USS New Jersey BB-62

Standard Type Battleships

Following the dreadnoughts, the U.S. Navy wanted a substantial fleet of standard battleships that would be similar in design and similar in armament. This way ships could be deployed in both oceans, assigning them as they were needed, not just according to what they had. They were designed to be bigger and more powerful of course, and also easily capable of crossing oceans to project power wherever needed.

By the time the U.S. got into World War Two, the fleet of battleships was nearly 25 years old and seriously outdated, but it was what the Navy had. So the standard battleships, with the exception of those that did not survive the attack on Peal Harbor, were rebuilt above the deck line with the current concepts of armor and armament. Still, sea battles between great ships were already becoming a thing of the past. Germany’s Bismarck, the ship Hitler believed would have no match, along with her sister ship, Tirpitz were bigger and more powerful than any ships we or the British had. But in May, 1941, after a fairly short career, Bismarck was attacked by biplane torpedo bombers from a British carrier, resulting in the loss of her steering. The Bismarck, thus crippled by the biplanes, was easy prey for two smaller British battleships and two cruisers that finished her off. So much for Hitler’s invincible ship. Naval strategists were seeing a new kind of warfare in which carriers fielding fighter, bomber, torpedo planes were going to be doing the heavy lifting at sea. The great battleships continued to be useful, largely for supporting invading troops with shore bombardment, but their role in the navies of the future (post WWII) would be limited. Missiles could be launched from smaller, more advanced ships.
Stacks Image 156
Naval Armor:
In an effort to make each section a brief summary of a ship’s characteristics, I am naturally leaving out a lot of detail. One is armor, which varied from ship to ship, from class of ship to class. The evolution of war ships, not just in the U.S., but in many other countries as well, resulted in greater size and power with each generation to remain competitive with what other countries were building. As the guns got bigger, they could blast through stronger steel hulls. So as the guns got bigger, the armor on the ships had to be tougher. A war ship has what is called an “armor belt” running along the sides of the ship giving the hull better defense against incoming shells and torpedoes. In the case of the New Mexico class battleships, completed in 1917, the armor belt was 13-1/2” thick solid steel. Hold your hands more than a foot apart, and imagine solid steel that thick running for several hundred feet along the sides of a ship. In that class, the big gun turrets were encased in steel 18” thick. There is a lot more to know about the design and construction of naval ships, but this detail needs to be highlighted. It brings to mind the enormity of the task of building a fleet of battleships.
Stacks Image 48
USS Nevada BB-36
USS Nevada in 1925- Click on photo to enlarge.
USS Nevada BB-36 in 1945
USS Nevada in 1945- Click on photo to enlarge.
USS Nevada (BB-36)
USS Oklahoma (BB-37)

The first of the “Standard Type” battleships, the Nevada and the Oklahoma represented significant advances in design. They were powered by oil burning boilers and they had improved range enabling sea battle at greater distance. Another advance was a revised theory of armor by which the heavy steel armor would be focused on the vital center of the ship leaving the bow and stern more vulnerable, but less critical.

Both served in WW1 protecting sea lanes in the North Atlantic.
Both were at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack. Nevada survived and went on to serve in WW2, including shore bombardment of German positions on D-Day. Oklahoma was a loss.

Both ships underwent modernization between the two wars. Note the “cage” or “lattice” type observation masts used during WW!. They designed to be light weight and resistant to destruction by enemy shells. They were replaced before WW2 by tripod masts that were not as tall.

Nevada received a second modernization as well as repair after Peal Harbor. The photo lower left shows her updated secondary gun configuration.
Built 1912 - 1916
Nevada - Fore River Shipyard, Massachussets
Oklahoma - New York Shipbuilding Corp
at a cost of just under $6 million each.
Commissioned in March and May, 1916
Displacement: 27,500 Long Tons (30,800 tons)
Length: 583 ft. Beam 85 ft.
Propulsion: Oil-fired boilers powering steam turbine (Nevada) , triple expansion steam engine (Oklahoma) - 2 Props
Speed: 20.5 knots
Range: 8,000 nautical miles
Crew: carried: from about 1350 to 2200 officers and enlisted.
Twelve 14” guns in four turrets
Fourteen 5” guns
Four 3-inch guns
Two 21” torpedo tubes

Stacks Image 89
USS Pennsylvania BB-38
USS Pennsylvania in 1925 - Click on photo to enlarge.
USS Pennsylvania in 1934
USS Pennsylvania in 1934 - Click on photo to enlarge.
Just as with the Nevada Class, two ships sustained damage during the attack on Peal Harbor. One survived to be repaired and modernized to go on to serve admirably in WW2, and one did not.
USS Pennsylvania (BB-38)
USS Arizona (BB-39)

Representing an incremental improvement over the Nevada class, these two ships added two 14” guns with 3-gun upper turrets compared to the 2-gun upper turrets of the Nevada class. They also had heavier armor protection below the water line. Primary armor was 13.5” and turret armor was 18” They were also a little longer and necessarily heavier.

Both ships stayed close to American shores during the first World War for a variety of reasons, one being that it was more economical to send the coal-fire dreadnoughts across to Atlantic to assist the British.

Pennsylvania served in the Pacific theatre during WW2, having survived the attack on Pearl Harbor with some damage and loss of men. After the Japanese attack, which had been carried out mostly from the air, she was equipped with a number of anti-aircraft guns.

Arizona was badly damaged and sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack and was later made into a permanent memorial honoring the Americans who lost their lives in the attack.
Built 1913 - 1916
Pennsylvania - Newport News Shipbuilding
Arizona - Brooklyn Navy Yard
at a cost of $8 million each.
Commissioned in June, 1916 and October, 1916
Displacement: 29,158 Long Tons (32,657 tons)
Length: 608 ft. Beam 97 ft.
Propulsion: Oil-fired boilers powering steam turbines 4 Props
Speed: 21 knots
Range: 9,288nautical miles
Crew: originally: 864 Officers and enlisted, after 1929 -1398 men, after 1945 - 2220 men
Ten 14” guns in four turrets
Twenty-one 5” guns
Two 3-inch guns
Two 21” torpedo tubes

After WW1, both ships had their cage masts replaced with tripod masts. After Pearl Harbor, the Pennsylvania had her smaller guns modernized and replaced with anti-aircraft guns.

Stacks Image 95
USS Idaho BB-42 in 1927
USS Idaho in 1927- Click on photo to enlarge.
USS Idaho BB-42 in 1941
USS Idaho in October, 1941- Click on photo to enlarge.
USS New Mexico (BB-40)
USS Mississippi (BB-41)
USS Idaho (BB-42)

These ships incorporated incremental improvements over the Pennsylvania class with longer 14 inch guns for greater distance and accuracy, a “clipper” bow design, and improved positioning for the 5” guns. The New Mexico, unlike the others, was powered by turbo-electric motors.

All three were improved in the early 1930’s with new superstructure, new engines, and bulges added to the hull below the water to provide a first line of defense agains torpedoes.

An interesting thing about the photo of the Idaho lower left. I know from my dad’s memoirs that he was on the ship at that time and had stories to tell about it. My dad is actually somewhere in that photo.

All three ships in this class were in the North Atlantic when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Right after the attack they set sail for the west coast, and all served admirably in the Pacific theatre during World War Two.
Built 1915 - 1917
New Mexico - Brooklyn Navy Yard
Mississippi - Newport News Shipbuilding
Idaho - New York Shipbuilding Corp

Commissioned 1917 -1918
Displacement: 32,000 Long Tons (35,840 tons)
Length: 624 ft. Beam 97 ft.
Propulsion: Oil -fired boilers, Steam Turbine and Turbo Electric for the New Mexico, 4 props
Speed: 21 knots
Range: 8,000 nautical miles
Crew: 1081 Officers and Enlisted
Twelve 14” guns in four turrets
Fourteen 5” guns
Eight 3-inch guns
Two 21” torpedo tubes

After the rebuild in the early 1930’s and 1940’s the ships had greater displacement by about a thousand tons, and many of the secondary guns were changed.

Stacks Image 93
USS California BB-44
USS California - Click on photo to enlarge.
USS Tennessee BB-43
USS Tennessee- Click to enlarge.
USS Tennessee - (BB-43)
USS California - (BB-44)
The Tennessee class ships were built for greater torpedo protection below the waterline. The other significant design change was giving her 12 big guns the ability to be selevated to 30 degrees compared to the 15 degree maximum elevation of her predecessor guns. This gave the guns “over-the-horizon” range. Battleships were starting to carry light sea planes for spotting distant targets. Both Still had the cage masts, though they were heavier. Both ships suffered significant damage during the attack on Pearl Harbor and were completely rebuilt from the deck up with tripod masts and deck-mounted turrets for the 5-inch guns. They were also equipped with an array of anti-aircraft guns.

The photo upper left shows the class as it was designed in 1915, and the photo lower left shows the 1942 configuration.

Note: My dad, who was raised the son of a Naval officer stationed in 1919 at Mare Island, asserted that he remembered the launch of California, though he was only three at the time. It was an event that would leave a lasting impression.
Built 1916 - 1919
Tennessee - New York Naval Shipyard
California - Mare Island Naval Shipyard

Commissioned 1917 -1918
Displacement: 33,190 Long Tons (37,172 tons)
Length: 624 ft. Beam 97 ft.
Propulsion: Oil -fired boilers, turbo-electric transmission, 4 props
Speed: 21 knots
Range: 8,000 nautical miles
Crew: 1083 Officers and Enlisted
Twelve 14” guns in four turrets
Fourteen 5” guns
Fourt 3-inch guns
Two 21” torpedo tubes

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, both ships were changed drastically in a number of ways to more closely resemble the ships that were designed just before the war and entered service in early 1942.
Stacks Image 214
USS Colorado BB-45
USS Colorado - Click on photo to enlarge.
Colorado Class
USS Colorado (BB-45)
USS Maryland (BB46)
USS West Virginia (BB-48)

Similar to the previous class except that with this class the Navy moved to 16” guns, largely because the the 16” guns on the new Nagano-Class battleships the Japanese were building. Britain, Italy, and Germany were also thought to be adopting 15” and 16” guns. The 16” American gun would have twice the muzzle velocity of the 12” guns on earlier ships and one and a half times the muzzle velocity of the 14 “ guns.

Colorado was at Puget Sound on December 7, 1941. Maryland and and West Virginia were at Pearl Harbor and were damaged in the attack, but both were repaired and modernized. All three ships went on to serve in the Pacific Theatre.
Built: 1917 - 1923

Displacement: 32,600 Long tons (36,912 tons)
Length: 624 ft. Beam 97 ft.
Propulsion: Oil-fired boilers powering steam turbines that generated the power for electric motors— 4 props
Speed: 21 knots
Range: 10,000 nautical miles
Crew: 1,080 Officers and Enlisted
Eight 16” guns on four turrets
Twelve to fourteen 5” guns
Two 21” torpedo tubes
Three -eight 3” anti aircraft guns

The main guns fired a 2100-lb. armor-piercing shell as far as 19 miles. The ships were commissioned with three anti-aircraft guns, but the number was increased to eight in 1933. In 1942 many more anti-aircraft guns were added.
Stacks Image 218
Web Site Sponsor: Great American Posters .com
Stacks Image 271
Stacks Image 274
Stacks Image 279
Stacks Image 282
Patriotic Posters
At the beginning of the 20th Century, full-color printing was coming of age, and the U.S. Government produced posters that would promote patriotism and encourage people to enlist in the Army or Navy or support the war effort on the home front. The best illustration artists of the day were patriots and donated their talents for the cause. We offer a collection of the most colorful and wonderful patriotic illustration art in American history with beautifully reproduced poster art prints - just $12.95 with free shipping. Even if you don't purchase, the web site is an up close look at this fascinating subject.
Stacks Image 264

Fast Battleships

In 1939, Germany launched Bismarck and soon after her sister ship Tirpitz. The ships displaced 41,000 long tons, were armed with eight 15” guns, a 12-1/2” armor belt, and had a cruising speed of 30 knots. The World’s major sea powers were competing to have the most powerful battleships, and Hitler was confident that he had two warships that could not be beaten. But in the spring of 1941 before the U.S. had officially entered the war, Bismarck was attacked by a squadron of older biplane torpedo bombers from a British aircraft carrier that did significant damage, rendering her unable to steer. She was easy prey the next day for two British battleships and heavy cruisers who finished her off. Tirpitz was defeated in September, 1943, not by a superior battleship, but by British mini subs and bombers.

The U.S. built a total of ten great battleships for World War 2, but it was becoming more and more evident that a Navy’s strength would be defined by its aircraft carriers, planes, and submarines. The 18th Century concept of naval battles being fought between “ships of the line” was quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Stacks Image 91
USS North Carolina BB-55
USS North Carolina - Click on photo to enlarge.
USS Washington BB-56
USS Washington in 1945- Click on photo to enlarge.
North Carolina Class
USS North Carolina (BB-55)
USS Washington (BB-56)

Bigger, faster, and more heavily armed than the Standard Battleships these two ships ushered in the final phase of our great “ships of the line” in the long naval tradition of ship-to-ship combat and shore bombardment vessels.

The Navy needed a battleship that would match the speed of Japanese battleships and keep up with carriers, but was limited by the 1936 London Naval Treaty to a displacement of 35,000 long tons. The challenge was to find the right mix of armor, armament, and speed while keeping within that limit. Ultimately the North Carolina class would have nine 16” guns because it was apparent by then that Japan was not adhering to the treaty.

This class sported the biggest guns the U.S. Navy ever produced. The configuration, building on the experience of the dozens of battleships that preceded South Carolnia, was two 3-gun turrets forward of the superstructure and one 3-gun turret aft. The secondary 5” guns were in turrets on the main deck.

Both ships served extensively in World War 2, mostly in the Pacific.
Built: 1937-1941
at New York Naval Shipyard and Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.
Displacement: 36,600 Long Tons (41,216 tons)
Length: 729 ft Beam 108 Ft.
Propulsion: Oil-fired boilers powering geared turbines — 4 props
Speed: 27 knots
Range: 16,000 nautical miles
Crew: 2,339 Officers and Enlisted
Nine 16” guns in 3 turrets
Twenty 5” guns
Bofors 40mm and Oerlikon 20 mm
anti-aircraft guns

The 16” guns fired an armor-piercing shell weighing 2,700 lbs. (almost one and a half tons) as far as 22.5 miles when the barrel was firing at a maximum upward angle of 45 degrees.

The 5” Mark XII guns were so effective that they were employed not only on battleships during WW2, but were also used extensively on cruisers and destroyers. Though they were designed mainly as anti submarine and ship guns, they were also effective as anti-aircraft weapons, capable of hitting a plane at 12,000 ft.
Stacks Image 87
USS Alabama BB-60
USS Alabama - Click on photo to enlarge.
South Dakota and Indiana were scrapped after World War 2. Alabama and Massachusetts survive today as museums ships.
South Dakota Class
USS South Dakota (BB-57)
USS Indiana (BB-58)
USS Massachusetts (BB-59)
USS Alabama (BB-60)

Several design variations were considered in order to come up with a ship that was more compact, better armored and still had the speed and the main artillery of the preceding North Carolina Class. These ships were to operate as fleet flagships, which meant they needed an additional level on the on conning tower. Other space had to be tightened up. The class also had a better steam turbine.

All four ships in this class served in World War 2, mostly in the Pacific as carrier escorts as well as shore bombardment
Built: 1939-1942
Displacement: 35,000 long tons
Length: 680 ft. Beam 108 ft.
Propulsion: Oil-fired boilers, steam turbine
Speed: 27 knots
Range: 15,000 nautical miles
Crew: 1793 to 2500 Officers and Enlisted
(9) 16” guns in 3 turrets
(16 or 20) 5” guns in 2-gun turrets
Multiple anti-aircraft guns including Bofors and Oerlikon as well as others. These guns were changed several times during the war.
Stacks Image 85
USS New Jersey BB-62 in 1945
USS New Jersey - Click on photo to enlarge.
USS Mississouri BB-63 Japan Surrenders
USS Missouri - Click on photo to enlarge.
Iowa Class
USS Iowa (BB-61)
USS New Jersey (BB-62)
USS Missouri (BB-63)
USS Wisconsin (BB-64)

After much back and forth in the planning and design phases of the last American battleships, the Iowa Class ended up with greater length to support propulsion for greater speed and with main guns a little longer and hence more accurate. The ships did not have stronger armor than the preceding class, but did have greater speed by 6 knots.

All four in this class served in World War 2, the Korean War, and the Viet Nam War. All four were modernized in 1981, and all four survive today as museum ships.

It was aboard the Missouri in 1945 that the Japanese signed articles of surrender, finally ending the most massive war in human history.

Built: 1940 - 1944 in New York, Philadelphia, and Norfolk

Displacement: 45,000 long tons
Length: 861 ft. Beam: 108 ft.
Propulsion: Geared steam turbines, driving 4 props
Speed: 32.5 knots
Range: 14,900 nautical miles
Crew: 2700 Officers and Enlisted
(9) 16” guns in 3 turrets
(20) 5’ guns in 10 turrets
(80) 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns
(49) 20mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns

After 1981, armament included long-range land-attack Tomahawk missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
Stacks Image 83
Stacks Image 21


© 2017 Phil Dickinson
P.O. Box 4195, Middletown, RI 02842

Ocean Color Group, Inc.
A design studio specializing
in unique solutions
for display, print and internet
and Great American Posters


This site is part of the American Tribute Online project. It is not a commercial site, and it is not associated with any museum or other organization. The purpose of the project is to celebrate our American heritage and provide an online resource for showcasing the America that we can all be proud of.
This site is sponsored by
http://www.Great American