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Virtue Class





Photo of Vigour

Drawing of Vigour

Drawing Courtesy of Mike Lewis
Displacement 12,500 tons
Armament 10   8"
Med. and Light AA
Speed 33 knots
Vigour   1   2   7
Others   (1)   2   7

For the Coronation Naval Review in 1937 at Spithead, the British invited powerful fleet representatives from around the world. Japan, her navy founded on British principles, obliged and sent the heavy cruiser Ashigara. The Europeans, discovering that Japan had seven others like her, were duly impressed by the 12,000-ton cruiser with ten 8" guns in five twin turrets.

In "Grand Fleet" Britain was more interested in large numbers of medium-sized cruisers for better coverage of her world trade, but yearned for a Pacific-sized cruiser design to match Japan. Taking a cue from the upcoming King George V-class battleships, the Virtue Class Cruiser design featured ten 8" guns in three turrets--four guns each in "A" and "X" turrets, and two in "B". With modern dual-purpose secondaries, torpedo tubes, and large bunkerage these cruisers were a match for the heavy cruisers of any Axis navy. The lead ship in the class, Vigour, was completed in 1941, but the construction of her three sisters, Valour, Ardour, and Candour, were delayed by other wartime priorities.

Vigour accompanied CV Insuperable (classmate of Indomitable) and the rest of Force "Z" to Singapore in a show of strength. When the Japanese land-based bombers attacked Force "Z" at sea, Vigour took the brunt of the initial attack as the "Leading Battleship" and claimed as one by the Japanese after she sank.

The rest of the class, commissioned two years later, were equipped with radar-directed guns and accompanied the armored carriers of the British Pacific Fleet when they began their drive toward Japan. Though none of the latter three were sunk, they all were heavily damaged by air attacks (undoubtedly mistaking them for battleships, again!) and scrapped after the war.

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