Warships that should never been built?

CalBear

Moderator
Donor
Monthly Donor
What happened with the Juneau's?
Atlanta and Juneau were both lost in the Solomons to torpedo hits, REALLY unlucky ships. Atlanta took a crippling torpedo hit in the first Naval Battle Of Guadalcanal that more or less gutted her engineering, then she was hit by part of three broadsides from the San Francisco in a textbook blue-on-blue. She made it back a temporary anchorage but was deemed beyond salvage and was scuttled.

Juneau took a torpedo in the same engagement, but survived and was capable of maneuvering at 15 knots. She, along with San Francisco and Helena, both of which were also badly damaged, were withdrawing back to Espiritu Santo when they ran across the track of a Japanese I-boat. It took a shot at the San Francisco, but misjudged the speed of the column, as a result Juneau took another hit on the same side as the first torpedo. That was quite enough for her, she broke in half and sank in under half a minute. The other two U.S. ships took one look at the fireball and figured, not unreasonably, that she was lost with all hands. Wrong. About 100 survivors went into the water. By the time they were located, starting EIGHT DAYS after the sinking, only ten men were rescued. Juneau was the ship where the five "Sullivan Brothers" were assigned, three of them made it into the water, none of them survived.

Neither ship had any business being in a surface action.
 

CalBear

Moderator
Donor
Monthly Donor
Could Calbear mean the two Altanta class AA Cruisers of which Juneau was one?
I did. I screwed up the class name. I was trying to remember if the 12 gun sub-class was called the San Diego or Oakland class and had a brain cramp.
 
I tried SO hard not to have to pore more venom out on the Alaska Class, but no...

The Alaska's were not fine ships. They had an exceptional 12 inch gun, possibly one of the best naval rifles every designed. Unfortunately those 12" guns were located on a battleship size hull (808 feet long, 91 feet wide, 35,000 tons full load) with heavy cruiser protection. Had the ship been a balanced design (i.e. proof against its own main battery) it would have had a displacement greater than the North Carolina class (728 feet L, 108 feet W, 45,000 tons full load) and South Dakota class (680' L, 108' W, 45,200 tons full load) battleships. The only ships the U.S. built during WW II that cost more than the Alaska class were the Iowa class battleship, the Kearsarge (which managed to cost $22M dollars more than the rest of the Essex Class for some bloody reason), and the Midway. Yep, the Alaska class cost MORE (fractionally, but still more) than a full on battleship with 9 sixteen inch guns and 20 5"/38s (the Alaskas carried 12 5"/38 and 1/3 fewer 40mm guns than the fast BB classes).

The ships handled like a pig in a poke (ONE rudder! 800 feet long, 35K tons, and ONE GODDAMNED RUDDER, which resulted in an 800 YARD turning radius), were extremely vulnerable to battle damage for a ship of their size due to the aforementioned single rudder and the complete lack of torpedo blisters or any other enhanced underwater protection (hey, it was only a $78 million, in 1940 USD, ship, who cares if a single torpedo can stop it dead if not sink it outright), and quite literally had no useful function that could not to fulfilled by either an actual battleship or by the two heavy cruisers or three CLAA that could be built for the same cost.

While BuShips can be forgiven for starting the design process while the Deutschland class "pocket battleships" were all the rage, the fact that the program officer spent one dollar on these insults to naval architecture after December 10, 1941 comes close to criminal.

BTW: NONE of the hulls had even been laid down before Pearl Harbor, they kept going with the building plans even AFTER it was obvious that the ship had no useful purpose. They were even built in the SAME YARD that built the Independence class CVL. SAME YARD. Five of the Independence class were laid down AFTER the Alaska. They wouldn't have even needed to change the destination for the building materials if they had changed over to carrier construction. Think about that for a second.

It was an abomination. Thank God the U.S. had so much excess capacity and an nearly unlimited supply of money.
Did the wastes of steel use up 3 slipways that could have been another Baltimore and 2 more CVLs?
 

SsgtC

Banned
Did the wastes of steel use up 3 slipways that could have been another Baltimore and 2 more CVLs?
Honestly, with the resources poured into them, both Illinois and Kentucky could have been finished along with Oriskany, Reprisal and Iwo Jima.
 
I did. I screwed up the class name. I was trying to remember if the 12 gun sub-class was called the San Diego or Oakland class and had a brain cramp.
That would be the Cleveland class, which was developed from the preceding Brooklyn class and not an Atlanta sub-class. The Clevelands were an example of trying to get a quart into a pint pot, with too much armament on too small a hull; in practice they were found to be top-heavy and unstable and were quickly retired after war's end.

The Atlantas were actually intended as AA cruisers for carrier escort, which they were well suited for, but were pressed into service as surface combatants due to being some of the few ships available at that moment. In other circumstances they could have been quite useful; they would have completely outmatched any Japanese destroyer or light cruiser they faced in a daylight engagement.

EDIT: Ah, you mean the Oakland class, a four ship class derived from the Atlantas. The Oaklands omitted the two wing turrets to increase stability, a common problem in this era of ship design. Lest anyone think this is solely a US problem we can point to the Japanese navy for examples such as the Chidori class of torpedo boats, which was so top heavy that one (Tomozuru) capsized in a storm. A typhoon later that year (1935) damaged several more vessels, causing the IJN to implement major refitting programs to correct these issues.
 
Last edited:
The Omaha's were the first fast USN cruisers since the turn of the century, and were badly needed as fast ships that were larger than destroyers. Not great, but better than nothing
 
I am going to suggest (from a British POV) not building the Hawkins class of heavy cruiser

Not because they were a bad design or anything just that they initiated an unintended arms race of 10,000 ton cruisers

Had they not been built then it is possible that the WNT might have limited Cruisers to 8000 tons or less and armament down to 6"
 

CalBear

Moderator
Donor
Monthly Donor
Did the wastes of steel use up 3 slipways that could have been another Baltimore and 2 more CVLs?
Two CVL at a minimum. New York Shipbuilding Co. didn't build its first Baltimore until early 1943, but Hawaii wasn't laid down until the end of 1943, so that space could have been used for Baltimore at that time, or a Cleveland somewhat earlier.
 
the German Admiral Hipper class heavy cruisers, unbelievably heavy, with sensitive machinery for an 8 inch armed cruiser. They where over engineered trash
 

SsgtC

Banned
I am going to suggest (from a British POV) not building the Hawkins class of heavy cruiser

Not because they were a bad design or anything just that they initiated an unintended arms race of 10,000 ton cruisers

Had they not been built then it is possible that the WNT might have limited Cruisers to 8000 tons or less and armament down to 6"
That's highly doubtful. While the British wanted the smaller cruisers, neither the US nor Japan did. AIUI, it was the existence of the Hawkins class that convinced the USN and IJN to agree to a 10,000 ton and 8" weight limit when they both wanted larger cruisers
 
That's highly doubtful. While the British wanted the smaller cruisers, neither the US nor Japan did. AIUI, it was the existence of the Hawkins class that convinced the USN and IJN to agree to a 10,000 ton and 8" weight limit when they both wanted larger cruisers
Well neither the US or Japan built any Crusiers larger than 8000 tons until the Mid/late 20s (Pensacola and Myōkō-class) and the IJN in response to the Omaha and Hawkins!
 

CalBear

Moderator
Donor
Monthly Donor
the German Admiral Hipper class heavy cruisers, unbelievably heavy, with sensitive machinery for an 8 inch armed cruiser. They where over engineered trash
Every KM ship larger than a Light Cruiser was a waste. The KM needs subs, lots of them, from the first day of the war.
 
The thing that folks tend to overlook is that the entire Yorktown class, including the Wasp as a sub group, were terribly vulnerable to torpedo damage. Hit them with a bomb or bombs and you did was piss them off, as both Yorktown And Enterprise demonstrated more than once. Unfortunately, probably due to the Treaty tonnage issues, their underwater protection was, b y comparison to protection from bombs, below the Mendoza Line.
Yorktown was salvageable with the two fish from Hiryu's Kates: had I-168 not arrived, it's likely she would've been towed into Pearl, drydocked, and then sent to the West Coast. Those two Type 89s from the sub are what finally killed her.

The only U.S. carrier lost in 1942 that would've been lost had 1944-45 damage control been available was Wasp. She was a goner no matter what. But it took the lessons of Coral Sea (draining avgas lines and filling them with carbon dioxide), and Santa Cruz (more portable pumps and generators for fire-fighting and for getting boilers relit) before things got better from a damage-control perspective. 1945: look at Franklin and Bunker Hill: a year earlier, those two ships probably would've been lost. Franklin's damage was comparable to the IJN carriers at Midway, and she survived. Bunker Hill, also.

Doenitz wanted 300 U-Boats on Day One. Hitler gave him 30 ocean-going boats. Admiral Raeder told Doenitz "We can't be a navy of U-boats." And as long as the failed artist and his Navy chief are fans of big ships, the Bismarck-class BBs, most of the Hippers, and the destroyers are going to be finished.
 
Yorktown was salvageable with the two fish from Hiryu's Kates: had I-168 not arrived, it's likely she would've been towed into Pearl, drydocked, and then sent to the West Coast. Those two Type 89s from the sub are what finally killed her.

The only U.S. carrier lost in 1942 that would've been lost had 1944-45 damage control been available was Wasp. She was a goner no matter what. But it took the lessons of Coral Sea (draining avgas lines and filling them with carbon dioxide), and Santa Cruz (more portable pumps and generators for fire-fighting and for getting boilers relit) before things got better from a damage-control perspective. 1945: look at Franklin and Bunker Hill: a year earlier, those two ships probably would've been lost. Franklin's damage was comparable to the IJN carriers at Midway, and she survived. Bunker Hill, also.
Heck Lexington almost survived as her captain smelled the fumes and ordered her vented two minutes before the first explosion. Had the explosion not happened within fifteen minutes of that order it wouldn't have happened and Lexington probably would have been back in action by the time of Santa Cruz. And the lessons still would have been learned. As for Yorktown surviving all that was required was for her screening destroyers not falling asleep and letting I-168 through or you know sinking her or for her to dodge one more torpedo from Hiryu which would have resulted in her not being prematurely abandoned which probably means she's either been towed by a cruiser a fair distance and/or got her engines back online to some degree and thus is long gone by the time I-168 shows up
 
Interesting. I've read they didn't have the growth margin to accept Sea Wolf or a towed array.
Then you might like this.

From pages 98 and 99 of Modern Combat Ships 5 - Type 21 by Captain John Lippiett, RN.
Vosper Thornycroft Seawolf Type 21

In the very early days of the Type 21, VT continued their studies as to how to upgrade the weapon fit. In 1975 they announced their design from an improved Type 21 fitted with a "double-headed" Seawolf system ― in other words, one with two independent missile systems, one forward and one aft. The advantage of the design was that, although the new weapon fit represented a significant advance, the ship was of a fully proven design, and all the major components of the new systems had been already proven by extensive trials.
The new system compromised a forward and aft sub-system, each having two twin-barrelled lightweight launchers mounted port and starboard. These launchers had been developed using the land-based Rapier SAM system of launching rails instead of the container system used in the GWS 25 Seawolf system. Loading the launchers was to be carried out from below decks, and each launcher had its own magazine of 10 missiles; these could be topped up by replenishment at sea.

The Type 910 radar tracker of the GWS25 was to be used, and two new surveillance radars to replace the Type 992 were proposed in order to utilise the full potential of the Seawolf system and to give optimum detection of high-speed sea-skimming missiles. All radars were to be fully interfaced with the CAAIS computer for action information, and the Seawolf could be fired in an "Auto" or "Manual" mode.

Most regrettably, this excellent weapon fit could not be fitted into existing Type 21 hulls because of its additional size. For stability and reasons of space the design incorporated an increased beam of 2ft, not dissimilar to the increase in beam given to the Batch III "Leander" class. Additionally, the ship's superstructure on 01 deck abreast both the Operations Room and the hangar would have been extended to the ship's side. The Exocet launchers would have been above, on 02 deck abaft the foremast, in a similar configuration to that on the Brazilian Mk 10 frigates.

Despite the potency of the new design, there were no orders for the Seawolf Type 21. The Royal Navy was pursuing the Type 22 and later the Type 23, and interest from overseas was never substantiated. The design proved the basis for further developments, which currently take the form of the "Command Frigate" discussed later.
There is a line drawing of the Seawolf Type 21 at the top of Page 98 and below that is the artists impression of the ship that was also on the lid of Seastrike.
 
Every KM ship larger than a Light Cruiser was a waste. The KM needs subs, lots of them, from the first day of the war.
Militarily they needed subs. Politically they needed a Balanced fleet. In this they were not a waste, a balanced fleet helped convince Britain to support the appeasement train as long as it held up, therefore the Twins, Bismarcks, Hippers and GZ were not a waste, though work on large ships after them was as by that point jig was up. Building huge loads of subs in '35 is not conducive to getting the UK to agree to Munich
 
Top