J-, K- and N-class destroyer
|Preceded by:||Tribal class|
|Succeeded by:||L and M class|
|Subclasses:||J, K, N|
|General characteristics (J and K classes as built)|
|Length:||356 ft 6 in (108.7 m) o/a|
|Beam:||35 ft 9 in (10.9 m)|
|Draught:||12 ft 6 in (3.8 m) (deep)|
|Propulsion:||2 × shafts; 2 × geared steam turbines|
|Speed:||36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph)|
|Range:||5,500 nmi (10,200 km; 6,300 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)|
|Complement:||183 (218 for flotilla leaders)|
|Sensors and |
|General characteristics (N class where different)|
The J, K and N class was a class of 24 destroyers of the Royal Navy launched in 1938. They were a return to a smaller vessel, with a heavier torpedo armament, after the Tribal class that emphasised guns over torpedoes. The ships were built in three flotillas or groups, each consisting of eight ships with names beginning with "J", "K" and "N". The flag superior of the pennant numbers changed from "F" to "G" in 1940.
The ships were modified throughout their wartime service, particularly their anti-aircraft (AA) guns; they were also fitted with radar.
The design was intended as a smaller follow-on from the preceding Tribal class, and incorporated one radical new idea that was a departure from all previous Royal Navy destroyer designs. That was the adoption of a two boiler room layout. This reduced hull length and allowed for a single funnel, both reducing the profile and increasing the arcs of fire of the light anti-aircraft (A/A) weapons. However, this also increased vulnerability, as there were now two consecutive large compartments with the resultant risk of a single well placed hit flooding both and resulting in a total loss of boiler power. This illustrates somewhat the Admiralty's attitude to the expendable nature of destroyers. This is of course, as opposed to the 3-boiler-room layout that was used starting with the F class in the early 1930s. Early ships also tended to use twin boiler rooms, which are still a great improvement over a single boiler room. In any case, destroyers are lightly armored and fast vessels meant to survive by avoiding being hit at all. The odds of a single hit striking just the right spot to disable both boiler rooms simultaneously were considered remote enough to be worth risking in exchange for the benefits given by a two-room layout. During Prewar trials "...On a light displacement Jackal attained 37.492 knots, on the Arran mile in 60 fathoms, 34.37 knots deep. Jupiter in 75 fathoms made 33.835 knots light, 33.045 knots deep displacement."
A significant advance in construction techniques was developed by naval architect Albert Percy Cole. Instead of going for transverse frame sections which were unnecessarily strong, but held together by weak longitudinals, Cole went for extra strong longitudinals and weaker transverse frames.
Another advancement was changes to the bow design. The bow form was also modified from that of the preceding Tribal-class design; the clipper bow replaced by a straight stem with increased sheer. This change was not a success and as a consequence these ships were very wet forwards. This shortcoming was rectified from the S class onwards by returning to the earlier form.
Despite the vulnerability of the boiler layout, the design was to prove compact, strong and very successful, forming the basis of all Royal Navy destroyer construction from the O class up to the last of the C class of 1943–1945.
The armament was based on that of the Tribals, but replaced one twin QF 4.7 in (120 mm) Mark XII (L/45) gun on mounting CP Mk.XIX with an additional bank of torpedo tubes. These mountings were capable of 40° elevation and 340° of training. Curiously, 'X' mounting was positioned such that the blind 20° arc was across the stern, rather than the more logical forward position where fire was obscured by the bridge and masts anyway. This meant that they were unable to fire dead astern. With the tubes now 'pentad', a heavy load of 10 Mk.IX torpedoes could be carried. AA armament remained the same, consisting of a quadruple QF 2 pdr gun Mark VIII on a Mk.VII mounting and a pair of quadruple 0.5 in Vickers machine guns. Armament was further improved by replacing the quadruple machine guns with 20 mm Oerlikons. These ships, when completed, had a comparatively heavy close range AA armament. Fire control arrangements also differed from the Tribals, and the dedicated high-angle (H/A) rangefinder director was not fitted, instead only a 12 ft (3.7 m) rangefinder was carried behind the usual Director Control Tower (DCT). In the event, the rangefinder was heavily modified to allow it to control the main armament for A/A fire, and was known as the "3 man modified rangefinder". These ships used the Fuze Keeping Clock HA Fire Control Computer.
The N class were ordered in 1940 as repeats of the J design, after delays and cost over-runs associated with the larger and more complicated L and M class. The only design change was to locate the 'X' 4.7-inch mounting in the more logical position with the 20° training blindspot forward. While building, the same early wartime modifications as the Js and Ks were applied, with a pair of twin power-operated 0.5 in machine gun turrets briefly carried on the quarterdeck before being replaced by single 20 mm Oerlikons.
In 1940 and 1941, to improve the anti-aircraft capabilities, all ships had their aft torpedo tubes removed and replaced with a single 4 inch gun QF Mark V on a HA Mark III mounting. The relatively ineffective multiple 0.5-inch (13 mm) machine guns were replaced with a single 20 mm Oerlikon, with a further pair added abreast the searchlight platform amidships. The high-speed destroyer mine sweeps were replaced with a rack and two throwers for 45 depth charges and a Type 286 Radar air warning was added at the masthead alongside Type 285 fire control on the H/A rangefinder-director.
In 1942 the 4 in gun was removed and the torpedoes returned to all surviving vessels. The 20 mm Oerlikons were replaced with twin mountings (except those on the quarterdeck) and a Type 291 Radar replaced the Type 286. Jervis, Kelvin, Nerissa and Norman had the searchlight replaced with the "lantern" for centimetric target indication Radar Type 271; Javelin and Kimberley having the lighter Type 272 fitted at the truck of the foremast. Napier, Nizam and Norseman (and later, Norman) had American SG1 Radar fitted at the head of a new lattice foremast, Norman replacing her Type 271 set with a single 40 mm Bofors gun. By the end of the war, the surviving J and K ships carried a lattice mast with a Type 293 Radar target indication at the truck and a Type 291 air warning at the head.
Being amongst the Royal Navy's most modern and powerful destroyers at the outbreak of war, they were extensively committed. As a result, losses were heavy and of 24 ships built, six J, six K and one N class were lost.
- ‡ = flotilla leader
|F00||Jervis ‡||Hawthorn Leslie & Company, Hebburn||26 August 1937||9 September 1938||12 May 1939||Sold for scrap 1949|
|F22||Jackal||John Brown & Company, Clydebank||24 September 1937||25 October 1938||31 March 1939||Bombed off Mersa Matruh on 11 May 1942 and scuttled by Jervis following day|
|F34||Jaguar||William Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton||25 November 1937||22 November 1938||12 September 1939||Torpedoed by German U-boat U-652 off Sollum, 26 March 1942|
|Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company, Govan||15 October 1937||8 December 1938||25 August 1939||Bombed and sunk south of Crete, 21 May 1941|
|F53||Janus||Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend||29 September 1937||11 October 1938||5 August 1939||Torpedoed and sunk off Anzio by German aircraft, 23 January 1944|
|John Brown||11 October 1937||21 December 1938||10 June 1939||Sold for scrap 1949|
|F72||Jersey||J. Samuel White, Cowes||1937||26 September 1938||28 April 1939||Mined off Valletta 2 May 1941, broke in two and sank 2 days later|
|F85||Jupiter||Yarrow & Company, Scotstoun||28 September 1937||27 October 1938||25 June 1939||Hit a Dutch mine during the battle of the Java Sea 27 February 1942 and sank the following day|
||Ordered March 1937, cancelled December 1937|
|F01||Kelly ‡||Hawthorn Leslie||26 August 1937||25 October 1938||23 August 1939||Bombed by German aircraft and sunk south of Crete, 23 May 1941|
|F28||Kandahar||Denny||18 January 1938||21 March 1939||10 October 1939||Mined off Tripoli 19 December 1941 and sunk by gunfire from Jaguar the following day|
|John I. Thornycroft & Company, Woolston||18 November 1937||4 April 1939||26 October 1939||Bombed by German aircraft and sunk south of Crete, 23 May 1941|
|F37||Kelvin||Fairfield||5 October 1937||19 January 1939||27 November 1939||Sold for scrap 1949|
|F45||Khartoum||Swan Hunter||27 October 1937||6 February 1939||6 November 1939||Sank in Perim Harbour after an exploding torpedo air vessel started a fire which reached the aft magazine, 23 June 1940|
|F50||Kimberley||Thornycroft||17 January 1938||1 June 1939||21 February 1940||Sold for scrap 1949|
|F64||Kingston||White||6 October 1937||9 January 1939||14 September 1939||Seriously damaged by the Italian battleship Littorio during the Second Battle of Sirte, 22 March 1942. Bombed by German aircraft while in dry dock in Valletta on 11 April 1942 and written off as a constructive total loss. Expended as a blockship off Malta|
|F91||Kipling||Yarrow||26 October 1937||19 January 1939||22 December 1939||Bombed and sunk by German aircraft off Mersa Matruh, 11 May 1942|
- Note: The N-class destroyers of the Royal Australian Navy were manned and commissioned by the Australians, but remained the property of the British government.
|Royal Netherlands Navy|
|G84||Noble||Denny||10 July 1939||17 April 1941||20 February 1942||To the Netherlands as Van Galen 1942, sold for scrap 1957|
|G16||Nonpareil||Denny||22 May 1940||25 June 1941||30 October 1942||To Netherlands as Tjerk Hiddes 1942. To Indonesia as Gadjah Mada 1951, sold for scrap in 1961|
|Royal Australian Navy|
|G97||Napier ‡||Fairfield||26 July 1939||22 May 1940||11 December 1940||Sold for scrap 1945|
|G02||Nestor||Fairfield||26 July 1939||9 July 1940||12 February 1941||Bombed by Italian aircraft 15 June 1942 and sunk by depth charges from Javelin|
|G38||Nizam||John Brown||27 July 1939||4 July 1940||19 December 1940||Sold for scrap 1955|
|G49||Norman||Thornycroft||27 July 1939||30 October 1940||29 September 1941||Sold for scrap 1958|
|Thornycroft||9 September 1939||4 December 1941||29 May 1942||Sold for scrap 1955|
|G65||Nerissa||John Brown||26 July 1939||7 May 1940||12 February 1941||To Poland as Piorun 1940, returned as HMS Noble 1946, sold for scrap in 1955|
- March, p. 350
- Mountbatten, Lord Louis, Earl of Burma, Destroyer Design – HMS Kelly, Naval Historical Society of Australia,
originally printed in Naval Historical Review December 1979
- Hodges and Friedman, p. 31
- Hodges and Friedman, Previous to the Tribal class, RN destroyers carried either two 2 pdr AA guns or twin quadruple .5 in Vickers machine guns. USN destroyers, in the same time frame, usually carried four .5 in Browning machine guns.
- Langtree, p. 36
- 'Hodges and Friedman, p. 30
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- Friedman, Norman (2006). British Destroyers & Frigates: The Second World War and After. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-86176-137-6.
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- Langtree, Charles (2002). The Kelly's: British J, K, and N Class Destroyers of World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-422-9.
- Lenton, H. T. (1998). British & Empire Warships of the Second World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-048-7.
- March, Edgar J. (1966). British Destroyers: A History of Development, 1892–1953; Drawn by Admiralty Permission From Official Records & Returns, Ships' Covers & Building Plans. London: Seeley Service. OCLC 164893555.
- Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Third Revised ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2.
- Whitley, M. J. (1988). Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-326-1.
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