USS New Orleans, Astoria, Minneapolis, Tuscaloosa, San Francisco, Quincy, Vincennes
Back to the armour
No doubt the lightness of the armor of the previous cruisers, partly imposed by the 10 000-tonne limit by the 1922 Washington treaty, forced the Admiralty Construction and Repair Office to reconsider its copy by gaining weight where it was necessary to better distribute and improve the shielding.
The tin clad cruiser period was drawing to an end and it was no longer claimed that the range and firepower of 203 mm pieces made any protection superfluous. From 1929 a plan of 20 new crosers was studied, and very quickly the admiralty became interested in the “Algeria” a 1930 French cruiser, generally considered as the best “treaty cruiser” (Washington) by experts as pointed in “Jane’s fighting ships”.
Her design showed that by restricting dimensions and better armour repartition it was possible to maintain good protection, sufficient horsepower and reasonable speed while remaining below the required tonnage limit. The work led to the definition of an internal formwork extending only around superstructures and artillery pieces, called the “immune zone”, and which devoted the choice of “all or nothing” already tried on battleships.
ONI 1943 recoignition plate of the class
Back to the armour
In addition to this distribution, lighter and still powerful machines were used, and the torpedo tubes were eliminated. The hull was also shortened and lowered from a bridge. It can thus be 130 mm thick at the central cell and belt. The machines were protected by 90mm and the bridge by 64mm.
USS Vincennes Panama Canal 1938
USS Tuscaloosa 23 August 1935
USS Quincy underway on 1 May 1940, as seen from a Utility Squadron One aircraft. Note identification markings on her turret tops: longitudinal stripes on the forward turrets and a circle on the after one. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center
The US Navy used this class, first called Astoria named after the leading ship (which sank later), to test variations on a design that remained broadly similar. There are three series, the New Orleans, Astoria and Minneapolis, for the first, the Tuscaloosa and San Francisco for the second and the Quincy and Vincennes for the last.
The plans were revised between each series and a difference of 600 tons exists between the first and last. These were test benches and the direct ancestors of all upcoming American cruisers. The turrets received 25-70mm and the barbettes 170mm.
USS Tuscaloosa 1930s
The blockhouse also had a 130mm protection. Their speed was very comfortable (33 knots). On the other hand, their anti-aircraft artillery was entrusted to 8 pieces of 127mm too slow for the modern aviation, and 8 machine guns of 12.7mm too short range. this was largely outweighed the war, with a new AA artillery consisting of quadruple Bofors 40mm carriages in bathtubs and fifty or so simple Oerlikon carriages. They also received radar and new gunfire, while their superstructure was lightened, reworked and “bunkerized”.
USS San Francisco enters San Francisco bay December 1942, giving a good sense of the scale of the bridge.
The New Orleans in action (general)
The Astoria, Quincy and Vincennes were destroyed during the Battle of Savo in August 1942, and the others participated in many particularly hard engagements, but survived.
(Work in Progress…)
USS Tuscaloosa October 1942
USS San Francisco_off the Korean coast 28 September 1945
USS San Francisco Kuluk Bay Adak Island April 1943
USS Vincennes in the Solomons 1942 en route to guadalcanal
USS Minneapolis 1943
USS Tuscaloosa Scapa Flow 1942
USS Astoria operating in Hawaiian waters on 8 July 1942
USS Astoria off Guadalcanal 1942
USS New Orleans underway Puget Sound 30 July 1943
USS Minneapolis in December 1942, showing damage received in the Battle of Tassafaronga
USS New Orleans in Tulagi with a provisional bow to sail back home
Caracteristics (en 1941):
Displacement: 9950 tonnes, 12 400 tonnes fully loaded
Dimensions: 179,27 x 18,82 x 5,9 m
Propulsion: 2 screws 4 turbines Westinghouse, 8 B&C boilers, 107 000 cv. 32,7 knots.
Armour: Tourelles 30-70, ceinture 120, blockhaus 130 et casemate 80 mm, pont 60 mm.
Armement: 9 x 203 mm (3×3), 8 x 127 mm, 8 x 12,7 mm HMG, 4 seaplanes
Conways all the world’s fighting ships 1922-1947