>Modernized, Upgraded Worcester
That could actually work, I had been thinking purely of an upgraded Juneau-class with a battery of 5in/62cal guns capable of using present or reasonable proposed 5in shells (such as Vulcano and Super-DART).
>But what would be the job of a cruiser with 203mm guns?
Shore Bombardment, Surface Warfare, Anti-Air, Anti-Submarine, Special-Operations Support, showing the flag, carrying an Admiral around. Could be basically anything, really.
There's actually nothing stopping an 8in gun from being used as a DP gun anymore, firerate (12rpm) and all-angle loading were solved with the 8in/55cal Mk71 MCLWG all the way back in 1975. Design a Super-DART for the 8in and I see no reason why it couldn't be used in the AA role.
In effect, consider that anything a smaller shell can be designed for, an 8in shell can also be designed for, so long as the rate of fire (again, 12rpm) is sufficient... which, considering the old arm-launchers are still in service in the world (Taiwan), 6sec/shot must be good enough for some
people. Tie this in with the effective muzzle velocity of an enlarged version of a sabotted AA shell (such as the aforementioned Super-DART) and you basically have your 'high velocity projectiles' without even trying.
>And I don't think you could sell the idea of chasing enemy ships to shoot them up with heavy guns if both sides have much longer-ranged missiles.
Consider that if you are fielding ships that can shoot down the enemy's missiles so effectively that they will be very quick to build their own versions (rapid fire gun technology is no secret to anybody, really), meaning they too will be able to shoot down your
missiles just as
Once this form of parity is reached, given the rapid increases in short-range detection capabilities to counter 'stealth missiles', the only effective Anti-Ship weapon becomes... a gun with shells that cannot be effectively shot down, which starts at around the 8in mark for HE shells (recall, 155mm shells are stopped cold by C-RAM and HELs already).
Of course, we don't actually even need to reach into exotic gun-toting ships to reach this form of parity, HELs are already rapidly pushing us there and all sides of any prospective naval conflict in the future are already well on their way to developing practical HELs as CIWS or greater forms of AA.
Sooner or later, a return to Gun is inevitable.