By 1918 US cruiser designs had been affected by the appearance of the RN Cavendish class which outclassed all existing US and other foreign designs of the period. In consequence, the US decided that any future cruiser would have to be superior to the Cavendish. However, it was also recognised that Japan represented a real threat, and that a war in the Pacific would demand a large radius of action. The Washington Naval Treaty signed in 1922, created a new class of cruiser armed with 8in guns. Design studies described a Scout Cruiser, ranging in displacement from 5,000 to 10,000 tons and armed with various combinations of 5in, 6in and 8in guns. By November 1923, sketches had begun to appear which were very close to that which would be adopted for the first of the US heavy cruisers.
The final sketch design, selected in March 1925, envisaged an armament of ten 8in guns in twin and two triple turrets, a speed of 32.1 kts and 773 tons of protective plating. Calculations showed the ship would be considerably below the 10,000-ton limit as a result of extensive weight-saving measures, and an additional 250 tons was available to increase the armour scheme.
This led to further problems regarding its distribution, but in the end this total was much reduced and used to increase magazine protection. The protective scheme finally included a 4in waterline belt in the forward magazine spaces and 3in abreast the machinery spaces, extending 5ft below the waterline. There was no external side protection to the after magazines, on the grounds that any action was expected to take place forward of the beam, but there was a 3.5 in internal longitudinal bulkhead aft. Horizontal armour was 40 to 60lb plating. Armour represented about 6 per cent of displacement.
As in Omaha, the main machinery was arranged on the unit principle, with eight boilers in four fire rooms, the aftermost fire rooms separating the turbine rooms.
As far as the main armament was concerned, the unusual feature was the mounting of the heavier triple turret in the higher Nos. 2 and 3 positions. This was done because the fine hull lines forward could not accommodate the larger barbette of the triple mount, but it also kept more of the armament drier. The guns were 8in 55cal weapons firing a 2601b projectile, with a maximum range of 31,860yd. The secondary armament, after much discussion, was finally fixed at four 5in 25cal DP in single mountings. Light AA proved more of a problem owing to the lack of a suitable weapon, the 57mm originally projected never being put into service. Thus the anti-aircraft defence was limited to a few machine guns. Two catapults and 4 floatplanes were included based on the Vought O3U Corsair.
The ships came out underweight and rolled badly which required bilge keels to be added.
Pensacola Class War Records
served on the east coast with CruDiv 4 until 1935, when CruDiv 4 was transferred to the Pacific Fleet. At the start of the Pacific war she was serving with the Scouting Force as Flagship, CruDiv 5, to which she had transferred in January 1941. Initially she operated in the South-West Pacific and Australian waters, covering troop convoys. In January 1942 she was part of TFll for the carrier raid by Lexington on Wake Island, which had to be cancelled when the support oiler was sunk. Her next operation was the covering of convoys across the Pacific from the Panama Canal to the Pacific Islands, after which TF11 was assigned to the ANZAC forces in the New Hebrides and Coral Sea. In March Pensacola, together with TF11 and TF17, made a carrier raid on Jalamava and Lae, New Guinea. On 21 April the cruiser returned to Pearl Harbor. In June she was engaged in the Battle of Midway as part of TF16, and afterwards became part of TF17 at Pearl Harbor. By September she was engaged in the Guadalcanal campaign, and participated in the Battle of Santa Cruz on 26 October However, during the Battle of Tassafaronga on the night of 30 November/1 December, TF67, of which Pensacola was a part, was routed by a force of Japanese destroyers and Northampton was sunk. Among the ships damaged was Pensacola, which suffered heavy casualties resulting from a torpedo hit. After provisional repairs at Tulagi, she transferred to Espiritu Santo for further repair, then sailed for Pearl Harbor on 7 January 1943. Between 27 January and November the ship was repaired and refitted. She returned to service in time to take part in the bombardment of Tarawa in November, followed by operations in the Marshall lslands. In April, after a short refit at Mare Island, the ship was transferred to the Northern Pacific and operated against the Kurile Islands before returning to Pearl Harbor on 13 August 1944. Thereafter she saw service in the bombardment of Wake Island, Leyte Gulf, and the Battle off Cape Engano, followed by further bombardment duties off Iwo Jima from November In the course of this task she was hit six times by shore batteries on 17 February 1945, sustaining many casualties. After repairs she carried out further bombardment tasks at Okinawa, but on 15 April was recalled to the USA for refit at Mare Island, which lasted until 3 August, when she sailed for the Aleutian islands. On the surrender of Japan she participated in the occupation tasks until returning to home waters in December. In 1946 she was used to bring home troops from war service, and was finally employed as one of the targets for the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests on 25 July 1946.
Pensacola, Panama canal, 1930
very good pic of Pensacola prewar
Pensacola, Massacre Bay, Attu - 9 June 1944. NH 97839
Salt Lake City
served initially with CruDiv 2 until 12 September 1930, when she transferred to CruDiv 5. In 1931/33 she was with the Pacific Fleet, being assigned to CruDiv 4 in September 1933, and then operated mainly in Pacific waters until the US entry into the war in December 1941. She was with TP8 to support Wake Island in December, and in January/February 1942 operated in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands, bombarding enemy positions. She participated in the carrier raid and bombardment of Wake Island in February/March. In April Salt Lake City was one of the covering force for the Doolittle raid on Tokyo. In June 1942 she became part of TF17 at Pearl Harbor, and in July supported the Guadalcanal landings, followed by the Battle of the Eastern Solomon Islands in August, when she was part of TF61. During her actions in the Guadalcanal campaign she rescued the survivors of Hornet, but in the Battle of Cape Esperance in October she was hit three times by Japanese ships, though damage was not serious. The ship was under refit at Pearl Harbor between November 1942 and March 1943, then went to the Aleutian Islands, where, as part of TG16.6 during the Battle of the Komandorski Islands on 26 March, she was badly damaged by Japanese cruisers. She underwent repairs at Mare Island and arrived back at Pearl Harbor on 14 October 1943. Subsequently she escorted carrier raids on Wake, Rabaul and Tarawa, then in January 1944 operated in the Marshall Islands with TG50.15. In March/April she was serving in the Western Carolines, but returned to Pearl Harbor on 30 April before refit at Mare Island between May and July. After this the ship returned to the Aleutians, but by mid-August had returned to Pearl Harbor. After supporting attacks on Wake Island and Saipan, she covered carrier task forces in the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea, then covered operations off Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the first few months of 1945. By August she was back in the Aleutian Islands, and, finally, supported the occupation of Honshu. After the war Salt Lake City, like her sister, assisted in the bringing home of US troops, but in March 1946 she was prepared for the Bikini trials. She survived both tests, then was decommissioned and sunk as a target on 25 May 1948, 130 miles off the coast of southern California.
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City, early 30s. NH85083
Salt Lake City, Mare Island, 21 June 1944. 19N67713