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HMS Cavalier Walkaround

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Luciano Satornetti (Littorio) shares this photo feature walk-around with us, of the "HMS Cavalier".

Vessel History

HMS Cavalier gave sterling service to God, The King, The Queen and the Country during her 27 years with the Royal Navy. She was one of 96 emergency destroyers ordered for the war effort between 1940-42. In early 1943 J.S. White & Co's shipyard at Cowes, Isle of Wight, was recovering from widespread damage by enemy bombing. In rebuilding, the company followed up an Admiralty request for British shipbuilders to develop the use of electric welding in warship construction. Cavalier was privileged to be among the first ships to be built with a partially welded hull, the forward and after parts, while amidships remained riveted to ensure strength. The welding proved very successful. The new process gave the ship additional speed and women were able to handle the welding more efficiently than the heavy job of riveting, important at a time when most men were required for active service.

Cavalier's keel was laid at the White yard on 28th February 1943. She was launched on 7th April 1944 and finally completed on 22nd November 1944. HMS Cavalier joined the 6th Destroyer Flotilla, Home Fleet, and quickly saw action. In February 1945 she took part in three operations off Norway, "Selenium", a strike against enemy shipping, "Shred" to provide fighter cover for a minesweeping flotilla and "Groundsheet", an aircraft mine laying strike.

Cavalier was one of three destroyers sent from Scapa to reinforce the escort of Arctic Convoy RA64, which had left the Kola Inlet on 17th February. After being attacked by U-boats and enemy aircraft on 23rd February the convoy was scattered in a hurricane combining force 12 winds with icing. Cavalier went to round-up the convoy with the other escorts, and on 1st March thirty-one of the thirty-four merchant ships arrived safely in the Clyde. This mission earned HMS Cavalier a well deserved "Battle Honour".

Because of Cavalier's high speed capability, she was selected to help escort the then troopships RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth, bringing thousands of American soldiers across the dangerous war zone of the Atlantic Ocean. The journey was completed at such speed that one of her crew described conditions on board as "horrendous." In 1945, after the war in Europe was finished, Cavalier and other destroyers of the 6th Flotilla were detached to the Western Approaches Command and based on the Clyde. In June the 6th Flotilla was allocated to the British Pacific Fleet, and HMS Cavalier was taken in hand for refit at Rosyth. On completion in mid-August, the war with Japan had ended and the 6th Flotilla was ordered to relieve the 11th Destroyer Flotilla on the East Indies Station where Cavalier took part in the bombardment of Surabaja, Java. In June 1946 Cavalier returned to Britain and was reduced to reserve.

HMS Cavalier was refitted at Portsmouth and modernised at Thornycroft's, Southampton, between 1955 and 1957. Her capabilities were enhanced as a general-purpose escort ship. The latest Mk 6M fire control and remote power control were fitted to her guns; her after torpedo tubes were replaced by a deckhouse with two Squid anti-submarine mortars and a twin Mk 5 Bofors anti-aircraft gun fitted above. This modernisation did little to alter her wartime structure with its lattice mast, single funnel and the crew remaining at the mercy of the elements for much of the time. July 1957 was spent in the far east again, joining the 8th Destroyer squadron at Singapore.

It was one of Cavalier's final duties that was to secure her a proud place in Naval history. Following a challenge set during an exercise in 1970 a race was arranged between HMS Cavalier and the frigate HMS Rapid to decide which ship was faster. The challenge was particularly interesting as Rapid, being a former "R" class destroyer, had a hull form and machinery outfit identical to that of the Cavalier. Both ships were now elderly by Naval standards, but with the passing of the fleet destroyers, they were still two of the fastest vessels in the Royal Navy. A national newspaper donated a trophy for the "Fastest Ship of the Fleet", attracting great publicity. On 6th July 1971 the two ships met off the Firth of Forth in perfect weather.

After two hours the race had little in it, Cavalier had worked level with Rapid when the frigate lifted a safety valve. HMS Cavalier was declared winner by a mere 30 yards, over a distance of 64 miles. Her average speed was 31.8 knots, a speed very few more modern ships could achieve. Since then Cavalier has been affectionately known as "The Fastest of the Greyhounds". After a record 27 years, of Royal Navy service for such as ship, HMS Cavalier was approved for disposal in December 1971 and returned to Chatham for the last time on 5th July 1972 where she was laid up to await her fate...
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About the Author

About Luciano Satornetti (Littorio)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH EAST, UNITED KINGDOM

Ok, firstly I build what ever takes my fancy however I mainly build 1/350 ships and 1/144 aircraft, all that said I also build naval and reconn 1/48 aircraft. To that if it was built by Hawker, Grumman or is a twin Bristol, Beaufighter etc but also including the Brisfit or was flown by VF-101 (now V...