British Destroyers 1939-1945 Pre-War Classes
The British Royal Navy entered the Second World War with 160 destroyers, ranging from some holdovers from the Great War to recently commissioned vessels of vastly improved capability. In this volume, naval historian Angus Konstam describes the attributes of over a dozen classes of destroyers.
The opening chapter gives a general developmental history of the early destroyers of the Royal Navy, their design and development, roles and uses, weapons and general modifications, as well as their appearance and habitability. The author then goes on to describe, in as much detail as is possible within these limited 48 pages, the various classes of inter-war build vessels from earliest to latest, including:
- Admiralty R-class destroyers
- Admiralty S-class destroyers
- Shakespeare- and Scott-class destroyer leaders
- V- & W-class destroyers
- V- & W-class (WAIR) conversions
- V- & W-class destroyers (long-range escorts)
- V- & W-class destroyers (unconverted)
- A-class destroyer prototypes
- A- & B-class destroyer leaders
- A- & B-class destroyers
- C- & D-class destroyers
- E- & F-class destroyers
- E- & F-class destroyer leaders
- G-, H- & I-class destroyers
- G-, H- & I-class destroyer leaders
Each section includes tables detailing the specifications of the class, plus the building history and fate of each individual vessel. Overall modifications for such things as armament (main, AA and ASW), radar and asdic are spelled out for each class. The author also takes note of the painting of Royal Navy destroyers, from the standard schemes of the inter-war years to the varied camouflage patterns (many addressed individually by the ship’s captains) used in the different theaters during the war. The numerous profiles and illustrations highlight representative color schemes. While the limited space does not allow for a descriptive history of each ship, some highlights for specific vessels are pointed out (like the destruction of German tanks by destroyers Keith, Whitshed and Vimiera at Dunkirk, and the killing of Keith’s captain by a German sniper).
There’s a lot of information packed into this narrow volume (a later edition will detail war-built DDs), which makes it a perfect primer for any fan of Royal Navy warships in general, and hard working destroyers in particular. Thanks to Osprey and IPMS for the opportunity to review this fine book.