|Ships in Class||4|
|Builders||New York Navy Yard: 2|
Philadelphia Navy Yard: 2
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
This article refers to the entire Iowa-class; it is not about an individual vessel.
ww2dbaseIn Mar 1938, a recommendation from the mixed civilian-military US Battleship Design Advisory Board to start a new design study for a new generation of battleships was accepted. Meanwhile, in May 1938, the US Congress passed the Second Vinson Act which provided additional funding to the US Navy for the construction of new battleships. The lead ship of the class, Iowa, was ordered on 1 Jul 1939, and the order for the second ship, New Jersey, came three days later. They were commissioned in Feb and May 1943, respectively, and later joined by the commission of USS Wisconsin and USS Missouri in 1944. The four Iowa-class battleships cost approximately US$100,000,000 each. They carried heavy armor protection, although their armor was inadequate against 16-inch (406-millimeter) guns that they carried (such was a design philosophy some preceding dreadnought, battlecruiser, and battleship designs abided by); they could have carried even thicker armor, but that was sacrificed from the design in order to improve the ships' speed. The nine 16-inch guns they each carried had the capability of firing shells weighing 1,900 to 2,700 pounds (850 to 1,200 kilograms) at targets as far as about 23 nautical miles (about 40 kilometers) away. They carried additional armaments of 5-inch (127-millimeter) dual-purpose guns, 40-millimeter Bofors guns, 20-millimeter Oerlikon guns (which replaced M2 Browning machine guns in 1941), and others. Their beam measurement was carefully limited so that they could pass through the 110-foot (34 meter) wide locks of the Panama Canal. During WW2, all four Iowa-class battleships operated in the Pacific Ocean against Japanese forces, serving in the primary function of being escorts to fleet carriers, meanwhile they also bombarded shore positions. In the latter role, they famously bombarded Japanese military and industrial facilities chose to shore, destroying the Japanese capacity to make war as well as destroying Japanese morale. Two additional ships, named Illinois and Kentucky, were laid down as Iowa-class battleships, but they were never completed. At the end of the war, USS Missouri became the symbol of US naval power as she hosted the main Japanese surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay. The four Iowa-class battleships served in similar capacities (ie. carrier escort and shore bombardment) during the Korean War before being decommissioned later in the 1950s. Also in the 1950s, the W23 nuclear artillery shell, an adaptation of the W19 nuclear artillery shell, was developed specifically for the 16-inch guns of the Iowa-class battleships, making their naval guns the largest nuclear artillery pieces in the world, although it was unknown if any of the four battleships ever carried nuclear shells. Recommissioned and modernized several times during the Cold War era and into the 1990s, they fired a variety of weapons ranging from their original 16-inch guns to advanced cruise missiles from waters off Vietnam to waters off Iraq. The end of the Gulf War of 1990-1991 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to end of the Iowa-class battleships' careers. By 2012, all four Iowa-class battleships were stricken from the US Naval Vessel Register and had become museum ships accessible to the general public.
Last Major Revision: May 2014
Iowa-class Battleship Interactive Map
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Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943
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