Z-class torpedoboats

As World War II started in September 1939, these torpedoboats weren't well suited for combat assignments. They were of a different age, when coal was still used in warships, so they were assigned to simple guard duties in the waters surrounding the Netherlands. Originally, the first Z 1-4 were laid down at German yards but taken over by the Imperial German Navy as V 105-108. Later, four torpedoboats of the same type were laid down as a replacement at Dutch yards and they received the names of the originals. The Z 5 underwent a series of modifications to make her suitable for use in the West Indies, as it was planned to send her to that part of the Empire in the early thirties. She had her torpedotubes removed along with a boiler and became fully oil-driven. The Z 3 served on the IJsselmeer, the Z 8 was allocated to Terschelling, the Z 5, Z 7 and Z 6 were in Den Helder. Z3 helped to defend the IJsselmeer against the German troops in Friesland, the Z 5 was intensively in action in Rotterdam, bombarding German shore positions. She managed to destroy several floatplanes. Luckily, all but one managed to escape to the UK, where they were a welcome addition. They weren't well suited for escorting convoys, since they would only draw attention to themselves by making smoke, due to the fact they burnt coal. Z 5 was transferred to the Royal Navy as HMS Blade in March 1942, escorting submarines on the first or last leg of their journey at Rosyth. She was nicknamed "Razor Blade" for her sharp bough. None of these ships ever returned to Holland and were scrapped in the UK during or after the war.

Z 5 as completed, date and place unknown (Collection Jan Klootwijk)

Construction details
Name Z 3 Z 5 Z 6 Z 7 Z 8
Dockyard NSM[1] KMS[2] KMS[2] Maatschappij Feijenoord Maatschappij Feijenoord
Dockyard number   157 158    
Laid down Dec. 30 1915 Feb. 18 1914 Feb. 18 1914 May 12 1914 May 12 1914
Launched March 23 1917 April 1 1915 April 15 1915 May 10 1915 June 23 1915
Commissioned Aug 21 1920 Feb 8 1917 Feb 8 1917 Sep 8 1916 Sep 22 1916
Pennant Z 3 Z 5
H.97 (WW II)
Z 6 Z 7
H.93 (WW II)
Z 8
H.71 (WW II)
[1]: Nederlandsche Scheepsbouw Maatschappij, Amsterdam
[2]: KMS = Koninklijke Maatschappijij "de Schelde", Vlissingen

Z 5 Z 6 - 8 Z 3
Displacement 263 tons 263 tons 277 tons
Crew 34 48 48
Dimensions 58,5 x 6,06 x 1,71 m 61,32 x 6,31 x 1,85 m
Armament 2 x 75 mm Bofors No. 4
2 x .50 MG
Torpedoes - 4 x 450 mm torpedo tubes
ASW depthchargethrowers depthchargethrowers depthchargethrowers
Radar - - -

Propulsion details [1]
Z 5 Z 6 - 8 Z 3
Boilers 2 cylindrical boilers 3 cylindrical boilers 3 watertubeboilers
Machinery 2 triple expansion engines 2 AEG Vulcan turbines
Performance 3000 hp 5500 hp 5500 hp
Shafts 2 2 2
Range   425 nm @ 20 knots 425 nm @ 20 knots
Bunkerage 100 tons oil 80 tons coal
7 tons oil
72 tons coal
9,5 tons oil
Max Speed 22 knots 27 knots 27 knots
[1]: All ships were engined by their builders

Z 3 At the outbreak of war, she patrolled the IJsselmeer against German invasion from the northern provinces. To avoid capture, she rammed a dam and was set ablaze on May 14 1940. The wreck was refloated in 1940 or 1941 and scrapped.
Z 5 Rebuilt in Den Helder in 1931 in order to make her suitable for patrols in the West Indies. She fought gallantly in Rotterdam, fighting the German paratroopers near the Willemsbrug. She successfully took enemy floatplanes and machineguns under fire, unfortunately without forcing a breakthrough for the Dutch. She escaped to the UK on May 14 1940, where she was repaired in Portsmouth. Ready for action on June 16 1940. She served with the 9th Submarineflotilla in Dundee, as an escort and targetship. Later, from May 1941 onwards, she performed similar duties for the 7th and 3rd submarineflotillas in Rothesay until March 2 1942. On the same date, she was transferred to the Royal Navy, which commissioned her as Z 5, later as HMS Blade (from May 1943) and used her in the same role. Returned and stricken on April 9 1945. Sold to West of Scotland Shipbreaking Company, Troon. Arrived for scrapping October 23, 1945. Beached November 20, 1945. Scrapping completed December 20, 1945.[1]
Z 6 Escaped to the UK on May 14 1940. She conducted escort duties until June 16 1940, when she was attached to the submarineservice in Dundee and Rothesay. She was decommissioned on October 4 1940, mostly as a result of her problematic machinery. Because of the lack of personell, not much attention was given to her condition and she deteriorated rapidly. It was eventually decided to decommision her on November 27 1941. Sold for scrap March 1942 and scrapped in Borrowstounness (UK) starting February, 1943.
Z 7 Left Den Helder for the UK, but attacked by German aircraft. The bombs did significant damage to the ship, and she had to be repaired on arrival in Portsmouth. Ready for action on September 19 1940 and she served as an patrol ship and accommodation ship in Falmouth, later in Holyhead. She was beached near Holyhead in late December 1940, and the damage proved serious enough to decommission her. She was eventually decommisioned on July 16 1942, after which she was transferred to the Royal Navy on October 1 1942, but remained in Holyhead at first. Decommissioned in 1943 and laid up. Stricken January 1944 and scrapped in Llanelly (UK) in 1947.
Z 8 Escaped to the UK on May 14 1940. On arrival, she was attached to the submarineservice in Dundee and Rothesay, serving in the same role as Z 5 until March 1941. Decommissioned January 16 1942 and transferred to the Royal Navy on October 1 1942. Stricken 1943, but returned in January 1944. She was stricken afterwards and scrapped in Newport (UK) in August, 1944.
[1]: Dates in relation to scrapping from Clyde Maritime Portal at http://www.clydemaritime.co.uk/blade

Z 3 destroyed after May, 1940 (Collection Jan Klootwijk).
Z 5 at sea, date and place unknown (Collection Jan Klootwijk).
Z 5 at the quay in Den Helder. Photo was taken November 3, 1935 (Collection John Morrison).
Z 5 sailing through drift ice, date and place unknown (Collection webmaster).
Z 5 as HMS Blade, date and place unknown. Note the wartime modifications, such as the protection around the bridge and gunmounts (Collection webmaster).
Z 7 at Den Helder, Netherlands. Date unknown (Collection Jan Klootwijk).

May 30, 2016 Photo of Z-5 as HMS Blade added.
August 9, 2015 Details in relation to scrapping Z-5 added.

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