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Fiji Class Light Cruiser

Kenya in heavy Arctic seas
Kenya in heavy Arctic seas
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aka Crown Colony Class

Based on the Southampton class, but with a reduction in armour and machinery and 35ft shorter to save weight to meet the maximum of 8,000 tons for 6-inch cruisers, imposed at the Second London Naval Treaty in 1936. As distinct from the Southampton class the masts and funnels of these ships were unraked and the after control position was mounted on X turret. The conventional position had been found to be almost untenable when the after turrets fired near the forward limits of the A arcs, due to blast. In the last three of the group the light reconnaissance aircraft that had become standard for all the larger cruisers were omitted as a result of war experience, and the AA armament correspondingly strengthened. In refits during the latter half of the war the remaining six surviving ships of the class were similarly modified. X turret removed from all surviving ships except Nigeria towards the end of WWII.

Although the ships proved of great value during the war, their restricted size resulted in their being cramped and overcrowded when additional wartime crew and equipment became necessary. All served initially with the Home Fleet, but eventually were represented in all theatres of the war.

Displacement: 8,525 tons standard ; 10,450 tons full load
Dimensions: 538 pp, 555.5 oa x 62 x 16.5 feet
Propulsion: 4 shaft Parsons geared turbines, 4 Admiralty 3-drum boilers, 72,500 shp. = 31.5 knots
Range: 10,200 miles at 12 knots ; 1,700 tons fuel oil
Complement: 730
Armament: 4 triple 6-inch / 50 Mk 23 (one turret later removed) ; 4 dual 4-inch / 45 QF Mk 16 HA, 2 quad 2 pdr ; 4 quad 0.5-inch MG, 2 triple 21-inch TT. ; 2 seaplanes
Armour: 3.25 to 3.5 inch belt ; 2 inch deck ; 1 to 2 inch turrets ; 1.5 to 2 inch bulkheads

Modifications

All of these ships completed after the outbreak of hostilities, and therefore incorporated some modifications resulting from war experience. Fiji received only two more quadruple .5in MGs and radar 284 before her loss. Kenya also received two additional quadruple .5in MGs and a pair of single 20mm in the summer of 1941. Radars 273 and 284 were added in December 1941. During repairs between August and December 1942 she had the quadruple .5in MGs and the two 20mm singles removed, and received in lieu six twin 20mm. Radar 273 was also removed and radars 272, 282, 283 and 285 fitted. By late 1943 two further twin 20mm had been fitted, giving a total of eight twin power-operated mountings. X turret was landed in April 1945, to be replaced by two twin 40mm Bofors. At the end of the war, or just after, the 2pdr were replaced by two twin 40mm and the twin 20mm by single 40mm, the final outfit being eighteen 40mm (5 x 2, 8 x 1).

Mauritius received four single 20mm and radars 273, 284 and 285 early in 1942. In June 1943 the aircraft installations were removed and twenty single 20mm added. Two quadruple .5in MGs were landed shortly after. Nigeria had four single 20mm by September 1941, and received radars 273 and 284 in the latter half of that year. Between August 1942 and June 1943 she had the quadruple .5in MGs and the single 20mm removed, as well as the radar 273, receiving in lieu eight twin 20mm and radars 272 and 282. The control position on X turret was probably also removed at this time. This remained her outfit in April 1944, but by October 1945 four single Mk III Bofors 40mm had been added.

Trinidad appears to have received only two single 20mm before her loss. Gambia had six single 20mm fitted in February 1942. Between June and September 1943 the aircraft installations were removed, as were two single 2pdr and six 20mm singles, the ship being fitted instead with ten twin power-operated 20mm. This outfit was the same in April 1944. Jamaica received eight twin power-operated 20mm in 1943 and had four singles. Two of the latter replaced the control position atop X turret.

Bermuda, the last to complete, entered service with ten 20mm single mountings. Six more were added in September 1943. In the spring of 1944 the aircraft installations and twelve single 20mm were landed, being replaced by eight twin power-operated 20mm. During a major refit from June 1944 to April 1945, X turret and four twin 20mm were removed and three quadruple and four single 2pdr were fitted. In August 1945 she had a further two twin and two single 20mm removed, to be replaced by two Boffins and two single 40mm Bofors Mk III

nice and early photo of Fiji, 1940 - note no radar
nice and early photo of Fiji, 1940 - note no radar
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probably a Colony class - anyone know which ship ?
probably a Colony class - anyone know which ship ?
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