Studies for a new heavy cruiser began in September 1939 similar to Wichita (CA-45), which would form the basis for this class, though her stability problem would have to be remedied. Machinery arrangement would be similar to that of the Cleveland (CL-55) class with the armored belt extending further foreward to protect against magnetic mines. Four ships were authorized on 1 July 1940; their construction was delayed due to the emphasis on light cruiser construction during the pre-war period. Sixteen more (CA-122 to 138) were ordered on 7 August 1942.
Baltimore (CA-68) was the first to commission, in April 1943; Toledo (CA-133) was the last, in July 1946. CA-122 to 129 and 138 were re-ordered in late 1942 with design changes including boiler uptakes trunked into a single funnel, shortened superstructure, repositioned directors, and smaller hangar. This became the Oregon City (CA-122) class. Fourteen Baltimore class heavy cruisers were ulitimately built, with Norfolk (CA-137) being cancelled and scrapped in August 1945.
Resembling the Cleveland class, the Baltimores carried three triple 8-inch/55 gun turrets (Mk12 or 15) with an elevation of 41 degrees. They were the first heavy cruisers built with the 5-inch/38 DP secondary armament. Orginally planned to have four quad 1.1-inch AA guns; this was changed to four quad 40mm AA guns during construction and this was supplemented with 20mm AA guns. Their anti-aircraft battery was only surpassed by battleships in the US fleet. This resulted in the almost sole role of these ships, being the escort of the heavy and light carriers. Of the 14 ships of the class, only Canberra suffered damage, being hit by a torpedo from a Japanese plane off Formosa during the 1945 carrier raids.
A few ships of this class went on to serve in the modern missile navy; Boston (CA-69) became the first guided missile cruiser (CAG-1) in 1952, and Camberra (CA-70) became CAG-2. Columbus (CA-74) went on to become CG-12 in 1959 and Chicago (CA-136) became CG-11 in 1958.
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