Anti-aircraft cruiser

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American anti-aircraft cruiser Atlanta

Anti- aircraft cruisers (also anti-aircraft cruisers or anti-aircraft cruisers ) are a variant of the light cruiser developed in the United Kingdom .

Allied anti-aircraft cruiser

After the light cruisers Coventry and Curlew , which had been converted from 1935 to 1939, had proven their worth, further specially developed anti-aircraft cruisers were built. In addition, other cruisers that no longer meet the requirements of modern warfare were converted. These were the C-Class and D-Class light cruisers from the First World War . The main artillery of these conversions consisted of up to twelve anti-aircraft guns (flak) of the caliber 10.2 cm (4 inch). They were used to reinforce the air defense in convoys and warship units. These ships were used in almost all theaters of war, preferably in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Several of these units were lost, partly due to air raids - including the Curlew in May 1940 off Norway or the Calcutta in June 1941 off Crete  - partly due to submarine attacks, such as the Cairo in autumn 1942.

The specially built ships were the Dido and Bellona classes, the latter being a modification of the previous class. They were housed with 13.3 cm (5.25 inch) guns in twin mounts with turret shields. The Dido- class units had ten tubes, those of the Bellona- class eight. Two of the ships ( Charybdis , Scylla ) were equipped with eight tubes of caliber 11.4 cm (4.5 inches) due to insufficient capacities in the tower manufacture . Because of their small caliber, these two ships were given the unflattering nickname "HMS Unarmed" ( German for 'unarmed') or 'Toothless Terrors' ( German for 'toothless terror'). However, they proved their worth and were used successfully in all theaters of war.

The Atlanta- class AA cruisers built by the United States between 1941 and 1946 were classified as light cruisers (CL) and equipped with 12 to 16 cannons of 12.7 cm caliber in twin towers. The arrangement of the main armament of the first ships was unusual in that there was a tower on either side of the rear superstructure. It was not until 1946 that these ships were classified as anti-aircraft cruisers (CLAA), as they were originally planned as large flotilla leaders for a destroyer squadron (Des-Ron).

With the Colbert , France put the world's last anti-aircraft cruiser into service in 1959, which was also the last newly built cruiser with conventional tube artillery . In the United States, the last anti-aircraft cruisers were removed from classification in 1968.

Anti-aircraft ships of the Kriegsmarine

During the Second World War , to combat the Allied bomber offensive, several outdated warships, some of which had been captured in occupied Europe, mostly in the Netherlands or Norway, were re-equipped with anti-aircraft guns and - in some cases without self-propulsion - in the run-up to the German North Sea coast . anchored in the preferred approach paths of the allied bombers. Some of these ships were also used in the final phase of the Second World War in the Baltic Sea. Since these ships were not actively used in fleet service, they were referred to as anti-aircraft ships or flak ships for short. Well-known ships were the Niobe , which had eight 10.5 cm anti-aircraft guns and 28 20 mm cannons and was sunk by Soviet aircraft near Kotka in 1944, the Arcona , which in 1944/1945 in the Elbe estuary off Brunsbüttel was anchored and was scrapped in 1948/49, the 4,300 tn.l. large Ariadne (eight 10.5 cm Flak, five 40 mm Flak, 16 20 mm cannons) as well as the Nymph and the Thetis (six 10.5 cm Flak 38 each , two Bofors 4 cm Flak and 14 2 cm Flak 30 ).

Allied auxiliary anti-aircraft ships

A special type of anti-aircraft ship on the Allied side were the Canadian auxiliary anti-aircraft cruisers of the Prince class. Although some of the ships of this type had similarly strong armament as a comparable anti-aircraft cruiser, they were - as they were from the conversion of civilian cargo and passenger ships emerged and were therefore classified as auxiliary cruisers - mostly not or only weakly armored, had a lower maximum speed and a slightly lower water displacement. One of the most famous ships of this class was the approximately 5,700 tn.l. large auxiliary anti-aircraft cruiser Prince Robert , which was armed with ten 10.2-cm guns in five double mounts, eight 40-mm cannons and up to twelve 20-mm anti-aircraft guns. From the summer of 1943 the ship was mainly used in the Atlantic to protect convoy trains. After the end of the war, the anti-aircraft cruiser was sold and converted back into a passenger ship.

The Royal Navy also equipped six freighters to become auxiliary anti-aircraft cruisers during the Second World War. The ships, each of which was individual, varied greatly in size, armament and speed. These auxiliary warships displaced between 1,900 tons. and 5,600 tn.l. and were armed with six to eight 4-inch guns and eight 40-mm anti-aircraft guns each, such as the Alynbank . Of these six converted freighters, however, four were sunk in the course of the war, including at least one, the Foylebank , in July 1940 off the British south coast by a German air raid, killing 176 seamen.

Japanese anti-aircraft destroyers

From 1941 onwards, the Japanese Navy designed and built its own class of anti-aircraft destroyers, which were large in relation to the destroyers of other nations . These Akizuki- class ships displaced a maximum of around 3,700 tn.l. and were armed with eight 10 cm guns in four double mounts and with up to 48 25 mm flak. Of this type of destroyer, which was originally supposed to take over the air defense of the Japanese carrier fleet, twelve examples were built between 1942 and 1945. Since these powerful ships were only gradually put into service in the course of 1942 and in the following years, when the Japanese Navy in the Pacific was already increasingly on the defensive and the American air superiority began to have a noticeable effect, they were no longer able to fully develop their true clout and were increasingly used in other functions, for example in submarine hunting or escort security. As a result, six units were lost due to the effects of the war, at least two of them in air raids. The remaining six ships were either scrapped after the end of the war or were awarded to the victors as booty. Among other things, one ship was delivered to the Soviet Union in 1947, another to the United Kingdom.


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  7. a b Source: Whitley, MJ: Destroyers in World War II. Technology, classes, types. Stuttgart 1997, p. 198
  8. a b Source: Whitley, MJ: Destroyers in World War II. Technology, classes, types. Stuttgart 1997, p. 199