This is ALASKA (CB-1) in November 1944 at the conclusion of post-shakedown refit at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The ship is camouflaged in Measure 32/1D, a destroyer scheme reworked for the ALASKA class large cruisers. This "medium pattern system" was thought to provide the best defense against observation by submarines. ALASKA was painted into this scheme prior to commissioning and remained in this scheme through her shakedown cruises in the Atlantic. Vertical surfaces show a geometric pattern of Light Gray (5-L) and Dull Black (#82), with White (5-U) countershading below overhangs to reduce shadow. The horizontal pattern visible in the plan view alternates Deck Blue (20-B) and Ocean Gray (5-O).
After her commissioning at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 17 June 1944, ALASKA conducted her first shakedown cruise off the US east coast and into the Caribbean. ALASKA returned to Philadelphia for post-shakedown refit, departing the yard in mid-November 1944 in this fit. During this refit, ALASKA's forward superstructure was modified to add prominent bridge wings around the conning tower at the 03 level, and small catwalks were added at each side of the fire control tower at the 08 level. An interesting addition made at this time is the "stem extension"; during shakedown, ALASKA's as-built stem threw a large and visible wake and the stem extension allowed for a narrower entry to reduce spray. ALASKA's sister GUAM (CB-2) commissioned with these changes already in place. The third ship of the class (HAWAII (CB-3)) received a a similar stem modification but without the step.
ALASKA's main battery of nine 12"/50-caliber Mark 8 rifles were housed in three triple-gun turrets. Mark 38 gun directors equipped with the Mark 8 "FH" radar provided main battery fire control. The secondary battery consisted of twelve 5"/38 Mark 12 guns in Mark 32 Mod.2 and Mod.4 twin gun houses. These guns were directed by two Mark 37 directors fore and aft, both mounting the Mark 12 ranging radar with Mark 22 "orange peel" height finder. ALASKA's November 1944 refit period at Philadelphia also added four Mark 57 directors, sited at prominent positions on the fore and aft superstructures. These directors replaced Mark 51 directors in these positions, and were used for auxiliary quadrant control for the 5" guns.
Antennas for the TBS tactical voice radio are mounted on each yardarm, with the cross-loop antenna of the DAK-3 direction finder system on a small platform aft of the mainmast. This platform also supported the sense unit for the ship's magnesyn compass. SG surface search radar antennas are visible at the fore and main tops, with the large mattress of the SK air search radar on the mainmast. "Ski pole" IFF antennas for the BK and BN radar systems are mounted on small yards beneath the foretop and stub mainmast on the funnel. Plans for the ship show provisions for mounting the SN emergency search radar at the forward air defense level, atop turret #3, and atop the aft 40mm clipping room, but no wartime photos show it in use.
At this time, ALASKA embarked four Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk floatplanes of Cruiser Scouting Squadron SIXTEEN (VCS-16). These aircraft are painted in the "tri-color" scheme applied to all USN observation aircraft from mid-1943 to 1945. A unique feature of this class is the amidships aircraft handling arrangement, with hangar space at the aft end of the forward superstructure and two "Type P" Mark 6 Mod.1 catapults on large towers at the deck edge. A hydraulic gas line on the starboard side of the hull runs aft to aviation gasoline tanks at the stern - this was a measure to reduce fire danger in combat. Note AN/APS-4 radar, carried as an external store on the right wing pylon on the Seahawk aircraft. The Seahawk scouts replaced the OS2U Kingfishers shipped during the first shakedown cruise while the ship was at Philadelphia; ALASKA would carry these aircraft during the ship's deployment in the western Pacific through 1945.
This is ALASKA (CB-1) in July 1945 during the ship's wartime cruise. ALASKA repainted into Measure 22 in early 1945 before joining the fleet in the western Pacific. This scheme consisted of Navy Blue (5-N) on the hull up to the line of sheer, with Haze Grey (5-H) on all vertical surfaces above. Horizontal surfaces were Deck Blue (20-B).
In 1945, ALASKA received some of the newer radar countermeasures equipment then coming into service. Receiving antennas for the AN/SPR-1 ECM system have been mounted on the yardarms, and the domes of the TDYa S-band jamming system are visible, with the transmitter antennas sited in radomes above the amidships hangar and the receiving radome aft of the mainmast. Additionally, a TDY-1 jammer antenna has been bracketed to the forward edge of the primary air defense station at the 10th superstructure level forward. "NANCY" infrared signalling beacons (X-2A type) sit below the upper fighting lights on the forward air defense station. Finally, twin radomes for the DBM radar direction finding system are mounted on small yards just below the foretop. Otherwise, ALASKA's electronics fit remains unchanged. The account of ALASKA's fighter direction officer mentions that ALASKA had a "particularly good air search radar", with the ship able to detect bogeys further out than other ships. ALASKA's voice radio callsign during her wartime cruise was "Hopper".
ALASKA would complete the war in this configuration, serving briefly postwar and assisting with Operation MAGIC CARPET (the mass repatriation of American servicemen after hositilities had ended) before being placed in reserve at Bayonne, New Jersey in 1947. Post-war conversion projects for the ALASKA class cruisers included their potential re-use as missile cruisers and command ships, but none were deemed cost effective, and ALASKA was sold for scrapping in 1960.
This is GUAM (CB-2) in January 1945 at the conclusion of post-shakedown refit at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. GUAM is camouflaged in the "medium pattern" system of Measure 32/7C. This scheme applied a geometric pattern of Light Gray (5-L), Ocean Gray (5-O), and Dull Black #82 on the vertical surfaces, with White (5-U) countershading under overhangs to reduce shadow. Horizontal surfaces were painted in an alternating pattern of Deck Blue (20-B) and Ocean Gray (5-O). GUAM painted out of this camouflage into the familiar Measure 22 in early 1945.
GUAM's refit period at Philadelphia in late 1944 upgraded the existing Mark 8 "FH" main battery fire control radar to the improved "Mod.3" version -- this set is visible atop the Mark 38 directors. GUAM's Mark 37 directors are the later type with "cockpit" for the director officer's slewing sight. Otherwise, GUAM is nearly identical in fit to her sister ALASKA (CB-1).
GUAM would join Task Force 58 at Ulithi in March 1945, supporting strikes on the Japanese home islands and the invasion of Okinawa. Like ALASKA, GUAM would serve briefly postwar, touring ports in China and Korea before returning to the United States in December 1945. Decommissioned and put into reserve in 1947, GUAM would never be reactivated and was sold for scrapping in 1960.