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Dido Class Light (Anti Aircraft) Cruiser

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16 Dido and Bellona class were built, following the general lines and appearance of the Arethusa class. They were the first to have a dual purpose main armament of 5.25 inch twin turret guns developed for the battleship King George V. They were designed to have 5 pairs, three forward and two aft. Because of shortages some only had 4 on commissioning and Scylla and Charybdis kept their 4.5-inch guns.

These guns were successful and the ships were the finest AA cruisers built for the Navy - all were heavily and continuously bombed at various times in the Mediterranean. In their many Mediterranean excursions outside the umbrella of air cover, the bombing was habitually on such a scale that their endurance was commonly measured in terms of AA ammunition rather than fuel.

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Displacement: 5,600 tons standard ; 6,850 tons full load
Dimensions: 485 pp, 512 oa x 50.5 x 14 feet
Propulsion: 4 shaft Parsons geared turbines, 4 Admiralty 3-drum boilers, 62,000 shp. = 32.25 knots
Range: 1,500 miles at 30 knots, 4,240 miles at 16 knots ; 1,100 tons fuel oil
Complement: 480
Armament: 5 dual 5.25-inch / 50 QF Mk 1 DP (one turret later removed in some) ; 2 quad 2 pdr ; 2 quad 0.5-inch MG ; 2 triple 21-inch TT.
Armour: 3 inch belt ; 1 inch deck (2 inch over magazines) ; 1 inch bulkheads


Bonaventure completed with only four twin 5.25in turrets because of shortages, and received a 4in starshell gun in X position. She had received a radar set before October 1940, but was otherwise unaltered. Naiad completed with five turrets. She received five single 20mm in September 1941 and had radar 279 by this time.

Phoebe completed with four turrets and was fitted with a 4in in Q position forward of the bridge. The latter was landed during refit at New York, November 1941 to April 1942, as were the .5in MGs and 279 radar, while a quadruple 2pdr supplanted the 4in and eleven single 20mm were fitted. Radars were now 281, 284 and 285. The A turret was temporarily removed at the end of 1942 after torpedo damage. During repairs in the first six months of 1943, all three quadruple 2pdr were landed, as were seven single 20mm, to be replaced by three quadruple 40mm Bofors and six twin 20mm. Radar 272 was also fitted. The A turret was replaced in July 1943. Her light AA in April 1944 was twelve 40mm (3x4); sixteen 20mm (6 x 2, 4 xl).

Dido had four turrets and a 4in similar to Phoebe. The 4in and .5in MGs were removed in the latter half of 1941 at Brooklyn Navy Yard, when Q 5.25in turret was shipped and five single 20mm were fitted. In the early summer of 1943 three single 20mm were exchanged for four twin 20mm, and the radar outfit was altered by the addition of types 272, 282, 284 and 285. April 1944 lists, however, show only eight 20mm.

Euryalus completed with her designed armament. In September 1941 the .5in MGs were landed and five single 20mm fitted. Two more were added by September 1942. By mid-1943 two single 20 had been removed and four twin 20mm shipped. The type 279 radar was replaced by types 272, 281, 282 and 285. In a long refit from October 1943 to July 1944, Q turret was replaced by a quadruple 2pdr and two twin 20mm were fitted. Radar 271 and 272 were removed and types 279b, 277 and 293 fitted.

Hermione also completed as a five-turret ship. She had the .5in MGs removed in October/November 1941 and received five single 20mm. Sinus completed with five turrets and five 20mm singles. She had received two more single 20mm by mid-1943. One of these was landed at Massawa at the end of 1943, and two single 40mm Bofors Mk III were fitted. However, she is listed as having only seven 20mm as light AA in April 1944 lists. By April 1945 she had two single Mk III 40mm fitted and had landed two single 20mm.

Cleopatra was completed with two single 2pdr in 1942 in lieu of the .5in MGs, but these were removed in the middle of that year and replaced by five single 20mm. A sixth 20mm was added in mid-1943. During repairs between November 1943 and November 1944, Q turret was removed, as were two quadruple 2pdr and five single 20mm. Three quadruple 40mm Bofors and six twin 20mm were fitted and the singles numbered four.

Argonaut completed with four single 20mm in lieu of the .5in MGs. She had Q turret removed during repairs in 1943/44, and lost the four single 20mm. She received a quadruple 2pdr in lieu of the 5.25in, and had five twin 20mm fitted. By April 1944 her light AA comprised three quadruple 2pdr, six twin power-operated 20mm and five single. By the end of the war with Japan she had received five 40mm Boffins and three single 40mm Bofors Mk III.

Scylla completed with four twin 4.5in Mk III in UD MK III mountings because of a shortage of 5.25in mountings. The forward superstructure was considerably modified to accommodate these and also to increase crew spaces. Her light AA on completion was eight single 20mm. Six twin power-operated 20mm were added at the end of 1943. Charybdis also completed with four twin 4.5in, and had in addition a single 4in Mk V for-ward of X mounting. Her light AA at completion was four single 20mm and two single 2pdr. The 4in starshell gun and two single 2pdr were removed and replaced by two twin and two single 20mm, probably in 1943.

Designed as fleet escorts to protect heavier units from both light surface forces and aircraft. The enthusiasm felt for them by the Board of Admiralty was borne out by good results in action and the only real problem with the type was shortage of gun-mountings and a need to stiffen them forward to take the weight of the forward turrets.

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