HMAS Westralis (BB-1939-40)


Back to Ship Index


Also known as the 'Compass' class, it was originally to have been a class of 4 ships. With the Great depression having affected the worlds monetary institutions it was not untill 1933 that the Australis Navy could raise the budget necessary to build the first ship with a second sistership in 1935. The failure of the London Naval Treaty and the expansion to the 45,000 ton and 16" limits left the Australis Navy with a quandary. Whether to continue with battleship construction when they felt that they already had enough to contain their only possible Pacific antagonist, the Japanese (who their spies were telling them were only building 2 new ships) and would probably have the support of the US Navy in any such conflict. Events in Europe would be in support of the Royal navy with again probable US and Canadian assistance. Lastly building 35,000 ton ships were a tremendous strain on the Navy's budget increasing that to 45,000+ ton ships may have been just too much.



The Australis Navy used the designs received from the Royal Navy as the basis for its own design. While they had the ability to build the triple turret the Royal Navy went with, it was decided that only two designs were best for Australis. One with an armament of 8 x 15" using guns and turrets already in the armoury or two, a ship with 12 x 14 in four triple turrets as in the battlecruiser Australis. The second option was interesting but the guns for that ship had been sent out from Britain and would have required a new building line to produce. The dual purpose secondary armament also diverged from the British King Class ships with the Australis Navy not producing any of the twin 5.25", sticking with the twin 4.5" throughout.

HMS Duke of Kent was the RN's version of the Westralis class BB's. The main changes were the fitting of new Mk2 15" guns in a new twin turret, and the 20x4.5" in BD mountings.

Work progressed slowly on the first unit with money being the major problem. It was launched in 1937 (over 12 months behind schedule) as the Westralis and finally completed in 1939, over 18 months behind schedule. Its sister Soustralis, was completed in 1940 only a few months behind schedule as extra resources to get the ship completed were made available at the outbreak of war. The cancelled ships Eastralis and Norstralis, were replaced by a Battlecruiser. (see HMAS New Zealand)


This class makes a good comparrison to the Vanguard type completed for the Royal Navy.


Displacement 42,200 tons std, 48,800 full load
Length 745 ft
Breadth 103 ft
Draught 32.5 ft
Machinery 4 shaft Steam Turbines 125,000shp
Speed 28 knots
Range 5400 miles at 18 knots
Armour 14" side, 6" deck, 13/11/9" turrets
Armament 8 x 15" (4x2)

24 x 4.5" (12x2)

40 x 2pd (5x8)

12 x 20mm (4x2, 4x1)

Aircraft 4 (mix of Walrus / Swordfish)
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1650



Back to Ship Index