Photo: Library of Congress


The drawing depicting the final design of USS Lexington battle cruiser from 1919 featuring eight 406 mm caliber guns.

November 2022

tion or even completion. The most serious

problem of this class of ships turned out to

be the longitudinal hull strength. The long

and narrow vessels were stressed not only

under the inclement weather but also during the gunfire. Bent metal plates had to

be replaced on several British battle cruisers and their hulls reinforced.

Photo: Naval History & Heritage Command

A series of studies at the Naval War College discussed these types of vessels

before the actual design of the first battle

cruiser, British HMS Invincible was launched in 1907 and accepted to service in 1909.

By the way, aforementioned Sir Horace

Hood perished in the explosion of Invincible.

The same year the first design proposals

for the American battle cruisers were submitted but the Congress did not approve

them due to the political reasons. Things

started to move forward a bit in 1911 when

Japan commenced the construction of the

Kongo class battle cruisers. All however

remained at a design stage. The project

of Lexington class was included into the

Naval Law of 1916 requiring the significant

expansion of the US Navy. According to this

plan six ships of this class were to possess

34,900 ton displacement, length of 259 meters and speed of 35 knots. To accomplish

this, they needed 24 boilers which due to

the long but narrow hull turned out to be

a problem. The complicated arrangement

of large number of boilers brought about

the issue of number of stacks. There were

to be seven in total, four of them next to

each other. The armament was to consist

of ten 356 mm (14 inches) caliber guns. Two

per each turret on the bow and stern and

further three guns in the next two turrets

located above 2-gun turrets closer to the

hull center. This arrangement was necessary since the hull in the bow and stern

turret locations was too narrow to accommodate the barbette of three gun turret.

The main guns were to be complemented

by eighteen 127 mm caliber guns.

The work on Lexington class was stopped

before it fully took off. The reason was that

the shipyards’ priority were anti-submarine vessels. Under different circumstances

this would have been an advantage. Thanks

to the other countries’ experience with the

battle cruisers the number of issues could

be solved at the design stage instead of correcting them during the actual construc-

USS Saratoga battle cruiser under the construction in March 1922. The view from stern to bow well illustrates

the barbettes of the main guns’ turrets.

INFO Eduard