Tiger-class cruiser

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HMS Tiger (C20) in 1963.jpg
HMS Tiger before conversion
Class overview
Name: Tiger class
Operators:  Royal Navy
Preceded by: Minotaur class
Succeeded by: None
In commission: 1959-1979
Completed: 3
Retired: 3
General characteristics
Class and type: Light cruiser
Displacement: 11,700 tons (12,080 tons after conversion of Blake and Tiger)
Length: 555.5 ft (169.3 m)
Beam: 64 ft (20 m)
Draught: 23 ft (7.0 m)
Installed power: 80,000 shp (60 MW)
Speed: 31.5 knots (58.3 km/h)
Range: 8,000 nautical miles (14,816.0 km) at 16 knots (30 km/h)
Complement: 716 (885 after conversion of Blake and Tiger)
  • As built:
  • 2 × twin 6 in guns QF Mark N5 with RP15 (hydraulic) or RP53 (electric) RPC (One later removed from Blake and Tiger)
  • 3 × twin 3 in guns QF Mark N1
  • As helicopter cruisers (Blake & Tiger):
  • 1 × twin 6 in guns QF Mark N5 with RP15 (hydraulic) or RP53 (electric) RPC
  • 1 × twin 3 in guns QF Mark N1
  • 2 × quad GWS.21 Sea Cat missile launchers
  • Belt 3.5–3.25 in (89–83 mm)
  • Bulkheads 2–1.5 in (51–38 mm)
  • Turrets 2–1 in (51–25 mm)
  • Crowns of engine room and magazines 2 in (51 mm)
Aircraft carried: 4 × helicopters (originally Wessex, then Sea King)

The Tiger-class cruisers of 1959-1979 were the last class of all-gun cruisers completed for the British Royal Navy.

Design and commissioning[edit]

Development of the Tiger class[edit]

The Tiger-class cruisers were developments of the Minotaur-class light cruisers, laid down in 1942–3, but production of the Light Fleet Carrier was given priority and the Tiger design was viewed as obsolete by 1944, and therefore only the first Tiger, HMS Superb, was completed, largely fitted out to the earlier Minotaur specifications of HMS Swiftsure and Minotaur. Minotaur, and the late Colony(1943) class HMS Uganda were given to Canada for free in April 1944. Churchill strongly supported and approved a similar provisional plan negotiated with Australia which War Cabinet had approved new construction of a cruiser and destroyer for 6.5 million pounds on 4 April 1944 and the Australian PM Curtin at Chequers on 18-21 May 1944 got initial agreement of the preferred option of the transfer of new RN units, provided, RAN manpower was available to have HMS Defence and Blakecompleted as RAN cruisers,[1] by October 1945 to operate as escorts for British carrier groups in the Pacific war against Japan, with the RAN Tigers possibly armed with Mk 2, 5.25 turrets which was expected to continue to the end of 1946[2] A deal was never officially signed as the British Treasury refused to gift the cruisers to Australia, as they had to the RCN, since despite massive Australian contribution in soldiers and food supply, Canada was viewed by the UK Treasury as Britain's most critical Commonwealth support, and had repaid most in lend lease payments. This was the major political and economic issue for the UK in mid 1945 facing ruination with lend lease debt, which also caused the in Sept 1945 of a second batch of 25 US Mk 275 DP directors for the Tigers and Battle Destroyers to be cancelled. The UK now wanted payment for the two Tigers or equivalent writing-off of bills due for repairs of RN ships in Australian dockyards. As the RN had sufficient cruisers of quality coupled with a lack of capacity to build and crew more cruisers, the Tigers had been suspended by late 1944, after Defence', later Lion, was launched in September 1944. Immediately post-war, sufficient work was done that Tiger and Blake could be launched, albeit in a lesser state of completion. In June 1945 the Australian government rejected the purchase of Defence (later HMS Lion) and HMS Blake as it still had insufficient manpower to man the cruisers in addition to new carriers and destroyers having discovered the Tigers were nowhere near commissioning and with the two RAN County-class heavy cruisers were good to 1950.[3]

In 1947 the class suspension was confirmed for complete redesign. By 1946, nine Mk 24 turrets were advanced to 75–80% of their planned specifications, with three other turrets partially complete for either the Tiger or Neptune class cruisers. These turrets were a more advanced version of the Mk 23 wartime triple 6-inch. The new Mk 24 6-inch mounts were interim turrets which had remote power control and power worked breech. Theoretically, the heavier Mk 24 offered a dual purpose (DP) capability with greater 60° elevation. With power ramming, the shells would fire at consistent intervals, and combined with the faster training speeds obtained with Vanguard's secondary armament, they might be useful against bomber and jet aircraft flying at World War II speeds and heights. The Tiger design had a broader 64 ft (20 m) beam from HMS Superb on which to accommodate the larger turrets. But it was preferred to complete Superb with the older Mk 23 turrets in 1945, with the ultimate available war fit rather than delay completion. The 1947 Tiger design would have had four STAAG 40 mm close-in weapon systems in which the 262 radar control was built into the gun mounts and more modern AIO and electrics.

Another two Tiger-class cruisers were cancelled. HMS Hawke was laid down in July 1943, and HMS Bellerophon in July 1944. Work on all the Tiger cruisers other than Superb was effectively stopped after mid-1944. It appears that work on Hawke and Bellerophon was restarted in July 1944 and February 1945, as 15,700 ton Neptune-class cruisers[4] with twelve Mk 24 6-inch guns, and both were cancelled in March 1946.[5] The more advanced of the two ships, HMS Hawke, was broken up in 1947, a controversial decision, for although she was still on the slip in the Portsmouth dockyard, her boilers and machinery were complete and her new 6-inch guns nearly so.[6]

The whole class, which was constructed within a tight, cramped, and near impossible to modernise citadel, was nearly superseded by the completely redesigned N2 8500-ton 1944 cruiser, within the same 555 ft × 64 ft (169 m × 20 m) box of the Colony/Minotaur design, approved by the Admiralty Board on 16 July 1943,[7] with four twin automatic 5.25-inch guns, better range, internal space and subdivision and economical 48,000 hp for 28 knots (52 km/h) machinery, but later rejected by the new First Lord Andrew Cunningham, who believed 6-inch guns were essential. However, the follow-on Improved Belfast, Neptune, and Minotaur 15,000 ton designs, with Mk 24 (4x3), Mk 25 (4x3) and Mk 26 (5x2) 6-inch turrets respectively and six twin Mk 6 4.5-inch guns, were completely unaffordable in post-war Britain.[8] Plans to build the 15,000-ton Minotaurs had been abandoned by 1949.[9] Attempts to develop such designs in the mid 1950s as guided missile cruisers were opposed when Admiral Earl Mountbatten became First Lord in 1955.[10] The decision not to complete the new Tigers in the late 1940s was due to the desire to reassess cruiser design; furthermore, the provision of effective anti-aircraft (AA) fire control to engage jet aircraft was beyond UK industrial capability in the first post-war decade. Consequently, higher priority was given to HMS Vanguard, the Battle-class destroyer, and new aircraft carriers, Eagle and Ark Royal, for allocation of the only 26 US-supplied lease lend effective medium range anti-aircraft Mk 37/275 directors,[11] The 1947–49 period saw a peace dividend, and frigate construction was the priority in the Korean War.[12]

By 1949, two alternative fits for the Tigers had been drawn up: one as pure anti-aircraft cruisers with six twin mountings of the new 3-inch 70 calibre design, and the later fit, ultimately adopted, with QF 6 inch Mark N5 guns in two twin Mark 26 automatic mountings and three twin 3-inch/70s. In historical term, this was a light armament and similar US weapons introduced on USS Worcester had experienced considerable problems with jamming and had performed below expectation. A third lower cost option of fitting two Mk 24 turrets in 'A' and 'B' positions and 4 Daring class's semi-automatic Mk 6 twin 4.5-in 'X' and 'Y' and possibly in place of the twin 4-inch X1X was considered during the Korean War.[13] However, completing them to the 1946 plans or the mix of Mk 24 triples and Mk 6 4.5-inch mounts required 150 more crew than fully automatic DP armament. Significant work and trials would be required to bring the first six Mk 24 turrets and cruisers into service by 1953.[Note 1] However, much of the original DC wiring used by the Mk 24 turrets had been stripped from the Tigers in 1948, there was a strong desire that the new cruisers should have AC power, not DC or dual.[16]

There was great doubt of the merits of completing the Tigers, given that Soviet jet aircraft, from 1950 in the Korean War, were faster than anticipated, meaning missiles and small 40 mm/57 guns firing shells with modern fuses would be more useful for anti-aircraft purposes.The higher than expected speed of the MiG-15 and the somewhat unanticipated value of 6-inch shells for shore bombardment in the Korean War, combined with Soviet resumption of large light cruiser construction, meant the case for the original planned Mk 24 rested with its surface potential offering greater accuracy and slightly higher 7.5rpm rate of fire, against Soviet cruisers. Yet the 168 ton Mk 24 turret had less armour than the Mk 23, and the Sverdlov class had 6.9-inch turret armour. Arguments were made that US experience of light cruiser action during the Guadalcanal action against Japanese cruisers, suggested that manually operated 6-inch triples at low elevation could sustain high rates of fire of 8-10 rpm in the heat of the battle in action, which were higher than the consistent rate of fire of power rammed guns like the Fargo class or Mk 24 planned for the Tigers, hence the continued refitting of Town, Colony and Swiftsure-class cruisers. However, while Bermuda did achieve 12rpm for a couple of minutes, it was only at low elevation at close range (up to 5 miles) at higher barrel wear, and the USN maintained the similar Cleveland class triple 6-inch turret on its post-war missile conversions, including USS Galveston, not completed until 1958, the last Cleveland class, and in some ways the most valid comparison for the Tigers. Galveston maintained half its original planned armament with twin Talos surface-to-air missile launchers and was far more capable than HMS Tiger, even if more overweight. While the 1945 names finally selected for the Tiger class, Lion, Tiger, Hawke and Blake, suggest strong Admiralty support for the class, many of the leading RN naval architects favoured scrapping them all in 1947. The Director of Naval Construction (DNC) informed the Acting Chief of Naval Staff that the Tigers were nearly structurally complete, making substantial modernization or adding real aircraft direction capability impossible,[17] and the later war priority of heavy 6-inch turrets and close range AA weaponry to counter the Japanese air threat meant they were the least suitable Royal Navy cruiser class for modernization. Unlike the Colony class, the Minotaur class could only be rearmed with three 100 ton 5.25-inch main turrets due to weight and internal volume restrictions,[18] whereas all the other cruiser types could be refitted with four modern medium turrets on the centreline. A decision to approve rearming the Tigers with fully automatic Mk 26s was made late 1954. Of the suspended Minotaurs, Bellerophon was completed as Tiger, the name ship of the new Tiger class, Blake was completed under her own name,[Note 2] and Defence was completed as Lion. Conversion of Blake and Tiger to helicopter cruisers in the 1960s left no money to convert Lion, and she was scrapped in 1975, after eight years in reserve.

Revised design[edit]

Construction of the three suspended ships resumed in 1954, to a revised design known as the Tiger class, as a platform to mount new automatic 6-inch and 3-inch guns. It had always been intended to fit a tertiary battery of 3-4 twin 40mm CIWS guns particularly to guarantee available weapons to counter head on air attack over the bow with, ac STAAG Mk 2 and then twin L70s under the bridge wings, but both systems were abandoned by the RN in 1959 and the twin L60/MRS8 fitting to Hermes and Belfast in 1959 looked dated and required too much space, weight and crew. Completing the Cruisers was a controversial decision, reflecting exaggerated concern about Soviet Sverdlov cruiser construction, described as 'chilling' by the director plans.[19] The threat of the new Sverdlov-class cruisers also justified the Blackburn Buccaneer strike aircraft and stillborn Royal Navy plans for 6,000-ton cruiser/destroyers to overwhelm Sverdlov-class cruisers and air targets with rapid fire auto 5-inch guns [20]

The 1954 Guy Fawkes day Cabinet Meeting that decided the fate of the Royal Navy took six hours to decide that Churchill was determined to limit the defence budget and the Royal Navy to develop nuclear weapons and less vulnerable land based airpower of the RAF.[21] The Tigers were approved with the new automatic Mk 26 twin, along with the very expensive completion of the aircraft carriers Hermes and reconstruction and reboilering of Victorious, both with Type 984 3D radar. The update of the Tigers and aircraft carriers was the financially less risky alternative to two new 35,000-ton strike aircraft carriers, planned for laying down in 1957,[22][23] and fought for with determination by First Lord Rhoderick McGrigor. Most of the Cabinet believed aircraft carriers disposable [24] would have scrapped the Victorious and put one of the two new large carriers Eagle or Ark Royal in reserve, as advocated by the new Minister of Defense Harold MacMillan and his immediate predecessor Lord Alexander.[25] Both Churchill and Macmillan wanted only small carriers with anti-submarine warfare aircraft and Sea Vixen strike fighters [26] Churchill believed the cruisers 'increasingly were becoming floating bulls eyes' [27] but much more useful than anti submarine vessels in maintaining the prestige of the Royal Navy abroad and in the colonies. The relentless argument of Churchill, Sandys the Minister of Supply, the Cabinet Secretary, Brooke, Chancellor Butler and Minister of Defence MacMillan against HMS Eagle, Ark Royal and the planned, new strike Buccaneer bombers and new 35,000 ton carriers with the minimum full airgroup of 35 second generation aircraft: 14 bombers,12 Vixen fighters and 9 AS/AD aircraft. Meant a programme of the inadequate two turret Tigers and 'half empty'[28] carrier force HMS Hermes and Victorious, with only 25 plane airgroups which were rebuilt for 20 years but expected to be declared irrelevant and too vulnerable after a decade [29] Therefore, the work on the Tigers proceeded; they appeared the newest cruisers, and with the Tiger prototype Superb they were the only cruisers with the 64 feet beam which allowed the fitting of the new twin 3-inch 70 calibre turrets on the flanks with adequate magazine capacity and more effective citadels to survive nuclear fallout. The 1957 Defence Review by Sandys justified the Tigers and the extended refit of Superb and Swiftsure, as interim anti-aircraft ships, until the County-class missile destroyers were commissioned. However the Towns Belfast and Liverpool had space for three new twin Mk 26 Turrets [30] but were considered too old by the Royal Navy and by 1960 serious consideration was being given to fitting HMS Blake and its half-sister HMS Swiftsure with Seaslug missiles rather than an X position 6-inch turret.

As a gun cruiser, Tiger served 8 years, Lion 5 years, and Blake 2 years. A modest refit would have allowed the Second World War completed Newfoundland, Ceylon and Belfast to run until 1966. The maintenance problems with the Tigers' guns meant that in 1964, Blake was in reserve and Lion with the Mediterranean fleet and HMNZS Royalist, with many RN crew was reactivated a surface escort for carrier groups in Southeast Asia in 1964, to deter the threat of the Indonesian ex-Soviet Sverdlov and a final tour in 1965 to support the amphibious carriers with AD and GFS potential. The Crown Colony and Town-class cruisers with their more reliable guns, suitable for plugging away in fire support, might have been adequate to counter an unescorted single lone Sverdlov, but had less nuclear survivability, and like the Tigers, pre-war designed hull and machinery, built during the war. Blake, Lion and HMNZS Royalist, proved too inefficient to serve in 1966, the year of maximum danger, the Indonesian confrontation, saw all the large destroyers, the Darings, refitted with MRS3 fire control, even the last Daring, Defender was refitted in 1963-65 with the new fire control for its three 4.5-inch twin turrets in a final Daring refit in an attempt to provide some sort of substitute for the failed Tiger cruisers and provide a counter to the Sverdlovs and the aircraft/detection Battles, with new electronics and the County-class guided missile destroyer also did GFS and fleet escort role . Lion, launched in 1944,and eight years in reserve in a Scottish loch, was in poor condition when reconstruction began in 1954 [31] which ultimately rendered it unsatisfactory,[32] for other than spare parts for "HMS Liger" as HMS Tiger was known during its reconstruction as a helicopter cruiser in 1968-1972.


By 1964 the Conservative Government saw the Tigers as no longer affordable or credible in the surface combat or fleet air defence role and approved their conversion into helicopter carriers, with a large hangar replacing 'Y' turret, and 'A' and 'B' turrets retained for NGFS, offensive operations, and anti-surface vessel warfare.The original plan retained the full three twin 3 inch mounts or CIWS with full update of the sonar and radar including 965M AW but replacing the 992 target indicator radar with the slower 993. To retain large units primarily for command and flagship roles and cruiser names and tradition, the RN and MOD asserted, three Tiger cruisers would add anti-submarine warfare capabilities, in theory providing twelve dipping-sonar and torpedo equipped helicopters (4 x 3) in a 30kt hull with considerable self-defence capability. At the time the Royal Navy was concentrated mainly east of Suez operation and the anti-submarine deterrent role was mainly to counter slow Indonesian and Chinese diesel submarines. In theory even, one Tiger might be available to threaten nuclear depth charge use and free space on aircraft carriers like Hermes and Victorious for Strike and Air Warfare aircraft. However, major exercises conducted in 1965 with modernised WW2 cruisers like the USS Topeka and HMNZS Royalist suggested they were not suitable platforms for tracking modern submarines.[33]

The Wilson Labour Government continued the conversion of Tiger and Blake, to retain residual anti-submarine, nuclear and flagship capability, after deciding on a rapid phase out of carriers in 1968. However, during the conversion of Blake the plan was changed to allow the cruisers to operate, 4 of the more capable Westland Sea King carriers, although only 3 Sea Kings could actually, ever be accommodated and serviced in the longer hangar which extended further into the main structure of the ship, and greater cost and forcing the replacement of the side 3-inch gun mounts (which fire arcs were now too restricted) with much less effective Seacat GWS22.[34] The low priority given to deterrence of Soviet submarines in the Northern Atlantic by the MOD is reflected by the decision to convert a suitable anti-submarine helicopter platform, the carrier Hermes into an amphibious carrier. The suggestion of the captain of the aircraft carrier Bulwark in 1966 that Bulwark and the other light fleet carriers be developed for the 'cruiser' role, carrying P1127 Harriers and anti-submarine helicopters, as well as troops and marine-carrying helicopters, was rejected, despite the argument there capacity was under-utilised.[35] The later advent of the Invincible-class aircraft carriers would seem to add weight to this proposal. Hermes and Bulwark were larger, and offered better silencing and hangar capacity. The Labour Government's priority was to arm aircraft in West Germany with tactical and thermo-nuclear weapons, and secondly, amphibious support of the British Army in Norway. Provision of nuclear depth charges for anti-submarine, aircraft carriers and destroyers and frigates was limited and late, although approval to wire all the Leander, Rothesay and County class for triggering NDB was given in 1969, and frigates and destroyers offered, quieter listening platforms, than the old Tigers. The proposed class of four Type 82 escort destroyer/cruisers fitted with nuclear Ikara anti-submarine missiles could have been a more reliable nuclear deterrent, but the British Ikara missile was ultimately fitted only to carry conventional MK 46 torpedoes and only one Type 82, HMS Bristol eventuated, lacking even a helicopter hangar, and was plagued by problems common with dated and complex steam propulsion. Crewing and developing large cruiser size warships with steam propulsion was becoming more difficult in the RN, contributing to the issues in Tiger and the much later Type 82 destroyer. With no other approved option, in 1965, work began on Blake to convert her to a helicopter cruiser while Tiger began her conversion in 1968. The structural modernisation work on these old hulls was difficult and expensive. However, the ships successfully served as helicopter command cruisers and provided an argument to justify construction of their replacement, the Invincible class 'through deck cruisers'. The third Tiger Lion's conversion was cancelled, due to rising cost and obvious fact by 1969 that Blake's conversion was unsatisfactory. Lion operational until late 1965, remained technically in reserve, as a gun cruiser, although a great deal of her parts were incorporated in the conversion of HMS Tiger, which was unofficially known as HMS 'Liger'. The conversion of two or three County-class guided missile destroyers as anti-submarine helicopter cruisers might have provided a quite effective anti submarine vessel, as Chile did with two of its second hand County class. Running on their steam turbines alone, the County GMD was a quiet anti submarine platform and three RN County-class vessels were expensively updated in the late 1970s with Exocet and improved C4 and Glamorgan proved useful in the 'cruiser' role in the Falklands War, being faster through rough seas than even Hermes. Without proper modernisation and removal of the Sea Slug missile system, their helicopter capabilities were cumbersome and limited, although Humphrey an old Wessex, was successful in Operation Corporate. Had the last two County class HMS Antrim and HMS Norfolk which commissioned in 1970, been redesigned early in their construction as helicopter carrier a very good anti submarine helicopter carrier might have resulted with Sea King capacity, and it is not inconceivable HMS Bristol could have been redesigned with the single Sea Launcher forward and a hangar for 4 Sea King in place of where Sea Dart and Limbo and pad were actually sited on the T82. The conversion of the destroyer Devonshire, proposed for Egypt in 1978, would have had both a deck hangar and below deck hangar (in the area of the former Sea Slug magazine) to operate 4 Lynx or 3 Wessex and might have produced a flawed anti-submarine helicopter cruiser. The Tigers as half heavy gun cruiser and half short life anti-submarine carrier, suited the RN as flagships with good communications and some modern sensors, but they did not really add to task force defence and needed protection themselves,[36] and by 1979, the USN had mothballed its last 6-inch gun cruiser USS Oklahoma City.

Blake operating in the English Channel with USS Nimitz in 1975.

The conversions left Tiger and Blake some 380 tons heavier with a full displacement of 12,080 tons and their crew complements increased by 169 to 885. Originally, Lion was also to have been converted, although this never materialised: Blake's conversion had been more expensive than envisaged (£5.5 million) and so funds were no longer available. Ironically Tiger's conversion cost even more (£13.25 million), such was the level of inflation at the time. After much material was stripped off her for use as spares for her sisters, Lion was subsequently sold for breaking up in 1975.

Obsolescence and decommissioning[edit]

The decommissioned HMS Tiger at Portsmouth Navy Days in 1980, showing the helicopter deck and hangar added in 1968-71.
Another view of HMS Tiger on the same day, showing the 6-inch guns which were retained in the conversion.

In 1969, Blake returned to service followed by Tiger in 1972. However, the large crews and limited helicopter capacity made Tiger's further fleet service limited to less than nine years. After spending seven years in reserve, the decision was made in 1973 to strip Lion for spares to maintain Blake and Tiger, and Lion was sold for scrap in 1975.

The cutback in operating funds and manpower, faced by the Royal Navy when the new Conservative government limited fuel and operating allowances in a policy of tight monetary control, and the belief in the economy of Nimrod aircraft and submarines for anti-submarine operations quickened their demise.[citation needed] The recommissioning of the carrier Bulwark and conversion of Hermes meant that they could carry twice as many Sea Kings as could the Tigers in anti-submarine warfare, vital against the Soviet Union submarine threat in the Atlantic, and decreased the importance of the Tigers even further. What was often overlooked however was the vulnerability of Hermes or Bulwark in operating independently, with only minimal CIWS, and the Dutch Tromp and De Ruyter were particularly vital stand-in, destroyer leader ships working with RN carriers from the mid 1970s. Operating alone as a RN task force, carriers could not be risked in blue water operations without an escort of Type 42 destroyers, Type 22 frigates or Sea Wolf-fitted Leander-class frigates. The true manpower requirements for open water and power projection were high in terms of fiscal cost and hulls but not improved by ships like the Tigers. It is easy[citation needed] to overlook the fear the Royal Navy had of the Second World War era ex-American cruiser General Belgrano during the Falklands War, but her ability to efficiently fight her armament is doubtful and her two Exocet-armed FRAM 2 Allen M. Sumner-class escorts may have represented a greater threat to the Task Force.[37] The rapid-firing twin 6-inch Mk.26 turrets of 'Tiger' and 'Blake', their flight-decks and speed, along with a virtually inexhaustible stock of 6-inch and 3-inch ammunition held for them in the 1970s, were arguments for emergency reactivation as landing pads during the Falklands War but the stock of 3-inch ammunition held for the Tigers was more useful providing for the Canadian St. Laurent class.[citation needed]

In April 1978, Tiger was withdrawn from service, followed by Blake in 1979; both ships were laid up in reserve at Chatham Dockyard. When Blake was decommissioned in 1979, she had the distinction of being the last cruiser to serve the Royal Navy and her passing was marked on 6 December 1979 when she ceremonially fired her 6-inch guns for the last time in the English Channel. Just a few days after the Falklands War started, both Blake and Tiger were rapidly surveyed to determine their condition for reactivation. The survey determined both ships to be in very good condition; they were put into dry-dock (Blake at Chatham, and Tiger at Portsmouth) and round-the-clock work reactivation work was immediately begun. By mid-May it was determined that the ships would not be completed in time to take part in the war and the work was stopped.[citation needed] Ships such as the Tigers required large crews, their missile systems needed updating and the ships themselves needed heavy repairs to the machinery and rewiring. Attempts to maintain more modern hulls for emergency reactivation, such as Intrepid and Fearless (amphibious assault ships), were expensive and questionable, but one has to consider the fact that there was nothing else, and both acquitted themselves well during the Falklands conflict. Retaining a couple of the first group County-class destroyers at Chatham dockyard half-manned and permanently maintained might have allowed a heavier GFS capability to actually fight in the Falklands War, but their aircraft operating ability was already obsolete, and the Tigers' Sea Kings and main armament were worth two Counties, and at a lesser manpower, so this suggestion is flawed.

Though Chile showed some interest in acquiring both ships, the sale did not proceed and the ships sat at anchor in an unmaintained condition until sold.[citation needed] Blake was then sold for breaking up in late 1982, followed by Tiger in 1986.

Construction programme[edit]

Pennant Name (a) Hull builder
(b) Main machinery manufacturers
Laid down Launched Accepted into service Commissioned Decommissioned Estimated building cost[38]
C20 Tiger (ex-Bellerophon) [39] (a) & (b) John Brown and Co Ltd, Clydebank.[40] 1 October 1941 [39] 25 October 1945 [39] March 1959 [40] 18 March 1959 [39] 20 April 1978 [39] £12,820,000 [40]
C34 Lion (ex-Defence) [39] (a) Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Greenock (to launching stage)
(a) Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Wallsend-on-Tyne (for completion).[41]
24 June 1942 [39] 2 September 1944 [39] July 1960 [41] 20 July 1960 [39] December 1972 [39] £14,375,000 [41]
C99 Blake (ex-Tiger, ex-Blake) [39] (a) & (b) Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Govan, Glasgow.[41] 17 August 1942 [39] 20 December 1945 [39] March 1961 [41] 8 March 1961 [39] December 1979 [39] £14,940,000 [41]

Model kits[edit]

Plastic kits were offered by Frog, Airfix and Matchbox of both the original and converted versions of the ships. The Frog kit was in 1/500 scale full hull version in gun cruiser configuration, the Matchbox kit was a 1/700 scale water-line kit of the helicopter conversion Tiger, while the Airfix kit was a 1/600 scale full-hull rendering of the Lion. Both smaller kits were available well into the 1990s. In addition the Frog molds were sold with the dissolution of the company resulting in the kit being produced by Novo (disambiguation)[disambiguation needed], and the kit had also produced under license by UPC (disambiguation)[disambiguation needed] which had released several other Frog molds as well.


  1. ^ With two pairs of 274 and 275 directors. The first UK sourced accurately machined and reliable 275M directors were fitted in 1956, in Royalist and Type 12 frigates, 14 years after the US Mk 37 DCT was introduced.[14] confirms in late 1951 UK Industry could still not build precision bearings or work to the fine tolerances needed for accurate naval AA fire and fire control box components, had to ordered, again from the US. However by 1953, US Mk 63 directors in the MRS 8 directors for close in defence had been fitted at US expense in most major RN units and cruisers. Newfoundland was reconstructed to a pattern very similar to that planned for HMS Hawke and the Tigers with 2/274 surface DCTs with the unreliable, UK glasshouse 275 offset. On exercise AA firing Royalist outshot HMS Newcastle easily.[15]
  2. ^ Although she had been named Tiger halfway through the process, then renamed Blake.


  1. ^ H G Gill. Royal Australian Navy 1942-1945 V11. Australian War Memorial Museum.1968. Canberra.pp 470-72
  2. ^ T Frame, J Goldrick & P Jones. "Reflections on the RN" Papers of 1989 ADF seminar Australian Naval History. Kangaroo Press. Kenthurst NSW (1991) {{pageneeded|date=November 2017}& D.Murfin. AA to AA. Fijis turn Full Circle in Warship 2010. Conway. London (2010) p58-9
  3. ^ T.Frame & J Goldrick /[Ed]Reflections on the RAN. Papers from Seminar Australian Navy History at ADF Academy Canberra .Kangaroo Press.NSW(1991) & H G Gill.Royal Australian Navy 1942-45. Australian War Memorial Museum Publication (1968) Canberra pp469-472.
  4. ^ H. Lenton. British Cruisers. MacDonald. London (1973) p 142-3
  5. ^ New Statesman Yearbook 1952/3
  6. ^ Brown, D.K; Moore, G. (2012). Rebuilding the Royal Navy. Warship Design since 1945. UK: Seaforth. p. 19. 
  7. ^ Freidman, N. British Cruisers Two World Wars and After. Seaforth (2010 UK), p 261 and Moore. Warships 1996, re N2
  8. ^ D. Murfin. "AA to AA. The Fijis turn full circle" Warship 2010, p52,59.
  9. ^ G. Moore. "Postwar cruiser design for the Royal Navy 1946–56" Warship 2006, p46-47
  10. ^ G. Moore. "Post War Cruiser Design". Warship 2006, p57
  11. ^ P. Marland. "Post War Fire Control in the RN" in Warship 2014. Conway. London(2014)p149
  12. ^ Friedman, N. (2010). British Cruisers Two World Wars and After. UK: Seaforth. 
  13. ^ Brown & Moore 2012, p. 47
  14. ^ Barnett, Correlli (2001). The Verdict of Peace. London: MacMillan. pp. 47, 321. 
  15. ^ Pugsley, C. (2003). From Emergency to Confrontation, Malaysia & Borneo 49-66. NZ/Au: OUP. 
  16. ^ Murfin., D. (2010). AA to AA. The Fiji's Turn Full Circle. London: Warship. p. 57. 
  17. ^ N.Freidman. British Cruisers (2010),p293
  18. ^ D.Murfin, AA to AA, The Fiji's, Warship 2010
  19. ^ N.Freidman. British Cruisers. Seaforth (2010), p 309
  20. ^ N Freidman. British Cruisers. Seaforth.(2010)
  21. ^ P. Zeigler. Mountbatten the Official biography London (2001)[page needed] & Dan van der Vat. Standard of Power (2001) The Royal Navy in the Twentieth Century. Pilmco. London (2001)[page needed]
  22. ^ E. Grove. The Royal Navy. A Short History. Palgrave (2005), p223
  23. ^ D.K. Brown & G.Moore. Rebuilding the RN (2003) London, p56-7
  24. ^ C. Bell. Churchill and Sea Power. OUP. 2013. Oxford, p314
  25. ^ E. Grove. The Royal Navy. Palgrave (2005), p223
  26. ^ H. MacMillan. Autobiography. V 4 & 5 & E. Grove. History of Royal Navy (2005) p223.
  27. ^ C. Bell. Churchill & Seapower. OUP (2013) p p 315
  28. ^ Bell. Churchill and Seapower (2013) footnote 44, p 393
  29. ^ Minute of Phillip Newall, Head Admiralty Military Branch, Nov 54 and Cabinet Paper distributed Churchill 3/11/54 quoted footnote 43/44, p 393 in C. Bell . Churchill and Seapower. OUP (2013)p 305, 311 & 320
  30. ^ P. Brown. 'The Tale of a Tiger' in Ships Monthly July 2015. Cudham, Kent,p 52.
  31. ^ D.K. Brown & G.Moore. Rebuilding the Royal Navy.(2003)UK, p48
  32. ^ D.K.Brown. Rebuilding the RN
  33. ^ Proceedings- HMNZS Royalist 1958-1966. NZ National Archives. Wgtn. NZ ,
  34. ^ N. Freidman. British Cruisers WW2 & After. Seaforth. Barnsley, p321 & D.Wettern. Tiger Class in Janes Defence Annual. Janes.(1973) London
  35. ^ E. Hampshire. East of Suez to East Atlantic.
  36. ^ A.Clarke. Sverdlov Cruisers and the RN Response, in British Naval History 12-5-2014
  37. ^ Moore, C (2013), Margaret Thatcher. The authorised biography. V1, Not for Turning., London: Allen Lane, pp. 711–713 
  38. ^ "Unit cost, i.e. excluding cost of certain items (e.g. aircraft, First Outfits)."
    Text from Defences Estimates
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Gardiner, Robert Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947-1995, pub Conway Maritime Press, 1995, ISBN 0-85177-605-1 page 504.
  40. ^ a b c Navy Estimates, 1959-60, pages 230-1, List and particulars of new ships which have been accepted or are expected to be accepted into HM service during the Financial Year ended 31st March 1959
  41. ^ a b c d e f Navy Estimates, 1961-62, pages 220-1, List and particulars of new ships which have been accepted or are expected to be accepted into HM service during the Financial Year ended 31st March 1961

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