THE LAST EFFORT OF THE EMPIREThe accession of Britain, largely against the will and in a rather unprepared state, in the war with Germany questioned the most promising projects in the field of shipbuilding, related with large artillery ships. The main victim, of course, were the battleships, but got the cruisers. At first, everything was still quite cheerful, the benefit of restricting constructors contractual limitations gone. In early 1940, the Admiralty began development of a new heavy cruiser with three treboradice towers and a displacement of about 15 thousand tons. It was assumed that such a ship can be effectively protected from fire by six-inch with 152-mm armor on the sides and 76 – 63-mm deck.

Much greater attention was paid to careful division into sections mechanical installation, had solid power and is able to provide the speed to 33 knots. So England were finally able to get a very modern and powerful cruiser (though the Achilles heel remained of the tower), but the cost and time of construction, quickly put him on the cross. Engineers began to “compress” the project, gradually reducing the displacement of up to 12.5 first, and then to 11 and 10 thousand tons. To save as the basis now used a slightly modified “Belfast”, which was considered, not without reason, the most modern and strong at the time of the English cruiser. Side armor is gradually “shrunk” to the belfa-stawski same 114 mm, after which the project ceased to please the Admiralty and died somehow by itself. Instead, the British decided to build a hybrid “colonies” (“Fiji” with the company) and the same “Belfast” with a “light” armament of twelve six-inch. However, here the opposite happened: “hybrid child” was bigger than the largest of the “parents” quickly razbuhnut to 13 500 tons. And the project suffered the same fate.

To designers not to lose skill and admirals – demand, and so, and others were “playing at soldiers” is only on paper. But here the limits of imagination lost in a dark gave. In January 1941, at the offices of the Admiralty roamed the plans of the program, including, no less, as six 12-inch super-cruisers in the spirit of the American “Alaska”, eight “simple” heavy cruisers with jasminewebcam and a displacement of about 15,000 tons. And that’s not counting a crowd of light units of grade – advanced “colonies,” and “Dido”! The fate of this manilovism is clear: the drawings and tables went first in a dusty folder, and then “the furnace”.

Not surprisingly, actually during the war, was rebuilt only has a decent exhaust and unpretentious “ordinary soldiers” – the “colony” and “Dido”. However, the plight associated with the Japanese attack on the Imperial possessions in the far East, almost had an effect on them. In 1942, the Admiralty suddenly found that half of the power turbines “Dido” goes to accelerate the vehicle from 28 to 32 knots. And then came the idea: why not cut mechanical up to half, saving on machinery and boilers, and displacement in General? So almost appeared quite “skimpy” cruiser, which had only three or four 133 mm Sparky and modest speed, allowing to follow is that the battleships and merchant ships. Still, common sense prevailed: the British realized that this “stub” will not be able to cover 32 – 33-hub carriers, which gradually became the main force of the sea. This project “for the poor” followed their ambitious predecessors.

Despite bitter evidence, imagination admirals and designers did not die for the whole war. Created in the middle of the war “Committee on the future of shipbuilding” in 1944, has labored very strange “concept”: a small light cruiser 6 – 7 thousand tons with a speed of 32 knots and armed with three two-gun 133-mm of towers and two platetronic(!) the torpedo tubes. When clearly the “leadership” focus initially envisaged decent armor protection and, optionally, a “stealthy” low profile. However, and then without much ADO, it turned out that the armor does not fit in the allotted tonnage.

In General, small universal cruiser defense for a long six-year war was for the British all the time-elusive obsession. The lack of ships of this kind are clear: they are needed in all theaters. Therefore, the British did not only redraw the existing drawings, but also carefully picked up the bottom of the barrel all that could be used quickly and inexpensively. So, got under a hand turbine intended for delivery to the USSR for installation in the new Soviet leaders in 1939. After the conclusion of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the designers quickly built around them a kind of air defense cruiser with a displacement of 5,800 tons, with a questionable speed of 29 knots and armed with eight 114-millimetrovogo (by analogy with the “little monsters” “Scylla” and “Charybdis”), pairs beauty of the “POM-pomo” and the same number of three-pipe torpedo tubes. From the birth of this “ersatz” saved by the absence of boilers, and the reluctance of confrontation with the Soviet Union, which is gradually more considered as a potential ally.

After a long and meager war years, full of barren delights and shipbuilding significant losses, England met the end of the Second world war in a rather strange condition. Technically still the second naval power of the world, moreover, has lost all of its European competitors, the Empire is not experienced elation definite winner. Finance and economy were in collapse, the country several years longer than the Soviet Union! – had to live on cards. Now I had to get out of the “military hole” everyone, including fleet in its composition and cruising forces, then still one of the most important components of the marine power.

At first glance, dealing with them was not so bad. In the ranks of the fell ten heavy cruisers, already quite old, but modernization of the past, as well as the remains of a series of light units times the 1930-ies: a couple of little “arethus” and five “Leander contains” six strongest “cities”. But the basis of the relics were two big series, developed before the war and completed her year: by 11 units of type “Dido” and “Fiji”. A total of 45 cruisers: big power, able to deal with the whole of the former Soviet cruise fleet. In addition, nine ships were on the stocks in various stages of construction. Six of them, “Neptune” with friends, belonged to the type “improved “Fiji””. Three was supposed to be their further development. They also received names.

But have all this Armada has become virtually impossible. The British did not have enough sailors to crew (or rather, the money to pay for their content), and in the late 1950s, many cruisers simply could not go to sea for lack of fuel reserves. In addition, the immediate threat to the sea was observed. The first years of the cold war, both warring parties “brave new world” managed to slip through without extraordinary global bloodshed. In England in 1948, the representative Commission on the basis of survey data found that war with the Soviet Union until 1957, will not. In addition, it was believed that in the future the main threat will be to present Soviet submarines. In connection with these considerations turned out to be quite reasonable, began the reduction of the fleet, including, if not primarily, cruising. In 1948 was supposed to leave 20 units of the class in the following – 18, and in 1950 for active service really was only 15, though a dozen was still in reserve. As you approach the moment themselves appointed “doomsday” – 1957 – claims we squeezed as shred pebbled leather. In 1956 they amounted to just eight cruisers. Such forces could not ensure a landslide victory in one theater, not to mention the traditional protection of the Imperial sea routes. Because military types are cruisers already a little in line with the new requirements and trends, and most of them went into reserve or scrapped, a further pause was becoming quite obscene. Strengthening is now needed immediately. And it’s finally ripe.

Over the years, the technique of arms does not stand still. Since Britain was not going to abandon the role of a great power, she needed to match his now senior ally, the U.S., and a rapidly growing enemy, the Soviet Union. The British, with this in mind, gradually began to establish a modern cruiser in the early 1950s.

The highlight of the ship was supposed to be new weapons and equipment. Looking at the American “big brother” is actively implementing a fully mechanized and automated artillery of medium caliber, the British decided to do the same. In 1949 it was decided to develop two “machines” – 152-mm caliber and 76-mm anti-aircraft. It was assumed that the new six-inch guns water-cooled guns can give 20 shots per minute, and anti – aircraft guns- as much as 120! And – Oh, miracle! after several years of hard work and testing task managed to do. Almost: in reality, the rate miracle trehdyuymovok not exceed 90 rounds per minute, which, however, cannot be called insufficient.

It would seem that the sharp decline in the number of artillery guns and destruction with new cruisers such obsolete weapons as numerous anti-aircraft machine guns, seaplane and torpedo tubes, and thus deprived of work serving sailors, would lead to increase in free space. However, in practice, turned out to be nearly the opposite. The crew of nearly 900 people, all people, devices and instruments, despite the vast superstructure, I had to hustle. The correspondent of the humorous magazine “punch” wrote about his visit to “tiger”: “Its body is launched at the end of the war, and all the past 13 years, experts in various fields (artillery, mechanics, radar, electrical, radio, anti-nuclear protection, cooking, Laundry business, street machines) relentlessly thought about how to fill it. As a result, he is now filled not only to the main deck, but with all the numerous add-ins, logging, turrets and outbuildings. Filled with so much that many areas and are a real trap where you can only get out the ladder leading to a small hatch, through which you get squeezed into a narrow corridor where overhead smeyatsa 350 cables.”


Indeed, the contents of the “old skins” (all three tunable cruiser “tiger”, “lion” and “Blake”, was laid down in 1941 and 1942) “new wine” occurred very slowly. Although the water first went “lion” (in September 1944) first began to “treat” the “tiger”. But he stood at the wall for nine long years, before it began to work on the completion and installation of just ripened weapons and equipment. In the end I commissioned it in 1959. And the record for the duration of construction was the “Blake” in the work (with huge breaks “for the war” and “to think”) is almost 19 years!

In the end, it seemed that the British got what they wanted. They managed to create a modern cruiser with automatic guns, comparable and even superior to the us. Only here it is worth noting that the light they appeared much later “Worce-stera” and “Roanoke” and weighs minute salvo was less than half of that of “Americans.” Yes, the British ships had a very good for its time, communications and detection of surface and air targets. Their towers could aim and shoot from the command post, which has turned the cabin and controlled by Autonomous systems. But it may be noted that firepower they are only equivalent to the Soviet “Sverdlov”, albeit not having a 6-inch rifles, but possessed of three times a large number of trunks. And, most importantly, in essence, the new “British” were not so much. To find a similar opponent would be difficult: Americans hardly would have let his former teachers to fight against the Soviet Union alone. Their powerful quick-firing artillery, the dream of every commander and Admiral during the war, in the era of jet aviation became unpopular atavism. Could only hunt for destroyers and other “trifle”, as well as the shelling of shore facilities – a task for which such a sophisticated military machine was totally unnecessary. The situation looked almost tragic: created with such difficulty and expenditure of time and money the ships were waiting for the unenviable fate – departure to the reserve and then scrapped almost immediately after joining the system.

Saved them extensive facilities and excellent equipment, much needed for the team composition (and much-loved them). Cruiser decided to use as a flagship operation. In 1964 the project was ready to modernize, after which the once proud and quite beautiful ships had become very ugly. They lost the aft turret and a pair of side 76 mm installations, and the whole back end took some semblance of a flight deck and a huge box of the hangar. It was supposed to accommodate four large helicopter “Wessex” (actually in the hangar were only three, the fourth time it was only on the deck). All the artillery was left in the nose: one 152-mm and 76-mm turret, to it was added a couple of installations of anti-aircraft short-range missiles “sea cat”, which gave a formal basis to carry upgraded “tiger” in the Soviet reference to the ships URO. Although it seems that in this classification omitted the last letter. Indeed, the ugly half-cruiser, half-helicopter just catches the eye.

The first disfigured in this way, “Blake”, who had traditional artillery cruiser only three years. His conversion began in 1965 and completed in 1969. the Second was “tiger”, which “tormented” the next four years. On the “lion” did not have enough money; however, the British had already made sure that the cost of the first two units were unprofitable. Too large and expensive as carriers helicopters and supersaturated weapons for vehicles control, “Blake” and “tiger” were the last generation of “white elephants” in the British Navy. The fate of the “Lyons” can only raise a bitter smile: the cruiser was taken out of the fleet, but not sent to a breaker a few years, during which he diligently “stripped” by sending all suitable equipment modernizirovanniy at the time “tiger”. (Who can sneer at a the British called this “feline hybrid” “Layger”). The remaining pair served until the mid-1980s, years, delighting admirals and several podsekretarza team with his extensive premises, the main post-war shipbuilding deficit. But the team was the main reason that cruisers had to go on scrapping: the most expensive content in the vehicles by the time it became people with their high pay and the increased living standards, which did not want to give up including the military.

It is curious that immeasurably increased since the Second world war, the need for space did not allow the British to carry out a highly original plan of updating its cruising forces. Originally on the model of the “tiger” was intended to modernize the remaining in the ranks of the “Fiji” of all series, including the postwar “superbi”. All they had to get a pair of 152-mm of towers and three 76-mm in the same tie-kirovskomu location. With artillery problems looked challenging, but manageable with the equipment but, rather, a place for him, the situation was very bad. The necessary facilities for fire control systems, communications, the new “electricians” (the automatic setup used alternating current, and the old ships all the generators develop a constant) had to literally squeeze into the existing hull and superstructure. And anyway, the overload was too great, and a programme of modernisation of cruising fleet just buried. The ones who managed to start work, one of the most modern “cruisers old model” – which came into operation after the war “Swiftsure”. For two years, from 1957 to 1959, it was time to rebuild the front extensive add-in and install a lattice mast, but the lack of money did the trick.

Actually, on that and you can finish the story of the British brasero-structure. With the Empire gone and the class of ships, which in previous times it was possible, without exaggeration, be called the “hallmark” of “power over which never the sun went down”.

English designers are left to try to use their ability at least to make money. However, the postwar foreign world increasingly rolled out to “Pax Americana”, where for his ally and rival had less. The British offered were recycled for export options well-established “Dido” and “swiftsure” the biggest countries of Latin America, its longtime customers: Argentina, Chile and Brazil. But ran into the typical “dumping” by the United States, which gave “Brookline” almost nothing, a pair each of the countries, to anybody it was not insulting. The British stayed with the nose. Salesmen from shipbuilding toured all the countries of the continent; the heir to the once suffering from an excess of orders, “Armstrong”, “Vickers”, was ready to adjust to almost any requirements a potential buyer. Such seems to be found, finally, in the face of Venezuela is a typical Latin American “powers of the second rank” experiencing and then, as now, some friction with his super-powerful Northern neighbor.

Designers managed patchnote vanity of the consumer: he was offered a small (about 8,000 tons) cruiser, armed with three automatic, 6-inch miracle Sparky, which provided half more powerful fire compared to the “tiger”. Armament was supplemented with 100 mm guns in odnorodnyh plants have also been developed to export to the Chilean destroyers, able to produce up to 80 rounds per minute and a fully Autonomous 40-mm “bothersome” the latest model with radar control. In General, for the time ship, officially held as a training cruiser (it really was supposed to place a few dozen cadets), looked very impressive. A few spoil the picture that the 152-mm guns and their installation was not yet ready, even for their own cruisers. Then the British offered to supply the ship with a temporary armament, consisting of three towers with 8-dyuymovymi removed from a washed heavy cruisers, and at the first opportunity to replace them with the latest six-inch. As they say, an offer difficult to refuse. However, this nepostroenny the ship bumped into the most dangerous in the world “rock”: Venezuela does not have enough money neither its construction, nor for further content. Moreover, even in such remote areas of the globe clearly showed an understanding that a new era missile.

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