisers/destroyers they took advantage of the artillery developed for the 1936A class, with a 6300t displacement. Studies for these get back to the 1938 Z plan. After the cancellation of the 1938B type, these three ships were planned as “spährkreuser” 1 to 3. The first, Sp1, was laid down at Germaniawerft in 1941 but work was suspended and she was eventually broken up on slip to be recycled into other ships. The Sp2 and 3 were planned but never started.

1st design, with a floatplane. scr: unknown

How these unique “scout-cruisers” looked like ?: They were 162-169 m long by 16m wide with 4.90 draught, had three shaft and two geared turbines plus four Wagner boilers that gave an output in excess of 80,00 hp for a top speed of 36 knots, cruise and long range being assured by two MAN diesels, double acting 2-stroke, producing 32,000 hp on the central shaft. complement was 520 and they were armed with three turrets with 150 mm/48 guns, two 88mm AA guns, and 12 20mm AA guns in quad-mounts plus two banks of five 533 mm TTs.

Blueprint (Russian)

1940 Type specifications

Dimensions 162 x 16 x 4.9 m
Displacement 6300t FL
Crew 520 est.
Propulsion 3 screws, 2 geared turbines, 4 Wagner boilers 80,000 hp
Speed 36 knots
Armament 6(2×3)x 150 mm, 2x 88 mm, 12x 20mm AA, 2×5 TT 533 mm

1936C class: The 128mm dual purpose destroyers

German reconstitution of the 1936C class design - JüEi
German reconstitution of the 1936C class design – JüEi

Although relatively conventional in general layout these destroyers relied on a set of three double turrets with brand new 128mm guns, dual-purpose, meaning they had enough elevation and speed to tackle aircrafts as well, a powerful asset by the time allied air superiority seems to be the most present threat for the German Navy. This was completed by three twin 37mm/83 and six 20mm mounts, plus the usual quadruple TT mounts. At 3030t standard, these 1936C were 500 tons heavier than the previous 36B, but kept the same propulsion system with Wagner turbines and boilers, and same 38 knots top speed. Five ships were to be built in 1943 at Deschimag of Bremen from Z46 to Z50, but due to the shortage of materials and relentless allied bombings, construction stalled and was eventually abandoned in 1944, while the ships were broken up in 1946.

1936C Type specifications

Dimensions 126,20 x12.20 x 4 m
Displacement 3030/3594t FL
Crew 320
Propulsion 2 Wagner shaft geared turbines, 6 Wagner boilers 70,000 hp
Speed 38 knots
Armament 6(3×2)x 128 mm DP, 6×2 37mm AA, 6x 2mm AA, 8(2×4) TT 533 mm

1942 class: The diesel experiment

German reconstitution of the 1942 class design - JüEi
German reconstitution of the 1942 class design – JüEi

Turbines procured advantages in terms of speed but were also known gas-guzzlers and could be troublesome as experience with the Hipper shown. A type of destroyer was launched to test an all-diesel propulsion while not sacrificing speed, but for the sake of reliability and range. The 1942 type was not however daring in layout which remains consistent with previous designs, but somewhat smaller and lighter and less well-armed than previous classes. Mass production was also in mind. The powerplant consisted in six diesels, four one the central shaft and one for each outer shaft, totalling 57,000 hp. AA artillery was impressive with four twin 37mm 83 cal. M42, and three quadruple mounts 20mm C38 FLAK.
The single Z51 was started at Deschimag, launched in 1944 and its completion was well advanced when an air raid all but destroyed it. Never repaired, the hull lays untouched until she was broken up in situ in 1946.

1942 Type specifications

Dimensions 114,30 x 11 x 4 m
Displacement 2330/2630t FL
Crew 235
Propulsion 3 shafts, 6V double acting 2-stroke diesels 57,120 hp
Speed 36 knots
Armament 4x 127 mm, 4×2 37mm AA, 3×4 20mm AA, 8(2×4) TT 533 mm

1944 class: The most modern

Impression of the 1944 class design - combo JüEi
Impression of the 1944 class design – combo JüEi

Capitalizing on the new tendency to built all-diesel powered destroyers, the new 1944 type is generally considered by experts and historians as the most modern class of destroyers (perhaps worldwide) at that time, a culmination of the Z-type started ten years ago. In addition to larger dimensions than the previous type 1942, these new kids on the block had a whole set of features that were way ahead of previous designs. For starters, they combined a powerful punch with three turrets, for six of the new and successful, semi-auto, rapid fire 128mm/50 and /45 C41M, their next evolution.

These were deadly accurate dual purpose guns, well served by advanced, radar-guided fire control systems. These guns were the navalized version of the Flakwilling 40, a gun that all but eclipsed the legendary 88mm late into the war. Some experts esteemed these would have been more likely fully automatic cannons. Second, they would have the new 55mm mid-range quick-firing Flak Gerät 58 in development (eventually rejected by Hitler and Speer for the Army).

At last, they also get rid of their combination of 37 and 20mm for short range, swapping over a brand new, revolutionary superfast fully automated 30mm gun/13 C38 also rejected by the Army, in no less than 14 mounts. The entire battery was directed by optical/electronic range-finder cupolas. The powerplant consisted in eight MAN diesels, double-acting two-stroke delivering 76,000 on two shafts, for a top speed of 37.5 knots, nearly the same speed as turbine destroyers, which was a remarkable feat for the advantages this solution procured in terms of range and reliability. Five ships were ordered and started at Deschimag, Bremen in early 1944, but due to intense allied bombings and shortages, none even reached launching point. The hulls were dismantled in 1946.

1944 Type specifications

Dimensions 132.10 x 12.60 x 4.30 m
Displacement 3170/3703t FL
Crew 308
Propulsion 2 shafts, 8 MAN double acting 2-stroke diesels 76,000 hp
Speed 37.5 knots
Armament 3×2 128 mm DP, 3x 55m AA, 14x 30mm AA, 8(2×4) TT 533 mm

Paper Projects

According to there were paper-only destroyers projects that also deserve attention:
Zerstörer 1938A/Ac : In 1937/38 a large Atlantic destroyer was studied, about 50% larger than usual classes they also had a mixed propulsion reminiscent of the Köln and Leipzig, missing Diesels and turbines and a light armor protection. Z-plan included 24 of these, and 10 were programmed for 1943, the remainder to be delivered until 1945, but the program was cancelled in 1939, and some of these studies were recycled into the larger Spähkreuzer. Their appearance was very singular, with three 128mm turrets (for and aft and one center next to the two TT banks, a twin 105mm AA mount, several 37mm twin mounts and probably 20mm mounts also, and funnels far apart.

Zerstörer 1938B : These were in appearance large torpedo boats, with their characteristic flush deck, but were designed for the coastal waters and especially the Baltic Sea. This 1938 design was small, but well armed with two 128 mm armed turrets, two banks of three TTs but a weak AA artillery. 12 were planned within Z plan in the summer of 1939, only to be cancelled three weeks after the beginning of the war.

Zerstörer 1945 : This very last class of destroyer was studied in 1945, amidst devastating air raids and low priority that left little chance for the ships to be built, if any. Nevertheless these destroyers on paper looks interesting. They were compact, reverted to a full steam turbine power for extra speed, well armed with three 128mm turrets and an impressive AA battery reminiscent of the type 1944, and the same optical/electronic range-finder cupolas and advanced radar-guided controlled systems. Needless to say no order ever came for a production.

Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1921-1947.