The USS Kidd (DD-661) is a notable example of the U.S. Navy's Fletcher-class destroyers, which formed the backbone of the U.S. destroyer force during World War II. Fletcher-class vessels were known for their versatility and balance between weaponry, speed, and armor. The USS Kidd in particular gained recognition for its enhanced anti-aircraft (AA) capabilities and swift maneuverability, having received significant upgrades throughout its service.
In the early 1940s, the U.S. Navy introduced the Fletcher-class destroyers, with the aim of creating a well-rounded ship capable of undertaking a variety of tasks. These destroyers were equipped with five 5-inch guns, numerous anti-aircraft guns, torpedoes, depth charges, and mines, making them a formidable presence in any naval theatre.
USS Kidd's Notable Service
Authorized in 1941 and commissioned in 1943, the USS Kidd quickly distinguished itself as a rugged and dependable vessel. Named after Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who was killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor, the ship carries a distinguished lineage.
Throughout her service, the USS Kidd was involved in several key operations in both the Pacific and Atlantic theatres. She provided artillery support, screened aircraft carriers, performed anti-submarine duties, and escorted convoys. It was during this period that the threat of aerial attacks became increasingly prevalent, prompting a shift in focus towards bolstering AA defenses on American destroyers.
Modernization and AA Enhancements
AA Armament Overhaul in 1944-1945
In late 1944 and into 1945, the USS Kidd underwent significant modernizations. Notably, the vessel saw an increase in AA armaments. This involved the removal of one set of torpedo tubes in favor of additional 40mm Bofors and 20mm Oerlikon AA guns. Such upgrades were in direct response to the heightened threat from Japanese kamikaze attacks as American forces advanced closer to Japan's home islands.
Tactical Implications of AA Refitting
As a result of these modifications, the USS Kidd became even more adept at defending its task force from enemy aircraft. With the enhanced AA weapons, the ship could provide a more comprehensive protective umbrella for accompanying vessels, particularly aircraft carriers that were often key targets for enemy planes.
Design and Specifications
Balance of Speed and Armament
Despite the increased weight from the augmented AA armament, the USS Kidd maintained a high speed, which Fletcher-class destroyers were acclaimed for, clocking in at a maximum of over 35 knots. This combination of speed and potent weaponry allowed the USS Kidd to react quickly to threats and provide robust support across various combat scenarios.
Survivability and Legacy
Robust construction and advanced damage control systems ensured that Fletcher-class destroyers like the Kidd had enhanced survivability compared to earlier classes. As such, the USS Kidd and her sisters served with distinction throughout their service lives, setting a standard for future destroyer designs.
The USS Kidd symbolizes the adaptability and fighting spirit of the Fletcher-class fleet that played a crucial role during World War II. With its impressive array of AA armament and continued high-speed performance even after modernization, the USS Kidd emerged as a stalwart protector of American and Allied naval forces against the airborne threats of the time. Today, the USS Kidd is preserved as a museum ship, serving as a tangible link to the naval heritage and sacrifices of the Greatest Generation.