I present to you the ship that sank the British Empire, USS Constellation
is a Block Two Valley Forge class, armed with three quad turrets with 17" guns in main battery, four quad turrets of 5" guns for secondary, and several AA mounts. In comparison to the Block One ships her primary advantage is the superior performance of her main guns, but she also has improved torpedo protection and slightly better armor on her deck. Constellation
is hardly unique, however; she was part of the largest class of USN battlecruisers, running to 36 ships counting the Block One Valley Forges. Compared to others of her type around the world she was significantly more heavily armed and slightly slower, as well as six to ten thousand tons heavier.
She also sank six battlecruisers and a pair of battleships in a single action.
It is 1942, and the United States and Germany have been at war with the British for twenty-six months. The might of the USN has swept the Eastern Seaboard clean and the British are struggling to hold their last possessions in the Caribbean. American and British destroyers and gunboats duel daily in the waters of San Juan De Funca Strait before returning to Seattle, Vancouver, and Esquimalt. American battlecruisers make night sweeps off the coast of New Zealand, where there is talk of an American invasion. British light cruisers raid in the Strait of Luzon. An American battlecruiser bombards Port Stanley in the Falklands, wrecking it. The First Division of the AIF is cut off at Weihaiwei in China by American blockade forces while two divisions of Marines are en route to take it from them.
The Kaiserliche Marine transferred before the war began to Africa to prevent it being trapped, similarly fights on both coasts against the British. Then, the unthinkable happens; worried by the sudden shift of power in the world, the French and Russians declare war to contain the Americans and hopefully push the Germans out of the war. Japan, feeling equally threatened, almost declares for the British as well before cooler heads point out that the Americans could easily crush them before any of their allies could help.
Germany is not entirely unprepared, but needs American war material and reinforcements. Massing at the new American posession of Saint John's, Newfoundland, a massive convoy under the escort of eight American battlecruisers, four battleships, a dozen light cruisers, and twenty-nine destroyers sets out for Europe. (There were thirty DDs originally, but USS Truxtun
hit a mine.) The British naturally intercept.
Battlecruiser Division 7, Constellation
, and Guam
, are in the lead scouting position when the two forces make contact. Turning to starboard they present broadsides at 22000 yards and engage the British force, consisting of 42000-ton Inflexible-class battlecruisers supported by a pair of 46000-ton Benbow-class battleships with destroyer support, buying time for the convoy to turn away and the other American heavies to come up in support. Constellation
takes a bad hit almost immediately, a low-probability belt armor hit from a British 16" gun at that range which damages her boiler uptakes, slowing her to 18 knots. The other ships maintain formation and angle away from the British, and a moment later HMS Conqueror
explodes, a 17" superheavy AP round from Constellation
burrowing through her after turret roof and the flash detonating her magazines. Next to go is the poorly-named HMS Invincible
, whose thin barbette armor and 2" deck are unable to protect her from another 17" round from Constellation, blowing her apart. Oriskany
is hit by two 16" shells against her B turret's faceplate; the shells detonate without penetrating but her barrels are gouged by fragments, rendering the guns inoperable. HMS Tiger
falls out of formation, hit by Constitution
in the engine room. Then Constellation
takes a hit that robs her of all electrical power and goes dead in the water at the same moment Guam
is holed below the water line by three shells.
Battlecruiser Division 7 turns away, leaving crippled Constellation
to her fate and hoping to link up with Battlecruiser Division 5 and Battleship Division 2. The British close in, firing at her fleeing sisters and leaving it to their destroyers to finish the crippled American.
comes to life again, her crew having not only repaired the electrical faults but her earlier engine damage. First to suffer is HMS Benbow
, her 14" belt no protection at only fifteen thousand yards. An American shell penetrates her magazines and she explodes. Next is HMS Inflexible
, whose after turrets are annihilated by American shells, starting fires that reach her magazines a minute later and destroy her. HMS Jed
and HMS Wear
, destroyers, are killed by Constellation
's secondaries, but put a half-dozen torpedoes into the American battlecruiser.
Constellation has the finest torpedo protection system ever made, and the target angle is bad. The torpedoes hurt her, but fail to stop her. HMS Carysfort
, a light cruiser, is blown apart by the after turret. Constellation
turns to present her broadside, limping at 12 knots but with her combat systems intact, and HMS Queen Mary
has her engineering spaces blown apart by 17" shells. Unfortunate DD HMS Wolverine
is killed before she launches torpedoes, frightening off the other destroyers. The British turn and run as the other ships of Battlecruiser Division 7 come up. Limping HMS Tiger
has her conning tower blown off by six 17" shells at 18000 yards, going dead in the water. HMS New Zealand
loses power after a lucky hit at 20000 yards and is clobbered to death by the other ships of the division before she can fix the problem. Finally HMS Revenge
, at 24000 yards, is hit in the roof on both after turrets and blows up.
The losses here force the British to recall forces from Southeast Asia to replace them, knocking the first domino down as the RN's global commitments become too much. Eight bloody years of war later, Russia has been knocked out of the war after America and Germany reduced Saint Petersburg to charred ashes with a bombardment, and America annexed Sahkalin and Kamchatka to the new state of Alaska. The British and French possessions in Southeast Asia have been invaded and taken, save for Australia and New Zealand, and New Zealand is the scene of fierce fighting as the Americans have invaded. American troops have landed on Ceylon. German and American soldiers are within twenty miles of Paris and knocking France out of the war as well.Constellation
made it possible. And in the new version of the song, America Rules The Waves.