HMSAS Angola (CA-1945)


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The Angola class were to be built in three pairs. The first pair were laid down in 1942 with completion in 1945-6. The second pair were laid down in 1943 and completed in 1946-7 while the final pair were laid down in 1944 but were cancelled just four to six months later at the end of the European war. The class was based on the successful Training cruiser Wildebeest. With money now no object, these ships could be built to the standard required from cruisers designed during the late war period. These were the Southern African editions of the RN/RAN Princess Royal type. Southern Africa had been offered the Princess Royal design but had decided that a smaller Heavy Cruiser would suit their needs better. They were more akin to a modified Lancaster class.

The design was based on the successful Wildebeest training ship design. The twin 12" were replaced with the long range 9.2" guns that Southern Africa already had in service on the training cruiser Rhinoceros, in a triple turret. Forty-four guns were built prior to the last pair being cancelled. Eventually some of the spares were placed in strategic positions around the Southern African coast as coastal weapons. Two were fitted out as rail guns for use against insurgent camps. Plenty of spare barrels had been manufactured as it was one of the drawbacks of the gun. Excess barrel wear.

The quad 40mm was fitted from new on all four ships. But was rapidly phased out as better weapons became available.

With the Apartheid regime coming into force in 1948, this meant that the access to new weapons was through those countries that would help. For this the major supplier of weaponry and technology was Israel, which had access to some French and US weapons. From 1955 when the Southern African Navy would have liked to be upgrading the ships, the SAN had to go to Israel and ask for assistance.

The first 'Aid' package to arrive had been sourced through the French with a twin Masurca missile system and control gear. A pair of twin 57mm auto cannons replaced the rest of the 4" twins.

The American SAM system sourced through Israeli aid was a much more intrusive system than the French system installed on the Good Hope. The Kalahari was to be the ship to receive the US SAM system 1960-64.

The last conversion of the Angola class cruisers was something the Southern African could do for themselves, a Helicopter cruiser conversion.


Displacement 13,800 tons std 17,250 tons full load
Length 639 ft
Breadth 75 ft
Draught 25 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 100,000shp
Speed 32 knots
Range 8000 miles at 15 knots
Armour 6" side, 3.5" deck, 5" turrets
Armament As completed

9 x 9.2" (3x3)
10 x 4" (5x2)
24 x 40mm (4x4, 4x2)
Missile Cruiser (French)

6 x 9.2" (2x3)
4 x 57mm (2x2)
4 x 40mm (2x2)
1 × twin Tartar missile launcher
Missile Cruiser (USA)

6 x 9.2" (2x3)
4 x 57mm (2x2)
4 x 40mm (2x2)
1 × twin Talos missile launcher
Helicopter Cruiser (SAN)

6 x 9.2" (2x3)
4 x 57mm (2x2)
4 x 40mm (2x2)
Aircraft nil nil Landing pad 6 large helicopters
Complement 800-875 850 850 800
Notes HMSAS Angola

HMSAS Stellenbosch

HMSAS Kalahari

HMSAS Good Hope


24 cm/50 (9.45") Elswick Pattern 'E'
9.2"/51 (23.4 cm) Mark XII

A weapon with an interesting history.  These were originally designed and the first three completed by Elswick as 24 cm/50 (9.45") Pattern 'E' guns.  These guns were to be used on the Norwegian coastal defense ships Bjöergvin and Nidaros which were then under construction by Armstrongs.  At the start of World War I, the ships were taken over by Britain and renamed HMS Glatton and HMS Gorgon.  The existing guns were then relined down to 9.2" (23.4 cm) in order to use standard ammunition and three additional guns were completed to this caliber.  The actual bore length after relining was 51.35 calibers.

These weapons were some of the longest ranged guns in the world in 1918, exceeded only by the 18" (45.7 cm) guns used on the monitors HMS General Wolfe, HMS Lord Clive and light-battlecruiser Furious.  A total of six of these 9.2" (23.4 cm) guns were made through to 1921, the four for the two ships and two spares, but two were lost when HMS Glatton suffered a serious fire and was scuttled in Dover Harbour in order to prevent a magazine explosion.  HMS Gorgon went to Southern Africa after WW1 as a training ship and was shallow draught enough to enter some of the larger rivers to show the flag. The final spare pair of original guns ended up in the Dover battery and exchanged fire with Germanic States guns mounted accross the English Channel. A further 60 guns were made under license at the Durban Foundry for the Southern African Angola class cruisers which shipped 54 with 6 spares. A license to produce the weapons was sold to Iberia in 1931.

Construction was of a normal wire-wound type with tapered inner 'A' tube, an outer "A" tube, wire-winding, B-tube over the muzzle portion and a jacket over the rear portion.  Relining to 9.2" (23.4 cm) made them slightly stronger, which allowed a smaller chamber and thus higher gas pressures.  These guns used an Elswick 3-motion short-arm breech mechanism.  The last two guns differed in having a thicker 'A' tube and a thinner 'A' tube along the chase and were completed in 1921.

Original thought was a heavy cruiser built late 30's but that did not really work with the planning I had for future navies.



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