RPN Cougar (CA-1940)


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There was only one way to improve on the Leopard class. Bigger, better, faster! Bigger dimensions to allow for a fourth triple 8". Better armour and AA. Faster, a one knot increase does not sound much but it means you can catch anything slower and act as a spotter like the Norfolk and Suffolk did with the Bismarck, without being caught.

The two ships had been slated for completion in 1941, but the advent of double shifts on the outbreak of war moved their completion dates to August 1940 and January 1941. The Cougar joined the Panagaean forces with Force H, while the Serval joined the Home Fleet when completed. June 1941 and Germany attacks the USSR. Not long after the US/Commonwealth pledge assistance to Russia, so starts the dreaded Russian Convoys. The Serval was there from the start with two Panagaean destroyers and up to six frigates as the escort force. This would be added to over time with extra cruisers and destroyers for close escort and distant cover forces. The Serval lead a charmed life, paired with both the Edinburgh and Trinidad, both those cruisers were lost. The Serval's main highlight was Convoy JW51B the cruiser action with four German cruisers and six destroyers attacking the convoy. The Serval caught the Brandenburg trying to sneak in with two destroyers while the main action with Admiral Burnett's other cruisers of Force R, was on the other side of the convoy. Serval had had an electronic refit just three months before and had all the latest radar and gadgets aboard. Serval had the Brandenburg lit up like a Christmas tree - Shoot!! and the action was on. No contest. The targeting aids on Serval could watch the shells in flight and see where they landed. Magic stuff. Firing salvoes at the Brandenburg that poor old ship found the pace too hot to handle and tried to turn away and escape. No such luck, this is what the Serval was for, catching and dispatching the smaller cruisers with little chance of damage to itself.

The Cougar had joined Force H in time for the Bismarck chase (depending on which timeline I use) from where it intercepted the Prinz Eugen going across the Bay of Biscay toward Brest. Both of these big cruisers were a match for each other. The Prinz Eugen sailed on hard for Brest and the Cougar was reduced to a stern chase, unless one or other of the cruisers got a lucky hit then the Prinz Eugen could reach the air corridor and be safe. The Captain of the Cougar chased hard hoping for that lucky hit. Unknown to him the danger area had enlarged in the Bay of Biscay. Several squadrons of Ju88 bombers had been stationed near Lorient and could reach far out into the Atlantic. The Prinz Eugen had radioed for assistance and it came in the form of two Ju88 squadrons, one being used as divebombers the other as torpedo bombers. Three bomb hits and a torpedo hit later the Cougar was in trouble and limping north-west for the safety of a Scottish dockyard. That damage doomed the Cougar to only a short life post war. Surveys done post war showed the hull was warped from the torpedo hit and further work on the ship was denied and it was sold for scrap in 1947. Just seven years old.

The Serval fought battles in Malaya and Korea through to 1955. The US Navy was just starting to convert its wartime cruisers to missile cruisers and Panagaea decided that the Serval was the only suitable large cruiser for this type of conversion. The ship went off to Puget Sound and the US Navy dockyards there in 1959. It arrived back in Panagaean waters in 1963, as shown above. For a further twenty-seven years the Serval was the principal AA cruiser and eventually Fleet Flagship with the demise of the battleship force in the late 60's and early 70's. The Serval had served for almost 50 years when it was retired from service. Thought was given to having it as a museum ship, but this never happened and after two years in reserve the Serval was sold for scrap.

Displacement 16,400 tons standard, 22,100 tons full load
Length 680 ft
Breadth 74 ft
Draught 25 ft
Machinery 4 shaft geared turbines, 140,000shp
Speed 33 knots
Range 11000 miles at 12 knots
Armour 6" side, 4" deck, 4" turrets
Armament As Completed:

12 x 8" (4x3)
12 x 4" (6x2)
32 x 2pd (8x4)
18 x 20mm (18x1)

Serval Missile Refit

2 x Twin Terrier launchers
6 x 8" (2x3)
8 x 3"/L70 (4x2)
4 x 40mm mk-5 (2x2)

Aircraft 3 nil
Complement 835 800
Notes Cougar

Firing a Terrier SAM missile as fitted to the Serval.


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