Des Moines-class Heavy Cruiser, USS Salem (CA-139) - The World's Last Heavy Cruiser

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USS Salem


USS Salem anchored at Sardinia, 1950, two days after she became flagship of the Sixth Fleet.

Background
USS Salem is the third and final Des Moines-class cruiser. She was ordered in 1943, launched on the 25th of March, 1947, and commissioned on the 14th of May, 1949, making her the final heavy cruiser to be commissioned into any navy (4 months after USS Newport News, commissioned in January of 1949).

The Des Moines-class of heavy cruisers was derived from the Oregon City-class, which were in turn derived from the Baltimore-class. The Oregon City’s would combine the two funnels of the Baltimores into one large funnel, and replace the superstructure. These modifications were intended to improve the arcs of fire for the AA guns, and the Des Moines’s would retain this layout.
On the inside, the Des Moines’s were longer and heavier than the Baltimores or Oregon City’s, possessing more advanced machinery and the autoloaders for their main guns. The new 8in/55 Mk 16 main guns and their autoloading mechanism allowed a rate of fire of up to 8 shots per minute, per barrel, amounting to 24 shots per minute per turret; the ship carrying three triple turrets. The autoloaders could support any elevation, in theory allowing the main guns to have limited anti-air capability, the guns only elevating to 41 degrees. The Mk 16s also used cased ammunition, a side effect of being autoloaded. While the 6 twin 5in/38 Mk 12s was unchanged, much of the “small” gun anti-air was changed to 12 twin 3in/50 Mk 33s, considered superior to other ships’ quad 40mms.

image
Cutaway sketch depicting a turret with Mk 16 guns.

Specifications

General Information
Displacement 21,800 tons
Length 716ft 6in (218.39m)
Beam 76ft 6in (23.32m)
Draft 22ft (6.7m)
Speed 33 knots (61 km/h)
Complement 1799 officers and enlisted
Sensors
AN/SPS-6 Air Search
AN/SPS-8 Height Finding
Mk 54 with Mk 13 Radar Fire Control (Main Battery)
Mk 37 with Mk 25 Radar Fire Control (Secondary Battery)
Mk 56 with Mk 35 Radar Fire Control (Anti-Air Battery)

Turrets 2 and 3 originally equipped with Mk 27 Ranging Radar

Gun Turret/Mount
9 × 8"(203mm)/55 Mk 16 3 × Three-gun Turrets
10 × 5"(127mm)/38 Mk 12 6 × Mark 32 Mounts
12 × 3"(76mm)/50 Mk 22 12 × Mark 33 Mounts

Originally planned to have six dual 20mm mounts, removed before launch.

8" (203mm) Ammunition
Designation Mass Bursting Charge Muzzle Velocity Notes
AP Mk 21 335lbs (152kg) 5.03lbs (2.3kg) Exp. D 2,500f/s (762m/s) Super-Heavy Shell
AP Mk 19 260lbs (118kg) 3.64lbs (1.7kg) Exp. D 2,700f/s (823m/s)
SP Common Mk 17 260lbs (118kg) 10.38lbs (4.7kg) Exp. D 2,700f/s (823m/s)
AAC Mk 24 260lbs (188kg) 21.34lbs (9.7kg) Exp. D 2,700f/s (823m/s) HC fuses could be loaded with PD (Point Detonating) or MT (Mechanical Time) fuses, and were considered AAC rounds if using MT. What would ordinarily be called HC Mk 24 is designated AAC Mk 24 here, for this reason.
HC Mk 25 260lbs (188kg) 21.37lbs (9.7kg) Exp. D 2,700f/s (823m/s) Essentially the same as the preceding AAC Mk 24, but instead using a PD fuse.
Armor
Belt 4-6" (102-152mm)
Deck 3.5" (89mm)
Turrets 2-8" (51-203mm)
Barbettes 6.3" (160mm)
Conning Tower 6.5" (165mm)

The ship, as built, also featured aircraft catapults, to carry the OS2U Kingfisher or SC Seahawk. Later refitted and replaced with a helipad, but all the helicopters in service during Salem’s time in service were unarmed; Salem was not in service by the time the QH-50 DASH, capable of carrying two Mk 44 or one Mk 46 torpedo(s), came into service. These torpedoes were designed for anti-submarine work in any case. In theory, the ship could carry the Bell HSL, which itself could carry one Mk 43 torpedo, but the HSL never entered operational service, and the Mk 43 was also intended for anti-sub work.
If no aircraft are present in game, similar to USS Newport News, then the aircraft crane on the stern should be lowered.

image
USS Salem, now a museum ship, 2021.

Conclusion
As the final Des Moines-class to be added, I really want to see this in the tech tree, as opposed to the previous two, which were event and premium, respectively. If a squadron Des Moines is to be added, maybe consider the USS Dallas, another Des Moines that was cancelled approximately 28% through completion.
The USS Salem would be a nice way to round out the US cruiser line, before it ends up at the pseudo-battlecruiser that is USS Alaska, and would also provide some cushion between the aforementioned Alaska and the USS Pittsburgh.


Crest of the USS Salem.

Sources

Wikipedia - Des Moines-class
Wikipedia - USS Salem (CA-139)
NavWeaps - 8"/55 Mk 16
NavWeaps - 8"/55 Mk 12-15
history.navy.mil - USS Salem (CA-139)
United States Shipbuilding Museum - USS Salem

3 Likes

Spot on.

Though, to be honest, I’d be very, very surprised if they wouldn’t add it to the tree. Des Moines is one of the most iconic classes among the US warships.

5 Likes

Maybe this Des Moines will finally hit the tech tree, where it should be in the first place!

2 Likes

Interesting that it doesn’t have any small-caliber AA guns. +1

+1

+1

Please Gaijin add a Des Moines class to the techtree!