Wichita-class Heavy Cruiser, USS Wichita (CA-45) - The USN's Best Treaty Cruiser

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USS Wichita
USS Wichita at anchor, 1945.

USS Wichita was a unique heavy cruiser designed for the USN during the era of the London Naval Treaty. She was ordered in 1934, laid down on the 28th of October, 1935, launched on the 16th of November, 1937, and commissioned on the 16th of February, 1939.

The London Naval Treaty of 1930 limited the USN to 18 heavy cruisers of 10,160 tons (10,000 long tons) each, and USS Wichita would be the 18th and final heavy cruiser in this displacement allowance.
Originally intended to be a New Orleans-class ship, the design of Wichita was instead based on the Brooklyn-class light cruiser. The design was heavily modified with an increased freeboard, range, and improved stability. In essence, Wichita was a Brooklyn but with heavier guns. The main battery of three triple 8" turrets was a result of fixes and improvements applied to the previous 8in turrets. The secondary battery of eight single 5in guns was standard for a cruiser, with half in enclosed Mk 30 mounts, and the other half in open mounts. By the time she was completed, in 1937, she was found to be almost over the displacement limit set by the treaty, so she was launched with only two of the eight 5in guns. After normalization, and upon installing the rest of the guns, she was found to be top heavy, and so 203.6t of iron had to be added to the bottom of the cruiser for balance.
As the USN’s final heavy cruiser under the treaty limits, Wichita was poised to be the pinnacle of US cruiser development, and as a provisional design in case of war. Wichita would come to be the direct forerunner to the Baltimore-class, which were designed after the breakdown of the Naval Treaty system.

Wichita’s first assignment after commissioning was to Houston, Texas, to take part in the dedication of the San Jacinto Monument; leaving Houston on May 1st, 1939, then being assigned to Cruiser Division 7, on September 25th, 1939, a few weeks after the outbreak of war. On December 7th, 1941, when the US was brought into World War II, Wichita was anchored at Hvalfjörður, Iceland. On the 26th of March, 1942, Wichita departed the United States as part of Task Force 39, to reinforce the Royal Navy in Scapa Flow. After a few convoy escorts, Wichita would escort convoy PQ 17, but did not take part in the ensuing battle.
In November of 1942, Wichita would take part in Operation Torch, participating in the Naval Battle of Casablanca. During the battle, among other things, Wichita would engage the French battleship Jean Bart.

Operation Torch

USS Wichita during Operation Torch, in a gunnery duel with Jean Bart.

Wichita would then be assigned to the Pacific, in 1943, where she would remain for the rest of the war. She was assigned to Task Force 18, where she would participate in the Battle of Rennell Island, there she was hit by one torpedo, but it failed to explode. She participated in various other operations in the Pacific, being present at Saipan, Guam, the Philippines, and Okinawa, among others.
USS Wichita would end World War II with 13 Battle Stars.

Specifications (1944/45)

General Information
Displacement 13,225 tons
Length 608ft 4in (185.42m)
Beam 61ft 9in (18.82m)
Draft 23ft 9in (7.24m)
Speed 33 knots (61 km/h)
Complement 929 officers and enlisted
SK-1 Air Search
Mk 34 with Mk 13 Radar Fire Control (Main Battery)
Mk 37(?) GFCS Fire Control (Secondary Battery)
Mk 28 Radar Fire Control (Anti-Air Battery)
Gun Turret/Mount
9 × 8"(203mm)/55 Mk 12 3 × Three-gun Turrets
8× 5"(127mm)/38 Mk 12 6 × Mark 24 Mounts
24 × 40mm Bofors 4 x 4 mounts, 4 x 2 mounts
18 x 20mm Oerlikon
8" (203mm) Ammunition
Designation Mass Bursting Charge Muzzle Velocity Notes
AP Mk 19 260lbs (118kg) 3.64lbs (1.7kg) Exp. D 2,700f/s (823m/s) Wichita was unable to use the AP Mk 21 Super-Heavy Shell
SP Common Mk 17 260lbs (118kg) 10.38lbs (4.7kg) Exp. D 2,700f/s (823m/s)
Common Mk 15 260lbs (118kg) 11.46lbs (5.2kg) Exp.D 2,700f/s (823m/s)
Common Mk 14 260lbs (118kg) 10.91lbs (4.9kg) 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.
Belt 4-6.4" (101-160mm) Class A armor, improving protection significantly over previous cruiser’s Class B armor - 8in fire had to be within 9.1km to penetrate, as opposed to 15km of previous armor
Deck 2.25" (57mm)
Turrets 1.5-8" (38-203mm)
Barbettes 7" (178mm)
Conning Tower 6" (155mm)

She also carried two catapults for four OS2Us. The hangar space was big enough to accommodate all four planes at once.

USS Wichita firing a broadside, 1944 or 1945.

USS Wichita was the US’s last Treaty-era heavy cruiser, and thus, I think, she deserves a spot in the game. As essentially a middle ground between the preceding New Orleans-class and the Baltimore-class, she would occupy a nice place between the two.
While I want to see Wichita in the tree, maybe in a folder with Pittsburgh as a predecessor and successor folder, I think another place she could fit pretty well is as a squadron vehicle. She is a one-off ship, but the development line from New Orleans to Wichita to Baltimore is very clear. For that reason, I think she should be tech tree, but due to her special status, I would understand if she was a squadron vehicle.

Additionally, if Wichita had a logo or a crest, please send it here so that I can add it to the suggestion. I was unable to find one.


wikipedia - USS Wichita (CA-45)
wikipedia - 8in/55 caliber Mk 12
history.nav.mil - USS Wichita I
navweaps - 8in/55 Mk 9
naval-encyclopedia - USS Wichita
navweaps - 8in/55 Mk 12


According to NavSource it’s this:

I’m unsure about it because that’s the only one I’ve ever seen for it. It could be that but it could just as easily that, it has nothing confirming/denying it