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HMS Petard - T7 British Premium Destroyer

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HMS Petard - T7 Premium British Destroyer

This is a combined history and gameplay suggestion for the inclusion of HMS Petard (G56) as a premium destroyer in the British tech tree.


HMS Petard in Eastern Fleet Livery the hull should be light blue with light grey upperworks and funnels. The bands on the funnel indicate the 11th destroyer flotilla. Navy Photos/Kimberley Lindsey

The 'Intermediate' Destroyer

The O and P class destroyers, of which Petard was one of 16 ships represent a bridge between the last pre-war destroyers of the JKN and LM classes, and the 'War Emergency Program' destroyers. The O's were ordered a handful of days before the outbreak of WWII in Europe, and the P's a month later so much of the design work was completed before that, though some early war experience could be applied.

When designing the O and P class the British faced several conflicting factors and constraints. The fleet role of the destroyer, to defend against and carry out torpedo attacks was still considered important. Anti-submarine warfare favored a smaller, handier ship and one less likely to be a juicy target to an enemy submarine. Range, equipment and seakeeping ability favored a larger ship. Firepower was known to be lacking against some competitors. Cost was a factor, the JKN class were costing £635,000 significantly more than the £480,000 for an H class.

In the end a slightly modified JKN class hull and machinery set were decided upon - that being the latest state of the art. A distinctive single funnel, the streamlined bridge, slight bow-flare and two sets of torpedo tubes with searchlight platform between them were all distinctively similar. The design was rated for 37kt, though was usually slower under load, and could steam about 3,800 nautical miles at 20kt, enough for an Atlantic crossing with a little margin.

As for armament, the RN as a whole was also in a weapons crunch, with destroyer guns intended to be changing to a new 62lb shell throwing 4.7in gun (which would eventually equip only some of the L&M class - in game Lightning), but with shortfalls in weapon production and an increase in the desire for a dual-purpose armament the O and P class ended up armed with odds and sods. The O's had a 4x1 4.7in outfit, while the P class were equipped with old (circa 1913 design) 4in guns in similar high-angle mountings as some of the C-class anti-aircraft cruiser refits mounted. These had the advantage of high elevation and with a light shell could produce high rates of fire (firing all-out I've seen as high as 22 RPM) though with fuse setting this rate dropped significantly, on the downside for anti-ship work the gun was very light and ballistically unimpressive. Some of the P class completed with a 5th 4in gun in place of one of the torpedo tubes, but Petard completed with 4 guns, 3 with very basic shields while the after most gun had nothing at all to protect the crew. A quadruple 2-lb pom-pom provided the medium caliber anti-air (and anti-light ship) gun, while 2 (later 4, later 8) 20mm Oerlikons were fitted.

The ASW outfit as completed included standard British escort Type 144 ASDIC, 70 depth charges and 4 (later 6) DC throwers and 2 DC rails - a significant increase in magazine and firepower compared to pre-war completed ships which had 20-30 charges as built. The ships also completed with a range of fairly basic radar, in Petard's case apparently the metric Type 286 which could provide some surface and air warning.

Petard - Construction and Working Up

Petard was one of two P class built at Vickers-Armstrong's Tyne yard on the English east coast, near Newcastle. Ordered in October 1939, she was lain down in December 1939 and commissioned in June 1942. A build time of about 2 1/2 years made her one of the slower P class to complete with a number of sisters in service ahead of her.

On commissioning Lt. Commander Mark Thornton was assigned as Captain. Thornton had been a destroyer captain from the outbreak of the war, and had previously commanded destroyers HMS Scimitar and HMS Harvester. With Harvester he had had some success in the anti-submarine role, assisting in sinking U-32 in October 1940, and U-208 in December 1941. He was a taut, highly motivated officer very insistent on punishing damage-control training and insistent on maintaining a vigorous and relentless lookout. Petard enjoyed an intensive 2 month training regime, operating out of Scapa Flow and bringing a crew up to speed on everything from ship and boat handling, to ASW, gunnery control and launching torpedo attacks.

Petard completed her work up in July 1942 and was transferred to the Mediterranean to join two of her 'P' sister ships and the 12th Destroyer flotilla comprising Pakenham, Paladin and the Greek Vasilissa Olga. On the 7 1/2 week journey she escorted convoy WS 21 without major incident, though she made the acquaintance of cruiser HMS Hawkins. The 12,000 nautical mile trip well illustrates the issues of Italy's entry to the war for Britain, the short way to Egypt through the Med would have been only about 3,200 nautical miles.


Norman Friedman's British Destroyers & Frigates: The Second World War & After shows HMS Offa, a near-sister of Petard in the same configuration with 4x1 4in guns, Y unshielded and two quad torpedo tubes.

Enigma and U-559

On arriving in the Mediterranean in September 1942, Petard conducted exercises with her new flotilla, the 12th under the command of Captain (D) Eric Stevens. Petard was paired up with the Greek destroyer Vasilissa Olga in a sub-division and developed a good relationship with that ship. The Petard did not have to wait long for her first significant action in the Mediterranean, conducting exercises and anti-submarine patrols and having her first encounter with German Ju88 bombers.

The first major success came a little over a month after arriving. The U-boat U-559 was spotted by an RAF aircraft NNE of Port Said, Egypt. The 12th DF, including Petard sortied from Port Said to assist in hunting the submarine, reaching the site at 1000 that morning. In an involved search, Petard paired with the Hunt class Dulverton, while Pakenham paired up with Hurworth, and finally at 2200 - 12 hours after first making contact - Petard delivered a damaging attack, bringing U-559 to the surface where her crew started abandoning ship.

A race was now on, crew from Petard launched a sea boat and the First Lieutenant and a young seaman even swam/jumped from the destroyer to the mortally wounded submarine. The two swimmers, Tony Fasson and Colin Grazier plunged inside the submarine in a desperate search for secret documents, assisted by a 16-yr old canteen assistant, Tommy Brown and several other crewmn. After successfully retrieving a handful of documents from U-559, the submarine sank abruptly taking Lt. Tony Fasson and Able Seaman Colin Grazier down with her. Petard rescued 38 or 40 German survivors and Tommy Brown from the water.

At the cost of two lives, including her XO and after a 16-hour hunt Petard had destroyed a U-boat and captured critical Enigma coding documents. The ship took the documents into Haifa, Palestine for collection by Intelligence Officers. The documents captured included the weather report code book for short signals, which produced 'cribs' or clues to other messages and, paired with German mispractice of using a 4-wheel enigma to encode short 3-wheel messages allowed Bletchley Park to break Enigma in December 1942. The tonnage losses to U-boats which had been 729,000t in November 1942 fell to 331,000t in December 1942, and as low as 203,000t in January 1943. While the reduction cannot be attributed to Enigma alone, the impact was clearly tremendous.

Petard, a month into here Mediterranean service had made a big difference in the Battle of the Atlantic.


Petard looking rather worn and possibly wearing Home Fleet dark grey livery. Hugh Sebag-Montefiore

Stoneage and Uarsciek

On 17 November 1942 the British launched Operation Stoneage, the effort to get convoy MW13 to Malta, Petard was one of the large number of destroyers assigned to the escort and on the first day spotted and rescued 5 lucky shot-down RAF crew, bobbing around in a dinghy, and assisted in fighting off the initial air attacks, on 18 November a coordinated attack at dusk by 28 torpedo armed Ju88's and flare droppers landed a torpedo hit forward on the light cruiser Arethusa causing an explosion, fire and killing 156, wounding 42. Petard and Javelin were detached from the convoy to stand by the stricken cruiser. Javelin was returned to the convoy and Petard provided ASW cover before taking the cruiser in tow, at up to 10kt before the tow parted and had to laboriously be re-established. The next day high level air attacks added to the woes of the two ships and the force of the forward tow started to buckle Arethusa's damaged bulkheads. Petard had to stop the tow again, and re-connect to tow the cruiser stern first. The tow was a two day ordeal pushing the crew to the limits of endurance and seamanship, but Arethusa survived and the convoy was a success.

In the follow up to MW 13 convoy, the imaginatively named... MW 14, Petard escorted the mearchantmen all the way through to Malta, and changed her base to that port. In a bizarre repeat the ship spotted - when no other ship did - a second downed British bomber crew and rescued them, during the return convoy, ME 11 Petard claimed her first air kill, downing a Ju88 and damaging another, before shooting down a second on 13 December on a Malta-Tobruk run with Vasilissa Olga.

On the night of 15 December, Petard's lookouts spotted a submarine on the surface about midway between Malta and the Libyan coast. An initial thought that the submarine might be friendly was confirmed to be wrong when the submarine ignored the code challenge issued, crash dived and launched torpedoes at Petard and Vasilissa Olga, rather unfriendly acts! The two destroyers returned the favor, Petard launching two and the Greek another depth charge attack forcing the submarine, the Italian Uarsciek to the surface, where it was met with searchlights and a brief reflex hail of gunfire. Petard's captain perhaps believing the crew were trying to scuttle the ship bizarrely called for fire to be reopened and then fired upon the survivors himself with a Lewis gun mounted on the bridge, shooting and killing several of the Italian survivors running aft, in so doing he managed to allow the vessels to collide.

After colliding with the submarine, a Petard boarding party entered and searched the submarine seizing charts, orders and code documents. A prize crew went aboard attempted to take the Uarsciek in tow by 0630, though the submarine sank 5 hours later en route to Malta.

Petard had Christmas 1942 in port, but in early January her captain, the increasingly erratic Mark Thornton was relieved, possibly on the medical advice of the ships' doctor, possibly because he believed he could see non-existent rats roaming his cabin. His replacement was Lt. Commander Rupert Egan.


IWM Image A21715, Petard astern of carrier HMS Formidable

Club Runs and Husky 

With the Operation Torch landings in the west of Africa, and the British 8th Army pushing the Axis back across Tunisia a more offensive stance could be taken. 'Club Runs' were night-time sweeps out of Malta intended to cause various mischief to Axis forces in Italy and North Africa. Petard participated in a number, the first of which on 30 March saw Petard and Pakenham use the captured charts from Uarsciek to avoid minefields and bombard Sousse in Tunisia, before tangling with E-boats on their withdrawal. Illustrating the risks,  Pakenham, in company with Paladin rather than Petard was lost about 2 weeks later on 16 April, 1943 when she suffered 4 hits to her machinery spaces from Italian torpedo boats and had to be scuttled. The loss of the flotilla leader caused the dissolution of the flotilla and Petard joined the 14th and operated alongside former ships from the 12th, and new allies including Tribal class destroyer HMS Nubian. It was with Nubian that she was strafed on 24 April, suffering 4 killed and 10 wounded, in particular casualties from the unshielded Y gun mounting were heavy.

Having encountered a large number of air attacks, and having sunk two submarines it was on a Club Run in the company of Nubian and Paladin that Petard fought her first surface action, on 4 May 1943. The 3 British destroyers intercepted the 3,600t transport Campobasso and her single escort, the 800t torpedo boat Perseo about 20 miles short of Kelibia, Tunisia. Tremendously outgunned by 10x 4in and 6x 4.7in guns, the Perseo sank quickly in a hail of gunfire, and the transport, laden with a cargo including bombs and mines for the Axis forces ashore suffered a series of devastating explosions. The British destroyers located a nearby Italian hospital ship and guided it to the scene of the sinkings to rescue survivors.

A varied career out of Malta continued with participation in a bombardment of the Italian island of Pantelleria, west of Malta, and on 18 May 1943 Petard intercepted and boarded a German hospital ship, discovering a company of uniformed infantry along with weapons, and taking the ship into a British port for inspection. May and June saw tasks as diverse as shore bombardment, supporting amphibious attacks and locating and towing a disabled British Walrus amphibian aircraft home. In June she would suffer near miss bomb damage from aircraft at sea and then while alongside in Bizerte requiring repair.

Operation Husky was the Allied invasion of Sicily and Petard's first and somewhat surprising role was to embark General Eisenhower, in command of the invasion. The British destroyer shuttled the General and his staff to the local headquarters ships off the invasion beaches and then safely back to Malta without incident. In more active support of the landings Petard enjoyed a shooting match with some German tanks on a coast road in Sicily, suffering an overpenetration through the ship from an anti-tank shell. Through July and August Petard would take part in a wide range of sweeps and shore attacks, including with Polish destroyer Piorun.

Avalanche and the Dodecanese

Following the amphibious assault and conquest of Sicily, Operation Avalanche was the follow up invasion of mainland Italy in September 1943. At the landing zone of Salerno an aggressive German counter attack nearly managed to push the Allies back into the sea, the situation was desperate and the Royal Navy responded by sending battleships Valiant and Warspite, escorted by Petard and other destroyers to help, with Petard then landing Warspite's Foward Observation Observers on the beach and joining her larger consort in pounding the oncoming German armor. The heavy maritime bombardment may have saved the landings as it smashed the oncoming attack, but in the evening during the AA barrage put up to blunt a Luftwaffe counter-attack Petard was the victim of friendly fire from the AA of one of the battleships suffering two killed. The next day Warspite was struck by a Fritz-X glide bomb and a near miss, and Petard escorted the disabled battleship to Malta.

After the naval component of the invasion of Italy had largely died down, the Allies enjoying near total air and sea supremacy in the theater the British launched the disastrous, little known and strategically bankrupt Dodecanese campaign. The Dodecanese are an archipelago of Greek islands off the coast of Turkey and had been occupied by the Axis after the fall of Greece. The main island prize was Rhodes, but in the fighting between the Italians and Germans after the Armistice of Cassibile the Germans overcame the Italians and occupied the island. The British managed to occupy Kos, Leros and Samos, with Kos having an airfield, but a swift German counter attack retook Kos. With the Germans having lots of aircraft in the Aegean and Allied aircraft having to fly 300 miles from Cyprus, the island chain became a death trap for destroyers trying to bring in reinforcements and interdict German amphibious attacks.

Petard's old subdivision mate, Vasilissa Olga was one of the first victims of the near criminal misadventure, being bombed and sunk on 26 September along with HMS Intrepid. Petard's taste of dive bomb hell in the Dodecanese came on 10 October 1943 when Stuka's put two bombs into cruiser Carlisle, ending her career as a fighting ship, though she was towed back to Egypt, and sank Petard's sister ship Panther with heavy loss of life. Running at night was more survivable with Petard bringing in replacement vehicles, petrol, ammunition and personnel to the over-exposed British garrisons on the remaining island of Leros. Though during the campaign cruisers Penelope, Aurora and Sirius were badly damaged by bombs. The night meant safety from bombers, but on 23 October 1943, Eclipse, another destroyer lead Petard into a minefield, struck a mine and sank quickly with the loss of most of her crew and the company of infantry onboard, Petard could rescue just 42 of about 420 personnel, including the Commodore of the Levant Destroyers, P. Todd, RN who had come out as an observer to see why his destroyer skippers thought the position impossible! The same night the Hunt class destroyer Hurworth was sunk and the Greek Adrias badly damaged by mines as well.


'Chummy' ship in her subdivision, the Greek destroyer Vasilissa Olga, thrown away on the Dodecanese misadventure in 1943

The campaign achieved little positive, but Petard did have some success sinking improvised German landing craft and the SS Trapani in Kalymnos harbor along with Hunt class destroyers Rockwood and Krakowiak, but even success came with damage as Rockwood was bombed at the end of that night and needed yet another tow from Petard. The campaign ended with withdrawal and overrun and the backwater remained in German hands until the end of the war and the ultimate German surrender. 

Swansong and I-27

In early 1944 Petard, and her sister Paladin were transferred out of the Mediterranean into the British Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean. The new environment was not particularly welcoming to the battle worn P class ships, the Eastern Fleet had seen less action and more polish and was quick to have the ships change to local camouflage patterns. Worse, from an operational perspective was that there was no available semi-armor piercing ammunition for use against surface ships, it not being stocked in such a diminutive caliber.

Petard and Paladin were assigned to the escort of convoy KR 8 in February 1944, KR 8 comprised 5 troopships and was escorted by the two P's and old cruiser Hawkins, which Petard had sailed with some 18 months earlier. The largest troopship was the 7,500t Khedive Ismail. On 12 February 1944, Petard spotted a submarine periscope, fired on it and turned to attack, but it was already too late - two torpedoes hit Khedive Ismail, with over 1,500 people on board and sank her within minutes. Paladin set about rescuing survivors while the convoy scattered, and Petard went in on the hunt with her ASDIC. The ASDIC search swiftly located the submarine - under the survivors from the sunken troopship and Petard had no choice other than to attack, her depth charges adding to the deaths among the survivors. A third depth charge attack blasted the large Japanese submarine I-27 to the surface. The submarine was not out of the fight and tried to man its large gun, but was deluged with 4in HE and cannon fire which wiped out the first, and a replacement gun crew. Paladin went in for an abortive ram and tore a 15ft gash in her starboard side flooding her engine and gearing room and putting her out of the fight. Fortunately for the British the submarine seemed blind and damaged, though it proved entirely resistant to sinking by shallow pattern depth charges or HE shellfire. A torpedo attack using single-shots eventually saw success with the 7th torpedo sinking the Japanese submarine.

Left with the crippled Paladin and 200 survivors onboard, Petard once again took a crippled friendly in tow, taking off as many personnel as possible and taking Paladin into Addu Atoll for emergency repairs. Paladin would have to head back to the UK for full repairs and after a couple of months more fleet and convoy escort, Petard returned to the UK in September 1944 after over 2 years away.


HMS Petard is both entirely representative of Royal Navy destroyers in WWII - overworked, largely unsung, flexible and capable of surprising feats - but Petard is also special, perhaps in the opportunities she had and simply being lucky. Petard holds two records which I believe stand to this day -

  1. Sinking a submarine of each Axis power, the U-559 on 30 October 1942, Uarsciek on 15 December 1942 and I-27 on 12 February 1944
  2. Sinking a submarine with a torpedo in active combat

She also expended thousands of rounds battling aircraft and in shore bombardments around the Mediterranean, participated in sinking several merchant ships and an Italian torpedo boat, took General Eisenhower sightseeing and repeatedly towed crippled friends - and one enemy - toward safety, all while escaping serious damage, if unfortunately not escaping some casualties. Of the four ship 12th flotilla she first joined two ships were sunk and Paladin badly damaged, in the Dodecanese she had the fortune to be the trailing ship behind Eclipse, and to escape the fate of another sister, Panther. All Petard's achievements came after some of the high water marks of WWII, but she more than deserved her four Battle Honors: Mediterranean, Sicily, Salerno and Aegean.

Reasons to Include

I think Petard would stand on her own merits for inclusion in the game in a fair world, and the fact that the Royal Navy in game only has a T3, T6 and T8 premium destroyer hardly suggests an over abundance. Petard does have the advantage of being both a remarkable U-boat hunter with her 3-nation haul, and remaining a decent surface combatant with decent gun and torpedo armament. Some of the best submarine hunters, the USS England, HMS Starling and HMS Hesperus are simply ill-suited to WOWS being too lightly armed for anti-surface work. 

Game Implementation


Petard completed and served most of her WWII career with 4x1 102mm guns, 2x4 torpedo tubes and a variety of light AA guns. A re-armament and major refit in 1945 replaced the 102mm single mounts with two more advanced twin mounts, providing better firepower and more deck space.

In game I'd propose to use the 4x1 gun, 2-torpedo launcher configuration.

4in/45 Mk. V on HA Mk. III* Mounting

Rate of Fire

10-15 RPM historic, 15 RPM in game, 22 RPM max half-way plausible


'hand worked' - 10'/s

HE/AP Alpha


MV 805m/s historic, 811m/s on Emerald

Fire Chance



The two centerline launchers are fairly standard and reflect an outfit which fits ships ranging from the T5 Acasta to the T8 Lightning. As an RN ship we should be looking at single-launch as standard.

The quality of the torpedoes is the decisive factor. The realistic torpedo options IMO are:

  • Acasta - 6km range, 11,967 damage, 59kt, 1.2km detection range, 7.8s reaction time, 95s reload
  • Icarus/Jervis - 7km range, 15,733 damage, 59kt, 1.2km detection range, 7.8s reaction time, 96s reload
  • Gallant/Lightning - 8km range, 15,867 damage, 61kt, 1.3km detection range, 8.2s reaction time, 106/96s reload
  • Edinburgh/Cossack - 10km range, 16,767 damage, 62kt, 1.3km detection range, 8.1s reaction time, 96s reload (ignoring Cossack's buff).

The weaker torpedoes would certainly hold the ship down, while the stronger ones are a huge advantage. You can transform Petard from a gunboat with suicide torpedoes, to a torpedo boat with some self-defense potential at higher tiers.


HMS Petard - Proposed Stats





Turning Radius


Rudder Shift



7.02km (6.1km fully upgraded)


Long range aura:

4km - 4x single 4in

Mid range aura:

0.1-2.5km 1x quad 2lb pom-pom

Short range aura:

0.1-2km 4x single 20mm Oerlikons


Royal Navy blob smoke: 15s emission, 103s linger time 240/160s cooldown

Royal Navy destroyer Hydro: 3km torpedo spot, 3km ship spot, 180s duration, 180/120s cooldown

Repair: Normal DD

General Balance Notes

Petard has a fairly close contemporary at T7, another 4-gun, 8-torpedo destroyer - the Sims, while having a very similar hull to two destroyers already in game - the Jervis and Gadjah Mada. She seems readily able to be balanced at about that tier, with pretty significant levers to balance her, 6km to 10km torpedo range, 15 to 20+ RPM on the main battery. Concealment could also be varied from the 7.2 of Jervis, to the 7.0 of Gadjah, as a slightly lighter ship a slightly lower end number seems likely. Petard would most likely end up being a fairly flexible generalist destroyer, not the best in a ranged surface engagement but with high ROF at ranges where it doesn't matter and decent torpedoes. Her AA historically put up some useful barrages and did account for some aircraft, but it's hard to see it having much impact in game.

With only 4in guns she would need IFHE to pen more than 17mm of plating, which would include the 19mm hulls of T8+ destroyers. While IFHE would have been a good fit the rework of that skill would mean -3% instead of -1% to her fire chance, and with Jutland/Daring no longer needing the skill it would make her captain less synergistic. The easier ways around that are to look at in-built better HE pen (caliber/5) or better AP.

Of course an anti-submarine gimmick might also be a direction WG want to go (though for gameplay I think all destroyers will need to basically one-shot submarines with depth charges).








Edited by mofton
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Excellent synopsis of an interesting ship. 

And it looks like I will never get my crown back as wall of text guy.

I might as well do something else like short stories.


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Excellent write up Mofton, I want one

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Hmm, as much as I like the idea of new Destroyers, 4inch guns are fairly unsubstantial at Tier 5 let alone Tier 7, the T-22 is testament to this. You'll need a big fire chance for them, or go all in on the torpedoes.

If you do want to make her ASW role on the forefront, why not give a buff to her hydro? Make it a 5 or 6 km German set.

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2 hours ago, Arri_Shi said:

Hmm, as much as I like the idea of new Destroyers, 4inch guns are fairly unsubstantial at Tier 5 let alone Tier 7, the T-22 is testament to this. You'll need a big fire chance for them, or go all in on the torpedoes.

If you do want to make her ASW role on the forefront, why not give a buff to her hydro? Make it a 5 or 6 km German set.

The T-22 is a bit of a special case, her 'German' attributes count against her as low HE damage and high AP damage work very badly with poor AP penetration.

T-22 has only 1,200 HE alpha vs. 1,500 here. T-22 also has 15 RPM while Petard could get 20 pretty easily.

Ballistically if you use the 4in Mk. XVI (which WG do use in-game on Valkyrie and Emerald's secondaries) then the 4in on Petard would enjoy better ballistics - 7.6s to 10km vs. 10.1s for the T-22.


Buffed hydro might be a possibility, but as of the last test I think hydro-acoustic search still couldn't detect submarines(!) so longer range hydro would be ironically, worthless there. The 3km defensive hydro with the longer life will allow Petard to look at the pretty incoming homing torpedoes for a bit longer before they sink her, which is a nice plus.

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3 hours ago, mofton said:

Ballistically if you use the 4in Mk. XVI (which WG do use in-game on Valkyrie and Emerald's secondaries) then the 4in on Petard would enjoy better ballistics - 7.6s to 10km vs. 10.1s for the T-22.

Even the stock wouldn't be so bad, as it would use the WWII shells, which are more streamlined than the shells on any of the 4.7" gunned ships prior to the L class.

Slightly less MV to start with than the Mk XVI gun, but the shell I suspect is the same.  

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