As the Korean War came to an end it was clear that the USN was in a different age. Jet-propelled aircraft were replacing the propeller driven aircraft and the missile age was just emerging. The admirals realized that traditional AA guns could not cope with the higher speed of jets, so the answer was AA missiles. The USN had plenty of late model cruisers left over from World War Two with low mileage since they were completed very late in the war. Two Baltimore Class heavy cruisers were selected to test the new concept of the missile cruiser or more accurately missile cruiser/gun cruiser hybrids. For USS Boston and USS Canberra only the aft 8-inch gun turret was removed and replaced with AA missiles with the forward two turrets remaining in place and were reclassified as CAGs. Then the USN took even more Cleveland class light cruisers and did the same thing with some ships mounting the Terrier missile and others the heavier Talos missile. By 1960 the missile cruiser concept was thoroughly vetted and it was time to go hole hog. The result was the Albany Class missile cruiser.
The razee was a type of warship found in the 18th and early 19th centuries. It was normally a type of frigate, which had started out as a ship of the line. The life of older ships of the line could be extended by removing the upper gun deck and leaving only the one gun deck of a frigate. With their blunter underwater form, they were still slower than traditional frigates but their closer framing made them stronger. The USS Albany, Chicago and Columbus were modern razees from two Baltimore and one Oregon City cruisers. They were taken in hand and razeed to the weather deck. A completely new superstructure and weapons system was added to the hull with no vestige of the old gun equipped cruisers left above deck. Prominent was the very high forward superstructure, which for the most part was a hollow shell designed to achieve the height necessary for the tracking and targeting radars. A new SAM missile was fitted, the Tartar and masts and stacks were lumped together as "macks". The original design had no guns and would have been helpless against surface attack. It took President John F. Kennedy to demand that these ships have some form of gun mount so the USN belatedly added two 5-inch/25 open mounts. The results were three ships with a very unique and imposing superstructure. Although the Columbus was the first of the three to be decommissioned in 1975 but Albany and Chicago made it into the 1980s.
It is exhilarating that Neptun has taken up post World War Two designs. After mastering almost every WWII design in the Neptun line, a brave new world opens up with new Neptun releases in the missile age. Neptun provides decals for all three ships of the class. You can acquire the Neptun USS Chicago from Morning Sunshine Models.