Welcome to Battlecruiser Wednesdays where each Wednesday we'll be taking a look at a different Battlecruiser design and we'll be analysing it in our usual "A Detailed Look At" format. This means we'll see how it could be implemented into the game based on all the data we have available and the formulas we've derived to translate real-world values to in-game values. Hope you enjoy our work and as usual, comments and feedback are welcome!!!
Figure 1 - Ludendorff class as she might have appeared on the high seas
The O class was a class of three battlecruisers planned for the Kriegsmarine as part of the Plan Z. The O class was born as a further development of the P class cruiser which was itself a development of the Deutschland class. The O class were meant to be excellent merchant raiders, taking advantage of other forces distracting the convoy’s escorts so the O class can sink the merchant ships.
The O class ships were designed to be extremely fast and lightly armoured, only capable of withstanding fire from 8” guns and nothing more. This very high speed was needed to raid convoys and engage cruisers while being substantially higher than heavier armed and armoured ships to enable it to flee in case they tried to engage. The O class was a straight upgrade in all respects from the P class and the Deutschland class, possessing larger main battery guns of 380mm instead of 280mm, thicker armour, better AA capabilities and being capable of attaining higher speeds. The O class design had been finished in 1940 and although contracts were issued for their construction, no work was ever done on those battlecruisers.
The O class would be the last battlecruiser designed by Germany and the fastest vessel of its kind anywhere in the world, reaching a truly astonishing feat of 35 knots with such a large ship with all the armour and guns it carried was a marvel of engineering. Were they to have been completed, they would have been fearsome merchant raiders and a thorn on the side of British supply routes.
DISCLAIMER: It is important to note that following German naval naming practices, the O class ships never received a name and only were assigned letters. I have decided to call these vessels as the Ludendorff class in honour of Erich Ludendorff, a German general during World War 1 and the proponent of the “Total War” theory, this way I don't need to keep calling it the O class which might've been confusing.
The Ludendorff class Battlecruisers would have to be implemented as extremely fast battlecruisers, being the fastest of the kind to show up in the game. I have done the following analysis assuming that the Ludendorff class would be slotted in the game as a Tier 6 premium Battleship for the Kriegsmarine.
35,968 tonnes – 53,325 HP
The Ludendorff class would be 3,137t lighter than the Fuso, 3,256t lighter than the Arizona, 522t lighter than the Warspite, 32t lighter than the New Mexico but 468t heavier than the Dunkerque and 1,248t heavier than the Bayern. The Ludendorff class would thus be on the light side for tier 6 battleships, but still worthy of tier 6 based on its weight and hitpoint pool.
Main Belt: 190-110mm
Main Deck: 80-50mm
Primary Turrets: 210mm (face), 180mm (sides), 50mm (roofs)
Secondary Turrets: 140-40mm
Conning Tower: 200-60mm (main), 50-30mm (secondary)
Underwater Protection: 45mm torpedo bulkhead, 5.4m deep
The Ludendorff’s armour is a clear indicator of what its designed purpose on the battlefield was. The Ludendorff was meant as a commerce raider and a heavy cruiser hunter, that’s why the Ludendorff’s armour is intended to protect against 8” guns and not much more. The 190mm belt armour thickness should be enough to bounce incoming 8” shots and might even bounce 14” shots if they hit the right part of the belt with the proper angling. The rest of the Ludendorff’s armour is quite weak, being of an upper-tier cruiser standard, it should prove serviceable when fighting against cruisers and destroyers but will be pierced easily by any big guns pointed at it. The turrets are quite lightly armoured as well and you should expect to have them knocked out from time to time if you’re under fire.
The Ludendorff has a few good points in its armour, it has no obvious weak spots where you’ll be penetrated by low-caliber guns and its underwater protection is very good. Such underwater protection is composed of a 45mm torpedo bulkhead which is 5.4m deep and runs through most of the ship’s side; if anything, this should mean that you won’t be deleted as easily by torpedo salvoes. Overall, the Ludendorff has an armour protection that might have a maximum thickness lower than the Ishizuchi’s at tier 4, but with a significant improvement in the minimum armour thickness present elsewhere in the ship and the underwater protection.
3x2 380mm (15”) L/52 SK C/34 guns
The Ludendorff’s main battery is exactly the same one used by the Gneisenau at tier 7, with three turrets each housing twin 380mm guns. The Ludendorff’s main battery which is so aptly used by the Gneisenau really comes under scrutiny when used by the Ludendorff due to the fact that they’re brawling guns on a lightly armoured platform. German guns have quite bad accuracy at long range and since the Ludendorff doesn’t have a big number of guns, hitting enemies at long-range may prove to be a difficult task. Whereas other German capital ships are capable of tanking the damage needed to get in range for those guns to really get into their stride, the Ludendorff doesn’t have the armour to do so which makes it even harder for the Ludendorff to go against other capital ships which is something it shouldn’t strive to do.
The Ludendorff’s 380mm guns will make mincemeat of any cruisers that it hits, being capable of overmatching the prow armour of anything it will encounter at tier 6 and due to its fast speed it can provide support for allied cruisers to tip over the balance in a cruiser push. Overall the main battery won’t be great at sniping enemies, but it will punish any cruisers it finds even as the Ludendorff chases them and if they try to get close to launch torpedoes, the accurate fire of the guns will really hurt.
3x2 150mm L/48 SK C/28 guns, 4x2 105mm L/65 SK C/33 DP guns
The Ludendorff class has a weak complement of only seven secondary gun mounts, with 3 twin 150mm gun turrets and 4 twin 105mm gun turrets; these are the same 150mm and 105mm guns used by the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. The 150mm turrets are placed one abreast of the superstructure and one in a superfiring position over the rear main turret. The 105mm turrets are placed two on each side of the superstructure which would give the Ludendorff a secondary battery broadside of two 150mm gun turrets and two 105mm gun turrets.
The 150mm gun has a rate of fire of 8 rounds per minute and fires a 45.3kg HE shell at 875m/s. The 150mm shell would cause 1,700 damage and have an 8% chance to cause a fire. The 105mm gun has a rate of fire of 18 rounds per minute and fires a 15.1kg HE shell at 900m/s. The 105mm shell would cause 1,300 damage and have a 9% chance to cause a fire. Both the 150mm guns and 105mm guns would have a firing range of 5km.
The good range of the secondaries coupled with their good rate of fire and use of HE shells somewhat counteracts the small number of guns that the Ludendorff carries, which marks the Ludendorff’s secondary battery as average. It is slightly weaker than the Warspite’s, and the Dunkerque’s if it gets those secondaries firing, but better than the Fuso’s and the New Mexico’s.
Figure 2 - Top and side view of the Ludendorff class
2x3 533mm Torpedo tubes (G7a T1 torpedoes)
This is the same torpedo battery featured by the Gneisenau at tier 7 and the Nurnberg’s top hull. The torpedoes are the standard 6km range, 13700 damage, 64 knot torpedoes that you know and love from all German ships except for the Karlsruhe. The chances you’ll have to use these torpedoes are limited as being in such close proximity to any enemies goes against your odds of survivability which aren’t particularly good in any situation. If you do manage to use them, consider them to be part of your secondary weapon arsenal and can be used to finish enemies that get to close or force them to maneuver away from you. If you decide to use them offensively as finishers, you have the advantage of being faster than almost anything else at the tier and thus you can close the distance to your target very quickly.
4x2 105mm SK C/33 DP guns (67dps @4.5km), 4x2 37mm SK C/30 (11dps @3.5km), 20x1 20mm SK C/30 AA guns (60dps @2km)
The AA suite of the Ludendorff class is typical of German ships, having a great long-range aura and then decaying in the mid-range. The Ludendorff’s AA is a mostly even mix of long-range and short-range AA auras with a sprinkle of mid-range AA and overall should mean that a few planes get shot down on approach and once they’re close enough, more will get downed. The Ludendorff’s AA dps is slightly on the low side for tier 6, however it is better than the Fuso, the Arizona and the Dunkerque, while being slightly weaker than the Bayern and the Warspite’s. The New Mexico as always has the most powerful AA suite at tier 6 but the Ludendorff has still got good enough AA to take down a few planes from attacking waves. The Ludendorff’s got an average, but workable AA suite that can greatly use whatever buffs you can provide for it.
35kts – 116,000hp
The Ludendorff’s speed is its most powerful asset. At tier 6, its top speed of 35 knots means it is at least 5.5 knots faster than any other battleship and faster than cruisers at the tier except for the Budyonny, Aoba and Molotov. The Budyonny and Aoba actually have the same speed as the Ludendorff while the Molotov is 1 knot faster than the Ludendorff. The Ludendorff is actually 1.5 knots slower than the Farragut and this shows just how fast the Ludendorff really is. It's not just its great speed that makes the Ludendorff dangerous, the speed when combined with all other assets is what makes the Ludendorff into such a deadly foe. It can really outrun anything it can’t outfight; truly, the Ludendorff has an incredible speed which would only have the downside of making this ship have a large turning circle.
The Ludendorff will have the standard tier 6 battleship consumables and 4 charges of the Catapult Fighter or Spotting Aircraft consumables.
The Ludendorff is the culmination of the German battlecruiser design, developed to be a commerce raider and cruiser hunter instead of fighting in the main battle line as previous German battlecruiser designs. The Ludendorff was designed to be a high-speed raider that would engage merchant ships and escorting cruisers and fleeing in the presence of heavier armed warships. In-game, the Ludendorff will behave exactly as it was designed, using its great speed to keep up with its cruisers and engage enemy cruisers before fleeing whenever heavy guns are brought to bear against it.
The Ludendorff is an especially dangerous foe because its speed is combined with a large hitpoint pool, torpedoes, armour capable of defeating cruiser fire and battleship grade weapons. Such a firepower package with this mobility is unprecedented in-game and although it might seem to be overpowered, there are glaring weaknesses that enemies may exploit. The Ludendorff is fast, hits hard and has a big hitpoint pool, but it has very thin armour, it’s quite large, has a large turning circle and mediocre AA. The thin armour is thinner than that of the Ishizuchi, a ship which even at tier 4 isn’t particularly well armoured and the Ludendorff at tier 6 will face even larger guns. Its large turning circle, big size and mediocre AA all lead to the Ludendorff being the target of many a torpedo attack and aerial bombardment; you might take some solace in that the underwater protection is quite decent, but you’ll still take massive damage from torpedos.
Overall, the Ludendorff would be a true battlecruiser, providing fun and exciting gameplay by virtue of its speed and big guns. It will be tricky to play the Ludendorff as you will attract a lot of attention and with the thin armour, any moment when you overextend will be heavily punished. The Ludendorff is a powerful surgical knife to quickly remove enemy cruisers and relocate where heavy firepower is needed; a glass cannon to be used by a deft captain and quickly strike before fading away, avoiding retaliation. Don’t forget to gift your enemies a few torpedoes if they ever try to get too close and personal with you.
Decent secondary battery
Good underwater protection
Large turning radius
Mediocre AA suite
Very large ship
Figure 3 - Side view of the Ludendorff class