Wyoming class battleships

The two Wyoming class battleships were the last US battleships to be armed with 12in guns and were seen as an interim design before the appearance of the 14in armed New York class ships.

The first three classes of American dreadnoughts (South Carolina class, Delaware class and Florida class) were all armed with 12in guns, but by 1908 the Royal navy was planning to move onto larger calibre guns, and so President Theodore Roosevelt asked the US Navy to consider moving from 12in guns to 14in guns (this was two years before the first of the American dreadnoughts was completed, so the US Navy still had no practical experience of using dreadnought class ships in service). Three alternative designs were produced in response to this request, one armed with eight 14in guns, one with ten 14in guns and one with twelve 12in guns.

Navy Airship C-7 over USS Arkansas (BB-33)
Navy Airship C-7
USS Arkansas (BB-33)

Of the two 14in designs, the eight gun design was rejected while the ten gun ships could only be docked at Pearl Harbor and Puget Sound. Even the docks at New York would need extending to take them. As a result it was decided to adopt the 12in twelve gun design as an interim type, while work was carried out on enlarging the main military docks to take the larger 14in gun designs. The 12in armed ships became the Wyoming class, while the 14in ships became the New York class ships.

The Wyoming class ships were significantly larger than the previous Florida class ships. They were 41ft longer, mainly to make room for the sixth 12in gun turret, 5ft wider and displaced an extra 4,000 tons. Despite only having the same amount of engine power as the earlier ships, their speed only dropped by one quarter of a knot, to 20.5kts.

The main armament was concentrated at the back of the ship. Two twin gun turrets were mounted at the front and four at the back, giving the ship a broadside of twelve guns but limiting their fore and aft firepower to four guns. 5in guns were retained for the secondary armament, but the number carried was increased from 16 to 21, and the overall design of the ship was modified to make them more effective. On the Delaware and Florida class ships the secondary guns had been carried quite close to the waterline, making them almost unusable in heavy seas or when travelling at speed. The Wyoming class ships were 'flush deckers', with a single main deck that sloped gently down from a high bow, raising the secondary guns by four feet (on the earlier ships there had been a higher deck surface near the bow, with a step down to the main deck).

Both ships were modernized in the mid 1920s, receiving anti-torpedo blisters and converting from coal to oil fuel. Torpedo bulges were added and the two funnels reduced to one. Arkansas also received a large number of anti-aircraft guns during the Second World War.

Bridge of USS Wyoming (BB-32), 1919
Bridge of USS Wyoming (BB-32), 1919

Both the Wyoming and the Arkansas served with the 6th Battle Squadron of the British Grand Fleet towards the end of the First World War. Wyoming was converted to a training ship in 1931, and served as a gunnery training ship during the Second World War. Arkansas served in the Atlantic during the Second World War, before taking part in the naval bombardment on D-Day and the invasion of the South of France (Operation Dragoon). She then moved to the Pacific, where she took part in the invasion of Okinawa.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



8,000nm at 10kts

Armour – belt


 - lower casemate


 - upper casemate


 - barbette


 - turret faces


 - coning tower





93ft 2in


Twelve 12in guns in six twin turrets
Twenty one 5in guns
Two submerged beam 21n torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Ships in Class


USS Wyoming (BB 32)

Stricken 1947

USS Arkansas (BB 33)

Target 26 July 1946

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (14 September 2011), Wyoming class battleships , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_wyoming_class_battleships.html

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