The Tier 2 American Destroyer
"Stop that. It's silly."
Quick Summary: A tiny, slow and under-armed destroyer with 76mm main armament guns and with fast-reloading, single-tube launched torpedoes.
Cost: Undisclosed as of yet.
Closest in-Game Contemporary: IJN Tachibana
Degree of Similarity: Clone / Sister-Ship / Related Class / Similar Role / Unique
The Smith shares the Tachibana's frantic, close range play style. She's tiny with few hit points. In addition, like the IJN Destroyer, the Smith has anemic 76mm guns along with short ranged, fast-reloading torpedoes. The Smith takes this style of play and cranks it up to eleven.
You'll play the Smith for one reason: 11s reload on her single-fish torpedo launchers and potentially as low as 9.9s.
The Smith has been in the game for a while, but it hasn't been made available on the North American servers yet. It was only by chance that I stumbled upon the sales of this ship on the Asia server over Memorial Weekend and jumped at the chance to write a review of her when given the opportunity. The Smith is a very odd ship -- her novelty is readily apparent by anyone that plays her.
The USS Smith doesn't have any surprises when it comes to her options. Her Consumables are Destroyer standard. She has a single module upgrade with a Main Battery / Torpedo / AA-Gun option. Her Premium camouflage is exactly what would be expected from a tier 2-5 Premium ship.
Consumables: Three slots
Module Upgrades: One slot.
Premium Camouflage: Tier 2-5 standard. This provides 30% bonus experience gains, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy.
Primary Battery: 76.2mm guns in a A-P-Q-X-Y arrangement. She has a forward mounted bow turret. Behind her bridge on each side there is a single gun in a wing mount. The last two guns are rear facing turrets, separated by superstructure.
Secondary Battery: None
The Smith's gun armament is all but identical to the IJN Tachibana. Both ships use some of the smallest main-caliber guns in game at a mere 76mm (though the Smith does have a two micrometer advantage). They also share a similar arrangement of their weapons, with two wing mounts and the rest arranged down the center line of the vessel, providing a four-gun broadside. The Smith's guns reload faster, however, at the expense of 200m worth of range compared to her oriental counterpart. The Smith has marginally better AP performance but worse HE shells.
In short: the guns on both destroyers are terrible. They're too short ranged. They don't do enough damage. They are fun, though, firing very quickly. Expect many zero damage hits with these shells as they plink harmlessly off of anything even vaguely armoured. Or even vaguely NOT-armoured. Yes, you'll (often) get zero damage HE hits off a pristine enemy IJN Destroyer if you strike her hull in the wrong place. In addition, while she has good fire arcs forward, her fire arcs to the rear quarter are very limited and you'll often only get a single gun able to shoot in that vector.
Where the Smith's guns become interesting is their ability to stealth fire. With Advanced Fire Training combined with the ship's premium camouflage and Concealment Expert, a 15pt Captain can have the Smtih fire from open water without being spotted. Visible at 7.28km when she fires her guns, her improved range can reach out to 7.9km, giving a 600m window from which to batter (tickle?) enemy targets into submission. Don't expect miracles, though. With a 4% chance of fire per shot, you're not going to light up anything quickly, but it's worth it if only to get people to blow their Damage Control Party early before the torpedo party starts.
Chewing on the bunny. It took 6 torpedo hits to sink this South Carolina.
Launchers: One launcher off each side plus one dorsal.
Range & Speed: 4.5km @ 54 knots
The Smith is rather unique as a destroyer. She has three torpedo launchers -- one covering each side and a third dorsal mount, very similar in arrangement to the Mahan at tier 7. What makes the Smith stand out is that her launchers are singles. She only fires one fish per launcher. Yep, just one. One lonely torpedo. You can forget about wide varying the spread of your salvos -- that one fish isn't going to get any fatter no matter how much you mash the 3 button. This can and will feel novel right from the word go.
The torpedoes themselves aren't anything special. With 6033 alpha strike, you're not going to startle anyone with their damage. They have an unimpressive 4.5km range and travel at 54 knots which isn't awful at tier 2, but certainly not impressive. Where they really shine is their reload rate. At a mere 11s (which can be improved down to 9.9s with the Torpedo Armament Expertise Captain Skill), you can be dropping a torpedo in the water with regular, flood-threatening intervals. Provided you can land your fish on target, enemy ships have to be very concerned with being permanently under a flooding effect.
Despite this fast reload, the Smith isn't the torpedo-spam queen. Both the Storozhevoi and the Sampson can put more fish in the water over time (the latter only manages this when both sides are counted). The Smith is also unable to cripple an enemy vessel with a single, overwhelming torpedo strike -- she can't one-shot any enemy destroyer. With her range being so short with her torpedoes, there's a very real need to put the Smith into harm's way to ensure that your torpedoes strike home so you'll often be trading health to ensure good hits.
The fast reload on the Smith does mean that a miss with a single salvo (or torpedo in this case) isn't the end of the world like it can be with other ships. The next fish is often reloaded before your torpedoes are anywhere near their target. This allows you to correct your aim and launch again. And again. And again. A ship that doesn't take evasive action the moment a Smith is spotted deserves the sequence of fish into her broadside that she's inviting. While this isn't the best for fighting against wary destroyers, it makes the Smith an absolute pleasure when it comes to hunting South Carolina and Kawachi-class Battleships.
At a range of less than 2km, the Smith's torpedoes have already reloaded by the time the first salvo has struck this Dresden-class cruiser. Yeah, they reload that quickly.
Top Speed: 28.0 knots.
Turning Radius: 480m
Rudder Shift: 2.0s
The Smith is slow. Twenty-eight knots may be acceptable for a cruiser, but for a destroyer, it's a pittance. Getting from A to B takes a while (never mind A to C!). Worse, you can't disengage from targets easily without the use of a big ol' island to hide behind. Her slow top speed also makes her turning circle feel bigger, if only because it takes the Smith longer to travel the circumference of said circle than another ship might. With her long, slender hull, she bleeds speed in a turn and it's rare you're ever cooking at that full 28 knots anyway.
Hit Points: 7,300
The Smith doesn't have the lowest hit point total for tier 2 (that distinction goes to the Tachibana), but it's the second lowest currently. Like all destroyers, she has no real armour protection. She'll take critical hits continually. She also needs to worry about being one-shot by torpedoes launched from the tier 3 Campbeltown, Wickes, Tenryu and Wakatake.
Concealment & Camouflage
5.8km Surface Detection, 2.6km Air Detection.
With her premium camouflage, the Smith starts with a 97 Camouflage rating. Only the Tachibana and Umikaze are more stealthy than this little boat. With Captain Skills, it's possible to bring her surface detection range to a mere 5.0km. Combined with Advanced Fire Training, this will give her the ability to fire her main battery from concealment, however it's still 500m short of giving her the ability to launch torpedoes with impunity. Your best option for landing torpedo hits without being detected involves either using islands for ambushes or to get in front of larger ships and drop torpedoes behind you so that they sail into them.
AA Battery Calibers: 7.6mm
AA Umbrella Ranges: 1.0km
The Smith has a pair of 7.6mm Hotchkiss machine guns with a 30-round clip, vaguely pointed upwards. Yeah, it's a good thing she doesn't encounter planes.
The Smith is horribly outclassed by almost any destroyer she faces. She can't out gun them. She can't out run them. And even if she does land a good torpedo hit, her fish don't do enough damage to one-shot any full-health destroyer in her Matchmaking tiers.
Now, I love low tier ships. They're often steeped in history, offer weird or fun game play or are just downright silly. The Smith is definitely a case for the silly. But even she pushes the envelope past the fun-silly to the downright ridiculous / stupid. I kept expecting Graham Chapman dressed as a British colonel to walk on screen and interrupt my testing.
The Smith is a pew-pew machine. Her guns fire fast. Her torpedoes fire fast. And neither of them in of themselves are going to win games for a few incidental hits. I really needed to stack a whole bunch before things worked to an acceptable level. Meanwhile, I was puttering about in lazy circles in what amounts to a rather slow, fragile destroyer chassis, barking like a big dog at ships that far, far outclassed me. In short, the Smith is fun but, good lord, will she ever make you do twice the work of another ship for the win.
Can she be good? Well, she can be downright excellent. She's quite capable of farming Kraken and High Caliber medals all you like. But you're going to have to work for it. This isn't a fire and forget boat like a Kamikaze-class. This isn't about taking time and patience to set up for that one awesome, devastating strike in the form of an ambush shot like in a Clemson. She's not even going to let you breathe easy by setting a few fires rather easily and letting the enemy burn. This is a frantic, frenetic, furious little tin can that needs to channel its hyperactivity into incessant series of attacks. You'll be spamming whatever it is you're doing in a constant state of attack-attack-attack when there's finally an enemy in range and vulnerable.
Cause if you don't, you're just going to slightly annoy whatever you engaged. They will survive your first strike. They'll probably survive your second. And they'll be downright upset by the time your third hits. You better hope they're on their way to the bottom then cause they'll smack your bottom for the cheek you had to engage them in the first place (and they're right to). The Smith is a very poor choice for hunting other destroyers. Most cruisers can take up to four or five of her torpedoes before they sink, so it's even odds there. But where she really shines is Battleship hunting.
Watching the Smith kill a Battleship is like a weasel chewing on the spine of a still-alive rabbit. The rabbit's a goner, oh for sure, but it's a grizzly death of constant gnawing at the back of the live bunny's skull and horribly impotent squeals while the Smith does it's thing. And it will look downright ridiculous while it's doing it too. But you can be sure the Smith is savouring each bite of the Battleship's HP with every frantic mouthful.
Would I Recommend?Welp, let's take a look at the player base cross section for our recommendations, shall we?
The camouflage pattern of the Smith is a nice, simple two-tone pattern. It looks great in stormy weather.
Outfitting your Smith
Recommended ModulesThe Smith can only take a single module. Normally I'd advocate for taking Main Battery Modification 1 (and it's still probably the best choice, cause less detonations), but you could take Torpedo Tubes Modification 1 if you wanted.
Recommended ConsumablesShe's a low tier destroyer. I would recommend just sticking with the stock consumables. She won't earn enough credits to really justify spending credits on the premium version of any of these consumables, especially if you don't have a premium account.
Recommended Captain Skills
Well, now we get fun. The Smith will be a bit of a weird ship to Captain, mostly because of how reliant she is on torpedoes for a USN Destroyer.
Honestly, for the Smith, I wouldn't fuss too much about reaching for Concealment Expert right away. After Demolition Expert, I would probably swing back and grab another tier 2 skill and maybe even another tier 1 skill before fussing over grinding up to tier 5. You'll spend so much time in the Smith inside of 4.5km, it's really not going to be as important as with some other Destroyers.