The Most Cost-Effective Cruiser

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by magnocain, Aug 15, 2009.

  1. magnocain

    magnocain Member

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    What was the most cost-effective cruiser during WW2? I am talking about mostly CA's, but some hard hitting CL's are OK too. By cost-effective I mean the cheapest to run and maintain, with the minimal amount of crew to pay and feed. Combat effectiveness comes next, with the production cost being tertiary. In this little scenario in my imagination I have these cruisers fighting mostly destroyers and light waves of aircraft in the South Pacific. They will rarely come across anything close to their own size. I think some of the contenders will be the
    County Class,
    County class cruiser - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    York Class,
    York class cruiser - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Atlanta Class,
    Atlanta class cruiser - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    and La Galissonniere Class.
    La Galissonnière class cruiser - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Please ask if you need clarification.
     
  2. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The Leander Class cruisers were very effective considering the displacement. A crew of around 500 made them cost effective.
     
  3. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    I would put the Counties as the most cost effective not because they were the best value for money per man or per gun but because they served in every theatre and they fought in virtually every battle the Royal Navy was involved in. I dont know if any records of the miles they steamed in 6 years of war were kept but it must have been an astonishing number.

    The least cost effective cruisers were probably the Alaska class though they are often called Battle Cruisers. They must have cost a similar amount to an Iowa class battleship or Essex class carrier to build but had no role apart from carrier escort. Magnificent looking ships though probably my favourite US navy class on looks alone.
     
  4. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    The trouble in this thread it's the cost, how know this??
     
  5. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    #5 renrich, Aug 15, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2009
    Another class that was extremely cost effective or perhaps just lucky were the Pensacola class. They, Pensacola and Salt Lake City, were the first US treaty cruisers. Launched in 1929-30, they displaced 9100 tons and originally were designed for a complement of only 700, yet on that displacement they mounted ten 8-inch guns. They had a radius of action at 15 knots of 13000 miles with only 1500 tons of fuel. They could steam at 30 knots with 60% HP and the were designed for 32 knots which they easily reached on trials. Their odd gun arrangement of a triple gun house superimposed over a twin forward and aft stood the Salt Lake City in good stead at the Kormondorskis when she, almost with out help, engaged two Japanese CAs for four hours in a stern chase. Later US CAs would have had only one turret and three guns able to bear in a stern chase. Both CAs were in the fight from the beginning and had many battle honors. CA24 was severely damaged at Tassaforonga and CA25 was damaged at Cape Esperance and Kormondorski but both CAs survived the war. Between the two they fought in 19 major battles or campaigns. The US taxpayer got his money's worth in these two.
     
  6. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The Atlanta class is more of a destroyer than a true cruiser.

    You got to have guns larger than 5" to be considered.
     
  7. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    There is no comparison between the unit cost of American ships and those for the British.

    A Leander Class (built 1931-3), cost 1.6 million pounds acording to Janes. The average cost for a Kent Class Heavy Cruiser (Built 1926) was 1.97 million pounds each. I have the cost figures for other classes, but cannot locate them right at this minute. I am not sure of the conversion rate at that time, but if it was roughly 2 for 1, that makes British ships about 3 to 4 million USD per unit. If the exchange rate was 4 to 1, the unit costs are double that.

    US ships were immensely expensive. The New Orlens class (1934) had a unit cost of $12m each. The Clevelands cost an average of $31m each, with the Houston costing a record $42m. The Brooklyns cost an average of $18.5m.

    The reason for this was the lavish fitouts in American ships, and the manpower availble to build ships quickly. The average British dockworker earned less than half that of his US counterpart, and less man hours per ship was needed in the construction process in British yards.

    British ships, particulalry their cruisers and destroyers were always designed with economy in mind. The RN still harboured ideas of Imperial defence, calculated the numbers needed for trade protection, and then built their ships with those budegetry restrictions in mind. Consequently British ships, ton for ton were always cheaper than any of their rivals. However they also generally were not as effective per unit. British guns were not built with maximum performance in mind (just look at their armour piercing capabilities to get an idea on that), British machinery was always reliable, but never capable of the super high speeds of its rival designs. British armour plate was always adequate, but never outstandingly hard, because working with that hard steel was difficult and costly. British destroyers opted for numbers over super size, armament and protection (unit machinery arrangements were not standard in British destroyers). British ships plodded along with inadequate AA because it was cheaper to build ships like that, rather than invest in the development of better AA systems.

    In wartime however, I wonder if this mania for economy did not cost lives and ships unnecessarily.

    In terms of manning costs, the average wage in the US was again more than twice that in Britaiun at the time, so the operating costs of US ships are going to be proportionally greater. Even so, manning levels in US ships were consistently higher than British equivalents. A Brooklyn class cruiser had a wartime complement of 1200 (868 in peacetime), a Cleveland 1285. Baltimores had complements in excess of 2000 men. By comparison the Fiji class had a peacetime complement of 730, and a wartime complement of 920. The Leanders had a peacetime complement of 570, and a wartime complement of 645; Kent class were 685/710.
     
  8. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    the exchange rate
    Year Rate
    1925 $4.83
    1926 $4.86
    1927 $4.86
    1928 $4.87
    1929 $4.86
    1930 $4.86
    1931 $4.54
    1932 $3.51
    1933 $4.24
    1934 $5.04
    1935 $4.90
    1936 $4.97
    1937 $4.94
    1938 $4.89
    1939 $4.43
    1940 $3.83
    1941 $4.03
    1942 $4.04
    1943 $4.04
    1944 $4.04
    1945 $4.03
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I think the five German K class cruisers are strong contenders. The were designed for coast defense. Everything I have read suggests they maintained control of the Baltic almost to the end of the war. What more could you ask from a 38 million mark CL (less then 1/2 the price of a Hipper class CA)?
     
  10. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Again, I cant help comparing the costs of these units to those equivalent ships in the RN. At 38 million RM (these ships were built 1927-34) the exchange rate at that time was roughly 4.5 RM per pound (initially it was set at 5 in 1924, but it lost some ground as WWII approached). That means in pounds terms the German CLS cost something like 8.5 million pounds each, or 5.2 time the unit cost of the leanders, an equivalent ship. And that does not take into account the numerous alterations that needed to be made to these ships to try and make them competitive at sea.
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I don't trust any of the official RN ship costs for the WWII era. However you can compare the prices of German and American built ships.
     
  12. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    why dont you trust their figures?.

    It makes sense that the unit cost of the German ships was exponentially greater than the equivalent RN ships. The German ships used (for the time) many revolutionary concepts. They were among the first ships to use electric welding in the hull, and incorporated a new design for the main armament, as well as a completely new turret design. Super high grade Nickel steel was used in their construction, which gave them a high grade of armour protection, but this made steel fabrication work expensive. These ships incorporated a dual propulsion system with auxiliary diesels for long range cruising. The reduction gears needed to incorporate this innovation must have been staggering in its cost, and the costs associated with having two types of main propulsion must have been equally breath taking, to say the least.

    By comparison the Leanders ( the nearest class equivalent in terms of time) were essentially upgraded "E" Class cruisers. The guns were of a new design, but the changes incorporated into the Mk XXIII gun were evolutionary in concept, and did not require the outlay of significant finance to develop. These guns were re-used in all the subsequent 6" cruisersm, not because of its superior performance, but because it was cheaper to repeat the armament that way. Nearly everything about these ships was mainstream, conventional and unremarkable. Why? The amswer is simple. By utilizing "off the shelf" technologies costs could be greatly reduced. The US (and Germany) could not follow this path because firstly they had different operational requirements, and secondly they had to invest vast amounts of money into cruiser development because during the war (ie WWI) they had not developed cruisers to near the same extent as the British.

    Lastly, its intriguing that you say you dont believe the stated costs for British ships, yet you will believe the costs given by either Germany or the US. The figures given in my last post are from Janes, which is an okay reference for this sort of information, but they could easily be checked by a referral to Hansard (the official parliamentary estimates of the time). The same can be said of the US, but we cannot necessarily do the same for the Germans, for any number of reasons. Many of the the pre-war defence estimates have been lost, either deliberately or as a result of the war, either way verifying German unit costs is a difficult and risky business. So I am intrigued as to why you would not trust a verifable cost to a possibly unverifiable cost.
     
  13. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    If I had to guess then I would go for the Fiji Class cruisers of the RN, 12 x 6in on 9,000 - 10,000 tons is a good trade off.
     
  14. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    I think Parsifal has hit it on the head. Nobody was better at controlling costs than the British. With the dual mandates of a empire protection (projection?) and cost efficiency, the Brits had to do the best with cost. Not much in regards to creature comforts and pay for British sailors was low.

    After the Brits (and associated dominions with exception of cost), I would go with the Japanese and maybe the Soviets. Japanese were very spartan ships but extremely well trained crews. Soviets were spartan ships and ? crews.

    US would be the last one to consider as cost effective. Never been particularly good at controlling costs, especially with a war on.
     
  15. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    #15 Vincenzo, Aug 17, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2009
    exchange rate for US $

    1925 4.201 Reichsmark
    1926 4.202 Reichsmark
    1927 4.208 Reichsmark
    1928 4.191 Reichsmark
    1929 4.200 Reichsmark
    1930 4.192 Reichsmark
    1931 4.232 Reichsmark
    1932 4.211 Reichsmark
    1933 3.277 Reichsmark
    1934 2.540 Reichsmark
    1935 2.484 Reichsmark
    1936 2.482 Reichsmark
    1937 2.487 Reichsmark
    1938 2.490 Reichsmark
    1939 2.496 Reichsmark
    1940 2.499 Reichsmark
    1941 19.723 Reichsmark

    crossing with US $ UK £ exchange rate, 38 million of RM of '25 were little over 2 million of £
     
  16. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    I believe it is traditional for the stated cost of British warships NOT to include guns and equipment - so the Leanders are probably a bit dearer than suggested so far. Nonetheless, they were cheap compared to US ships because they did not have the sheer level of creature comfort of a US ship (no automatic spud peelers or soda fountains on a Town Class CL!!!), and they generally had somewhat less advanced fire-control equipment (Admiralty tables for the main guns and the truly dire HACS system for AA). As several folks have already suggested, RN ships had to be built cheap, if only because governments of the interwar period were extremely reluctant to spend on defense until it was almost too late. The Didos and the Towns and thier derivatives were then only RN CLs built as part of the re-armament plans and were IMHO, the best, as the only others were the under-gunned Leanders and the antiquated Ds and Es of WW1, many of which had been converted for AA use by 1939-40 anyway.
     
  17. PJay

    PJay Member

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    The RN has always gone for more hulls rather than quality. The Washington talks led to more but smaller CA/CLs.
     
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