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The Battle for Leyte Gulf
October 23-26 1944

 Cleveland Class light Cruiser Houston in 1944

Cleveland Class Cruisers

The Cleveland Class was a development from the pre-war Brooklyn Class - essentially the Clevelands were updated Brooklyns.   They sacrificed one turret of the main armament with three 6-inch guns for an enhanced anti-aircraft armament.  27 of this class were eventually completed to the original design. The Clevelands were therefore built in larger numbers than any other cruiser class in history.  Two others (Fargo and Huntington) were completed to a modified design, with one large funnel and a more compact superstructure which improved the sky arcs of the AA guns.  Nine other ships which had been laid down as Cleveland Class cruisers were completed during the war as light fleet carriers of the Independence Class.

The Cleveland design was very successful.    The powerful anti-aircraft armament,  an attribute which was of increasing importance throughout the Pacific war,  was very well laid out,  the main armament was adequate  -  the design was in general very well-balanced.

The ships of this class proved themselves able to withstand very heavy battle-damage.   In particular,  Houston (pictured above) was torpedoed shortly before the Leyte landings,  during the great carrier raid on Formosa, and then torpedoed again while under tow,  but she survived.

Many ships of the class saw extensive action in the Pacific War,  including notably ClevelandMontpelierDenver and Columbia.   These four were in action together in the cruiser/destroyer action of Empress Augusta Bay during the Bougainville landings in  November 1943.   At Leyte Denver and Columbia were part of Oldendorf's force in the Battle of Surigao Strait,  and played a considerable role in the action  - Columbia fired a  total of 1,147 rounds  (in 18 minutes)  from her main armament during the main gunfire phase of the battle. Denver and Columbia then took part  in the pursuit of the withdrawing Japanese forces.

 Columbia in Surigao Strait - 3 January 1945 - en route to Lingayen Gulf

Other Cleveland Class ships were in action in the air-sea battles of 24 October 1944,  Birmingham being badly damaged alongside the light carrier Princeton when giving assistance to the carrier. Mobile and Santa Fe took part in the closing action of the Battle for Leyte Gulf,  in Rear Admiral Du Bose's pursuit group operating against the Japanese northern force off Cape Engano (Santa Fe being DuBose's flagship).

At Lingayen Gulf in the following January Columbia  -  veteran of Empress Augusta Bay and Surigao Strait  -  remained on station,  carrying out her assigned shore bombardment duties,  despite having been hit by three kamikaze aircraft and badly damaged.

  Class Data

Standard Displacement - 10,000 tons

Main armament - 12 x 6-inch guns in four triple turrets

Secondary armament - 12 x 5-inch 38-calibre guns in six twin turrets

Light AA armament - 28 x 40mm + up to 28 x 20mm

Machinery - Geared turbines, 4 shafts

Speed - 33 knots

Complement - 1,200 +

Aircraft - 4

The Japanese Southern Force

Composition of the Allied force in the Surigao Strait battle

The Seventh Fleet Battle Line

The US Seventh Fleet

The US Third Fleet

The Fast Carrier Task Force and its ships

 USS Enterprise - CV6 - fast carrier

Essex Class fast carriers

Independence Class light carriers

Casablanca Class escort carriers

Links to other sites dealing with the battle or with related subjects

Battle for Leyte Gulf