Light cruiser HMS Curacoa

The light cruiser HMS Curacoa belonged to the cruisers of the C-Class and was the third ship of the subcategory of the Ceres class.


Launching and design:

In early 1916, the five ships of the Ceres class were ordered, which formed a subcategory of the existing C-class.

Again, the shortcomings of the foredeck were attempted by design measures to fix and the hull widened by 20cm. The main armament remained unchanged, but the guns were moved to other positions. Thus, the second main gun between bridge house and chimneys was moved in front of the bridge to an elevated position.

Similarly, the front torpedo sets were placed further forward, which effectively increased the firepower, despite consistent arming. The armor also remained unchanged.

The launching of the HMS Curacoa took place on 5 May 1917, the commissioning on 18 February 1918.



HMS Curacoa




Use in the war:

Shortly after the commissioning and test drives the HMS Curacoa was assigned to the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron and remained there until the end of the war.

From June 1918 several attempts were made in the North Sea, but it never came to enemy contact.




Use after the war:

After World War I ended, the HMS Curacoa was assigned to the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron in April 1919 and relocated to the Baltic Sea in May to assist the White Army in the Russian Civil War. On a trip to Libau the ship ran on May 17 on a sea mine and was badly damaged and killed a crew member. After a makeshift repair at sea, it arrived in the evening in the Estonian capital. In order to properly repair the ship, it eventually ran to Great Britain, was completely repaired in Sheerness and assigned to the reserve fleet in August 1919.

In November 1920, the reactivation and integration into the Atlantic Fleet took place, the ship was used almost exclusively in the Mediterranean Fleet. Until 1932, the ship participated in several operations, including the evacuation of refugees during the Greek-Turkish war.

In the period from 18 December 1933 to 1939, it served in Britain as an artillery training ship.




Use in the Second World War:

Already in the early 1930s, the Royal Navy began to work out plans that convert at that time already outdated light Cruiser C-Class to anti-aircraft cruisers to effectively counteract the growing threat of attacks from the air. The first conversions of the HMS Coventry and HMS Curlew proved to be very positive, so that from 1938 a program was developed in order to convert the light cruisers to a common standard.

Thus, for the HMS Curacoa starting in July 1939 in Chatham, the conversion to an anti-aircraft cruiser, which was completed on January 24, 1940 began. Immediately after commissioning the ship was assigned to the Home Fleet and used as escort for British troops to Norway. The ship received on April 24, 1940 at Åndalsnes a bomb hit in front of the bridge. 45 crew members lost their lives and the damage was so severe that the ship had to drive back to Great Britain to Chatham Dockyard.

After the reparation was completed in August, the HMS Curacoa secured coastal convoys and the return of the damaged French submarine Rubin from Norway to the UK.

In September 1942, the armament was increased by five 20-mm Oerlikon guns and a modern radar system.



HMS Curacoa after conversion to the air defense cruiser





Together with other British and Polish warships, the HMS Curacoa should accompany and protect the US based fast steamer Queen Mary. The Queen Mary had about 10,000 soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division on board and should bring them to the UK. Due to warnings of German U-boats in the waters around Britain, the Queen Mary was required to drive a zig-zag course.

After another course changes on October 2, 1942, however, the fast steamer came too close to the light cruiser and could no longer avoid it. The HMS Curacoa was split into two parts that sank within a few minutes. 337 crew members lost their lives.




Ship data:


HMS Curacoa


Great Britain

Ship Type:  

Light cruiser

From January 24, 1940:
Antiaircraft cruiser


(Subgroup Ceres-Class)


Pembroke Dockyard




May 5, 1917


February 18, 1918


On 2 October 1942 rammed and sunk by the speed steamer Queen Mary


137,16 meters


13,2 meters


Max. 4,5 meters


Max. 5.276 tons


432 man


16 Yarrow boiler

2 Brown Curtis transmission turbines


40.000 PS (29.420 kW)

Maximum speed:  

29 kn (54 km/h)




5 x 152 mm Mk.XII rapid fire guns

2 x 76 mm L/45 Mk.I anti-aircraft guns

4 x 3-pdr Hotchkiss anti-aircraft guns

2 x 2-pdr anti-aircraft guns

4 × 2 torpedo tubes ∅ 53.3 cm


from 1940 as an anti-aircraft cruiser:

4 × 2 102-mm Mk XVI

1 × 40-mm 40-mm L/39 (2pdr)

2 x 40 mm L/39 (2pdr) Mk.VIII

2 × 4 heavy 12,7 mm air defence machine guns


Side armor: 57-76 mm

Deck: 25 mm

Shields: 25 mm

Bulkheads: 25 mm

Command bridge: 76 mm






You can find the right literature here:


British Battleships of World War One

British Battleships of World War One Hardcover – November 15, 2012

This new edition of a classic work on British battleships is the most sought after book on the subject. Containing many new photographs from the author's exhaustive collection this superb reference book presents the complete technical history of British capital ship design and construction during the dreadnought era. Beginning with Dreadnought, all of the fifty dreadnoughts, 'super-dreadnoughts' and battlecruisers that served the Royal Navy during this era are described and superbly illustrated with photographs and line drawings.

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The British Battleship: 1906-1946

The British Battleship: 1906-1946 Hardcover – October 15, 2015

Norman Friedman brings a new perspective to an ever-popular subject in The British Battleship: 1906-1946. With a unique ability to frame technologies within the context of politics, economics, and strategy, he offers unique insight into the development of the Royal Navy capital ships. With plans of the important classes commissioned from John Roberts and A D Baker III and a color section featuring the original Admiralty draughts, this book offers something to even the most knowledgeable enthusiast.

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British Battlecruisers 1905-1920

British Battlecruisers 1905-1920 Hardcover – December 15, 2016

The brainchild of Admiral Sir John Fisher, battlecruisers combined heavy guns and high speed in the largest hulls of their era. Conceived as "super-cruisers" whose job it was to hunt down and destroy commerce raiders, their size and gun-power led to their inclusion in the battlefleet as a fast squadron of capital ships. This book traces in detail the development of Fisher's original idea into the first battlecruiser Invincible of 1908, through to the "Splendid Cats" of the Lion class, and culminating in HMS Hood in 1920, the largest warship in the world for the next twenty years. The origins of the unusual "light battlecruisers" of the Courageous type are also covered.

The well-publicized problems of British battlecruisers are examined, including the latest research throwing light on the catastrophic loss of three of the ships at the Battle of Jutland. The developmental history is backed by chapters covering machinery, armament, and armor, with a full listing of important technical data. The comprehensive collection of illustrations includes the author's superb drawings and original Admiralty plans reproduced in full color. This revised and updated edition of the classic work first published in 1997 will be welcomed by anyone with an interest in the most charismatic and controversial warships of the dreadnought era.

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British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser: 1914–16 (Duel)

British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser: 1914–16 (Duel) Paperback – November 19, 2013

Battles at Dogger Bank and Jutland revealed critical firepower, armor, and speed differences in Royal Navy and Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy) Battlecruiser designs.

Fast-moving and formidably armed, the battlecruisers of the British and German navies first encountered one another in 1915 at Dogger Bank and in the following year clashed near Jutland in the biggest battleship action of all time. In the decade before World War I Britain and Germany were locked in a naval arms race that saw the advent of first the revolutionary dreadnought, the powerful, fast-moving battleship that rendered earlier designs obsolete, and then an entirely new kind of vessel - the battlecruiser. The brainchild of the visionary British admiral John 'Jacky' Fisher, the battlecruiser was designed to operate at long range in 'flying squadrons', using its superior speed and powerful armament to hunt, outmanoeuvre and destroy any opponent. The penalty paid to reach higher speeds was a relative lack of armour, but Fisher believed that 'speed equals protection'. By 1914 the British had ten battlecruisers in service and they proved their worth when two battlecruisers, Invincible and Inflexible, sank the German armoured cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off the Falklands in December 1914.

Based on a divergent design philosophy that emphasised protection over firepower, the Germans' battlecruisers numbered six by January 1915, when the rival battlecruisers first clashed at Dogger Bank in the North Sea. By this time the British battlecruisers had been given a new role - to locate the enemy fleet. Five British battlecruisers accompanied by other vessels intercepted and pursued a German force including three battlecruisers; although the battle was a British tactical victory with neither side losing any of its battlecruisers, the differences in the designs of the British and German ships were already apparent. The two sides responded very differently to this first clash; while the Germans improved their ammunition-handling procedures to lessen the risk of disabling explosions, the British drew the opposite lesson and stockpiled ammunition in an effort to improve their rate of fire, rendering their battlecruisers more vulnerable. The British also failed to improve the quality of their ammunition, which had often failed to penetrate the German ships' armour.

These differences were highlighted more starkly during the battle of Jutland in May 1916. Of the nine British battlecruisers committed, three were destroyed, all by their German counterparts. Five German battlecruisers were present, and of these, only one was sunk and the remainder damaged. The limitations of some of the British battlecruisers' fire-control systems, range-finders and ammunition quality were made clear; the Germans not only found the range more quickly, but spread their fire more effectively, and the German battlecruisers' superior protection meant that despite being severely mauled, all but one were able to evade the British fleet at the close of the battle. British communication was poor, with British crews relying on ship-to-ship flag and lamp signals even though wireless communication was available. Even so, both sides claimed victory and the controversy continues to this day.

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