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Book Review
US Heavy Cruisers 1943–75
US Heavy Cruisers 1943–75 – Wartime and Post-war Classes * New Vanguard 214
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights

US Heavy Cruisers 1943–75 – Wartime and Post-war Classes is the 214th title of Osprey Publishing's series New Vanguard. Following and complimenting US Heavy Cruisers 1941–45 – Pre-War Classes this book explores their background, weapons, radar, wartime and Cold War service.

While America's pre-war "Treaty" cruisers carried the ball in many naval gun engagements that shattered the Pacific during World War Two, their slow-firing 8-inch guns were unsuitable for action against quicker Japanese targets. As the war evolved the next generation of fast USN heavy cruisers (CA), armed with the same guns, were mainly employed as anti-aircraft screens for the fast aircraft carriers and pummeling targets for amphibious landings. Those ships featured balanced characteristics of guns, armor and speed. The hulls increased in size, some longer than some battleships; indeed, the Alaska Class of super cruisers are often mistaken as battlecruisers. Dozens of new CA were built. Many were modified and used into the Cold War, the last one, USS Newport News, being decommissioned in 1975.
    This title follows on from a companion book covering the US heavy cruisers that were built prior to the war, together forming the definitive guide to the US’s heavy cruiser classes. Versatile warships, the heavy cruisers of the Baltimore class, and their successors in the Oregon City and Des Moines classes, commonly acted as carrier escorts throughout World War II, but also performed bombardment duties in support of amphibious landings. Post-World War II, the heavy cruisers continued to see service, chiefly in Korea and Vietnam. Even after the heyday of the heavy cruiser had passed, the ships continued to serve – several were converted into the earliest examples of guided missile cruisers, and created an enduring legacy in the US Navy. - Osprey Publishing

This book is 48 pages long and available in paperback, ePub and PDF formats, with ISBN: 9781782006329.

Author Mark Stille is an authority on cruisers and presents US Heavy Cruisers 1943–75 – Wartime and Post-war Classes through 48 pages and eight chapters and sections:
    The Changing Role of the Heavy Cruiser
    US Navy Wartime Heavy Cruiser Design
    Heavy Cruiser Weapons
      • Main and Secondary Guns
      • Antiaircraft Guns
      • Radar
      • Postwar Heavy Cruiser Radars
    The Heavy Cruiser Classes
      • Baltimore Class
      • Alaska Class
      • Oregon City Class
      • Des Moines Class
    Analysis and Conclusion

The subject is well presented and easily read. This title is by no means comprehensive, nor is it meant to be. It presents detail for further research about a particular ship at a particular time.

History and background of the Pacific battles and their impact upon CA design and employment is touched upon in the first four pages. Weapons and radar are explored in the next four pages. The book presents the use of established weapons and further development of main and secondary weapons, and anti-aircraft development for different ships, plus the fire-control equipment and associated directors for each. Shot dispersion, performance, and other pros and cons are briefly presented. The same treatment is given to American naval radar, explaining the designations, types, uses and performance.

The following 40 pages discusses each class of cruiser in good detail. Each class topic ends with specification: Displavcement; Dimensions; Speed; Range; Crew. Analysis and Conclusion includes "Bang for the buck" considered in light of cost for different classes verses their naval lifespans. Armor was a major consideration of cruiser design and armor thickness of each ship class is presented. Aircraft were deemed necessary for the cruiser's role of scouting and the aviation complement and positioning on each class is examined.

Art, photographs, graphics
This book shines with visual support. Dozens of black-and-white and color photographs fill the pages. Almost all were exposed and developed by skilled photographers, many being "studio" shots of the ships. Modelers and artists will find excellent sources for recreating these subjects.

An aspect of Osprey Publishing popularity is the original artwork that enhances the book. Artist Paul Wright contributes seven full color images:
    A. The Baltimore Class: USS Pittsburgh in profile and planform, as seen in November, 1944; profile of Helena in 1957 as a Regulus missile platform.

    B. USS Baltimore color cutaway showing the ship around the time of her commissioning in April, 1943, keyed with 24 components.

    C. USS Canberra: color battle scene of the American warship named for an Australian city taking a torpedo while under attack by IJN bombers off Formosa, October 1944.

    D. Alaska and Boston Classes: Planform and profile of Alaska in 1944; Boston in 1956 outfitted with Terrier guided missiles.

    E. USS Oregon City Class Rochester in profile and planform as commissioned in 1946.

    F. The Des Moines Class Salem in profile and planform as commissioned in 1949.

    G. USS Newport News battle scene under fire off North Vietnam, 1972.

Graphics include several tables:
    Main and Secondary Guns (Muzzle velocity, Max range, rate of fire):
    • 8in/55 Mk 12 and 15
    • 8in/55 Mk 16
    • 12in/50 Mk 8/0
    • 5in/38

    Antiaircraft Guns (Muzzle velocity, Max range, rate of fire [theoretical]):
    • 20mm Oerlikon
    • 40mm Bofors
    • 3in/50 Mk 22

    Postwar Heavy Cruiser Radars (Purpose, Maximum Range):
    • SPS-6A/B/C
    • SPS-8A/B
    • SPS-10
    • SPS-12
    • SPS-29
    • SPS-37

    Baltimore-class Construction (Ship, Built at, Laid down, Launched, Commissioned)

    Alaska-class Construction (Ship, Built at, Laid down, Launched, Commissioned)

    Oregon City-class Construction (Ship, Built at, Laid down, Launched, Commissioned)

    Des Moines-class Construction (Ship, Built at, Laid down, Launched, Commissioned)

As with the first book of the series, I find this to be another usefully excellent book presenting American wartime heavy cruisers for historians, modelers and illustrators with an interest in the subject. It is by no means comprehensive, nor is it meant to be. It is a detailed basis for further research about one of the particular ships at a particular time. The data concerning weapons is very interesting if you want to compare weapons, as are other technical aspects. The graphic support – photographs, artwork, profiles and tables – alone are worth the price of the book.


Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on ModelShipWrights.
Highs: Concise overview of the wartime cruisers. Excellent selection of photographs and two dramatic color battle paintings, and plenty of color illustrations.
Lows: De minimis.
Verdict: An interesting and useful book presenting American wartime heavy cruisers for historians, modelers and illustrators with an interest in the subject.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 9781782006329
  Suggested Retail: $17.95, £9.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Nov 03, 2014
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2020 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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