Marksman Class (DDL-1915)


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The Marksman and Later Marksman class leaders were built to act as leaders to the M-R-S class destroyers of which the Royal Navy ended up with over a 200 of. The light cruisers that had been being used as leaders to the earlier destroyer classes were only making 25-28 knots, far too slow to keep up with the 34-36 knot modern destroyers. The 16 RN leaders were meant to take care of 128 of these, while the Botha and Talisman class leaders helped out with the rest. The two parts to the class were differentiated by the 1st batch (Lightfoot sub type) having 4 funnels and the 2nd batch (Parker sub type) having 3, also the 2nd batch had superfiring forward 4" guns, the first RN destroyers to do so.

The earlier Marksman were completed 1915-16 and took part in all the major battles and were used hard along with their destroyer flotillas. Of the eight ships of the class, one was sunk during WW1 and one was a total loss after stranding in 1931. The remainder were due to be discarded 1935+ but were reprieved to become DDEL's, Escort Destroyer Leaders. The escort destroyers had at least one bank of torpedoes removed, while others lost all of their torpedoes. The DDEL's kept their torpedoes to give the leader a chance against any larger targets that might present themselves. The different layouts of the Early and Later also played a part in the layout and type of armaments to be fitted, but most of all, the layout of the boiler rooms of the Early ships meant they could be converted to long range escorts to be able to match the 'R' class conversions. The early ships had three 4" AA guns fitted along with two 2pd pom poms and later a pair of 20mm cannons. Removing the fore funnel and boiler room allowed a bit more space for a larger bridge space so that the ship could act as Escort Commanders ship if required.

In just three years of war for the Marksman class leaders, the differences are appreciable between the Lightfoot of 1915 and Ithuriel of 1918. The half shield on the 4" has been replaced by the full shield to help protect the crew from splinters. The bridge now sports a director to control the 4". The 3" aft has been removed and replaced with a 2 pounder pom pom for AA work.

The Early Marksman class spent the 1920's and 1930's with their flotillas, going to lesser and lesser prestigious postings through the years.1934-35 and a re-emerging German Navy and the failure of the Japanese to ratify the latest arms Treaty, forced the Admiralty to have a long hard look at what they had and what might be needed to fight a war at sea against Germany and/or Japan in the 1940's. The last war had shown that Britain's greatest need was to secure its sea lanes to bring the materials it required flowing in. The convoy and escort system eventually instituted during WW1 defeated the U-Boat menace to ensure the flow of materials. From its own submarine fleet the Admiralty was aware that submarines had evolved considerably during the previous 20 years. Better batteries, better diesels, made for increased range, length of time at sea and undersea. The need for escorts to protect those convoys was of the highest priority. But, with both Germany and Japan building new battleships, the Admiralty's other priority had to be the big ships required to catch and dispatch the enemies raiders. This meant that the older destroyers would have to take up the slack for the period 1935-45 while new destroyers and destroyer escorts of all kinds were produced.

The Marksman Class Leaders were split into the Lightfoot and Parker sub classes, because of the changes made from one to the other. Dimensions remained the same but the visible differences, described above, were quite marked.

The later Parker type Leaders were short ranged in comparison to the earlier Lightfoot type. The areas they were to be most involved with was from the UK to Gibraltar, UK to Iceland, then Iceland to Russia. The remaining ships from WW1 were put through the same WAIR conversion as the later VW class ships. The leaders being slightly larger than the VW's could fit a bit more aboard. The Australis ships were also rebuilt to this standard.

The Gabriel and Abdiel were the minelayers of the Marksman class. The armament was reduced to two 4" and two 2 pounder pom poms, with the torpedoes and two 4" being removed. Both ships were transferred/sold to Australis being renamed Meteor and Whirlwind on arrival. These were to be the offensive minelayers for Australis. The ships were almost unchanged till 1940-41 when the single 2 pounder guns were replaced with twin 20mm cannons.

March 1941 and the current U-boat offensive is taking its toll, the wolfpack tactics were also proving hard to counter. Escort Groups were formed of 9-10 destroyers and other escorts, with about a third port bound for repair and refit the escort group usually had about six ships at sea. These groups were not tied to any convoy but were available to go to the assistance of any convoy. The groups were also to hunt any U-boats that could be found in the open ocean. Probably the most successful set of attacks was when an Escort Group came across the first U-boat in a search line and rolled up the line sinking six U-boats in a matter of days.

Officers on the bridge of a destroyer escort in the Atlantic, summer 1941.

The following is an excerpt from the 'Battle of the Atlantic' in for March 1941:

7th/8th - With better weather the spring U-boat offensive started and 41 ships of 243,000 tons sunk. However, in the space of a few days they suffered their first major defeat at the hands of the escorts and lost five submarines (1) in the month including three aces. From then on, escort versus wolf-pack battles predominated in the North Atlantic. Attacking Liverpool-out convoy OB293, the first sinking was "U-70" (1) by sloops "Arbutus" and "Camellia" on the 7th. Continuing the hunt, next to go was "U-47" (2) (Cdr Prien who sank battleship "Royal Oak" in Scapa Flow) to destroyer "Wolverine" on the 8th.

German Heavy Ships - battlecruisers "Scharnhorst" and "Gneisenau" were sighted by aircraft of battleship "Malaya" escorting convoy SL67 off the Cape Verde Islands. The German ships returned to the Newfoundland area and on the 15th and 16th sank or captured 16 unescorted ships. They returned to Brest on the 22nd, having accounted for 22 ships of 116,000 tons, but never again took part successfully in commerce raiding.

17th - Germany lost two more U-boat aces during operations against Halifax/UK convoy HX112. "U-99" (3) (Lt-Cdr Kretschmer) and "U-100" (4) (Lt-Cdr Schepke) were sunk by the 5th Escort Group commanded by Cdr Macintyre. Destroyers "Vanoc" and "Walker" were mainly responsible.

20th - Following her earlier sighting of the "Scharnhorst" and "Gneisenau", "Malaya" was now sailing with convoy SL68 off the west coast of Africa. Torpedoed and damaged by "U-106", she became the first British ship repaired in the United States under Lend-Lease arrangements. The convoy lost seven merchantmen to the U-boats.

23rd - The fifth U-boat loss of the month was "U-551" (5) to armed trawler "Visenda". All five U-boat sinkings took place to the south of Iceland, the first German casualties since November 1940 - four months earlier.

Axis Loss Summary - 5 German U-boats, including three of the most experienced commanders.

In the 'Fisherless RN' and other scenarios involving the Royal Navy, I replace the Flower Class corvettes with Flower class Sloops, larger, faster and more capable, than the corvettes and still able to be built in mercantile yards. These ships are an uprated Flower class sloop type of the WW1 vintage with 20 years of improvements of technology put aboard.

Displacement 1650 tons std, 2300 tons full load
Length 325.5 ft
Breadth 32 ft
Draught 14 ft
Machinery 3 shaft steam turbines 37,000shp - (Long range - 25,000shp)
Speed 34 knots - (Long range 25 knots)
Range 3500 miles at 12 knots - (Long range 5,400 miles at 12 knots)
Armament Lightfoot as completed

4 x 4" (4x1)
1 x 3" (1x1)
2 x 2pd (2x1)
Lightfoot 1918

4 x 4" (4x1)
3 x 2pd (3x1)
Lightfoot 1941

3 x 4" (3x1)
8 x 20mm (4x2)
Parker as completed

4 x 4" (4x1)
3 x 2pd (3x1)
Parker 1941 WAIR

4 x 4" (2x2)
4 x 2pd (1x4)
8 x 20mm (3x2 2x1)
Meteor ML

2 x 4"
3 x 2pd (3x1) removed 1941
6 x 20mm (3x2) fitted 1941
Torpedoes 4 x 21" (2x2) 4 x 21" (2x2) 4 x 21" (2x2) 4 x 21" (2x2) 2 x 21" (1x2) nil
Mines nil nil nil nil nil 74
Complement 125 125 130 125 130 120

My original drawings look very ugly compared to the real life drawings above. The early drawings tend to have a few topweight issues. Drawing turtles.


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