British Destroyers 1939-1945 Wartime-built Classes

Published on
November 26, 2017
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Angus Konstam
Other Publication Information
Paperback, November 2017; 48 pages
Product / Stock #
NVG 253
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site

This is Angus Konstam’s follow-up volume to his earlier work on Pre-war Royal Navy destroyers. As he explains, the real division between “pre-war” and “war-built” destroyers came in 1938, when the new “Tribal” class destroyers came into service. Between the First and Second World War, the Royal Navy operated many destroyers, but by the mid-1930s it was obvious that the Admiralty’s older destroyers were being outclassed by those of foreign navies. Thus, a new series of destroyers was designed to compete directly with potential foreign adversaries, the first being the 8-gunned Tribals, built directly in response to the Japanese Fubiki class. Follow on classes were more balanced designs, with fewer guns and more torpedoes and ASW weapons, and finally, the War Emergency Program classes specialized in simplicity of design for quicker mass production, with lighter surface weapons and more depth charges for escort work. In total, these were some of the handsomest ships ever built for the Royal Navy.

This volume follows a similar format set forth in the author’s earlier work, with the opening chapter describing the changing design requirements for these newer destroyers, as well as their intended uses, weapons and equipment. Each class is described in limited detail, with tables giving overall specifications, as well as a brief history of each vessel. The classes include:

Tribal-class Destroyers

  • J-, K- and N-class destroyers
  • L- and M-class destroyers
  • O- and P-class destroyers
  • Q- and R-class destroyers
  • S- and T-class destroyers
  • U- and V-class destroyer
  • W- and Z-class destroyers
  • C-class destroyers
  • Battle-class (1942) destroyers

Throughout the book, illustrator Tony Bryan beautifully depicts each class of destroyer in a wide array of colorful camouflage markings with color profiles, illustrations and a two-page cut-away spread of the Tribal class HMS Eskimo.

The final section gives one extended example of a classic destroyer action, one that has received little attention by writers of naval surface warfare histories. Just after 1:00 a.m. on the morning of May 16, 1945, during a terrific thunder and lightning storm, HMS Saumarez and four U- and V- class destroyers intercepted the Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro and destroyer Kamikaze in the Malacca Straight, delivering a coordinated gunfire and torpedo attack at close range in the last surface action conducted by the Royal Navy in World War II.

Once again, there’s a lot of information packed into this narrow volume, which along with the earlier book on the pre-war classes, 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 book.


Add new comment

All comments are moderated to prevent spam

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.