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HMS Argonaut (1941); Warship; Cruiser

Powered warships

Object connections:

Collection Powered warships, Ship models
Gallery locationNot on display
VesselsArgonaut (1941)

Object details:

Object ID SLR1568
Description Scale: 1:128. A carefully and lovingly made model which, although not of the very highest quality, is full of interest and intricate detail made more impressive by the small scale that has been chosen. It is only a pity that it has suffered significantly from damp at some time in the past, the deck in particular now spotted with mould. The hull has been metal-plated to scale, on a wooden carcass, while the majority of the superstructure and deck fittings, such as the two triple torpedo tubes, are also made from wafer-thin sheet metal. It is evident that Mr Batchelor was a proficient metalworker. He also made the models of HMS ‘Kandahar’ (SLR1554) and HMS ‘Amethyst’ (SLR1583), which are stylistically similar. We can see that the ‘Dido-class’ cruiser was well armed – ten 5.25 inch guns, three on forward turrets and two aft, fifty QF Mark I guns, eight two pounder pompoms and six 21 inch torpedo tubes. HMS ‘Argonaut’ was 512 feet in length overall, and 6850 tons deep load. She was built by Cammell Laird, Birkenhead, and launched 6 September 1941, the last of the eleven ‘Dido-class’ light cruisers to be built during the War. Her wartime complement of 550 was supplemented by two ship’s mascots - Maiski the dog, who joined in Murmansk in October 1942, and then Minnie the cat who joined in Hebburn-on-Tyne in December 1943. As part of the Home Fleet she was in the Arctic where she lost three crewmembers due to the exceptionally severe weather. ‘Argonaut’ was then dispatched to the Mediterranean to act as a decoy for ships taking part in Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa. In December, as part of the 12th Cruiser Squadron, she was engaged in an hour-long battle, sinking or damaging several enemy ships. On 14 December she was hit by two torpedoes from the Italian Submarine ‘Mocenigo’, and was badly damaged, with both her bow and stern blown off. Three members of her crew were killed by the explosions. She managed to get to Gibraltar, via Algiers, using only two of her four propellers. In Gibraltar a make-shift bow was made which proved to be useless. The Germans were certain that the ‘Argonaut’ had been sunk and reported it on national radio. At home, the National Savings Committee announced that the City of Coventry had raised £2,250,000 to replace the ‘Argonaut’ following the public announcement by Germany. Repairs were planned to take place in Philadelphia, United States of America, but it meant crossing the U-boat-infested Atlantic. So on 4 April 1943 she set sail from Gibraltar and, after a protracted voyage reached the port at the end of the month. On returning to Britain in December 1943 ‘Argonaut’ joined the Home Fleet once again. She sailed from Greenock on 4 June 1944 with the 10th Cruiser Squadron and took part in Operation Neptune, the naval element of the invasion of Normandy (D-Day). Stationed off ‘Gold Beach’ she fired 400 shells on the first day and was struck by an enemy shell that penetrated the quarterdeck and emerged again on the starboard side, though luckily no one was hurt. In all ‘Argonaut’ fired 4359 shells in support of the operation. In August she was transferred to the Mediterranean for Operation Dragoon. Second only to the Normandy invasion, Dragoon was the controversial Allied invasion of the French Mediterranean coast. Initially, it was planned to coincide with the D-Day assault but, although a spectacular success, it got bogged down over military objectives between the American and British hierarchy. In September ‘Argonaut’ was moved to the Aegean where she encountered and sank a number of enemy troopboats. In early November she joined the Eastern fleet under Admiral Lord Louie Mountbatten and was attacked frequently by Kamikazes but sustained no significant damage. In January 1945 she was ordered to join the British Pacific Fleet, in Sydney, Australia, the largest fleet ever assembled consisting of 336 ships and 300 aircraft. After an eventful six months, she was withdrawn in August and sailed to Formosa (Taiwan) to help with the evacuation of British Prisoners of War. She then sailed to Shanghai and Hong Kong, again to repatriate British internees. She finally returned to Portsmouth in July 1946, placed on the reserve list and never re-commissioned again. In November 1955 she arrived at Cashmore’s Shipyard in Newport, South Wales, for disposal.
Date made

Artist/Maker Batchelor, M. A.
Place made Sutton Coldfield
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials wood; metal: brass; metal: tin; metal; paint; synthetic: plastic
Measurements Overall model: 307 x 165 x 106 mm; Base: 51 x 585 x 180 mm
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