If you ever wonder just how crazy things got with the end of the Washington Naval Treaty, look no further than the Alaska-class large cruisers. Unlike the poster (and it’s a lovely series), I’ve never been of the school of thought that the Alaska-class were considered to be battlecruisers. First, generally the Navy tended to be pretty clear about their designations during the design process in the 1930s-1940s. This was due to Congress having a nasty habit of shifting around funds. Second, the Alaska vessels were NEVER intended to get anywhere near a battleline or, for that matter, really stand in a line of battle. Finally, there’s that problem with the underwater protection. While not strictly true, in general the pre-World War II USN believed capital ships needed to reinforced against torpedoes and mines, whereas cruisers were more of a “Meh, sucks to be that crew, but we had to figure out something to keep it within treaty limitations.”
In any case, it would be interesting to see what would have happened had these vessels have ended up in a surface fight. Thankfully the constraints of construction prevented it from happening in time for the Solomon Islands campaign. That would have been very, very bad, given the Alaskas were not known for their nimbleness and presented a rather large target. I can see First Guadalcanal being even bloodier with Alaska present, as there would have been probably a few minutes of her punching the crap out of Hiei or Kirishima followed shortly by “I’ve never seen a vessel take so many Long Lances in my life.”
All this means is that the Alaska-class really serve as a cautionary tale regarding hysteria, intelligence, and mission. They were far from bad ships. However, they really represent resources that could have been better spent elsewhere. Unfortunately, the lag between design, resource allocation, and construction meant they developed an inertia of their own.
On the alternate history front, expect to see the Alaska and Guam make an appearance in both the Usurper’s War-series as well as another project. 😀