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December 27 - Focus: Baltimore-class

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Alpha Tester
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Large ships and events of significance on a December 27:

1922 - IJN Hōshō - Hōshō-class - Commissioned

1940 - IJN Zuihō - Zuihō-class - Commissioned

1942 - HMS Khedive - Ameer-class - Launched

1942 - USS Cordova - Bogue-class - Laid down

1944 - USS Norfolk - Baltimore-class - Laid down

1944 - USS Scranton - Baltimore-class - Laid down

1944 - San Jose intrusion (Operation Rei)



Allies: 22 surface ships laid down, 28 launched, 25 commissioned, and 1 sunk (USS Brownson)

Japan: 2 surface ships commissioned (IJN Hōshō and IJN Zuihō)




On December 27, 1944, two ships were laid down at the Philadelphia Navy Yard: USS Norfolk and USS Scranton.  Beside being both Baltimore-class heavy cruisers and being laid down in Philadelphia, these two ships had another thing in common: they were never launched, and both were canceled on August 12, 1945.  


On the very same day, IJN Ashigara (a Myōkō-class cruiser), IJN  Ōyodo, (an Ōyodo-class cruiser) and the destroyers Kiyoshimo, Asashimo, Kasumi, Kaya, Kashi, and Sugi performed Operation Rei, a bombardment of Mindoro, in the Philippines.



The first Baltimore-class ship to be laid down was USS Baltimore (CA-68), on May 26, 1941.  She was the first of 14 ships to be completed.  Beside USS Norfolk and USS Scranton, two more were never launched (USS Cambridge and USS Bridgeport) and two were not even laid down (USS Kansas City and USS Tulsa), CA-126 to CA-129.  The Baltimore-class is so far scheduled as a tier-9 in the cruiser line, alongside the ship that it replaced, USS Wichita.  For a full list of ships already scheduled to be in the game (subject to change), please visit mr3awsome's compilation.



USS Baltimore (CA-68) in 1944


The Baltimore-class was a heavy cruiser class, following the USS Wichita, a single-ship class that had been laid down in October 1935.  The Wichita had some stability problems which were taken into consideration by the Navy when it came to designing a new class of heavy cruisers.  Another class of ships looked at by the engineers was the light cruiser Cleveland-class, which inspired the Baltimore-class secondary armament.



USS Wichita (CA-45)


Displacement: 14,472 tons standard - 17,031 tons full load.
Length: 673 ft 5 in (oa) - 664 ft (wl) - Beam: 70 ft 10 in - Draught: 24 ft mean.
Machinery: 4-shaft General Electric geared turbines; 4 Babcock & Wilcox boilers.
Performance: 120,000 shp = 33 kts; Bunkerage: 2,250 tons oil fuel max.
Range: 10,000 nm at 15kts.
Protection: 4-6 in main belt - 2.5 in deck - 6 inch barbettes - turrets: 8 inch front, 3 in roof, 2-3.75 inch sides.
Guns: 9 x 8-inch (3 x 3) - 12 x 5-inch (6 x 2); 48 x 40 mm (11 x 4, 2 x 2) - 24 x 20 mm.
Aircraft: 4 - 2 catapults.
Complement: 2,039


It should be noted that unlike their Japanese counterparts, US heavy cruisers didn't carry any torpedo tubes, but focused instead on a powerful anti-aircraft suite.


Main gun: 

The Baltimore-class was equipped with 9 x 8-inch/55 guns, and different shells referred to as the "super-heavy" shells, which required a different handling mechanism.  In comparison, the shells used on the Baltimore-class weighed 335 lbs, as opposed to the standard 260 pounds on older cruisers.  All the ships were equipped with the Mark 15, with the exception of the USS Baltimore who was equipped with the Mark 12, which had a larger chamber.


The following table will make a comparison between 8-inch guns in service at the time the Baltimore-class served.


  US UK(1) FR(2) GE(3) IT(4) JP(5)
Rate of fire (per minute) 3-4 3-4 4-5 4-5 2-4 3-4
Barrel life (rounds) 715 550 600 300 - 400
Magazine capacity (maximum used on a specific class) 150 172.5 - 140 - 126
Range (yards) 30,050 30,650 32,800 36,636 34,521 32,150
Armor penetration at 10,000 yards (inch) 10 - - 9.4 - 7.5
Armor penetration at 15,000 yards (inch) 8 - - - - -
Armor penetration at 20,000 yards (inch) 6 - - - - 4.7
Armor penetration at 25,000 yards (inch) 5 - - - -  
Armor penetration at 30,000 yards (inch) <4 - - - - 3


(1) 8-inch Mk VIII - (2) Modèle 1924 - (3) SK C/34 - (4) Model 1927 - (5) 3rd year Type 2


Unfortunately, not all data is available to make a true comparison with all the guns, but the US gun seemed to own its ground in comparison with other guns.  One strong adversary, according to available data, would have been the Admiral Hipper-class, as they could clearly out-range the Baltimore-guns, for a pretty similar penetration.  With a speed almost equal, if the German cruiser could keep the distance, he would be at an advantage.  However, he only had 8 x 8-inch guns, as opposed to the Baltimore's 9 x 8-inch guns; the extra gun being capable of making a difference if the two ships closed distance.  Hopefully, we will see both of them in game. 


Operation life:

There are too many ships in this class to cover them all individually.  It should be said though that every single Baltimore-class heavy cruiser survived the war, and some of them even served in other conflicts afterwards  USS St. Paul still used her 8-inch guns during the Vietnam war.  The latest ship to be stricken were USS St. Paul (CA-73) and USS Canberra (CA-70) on July 31, 1978. 


Only 4 ships were completed by the end of 1943 (USS BaltimoreUSS BostonUSS Canberra and USS Quincy).  These 4 ships were integrated within the 10th Cruiser Division (CruDiv 10) and sent to the Pacific where they were badly needed.  All of them finished their war time in the Pacific, but USS Quincy was summoned in the Atlantic and participated in Operation Overlord as well as landings in Southern France in 1944, before going back in the Pacific.



USS Quincy firing her 8-inch guns against ground targets in Southern France


Only one ship was commissioned in 1944, USS Pittsburgh (CA-72).    She served as flagship of CruDiv 15 in the Pacific, and was present in Iwo Jima and during the attacks against Japanese islands.  The enemy who caused the most damage was not Japanese though, but a typhoon who severed her bow.  She sailed back to the United States for repair, and was still there when the war ended.



USS Pittsburgh 


The other ships were commissioned too late to see any action in the Pacific, but some served during the Korean War, and at least one (USS St. Paul) was still active during the Vietnam War. 



USS St. Paul (1967)


The Baltimore-class spawned the Oregon City-class, modified Baltimore-class heavy cruisers.  Four ships were built: USS Oregon City, USS Albany, USS Rochester, and USS Northampton.


Two other forum members have covered the Baltimore-class.  You can find Daltron's contribution here and madmanthan21's here.

Edited by Ariecho
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Alpha Tester
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Magazine capacity: 172.5 (UK)


how does one carry half a shell?

I chuckled as well when I read that, but it comes from a very reliable source, and I didn't want to alter it.  I guess it's an average of how many shells were carried onboard for each gun.  If it was a fat crew, only 172, if it was a not too fat crew, 173.  That's my explanation and I'm sticking to it!

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I chuckled as well when I read that, but it comes from a very reliable source, and I didn't want to alter it.  I guess it's an average of how many shells were carried onboard for each gun.  If it was a fat crew, only 172, if it was a not too fat crew, 173.  That's my explanation and I'm sticking to it!

Oh, makes sense now. I was trying to imagine shooting half a shell. :tongue::veryhappy:

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