HMS Superb (25)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Superb.
Career RN Ensign
Class and type: Minotaur-class light cruiser
Name: HMS Superb
Builder: Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend, Tyne and Wear
Laid down: 23 June 1942
Launched: 31 August 1943
Commissioned: 16 November 1945
Decommissioned: 1957
Identification: Pennant number: 25
Fate: Scrapped at Dalmuir by Arnott Young, arriving on 8 August 1960
General characteristics
Displacement: 8,885 tons standard
11,560 tons full
Length: 555.5 ft (169.3 m)
Beam: 64 ft (20 m)
Draught: 17.25 ft (5.26 m)
Propulsion: Four Admiralty-type three drum boilers
Four shaft Parsons steam turbines
72,500 shp
Speed: 31.5 knots (58.3 km/h)
Range: 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 km) at 30 knots (60 km/h)
8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km) at 16 knots (30 km/h); 1,850 tons fuel oil
Complement: 867
  • Three triple 6-inch / 50 Mk 23 guns
  • Five dual 4-inch / 45 QF Mk 16 HA
  • Four quad 2 pdr
  • Six single 40 mm AA
  • Two triple 21-inch (530 mm) Torpedo Tubes.
  • 3.25 to 3.5-inch (89 mm) belt
  • 2 inch deck
  • 1 to 2-inch (51 mm) turrets
  • 1.5 to 2-inch (51 mm) bulkheads

HMS Superb was a Minotaur-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was laid down by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, of Wallsend, Tyne and Wear on 23 June 1942, launched on 31 August 1943 and commissioned on 16 November 1945.

Construction and design[edit]

Superb was the last of the Minotaurs to be built, and was completed to a slightly different design to that of the previous members of the class, with a foot more beam than her immediate predecessor HMS Swiftsure, which had introduced Type 274 lock and follow radar directors for surface action. With Superb the first Type 275 sets, modified versions of the lock and follow radar, were introduced to also control anti aircraft fire of the twin four inch mounts. Unfortunately the versions of 275 fitted were the British glasshouse director version, which had higher tolerances and less reliability than the American versions of the set, which were reserved for the latter Battle class destroyers and carriers Eagle and Ark Royal under construction and in particular the last battleship, Vanguard for its secondary armamment. Construction on her unfinished sisters was halted after the end of the war and they were later scrapped, or converted into the new Tiger class automatic gun cruiser. Superb itself was planned to be converted to full automatic 6inch and 3/70 gun Tiger specifications and would have been much more suitable for such modernisation than the narrower beam Swifsure. It is unfortunate that Superb was not selected for modernisation before the Swiftsure, because the better physical condition of the later cruiser would have made the more limited update planned for Swiftsure in 1956 much more economical and viable to complete on Superb. The plans to modernise Superb at the time of the 1957 Defence Review was much more cost constricted and would have been similar to the limited modernisation of HMS Belfast,[1] with new MRS8 multi channel directors for 4 twin 4 inch and 6 twin proximity fused L70 Bofors and new radar, fire control and AIO[2] and a data link to the modernised carriers Victorious and Hermes. The Superbs, update was cancelled in April 1957.[3]

Operational Service[edit]

Superb was involved in the Corfu Channel Incident in 1946, but otherwise had an unremarkable career. In 1953 she took part in the Fleet Review to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.[4] She spent some time as the flagship of Rear Admiral Sir Herbert Packer, and was decommissioned in 1957. She was sold three years later and arrived at the Dalmuir yards of Arnott Young on 8 August 1960 to be scrapped.

Although Superb was the latest of the line of 6-inch gun cruisers to be completed, (the 1943 Minotaur class followed directly from the 1938 Colony and 1936 Town classes), she was also one of the first of this type to be broken up. Plans for her modernisation were abandoned after the Duncan Sandys 1957 defence review. No more cruiser modernisations were approved, with new guided missile ships to take precedence. Pre-war ships lasted longer, showing the difference between peacetime and wartime building standards.[citation needed]


Despite their short lives, HMS Superb and her sister ship HMS Swiftsure were made as 1/1200th scale models by Triang Minic Ships. These toys were mass-produced in large numbers between 1959 and 1965, and remain sought after by collectors today.[citation needed]


  1. ^ N. Freidman. British Cruisers, Two World wars and After. Seaforth (2010)UK
  2. ^ D.Muffin. AA to AA. The Fijis Turn Full Circle. Warships 2010,London. p57.
  3. ^ Muffin. AA to AA. The Fijis. Warships 2010, p 57.
  4. ^ Souvenir Programme, Coronation Review of the Fleet, Spithead, 15th June 1953, HMSO, Gale and Polden