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Cruisers - how are they different from battleships?

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  • #31
    Originally posted by USSWisconsin View Post
    The Kongo's were nothing to sneeze at - Kirishima nearly did in South Dakota - but Washington interrupted her and ended her days while she was working at that, Still the Alaska or the Scharnhorst could put one of them down for sure - but I'd call either battle a fair match - might give the Scharnhorst slightly better odds. No one fielded any really bad battleships in WWII - the Fuso's were pretty long in the tooth, so were the Revenge class, though their guns were fine weapons. The most difficult to rate were the Soviet dreadnoughts - There's a great article in an older Warship annual that describes them in detail and explains why they were designed the way they were - any accurate accessment needs to consider the Russian/Soviet doctrine and intended role these ship were built for (defending minefields).
    The standards and our pre-standard dreadnaughts were long in the tooth as well. The Standards also show why you can't tell what class a vessel is by the ships of yesteryear. The Alaskas were bigger, faster, had similar throw weights to the earlier standards and only moderately less armored protection (if less internal protection).

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    • #32
      IMO, I would give that encounter to the Alaska. She had the very latest in fire control being almost five years newer.The Alaskas were designed to be cruiser killers from the beginning not merchant raiders. Sharnhorst and Gneisenau were modified several times from the start recieving new bows etc according to their history and some state that turret number one was of little use in heavy seas due to lack of freeboard. The Alaskas were never said to of had these problems. Plus the Alaska's had slightly larger guns and good protection. Radar would also be a deciding factor when coupled to the FC system.
      Last edited by Dreadnought; 15 Dec 12,, 17:02.
      Fortitude.....The strength to persist...The courage to endure.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by zraver View Post
        The standards and our pre-standard dreadnaughts were long in the tooth as well. The Standards also show why you can't tell what class a vessel is by the ships of yesteryear. The Alaskas were bigger, faster, had similar throw weights to the earlier standards and only moderately less armored protection (if less internal protection).
        I think it highlights the significance of the advances in the big gun ships. Most any of the WWII capital ships was more than a match for any of the WWI period ships. Even the best of WWI against the lightest WWII ships.

        The Alaska wasn't flawless - but in most areas she was less flawed than the competition. Her engines were superb, as were her guns - giving her the two key "cruiser" qualities. Her protection was compromised - while she was equipped to take hits from an 8" cruiser while sending it to the bottom - even the Scharnhort's 11" guns would have given her troubles - I doubt she could have taken more than 2 solid 11" hits before she started to loose the fight. She was woefully unprotected from a torpedo attack. Her design clearly required her to hold the range at long to previal in a duel. Her "glass" bottom meant that even a destroyer had a chance to take her out. But if she could stand off at over 30,000 yards and get hits - her 4" deck would protect her from her contemporaries (Scharnhorst, Dunkerque) and might even stop 14" projectiles.
        Last edited by USSWisconsin; 15 Dec 12,, 16:54.
        sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
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        • #34
          Well, several accounts state that both Scharnhorst and her sister had very poor underwater protection and that their armor protection was more the order of a "turtle deck" protection and parts of her main propulsion were not protected under the armor deck. Some would even state that those two were the worst of capital ship design for their age although they were fast. However the Alaska's were just as fast if not faster by a knot or two.

          Most USN gunnery officers preferred stand off range when engaging enemy vessels due to particular shells being used and their radars made them quite capable of "blind fire". By late 1944 even the ghosts of Pearl Harbors attack were fitted with modern radar that allowed them to dictate range when engagging the Japanese at distance in the dark. Leyte Gulf comes to mind where the USS West Virginia opened fire at "envelope" distance after tracking the Japanese at 40,000 yards, scoring direct hits at 28,000 (approx 12.5 nautical miles) over the horizion in pitch black conditions.

          One would have to assume that the Alaska's were already fitted with similar radars since they didnt commision until June 1944. Leyte was October 23-26 1944.
          Last edited by Dreadnought; 15 Dec 12,, 17:43.
          Fortitude.....The strength to persist...The courage to endure.

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          • #35
            Cruisers normally don't have any underwater protection. Thats one of the things that make them "Cruisers" vice battleships.

            As far as Scharnhorst and long range shooting. Lets all remember that she has one of, if not the longest, gunfire hits against a moving target. IF it was her or Warspite comes down to a matter of meters.

            She hit HMS Glorious at 26,500 Yds (24,200m).

            Dread, not sure where you got your info. WVa opened fire at 22,800 yds. Also note that WVA had the most modern radar set of the battleship line. Some of the other BBs had earlier models and never had a firing solution.
            Last edited by Gun Grape; 15 Dec 12,, 19:59.

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            • #36
              The question of the thread "How are Cruisers different than Battleships" is easy when it comes to WW2. Treaty limited to less than 10,000 tons and 8in guns.. Light cruisers were 6in guns.

              From there, you have to look at each country differently. Trying to decide if Country "A"s ship meets the definition of a cruiser when compared to Country "D"s cruiser will just get you confused

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              • #37
                Originally posted by Dreadnought View Post
                IMO, I would give that encounter to the Alaska. She had the very latest in fire control being almost five years newer.The Alaskas were designed to be cruiser killers from the beginning not merchant raiders. Sharnhorst and Gneisenau were modified several times from the start recieving new bows etc according to their history and some state that turret number one was of little use in heavy seas due to lack of freeboard. The Alaskas were never said to of had these problems. Plus the Alaska's had slightly larger guns and good protection. Radar would also be a deciding factor when coupled to the FC system.

                But look at where Scharnorst and her sister operated. Lots of ships have wet bow problems in the north sea. TO include Iowa class BBs. It has to do with the wave frequency difference between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

                I'm not convinced that the Alaskas were good ships. Notice that they only served for 3 years. As soon as the "Magic carpet" operations were done, so were these ships. They were not kept in service when other more worn out ships were. They were not activated for Korea and they were not brought back for NGF support in Vietnam. Nor were they converted, like the B-More class to Guided missile Cruisers.

                Seems like they were a mistake that the navy got rid of quick.
                Last edited by Gun Grape; 16 Dec 12,, 03:28.

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                • #38
                  By the end of the war, all the ships Alaska had been designed to beat were sunk or earmarked for scrapping or target use. They were big ships, it took lots of men to man them, they were not very fuel effiecent, they had a poor layout for upgrading to better sensors and their aviation was amidships - and was not adaptable to helicopters. I have also heard about critism of the bridge on the Alaska's - it was not well liked by her commanders.

                  I don't think they were terrible ships - but they were definately superflous at the end of WWII. The Iowas and the heavy cruisers were much more adaptable to the needs of the post war USN - and there was no room left in the stable for these hybrids, whose mission had gone away.

                  The Washington treaty did more to screw up the cruiser than it did to the battleship - and it messed up battleship design plenty.

                  Before the treaty - cruisers were the biggest most powerful ships being built (battlecruisers). After the treaty cruisers were 29% of a battleship, the treaty had only cut battleship by by about 30% compared to what was being designed - they did more than twice that much to cruisers. So I agree - after the treaty we had 8" CA's and 6" CL's all supposedly displacing about 10,000 tons. Even when the treatys were dropped - the cruiser didn't move back to being battleship size (unless we call Iowa and Vanguard super cruisers).

                  The most interesting time to compare cruisers and battleships was the period from around 1880 - 1918. I see the big protected cruisers, the armored cruisers and battlecruisers as facinating vessels. Around the turn of the century - projectile development lagged behind armor - and the heavy guns of the time had a lot of trouble penetrating 6" Krupp armor in action - giving the big armored cruisers a good chance against contemporary battleships - especially when we consider they were also fast enough to control the engagement.
                  Last edited by USSWisconsin; 15 Dec 12,, 22:50.
                  sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
                  If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by USSWisconsin View Post

                    The most interesting time to compare cruisers and battleships was the period from around 1880 - 1918. I see the big protected cruisers, the armored cruisers and battlecruisers as facinating vessels. Around the turn of the century - projectile development lagged behind armor - and the heavy guns of the time had a lot of trouble penetrating 6" Krupp armor in action - giving the big armored cruisers a good chance against contemporary battleships - especially when we consider they were also fast enough to control the engagement.
                    I think the advantage of speed in this era is over stated. The Spanish Armored Cruiser riding at anchor (stable platform) was unable to score any hits against an American bombardment force that was steaming 7,000 yards from her. The range finders of the era were not up to task.

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by zraver View Post
                      I think the advantage of speed in this era is over stated. The Spanish Armored Cruiser riding at anchor (stable platform) was unable to score any hits against an American bombardment force that was steaming 7,000 yards from her. The range finders of the era were not up to task.
                      The Spanish performance during the SA WAR was pretty poor in general, not typical of what a well trained ship like those in the RN, IJN or HSF could do. In general, armored cruisers were a few knots faster than the battlehips of the same era. The Battle of Tsushima was a better example of armored cruisers fighting with battleships (admittedly - the Russian battleships were at a similar qualitative disadvantage). The Battle of the Yalu River was even more decisive for the armored cruisers against battleships - the Japanese captured or sunk both of the Chinese battleships - without having any of their own. The Greek Georgs Averov also outperformed the Turkish battleships in the Battle of Lemnos. The high freeboard of the AC's allowed them to work their deck guns in rougher seas too - the lower freeboard battleships of the time had more trouble with this.
                      Last edited by USSWisconsin; 16 Dec 12,, 06:43. Reason: missing word "without"
                      sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
                      If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by RustyBattleship View Post
                        ...the pamphlet explained that although the Iowa class ships were designated as Battleships, their hulls were actually built in proportions to a fast Cruiser. Therefore they were really Super Cruisers as they could turn almost as sharp as a Destroyer and could out run some of the Cruisers we had then. That fast speed was necessary as they were designed to keep up with the Essex class Aircraft Carriers. They actually used Essex class propellers to do so. I know because one of the rebuilt props we put on the Missouri in the 1980's actually had "ESSEX" engraved on it.

                        So the difference between the roles of Line of Battle Ships and Cruisers actually came together as Super Cruisers with the Iowa class but traditionally, because of their big guns and thick armor, were still called Battleships.

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                        So do you think that the resources and facilities used in designing and building the Alaska class would have been better utilized in building more ships in the Iowa class? ...or maybe more Fletchers? ...or more fleet subs? ...or?
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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by JRT View Post
                          So do you think that the resources and facilities used in designing and building the Alaska class would have been better utilized in building more ships in the Iowa class? ...or maybe more Fletchers? ...or more fleet subs? ...or?
                          How about earlier (and more) Des Moines?

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by JRT View Post
                            So do you think that the resources and facilities used in designing and building the Alaska class would have been better utilized in building more ships in the Iowa class? ...or maybe more Fletchers? ...or more fleet subs? ...or?
                            Maybe built with fewer big guns and a lot more 40mm and 5 inch guns as big AA cruisers able to use their speed to get between the carriers and a wave of Kamikazes.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by jrb1537 View Post
                              How about earlier (and more) Des Moines?
                              The best time for the Des Moines-class would've been during Guadalcanal and the Solomons Islands engagement...which was likely the primary impetus for them in the first place

                              After that, they would've been far less important.
                              “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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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by zraver View Post
                                Maybe built with fewer big guns and a lot more 40mm and 5 inch guns as big AA cruisers able to use their speed to get between the carriers and a wave of Kamikazes.
                                Perhaps a small run of 6 x 12" Baltimore varients (8-10) . Replacing the triple 8" turrets with twin 12". A cheaper alternative to the Alaskas.

                                They did have some heavy AA capital ship mods on the drawing boards - with two or three twin 5"/38 mounts in place of the main turrets on battleships and CA's, along with more heavy AA MG mounts (fewer blast interference concerns without the big guns permitted them to be placed closer to the barbettes). They looked at doing something like that with the French Richlaeu during her refit in the US.
                                sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
                                If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

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