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Encyclopedia > Light cruiser

A light cruiser is a warship that is not so large and powerful as a regular (or heavy) cruiser, but still larger than ships like destroyers. They were first built in Britain with Mercury in 1879, and gradually became faster and more powerful, with greater numbers of uniform size main guns. Germany took the lead in light cruisers in the 1890s, building a class of fast cruisers copied by other nations.

By World War I, British light cruisers often had either two 6 inch (200 mm) and perhaps eight 4 inch (100 mm) guns, or a uniform armament of 6 inch (200 mm) guns, while German cruisers progressed during the war from 4.1 inch (100 mm) to 5.9 inch (150 mm) guns.

In the Washington Naval Arms Limitation Treaty of 1920, light cruisers were defined as cruisers having guns of 6.1 inch (150 mm) or smaller, with heavy cruisers defined as cruisers having guns of up to 8 inch (200 mm).

In the World War II era, light cruisers had guns ranging from 5.00 inch (127 mm) to 6.1 inch (150 mm), the most common size being 6in (152mm), while heavy cruisers usually had a battery of 8 inch (200 mm) guns. This was a significant difference in destructive power, since 8 inch (200 mm) shells were over twice the weight of 6 inch (200 mm) shells. Light cruisers were nevertheless useful for fire-support and as fleet escorts, and heavily used.

Four light cruisers are still in existence: HMS Belfast (1938) in London, HMS Caroline in Belfast External site (scroll down) (http://www.battleships-cruisers.co.uk/caroline_class.htm) External site (http://www.royal-navy.mod.uk/static/pages/2474.html) Little Rock (Buffalo), and Colbert (Bordeaux). Similar ships include the protected cruisers Aurora (St Petersburg), part of Puglia (Italy) and Olympia.

Light cruisers of the United States Navy

In the United States Navy, light cruisers have the hull classification symbol CL. Both heavy cruisers and light cruisers were classified under CL after 1931, hence there are some missing hull numbers.

United States Navy
Hull Number1 Class Years in service
CL-1 to CL-3 Chester 19081930
Cl-4 to CL-13 Omaha 19231949
CL-14 Not Assigned, intended for USS Chicago
CL-15 USS Olympia 18951957
CL-16 to CL-21 Denver 19031933
CL-22 USS New Orleans 18981930
CL-23 USS Albany 19001930
CL-40 to CL-43,
CL-46 to CL-48
Brooklyn 19371992
CL-49 and CL-50 St. Louis 19301951
CL-51 to CL-54 Atlanta 19411959
CL-55 to CL-67,
CL-76 to CL-94,
CL-99 to CL-105
Note: nine Cleveland-class cruisers were converted
to Independence-class aircraft carriers
CL-95 to CL-98 Oakland 19431966
CL-106 to CL-118 Fargo 19451970
CL-119 to CL-121 Juneau 19461966
CL-144 to CL-147 Worcester 19481970
CL-154 to CL-159 abortive 1945 antiaircraft cruiser project none built
CLGN-160 (to CGN-160 and then to CGN-9) USS Long Beach 19611995

  Results from FactBites:
uboat.net - Allied Warships - Light cruiser HMS Caledon of the Caledon class (597 words)
The battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN with Admiral Forbes aboard) HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) and the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr.
On northern patrol, south of the Faroers were the light cruisers HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clark, RN), HMS Cardiff (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN) and HMS Colombo (Capt. R.J.R. Scott, RN).
The light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Maori (Cdr.
Light Cruiser - Lexicanum (890 words)
The Dauntless Class Light Cruiser is a common scout craft within the fleets of the Imperial Navy.
The Defiant Class Light Cruiser is a variant of the Endeavour Class Light Cruiser, in this case its weapons batteries being replaced by flight decks.
The Endeavour Class Light Cruiser lacks the speed of the Dauntless Class Light Cruiser, and is therefore unsuitable to the anti-piracy role.
  More results at FactBites »



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