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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:01 pm 
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Note - this series was written way back in early 2001, which seems like an impossibly long time ago now. I believe it was my first venture into the alternate DANFS format. I had thought the files had been lost, but our friend Big Rich saved them and sent them (and some others) to me, so I am reposting them here. Thanks to Rich, and enjoy.

Armored Cruiser Reconstruction

During the 1920s a number of design studies on reconstructing the eight surviving US armored cruisers were drawn up. As these cruisers were the largest retained by the US under the terms of the Washington Treaty of 1922, and as they were of sufficient age that they could be replaced in the front line by new construction but still retained without penalty under the arms control regimes, the decision to reconstruct them was taken in June 1929. It was anticipated that they would be most useful as flagships and as screening units for the battle fleet. Two ships were to enter the yards each year; the work was expected to take about eighteen months apiece. The 8in-gunned ships would be done first, followed by their 10in-armed cousins. 



When the reconstruction orders went out, most of the ships were in reserve. Only PITTSBURGH was in active service, operating as flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. SEATTLE was in commission, but was a receiving ship. The others were laid up in various Navy Yards, two on the East Coast and four on the West Coast. In the fall of 1929 work began on the first two candidates, PUEBLO (CA-7) at Philadelphia and HURON (CA-9) at Puget Sound. HUNTINGTON (CA-5) and FREDERICK (CA-8) entered the yards at Philadelphia and Mare Island, respectively, in 1930. PITTSBURGH (CA-4) and CHARLOTTE (CA-12) were next, rebuilt at Philadelphia and Puget Sound, respectively, beginning in 1931. The last pair, SEATTLE (CA-11) and MISSOULA (CA-13) were modernized at New York and Puget Sound, respectively, with work commencing in 1932.



The first four ships were all completed to the same design. Their armament was not substantially altered, but some changes were made. The main battery elevation was increased to thirty degrees, enabling the ships to fire on targets 28,000 yards away, and new fire control gear was installed. They retained eight 6in guns in their secondary battery, all of them in casemates relocated to the main deck amidships. The remaining 3in anti-torpedo battery was removed, and the 3in antiaircraft guns were replaced by four 5in/25s mounted amidships. The underwater torpedo tubes were removed; provision was made for two triple 21in torpedo tubes, but these were not installed.



Below decks, their coal-fired boilers and reciprocating engines were removed and replaced by a much more modern and compact power plant comprising six oil-fired boilers and two geared turbines. Designed for 58,000 SHP, the cruisers were expected to make about 26 knots. The new engines did not require reworking of the shaft lines, saving immense expense and time, and enabled the installation of internal bulkheads providing some defense against torpedoes and mines. Some additional horizontal protection against bombs and plunging fire was installed, but not much could be done. 



Topside appearance was somewhat altered. Old casemates were blanked off, and the midships area was much altered by the relocation of the secondary battery to the main deck. The most visible changes, however, were the removal of the forward funnel and the replacement of the cage foremast by a large tripod structure, made necessary by the weight of modern fire control gear. The pole mainmast was retained. 



The second group of four, comprising the three 10in-gunned ships plus the oldest 8in ship, were reconstructed to a somewhat different design. While they were mechanically similar (the 10in ships received forty degrees of main battery elevation, giving them a range of 31,000 yards) their appearance was somewhat different. Instead of the tripod foremasts of the first four ships, they were given tower superstructures similar to those of the NEW MEXICO class battleships and NEW ORLEANS class heavy cruisers. As in the earlier rebuilds, the forward funnel was redundant and hence removed, but the length of the tower required that the second funnel be removed as well. Smoke carried from the boilers it served was rerouted into the third funnel belowdecks and did not require enlargement of that funnel. The pole mainmast was lowered but retained.



It was in this guise, with only minor alterations, that the old but rejuvenated armored cruisers entered the Second World War.

Notes On Cruiser Designations



In 1920, US nomenclature was overhauled with the creation of alphanumeric designators. For example, USS IDAHO (Battleship No.42) became USS IDAHO (BB42). The cruiser category was not so simple, however, as there were three separate cruiser categories, "Cruisers" "Armored Cruisers" and "Scout Cruisers." The "Cruiser" category was abolished and its surviving members reassigned to the other categories. The "Armored Cruiser" sequence was continued as before, though the ships were retitled "Heavy Cruisers" (CA), but six ships from the "Cruiser" series were also placed in the "Heavy Cruiser" category. When complete the series numbered CA1-19. The "Scout Cruiser" category, at the time comprising thirteen ships built or ordered, was retitled "Light Cruiser" (CL), and ten ships from the "Cruiser" series were placed in it. This situation would continue for the rest of the cruiser era in the US Navy. 



In the late 1920s, when the future of the former armored cruisers was in doubt, some suggested abolishing separate categories and numbering all future cruisers in one series based on the then-current "Light Cruiser" sequence, and this might have been done, but when the decision to retain the old armored cruisers was taken the idea was dismissed. Thus when fifteen new ships ordered as light cruisers, CL24-38, were reclassified as heavy cruisers in 1931, they were redesignated CA20-34. Three later 8in-gun cruisers became CA35-37. The first twenty BALTIMORE class 8in cruisers became CA38-57. The large 8in cruiser DES MOINES became CA58. Four more BALTIMOREs became CA59-62. A group of eleven DES MOINES class ships, some of which were never built, became CA63-73. In the light cruiser category, nine vessels of the BROOKLYN class became CL39-47. Four antiaircraft cruisers became CL48-51. Thirty-two ships of the CLEVELAND class became CL52-83. Four more antiaircraft cruisers became CL84-87. Twenty more CLEVELANDs became CL88-107. Another class of three antiaircraft cruisers became CL108-110. Four 6in-gunned antiaircraft cruisers became CL111-114. Six planned 5in/54 antiaircraft cruisers became CL115-120. The ship that became the nuclear cruiser LONG BEACH (CGN-9) was originally designated CL121.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:30 pm 
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The only two things I'm dubious about is the speed after repowering. Sure, going from between 18 to 23,000 hp to 58,000 would give a decent jump, but 22 kt to 26? Also, can all of the other systems handle the extra speed, or will the ships just shake themselves apart?

Secondly, the electrical systems are really old, and will be expensive to replace. Pictures of the 1914 Texas in original configuration fill me with dread, and the ACRs would, I expect be worse. Not that the standards of the late 20's are anywhere near safe, but they are a lot better.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:39 pm 
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This was an actual plan. The details are in Friedman, but are much as described here.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:44 pm 
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Did you ever expand upon this and show their service records in the war, or was this the early days of the fictional DANFS and the service records didn't happen?

I'd be interested in reading them if you did write them.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:16 pm 
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I think I fell in love with the ACR's when I was writing my 1910 series. They were really handsome ships.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:28 pm 
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Theodore wrote:
This was an actual plan. The details are in Friedman, but are much as described here.

Good enough, then.

I've seen some of the re-engining proposals recently, I think on the BB vs BB board, and the naivety was frankly appalling.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:09 pm 
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Oh yes, I wrote entries for all eight ships, plus some other stuff. They will appear in coming weeks.

IIRC the proposed plant was similar to Ranger's, but I don't have Friedman handy right now.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 6:32 pm 
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How serious/feasible were the proposals to replace the main battery with triple 8"/55 similar to the PENSACOLA, NORTHAMPTON and PORTLAND classes?

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:59 pm 
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Friedman says BuOrd thought it "impractical." The inability to modernize their main batteries was another strike against reconstruction.

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