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Great Britain's Southampton class cruisers

Photos

HMS Birmingham at Copenhagen, Denmark with Field Marshall Montgomery driving by:
HMS Birmingham at Copenhagen, Denmark with Field Marshall Montgomery driving by
©IWM, A-28566
HMS Birmingham:
HMS Birmingham
©IWM, FL-2080
HMS Glasgow in Singapore on December 3, 1941:
HMS Glasgow in Singapore on December 3, 1941
©IWM, A-6790
HMS Glasgow at Tyne:
HMS Glasgow at Tyne
©IWM, FL-4676
HMS Gloucester under attack by the Germans on May 22, 1941:
HMS Gloucester under attack by the Germans on May 22, 1941
©IWM, HU-1997B
HMS Gloucester at Plymouth:
HMS Gloucester at Plymouth
©IWM, FL-3923
HMS Liverpool on February 28, 1942:
HMS Liverpool on February 28, 1942
©IWM, FL-4984
HMS Liverpool at Hvalfjord, Iceland:
HMS Liverpool at Hvalfjord, Iceland
©IWM, A-8950
HMS Manchester on July 3, 1942:
HMS Manchester on July 3, 1942
©IWM, A-10219
HMS Manchester at Spithead:
HMS Machester at Spithead
©IWM, FL-4156
HMS Newcastle in Plymouth Sound on September 25, 1940:
HMS Newcastle in Plymouth Sound on September 25, 1940
©IWM, A-943
HMS Newcastle in Plymouth Sound:
HMS Newcastle in Plymouth Sound
©IWM, FL-4961
HMS Sheffield in June 1941:
HMS Sheffield in June 1941
©IWM, A-4111
HMS Sheffield in the Soviet Union in December 1941 next to a minesweeper:
HMS Sheffield in the Soviet Union in December 1941 next to a minesweeper
©IWM, A-6876
HMS Southampton in 1937:
HMS Southampton in 1937
©IWM, HU-69048
HMS Southampton in Topsundet Fjord, Norway in April 1940:
HMS Southampton in Topsundet Fjord, Norway in April 1940
©IWM, A-50

Design

The Southampton class were developed in response to Japanese cruisers being built that were reported to have a displacement of 8,500 tons and armed with fifteen 6.1" guns.1 Despite most experts feeling this was impossible the British Admiralty asked for designs for something similar.1 Four designs were put forth and one that had four triple 6" turrets, a speed of 32 knots and 3 aircraft was chosen.1

The Southampton and Newcastle were a part of the 1933 Program.1

The Sheffield, Glasgow, and Birmingham were part of the the 1934 Program.1

The Gloucester, Liverpool, and Manchester were part of the 1935 Program.1 These had additional horizontal armor.1

Aircraft

There was a single catapult for the three aircraft carried.1,4 There was a hanger that could hold two aircraft.4

Armament

The 6" guns could elevate to 45°.1,4 The charges were hand passed to the guns.4

Ships

 

HMS Birmingham

  • Manufacturer: Devonport Dock Yard1,3,4,5
  • July 18, 1935: Laid down.1,4,5
  • September 1, 1936, 19366: Launched.1,3,4,5,6
  • November 18, 1937: Completed.1,4,5
  • 1937: 5th Cruiser Squadron, China Station.1
  • September 1939: Refit in Malta.1
  • April 1940: Norwegian campaign.1
  • June 27 - 30, 1940: Refit at Rosyth.2
  • September - December 1940: Refit.1
  • January - April 1941: Escorted Middle East troops convoys.1
  • July 12 - 22, 1941: Repairs at Simonstown.2
  • July 1941: Flagship of South American Division.1
  • February 1942: Eastern Fleet.1
  • June 1942: Mediterranean Operation Vigorous.1
  • March 1942, March 5 - April 1, 19422: Refit at Simonstown.2 Two 0.5" machine guns quad mounts removed.1,2 Seven 20 mm guns added.1,2
  • April - August 1943, April 23 - August 21, 19432: Refit.1,2 Aircraft equipment and five 20 mm guns removed.1,2 Eight 20 mm twin mounts added.1,2
  • November 28, 1943: Hit by torpedo from U407 off Cyrenaica on way to Alexandria.1,2
  • November 1943 - June 1944, December 2, 1943 - June 12, 19442: Temporary repairs in Alexandria.1,2
  • July - November 1944, July - November 28, 19442, November 19444: Refit and repairs at Norfolk, Virginia.1,2 X turret removed.1,2 Four 40 mm Bofors quad mounts4, two 20 mm twin mounts, and five 20 mm guns added.1,2
  • November 1944: 10th Cruiser Squadron in Scapa Flow.1
  • November 1944 - May 1945: Patrols off Norway.1
  • December 11, 1944 - January 11, 1945: Refit at Portsmouth.2

HMS Glasgow

  • Manufacturer: Scotts1,3,4,5
  • April 16, 1935: Laid down.1,4,5
  • June 20, 1936, 19366: Launched.1,3,4,5,6
  • September 9, 1937: Completed.1,4,5
  • September 1939: 2nd Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet.1 Northern Patrol.1
  • April 1940: Norwegian campaign.1
  • May 14 - July 7: Refit.2
  • November 1940: Mediterranean.1
  • December 19404, December 3, 1940: Hit by two airborne torpedoes in Suda Bay, Crete.1,2,4
  • December 1940 - August 1941: Repairs in Alexandria and Singapore.1
    December 15, 1940 - January 31, 1941: Repairs in Alexandria.2
    June 29 - August 29, 1941: Repairs in Singapore.2
  • August 1941 - April 1942: East Indies.1
  • April - August 1942, May 6 - August 25, 19422: Repairs in New York, United States.1,2 Two 0.5" machine gun quad mounts removed.1,2 Nine 20 mm guns added.1,2
  • August 1942: Scapa Flow with 10th Cruiser Squadron.1 Arctic convoy escort.1
  • September 4 - October 12, 1942: Portsmouth for repairs.2
  • December 1942, December 6 - 23, 19422: Refit at Clyde.2 Five 20 mm guns removed.1,2 Eight 20 mm twin mounts added.1,2
  • March 30, 1943: Captured German blockade runner Regensburg.1
  • July 1943: Plymouth Command.1
  • Autumn 1943, August 26 - October 6, 19432: Two 20 mm guns added.1,2
  • December 1943: Bay of Biscay battle against German destroyers with HMS Enterprise.1 Z27, T26, and T27 were sunk.1
  • Mid-1944: Four 20 mm guns added.2
  • June 1944: Supported Normandy invasion.1
  • June 25, 1944: Hit by German shore batteries while bombarding Cherbourg.1,2
  • 1944 - 19454, June 1944 - May 1945: Repairs and refit in Portsmouth.1,2 Aircraft equipment, X turret, two 20 mm twin mounts, and four 20 mm guns removed.1,2 Two / four4 2 pdr quad mounts and four 2 pdr guns added.1,2
  • August 22, 1945: Sailed for East Indies.1

HMS Gloucester

  • Manufacturer: Devonport Dock Yard1,3,4
  • September 22, 1936: Laid down.1,4
  • October 19, 1937, 19376: Launched.1,3,4,6
  • January 31, 1939: Completed.1,4
  • September 1939: Flagship of 4th Cruiser Squadron, East Indies.1
  • September - December 1939: Patrolled in Indian Ocean.1
  • December 1939: Joined Force I in Simonstown.1
  • May 1940: 7th Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean.1 Battle of Calabria.1 Malta convoy escort.1
  • January 11, 1941: Hit by bomb while escorting Malta bound convoy, Operation Excess.1
  • March 1941: Battle of Matapan.1
  • April 1941: Bombarded North African coastal installations.1
  • April 30, 1941: Hit by bomb in Malta.1
  • May 1941: Crete.1
  • May 22, 1941: Sunk.1,3,4 Hit by four bombs from dive bombers.1,4 There were three near misses.1,4

HMS Liverpool

  • Manufacturer: Fairfield1,3,4,5
  • February 17, 1936: Laid down.1,4,5
  • March 24, 1937, 19376: Launched.1,3,4,5,6
  • October 25, 19385, November 2, 1938: Completed.1,4,5
  • 1939: 4th Cruiser Squadron, East Indies.1
  • November 1939: 5th Cruiser Squadron, China Sea.1
  • May 20, 1940: Mediterranean.1
  • May 28, 1940: Helped sink Italian destroyer Espero.1 Hit by a 4.7" shell.1
  • July 29, 1940: Hit by bomb.1
  • October 19404, October 14, 1940: Hit by airborne torpedo south-east of Crete.1,2,4 Roof blown off Turret A.1
  • October 1940 - April 1941, October 16, 1940 - April 19412: Temporary repairs in Alexandria.1,2 Two 0.5" machine gun quad mounts and two 2 pdr quad mounts removed.2
  • June - November 1941, June 16 - November 15, 19412: Repairs and refit at Mare Island.1,2 Nine 20 mm guns added.1,2
  • December 11, 1941 - January 17, 1942: Repair and refit at Clyde.2 Two 2 pdr quad mounts added.2
  • March 1942: 18th Cruiser Squadron, Scapa Flow.1 Escorted Arctic convoys.1
  • June 5, 1942: Mediterraean.1 Participated in Operation Harpoon a convoy to Malta.1
  • June 14, 1942: Hit by airborne torpedo northeast of Philippeville.1,2 Completely disabled and had to be towed to Gibraltar.1
  • June 21 - July 1942: Repairs at Gibraltar.2
  • July 1942: Arrived in Rosyth.1
  • August 1942 - July 1943, August 19, 1942 - July 22, 19452, 1943 - 19454: Repairs and refit in Rosyth.1,2 Aircraft equipment, X turret, and tow 20 mm guns removed.1,2,4 Four 2 pdr quad mounts, six 2 pdr guns, and six 20 mm twin powered mounts added.1m2
  • May 1944: Returned to operational duties.1

HMS Manchester

  • Manufacturer: Hawthorn Leslie3,4, Hawthorne Leslie1
  • March 28, 1936: Laid down.1,4
  • April 12, 1937, 19376: Launched.1,3,4,6
  • August 4, 1938: Completed.1,4
  • September 1939: 4th Cruiser Squadron, East Indies.1
  • November 29, 1939: Returned to Great Britain.1
  • November 1939: In Scapa Flow with Home Fleet.1 Northern Patrol.1
  • February 21, 1940: Captured German merchantman Wahehe.1
  • April 1940: Norwegian campaign.1
  • May - September 1940: Anti-invasion duty at Humber.1
  • September 15, 1940: Sailed to Mediterranean.1
  • November 1940: Repairs at Rosyth.2
  • November 27, 1940: Battle of Cape Spartivento.1
  • December 13, 1940: Sailed for Britain.1
  • January - April 1941, January 16 - March 29, 19412: Refit at Tyne.1,2 Two 0.5" machine gun quad mounts removed.1,2 One 40 mm Bofors Mk III and five 20 mm guns added.1,2
  • July 1941: Mediterranean.1 Malta convoy escort.1
  • July 23, 1941: Hit by airborne torpedo.1,2
  • July 25 - September 12, 1941: Temporary repairs in Gibraltar.1,2
  • September 1941 - February 1942, September 23, 1941 - February 27, 19422: Repairs in Philadelphia.1,2 Three 20 mm guns added.1,2
  • February - April 1942, March 18 - April 25, 19422: Repairs at Portsmouth.1,2
  • May 1942: Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.1 Escorted convoys to Soviet Union.1
  • August 1942: Mediterranean.1 Operation Pedestal.1
  • August 10, 1942: Two 40 mm Bofors added.2
  • August 12 - 13, 1942: Scuttled.1,3,4 Hit by torpedo from Ms 16 or Ms 22 off Tunisia.1

HMS Newcastle

  • Original name: Minotaur.1,3
  • Manufacturer: Vickers-Armstrong at Tyne1,3,4,5
  • October 4, 1934: Laid down.1,4,5
  • January 23, 1936, 19366: Launched.1,3,4,5,6
  • March 5, 1937: Completed.1,4,5
  • 1937: 2nd Cruiser Squadron.1
  • Mid-September 1939: 18th Cruiser Squadron with Home Fleet.1 Convoy escort in the Western Approaches.1
  • March 30 - May 29, 1940: Refit at Tyne.2
  • July 1940: Stationed in Plymouth for anti-invasion duty.1
  • October 11, 1940: Bombarded Cherbourg with HMS Revenge.1
  • November 13, 1940: Joined Force H in Gibraltar.1
  • November 27, 1940: Battle of Spartivento.1
  • December 1940: South Atlantic Command.1 Patrols off River Plate.1
  • April 16 - May 16, 1941: Refit at Simonstown.2
  • August - December 1941, September 20 - November 30, 19412: Refit in Boston.1,2 Two 0.5" machine gun quad mounts removed.1,2 Nine 20 mm guns added.1,2
  • December 3, 1941 - January 25, 1942: Repairs at Devonport.2
  • December 29, 1941: Plymouth.1
  • February 1942: Eastern Fleet.1
  • June 1942: Mediterranean Fleet.1 Malta convoy escort.1
  • June 15, 1942: Hit by torpedo from S56 northwest of Derna.1,2
  • July 20 - September 5, 1942: Temporary repairs in Bombay.1,2
  • October 10 - November 1942, October 11 - November 21, 19422: Repairs at New York Navy Yard.1,2 Aircraft equipment removed.1,2 Ten 20 mm guns added.1,2
  • December 21, 1942 - March 30, 1943: Repairs at Devonport.2
  • March 1943 - 1945: 4th Cruiser Squadron, Eastern Fleet.1
  • May 27, 1943: Kilindini.1
  • June 26 - September, 19432, July - September 1943: Refit at Simonstown.2 Six 20 mm guns replaced by four 20 mm twin mounts.1,2
  • May - October 1945: Refit at Rosyth.1

HMS Sheffield

  • Manufacturer: Vickers-Armstrong at Tyne1,3,4,5
  • January 31, 1935: Laid down.1,4,5
  • July 23, 1936, 19366: Launched.1,3,4,5,6
  • August 25, 1937: Completed.1,4,5
  • September 1939: 18th Cruiser Squadron.1
  • September 1939 - April 1940: Patrols in Denmark Straits.1
  • April 1940: Norwegian campaign.1
  • May - August 1940: Anti-invasion duty in southern England.1
  • August 22, 1940: Joined Force H.1 Patrols in Mediterranean and around Azores.1
  • February 9, 1941: Bombardment of Genoa.1
  • March 1941: Attacked Vichy French convoys.1
  • June 12, 1941: Sunk KMS Bismarck's tanker the Friedrich Breme.1
  • June 23 - August 8, 1941: Repairs and refit at Rosyth.2
  • September 1941: Two 0.5" machine gun quad mounts removed.1,2 Six 20 mm guns added.1,2
  • October 3, 1941: With HMS Kenya sank German supply ship Kota Pinang off Cape Ortegal.1
  • March 4, 1942: Hit by mine off Iceland.1,2
  • April - July 1942, April 2 - July 11, 19422: Repairs at Tyne.1,2 Three 20 mm guns added.1,2
  • July 1942: Escorted Arctic convoys.1
  • November 1942: North Africa (Torch) landings.1
  • December 1942: KMS Admiral Hipper, KMS Lützow, and destroyers attacked convoy JW51B off North Cape.1 Damaged Hipper and sank destroyer Friedrich Eckoldt.1
  • February 1943: Damaged by weather while escorting Arctic convoys.2
  • March - June 1943, March 1 - June 5, 19432: Repairs at Clyde.2 Five 20 mm guns added.1,2
  • July - August 1943: Bay of Biscay.1
  • December 1943: Member of group that sank KMS Scharnhorst.1
  • January 1944, January 26 - February 8, 19442: Refit at Liverpool.2 Aircraft equipment removed.1,2 Eight 20 mm guns added.2
  • July 1944 - May 1945, July 25, 1944 - May 30, 19452: Refit in Boston, United States.1,2 X turret and fifteen 20 mm guns were removed.1,2 Four 40 mm Bofors quad mounts and ten 20 mm twin powered mounts added.1,2

HMS Southampton

  • Original name: Polyphemus.1,3
  • Manufacturer: Clydebank3, John Brown1,4
  • November 21, 1934: Laid down.1,4
  • March 10, 1936. 19366: Launched.1,3,4,6
  • March 6, 1937: Completed.1,4
  • 1937: Flagship of 2nd Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet.1
  • October 16, 1939: While off Rosyth was damaged by bomb.1
  • October 1939 - February 1940: With Humber Force.1
  • February 1940: 18th Cruiser Squadron at Scapa Flow.1
  • April 1940: Norwegian campaign.1 Many near misses by bombs.1
  • May 8 - 20, 1940: Refit at Rosyth.2
  • May - October 1940: South England anti-invasion duty.1
  • October 1940: Scapa Flow.1
  • November 15, 1940: Sailed to Mediterranean.1
  • November 27, 1940: Battle of Cape Spartivento.1
  • December 1940: Red Sea.1 Escorted troop convoys.1
  • January 1, 1941: 3rd Cruiser Squadron.1 Malta convoy escort.1
  • January 11, 1941: Sunk.1,3,4 While off Sicily was hit by two to three bombs disabled her and fires started.1,4 Had to be sunk by a torpedoed from the HMS Gloucester and four torpedoes from the HMS Orion.1,4

Specifications

  Southampton class
Crew 7003, 7481,4, 809 - 8335
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 9,100 tons1,3,4,5
Displacement - Loaded 11,350 tons4, 11,531 tons1
Length 591' 6"1,3,4,5
180.2 m1, 180.28 m4
Length - Between Perpendiculars 558'1,3,4,5
170.07 m1,4
Length - Water Line 584'5
Beam 61' 8"1,4,5, 61' 9"3
18.79 m1,4
Draft / Height 17'3,5, 20' 4"1,4
6.2 m1,4
Draft / Height - Maximum 20'5
Performance  
Speed 32 knots1,3,4,5
Range at 13 knots 7,700 nautical miles1
Armament 6": 95
6" triple turrets: 43
6" Mk XXIII triple turrets: 41
6" L/50 Mk XXIII triple turrets: 44
Anti-Aircraft 4": 85
4" twin mounts: 43
4" Mk XVI twin mounts: 41
4" L/45 QF Mk XVI HA quad mounts: 24
2 pdr pompoms: 165
2 pdr quad mounts: 21,3,4
40 mm: 225
20 mm: 155
0.5" machine gun quad mounts: 21,3
Saluting 3 pdr: 44
Torpedo Tubes 21": 2 mounts 3 tubes each1,3,4,5
Aircraft 31,3,4
Armor  
Belt - Main 3" - 4"3,5, 4.5"1
Bulkheads 2.5"4
Control Tower 4"3,5
Deck 1.25" - 2"1, 2"3
Magazine Box 1" - 4.5"4
Turrets 1"4, 1" - 2"1,3,5
Engines  
Boilers Admiralty: 41,4, 85
Shafts 41,3,4,5
Turbines Geared3
Parsons geared1,4
HP 75,0001,3,4,5
Oil 1,925 tons - 2,070 tons4, 1,970 tons5, 2,060 tons1
  Southampton class 2nd Group
Gloucester class4
(Liverpool, Manchester, Gloucester)
Crew 8004, 8501
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 9,400 tons1,3,4,5
Displacement - Loaded 11,650 tons1,4
Length 591' 6"1,4
180.28 m1,4
Length - Between Perpendiculars 558'4, 579'1
170.07 m1,4
Beam 62' 4"1,3,4,5
19 m1,4
Draft / Height 17' 5"5, 17' 6"3, 20' 7"1,4
6.27 m1,4
Performance  
Speed 32.3 knots1,5, 32.5 knots3
Armament 6" L/50 Mk XXIII triple turrets: 44
Anti-Aircraft 4" L/45 QF Mk XVI HA twin mounts: 44
2 pdr quad mount pompoms: 24
Saluting 3 pdr: 44
Torpedo Tubes 21": 2 mounts 3 tubes each4
Aircraft 34
Armor  
Belt - Main 4.5"4
Bulkheads 2.5"4
Magazine Box 1" - 4.5"4
Turrets 2" - 4"4
Engines  
Boilers Admiralty: 41,4
Shafts 41,4
Turbines Parsons geared1,4
HP 82,5001,3,4,5
Oil 1,950 tons - 2,100 tons4
  HMS Gloucester
Performance  
Range at 13 knots 7,320 nautical miles1
Armor  
Deck over Magazines 2"1
Engines  
Oil 1,795 tons1
  HMS Liverpool
Armor  
Deck over Magazines 2"1
  HMS Manchester
Performance  
Range at 13 knots 7,850 nautical miles1
Armor  
Deck over Magazines 2"1
Engines  
Oil 2,100 tons1

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
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site