Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
madmike
Member
Posts: 58
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 2:53 pm

Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

Postby madmike » Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:37 pm

OK , THE BEST CRUISERS AND THE BEST USE OF CRUISERS IN WWII, I'm interested in other peoples opinions on this subject,
As i have said on other Posts in this forum, My father served on the HMAS AUSTRALIA II a British built county(kent sub-class) heavy cruiser. And loved that ship, I grew up hearing sea stories of his time on her, and how she was seriously damaged by kamikaze attacks(5-6 in 7 days), but still made it home, I know the county class cruisers were NOT the best or the most powerful or the fastest heavy cruisers of WWII, BUT THEY WERE TOUGH BASTARDS NONE THE LESS. The German Hipper class cruisers were another cruiser my father like, he thought they were probably the most beautiful heavy cruisers of WWII, but not the best cruisers of WWII. He (my old dad ) didnt think much of the Italian cruisers or the Italian navy for that matter, The best use of cruisers in WWII, will cause some serious arguments here. From what i have started to read on this subject, the IJN look to have used their cruiser forces very effectively in 42-43. And the Royal navies wide spread and aggressive use of their cruiser forces is interesting as well.

i will now pass this subject over to you good people and look forward reading your posts,and learning more, thank you all

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

Postby lwd » Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:51 pm

I'd suggest either defining "best" or requesting others to do so before they start listing their choices. The British county class for instance was chosen because they "best" suited the needs of Britain and the RN when they were designed and built. Note that that doesn't mean they were designed to be best in a one on one engagement. Most other cruisers had similar considerations.

madmike
Member
Posts: 58
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 2:53 pm

Re: Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

Postby madmike » Mon Nov 08, 2010 7:43 pm

Good point lwd, OK i will open the post to WHY someone thinks ANY given SINGLE cruiser or class were the best and the reasons why. and thank you lwd.

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

Postby lwd » Tue Nov 09, 2010 2:14 pm

Well let's look at it a bit differently.
Take the British. They had numerous world wide commitements and funds were a bit tight in the inter war years. They needed lots of crusers for the commitments and they couldn't aford top of the line in everything. So in their terms "best" meant something afordable and economical that was still at least a decent ship.
Or the Japanese. They saw their prime opponent as the USN which would have a marked numerical superiority especially in terms of battleships. There for they needed cruisers that could play an important role in the "Decisive Battle" and hopefully give them a chance there. Thus the "Long Lance" and reloads of the same on thier cruisers. Since offence was being stressed they were apparently willing to compromise on the defence (and also cheat a bit tonnage wise) to get what they wanted form their cruisers.
The US on the otherhand once rearmament started had a much bigger budget so while they had commitements approaching those of Britian they had the money to build more and more capapble cruisers (although it should be pointed out that early post WWI there commitments were fewer and their cruisers not particularly good, indeed the Omaha class has been singled out as one of the worst.)

I think you will find that most countries built what they considered to be the "best" given the critieria at the time. The question is do you use that critieria or what would have worked out best for them in WWII as it actually took place? Or best in a single ship action? Even that can be hard to judge. For instance the Japanese cruisers each had the potential to sink multiple battleships but the probability was rather low and this was never realized? US cruisers on the otherhand (except for the Atlanta class) had almost no chance of doing so (although one did contribute significantly to the sinking of a battleship). So which is better? If the Japanese get lucky in a battle they might be judged so if not the judgement could go the other way.

madmike
Member
Posts: 58
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 2:53 pm

Re: Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

Postby madmike » Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:41 am

lwd, YOU are a very hard taskmaster, How about we break this down into 3 sections, 1 the best cruiser in its capabilities (design,firepower,ect), 2 Best service record (including best single action by a cruiser), 3 the best use of cruisers in combat, Would that be better.

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

Postby Bgile » Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:58 am

I nominate the US Baltimore class as the all around best cruiser in terms of capability. Cruising range, power plant, protection, secondary battery, AA battery were all second to none.

There were several cruisers with important roles in battles. Prinz Eugene at DS and San Francisco at Guadalcanal are two good examples. Ajax and Achilles at River Platt are two more. In general, cruisers were utilized to a great degree by every major power in WWII; they were very important ships.

I think the IJN got the best use out of their cruisers in general during the war, but I don't know the record of individual ships well enough to highlight a particular one.

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

Postby lwd » Wed Nov 10, 2010 3:24 pm

Bgile wrote:I nominate the US Baltimore class as the all around best cruiser in terms of capability. Cruising range, power plant, protection, secondary battery, AA battery were all second to none.

The Alaska's are better protected and carry a larger primary.

A big question here is how important do you rate torpedoes on cruisers. If you think they are important then the lack of them on any US cruisers except for the Atlanta's is a serious deficit for them. If you don't rate them very important then the US cruisers really shine.
... I think the IJN got the best use out of their cruisers in general during the war, but I don't know the record of individual ships well enough to highlight a particular one.

Early war I'd agree. Although the US and British also got good use of theirs. I'm not as familiar with the Med so may not be giving the British as much credit as they deserve. Certainly they got a lot out of their ships.

For best service record you are probably looking at one of the Japanese cruisers although Graf Spee might be a candidate as might a couple of the British cruisers.

I will point out that one reason I harp on defintions as much as I do as I've seen these "best" thread devlove into what amount to shouting matches in at least part due to people haveing different defintions of "best" and either not realizing it or not caring.

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

Postby Bgile » Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:59 pm

I know the USN called the Alaska class large cruisers, but I don't think it's fair to include them in a comparison like this because there is nothing to compare them with. I also think they were a waste of money, but that's probably another thread.

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

Postby lwd » Wed Nov 10, 2010 6:48 pm

Well in many ways for WWII they were the ultimate cruiser. If not for the Washington treaty there likely would have been more similar cruisers. You could in at least in some ways compare them to the "Panzershiffe" which were rerated to "heavy cruisers". There are others of this nature. For instance how do you rate the Atlanta class light cruisers? Who do you compare them against.

I agree by the way that they were not the best use of funds and that it probably should have been clear at the time. On the otherhand if you are in a cruiser gun action I can't think of any other ship I'd want to be on in WWII. If it's a one on one and you include early post war ships the Des Moines class comes in a fairly close 2nd. Although in a multiple ship action I'd rather have them on my side but not be on them. ROF would likely attract too much attention. Thinking back on it in many cases in a cruiser gun action the US large light cruisers are pretty high on the list as well.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:02 pm

Best cruiser: Prinz Eugen.

Best use of cruisers: USN after Guadalacanal
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Supporter
Posts: 2881
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

Postby Dave Saxton » Thu Nov 11, 2010 7:45 pm

The Hippers had problems with their high pressure steam systems (which they had learned to manage and more or less solved by ~42) and they had relatively short range. On the other hand they always demonstrated outstanding shooting even whith rusty, sea sick crews, so their advanced gunnery and firecontrol systems were proven in combat.

I think the Baltimores were probably the best new heavy cruiser design during the war. They probably had the gunnery and firecontrol technology equal to the Hippers, and more reliable machinery. Certainly greater range. I know a person who was a machinest mate on Canberra. He is still the best machinest I know of anywhere. He tells in detail about the time the ship took a torpedo from a Japanese torpedo bomber which is I need to record.

As far as the best use of cruisers, I believe it was probably Prinz Eugen in the Baltic late war. The Luetzow historys shed some light on these operations with PG. The Russian armour would give away its Approx. position through the use of their AA radar systems picked up by German Naxos detectors, The PG could then pin point their artillery through the use of its own fire control radar system cooridinated with forward air controllers. The shooting was spectacular. The PG also aquited itself very well against Russian air attacks.

There are several possible examples of using cruisers well. Wake Walker's shadowing and pursuit of Bismarck, and Burnette's use of cruisers against Scharnhorst were well done. Both these operation featured some effective shooting by Norfolk that proved pivitol. Harwood's use of cruisers against Graf Spee was text book.

I'm not sure where to rank the use of cruisers at GC. The US cruisers were more or less fumbling around in the dark, but they through self sacrifice created important victories nonetheless. Tassafaronga was certainly a disaster.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

Postby Bgile » Thu Nov 11, 2010 7:58 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:I think the Baltimores were probably the best new heavy cruiser design during the war.


Weren't they the ONLY new heavy cruiser design during the war?

User avatar
neil hilton
Senior Member
Posts: 334
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:31 pm

Re: Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

Postby neil hilton » Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:41 pm

As a single engagement, i would say the best use of cruisers was Savo Island. The IJN ruled that area for that night, even though they screwed it up by not going after the US transports. What was the butchers bill? 5 allied cruisers vs 0 japanese losses.

As an overall use of cruisers on a strategic scale I would say the RN use early in the war to hunt down german surface raiders. Graf Spee and the disguised commerce raiders. These effectively bottled up kriegsmarine operations to the north atlantic.

The Alaska class should really be classed as a battlecruiser not a 'large cruiser'.
Veni, vidi, verrimus!
I came, I saw, I swept the floor!

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:23 pm

As a single engagement, i would say the best use of cruisers was Savo Island. The IJN ruled that area for that night, even though they screwed it up by not going after the US transports. What was the butchers bill? 5 allied cruisers vs 0 japanese losses.


Correct.

The Alaska class should really be classed as a battlecruiser not a 'large cruiser'.


It has been my understanding that the Alaska was, in fact, a battlecruiser. So your statement is clearly correct.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Best cruisers of WWII and the best use of cruisers

Postby lwd » Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:02 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote: ...
The Alaska class should really be classed as a battlecruiser not a 'large cruiser'.

It has been my understanding that the Alaska was, in fact, a battlecruiser. So your statement is clearly correct.

Nope. She was a "large cruiser". Basically a scaled up Baltimore. Lack of a TDS is one pointer to her being a cruiser rather than a battlecruiser. Probably where most of the heavy cruisers would have been during WWII if there hadn't been a Washington treaty.


Return to “Naval History (1922-1945)”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests