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USS Flusser Dd 289 Kiel canal small.jpg (28935 bytes)
USS Flusser DD 289 Transits Kiel Canal
Four Stack Destroyers
by
Rob Mackie


"Four Stacker" type destroyers entered service with the US Navy between 1917 and 1922. The 273 four-stackers were comprised of  three nearly indistinguishable classes, Caldwell (6 ships), Wickes (111 ships) and Clemson (156 ships). There was little need for these ships subsequent to WW1, and many of them were laid up. They were good ships for the time, but by the onset of WW2 they were outdated. Better armed and more habitable designs were becoming available. Nevertheless, the desperate shortage of fleet escorts early in WW2 made them valuable. Fifty  were transferred to the Royal and Canadian navies prior to the US entering the war, and were immediately put to use. Four stackers saw front line service with the US Navy immediately on its entry into WW2, but as better ships became available they were relegated to convoy escort, fast transport, and other duties.

Vital Statistics
USN 4-Stack Destroyer
Three Classes, 273 ships total
Caldwell (6), Wickes (111), Clemson (156)

Length: 314'  Beam: 30'6" Draft: 12'
Displacement:
1,090 tons
Armament:
four 4"/50 cal, one 3"/25
Twelve 21" tubes (4x3)

Performance:
25,200 shp, 35 knots
Complement:
9 officers, 144 men

Note:
These are "as built" specifications and essentially the same for all three
4-stacker classes. Fittings and armament differed greatly during WW2

These are fascinating ships with limitless modeling possibilities. The US and Royal navies altered them in ways too numerous to mention. Originally armed with four 4"/50 guns, many US variants were re-armed with 3" guns and various combinations of light and medium AA armament. Radar was enhanced as the war progressed, and convoy escorts carried all the usual anti-submarine armament; depth charges (K guns, Y guns, roller racks) and hedgehogs. Two of their four torpedo tube banks were often landed to compensate for added weight.

Among the most interesting  4-stacker conversions were the high speed transports. Equipped with four landing craft and accomodations for 200 marines, these shallow draft vessels were put to good use in the Pacific Island campaign. The most famous 4-stacker of all, the HMS Campbeltown, was altered to resemble a German torpedo boat in order to facilitate its entry into the German held port of St. Nazaire. It should also be noted that few of the 4-stackers actually had 4 stacks by the end of WW2. Many of them had one or two of their 4 boilers removed to increase range or provide additional accomodation, as in the case of the APDs. Bridge arrangements also changed from that of the original design, especially on the Royal Navy 4-stackers. As with corvettes, there was a great deal of variety, and a ship could change substantially during the course of the war.  Consult your references if you are modeling a specific ship!

In gathering 4 stacker photos it became apparent that 4-stackers represent a mother-lode of modeling possibilities. Obsolete prior to WW2, there was no reluctance to modify these ships as the mission required. There is no particular rhyme or reason to the photos I selected. I simply wanted to show these hearty ships in their many guises and provide some inspiration for modelers. Kits of these destroyers are plentiful. Iron Shipwright, Classic Warships, Tom's Modelworks, WSW, Revell and Airfix have issued models of 4 stackers and derivatives. As for references, The Destroyer Campbeltown by Al Ross, part of the Anatomy of the Ship series, is ideal for the modeler. It has drawings of just about every exterior fitting as well as many clear photos. A good general reference is Flush Decks and Four Pipes by John D. Alden. With numerous US Navy photos of 4 pipers, it documents the many variations among the 273 ships, especially during the WW2 years. Regrettably, both of these references are out of print. They are available on the secondary market, but at a premium.

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Alden Nov 42.jpg (23751 bytes)
Alden Nov '42
Bainbridge 45.jpg (29917 bytes)
Bainbridge 1945
Roper DD147 bridge 1937.jpg (29898 bytes)
Roper DD 147 bridge closeup 1937
Little APD4 aft deckhouse 1942.jpg (23988 bytes)
Little APD 4
aft deckhouse
Brooks DD 232 1920s.jpg (16888 bytes)
Brooks DD 232 at speed, 1920s
Childs Destroyer Seaplane Tender 1939.jpg (21006 bytes)
Childs

destroyer seaplane tender
DD 156 Talbot flush decker.jpg (58571 bytes)
Talbot DD 156
DD 223 McCormack 1944.jpg (52215 bytes)
McCormack DD 223

1944
Dent DD116 circa WW1.jpg (41349 bytes)
Dent DD 116

(note splinter scheme) 1918
Hart DM-8 ex DD110 off China 20s.jpg (52743 bytes)
Hart DM-8 (ex DD 110)

China 1920s

Hatfield DD231 1936.jpg (42715 bytes)
Hatfield DD 231
Hopkins DMS 13 Sept 43.jpg (26560 bytes)
Hopkins DMS 13 Sept '43
Hovey DD208 1932.jpg (57148 bytes)
Hovey DD 208 1932
John D Ford Aug 42.jpg (19525 bytes)
John D. Ford
Aug '42
Noa Scout Plane 1939.jpg (34682 bytes)
Noa 1939

with scout biplane
Preble DM 20 1943.jpg (25381 bytes)
Preble DM 20, 1943
Reuben James DD245 pre WW2.jpg (27866 bytes)
Reuben James DD 245
Rizal DD 14 1928 02.jpg (71423 bytes)
Rizal DD 14 1928
Rizal DD 14 1928.jpg (60668 bytes)
Rizal, DD 14 off China 1928
Roper DD147 1942.jpg (40264 bytes)
Roper DD 147 1942
Shley APD 14 High Speed Transport.jpg (21603 bytes)
Shley APD 14, '43?
High Speed Transport
Stringham Jan 45.jpg (42417 bytes)
Stringham Jan '45
High Speed Transport
Talbott DD156 transiting canal 1939.jpg (34910 bytes)
Talbott DD 156 in Panama Canal
USS Flusser Dd 289 1920s.jpg (42163 bytes)
Flusser DD 289 1920s
USS Flusser Dd 289 underway.jpg (54087 bytes)
Flusser DD 289 Underway
USS Percival DD298.jpg (24077 bytes)
Percival DD 298
Billingsley DD293 1926 k.jpg (55559 bytes)
Bilingsley DD 293
Billingsley DD293 1926.jpg (44843 bytes)
Billingsley at Gunnery Practice 1926
HMCS St Croix ex McCook DD252 Halifax 1940.jpg (17574 bytes)
HMCS St. Croix
Halifax 1940
HMS Clare ex Upshur DD193 1941.jpg (25906 bytes)
HMS Clare (ex Upshur DD 193)
1941
HMS Ramsay ex Meade DD274 Charleston 42.jpg (25693 bytes)
HMS Ramsay
(ex Meade DD 274)
Charleston '42
Ward DD139 early.jpg (30158 bytes)
USS Ward DD-139
Campbeltown.jpg (44087 bytes)
HMS Campbeltown 1942

  Home copper.jpg (2701 bytes)