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United States' North Carolina class battleships

Photos

BB-55 USS North Carolina being launched on June 13, 1940:
United States' BB-55 USS North Carolina being launched on June 13, 1940
US Naval Historical Center, NH-44899

BB-55 USS North Carolina during shakedown cruise in June 1941:
United States' BB-55 USS North Carolina during shakedown cruise in June 1941
US Navy, 80-G-K-13511

BB-55 USS North Carolina during Gilbert Operations in November 1943:
United States' BB-55 USS North Carolina during Gilbert Operations in November 1943
US Navy, 80-G-K-101

BB-55 USS North Carolina in New York City on June 3, 1946:
United States' BB-55 USS North Carolina in New York City on June 3, 1946
US Navy, NH-97267
BB-55 USS North Carolina during shakedown cruise in April 1941:
United States' BB-55 USS North Carolina during shakedown cruise in April 1941
US Naval Historical Center, NH-83074

BB-55 USS North Carolina during trials in June 1941:
United States' BB-55 USS North Carolina during trials in June 1941
US Naval Historical Center, NH-91509

BB-55 USS North Carolina off Saipan in June 1944:
United States' BB-55 USS North Carolina off Saipan in June 1944
US Navy, 80-G-K-1794
BB-55 USS North Carolina's maiden voyage in May 1941:
United States' BB-55 USS North Carolina's maiden voyage in May 1941
US Navy, 80-G-K-13971

BB-55 USS North Carolina off the east coast on April 17, 1942:
United States' BB-55 USS North Carolina off the east coast on April 17, 1942
US Naval Historical Center, NH-80988

BB-55 USS North Carolina in Puget Sound Navy Yard, Washington on September 24, 1944:
United States' BB-55 USS North Carolina in Puget Sound Navy Yard, Washington on September 24, 1944
US Navy, NH-104850
BB-55 USS North Carolina during shakedown cruise in May 1941:
United States' BB-55 USS North Carolina during shakedown cruise in May 1941
US Navy, 80-G-K-13972

BB-55 USS North Carolina off the Hawaiian Islands:
United States' BB-55 USS North Carolina off the Hawaiian Islands
US Navy, 80-G-276619

BB-55 USS North Carolina in the Philippines with Task Force 38.3:
United States' BB-55 USS North Carolina in the Philippines with Task Froce 38.3
US Navy, 80-G-K-301356
BB-56 USS Washington in Philadelphia Navy Yard on May 29, 1941:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington in Philadelphia Navy Yard on May 29, 1941
Bureau of Ships Collection, 19-N-24148

BB-56 USS Washington in the mid-Atlantic on April 22, 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington in the mid-Atlantic on April 22, 1942
US Navy, 80-G-21029

BB-56 USS Washington from April 25 to May 3, 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington from April 25 to May 3, 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-9479

BB-56 USS Washington escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-8944

BB-56 USS Washington escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-8952

BB-56 USS Washington, with a Walrus flying overhead, escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington, with a Walrus flying overhead, escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-8964

BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark
Imperial War Museum, A-8744

BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark
Imperial War Museum, A-9387

The King is leaving BB-56 USS Washington on June 7, 1942:
United States' The King is leaving BB-56 USS Washington on June 7, 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-9287

BB-56 USS Washington in Puget Sound Navy Yard after being repaired:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington in Puget Sound Navy Yard after being repaired
Bureau of Ships Collection, 19-N-63999
BB-56 USS Washington in the mid-Atlantic with the Home Fleet:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington in the mid-Atlantic with the Home Fleet
Imperial War Museum, A-9239

BB-56 USS Washington on convoy duty as pictured from the HMS Victorious with an Albacore and two Fulmars between April 25 - May 3, 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington on convoy duty as pictured from the HMS Victorious with an Albacore and two Fulmars between April 25 - May 3, 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-9476

BB-56 USS Washington from April 25 to May 3, 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington from April 25 to May 3, 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-9486

BB-56 USS Washington with the HMS Duke of York escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington with the HMS Duke of York escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-10664

BB-56 USS Washington escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-8966

BB-56 USS Washington with King George VI inspecting the crew on June 7, 1942. Mounted are Vought OS2U Float planes:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington with King George VI inspecting the crew on June 7, 1942. Mounted are Vought OS2U Floatplanes
US Navy, 80-G-24783

BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark
Imperial War Museum, A-8746

BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark
Imperial War Museum, A-9388

BB-56 USS Washington in New York City on August 21, 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington in New York City on August 21, 1942
Bureau of Ships Collection, 19-N-33803

BB-56 USS Washington on May 28, 1944:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington on May 28, 1944
US Navy, 80-G-358634
BB-56 USS Washington in the mid-Atlantic with the Home Fleet:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington in the mid-Atlantic with the Home Fleet
Imperial War Museum, A-9240

BB-56 USS Washington with the HMS King George V from April 25 to May 3, 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington with the HMS King George V from April 25 to May 3, 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-9475

BB-56 USS Washington from April 25 to May 3, 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington from April 25 to May 3, 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-9487

BB-56 USS Washington with the HMS Duke of York escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington with the HMS Duke of York escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-8963

BB-56 USS Washington escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-9293

BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark
Imperial War Museum, A-8741

BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark
Imperial War Museum, A-8747

BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King who is shaking Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.'s hand:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King who is shaking Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.'s hand
Imperial War Museum, A-8742

BB-56 USS Washington near Oahu, Hawaii in 1943:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington near Oahu, Hawaii in 1943
US Navy, 80-G-K-15103

BB-56 USS Washington in Puget Sound after overhaul:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington in Puget Sound after overhaul
Bureau of Ships Collection, 19-N-89065
BB-56 USS Washington escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union from April 11 - 18, 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union from April 11 - 18, 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-9312

BB-56 USS Washington with the HMS King George V from April 25 to May 3, 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington with the HMS King George V from April 25 to May 3, 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-9480

BB-56 USS Washington from April 25 to May 3, 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington from April 25 to May 3, 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-9488

BB-56 USS Washington with the HMS Duke of York escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington with the HMS Duke of York escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-9297

BB-56 USS Washington escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington escorting a convoy to the Soviet Union in May 1942
Imperial War Museum, A-9296

BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark
Imperial War Museum, A-8743

BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark
Imperial War Museum, A-9084

BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark on June 7, 1942 in Scapa Flow:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington being visited by the King with Admiral Stark on June 7, 1942 in Scapa Flow
Imperial War Museum, A-8763

BB-56 USS Washington after the collision with the USS Indiana on February 1, 1944:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington after the collision with the USS Indiana on February 1, 1944
US Naval Historical Center, NH-68352

BB-56 USS Washington with the USS Enterprise going through the Panama Canal:
United States' BB-56 USS Washington with the USS Enterprise going through the Panama Canal
US Navy, 80-G-K-6568

Design

In May 1935 the US Navy General Board, after exploring other country's battleship designs, decided the next battleship design would favor a fast ship that would work with aircraft carrier forces. The Japanese Kongo class' fast speed was one of the main influences. The recommendation that came out was for a 30 knot battleship that would have nine 14" guns and could withstand 14" fire. However the Chief of Naval Operations rejected the design and ask for a battleship of 27 knots of the more traditional design.

The North Carolina class' design was a departure from all the previous battleship designs. There was a tower foremast and the secondary armament was in twin turrets. The 16" guns were of a new design as well.

Orders for the battleships were placed on August 1, 1937.

Aircraft

The North Carolina class had two catapults.

Ships

BB-55 USS North Carolina

  • Manufacturer: New York Navy Yard, G.E.
  • June 13, 1940: Launched.
  • April 9, 1941: Commissioned.
  • 1941: North Atlantic Fleet.
  • Guadalcanal.
  • Eastern Solomons.
  • September 15, 1942: Torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-15.
  • November 1943: Gilbert Islands.
  • December 1943: Naru.
  • January 1944: Kwajalein.
  • February 1944: Truk raid.
  • March 1944: Palau.
  • April 1944: Hollandia.
  • June 1944: Marianas.
  • Saipan.
  • November 1944: Leyte.
  • Philippine Sea.
  • January 1945: Luzon. China.
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima.
  • March 1945: Okinawa.
  • July 1945: Kyushu.
  • August 1945: Japan.
  • 1944 - 1945: Pacific raids.

BB-56 USS Washington

  • Manufacturer: Philadelphia Navy Yard, G.E.
  • June 1, 1940: Launched.
  • May 1941: Commissioned.
  • May 15, 1941: Commissioned.
  • 1942: With the British Home Fleet in the North Atlantic.
  • May 1, 1942: Damaged during an accident where the HMS King George V ran into the HMS Punjabi and set off the Punjabi's depth charges.
  • November 13 - 14, 1942: Battle of Guadalcanal. Sank the Japanese battle cruiserKirishima.
  • November 1943: Gilbert Islands.
  • December 1943: Naru.
  • January 1944: Kwajalein.
  • February 1, 1944: Collided with USS Indiana.
  • Saipan.
  • March 1944: Palau.
  • June 1944: Marianas.
  • November 1944: Leyte.
  • Surigao Strait.
  • Philippine Sea.
  • January 1945: Luzon. China.
  • February 1945: Iwo Jima.
  • March 1945: Okinawa.
  • July 1945: Kyushu.
  • 1943 - 1945: Pacific raids.

Usage

Battle of Guadalcanal

During the night of November 14 - 15, 1942 a Japanese task force was sent to bomb Henderson Field. The USS South Dakota's electrical system was quickly knocked out. The Washington closed to within 2,000 yards / 1,830 m and started firing. The Kirishima was hit by nine 16" shells and eventually sank. Two heavy cruisers were also damaged.

Specifications

  North Carolina class
Crew 1,880, 2,500
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 35,000 tons, 37,484 tons
Displacement - Loaded 41,000 tons, 44,377 tons
Length 720', 728' 9", 729'
222.12 m
Length - Water Line 704', 714', 714' 6"
217.78 m
Beam 108', 108' 3", 108' 4"
33.01 m
Draft / Height 26' 8", 26' 9"
8.15 m
Performance  
Speed 27 knots, 28 knots
Range at 15 knots 15,000 nautical miles
Armament 16" L/50: 9
16" triple mounts: 3
5" L/38: 20
5" twin mounts: 10
40 mm: 60
Anti-Aircraft 1.1" quad mounts: 4
0.5" Machine Guns: 12
Aircraft 3
Armor  
Barbettes 16"
Belt 12", 16"
Bulkheads 11"
Deck 5"
Deck - Main 4"
Deck - Upper 6"
Turrets 16", 18"
Engines  
Boilers Babcock & Wilcox: 8
Shafts 4
Turbines Geared
General Electric Geared
HP 115,000, 121,000
Oil 6,959 tons
  USS North Carolina
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 36,600 tons
Displacement - Loaded 44,800 tons
Displacement - Loaded 1945 46,700 tons
Length 728' 8"
Length - Water Line 713' 5"
Beam - Maximum 108' 3"
Beam - Waterline 104' 6"
Draft / Height 31' 7"
Draft / Height - Full Load 35' 6"
Performance  
Speed - 1941 28 knots
Speed - 1945 26.8 knots
Range at 15 knots - 1941 17,450 nautical miles
Range at 15 knots - 1945 16,320 nautical miles
Range at 25 knots - 1945 5,740 nautical miles
Armament 16" L/45 Mark 6: 9
5" L/38 Mark 12: 20
Anti-Aircraft 40 mm: 96
Anti-Aircraft - April 1941 1.1": 16
0.5" Machine Guns: 12
Anti-Aircraft - December 1941 1.1": 16
20 mm: 40
0.5" Machine Guns: 12
Anti-Aircraft - June 1942 1.1": 16
20 mm: 40
0.5" Machine Guns: 28
Anti-Aircraft - December 1944 40 mm: 60
20 mm: 48
Anti-Aircraft - June 1945 40 mm: 60
20 mm: 36
Anti-Aircraft - 1945 20 mm: 20
20 mm twin mounts: 8
Armor  
Barbette 11.5" - 16"
Belt 12" - 15"
Deck 7.07"
Turrets - Front 16"
Turrets - Rear 11.8"
Turrets - Side 9.8"
Turrets - Top 7"
Engines  
Boilers Babcock & Wilcox: 8
Turbines General Electric geared: 4 sets
HP 121,000
  USS Washington
Crew 1,880
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 36,600 tons, 36,900 tons, 37,484 tons
Displacement - Loaded 44,377 tons, 44,800 tons
Displacement - Loaded - 1945 45,370 tons
Length 728' 9", 728' 11"
222.12 m
Length - Water Line 713' 8", 714' 6"
217.78 m
Length - Between Perpendiculars  
Beam 108' 3", 108' 4"
33 m, 33.01 m
Beam - Maximum 108' 3"
Beam - Waterline 104' 6"
Draft / Height 31' 8", 32' 11.5", 35' 6"
10.04 m, 10.82 m
Draft / Height - Full Load 34' 9"
Performance  
Speed 27 knots, 28 knots
Speed - 1941 28 knots
Speed - 1945 26.8 knots
Range at 15 knots 17,450 nautical miles
Range at 15 knots - 1941 17,450 nautical miles
Range at 15 knots - 1945 16,320 nautical miles
Range at 25 knots - 1945 5,740 nautical miles
Armament 16", 40.6 cm: 9
16" L/45 Mark 6: 9
16" L/45 triple mounts: 3
5", 12.7 cm: 20
5" L/38 Mark 12: 20
5" L/38 twin mounts: 10
Anti-Aircraft 1.1", 28 mm: 16
1.1" quad mounts: 4
0.5", 12.7 mm Machine Guns: 12
Anti-Aircraft - April 1941 1.1": 16
0.5" Machine Guns: 12
Anti-Aircraft - December 1941 1.1": 16
20 mm: 20
0.5" Machine Guns: 12
Anti-Aircraft - June 1942 1.1": 16
20 mm: 20
0.5" Machine Guns: 28
Anti-Aircraft - December 1944 40 mm: 60
20 mm: 67
Anti-Aircraft - August 1945 40 mm: 60
20 mm: 83
Anti-Aircraft - November 1945 40 mm: 60
20 mm: 63
Anti-Aircraft - 1945 20 mm: 63
20 mm twin mounts: 8
20 mm quad mounts: 1
Aircraft 3
Vought OS2U Kingfisher: 3
Armor  
Barbettes 14.7" - 16"
Belt 6.5" - 12", 6.6" - 12"
16.5 - 30.5 cm
Bulkheads 11"
Deck 1.5" - 5.5", 5" - 5.5", 7.07"
3.8 - 14 cm
Turrets 7" - 16"
17.8 - 40.6 cm
Turrets - Face 16"
Turrets - Rear 11.8"
Turrets - Side 9.8"
Turrets - Top 7"
Engines  
Boilers Babcock & Wilcox: 8
Shafts 4
Turbines Geared steam
General Electric
HP 121,000
Oil 6,260 tons

Sources:

  1. US Warships of World War 2, Paul H. Silverstone, 1965
  2. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Robert Gardiner, 1987
  3. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  4. Janes' Fighting Ships of World War II, 1989
  5. Battleships of World War Two an International Encyclopedia, M. J. Whitley, 1998
  6. US Fast Battleships 1936 - 47 The North Carolina and South Dakota classes, Lawrence Burr, 2010
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