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Pennant Number: 70
Notes: The LEANDER class light cruisers were the first single-funneled cruisers to have been built by the Royal Navy since the 1880's. This single streamlined funnel not only helped to reduce backdraught, but made it more difficult for an enemy to identify and acquire a good range. They were also the first cruisers in the Royal Navy to make extensive use of welding in the hulls, which reduced weight considerably. The 6" were capable of 60° of elevation, and were hand-loaded. The single 4" mounts replaced by twin 4" DP mounts in 1938, while the saluting guns removed early in World War II. Two 4-barreled "pom-poms" added in 1941; those were replaced by two quad 40mm Bofors AA mounts in 1943, and various single 20mm AA added. The LEANDER class were regarded as good sea boats, but very wet -- a problem that plagued them throughout their careers.
ACHILLES was commissioned in October, 1933, and assigned to Home Fleet. She was then loaned to the New Zealand Navy upon its formation in 1936. Her saluting guns removed early in World War II; her aircraft and catapult were removed in 1943. Various single 20mm AA added during World War II. ACHILLES took part in Battle of the River Platte on 13 December, 1939 (alongside the AJAX and the heavy cruiser EXETER, and fired 1242 6" rounds at the ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE. During the battle, she was hit by at least one 11" shell, but did not suffer significant damage. Following repairs, ACHILLES was sent to New Zealand, and served in the Pacific until 1943. She was recalled to Portsmouth in April, 1943, for refit. At this time, her "X" 6" turret was removed; her single 4" guns replaced by twin 4" DP mounts; and four quadruple 2-pdr. "pom-poms", five twin 20mm AA and six single 20mm AA guns added. Following the refit, ACHILLES served with Home Fleet, and was sent to serve with the Pacific Fleet in early 1945. ACHILLES was returned to the Royal Navy in 1946. In 1948, she was sold to India and renamed DELHI, where she served as Fleet Flagship until 1957. She played "herself" (as H. M. S. ACHILLES) in a 1953 film about the Battle of the River Platte. Her torpedo tubes were removed in 1958. In 1969, DELHI visited Australia, New Zealand and Fiji on a cruise; thereafter, she served as a training ship at Cochin; her 4" and 40mm guns were removed, to add extra accommodations for cadets. DELHI returned under her own power to Bombay in 1977, and was scrapped in 1978. One of her twin 6" turrets was removed and placed on display at the Defence Academy in Poona.
(Additional information from "The LEANDER and SYDNEY Class Cruisers" by Keith McBride; WARSHIP 1997-1998, pp. 167-181.)
* Scratchbuilt by John Youngerman - as ACHILLES appeared in 1942