ShipComrade

West Virginia Late War

USS West Virginia, in her rebuilt state at the end of World War two has long been sought after by the community.  It’s no surprise to me that Wargaming has so far avoided including her.  Balancing a late-war West Virginia was always going to be troublesome.  The question on how to introduce this ship and at what tier should would appear has been the subject of lively debate.

There are two main points of controversy.  The first is if West Virginia, an improved Colorado-class, ends up at tier VII, how should she be balanced compared to the lead of her class which lacks her modernizations?  The second, is that if she should appear at tier VIII, how could she possibly be made competitive with her low top speed without a ridiculous helping of gimmicks?

The Core Battleship

To understand the best answers to these questions, we have to look at the baseline version of West Virginia.  We’ll be using a fully upgraded Colorado as a basis for this vessel but with any artificial perks Wargaming has added stripped away.

Hull

Hit Points:  58,600hp
Armour Profile:  As per Colorado with enlarged torpedo bulges but with improved horizontal citadel protection over the magazines and machine spaces.
Anti-Torpedo Defense: 
45% to 55% (estimated)

We can only estimate the protection provided by her anti-torpedo bulges. There isn’t any real form of consistency that I can ascertain in how Wargaming determines the damage reduction provided. This could be as low as 40%, so I’m perhaps being overly optimistic in hoping that she’ll have impressive values.

Armament

There are only a couple of points here worth remarking, otherwise these guns are identical to those found on USS Colorado. First, her sigma is reduced to a “baseline” 1.80 value. This seems to be the value to which Wargaming defaults for most battleships. Second, her range is taken from West Virginia ’41 and applying a 10% increase to represent the buff from a fire control module upgrade. Note that range is highly malleable for the sake of balance, so don’t take this as absolute.
No surprises here. USN Battleship 127mm/38s have always been crappy secondaries with artificially low rates of fire for some reason. This just puts West Virginia‘s secondaries on par with all of the other USN Battleships with the exception of Massachusetts.

Anti-Aircraft

This is West Virginia‘s anti-aircraft armament in 1945. It’s well documented and easy to find references for this layout. Her 1944 layout had only 50 Oerlikons (instead of a combined total of 64 in 1945) but finding out just where these guns were placed is difficult. This doesn’t put the 1945 version of West Virginia automatically in the clear. Her quad Oerlikon “Thunderbolt” mount hasn’t yet been rendered in the game which leads to further modelling complications for Wargaming. So it becomes a choice as far as I see it — fudge the placement of her 50 Oerlikon mounts for a WV’44 or get stuck building a brand new AA gun for WV’45.

Manoevrability

Top Speed:  20.5kts
Turning Radius:  640m
Rudder Shift Time:  16.5s
Turn Deceleration Type:  Standard (25%)
Approximate Maximum Turn Rate:  3.7º/s

Concealment

Surface Detection:  16.74km
Aerial Detection: 
11.75km
Smoke Firing Detection: 
16.19km

Consumables

Damage Control Party:  American Battleship Standard
Repair Party:  Standard (Up to 14% health recovery over 28s, 50% penetration queue, 10% citadel queue)
Spotter Aircraft / Catapult Fighter:  Standard with fighter providing 42dps.

What’s Missing

We’ve removed the following perks from Colorado:

  • 1.9 Sigma off her main battery.
  • Improved engine performanceColorado loses only 9% of her maximum speed in a turn.
  • Improved Repair Party. Colorado heals 0.66% of her hp every second for 28s instead of 0.5% like other battleships.

Assessment of the Remainder

We’re left with what amounts to a decent but overall unimpressive tier VII battleship.  She presents a reasonable alternative to Colorado without being directly superior to the lead of her class.  If Wargaming wished to implement a late-war West Virginia into World of Warships at tier VII, this is likely the build with which she would appear.  She’s slower, less accurate and less agile.  In addition, West Virginia is not as durable to fires, floods and shellfire as Colorado.  The trade off is that she’s much more resilient to torpedo hits and she will absolutely trivialize air attacks.

I am of the opinion that this would be a rather dull addition to the game.

Tier VII Late War West Virginia

So let’s take a look at what we could add to West Virginia to make her more interesting.

The most obvious perk that West Virginia should probably have access to is Colorado‘s improved engine performance.  This reduces the amount of speed lost in a turn and will help this ship feel like less of a sluggard.  With the half knot of speed difference between them, tossing West Virginia this trait does not risk her over shadowing her sister-ship as she’ll always be the slower of the two.

With this trait, West Virginia would increase her maximum turn speed from approximately 15.4kts to 18.7kts.  This has the side effect of also increasing her rate of turn from a maximum of 3.7º/s to 4.5º/s which is an enormous buff.  Handling wise, this is the difference of how Nagato handles in a turn versus that of Warspite.

From here, things get more difficult.  While I don’t believe we could poach both of Colorado‘s perks, we could steal one and get away with it.  I’m personally in favour of taking her 1.9 sigma and calling this tier VII project done.

In this way, Late-War West Virginia would be very similar to Colorado, but with different levels of durability.  Colorado would have better health recovery.  West Virginia would have better anti-aircraft firepower and torpedo damage reduction.  They would have comparable artillery, concealment and handling characteristics with Colorado enjoying slightly more range.

BAM, project over.  Package this one off and gimme my cookie.

Half Baked & Halfway Done

We’ll stop here for now.  This is, in my opinion, the most likely way we’ll see a Late-War West Virginia come into World of Warships.  However, I think it’s a fantasy to imagine that we’ll see this ship anytime soon.  I would not expect her to see the light of day until the year 2020 at the earliest… if at all.

I hate to be cynical, but Wargaming have left them a pretty big ‘out’ when it came to renaming the upcoming tier VI premium West Virginia ’41.  There’s no time commitment there and I would not assume that a modernized version of West Virginia will be high on their list of priorities.  We’re more likely to see another one of the standard-type battleships modernized before West Virginia sees the light of day.

So I’m of the opinion this is a fantasy for now.  But so long as we’re fantasizing…

Next time on ShipComrade:
Mouse fantasizes a tier VIII West Virginia proposal.

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