The first years after the conclusion of the London naval agreement of 1930, it caused a massive shift to the construction of light cruisers with 6-inch guns, were relatively quiet. The development of a new (or rather, a revival of the old) class was quite consistent and logical. Would the good old times when making each new project was justified primarily real needs of the fleet, but not artificial limits on the tonnage and caliber of the guns.
But lasted “a period of logic” is very long. In fact, in each of the major Maritime powers of the “powers that be” seamen from the start were thinking about how to build a cruiser for the maximum allowed tonnage of 10 thousand tons, but with armament of 6 inch guns. First the troublemakers were the Japanese, moving from theoretical considerations to implement them. We have already talked about the appearance of the cruisers “Mogami”, artillery which consisted of fifteen powerful 155-mm guns. At the moment the bookmarks they have caused serious headache for the opponents of the rising sun. Because such “light” cruiser had twice the density of fire than the universal British “Leander contains” or their Italian or French colleagues. It is clear that in a battle one on one with the monster of “normal” ships had a Ghost of a chance to survive. It is therefore not surprising that the major potential enemies of Japan, the United States and Britain, immediately began to develop its response to the potential danger, quickly taking shape in the metal on the far Eastern shipyards. No one, of course, did not know about the “knight’s move”, which actually was going to make the subjects of the Mikado, replacing treboradice 155-mm two-gun turrets on 203-mm.
The British seriously began work on her “answer” in 1933, behind the Japanese for almost three years. However, as it seemed, a very specific threat to be able to reflect without any problems. Needed a ship capable of fighting one on one with mnogobrojnim not a man, armed with guns of caliber up to 155 mm, This cruiser could be good to protect from enemy fire—a task virtually impossible in the case of the existence of that 8-inch guns. Initially, the Admiralty found it possible to create a project with a displacement of only about 8,000 tons, armed with twelve 6-dyuymovymi, besides covered against projectiles of the same caliber at almost all distances.
The basis was taken a good universal cruiser “Amphion”, where two-gun turret was replaced with trichoroethylene and at the same time intensified the reservation. The Admiralty has also demanded that on Board there were five seaplanes—new fashion, actively implements in the mid 1930-ies in all countries. It is clear that when such queries in real projects there are few things from the prototype, except that echelon location of boiler and turbine departments. The designers presented to the sailors a few projects with a displacement of 7800 to 88 835 tons, and, to the surprise of the first, future owners chose the most difficult to allow even more to increase it, but to strengthen anti-aircraft armament.
New large-scale light cruiser of traditional names of cities in the UK than would have emphasized their continuity with respect to predecessors of the “town”, built shortly before the First world war and became in time a kind of “battleships” among the light cruisers. Although the displacement has been contained at 9100 tons, the cost of large 152-mm cruisers were virtually the same as “Washington” “County.” This is not surprising when you consider that they are well in line with the new requirements and were much more “loaded” equipment, antiaircraft artillery and deck hydroaviation. Latest first in England comfortable again was a place in special hangars, located on either side of the front chimney. For the first time on British cruisers appeared treboradice towers before not too favorite gunners “mistress of the seas”. Indeed, their introduction has not been without rough spots. Despite the attempt to use as many mechanical and even automatic operations, the lion’s share of work remained for the sailor’s hands. The shells were manually transferred from the turret compartments directly to the guns, was manually driven into the barrel and swab doulamis, almost as in the days of sailing ships. To ensure at least a minimum ease of maintenance, the barrel secondary gun in each tower shifted backward relative to the extreme by almost a metre, to make people less interfere with each other. (No wonder the gunners were wary of such installations.) Not surprisingly, in the end, instead of ambitiously stated rate of fire in 12 rounds per minute in practice, managed to shoot only twice slower. Completed the “holes” in the artillery part of the traditional lack of reservation: walls and roof of the towers were still made of 25 mm sheet, nullifying the good security of the ship. Because the Board has really got a serious cover-up of the 114-mm belt, stretching for more than half the length of the hull along the engine and boiler rooms. The cellar, located below the water line, defended “boxes” with walls of the same thickness. In addition to the towers, looked weak horizontal protection, although theoretically a 32-mm deck is penetrated by six-inch only at very high for cruising the fighting distances of about 8 miles.
Drawbacks have been eliminated on the last three ships in the series, “Manchester”, “Liverpool” and “Gloucester”. The thickness of the front plates of the towers brought to 102 mm, and the roof as the armored deck, up to 51 mm. oddly at first glance, this is a noticeable improvement was worth only 300 tons displacement, and at the expense of increase of power turbine speed even managed to slightly increase.
All of the “city” has been very solid at the time anti-aircraft artillery. But if eight trunks medium 102-mm caliber by the time it was difficult to surprise, for example, those of the Italians, light anti-aircraft guns produced vnushitelnye impression. Two four-barrel 40-mm “POM-POM” took pride of place with good angles of fire and not only looked menacing, but also gave hope to meet an air attack from the middle distance. For the first time the British anti-aircraft guns got a good fire control system, and the second “city” series, the number of control stations has been increased from two to three.
In General, large light cruiser proved to be quite successful. By the middle of 1930-ies, the British had learned to meet the design tons. Moreover, the use of welding and strict discipline during the construction led to the fact that the displacement was a little less than the project. This left the possibility for future upgrades, which was not slow to follow with the beginning of the war. On the “town” repeatedly changed and strengthened anti-aircraft weapons, setting new guns—20-mm “erlikon” 40 mm “Bofors”. Not just “refreshed” and radar equipment, and the number of radars by the end of the war reached five, six and even eight installations for various purposes. Englishmen with respect and love for its modern large light cruisers and sought to maintain them in shape. It is interesting that towards the end of hostilities almost all the surviving units withdrew lofty turret, leaving the giants with only nine guns. But did all this quite deliberately: field experiments, including in combat, testified that this number of trunks is enough—when you have a good fire control system. But took the place of the six-inch turret anti-aircraft machine guns proved very popular at the end of the war, when the British, who returned to the far East, had to deal with Japanese kamikaze.