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Great Britain's Flag

Great Britain's Arethusa class cruisers

Photos

HMS Arethusa at Hvalfjord, Iceland on December 10, 1941:
HMS Arethusa at Hvalfjord, Iceland on December 10, 1941
©IWM, A6627

HMS Arethusa:
HMS Arethusa
©IWM, FL-889
HMS Arethusa on patrol in 1941:
HMS Arethusa on patrol in 1941
©IWM, A-3245
HMS Arethusa with anti-aircraft fire overhead on May 3, 1942:
HMS Arethusa with anti-aircraft fire overhead on May 3, 1942
©IWM, A-9491
HMS Arethusa and crews playing water polo in Haifa Harbor on July 20, 1942:
HMS Arethusa and crews playing water polo in Haifa Harbor on July 20, 1942
©IWM, A-13169
HMS Aurora in October 1941:
HMS Aurora in October 1941
©IWM, A-5699
HMS Aurora after a night attack on an Italian convoy. December 9, 1942.:
HMS Aurora after a night attack on an Italian convoy. December 9, 1942
©IWM, A-13443
HMS Aurora in Bone Harbor on December 13, 1942:
HMS Aurora in Bone Harbor on December 13, 1942
©IWM, A-13813
HMS Aurora in Liverpool:
HMS Aurora in Liverpool
©IWM, A-8158
HMS Galatea with the HMS Euryalus firing at aircraft in the Mediterranean on December 14, 1941:
HMS Galatea with the HMS Euryalus firing at aircraft in the Mediterranean on December 14, 1941
©IWM, A-7099
HMS Galatea (left) with the HMS Euryalus in the Mediterranean on December 14, 1941:
HMS Galatea (left) with the HMS Euryalus in the Mediterranean on December 14, 1941
©IWM, A-7593
HMS Penelope in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on July 21, 1936:
HMS Penelope in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on July 21, 1936
©IWM, HU-107196

HMS Penelope after escorting a convoy to Grand Harbor Malta, on March 23, 1942:
HMS Penelope after escorting a convoy to Grand Harbor Malta, on March 23, 1942
©IWM, A-9330
HMS Penelope in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on July 21, 1936:
HMS Penelope in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on July 21, 1936
©IWM, HU-107197

HMS Penelope at Spithead:
HMS Penelope at Spithead
©IWM, FL-4822
HMS Penelope after escorting a convoy to Grand Harbor Malta, on January 19, 1942:
HMS Penelope after escorting a convoy to Grand Harbor Malta, on January 19, 1942
©IWM, A-7352
HMS Penelope after escorting a convoy to Grand Harbor Malta, on January 27, 1942:
HMS Penelope after escorting a convoy to Grand Harbor Malta, on January 27, 1942
©IWM, A-7323

Design

The Arethusa was ordered under the 1931 Program. The Galatea was ordered under the 1932 Program. Penelope was ordered under the 1933 Program. Aurora was ordered under the 1934 Program.

Aircraft

There was a single catapult to launch the aircraft between the funnels. Initially the Hawker Osprey floatplane was carried, and this was replaced by Seafoxes starting in November 1937.

HMS Aurora had no aircraft.

Armament

The 4" guns were located away from their magazines.

Ships

 

HMS Arethusa

  • Cost: £1,251,161
  • Manufacturer: Chatham, Chatham Dock Yard
  • January 25, 1933: Laid down.
  • March 6, 1934: Launched.
  • February 1935, May 23, 1935, May 28, 1935: Completed.
  • May 1935 - 1940: 3rd Cruiser Squadron in Mediterranean.
  • 1939: Mediterranean Fleet.
  • 1940, 1940 - 1942: 2nd Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet.
  • April 1940: Norwegian campaign.
  • May 8, 1940: Member of Nore Command supporting Calais.
  • June 28, 1940: Force H at Gibraltar.
  • July 1940: Attacked Vichy French forces at Mers el Kebir.
  • August 17 - September 30, 1940: Repairs at Chatham.
  • April 1941: Two 2 pdr quad mounts added. Catapult removed.
  • Late 1941, July 1941: Four 20 mm guns added.
  • September 1941: 4" single mounts replaced by twin mounts.
  • December 1941: Lofoten raid. Slightly damaged by near misses.
  • December 1941 - April 1942, February 6 - April 9, 1942: Repair and refit at Chatham. 4" single mounts replaced by 4" twin mounts. Four 20 mm guns added. Two/ 0.5" machine guns removed.
  • 1942 - 1944: Mediterranean Fleet.
  • June 1942: 15th Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean. Escorted convoys to Malta.
  • October 1942: Three 20 mm guns added.
  • November 1942, November 18, 1942: Hit by torpedo from Italian aircraft and suffered heavy casualties. Towed to Alexandria.
  • November 1942 - February 7, 1943, January - February 7, 1943: Temporary repairs.
  • March - December 15, 1943, March 30 - December 15, 1943: Repair at Charleston, United States. Two 2 pdrs replaced by two 40 mm Bofors quad mounts. Three 20 mm guns replaced by four 20 mm twin mounts.
  • 1944: Home Fleet.
  • January 24 - April 6, 1944: Refit at Chatham.
  • May 25 - June 8, 1944: Repairs at Clyde.
  • June 1944: Normandy invasion. Force D off Sword Beach.
  • 1945, January 1945: 15th Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet.

HMS Aurora

  • Cost: £1,252,915
  • Manufacturer: Portsmouth, Portsmouth Dock Yard
  • July 23, 1935, July 27, 1935: Laid down.
  • August 20, 1936: Launched.
  • November 12, 1937, November 1937: Completed.
  • November 1937: Home Fleet. Flagship of Rear Admiral of Destroyers.
  • September 1939: 2nd Cruiser Squadron. Escorted convoys to Scandinavia.
  • 1939 - 1941: Home Fleet.
  • April 1940: Norwegian campaign.
  • Summer 1940, May 30 - June 28, 1940: Repairs at Portsmouth. Two 2 pdr quad mounts added.
  • May 1941: Hunted Bismarck.
  • June 3, 1941: Captured German supply ship Belchen.
  • July - August 1941: Force K, Home Fleet. Operations to Sptizbergen and Bear Island. Sank German troop transport Bremse off Norway.
  • August 1941: Six 20 mm guns and two 0.5" machine gun quad mounts added.
  • October 21, 1941: Force K at Malta. Intercept Axis convoys.
  • December 19, 1941: Hit mines off Tripoli.
  • 1942 - 1945: Mediterranean Fleet.
  • December 23, 1941 - March 1942: Temporary repairs at Malta.
  • March 29 - June 1942, April 6 - June 20, 1942: Mine repairs at Liverpool. Three 20 mm guns added.
  • November 1942: Supported North Africa (Torch) invasion. Sank Vichy French Tornade and caused Tramaontane to be beached from damage.
  • December 1942: Force Q at Bone.
  • August 1943: Sicily invasion with 15th Cruiser Squadron.
  • October 1943: Aegean.
  • October 30, 1943: Damaged by bombs off Castelorizo / Kastelorizo.
  • October 1943 - April 1944, November 1943 - April 1944: Ra pairs in Taranto. Four 20 mm guns removed. Two 20 mm twin mounts added.
  • August 1944: Supported invasion of southern France.
  • June 18 - October 8, 1945: Refit at Malta. Three 20 mm guns removed. One 20 mm twin mount added.

HMS Galatea

  • Manufacturer: Scotts
  • June 2, 1933: Laid down.
  • August 9, 1934, August 20, 1934: Launched.
  • August 4, 1935, August 14, 1935, August 25, 1935: Completed.
  • August 1935: Flagship for Rear Admiral (Destroyers) of the Mediterranean Fleet.
  • 1939: Mediterranean Fleet.
  • 1940 - 1941: Home Fleet.
  • February - March 1940: Blockade Vigo.
  • April 1940: Norwegian campaign.
  • May 1940: Flagship of 2nd Cruiser Squadron, Nore Command.
  • October 1940 - January 1941, October 18, 1940 - January 8, 1941: Refit at Chatham. Catapult removed. Two 2 pdr quad mounts and eight 20 mm guns added.
  • December 1940: 4" single mounts replaced by twin mounts.
  • 1941: Mediterranean Fleet. May 1941: Hunted Bismarck.
  • July 1941: Mediterranean Fleet.
  • November 1941: Member of Force K at Malta hunting Axis convoys.
  • December 14, 1941, December 15, 1941: Sunk. Sunk by three torpedoes from U557 off Alexandria.

HMS Penelope

  • Manufacturer: Harland & Wolff
  • May 30, 1934: Laid down.
  • October 15, 1935: Launched.
  • November 13, 1936: Completed.
  • November 1936: 3rd Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean.
  • 1939: Mediterranean Fleet.
  • 1940, 1940 - 1941: 2nd Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet.
  • April 1940: Norwegian campaign.
  • April 11, 1940: Badly damaged when ran aground off Vestfjord / Fleinver.
  • May 17 - July 2, 1940: Temporary repairs at Clyde.
  • August 1940 - July 1941, August 26,: Refit and repairs at Tyne. Catapult removed. Two 2 pdr quad mounts added.
  • October 1941: Mediterranean.
  • October 21, 1941: With Force K based in Malta.
  • Late 1941: Four 20 mm guns added.
  • December 19, 1941: Hit mines off Tripoli.
  • December 19, 1941 - January 3, 1942: Repairs at Malta. Four 20 mm guns added.
  • 1942 - 1944: Mediterranean Fleet.
  • March 26, 1942: Bomb near misses causes damage.
  • March 28 - April 8, 1942; Temporary repairs at Malta.
  • April 12 - May 11, 1942: Temporary repairs in Gibraltar.
  • April 8, 1942: Sailed for New York Naval Yard for repairs from bomb damage sustained in Malta.
  • April - September 1, 1942, May 19 - September 1, 1942: Repairs in New York Naval Yard. Four 20 mm guns added.
  • October 5 - November 21, 1942: Repairs at Portsmouth.
  • Early 1943: Mediterranean. With Force Q at Bone.
  • August 1943: Supported Sicily invasion.
  • September 1943: Supported Salerno invasion. Ferried troops to occupy Taranto.
  • October 1943: Attacked German invasion convoys headed to Leros.
  • December 1943: Hunted blockade runners in Bay of Biscay.
  • January 1944: Supported Anzio invasion.
  • February 18, 1944: Sunk by two torpedoes from U410 off Anzio.

Specifications

  Arethusa class
Crew 450, 470, 500
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 5,220 tons - 5,270 tons, 5,250 tons
Displacement - Loaded 6,665 tons - 6,715 tons
Length 506'
154.2 m, 154.22 m
Length - Between Perpendiculars 480'
146.3 m
Length - Water Line 500'
Beam 51'
15.5 m, 15.54 m
Draft / Height 13' 9", 13' 10", 16' 6"
4.2 m, 5.03 m
Performance  
Speed 32.25 knots, 32.3 knots
Range 12,000 nautical miles
Range at 13 knots 5,300 nautical miles
Armament 6", 6" / 12.7 cm: 6
6" twin turrets, 6" Mk XXIII twin turrets, 6" L/50 Mk XXIII twin turrets: 3
Anti-Aircraft 4", 4" / 10.2 cm AA: 8
4" twin mounts, 4" Mk V twin mounts: 4
4" L/45 QF Mk V HA: 4
2 pdr AA: 8
2 pdr quad mounts: 2
0.5" machine gun quad mounts: 2
OR 4" Mk V: 4
Torpedo Tubes 21" / 53.3 cm : 2 mounts 3 tubes each
Aircraft 1
Armor  
Belt - Machinery 2.25"
Belt - Main 2", 2.25", 3"
5.1 cm
Bulkheads 1"
Control Tower 1"
2.5 cm
Deck 1", 2"
5.1 cm
Magazine Box 1" - 3"
Turrets 1"
2.5 cm
Engines  
Boilers Admiralty: 4
Shafts 4
Turbines Geared, Parsons geared
HP 64,000
Oil 1,200 tons, 1,250 tons - 1,325 tons, 1,300 tons
  HMS Arethusa
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 5,220 tons
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft - April 1944

20 mm twin mounts: 4
20 mm: 3

Saluting 3 pdr: 2
Aircraft 1
  HMS Aurora
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 5,270 tons
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 4" L/45 QF Mk XVI HA twin mounts: 4
Saluting 3 pdr: 2
Aircraft 0
  HMS Galatea
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 5,220 tons
Armament  
Saluting 3 pdr: 2
Aircraft 1
  HMS Penelope
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 5,270 tons
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 4" L/45 QF Mk XVI HA twin mounts: 4
Aircraft 1

Sources:

  1. Cruisers of World War Two An International Encyclopedia, M. J. Whitley, 1995
  2. British Cruisers of World War Two, Alan Raven, John Roberts, 1980
  3. Warships of World War II, H. T. Lenton and J. J. Colledge, 1964
  4. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Robert Gardiner, 1987
  5. Janes' Fighting Ships of World War II, 1989
  6. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
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