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Australia's Country class Cruisers

Note: The Kent and London classes were considered sub-classes of the Country class.

Photos

HMAS Australia going through the Panama Canal in March 1935:
HMAS Australia going through the Panama Canal in March 1935
US Navy, NH-63062
HMAS Australia in October 1937:
HMAS Australia in October 1937
Allan C. Green
HMAS Australia in 1940:
HMAS Australia in 1940
Imperial War Museum, A-105
HMAS Australia after being hit by a Kamikaze in January 1945:
HMAS Australia after being hit by a Kamikaze in January 1945
Imperial War Museum, A-29381
HMAS Canberra at Kings Warm in Wellington, New Zealand in the 1930s:
HMAS Canberra at Kings Warm in Wellington, New Zealand in the 1930s
William Hall Raine
HMAS Canberra after the Battle of Savo Island having crew removed by the USS Blue and USS Patterson on August 9, 1942:
HMAS Canberra after the Battle of Savo Island having crew removed by the USS Blue and USS Patterson on August 9, 1942
US Navy, 80-G-13488
HMAS Shropshire bombarding Morotai on September 15, 1944:
HMAS Shropshire bombarding Morotai on September 15, 1944
Australian War Museum, 017667
HMAS Shropshire in Sydney, Australia in November 1945:
HMAS Shropshire in Sydney, Australia in November 1945
Australian War Museum, 123797

Design

The Country class ships were part of a five year navy program that started in 1924.1 They were designed by Sir E. H. Tennyson d'Eyncourt.3

The HMAS Australia and HMAS Canberra were built for the Australian Navy.2

Aircraft

There was a single catapult to launch the aircraft carried aboard the Country class cruisers.1

Armament

The 8" guns could elevate 70°.2

The torpedoes were oxygen enriched Mk VII torpedoes.2

Ships

HMAS Australia

  • Class: Country1, Kent2
  • Manufacturer: John Brown2 at Clydebank1,3
  • 19253, August 26, 1925: Laid down.1,2
  • March 17, 1927: Launched.1,2,3
  • April 19283, April 24, 1928: Completed.1,2
  • October 23, 1928: Arrived in Sydney.1
  • December 10, 1934: Sailed to Great Britain in exchange with HMS Sussex.1
  • 1935: Added catapult.1,2
  • August 11, 1936: Returned to Sydney.1
  • April 24, 1938 - August 28, 1939: Refit.1 4" armor added to protect machinery.1 Catapult altered.1 Number of aircraft carried increased to three.1 4" single mounts replaced by 4" twin mounts.1
  • August 1939 - July 1940: Convoy escort between Australia, Capetown, and Freetown.1
  • September 1940: Attacked French ships at Dakar.1 Damaged the French L'Audacieux.1 Hit by Georges Leygues and Montcalm.1
  • March 1941: Returned to Australia.1
  • 1941: Patrolled in Indian Ocean.1
  • 1942: Torpedo tubes removed.1
  • February 1942: Arrived in Noumea.1 Flagship of ANZAC squadron.1
  • April 1942: ANZAC squadron renamed TF44.1
  • May 1942: Joined TF17.1
  • November 1943 - September 1944: Bombarded Japanese held islands before invasions.1
  • 1944: Refit.1 Catapult and aircraft removed.1
  • March 1944: 20 mm single mounts replaced by 20 mm twin mounts.1
  • August 1944: Starboard crane removed.1
  • October 21, 1944: Hit by Kamikaze.1
  • January 5, 6, 8, and 9, 1945: At Luzon landings.1 Hit by Kamikaze attacks.1 Heavy casualties.1
  • February 1945 - 1946: Refit at Garden Island.1 X turret and port cranes removed while repairing battle damage.1,2 Two 2 pdr Mk VI eight barrel mounts and two 40 mm Bofors quad mounts added.1

HMAS Canberra

  • Class: Country1, Kent2
  • Manufacturer: John Brown2 at Clydebank1
  • September 9, 1925: Laid down.1,2
  • May 31, 1927: Launched.1,2
  • July 10, 1928: Completed.1,2
  • January 25, 1929: Arrived in Freemantle.1
  • September 1939 - July 1940: Patrolled Australian waters and Tasman Sea.1
  • July 1940: Moved to Indian Ocean to search for Axis raiders.1
  • 1941, Late 19412: Added catapult.1,2
  • March 1941: Sunk the German ships Ketty Brovig and tanker Coburg.1
  • February 7 - May 1942: Refit at Sydney.1
  • June 1942: Patrolled Coral Sea with TF44.1
  • August 9, 1942: Sunk.1,2

HMAS Shropshire

  • Class: Country1, London2
  • Manufacturer: Beardmore2,3
  • February 19263, February 24, 1927: Laid down.2
  • July 5, 1928: Launched.2,3
  • September 19293, September 12, 1929: Completed.2
  • Before transfer: All the 0.5" machine guns and four 20 mm single mounts were replaced by seven 20 mm twin mounts.1
  • June 25, 1943: Transferred to Royal Australian Navy.1,3
  • October 1943: Arrived in Australia.3
  • November 1943: Member of TF74 in New Hebrides.1
  • 1943 - 1944: Invasion support for New Britain, Cape Gloucester, and New Guinea.1
  • 1944: Admiralty Islands.1 Hollandia.1 Aitape.1
  • May - July 1944: Biak.1
  • September 1944: Supported Morotai landings.1
  • October 1944: Leyte Gulf.1
  • December 1944: Mindoro landings.1
  • 1945: 20 mm guns replaced by fifteen 40 mm L/60 Bofors.1 Torpedo tubes removed.1
  • January 1945: Lingayen Gulf.1 Subic Bay.1 Corregidor.1 Bataan.1
  • June 1945: Supported Balikpapan landings.1
  • August 1945: In Japan for final surrender.1

Usage

Battle of Savo Island

The HMAS Canberra was heavily damaged Japanese cruisers, destroyers, and torpedoes at the Battle of Savo Island and later sank.1 She was hit by 20 4.7" to 8" shells within 3 minutes.2

After the loss of the HMAS Canberra the Royal Navy offered the HMS Shropshire to replace her.1

Specifications

  Country class
Crew 8481
Displacement 9,850 tons1
Displacement - Loaded 13,500 tons1
Physical Characteristics  
Length 630'1
192.07 m1
Length - Between Perpendiculars 590'1
179.87 m1
Length - Water Line  
Beam 68' 3"1
20.8 m1
Draft / Height 16' 3"1
4.95 m1
Draft / Height - Maximum  
Performance  
Speed  
Range at 12 knots 9,500 nautical miles1
Armament 8" Mk VIII twin turrets: 41
Anti-Aircraft 4" Mk V: 41
2 pdr: 41
Torpedo Tubes 21" Mk VIII: 81
Aircraft 11
Armor  
Deck 1.375"1
Machinery Spaces 1" + 4.5"1
Magazines 4"1
Turrets 1"1
Engines  
Boilers Admiralty: 81
Shafts 41
Turbines Brown-Curtis geared1
HP  
Oil  
  Kent class
Crew 685 - 7102
Displacement 9,750 tons - 9,870 tons2
Displacement - Loaded 13,400 tons - 13,540 tons2
Physical Characteristics  
Length 630' - 633'2
192.02 m - 192.93 m2
Length - Between Perpendiculars 590'2
179.83 m2
Length - Water Line  
Beam 68' 4"2
20.83 m2
Draft / Height 20' 6"2
6.25 m2
Draft / Height - Maximum 22' - 22' 7"2
6.71 m - 6.88 m2
Performance  
Speed 31.5 knots2
Range at 12 knots  
Armament 8" L/50 Mk VIII twin mounts: 42
Anti-Aircraft 4" L/45 QF Mk V HA: 42
2 pdr pompoms: 42
Saluting 3 pdr: 42
Torpedo Tubes 21": 82
Aircraft  
Armor  
Deck  
Deck - Platform 1" - 3"2
Machinery Spaces  
Magazines 1" - 4"2
Turrets 1"2
Engines  
Boilers Admiralty: 82
Shafts 42
Turbines Brown-Curtis geared2
HP 80,0002
Oil 3,200 tons - 3,400 tons2
  London class
Crew 7002
Displacement 9,830 tons - 9,850 tons2
Displacement - Loaded 13,315 tons2
Physical Characteristics  
Length 630' - 633'2
192.02 m - 192.93 m2
Length - Between Perpendiculars 595'2
181.35 m2
Length - Water Line  
Beam 66'2
20.12 m2
Draft / Height 20' 9"2
6.32 m2
Draft / Height - Maximum 22' 3" - 22' 8"2
6.78 m - 6.91 m2
Performance  
Speed 32.3 knots2
Range at 12 knots  
Armament 8" L/50 Mk VIII twin mounts: 42
Anti-Aircraft 4" L/45 QF Mk V HA: 42
2 pdr pompom: 42
Saluting 3 pdr: 42
Torpedo Tubes 21": 82
Aircraft  
Armor  
Deck  
Machinery Spaces  
Magazines 1" - 4"2
Turrets 1"2
Engines  
Boilers Admiralty: 82
Shafts 42
Turbines Parsons geared2
HP 80,0002
Oil 3,210 tons2
  HMAS Australia
Crew  
Displacement 10,000 tons3
Displacement - Loaded 13,630 tons3
Physical Characteristics  
Length 630'3
Length - Between Perpendiculars 590'3
Length - Water Line  
Beam 68' 8"3
Draft / Height 16' 3"3
Draft / Height - Maximum  
Performance  
Speed 31.5 knots3
Range at 31.5 knots 2,300 nautical miles3
Range at 11 - 14 knots 10,400 nautical miles3
Armament 8" L/50: 63
Anti-Aircraft 4": 83
2 pdr: 163
Machine Guns: 193
Saluting  
Torpedo Tubes  
Aircraft  
Armor  
Control Tower 3"3
Deck 4"3
Gun Houses 1.5" - 2"3
Engines  
Boilers Admiralty: 83
Shafts 43
Turbines Brown-Curtis geared3
HP 80,0003
Oil 3,400 tons3
  HMAS Shropshire
Crew 6503
Displacement 9,830 tons3
Displacement - Loaded  
Physical Characteristics  
Length 633'3
Length - Between Perpendiculars 595'3
Length - Water Line  
Beam 66'3
Draft / Height 17'3
Draft / Height - Maximum  
Performance  
Speed 32.25 knots3
Range at 12 knots  
Armament 8" L/50: 83
Anti-Aircraft 4": 83
2 pdr: 163
Machine Guns: 103
Saluting  
Torpedo Tubes 21": 83
Aircraft  
Armor  
Control Tower 3"3
Deck 4"3
Gun Houses 1.5" - 2"3
Engines  
Boilers Admiralty: 83
Shafts 43
Turbines Parsons geared3
HP 80,0003
Oil 3,200 tons3

Sources:

  1. Cruisers of World War Two An International Encyclopedia, M. J. Whitley, 1995
  2. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Robert Gardiner, 1987
  3. Janes' Fighting Ships of World War II, 1989
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site