In 1939 the anti-aircraft on warships consisted of short barreled three to five-inch guns for heavy AA guns and machine guns for light AA. The British quickly discovered that their Vickers quad machine gun mounts were next to worthless against the Luftwaffe and eventually adopted the Swiss 20mm Oerlikon gun. Likewise the USN in December 1941 relied upon the .50 caliber machine gun for light AA but also went to the Oerlikon. For medium AA defense the RN had the 40mm Pom-Pom and the USN had the quadruple 1.1-inch “Chicago Piano”. The Pom-Pom was mediocre and the 1.1-inch gun was an outright flop and was replaced in the USN by the Swedish Bofors gun. By the end of the war the machine guns had disappeared and warships were removing the Oerlikons because the 20mm was now too light to have the stopping power against the heavier and faster aircraft. Even the Bofors gun was loosing its effectiveness. With the advent of jet propelled aircraft, AA armament went through and evolution. The light AA gun was of little use and accordingly disappeared and for medium AA the USN replaced the quadruple Bofors mount with twin fast firing 3-inch mounts with their own targeting radar replaced in aircraft carriers and many other warships.
However, a new age dawned in aircraft defense in the mid-1950s with the
advent of the Surface to Air Missile (SAM). The Luftwaffe had inaugurated the
aircraft launched anti-shipping missile in 1943, when two aircraft missiles
struck and sank the Italian battleship Roma
but an effective AA missile was not developed until a decade later. A family of
missiles was developed for the warships of the USN in the 1950s, as various
ships were converted to receive them, such as the CAGs and CLGs, or built with
them in mind, such as the new DLGs. These early SAMs were bulky and required a
generous amount of internal volume to serve as a missile magazine. With the
Five years later, the conversion of the CLGs was more extensive. Six of the
However, the two missile systems of Terrier and Talos still relied upon
two different radar or sensor systems, search and targeting, to engage aircraft.
As search radar turned in a 360 degree revolution, the aerial targets would be
lost when the radar array was pointed away. Each target would have to reacquired
when the array turned back in the target's direction by which time the position
had changed a significant distance. Illuminators or targeting radar could handle
one target at a time. This combined system was subject to be overwhelmed by mass
attacks by aircraft and more critically by new generation air to surface
missiles. Further, mass aerial attacks by bombers and missiles, along with
submarines, were just the tactics developed by the
Instead of having rotating radars that would loose a target as it rotated
another approach was tried. Billboard arrays were incorporated with a separate
array on each side of the superstructure and fore and aft. These arrays didn’t
rotate and maintained contact with targets. The need for four arrays caused the
ship’s bridge to have a unique block superstructure. Originally, the design
was to have been a frigate displacing under 8,000 tons but the USN had a nuclear
power plant suitable for ships 9,000 tons and larger, so the design was greatly
expanded in order to use the nuclear plant. In the history of the United States
Navy only the Alaska Class Large
Cruisers were longer than the
During the service life of the
By April 1963 Long Beach received the SPS-32/33 billboard radar, the two 5-Inch/38 gun mounts and the two Mk 56 gun directors on their towers located just forward of the gun mounts. For the next 16 years of her life, she cruised with this configuration. By 1979 for her mid-life refit, it was decided to change her capabilities with a change of weapons fit. The Talos SAM system was past its prime so it was landed and with the space and weight saved, two quad Harpoon SSM mounts were added aft. However, she still had her SPS-32/33 billboard array. Since the aft Talos target illuminators were no longer needed, they were landed and two Phalanx CIWS mounts added at their positions.
By 1980 the billboard array was removed and
Cyber Hobbies is the
Smaller parts are provided on ten sprues, three large and seven small. Sprue C provides some of the larger parts. Included are the forecastle, bridge pieces and part of the aft superstructure. Other parts include shafts, rudders, propellers and ASROC box. The forecastle as molded anchor chain, chain guide channel, break water with support ribs, open chocks and twin bollard fittings. The bridge has window detail, while superstructure bulkhead details include doors and various fittings. The doors are on the plain side with either just a raised form or minimal dog detail. This is definitely an area from brass after market doors would be beneficial. Sprue D provides the bulk of the smaller fittings and equipment, including the missile mounts. Different parts for the missile system are nicely molded from the missile themselves, to the missile mounts to the tracking radars or illuminators. Boats and davits are also found on this sprue and they’re OK but are not as detailed as the missile system parts detail. There are a host of smaller, nicely done fittings such as the anchors, cable reels, deck fittings, superstructure deckhouse, ASROC mount and anti-submarine torpedo mounts.
Sprue E and has the 1961 bridge fittings, operations control position and equipment support lattice. The plastic lattice doesn’t have delicacy of a lattice structure but fortunately this part is better replicated by alternate brass parts included on the photo-etch fret included in the kit. Spure F is almost a repeat of E. The same operations control position and lattice is included and it is the F sprue parts not the E sprue parts shown in the instructions. Also included is a large loading crane. Sprue G has three larger superstructure parts and small parts for pylons, masts and mast fittings. Door detail on the superstructure has significantly over-sized dog detail. Two of the smaller parts are solid lattice towers, which would be far better as brass parts. Sprue H is an armaments sprue with two mount bases for the 5-inch gun houses, 5-inch barrels and some parts that aren’t used such as depth charge rack and 20mm barrels and gun shields. I Sprue is for the 1967 fit with alternate parts for the bridge. The two J sprues have one part each, the five-inch gun house. These two parts are excellent with side doors, crown door and side fittings. Lastly there is Z sprue, which provides a model base.
Dragon throws in a brass photo-etch fret in the kit and an excellent decal sheet. The ship specific parts are for the gun house crown radar arrays and the photo-etch optional parts for the lattice assembly located near the operations control position. By all means, use the brass parts and not the alternate plastic parts. Ten inclined ladders and five vertical ladders are also included. The inclined ladders have the handrails but have rungs instead of tread boards. The decal sheet will add a lot of color to the model, especially the red and white danger deck markings surrounding the missile mounts. Flight deck markings are included and a good complement of E for efficiency markings in three sizes and four colors. Of course hull numbers, name plate, draught markings, ensign and jack are included.
Standard Dragon instructions are included with one back-printed sheet that is folded to create six page. As usual assembly is included in sequential order. Page one has the parts laydown and page two the standard paint guide. However, page two also has subassemblies for the 5-inch gun mounts, missile mounts, illuminators, boat positions and mast. Page three has assembly directions for the bridge forward and aft upper superstructure, with an inset showing the alternate 1961 fit. Page four covers forecastle and boat/shelter deck with assemblies for the 1967 and 1961 fits. Page wraps up assembly with attachment of major assemblies, lower hull assembly and of course the stand. The last page has painting and decal placement plan and profiles for both 1961 and 1967 fits.
Cyber-Hobbies/Dragon had produced a plastic and brass 1:700 scale model of the last true cruiser to be built for the USN, the splendid USS Long Beach. Thoughtfully, parts for the 1961 and 1967 fits have been included as well as a lower hull part for full hull enthusiasts. Now you can fire up your nuke and go on that long delayed around the world cruise.