Challenger class second class cruisers

Challenger class second class cruisers

Challenger class second class cruisers

The two ships of the Challenger class of second class cruisers were virtual repeats of the previous Highflyer class, but equipped with engines that were 25% more powerful (12,500ihp compared to 10,000ihp). This extra power increased the top speed of the ships by one knot, from 20kts to 21kts, demonstrating how difficult it could be to increase the speed of warships. Their uniform 6in armament was later refitted to the older Eclipse and Arrogant classes. HMS Encounter was completed in 1905. There would then be a four year gap before the next light cruiser, HMS Bristol, was laid down. The gap was due to Lord Fisher, who believed that the light cruiser was obsolete and would be replaced by the larger destroyers.

HMS Challenger began the First World War with the 9th Cruiser Squadron, based at Portland. Her first duty was to guard against enemy minelayers in the Bristol Channel. During August 1914 she was moved to the Finisterre station, and then in September to West Africa to take part in the invasion of the Cameroons. During 1915 she was moved to East Africa, taking part in the operations against the Königsberg in the Rufiji Delta. She remained on the East Africa station until the end of the war, bombarding Dar es Salaam on 13 June 1916. By November 1918 she was the only cruiser still on that station.

HMAS Encounter had been given to the Royal Australian Navy in 1912. At the start of the First World War she took part in the operations to capture German New Guinea, and was present at the capture of Rabaul and Friedrich-Wilhelm Harbour. Other than a brief period on the China station in 1915-1916, she spent most of the war in Australian waters, under orders from Melbourne.



Top Speed


Armour – deck

1.5in – 3in

- conning tower


- gunshields


- engine hatches





Eleven 6in quick firing guns
Nine 12pdr quick firing guns
Six 3prd quick firing guns
Two 18in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Ships in class

HMS Challenger
HMAS Encounter

Books on the First World War |Subject Index: First World War

Challenger Class Second Class Protected Cruisers

HMS Challenger
Built Chatham Dockyard, laid down December 1900, completed April 1904.

HMS Encounter
Built Devonport Dockyard, laid down January 1901, completed October 1905.

Length 350 feet pp 372 feet overall, beam 54 feet, draught 20 feet 6 inches, displacement 5,880 tons load.

2 shaft TE engines, 12,500 ihp, 21kts

Challenger 12,781 ihp = 21.79 knots

3in gun shields, 3-1.5in decks

11 x 6in QF (11 x 1), 9 x 12 pounder QF (9 x 1), 6 x 3 pounder QF (6 x 1), 2 x 18in TT

World War 1 Service:

9th Cruiser Squadron Mid Atlantic.
September 1914 Captured German steamer Ulla Boog.
1914 West Africa including blockade of SMS Konigsberg.
13 June 1916 Bombarded Dar es Salaam.
1920 Sold for scrap.

1912 Transferred to the Royal Australian Navy.
1914 Pacific.
24 April 1915 Captured German merchant ship Elfriede.
1915 China.
1916 Pacific.
1932 Scuttled.


In the early 1920s, the Washington Naval Treaty imposed limits on the maximum size and total tonnage of aircraft carriers for the five main naval powers. Later treaties largely kept these provisions. As a result, construction between the World Wars had been insufficient to meet operational needs for aircraft carriers as World War II expanded from Europe. Too few fleet carriers were available to simultaneously transport aircraft to distant bases, support amphibious invasions, offer carrier landing training for replacement pilots, conduct anti-submarine patrols, and provide defensive air cover for deployed battleships and cruisers. The foregoing mission requirements limited use of fleet carriers' unique offensive strike capability demonstrated at the Battle of Taranto and the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Conversion of existing ships (and hulls under construction for other purposes) provided additional aircraft carriers until new construction became available.

Conversions of cruisers and passenger liners with speed similar to fleet carriers were identified by the U.S. as "light aircraft carriers" (hull classification symbol CVL) able to operate at battle fleet speeds. Slower conversions were classified as "escort carriers" and were considered naval auxiliaries suitable for pilot training and transport of aircraft to distant bases.

The Royal Navy had recognized a need for carriers to defend its trade routes in the 1930s. [1] While designs had been prepared for "trade protection carriers" and five suitable liners identified for conversion, nothing further was done mostly because there were insufficient aircraft for even the fleet carriers under construction at the time. However, by 1940 the need had become urgent and HMS Audacity was converted from the captured German merchant ship MV Hannover and commissioned in July 1941. [2] For defense from German aircraft, convoys were supplied first with fighter catapult ships and CAM ships that could carry a single (disposable) fighter. In the interim, before escort carriers could be supplied, they also brought in merchant aircraft carriers that could operate four aircraft.

In 1940, U.S. Admiral William Halsey recommended construction of naval auxiliaries for pilot training. [3] In early 1941 the British asked the U.S. to build on their behalf six carriers of an improved Audacity design, but the U.S. had already begun their own escort carrier. [4] On 1 February 1941, the United States Chief of Naval Operations gave priority to construction of naval auxiliaries for aircraft transport. [5] U.S. ships built to meet these needs were initially referred to as auxiliary aircraft escort vessels (AVG) in February 1942 and then auxiliary aircraft carrier (ACV) on 5 August 1942. [6] The first U.S. example of the type was USS Long Island. Operation Torch and North Atlantic anti-submarine warfare proved these ships capable aircraft carriers for ship formations moving at the speed of trade or amphibious invasion convoys. U.S. classification revision to escort aircraft carrier (CVE) on 15 July 1943 reflected upgraded status from auxiliary to combatant. [7] They were informally known as "Jeep carriers" or "baby flattops". It was quickly found that the escort carriers had better performance than light carriers, which tended to pitch badly in moderate to high seas. The Commencement Bay class was designed to incorporate the best features of American CVLs on a more stable hull with a less expensive propulsion system. [8]

Among their crews, CVE was sarcastically said to stand for "Combustible, Vulnerable, and Expendable". Magazine protection was minimal in comparison to fleet aircraft carriers. [9] HMS Avenger was sunk within minutes by a single torpedo, and HMS Dasher exploded from undetermined causes with very heavy loss of life. Three escort carriers—USS St. Lo, Ommaney Bay and Bismarck Sea—were destroyed by kamikazes, the largest ships to meet such a fate.

The island (superstructure) on these ships was small and cramped, and located well forward of the funnels (unlike on a normal-sized carrier, where the funnels were integrated into the island). Although the first escort carriers had only one aircraft elevator, having two elevators (one fore and one aft), along with the single aircraft catapult, quickly became standard. The carriers employed the same system of arresting cables and tail hooks as on the big carriers, and procedures for launch and recovery were the same as well.

In all, 130 Allied escort carriers were launched or converted during the war. Of these, six were British conversions of merchant ships: HMS Audacity, Nairana, Campania, Activity, Pretoria Castle and Vindex. The remaining escort carriers were U.S.-built. Like the British, the first U.S. escort carriers were converted merchant vessels (or in the Sangamon class, converted military oilers). The Bogue-class carriers were based on the hull of the Type C3 cargo ship. The last 69 escort carriers of the Casablanca and Commencement Bay classes were purpose-designed and purpose-built carriers drawing on the experience gained with the previous classes.

Originally developed at the behest of the United Kingdom to operate as part of a North Atlantic convoy escort, rather than as part of a naval strike force, many of the escort carriers produced were assigned to the Royal Navy for the duration of the war under the Lend-Lease act. They supplemented and then replaced the converted merchant aircraft carriers that were put into service by the British and Dutch as an emergency measure until dedicated escort carriers became available. As convoy escorts, they were used by the Royal Navy to provide air scouting, to ward off enemy long-range scouting aircraft and, increasingly, to spot and hunt submarines. Often additional escort carriers joined convoys, not as fighting ships but as transporters, ferrying aircraft from the U.S. to Britain twice as many aircraft could be carried by storing aircraft on the flight deck as well as in the hangar.

The ships sent to the Royal Navy were slightly modified, partly to suit the traditions of that service. Among other things the ice-cream making machines were removed, since they were considered unnecessary luxuries on ships which provided a grog ration. The heavy duty washing machines of the laundry room were removed, since "all a British sailor needs to keep clean is a bucket and a bar of soap" (quoted from Warrilow).

Other modifications were due to the need for a completely enclosed hangar when operating in the North Atlantic and in support of the Arctic convoys.

The attack on Pearl Harbor brought up an urgent need for aircraft carriers, so some T3 tankers were converted to escort carriers USS Suwannee is an example of how a T3 tanker hull, AO-33, was rebuilt to be an escort carrier. The T3 tanker size and speed made the T3 a useful escort carrier. There were two classes of T3 hull carriers: Sangamon class and Commencement Bay class. [10] [11] [12]

The U.S. discovered their own uses for escort carriers. In the North Atlantic, they supplemented the escorting destroyers by providing air support for anti-submarine warfare. One of these escort carriers, USS Guadalcanal, was instrumental in the capture of U-505 off North Africa in 1944.

In the Pacific theater, escort carriers lacked the speed to sail with fast carrier attack groups, so were often tasked to escort the landing ships and troop carriers during the island-hopping campaign. In this role they provided air cover for the troopships and flew the first wave of attacks on beach fortifications in amphibious landing operations. On occasion, they even escorted the large carriers, serving as emergency airstrips and providing fighter cover for their larger sisters while these were busy readying or refueling their own planes. They also transported aircraft and spare parts from the U.S. to remote island airstrips.

Battle off Samar Edit

A battle in which escort carriers played a major role was the Battle off Samar in the Philippines on 25 October 1944. The Japanese lured Admiral William Halsey, Jr. into chasing a decoy fleet with his powerful 3rd Fleet. This left about 450 aircraft from 16 small and slow escort carriers in three task units ("Taffies"), armed primarily to bomb ground forces, and their protective screen of destroyers and slower destroyer escorts to protect undefended troop and supply ships in Leyte Gulf. No Japanese threat was believed to be in the area, but a force of four battleships, including the formidable Yamato, [13] eight cruisers, and 11 destroyers, appeared, sailing towards Leyte Gulf. Only the Taffies were in the way of the Japanese attack.

The slow carriers could not outrun 30-knot (35 mph 56 km/h) cruisers. They launched their aircraft and maneuvered to avoid shellfire, helped by smoke screens, for over an hour. "Taffy 3" bore the brunt of the fight. The Taffy ships took dozens of hits, mostly from armor-piercing rounds that passed right through their thin, unarmored hulls without exploding. USS Gambier Bay, sunk in this action, was the only U.S. carrier lost to enemy surface gunfire in the war the Japanese concentration of fire on this one carrier assisted the escape of the others. The carriers' only substantial armament—aside from their aircraft—was a single 5-inch (127 mm) dual-purpose gun mounted on the stern, but the pursuing Japanese cruisers closed to within range of these guns. One of the guns damaged the burning Japanese heavy cruiser Chōkai, and a subsequent bomb dropped by an aircraft hit the cruiser's forward machinery room, leaving her dead in the water. A kamikaze attack sank USS St Lo kamikaze aircraft attacking other ships were shot down. Ultimately the superior Japanese surface force withdrew, believing they were confronted by a stronger force than was the case. Most of the damage to the Japanese fleet was inflicted by torpedoes fired by destroyers, and bombs from the carriers' aircraft.

The U.S. Navy lost a similar number of ships and more men than in the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway combined (though major fleet carriers were lost in the other battles).

Many escort carriers were Lend-Leased to the United Kingdom, this list specifies the breakdown in service to each navy.

    : Two ships, one in USN service (USS Long Island) and one in British service (HMS Archer). : Four ships, one mainly in USN service (as USS Charger) and three in British service. : Four ships, all in USN service. : 45 ships, 11 in USN service, 34 in British service as Attacker class (first group) and Ruler class (second group). : 50 ships, all in USN service. : 19 ships, all in USN service, including two that were accepted but not commissioned and laid up for many years after the war. Four more units were canceled and scrapped on the building slips. The Commencement Bay-class ships were seen as the finest escort carriers ever built, [14] and several units continued in service after the war as training carriers, aircraft ferries and other auxiliary uses.

In addition, six escort carriers were converted from other types by the British during the war.

The table below lists escort carriers and similar ships performing the same missions. The first four were built as early fleet aircraft carriers. Merchant aircraft carriers (MAC) carried trade cargo in addition to operating aircraft. Aircraft transports carried larger numbers of planes by eliminating accommodation for operating personnel and storage of fuel and ammunition.

Bogue-class escort carrier Independence-class light carrier [16] Essex-class fleet carrier [17] Illustrious-class fleet carrier
Length: 495 ft (151 m) 151 m) 625 ft (191 m) ft (190 m) 875 ft (267 m) ft (266 m) 740 ft (226 m) ft (205 m)
Beam: 69 ft (21 m) ft (21 m) 72 ft (22 m) ft (22 m) 92 ft (28 m) ft (28 m) 95 ft (29 m) ft (29 m)
Displacement: 9,800 t 11,000 t 27,100 t 23,000 t
Armament 1x 5-inch/38-caliber gun, light AA light AA 12x 5-inch/38-caliber guns, light AA 16x QF 4.5-inch Mk I – V naval guns
Armor None 50–125 mm 150–200 mm 75 mm deck
Aircraft: 24 33 90 57
Speed: 18 kn (33 km/h 21 mph) 32 kn (58 km/h 36 mph) 33 kn (61 km/h 38 mph) 31 kn (56 km/h 35 mph)
Crew: 850 1,569 3,448 817 + 390

The years following World War II brought many revolutionary new technologies to naval aviation, most notably the helicopter and the jet fighter, and with this a complete rethinking of its strategies and ships' tasks. Although several of the latest Commencement Bay-class CVE were deployed as floating airfields during the Korean War, the main reasons for the development of the escort carrier had disappeared or could be dealt with better by newer weapons. The emergence of the helicopter meant that helicopter-deck equipped frigates could now take over the CVE's role in a convoy while also performing their usual role as submarine hunters. Ship-mounted guided missile launchers took over much of the aircraft protection role, and in-flight refueling eliminated the need for floating stopover points for transport or patrol aircraft. Consequently, after the Commencement Bay class, no new escort carriers were designed, and with every downsizing of the navy, the CVEs were the first to be mothballed.

Several escort carriers were pressed back into service during the first years of the Vietnam War because of their ability to carry large numbers of aircraft. Redesignated AKV (air transport auxiliary), they were manned by a civilian crew and used to ferry whole aircraft and spare parts from the U.S. to Army, Air Force and Marine bases in South Vietnam. However, CVEs were useful in this role only for a limited period. Once all major aircraft were equipped with refueling probes, it became much easier to fly the aircraft directly to its base instead of shipping it.

The last chapter in the history of escort carriers consisted of two conversions: as an experiment, USS Thetis Bay was converted from an aircraft carrier into a pure helicopter carrier (CVHA-1) and used by the Marine Corps to carry assault helicopters for the first wave of amphibious warfare operations. Later, Thetis Bay became a full amphibious assault ship (LHP-6). Although in service only from 1955 (the year of her conversion) to 1964, the experience gained in her training exercises greatly influenced the design of today's amphibious assault ships.

In the second conversion, in 1961, USS Gilbert Islands had all her aircraft handling equipment removed and four tall radio antennas installed on her long, flat deck. In lieu of aircraft, the hangar deck now had 24 military radio transmitter trucks bolted to its floor. Rechristened USS Annapolis, the ship was used as a communication relay ship and served dutifully through the Vietnam War as a floating radio station, relaying transmissions between the forces on the ground and the command centers back home. Like Thetis Bay, the experience gained before Annapolis was stricken in 1976 helped develop today's purpose-built amphibious command ships of the Blue Ridge class.

Unlike almost all other major classes of ships and patrol boats from World War II, most of which can be found in a museum or port, no escort carrier or American light carrier has survived all were destroyed during the war or broken up in the following decades. The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships records that the last former escort carrier remaining in naval service—USS Annapolis—was sold for scrapping 19 December 1979. The last American light carrier (the escort carrier's faster sister type) was USS Cabot, which was broken up in 2002 after a decade-long attempt to preserve the vessel.


The eight ships were ordered under the provisions of the 1889 Naval Defence Act as an improved design of the preceding Apollo-class cruisers. [1] They were to displace 1000 tons more than the Apollos, and were to have improved sea-keeping abilities, and heavier and better placed armament. [1] The result was a design with a full length deck that gave a higher freeboard amidships, and placed the main armament higher on the superstructure. Though this made them drier ships, the design was criticised for being a larger and more expensive development of the Apollos, but without offering any substantial increase in armament, speed or endurance. [1] The increased weight did however make them more seaworthy, and the design provided the basis for the development of future protected cruisers. [1] The ships were built at several of the principal navy dockyards: three at Devonport, two at Pembroke, and one each at Sheerness, Chatham and Portsmouth. [1]

All eight ships spent at least some time on foreign stations, particularly in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and despite their obsolescence, all but Forte went on to see service in a variety of roles during the First World War. Bonaventure was the first ship to be launched, in late 1892. [1] [2] She served on the Pacific Station during the early part of her career, but was converted into submarine depot ship in 1907. [3] [4] She spent the First World War serving in this role, and was sold for scrapping in 1920. [2] The nameship of the class, Astraea, was the third of the class to be launched, on 17 March 1893, behind Bonaventure and Cambrian. [1] [5] Astraea served on the China Station and in the Indian Ocean, before joining the Grand Fleet at the Nore in 1912. [3] She moved to the Cape of Good Hope and West African Station in 1913, and spent the war there, bombarding Dar es Salaam and taking part in the blockade of Königsberg. [3] She was paid off after the war and was sold in 1920. [5] Cambrian served on the Australia Station and in the Indian Ocean, before returning to Britain in 1913 to be paid off and put up for sale. [3] The outbreak of the First World War led to the navy retaining her and commissioning her as a stoker's training ship named Harlech in 1916. [3] [6] She was renamed Vivid in 1921 and was sold in 1923. [6]

Charybdis spent most of her career in British waters, with occasional voyages to the Indian Ocean and Far East commands. [3] She became part of the 12th Cruiser Squadron on the outbreak of war, but was damaged in a collision in 1915 and was laid up at Bermuda. [3] Used for harbour service from 1917 she was converted to a mercantile vessel and loaned to a shipping firm in 1918. She was returned to the navy in 1920, sold in 1922 and broken up the following year. [3] [7] Flora also served in China and India, and was on the sale list on the outbreak of war. [3] Retained for use as a depot ship, she was renamed Indus II in 1915 and was sold in 1922. [8] Forte served on the Cape and West African station, until being laid up and finally sold in 1914, the first of the class to leave service. [3] [9] Fox served in British and East Indian waters in the pre-war period. [3] She was particularly active off the East African and Egyptian coasts during the war, and was paid off and sold in 1920. [3] [10] HMS Hermione was the longest-lived of the class. [11] Serving alternately in British waters and at the Cape, she was in reserve by the outbreak of war. [3] She briefly became a guardship at Southampton, but by 1916 she was serving as the headquarters for coastal motor launches and motor torpedo boats. [3] Paid off in 1919 she was sold to the Marine Society in 1922 and was renamed Warspite. [11] She was finally broken up in 1940. [3] [11]


Maine and Texas were part of the "New Navy" program of the 1880s. Texas and BB-1 to BB-4 were authorized as "coast defense battleships", but Maine was ordered as an armored cruiser and was only re-rated as a "second class battleship" when she turned out too slow to be a cruiser. The next group, BB-5 Kearsarge through BB-25 New Hampshire, followed general global pre-dreadnought design characteristics and entered service between 1900 and 1909. The definitive American pre-dreadnought was the penultimate class of the type, the Connecticut class, sporting the usual four-gun array of 12-inch (305 mm) weapons, a very heavy intermediate and secondary battery, and a moderate tertiary battery. They were good sea boats and heavily armed and armored for their type. The final American pre-dreadnought class, the Mississippi-class second-class battleships, were a poorly thought out experiment in increasing numbers regardless of quality, and the USN quickly wished to replace them, selling them to Greece in 1914 to pay for a new super-dreadnought USS Idaho (BB-42) .

The dreadnoughts, BB-26 South Carolina through BB-35 Texas, commissioned between 1910 and 1914, uniformly possessed twin turrets, introduced the superimposed turret arrangement that would later become standard on all battleships, and had relatively heavy armor and moderate speed (19–21 knots, 35–39 km/h, 22–24 mph). Five of the ten ships favored the more mature vertical triple expansion (VTE) propulsion over fuel-inefficient but faster direct-drive turbines. The ships possessed 8 (South Carolina class), 10 (Delaware and Florida) or 12 (Wyoming class) 12-inch guns, or 10 (New York class) 14-inch (356 mm) guns. The dreadnoughts gave good service, the last two classes surviving through World War II before being scrapped. However, they had some faults that were never worked out, and the midships turrets in the ten and twelve-gun ships were located near boilers and high-pressure steam lines, a factor that made refrigeration very difficult and problematic in hot climates. One of their number, Texas (BB-35), is the last remaining American battleship of the pre–World War II era and the only remaining dreadnought in the world.

Next came the twelve Standards, beginning with BB-36 Nevada, commissioned over the period 1914 to 1920. The last ship commissioned was BB-48 West Virginia (BB-49 through 54 were also Standards, but were never commissioned, and scrapped under the Washington Naval Treaty). Oklahoma (BB-37) was the last American battleship commissioned with triple expansion machinery all the other Standards used either geared steam turbines (Nevada, the Pennsylvania class, Idaho and Mississippi) or turbo-electric propulsion (New Mexico, the Tennessee and Colorado classes). The Standards were a group of ships with four turrets, oil fuel, a 21-knot (39 km/h 24 mph) top speed, a 700-yard (640 m) tactical diameter at top speed, and heavy armor distributed on the "All or Nothing" principle. Armament was fairly consistent, starting with ten 14-inch guns in the Nevada class, twelve in the Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Tennessee classes, and eight 16-inch (406 mm) guns in the Colorado class.

After the 1930s "builders holiday," the USN commissioned ten more battleships of an entirely new style, the so-called fast battleship. These ships began with BB-55 North Carolina and the last ship laid down was BB-66 Kentucky (the last completed ship was BB-64 Wisconsin). These ships were a nearly clean break from previous American design practices. All ten ships were built to a Panamax design (technically post-Panamax, as they exceeded normal Panamax beam by two feet, but they were still able to transit the canal). They were fast battleships, and could travel with the aircraft carriers at cruising speed (their speed was not intended for that role, but rather so they could run down and destroy enemy battlecruisers). They possessed almost completely homogeneous main armament (nine 16-inch guns in each ship, the sole difference being an increase in length from 45 to 50 calibers with the Iowa-class vessels), very high speed relative to other American designs (28 knots, 52 km/h, 32 mph in the North Carolina and South Dakota classes, 33 knots, 61 km/h, 38 mph in the Iowa class), and moderate armor. The North Carolina class was of particular concern, as their protection was rated as only "adequate" against the 16-inch superheavy weapon. They had been designed with, and armored against, a battery of three quadruple 14-inch guns, then changed to triple 16-inch guns after the escalator clause in the Second London Naval Treaty had been triggered. Secondary in these ships was almost homogeneous as well: Except for South Dakota, configured as a flagship, the other nine ships of this group sported a uniform 20-gun 5-inch (130 mm) secondary battery (South Dakota deleted two 5-inch mounts to make room for flag facilities). Visually, the World War II ships are distinguished by their three-turret arrangement and the massive columnar mast that dominates the superstructure. The last ship, Wisconsin (BB-64), commissioned in 1944 (Wisconsin was approved last however, Missouri (BB-63) was commissioned three months later, due to delays from additional aircraft carrier construction). Missouri (BB-63), famous for being the ship on which the Japanese instrument of surrender was signed, was the last battleship in the world to be decommissioned on 31 March 1992. Seven of these ten ships are still in existence. South Dakota, Washington and Indiana were scrapped, but the remainder are now museum ships. There was intended to be another class of five of these ships, the Montana class (BB-67 Montana through BB-71 Louisiana), but they were cancelled before being laid down in favor of a greater number of aircraft carriers. The Montana-class ships would have been built to a 60,000-ton post-Panamax design, and carried a greater number of guns (twelve 16-inch guns) and heavier armor than the other ships otherwise they would have been homogeneous with the rest of the World War II battleships.

In October 2006, the last battleships, (USS Iowa and USS Wisconsin), were stricken from the Naval Registry.

Nomenclature of Soviet cruisers

Chapayev class cruisers (1945)

These large ships succeeded the heavy cruisers of the Maxim Gorky class (1938). They were different from the two late units of this class, released in 1943 and largely improved. The Chapayev are much larger, with the addition of 5000 more tons. They were in fact the first heavy cruisers designed completely out from the old Italian influences started with the two Kirov of 1935.

They sacrificed nominal firepower (150 mm guns instead of 180 mm), to integrate an additional turret, carrying three more guns, to go for a twelve guns battery, as for the American ships of the Cleveland class. However, in category, they rank undoubtedly in the “heavy” class, and even near the top of it.

They were well served by a powerful AAA, according to wartime lessons, were further modified along the way to reach more firepower. Secondary armament consisted of eight traditional twin mounts giving way ultimately to four twin turrets, 130 mm caliber, reaching the Soviet fleet standards of 1960.

There will actually be 8 ships in this program, whose design dated back to 1936. But the first four ships launched during the war, the Chapayev, Zhelezniakov and Frunze in 1940, and the Kuibyshev in 1941 were never completed. With the advance of the Wehrmacht, two were captured and later modified, while the others experienced various fortunes.

The Chapayev was completed in 1949, like Zhelezniakov, and Chkalov, and Frunze and Kuibyshev in 1950. The Ordzhonikidze and the last ship of the class ordered but was never completed. These ships carried two seaplanes originally (replaced by radars after the war) and were tailored and equipped to lay more than 200 mines.

Chapayev class cruisers were in service in 1960. However the dates were they were stricken from the fleet list is unknown: Chapayev is believed to have been retired 1961, as Frunze or 1962, and the Kuibyshev. Chkalov and Zhelezniakov were however maintained in service until 1990 as training ships. With the decomposition of the Soviet Union, no doubt they were mothballed and left to rot. None was preserved.


Displacement: 11,300t, 15,000t FL
Dimensions: 201 x 19.70 x 6.40m
Propulsion: 2 turbines , 6 boilers, 130 000 hp = 34 Knots
Crew: 840
Armour: 50 – 80 mm (3.8 in), CT 152 mm (6 in).
Armament: 18 x 150 (6 in) (4×3), 8 x 2 AA 100 mm (4.6 in), 24 x 37 mm, 6 533 mm TTs (21 in) (2×3).

Sverdlov class cruisers (1951)

The Sverdlov class cruisers were the last soviet conventional cruisers. They succeeded the Chapayev launched at the beginning of the Second World War.

This massive class wanted by Stalin was to answer the armada of American cruisers of the Cleveland and Baltimore classes. A total of 50 ships were planned to give the USSR a definitive supremacy. But this unrealistic figure was quickly reduced to 24, and then 20, which were actually started between 1949 and 1955 at the shipyards of the Baltic, admiralty yards, Nikolayev and Severodvinsk. This was completed by amazing plans for the Stalingrad class battlecruisers.

The death of Stalin
The death of Stalin had these plans completely scrapped. The idea of a classic battle fleet at the insistence of the Kremlin’s master, which had the same appeal perhaps to Hitler in terms of delusional grandeur, was no longer the priority of the day.

Instead, Khrushchev, well advised by the new head of the Soviet admiralty, had less ambitious plans, but more practical and a realistic, pragmatic approach for innovative solutions to deal with the US Navy supremacy, rather than trying to cope in numbers on the same level. This became the first steps for a new policy which endured until the 1980s.

Of this total of twenty, two of these cruisers never even reach the launching stage, being cancelled and broken up along the way, and four more were never completed and remained anchored in the Neva estuary in Leningrad until 1961. Only 14 cruisers were finally completed between 1952 and 1955.

Sverdlov class design
The Sverdlovs were much like the Chapayevs, but had greater autonomy thanks to larger hull dimensions allowing the installation of generous oil tanks. They also had a better overall protection, with a double hull on 75% of her length, and 23 watertight compartments.

These cruisers inaugurated new radars and fire control systems, plus new 100 mm mounts for their secondary batteries, copied from the German dreaded 88mm Flak battery, also used on the Skoriy class destroyers. The 152 mm (6 in) main turrets were improved versions of the Chapayev ones. The final, revised design was adopted in May 1947. In 1960, these ships were already outdated in the face of missile warfare.

Career and fate of the Sverdlov class
Some of these ships were then converted (as the Americans had done) into missile cruisers. Thus, Admiral Nakhimov was rebuilt barely two years after entering active service as an anti-ship missile cruiser, equipped with AS-1 missiles, then SS-N-1 “Scrubber” missile, using a replacement launcher at the same time. She also kept half the turrets. This conversion proved a disappointing one, and the ships was eventually used as a target and then scrapped in 1961.

Dzerzhinski was equipped instead of three turrets and a SA-2 “Guideline” SAM was installed. It was a navalized version of the land launcher. This time the conversion proved a success and she had a long active career, being retired in 1989.

Zhdanov and Senyavin served as command ships, being completely rebuilt in 1970-72 in this role. They received a lattice mast supporting very powerful Vee Cone antennas, satellite relay, the whole rear part being converted into a flight deck for three ASW helicopters, complete with a with hangar, and a retractable missile launcher SA-N-4 “pop-up” plus antimissile superfast 30mm guns.

Revolutsiya, Ushakov and Suvorov received a new enlarged footbridge and more modern electronic equipments in 1977-79, yielding their 3 7mm guns and Egg Cup firing control systems for four 30 mm missile-controlled guns by NATO “Drum Tilt” system.

The Sverdlov class comprised the Sverdlov, Zhdanov, Admiral Ushakov, Admiral Senyavin, Alexandr Suvorov, Dmitri Pozharski, Ordzhonikidze, Alexandr Nevsky, Admiral Lazarev, Dzerzhinsky, Admiral Nakhimov, Mikhail Kutuzov, Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya, and Murmansk. They were equitably divided among the four fleets.

Orzhonikidze was sold to Indonesians in 1962 as KRI Irian. She Sold for scrap to Taiwan in 1972. Nakhimov was written off in 1961, the others in 1987-89. There were still three of these cruisers in service in 1990: Suvorov, Senyavin, and Murmansk. They were retired in 1990-92, with no budget and no use to support them.


Displacement: 13,600t, 16,640 FL
Dimensions: 210 x 22 x 6,9 m
Propulsion: 4 shafts, 4 turbines, 4 HP boilers, 110,000 hp 32,5 knots.
Crew: 390
Armour: 50 – 80 mm (3.8 in), CT 120 mm (4.7 in).
Electronics: Radars: Sea Gull, Knife Rest A, Slim net, Top Bow, Egg Cup, hull passive sonar.
Weaponry: 12 x 152 mm (4×3) (6 in), 12 x 100 mm (6×2) AA, 32 x 37 mm (16×2) AA, 10 x 533 mm TTs (2×5) (21 in).

Kynda class cruisers (1951)

The four Kynda class units were the first Soviet missile cruisers. They were from the outset (1956) designed to respond to American aircraft carriers by another more modern means than that hitherto maintained by Stalin, a line fleet. In addition, they inaugurated a system of launching a “volley” of 8 long-range cruise missiles (250 nautical miles) SS-N-3 “Shaddock”, with recharging of 8 other vectors stored in containers just behind, in the superstructure. However, these reloading operations were long and delicate, also requiring acceptable sea conditions.

These SS-N-3 vectors, capable of implementing a tactical or conventional nuclear warhead, but were dependent on guidance en route and final by Tupolev Tu-95 “Bear-D”. This armament was supplemented by a SA-N-1 “Goa” missile launcher at short and medium range, with a reduced stock (16 vectors) and a very relative effectiveness. This panoply was completed by two AA guns and four rapid fire anti-missiles. The ASW defense consisted of two triple benches of acoustic torpedo tube launchers, and 2 rocket launchers of the RBU 6000 type with 12 vectors each, and vertical reloading. Each rocket had a HE load of 75 kg. automatically adjustable and exploding by magnetic proximity, the coordinate calculations were entirely managed by an electronic console taking its information from the hull sonar. This ASW defense was complemented by a Kamov Ka-25 “Hormone” helicopter, with a stern decking sport, but no hangar, which was a major problem on mission.

Finally, the propulsion was done by a new system (like the contemporary Kashins) of turbines powered by four overcompression boilers. Due to the reduced hull size, this propellant was able to give them a speed of 34 knots. Despite these reduced dimensions, the four Kyndas, started in Zhdanov in 1960-61 and completed in 1962-65 were classified as missile cruisers (RKR). Class: Grozny, Admiral Fokin, Admiral Golovko, Varyag. The Varyag was used in the Baltic, the Golovko in the Black Sea, and the other two in the Pacific. In 1990, all four were active: They were retired from service in 1990, 1991, and 1993.


Displacement: 4400t, 5600t FL
Dimensions: 141.7 x 16.8 x 5.30m
Propulsion: 2 shaft turbines, 4 HP boilers, 100,000 hp. 34 knots.
Crew: 390
Electronics: 2 Don-2, 2 Head-net A / C, 2 Scoop Pair, Peel group, Owl Screech, 2 Plinth net, sonar Herkules, 3 CME Bell, 4 Top hat.
Armament: 2ࡪ SSN-3 (16), 1ࡨ SAN-1 (16), 4 x 76 mm (2ࡨ), 2ࡩ 533 mm TTs, 2 RBU 6000 ASWRL (24).

Kresta I class cruisers (1965)

The missile cruisers of the Kresta I class (Project 1134) were four originally anti-ship buildings (built 1964-69), intended to succeed the Kynda. They were reclassified early as ASM cruisers, while retaining their planned anti-ship missiles. In any case, they were better able to survive than the Kynda thanks to their secondary armament of self-defense more than doubled. The planned missiles, of the SSN-12 type were still at the stage of developments in 1964, also it was the old SSN-3 which replaced them in series. in addition, the Kresta I were the first Soviet ships to have a helicopter hangar – for a single Ka-25 “Hormone”.

A Kresta I class building in the White Sea in March 1970. Class: Admiral Zozulya, Vitze-Admiral Drozd, Vladivostock, Sevastopol. They were serving in the Black Sea, the Drozd being equipped with four Gatling anti-ballistic missile guns behind the SSN-3 ramps, Zozulya being similarly modified in 1990. In 1990, all four were active: but that was their withdrawal. of service, for Drozd and Sevastopol and 1991 for Vladivostock. The oldest, the Drozd, remained in active service until 1996. But his general condition was so bad that he never went to sea again and was stricken from the lists.

Kresta I general appearance


Displacement: 6000t, 7500t FL
Dimensions: 155 x 17 x 5,50m
Propulsion: 2 shafts DGC turbines, 4 heaters, 100,000 hp. and 34 knots max.
Crew: 380
Electronics: 2 Don Kay Radars, Big Net, Don-2, Head-Net C, 2 Plinth Net, 2 Peel Group, 2 Muff Cob, 2 Bass Tilt. Sonar Herkules, 8 CME Side Globes, 4 Bell.
Armament: 2×2 LM SSN3, 2×2 LM. SAN1 (44), 4 57mm (2×2) guns, 10 TLT 533mm (2×5), 2 ASM RBU 6000 LR, 2 RBU 1000, 1 ASM Kamov Ka-25 Hormone helix.

Kresta II class cruisers (1968)

The Kresta II class missile cruisers (Project 1134A, or Berkut A) were like the Kresta I anti-ship cruisers re-evaluated as ASW cruisers when the design was still ongoing. Their armament, to differentiate themselves from the first Kresta I, consisted in 8 new SSN-9 short-range anti-ship missiles. But what was planned was not realized due to lack of technical maturity, and they were replaced by 8 SSN-14 “Flint” ASW systems (with optional tactical nuclear warhead of 10 Kt).

They also had a new bow sonar. Finally, their anti-aircraft missile ramps were the modern SA-N-3 “Goblet”, capable of receiving a tactical nuclear warhead (27 Kt) to disrupt high altitude bomber formations. In addition, four Gatling-type Antimissile rapid-fire guns were adopted from the start. They had a better 3D radar, the new Top Sail (NATO code), more effective than the Kresta I Head Net-C/Big Net suit.

Their hull was narrower, longer, shallower, less heavy from 1000 tonnes. On the other hand, their general configuration was hardly different and the Kresta I and II are often assimilated as a single class. They were made to operate with a “leader” Kresta I unit, possessing long-range SSN-3 “Styx” nuclear warhead vectors.

Class: Kronstadt, Admiral Isakov, Admiral Nakhimov, Admiral Makaorov, Admiral Voroshilov, Admiral Oktyabryskiy, Admiral Isashenko, Admiral Timoshenko, Vasily Chapayev, Admiral Yumashev. They were distributed in Baltic (2), Arctic (5), and Pacific (3). In 1990, all ten were active: They were removed from service in 1991, 1992, and 1993.

Kresta II general appearance


Displacement: 5600t, 6556t FL
Dimensions: 159 x 16.8 x 5.32m
Propulsion: 2 shaft 2 DGC turbines, 4 heaters, 91,000 hp. and 32 nodes max.
Crew: 343
Electronics: Speed ​​Cameras 2 Don Kay, Don-2, Head-Net C, Top Sail, 2 Head Lights, 2 Peel Group, 2 Muff Cob, 2 Bass Tilt. Sonar Bul Nose, 8 CME Side Globes, 7 Bell Series.
Armament: 2×4 LM SSN14, 2×2 LM SAN3 (48), 4 x 57mm (2×2), 10 TLT 533mm (2×5), 2 LR ASM RBU 6000 (144), 2 RBU 1000 (60), 1 ASM Kamov Ka helicopter -25 Hormone.

Kara class cruisers (1969)

The Kara class missile cruisers were seven rather versatile ships (1969-76), destined to succeed the Kresta I and Kresta II. They had a tactical anti-ship capability with SSN-14 conventional or nuclear missiles, good short range anti-aircraft capability with their two SAN-3 and 4 (72 and 40 vector) missile launchers, their 4 rocket launchers RBU 6000 and 4000 (144 and 60 vectors) and their torpedo tubes. Gas turbines combined with diesel engines were quieter and less vibration-intensive than the Kresta. The last of these ships, Vladivostock (formerly Tallin), built like the others at Nikolayev, was operational in 1980. Class: Nikolayev, Ochakov, Kerch, Azov, Petropavlovsk, Tashkent, Vladivostock. They served in the Black Sea, cruising in the Mediterranean, but two, Petropavlovsk and Tashkent, were sent to the Pacific fleet as early as 1979. The Nikolayev and Tashkent were removed from the lists and kept in reserve in 1992. The others were in service in 1997.

Illustrator’s rendition of the Kara class


Displacement: 6700-7630t, 8565t FL
Dimensions: 173.5 x 18.50 x 5,32m
Propulsion: 2 propellers, 4 DGC turbines, 120,000 hp. and 32 nodes max.
Crew: 380
Electronics: Radars 2 Don Kay, 1 Don 2, 1 Top Sail, Head-net C, 2 Head Light, 2 Pop Group, 2 Owl Screech, 2 Bass Tilt. Blue Nose Sonar, Mare Tail, 8 CME Side Globes, 2/4 Rum Tub.
Armament: 2×4 miss. SSN14, 2×2 miss. SAN3, 2×2 miss. SAN4, 4 x 76mm (2×2) guns, 4 AM 30mm Gatling guns, 10 TLT 533mm (2×5), 2 ASM RBU 6000 LR, 2 RBU 1000, 1 ASM Kamov Ka-25 Hormone helicopter.

Moskva class helicopter cruisers (1967)

Moskva, Leningrad

The Moskva and Leningrad were the first aircraft carriers produced by the Soviet Union. They were perfect hybrids, combining the firepower of a front cruiser and a rear flight deck, a configuration that was quite common at the time, since the Italians did the same for their Doria, and later their Veneto, or the Japanese with their Haruna.

They were specialized ASM warships specifically dedicated to the destruction of American and British SSBNs. So they had to be able to implement big ASM patrol and fight helicopters, having a better range of action like Mil-Mi14 “Haze”. Their pay ranged from 20 to 12 helicopters, two of which had to be on patrol flight for maximum efficiency.

Admiral Gorshkov initialed the specification in 1959, but the latter insisted on the hull as narrow as possible (for speed), the office replying that it would pose insoluble problems of stability, capital for this type of buildings (Gorshkov proposed for a moment the reconversion of one of the hulls of mass cruisers of the Sverdlov class). The cahier des charges was definitively adopted in 1960, opting for a large, large building, very heavily armed for its own defense, notably ASM.

But the studies continued and it was the 23rd project which was definitively adopted in 1961. This last allowed the ship to operate 14 rotating wings, of which a majority of Kamov Ka-25 and Mi-14, by a sea of ​​force 6- 7. They were housed in a shed located between the two chimneys, and the large lower shed, accessing it by two elevators. There were four spots.

Dod Leningrad

In the meantime, NATO’s SSBN’s Polaris missile range had doubled, forcing Krushchev to review the Soviet ASM defense: The radius of action of the ship and its on-board aircraft was to increase. Twenty-six other modifications were made to the plans before the Moskva was sailed at Nikolayev in December 1962. It was launched in January 1965, completed in December 1967, the tests having officially begun in August 1967.

The Leningrad replaced it in the darse January 15, 1965, was launched in July 1968 and completed in 1969. They inaugurated the gas turbines adopted later, but experienced a number of technical problems more or less serious (until the fire of the Moskva in 1973). They could sustain 24 knots for 3 hours, but were at high risk of attempting spikes at 30 knots (which were only reached at trials).

In addition, their hull was finally quite thin, thanks to the “Y” shape of their sections, which allowed them a good hydrodynamics, but the stability in the heavy weather was to be reviewed. As a result, their torpedo tubes were removed in 1974-75.

They were both based in the Northern Fleet, but they also “cruised” in the other fleets. Relatively imitated because of their fleet, their defects were taken into account for the new Kiev in 1968. They served until 1990. In 1991, the Leningrad was withdrawn from service and removed from the lists, the Moskva remaining active in 1995.

Author’s illustration of the Moskva


Displacement: 11,200t, 17,500t FL
Dimensions: 189 x 23 x 8.5 m
Propulsion: 2 propellers, 2 VHP turbines, 4 HP heaters, 100,000 hp. and 31 nodes max.
Crew: 850
Electronics: Top Sail Radars, 2 Head Light, Head Net-C, 2 Muff Cob, 2 Don-2, 1 Moose Jaw Sonar, 1 SPV Mare Tail, 8 CME Side Globes, 8 Bell, 2ࡨ Lance Lures.
Weaponry: 2ࡨ miss. SAN3 (44), 4 (2ࡨ) 57 mm, 1ࡨ miss. SUW-N1 (12 miss.), 2 LR RBU 6000, 10 TLT 533 mm, 12-14 Helicopters.

Kiev class carrier-cruisers (1972)

Kiev, Minsk, Novorossiysk, Admiral Gorschkov

With the 4 Kiev, the Soviet Navy entered in chief admiral Groshkov’s symbolic pet project, destined specificically to project power from the numerous firndly bases and facilities around the world at that time, the ability to be present on all seas, and willing rival to the overwhelming US Navy superiority by using unconventional responses. The Kiev, Minsk, Novorossiysk and Admiral Gorshkov, launched in 1972, 75, 78 and 1982, were completed in 1975, 78, 82 and 1987. They were defined at first as “guardians” of the Delta-type SSBNs, departing on mission from Northern (Arctic) Fleet bases, guaranteeing the destruction of NATO ASW assets in case of conflict.

They, like the Moskva, had to operate a number of ASW helicopters, and also to use interceptors and their own powerful weaponry to destroy allied long range patrol planes (Breguet Atlantic, Lockheed P3 Orion, Bae Nimrod). Capabilities of ASW warfare were impressive, but AA and antiship armament was not sacrificed either and still were quite impressive, on the level of a powerful missile cruiser. The Kiev were already gearing for saturation fire tactic and leaning towards the Kirov class battlecruiser concept.

Unlike American aircraft carriers, these Soviet ships are not pure cruisers, nor are they authentic aircraft carriers, but hybrids. Aircraft required a particular flight deck, which is differentiated from the Moskva by being lateral, the superstructure spreading along its length. This was a typical configuration for hybrid ships, which were very rare. The Kiev emerged as quite unique piece of hardware, unline anything in the world.

The entire hull forward section, was that of a missile cruiser, with a complete panoply to meet all needs: Long-range antiship missiles, medium and short range SAMs, ASW torpedo tubes, AA/DP guns, and 3 ASW rocket launchers, plus a carrying capacity for 31 aircrafts, including 12 Yak-38 VSTOL jets and 18/19 Kamov “Hormone” ASW helicopters. The latter could deploy light anti-ship missiles and tactical nuclear ASW depht charges. The Yak 38 was the Soviet replica of the Harrier but is considered a mediocre attempt at best and was discarded perhaps even before the fall of the USSR.

These impressive ships were indeed handicapped the use of these poor quality jets. They would have been capable of intercepting approaching patrol planes just in the range of SAMs, wheres they would have been intended as providing a much longer range cover. The Yak-38 “Forger” (NATO code), were in the opinion of all the experts, and the Soviets themselves (the pilots among others), pale copies of the British Harrier, devoid of surface radar, slow, unwieldy, with a very limited carrying capacity, low range, and nozzles systems difficult to control: There were probably scored of accidents never officially revealed, but the “Forger” quickly gained a reputation of a flying coffin, in stark contrast to the Harrier. It was rushed to production and did not enjoyed the development time of the British Harrier, an amazing success story of British Aerospace industry during the cold war.

In 1991, the two Kiev-class ships remaining in service were to be scrapped. By then, two were sold to China to serve as “museums” while a third was scrapped and a fourth sold to India, becoming the INS Vikramaditya. Rreplacements for the Yak-38, the Yak-141 “Freehand”, supersonic and with better characteristics was undergoing tests when the Soviet Union started a wave of massive budgetary cuts. The Yak 141 was never operational and sank into oblivion.

The 4 Kiev were still in service in 1992, but both of the Pacific Fleet have been stranded since their respective propeller accidents in 1994 due to lack of funds for repairs, and both of the Northern Fleet suffered a small fate. enviable: In order to keep the Gorshkov in service, the Kiev was cannialized, and then docked and disarmed.

The Gorshkov was the only one active for some time, but she was often docksided due to the lack of funds for her maintenance. She was moored in Kiev, and by the late 1990s her general state was closer to that of a wreck. The Russian navy has given priority to the Tbilisi. The Kiev and Minsk were sold to China to serve as “museums” in 1995-96. One was converted into a muxury hotel, while the Minsk was relocated in Nantong awaiting reuse at planned theme park.

Novorossiysk was scrapped at Pohang in 1998 and Admiral Gorshkov was sold to India in 2004, becoming the INS Vikramaditya. This ship was comprehensively rebuilt in Severodvinsk along the lines of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, and entered into service in 2013 as flagship of the Indian Navy.

INS Vikramaditya during trials in 2013. She completed her impressive transformation from an hybrid missile cruiser to full-blown aircraft carrier.

Kiev class Specifications

Displacement: 36 000t, 42 000t FL
Dimensions: 275 x 32,7(47,2 PE) x 8,2m
Propulsion: 4 propellers, 4 turbines VHP, 140 000 cv. et 32 knots max.
Electronics: Radars 2 Palm Front, Top Sail, Top steer, 2 Head Light, 2 Pop group, 2 Owl Screech, 2 bass Tilt, 1 Trap Door.
1 prow passive sonar, 1 SPV, 8 CME Side Globes, 12 Bell, 4 Rum Tub, 2ࡨ flare launchers.
Armament: 4ࡨ SSN14 (24), 2ࡨ SAN3 72), 2ࡨ SAN4 (40), 4 x 76 mm (2ࡨ), 8 x30 mm Gatling, 10 x 533 mm TTs (2࡫), 1ࡨ LR SUW1, 2 RBU 6000 (2合)
On board aviation: 12 Yak-38 jets, 19 ASW Kamov Ka-25B/C “Hormone” helicopters.
Crew: 380

Kirov class battlecruisers (1977)

Kirov, Frunze, Kalinin, Yuri Andropov

A starboard bow view of the Soviet Kirov Class nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser FRUNZE underway. (Soviet Military Power, 1986)
Battlecruiser Frunze

The Kirovs are like the Kiev another originality of the Soviet navy during this era, perhaps one of the most recoignisable trademark offered to the world. Unmatched missile cruisers, by ay standard, these four units were the most powerful surface units ever built in the 1980s. They were tailored to obviously oppose an air strike force from an aircraft carrier, and the carrier themselves and their escort by using saturation fire. Unlike the battleships of old, missile cruisers have no active protection, except for subdivision below the waterline. Lucky hits in the electronics could be fatal, although the Soviets always planned manual and optical bakcups for just such as case.

Compared to the Iowa-class moderized and reintroduced in service, their delicate electronic equipment would succumb to even medium-caliber impacts. But the protection of a Kirov is above all active: Long-range cruise missiles and 2-3 successive layers of protection on long and medium range, close range missiles, ECM and powerful short-range jamming systems were all geared towards protecting the ship and its own task force, as a capital ship.

The Kirov had all the current panoply of a missile cruiser, but on a gargantuan scale. NATO, on the fait accompli, had to note the existence of these ships for which the term “cruiser” seemed inappropriate: Immediately, experts agreed that the title of “battlecruiser”, a category that was thought extinct since the Battle of Jutland, was a good match.

Indeed, commonalities were obvious: Endowed with a very large firepower, worthy of a ship of the line but in a missing category, these ships only rely on the range and variety of their arsenal to deal with all threats. Many experts have emphasized its de facto “invulnerable” nature and pointed she was a clear naval superiority vessel.

When the second vessel, Frunze, was accepted into service in 1984, the US navy under the Reagan administration, had given up the prospect of building equivalent ships, although the USN dreamed of it. Rather he found a rather surprising compromise solution: The return into service of the four veterans of the second world war of the Iowa class. These battleships were completely rebuilt and modernized, armed with cruise missiles and state-of-the-art equipment to deal with modern threats.

This choice may seem surprising, but was considered very rational: Updated, the Iowa combined the capabilities of a modern missile cruiser and conventional big-gun armament, were fast, and contrary to all ships of the time, had a level of armor which was though nearly invulnerable to conventional missiles. In any case a nine hard-cased shell volley did not not feared any interferences, lures and antimissile vectors, or even fragmentation shots. In short, the Kirov class, ultimately four units (Kalinin in 1988 and Yuri Andropov by 1990), found their most serious antagonists.

Kalinin 1991

The Kirovs, in addition to their impressive missiles range, most of them in silos forward, used a mixed propulsion, Nuclear and steam combined, with two nuclear reactors, a solution that the US Navy had studied a time and rejected because of its complexity. On a single reactor, the Kirovs already reached 24 knots, and 30 by combining this with high pressure turbines. The idea of ​​nuclear-powered cruisers dated back to 1968 in USSR.

The design of the Kirov was finally approved in 1971, and the first was started in 1974, followed by the other three, in the same basin of the Baltic shipyards in Leningrad. The team led by Admiral Gorshkov settled on a ship design named “Orlan”, dispacing 8,000 tons at the most. But new studies amidst requirements eventually led to a new and more realistic standard of 20,000 tons.

The Kirov were conceived, thanks in particular to their non-standard dimensions, like command ships for the fleet, with ad hoc equipments. One of them was to be assigned to the Baltic, another to the Northern Fleet, and the other two for the Black Sea fleet and the last to the Pacific Fleet.

Piotr Velikiy

Although not armored, these ships had a protective armored layer of 100 mm above the reactors, and 35 to 75 mm plates elsewhere. They differed between each other regarding their electronic equipment, and superstructure details, due to rapid development of electronics and building span. A fifth unit, Dzerzhinsky, was planned for 1995 and started in 1989, but the order was canceled and she was disassembled in situ. More advanced but mothballed on the 1990s she would have been laikely purchased by China. Currently these four ships are still on the lists of the Russian Navy. They are undeniably the flagship.

With the fall of the USSR, these ships were renamed Admiral Ushakov, Lazarev, Nakhimov, and Petr Velikiy (Peter the Great). But their situation was hardly brilliant: The first two were temporarily removed from service for lack of fuel and maintenance. Nakhimov suffered from a reactor accident in the Mediterranean in 1990, her turbines failed and later repairs dragged for years due to the state of the Russian economy. Eventually all but Peter the Great (admiral ship of the northern fleet) were retired from service: Admiral Ouchakov in 2001, Admiral Lazarev and Admiral Nakhimov in 1999.

Author’s Illustration of the Kirov class

Kirov class Specifications

Displacement: 24 000t, 28 000t
Dimensions: 248 x 28 x 7,5m
Propulsion: 2 propellers, 2 turbines NVC, 150 000 cv. et 32-34 Noeuds max.
Crew: 800
Electronics: Radars 2 Palm Front, Top Sail, Top steer, 2 Head Light, 2 Top Dome, 2 Pop group, 2 Eye bowl, 4 bass Tilt, 1 Punch bowl. 2 Sonars Horse Tail et Horse Jaw (SPV), 8 CME Side Globes, 10 Bell, 4 Rum Tub, 2ࡨ Lance leurres.
Armament: 20 miss. SSN19, 1ࡨ SSN14 (16), 12 miss. SAN6 (96), 2ࡨ miss. SAN4 (40), 4 canons de 100 mm (2ࡨ), 8 canons AM 30 mm Gatling, 8 TLT 533 mm (2ࡪ), 2࡬ LR RBU1000, 3 hélicos ASM Kamov Ka-32 Helix.

Slava class cruisers (1979)

Slava, Marshal Ustinov, Chervonia Ukraina

Russian missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov in the 2000s

The Slava-class missile cruisers (Project 1164, for early NATO Black Com-2, then Krasina) were anti-ship units that could replace the four Kynda that reached their age limit. however, from past experience, they were much larger (12,500 tons at full load against 5,600 for the former).
In addition, they all had their cruise missiles not in steerable batteries with refills, but in lateral ramps, fixed and independent. These SS-N-12 bazalt (Sandbox) were supersonic (mach 2.5) and common also to the four Kiev.

They had a nuclear head of 350 Kt or a conventional hollow charge of 1 ton.
They weighted 5, 11.70 meters long and 2.60 meters wide, with a range of 550 km. This system was complemented by two anti-aircraft ramps, medium (SA-N-6) and short-range (SA- N-4).
These were all silos behind the funnnel, 8 silos for SA-N-6 and 2 launchers with 20 missiles each for SA-N-4. The former have, like torpedoes, an alternative tactical nuclear head.

The Slava class were six ships initially planned, but following the political events in the USSR in 1990, only the first four were operational, respectively in 1982, 86, 89 and 93.
The first three were therefore in service in 1990. The other three, Admiral Lobov (started 1984, launched 1990 and planned for completion in 1993) was transferred to Ukraine and renamed Vilna Ukraina, but still lacked equipment to be operational. Ukraine then did not had any means to carry out this work.

As a result, through a joint contract to sell Sovremenny-class destroyers to the Chinese, funds arrived and Ukraina was finally completed in 2001. Rossiya and Admiral Gorshkov were not even started and were soon removed from the lists. All were built in Nikolayev, on modified Kara plans.
The original names of the first three (renamed after 1990) were Slava, Marshal Ustinov and Chervonia Ukraina. Class (renamed): Moskva, Admiral Isakov, Admiral Ustinov, Varyag, Vilna Ukrayina.

They were in service by the 1990s in the Northern Fleet (Ustinov), Black Sea (Ukrayina, Moskva), and Baltic (Lobov). The Moskva (formerly Slava) was sent for modernization to Nikolayev in 1990 and remained there until 2000, as the funds for doing so were insufficient. Of course their status will be refreshed in a future dedicated post.

Author’s illustration of the Slava


Displacement: 10,000t, 12,500t FL
Dimensions: 187 x 20.8 x 7.5 m
Propulsion: 2 propellers, 2 DGC turbines, 125,000 hp. and 34 Nodes max.
Crew: 600
Electronics: Radar 2 Top Pair, Top Steer, 3 Palm Front, 1 Top Dome, 2 Pop Group, 1 Kite Screech, 1 Front Piece, 3 Bass Tilt. LF Sonar, 1 SPV, 8 CME Side Globes, 1 Satcom Punch Bowl.
Armament: 16 SSN12, 8 LM SAN6, 2 SAN4 (40), 2 130mm (1ࡨ) guns, 10 TLT 533mm (2࡫), 6 Gatling AM 30mm, 2 LR ASW RBU 6000 (144), 1 ASW helicopter Kamov Ka-25 Hormone-B.

Read More

R.Gardiner Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1922-1947 & 1947-1995
Russia to build 2 Lider-class nuclear-powered destroyers by end of 2020s TASS. 28 February 2019
“Russian Future Destroyer “Grown Up” to 19,000 Tons”. 26 February 2019
“Russian Navy Project 23560 Leader-class Nuclear-Powered Destroyers to Slip Behind Schedule”. navyrecognition 2017
“Russia Creating Cutting-Edge Universal Nuclear Battleship”. Sputnik. 23 July 2016.
Berezhnoi S. S. Trofei i reparatsii VMF SSSR. – Sakhapoligraphizdat, Yakutsk, 1994.
Kuzin V. P., Nikol’skii V. I. Voenno-Morskoi Flot SSSR 1945–1991.
Pavlov A. S. Voyennye korabli SSSR i Rossii 1945–1995.
Pavlov A. S. Voyennye korabli Rossii 2001 god. – Yakutsk, 2001.


Celkem byly v letech 1900–1905 postaveny dvě jednotky této třídy. První postavila loděnice Chatham Dockyard a druhý loděnice Devonport Dockyard. [1]

Jednotky třídy Challenger:

Jméno Loděnice Založení kýlu Spuštěna Vstup do služby Poznámka
HMS Challenger Chatham DY 1900 1902 3. května 1904 Vyřazen 1919, sešrotován.
HMS Encounter Devonport DY 1901 1902 21. listopadu 1905 Vyřazen 1919. Od prosince 1919 sloužil jako pomocná loď v Sydney a od roku 1923 jako mateřská loď ponorek Penguin.

Po dokončení plavidla nesla jedenáct 152mm kanónů, které doplňovalo devět 76mm kanónů, šest 47mm kanónů a dva 450mm torpédomety. Pohonný systém tvořilo 18 kotlů a dva parní stroje o výkonu 12 500 hp, pohánějící dva lodní šrouby. Nejvyšší rychlost dosahovala 21 uzlů. Dosah byl 9000 námořních mil při rychlosti 10 uzlů. [1]

Oba křižníky zpočátku operovaly z Austrálie. Zatímco Encounter byl v roce 1912 předán australskému královskému námořnictvu, křižník Challenger byl převeden do rezervy. Za první světové války byl Encounter reaktivován. Nejprve operoval v Atlantiku. V roce 1914 se podílel na blokádě německého lehkého křižníku SMS Konigsberg v deltě africké řeky Rufiji. Následně až do konce války sloužil v západní Africe. [2] Vyřazen byl roku 1919. [1]

HMAS Encounter do služby vstoupil 1. července 1912 jako vůbec první australský křižník. [3] První dva roky sloužil především k výcviku. Za světové války operoval v Pacifiku. Dne 12. srpna 1914 zajal německý parník Zambezi. Dne 24. dubna 1915 zajal německý škuner Elfrede. Od ledna do září 1920 křižník opět sloužil jako cvičná loď. Od roku 1923 sloužil jako mateřská loď ponorek a plovoucí kasárna Penguin. Definitivně byl vyřazen 15. srpna 1929. V roce 1932 byl potopen poblíž Sydney. [3]

Ships similar to or like HMS Minerva (1895)

Protected cruiser built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1890s. Commissioned at Chatham on 16 February 1900 by Captain Henry Baynes, to take out reliefs for HMS Ringarooma, HMS Boomerang and HMS Torch serving on the Australia Station, and left Plymouth two weeks later on 27 February 1900. Wikipedia

Protected cruiser built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1890s. Eclipse-class second-class protected cruisers were preceded by the shorter Astraea-class cruisers. Wikipedia

Protected cruiser built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1890s. Eclipse-class second-class protected cruisers were preceded by the shorter Astraea-class cruisers. Wikipedia

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Protected cruiser built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1890s. One of nine Eclipse-class cruisers built in the years 1896-99, which were the direct successor to the Astraea class. Wikipedia

One of three Highflyer-class protected cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the 1890s. Initially assigned to the Channel Fleet, she spent much of her early career as flagship for the East Indies Station. Wikipedia

The Eclipse-class cruisers were a class of nine second-class protected cruisers constructed for the Royal Navy in the mid-1890s. These ships were enlarged and improved versions of the preceding Astraea class. Wikipedia

The lead ship of the protected cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the 1890s. She spent her early career as flagship for the East Indies and North America and West Indies Stations. Wikipedia

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One of eight protected cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the 1890s. Assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet where she helped to escort a royal yacht during its cruise through the Mediterranean Sea. Wikipedia

The Highflyer-class cruisers were a group of three second-class protected cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the late 1890s. The Highflyer-class cruisers were essentially repeats of the previous, albeit with a more powerful armament and propulsion machinery. Wikipedia

Protected cruiser built for the Royal Navy in the late 1890s. Decommissioned in 1904 after only a single foreign deployment. Wikipedia

The second and last of the protected cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the 1890s. She served on the China Station and provided landing parties and guns which participated in the Siege and Relief of Ladysmith in the Second Boer War in South Africa. Wikipedia

Topaze-class protected cruiser built for the Royal Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. Sold for scrap in 1921. Wikipedia

Armored cruiser built for the Royal Italian Navy in the 1890s. The ship made several deployments to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Levant before the start of the Italo-Turkish War of 1911–12. Wikipedia

Class of four protected cruisers built for the British Royal Navy at the end of the 1890s. One ship,, lost following a collision with a merchant ship in 1908, while saw active service in the First World War, taking part in the Zeebrugge Raid in April 1918 before being sunk as a blockship during the Second Ostend Raid in May 1918. Wikipedia

The lead ship of her class of two protected cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the 1890s. Initially assigned to the China Station and then provided landing parties which fought in the Siege of Ladysmith of 1899–1900 during the Second Boer War. Wikipedia

One of seven armoured cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1880s. Assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1889 and remained there until 1893 when she returned home. Wikipedia

The Challenger-class cruisers were a pair of second-class protected cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. Later transferred to the Royal Australian Navy. Wikipedia

Armoured cruiser built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1900s. Before the First World War, she served with the Home Fleet, generally as the flagship of a cruiser squadron. Wikipedia

Protected cruiser built for the Royal Navy in the 1880s. Placed in reserve upon her completion in 1888 and was converted into a submarine depot ship in 1903. Wikipedia

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Mid to late 1900s [ edit | edit source ]

After the 1930s "builders holiday," the USN commissioned ten more battleships of an entirely new style, the so-called fast battleship. These ships began with BB-55 North Carolina and the last ship laid down was BB-66 Kentucky (the last completed ship was BB-64 Wisconsin). These ships were a nearly clean break from previous American design practices. All ten ships were built to a Panamax design (technically post-Panamax, as they exceeded normal Panamax beam by two feet, but they were still able to transit the canal). They were fast battleships, and could travel with the aircraft carriers at cruising speed (their speed was not intended for that role, but rather so they could run down and destroy enemy battlecruisers). They possessed almost completely homogenous main armament (nine 16" guns in each ship, the sole difference being an increase in length from 45 to 50 calibers with the Iowa class vessels), very high speed relative to other American designs (28 knots in the North Carolina and South Dakota classes, 33 in the Iowa class), and moderate armor. The North Carolinas were of particular concern, as their protection was rated as only "adequate" against the 16" superheavy weapon. They had been designed with, and armored against, a battery of three quadruple 14" guns, then changed to triple 16" guns after the escalator clause in the Second London Naval Treaty had been triggered. Secondary in these ships was almost homogenous as well: Except for South Dakota, configured as a flagship, the other nine ships of this group sported a uniform 20-gun 5" secondary battery (South Dakota deleted two 5" mounts to make room for flag facilities). Visually, the World War II ships are distinguished by their triple-turret arrangement and the massive columnar mast that dominates their superstructure. The last ship, Wisconsin (BB-64), commissioned in 1944 (Wisconsin was approved last however, Missouri commissioned 3 months later, due to delays from additional aircraft carrier construction). Missouri (BB-63), famous for being the ship on which the Japanese instrument of surrender was signed, was the last battleship in the world to decommission on 31 March 1992. Seven of these ten ships are still in existence. South Dakota, Washington and Indiana were scrapped, but the remainder are now museum ships. There was intended to be another class of five of these ships, the Montana class (BB-67 Montana through BB-71 Louisiana), but they were canceled before being laid down in favor of a greater number of aircraft carriers. The Montana class ships would have been built to a 60,000-ton post-Panamax design, and carried a greater number of guns (12x 16") and heavier armor than the other ships otherwise they would have been homogenous with the rest of the World War II battleships.

In October 2006, the last battleships, (USS Iowa and USS Wisconsin), were stricken from the Naval Registry.

Main Battery

Originally, all ships carried a mixed main battery mounted on the uppermost deck of the ship:

  • Five 6-in Q.F. Mark II Guns on P.II Mountings, [2] 200 rounds allocated per gun [3]
  • Six 4.7-in Q.F. Mark IV Guns on P.IV Mountings, [4] 250 rounds per gun [5]

With the exception of Eclipse all were re-armed with a single gun main battery (for dates see individual ships):

  • Eleven 6-in B.L. Mark VII Guns on P.III U.D. Mountings, [6] 200 rounds per gun. [7] Maximum elevation of 15 degrees, maximum depression 7 degrees, with a range dial graduation limited to 11,300 yards/14.5 degrees elevation. [8]

Secondary Battery

  • Eight 12-pdr 12 cwt Q.F. Guns on S.II Mountings, [9] 250 rounds per gun, these guns were also provided with blank charges for saluting. [10] Maximum elevation of 20 degrees, maximum depression 10 degrees, with a range dial graduation limited to 8,100 yards/19 degrees 15 seconds elevation. [11]

Other Guns

By 1914 the minor armament was:

  • One 12-pdr 8 cwt Q.F. Gun on G.I Mounting, with alternative field carriage for landing parties, [12] allocated 300 rounds. [13]
  • One 3-pdr Q.F. Hotchkiss Gun on Recoil Mark I Mounting. [14] Maximum elevation of 25 degrees, maximum depression 30 degrees. This mounting had a simple non-telescopic sight with a range dial graduation limited to 3,400 yards/6 degrees 14 seconds elevation. [15]
  • Two Maxim Guns, with alternative field stands for landing parties. [16][17]


There were three 18-in torpedo tubes, with original torpedo allocation as follows: [18]

  • two submerged tubes with three torpedoes each and one (shared between them) for exercise, depressed 3 degrees and bearing abeam axis of tube was 6 feet below load water line and 10 inches above the deck. [19]
  • one above water stern tube with two torpedoes and one for exercise

Except in time of war, all torpedoes would be stored at the submerged tubes except a single one stored at the stern tube.

In Talbot's trials, she was able to fire from submerged tubes with no deflection while running full speed. Her stern tube appears to have been above-water by design but was firing reliably even when full of water at speed, unlike the Apollo class which found this problematic the same year. [20]

By 1914 the torpedo allocation had been increased to a total of thirteen torpedoes, with the tubes themselves unchanged. [21]

Watch the video: Το Πρωινό. Εκτός τόπου και χρόνου η Ελευθερία Ελευθερίου, δεν μπορούσε να ανέβει ούτε στην καρέκλα