USS Baltimore, Boston, Camberra, Quincy, Pittsburgh, St. Paul, Columbus, Chicago, Bremerton, Fall River, Los Angeles, Macon Oregon City, Albany, Rochester
The standard USN heavy cruisers (1942-46)
The Baltimore class cruisers were not to be the last or largest conventional cruisers built, since they were followed after the war by the Worcester class and especially the Des Moines class, but they are certainly the best. The Clevelands had been criticized for their lack of space. The Baltirmores were to resume studies with the USS Wichita and push their advantage in a more impotent hull while paying particular attention to protection.
The limitations of peacetime had long been forgotten, since at full load a Baltimore reached 17,000 tons, which was quite considerable and placed them at the head of allied ships. The Baltimore class was to have 24 units, but 6 were canceled on August 12, 1945. The remaining 18 were admitted for service, but after the conflict for six of them. Those who had time to participate were 12: The USS Baltimore, Boston, Camberra, Quincy, Pittsburgh, St. Paul, Columbus, Chicago, Bremerton, Fall River, Los Angeles and Macon. They were launched in 1942-44 and completed in 1943-45.
Their main features, apart from their huge hull, were their artillery in three triple turrets of 203 mm pieces, as for the Wichita, a secondary anti-aircraft artillery made of standard double turrets of 127 mm, and a much higher light weaponry . The experience of the conflict had made it possible to mount such a concentration of guns around the central redoubt that each ship could set up a veritable “wall of steel” impassable to the torpedo bombers, and later to the Kamikazes.
A simple comparison makes it possible to get an idea of it: The USS Wichita, when it entered service in February 1939, had 8 pieces of 127 mm and 8 machine guns of 12.7 mm. With the Baltimore, we went to 12 of 127 mm, 48 of 40 mm, 24 of 20 mm in 1942, and much more in 1945. Another peculiarity of these ships was the adoption of a better distributed shielding, and new shells for their 203 mm pieces. These much heavier ones could in parabolic trajectory cross the thickest armor of Japanese heavy cruisers in service.
During the war, these ships registered no losses, despite their presence in very hard commitments. But in 1944, the situation in Japan was such that the only threats to be feared could come only Kamikazes and submersibles of pocket of coastal defense or canoes-suicide. As for the Cleveland, attempts were made to further improve the arc of fire of the antiaircraft parts by reducing the superstructures, while reviewing the distribution of the armor.
This culminated in the sub-class Oregon City, launched as its two sister-ships Albany and Rochester in 1945 and completed in 1946. Soon enough for the Korean War. These ships had a brilliant career after the war, forming the backbone of the US conventional fleet until 1970. Many served as fire support and command ships in Vietnam, and five of them were completely rebuilt in missile cruisers including two, the USS Chicago and the USS Albany was still in service in 1980. They have been put in reserve since.
USS Boston in 1945
USS Pittsburg 1945
USS Quincy in 1944
Displacement: 14,472 t. standard -17 030 t. Full Load
Dimensions: 205.26 m long, 21.60 m wide, 7.32 m draft
Machinery: 4 shaft GE turbines, 4 Babcock & Wilcox boilers, 120,000 hp.
Top speed: 33 knots
Armor: Belt 152, turrets 203, bridges 76, inner casemate 127-155 mm
Armament: 9 guns of 203 (3 × 3), 12 of 127 (6 × 2), 48 guns of 40 (11 × 4, 2 × 2), 24 of 20 mm AA, 4 planes.