HMS Dartmoor (MS-1917)


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For some unknown reason the Royal Navy seems to have forgotten just how much of a problem the enemies offensive minelaying caused shipping round the coasts of Britain. In an ideal timeline you need to have all of your major coastal ports with 3-4 minesweepers each, each coastal convoy should have 2-3 sweeping in the van. Just those 2 events requires a lot of minesweepers. The RN built precisely 22 between 1919 and 1939 while it scrapped dozens because of their age. The RN was left with a severe shortage come the outbreak of WW2 and ships like Dartmoor and her sisters were suddenly no longer a laughing stock but worth their weight in gold.

The ships of the various Hunt types started with differing armaments but during the late 1930's this was standardised with fitting a single 4" DP mounting fore and aft, with two 2 pounder, and two single 20mm (originally Hispano, then replaced with Oerlikons). Various other bits of armament were added, most were unofficial, with machineguns appearing on odd mountings to give more AA weaponry. Many, operating around the coast of England and the English Channel, were fitted with a 2pd pom pom mounting in the bows, to combat the E-boats. It was not till 1942 that Radar got down to the escorts of this size and age, but the instant success it brought in combating the E-boat menace repaid the investment. Where the E-boats had been able to sneak up on the coastal convoys, now the escorts were ready for them, watching the E-boats all the way in.

The Mk.5 4" gun was produced by the 100's during and after the First World War, arming all types of ship from the largest (HMS Hood had 4) to the smallest minesweepers/trawlers. During the mid-1930's onwards a concerted effort was made to refurbish all of the Mk.5 4" guns to AA mountings with a light shield. Early destroyers (RSV types) were all upgraded, those cruisers that had had their singles replaced with twins, the singles were refurbished and fitted to ships like the Aberdares' to provide the main guns with an AA capability.

HMS Alresford during late 1920's - note open 4" forward and 2pd AA gun aft.

Of the 86 units to survive World War One only 34 remained in service by September 1939. Those 34 ships were scattered throughout the Commonwealth, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australis, New Zealand etc all had a few for port and/or coastal minesweeping and to act as escorts. Only half a dozen remained at wars end, the rest having been sunk or discarded in favour of new builds.

Displacement 700 tons std, 860 tons full load.
Length 231 ft
Breadth 28 ft
Draught 8 ft
Machinery 2 shaft Triple Expansion, 2,000shp
Speed 16 knots
Range 2000 miles at 10 knots
Armour nil
Armament As Built
1 x 4" (1x1)
1 x 3" AA (1x1)
2 x 0.303 Lewis guns (1x1)
Basic refit to 1942+
2 x 4" (2x1)
4 x 20mm (4x1)
2 x 4" (2x1)
3 x 2pd (3x1)
2 x 20mm (2x1)
Mines nil
Torpedoes nil
Complement 75

HMS Camberley in 1937 as an unarmed survey ship. Two years later the armament is restored and a new war service begins.


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