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York Class Heavy Cruiser

Exeter in 1937
Exeter in 1937
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The last heavy cruisers built by the RN were smaller version of the County classes, but with better protection. Much improved armour protection over machinery spaces in this class was probably the vital element that saved Exeter at the Battle of the River Plate. A main armament of three twin 8-inch turrets instead of four permitted a reduction in length of 50ft and in weight of about 17 per cent compared with the Kents.

Although 7 ships were originally planned only two were built because of successive cutbacks in defence spending. Exeter and York were launched in 1928 and 1929 respectively. Exeter had straight masts and funnels, while those of York were raked. Moreover, Exeter's bridge structure was of the "box" type (next seen in the "Leander" Class light cruisers), while that of York was a smaller version of the structure in the "Devonshire" Class. This was because York had been designed to carry a catapult and amphibian on "B" turret. However the turret proved to be too light for this, but the tall bridge to obtain a clear view over the plane, and raked funnels to keep smoke out of the bridges remained.



Displacement: 8,250 York, 8,390 Exeter tons standard ; 10,500 tons full load
Dimensions: 540 pp, 575 oa x 57 York, 58 Exeter x 17 feet
Propulsion: 4 shaft Parsons geared turbines, 8 Admiralty 3-drum boilers, 80,000 shp. = 32.25 knots
Range: 10,000 miles at 14 knots ; 1,900 tons fuel oil
Complement: 620
Armament: 3 dual 8-inch / 50 Mk 8 ; 4 single 4-inch / 45 QF Mk 5 HA (later replaced by 4 dual 4-inch / 45 Mk 16 HA in Exeter) ; 2 single 2 pdr ; 2 triple 21-inch TT. ; 1 seaplane
Armour: 1 to 4 inch magazine box protection ; 3 inch belt ; 1.375 inch deck ; 1 inch turrets and bulkheads


The fitting of York's catapult on B turret was deleted while building. Otherwise she completed as designed. In the early 1930s the forecastle plating was extended aft to the tubes and a fixed catapult was installed. Two .5in quadruple MGs were added on the shelter deck abreast the bridge in 1934/35, and in 1937/38 the fixed catapult was replaced by the revolving type. The aircraft was initially a Fairey IIIF, later replaced by the standard Walrus. During the war, York received only a couple of 20mm singles, one of which was on A turret, and splinter protection to the 4in gun deck.

Between the wars Exeter received the same modifications as York, but during repairs following the action off the River Plate she had her single 4in replaced by twin 4in, two eight-barrelled 2pdr mountings were fitted and radar 279 was added. The 4in twins were in different, more widely spaced positions than the singles. Tripod masts replaced the pole masts, and an HACS was fitted in the bridge abaft the DCT. Tubs for single 20mm were fitted on B and Y turrets.

Exeter in 1931
Exeter in 1931
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Exeter in the 30s
Exeter in the 30s
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nice photo of Exeter, 1941
nice photo of Exeter, 1941
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