Light cruiser HMS Curlew

The light cruiser HMS Curlew belonged to the cruisers of the C-Class and was the fourth 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 launch of the HMS Curlew took place on July 3, 1917, the commissioning on December 14, 1917.



HMS Curlew




Use in the war:

After commissioning and testing the HMS Curlew was assigned in early 1918 the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron.

With this squadron were made from May still some thrusts in the North Sea, but remained the German ships after the Battle of the Skagerrak mainly in the ports or in the Baltic, so it came to the war to no enemy contact.




Use after the war:

After the First World War was over, the ship was relocated to the Baltic Sea in January 1919 to protect the Baltic States against the Russian Navy at the time of the Russian Civil War.

In April 1919, first the allocation to the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron, then the Reserve Fleet and then the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron, where the site was moved to China. Until November 24, 1922, the ship sailed to several Asian ports until it was assigned to the North American Station on Bermuda.

By January 1927, various ports in the US, Canada, and South America had been launched, maneuvers, and exercises performed.

From April 1927 to September 1928, the HMS Curlew was reused in China until the ship was overhauled and repaired in the UK. The stay in the shipyard lasted until August 1929, then the allocation to the 3rd Cruiser Squadron and in October 1933 the 1st Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean.

In October 1936, the ship was decommissioned and on the Chatham Dockyard began the reconstruction of the ship to an anti-aircraft cruiser. Here, the designers based on the light cruiser HMS Coventry, whose conversion had begun shortly before. With the conversion of the two light cruisers, the Royal Navy wanted to incorporate mobile anti-aircraft platforms that protect both British coasts and warships with their weapons against attacks by aircraft.

After the conversion to an anti-aircraft cruiser, a radar test facility was additionally mounted in July 1939. From September 23, 1939, the plant was ready and could be tested. After the tests were completed, the ship was assigned to the Home Fleet because of the war and relocated to Scapa Flow on October 1, 1939.



HMS Curlew as anti-aircraft cruiser




Use in the Second World War:

By the end of 1939, the HMS Curlew was used to secure the convoys in the English Channel and in the North Sea. In January 1940, the allocation was made to the Humber Force.

When the British naval command prepared the plan to occupy Norway to cut off supplies of supplies to Germany, the Curlew was assigned to the association intended for this operation. From 9 April 1940, the German Wehrmacht and the Kriegsmarine began with the occupation of Denmark and Norway. From 16 to 21 April, the ship initially secured the landing of French troops at Namsos in central Norway. After replenishing supplies in the UK, the HMS Curlew returned to Norway together with the carriers HMS Glorious, HMS Ark Royal, the heavy cruiser HMS Berwick and six destroyers on April 23 to support the British troops at Narvik. Until the replacement by the HMS Sheffield on April 28, the ship suffered some damage from attacks by the German Air Force, which were provisionally repaired in Scapa Flow.





At the end of May 1940, a decisive attack on the German troops at Narvik was to be carried out, with the HMS Curlew serving as flagship.

On May 26, 1940, the ship sailed in the Lavangfjord, a tributary of the Ofotfjord towards Narvik, when it was discovered and attacked by a group of German Heinkel He-111 bombers. After several heavy hits, the ship sank.




Ship data:


HMS Curlew


Great Britain

Ship Type:  

Light cruiser

From 1937:
Antiaircraft cruiser




Vickers, Barrow




July 3, 1917


December 14, 1917


On 26 May 1940 sunk by the German Air Force in Lavangfjord


137,16 meters


13,2 meters


Max. 4,5 meters


Max. 5.355 tons


432 men


6 Yarrow boiler

2 Parsons geared turbines


40.000 PS (29.420 kW)

Maximum speed:  

29 kn (54 km/h)




5 x 152 mm Mk.XII rapid-fire gun

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 x 2 torpedo tubes ∅ 53,3 cm


from 1937 as anti-aircraft cruiser:

10 x 102-mm Mk.V, last 8

1 x 8 40-mm L/39 (2pdr)

2 x 4 12,7-mm anti-aircraft machine guns


Side armor 57-76 mm

Deck 25 mm

Shields 25 mm

Scots 25 mm

Command post 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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