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The Alaska's: Battlecruisers or Large Cruisers?

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  • The Alaska's: Battlecruisers or Large Cruisers?

    So far as I know, the USN's CB-1 Alaska and CB-2 Guam (completed in 1944) were the last battlecruisers not only commisioned but actually deployed on active service by any navy. They were seen as obsolete almost as soon as they were begun and it was only a few champions amongst the Admiralty, particularly Admiral King, who saw them as fast escorts for America's massive carrier fleet being built for the Pacific War, that saved these two ships from cancellation.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    USS Alaska (CB-1) was commissioned on 17 June 1944. She served in the Pacific, screening aircraft carriers, providing shore bombardment at Okinawa, and going on raiding missions in the East China Sea. She was decommissioned on 17 February 1947 after less than three years of service and was scrapped in 1960.[1]
    USS Guam (CB-2) was commissioned on 17 September 1944. She served in the Pacific with Alaska on almost all of the same operations. Along with Alaska, she was decommissioned on 17 February 1947 and was scrapped in 1961.

    These were the last of the true battlecruisers. However, the Soviet Kirovs were called battlecruisers, even though they were just large missile carriers.

    The Pyotr Velikiy was commissioend in 1998 and is still in commission with the Admiral Nakhimov undergoing overhaul. She was commissioned in 1988.

    I wholeheartedly and heavily disagree with the answer of this question. The Alaksas (CBs) were not battlecruisers. Described then and now they would be "superheavy" cruisers. Just as HMS Furious was not a battlecruiser nor was the Alaska. Battlecruisers were designed to fight in the main battle line against other battlecruisers and battleships. The Alaskas were the USN's response to ships such as the Deutchland class and a superheavy cruiser the Japanese were talking about building but never did (I forget the name of it at this time). I think the last commissioned battlecruisers were the battlecruisers of the Royal Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy. I would love to give names right now but I am on the plant floor and dont have the time to make sure I get the names right.
    Hit Hard, Hit Fast, Hit Often...

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    • #3
      lol. You do know that the men who sailed on the ships called them battlecruisers and that there had to be official memos made to try and convince people to call them superheavy cruisers. Note: the memos failed. The sailors and admirals all called them BCs. Just because a bureaucrat wants to say a ship is a superheavy cruiser and not a battlecruiser DOES NOT MAKE THE BUREAUCRAT RIGHT!

      De facto, they were battlecruisers. De jure don't matter.

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      • #4
        Yeah, just like every navy man I have ever spoken to has told me that their ship was the bestest, fastest, cleanest, yadda yadda yadda ship in the navy. Can't tell me they are all correct can ya?

        To boot, I kind of resent being compared to a beurocrat. I fancy myself an amature historian of USN warships. Granted I dont know everything and I dont have Rusty's experience. Also, I do not refer to some bean counter's version of events. The Alaskas were classified by the navy as superheavy cruisers, as a former sailor I learned the Navy is always right, not the sailor (for better or for worse). To boot, most historians (wiki and the like not included) classify alakas as cruisers. In fact, her MISSION classifies her as a cruiser. Her mission was to keep sea lanes open agaisnt other superheavy cruisers acting as commerce raiders, that is a cruiser job, not a BB's or CC's job.
        Hit Hard, Hit Fast, Hit Often...

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        • #5
          Okay...just a dumb question, then.

          So if they we battlecruisers they woudl be BC instead of CB?

          Can't figure out why you Squids have to over complicate things! Like why is a V in VF mean heavier than air? Why not use an H?
          “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
          Mark Twain

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
            Okay...just a dumb question, then.

            So if they we battlecruisers they woudl be BC instead of CB?

            Can't figure out why you Squids have to over complicate things! Like why is a V in VF mean heavier than air? Why not use an H?
            No. They would have been designated CCs

            And they would have been named for States as a capitol ship.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Gun Grape View Post
              No. They would have been designated CCs

              And they would have been named for States as a capitol ship.
              Actually, the battlecruisers the USN designed and started building were named for famous battles (Lexington & Saratoga) or notable ships from the navy's past (Ranger, Constellation, Constitution).
              Hit Hard, Hit Fast, Hit Often...

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Harney View Post
                lol. You do know that the men who sailed on the ships called them battlecruisers and that there had to be official memos made to try and convince people to call them superheavy cruisers. Note: the memos failed. The sailors and admirals all called them BCs. Just because a bureaucrat wants to say a ship is a superheavy cruiser and not a battlecruiser DOES NOT MAKE THE BUREAUCRAT RIGHT!

                De facto, they were battlecruisers. De jure don't matter.
                I realize this assclown is already gone and if desired and I'm about to split this discussion off into another thread, but...

                The Alaska's were built along cruiser lines. Their arrangements such as the midships catapults, aircraft hangers, secondary armament numbers and placement, single rudder, armor scheme etc were all very much cruiser-style.

                They were "unlimited" cruisers, the pinnacle of cruiser development unhindered by treaty.

                And at least one admiral, the very one this guy cited, Earnest King, was emphatic about their cruiser role.
                “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
                ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
                  I realize this assclown is already gone and if desired and I'm about to split this discussion off into another thread, but...

                  The Alaska's were built along cruiser lines. Their arrangements such as the midships catapults, aircraft hangers, secondary armament numbers and placement, single rudder, armor scheme etc were all very much cruiser-style.

                  They were "unlimited" cruisers, the pinnacle of cruiser development unhindered by treaty.

                  And at least one admiral, the very one this guy cited, Earnest King, was emphatic about their cruiser role.
                  Not really a naval guy but in looking at the Alaska class they sure look like battle cruisers.

                  Alaska 34253t Gneisenau 38900t
                  9x 12" guns 9x 11" guns
                  33 knots 33knots
                  12,000 miles 8,400 miles
                  9" main belt 13.7" main belt
                  4 aircraft 3 aircraft
                  1517-1799 crew 1669 crew

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                  • #10
                    http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/u.../cru/cb1cl.htm

                    CB-1 Alaska Class

                    Alaska class cruiser - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

                    Since I am too tired to go into it more deeply, here are just some of the places you an find info on these ships.

                    If you want compare the Alaskas to the only battlecruiser ever (almost) built by the USN, the Lexingtons.

                    To boot, don't compare the Alaska to the Sharnhorst. The German battlecruisers were intended and designed to be armed with 6 x 15" guns, not the 9 x 11" she was armed with as a stop gap measure to get her to sea faster. You want to compare to to a German ship, compare her to the Graf Spee.
                    Hit Hard, Hit Fast, Hit Often...

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                    • #11
                      Does anyone have any resources for some high-res photos of the alaskas? Compared to the Iowas, they are incredibly few and far between.

                      Also, a hypothetical for everyone, suppose the Alaskas hadnt been scrapped, and instead remained in reserve. Any possibility they have been recommissioned in addition to, or even instead of, the Iowas in the 1980s? Seems like they could be reequipped to carry pretty much the same missile load as an Iowa, with many fewer men.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by maximusslade View Post
                        http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/u.../cru/cb1cl.htm

                        CB-1 Alaska Class

                        Alaska class cruiser - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

                        Since I am too tired to go into it more deeply, here are just some of the places you an find info on these ships.

                        If you want compare the Alaskas to the only battlecruiser ever (almost) built by the USN, the Lexingtons.

                        To boot, don't compare the Alaska to the Sharnhorst. The German battlecruisers were intended and designed to be armed with 6 x 15" guns, not the 9 x 11" she was armed with as a stop gap measure to get her to sea faster. You want to compare to to a German ship, compare her to the Graf Spee.
                        The Graf Spee was waht 1/3 the tonnage? The Lexington was much heavier.

                        The Alaska's stand up well vs other battle cruisers as well: Derfflinger-class, Lion Class, Moltke class, Indefatigable class, Queen Mary and Dunkerque class etc. All including the Alaska share a similar gun size 10-14", thinner main belt armor, high speed and come in well over 20,000 tons with some over 30,000 tons.

                        other than how she was named, how is she not a battle cruiser in terms of capabilities?

                        Also in your earlier post you said,

                        I wholeheartedly and heavily disagree with the answer of this question. The Alaksas (CBs) were not battlecruisers. Described then and now they would be "superheavy" cruisers. Just as HMS Furious was not a battlecruiser nor was the Alaska. Battlecruisers were designed to fight in the main battle line against other battlecruisers and battleships. The Alaskas were the USN's response to ships such as the Deutchland class and a superheavy cruiser the Japanese were talking about building but never did (I forget the name of it at this time). I think the last commissioned battlecruisers were the battlecruisers of the Royal Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy. I would love to give names right now but I am on the plant floor and dont have the time to make sure I get the names right.
                        This is news to me, since as far as I know no battle cruiser ever fought as part of the main line against an enemy battleship line by choice. BC's were designed to be a fast striking arm of the fleet able to take out enemy cruisers and destroyers by gun power, but able to out run anything that might visit the same punishment on them. In this mission, the Alaska is perfectly at home by your own admission.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by maximusslade View Post
                          Battlecruisers were designed to fight in the main battle line against other battlecruisers and battleships.
                          if you read up on the battle of Jutland, you can see what happens when you put Battle Cruisers in the line of battle. Look at Invincible, Queen Mary and Indefatigable.. they all were destroyed with almost all hands lost, while comparable Dreadnaughts took heavy shell fire and lived to tell about it (HMS Warspite comes to mind)..

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                          • #14
                            Thanks guys.

                            This clears up an obvious misconception I have had for many years.
                            “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                            Mark Twain

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                            • #15
                              There's a bunch of different definitions of 'battlecruiser' floating around this thread. Nobody's gonna persuade anybody about the Alaskas until a common definition has been settled on. What exactly constitutes a battlecruiser has never been clear from the beginning, however, so this may be difficult.

                              Originally posted by maximusslade
                              In fact, her MISSION classifies her as a cruiser. Her mission was to keep sea lanes open agaisnt other superheavy cruisers acting as commerce raiders, that is a cruiser job, not a BB's or CC's job.
                              That was one of the original purposes of battlecruisers, as envisioned by Jackie Fisher. Fast enough to keep up with other cruisers, but overwhelmingly greater firepower. About the only role they were ever really good at- pwned the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.
                              I enjoy being wrong too much to change my mind.

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