HMAS Westland (DDL-1940+)

HMSAS Capricorn (DDL-1943)


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Built in reply to the large German, Italian, Japanese destroyers that were 50% bigger than Commonwealth designs. Britain designed the Battle class and the Australis navy designed its own based on the Arunta/Tribal class but with the first of the 4.5" mk2 turrets that were virtually taken straight off the proving grounds and onto these ships. The turrets had some teething troubles that were sorted within 6 months of the completion of Westland and prior to completion of the other 3 of the class. The class was to be larger but the outbreak of War meant that destroyer construction was centered on the Greymouth type.

Magnificent destroyers these ships were used as Leaders to the B type destroyers where the extra size meant that they could carry a Captain 'D' and his staff. Once enough of the Greymouth type came into service these ships were teamed with them. The Type 2 Greymouth plus these ships made a potent combination.

The extra size was neccessary as the magazines required for the semi-automatic 4.5" firing 20 rounds a minute had to be twice as big as well. The guns had a stowage of 300 rounds per gun. The previous mk1 mountings fired 12 rpm The ship was completed with the first single 40mm Bofors on the navy's ships and as used by the Army and Airforce as area defence weapons. A set of quad 2 pounder pom poms rounded out the light AA armament.

With a full radar outfit controlling the main armament, Southland and 4 Greymouth II class ships shot to bits a Japanese cruiser squadron in a night action lasting less than 20 minutes. The Japanese had 1 Mogami class and 2 Jintsu class ships and they were caught completely unprepared and the Australis Navy ships 4.5" fire virtually swept the decks of the Japanese ships putting main and secondary guns out of action knocking out bridge structures and personnel. The sheer weight of shot proved decisive. Fearing the still potent Japanese 24" torpedoes, the Australis ships only made the one pass. Aircraft from the Endeavour found and dispatched the leftovers next day.

Southern Africa received the design for these ships in 1939 but did not lay any ships down till 1941 when the first pair were ordered, with further pairs being ordered at 3 monthly intervals till 12 ships were under construction. The ships were copies of the Westlands but differred in that the aft most turret of 4.5" was deleted and replaced with the first Squid installation. The quad 2 pounder mounting and a 40mm mount were sacrificed to mount 2 x twin 40mm Hazemeyer mountings. These weapons so outperformed the earlier 40mm singles that space was found for two more mountings with the single mounts being deleted. Even with only 3 twin turrets of the new mk2 4.5" these were firing 20 rounds a minute compared to 12 rpm of the earlier mounts. So the J-N class with 6x4.5" = 72 rpm, while these ships were 120rpm.

Squid ahead throwing mortar (culled from Wiki)

Replacement for the Hedgehog ASW system, it was in turn replaced by Limbo in the 1950's. Literally ordered directly from the drawing board, this weapon was rushed into service in 1943 and first used aboard HMSAS Capricorn.  This weapon was a three-barrel 12 inch (30.5 cm) mortar with the mortars mounted in series, one behind the other.  The barrels were mounted in a frame that could be rotated 90 degrees for loading.  The projectiles weighed 390 lbs. (177 kg) with a 207 lbs. (94 kg) minol charge.  Sinking speed was 43.5 fps (13.3 mps) and a clockwork time fuze was used to set the depth.  Maximum depth was 900 feet (274 m) and all three projectiles had to be set the same.

The weapons were automatically fired from the sonar range recorder at the proper moment.  The pattern formed a triangle about 40 yards (37 m) on a side at a distance of 275 yards (250 m) ahead of the ship.  The first successful use was by HMS Loch Killin on 31 July 1944, when she sank U-333, the system was credited with sinking 17 submarines in 50 attacks. By 1949, 195 Squid installations had been produced and installed on Commonwealth vessels.


Displacement 3150 tons std, 3900 tons full load
Length 417 ft
Breadth 40 ft
Draught 14 ft
Machinery 2 shaft Steam Turbines, 74,000shp
Speed 38 knots
Range 1200 miles at 38 knots
Armour nil
Armament Westland

8 x 4.5" (4x2)

4 x 2pd (1x4)

9 x 40mm (9x1)


6 x 4.5" (3x2)

4 x 40mm (2x2) Hazemeyer

8 x 40mm (8x1)

ASW DC's Squid and DC's
Torpedoes 10 x 21" (2x5)
Complement 250
Notes HMAS Westland Nov/1940

HMAS Southland Mar/1941

HMAS Eastland Jan/1942

HMAS Northland Mar/1942

HMSAS Capricorn

HMSAS Sagitarius

HMSAS Cancer

HMSAS Aquarius


HMSAS Gemini




HMSAS Taurus

HMSAS Scorpio

HMSAS Pisces


Naval 40mm L56  single mounting. The US used the same weapons in single, twin and quad mounts.


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