The London Naval Treaty of 1930 divided cruisers into two types, heavy and light. Any cruiser carrying 6.1-inch guns or smaller was a light cruiser. At the end of the decade the USN designed a new variant of the light cruiser, the AA cruiser with the Atlanta class. This class was designed to provide mass AA firepower against carrier aircraft or low flying ground based aircraft. As the 1940s opened the navy drafted new designs for their cruiser types. The Baltimore class heavy cruiser, the Cleveland class light cruiser and the Spokane class AA cruiser. However, they were also drafting up designs for a new variant that would provide even heavier guns for AA protection for the carriers and battleships of the fleet. At the time high flying heavy bombers were still considered a threat to warships. They were considered to operate at heights beyond the effective range of the 5-inch/38 guns of the Atlanta class. They were to be built a new gun design under development, the semi-automatic 6-inch/47 DP gun.

Work on the design started on May 27, 1941 with the requirements for the new design to carry the still unfielded 6-inch DP gun, have a speed of 33-knots, have extremely thick deck armor of 6 to 7-inches and no side armor. This was clearly a one-dimensional design, which would be very vulnerable in a surface action. It rapidly became clear that the extraordinarily thick deck armor requirement was so much wishful thinking. The enormous weight of that thickness of deck armor carried even moderately high above the waterline created a design with a very high center of gravity, with a severe lack of stability. Designs tried different schemes with twin or triple gun mounts and single or multiple armor decks. In every case the horizontal armor requirement could not be attained. On 14,000-tons designers figured they could mount twelve guns with two armored decks of 2 and 3.5-inched, equivalent to a single deck of 4.8-inches. This was not good enough for the desired level of deck protection, so they came up with another scheme on 12,200-tons. This reduced the main gun battery to eight guns but included armored decks of 1.5-inches and 5-inches, for a single deck equivalent of 6.1-inches. Additionally it incorporated a 4-inch belt for horizontal protection. A twelve gun battery was desired but the Admirals didn't want to pay the 16,000-ton displacement necessary to match the requirements. The proposed design lingered for over a year, by which time war experience showed that high level bombing wasn't a significant threat. This changed with the introduction by Germany in 1943 of the guided missile. The loss of the Roma and major damage to the Savannah by these missiles proved that this new weapon system was a serious threat. This development breathed life back into the large AA cruiser concept.


Plan, Profile & Quarter Views
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The designers went back to the drawing board and lowered the main deck with a stronger sheer forward and a rising sheer aft. This decreased weight and lowered the center of gravity improved stability. On August 25, 1943 Admiral King ordered the design to proceed. It was contemplated using the funds allocated for the last seven of the Cleveland class (CL 143-149) for this new design. Then three of the seven were slated for the new Des Moines heavy cruiser design (CL 143, 148, 149). The four remaining large AA cruisers were given the names, Worcester CL 144, Roanoke CL 145, Vallejo CL 146, and Gary CL 147. Only the Worcester and Roanoke were laid down in 1945, as the other two were cancelled later in the year on August 12, 1945. 


Hull Detail
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At this point the Worcester class were also designed to carry eleven quadruple and two twin Bofor 40mm mounts and twenty Oerlikon 20mm guns. However, this was changed during construction to replace each quadruple Bofor mount with the new twin three-inch/50 AA mount and single three-inch guns replacing the twin Bofor mounts, as well as replacing the single Oerlikons with twelve twin Oerlikons. Worcester completed with six twin Oerlikons and Roanoke with eight twin 20mm guns. Four Mk 37 radars were fitted to control the AA fire from the six inch guns and also provided surface direction, as unlike other cruiser designs, no separate surface fire radars were fitted.


Hull Detail
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Worcester completed in June 1948 and remained in service until December 1958, as the last all gun cruiser. Roanoke completed in October 1948 and decommissioned in October 1958. The ships were wet in service because of their lower freeboard caused by design efforts to lower the center of gravity. The semi-automatic guns were not as successful as the semi-automatic 8-inch guns mounted on the Des Moines class heavy cruisers. After working up and training cruises for the balance of 1949, Roanoke was stationed in the Mediterranean , where she remained until May 1955. On September 22, 1955 she was sent to the Pacific, where she served out of Long Beach , California for nine training cruises. From May to October 1956, Roanoke was deployed to the Western Pacific. She finally decommissioned on October 31, 1958, six weeks before Worcester left service. For more than a decade these large cruisers remained in reserve. At first it was contemplated to convert them to missile cruisers and then in 1968 into fleet flagships but nothing ever came of these plans due to budget pressures. Finally, in 1970 they were sold for scrapping. Their six-inch guns didn't have the explosive force for shore bombardment like the Des Moines class, which fulfilled this mission off Vietnam .


Small Parts Detail
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The Admiralty Worcester
The Admiralty Model Works 1:700 scale USS Worcester presents the ship in her 1958 fit. Make no mistake, Admiralty Model Works provides the best and most detailed 1:700 scale models available and the Worcester is certainly fits that description. This kit goes head to head with the Niko models of Worcester and Roanoke . The Niko products are good products and are lower priced but as the old saying goes, ďYou get what you pay for.Ē What you are paying for with the Admiralty Worcester is the best model of the class commercially available by a significant margin. For greater value Admiralty provides optional parts to either Worcester or Roanoke .


Small Parts Detail
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The hull casting is an absolute joy! The Niko versions lack deck planking detail but not only does the Admiralty Worcester provide planking but does so to the nth degree with butt end detail, which to me indicates the greatest level of detail available in 1:700 scale models. Hull side detail includes hull anchor hawse, an excellent closed chock that extends outboard from the deck, armor belt shelf, a couple of boat booms on each side and boat davits folded down so they are flush with hull. However, it is with the deck detail that is eye popping. The deck planking with butt end detail alone enough, especially when compared with the Niko kits that have no deck planking at all but that just the appetizer. The other hull detail is only part of the entrťe. As is true with other Admiralty kits, most of the superstructure is part of the hull casting. The bulkheads are dripping in exquisite detail. How many kits of any kind come with finely detailed acetylene bottles as part of the bulkhead detail? Doors have excellent dog and handle detail and lines and piping detail includes the holding brackets. The numerous platform  are remarkably thin and tubs have fine support ribs. These arenít separate parts but are part of the hull casting. The superstructure bulkhead detail doesnít end here, as there plenty of exterior ventilator ducts with well defined openings, as well as equipment boxes and fire hoses.


Brass, Decals & Photo-Etch Parts Detail
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The abundant deck detail continues this sumptuous meal. All the fittings are finely executed from the numerous twin bollard fittings to the closed chocks. The chain locker access fittings, windlasses and anchor chain guides on each side of the bow 3-inch gun tub, leading to the hawse are standouts and there are numerous ventilator cast on the deck. Deck access hatches have the same fine detail as the bulkhead doors. Both fore and aft are what appear to be conning towers with vision slits. They canít be conning towers so they must be associated with the 6-inch guns. Amidships are six areas of deck edge bulkheads, which are thin and no shipping damage in spite of their thinness. In fact there was no shipping damage or casting blemishes of any type. Admiralty provides locator outlines for the side 3-inch twin mount 01 structures, as well as outlines for the funnels. At the stern is another cluster of remarkable deck detail. This centers around the sliding hangar door. It is not just the detailed door/lid with its integral boat chocks but also the door skid fittings. Even more detail is concentrated aft of the hangar door with the two 3-inch tubs overhanging the stern. Here there are director towers, ready ammunition boxes and small oval deck access doors.


Photo-Etch Parts & Worcester 1950 Fit Parts Detail
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The smaller parts come in 29 sealed plastic bags to protect against breakage and loss. The bridge parts and funnels are knockouts. Actually you get two bridges an three funnels because the Worcester and Roanoke varied from each other at these locations and Admiralty gives you optional parts to build either ship. Worcester has reinforcement ribs on the bridge roof and short navigation wings just aft of the enclosed bridge. The Roanoke has no ribs on the roof and doesnít have the short navigation wings. Included photographs show both versions side by side. Either way you go Admiralty provides the same great detail with well defined windows on the two level bridge and what appear to be wind baffles on the upper level. The forward funnel has a large steam pipe extending above the cap with Worcester , while the Roanoke lacks this feature. The funnels, fore and aft are beautifully detailed with exhaust openings for the steam pipes with brackets, side cooling vents and excellent bottom grates.


Instructions
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The detail rolls forward with the armament. The twin 6-inch gun turrets have sighting locations, crown door and foot rungs. The twin 3-inch gun mounts are even better. The gun mount bases are extraordinarily well detailed with well defined shell case ejector chutes. The guns also have the same exceptional level of detail. Four main gun directors have forward face ports, sighting ears, radar dome and crown door. The six amidship twin 3-inch towers are covered in detail with tower foot rungs, ready ammunition locker detail and cast on equipment detail. Shipís boats have bottom planking detail. You can actually open up the carley float bottom grid with a little careful sanding. Each of the smaller parts continues to add additional detail. The smaller radar mounts and bridge binocular mounts are especially notable.


Instructions
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You might be sated with your meal by now but hold on; desert is coming in the form of brass and decals. Admiralty provides brass 6-inch gun barrels, masts and what looks like the galley stack with machined detail. Then you get to the large relief photo-etch fret. The largest part is the stern crane but of course all of the delicate parts, ship specific and generic, are present. Wherever you look, youíll see all of the fine detail: radar arrays, cable reels, mast platforms, propeller guards, yardarms, upper stack grates, and small lattice towers. Generic photo-etch includes anchor chain, deck railing, vertical ladders and inclined ladders. Since I have to complain about something about this kit, Iíll complain about the inclined ladders. Sure, they have hand rails but that is ordinary. The inclined ladders have rungs rather than individual foot treads. It is this lack of distinctive detail, rungs instead of tread pads, that causes the Admiralty a precipitous fall from exceptional to ordinary but just for their inclined ladders. Admiralty provides a second photo-etch fret with twin Oerlikons and additional fret parts along with a few extra resin parts to allow the modeler to build Worcester in her 1950 fit. You use the Roanoke bridge and fore funnel and add the additional parts.


Dry Fitted Parts
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Decal sheets provide hull numbers, name plates, ensign, jack and flags for a rear admiral and full admiral. A comprehensive instruction set is included with seven back-printed sheets and three sheets printed only on one side. Rather than go through a listing of the assembly steps page by page, Iíll look at an overall impression. Most of the instructions are presented in well rendered drawings, supplemented with text in certain steps. Text is included when appropriate to note lengths for brass rods, photo-etch part numbers, differences in building between Worcester and Roanoke and number count for multiple assemblies. The last three front printed sheets are supplemental in nature. One normal size sheet has four panels of rigging diagrams. The other two over-sized sheets are plan and profiles, one for Worcester and one for Roanoke . Each of these sheets show decal placement and flag locations.


Dry Fitted Parts
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  Verdict
An exemplary product in every facet except one, as the photo-etch inclined ladders are merely ordinary and not exceptional, the Admiralty Model Works 1:700 scale USS Worcester can be built as the 1958 fit with unique parts for the Worcester or Roanoke with a 3rd option for a Worcester 1950 fit. This is an outstanding kit with superb resin parts, brass barrels and masts and two relief-etched frets that provides the best kit available of the unique heavy AA Worcester class light cruiser.

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