Duke Class light cruisers.


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With the completion of the heavy cruiser Ajaccio, the world got over the large cruiser and went back to light cruisers. Tyrrhenia purchased an unused light cruiser design which their designers modified to take a new triple 5.5" turret type. Where the rest of the world were building 8,000 ton cruisers or bigger, the Tyrrhenians Duke class was only a 6,000 odd ton cruiser. It was all they needed. Eventually six were built in three batches of two. Two being completed in 1936, the next two in 1938 then the last two in 1941.

The 5.5" was a new model with a limited 'barrage' capability against aircraft. Elevation was only 50 degrees, but this gave the 5.5" AP shells a range of 24,000 yards which was enough to take it to the various 6" cruisers in other navies. The ships were used, often, as flotilla leaders, and proved to be excellent 'destroyer killers'.

Displacement 6,250 tons standard, 7,050 tons full load
Length 510 ft
Breadth 54 ft
Draught 17 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 70,000shp
Speed 33 knots
Range 4000 miles at 10 knots
Armour 3in belt,  2in decks, 2" turrets
Armament As Completed 1936

9 x 5.5" (3x3)
6 x 4" (3x2)
8 x 2pd AA (2x4)
4 x 25.4 mm (4x1)
Refits and batch 3 to 1942

9 x 5.5" (3x3)
6 x 4" (3x2)
12 x 2pd AA (3x4)
12 x 20mm (5x2 2x1)
Torpedoes 6 x21" (2x3) 6 x21" (2x3)
Aircraft 2 0
Complement 490 515
Notes First Group: (1936-38)
TNS Duke - sunk
TNS Princess - cede to France, scrapped 1954.
TNS Count - sunk
TNS Prince - sunk
Second Group: (1941-42)
TNS Countess - sunk as target ship 1949.
TNS Monarch - to Australis 1944, returned 1949, served till 1970, sale and scrapped.

The first four ships (those that remained) were slowly upgraded through 1940-42 to reach the same level as the two later ships. Landing the aircraft handling facilities to make way for extra anti-aircraft weapons and electronics.

The second group saw almost no action at all and spent the last year of their war at Syracuse with the main bulk of the fleet. Surrendered to the Allies, the three remaining ships went to France, United States and the United Kingdom (Australis). France used the Princess till 1952 at which stage the ship spent another 2 years as an accommodation ship, then deleted from the list and scrapped. The United States, as with most of the surrendered ships it received used the Countess for experimental purposes. Newly designed rockets were fired at the Countess to see what damage they would cause. The Countess eventually sank after being used as a live fire target for one of the Des Moines class cruisers testing its automatic 8" guns. The Australis Navy took charge of the Monarch and used it to repatriate its troops from the Middle East back to Australis until 1946, when the ship was used for various experiments before being returned to Tyrrhenian control in 1949 as part of the Commonwealth deal for the use of Malta through to 1999 (50 year lease).


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