"The demise of the CVA-01 carrier programme and the cancellation of all but one Type 82 destroyer – both politically motivated decisions – left the Royal Navy
with a potential situation where it would be seriously lacking in any effective form of defence against air attack. The fleet air defence provided by the carrier’s
fighters and airborne early warning aircraft would soon disappear and the limitations of the Seaslug surface-to-air missile aboard the ‘County’ class ships were
already recognized. In these circumstances it was vital to get the new Sea Dart missile into service as soon as possible so that it would be available in the mid-
1970s when it was expected that the last of the carriers would have paid off.
" (Royal Navy Destroyers Since 1945, 1989, by Leo Marriott, at page 116) Even the
government saw the need for new destroyers for the anti-aircraft role but true to any bureaucracy imposed artificial and severe restrictions upon the new design based
on a maximum cost of 11 million pounds sterling for each vessel. The result was the Type 42 destroyer.

To achieve a destroyer design to carry the Sea Dart missile within the cost restrictions imposed severe design constraints. The initial Type 42 destroyer was the
minimum size vessel capable of deploying the Sea Dart missile system. One look at the dimensions of the Type 42 design reflects how much smaller these ships were
from the preceding Type 82 design. With a length of 412-feet (oa) and beam of 46-feet, they were almost 100-feet shorter and ten feet narrower than
HMS Bristol.
At a displacement of 3,500-tons standard (4,100-tons full load), they were almost half the weight of the Type 82 design. To save costs the final design was greatly
shortened. This decision made the ships extremely cramped, extremely wet and eliminated any margin for future upgrades on the completed destroyers. "
Sheffield
was too short. It is rumoured that 30ft of her hull was chopped off at the design stage for a minimal saving in unit cost. Whatever the reason the short length of
the hull gave rise to a host of problems. Some reports suggest the ship had a tendency to dig her nose into a heavy sea, and the forward 4.5in gun position and
the Sea Dart launchers both look very wet. Internal arrangements were cramped, maintenance and repair difficult, and reports suggest the Operations Room was
particularly crowded and thus rendered inefficient. The ships in their first form appear to have marked a quantum leap backwards from the ‘Leander’ hulls
."
(
British Warship Designs Since 1906, 1985 by G. M. Stephen, at page 103)
Six Type 42 destroyers were initially ordered with the lead ship HMS Sheffield. Originally ordered in 1968, when construction started in 1970, the ships took an
extraordinary long time to build at five years. This was longer than it took the British ship building industry to build battleships of the past. Two of these were lost in
the Falklands War.
Sheffield was hit by one aircraft launched exocet anti-ship missile on May 4, 1982 and sank while being towed to South Georgia. On May 25,
1982 another Type 42,
HMS Coventry, was hit by three bombs and sank in fifteen minutes. Both losses reflected a lack of a point defense system and inadequate
damage control. A third sister was more lucky.
HMS Glasgow was hit on May 12 by a single 1,000 pound bomb, which fortunately passed through the ship without
exploding. If it had exploded it would have been likely that she would have been lost as well, in which case, three of the initial six Type 42 destroyers, designed for
anti-aircraft missions would have been lost to air attacks within the span of a month.

The initial Type 42 design was modified after the ships started entering service. In 1976 two of the new ships were ordered, followed by orders for two more. The
differences between these four and the initial six Type 42 destroyers was in the electronics fit. The Type 1022 radar, replaced the Type 965 radar of the initial
design. It was far more effective and further enhanced by new computer software. They also shipped the Lynx helicopter, rather than Wasp, carried by the first
ships as fitted. One additional change was the addition of an ASW STWS-1 torpedo system. The first six ships were given the designation of Type42A or batch one
ships and the second four Type42B or batch two ships. Only two of the Batch Two ships were ready by the time of the Falklands war but only one of these,
HMS
Exeter
, saw action. 0The size of the design did not change until the Type 42 was reworked for a third design. This design actually reverted to the initial design for
the ships before government politicians had economized the design by shortening them.
The photographs show the 1:1250 scale model of HMS Exeter, Type 42 Batch 2 destroyer. The model is prepainted and designed for collectors by the German firm
of Albatros-K-Modell. Albatros Modell's products are available from a number of vendors of 1:1250 scale models. The Albatros
Exeter makes an interesting and
historical addition to any Royal Navy destroyers or modern destroyers collection in the scale.
Steve Backer
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