1918 US shipbuilding programe-capital ships question


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9 January 2010
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Hi everyone.

From what i have read around ,the building of the Lexington-class battlecruisers and South Dakota-class battleships ( 6 units of each class) was intially planned to be followed by a further 6 battlecruisers and 10 battleships, according to the 1918 plan.
This was revised( probably because of cost ) in 1919-1920 by the General Board to include a total of 5 battleships and 2 battlecruisers( plus aircraft carriers and destroyers) between FY 1921-1924.

Offcourse the Washington treaty ended all these plans.

I'd like to ask, is there any info regarding the specifications for the planned battleships and battlecruisers of the 1918 , and the 1919-1920 plans?

At that time , the british had the G3/N3 classes in the pipeline( N3 with 18in guns!), the japanese were working/planning on Tosa, Amagi and Kii classes, plus contemplating the No.13-16 battleships with 18in guns, so would be interesting to see what the americans would have oposed to these ...

Thank you. :)
I've done some research and I've havent found such detailed informations included in your post. The only reference in my sources for a post-BB49 design is Norman Friedman's "US Battleships":

The General Board met in November 1920 and then in january 1921 to draw up characteristics for a proposed Battleship 1922. The constructors abandoned any attempt to adapt the existing South Dakota design, and instead concentrated on much larger ships, of 45,000 or 50,000 tons, 695 or 710 feet long, capable of 23 knots. Beam was limited by the canal to 106 feet. The program ended before detailed designs could be developed.
The General Board appears to have had the existing 16in battery in mind, even though BuOrd was well advanced with a new 18in. Work had begun in 1916, and in 1920 the bureau estimated the effect of mounting eight or twelve such weapons on a South Dakota hull. However, the gun was still incomplete, work stopping in 1922 when the Washington Treaty banned anything beyond 16in.
Thank you for your help , Pometablava.

Meenwhile i have found a webpage which contains some of the info you posted for me , plus other interesting stuff...( ignore the speculations part)

Now speaking of this shipbuilding programme , aparently they planned to also build four aircraft carriers from FY 1921-1924. Separately, in "Aircraft Carriers" by Norman Polmar(1969), there is mention of a 35,000t carrier considered by USN prior to the Washington Treaty, work made for this design being used in the Lexington-class CV contruction afterwards.
Is there more info regarding this 35,000t design, and about the four carriers planned in 1919-1920( displacement, capacity etc)? Is there a connection between the 35,000t design and the four planned carriers?

Thank you very much. :)
The Tillman maximum battleships were considerably before 1918. These ships would have pushed the "Standard" concept even further than the South Dakota Class.

Some of the latest designs to be looked at were BB1922 and BB1923. BB1922 was essentially a larger South Dakota with 4x18" duple turrets replacing the 4x16" triples. Secondary armament was re-arranged into triple turrets. BB1923 was stretched further to accommodate 4x18" triple turrets. Armour is basically unchanged since the first of the standards. One of the reasons behind the slightly thicker deck armour seems to have been the additional structural stiffness it provided for these fairly long and narrow ships.

BB1922 BB1923
Displacement 44,500 tons 54,500 tons
Length 684’ 880’
Width 108’ 108’
Draft 33’ 33’
Speed 23 knots 23 knots
Armament 8-18”/48 (4x2) 12-18”/48 (4x3)
18-6”(6x3) 12-6”(12x1)
8-5” (8x1) 8-5” (8x1)
Armor belt: 13.5” 13.5”
Deck: 5” 5”

Most of the period designs can be found in the Springstyle design books, which can be seen here. Details on the large carrier designs can be found there as well.

I wouldn't really say the Washington Treaty ended these plans, more the other way around. The USN had already embarked on a massively expensive building program, before the 1918 plan came into being. The earlier 1916 plan was running into serious financial difficulty around 1920 which lead to the US proposing the Washington Treaty which was pretty much win-win all around on the economic standpoint.
USN early carrier designs
(source:Friedman's "US Aircraft Carriers: an illustrated design story)

August 1918: 800 ft, 22,000-ton

October 1918: 825 ft, 24,000-ton, 35 knot, 10x6in gun + 4 AA gun. A pair of islands, one on either side of the flight deck.

March 1919 work resumed on the previous study for the FY20 program. 24 fighter + 6 bomber aircraft. 4x8in + 4x4in AA + twin torpedo tube on each beam.

1919 Design based on the hull of the 34,800 ton battlecruiser design (previous to CC-1 Lexington). Twin superestructures as in the October 1918 design with single 8-in gun fore and aft of each plus 6in guns.

In FY 20 and FY 21 Congress refused to authorize carrier construction.

In October 1920 Preliminary Design worked out cost estimates for 10,000 - 20,000 and 30,000 ton carriers ranging from a design based on the scout carrier to one based on th 1919 carrier.
The November 1920 (for FY22) called for an air group of 24 torpedo bombers and 48 fighters. Armament: 16x6in guns plus 5in AA. Displacement for that prospective carrier was 35,000 ton. Included conventional island superestructure on the starboard side. Final armament: 6x6in in twin mounts, 12x5in AA guns and 6 torpedo tubes pointing aft. Revised displacement: 39,000 ton (normal).
In July the General Board urged that three carriers of this type be built as a matter of the highest priority. The Washington Treaty cancelled the project.

On page 42, there are a couple of photos of :

a) official model of November 1920 study flush deck carrier.

b) official model of Scheme B for the aircraft carrier of 1922. Lenght: 850 ft ; Beam: 94 ft.
Pometablava, RedAdmiral and Jemiba , thank you for your help and suggestions. The history.navy.mil site contain a bewildering array of projects, a very interesting find indeed , and one can only daydream for something like that being made for other navies.( Japan, Germany ,UK etc .)

Refering to the 35,000(39,000t) carrier , looks like Pometablava answered my question before i put it , indeed i was curious if this was the design chosen for the carriers planned.Thanks again for the info.

1919 Design based on the hull of the 34,800 ton battlecruiser design (previous to CC-1 Lexington). Twin superestructures as in the October 1918 design with single 8-in gun fore and aft of each plus 6in guns.

This battlecruiser being the initial Lexington design , 35kt, 10X16 in guns , i would assume.
USN Battlecruiser program (US Cruisers by Norman Friedman; chapter 2 and 3)

1. The first US battle cruiser estimations are dated from 1912. Length and displacement range from 750 ft and 29,300 tons to 1,250 ft and 79,000.

2. Up to 1915, the General Board had been loath to accept the construction of expensive auxiliary units such as battle cruisers on the theory that the battle line must be built up first. However, in the summer of 1915 it became apparent that the preparedness campaign would result in a very large naval program. For the first time it made parity, a navy "second to none", its long range goal.

In July 1915 a tentative program of 4 battleships, 6 battle cruisers and 6 scout cruisers was suggested. In October the board decided a tentative five-year program then called for 10 battleships, 6 battle cruisers, 10 scout cruisers and 40 destroyers. The entire program was to be completed by 1922. Parity with Great Britain was to be achieved by 1925.

In 1916 the program was telescoped into 3 years (FYs 17-19) and the act signed on 29 August 1916. The Scouts became the Omaha class while the Battle Cruisers became the Constellation class. Battle cruiser studies started with design 133 and then followed: 140, 141, 143, 144, 145 and 146. The General Board approved design 150 (32,000 ton and 800 ft ) as the basis for battle cruiser construction on 28 September 1915. It was further revised in Design 152/153. There was even a design 160 based in the Omaha class.
Design 150 latest development was design 169 (33,500 ton, 850 ft and 14 in guns) aproved on 30 June 1916. Like their battleship consorts (South Dakota), they were overtaken by WWI. Their construction was suspended to make room for destroyers, small ASW craft and merchant ships.

3. On 11 September 1917 the General Board issued the 1919 Battle cruiser. Four designs were produced A to D. The introduction of HMS Hood generated debate in the USN about which was to be the caracteristics of US future battle ships. As a result, work on battle cruiser was suspended again on March 1919 and a new design was formally started on June 1919. In fact it was an evolution of design B. A sketch marked B3 was submitted to the General Board on 14 June 1919: The Lexington class.
This battlecruiser being the initial Lexington design , 35kt, 10X16 in guns , i would assume

I think that could be the Constellation class (14 in guns). The 16 in guns were considered in the Constellation studies but only formally introduced with the Lexingtons.
Very interesting info, thanks Pometablava. I did a mistake in my previous post , i ment 10X14in guns for the initial aproved battlecruiser design.

After reading a bit here and a bit there about the Lexingtons and other contemporary CC and BB designs , it seem that , like the Hood , they were very thinly armoured( less than Hood actually) and one can't stop comparing them with the Amagis, or even the Tosa and Kii fast BBs. Extremely fast , but less armed and much less armoured.

The reverse is true for the South Dakotas tho , very heavily armed and ( it seems) armoured , but very slow( 23kt) ! A full 12 16in broadside must have been quite a sight (and feel) , but i'm wondering would the blast effects have caused any significant problems , were there any concerns about it at the time ?

Thanks again for the great info. :)
This is a number I've found for the 1918 class of battleship, aka after the south dakota class.
53,000 tons, 12 x 16" L/50, 16 x 6" L/51, 8 x 3" L/50 AA, 13.5" belt, 200,000 shp, 30 knots.
Basically south dakota armament and armor with (almost) lexington speed.
No real pictures due to it not being finished let alone fully funded (navy focusing on finishing the 1916 program )

Personally I suspect the first 2 units of the 1918 program were going to also be the south dakota class so as to give the usn full 8 ship squadrons of 23 knots and 30 knots.

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