US HEAVY CRUISERS IN ACTION
|Author(s)||Al Adcock, Andrew Lambert|
|Pages||49 + 52|
When the Japanese attacked Hawaii on 7 December 1941, almost the entire US Pacific Battle Fleet was at anchor in Pearl Harbor. The aerial attack denied the US Navy of their most powerful asset - the battleships. The heavy cruisers were called upon to take their place. The design of the cruiser was conceived during the early days o( the exploration of the Americas, when a need arose to protect the heavily laden commercial ships plying the world's oceans. Cruisers were expected to protect their charges and defend themselves. During the American War Between the States (Civil War) of 1861-65, the US Federal Navy was the first to design and build ships that would be classified as cruisers. The resulting WAMPANOAG class cruisers were ineffective as fighting ships and were soon withdrawn from service. These vessels were built with a wooden hull and were equipped with a full set of sails, coal fired boilers, and one screw (propeller). The early cruisers were equipped with both sail and boilers for power. The early boiler/engine combinations were not reliable and the coal fuel look up much space. The sails required additional crew to handle the canvas and ropes. The additional spaces for the fuel and crew caused the early cruisers to grow in length and beam. The WAMPANOAG class cruisers of 1868 were 335 feet (102.1 M) long and displaced 4100 tons (3719.5 MT). The later armored cruiser PENNSYLVANIA (later PITTSBURGH) class of 1899 grew to 503 feet (153.3 M) in length and over 15,000 tons (13.608 MT) full load displacement.
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