Heavy cruiser

A heavy cruiser is a type of large warship which originated with the British Hawkins class during World War I. They entered service after the war. The Washington Naval Treaty of 1921 restricted cruisers to 10,000 tons displacement and 8-inch (203 mm) guns. As a result of the treaties limits on battleships, major naval powers started to build cruisers, usually armed with eight or ten 8 inch (203 mm) guns. In 1930 the London Naval Treaty split the definition of a cruiser into Heavy Cruiser with guns in excess of 6.1 inch (155 mm) and Light Cruiser with smaller caliber guns (the 10,000 tons limit applied to both).

In the 1930s several navies began to secretly flout the tonnage limits, with the ships of the Japanese Mogami class reaching over 12,000 tons. The largest heavy cruisers build were the German Hipper class and the American Baltimore classe, both reaching over 14,000 tons (as Germany was not a signatory of the treaties and the Baltimores were build in World War II).

However by the mid '30s Britain, France and Italy had ceased building heavy cruisers. A weakness of heavy cruisers was usually too weak armour, caused by tonnage limits, not sufficient against heavy guns. Also the 8-inch (203 mm) was considered inferior to the 6-inch (152 mm) gun, which fired faster and had less weight (so more guns could be carried), while the higher shell-weight of the 8 inch (203 mm) gun was of little advantage as most armour that could withstand a 6 inch (152 mm) hit also withstood a hit by an 8 inch (203 mm) shell. This lead to the construction of 10,000 light cruisers with twelve to fifteen 6 inch (152 mm) guns that were otherwise identical to the heavy cruisers.

The last heavy cruisers were built during World War II, and ultimately resulted in the Alaska class of "large cruiser" which were often referred to as battlecruisers because of their size and armament fulfill the battlecruiser-definition as well.

The category heavy cruiser fell out of use after World War II. Some existing heavy cruisers lasted until the 1970s, sometimes after conversion to guided missile cruisers (general hull symbol CG).

In the United States Navy, the term first came into official use in 1930, with hull classification symbol CA taken over from the Armored cruiser.

Many other nations built or possessed heavy cruisers in the period 1920-1945, namely Britain, Japan, France, Italy, Germany, USSR, Spain, and Australia. They played a similar role to that of armored cruisers 40 years earlier.

The only heavy cruisers in existence today are the USS Des Moines (CA-134) (on hold for possible donation), and USS Salem (a museum ship).

Interestingly, the term "heavy cruiser" has seen a revival in military-oriented science fiction. In Star Trek, USS Enterprise and Enterprise-A were ostensibly of the Constitution class of heavy cruisers. In Babylon 5, Earthforce fields the Hyperion-class heavy cruiser. Many other science fiction universes boast classes of heavy cruisers among their warring factions, and the term seems to be a catchall for larger, heavily-armed warships. Many of these spaceborne heavy cruisers also carry squadrons of fighters, adding a carrier role to their intended mission profile. It is not always clear whether the science fiction writers who use the term heavy cruiser realize that this entire class of vessels was the result of a treaty rather than anything a rational navy would have invented on its own initiative.de:Schwerer Kreuzer pl:Krążownik ciężki


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