HMAS Vampire - final AA fit and maximum speed?

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Rob Stuart
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HMAS Vampire - final AA fit and maximum speed?

Postby Rob Stuart » 10 Sep 2017 18:18

Is anyone in a position to confirm that HMAS Vampire’s AA armament on the day she was lost, 9 April 1942, consisted of the following:

one 12-pounder
two single 2-pounder pom-poms
two twin Lewis guns
two 20mm Oerlikons

The 12-pdr was installed 4-12 April 1941, at Alexandria, according to Vampire’s Letter of Proceedings for April 1941, which can be accessed at ... 072813.pdf (page 47).

The two pom-poms were installed on 5 January 1942, at Singapore, according to Vampire’s Letter of Proceedings for that month, which can be accessed at ... 072813.pdf (page 19).

I don’t know when the twin Lewis guns were fitted, but they are visible in the photo posted by David Verghese in the thread at ... php?t=1549, which was taken between 5 December 1941 and 4 January 1942. The twin Lewis guns were definitely still in place on 13 January, since the letter of proceedings for that month notes that they fired on a trio of floating mines.

The two Oerlikons were installed “during the last refit … on the old 0.5 machine gun platform”, according to Enclusure No. 1 to the“Report of Proceedings 9th April, 1942”, by the Senior Surviving Officer, HMAS Vampire, 10 April 1942, which is in the UK National Archives in ADM 199/623. This same report notes that the 12-pounder, the pom-poms and the Oerlikons engaged the Japanese aircraft on 9 April. It makes no reference to the Lewis guns, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t still there. The letter of proceedings for January indicates that at least one “Vickers gun”, presumably of the 0.5 variety, was in use on 13 January, so pehaps “the last refit” was undertaken after that date. (There is no letter of proceedings for March.)

Does anyone have any additional info?

Also, I’m wondering what Vampire’s maximum speed may have been by 9 April. The RAN site on Vampire ( says that in April 1940, after a 30 day refit at Malta, her best speed was 28 knots. By May 1941, before the refit at Singapore, defects accumulated during several months of hard service started to cause vibrations at speeds above 16 knots. The letter of proceedings for November 1941, when the refit was nearing its completion, indicates that on or shortly after 16 November “steaming trials of three hours running at twenty knots and one hour at 24 knots” were satisfactorily carried out. On 26 November “a very satisfactory steaming trial at four fifths power was carried out; unfortunately, a defect eveloped in the after boiler fans at the end of this trial and full power trials had to be abandoned.” The defect was soon corrected, but, according to the December letter of proceedings, the refit was never “properly finished off”. Is there any firm evidence that Vampire could steam at more than 24 knots at any point after November 1941?

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