Quick Summary: A long ranged heavy cruiser designed as a fleet escort for Battleships. The only tier 7 Cruiser with the use of radar. Though overall quite fragile, she has good bow armour against cruiser caliber weapons and a strong anti-aircraft suite.
Cost: Undisclosed as of yet. Ship is still undergoing testing.
Closest in-Game Contemporary: New Orleans & Pensacola
Degree of Similarity: Clone / Sister-Ship / Related Class / Similar Role / Unique
The Indianapolis shares much in common with the Tier 8 New Orleans and the Tier 7 Pensacola, ending up being a sort of hybrid of the pair. She has a layout more similar of the New Orleans but with a familiar fragility of the Pensacola.
The Indianapolis has been a highly anticipated vessel. Historically, she's a very interesting ship. But from a World of Warships perspective, many players hope she can supplant the USS Atlanta as the go-to high-tier trainer / credit earning vessel for the US Navy. In truth, this really shouldn't be a difficult mantle to usurp given the issues with the USS Atlanta. But at the same time, this desperation to replace the Atlanta with something else may blindside some players into accepting anything better than the infamous rainbow-pooping light cruiser without seriously considering what's under the hood.
You're pretty spoiled for choice with the Indianapolis. The most interesting option is the use of her Surveillance Radar.
Consumables: Three slots
Module Upgrades: Four slots, standard options.
Premium Camouflage: Tier 6+ standard. This provides 50% bonus experience gains, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy.
Primary Battery: 203mm main guns in 3x3 turrets (A-B-X arrangement, super-firing)
Secondary Battery: 127mm dual purpose rifles in 8x1 turrets
The use of islands as cover is invaluable for making the most of the Indianapolis. Don't get caught out in the open by enemy Dreadnoughts. Bad things will happen.
The Indianapolis is armed with the American 203mm/55 Mk14 rifles. These are identical to the guns you first upgrade on the Pensacola and use later on the stock New Orleans. She shares the gun layout of this latter class of Heavy Cruisers. They're not great guns, unfortunately, suffering in a couple of areas. This is a common problem to the American heavy-cruiser line as a whole, where they struggle with poor HE performance, have uninspired AP performance and their rate of fire isn't good enough to compensate. This is especially important as it's the only way for these USN Heavy Cruisers to do damage and their output just isn't there. The Indianapolis is no different.
To put this in perspective, the Myoko has more guns that hit harder and with a faster reload. The Yorck has less guns but they hit harder and reload faster. And both of these cruisers have torpedoes as backup weaponry. At least the Indianapolis can look down her nose at the 127mm off the Atlanta.
The real strength of the guns, however, is their range. At 16.9km, she has tremendous range for a USN Cruiser and it's upon this feature good performance with this ship relies. Using (and abusing) this range will keep you alive. However, while they appear to have good muzzle velocity, there's a lot of "float" in the High Explosive shells of the USN 203mm guns, leading to a long travel time to distance making ranged gunnery a bit uncomfortable. You won't easily bulls-eye a juking Destroyer at 12km like you might in a Soviet cruiser. While your guns do perform well at lesser distances, the threat of reprisals, her poor armour values and the inability to match contemporary cruisers in a DPM race makes it ill advised to let anything get this close. This is unfortunate, though, given that one of her more interesting consumables is an 8.49km radar option. While she might be well equipped to unmask lurking destroyers, being so close to the enemy to make good use of it may end up being a terrible mistake.
Keep the Indianapolis at range. Look for opportunities to make use of her AP rounds against enemy cruisers. The Indianapolis can and will citadel penetrate enemy heavy cruisers at up to her maximum range with her AP shells. If an enemy cruiser gives you her broadside, lock on and open fire. This is the fastest way to stack up damage and help thin out the enemy team. A good broadside can strip over 10,000 damage in a single go, with multiple citadel penetrations easily stacked in short order against unwary cruisers that are paying more attention to the lay of Battleship guns than an enemy cruiser. Your AP performance, while good, can struggle against more heavily armoured Battleships so vary your ammunition choices as the situation dictates.
This all adds up to point a very obvious direction towards the Indianapolis' intended role: She makes an excellent fleet escort for Battleships. Her range is sufficient that at the ranges where Battleships are engaging, she can often add her firepower too. Her primary target should be cruisers where you can make use of her good AP penetration and Battleships as a secondary target.
Danger close, the secondaries of the Indianapolis engage a low-health Minekaze.
Air Group: Single deployed float plane fighter.If you take the fighter, you preclude the ability to take radar instead. It might feel an unfortunate waste to lose out on one of her defining graces as a premium vessel for something so mundane. The gains made by deploying her fighter are appreciable -- it does 53 dps -- but it may not be worth the cost for having a trump detection card, however short its duration.
Top Speed: 32.5 knots.
Turning Radius: 620m
Rudder Shift: 9.1s
The agility of the Indianapolis is downright American. This is to say that compared to the German and Japanese cruisers, she's surprisingly nimble with a good turning radius and responsive rudder. Compared to other ships in the USN arsenal, she's nothing special. Her speed does allow her to keep up with fat Battleships and redeploy to assist a straggler that may be under sudden air attack. Her maneuverability will also allow her an easier time of shifting between incoming runs of torpedoes dropped by aircraft or enemy vessels. This trading of speed for maneuverability precludes her from taking on an aggressive anti-destroyer role (not that her fragility and slow reload allowed for it in the first place). It also limits her ability to kite larger vessels effectively as any form of turning will slow her down and allow fleet footed warships like IJN Heavy Cruisers and fast Battleships to close the distance.
Hit Points: 32,500
Citadel Protection: Up to 146mm.
Anti-Torpedo Bulge: None.
The Indianapolis has an interesting armour layout. Her bow armour is sufficient to bounce armour piercing rounds up to 220mm in caliber. Heavily sloped, it would take a 230mm round to overmatch her bow armour and be able to slam shells into her vitals. This allows her to tank and duel with other cruisers that are slinging armour piercing rounds and fight them with near impunity. However, everything changes when they reach for high explosive shells. High explosive does work very well against her, though, so take care of her fragility when facing high DPM vessels like the Soviet and American 152mm armed cruisers.
This fragility continues, as one would expect, when facing any battleship-caliber weapons. It's possible to citadel the Indianapolis with 356mm AP shells from almost any angle. If you get struck by a Battleship, the best you can hope is to receive some over penetration damage, but coming under the attention of Battleship caliber weapons is always going to be a bad show.
Yes, this really happened. Second game ever in the Indianapolis, I took a single torpedo just beneath the #3 turret and detonated. The original armour model of the Indianapolis was rife with bugs that have been largely corrected.
Concealment & Camouflage
13.9km Surface Detection, 8.1km Air Detection.
There's not much to say here. While the Indianapolis does have better concealment values than the Pensacola, she's still a large cruiser. She doesn't have the ability to fire from the surface without being detected, even when you stack camouflage and Concealment Expert from your Captain onto her. You can reduce her surface detection to below 12km but this won't be sufficient to let you sneak up on destroyers to get in range with your radar, nor is it a small enough value to make dropping back into stealth easy when enemy vessels begin focusing upon you. As such, it's imperative with the Indianapolis to make use of cover and be very conscious of the engagement ranges at which you find yourself. Watch your minimap -- keep an eye on where and how far each enemy ship is in case you run into trouble and need to hide.
AA Battery Calibers: 127mm / 40mm / 20mm
AA Umbrella Ranges: 4.2km / 3.5km / 2.0km
The AA power of the Indianapolis is best described as "interesting". It's not out-the-gates powerful like the Cleveland or Atlanta. It has its flaws, most notably in the lack of any 5.0km range large caliber AA guns, being limited to 4.2km to start. This really hurts her ability as a dedicated escort vessel to put out a wide umbrella to protect her charges. This means the upper limits of her range when combined with AA Gun Battery Modification 2 and Advanced Fire Training is 6.05km rather than the 7.2km umbrella present on dedicated AA ships. She does have some respectable DPS, however. The Indianapolis puts out a stock 212dps at 2.0km, with 58 of that coming from her 127mm rifles in 290 damage bursts every 5 seconds. This scales well with the Pensacola and New Orleans with 217dps and 299dps respectively.
Overall, it means that if you lean heavily on her AA power, you can make her into a decent, but not truly terrifying AA vessel. She won't have the reach to utterly murder incoming planes, but she will put a healthy bit of damage into said squadrons and make them think twice about attacking any ships protected by your umbrella.
I very much wanted to enjoy the Indianapolis. With the Atlanta being such a controversial vessel, I was hoping that the Indianapolis would be a straight-up performer so that the USN would have an obvious high-tier training vessel to reach for.
But I didn't enjoy my time on the Indianapolis.
A lot of this was largely coloured by my initial impressions of her. Before 0.5.6 launched, iChase contacted me over Skype to do some testing with the Indianapolis. We spent a little over an hour trying out her armour. Early release versions of the vessel showed that even destroyer caliber guns were capable of landing citadel hits beneath the #1 and #2 turrets with their high explosive shells. One of the Russian-speaking developers later went on to say that the armour model on the Indianapolis had a few bugs and she sat too high in the water which added to her fragility. This meant that any testing really exemplified her fragility -- perhaps unfairly, but such was the first experiences I had with her.
These deficiencies in her armour have been largely corrected. You won't take citadel hits from casually fired high explosive shells from 120mm to 130mm armed destroyers at the side of your ship. Knowing this bug was present, I had to split my review time into two parts and attempt to look at the vessel with a fresh pair of eyes after 0.5.6 launched (which is why you're all getting this review rather late compared to the reviews published by my colleagues). And yet, I still wasn't having a very good time in the Indianapolis while I was trying her out the second time through.
She's a very typical American Heavy Cruiser. Her interesting "quirks" are her radar and her long range. These two quirks don't overlap very well, as you can imagine, but they're two very handy tools for helping assist heavier warships. And it was finally acknowledging these traits that I came to realize I had to stop trying to play super aggressive with her (as I am want to do) and take a second-line position alongside the Battleships in my fleet. I tried to put myself in a Molotov mindset ("everything can and WILL kill me if they shoot at me") and the performance numbers started creeping back in my results, though I wasn't able to dictate the pace of matches.
You can't nuke all comers with sha-mazing gun performance. Instead, you have to wait for your opportunities, set up your targets and pull the trigger with an expectation of doing a lot of damage quickly before the enemy can organize reprisals. She has to be played with caution and care. Driving up close and hitting things with your sword is right out, so that's probably why I grouched quite a bit through my playtime with her.
So does she replace the Atlanta? Well... not in my books. At least the Atlanta can be fun.
Lert and I share the opinion that while the Indianapolis is a good USN Heavy Cruiser, USN Heavy Cruisers are in general a rather poor choice.
Would I Recommend?
Rather than giving a one-answer for all types of game play, let's take a look at some of the more popular reasons someone would want to add the Indianapolis to their collection.
Outfitting your Indianapolis
At tier 7, the Indianapolis has four module slots to play with. Keep in mind, she will be facing tier 8+ vessels that have access to that vaunted 5th slot which can reduce their surface detection range. When you're kitting her out, it's a pretty standard selection for a USN Cruiser. Decide first if you want to play as an AA escort or not and then if you're going to take Last Stand or Expert Marksman for your Captain's second skill choice. This will largely determine which modules you should install.
The Indianapolis is interesting for the consumables she could choose. It's unfortunate that she's not fast, stealthy or better armed to take on an anti-destroyer role which would make double stacking Surveillance Radar and Hydroacoustic Search a more fun and viable option. The first question any player should ask themselves is if they intend to dedicate themselves to an AA-role in their Indianapolis. If so, I would strongly recommend taking the premium version of Defensive Fire to accelerate the reset timer of the consumable along with providing an extra charge. I wouldn't bother with the premium version of anything short of the Damage Control Party otherwise. But overall, I would recommend the following for most players to keep from eating too much into your credit earning:
Recommended Captain Skills
There's a couple different ways to specialize a Captain towards optimum performance with the Indianapolis. Again, it depends if you want to focus on being a long range gunship or performing anti-aircraft duties.