Richard Hough in his volume Dreadnought, divides the era of the all big gun battleship into three generations. The first generation started with the HMS Dreadnought, which evolved from the predreadnought battleship designs. The third generation started in the 1930s when in preparation for World War Two, the worldís navies started building fast battleships. But what ship inaugurated the second generation? This was the USS Nevada and second generation dreadnoughts can be defined as those ships that returned to an old armoring scheme, the All or Nothing.
In the 1870s there was no standard battleship design. The Royal Navy, as the worldís most powerful naval power, led in the development of various battleship designs. One area of difference was in armament arrangement. Some ships designed with broadside fire reminiscent of the wooden walls of Nelson. Other ships were designed with fewer but heavier ordnance placed in heavily armored turrets. When it came to armor schemes, the same muddle of designs could be seen. Most designs reflected a scheme to parcel out armor here and there. Sure there was a main belt along the amidships portion of the ship but designers provided thinner strakes of armor along other parts of the hull. Designers tried to protect everything and as a consequence armor over the vital portions of the ship was thinner than if it had been concentrated. In the 1870s a new style of armoring made a brief appearance. Built on the concept of a central citadel in which the amidships portion of the ship would provide flotation even if the ends were flooded, this type of armoring scheme concentrated the armor around the central citadel protecting the vital magazines and machinery spaces. In this scheme the ends were left unarmored and armor only provided for the most crucial areas.
Not many battleships were built to this scheme, as most naval officers were aghast at leaving large portions of the battleship unarmored, so designers reverted to smattering armor here in there. Finally by the late 1880s a standard battleship designed had emerged with battleships designed with two 12-inch main gun positions on each end of the superstructure, barbette armoring for main guns with originally no armor for the guns and a smattering of armor here and there in the vain effort to protect everything. Gun positions quickly acquired armored hoods, which increased in thickness and again began to be called turrets. However, when Dreadnought made her appearance in 1906, she retained the same old armor scheme of predreadnought designs. The British press may have hailed the appearance of the Orion class as super-dreadnoughts but as far as Hough is concerned, they are merely developments of the Dreadnought and among the last ships of the first generation.
From the start the USN had marched to the beat of a different drummer. The USS Michigan design predated that of HMS Dreadnought but because of political lethargy, started and completed well after the British battleship. The design had a far more efficient arrangement of armament than the designs of Britain, Germany, Japan and France. All turrets were along the centerline and therefore could fire on either beam. Of the three legs of the stool of battleship design, speed, armor and armament, USN practice was always to favor armor and armament over speed. As USN designs evolved additional turrets were added until there were six mounted along the centerline. The hulls kept lengthening with each additional turret and a large additional amount of hull would have to be added to cover the barbettes and turrets. The USN jumped to the 14-inch gun with the New York class in order to provide bigger guns and to limit the increase of areas to be armored. However, all of these classes from Michigan to New York used the world standard armor scheme of belts and areas of armor of various thickness scattered hither and yon over the ship.
In an effort to emphasize armor and armament, US designers looked at a way to be more efficient at providing the same armament of the New York but better armoring. They reduced the critical area of the vitals by reducing the number of turrets from five to four and by providing triple gun turrets for the lower turrets and retaining twin gun turrets for the superfiring turrets. However, it was in the realm of armoring that designers went back to the future. In a Blast from the Past they chose the All or Nothing concept in armor. Prompted by the longer battle ranges with the concurrent introduction of the threat of plunging fire, the primary need was to beef up the thickness of deck armor. Different schemes were tried but in the end the additional weight necessary for strengthened armored decks could be provided by removing armor from non-crucial areas, such as the casemate battery. This was the armor pattern that would be used for almost all subsequent battleship designs built by the worldís navies. Both ships in the class started their design studies in 1910 and were laid down in 1912.
For the next years program designers went back to the All or Nothing concept introduced with the Nevada. Design studies started in 1911 and from the start the prime improvement was to use triple 14-inch gun turrets for all four positions. The final design developed by September 1912, had a ship with twelve 14-inch guns, a displacement of 31,000 tons but powered by old-fashioned reciprocating engines. These were subsequently replace by turbines before construction. Five-Inch/51 secondary guns were selected to me mounted in casemates in the hull and shelter deck, as in the case of the Nevada but the stern chaser found in the Nevada was eliminated from the design. This allowed an additional pair of 5-inch guns to be added to the casemate positions. As it turned out, these two additional positions were placed too far forward and were unworkable in any seaway. The USN was in the forefront of naval design by including for the first time provision for AA guns. Four three-inch guns were worked into the design with two on Y turret and the other two on the forecastle deck in front of the deck break amidships. Only one ship was authorized by Congress and ordered in the class The design still had two worthless fixed submerged 21-inch torpedo tubes. The ship was to be the USS Pennsylvania. She was authorized on August 22, 1912 and ordered from Newport News on February 28, 1913. However, in light of the increase of the battleship building with European powers, it was decided to add another battleship of the same design, which was authorized March 4, 1913 as USS Arizona. They were the last American battleships designed with a ram bow.
USS Pennsylvania was laid down October 27, 1913, launched March 16, 1915 and completed June 12, 1916. When the United States entered the First World War, the Pennsylvania and Arizona were the newest and most modern battleships in the fleet. However, the ships were not sent to Great Britain to reinforce the Grand Fleet. They were oil burners and there was only limited fuel oil supplies imported into the United Kingdom. This supply was needed for the oil burners in the Grand Fleet. As a consequence, only coal burning battleships of the USN were deployed to Scapa Flow to become the 6th Battle Squadron of the British Fleet. However, the Pennsylvania immediately assumed a role that she would have for most of her career, that of flagship. Upon entering service she became the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet. Operations soon proved the hull mounted 5-inch guns to be of dubious value so these were removed by 1919 and their positions plated over. In July 1919 flying off platforms were added to the crowns of B and X turrets. Pennsylvania received Hanriot HD-2 fighters and Arizona received Nieuport 28 fighters as the USN was experimenting with the new fangled idea of battleship launched fighters. In 1921 the AA armament jumped to eight 3-inch guns. They essentially retained their original appearance as built with cage masts.
In August 1922 Pennsylvania was ordered to the Pacific. She arrived at San Pedro, California on September 26 and became flagship of Battleship Division 3. In 1925 she was sent on a cruise to Australia but in 1929 was ordered to the Caribbean, based at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. By 1929 the Battleship Holiday imposed by the Washington Treaty of 1922 was still going strong. Under that treaty no new battleships were to be built for the USN for some time. It was decided to take Pennsylvania and Arizona in hand for substantial refits. Pennsylvania was ordered to Philadelphia Navy Yard for this work. This refit was to change the appearance of the two ships. Almost every area of the ships were touched in the course of their overhauls. They were opened up to replace not only the boilers but also the turbines. Over an additional 1,073 tons of armor were worked into the design and anti-torpedo blisters were added to the sides of the hull. The superstructure was substantially increased in size. The cage masts were replaced with sturdier tripod masts and the control tops were greatly enlarged. The main guns were given increased range by increasing their maximum elevation to 30 degrees. The three-inch AA guns were replaced by a battery of eight 5-inch/25 AA guns on the shelter deck. The control tops were further equipped with eight .50 machine guns for light AA defense. All in all it was an impressive AA fit for the early 1930s but would turn out to be woefully inadequate a decade later. The underwater torpedo tubes were removed and three Vought Corsair O3U-1 floatplanes were carried on the two catapults, one on the top of X turret and one at the stern. Although the new machinery was lighter than the old, the refit added 3,100-tons to the battleships, so that their displacement was now 33,124-tons. The superstructures of the rebuilt battleships now differed as that of Pennsylvania was slightly larger as she was equipped for flagship duties.
Turrets & A Sprue
With completion of the refit on May 8, 1931 Pennsylvania was ordered back to the Pacific, where she served with Battleship Divisions 3 and then 1. In June 1933 Mighty Penn became Flagship Pacific Fleet, an honor she would hold for the next eight and a half years. The Corsair floatplanes were in turn replaced with Curtis SOCs in 1938 and then Vought OS2U Kingfishers in September 1940 during a minor refit at Puget Sound Navy Yard from late 1940 until January 7, 1941 when she returned to Hawaii. Observations of the war in Europe led to the conclusion that the AA defense on the ships was too light. With nothing between the 5-inch/25 and .50 machine guns, it was decided to add four quadruple 1.1-inch AA guns to each ship. Work started and tubs were added but not the gun mounts when the career of one of the ships came to a sudden end.
On the morning of December 7, 1941 USS Pennsylvania was in #1 Drydock at Pearl Harbor. Flagship of the USN Pacific Fleet since 1933. Mighty Penn was in the habit of being a flagship. Admiral Husband Kimmel was not aboard at the time. Only one bomb kit Pennsylvania and that destroyed one 5-inch/25 on the starboard side. On December 20, 1941 she departed Pearl Harbor bound for San Francisco for permanent repairs and a light refit. Following the Pearl Harbor attack gun shields were given to the 5-inch/25 guns and Pennsylvania finally received her four quadruple 1.1-inch gun mounts. The machine guns were worthless so sixteen Oerlikon 20mm guns were added plus a full radar suite comprised of SR, SK and SG sets. Following this refit she reentered service but since there was a fear of a Japanese attack on the US west coast until August 1, 1942. Finally, Pennsylvania returned to Pearl and resumed her place as flagship Pacific Fleet as the flag for Admiral Chester Nimitz. However, she was only there for two months.
On October 4, 1942 Pennsylvania steamed back to San Francisco for a far-reaching refit, which dramatically changed her appearance. Her armored conning tower and aft tripod were landed, as well as all of the 5-inch/51 casemate guns and 5-inch/25 DP guns. For AA control two Mk 37 directors were added at the top of the bridge. A new superstructure/bridge was added and the shelter deck was expanded to allow the ship to carry four twin 5-inch/38 DP turrets on each side. A short block superstructure was added aft in lieu of the tripod. Other appearance changes included the removal of the turret catapult and boat cranes. Since the 1.1-inch Chicago Pianos had proved to be dismal failures in combat, as they were too heavy and prone to jamming, Pennsylvania finally received AA armament worthy of her name. Not only did she get the best heavy AA ordnance of the war with the eight twin 5-inch/38 mounts, but also she received the best medium AA mounts of the war in the form of ten quadruple Boforís 40mm mounts. The Oerlikon count jumped up to 51 but for some reason she continued to carry eight .50 machine guns, which was just a waste of weight and personnel. The refit was completed on February 5, 1943 and after trials the new look Pennsylvania was assigned to the frozen wastes of the Aleutian campaign.
For most of 1942 and early 1943 the battleships Pennsylvania, Idaho and Nevada had operated from San Francisco, guarding against an invasion which never came. They had spent so much time in the safety of the bay that their crews had been nicknamed the "Market Street Commandos." On April 23, 1943 as part of TG.51.1 Pennsylvania and the other two old battleships steamed to support an offensive to regain the islands seized by the Japanese in June 1942 in the Japanese diversion for the Midway campaign. Pennsy used her newly installed radar to guide the destroyer-transport Kane to close the shore in order to land Kaneís ground reconnaissance troop early on May 11. Pennsylvania and Idaho opened up with an hourís radar controlled bombardment of Chichagof Harbor, which was the first combat salvo ever fired in the Pennsylvaniaís career. On May 12, 1943 had a close call. The submarine I-31 launched a salvo of torpedoes at her, which were barely averted. On May 14 Pennsylvania closed to 13,300 yards of the shore of Holtz Bay to bombard Japanese positions in support of a ground attack. For two and a half hours her 14-inch and 5-inch guns blazed away until finally the Pennsy had expended all of her HE ammunition. The Army wanted the battleship to use her AP shells but the navy wouldnít have that. Instead Pennsy continued to fire her 5-inch guns for the dog faces. All of the support ships used up their HE and there was no resupply forthcoming. As in many later invasions, organized resistance at Attu came on May 29, 1943 as a suicidal Japanese banzai charge resulted in almost all of the Japanese being cut down before they could reach their target.
In August she was flagship of the bombardment force in the shelling of Kiska. Finally a reprieve came in the form of a recall to Pearl Harbor on August 16, 1943. From now on out Pennsylvania would operate with the slower battleships, whose primary mission has bombardment of Japanese land positions in support of amphibious invasions in southern waters. In November 1943 she was flagship for TG.52.2 in the invasion of Makin Island and bombarded Kwajalein Island from January 31 to February 3, 1944 and with her confidence from the Aleutianís operations closed to one mile from shore. As the first salvo exploded from the muzzles of the Pennsy before dawn, a sailor shouted towards the island, "Reveille, you sons of bitches!" By this time Tokyo Rose had claimed that Pennsylvania had been sunk no less than six times. The former fleet flagship looked amazingly spry for such a frequent corpse. From February 12 to March 1 it was off to Eniwetok and then in June it was a series of bombardment missions of Saipan, Tinian and Guam from June 14 to August 3, 1944. Palau was bombarded in September and in October 1944 she was with the old battleships supporting the landings at Leyte Gulf.
Pennsylvaniahad been caught in drydock on December 7, 1941 and flag of Admiral Kimmel had been removed after he was made a scapegoat for the disaster at Pearl. It was the same old story, serving officers and sailors always have to pay for the mistakes of far-removed bureaucrats and punishment was the order of the day. Now Kimmelís old flagship had a chance to gain back part of her honor as she was part of the battleline that plugged the northern end of Suriago Strait. However, that was to be a flop as well. As last in the battline Pennsylvania had her fire masked by the battleships in front of her and never could get a good lock on any targets. She never got off a shot. Following a kamikaze strike in which she received minor damage, Pennsylvania received her last refit. In the course of making repairs a twin 40mm Bofors replaced the Oerlikon guns on the crown of B turret. To reduce crew the Oerlikons were reduced to 33, as by this time in the war the 20mm just did not have the necessary stopping power. SP radar was added as well as new Mk 8 radar for the main guns.
On August 12, 1945, the war was almost over. Pennsylvania was anchored in Buckner Bay off Okinawa and Vice Admiral Oldendorff had just made her his flagship. At 2045 a single Japanese torpedo plane made it through coverage and launched a torpedo, which struck the Pennsy starboard aft. For some reason many of her water-tight doors were open. She lost the use of three shafts, which she never regained, and took on so much water that she was in danger of sinking. Towed to shallow water, she received temporary repairs and left for Guam at a maximum speed of 5 knots on August 28, accompanied by five tugs. Her hull was patched at Guam, she left for the West coast. Shipping water and steaming on one screw, she arrived at Puget Sound on October 24, 1945. Pennsy wasn't through, although she was never fully repaired from the torpedo damage, she went on to survive two A-bomb tests and was finally scuttled off of Kwajalein on February 10, 1948.
The Dragon Pennsylvania
In the 1960s Revell issued a Pennsylvania in 1:720 scale. The box art showed the battleship firing away with towering Alaskan mountains in the background. Clearly the artist meant to depict Pennsy as part of North Pacific Force in the Aleutians. Unfortunately the kit was an Arizona with both tripods and even at Pearl Harbor Pennsylvania had a different bridge from her sister. The kit was bogus and would not be accurate for the Pearl Harbor Pennsy, much less Pennsylvania after her major refit. There has been no Pennsylvania in that fit in plastic until now. The Dragon 1:700 scale USS Pennsylvania is NOT a mere repop of their Arizona. Yes, there are some parts that are the same in both kits but they are few in number. a truly remarkable kit. Except with the original release of Arizona, Dragon has gone to the multimedia approach. The Dragon Pennsylvania includes not just a host of new plastic parts but also has two brass photo-etch frets.
The Dragon Pennsylvania is completely reworked from their Arizona. The Dragon hull comes in two parts, rather than four parts in their Arizona. A hull bottom and main hull, with the focísle, and aftermost quarterdeck part of the hull rather than separate pieces as in Arizona. Both the hull sides and decks are packed with detail. The hull sides have all of the angles and curves, plating and strakes, and torpedo bulges that add great interest and exceptional detail to this model. There are no port holes on the hull sides, as they were plated over. Sponsons overhang the hull sides amidships for Oerlikon batteries and off course there old 01 deck 5-inch/51s are gone. On top of the 01 deck are the base rings for the 5-inch/38 turrets. In place of the clean decks of Arizona there is now splinter shielding for more Oerlikon galleries, as well as round Bofor tubs. Splinter shielding is remarkably delicate for an injected plastic model. The aztec inclined ladders on the DML Arizona are gone. Of course at the deck break, the start of the quarterdeck between the deck break and X barbette has much more detail with boat chocks, additional AA locators and a square placement guide for the solid aft superstructure tower. A great number of twin bollard fittings are found along each side and deck planking detail is very fine.
With the Pennsylvania, Dragon includes a lower hull that will allow the modeler to build a full hull version of the ship. The lower hull includes bilge keels and horizontal strengthening strakes, which although on the thick side, still provide extra detail. All other under water fittings, such as rudder, propellers, and propeller shafts are also included. Also a cradle/display stand for the model is provided for those wishing to build the full hull version.
Other A Sprue parts include 40mm towers, small radars, boats, very fine paravanes, directors, ventilators, Mk 51 director tubs, large oval carleys and a host off other small parts. Also included on this sprue as a bonus are two PT boats, with two slightly different decks and three different hull bottoms. The three optional bottoms include full hull bottom with a small display stand, waterline hull for the boat stopped or at low speed and waterline hull for a boat at high speed with bow out of the water and stern dug in. The boats have separate torpedo tubes, masts, AA guns, and depth charges.
There are four K sprues on which most of the smaller armament is found. On these frets are found a version of the 5-inch/38 DP twin gun mounts but the parts on the K frets are smooth sided and donít appear to have the detail found on the optional gun houses on the L sprue. As far as the gun barrels for the twin mounts, they donít appear to be quite right as they appear to have a raised ring near their muzzles. Boforís mounts are fair and the Bofors guns have the recoil mechanisms but the barrels are on the heavy side. Each 20mm Oerlikon consists of two pieces, a separate barrel and a combined pedestal and gun shield. The guns themselves are oversize but do have shoulder rests. The combined pedestal/gun shield has a problem on the front of the shield. An injected plastic 20mm shield will never have the thinness of brass parts and that is true with these parts. Because these small parts are plastic, the shields are too thick but to complicate the process of thinning them down, each shield has a small hump on the lower outside face of the shield that should be removed, preferably by sanding, if you use the kit parts. These guns appear to be the only noticeable weakness in the kit. In large part they are overly large and thick because injected plastic parts can never achieve the same thinness as photo-etch or finely cast resin parts. You may consider replacing them with resin and/or brass after market sets. Other parts found here are anchors, ships boats, radar arrays, signal lamps, binnacles, separate carley floats, gun directors and the smallest of the other fittings. The two K sprues are identical to those found in the numerous Dragon Essex class kits. Two L sprues, also found in the Essex kits are included for the four twin 5-inch/38 gun houses, which are better than those found on the K sprues. You certainly donít need the two Essex islands found on those frets. These four 5-inch/38 DP gun houses have side and rear doors & detail and open gun elevation slits. Two P frets, found in late war Essex kits, provide twin Oerlikon guns with their gun shield/mount pieces.
C Sprue provides two solid Kingfishers with their floats. The additional parts on this fret are surplus as they are the large shipís boats of the pre-war battleship, not the small boats of the late war Pennsy. D sprue has the solid stern catapult, unused turret catapult and two solid foremast lattice arms. Oddly, there are photo-etch arms on one of included frets, but the instructions indicate that they are not used, even though they appear of the correct length. I would rather use the brass parts. Unfortunately, DML did not include an optional stern catapult on either of two frets in the kit. E sprue includes lower hull details of bilge keels, shafts, struts, propellers and rudder. There are unused Pearl Harbor Arizona parts such as control tops and stack side-houses. A group of six small S sprues complete the plastic parts. Only two pairs of these sprues are identical in that each provides six small round corner carleys and six square corner carleys. Two other S sprues each provide one AA director. A fifth S sprue provides four excellent searchlights and two signal lamps. The last S sprue provides the radar arrays for the AA directors.
Dragon deserves a hearty round of applause. They went out on a limb to produce a one-off design. How many injected plastic companies do this with warship kits? DML spent a great deal of effort and time to get it right and in case you didnít catch the discussions on the message board during the development of this kit, Dragon actually listened to the opinions of ship modelers. The Dragon 1:700 scale USS Pennsylvania should be in every waterline collection.