Why USA never built a Battlecruiser?

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
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Karl Heidenreich
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Why USA never built a Battlecruiser?

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu Jan 12, 2006 6:48 pm

I´ve been wondering, from a while, that the US Navy, the mightiest of the US armed branches from the turn of the 20th century to WWII, never showed interest in a Battlecruiser. Money wasn´t the problem, considering that by 1941 they had BBs, cruisers, destroyers and aircraft carriers. So, it have to be some kind of notion that they had about them BC.
Probably it was because their poor performance at Jutland, but again, what before Jutland.
Someone had some information about this?

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Dave Saxton
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Post by Dave Saxton » Thu Jan 12, 2006 11:51 pm

Well, Lexington, Saratoga, and Yorktown, were originally planned as BC's. These were convertted to aircraft carriers before completion, and good thing too!!

Then there were the Alaska Class large cruisers with nine 12-inch guns. Some people call these battlecruisers and some don't.

These warships were about twice the displacement of a WWII heavy Cruiser and just about as heavy as the WWII Scharnhorst. Armour protection was about as heavy as the French Dunkerque.

Length: 247 meters
Beam: 28 meters
Standard Displacement:29,780 tons
Full load displacement:34,250 tons
Speed:33 knots

These warships didn't have a sophisticated underwater protection system such as a full size battleship or battle cruiser, so this keeps them closer to the heavy cruiser catagory imo. The Alaska class only had single rudders and the Iowa class could easily turn inside of them.

There was a complete change in USN battle doctrine from the WWI era to the WWII era. During the teens the USN placed fire power and protection ahead of speed. The big gun proponants thought 20 knots were sufficiant. By the 1930's the USN became much more interested in high speed. Presumedly to control the battle range of combat, and force combat onto the imagined IJN battle cruisers, that we really thought Japan would build. We seriously considered the option of building the North Carolina class with nine 14-inch guns, because this would have allowed 30 knots. By WWII we had the Iowa class battleships on the ways that could do 32 knots. This made the BC concept some what moot. Some people such as Antony Preston have described the Iowa class as really being more modern battle cruisers though.

On edit: Prior to the HMS Dreadnought in 1906, the USN had Armoured Cruisers as well as full sized pre dreadnought battleships. However, with the advent of the Dreadnoughts, the USN didn't build high speed Dreadnoughts, that would require compromise in gun size and/or belt thickness.
Last edited by Dave Saxton on Fri Jan 13, 2006 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by _Derfflinger_ » Thu Jan 12, 2006 11:55 pm

The USN was indeed planning battlecruisers, but stopped their construction as a result of the Washington Naval Treaty following WW-1. USN fleet carriers USS Lexington, CV2, and USS Saratoga, CV3, were built on the hulls of two of the discontinued battlecruisers of the same name.

The originally planned battlecruisers of the "Lexington" class were to be six in number, were to be ~49,000 ton displacement, were to do 33+ knots, and were to carry eight 16"/50 guns, in four turrets. The six ships were to be named as follows, all laid down in 1920/1921 yet stopped 1922/1923:

CC1 - USS Lexington
CC2 - USS Constellation
CC3 - USS Saratoga
CC4 - USS Ranger
CC5 - USS Constitution
CC6 - USS United States

Derf

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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri Jan 13, 2006 12:03 am

But, as a matter of fact, the USN never listed any of their ships as a Battlecruiser but only as heavy cruisers or battleships. Isn´t it.
Why is it that some consider the very heavy and armored Battleships of the Iowa class as Battlecruisers?

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Post by Dave Saxton » Fri Jan 13, 2006 12:33 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:But, as a matter of fact, the USN never listed any of their ships as a Battlecruiser but only as heavy cruisers or battleships. Isn´t it.
Why is it that some consider the very heavy and armored Battleships of the Iowa class as Battlecruisers?
The Lexingtons were to be referred to as BC's, IIRC. By WWII it was technicaly possible to build fast battleships, and the USN indeed used the term "fast Battleships".

The Iowas were always referred to as fast battleships by the USN. Some people (a minority) think of the Iowas as filling the catogory of the BC, primarily because of their speed. What constitutes heavy armour is relative. The Iowas had no better armour protection than the smaller South Dakota class, both with 12-inch belts, and the Iowas are the second largest capital ships ever built. Many battle cruisers carried guns as large as contemporary battleships. The Repulse and Renown, and Hood, all carried 15-inch guns. Hood was actually better protected than an R class, and unmodernized QE class BBs, but called a battle cruiser. The Lexingtons were to have carried 16-inch guns.

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Post by _Derfflinger_ » Fri Jan 13, 2006 4:17 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:But, as a matter of fact, the USN never listed any of their ships as a Battlecruiser but only as heavy cruisers or battleships. Isn´t it.
Why is it that some consider the very heavy and armored Battleships of the Iowa class as Battlecruisers?
The USN Lexingtons were to be called battlecruisers. That's why their code was CC.

Derf

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Post by _Derfflinger_ » Fri Jan 13, 2006 4:26 am

Dave Saxton wrote:Well, Lexington, Saratoga, and Yorktown, were originally planned as BC's. These were convertted to aircraft carriers before completion, and good thing too!!
The very famous and gallant USS Yorktown, CV5, was not built on a converted battlecruiser hull, as was "Lady Lex" and "Sara", per my posting above.

The Yorktown was a first intent fleet carrier, a member of the "Yorktown Class", along with USS Enterprise, CV6 and USS Hornet, CV8.

Derf

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Post by Dave Saxton » Fri Jan 13, 2006 3:13 pm

I stand corrected. :D

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U.S battlecruisers

Post by turlock » Sun Jan 15, 2006 8:57 pm

The North Carolina's were originally to mount twelve 14" 50 caliber guns.

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Post by Dave Saxton » Mon Jan 16, 2006 1:41 am

Yes, that was one option, and the one they planned on going with at one point.

They bassically had three general options:

9-14"/50, 30knots

12-14"/50, 27 knots

9-16"/45, 27 knots.

It's been awhile since I read Friedman's essay on the warships lost to the Washington Treaty. Does anybody have more details on the Lexingtons? Particularly the armour protection scheme?

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Post by MJQ » Mon Jan 16, 2006 7:43 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:Does anybody have more details on the Lexingtons? Particularly the armour protection scheme?
Here is a page from the Naval Historical Center with some more info on the Lexington-class Battlecruisers:

http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/usnshtp/bb/cc1.htm

Here's a 1/700 model of what the ships would have looked like if built as battlecruisers:

Image

(Model was built by me)
Martin

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Dave Saxton
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Post by Dave Saxton » Tue Jan 17, 2006 5:24 pm

Thank's Martin,

It's interesting to see how the 1919 versions are rather similar to the HMS Hood in terms of size, displacement, and using eight heavy guns. I wonder how the armour compares?

I wonder how they compare to the aborted German large BC's?

It looks like the USN had keen interest in building high speed dreadnoughts, even during the teens, but never got around to it.

Very nice model BTW. Great job.....

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Post by MJQ » Tue Jan 17, 2006 6:23 pm

Yes, I was struck by the similarity to the Hood - but then I had read that the USN was influenced by the Admiral-class battlecruiser. Apparently they (the USN) had been shown plans of these ships during WW1.

The planned follow on to the Derfflinger-class was the Mackensen and then the Ersatz Yorck-classes. The Mackensens were started but never completed, the EY class never got beyond the laying of the keel. Either way, both were smaller than the Lexingtons:

Mackensen class:
Dimensions (feet): 735.9 (overall) x 100.32 x 30.69
Max Speed/Range: 28.0 kts / 8,000 nm at 14 kts
Main Battery: Eight 350mm (13.8")/45 caliber - 4 dual turrets

Ersatz Yorck
class:
Dimensions (feet): 751.74 (overall) x 100.32 x 30.69
Max Speed/Range: 27.3 kts / 5,500 nm at 14 kts
Main Battery: Eight 380mm (15")/45 caliber - 4 dual turrets

For more information, check out the Imperial German Navy website, which is where I got the techincal info for the German BC from.

And thanks for the kind words about my model! There is a full build up review of the kit over on ModelWarships.com.
Martin

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Post by Djoser » Fri Feb 03, 2006 4:58 pm

Looks like a beautiful model!

I like seeing models like these, especially--as opposed to the run-of-the-mill (though often finely crafted) ones most people choose to build.

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