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Dauntless Class Light Cruiser

Delhi - 1942 Plymouth
Delhi - 1942 Plymouth
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World War 1 Emergency program ships, designed generally similar to the Cairo class, but lengthened about 20 ft with the bridge moved 8ft aft, to add a sixth 6-inch gun forward of the bridge, superfiring on no 1 gun, also had triple torpedo tubes. Considerable internal changes were also made and the increased top weight from the higher bridge and the additional gun, resulted in the beam being increased by 2ft 9in and the displacement by 430 tons.

Danae, Dauntless and Dragon were ordered prior to the Cairo class and had the normal bow, the remainder had the modified bow. Dauntless and Dragon had a hanger incorporated into the bridge, the remainder except Danae, were provided with flying off platforms aft.

They came into service in 1918. The ships of this class were intended to be converted to anti-aircraft cruisers but the outbreak of war in 1939 put an end to this. Delhi was completely rearmed in the US during 1941-2, with standard American 5in DP guns.

Dragon and Durban were expended as part of the Arromanches breakwater for the Normandy landings, see picture below. Despatch lost her 6in guns to serve as a depot ship.

Displacement: 4,850 tons. Hull and armour, 2940 tons
Dimensions: 445 feet pp 472.5 oa, Beam 46.5, Draught mean 14.25 ft. max 16.5
Propulsion: 2 shaft Brown Curtis or Parsons geared turbines. 6 Yarrow small tube Boilers 40,000 SHP = 29 knots
Complement: 450/469. All except Despatch and Diomede fitted as Flagships
Armament: 6--6 inch, 50 cal. 3--4 inch AA. 4--3 pdr 11 to 13 smaller.
Torpedo tubes (21 inch): 12 in 4 triple deck mountings.
Armour: HT 3" Side (amidships) ... 2in side 1.75in bow 1.5in stern 1in Upper deck (amids.) 1in Deck over rudder


Two ships, Dragon and Dauntless, were completed with large hangars under the bridge structure which they retained into the 1920s, but the others, with the exception of Danae (which never carried aircraft), were fitted only with the standard flying-off platform forward of the after control position. Its intended replacement by a catapult never happened, and all aircraft fittings had been removed by the end of the 1930s. Unlike the C class, the Ds were never rearmed as AA cruisers before the war, despite a plan in 1936 to rearm them with four twin 4.5in Mk III UD mountings, HACS and a quadruple 2pdr. Pressure of other work prevented any such plan from materialising until 1941, when Delhi was rebuilt in the USA. Apart from this ship, modifications were limited, as they were mainly employed on distant stations for most of their careers.

Danae had two 2pdr added by 1939, and had received a quadruple 2pdr in lieu of the after 4in AA by 1942. By April 1943 she had one twin 4in added as well as a second quadruple 2pdr, four twin power-worked 20mm and radars 291 and 273. The single 2pdr were removed. This was still the same in April 1944, by which time the torpedo tubes had also been landed. Dauntless received eight single 20mm and radars 291 and 273 early in 1942, plus two quadruple 2pdr by April 1943. Delhi was refitted in the USA in 1941, and emerged with five single 5in 38cal Mk 30 US-pattern weapons, two Mk 37 directors, two quadruple 2pdr and eight single 20mm. All tubes were landed and she received a full radar outfit. In 1944 two single 20mm were replaced by two power-operated twin 20mm. Despatch, which had two quadruple .5in MG mountings from 1939, received in addition, in 1942, eight single 20mm and radars 290 and 273, while retaining three 4in AA. April 1944 listings still show this armament, but at this time she was under refit and had all 6in removed to be replaced by sixteen single 40mm Mk III Bofors and two single 20mm. Diomede, while in refit during 1942/43, landed the 6in gunhouse, which was replaced by a single shielded weapon, exchanged two single 2pdr for eight single 20mm and had radars 290 and 273 fitted. In 1943 two single 20mm were replaced by two twin 20mm. Dragon had two quadruple 2pdr and eight single 20mm fitted by April 1943. By April 1944 one 6in, one 4in and four single 20mm had been landed, and the light AA was now five twin power-operated 20mm and four single with two 4in AA. All tubes were landed. Dunedin had two quadruple .5in MGs added in 1939, instead of the 2pdr fitted in most other ships. She received radar 286m in 1940, but otherwise remained unaltered. Durban received eight single 20mm in 1942, as well as radars 290 and 273. This, together with the standard pair of 2pdr guns, remained her outfit as late as April 1944.

two cruisers sunk as breakwaters at Normandy - nearer is the Dutch Sumatra, the further is either Dragon or Durban
two cruisers sunk as breakwaters at Normandy - nearer is the Dutch Sumatra, the further is either Dragon or Durban
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