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L and M class destroyer

L and M class destroyer

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The L and M class was a class
Ship class
A ship class is a group of ships of a similar design. This is distinct from a ship-type, which might reflect a similarity of tonnage or intended use. For example, the is a nuclear aircraft carrier of the Nimitz class....

 of sixteen destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

s which served in the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The ships of the class were launched between 1939 and 1942.

Design details

The armament of the class was subject of considerable debate, as the proponents of heavier anti-aircraft armaments for such vessels were at last beginning to be listened to by the Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

. This came mainly as a result of the lessons learned during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

- i.e., military aircraft
Military aircraft
A military aircraft is any fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft that is operated by a legal or insurrectionary armed service of any type. Military aircraft can be either combat or non-combat:...

 were now sufficiently advanced to pose a major threat to land and sea targets.

The ships of the L and M class had single funnels, like the previous J class, a tripod foremast and a short mainmast just aft of amidships. One feature of note was the bridge design. From the I class
I class destroyer
The I class was a class of eight destroyers plus a flotilla leader of the British Royal Navy ordered under the 1935 naval programme, laid down in 1936 and completed in 1937 and 1938...

 to the Weapon class
Weapon class destroyer
The Weapon class was a class of destroyers built for the British Royal Navy towards the end of World War II. They were the smaller counterpart to the Battle class and were the first new destroyer designs for the Royal Navy since the Second World War Emergency Programme...

, all Royal Navy destroyers shared a distinctive wedge-shaped face to the bridge, incorporating a bulletproof wheelhouse, raised in order that the helmsman could see over the guns. The increased height of the new gunhouses of the L class meant that the wheelhouse was raised further, and the sloped roof of the wheelhouse (to direct the airflow over the compass platform) was almost flat. This feature was unique to the L and M's.

As ordered, the class comprised a leader and 7 destroyers. Each ship was to mount six 4.7 inches (119.4 mm) guns and 8 torpedo tube
Torpedo tube
A torpedo tube is a device for launching torpedoes. There are two main types of torpedo tube: underwater tubes fitted to submarines and some surface ships, and deck-mounted units installed aboard surface vessels...

s. Close range armament had still to be decided, with the expected time of delivery being a crucial factor.

They were the first British destroyers to have their guns in fully enclosed mountings. They also continued the practice (first introduced in the Js) of making the leader almost indistinguishable from the rest of the class, having only more extensive cabin accommodation and better radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 (W/T - "wireless telegraph") equipment

Main armament

As ordered, the ships were to have six QF Mark XI 4.7 inches (119.4 mm) guns in Mark XX twin mountings in 'A', 'B', and 'X' positions. The 'X' mount gave an estimated arc of fire of 320 degrees at low elevations and 360 degrees at elevations above around 20 degrees. The Mark XI gun itself was a major improvement on the previous version in that it threw a 62 lb (28.1 kg) shell (compared to the 50 lb (23 kg) shell in the preceding 'J's). The Mark XX mount was fully enclosed and supposedly weatherproof; in service, crews found otherwise. It also allowed the guns to be elevated independently. The Mark XX was not technically a turret, as the ammunition feed system was distinct from the weapon mounting, and did not train with the revolving mass. This meant that ammunition supply when the guns were at the limit of training was somewhat difficult. This also meant that the ammunition hoists had to be located between the guns just as in the USN 5" guns. As a result, the axes of the guns were very widely spaced, a feature instantly obvious with the Mark XX mounting.

The Mark XX mounting permitted an increased elevation to 50 degrees (compared to 40 for previous marks). However, this still limited the engagement time against enemy aircraft, although medium calibre guns posed little threat to dive bomber
Dive bomber
A dive bomber is a bomber aircraft that dives directly at its targets in order to provide greater accuracy for the bomb it drops. Diving towards the target reduces the distance the bomb has to fall, which is the primary factor in determining the accuracy of the drop...

s prior to the use of radar proximity fuzed ammunition. The Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...

 had already introduced a 5-inch (127 mm) gun with 70 degree elevation into service which had very poor performance, as an anti-aircraft weapon, while the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

's 5"/38 cal Mark 32 mount could elevate to 85 degrees. The 4.5-inch (114 mm) guns fitted to Ark Royal
HMS Ark Royal (91)
HMS Ark Royal was an aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy that served during the Second World War.Designed in 1934 to fit the restrictions of the Washington Naval Treaty, Ark Royal was built by Cammell Laird and Company, Ltd. at Birkenhead, England, and completed in November 1938. Her design...

 were already in service and capable of elevations of 80 degrees, although the mountings were not suitable for a destroyer-size ship. Coupled with the lack of powered elevation, the Mark XX mounting was compromised in its chosen anti-aircraft role, although it compared favourably with any similar weapon in the Axis inventory.

Another development regarding the main armament was the adoption of a combined High Angle / Low Angle director tower, the HA/LA Mk.IV (TP). Unfortunately this was never entirely satisfactory in the HA mode, and was at least a ton overweight. It was later reworked, somewhat unsuccessfully again, as the Mk.I "K tower" of the Z class
W and Z class destroyer
The W and Z class was a class of sixteen destroyers of the Royal Navy launched in 1943–1944. They were constructed as two flotillas, with names beginning with "W-" and "Z-", respectively, although, like the preceding U and V class, two of the flotilla leaders were named after historical naval...

. These ships used the Fuze Keeping Clock
Fuze Keeping Clock
The Fuze Keeping Clock was a simplified version of the Royal Navy's High Angle Control System analogue fire control computer. It first appeared as the FKC Mk1 in destroyers of the 1938 Tribal class, while later variants were used on sloops, frigates, destroyers, aircraft carriers and several...

 HA Fire Control Computer. Despite its problems, the L and M class' director tower and its Type 285 radar provided better high angle fire control than any similar Axis destroyer, the vast majority of which did not have any high angle fire control system, much less a dedicated AA fire control radar.

As originally ordered, the class had no close-range armament at all, as the various departments could not agree on what to fit. Arguments as to one or two 4-barrelled 2 pdr "pom poms"
QF 2 pounder naval gun
The 2-pounder gun, officially designated the QF 2-pounder and universally known as the pom-pom, was a 1.575 inch British autocannon, used famously as an anti-aircraft gun by the Royal Navy. The name came from the sound that the original models make when firing...

, one pom-pom and one of the 0.661 inches (16.8 mm) multiple machine guns then in development, one pom-pom and the traditional 0.5-inch (12.7 mm) Vickers machine gun raged as to the effectiveness of all three weapons. the argument was stoked by the manufacturing schedules (a second pom-pom per ship would not be available until 1942), the poor performance of the development models of the 0.661 and the campaign by a number of younger officers (led by Lord Louis Mountbatten) . Eventually, development of the 0.661 was dropped as it clearly would not be available and effective in a sensible timescale, this simplified the arguments somewhat.

The outbreak of war focused minds. Apart from the AA armament issue concerns started to be raised about progress generally. By February 1940 the two factors led to a proposal to change the design of four of the 'L's and fit a main armament of 4-in (102mm) Mark XVI* guns in Mark XIX High Angle/Low Angle (HA/LA) twin mounts as used as secondary armament in the Southampton-class cruisers already in service and main armament in the Black Swan class
Black Swan class sloop
The Black Swan class and Modified Black Swan class were two classes of sloop of the Royal Navy and Royal Indian Navy. Thirteen Black Swans were launched between 1939 and 1943, including four for the Royal Indian Navy; twenty-four Modified Black Swans were launched between 1942 and 1945, including...

 of sloops then under construction. Associated changes were provision of two quadruple 0.5-inch (12.7 mm) machine guns. All ships of this class except Lightning and Laforey carried a 4 barrel 2 pdr Pom-pom.

The lessons of the Norwegian campaign
Norwegian Campaign
The Norwegian Campaign was a military campaign that was fought in Norway during the Second World War between the Allies and Germany, after the latter's invasion of the country. In April 1940, the United Kingdom and France came to Norway's aid with an expeditionary force...

 and at Dunkirk
Battle of Dunkirk
The Battle of Dunkirk was a battle in the Second World War between the Allies and Germany. A part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation of British and allied forces in Europe from 26 May–4 June 1940.After the Phoney War, the Battle of...

 drove home the need for this change and it was agreed in July 1940, there were also to be four of the twin mounts instead of the originally proposed three. The fourth was to be at the forward end of the after superstructure which cut down on the fire arcs of both mounts but ensured the fourth would still be available for use in heavy weather.

Not all senior officers were in favour, and some openly expressed opinions it would mean the ships could not successfully fight their foreign equivalents. Experience in the Mediterranean, especially that of Force K
Force K
Force K was the designation for three British Royal Navy task forces during World War II. The first Force K operated from West Africa in 1939. The second and third Force Ks operated from Malta in 1941-1943.-First Force K:...

 which contained two of the 4-inch (102 mm) 'L's, showed that the loss of gun power against surface targets was balanced against a higher rate of fire.

Review of AA armament continued, and in October a decision was taken to remove the after bank of torpedo tubes and fit a single 4-inch (102 mm) HA gun instead, and that is how the 4.7 inches (119.4 mm) gunned ships eventually got to sea, although some surviving ships, including Matchless and Marne had the after tubes replaced later in the war.

L class

The L class (also known as the Laforeys) were approved under the 1937 Naval Estimates. Four of these ships (Lance, Lively, Legion and Larne) were built with 4 inches (101.6 mm) armament. Six of the eight were war losses, with the surviving pair being broken up in 1948.
  • Laforey
    HMS Laforey (G99)
    HMS Laforey was a L class destroyer of the Royal Navy. She was commissioned in and served during the Second World War, and was torpedoed and sunk by a U-boat in 1944...

    , flotilla leader
    Flotilla leader
    A flotilla leader was a warship suitable for commanding a flotilla of destroyers or other small warships, typically a small cruiser or a large destroyer...

    , built by Yarrow & Company, Scotstoun
    Scotstoun is a historic district of Glasgow, Scotland, west of Glasgow City Centre. It is bounded by Yoker and Knightswood to the west, Victoria Park, Broomhill and Whiteinch to the east, Jordanhill to the north and the River Clyde to the south...

    , laid down 1 March 1939, launched 15 February 1941 and completed 26 August 1941. Lost on 30 March 1944.
  • Lance
    HMS Lance (G87)
    HMS Lance was an L-class destroyer of the Royal Navy. She entered service during World War II, and had a short but eventful career, serving in Home waters and the Mediterranean Sea. She was damaged in two consecutive air attacks at Malta in 1942. She was towed back to Britain, declared a...

    , built by Yarrow, laid down 1 March 1939, launched 28 November 1940 and completed 13 May 1941. Lost on 9 April 1942.
  • Gurkha
    HMS Gurkha (G63)
    HMS Gurkha was an L class destroyer in Britain's Royal Navy during World War II. She was originally to be named Larne in line with her class letter...

    , originally named Larne but renamed (after the loss of the former Gurkha
    HMS Gurkha (F20)
    HMS Gurkha was a Tribal class destroyer that saw active service in the Norway Campaign in 1940, where she was sunk.Gurkha served with the 4th Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean where she was involved in exercises and port visits until the outbreak of war...

     on 9 April 1940), built by Cammell Laird & Company, Birkenhead
    Birkenhead is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in Merseyside, England. It is on the Wirral Peninsula, along the west bank of the River Mersey, opposite the city of Liverpool...

    , laid down 18 October 1938, launched 8 July 1940 and completed 18 February 1941. Lost on 17 January 1942.
  • Lively
    HMS Lively (G40)
    HMS Lively was an L-class destroyer of the Royal Navy.She served during the Second World War, and was sunk in the Mediterranean in an air attack on 11 May 1942....

    , built by Cammell Laird, laid down 20 December 1938, launched 28 January 1941 and completed 20 July 1941. Lost on 11 May 1942.
  • Legion, built by Hawthorn Leslie & Company, Hebburn
    Hebburn is a small town situated on the south bank of the River Tyne in North East England, sandwiched between the towns of Jarrow and Bill Quay...

    , laid down 1 November 1938, launched 26 December 1939 and completed 19 December 1940. Lost on 26 March 1942.
  • Lightning
    HMS Lightning (G55)
    HMS Lightning was an L-class destroyer of the Royal Navy. She was launched on 22 April 1940 and sunk on 12 March 1943 by German Motor Torpedo Boat S-55....

    , built by Hawthorn Leslie, laid down 15 November 1938, launched 22 April 1940 and completed 28 May 1941. Lost on 12 March 1943.
  • Lookout, built by Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Company, Greenock
    Greenock is a town and administrative centre in the Inverclyde council area in United Kingdom, and a former burgh within the historic county of Renfrewshire, located in the west central Lowlands of Scotland...

    , laid down 23 November 1938, launched 4 November 1940 and completed 30 January 1942. Broken up 1948.
  • Loyal
    HMS Loyal (G15)
    HMS Loyal was a L-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy in the late 1930s, although she was not completed until after World War II had begun.-External links:...

    , built by Scotts, laid down 23 November 1938, launched 8 October 1941 and completed 31 October 1942. Broken up 1948.

M class

The M Class were built under the 1939 Naval Estimates. They served in the Home Fleet until 1944 and then went to the Mediterranean. Three were wartime losses; of the five survivors, the Musketeer was broken up in 1955 and the other four sold to Turkey in 1958.
  • Milne
    HMS Milne (G14)
    HMS Milne was a M-class destroyer of the Royal Navy which served during World War II.She was built by Scotts, of Greenock, laid down 24 January 1940, launched 30 December 1941 and completed 6 August 1942....

    , built by Scotts, laid down 24 January 1940, launched 30 December 1941 and completed 6 August 1942. Transferred to Turkey 1959 as Alp Arslam.
  • Mahratta
    HMS Mahratta (G23)
    HMS Mahratta was an M-class destroyer of the Royal Navy which served during World War II. Begun as Marksman, she was damaged while under construction, and dismantled to be rebuilt on a new slipway. She was launched as Mahratta in 1942, completed in 1943, and quickly pressed into service...

    , originally named Marksman, built by Scotts, laid down 7 July 1939, but was severely damaged by air attack on the shipyard in May 1941 while nearing launch. She had to be dismantled and laid down on a separate slipway, and was finally launched 28 July 1942 (when renaming took place) and completed in 1943. Sunk by T5 (FAT acoustic torpedo) fired by U-990 and sank quickly in position 71.17N 13.30E in Barents Sea on 25 February 1944. Only 17 out of a total of over 217 in the ship’s company were rescued by HMS Impulsive.
  • Musketeer
    HMS Musketeer (G86)
    HMS Musketeer was a M-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy during World War II.-External links:...

    , built by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company, Govan
    Govan is a district and former burgh now part of southwest City of Glasgow, Scotland. It is situated west of Glasgow city centre, on the south bank of the River Clyde, opposite the mouth of the River Kelvin and the district of Partick....

    , laid down 7 December 1939, launched 2 December 1941 and completed 5 December 1942. Broken up at Sunderland 6 December 1955.
  • Myrmidon built by Fairfield, laid down 7 December 1939, launched 2 March 1942 and completed 5 December 1942. Loaned to the Polish Navy and renamed ORP Orkan. Sunk by torpedo from U-boat in the North Atlantic on 8 October 1943.
  • Matchless
    HMS Matchless (G52)
    HMS Matchless was a M-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy during World War II.-External links:...

    , built by Alexander Stephen & Sons, Linthouse
    Linthouse is a district in the Scottish city of Glasgow. It is situated south of the River Clyde. It is immediately west of Govan, and although it is often referred to locally as 'Govan' due to its closeness, it is in fact a distinct area .Linthouse was home to the shipbuilder...

    , laid down 14 September 1940, launched 4 September 1941 and completed 26 February 1942. Transferred to Turkey 1959 as Kilicali Pasha.
  • Meteor
    HMS Meteor (G74)
    HMS Meteor was a M-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy during World War II.-External links:...

    , built by Stephen, laid down 14 September 1940, launched 3 November 1941 and completed 12 August 1942. Transferred to Turkey 1959 as Piyale Pasha.
  • Marne
    HMS Marne (G35)
    HMS Marne was an M-class destroyer of the Royal Navy commissioned on 2 December 1941. She was built by Vickers-Armstrongs at High Walker Yard, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, and saw service in the Atlantic theatre of World War II....

    , built by Vickers-Armstrongs, Walker
    Walker, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Walker is a residential suburb and electoral ward just east of the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Walker's name is a hybrid of Old English and Viking Norse, "Wall-kjerr", where "kjerr" is Norse for "marshy woodland"...

    , laid down 23 October 1939, launched 30 October 1940 and completed 2 December 1941. Transferred to Turkey 1959 as Maresal Fevzi Cakmak.
  • Martin
    HMS Martin (G44)
    HMS Martin was an M-class destroyer of the Royal Navy, launched at the Tyneside yard of Vickers-Armstrongs on 12 December 1940. She had a busy but brief wartime career, being sunk by U-431 on 10 November 1942 off Algiers.-Convoy PQ17:...

    , built by Vickers-Armstrongs, laid down 23 October 1939, launched 12 December 1940 and completed 4 August 1942. Sunk by torpedo from U-boat in the Western Mediterranean on 10 November 1942.

External links