When the Type 82 air defence cruisers were cancelled along with the proposed CVA-01 carrier by the Labour Government of 1966, the Type 42 was proposed as a lighter and cheaper design with the same capabilities as the Type 82. The class is fitted with the Sea Dart surface-to-air missile first deployed on Bristol. The Type 42s were also given a flight deck and hangar to field an anti-submarine warfare helicopter, greatly increasing their utility compared to the Type 82.
The design was budgeted with a ceiling of £19 million per hull, but soon ran over-budget. The final design at (£21 million) became the 'Batch 3'. To cut costs, the first two batches had 47 feet removed from the bow and the beam-to-length ratio was reduced. These Type 42s performed poorly during the contractor's sea trials particularly in heavy seas and the hull was extensively examined for other problems. The Batch 1s (Sheffield through to Cardiff) and Batch 2s (Exeter through to Liverpool) are notoriously poor sea-keepers compared to the later Batch 3s.
The class was fitted with exhaust deflectors to her Rolls Royce Olympus TM1A turbine engines to minimise damage to overhead aerials. As this was a prominent target for then new infra-red homing missiles, the deflectors were removed during later refits in Portsmouth. All subsequent Olympus and Tyne uptakes were fitted with 'cheese graters' which mix machinery space vent air with the engine exhaust.
The Argentine versions of this class are both based at Puerto Belgrano; Santisima Trinidad now being used for spares for her heavily modified sister, Hercules, which has a new aft superstructure and hangar and Exocet missile launchers.
The Type 42 is also equipped with a 4.5 inch (114 mm) gun and six torpedo launchers. Two Vulcan Phalanx Mk 15 Close-In Weapons Systems (CIWS) were fitted to British type 42s after the loss of Sheffield to an Exocet missile. There have been three batches of ships, Batch 1 & 2 displacing 4,820 tonnes and Batch 3 (sometimes referred to as the Manchester class) displacing 5,200 tonnes. As per the norm, Batch 3 ships were heavily upgraded. Although the Batch 3 ships were lengthened, the planned Sea Wolf missile systems were never fitted. Because of their more general warfare role, the two Argentine ships have been fitted with the MM38 Exocet, and not with a CIWS.
The electronics suite includes one Type 1022 D-band long range radar with Outfit LFB track extractor or one Type 965P long ranger air survellience radar, one Type 996 E/F-band 3D target indication radar with Outfit LFA track extractor or type 992Q surface search, two Type 909 I/J-band fire control radars and an Outfit LFD Radar Track Combiner.
In recent years the importance of the ageing Type 42 destroyers has increased. The UK has adopted an increasingly expeditionary defence policy and the deletion of the Sea Dart missile systems from the Invincible class aircraft carriers has made the role of escort all the more important.
All ships are propelled by Rolls Royce TM3B Olympus and Rolls Royce RM1C Tyne gas turbines, arranged in a COGOG (Combined Gas or Gas) arrangement, driving through Synchronous Self-Shifting Clutches into a Double Reduction, Dual Tandem, Articulated, Locked-Train gear system and out through five blade Stone Manganese Controllable Pitch Propellers (CPP). All have four Paxman Ventura 16YJCAZ diesel generators, each creating 1 MW of 3ph 440V power.
The Type 42s are now to be replaced by six Type 45 destroyers. Named; HMS Daring, Dauntless, Defender, Dragon, Duncan and Diamond have been ordered. The Type 42 class has always suffered from cramped accommodation, a problem for crew safety and comfort, and also when finding space for upgrades. The Type 45s are to be considerably larger, displacing almost 7,400 tonnes, compared to the Type 42 displacement of 4,820–5,200 tonnes.
|Sheffield||D80||VSEL||10 June 1971||16 February 1975||Portsmouth||Sunk in Falklands War|
|Birmingham||D86||Cammell Laird||30 July 1973||3 December 1976||Portsmouth||Sold for Scrap|
|Newcastle||D87||Swan Hunter||24 April 1975||23 March 1978||Portsmouth||Awaiting Disposal|
|Glasgow||D88||Swan Hunter||14 April 1976||25 May 1977||Portsmouth||Awaiting Disposal|
|Cardiff||D108||VSEL||22 February 1974||24 September 1979||Portsmouth||Awaiting Disposal|
|Coventry||D118||Cammell Laird||21 June 1974||20 October 1978||Portsmouth||Sunk in Falklands War|
|Exeter||D89||Swan Hunter||25 April 1978||18 September 1980||Portsmouth||Extended Readiness|
|Southampton||D90||Vosper Thornycroft||29 January 1979||31 October 1981||Portsmouth||Extended Readiness|
|Nottingham||D91||Vosper Thornycroft||18 February 1980||8 April 1983||Portsmouth||Extended Readiness|
|Liverpool||D92||Cammell Laird||25 September 1980||9 July 1982||Portsmouth||Active|
|Manchester||D95||VSEL||24 November 1980||16 December 1982||Portsmouth||Active|
|Gloucester||D96||Vosper Thornycroft||2 November 1982||11 September 1985||Portsmouth||Active|
|Edinburgh||D97||Cammell Laird||14 April 1983||17 December 1985||Portsmouth||Active|
|York||D98||Swan Hunter||21 June 1982||9 August 1985||Portsmouth||Active|
|Armada Republica Argentina|
|ARA Hercules||BV52||VSEL||24 October 1972||12 July 1976||Puerto Belgrano||Active|
|ARA Santisima Trinidad||D2||AFNE, Rio Santiago||9 November 1974||1 July 1981||Puerto Belgrano||Awaiting disposal|
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