After the long slumber after the American Civil War, the United States awoke to the fact that there was no capable fleet that could even match some South American powers. The 1880s saw the birth of the new US steel navy, centered around a
series of fairly mediocre protected cruisers. At this time there was little thought to a design for a cruiser designed to scout for the fleet, as there were no heavy battle units. By the time of the Spanish American War the USN had developed a taste for
cruisers but the type that was favored was the heavy armored cruiser. The
USS New York and especially USS Brooklyn were instrumental in the rapid conclusion of the war. As a result the USN went into a spending frenzy of production of a large
quantity of large, powerful armored cruisers. The only thought to scouting came in the form of the three smaller cruisers of the
Salem Class. As World War One approached, there was no thought of building cruisers, everything was spent on
battleships and destroyers. It was only with the ending of the war that the USN realized that they had no scouts to find the enemy or screen the fleet. Ten units of the
Omaha Class were built for this purpose but they had an obsolescent design with
casemate guns.

The Washington Treaty of 1922 changed the construction priorities of the USN. Since it couldn’t build new battleships, funding went to cruisers. It was not for smaller scout cruisers but for quantities of cruisers built to the maximum characteristics
allowed under the Treaty, 10,000-tons displacement with 8-inch guns. This did not change until the London Treaty of 1930, when under the terms of the Treaty cruisers were divided into heavy cruiser and light cruisers with total tonnage limits on
both types. The USN had little tonnage left for heavy cruisers but a lot of tonnage for the construction of light cruisers. Their preferred course were large 10,000-ton cruisers with fifteen 6-inch guns of the
Brooklyn Class. These were not designed
for scouting but for battle in the Pacific. By 1936 the USN realized that the
Omahas were almost 20 years old and of limited ability in any Pacific war. The result was a design of a smaller cruiser that could screen the battle line and support
destroyers in the manner in which the Japanese Navy employed their light cruisers. The result was the
Atlanta Class of light cruisers, crammed with the brand new 5-inch/38 dual purpose gun disposed in a whopping eight twin turrets, six on
centerline and two in wing positions, which gave them a tremendous anti-aircraft capability.
The first two to be built were the USS Atlanta CL-51 and USS Juneau CL-52, which were substantially identical with the eight twin gun 5-inch/38 turrets and three quadruple 1.1-inch anti-aircraft gun mountings. The next two USS San Diego
CL-53 and
USS San Juan CL-54 were different from the first two. They still had eight 5-inch/38 turrets but both were equipped with four quadruple 1.1-inch gun mounts instead of the three carried by Atlanta and Juneau. Juneau received a
centerline quarterdeck quadruple 1.1-inch gun position in February or March 1942. All four carried the 1.1-inch guns in the battles around Guadalcanal with
Atlanta and Juneau sinking on November 13, 1942. The loss of the Juneau was
especially tragic, after first being torpedoed in the naval battle off Guadalcanal, she was steaming to safety and repairs when the submarine
I-26 hit her with another two torpedoes. The forward magazine exploded and the Juneau went down in
about 20 seconds. Those crewmen that survived were left to their fate, as the other ships continued south. In a precursor to the loss of the
USS Indianapolis, many survivors fell victim to shark attacks. Only ten crewmen were rescued. Among
the lost crewmen were the five Sullivan brothers. Modelers may be interested to know that there is a strong possibility of seeing the arrival of a 1:350 scale plastic model or models of one or more of the first four units of the
Atlanta Class. As built
Atlanta and Juneau would be identical, while San Diego and San Juan would be identical. By 1944 San Diego and San Juan differed in the numbers of 40mm Bofors and 20mm Oerlikons that they carried. Which of these ships would you like to
see in 1:350 scale and in what fit in the case of
San Diego or San Juan?

If you answer is the
USS Juneau, there is a perfect reference to enhance your build. The Floating Drydock has a printed monograph devoted to the Juneau written by Rod Dickson. Floating Drydock has been acquired by Randy Fagan, who
has also acquired the extensive line of CDs developed by Ray Bean. The
Juneau monograph runs 44 pages in length, plus covers. The text covers not only the history of USS Juneau, but also extensive coverage of her technical features, guns,
torpedoes, and the four camouflage patterns that she carried in a span of one year, which includes USN paint designations. All of the photographs have extensive illustrative captions. I found the photographs of the
Juneau in her various camouflage
patterns with captions and internal text especially helpful. It concludes with one page on the cruisers specifications. Extensive photographic coverage of
Juneau is included with 42 photographs of the cruiser from her construction to lake October
1942. Some of the photographs are of
Atlanta, San Diego and San Juan, showing their differences from Juneau, such as Atlanta with SC radar and Juneau with SG radar or differences in bridge wind baffles. A two page profile drawing of
Juneau is included. This monograph is inexpensive and highly recommended.
If you have an interest in the USS Juneau CL-52 or any of the other three ships built with eight twin 5-inch/38 gun turrets, the U.S.S. Juneau CL(AA) 52 is an inexpensive volume for the modeler. With a wide assortment of photograph,
extensive text with excellent captions for the photos and coverage of the camouflage schemes and their USN paint designations, this volume is perfect for the modeler.

Steve Backer
Huntsville, Alabama