USS Wichita (CA-1938)


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The Wichita class introduced some new concepts to US heavy cruiser design. The centrally mounted catapults and hangars were moved to the rear of the ship. The catapults on the fantail, and the hangar under the rear main deck. The secondary armament was increased from the open mounted 5"/25cal dual purpose guns to turret mounted 5"/38cal dual purpose weapons. The placement of two guns on the centerline increased the broadside from four to five. A 25% increase. Not to be sneezed at. Four quad 1.1" Chicago pianos made up the light AA. These were replaced early 1941 with the new 40mm weapons then entering service.

The first four 8" cruiser classes increased in size and firepower class by class with the Wichita class ships being almost twice the size of the Omaha. The staying power of the Wichita was also twice as good. Better armour, better layout. All counted toward what was the best of the US pre-war cruisers.

The first two completed went straight to Task Force North Atlantic to go on the thankless task of Neutrality Patrols. There was always a possibility that a U-boat could make a mistake and put a torpedo into a US Navy ship. So there was always a bit of tension when at sea. This was good training for the coming hostilities.

One thing I have not touched on is how the US 8" cruisers kept their advantage over other countries without adding more turrets or bigger gun sizes. The previous classes had been introduced with a 260lb shell. The guns on the Wichita class and forward had a new 'super heavy' 335lb shell. In one stroke you add 25% weight of shell to your broadside. Like having another turret added to your ship. It was that much of an advantage. The new shell was not backwards compatible due to the differences in construction between new guns and old. Even the old 8" on the early Omaha class still fired a 260lb shell.


Displacement 13,750 tons standard, 16,200 tons full load
Length 608 ft
Breadth 68 ft
Draught 22 ft
Machinery 4 shaft, steam turbines, 110,000 shp
Speed 32 knots
Range 14000 miles at 14 knots
Armour 5" side, 3" deck, 5"/3" turrets
Armament As completed
9 x 8" (3x3)
8 x 5" (8x1)
16 x 1.1" mg (4x4)
WW2 refits
9 x 8" (3x3)
8 x 5" (8x1)
26 x 40mm (3x4, 7x2)
12 x 20mm (12x1)
Aircraft 4 max, 2 normal complement. 4
Complement 930
Notes Wichita
Santa Fe

Nice overhead of the Wichita in real life with the open mounted 5" in the waist.


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