USS Pennsylvania (BB-1916)


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The US Navy has the New York class under construction, but with the darkening skies over Europe, concern at the top allows for the next fiscal naval budget to include four capital ships. Three Pennsylvania class and the first of the Hawaii class dreadnought scout cruisers. The Pennsylvania class was to be an all round improvement over the previous New York class. More guns, more armour, more overall survivability. This class took the opportunity to put the first triple turret aboard a US Navy battleship. The same 45 caliber guns as used in the New York were put into the new triple turret. The same 'fleet' speed was kept with for this class.

As completed these were powerful ships and the building of these ships provided the impetus for the Royal Navy to go from their 10x13.5" super-dreadnoughts, to the 8x15" fast-battleships of the Queen Elizabeth class.

I am not sure if this drawing is correct. All battleships from 1916 onwards started being fitted with AA guns of various sizes, 3" in the US Navy. The only difference I can see between the 1916 and 1918 drawings is a new pilot house at the back of the bridge structure.

1925 view and both 3" AA and aircraft handling facilities are now onboard. Some of the casemate guns have been removed.

The first major refits for the class started in 1929 and went through to 1932 when Oklahoma rejoined the fleet. The casemate guns are removed an resited one deck higher, making them much more useable. The first 5"/25cal AA guns appear, the previous 3" being removed. The most visible changes are to the bridge superstructure and masts. The cage masts are gone, replaced with tripod types. Anti-torpedo bulges are now fitted.

Displacement 29,250 tons std 31,500 tons full load (39,000 tons full load 1943)

Length 608 ft
Breadth 97 ft (105 over bulges)
Draught 29 ft
Machinery 4 shaft, turbine engines, 34,000 shp
Speed 21 knots
Range 7500 miles at 12 knots
Armour 13.5" side, 3" deck, 18" turrets
Armament As completed 1910

12 x 14" (4x3)
22 x 5" (22x1) LA
4 x 3" (4x1) LA (from 1917)
As rebuilt 1939-41

12 x 14" (4x3)
16 x 5" (8x2)
44 x 40mm (18x4)
26 x 20mm (26x1)
Complement 1300 1380
Notes Pennsylvania



The Arizona, below, is drawn as it appeared on the morning of the 7th December 1941. Another month and the Arizona and Oklahoma would have been in the builders hands in Seattle. The ships were sunk in their pre-war condition. The Pennsylvania class was unlucky in losing two of its members at Pearl Harbour.

None of the Pennsylvania class ended up getting the full LERP rebuilding work that was done to the New York class. All three were due to be put through their rebuilding in early 1942. Pearl Harbour put paid to that. Where a battleship would be on the rebuild line would depend on how much damage the ship had received at Pearl Harbour. Pennsylvania being deemed only lightly damaged was back in service by March 1942. The ship stayed on the West Coast escorting convoys, till November 1942 when it went into the builders hands for its long overdue refit.

Pennsylvania, above, in its 1942 service guise. The ship was deemed too vulnerable to air attack as it was. It would need to go through a rebuild phase before it could join the other old battleships on the front line bombardment duties.

1942 photos showing the single 5" and quad 28mm Chicago pianos.

The 1943 refit made the ship much more capable to defend itself against air attack. The level of work done to the New York class not carried forward to the other old battleship classes and they all retained their 'Fleet' speed of 21 knots. AA weaponry now sprouted from all sorts of cracks and crevices. Multiple radars adorned masts and superstructure giving the ship much better seek and destroy capabilities.


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