E Class (1934) DD

The 1931 destroyer construction programme resulted in the E Class (1934) DD destroyers.

They had a hull form slightly modified from the C Class, being slightly heavier and with each of the boilers in separate spaces. All were originally intended to be fast minelayers carrying 60 mines. But because the minelaying gear was a new design, the usual RN conservative practice meant only Esk and Express were fitted as minelayers. To function as minelayers the A and Y guns and torpedo tubes had to be landed. Although the change could be made quickly, if enemy ships were encountered after laying their mines it left them very vulnerable.

Although in 1932 it was realise that destroyer designs had poor anti-aircraft armament, little was done to improve this aspect. Consequently they suffered badly from this during the early part of WW2.

When completed they formed the 5th Destroyer Flotilla, with the Home Fleet. But in 1939 just before  WW2 broke out, they all, except the two minelayers, went into reserve, with their places in 5th Flotilla being taken by the new K Class destroyers.

Esk and Express formed the 20th Destroyer Flotilla for minelaying duties in early December 1939, being joined by the four minelaying ships of the later I Class. 20th was a revival of the same numbered Minelaying Flotilla of WW1.

Five of the eight E Class destroyers were lost during WW2.


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This page last edited - 03 May, 2013.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.