Caesar Class Heavy cruiser.
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The previous two Augustus class ships had some problems in layout which were to be cured in the third ship of the class. So many changes were made within the same hull that the ship, Caesar, ended up as a one ship class of its own. A new layout of the boiler and engine rooms changed the funnels from three to two and gave the ship a more modern unit machinery design. This also allowed for a better layout of the boat stowage and aircraft handling facilities.
The Caesar never got the chances to get all the upgrades that the Augustus Class got. The single 4" were replaced with twins, a pair of quad 2 pounder AA guns were added either side of the fore funnel on the roof of the hangar, while a group of ten 20mm guns were added during the period 1938-40.
The French surrendered in July 1940. The British attacked and neutralised the French naval forces at Mers El Kebir at the end of July 1940. Tyrrhenia joined the Axis forces on the 1st August 1940. The Caesar was patrolling around the Island of Majorca, on that day, when it spotted two warships transiting through its patrol area. The two ships were French cruisers heading north for Toulon. When the cruisers received an interrogatory from a British looking cruiser just days after their ships and men had been massacred, the Captains blood boiled and both French cruisers went to action stations and headed toward the Caesar, closing the range and then opening fire. This caught the Caesar by surprise and it took a vital eight minutes before the ship was at action stations and in a position to return fire. The ready aircraft was launched and the Caesar opened fire on the lead French cruiser Suffren. The Caesar had been taking damage from the early French fire and had two fires that were proving difficult to contain. It was now that the Tyrrhenian navies choice to armour their ships instead of speed proved out. Though hit numerous times, many of those hits had expended themselves on the armour and had done no damage. But the reverse was not true. The Suffren had very little armour and the eight inch shells from the Caesar went straight through whatever was there and exploded deep in the ship causing major damage. The battle swung both ways, the Caesar received hits aft knocking out X turret and the aft twin 4". Then the spotter aircraft came online and the six forward guns hit the Suffren with four hits putting out of action the two forward turrets and destroying the bridge superstructure and main director. Another salvo from the undamaged Colbert hit the Caesar with three shells, damaging the aft engine room and reducing the speed of Caesar to 20 knots. The ships were now close enough to fire torpedoes at each other and both sides launched full salvoes. The French ships fired six each to the Caesars three. The Caesar had fired at the Colbert and missed. Not because they were badly aimed but because by the time the torpedoes arrived the Colbert had made a large course change because both the Suffren and Caesar had received mortal damage and were sinking. The Caesar fired two more salvoes at the Suffren scoring multiple hits which proved too much for the Suffren to handle. It just started rolling to starboard and kept on going to its beam ends. The Caesar received a torpedo hit forward that blew the bows off from A turret to the bows. The Caesar sank from the bow with the stern rising higher and higher till with a rush the hull went down and disappeared. Two destroyers arrived from Palma in time to collect the survivors from both ships, but the Colbert was long gone. The action caused a diplomatic furore with the Vichy Government being very apologetic and saying that the Captain of Colbert had been court-martialed and was awaiting sentence.
|Displacement||10,500 tons standard, 13,400 tons full load|
|Machinery||4 shaft Parsons turbines, 70,000shp|
|Range||7000 miles at 10 knots|
|Armour||3.9in belt, 2in decks, 3.9"/3"/2" turrets|
|Armament||As Completed 1926
9 x 8" (3x3)
5 x 4" (5x1)
16 x 2pd AA (2x8)
|After refits to 1942
9 x 8" (3x3)
10 x 3.9" AA (5x2)
24 x 2pd (2x8, 2x4)
12 x 20mm (16x1)
|Torpedoes||6 x21" (2x3)||6 x 21" (2x3)|
|Notes||TNS Caesar - Sunk in action
with French cruisers Colbert and Suffren 01/08/1940.
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