CL-40, USS Brooklyn

Cruisers of World War Two

of the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Japan

By , June, 2007. Updated February 16, 2012.

Cruisers were defined as the smallest ships capable of carrying out independent naval operations, e.g. to go bombard a hostile port. Typically, they were faster than battleships, thus enabling to elude the big ships' guns. In the Second World War, with the advent of naval air power, the role of cruisers changed somewhat, to include providing screening cover for the carriers and serving in an anti-aircraft role for the task groups. Cruiers also carried out high-priority missions, such as ferrying Roosevelt and Churchill to conferences, and delivering the atomic bomb to the airbase at Tinian.

As the navies of the world competed with each other in the decades before WW2, they were constrained by the Washington and London naval treaties. After specifying some exceptions for ships in current use and under construction, the treaty limited the total capital ship tonnage of each of the signatories. The tonnage was defined in the treaty to exclude fuel (and boiler water) because Britain argued that their global activities demanded higher fuel loads than other nations and they should not be penalized.

Cruisers were addressed specifically. No cruiser could exceed 10,000 tons. Ships with guns over 6.1 inches were deemed heavy cruisers, while those with smaller caliber guns were considered light cruisers.

Using the pictures from the 1943-45 Naval Recognition Manual as a base, I plan to cover four major powers of the war: United States, United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany.  As the manual was designed specifically for recognition, it includes classes of warships, not individual ships. Thus, all the ships presented here are lead ships of their class.

United Kingdom - Royal Navy

HMS Dragon


Admiral Hipper

More cruisers to follow.

Sources: Public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

and scans from my father's 1943 Naval Recognition Manual