Armored Cruisers of the “California” and “Washington” Classes—Ten Ships During the Spanish war, the armored cruiser gave such clear demonstration of its value, that it was not long before Congress had authorized the construction Copyright 1906 by Loeffler. of a powerful class of five of these ships, to embody the latest ideas for this type, The class includes the “California” and “South Dakota,” built at San Francisco; the “Colorado” and “Pennsylvania,” built by Cramps; and the “Maryland” and “West Virginia,” built by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company. These ships are 502 feet long, 69 feet 6 % inches beam, and 24 feet 1 inch draft, on which draft they displace 13,680 tons. In outward appearance they are exceedingly handsome ships, with two masts and four funnels. Their freeboard varies from 20 feet at the bow and stern to about 19 feet amidships. The protection. consists of a continuous belt from 6 to 3% inches in thickness, associated with a deck having a thickness of 4 inches on the slopes, and 1% inches on the flat. Above the main belt, the side of the ship amidships, for about one-third of the ship's length, is protected by 5 inches of armor with 4 inches transverse bulkheads. The main battery of four 8-inch guns is carried in two turrets forward and aft, and the fourteen 6-inch guns are mounted in a central broadside battery and in casemates, ten of the guns on the gun deck and four on the main deck. There is also a battery of eighteen 14-pounders mountEd on the gun deck and in the superstructure. The ships were designed to make 22 knots with 22,000 horse-power, but this was in every case exceeded, the “Pennsylvania” making about 22Y2 knots, and the other vessels from 0.13 to 0.24 knot in excess of the contract speed. The ships carry a maximum supply of 2,000 tons of coal, and each is fitted with two 18-inch submerged torpedo tubes. Subsequently, four cruisers were authorized, which are nearly 1,000 tons larger than the “California” class, and embody improvements in the armament and armor plan. These are the “Washington,” built by the New York Shipbuilding Company; the “Tennessee,” built at Cramps; and the “Montana” and “North Carolina,” now building at Newport News. The improvements consist of lengthening the belt until it extends well beyond the barbettes of the main guns; substituting four 10-inch 40-caliber guns, in place of the four 8-inch 45-caliber guns, and adding a pair of 6-inch guns to the secondary battery, making sixteen in all. Although the ships of this class are the equal of those armored cruisers of foreign navies designed at the same date, they are entirely outclassed by the later armored cruisers of other navies, such as the Japanese “Tsukuba,” with its four 12's, twelve 6's, and twelve 4.7's, and the British “Invincible” class, carrying eight 12's and sixteen 4-inch guns.
This article was originally published with the title "Cruisers" in Scientific American 97, 23, 411 (December 1907)