Question for JWE:
Given the absence of the treaties, do you think that the scout cruisers (CLs) would have also been up-gunned to larger caliber main guns?
Don’t see why not, cruisers were jacks-of all-trades. After War-I the Brits designed a trade-protection cruiser with bigger guns; up-gunned regular cruiser but longer, more displacement , bigger winkie. Was the Hawkins class.
Nothing special, just longer and more displacement to handle the larger guns and retain the speed/endurance characteristics of cruiser. But no more armor. Hawkins was a regular gal with testosterone injections. Actually, the same thing could be said for the early Treaty 8” Countys, or Pensacolas; big guns, no protection.
Cost of a warship, does not follow just the gun caliber. There is the cost of armor for an immunity zone against a similar caliber. Ok, you buy armor, but the cost is speed, endurance, and habitability, on a hull size.
Ok, so you increase hull size and up the HP (recover speed and endurance) and add a deck (recover habitability). Now you got a larger, more vulnerable hull that needs more armor … you get the picture. So if you are going to do all that, as well as the Naval ordnance research stuff for a new gun, I have a perhaps more efficient, cost effective approach, in the absence of a Treaty.
A gazillion missions for cruiser-type vessels, of differing sizes. Small ones for DD leaders and showing the flag at St Helena garden clubs. Medium ones for fleet scouting/interdiction, and showing the flag at Marseilles garden clubs. Big ones for trade-protection/interdiction and showing the flag at Kiel.
Was I First Lord, I would keep the cruiser classes small, maneuverable, long-legged, habitable, and able to function in a command capacity. Over that, I would intuit a Deutschland-type ship: guns, armor, size, endurance, speed.
Ok, so some cruisers have 8” guns, so what? It works for their mission, but they are not true 8” warships by any stretch of the imagination. But why waste your time building a “few” true 8” warships, on a pathetically small hull disposition, when you can build an admittedly smaller number but proportionally more capable bunch of “bad boys”, for the same money?
Hijacked this thread enough. That’s my take, and I’m sticking to it.