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J, K and N-class destroyer
HMS Kashmir
HMS Kashmir
Class overview
Operators:  Royal Navy
 Royal Australian Navy
 Polish Navy
 Royal Netherlands Navy
 Indonesian Navy
Preceded by: Tribal-class
Succeeded by: L- and M-class
Subclasses: J, K, N
Completed: 24
Cancelled: 1
Lost: 15
Retired: 9
General characteristics as per Lenton[1]
Displacement: 1,690 long ton (1,717 tonnes) standard
2,330 tons full load (2,367 tonnes)
Length: 356.5 ft (108.7 m) o/a
Beam: 35.75 ft (10.90 m)
Draught: 12.5 ft (3.8 m) full
Propulsion: 2 x Admiralty 3-drum boilers, Parsons geared steam turbines, 40,000 shp on 2 shafts
Speed: 36 kt (32 kt full load displacement)
Range: 5,500 nmi at 15 kt
1,500 nmi at 32 kt
Notes: planned 183 (218 in leader)
General characteristics (N class)
Displacement: 1,773 tons standard (1,801 tonnes)
2,384 tons full load (2,422 tonnes)
Complement: 183 (218 in leader)
Notes: Other characteristics as per above

The J, K and N-class was a class of 24 destroyers of the Royal Navy launched in 1938. They were a return to a smaller vessel, with a heavier torpedo armament, after the Tribal-class that emphasised guns over torpedoes. The ships were built in three flotillas or groups, each consisting of eight ships with names beginning with "J", "K" and "N". The flag superior of the pennant numbers changed from "F" to "G" in 1940.

The ships were modified throughout their war-time service, particularly their anti-aircraft guns; they were also fitted with radar.

Design history

The design was intended as a smaller follow-on from the preceding Tribal-class, and incorporated one radical new idea that was a departure from all previous Royal Navy destroyer designs. That was the adoption of a two boiler room layout. This reduced hull length and allowed for a single funnel, both reducing the profile and increasing the arcs of fire of the light anti-aircraft (A/A) weapons. However, this also increased vulnerability, as there were now two consecutive large compartments with the resultant risk of a single well placed hit flooding both and resulting in a total loss of boiler power. This illustrates somewhat the Admiralty's attitude to the expendable nature of destroyers.[citation needed] This is of course, as opposed to the 3-boiler-room layout that was used starting with the F-class in the early 1930s. Early ships also tended to use twin boiler rooms, which are still a great improvement over a single boiler room. In any case, destroyers are lightly armored and fast vessels meant to survive by avoiding being hit at all. The odds of a single hit striking just the right spot to disable both boiler rooms simultaneously were considered remote enough to be worth risking in exchange for the benefits given by a two-room layout. During Prewar trials "...On a light displacement Jackal attained 37.492 knots, on the Arran mile in 60 fathoms, 34.37 knots deep. Jupiter in 75 fathoms made 33.835 knots light, 33.045 knots deep displacement."[2]

A significant advance in construction techniques was developed by naval architect Albert Percy Cole. Instead of going for transverse frame sections which were unnecessarily strong, but held together by weak longitudinals, Cole went for extra strong longitudinals and weaker transverse frames.[3]

Another advancement was changes to the bow design. The bow form was also modified from that of the preceding Tribal-class design; the clipper bow replaced by a straight stem with increased sheer. This change was not a success and as a consequence these ships were very wet forwards. This shortcoming was rectified from the S-class onwards by returning to the earlier form.

Despite the vulnerability of the boiler layout, the design was to prove compact, strong and very successful, forming the basis of all Royal Navy destroyer construction from the O-class up to the last of the C-class of 1943-1945.

The armament was based on that of the Tribals, but replaced one twin QF 4.7 in (120 mm) Mark XII (L/45) gun on mounting CP Mk.XIX with an additional bank of torpedo tubes. These mountings were capable of 40° elevation and 340° of training. Curiously, 'X' mounting was positioned such that the blind 20° arc was across the stern, rather than the more logical forward position where fire was obscured by the bridge and masts anyway. This meant that they were unable to fire dead astern. With the tubes now 'pentad', a heavy load of 10 Mk.IX torpedoes could be carried. A/A armament remained the same, consisting of a quadruple QF 2 pdr gun Mark VIII on a Mk.VII mounting and a pair of quadruple 0.5 in Vickers machine guns. Armament was further improved by replacing the quadruple machine guns with 20mm Oerlikons.[4] These ships, when completed, had a comparatively heavy close range AA armament.[5] Fire control arrangements also differed from the Tribals, and the dedicated high-angle (H/A) rangefinder director was not fitted, instead only a 12 ft (3.7 m) rangefinder[6] was carried behind the usual Director Control Tower (DCT). In the event, the rangefinder was heavily modified to allow it to control the main armament for A/A fire, and was known as the "3 man modified rangefinder". These ships used the Fuze Keeping Clock HA Fire Control Computer.[7]

The N-class were ordered in 1940 as repeats of the J design, after delays and cost over-runs associated with the larger and more complicated L and M-class. The only design change was to locate the 'X' 4.7-in mounting in the more logical position with the 20° training blindspot forward. While building, the same early wartime modifications as the Js and Ks were applied, with a pair of twin power-operated 0.5 in machine gun turrets briefly carried on the quarterdeck before being replaced by single 20 mm Oerlikons.

Church service aboard HMS Javelin, August 1940. Note the 4-inch QF Mk V anti-aircraft gun at upper left and the depth charges at bottom right


In 1940 and 1941, to improve the anti-aircraft capabilities, all ships had their aft torpedo tubes removed and replaced with a single 4 inch gun QF Mark V on a HA Mark III mounting. The relatively ineffective multiple 0.5-inch (13 mm) machine guns were replaced with a single 20 mm Oerlikon, with a further pair added abreast the searchlight platform amidships. The high-speed destroyer mine sweeps were replaced with a rack and two throwers for 45 depth charges and a Type 286 Radar air warning was added at the masthead alongside Type 285 fire control on the H/A rangefinder-director.

In 1942 the 4 in gun was removed and the torpedoes returned to all surviving vessels. The 20 mm Oerlikons were replaced with twin mountings (except those on the quarterdeck) and a Type 291 Radar replaced the Type 286. Jervis, Kelvin, Nerissa and Norman had the searchlight replaced with the "lantern" for centimetric target indication Radar Type 271; Javelin and Kimberley having the lighter Type 272 fitted at the truck of the foremast. Napier, Nizam and Norseman (and later, Norman) had American SG1 Radar fitted at the head of a new lattice foremast, Norman replacing her Type 271 set with a single 40 mm Bofors gun. By the end of the war, the surviving J and K ships carried a lattice mast with a Type 293 Radar target indication at the truck and a Type 291 air warning at the head.


Being amongst the Royal Navy's most modern and powerful destroyers at the outbreak of war, they were extensively committed. As a result, losses were heavy and of 24 ships built, six J, six K and one N-class were lost.


  • ‡ = flotilla leader


Name Builder Laid down Launched Completed Fate
F00 Jervis Hawthorn Leslie & Company, Hebburn 26 August 1937 9 September 1938 12 May 1939 Sold for scrap 1949
F22 Jackal John Brown & Company, Clydebank 24 September 1937 25 October 1938 31 March 1939 Bombed off Mersa Matruh on 11 May 1942 and scuttled by Jervis following day
F34 Jaguar William Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton 25 November 1937 22 November 1938 12 September 1939 Torpedoed by German U-boat U.652 off Sollum, 26 March 1942
F46 Juno
Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company, Govan 15 October 1937 8 December 1938 25 August 1939 Bombed and sunk south of Crete, 21 May 1941
F53 Janus Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend 29 September 1937 11 October 1938 5 August 1939 Torpedoed and sunk off Anzio by German aircraft, 23 January 1944
F61 Javelin
John Brown 11 October 1937 21 December 1938 10 June 1939 Sold for scrap 1949
F72 Jersey J. Samuel White, Cowes 1937 26 September 1938 28 April 1939 Mined off Valletta 2 May 1941, broke in two and sank 2 days later
F85 Jupiter Yarrow & Company, Scotstoun 28 September 1937 27 October 1938 25 June 1939 Hit a Dutch mine during the battle of the Java Sea 27 February 1942 and sank the following day
Ordered March 1937, cancelled December 1937[1]


Name Builder Laid down Launched Completed Fate
F01 Kelly Hawthorn Leslie 26 August 1937 25 October 1938 23 August 1939 Bombed by German aircraft and sunk south of Crete, 23 May 1941
F28 Kandahar Denny 18 January 1938 21 March 1939 10 October 1939 Mined off Tripoli 19 December 1941 and sunk by gunfire from Jaguar the following day
F12 Kashmir
John I. Thornycroft & Company, Woolston 18 November 1937 4 April 1939 26 October 1939 Bombed by German aircraft and sunk south of Crete, 23 May 1941
F37 Kelvin Fairfield 5 October 1937 19 January 1939 27 November 1939 Sold for scrap 1949
F45 Khartoum Swan Hunter 27 October 1937 6 February 1939 6 November 1939 Sank in Perim Harbour after an exploding torpedo air vessel started a fire which reached the aft magazine, 23 June 1940
F50 Kimberley Thornycroft 17 January 1938 1 June 1939 21 February 1940 Sold for scrap 1949
F64 Kingston White 6 October 1937 9 January 1939 14 September 1939 Seriously damaged by the Italian battleship Littorio during the Second Battle of Sirte, 22 March 1942. Bombed by German aircraft while in dry dock in Valletta on 11 April 1942 and written off as a constructive total loss. Expended as a blockship off Malta
F91 Kipling Yarrow 26 October 1937 19 January 1939 22 December 1939 Bombed and sunk by German aircraft off Mersa Matruh, 11 May 1942


Those N-class of the Royal Australian Navy were manned by, and commissioned into, that force, but remained the property of the British Government.

Name Builder Laid down Launched Completed Fate
 Royal Netherlands Navy
G84 Noble Denny 10 July 1939 17 April 1941 20 February 1942 To the Netherlands as Van Galen 1942, sold for scrap 1957
G16 Nonpareil Denny 22 May 1940 25 June 1941 30 October 1942 To Netherlands as Tjerk Hiddes 1942. To Indonesia as Gadjah Mada 1951, sold for scrap in 1961
 Royal Australian Navy
G97 Napier Fairfield 26 July 1939 22 May 1940 11 December 1940 Sold for scrap 1945
G02 Nestor Fairfield 26 July 1939 9 July 1940 12 February 1941 Bombed by Italian aircraft 15 June 1942 and sunk by depth charges from Javelin
G38 Nizam John Brown 27 July 1939 4 July 1940 19 December 1940 Sold for scrap 1955
G49 Norman Thornycroft 27 July 1939 30 October 1940 29 September 1941 Sold for scrap 1958
G25 Nepal
Thornycroft 9 September 1939 4 December 1941 29 May 1942 Sold for scrap 1955
 Polish Navy
G65 Nerissa John Brown 26 July 1939 7 May 1940 12 February 1941 To Poland as Piorun 1940, returned as HMS Noble 1946, sold for scrap in 1955


  1. 1.0 1.1 British and Empire Warships of the Second World War, H. T. Lenton, Greenhill Books, ISBN 1-85367-277-7
  2. March, Edgar J. (1966). British Destroyers: A History of Development, 1892-1953; Drawn by Admiralty Permission From Official Records & Returns, Ships' Covers & Building Plans. London: Seeley Service. OCLC 164893555. , p.350
  3. Mountbatten, Lord Louis, Earl of Burma. "Destroyer Design - HMS Kelly". Naval Historical Society of Australia. "originally printed in Naval Historical Review December 1979" 
  4. Hodges and Friedman, Destroyer weapons of WW2, p31.
  5. Hodges and Friedman, Destroyer weapons of WW2. Previous to the Tribal-class, RN destroyers carried either two 2 pdr AA guns or twin quadruple .5 in Vickers machine guns. USN destroyers, in the same time frame, usually carried four .5 in Browning machine guns.
  6. Langtree, Christopher, The Kellys, British J,K and N-class Destroyers of World War two, p36.
  7. Destroyer Weapons of WW2, Hodges/Friedman, ISBN 0-85177-137-8[page needed]


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