The Wichita class, only ship of its class, was the connection between the pre-war cruisers, and those built during the war. She had been conceived as another Brooklyn class ship, but her design was altered. She received 5-inch/38 dual-purpose guns, however in single enclosed mounts, and only four of eight of the 5-inch guns had them.
Under the 1930 Treaty, a new heavy cruiser could be laid down in 1935. This was to eventually be the USS Wichita, a design based on the Brooklyn Class, 600-foot waterline hull, unlike (and longer than) any of the previous US heavy cruisers. She foreshadowed the Baltimore Class "production" heavy cruisers of WWII.
In 1934 a modified Brooklyn design was proposed which would mount 3 triple 8inch turrets, increase steaming radius, upgrade the secondary battery, and incorporate aviation aft. She was expected to have better stability and survivability owing to her smaller main compartments and greater freeboard. Protection was increased throughout the ship. The advantage of split salvos in minimizing dispersion was also recognized around this time and the Wichita's 8-inch turrets were designed specifically to permit the guns in it to be loaded and fired separately. The Wichita was launched November 16th, 1937 at a displacement of 11,581 long tons full load and a length of 608 feet.
The Wichita was a one of a kind design, but greatly influenced following heavy cruiser designs starting with the Baltimores, which started as improved Wichitas.
Wichita received another new model 8-inch gun turret and had her airplane facilities mounted aft, as all later cruiser classes would. She was decommissioned in February 1947 and considered for conversion to a missile ship, but a Baltimore class was used instead, and she was laid up in reserve until scrapped in Nov 1959.
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