The Iowas were designed PRIOR to the outbreak of WWII. They were fast because the Fleet was faster. They were NOT designed as escort vessels, heavy cruisers were the primary escort vessel in pre-war practice and theory. They were designed to slug it out with the Imperial Japanese Navy in a Super-Jutland near the Japanese Home Islands. It HAPPENED, was not DESIGNED, that they would spend the bulk of their ammunition shelling shore installations, though that job fell primarily to the ?slow? battleships resurrected from Pearl Harbor. In fact, the Iowas were only tangentially concerned with landing preparation, moving in only after the slower ships had been there a while, leaving the Fast Carrier Task Groups, to supplement the shore bombardment capacities of the older BB?s. They also fell into the role of Essex escorts?again they were DESIGNED for surface combat, as that mission never developed they were used for other roles. They performed these roles well, but they were not their primary DESIGN roles.
You make too great a dichotomy between the USN Gun Club and Carrier Advocates. There was NEVER, after the 1920?s, any doubt about the value of CV?s to the US Battle Fleet. So the USN always saw the BB and the CV as central to the success of the Next War in the Pacific. So there wasn?t really a change from BB as THE Capitol Ship to the CV as THE Capital Ship. The USN was never that gun oriented?.or ?Naval Rifle? oriented.
Concept/Program: The final US battleships to be completed; generally considered to be the best US battleships ever, and among the finest in the world. This design was conceived as functional equivalent of the South Dakota class, but capable of 30+ knots for carrier escort duties, and to oppose the fast Japanese Kongo class ships. Planning initially called for four of these ships, based primarily on the need to counter three Kongos (the 4th had become a training ship). The design was allowed 45,000 tons standard displacement after the Escalator Clause of the London Treaty was invoked, but this limit was far exceeded when the treaties were abandoned.
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