Colorado-class Battleship, USS Colorado (BB-45) - Ushering in a New Era

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USS Colorado
As Outfitted in 1922
USS Colorado in San Diego, in 1924.

USS Colorado was the lead ship of the Colorado-class battleships. She was laid down on the 29th of May, 1919, launched on the 22nd of March, 1921, and commissioned into the US Navy on the 30th of August, 1923. Ironically, she was the second ship of the class to be laid down, the first being Maryland.

The Colorado-class battleships were adapted from the previous Tennessee-class, with the main difference being the inclusion of four twin 16-inch turrets, instead of the previous four triple 14-inch turrets. The US Navy Bureau of Ordnance had developed the 16-inch gun in reaction to, or partially causing, the development of 15-inch and 16-inch guns abroad, in places like the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, and Japan. The new 16-inch gun promised twice the kinetic energy of the 12-inch guns that were then in service, and a 50% improvement over the 14-inch guns then being introduced. Although being stopped from added to new ships for several years, a compromise was reached in 1917 and the Colorados were ordered.
Being part of the Standard-type battleship line, the Colorados differed little from the preceding Tennessees, in major structural design. Fitting of underwater protection - defense against shells that landed short, or torpedoes, were not complete, and were not fitted by the time the Colorados were complete.

Colorado served throughout the interwar years, and through World War 2, being decommissioned in 1947, and sold for scrap in 1959. She would earn seven battle stars for her service.

Service History

Following her commissioning, as part of her shakedown cruise she visited various places in Europe, stopping at Portsmouth in the UK, Cherbourg and Villefranche-sur-Mer in France, Naples in Italy, and then the British Naval Base in Gibraltar, before returning to New York. After this, and after further testing, she departed for San Francisco, where she would join the Battle Fleet, remaining as part of this fleet for the next fifteen years. Around here, 1922-1923, is when Colorado, as presented in this suggestion, is represented.

USS Pennsylvania, leading two Colorado-class battleships, possibly Colorado and West Virginia, during the mid-1920s.

USS Colorado off of New York City, in 1932.

Colorado would take part in various exercises throughout the 1920s and 1930s, providing experience for the Pacific War. In 1925, she participated in a visit to American Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand, with other battleships of the fleet. During a refit lasting from 1928 to 1929, her four 3"/50 anti-air weapons were replaced by eight 5"/25 guns. Following this, in 1933 she went to Long Beach, California, to assist in efforts following the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake. She would also help search the Pacific for Amelia Earhart in 1937, to no avail. In 1941, she would be moved to Pearl Harbor, participating in wargames and exercises there until June, when she sailed to Puget Sound Navy Yard for an overhaul.

USS Colorado underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, sometime in the late 1930s or early 1940s.

Colorado was not present during the Attack on Pearl Harbor, in December 1941, as this was during her overhaul. Due to the attack, her 5"/51 armament was reduced from twelve to eight, both to free up some weight and to arm merchant ships. Following refit, she would carry out extensive maneuvers along the West Coast. After missing the Battle of Los Angeles, she was assigned, along with her sister Maryland, to defend San Francisco against a potential attack. She would end up eventually operating around the Fiji Islands in late 1942, providing gunfire support for invading forces. After a few more shore bombardment missions, she eventually returned to the US for another overhaul, in early 1944, before joining a fleet bound for the Marianas.

USS Colorado off of Tinian, July 1944, with damage from shore batteries.

In June 1944, she would participate in the shelling of Saipan, Guam, and Tinian. On the 24th of July, while shelling Tinian, she was hit 22 times by 150mm shore batteries, killing 43 and wounding 198. Following repairs on the West Coast, she would then be present at Leyte Gulf for the Invasion of Leyte. Soon after arriving, she was hit twice by kamikaze strikes, killing 19, wounding 72, and moderately damaging the ship. Despite the damage, she continued in her shore bombardment role until returning to Manus Island for repairs.

USS Colorado moments after being hit by a kamikaze strike.

She returned to Luzon on New Years, 1945, for bombardment of Lingayen Gulf. Eight days later, she was hit by accidental gunfire, killing 18 and wounding 51. Following repairs, she would then participate in the Invasion of Okinawa. On the 27th of August, following the surrender of Japan, she would cover the airborne landings at Atsugi Airfield. She would leave Japan on the 20th of September, and participated in Operation Magic Carpet.

Colorado would then end up at Bremerton Navy Yard, being decommissioned on the 7th of January, 1946. She remained in reserve until being sold for scrap in July of 1959. She would earn seven battle stars during the war.

Drawing of a Colorado-class battleship, representing the ships around 1923.


General Information
Displacement 33,590 tons (full load)
Length 624ft 3in (190.27m)
Beam 97ft 4in (29.67m)
Draft 30ft 6in (9.3m)
Speed 21 knots (39 km/h)
Complement 1305 officers and enlisted
Gun Turret/Mount Notes
8 × 16"(406mm)/45 Mk 1 4 × Twin
12 × 5"(127mm)/51 Mk 15 12 × Single
8 x 3"(76mm)/50 Mk 8 4 x Single, AA
2 x 21"(533mm) Torpedo Tubes ? x Bliss-Leavitt Mk 1 Unsure which torpedo specifically, this is a guess
16" (406mm) Ammunition
Designation Mass Bursting Charge Muzzle Velocity Notes
AP Mk 3 2,110lbs (957.1kg) 57.5lbs (26.1kg) Exp. D 2,600f/s (792m/s) Has Mod(s) 2 - 5, unknown differences, could be face hardening or an improved windscreen
AP Mk 5 2,240lbs (1,016kg) 33.6lbs (15.2kg) Exp. D 2,520f/s (768m/s) Not made available until late 1930s, but AP Mk 3 was the only shell I could find pre-1930s
HC Mk 13/14 1,900lbs (862kg) 153.6lbs (69.67kg) Exp. D 2,635f/s (803m/s) Not made available until the 1940s, but there was no HC shell until then; or at least I could not find one
Belt 8-16" (203-406mm)
Decks 1.5-3.5" (38-89mm)
Turrets 5-18" (127-457mm)
Barbettes 13" (330mm)
Conning Tower 11.5" (292mm)

Colorado would be a good ship to add, especially in her 1922 configuration, as she would be the American equivalent of the recently added Mutsu. She would fill the same role as Mutsu, and be a really good cap for the current American tree. Being in the 1922 configuration means that she does not get access to the improved fire control equipment of later battleships, but she would still be a tough opponent.


Wikipedia - Colorado-class Battleship
Wikipedia - USS Colorado (BB-45)
Naval-Encyclopedia - Colorado-class Battleships
History.Navy.Mil - USS Colorado
NavWeaps - US 16"/45 Mk 1
NavWeaps - US 16"/45 Mk 5 and Mk 8
Navypedia - USS Colorado
Bulletpicker - 16-inch HC Mk 13