HMSAS Transvaal (BC-1926)


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The battlecruiser Thessaly sat at the Harland & Wolff's shipyard 80% complete at the end of WW1, The Hellenic States had not completed payment of the ship and were in default. The ship had been placed for sale but no offer had been received. The Royal Navy was not sure whether they wanted to complete the ship (they did not have any battleship tonnage to spare) or just have the ship scrapped. With the Southern African Navy shopping for ships for its new fleets, Harland and Wolff offered the ship at a discount which the Africans accepted. Work recommenced on the ship in 1923.

The design was an improved Tiger type with one gun per turret added to the armament for a total of 12 x 13.5". Slightly larger overall dimensions were required to take the new armament. The ship was fast with one of the largest powerplants so far fitted to a warship. The speed came at a cost with side armour and deck armour being below normal RN limits. The original triple 4" secondary armament guns were removed and replaced with dual purpose 4.5" twin mountings during the ships late 1930's rebuilding.

The ship operated with the two Southern African ex Lion battlecruisers as the flagship of the Southern African Fast Fleet. In 1939 the ship was taken in hand at Simonstown Navy Yard for refurbishment. The refurbishment was redesigned and the time shortened due to the advent of WW2 and the Southern African ships being sent over to South America to back up the Brazilian and Chilean Fleets.

It was this ships superb gunnery at the battle of Tristan da Cunha that sealed the fate of the Germanic States battleraiders. One salvo hit the KM Graf Spee and slowed it enough so that it could be caught and sunk by the pursuing battlefleet.


Displacement 30,000 tons std, 39,250 tons full load
Length 735 ft
Breadth 94 ft
Draught 30 ft
Machinery 4 shaft Steam turbines, 140,000shp
Speed 32 knots
Range 8,500 miles at 18 knots
Armour 8" side, 3" deck, 8" turrets.
Armament 12 x 13.5" (4x3)

20 x 4.5" (10x2)

72 x 2pd (9x8)

12  x 20mm (3x2 6x1)

Aircraft nil
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1280


Original secondary armament, 7 x triple 4" with 4 x single 4" AA guns. These were all replaced in the ships 1938 refurbishment.


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