In 1939 the anti-aircraft on warships consisted of short barreled three to five-inch guns for heavy AA guns and machine guns for light AA. The British quickly discovered that their Vickers quad machine gun mounts were next to worthless against the Luftwaffe and eventually adopted the Swiss 20mm Oerlikon gun. Likewise the USN in December 1941 relied upon the .50 caliber machine gun for light AA but also went to the Oerlikon. For medium AA defense the RN had the 40mm Pom-Pom and the USN had the quadruple 1.1-inch “Chicago Piano”. The Pom-Pom was mediocre and the 1.1-inch gun was an outright flop and was replaced in the USN by the Swedish Bofors gun. By the end of the war the machine guns had disappeared and warships were removing the Oerlikons because the 20mm was now too light to have the stopping power against the heavier and faster aircraft. Even the Bofors gun was loosing its effectiveness. With the advent of jet propelled aircraft, AA armament went through and evolution. The light AA gun was of little use and accordingly disappeared and for medium AA the USN replaced the quadruple Bofors mount with twin fast firing 3-inch mounts with their own targeting radar replaced in aircraft carriers and many other warships.

However, a new age dawned in aircraft defense in the mid-1950s with the advent of the Surface to Air Missile (SAM). The Luftwaffe had inaugurated the aircraft launched anti-shipping missile in 1943, when two aircraft missiles struck and sank the Italian battleship Roma but an effective AA missile was not developed until a decade later. A family of missiles was developed for the warships of the USN in the 1950s, as various ships were converted to receive them, such as the CAGs and CLGs, or built with them in mind, such as the new DLGs. These early SAMs were bulky and required a generous amount of internal volume to serve as a missile magazine. With the Boston and Canberra the aft 8-inch gun turret and aft 5-Inch turret were landed and two twin missile mounts added. For these two ships the modifications including replacing the two thin funnels with a single large one, replacing the turret with the missile mounts, extending the superstructure for the superfiring mount, adding missile targeting radar and converting the aft magazine for missile storage. 

Five years later, the conversion of the CLGs was more extensive. Six of the newer Cleveland class light cruisers were selected and the aft two six-inch gun turrets, as well as aft 5-inch turret were landed. These ships were grouped into two significantly different classes but even individual ships in a class differed in missile armament. The Galveston class consisted of the name ship and Topeka and retained the original bridge and two six-inch gun turrets forward. Galveston carried the Talos SAM and had two lattice masts, a foremast and a main mast just behind the second funnel. Topeka was fitted with the Terrier system and had three masts, a tripod foremast, a lattice mast aft of the 2nd funnel and another lattice mast just forward of the aft missile directors. The Little Rock class of four ships was also a mixed bag of Talos and Terrier equipped ships. Rather than retain the original bridge all four ships had their bridges enlarged for flagship duty. Also the superfiring B turret was removed in addition to X and Y turrets. Little Rock and Oklahoma City were given the Talos system with two masts and Providence and Springfield received the Terrier and three lattice masts. 

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However, the two missile systems of Terrier and Talos still relied upon two different radar or sensor systems, search and targeting, to engage aircraft. As search radar turned in a 360 degree revolution, the aerial targets would be lost when the radar array was pointed away. Each target would have to reacquired when the array turned back in the target's direction by which time the position had changed a significant distance. Illuminators or targeting radar could handle one target at a time. This combined system was subject to be overwhelmed by mass attacks by aircraft and more critically by new generation air to surface missiles. Further, mass aerial attacks by bombers and missiles, along with submarines, were just the tactics developed by the Soviet Union to counter NATO navies. To counter the growing threat the USN, in addition to converting old World War cruisers into missile cruisers, embarked upon a new design, a pure missile cruiser.

Instead of having rotating radars that would loose a target as it rotated another approach was tried. Billboard arrays were incorporated with a separate array on each side of the superstructure and fore and aft. These arrays didn’t rotate and maintained contact with targets. The need for four arrays caused the ship’s bridge to have a unique block superstructure. Originally, the design was to have been a frigate displacing under 8,000 tons but the USN had a nuclear power plant suitable for ships 9,000 tons and larger, so the design was greatly expanded in order to use the nuclear plant. In the history of the United States Navy only the Alaska Class Large Cruisers were longer than the Long Beach . Other cruiser classes have had a greater displacement than the 17,350 tons (full load) of the Long Beach but none of them carried their mass with the elegance of the long thin hull given to this design. 


C Sprue
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Long Beach was commissioned September 9, 1961. On May 13, 1964 Long Beach , Enterprise and the nuclear powered frigate Bainbridge formed Nuclear Task Force One and on July 31 kicked off Operation Sea Orbit, which was a circumnavigation of the world without refueling. Long Beach and Enterprise CVN-65 share a number of ties. Each was the first of her type, the first nuclear powered surface escort and the first nuclear powered carrier. These were the only two ships designed to receive the SPS-32/33 billboard radar, which created a close family resemblance between the island of the Big E and the unique seven story blockhouse of the Long Beach . Since the radar needed a large surface area, both ships were designed with large squared superstructures to accommodate the radar.

During the service life of the Long Beach , she appeared in at least four configurations. As commissioned in 1961 and throughout 1962, Long Beach did not have her SPS-32/33 fitted. Also, she did not have the two 5-Inch/38 gun mounts amidships. President Kennedy has been credited with insisting that a least this minimal gun armament be added to this large and expensive design. Since she did not have the 5-Inch guns, she also did not have the gun director towers with their Mk 56 directors. Her armament consisted of two twin Mk 10 Terrier SAM mounts forward, one twin Mk 12 Talos SAM mount aft, a ASROC ASW mount amidships and two three-tube Mk 32 ASW mounts, one on each side of the forward superstructure. 


D Sprue
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By April 1963 Long Beach received the SPS-32/33 billboard radar, the two 5-Inch/38 gun mounts and the two Mk 56 gun directors on their towers located just forward of the gun mounts. For the next 16 years of her life, she cruised with this configuration. By 1979 for her mid-life refit, it was decided to change her capabilities with a change of weapons fit. The Talos SAM system was past its prime so it was landed and with the space and weight saved, two quad Harpoon SSM mounts were added aft. However, she still had her SPS-32/33 billboard array. Since the aft Talos target illuminators were no longer needed, they were landed and two Phalanx CIWS mounts added at their positions.

By 1980 the billboard array was removed and Long Beach received SPS-48 and 49 radars. Her masts were changed and she received a lattice main mast in lieu of her original pylon and pole configuration. She subsequently received two quad deep strike Tomahawk mounts in boxy rectangular "Coffin" mounts. The original pole mainmast was landed and a light tripod installed to serve as the base for the new SPS-48E 3-D air search and SPS-10 surface search radars. Long Beach stayed in service until May 1995 when she was decommissioned. 


E, F & G Sprues
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The Cyber Hobbies Long Beach
Cyber Hobbies is the US marketing division of Dragon Models and so the Cyber Hobbies 1:700 scale USS Long Beach CGN-9 is a Dragon product. The first thing you’ll notice is the inclusion of a lower hull and running gear, which is fairly rare with any 1:700 scale model. Another significant option is whether to build Long Beach as completed without the 5-inch guns or whip aerials or as she appeared in 1967 with guns. The remarkable aspect of the hull is the long, lean, almost knife like plan with a sharply raked bow and clean hull. Of course this is a function of the original ship’s design but Dragon has captured their lines. There is only a handful of hull side fittings. At the bow are the anchor hawse collars and weep vents to allow sea water to drain from the forecastle. At the bottom of the upper hull are discharge openings so that bilge water and other waste can be pumped overboard. Two boat booms are molded on each side of the hull. Running along the hull top are a series of very fine closed chocks and bollard fittings. The solid forecastle bulkheads have interior face reinforcing ribs. Except for a separate forecastle deck, most of the main deck is part of the upper hull part. Most of the deck is featureless except for locator hulls but then the superstructure, which runs 4/5ths the length of the hull and covers most of the deck. There are plenty of locator holes and detail at the quarterdeck that appear to be deck access doors. The lower hull has the large sonar dome, bilge keels and locator holes for the propeller shafts, shaft supports and rudders. 


H, I, J & Z Sprues
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Smaller parts are provided on ten sprues, three large and seven small. Sprue C provides some of the larger parts. Included are the forecastle, bridge pieces and part of the aft superstructure. Other parts include shafts, rudders, propellers and ASROC box. The forecastle as molded anchor chain, chain guide channel, break water with support ribs, open chocks and twin bollard fittings. The bridge has window detail, while superstructure bulkhead details include doors and various fittings. The doors are on the plain side with either just a raised form or minimal dog detail. This is definitely an area from brass after market doors would be beneficial. Sprue D provides the bulk of the smaller fittings and equipment, including the missile mounts. Different parts for the missile system are nicely molded from the missile themselves, to the missile mounts to the tracking radars or illuminators. Boats and davits are also found on this sprue and they’re OK but are not as detailed as the missile system parts detail. There are a host of smaller, nicely done fittings such as the anchors, cable reels, deck fittings, superstructure deckhouse, ASROC mount and anti-submarine torpedo mounts.

Sprue E and has the 1961 bridge fittings, operations control position and equipment support lattice. The plastic lattice doesn’t have delicacy of a lattice structure but fortunately this part is better replicated by alternate brass parts included on the photo-etch fret included in the kit. Spure F is almost a repeat of E. The same operations control position and lattice is included and it is the F sprue parts not the E sprue parts shown in the instructions. Also included is a large loading crane. Sprue G has three larger superstructure parts and small parts for pylons, masts and mast fittings. Door detail on the superstructure has significantly over-sized dog detail. Two of the smaller parts are solid lattice towers, which would be far better as brass parts. Sprue H is an armaments sprue with two mount bases for the 5-inch gun houses, 5-inch barrels and some parts that aren’t used such as depth charge rack and 20mm barrels and gun shields. I Sprue is for the 1967 fit with alternate parts for the bridge. The two J sprues have one part each, the five-inch gun house. These two parts are excellent with side doors, crown door and side fittings. Lastly there is Z sprue, which provides a model base. 


Photo-Etch & Decals
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Dragon throws in a brass photo-etch fret in the kit and an excellent decal sheet. The ship specific parts are for the gun house crown radar arrays and the photo-etch optional parts for the lattice assembly located near the operations control position. By all means, use the brass parts and not the alternate plastic parts. Ten inclined ladders and five vertical ladders are also included. The inclined ladders have the handrails but have rungs instead of tread boards. The decal sheet will add a lot of color to the model, especially the red and white danger deck markings surrounding the missile mounts. Flight deck markings are included and a good complement of E for efficiency markings in three sizes and four colors. Of course hull numbers, name plate, draught markings, ensign and jack are included. 


Box Art
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Standard Dragon instructions are included with one back-printed sheet that is folded to create six page. As usual assembly is included in sequential order. Page one has the parts laydown and page two the standard paint guide. However, page two also has subassemblies for the 5-inch gun mounts, missile mounts, illuminators, boat positions and mast. Page three has assembly directions for the bridge forward and aft upper superstructure, with an inset showing the alternate 1961 fit. Page four covers forecastle and boat/shelter deck with assemblies for the 1967 and 1961 fits. Page wraps up assembly with attachment of major assemblies, lower hull assembly and of course the stand. The last page has painting and decal placement plan and profiles for both 1961 and 1967 fits. 


Instructions
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Verdict
Cyber-Hobbies/Dragon had produced a plastic and brass 1:700 scale model of the last true cruiser to be built for the USN, the splendid USS Long Beach. Thoughtfully, parts for the 1961 and 1967 fits have been included as well as a lower hull part for full hull enthusiasts. Now you can fire up your nuke and go on that long delayed around the world cruise. 


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