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Sister ships: BERWICK, CORNWALL, CUMBERLAND, KENT, SUFFOLK, CANBERRA (R.A.N.)
Pennant Number: I.84
Notes: This class of seven ships were a marked improvement on the preceding HAWKINS class heavy cruisers. The ammunition spaces were fairly well protected. The 8" guns were in mountings of a novel design, capable of 70° elevation, with shell and charge rammed in one operation. Unfortunately for the Royal Navy, these mounts proved troublesome throughout their careers. While a requirement of 12 rounds per gun per minute was desired, in practice, 3-4 rounds per minute was the maximum achieved in sustained fire. A catapult with one aircraft was mounted in 1931-32. They were not "handy" ships; KENT's tactical diameter was measured at 1,040 yards @ 14 knots. A catapult and one aircraft was added to AUSTRALIA in 1935. AUSTRALIA was reconstructed in 1938; a 4.5" cemented armor belt extending for six feet below the lower deck was added in way of the machinery spaces and transmitting station, and 4" of internal armor was added to the sides of the boiler room fan compartments. At the same time, the individual 2-pdrs. were removed and replaced by two quadruple "pom-poms." Her flag superior was changed to "D" in 1940. AUSTRALIA served in Pacific Ocean throughout the war, except for a period served the Royal Navy's in the East Indies in 1941. AUSTRALIA saw action off the coast of Dakar on 25 September 1940; during the battle, she took two-6" hits from French light cruisers of the GLOIRE class. Repairs took place in Liverpool through the end of December, 1940; during those repairs, the single 4" mounts were removed and replaced by twin 4" high-angle mounts, and radar was added. Various anti-aircraft guns were added throughout the war; also, her saluting guns and torpedo tubes were removed. AUSTRALIA was hit by Japanese Kamikazes six times during the course of the war; following a hit in January, 1945, she was modified with the removal of her "X" main battery turret, and her AA battery was augmented by the addition of 10 twin and 8 single Bofors 40mm guns. AUSTRALIA was sold for breaking up in January, 1955.