1945 HMS BATTLEAXE. In 1944, the Royal Navy ordered the construction of 18 Weapon-class destroyers, of which Battleaxe was the first; just four were commissioned, the Second World War having come to an end while they were still building.


THE WEAPON-CLASS DESTROYERS


These ships bore little resemblance to the classes which preceded them into Royal Navy service; they are perhaps better described as being stretched Type 4 Hunt-class destroyer/escorts (the experimental Brecon and Brissenden) with the same primary armament but with double the power, and hence eight knots more top speed. It was planned to build a follow-on class with 1.5ft (458mm) greater beam, to be armed with four 4.5in (115mm) guns, but they were cancelled before they were begun. HMS Battleaxe was of welded construction, built by Yarrow; laid down in April 1944, she was launched on 12 June 1945 and completed in October 1947. She was broken up in 1964, having been seriously damaged in a collision two years earlier.


TWO CHANGES OF ROLE


The Weapons were designed as fleet anti-submarine escorts, to carry up to 150 conventional depth charges; while in construction they were modified, and one of their three twin 4in (102mm) gun turrets was replaced by two Squid anti-submarine mortars (it was the B turret of Battleaxe and Broadsword, the X turret of Crossbow and Scorpion). In 1959, their ten 21 in (533mm) torpedo tubes were removed, and they received air surveillance radar, to operate in the anti-aircraft picket role, though their own A4 armament of six 40mm Bofors guns was not augmented.


TECHNICAL DATA


Type: Destroyer
Machinery: 2-shaft Parsons geared turbines producing 40,000shp
Dimensions (overall): Length, 111.25mm (365ft); beam, 11.6m (38ft)
Displacement: 1980t standard; 2825t deep load
Draught: 4.5m (14.7ft)
Complement: 255-286