US NAVY LIGHT CRUISERS 1941–45
ILLUSTRATED BY PAUL WRIGHT
Mark E. Stille (Commander, United States Navy, retired) received his BA in History from the University of Maryland and also holds an MA from the Naval War College. He has worked in the intelligence community for 30 years including tours on the faculty of the Naval War College, on the Joint Staff and on US Navy ships. He is currently a senior analyst working in the Washington, DC area. He is the author of numerous Osprey titles, focusing on naval history in the Pacific.
Paul Wright has painted ships of all kinds for most of his career, specializing in steel and steam warships from the late 19th century to the present day. Paul’s art has illustrated the works of Patrick O’Brian, Dudley Pope and C.S. Forester amongst others, and hangs in many corporate and private collections all over the world. A Member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists, Paul lives and works in Surrey, UK.
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NVG No: 84 • ISBN: 978 1 84176 503 7
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NVG No: 194 • ISBN: 978 1 84908 684 4
NVG No: 210 • ISBN: 978 1 78200 629 9
NVG No: 214 • ISBN: 978 1 78200 632 9
NEW VANGUARD 236
US NAVY LIGHT CRUISERS 1941–45
ILLUSTRATED BY PAUL WRIGHT
This electronic edition published in 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published in Great Britain in 2016 by Osprey Publishing, PO Box 883, Oxford, OX1 9PL, UK 1385 Broadway, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10018, USA E-mail: [email protected]
Osprey Publishing, part of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc © 2016 Osprey Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved You may not copy, distribute, transmit, reproduce or otherwise make available this publication (or any part of it) in any form, or by any means (including without limitation electronic, digital, optical, mechanical, photocopying, printing, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. A CIP catalog record for this book is available from the British Library Print ISBN: 978 1 4728 1140 0 PDF ebook ISBN: 978 1 4728 1141 7 ePub ebook ISBN: 978 1 4728 1142 4 To find out more about our authors and books visit www.ospreypublishing.com. Here you will find our full range of publications, as well as exclusive online content, details of forthcoming events and the option to sign up for our newsletters. You can also sign up for Osprey membership, which entitles you to a discount on purchases made through the Osprey site and access to our extensive online image archive. Osprey Publishing supports the Woodland Trust, the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity. Between 2014 and 2018 our donations will be spent on their Centenary Woods project in the UK. www.ospreypublishing.com Title page image: Huntington was not commissioned until early 1946. This view shows the other differences from the Cleveland class. The 40mm battery has been increased to three quad mounts on each beam and the positions of the Mk 34 and Mk 37 directors have been transposed with the Mk 37 mounted lower on the superstructure. The electronics fit includes an SK-2 on the foremast and an SP radar on the mainmast.
CONTENTS INTRODUCTION 4 • American Naval Strategy and the Role of the Light Cruiser • The Impact of the Washington and London Naval Treaties
AMERICAN LIGHT CRUISER WEAPONS
AMERICAN LIGHT CRUISER RADAR
USN LIGHT CRUISERS AT WAR
THE LIGHT CRUISER CLASSES
• Omaha Class • Brooklyn Class • Atlanta Class • Cleveland and Fargo Classes • Worcester Class
ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION
BIBLIOGRAPHY 47 INDEX 48
US NAVY LIGHT CRUISERS 1941–45 INTRODUCTION This book covers every United States Navy (USN) light cruiser ever completed. The first true class of USN light cruisers was designed in the aftermath of World War I to produce a ship suitable for scouting duties for the battle fleet. After the completion of the ten-ship Omaha class, the USN’s attention turned to building heavy cruisers. Not until 1935 did the USN return to light-cruiser construction with the Brooklyn class. This excellent design became the basis for the most-produced light cruiser class in history, the 26-ship Cleveland class. In the run-up to World War II, the USN also designed and built a class of smaller cruisers suitable for work with destroyers. The Atlanta class was not actually designed as an antiaircraft cruiser as is commonly believed, but was used as such during the war. The last light cruisers built for the USN were the Fargo and Worcester classes which were completed after World War II. The two ships of the Worcester class were the largest and most advanced American light cruiser ever constructed.
American Naval Strategy and the Role of the Light Cruiser
At the end of the 19th century, the USN was primarily a cruiser navy. There were different types of cruisers in service, each with a specific set of capabilities and missions. Armored cruisers were built for fleet operations and commerce raiding and were literally fast battleships. Others were built for showing the flag and providing a presence to defend American interests. These were a mix of protected and “peace” cruisers. Beginning in the 1890s, USN construction funds were shifted to the building of battleships, and cruiser construction declined. With Congress unwilling to spend enough to create a balanced fleet, the only cruisers funded were armored cruisers and “peace” cruisers. Building scout cruisers to provide support for the battleships was neglected. When the United States entered World War I in 1917 the USN had only three modern scout cruisers. As the USN evolved from a cruiser navy built for commerce raiding and overseas presence to a fleet built for command of the sea centered on a battle fleet, the role of cruisers evolved. The new strategy of sea control called for a balanced battle fleet in which cruisers played important roles. Large armored cruisers remained useful for independent raiding operations or working with the main battle fleet. Smaller cruisers, eventually known as light cruisers, were tasked primarily with supporting the battle fleet by 4
scouting. Scouting required two different types of ships since it was seen as two different missions. Strategic scouting sought to develop information on the arrival of an enemy fleet in a given theater, while tactical scouting was required when the two opposing fleets were near or in contact. This tactical information was essential if the fleet commander was to deploy his force correctly. Just as the USN required scouting information, the enemy also required intelligence on the movement of the American fleet. Scouting cruisers also had the job of screening their fleet and denying the enemy information of its movement. Over time, and in particular with the introduction of aircraft and later radar, scouting requirements for USN cruisers diminished. What became more important was the requirement to protect the battle fleet from attack by enemy cruisers and destroyers. This was especially apparent after World War I when the USN looked at the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as its next likely opponent. The Japanese were locked into a position of battleship inferiority by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 so were constantly seeking ways to compensate. What the Japanese came up with was an elaborate doctrine which emphasized nighttime torpedo attacks by cruisers and destroyers against the USN’s battle fleet. USN cruisers were ideal platforms to counter this threat. Japanese aircraft were also increasingly seen as a threat and it became a standard requirement for USN cruisers to mount a powerful antiaircraft battery. The Washington Naval Treaty set the maximum size of cruisers at 10,000 tons with guns no larger than 8 inches. The treaty did not set the number of cruisers which could be built, but with other naval powers building to the maximum limits, the USN was also forced to do so. Large cruisers with 8-inch guns were initially favored by the USN since their guns had greater penetrative power. This made them better suited for operating with the battle fleet and also better suited as a commerce raider since they could contend with an opposing cruiser also armed with 8-inch guns. However, a smaller (light) cruiser with 6-inch guns had several favorable attributes. Light cruisers were cheaper which meant more could be built. The 6-inch gun had a greater rate of fire which meant it was better suited to deal with enemy destroyer attacks. Six-inch cruisers were also thought to be the right size for commerce protection. The ambivalence the USN had between the 6- and 8-inch guns was shown after the collapse of the treaty system in the mid-1930s. When the
Cleveland-class cruisers were heavily used to screen the Fast Carrier Force. This is Miami on February 12, 1945 with Task Force 58.1 which was en route to the Japanese home islands.
USN no longer faced tonnage restrictions for cruisers, it devised an immense cruiser-building program which included large cruisers (the Alaska class, often referred to incorrectly as battlecruisers), three classes of heavy cruisers, and four classes of light cruisers. It is important to note that the preponderance of wartime cruiser building was of light cruisers which the USN had come to believe was the more effective type of cruiser. With the USN’s entry into World War II, the primary role of the cruiser became fleet escort. Independent missions such as commerce raiding turned out to be an entirely false notion. The independent role of the cruiser was also neutered by the rise of air power which made it essential to operate as part of a task force. The USN’s light cruisers played an important role in all major operations and were an...