HMS Achilles '39

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One of three British cruisers (with a New Zealnd crew) that took part in the Battle of the River Plate, the Achilles engaged the pocket battleship Graf Spee and helped bring home a much needed victory early in the war.

With an Empire and trade commitments that spanned the entire globe, the Royal Navy had a clear need for small, light cruisers that could be produced in large numbers.  Though displacing more than their intended 6,500 tons, the Leander-class fulfilled this requirement admirably.  Perhaps the most famous examples of this class were the Ajax and Achilles which, together with a cruiser of another class, out-manoeuvred the Admiral Graf Spee during the Battle of the River Plate.  Despite it being a victory won more by bluff and guile rather than effective gunnery, the scuttled Graf Spee was welcome news at a time when Britain was in the depths of its darkest hour.

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