Tiger Class Cruisers
Tigersmall.jpg
(Note: drawing contains some parts taken from Shipbucket.com)

Ship Characteristics

Dimensions Length 555 ft
Beam 64 ft
Draft 21 feet
Displacement (standard) 9,550 tons
Displacement (full load) 11,700 tons
Performance Speed (max) 31.5 knots
Speed (cruising) 20 knots
Endurance 4,000 nm @ 20 knots
Armament Guns 4 6 inch Mark XXVI, 3 4" Mark XXIV Mod 1

Background

The four Tiger class cruisers began life as four ships of the Colony class ordered under the 1938 and 1939 building programs. Work on these ships started extremely slowly due to the outbreak of World War Two and slowed down still further following the June 1940 Armistice in the UK. By the Occupation in October 1942, they still had not been launched. All four hulls were seized by the German Navy in the aftermath of the Occupation and the dockyard workforce was ordered to continue their construction.

Of the remaining Colony Class cruisers, HMS Fiji, HMS Nigeria, HMS Mauritius and HMS Kenya had escaped to Canada with Fiji and Kenya being transferred ro the Canadian Navy as HMCS Quebec and HMCS Ontario respectively. HMS Gambia was blown up on the stocks and was a constructive total loss while HMS Trinidad was to be towed to Bremen for completion but foundered on the way due to sabotage. Three later cruisers, HMS Uganda, HMS Swiftsure and HMS Superb were never formally laid down and existed only as components. Therse were used to complete the four Tiger class ships.

During the occupation, construction of the four ships was "officially" being continued although the lack of progress on them was remarkable. Following the German surrender, all work ceased for three years. Then, in 1950, it was decided to complete them as a first stage in the resurrection of the Royal Navy. However, the design of the ships was clearly obsolete and they were in very poor condition due to neglect and sabotage. It was debateable whether they were worth completing since the cost of doing so would be close to that of building a new ship. What made the completion possible was the stockpile of parts that had been carefully concealed during the occupation and the fact that so much of the capital cost had already been invested.

The ships were redesigned to mount a new, automatic six inch gun mount, the Mark XXVI that offered a rate of fire of twenty five rounds per minute per barrel. These would be backed up by three of the new four inch Mark XXIV Mod 0 single mounts that gave 50 rounds per minute. Later, these would be replaced by the Mod.1 mount that featured an enlarged gun house. A new and comprehensive radar fire control fit was installed and provision made for a much more capable command fit. This was a prescient decision since it was as command ships that these cruisers were to spend the better part of their operational lives. Between 1951 and 1953 the ships were renovated and the damage resulting from the Occupation years repaired. They were then rebuilt to the revised design.

On commissioning in 1960, the cruisers became the flagships of carrier groups and also served as station flagships, typically being the flagship of Far East Station, based in Singapore. In the mid-1960s, some proposals were made to convert the four ships to helicopter carriers with a hangar anf flight deck replacing the aft six inch and two aft 4 inch gun mounts. This was rejected on grounds of high cost for very limited operational value and the obsolescence of the helicopter as opposed to the rotodyne. By 1982, they were due to be replaced by a new class of cruiser and the order for the replacement ships had already been signed. However, the Falklands War broke out and all four cruisers were available. Two served as flagships for carrier task groups while the remaining pair were attached to the amphibious force for fire support duties. During this campaign, the British press dubbed the four ships "The Splendid Cats".

Class Members

Name Ordered Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
Tiger (ex-Ceylon 1938 1939 1955 1960
Lion (ex-Newfoundland) 1939 1939 1956 1960
Leopard (ex-Bermuda) 1939 1939 1956 1960
Panther (ex-Jamaica) 1939 1940 1957 1961
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