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