Allied Warships


Tribal class

26 ships

The destroyer HMS Zulu (F 18) of the Royal Navy. She was lost on 14 Sep 1942.

Technical information

Displacement1,883 tons (2,559 full complement) BRT 
Length377 feet (oa) 
Complement190 (Cossack, Afridi, Somali and Tartar 219) men 
Armament8 4.7" guns (4x2)
4 x 2pdr AA (1x4)
8 0.5" MG AA (4x2)
4 21" torpedo tubes (1x4) 
Max speed36 knots
EnginesGeared turbines, 2 shafts 
Power44000 HP 
Notes on class

The Tribal class destroyers trace their roots to 1934 when the British Admiralty evaluated the threat posed by much larger destroyers being built in Japan, Italy and even Germany than the Royal Navy had. These ships were all around 2000 tons while the British destroyers were closer to 1300 tons.

Estimated cost per ship was 340,000 pounds excluding Admiralty supplied armaments putting the average cost around 520,000. The Tribal was finally accepted after no less than 8 design proposals. The design chosen was a powerful yet beautiful looking ship. The first 7 Tribals were ordered on 10 March, 1936 with the latter group of 9 Tribals being ordered on 9 June.

The ships were formed into the 1st and 2nd Tribal destroyer flotillas. By 1939 the Royal Navy had learned that while the Tribals were larger they were just normal destroyers. Thus the flotillas were renamed 4th and 6th destroyer flotillas.

8 ships were built for the Canadian Navy and the first of those came into service in 1943. (4 more Tribals were being built for the RCN but they would not see service until after the war). Australia built 3 Tribal class destroyers, which were commissioned into the RAN.

The Tribals were not really U-boat hunters but rather fleet destroyers.

During the second half of 1940 the Royal Navy ships (except the war losses HMS Gurkha and HMS Afridi) had one twin 4.7" gun turret replaced by a twin 4" AA gun turret. The Canadian and Australian ships carried this arrangement upon completion.

The original Tribals
The original Tribals were a batch of twelve ships built for the Royal Navy in 1905 - 1908 and were the forerunners of the Modern Class of Royal Navy destroyers. Roughly of 1,000 tons displacement. Armament was in two variants; the first five had a main armament of five 12 pounders, the remaining seven carried two 4 inch guns. Names were after African tribes. These ships became known as the "original 33 knotters." They saw action in WWI in the Channel and the North Sea.

A Tribal class destroyer on display
Today there is only 1 ship of this class left in the world. Thankfully she is being preserved as a museum ship in Canada. Her name is HMCS Haida and she has her own fine website (offsite link).

Pennant numbers were changed from F .. to G .. in late 1940 (in or around December).


All ships of the Tribal class

Royal Australian Navy Royal Australian Navy (more on Royal Australian Navy)

HMAS Arunta (I 30)
HMAS Bataan (I 91)
HMAS Warramunga (I 44)

Royal Canadian Navy Royal Canadian Navy (more on Royal Canadian Navy)

HMCS Athabaskan (ii) (R 79)
HMCS Cayuga (R 04)
HMCS Nookta (R 96)
HMCS Athabaskan (i) (G 07) Lost on 29 Apr 1944
HMCS Haida (G 63)
HMCS Huron (G 24)
HMCS Iroquois (G 89)
HMCS Micmac (R 10)

Royal Navy Royal Navy (more on Royal Navy)

HMS Afridi (F 07) Lost on 2 May 1940
HMS Ashanti (F 51)
HMS Bedouin (F 67) Lost on 15 Jun 1942
HMS Cossack (i) (F 03) Lost on 24 Oct 1941
HMS Eskimo (F 75)
HMS Gurkha (i) (F 20) Lost on 9 Apr 1940
HMS Maori (F 24) Lost on 12 Feb 1942
HMS Mashona (F 59) Lost on 28 May 1941
HMS Matabele (F 26) Lost on 17 Jan 1942
HMS Mohawk (F 31) Lost on 16 Apr 1941
HMS Nubian (F 36)
HMS Punjabi (F 21) Lost on 1 May 1942
HMS Sikh (F 82) Lost on 14 Sep 1942
HMS Somali (F 33) Lost on 20 Sep 1942
HMS Tartar (F 43)
HMS Zulu (F 18) Lost on 14 Sep 1942

26 Destroyers (27 names) of the Tribal class. 13 of them were lost.

See all Destroyer classes.

Tribal class ships hit by U-boats (3)

24 Oct 1941HMS Cossack (i)SunkU-563
17 Jan 1942HMS MatabeleSunkU-454
20 Sep 1942HMS SomaliSunkU-703

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

Books dealing with this subject include:

British destroyers & frigates, Norman Friedman, 2006
HMCS Haida: Battle Ensign Flying, Gough, Barry M., 2001
Tribal Class Destroyers, Hodges, Peter, 1971
The Tribals, Brice, Martin H, 1971

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