The Danae or D-class was a class of light cruiser built for the Royal Navy at the end of World War I and that survived to see service in World War II.
were based on the design of the preceding C class
series, but were lengthened by to allow a sixth gun to be worked in between the bridge and the forefunnel. This gave an 'A', 'B', 'P', 'Q', 'X', 'Y' arrangement. Additionally, the twin torpedo
tubes in the C class were replaced by triples, giving the Danaes
a total of twelve tubes, the heaviest torpedo armament for a cruiser at the time. Machinery and general layout was otherwise the same as the Ceres group
of C class cruisers. However, Danae
were ordered before the Capetown
group, and therefore did not incorporate the improved bow design of the latter; the C class were very
wet forwards, and in the Capetowns
sheer was increased forwards into a knuckled "trawler bow". Such was the success of the knuckled bow that it was incorporated into all subsequent British cruisers (except Birmingham
of 1935 which was completed without). Despatch
had their beam increased by ½ foot to increase stability and Dragon
were completed with a hangar for a floatplane
built into the bridge, the compass platform being on top. Delhi
were provided with flying-off platforms for a wheeled aircraft aft. Despatch
were completed with 4 inch anti-aircraft
(A/A) guns vis
12 pounder (3 inch) guns in their sisters and Diomede
had 'A' gun shipped in a weatherproof housing CP Mark XVI, an encouraging development for gun crews hitherto exposed to the worst of the elements on the fo'c'sle
The lessons of the Battle of Jutland were applied and protection was improved in detail. Additional torpedo tubes were installed and depth charge throwers were also included. The Mk XII gun was retained but, in Diomede, a new prototype gun house (allowing greater elevation) was used and found to be most satisfactory.
Inter-war, all ships had their A/A armament standardised as three QF 4 inch Mark V on mountings HA Mark III, with a QF 2 pdr Mk.II gun in each bridge wing. All aircraft arrangements were also removed, and Dragon and Dauntless had their bridges rebuilt along the lines of the rest of the class.
Early war modifications included the addition of Radar Type 286 air warning at the foremast head and, later, Type 273 centimetric target indication set on the searchlight platform amidships. Between 6 and 8 20 mm Oerlikon guns were generally added, replacing the old 2 pounder guns in the bridge wings, on either side of 'P' and 'Q' guns and on the quarterdeck. In 1942, Dauntless (and in 1943, Danae) had the aft 4 inch A/A gun replaced by a quadruple mounting Mark VII for the 2 pounder Mark VIII gun and in 1943, Danae and Dragon had 'P' gun and the forward pair of guns replaced by two such mountings and their Radar Type 282 equipped directors.
Dragon and Danae were taken in hand again in 1943 and had the aft 4 inch / 2 pounder mountings replaced by a twin Mounting Mark XIX for the QF 4 inch Mark XVI gun. Danae also received twin in lieu of single Oerlikon mounts and later received a pair of single Bofors 40 mm guns. Diomede landed her torpedo tubes in 1943 and received one twin mount ""Hazemeyer" Mark IV and two single mounts Mark III for Bofors guns.
Between 1941 and 1942, Delhi was rebuilt in the United States as an A/A vessel. All armaments were removed, and five 5 inch L/38 Mark 12 guns in Mark 30 single mountings were added, controlled by a pair of Mark 37 Fire Control Systems. The guns were in all but the former 'P' position. She carried a new bridge and stepped light tripod masts fore and aft, carrying Radar Type 291 air warning. Sets Type 273 target indication was added amidships and Type 285 on the Mark 37 FCS for target ranging and bearings. The light armament consisted of two quadruple 2 pounder mounts Mark VII and their directors with Radar Type 282, a pair of twin Oerlikon mounts Mark V in the bridge wings and six single Mark III Oerlikon pedestal mounts.
Dragon and Durban were expended as breakwaters in support of the Normandy landings in June 1944, Dragon being replaced in Polish service by the Danae (as ORP Conrad) and Despatch was disarmed as a depot ship.
Three ships were ordered in September 1916 under the War Emergency Programme:
- Danae — built by Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth and Company, High Walker, laid down 11 December 1916, launched 26 January 1918, completed 18 July 1918, to Free Polish Navy 1944–1946 as ORP Conrad, sold for breaking up 22 January 1948.
- Dauntless — built by Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company, Jarrow, laid down 3 January 1917, launched 10 April 1918, completed 2 December 1918, sold for breaking up 13 February 1946.
- Dragon — built by Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Greenock, laid down 24 January 1917, launched 29 December 1917, completed 16 August 1918, to Free Polish 1944, damaged by German Neger manned torpedo off Caen 9 July 1944, written off and expended as breakwater off Normandy beaches 20 July 1944.
Three more ships were ordered in July 1917 under the War Emergency Programme:
- Delhi — built by Armstrong Whitworth, laid down 29 October 1917, launched 23 August 1918, completed 7 June 1919, sold for breaking up 22 January 1948.
- Dunedin — built by Armstrong Whitworth, laid down 5 November 1917, launched 19 November 1918, completed by Devonport Royal Dockyard October 1919. Transferred to Royal New Zealand Navy 1925; torpedoed and sunk by the German U-boat U124 off Saint Paul's Rock in the South Atlantic 24 November 1944.
- Durban — built by Scotts, laid down 22 June 1918, launched 29 May 1919, completed by Devonport Royal Dockyard 1 September 1921, expended as breakwater off Normandy beaches 9 June 1944.
Finally, six more ships were ordered in March 1918 under the War Emergency Programme:
- Despatch — built by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Govan, laid down 8 July 1918, launched 24 September 1919, completed Chatham Royal Dockyard 2 June 1922, sold for breaking up 5 April 1946.
- Diomede — built by Vickers Limited, Barrow-in-Furness, laid down 3 June 1918, launched 29 April 1919, completed Portsmouth Royal Dockyard 24 February 1922. Transferred to Royal New Zealand Navy 1925; sold for breaking up 5 April 1946.
- Daedalus — ordered from Armstrong Whitworth, cancelled 26 November 1918.
- Daring — ordered from William Beardmore and Company, Dalmuir, cancelled 26 November 1918.
- Desperate — ordered from R. & W. Hawthorn Leslie and Company, Hebburn on Tyne, cancelled 26 November 1918.
- Dryad — ordered from Vickers, cancelled 26 November 1918.