Cage mast

Lattice masts, or cage masts, are a type of observation mast common on major warships in the early 20th century. They are a type of hyperboloid structure, whose weight-saving design was first used by the Russian engineer Vladimir Shukhov. They were used most prominently on American dreadnought battleships and armored cruisers of the World War I era.

In the age of sail masts were required to support the sails, and lookouts were posted on them; with the advent of engine-powered warships masts were retained and used for observation and to spot fall of shot. The purpose of the lattice structure was to make the posts less vulnerable to shells from enemy ships, and to better absorb the shock caused by firing heavy guns, isolating the delicate fire control equipment (rangefinders, etc.) mounted on the mast tops. However, the masts were found to be easily damaged by the inclement weather experienced at sea by naval ships during typhoons and hurricanes: the USSĀ Michigan's mast was bent right down to the deck by such a storm in 1918. As the caliber and range of ships' guns increased, heavier rangefinders were required; additionally the guns and powerful engines created shock and vibrations. Lattice masts were phased out in favor of more rigid tripod masts, with all U.S. Navy ships being modernized and refitted with them by the beginning of World War Two.

Use in the United States Navy

The were the first class of American battleships to feature lattice masts,[1] which were to become a standard fixture on all American battleships, and many cruiser classes. All American battleships, up to the battleships were equipped with lattice masts, although in the 1920s to 1930s, the older battleships had their lattice masts replaced with more modern tripod masts.[2] The newer and classes retained their original lattice masts at the start of World War II.

Use in the Russian Navy

The two had lattice masts until they were replaced with conventional masts in the beginning of the First World War.[3] The four were designed with lattice masts, but constructed with conical ones.[4][5]

Use in the Argentine Navy

The two , the ARA Rivadavia and the ARA Moreno had lattice masts. They were the only dreadnought-type battleships built for export by the USA.[6]

Use in Fortifications

A lattice fire-control mast was installed on Fort Drum, a fort built by the United States to guard the entrance of Manila Bay. The mast directed the fire of the fort's 14-inch main batteries.[7]



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