Phanes Class Heavy Cruisers.

 

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There I was thinking I have nine 9.5" twin turrets removed from the rebuilt Helios class cruisers. Refurbishing the turrets including dropping the floor into the barbette to increase the elevation from 28 to 40 degrees. Increasing the range of the guns from 25,000 yards, to 32,000 yards. Two cruisers with four turrets each could be built. So lets see what I ended up with.

Until 1935 the Atlantean Admiralty had followed the Treaty strictures on size limits for vessels. But with the failure of the Treaty's the gloves came off. Planned and designed for laying down in 1937, the Phanes was to be the be all and end all of cruiser design. Word had been received of the German Hipper class, but the Atlanteans knew their ship was better. The other cruisers being contemplated by the Atlantean Admiralty were almost a 100 foot smaller and 7,000 tons less size. The one thing having the refurbished turrets did for the ships was to reduce the building time of the ships from four years to just over three years each. Phanes being laid down in mid 1937 was completed at the end of 1940, while the Hemera was laid down in early 1938 and completed in early 1941.



 

As completed 1941.
Displacement: 17,800 tons normal, 23,450 tons full load.
Dimensions: 709 x 78 x 27 feet
Machinery: 4 shaft, geared turbines, 140,000shp
Speed: 33 knots
Endurance: 12,000 miles at 18 knots
Armour: 6" belt, 3" deck, 6"/4" turrets.
Armament:
8 x 9.5" (4x2)
12 x 100mm (6x2)
20 x 40mm (5x4)
20 x 25mm (10x2)
6 x 21" (2x3) torpedoes
Aircraft: 3
Crew: 1580
 

Phanes Service Life.

Completed in 1940, after working up the ship had just arrived at Scapa Flow when the Norwegian campaign started. Grouped with four G class destroyers the group was ordered to the Trondheim region to intercept any German forces that may be in the area. The Germans did have a group of ships going to Trondheim, Hipper and sistership Seydlitz with 4 torpedo boats carrying troops for the occupation force. The Phanes and destroyers did not hold back even though they were slightly overmatched. The Phanes took on the lead German cruiser, Seydlitz, and the destroyers fired at whatever they could see. Phanes shooting was very good assisted with the new radar ranging for the main guns. The Seydlitz was soon hit badly, the big 9.5" shells of the Phanes making a mockery of the German ships armour protection. With three of its main turrets out of action and fires around the bridge and catapult area the Seydlitz heeled out of the line taking a torpedo boat with it for help. The Phanes switched fire to the Hipper which started taking damage and was then rammed by the mortally wounded Glowworm that had been taking hits from the Hippers 8" guns. One other G class ship had been badly hit and was struggling to keep up. The German torpedo boats made a torpedo run against the Phanes and two remaining G class ships trying to force them to turn away to give the German ships a chance to escape into the dusk and oncoming night. The German TB's got lucky. One torpedo hit the Phanes, causing enough damage to force the ships to withdaraw. Unknown at the time the Seydlitz had succumbed to the damage caused by the Phanes, the fires burning out of control forcing the ship to be abandoned, then minutes later the fires set off the aft main magazine, the remains of the ship going down by the stern to the sound of exploding boilers. For the loss of the Glowworm, the Germans had lost Seydlitz, crippled Hipper (sunk several days later by aircraft from HMS Apollo) and two of the TB's were also damaged. The loss of the troops housed on the Seydlitz, and those killed by the damage to the other ships of Group Trondheim meant the occupation force was open to a counter attack. The Phanes and the damaged G class ship were ordered to Scottish ports for repair, the remaining two G's going along as escorts. The Phanes required four months to repair the damage and it was not till October 1940 that the ship was fit for sea again.

Ordered to New York, Phanes escorted the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth to Australia where they were converted to troopships, taking the Australian and New Zealand troops to both Port Said for the Western Desert Theatre and then to Britain for the defence of the UK and eventually D-Day and beyond. The three ships arrived at Glasgow in mid-1941 after these voyages. The QE and QM continued their trooping duties but the Phanes was reassigned.

May 1941 and the Phanes was sent to join Admiral Hollands forces guarding the Straits leading to the North Atlantic. Phanes had only been on station two days when it was ordered to join Norfolk and Suffolk which had reported four big ships passing their position. Phanes was a spectator to the battle of Denmark strait until ordered to give chase to the escaping Prinz Eugen. Chasing the Prinz Eugen and duelling at long range, both ships were proceeding at best speed when Prinz Eugen scored a major blow by hitting and destroying the Phanes main search radar equipment. Unable to keep contact the Phanes had to report the damage and the escape of the Prinz Eugen, a bitter blow after being already credited with sinking the Prinz Eugens sistership Seydlitz.

The Phanes returned to Demeter at Atlantis for repairs, refit, boiler clean and leave for the crew. Ordered to Gibraltar to join the Pedestal convoy, it joined the other cruisers in fighting the merchant ships through the Skerki Channel, withdrawing as cover for the damaged ships.

Secret orders were then received to join Admiral Phillips Force Z. Much speculation as to what the new force was to be used for was ended when the ships captain advised the crew that the ships were bound for Singapore. Once at Singapore and joined with the Atlantean ships which made up the other half of Force Z. In the ensuing Battle of Malaya, the Phanes was the guardship to the carriers (see battle description under Zeus Class battleships) and spent most of its time firing its AA guns at Jap aircraft.

Phanes continued with Athena from Singapore to Sydney, Australia. After repairs, refits and cleans, the Force Athena with Phanes as Squadron Command ship went accross to Hawaii. There the Athena met a set of merchant ships filled with aircraft that had been assembled ready to be craned aboard. The Force rendezvoued with Admiral Spruance's force to go on to the battle of Midway (see Athenas War).

The Phanes had managed to live through three of the major battles of the war with little more than splinter damage. The Phanes returned to Hawaii with the remaining Atlantean ships. Now to be called Force Phanes, the Phanes had the Proteus (8x6"), Hesperus and Phaeton (10x5") cruisers, and 4 destroyers. The 4 destroyers were detached and returned to Atlantis to go onto Atlantic Convoy escort. The four cruisers were transferred to Gudalcanal and Admiral Scott's cruiser command. Phanes Group with Admiral Schwarzeneger in command fought several actions in and around Guadacanal, the Phaeton took damage at Tassafaronga and went happily off to Sydney for repair. The three cruisers were reinforced with HMAS Australia and were sent to the Guadalcanal area to attempet to intercept cruisers that Allied intelligence had predicted would be bombarding Henderson airfield the night of 12/13 November. Two large and four smaller units were picked up on radar and fire orders were given to the four cruisers, Phanes and Australia would take on the cruisers and the two light cruisers would take the destroyers. Sounds good? The reality was slightly different. 25,000 yards and Admiral Schwarzeneger ordered open fire and the two heavy cruisers open fired at their targets. Five minutes later the Japanese ships returned fire, and to the consternation of the Allied ships, the gun flashes were huge. They were not cruisers they were actually the Hiei and Kirishima, the shell hits from the Phanes and Australia were doing superficial damage and the two cruisers were proceeding into a battle they could not win. Having made their sighting report, and then the report of the two battleships, Admiral Lee ordered Group Phanes onto certain headings that would allow his two 16" battleships to be able to intercept the Japanese pair. The four Japanese destroyers had fired torpedoes at the Allied cruisers, but the Allied ships were aware of the potency of the Japanese Long Lance torpedoes and evaded the shoals that came at them. The Jabanese battleships were firing hard and coming on like trains. Australia caught a couple of hits and was burning amidships, giving the Japanese an aiming point. It also gave Admiral Lee the final bearing he needed and the battleships Washington and South Dakota joined the battle shortly thereafter. From looking like victors the Japanese managed to drag defeat toward them. Receiving the order "clear fire lines" the Phanes group turned aside and let the big boys slug it out. Phanes very good Radar ranging kept the Japanese destroyers at bay, sinking one and damaging another. But even that did not stop the Washington taking a torpedo hit. The Washington had seriously damaged the Hiei while the South Dakota had turned the Kirishima into a wreck. Both sets of Admirals then called for retreat. Admiral Schwarzeneger sent a searchlight signal after the retreating Japanese forces 'I'll be back', and so the legend began. Admiral Halsey's carriers sank both Japanese battleships with sustained air attacks the next day. A resounding victory for the Allies.

Force Phanes escorted HMAS Australia back to Sydney and the group went through rest and recuperation for the ships and crew. Heading north back to the Solomon Islands, Force Phanes has the Phaeton back, and is at full strength with four cruisers. The ships were ordered to join Admiral Waldens TF36 consisting of three CL's (with 15x6" each) and four destroyers. TF36 had been ordered to intercept a force of two heavy cruisers and ten destroyers taking reinforcements to Kolombangara. The Japanese force was split into escorting groups around the four merchantmen. It was the rear section of three destroyers that the Allies encountered first. At one in the morning several mini-battles exploded around the area with the Phanes and one of the US cruisers shooting at the two Japanese cruisers while the five other Allied cruisers and four destroyers duked it out with the ten Japanese destroyers. It was at this stage that Admiral Schwarzeneger made his most famous signal to the Japanese heavy cruisers "I'm back". Phanes and Helena were shooting well with their ranging radar making a huge difference (the Japanese did not have this yet). The Helena's fifteen gun salvos were particuarly damaging, while any hit from Phanes big 9.5" shells tore huge chunks out of the more lightly armoured Mogami class cruisers. After just 20 minute of fire, the Phanes had turned the Suzuya into a burning wreck, while the Helena had damaged the Kumano, but the cruisers had their revenge, three torpedo hits on Helena caused fatal damage. Phanes finished off the Kumano while the other cruisers and destroyers had accounted for two destroyers sunk and two damaged before they were ordered to retreat. The US destroyers were given one transport each to sink, which each did. For the loss of the Helena and serious damage on Phaeton again, the Japanese had lost 2 cruisers, 2 destroyers sunk and two damaged and the transports full of troops were sunk. Again Force Phanes is required to send off Phaeton to Sydney for repair. That is the last anyone hears of the Phaeton as the ship never arrived at Sydney. It was presumed that the Phaeton was torpedoed and exploded before any report could be made.

Secret orders are then received by Admiral Schwarzeneger detaching the group from TF36 and ordering them to Hawaii. On arrival at Hawaii the reason for their recall is apparent. Sitting in the middle of Pearl harbour is an Atlantean Fleet consisting of the carriers Goliath and Hyperion, the battleships Hephaestus and Hercules, Phanes sistership Hemera and four other cruisers and a dozen destroyers. The fleet received the new TF71 number (a second Atlantean Fleet would arrive later and become TF72) and was ordered to reinforce Admiral Sherman and his carriers Saratoga and Princeton. Halsey ordered the carriers and TF71, to steam north through the night of 4–5 November to get within range of Rabaul for a daybreak raid on the base. Approaching behind the cover of a weather front, Sherman launched 200 of his available aircraft against the target, leaving only a few aircraft behind for combat air patrol over his ships. The aircrews were ordered to damage as many warships as possible, rather than attempting to achieve a sinking. Aircraft from airfields on Barakoma and the recently captured Vella Lavella were sent out to sea to rendezvous with the carrier force to provide it with some measure of protection. The daybreak Navy air bombing of Rabaul was followed up an hour later with an Army Air Force raid by 27 B-24 Liberator heavy bombers of the Fifth Air Force, escorted by 58 P-38s. By the end of the attacks six of the seven Japanese cruisers at Rabaul had been damaged, four of them heavily. Atago suffered near misses by three 500 lb (230 kg) bombs that caused severe damage and killed 22 crewmen, including her captain. Maya was hit by one bomb above one of her engine rooms, causing heavy damage and killing 70 crewmen. Mogami was hit by one 500 lb bomb and set afire, causing heavy damage and killing 19 crewmen. Takao was hit by two 500 lb bombs, causing heavy damage and killing 23 crewmen. Chikuma was slightly damaged by several near-misses. One bomb struck near Agano, which damaged an anti-aircraft gun and killed one crewman. Three destroyers were also lightly damaged. The strike had been a stunning success, effectively neutralizing Koga's cruisers as a threat to the Bougainville mission. Under the threat of additional airstrikes most of the Japanese warships departed for Truk the next day, practically ending Japanese naval presence in the area. Losses among the attacking aircraft were light.

As a minor part of TF71, Phanes got to see most of the major battles of the Pacific War. Shot at Kamikazes. Shot at bits of sand. Had some great rest, refit, and recuperation in various ugly little harbours created by the Fleet Train. One stint at Sydney for the whole Task Force kept Sydney on its toes for a week. Once the British Pacific Fleet arrived around the South China Seas in 1945, TF 71 was assigned to the group to strengthen it and add a set of ships with experience in theatre. Various strikes were carried out by the Fleets aircraft around Okinawa and the Shores of Japan through 1945. It was Phanes that was chosen to appear at Tokyo Bay to witness the Japanese surrender. Phanes that had spent all of the Pacific War actually in the Pacific. Admiral Schwarzenegers signal? "I'm here'.

Phanes survives the war and as it is only 5-6 years old, a further 20 years of service might be expected of the ship. While still in service through to 1950, a major survey of the ship for its suitability for rebuilding to carry the new missile armaments being contemplated for cruisers, found that the repairs to the torpedo hit in May 1940 had never been quite right and the ship was slightly twisted. The end was in sight for Phanes, and after a stint in the Training fleet the Phanes was sold for scrap in 1954.


Hemera's War Service

Completed in March 1941, the work-up period had just finished, when the ship received its orders to join Force H. Hardly had the Hemera arrived than it was off to intercept the Bismarck, the last battleship survivor of the Denmark Strait action (see Ares class BB). See Aphrodites War for details of the Force H interception of Bismarck with aircraft. Hemeras job was to watch the aircraft fly off and return, it carried out this duty with distinction. While tied to the apron strings of Force H, the Hemera did not have much to do. Not allowed to tackle the big Italian ships, this was undertaken by Renown and Dionysus. The change in circumstances was the ships transfer to Scapa Flow and the horror of Russian convoys, in winter. Paired with the British cruiser Edinburgh as close escort to PQ6, the two cruisers sorted it out that one would take the even numbered convoys, the other the odd numbered ones. While each ship was off with its convoy the other would be undertaking the slightly more harmless duty of covering the exits into the North Atlantic from around Iceland (Iceland to Greenland, Iceland to Faeroes). Both cruisers built up escort forces that would be sent with them. PQ7b was Hemera's next convoy with two destroyers and two trawlers as escort, all nine merchantmen arrived safely. PQ9/10 where all arrived safely. PQ11 also went undetected by German ships, U-boats or aircraft and arrived safely at Murmansk. So far Hemera had nothing worse than the weather to fight.

PQ13 was to be different. The voyage was uneventful until 24 March 1942, when the convoy was struck by a violent four-day storm, which left the convoy scattered and in disarray. The ships were dispersed over a distance of 150 miles. Over the next few days the ships coalesced into two groups, of eight and four, with four others proceeding independently. On 28 March the ships were sighted by German aircraft, and attacked. Two ships were sunk, Raceland and Empire Ranger. Also on the 28th a German force of three Narvik class destroyers, Z24, Z25 and Z26, under the command of KzS G Ponitz, sortied from Kirkenes. They intercepted Bateau, which was sunk, in the evening of 28/29 March, before falling in with Trinidad and Fury in the early hours of 29 March. Z26 was badly damaged by HMS Trinidad, sinking later after a combined counter-attack of Oribi, Eclipse and the Soviet destroyer Sokrushitelny, but in the course of the action Trinidad was hit by her own torpedo (the torpedo's gyroscope froze). The remaining German ships broke off the action as more escorts arrived including Hemera answering the Trinidads sighting reports, and Trinidad, escorted by Fury and Eclipse, limped into Kola Inlet, arriving midday on 30 March. In the meanwhile the ships of PQ 13 came under U-boat attack. Two ships were found and sunk by U-boats, Induna by U-376, and Effingham by U-435. Fury attacked an asdic contact and was credited with the destruction of U-585; however post-war analysis found that U-585 was lost elsewhere. By 30 March most ships had arrived at Murmansk; the last stragglers came in on 1 April. 6 ships were lost in this convoy. The Germans sank five freighters. One whaler, (HMS Sulla), was lost, probably due to heavy icing, and the cruiser, Trinidad, was damaged. Against this one German destroyer had been sunk. Fourteen ships had arrived safely, more than two-thirds of the convoy.

It was during this period that the Hemera lost two of its cruiser running mates, first Edinburgh then Trinidad succumbed to attacks from German forces. The battles around the Arctic convoys were heating up. The Germans had finally woken up to the amount of arms and materiel of war being shipped to Russia. Steps being taken by the Germans to intercept the convoys stepped up significantly.

PQ15 - The Allies expected PQ15 to be heavily attacked by German forces and the amount of warships covering the convoy in the distant and close escorts was large. 11 escorts and destroyers were in the close convoy escort with an AA ship. The close cruiser escort had a CL and two CA's (including Hemera) with two destroyers. The distant cover force had a CV, 2 BB, 2 CA, 1 CL and 10 destroyers. A veritable armada to cover the 25 merchantmen. On 3 May at 01:30 in the half light of the Arctic summer nights, six Heinkel He 111 bombers of I. Gruppe, Kampfgeschwader 26, the Luftwaffe's new torpedo bomber force, attacked the convoy, making the first German torpedo bomber attack of World War II. Three ships were hit. Two were sunk, and one was damaged and later sunk by the German submarine U-251. Two aircraft were shot down and a third damaged, which subsequently crashed. A further attack by German high-level bombers at dusk was unsuccessful. Deteriorating weather on 4 May prevented any German further attacks; an Arctic gale quickly turning into a snowstorm. PQ 15 arrived at the Kola Inlet at 2100 on 5 May with no further losses. Only a total of four German aircraft attacks took place, three of which had no affect.

PQ17 was to damage morale of the Royal Navy and put doubt in the belief of the mental stability of the Admiralty in London. The micromanagement by the Admiralty of PQ17 showed the damage that can be done by overiding the man on the spot. The covering forces for PQ17 were similar to PQ15, but the distant cover force was almost too distant to be of use if the Tirpitz had sortied. Just the mention of Tirpitz going to sea caused chaos. The distrust between the Royal and Merchant Navy took a long time to heal.

PQ 17 was the code name for an Allied Second World War convoy in the Arctic Ocean. In July 1942, the Arctic convoys suffered a significant defeat when Convoy PQ 17 lost 24 of its 35 merchant ships during a series of heavy enemy daylight attacks which lasted a week. The German success was possible through German signals intelligence (SIGINT) and cryptological analysis. On 27 June, the ships sailed eastbound from Hvalfjord, Iceland for the port of Arkhangelsk, Soviet Union. The convoy was located by German forces on 1 July, after which it was shadowed continuously and attacked. The convoy's progress was being observed by the British Admiralty. First Sea Lord Admiral Dudley Pound, acting on information that German surface units, including the German battleship Tirpitz, were moving to intercept, ordered the covering force away from the convoy and told the convoy to scatter. However, due to vacillation by the German high command, the Tirpitz raid never materialised. As the close escort and the covering cruiser forces withdrew westward to intercept the presumed German raiders, the individual merchant ships were left without their escorting destroyers. In their ensuing attempts to reach the appointed Russian ports, the merchant ships were repeatedly attacked by Luftwaffe aeroplanes and U-boats. Of the initial 35 ships, only 11 reached their destination, delivering 70,000 short tons (64,000 t) of cargo. The disastrous outcome of the convoy demonstrated the difficulty of passing adequate supplies through the Arctic, especially during the summer period of perpetual daylight.

I hope I have shown the gradual increase of the dangers of the Arctic convoys. There was no other place that had the perils for such long periods for warships and merchantmen. If you were not fighting the enemy then you were fighting the weather. The book HMS Ulysses by Alistair McLean is an exceptional fictional account of a Russian convoy. If you have not read it yet, check it out of your local library and do so. It should be mandatory reading for any sea warfare buff. Henrik may be able to give us some idea of what those poor devils on Arctic Convoys had to endure, but the rest of us are probably a bit coddled in our insulated homes.

After PQ17 the Arctic convoys were suspended until September which gave the Hemera time to be recalled to Atlantis for a full refit period to upgrade the electronics systems and give the crew a decent period of leave. The Hemera arrived back in Icelandic waters just in time to join the escort for JW51B. The short synopsis of the Battle of the Barents Sea is: The Battle of the Barents Sea was a naval engagement on 31 December 1942 between warships of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine and British ships escorting convoy JW 51B to Kola Inlet in the USSR. The action took place in the Barents Sea north of North Cape, Norway. The German raiders' failure to inflict any significant losses on the convoy infuriated Hitler, who ordered that German naval strategy would focus on the U-boat fleet rather than surface ships.

In addition to the convoy escort, the cruisers HMS Sheffield HMS Jamaica, AWS Hemera and two destroyers were independently stationed in the Barents Sea to provide distant cover. These ships, known as "Force R", were under the command of Rear-Admiral Robert L. Burnett, in Sheffield. The German forces included the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper; heavy cruiser (often termed a pocket battleship) Lützow; light cruiser Magdeburg; and destroyers Friedrich Eckoldt, Richard Beitzen, Theodor Riedel, Z29, Z30 and Z31. These ships were based at Altafjord in northern Norway, and were under the overall command of Vice-Admiral Oskar Kummetz, in Hipper.

The encounter took place in the middle of the months-long polar night and both the German and British forces were scattered and unsure of the positions of the rest of their own forces, much less the enemy's. Thus the entire battle became a rather confused affair. During the battle it was not clear who was firing on whom or even how many ships were engaged. This is where the new electronic outfit fitted to Hemera in its refit came into its own. Hemera had been able to track its own forces ships and was able to tell them where they were in relation to each other and which way the enemy was. The Germans had split their forces into 3 groups, with one cruiser and two destroyers in each, trying to split the Convoy Escort to allow one or more of the groups an unhindered run at the convoy. These were good tactics and almost worked. It was the weather that played the biggest part in saving the convoy. The weather stopped the Germans from being able to co-ordinate their attacks with the precision expected of them.

The first phase of the battle had the Hipper approaching from the south of the convoy. The ships were picked up on the escorts radar and Captain Sherbrooke concentrated his destroyers and went out to chase off the Germans. He did leave two destroyers and the other smaller escorts with the convoy. Sherbrooke was injured in the following action with Hipper and command of the escort then fell to the Commander of HMS Obedient. This is where the Germans were hamstringed, they were to attack the convoy without risk of losing any of the big cruisers. So a feint torpedo attack was enough to get the Hipper to turn away. While Sherbrooke was away with the Hipper. Phase two had the Lutzow Group hove into sight of the convoy and sink the minesweeper Bramble and the destroyer Achates. The Achates had managed to get the Lutzow also to turn away by actually firing torpedoes at it. The convoy was wide open. The Magdeburg Group was coming in from a northerly bearing thinking their Christmases were all coming at once. Magdeburg Group was blindsided by Force R, the cat pounced on the helpless mice. Firing orders were passed by Admiral Burnett, the two 6" cruisers would take a destroyer each while the Hemera got the cruiser to play with. At this stage of the war the flashless powder of the guns gave an eerie feeling with the guns firing. Burnetts flagship Sheffield quickly sank its destroyer opponent without receiving damage itself. Jamaica badly damaged its opponent before it managed to escape into the distance. Hemera also made short work of the Magdeburg. Taken by surprise the Magdeburg was unable to use its best advantage - speed. The big 9.5" shells of the Hemara tore big holes out of the Magdeburg and after only a few hits in the centre of the ship, the Magdeburg was crippled with no power. Jamaica at the rear of the line closed and fired one bank of three torpedoes which hit along the length of the Magdeburg which rolled over and sank. First blood to Force R. The Magdeburg Group had signalled the arrival of the three cruisers of Force R, but the Hipper was on a return leg to the convoy, after the main destroyer force of the escort had been called away to chase off the Lutzow on the other side of the convoy. Admiral Burnett and Force R was on its way to deal with the sighting of the Hipper when the Lutzow also came back into sight of the escorts on that side of the convoy. Admiral Burnett detached the Hemera to deal with Lutzow while he took the other two cruisers to go after the Hipper. This was what the Hemera and Phanes had been built for, running down and killing cruisers. Lutzow may have had 11" guns but its armour was no better than any other Treaty cruiser. Lutzow though was slow, only 27/28 knots compared to Hemeras 33 knots. Once the Hemera got the Lutzow in sight only a luck hit from Lutzow could have saved it. Lutzow was unlucky. Over the next 30 minutes the Hemera got closer to the Lutzow and inflicted damage then more damage, then fatal damage. Lutzow had done well and hit the Hemera with five of the big 11" shells but had hit non-critical areas where the resulting damage could be controlled. Lutzow's speed bled away as the damage to the diesel engines slowed the ship. The destroyer Obedient closed the Lutzow and administered the coup-de-grace hitting with three out of a four spread of torpedoes. The Lutzow went down. The Hipper having heard of the losses of the Magdeburg Group and Lutzow, turned and ran before Admiral Burnett could catch up.

Aftermath of JW51B.

Despite this German attack on convoy JW 51B, all 14 of its merchant ships reached their destinations in the USSR undamaged.

Even more critically for the outcome of the war, Adolf Hitler was infuriated at what he perceived as the uselessness of the surface raiders, seeing that three cruisers were driven off by mere destroyers, and losing two of the cruisers to boot (the Allied cruisers were conveniently forgotten). There were serious consequences: this failure nearly made Hitler enforce a decision to scrap the surface fleet and order the German Navy to concentrate on U-boat warfare. Admiral Erich Raeder, supreme commander of the Kriegsmarine, offered his resignation—which Hitler accepted, apparently reluctantly. Raeder was replaced by Admiral Karl Dönitz, the commander of the U-boat fleet, who saved the German surface fleet from scrapping; though Hipper and two (Emden and Leipzig) of the light cruisers were laid up until late 1944, and repairs and rebuilding of the battlecruiser Gneisenau were abandoned and just as importantly the completion of the Graf Zeppelin was again delayed. E-boats continued to operate off the coast of France, but the only major surface operation executed after the battle was the attempted raid on Convoy JW 55B by the battleship Scharnhorst, which was sunk by an escorting British task force in what later became known as the Battle of the North Cape.

This was the end of Hemera's participation with the Arctic convoys. It was withdrawn back to Demeter for the repairs to the damage caused by Lutzows shells and went on to join the Atlantean Fleet that arrived at Hawaii to be joined by Force Phanes, to become TF71 whose service are noted above in Phanes war service record.

Post war and the Hemera was Flagship of the 1st Cruiser Squadron which spent its time tied to the carriers and battleship of Fleet One. 1950 and like the Phanes the Hemera is surveyed for future employment. Unlike the Phanes, the Hemera received the big tick for rebuilding with the new missile armaments coming into fashion.

The next three drawings were my attempts to get right a missile conversion of the Hemera.







This was the final 'complete' version with everything in place.

 

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