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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 4:42 pm 
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Hi there all modellers :

My X-mas present this year (2019) was the 1/350 Trumpeter model HMS Kent. Excellent model for more than one reason!!! I had been longing for this model for more than 40 years, and had also already thought that this dream would never come true.

After studying it for some days, and noting the many similarities among the classes, I was considering the purchase of a second kit to make a conversion to the Spanish Canarias-class heavy cruisers Canarias or Baleares.

Looking for some info on Canarias and Baleares in our forums, and unless I am searching in the wrong direction, I realized that the information about these ships is extremely scarce in the threads that we share, so I thought it would be advisable to open a new thread dealing with them.

The two heavy cruisers Canarias and Baleares, named after the two most important archipelagos in Spain, were the first (and only, after the construction of a third unit to be named Ferrol was cancelled) of this kind built in Spain under the strict limits of the Washington Treaty, of the classic “8×8 inches / 10,000 tons” type. Proceeding as usual –after previous series of ships, specially destroyers– in consulting British engineers, including Phillip Watts, and strongly inspired by County/Kent class of which they can truly be considered a sub class themselves, the Spanish Navy built their ships nevertheless locally in Ferrol at Sociedad Española de Construcción Naval shipyards, a branch of Vickers- Armstrong.

These should have been their lines, according to the first plans. The similarity with the County-class is obvious:
Attachment:
(01) Canarias-Class original design.JPG
(01) Canarias-Class original design.JPG [ 105.36 KiB | Viewed 648 times ]

When finally finished, their appearance was quite different. Here you are Canarias:
Attachment:
(02) Canarias.jpg
(02) Canarias.jpg [ 96.85 KiB | Viewed 648 times ]

And here Baleares:
Attachment:
(03) Baleares.jpg
(03) Baleares.jpg [ 140.47 KiB | Viewed 648 times ]

Attachment:
(04) Baleares.jpg
(04) Baleares.jpg [ 75.35 KiB | Viewed 648 times ]

I would say that they were very nice looking ships, but as it is also commonly said, “beauty is in the viewer´s eye”. Other than this, I am a Spaniard myself, these are ships my father used to tell me stories about when I was a kid, and two sailors of my village (including one of my closest friends´ uncle) were killed on board Baleares when she was sunk in March 1938.
But maybe I am wrong, very wrong probably; definitely wrong, I am sure, because I have seen somewhere else that these ships raise passions, and in quite a different direction. Here you are some remarks from the excellent forum World of Warships:

I think the Canarias cruisers as built are the ugliest cruisers EVER, no other uglier warship comes to mind”.

This other one is splendid: “That superstructure could've served as a second funnel if they hollowed it out”.

This one is also excellent, with a rancid flavour from the times of the French Revolution: “That lack of mast makes it look like the ship is decapitated”.

Another remark Oliver Cromwell would feel proud of: “Uglier than sin. It looks like it should submerge in some way”.

And my all times favorite: “It looks like a Graf Spee with Down's Syndrome”. Excellent and talented observation: structures, turrets, funnel, torpedo tubes and hull are absolutely identical in both Canarias, Baleares and Graf Spee... :cool_2:

Well, anyhow warships have never been built for winning a beauty contest –or may be they have, because talking about beauty, see the graceful lines of HMS Camperdown, Miss Great Britain 1885:
Attachment:
(05) HMS Camperdown 1885.jpg
(05) HMS Camperdown 1885.jpg [ 49.18 KiB | Viewed 648 times ]

And here HMS Victoria, herself Miss Royal Navy 1887:
Attachment:
(06) HMS Vistoria 1887.jpg
(06) HMS Vistoria 1887.jpg [ 72.89 KiB | Viewed 648 times ]

…And the end of the beauty contest that took place off Tripoli on June 22nd 1893, in which HMS Camperdown clearly defeated HMS Victoria, with HMS Nile (on the left), also a beauty, coming in a very close position:
Attachment:
(07) HMS Nile.jpg
(07) HMS Nile.jpg [ 100.27 KiB | Viewed 648 times ]

Here IJN Nagato, Miss Japan 1931, a real oriental beauty…
Attachment:
(08) Nagato 1931.jpg
(08) Nagato 1931.jpg [ 72.26 KiB | Viewed 648 times ]

…Miss USSR 1933, Oktyabriskaya Revolutsiya
Attachment:
(09) Oktyabriskaya Revoluitsia 1934.jpg
(09) Oktyabriskaya Revoluitsia 1934.jpg [ 101.92 KiB | Viewed 648 times ]

…And Petropavlosk, Miss USSR 1937. Even the floats of the seaplane seem to be more attractive.
Attachment:
(10) Petropavlosk.jpg
(10) Petropavlosk.jpg [ 127.24 KiB | Viewed 648 times ]

All of them classical beauties, no doubt whatsoever...

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Last edited by Willie on Tue Jan 28, 2020 10:48 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 4:48 pm 
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In more modern times, what about this German, sleek-lined beauty, Sachsen, Miss Germany 2003:
Attachment:
(11) Sachsen (02).jpg
(11) Sachsen (02).jpg [ 88.87 KiB | Viewed 646 times ]

Things also improved across the Atlantic: USS Independence, Miss America 2010,
Attachment:
(12) USS Independence (LCS 2).jpg
(12) USS Independence (LCS 2).jpg [ 95.17 KiB | Viewed 646 times ]

Here at her best angle, if she happened to have one:
Attachment:
(13) USS Independence (LCS 2).jpg
(13) USS Independence (LCS 2).jpg [ 77.46 KiB | Viewed 646 times ]

And finally, said Miss America 2010 escorting the next winner, USS Zumwalt, Miss America 2016, to the Miss World 2016 final, where she won the prize by her own merits, all other contestants being instantly blinded by her beauty, a kind of floating Egyptian pyramid…
Attachment:
(14) USS Zumwalt _h.jpg
(14) USS Zumwalt _h.jpg [ 115.82 KiB | Viewed 646 times ]

Well, after such a display of beauty, and all things considered, I would say that Canarias and Baleares deserve a second, even a third, look. Maybe a fourth one…

And so, now that we are all friends again, we can start discussing this class in earnest, the only Spanish heavy cruisers ever.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 4:55 pm 
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Construction.

Canarias and Baleares’s hulls dimensions and shape, as well as general arrangement and superstructure (but the bridge) mirrored without doubt the large ocean-going County-class cruisers. Like in previous designs, British inspiration was prevalent, although the Spanish admiralty altered the design in depth.
The keels of both ships were laid down on August 15th. 1928, Canarias being launched on May 28th. 1931 and Baleares on April 30th. 1932.

Here you are both hulls on the slipways in Ferrol at the beginning of the construction.
Attachment:
(15) Cons. Canarias Baleares.jpg
(15) Cons. Canarias Baleares.jpg [ 266.47 KiB | Viewed 642 times ]

Both hulls had the unmistakable lines of the County design, with flush, tall and roomy decks. They also had from the start the anti-torpedo bulges of the Kent sub-class, with a slightly narrower beam.

Here Canarias:

Attachment:
(15b) Canarias 1931.JPG
(15b) Canarias 1931.JPG [ 38.97 KiB | Viewed 642 times ]

Attachment:
(15c) Canarias 1931.jpg
(15c) Canarias 1931.jpg [ 206.42 KiB | Viewed 642 times ]

Attachment:
(15d) Canarias.JPG
(15d) Canarias.JPG [ 62.8 KiB | Viewed 642 times ]

Attachment:
(16).jpg
(16).jpg [ 234.56 KiB | Viewed 642 times ]

And Baleares:
Attachment:
(17a) Baleares.jpg
(17a) Baleares.jpg [ 192.4 KiB | Viewed 642 times ]

Attachment:
(17b).jpg
(17b).jpg [ 200.23 KiB | Viewed 642 times ]

Attachment:
(18).jpg
(18).jpg [ 154.82 KiB | Viewed 642 times ]

The construction of both units was considerably delayed during the 2nd. Republic period, and they were still fitting out at Ferrol Naval Base, where they were seized by the nationalist forces, at the outbreak of the SCW.
Attachment:
(19).jpg
(19).jpg [ 96.44 KiB | Viewed 642 times ]


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Last edited by Willie on Mon Jan 27, 2020 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 5:05 pm 
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Bridge and funnels.

The differences with the Kent´s design were numerous for the completed ships: The machinery in particular was rearranged in order to provide a little more power, allowing them to reach 34 knots. Twelve torpedo tubes were fixed in the hull, and the bridge superstructure design evolved from the blueprints and ended with the very characteristic look that these ships had. The massive funnel structure was used at the same time as a platform for the searchlights.

Here you are three excellent shots of Canarias fitting out in dry dock in Ferrol, between 1932 and 1934.
Attachment:
(19b) Canarias 1932.JPG
(19b) Canarias 1932.JPG [ 57.34 KiB | Viewed 641 times ]

Attachment:
(20).jpg
(20).jpg [ 216.11 KiB | Viewed 641 times ]

Attachment:
(21).jpg
(21).jpg [ 198.9 KiB | Viewed 641 times ]

These were the conning tower and funnels of Canarias and Baleares when these units were eventually finished, as seen in this excellent post-war picture of Canarias, most probably dated 1939:
Attachment:
(22) Bridge and Funnel Canarias 1939.JPG
(22) Bridge and Funnel Canarias 1939.JPG [ 152.05 KiB | Viewed 641 times ]

These conning towers seem to have a very close resemblance to those designed for the Italian Navy more or less at the same time. As the constructions of Canarias and Baleares and these Italian units were virtually simultaneous I am not sure who was inspired by whom.
Here you are the structure of the Italian battleships Giulio Cesare and Cavour:
Attachment:
(23) Cesare-Cavour.jpg
(23) Cesare-Cavour.jpg [ 174.02 KiB | Viewed 641 times ]

And also the cruiser Raimondo Montecuccoli:
Attachment:
(24) RN RAIMONDO MONTECUCCOLI (2).jpg
(24) RN RAIMONDO MONTECUCCOLI (2).jpg [ 76.3 KiB | Viewed 641 times ]

And the same concept in the Dutch cruiser De Ruyter:
Attachment:
(25) De Ruyter 1.JPG
(25) De Ruyter 1.JPG [ 57.36 KiB | Viewed 641 times ]

The two funnels of the original design were turned into a single one at some moment of the development of the plans or maybe during the construction, but I have not been able to find out the reasons.

Canarias funnels after the war:
Attachment:
(26) Funnels Canarias.jpg
(26) Funnels Canarias.jpg [ 26.19 KiB | Viewed 641 times ]

Baleares funnels, because of the square shields of the a/a guns:
Attachment:
(27) Baleares.jpg
(27) Baleares.jpg [ 109.45 KiB | Viewed 641 times ]

And certainly Baleares funnels, because of the funnel cap that she wore for sometime before her sinking:
Attachment:
(28) Baleares.jpg
(28) Baleares.jpg [ 333.59 KiB | Viewed 641 times ]


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Last edited by Willie on Tue Jan 28, 2020 10:56 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 5:12 pm 
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This kind of arrangement was also very common on board Royal Navy ships in the 1920´s-1930´s, so as the Spanish constructions were very influenced by British designs, it is not difficult to imagine were the idea came from:
HMS Valiant:
Attachment:
(29) Valiant.jpg
(29) Valiant.jpg [ 35.89 KiB | Viewed 643 times ]

HMS Queen Elizabeth:
Attachment:
(30) Queen Elizabeth.jpg
(30) Queen Elizabeth.jpg [ 63.72 KiB | Viewed 643 times ]

Attachment:
(31) Queen Elizabeth.jpg
(31) Queen Elizabeth.jpg [ 133.88 KiB | Viewed 643 times ]

Curiously enough, again this solution seems to have been used in some other navies:
Here you are again IJN Nagato:
Attachment:
(32) Funnel Nagato.JPG
(32) Funnel Nagato.JPG [ 79.79 KiB | Viewed 643 times ]

And IJN Kumano:
Attachment:
(33) Kumano funnels.jpg
(33) Kumano funnels.jpg [ 87.33 KiB | Viewed 643 times ]

The same solution was eagerly adopted by the Italian Navy as well, as RN Alberto da Giussano proudly shows in Venice:
Attachment:
(34) ALBERTO DA GIUSSANO.jpg
(34) ALBERTO DA GIUSSANO.jpg [ 133.36 KiB | Viewed 643 times ]

And here RN Trieste, showing how things can go astray when talking about beauty:
Attachment:
(35) Trieste 1932.jpg
(35) Trieste 1932.jpg [ 119.75 KiB | Viewed 643 times ]

And the final product onboard the Argentinian cruisers, here ARA 25 de Mayo:
Attachment:
(36) 25 de Mayo.jpg
(36) 25 de Mayo.jpg [ 128.16 KiB | Viewed 643 times ]

And here ARA Almirante Brown:
Attachment:
(37) Almirante Brown.jpg
(37) Almirante Brown.jpg [ 98.05 KiB | Viewed 643 times ]

Attachment:
(38) Almirante Brown.jpg
(38) Almirante Brown.jpg [ 115.23 KiB | Viewed 643 times ]


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 5:17 pm 
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Machinery.

The final ships were also slightly lighter compared to the average County class at 14,150 tons fully loaded. As requested by the Spanish admiralty, a more powerful machinery was also installed, requiring rearrangements of the machinery space.

The original design included a catapult for a Hawker seaplane, which was never installed, as well as a powerful secondary a/a artillery.

Installed rated power was 90,000 shp (67,000 kW), driving four shafts Parsons geared steam turbines fed by eight Yarrow boilers. Top speed, requested and obtained in sea trials, which took place short before the SCW broke out, was 33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph). Overall range was 8,000 nmi, (15,000 km; 9,200 mi), at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph). This was much faster than the Counties at 31.5 knots (58.3 km/h; 36.2 mph) but range stayed the same. This long range was no longer required because of the absence of a colonial empire to patrol, but intended rather to be used as commerce raiders, that was their main duty during the war.

One of the Yarrow boilers onboard Canarias; the thirteen burners are visible:
Attachment:
(38b).jpg
(38b).jpg [ 32.42 KiB | Viewed 643 times ]


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Last edited by Willie on Mon Jan 27, 2020 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 5:19 pm 
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Armor.

Although the ships were slightly lighter and more powerful, they were not better protected than other London Treaty heavy cruisers, still constrained by the 10,000 tons limit, and this was woefully inadequate for ships of this size: the belt was 2 in (51 mm), complemented by a pair of long bulges; decks 1.5–1 in (38–25 mm), magazine box was 4 in (102 mm), the turrets 1 in (25 mm) and the conning tower 1 in (25 mm). Compared to this, the County-class had 1.25-inch (32 mm) over the machinery, 1.5-inch (38 mm) over steering gear, 1–4-inch (25–102 mm) on the main citadel’s sides and 1-to-2.5-inch (25 to 64 mm) crowns while the turrets were 1-inch (25 mm) faces, sides, rears, crowns and barbettes.
Attachment:
(38c) Canarias.JPG
(38c) Canarias.JPG [ 85.72 KiB | Viewed 642 times ]


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 5:27 pm 
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Main armament.

The main armament of Canarias and Baleares were eight 203 mm. (8.8 in) guns mounted in four turrets of the later model also mounted on board HMS Norfolk and Dorsetshire, with secondary range finder at the front of the turret instead on its sides, as it was usual on the Kent and London sub-classes. Unlike HMS Norfolk and Dorsetshire, whose guns could elevate only to 50º, the guns, Canarias and Baleares main guns could elevate to 70º.

Here are the turrets in construction…:
Attachment:
(39).jpg
(39).jpg [ 262.73 KiB | Viewed 642 times ]

…And already mounted on Canarias (notice the Moroccan troops behind the breaker):
Attachment:
(40).JPG
(40).JPG [ 86.24 KiB | Viewed 642 times ]

A group of officers in front of the rear turrets of Canarias again (notice the huge white cross painted on deck, used as a recognition mark during the first stages of the war):
Attachment:
(41).jpg
(41).jpg [ 57.37 KiB | Viewed 642 times ]

The turret design was needlessly complicated by the original requirement that they should be capable of anti-aircraft fire and were thus provided with a maximum elevation of 70°, despite the inability to train and elevate sufficiently quickly to track aerial targets and the complete lack of a suitable fire control system, but honestly, they look impressive when at top elevation:
Attachment:
(42).jpg
(42).jpg [ 104.86 KiB | Viewed 642 times ]

This other pic is a rare sight: Canarias turret nr.2 being dismantled after the ship was decommissioned in 1975, and sold for scrap in 1977.
Attachment:
(43) 1977.JPG
(43) 1977.JPG [ 57.08 KiB | Viewed 642 times ]


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 5:35 pm 
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Secondary armament.

Because of the outbreak of the SCW, the ships never received the secondary armament of the County-class and lacked therefore efficient a/a defence for a long time after entering service. Canarias was provisionally armed in the summer 1936 with four 102 mm. and some 57 mm. guns from the old battleship España. She was rearmed later with eight 120 mm. a/a guns, 4 twin 20 mm mounts and two twin 12.7 mm MG. As the British firm also refused, for political reasons, to send the fire director previously ordered, Canarias received a provisional Vickers fire director from a coastal battery, completed with some other elements purchased from the Portuguese navy.

Here you are some pics of Canarias or Baleares 120 mm. a/a battery :
Attachment:
(45).jpg
(45).jpg [ 87.43 KiB | Viewed 638 times ]

Attachment:
(46).jpg
(46).jpg [ 126.3 KiB | Viewed 638 times ]

And a very interesting picture :
Attachment:
(47).jpg
(47).jpg [ 137.76 KiB | Viewed 638 times ]

Other than the a/a machine gun on the right platform, the grey German helmets in this last picture mean probably that this is a post-war photograph, what means it has to have been made on board Canarias, what subsequently means that Canarias a/a battery did not received her shields until much later.

On the other hand, Baleares seemed to have received apparently only four, not eight, shields of a squared shape, different from later models, as it can be observed in these two pics of her while moored at Cádiz:
Attachment:
(47b).jpg
(47b).jpg [ 97.96 KiB | Viewed 638 times ]

Attachment:
(47c).JPG
(47c).JPG [ 47.57 KiB | Viewed 638 times ]

And this one, while lying at anchor:
Attachment:
(47d).JPG
(47d).JPG [ 81.9 KiB | Viewed 638 times ]

This further picture shows 120 mm. guns, with and without shields, along with the a/a MG:
Attachment:
(47e).JPG
(47e).JPG [ 26.81 KiB | Viewed 638 times ]

Canarias was eventually provided with new design shields for her a/a battery:
Attachment:
(48).jpg
(48).jpg [ 44.25 KiB | Viewed 638 times ]

And one clear shot of one of the a/a machine guns on its platform:
Attachment:
(49).jpg
(49).jpg [ 51.11 KiB | Viewed 638 times ]


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 5:39 pm 
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Canarias sea trials.

Canarias could start her sea trials in 1934. Here she is in one of the first outings, with turrets nr.3 and 4 still missing. Notice the republican flag and the foremast, that for some reason was later omitted:
Attachment:
(50).jpg
(50).jpg [ 87.97 KiB | Viewed 636 times ]

A futher trials day, this time with turret nr.3 already in its place:
Attachment:
(51) Canarias sea trials.JPG
(51) Canarias sea trials.JPG [ 60.8 KiB | Viewed 636 times ]

Attachment:
(51b) Canarias Sea trials.jpg
(51b) Canarias Sea trials.jpg [ 82.65 KiB | Viewed 636 times ]


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Last edited by Willie on Mon Jan 27, 2020 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 5:47 pm 
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Baleares enters service.

Much more behind schedule than Canarias, Baleares was also hastily completed, and entered service with both 203 mm. rear turrets and all the secondary artillery missing. Turret nr.3 was fitted in Cadiz in December 1936. She was originally provided 120 mm and 100 mm by the Italians and British 40 mm Bofors a/a guns, and got finally her nr.4 203 mm. turret only in the summer 1937.

This was hence Baleares after December 1936, and before July 1937 :
Attachment:
(52).JPG
(52).JPG [ 43.83 KiB | Viewed 634 times ]

Attachment:
(53).jpg
(53).jpg [ 165.76 KiB | Viewed 634 times ]

This rare, interesting picture shows the two units mooring together, Baleares showing the empty pit for turret nr.4 and displaying the white cross for aerial recognition:
Attachment:
(54).JPG
(54).JPG [ 54.48 KiB | Viewed 634 times ]

And so, this was Baleares in December 1936 or the very first months of 1937, turret nr.4 still missing, and apparently little of her a/a battery yet:
Attachment:
(55).JPG
(55).JPG [ 122.46 KiB | Viewed 634 times ]

And here Canarias, complete and fully operative:
Attachment:
(56) Canarias.JPG
(56) Canarias.JPG [ 114.21 KiB | Viewed 634 times ]

Their lines being virtually identical after both units were complete, Canarias and Baleares were very difficult to distinguish from each other. Many modelers and even naval authors often make mistakes when trying to identify these ships in pictures, as I could see while gathering pictures for this essay.
Other than minor details on the conning tower and the paint art on the sides of the turrets, the most obvious difference was the funnel cap that Baleares received at some moment, and that Canarias never had. Here you are Baleares with Canarias on the left background:
Attachment:
(57) Together.jpg
(57) Together.jpg [ 107.37 KiB | Viewed 634 times ]

When seen at some distance, they were virtually identical, and would mislead any eye. Here you are, necessarily before march 1938, the nationalist cruiser squadron, Canarias and Baleares (I am not able to identify them individually), with the light cruiser Almirante Cervera between them, and a minelayer and a gunship in the foreground:
Attachment:
(58) Cruiser squadron .JPG
(58) Cruiser squadron .JPG [ 25.82 KiB | Viewed 633 times ]


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 5:58 pm 
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Activity in the SCW.

Most commonly under the direct orders of the nationalist fleet commander, Francisco Moreno, and along with the light cruiser Almirante Cervera, both heavy cruisers would be used against the republican navy and freighters, running with great efficiency a severe blockade on the republican coast and commercial lines, seizing ships and freight from the USSR, France, Britain and Mexico without much interference, although the bulk of the pre-war Spanish navy was in the hands of the republicans. This blockade could be run with such a great success because the republicans were desperately short of officers, after the mass slaughter of navy officers on the republican side at the beginning of the war, something that is sometimes ignored. A well-known acid remark at the time stated that “the republican navy was commanded by corporals”.

Baleares greatest success took place in the morning on September 7th. 1937, when she intercepted a republican convoy escorted by the light cruisers Libertad and Méndez Núñez and six modern destroyers off cape Cherchell, Algeria.
Trying to protect the freighters Libertad and Méndez Núñez engaged Baleares, and in the action that followed at a range of 20,000-16,500 m. and at a speed of 29 knots, both Libertad and Baleares got hits on each other, Baleares finding range with the third salvo, and hitting Libertad four times, but getting herself hit twice, and sustaining a fire in one of the 120 mm. ready use magazines. In the meanwhile, two ships of the convoy ran aground close to Cherchell, one to become a total loss and the other one to be salvaged and interned by the French authorities, and two more were able to reach that port.

Here you are Baleares at the time of the action off cape Cherchell:
Attachment:
(59) Baleares .jpg
(59) Baleares .jpg [ 175.12 KiB | Viewed 631 times ]

Here you are two views of Libertad, as Príncipe Alfonso (her original name), before or very shortly after the Republic:
Attachment:
(60) Libertad Principe Alfonso.JPG
(60) Libertad Principe Alfonso.JPG [ 126.88 KiB | Viewed 631 times ]

And as Libertad, at a later stage of her life :
Attachment:
(61) Libertad .jpg
(61) Libertad .jpg [ 51.01 KiB | Viewed 631 times ]

And here cruiser Méndez Núñez, a ship that was already obsolete at the time of her launching :
Attachment:
(62) Méndez Núñez.jpg
(62) Méndez Núñez.jpg [ 22.87 KiB | Viewed 631 times ]

Attachment:
(63) Méndez Núñez.jpg
(63) Méndez Núñez.jpg [ 32.43 KiB | Viewed 631 times ]


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:07 pm 
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The last battle of Baleares.

The last action of Baleares happened in the early hours of March 6th. 1938, when the nationalist cruiser squadron in full, Baleares, Canarias and Almirante Cervera, escorting themselves this time a convoy coming from Italy, came across the cruisers Libertad and Méndez Núñez along with five destroyers.

Both squadrons were taken by surprise, and in the confusing action that followed, and after an ineffective gunnery duel, Vice-admiral Vierna, hoisting his flag onboard Baleares, ordered a course change to cover the convoy, in an order that has very much discussed ever since as the cruisers had no destroyer protection themselves at the moment, coming dangerously close to the enemy destroyers, each of them armed with six torpedo tubes. Three of the destroyers, Sánchez Barcáiztegui, Lepanto, and Almirante Antequera, had then the unexpected opportunity of launching a torpedo attack, what they immediately did.

Here you are the three ships involved in the torpedo attack, Sánchez Barcaiztegui:
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Lepanto:
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and Almirante Antequera:
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The effect of this attack was spectacular and horrific: Baleares was hit by two, maybe three, of the torpedoes launched against her between turrets nr.1 and 2, making the magazines to blow up and also destroying the conning tower, killing instantly all officers in the bridge along with admiral Vierna´s staff.
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Being deeply involved in the action, the rest of the nationalist units had to leave Baleares by herself to protect the convoy, and the republican units left the area immediately as well, so nobody on both sides could care for the survivors.

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Last edited by Willie on Mon Jan 27, 2020 7:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:23 pm 
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The sinking of Baleares.

The explosion had nevertheless been so massive that it had been seen by two British destroyers, HMS´s Kempenfelt and Boreas, that were sailing at some 40 nm. away and took it for what it actually was, a catastrophe, and headed immediately towards it.

By the time they had arrived, Baleares was already a burning derelict, sinking quickly by the bows. As the rest of the Spanish units had left the area, HMS´s Kempenfelt and Boreas did not hesitate in closing on Baleares and starting the rescue of the survivors. Here you are the sequence of her very last minutes, taken from one of the British destroyers. Notice the angle of the hull, and the aft turrets still trained off to port quarter and oil burning at the bows:
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The turrets are now closer to the sea level:
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Notice the steeper angle, the rudder and the screws, already visible:
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And this is what seems to be the last picture ever taken of Baleares, with the destroyer getting away from the sinking ship:
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The following morning was again very eventful, with HMS´s Kempenfelt and Boreas still taking survivors on board, and the nationalist cruisers, once the convoy had been secured, coming back to the rescue of survivors and take over the ones already onboard of the British cruisers. Notice the boats in the water and Almirante Cervera in the background:
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And here the same blessed Kempenfelt and Boreas, with Canarias:
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One of the survivors of Baleares being put down to a boat. Notice the Royal Navy hats:
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In the middle of the operation, the republican air force showed up to finish off what would remain of Baleares and to make as a profitable harvest as possible among the other units present; all ships, Spanish and British alike, reported have been attacked, but with little success: only the British destroyers sustained a casualty. Notice a British destroyer in the first picture, and Canarias (sadly very easy to identify from then on) in the second.
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This last picture, reputed by the republicans as being Baleares sinking, is actually Canarias surprised, while still stopped and releasing steam, by the republican air force. Notice the British destroyer and the mistaken date of the newspaper (!!!)
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:27 pm 
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This was the crew of Baleares, with admiral Vierna in foreground. One of my best friends´s uncle is somewhere here. 765 members of her crew were killed, and a further 441 could be rescued. May all of them rest in peace.
Incidentaly, Residencia Sanitaria Almirante Vierna used to be the name of the hospital were I was born.
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And this last picture was hanging for years on the bulkheads of frigate Baleares´s F71 commander cabin. I would say this portrays Baleares short before her sinking.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:33 pm 
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Canarias active service.

Canarias saw the first action on September 29th. 1936 in her first war patrol off Cape Espartel, close to Tangiers, engaging and hitting the Republican destroyer Almirante Ferrándiz at 16,000 m. with her second salvo, and stopping her with the third at 20,000 m., closing range and sinking her afterwards, opening Gibraltrar Straits for nationalist transports, greatly helping the deployment in the peninsula of the units in Africa, and speeding up the offensive on Toledo and Madrid.

This was Almirante Ferrándiz on May 27th. 1931, lying at anchor in Vigo, my town:
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A beautiful picture of a destroyer squadron before the war, with all the ships displaying the ID codes (no pennant numbers at the time) on their bows:
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And, as far as I know, these are the last pictures ever taken of Almirante Ferrándiz, completely disabled and already sinking, the first kill of Canarias:
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:37 pm 
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The Komsomol episode.

On December 14th. she sank the blockade runner Soviet freighter Komsomol off Oran, provoking a diplomatic crisis –and a bit more caution from the Soviets when shipping arms and supplies to Spain.
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Notice the air recognition markings in this excellent picture of Canarias: two black crosses on the white roofs of turrets nr.2 and 3,
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And here you are Canarias crew celebrating the victory at the end of the war. Notice the half mast, the clean sides and the absence of shields for the 120 mm. guns.
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And once the war was over, here she is again in 1939, sailing into Ferrol Bay:
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:43 pm 
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The post war period.

Canarias went all thorugh WWII with virtually no changes from her SCW appearance, other than neutrality markings: a national flag painted fore and aft, and other ones on turrets nr.2 and 3. Only the half mast behind the tower has been removed for some reason unknown to me.
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On May 27th. 1941, the Spanish Navy was requested by the Kriegsmarine to send some units to the place where Bismarck had just been sunk, in order to try and find survivors, and it was Canarias that was sent on this humanitarian mission. Sadly, by the time she got there, no survivor could be found, but only two corpses, that were taken on board, put into canvas bags and then respectfully buried in the sea.
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Surprisingly, a full tripod mast was added again aft of the conning tower sometime after the war, as it can be seen in this 1948 picture…
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The fire direction is already complete by now, and all the 120mm. a/a guns have their shields. And this was therefore her silhouette at the time:
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:48 pm 
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The end of the SCW --with units lost forever, and virtually every ship refitting or repairing-- was a very low moment for our Navy, scarce of everything that was not valor and devotion of duty.
In a good intended attempt to fill the gap, the Spanish admiralty designed in 1939 what was called “Ley de construcción de nuevas unidades navales” ("New naval units construction act"), that foresaw the construction of 4 battleships (based on the Italian Impero class), 2 armored cruisers, 12 light cruisers, 54 destroyers, 36 torpedo boats and 50 submarines among many other smaller units. It was too ambitious a plan, if not a dream, that did not consider the availability of the Spanish industry of the moment, nor the technology, nor the immense amount of money that would be required for its completion, and WWII sealed its fate nevertheless.

By the end of the WWII the new naval warfare lessons had been learnt, showing clearly the need of an aircraft carrier of some kind if a fleet wanted to have some chance of success in any future action.

The moment was not the best one for Franco´s regime, deprived of all international support, and having to deal with the aftermath of the SCW as well.

Desperately looking for an aircraft carrier, the Spanish Navy was offered in 1948 the Bogue-class escort carrier HMS Nabob, decommissioned in 1944 after being torpedoed by U354 in the Barents Sea, but supposedly in reasonable condition yet. The Navy commission sent to Holland (where former HMS Nabob was moored at the time) to inspect the ship found her in poorer than expected condition, with many key elements (including the catapults) missing, and the repairs being found anti economical.

After this fiasco, the Spanish Navy considered a second option, that was rebuilding Canarias as a light carrier, and hence what was called Project nr.66 was submitted in February 1950.

The plan intended a complete rebuild of Canarias saving only her hull and machinery, and adding a complete hangar and flight deck with an island. This was the basic sketch of Project nr.66:
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The final product would have been a unit with the general lines of the Royal Navy Colossus class carriers.
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Anyhow, the project was dropped after the navy was offered at the end of 1950 the hull of the former Italian heavy cruiser Trieste, that had been sunk in April 1943 at La Maddalena. For a chance, the oil of the ruptured fuel tanks had flooded the machinery spaces, acting as a preserver against salt water, and keeping them in reasonable condition. The hull of Trieste was bought at a very low price, towed first to Cartagena and then over to Ferrol, to try the conversion into a aircraft carrier. The whole action proved to be another failure and a waste of badly needed money, but it is a different story, in Rudyard Kipling´s words.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:58 pm 
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Refittings.

Saved from a conversion that from the very beginning showed little options for success, Canarias entered the yards at El Ferrol for a major refit in October 1952 .

The most noticeable change of this refit is that the broad double funnel was replaced by twin vertical stacks, a return to the original plan. The fore part of the conning bridge became enclosed and its wings extended.
The recently built foremast received a navigational radar antenna installed on the crosstree, but fire control remained nevertheless visually directed, and therefore very limited in the prevalent naval warfare conditions.

This was the section that experienced the bulk of the reconstruction.
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The after 4 pairs of German 37mm a/a guns gave way to 4 single 40´s. These were 40mm 70 cal. Bofors L-70 mounts built in Spain under license. Their elevation was -10° to 90°, their muzzle velocity 1,000m/sec, and rate of fire 240 rounds/min. Magazine capacity reportedly reached 12,000 rounds, but the lack of electronic fire director made all this array of some obsolescent weaponry virtually useless for modern warfare.

This change produced the final array of armament that would serve Canarias for the rest of her career: 8-203mm (8in.) guns paired in 4 turrets, 8-120mm (4.7in.) DP guns in single shielded mounts , 4-40mm a/a guns in single open mounts, 4-37mm a/a guns in double open mounts, 2-20mm a/a guns and 2-DCTs in stern racks.

Canarias emerged renewed in February 1953, and this was therefore her new looking from then on, a very unusual step back to the original design:
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The hope to mount an aircraft catapult, so long postponed, and by now the victim of radar and unhappy WWII experience with the flammability of shipboard aircraft, was finally dropped as obsolete, waiting for a fleet carrier.

By the end of the 1950s, Canarias received a sturdy tripod foremast fitted to carry a suite of radar and other antennas.
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A few years later she added a light bipod support to the mainmast for yet another radar antenna.
But all this was to be temporary, for in the 1960´s the Spanish Navy planned to make up for a belated entry into the electronic age with a thorough modernization of the flagship.

Preliminary plans called for guided Terrier SAM missile armament, as other nations were doing with gun cruisers, and U.S. semi-auto 127 mm turrets were received and stored at Ferrol, scheduled to take place of the 120 mm. But despite the soundness of her hull and machinery, Canarias was clearly an obsolescent vessel, and the plan was eventually dropped as not practicable. The Spanish Navy turned to the refitting of other existing units and the purchase the first five American Fletcher class destroyers, followed later by the 5 Gearing class units, that could perform almost any mission more efficiently and more cheaply.

Eventually the 127mm. turrets bought from the US Navy were fitted on the Spanish construction, cold war destroyers Roger de Lauria and Marqués de la Ensenada.

As for Canarias herself, a limited modernization was completed in 1969 instead. A roomy CIC was built half way aft of the bridge structure, complemented by an enlarged, covered conning bridge. A larger radar shack was fitted aft, and whip antennas were added to the stacks and bridge. Radars included a Decca 12 navigation set, a U.S. SG-6B surface search, and an Italian Marconi MLA-IB air search. Later she added a Marconi surface search as well.

So, this was the conning bridge alter her last refit:
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And this was her last and (IMHO) attractive look for the rest of her active life. Notice the two tripod masts, the radars, the new CIC, the enlarged bridge, the whip antennas everywhere:
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Unnecessary to say, her weaponry could have but a minor function in any conflict, but still being the Navy flagship, she was now more suitable as a command ship for modern operations.

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