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Thread: The Alaska's: Battlecruisers or Large Cruisers?

  1. #16
    Defense Professional Dreadnought's Avatar
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    -- U.S. NAVY SHIP TYPES -- LARGE CRUISERS --
    Alaska Class (CB-1 through CB-6),
    1941 Building Program
    The six Alaska class "large cruisers" were ordered in September 1940 under the massive 70% Expansion ("Two Ocean Navy") building program. The Navy had been considering since 1938 building ships of this entirely new type, intermediate in size between battleships and heavy cruisers. The new ships were to carry out what were then the two primary missions of heavy cruisers: protecting carrier strike groups against enemy cruisers and aircraft and operating independenly against enemy surface forces. Their extra size and larger guns would enhance their value in both these missions and would also provide insurance against reports that Japan was building "super cruisers" more powerful than U.S. heavy cruisers. In fact, Japan developed plans for two such ships in 1941--partly as a response to the Alaskas--but never placed orders for their construction.

    As built, the Alaskas were much closer to cruisers in design than to battleships or battlecruisers. They lacked the multiple layers of compartmentation and special armor along the sides below the waterline that protected battleships against torpedos and underwater hits by gunfire. Other typical cruiser features in their design were the provision of aircraft hangars and the single large rudder. Unlike other U.S. cruisers of the day, the hangars and catapults were located amidships, and the single rudder made them difficult to maneuver. On the other hand, the Alaskas' side armor covered more of the hull than was standard in contemporary U.S. cruisers.

    From the USN's own words. Trust the US Navy's explanation of designations over Wikipedia or any others.
    Last edited by Dreadnought; 24 Aug 09, at 19:01.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnought
    From the USN's own words. Trust the US Navy's explanation of designations over Wikipedia or any others.
    Ah, yes. The organization that changes the designations of its ships almost as frequently as the Post Office increases stamp rates. It's a destroyer leader. I mean, a frigate. Wait, make that a cruiser. Except for the ones that are destroyers. Whee!
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArmchairGeneral View Post
    Ah, yes. The organization that changes the designations of its ships almost as frequently as the Post Office increases stamp rates. It's a destroyer leader. I mean, a frigate. Wait, make that a cruiser. Except for the ones that are destroyers. Whee!
    *Ah, but General one must keep in mind two things,

    1) They designed it and built her so official records would state her class and designation exactly as the were called by the Bureau of Ships Dept.

    2) All of your WWII all gun cruisers were out of service by 1975 (USS Newport News) I believe was the last. Others went through refit to become CG or Cruiser Guided missle test ships.

    The theory by USN standards,

    CA= Heavy cruiser armored (1933 forward)
    CB= Large Cruiser (1944 forward)
    CC= ( Laid down before any of the CA's or CL's) would have truelly been "battlecruisers" boasting 8-16" guns, 16-6" guns, and would have carried four 21" underwater torp tubes and four 21" deck mounted torp tubes and displaced approximately 43,000 tons) and a speed of approximately 34 knots.
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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    One critical definition of the "battlecruiser" is battleship caliber guns. Alaska did not have those. Her armor thickness and scheme were definitely cruiser type rather than battleship type. However, her mission was more like battlecruiser than a cruiser.

    Battlecruisers were tasked to kill cruisers and cruiser squadrons. They could catch up the cruisers and outrange them with large caliber guns. In that, the Alaskas were much closer to the battlecruiser role as they were to kill Japanese large cruisers that never appeared.

    Maybe Alaskas deserve their own class: a hybrid of battlecruiser and cruiser. A hybrid cruiser, perhaps?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnought
    *Ah, but General one must keep in mind two things,

    1) They designed it and built her so official records would state her class and designation exactly as the were called by the Bureau of Ships Dept.
    I'm not sure what your point is here. They're large cruisers because the Navy said so? And the Invincible class were 'throughdeck cruisers' because the RN said so. Right.

    2) All of your WWII all gun cruisers were out of service by 1975 (USS Newport News) I believe was the last. Others went through refit to become CG or Cruiser Guided missle test ships.
    My point was that the USN changes its own designations of ships quite frequently, often for political reasons, so going by the USN's ship designations will not necessarily tell you much.

    The theory by USN standards,

    CA= Heavy cruiser armored (1933 forward)
    CB= Large Cruiser (1944 forward)
    CC= ( Laid down before any of the CA's or CL's) would have truelly been "battlecruisers" boasting 8-16" guns, 16-6" guns, and would have carried four 21" underwater torp tubes and four 21" deck mounted torp tubes and displaced approximately 43,000 tons) and a speed of approximately 34 knots.
    Interesting.
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    My point was that the USN changes its own designations of ships quite frequently, often for political reasons, so going by the USN's ship designations will not necessarily tell you much.

    *Understandable, but we all know that designation for the Alaskas will never change since they are a part of history much like the BB's.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnut
    One critical definition of the "battlecruiser" is battleship caliber guns. Alaska did not have those. Her armor thickness and scheme were definitely cruiser type rather than battleship type.
    Generally 11" is used as the cut off for battleship caliber guns. Otherwise what the heck are the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau? Hyper-cruisers?
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    "Interesting."

    *This is what the Lexington class battlecruisers (CC-1-CC-6) were designed as originally before being changed into the aircraft carriers. The Washington Naval Treaty changed all of this from then on.
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    Well, no-one's brought up the Kirovs yet... Would you call them battlecruisers?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnought
    Understandable, but we all know that designation for the Alaskas will never change since they are a part of history much like the BB's.
    Very true. But I'm still calling them battlecruisers instead of large cruisers, just like I call the Scharnhorsts battlecruisers instead of battleships. To me, if it's a big, fast ship with big guns, but can't quite duke it out with a full fledged battleship, it's a battlecruiser. Still don't know to call the Courageous class though. Reallystupidcruisers, maybe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silent Hunter
    Well, no-one's brought up the Kirovs yet... Would you call them battlecruisers?
    Why not? Big and fast, with a heavy surface warfare armament, and armor comparable to current cruisers (i.e. none, pretty much). They're extremely different from the original concept of battlecruisers, but then, the current crop of destroyers isn't designed to defend against torpedo boats, either.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silent Hunter View Post
    Well, no-one's brought up the Kirovs yet... Would you call them battlecruisers?
    IMO, No.
    The real "battlecruisers" were meant to protect themselves by both offensive (big guns, secondary guns, torpedoes, radar, speed etc.) and defensive idealisms (armor, compartmentization and quality of build and design).

    The Kirovs were primarily meant to protect themselves in an offensive posture more then a defensive posture. Although she has modern weapony to help protect her from incoming weapons, the armoring scheme (what there is of it) is not meant to withstand direct blows from weapons simular to her own if she was to be overwhelmed in much as the same way that she is designed to attack.

    Apples and Oranges.

    *More or less comparible with the USN's guided missle cruisers but carrying more armament however she has never been tested against AEGIS.
    Last edited by Dreadnought; 24 Aug 09, at 20:35.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnought View Post
    "Interesting."

    *This is what the Lexington class battlecruisers (CC-1-CC-6) were designed as originally before being changed into the aircraft carriers. The Washington Naval Treaty changed all of this from then on.
    Those are not really battle cruisers but fast battleships almost predecessors to the immediate pre-war super dreadnought designs. They are heavier by some 15000 tons than the HMS Warspite an undeniable battleship. They are big, fast, and armed with upper end battleship main guns. The main belt is only about half as thick, but the rest of the armor scheme is comparable to super dreadnoughts.

    By virtue of armor thickness, gun size, displacement, crew size and mission the Alaska class are battle cruisers. That the USN chose a different class name for them does not obviate where they would be stacked up against foreign vessels in a comparison of like types. Same goes for the Lexington class. The USN might call them battle cruisers, but in weight they were solidly in the battleship class. They had a weight similar to the German Battleship Bismark and as already stated outweighed both early WWI era and WWII era RN battleships.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Those are not really battle cruisers but fast battleships almost predecessors to the immediate pre-war super dreadnought designs. They are heavier by some 15000 tons than the HMS Warspite an undeniable battleship. They are big, fast, and armed with upper end battleship main guns. The main belt is only about half as thick, but the rest of the armor scheme is comparable to super dreadnoughts.

    By virtue of armor thickness, gun size, displacement, crew size and mission the Alaska class are battle cruisers. That the USN chose a different class name for them does not obviate where they would be stacked up against foreign vessels in a comparison of like types. Same goes for the Lexington class. The USN might call them battle cruisers, but in weight they were solidly in the battleship class. They had a weight similar to the German Battleship Bismark and as already stated outweighed both early WWI era and WWII era RN battleships.
    Z, When one looks at the displacement of other ships of the years that followed Yamato, Musashi, Shinano, Graf Zepplin etc. The term "battlecruiser", battleship, pocket battleship and heavy cruiser remained as fluid as did others. Even the Des Moines class for how big she was could have been considered a "battlecruiser". The terms were meant to fit the Naval treaties of the day. Like lawyers they manipulated the terms used in the agreements of the day often enough to actually hide what it was they were building or had plans to build at the time. An open loop of "one upmanship" if you would.
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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArmchairGeneral View Post
    Generally 11" is used as the cut off for battleship caliber guns. Otherwise what the heck are the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau? Hyper-cruisers?
    Battleship guns advanced from the age of Dreadnaught (12") to WW2 (15"/16"). Since Alaska was built near the end of the war, battleship guns should be 15" or more.

    German ships have always been "strange." They prefer 11" guns when everyone else went with 12". The Deutchland class "armored cruisers" were really small battlecruisers. They could outfight just about anything they couldn't outrun (in theory).

    Some did want Sharnhorst class to be armed with 15" guns, but that would delay the project. So they used 11" guns with the possibility of a conversion later. Sharnhorst was also armored better than the average cruiser, or even battlecruiser.

    Honestly, I don't know what these German ships should be classified as. The exceptions seemed to be the rule.
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