We’re taking an in-depth look into the histories of each vessel found within each of our Victory at Sea fleet boxes, starting with the US Navy.
New Mexico-class Battleship – USS New Mexico 1941-42
USS New Mexico (BB-40) was the lead of her class of battleship and served with the United States Navy between 1918 and 1946. She was the first ship with a turbo-electric transmission, capable of a cruising speed of 10 knots. She served as an escort to President Woodrow Wilson’s voyage to Brest, France, for the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. She operated repeated exercises in Pacific and Atlantic waters in the interwar period and received major modernisation between 1931 and 1933.
Initially, in World War II, the vessel was involved in neutrality operations in the Atlantic. This soon changed after the attack on Peral Harbor. She returned to the Atlantic and participated in shore bombardments including at Attu and Kiska, Tarawa, the Marshall Islands, the Mariana and Palau Islands Leyte, Luzon and Okinawa. She also performed escort duties, patrols and received refits during this period. USS New Mexico was subject to repeated kamikaze attacks during her WW2 service, which inflicted heavy damage and loss of life. However, she persevered and was present in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender that officially ended the war.
Essex class Carrier – USS Essex 1944
Built during World War Two, USS Essex was the lead of her class of aircraft carriers. She was commissioned in December 1942 and went on to serve in several campaigns in the Pacific Theatre of operations. For her efforts, she received the Presidential Unit Citation and 13 battle stars. She operated right until the finale of the war, participating in the final raids against the Japanese home islands between 10 July to 15 August 1945.
Though already moderately armed, the primary offensive capability of a carrier was, of course, its aircraft, known as “Sunday Punch”. This comprised up to 36 fighters, 36 dive bombers and 18 torpedo bombers. Typically, the standard fighter would be the Grumman F6F Hellcat, the dive-bomber/scout the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver and the torpedo bomber the Grumman TBF Avenger as the torpedo bomber.
At the close of the war, Essex was decommissioned but modernized and recommissioned in the 1950s, serving as an anti-Submarine carrier. During this time, she participated in the Korean War and was key in the Cuban Missile Crisis. She also has the distinction of being the primary recovery carrier for the Apollo 7 space mission.
Northampton-class Cruiser – USS Houston 1940
Originally conceived as a light cruiser, USS Houston (second of her name) was reclassified as a heavy cruiser early in her life, serving in the 1930s to protect American interest in the China-Japan war of 1931 and later transporting President Roosevelt on special ‘cruises’.
On the night of the Pearl Harbour attack, Houston departed Panay Island for Australia joining the American-British-Dutch-Australian naval force at Surabaya. She participated in the Battle of Makassar Strait, shooting don four Japanese aircraft. Thereafter she was part of the Timor Convoy, shooting down 7 out of 44 aircraft in the second of two attacks. As a result, she was absent from the attack on Darwin of 19 February 1942.
Her next major action was at the Battle of the Java Sea, the largest surface engagement since the Battle of Jutland in World War One. 5 cruisers and 10 destroyers of the Allies met a Japanese force of 4 cruisers and 13 destroyers on 27 February 1942. The ABDA naval force lost 2 cruisers and 3 destroyers.
It was the at the Battle of Sundra Strait that Houston would meet her eventual fate, in which she and HMAS Perth were sunk by torpedoes from a destroyer squadron. The route had been thought free of enemy vessels, but this proved false with the two ships surrounded by multiple Japanese Warships. The story of her demise was not known fully until the liberation of the 368 survivors of Houston, from Japanese prison camps at the close of war.
Northampton-class Cruiser – USS Chester 1941
USS Chester supported the landing on Samoa (18-24 January 1942), and after repairs joined TF 17 for the Guadalcanal-Tulagi raid, the attack on Misima Island and the Battle of the Coral Sea, defending the carriers with anti-aircraft fire.
She thereafter provided fire support at Tarawa, the lead ship of the operation, and covered other landings in the Island-Hopping campaign of the USMC. Later in the war, she conducted patrols off Okinawa and was assigned to the force providing air cover for the Coats Striking Group off the Yangtze River Delta.
Surviving the war, she embarked homeward-bound troops at Iwo Jima and sailed for San Francisco. One final voyage to Guam brought home further servicemen. She arrived at Philadelphia on 30 January 1946, and later that year was placed out of commission in reserve.
Portland-class Cruiser – USS Portland 1942
USS Portland, the lead ship of the Portland class of cruiser, launched in 1932. She completed a number of training and goodwill cruises in the interwar period before seeing extensive service during World War II. Her first wartime action was at the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942, escorting the carrier Yorktown and rescuing survivors from the carrier Lexington. She repeated this escort assignment for Yorktown for the Battle of Midway.
For the Guadalcanal campaign, she initially supported the carrier Enterprise, but was torpedoed and put out of action for 6 months during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. IN mid-1943, she returned to combat – performing shore bombardment s at the Aleutian Islands, Gilbert and Marshall Islands, Mariana Islands and New Guinea. She was at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944, engaging Japanese vessels at Surigao Strait. In 1945 she supported landings during the Battle of Okinawa until the close of the war.
The US Navy box set also contains 3 Clemson-class Destroyers and 4 flights of F4-U Corsairs, giving you plenty of tactical options right out of the box.
Get a head start on earning your Admiralty with our Exclusive Pre-Order bundles for Victory at Sea. Not only will you incur a significant saving against buying the individual items upon their release, you’ll also receive two free models, exclusive to the Pre-Order period. These are:
- Altmark – A German Tanker from which 300 Allied prisoners were liberated in the Altmark incident
- USS Arizona – met her unfortunate demise in the attack at Pearl Harbor