The US Navy produced five classes of light cruisers (with one split into two sub-classes), starting with the Omaha class, designed during the First World War but completed in the post-war period, and ending with the Worcester Class, which appeared after the Second World War.
There are brief sections looking at the main weapons used on these ships (from the main 6in and 5in guns to the many AA guns) and the types of radar that were installed. The main text then flows from class to class, with the wartime service histories given separate sections outside the main flow. This keeps the story of the development of the light cruiser flowing, and allows the reader to come back to the combat histories later. There is also an interesting discussion of their varying wartime roles, looking at how each class was used and showing that the different classes did indeed perform different roles. The inter-war and post-war periods are covered briefly in the main text, leaving the combat histories to cover the Second World War.
The cutaway drawing of the Clevelandis useful, showing the location of some of those features that are often mentioned but rarely pinpointed. It also shows just how much internal space even a 5in or 6in gun mount could take, with turntable, shell rooms and magazines deep in the ship.
It also becomes clear that these ships weren't really used for their intended purpose and in particular their reconnaissance role, which was taken over by aircraft and radar. It also took some time for the Navy to find the right way to use them in the Pacific, losing several in battles with Japanese destroyers, before decided to use their own destroyers in that role. Instead they were used for shore bombardment, to escort the fast carriers and as anti-aircraft cruisers, performing valuable roles, mainly in the Pacific.
American Light Cruiser Weapons
American Light Cruiser Radar
USN Light Cruisers at War
The Light Cruiser Classes
Analysis and Conclusion
Author: Mark Stille