Osprey - New Vanguard 172 - US Fast Battleships 1939-1991. The Iowa Class


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S FAST BATTLESHIPS 1938-91 The Iowa class


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.



1938-91 The Iowa class



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

E-mail: [email protected]

© 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

Print ISBN: 9781 84603 S11 1 E-book ISBN: 978 1 84908 303 4

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author wishes to acknowledge the help and assistance of the following: Jeffrey Nilsson, Executive Director, Historic Naval Ships Association; Jason Hall, Vice President, Battleship New Jersey; Donna Porter and Eddie Smith, Inactive Ships Management Office; Mark Hayes, Naval Historical Center; and my wonderful wife Judi, who has developed a photographic eye for battleship aesthetics.





Fire Control Radar Aircraft Construction Timetable



World War II Korean War Vietnam

Page layout by Melissa Orrom Swan, Oxford Index by Peter Finn Typeset in Sabon and Myriad Pro Originated by PPS Grasmere Printed in China through Worldprint Ltd

The Cold War and a Soviet Challenge

Desert Storm Iowa Class Battleships Today



Osprey Publishing is supporting the Woodland Trust, the UK's leading woodland conservation charity by funding the dedication of trees.








10 11 12 13 14

10 9 8 7 6 S 4 3 2 1

US FAST BATTLESHIPS 1938-91 THE IOWA CLASS INTRODUCTION The North Carolina class of fast battleships marked a significant development from the pre-1922 battleships of the US Navy. Designed to meet the limits established by the Washington Naval Treaty (WNT) of 1922, as well as the width of the Panama Canal, the North Carolina was seen to be unbalanced in design as it had insufficient armor relative to its main armament. The South Dakota class that followed carried adequate armor and was considered to be a successful design. However, with a top speed of 27 knots, these fast battleships were not fast enough for President Roosevelt. Japan's withdrawal from the Naval Treaty system provided the opportunity to design a battleship unconstrained by treaty limits. As a result, the four battleships of the Iowa class corrected the design shortcomings of both the North Carolina and South Dakota classes, and with a designed speed of 33 knots fulfilled their designation as "fast battleships." The service life of these four ships, from August 1943 until March 1992, demonstrated the quality of their design and construction as well as their capability to deliver accurate and devastating firepower, both conventional and nuclear.

DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION When Japan and Italy withdrew from the Naval Treaty system at the Second London Naval Disarmament Conference in January 1936, the US, Great Britain, and France added escalation clauses to the displacement and main armament limits established in the 1922 WNT (displacement of 35,000 tons and 16-inch guns) to cover themselves against new and larger battleships that Japan and Italy might build. In addition to withdrawing from the Naval Treaty system, Japan became increasingly secretive about its naval construction program, with the result that on March 31, 1938, the US, Great Britain, and France invoked the escalation clause to raise the displacement limit to 45,000 tons. Assumptions were made that any new Japanese battleship would be larger than 35,000 tons and faster than the Kongo class battleships. The finished design for the South Dakota class overcame the problem of the under-armored and therefore unbalanced design of the North Carolina class, and met the original displacement and armament limits of the WNT. During the design process for both the North Carolina and South Dakota classes, the primary objectives were to maximize armor and armament, with speed a 4

secondary consideration. Nevertheless, these ships were designed with a top speed of 27 knots to be able to match the Japanese Kongo class that the US avy assumed had a top speed of 26 knots. This assumption was erroneous, however, as the Kongos had undergone a further modernization in the mid-1930s, with new boilers and turbines that resulted in a top speed of 30 knots. The increase of 10,000 tons in displacement, from 35,000 tons to 45,000 tons, provided the opportunity for the General Board of the US Navy to consider either increasing the armament from nine to twelve 16-inch guns and maintaining the top speed at 27 knots, or increasing the top speed of the new battleship to in excess of 30 knots. In March 1938, President Roosevelt played a major role in this consideration by strongly suggesting there should be an increased top speed plus extensive cruising range for the new battleship. The concept of a hybrid battleship-aircraft carrier also resurfaced, with a design of 75,000 tons, twelve 16-inch guns in four turrets, 28 5-inch dual-purpose guns, 36 aircraft and a top speed of 35 knots. The flight deck for the aircraft was to be located amidships. The cost of the ship was estimated to be in excess of $120 million, and doomed this design concept. Driving the discussion of a new battleship design was an evaluation of what the Navy needed to fight a trans-Pacific war against Japan. The General Board based its requirements on a naval war plan that saw the climax of hostilities being a "decisive" battleship battle somewhere in the western Pacific. The plan assumed that Japan might seek to preserve their battleships until the "decisive" battle, plus use land-based aircraft and Japanese fast battleships, carriers, and cruisers (sailing from their main mid-Pacific base at Truk Lagoon or other anchorages in the Japanese mandated islands of the Marianas, Marshalls, and Carolines) to raid and harass the US Navy fleet of 21-knot battleships as it crossed the Pacific. The vast distances of the Pacific, with long lines of supply and communication, required ships that could meet and defeat these threats. The need to counter and defeat Japan's fast Kongo class battleships and then overwhelm the Japanese battle line was therefore a major driving force in setting the design criteria for the new ships, as was the restricting width of the Panama Canal. The General Board also saw the need for a striking force ahead of the US battle fleet, comprising fast battleships, cruisers, and carriers, to both parry any Japanese force that might seek to raid the advancing US fleet and to

The bow of battleship Wisconsin. Without her crew, stores, fuel, and ammunition, Wisconsin is riding high in the water. This view shows the long narrow hull, with the bulbous bow stem. These features gave the Iowa class their high speed but a wet forecastle in heavy weather. (Judi Burr)


The forecastle of battleship New Jersey. This long forecastle

provided the needed buoyancy to the heavy armored amidships section of the ship, containing the armament, magazines, and machinery rooms. (Judi Burr)

seek out the enemy fleet and bring it to battle. In this "striking force" concept, the carriers were to provide in-depth reconnaissance, and protect the fast battleships from air attack by land and carrier aircraft. Following President Roosevelt's suggestion, in March 1938 the General Board requested a battleship design with 33 knots as top speed. In May 1938, while the design was still being finalized, the Iowa and New Jersey were formally authorized and assigned to the New York and Philadelphia navy yards for construction. The design for the Iowa class drew heavily upon the South Dakota class for the form and structure of its armor protection, and the North Carolina class for its bow and hull shape. The required speed of 33 knots needed 230,000 shaft horsepower. The machinery layout of boilers and turbines in one machinery room, as employed in the North Carolina and South Dakota classes, was not viable for the Iowa class. The dimensions of each machinery room would be 64ft, and a torpedo hit at the juncture of two machinery rooms would produce massive flooding. The New York Navy Yard designers therefore reverted to separate boiler and engine rooms on an alternating basis, with four boiler rooms and four engine rooms. Each of the eight spaces was now 32ft, instead of 64ft. Three transverse bulkheads were added to strengthen the total machinery space and the potential flooding from a torpedo hit was halved. While the need for increased top speed negated the ability to increase main armament from nine 16-inch guns to twelve, the caliber of the nine guns for the Iowa class was increased from 45 to 50. The increase in barrel length and a heavier powder charge pr...

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