:: ABDIEL (1940) ::

HMS Abdiel minelayer cruiser (1940) High resolution picture

The HMS Abdiel, launched in 1940, was a British minelayer cruiser belonging to a class of six units which, destined to operate in solitary in enemy waters, were built with a relatively low silhouette and great speed even in sustained navigation, as well as the adequate armament to defend themselves from aerial or maritime attacks. The hull, of flush deck and low draft, was practically unarmored. The weapons from the first group of the class were considered of too short range, so this was rectified in the second group, which had as well improved antiaircraft armament.

Despite having been designed to reach a speed of 39.75 knots in conditions of light load, the most important characteristic of these cruisers was the capacity of sustaining during long periods, and in reasonable conditions, a speed of 35-36 knots. Designed for minelaying offensives only, their high speed and spacious mine deck rendered them as very valuable fast transports, becoming famous by their activities as supply transports in the Mediterranean, specially to Malta.

The HMS Welshman was torpedoed by the German submarine U-617 while fulfilling a mission, and the Latona was sunk after an air attack without having the chance of sowing a single mine. However the rest of the units of the Abdiel class laid important minefields during the war. The HMS Abdiel resulted sunk as well when arriving to the port of Taranto the 10th September 1943, due to the explosion of magnetic mines laid by German torpedo boats few hours earlier. The ship was fitted with demagnetizing equipment but it was especulated that it had been turned off to avoid the noise that it generated. The illustration shows the HMS Abdiel as she was when sunk in Taranto, painted with a "crazy quilt" camouflage scheme.

During the postwar the three surviving ships of the class were used mostly as flagships. The HMS Manxman was used as support ship for minesweepers between 1960 and 1963 and as school ship for engineer officers in 1969. Retired in January 1971 and scrapped in October 1972, she was the last surviving unit of the class. The HMS Apollo and HMS Ariadne had been scrapped in November 1962 and February 1965, respectively.

Class: Abdiel (4 units Group I - Abdiel, Latona, Lelshman, Manxman; 2 units Group II - Apollo, Ariadne)

Type: Minelayer cruiser/Fast cruiser

Length: 127.6 meters

Beam: 12.2 meters

Draught: 3.5 meters

Displacement (standard): 2692 tonnes

Propulsion: 2 x shaft, 2 x steam turbine Parsons, 4 x boiler Admiralty, 72000 horsepower

Speed: 39.75 knots (73.6 kilometers/hour)

Range: 3900 nautical miles (7222 kilometers) at 15 knots

Fuel: 701 tonnes of petrol

Complement: 236

Armament: 6 x 102-millimeter 45-caliber cannon, 4 x 40-millimeter cannon, 7 x 12.7-millimeter machine gun, 156 x mine

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