British Town Class Cruisers

British Town Class Cruisers

Design, Development & Performance: Southampton & Belfast Classes

Conrad Waters


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This scholarly study of the Royal Navy’s WWII light cruisers presents extensive design, performance, and engagement analysis of each ship.
When the Second World War began, the ten British ‘Town’ class cruisers were the most modern vessels of their type in the Royal Navy. Primarily designed for the defense of trade, they played decisive roles in victories such as the Battle of the Barents Sea and the destruction of the German Scharnhorst at the North Cape. They also paid a heavy price: four of the ships were lost and the other six sustained serious damage.
In this major study, Conrad Waters provides a technical evaluation of the ‘Town’ class design and its subsequent performance. He outlines the class’s origins in the context of inter-war cruiser policy, explains the design and construction process, and describes the characteristics of the resulting ships and how these were adapted in the light of wartime developments.
An overview of service focuses on major engagements and presents detailed assessments of action damage. Concluding chapters explore the the modernization program that kept the remaining ships fit for service during the Cold War era. Heavily illustrated with contemporary photographs and expert drawings, British Town Class Cruisers provides a definitive reference to one of the Royal Navy’s most important warship designs.


Conrad Waters:
A barrister by training and a banker by profession, Waters has had a lifelong interest in modern navies, about which he has written extensively. He edited the recent 'Navies in the 21st Century' and has been the editor of the 'World Naval Review' since its foundation in 2009.