The Atlanta class cruisers were US navy light cruisers designed originally as flotilla leaders but which ended up gaining recognition as effective anti-aircraft cruisers during WW2. They were also known as the Atlanta-Oakland class, as lead ship Atlanta was sunk in action on November 13, 1942. With eight dual 5"/38 cal. gun mounts (six centerline), the first run of Atlanta class cruisers had by far the heaviest anti-aircraft broadside of any warship of World War II, at over 17,600 pounds (10,560 kg) per minute of highly-accurate, radar-fuzed VT ordnance. The later ships omitted the two wing mounts, reducing the overall broadside but improving firing arcs.
Although most formidable as anti-aircraft ships, they did not fare well in surface combat. The only two ships of the class that engaged in surface combat were sunk. The United States Navy lost three light cruisers in World War II; and two of those were ships of the Atlanta class. Both were sunk in the Solomon Islands, supporting the Guadalcanal campaign. Atlanta (CL-51) was sunk by torpedoes and gunfire, and Juneau (CL-52) sunk by torpedoes on November 13,1942.
Criticisms of the class included that of a shortage of gunfire directors for the main battery, which reduced its effectiveness. There was also an insufficient number of intermediate AA guns (i.e., Bofors 40mm). These problems were rectified by late 1942, but the ships were also overloaded, and throughout their lives they had issues with topside weight. Further, ship's armor was relatively thin, having a maximum of 3.5" at the side, with the bridge and mounts being protected by a mere 1.25".
The ship's main battery was composed of the superlative 5"/38 caliber dual-purpose gun, which is considered the best intermediate dual-purpose naval gun of World War II.
The lead ship, USS Atlanta (CL-51) was laid down on 22 April 1940, launched on 6 September 1941, and commissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 24 December 1941.
Specification 'Atlanta' class
Displacement: 6,000 tons(light); 8,200 tons (loaded)
Length:541 ft 0 in (164.9 m); Beam: 52 ft 10 in (16.1 m) ;Draft: 20 ft 6 in (6.2 m) .
Propulsion: 4 x 665psi boilers 2 geared steam turbines 75,000 horsepower (56,000 kW)
Speed: 33.6 knots (62 km/h)
- 16 ×5 inch
- 9 × 1.1 inch
- 8 × 21 inch torpedo tubes
Armor: 1.1-3.50 in belt; 1.25 in deck; 1.25 in turrets.
Complement: 673 Officer: 61 Enlisted: 612