US FAST BATTLESHIPS 1936-47 The North Carolina and South Dakota classes
ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR LAWRENCE BURR has had a lifelong passion for naval history. He was recently the British specialist on a Channel 4 documentary about the battle of Jutland. He has also been part of a team who has conducted underwater explorations of the Battlecruiser wrecks and has visited a number of the key battleships detailed in this volume. He lives in the USA.
PETER BULL graduated from art college in 1979 and has worked as a freelance illustrator for over 25 years. He has created both traditional and digital art for publishers worldwide, and also runs the Peter Bull Art Studio, based in Kent, UK, which he founded in 1975.
NEW VANGUARD • 169
US FAST BATTLESHIPS 1936-47 The North Carolina and South Dakota classes
ILLUSTRATED BY PETER BULL
First published in Great Britain in 2010 by Osprey Publishing, Midland House, West Way, Botley, Oxford, OX2 OPH, UK 44-02 23rd St, Suite 219, Long Island City, NY 11101, USA
© 2010 Osprey Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrical, chemical, mechanical, optical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Inquiries should be addressed to the Publishers.
A CIP catalog record for this book is available from the British Library
AUTHOR'S ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author wishes to acknowledge the help and assistance of the following: Captain Ben W. Blee, USN (Ret); Jeffrey Nilsson, Executive Director, Historical Naval Ships Association; Kim Sincox, Museum Services Director, and Mary Ames Booker, Curator of Collections, Battleship North Carolina; Bill Tunnell, Executive Director, and Lee Bryars, Crew Chief, Museum USS Alabama; Mark Hayes, Naval Historical Center; Professor Douglas V. Smith, Naval War College; Captain Christopher Page (RN) Ret, and Dr Malcolm Llewellyn-Jones, Historian, Naval Historical Branch; Ron Kurpiers, researcher; and my wonderful wife Judi, whose patience and humor helped me cope with a new computer.
PHOTOGRAPHIC CREDITS All the photographs printed in this book are by: Courtesy Battleship North Carolina.
THE WASHINGTON NAVAL TREATY -1922
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
The North Carolina class The South Dakota class Fire control
ISBN: 978 1 84603 5104 E-book ISBN: 978 1 84908292 1
Page layout by: Melissa Orrom Swan, Oxford Index by Mike Parkin Typeset in Sabon and Myriad Pro Originated by PPS Grasmere Ltd, Leeds, UK Printed in China through World Print Ltd.
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FAST BATTLESHIP OPERATIONS
The Atlantic The Pacific
South Dakota class North Carolina class
Babcock and Wilcox highpressure boilers being installed in North Carolina's No.2 machinery space.
US FAST BATTLESHIPS 1936-47 THE NORTH CAROLINA AND SOUTH DAKOTA CLASSES
INTRODUCTION The six battleships of the North Carolina and South Dakota classes, built between 1937 and 1942, represented a dramatic development from the pre-1922 battleships of the US Navy. The Washington Naval Treaty (WNT) of 1922 and the resulting battleship-building "holiday" stopped the gradual development process of battleship design that had flowed from the launching of the British HMS Dreadnought in 1905. In 1937, US Navy designers had to set a design within three fixed parameters: the width of the Panama Canal, a maximum displacement of 35,000 tons, and a maximum main armament caliber of 16 inches. The designed speed of 27 knots for these six battleships was set on the basis of faulty intelligence of the speed of the Japanese Kongo class of fast battleships of 26 knots. The design of the North Carolina and South Dakota class battleships was very successful. Although their service life was relatively short (all six fast battleships were decommissioned in 1947), they undertook a multiplicity of roles in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of war, and helped forge a new war-winning weapon system. This book tells the story of how these ships came into being and how they were used in World War II.
THE WASHINGTON NAVAL TREATY -1922 "The United States of America, the British Empire, France, Italy and Japan: Desiring to contribute to the maintenance of the general peace, and to reduce the burden of competition in armament;" Introduction to the Washington Naval Treaty, signed on February 6, 1922.
The purpose of the WNT was to curtail the developing naval race between the US, Great Britain, and Japan, and thereby allow the US, and Great Britain in particular, to recover financially from World War I. The cost of new fleets of battleships was seen as politically and financially prohibitive in a war-weary environment at the conclusion of the "War to end all Wars." The signed treaty limited the construction of new battleships, defined as armored ships in excess of 10,000 tons, until December 1931. The subsequent London Naval Treaty of 1930 extended this limitation until 1936. Additionally, the WNT limited the number of battleships for each country by establishing a total maximum standard displacement of 525,000 tons each for the US and Great Britain, 315,000 tons for Japan and 175,000 tons each 4
for France and Italy. This was referred to as the 5-5-3-1.75-1.75 ratio. To bring the terms of the treaty into being, the US and Japan were authorized to complete two new battleships under construction. The UK was authorized to build two new battleships but their displacement was limited to 35,000 tons and their main armament caliber to 16 inches. An immediate consequence of this treaty was the scrapping of battleships under construction and in operation to achieve the agreed ratios. For the US, it resulted in the scrapping of 15 battleships and the cancellation of 15 under construction. This left the US Navy with 18 battleships, including the two to be completed in accordance with the treaty. Additionally, two battlecruisers under construction were to be converted to aircraft carriers. Existing battleships could be modernized to increase defense against air and submarine attack by adding side blisters and additional horizontal deck armor to a limit of 3,000 tons per ship. The sinking of Ostfriesland, Virginia, and New Jersey in 1921 in bombing trials led by Billy Mitchell pointed to the growing risk to battleships from aircraft. The treaty also limited the number of aircraft carriers to a total displacement to 135,000 tons for the US and UK, 81,000 tons for Japan, and 60,000 tons each for France and Italy. The maximum displacement for each ship was 27,000 tons, with a proviso that the two US aircraft carriers, being converted from battlecruiser hulls, could be built up to 33,000 tons. All aircraft carriers in existence or being built on November 12, 1921 were considered experimental and could be replaced within the total tonnage limit. Main gun armament was limited to a caliber of 8 inches. The treaty limitations established a maximum size for cruisers at 10,000 tons and 8-inch guns. As there was no limit placed on the number that could be built, the building of heavy cruisers became, in effect, a new naval race. For the US Navy, the WNT achieved naval parity with the Royal Navy, then the preeminent naval power, without a costly naval building program and naval conflict (an approach with which Germany had failed). Following the treaty, Admiral Scheer, who had commanded the German High 5
The operating face of the highpressure boilers, showing left and right furnaces.
Seas Fleet in 1916, perc ptively avy was commented that th U the real victor of th 1916 battle of Jutland between the Royal avy and the German Imperial Navy. Additionally, the treaty ended the Anglo-Japanese aval Treaty of 1902, and the potential alliance of the Royal avy with the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJ ) again t the US Navy in the Pacific. This was significant to the US, a war scares with Japan in the early 1900s had resulted in the Naval War College (NWC) creating a War Plan "Orange" to identify the major issues and required strategy for a naval campaign against Japan. The passage of the Great White Fleet across the Pacific in 1907 was an exercise to help identify the issues involved in a trans-Pacific voyage by the fleet, as well as showing the Japanese US naval strength. Japan had not been successful in obtaining equal status with the US and UK in terms of total battleship displacement. In seeking to have naval dominance in the western Pacific Japan negotiated and achieved a "NonFortification Clause" that prevented naval bases in the Pacific from being developed and defended. For the US, this meant Guam, Wake, the Philippines, and the Aleutian Islands. The consequences of the "Non-Fortification Clause" gave the IJN a significant advantage in the event of hostilities with the US. The US Navy Fleet would have to pass through the Japanese mandate possessions of the Marshal, Caroline, and Mariana Islands to reinforce its fleet in the Philippines, Wake, and Guam. This would expose the US Fleet to interception and attrition tactics by the IJN, prior to an expected fleet battle. Additionally, the US Navy would have to retain ships in the Atlantic at the same time it commenced hostilities against Japan, with the result that the IJN would have an equal or larger fleet at the time of battle. The "Non-Fortification Clause" played a major role in driving the development programs of the US Navy. The modernization pr...