London Class, British Heavy Cruisers

Photograph of HMS London

Imperial War Museum #FL-2968. Via Wikimedia Commons


Tonnage 9850 tons standard displacement
Dimensions 632'8" by 66'0" by 20'9"
192.8m by 20.12m by 6.32m
Maximum speed       32.3 knots
Complement 784
1 seaplane
1 catapult
Armament 4x2 8"/50 guns
8x1 4"/45 dual-purpose guns
4x1, 2x8 2pdr AA guns
2x4 0.50 machine guns
2x4 21" torpedo tubes
Protection 1" (25mm) belt and bulkheads (machinery)
1.25" (32mm) deck (machinery)
4" armor + 0.35" plate/3" (102mm armor + 9mm plate/76mm) magazine vertical/horizontal box
1.5" (38mm) deck (steering)
1" (25mm) turrets
1" (25mm) barbettes
4-shaft Parsons geared turbine (80,000 hp)
8 Admiralty 3-drum boilers
Bunkerage 3190 tons fuel oil
Range 9120 nautical miles (16,900km) at 12 knots
Type 281 radar
Devonshire: By 1942-4: added  6x1 20mm Oerlikon AA guns. End of 1942: single 4" guns replaced by twin 4" guns and two additional single 20mm guns. Added Type 293 radar. 1943: 0.50 machine guns and 6x1 20mm guns replaced by 2x4 2pdr and 12x2 20mm guns. April 1944: Light armament now 6x4 2pdr, 7x2 20mm guns, 12x1 20mm guns, radar 281a, 282, 283, 285, and one 8" turret and aircraft removed.

London: By 1943-6: Added 3.5" (89mm) belt armor. Added 7x1 20mm guns. Aircraft removed. Added Type 273 radar. End of 1943: Removed 3x1 20mm, added 4x2 20mm. By April 1944: light antiaircraft of 4x2 20mm, 16x1 20mm, 2x8 2pdr. By July 1945: removed 8x2 20mm, added 4x2 20mm and 4x1 40mm Bofors AA guns.

Shropshire: By 1943-6: Replaced single 4" with twin 4". Light antiaircraft included 7x2 20mm, 4x1 20mm. Aircraft and 0.50 machine guns removed. Added Type 271, 281, 282, and 285 radar. April 1944: 2x1 20mm added. Early 1945: added 11x1 40mm Bofors. removed 6x1, 5x2 20mm. Radar 277 fitted. Torpedo tubes and depth charge rails removed. May 1945: 15x1 40mm Bofors added. Added Type 277 radar.

Sussex: By 1943-6: 0.50 machine guns removed. 4" singles replaced by twin 4". Added Type 271, 281, 282, and 285 radar. December 1943: total of 22x2 20mm guns, aircraft removed. June 1944: one 8" turret torpedoes, and 15x1 20mm guns removed. Added 4x8 2pdr and 4x2 20mm and updated radar.

The London class were based on the Kent design. They differed chiefly in the protection scheme, which was lighter and omitted the torpedo bulges, and in the addition of an aircraft catapult. Plans to increase the belt to 3.5" (88mm) had to be postponed at the outbreak of war in Europe. This may have been just as well, since when London herself received the new belt, the weight caused serious hull strain requiring additional major reconstruction work. On the other hand, the original protection was very light for a heavy cruiser.

As with many other classes of ships, the antiaircraft armament and radar were repeatedly updated during the war.

Units in the Pacific:


Arrived 1942-4-22

Withdrawn 1943-4-29

Arrived 1943-3-26
Transferred to Australia 1943-8
Arrived 1944-3


Gogin (2010; accessed 2012-12-28)

Whitley (1995)

Worth (2001)

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