"C" class Light Cruisers
Thanks to Bruce T. Swain for the groundwork :-)
Individual Specification
Name Completed Builders Details
Caledon group
Caledon Mar. 1917 Cammell Laird AA cruiser; Eastern Fleet late ’41; scrapped 1946
Calypso Jun. 1917 Hawthorn Leslie Sunk by Italian submarine Bagnolina off Crete 12 Jun. 1940
Caradoc Jun. 1917 Scotts Eastern Fleet late’41; East Indies Sqdn ’45; scrapped 1946
Cassandra Sept. 1917 Vickers Sunk 4 Dec. 1918, after mined in the Baltic Sea
Cardiff group
Cardiff ( D-58 ) Jul. 1917 Fairfield Scrapped 1946
Ceres Jun. 1917 Clydebank Scrapped 1946
Coventry Feb. 1918 Swan Hunter AA cruiser; sunk by aircraft off Tobruk 14 Sep. 1942
Curacao Feb. 1918 Harland & Wolff AA cruiser; rammed and sunk by Queen Mary Oct. 1942
Curlew Dec. 1917 Vickers AA cruiser; sunk by aircraft off Norway 26 May 1940
Capetown group
Cairo Sep. 1919 Cammell Laird AA cruiser; sunk by Italian submarine Axum 12 Aug. 1942
Calcutta Aug. 1919 Vickers AA cruiser; sunk by aircraft off Crete 1 Jun. 1941
Capetown Feb. 1922 Cammell Laird AA cruiser; scrapped 1946
Carlisle ( D-67 ) Nov. 1918 Fairfield AA cruiser; sunk by aircraft 9 Oct. 1943
Colombo ( D-89 ) Jun. 1919 Fairfield AA cruiser; Scrapped 1946

This class was a progressive development from the earlier Arethusa class, and their follow ons, the Caroline / Calliope / Cambrian class. The results of which were,

  1. a mixed 6" and 4" main battery was replaced by a single calibre 6" battery
  2. reduction geared turbines to improve efficiency

The improvements were also inspired by two cruisers ( Centaur and Concord ) building for Turkey but taken over by the RN, in which a 6" gun was placed behind the bridge, albeit limited to broadside fire, with the addition of a third magazine amidships, between boiler rooms, to improve shell supply and also heightening sub-division thus damage control.
One thing which came out of these progressive improvements was, from the Arethusa class onwards, oil firing was adopted, thus depriving ships of the protection of the coal bunkers, and the practice of using this as the main side armour belt had to be dropped, and was, from that class onwards.
Remembering these cruisers were designed in a time where aircraft at sea were a pure fantasy, all armour was devoted to the main belt, and the armoured deck was non-existant, with the main belt considered deep enough to provide against plunging shellfire ( as long as the shell hit the armoured deck! ) The lack of the armoured deck was the achilles heel of the "C" / "D" / "E" class, although it was in no way a design fault.

"Caledon" group

This group closely followed the forementioned Turkish ships, although the submerged torpedoes were replaced by twin trainable tubes above water, and the 3" AA guns were moved forward and sided the fore-funnel.
Inter war, Cassandra was lost in the Gulf of Finland during operations supporting the white Russians post WW I, and despite removing the flying-off platform only fitted in Caledon, modifications were few and far between.
Early WW II improvements consisted of adding SW type 273 on a much cut down after superstructure, and adding AS type 286 at the masheads. Five 20mm AA supplanted the two 2 pound AA guns aft, and were also placed in the wings.
In 1943, Caledon was re-armed as a light AA cruiser, with an "Arethusa" type bridge being added much further aft thanthe original, also extending forward to provide a shelter deck, she was re-rigged with tripod masts, and three twin 4" AA were added, two superfiring forward and one aft, controlled by an AR type 285 director on the bridge, and two twin 40mm AA were fitted amidships, controlled by two barrage directors equipped with AR type 282, and AR type 286 was also carried on the masthead, SW type 273 being moved aft. Six twin and two single 20mm AA were also added, the twins amidships and the single in the wings, and later, three single 40mm AA were added.
Caradoc remianed unaltered, and was paid off into accomodation duties.

"Cardiff" group

Although genral follow ons of the Caledon group, one major improvement improved them imeasurably; the "Q" 6" gun was removed, the bridge moved aft to where it had been, and the missing gun was repositioned superfiring to "A" gun, on the shelter deck. Not omly did this give a drier bridge, it doubled the armament that could fire forward, whilst not reducing fire on the beams. It also meant that at least one of the for'ard guns could fire in a rough sea - this class being very wet across the bows.
Other monor alterations were deleting the conning tower, and removing the flying-off platform fitted in Coventry only.
In 1935, Coventry and Curlew were taken in hand as prototypes for converting to AA vessels - both the "C" and "D" classes being obsolecent and supplanted in their role as fleet cruisers.
( Remember however, there was absolutely no vertical protection, so any planes they could not shoot down would undoubtedly sink them with only a few bombs [!] )
All armament and aft superstructure was stripped, and the bridge modified to ease AA direction, with a HA.DCT equipped aircraft spotting top fitted to the foremast, and a second HA.DCT carried aft.Next, 10 single 4" AA guns were added;
"A" gun on the shelter deck for'ard, "B" and "C" abreast the fore funnel, "P" & "Q" en-echelon abreast aft, "R" & "S" sided on the upper deck aft, "X" on the aft shelter deck, "Y" & "Z" sided on quarterdeck.
Originally, both the forward and aft shelter decks had provision for a octuple pom-pom and it's optical director. The directors were never satisfactory and never fitted, and to ease supply problems, only one pom-pom was shipped. This conversion was judged to be successful, and they were reported to be very useful AA escorts, for the fleet or mercantile convoys.
Only Curacoa was also converted, to a modified design, similar that of the earlier Caledon, with new shelter decks carrying superfiring twin 4" AA fore and aft, and one quad pom-pom carried aft. Lastly, quad 0.5" MG's were placed abreast the fore-funnel. The outbreak of war stopped Cardiff and Ceres being converted.
Coventry was further modified early war, a tripod mainmast being added to carry AW type 286 RDF, this blocking the arcs of "R" and "S" 4" guns, so these were replaced by two twin 0.5" machine guns on the quarterdeck aft.
In 1941, Curacoa was also further modified, SW type 273 being added at the base of the mainmast, AW type 286 at the mainmast head, and AR type 285 on the HA.DCT's. Two 20mm AA were added in the bridge wings, and the quad MG's were also replaced by 20mm AA. Finally, the pom-pom was provided with an AR type 282 RDF fitted director, carried on the bridge.
The limited modifications to Cardiff and Ceres comprised of a single 2pdr AA in the Ceres along with four - Ceres - and six - Cardiff - 20mm AA, and SW type 273 was also carried on the aft superstructure. Ceres later had all her torpedoes removed, carrying four extra 20mm AA as a replacement.
In 1940, Cardiff was a gunnery training cruiser, until paying off in 1945, and Ceres was paid off as an accomodation ship in 1944.

"Capetown" group

Originally, to improve the poor sea-keeping of the bows ( any sort of sea had the bows awash in the preceding classes ) a "trawler bow", a large raised bulwark for'ard, was fitted, and a planned hangar and catapult replacing the conning tower was only carried for a short time in Carlisle.
In 1939, all except Colombo were taken in hand for conversions to AA cruisers, albeit on simpler lines than the Coventry. All except superfiring "B" gun were replaced by twin 4" AA, and "B" was replaced by a quad pom-pom, with quad 0.5" MG's replacing the 3" AA abreast the fore funnel. An AA spotting top was added to the foremast, together with a HA.DCT, another being added on a suppressed after superstructure, and a tripod mainmast was stepped.
Later additions involved replacing the quad 0.5" MG AA with 20mm AA, and adding a further six single 20mm AA along the ship, and SW typw 272 or 273 ahead of the mainmast, AW type 286 on the mainmast, AR type 285 on the DCT's and AR type 282 on the pom-pom director. Later, all except the wing 20mm AA were replaced by twin 20mm AA in the Carlisle and the Capetown.
Finally, in 1942, Colombo was taken in hand for conversion, but on different lines to her sisters;
The old 6" "B" position were the others carried a pom-pom shipped the twin 4" gun which was carried in the "X" position aft of the funnel in her sisters. In turn, "X" position carried four single 20mm AA, and "Q" position carried two sided pom-poms, port and starboard of the centreline twin 4" AA. Single 20mm AA were also shipped abreast of the mainmast.
An enlarged bridge carried a HA.DCT and was also fitted as an AA spotting position, and SW tpe 273 radar was fitted much further aft than in her siters, to narrow the blind arc across the bows. AW type 286 was carried on the mainmast, AR type 285 on the HA.DCT and AR type 282 on the pom-pom directors.

  Caledon group Other groups   Caledon group Others groups
Net displacement 4120 tons 4190 tons Length 450’ 450’
Gross displacement 6000 tons 6200 tons Beam 42’9" 43’6"
Load 1880 tons 2010 tons Draught 16’3" 16’3"


Performance & Propulsion
Range 2240 nm @ 24 kts, 1625 nm @ 27.5 kts Speed 29 kts
Propulsion 8 x Yarrow small tube boilers, 2 x Parsons steam turbines @ 40000 hp


Complement, Armour, Electronics and Armament
Complement 400 - 437 Officers & Ratings
All ships
  • 3" side amidships
  • 2"-1" side (bow)
  • 2" side (stern)
  • 1" upper deck
  • 3" conning tower ( were fitted )
In all AA ships
  • Surface Warning ( SW ) type 273
  • Air Warning ( AW ) type 286
  • Air Recognition ( AR ) type 285 4" Fire Control
  • Air Recognition ( AR ) type 282 pom-pom Fire Control
Armament Schemes
Original, All ships
  • Gun
    • 5 x 1 x 6" L/50 BL
    • 2 x 1 x 3" AA
    • 2 x 1 x 2pdr pom-pom AA
  • Torpedo
    • 4 x 2 x 21" tubes
Coventry & Curlew,
Original conversion
  • Gun
    • 10 x 1 x 4"/ 50 AA
    • 2 ( later 1 ) x 8 x 2pdr pom-pom AA
    • 2 x 4 x 0.5" MG AA
Coventry, later
  • Gun
    • 8 x 1 x 4"/ 50 AA
    • 1 x 8 x 2pdr pom-pom AA
    • 2 x 4 x 0.5" MG AA
    • 2 x 2 x 0.5" MG AA
  • Gun
    • 4 x 2 x 4" AA
    • 1 x 4 x 2pdr pom-pom AA
    • 2 x 4 x 0.5" MG AA later;
    • 4 x 1 x 20mm Oerlikon AA
also Ceres earlier
  • Gun
    • 5 x 1 x 6" L/50 BL
    • 2 x 1 x 2pdr pom-pom AA
    • 4 / 6 x 1 x 20mm Oerlikon AA
  • Torpedo
    • 4 x 2 x 21" tubes
Ceres later
  • Gun
    • 5 x 1 x 6" L/50 BL
    • 3 x 1 x 2pdr pom-pom AA
    • 8 x 1 x 20mm Oerlikon AA
Capetown Group,
except Colombo
  • Gun
    • 4 x 2 x 4" AA
    • 1 x 4 x 2pdr pom-pom AA
    • 2 x 4 x 0.5" MG AA later;
    • 8 x 1 x 20mm Oerlikon AA or;
    • 2 x 1 x and 6 x 2 x 20mm Oerlikon AA ( Carlisle, Capetown )
  • Gun
    • 4 x 2 x 4" /50 AA
    • 2 x 4 x 2pdr pom-pom AA
    • 6 x 1 x 20mm Oerlikon AA
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