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!!!
The Stalingrad class Battlecruiser design had its genesis in a 1941 design requirement for a cruiser in between the size of the Kirov class and the Krohnshtadt class to engage and destroy enemy heavy and light cruisers. The initial design was a ship with a main armament of 220mm guns and a displacement of 25000 tons. The design was put on hold due to the start of Operation Barbarossa. The project was revived in 1943 and underwent several revisions up until 1951 when it was finally approved. Throughout its design process, it went from being a cruiser killer, to being an escort for the proposed soviet aicraft carriers and finally back to being a cruiser killer.
The Stalingrad class was supposed to be composed of at least four ships, but only three were ever laid down. The lead ship was the Stalingrad, followed by the Moskva and finally the Kronshtadt or Arkahngelsk and all were laid down between 1951 and 1952. Progress on the ships was very slow and by January 1953, none of the ships were further than 20% complete. When Stalin died on 5 March 1953, they were all promptly cancelled. The Stalingrad's unfinished hull was used as a target hulk while the two other unfinished ships were scrapped on the slipways. Overall, the Stalingrad class seemed to be doomed to oblivion even before it was born, but they may yet see their glory days out in the high seas of World of Warships.
The Stalingrad class Battlecruiser would have to be implemented as extremely fast and deadly battlecruisers. I have done the following analysis assuming that the Stalingrad class would be slotted in the game as a Tier 8 premium Battleship for the Soviet Navy.
42,300 tonnes – 60,800 HP
The Stalingrad’s displacement would mark it as being fit for tier 7, being 3516t lighter than the Nagato but 1160t heavier than the Colorado, 2102t heavier than the Gneisenau and 3597t heavier than the Scharnhorst. It would seem like the Stalingrad would be on the top half of the table for tier 7, however due to her other features she should be compared to those ships at tier 8 as they’ll be her contenders. The Stalingrad is 4400t lighter than the North Carolina, 4700t lighter than the Amagi and ~7100t lighter than the Bismarck class. The Stalingrad’s hitpoint pool is definitely tier 7 standard, not tier 8 and she’d have at least 6000 fewer hitpoints than any of her adversaries at tier 8. Such a big hitpoint disparity within a tier is nothing new, with the Nagato having a whopping 14900 hitpoints more than the Colorado, and 8700 hitpoints more than the Scharnhorst. What your smaller hitpoint pool will mean is that you will have to be careful in choosing your engagements or you’ll see your hitpoints quickly disappear.
Belt: 180mm @ 15 degrees
Extremities armour: 50mm
Upper Deck: 50-20mm
Main Deck: 100-50mm
Turrets: 240mm (faces), 225mm (sides), 125mm (roofs)
Secondary turrets: 25mm
Conning tower: 250mm
Underwater protection: 50mm torpedo bulkhead, 4.5m deep
The Stalingrad’s armour is quite weak, being capable of only resisting 8” shells and not really suited for engaging battleships. That should come as no surprise since the Stalingrad is a true battlecruiser and was tasked with destroying enemy cruisers, not capital ships. The armour scheme has an inclined 180mm belt which should be capable of bouncing any enemy fire if properly angled, a relatively thick deck which should prevent overmatching the deck armour and a good underwater protection scheme that has a 50mm torpedo bulkhead and should provide a very decent torpedo damage reduction. The most important part of this armour scheme is probably the extremities armour thickness. The Stalingrad has its extremities protected by 50mm of armour, this means that it can be bow-on to any enemy and bounce any shells as they won’t be able to overmatch the armour, making it surprisingly durable even against such hard hitters like the Yamato. The only part that can be overmatched is its top deck armour which has a thickness of 50mm over the citadel but 20mm elsewhere and could thus result in some penetrations.
The armour on the Stalingrad comprised over 30% of its total displacement, and although it wasn’t very thick, you’ll be hard pressed to find a spot of the Stalingrad that’s unarmored. In short, the Stalingrad has a mediocre armour thickness that can be used to bounce any enemy fire if bow-on or properly angled, however presenting your broadside to any enemy will result in massive hitpoint losses. Ensure that the Stalingrad faces its enemy and it will be a tough nut to crack, in all other situations, treat it as you would a heavily armoured cruiser.
3x3 305mm/62 (12”) SM-33 Pattern 1948 guns
The Stalingrad has a substantial improvement in firepower when compared to the Scharnhorst which is the other ship in the game with small battleship guns at high tiers. Both mount 9 guns each and in the same turret arrangement, however the Stalingrad has 305mm guns compared to the Scharnhorst’s 283mm guns, and although this seems like a rather small difference, the shells fired by the Stalingrad are quite more powerful. Where the Scharnhorst’s AP shell weighs 330kg, is fired at 890m/s and deals 7600 damage, the Stalingrad’s AP shell weighs 467kg, is fired at 950m/s and deals 9400 damage. The AP shell from the Stalingrad is 40% heavier than the Scharnhorst’s and is fired at a higher muzzle velocity, meaning that it will retain its punch for a longer distance and coupled with the Russian accuracy should ensure that the Stalingrad’s a deadly cruiser killer even at long ranges. The Stalingrad’s HE shell is surprising in that it weighs the same as the AP shell but is fired at 700m/s instead of 950m/s, leading to rainbow arcs when firing HE and making gunnery while using HE less than comfortable. Luckily, the HE shell performance is quite decent, dealing 4200 damage and having a 28% chance to start a fire.
The guns mounted by the Stalingrad had a rate of fire of 3.26 rounds per minute which is quite good, however taking into account that the Scharnhorst’s rate of fire was nerfed from its historical 3.5 rounds per minute to 3 rounds per minute, we can expect that the Stalingrad’s in-game rate of fire would be 2.75 or 2.8 rounds per minute, which is still very good. Should the Stalingrad’s rate of fire prove deficient, it can easily be buffed to 3 rounds per minute. The range on these guns was very good, being somewhat optimistically considered to be 53km, and although it’s unlikely they would’ve been able to reach that far, a longer range than the Moskva’s should be warranted. The turret traverse speed was 4.5 degrees per second which would provide a rather average 40s time for a full 180 degree turn.
Overall, the Stalingrad’s guns show the typical russian characteristics having great shell arcs, long range, high velocity and a mediocre turret traverse. There are very few issues with these guns, those would be the slow muzzle velocity of the HE shell, and most importantly the caliber of the gun. Whereas a 16” gun may overmatch a cruiser’s armour and strike the citadel, a 12” gun will not overmatch and will bounce instead, meaning that using AP armour against angled targets may prove frustrating, just as any Scharnhorst captain will tell you. The guns will make for very comfortable sniping and will absolutely wreck anything that shows a broadside to you as they should have good penetration and accuracy even at range.
6x2 130mm/60 BL-109A DP guns
The Stalingrad’s secondary battery uses the same guns of the Moskva’s secondary battery, with the arrangement being 2 superfiring turrets on the centerline forward and 2 turrets on each side of the superstructure. Each of these turrets carries twin 130mm guns that fire 15 rounds per minute, with each HE shell dealing 1800 damage and having an 8% fire chance. With the potential to fire 4 of these turrets to a broadside, there’s a decent hail of fire to any approaching enemy and with such a good fire chance, it’s likely that a few fires are caused. The only matter for these guns would be their range, but since the Moskva has a 6.5km range with them, I’d expect the same to show up for the Stalingrad. Overall, it’s a decent if not spectacular secondary battery.
6x2 130mm/60 BL-109A DP guns (168dps @5.7km), 6x4 45mm SM-20-ZIF (123dps @3.5km), 10x4 25mm 4M-120 AA guns (84dps @3.1km)
The AA for the Stalingrad is absolutely great and should swat down a lot of planes if even the most basic of the captain skills is used to buff it. The Stalingrad’s AA suite is almost exactly like the Moskva’s, but it’s long and short AA auras are stronger. The long range and high DPS of the 130mm guns mean that you will start downing planes at really long ranges and will be able to assist your allies from quite afar. The fact that all of the Stalingrad’s AA guns have a minimum range of 3.1km means that any plane that wishes to attack you will feel the full force of your AA guns for at least a few seconds while they approach. Furthermore, the AA suite has a decent mid-range aura to complement the long-range one so the AA power of the Stalingrad is good at all ranges. Overall, the Stalingrad’s AA suite is fit for a tier 9 battleship, especially since its long range aura has the highest DPS and longest range of any ship currently in game.
35.5kts – 280,000hp
Speed is key for a battlecruiser, and the Stalingrad does not disappoint. Carrying a massive powerplant that produces 280,000hp it can reach speeds of 35.5kts which is absolutely blistering for such a massive ship and capable of outrunning same-tier cruisers. The Stalingrad is 4.5kts faster than any other battleship at its tier (Bismarck), 2.5kts faster than any battleship it will face (Iowa) and at least 1kt faster than any tier 8 cruiser. The Stalingrad’s unmatched speed should allow it to switch flanks pretty easily, disengage from unwanted battles and apply its firepower wherever is needed.
The Stalingrad would have the tier 8 battleship consumables of Damage Control Party, Repair Party and additionally they would have the same Surveillance Radar consumable as that used by the Soviet cruisers. The Stalingrad was built from the ground up to have radar surveillance as it was designed post-war and built during the 50s.
The Stalingrad is the final expression of the battlecruiser, having characteristics of both a cruiser and a battleship. It combines a battleship’s great firepower and a cruiser’s speed with armour intended to defeat cruiser fire only. The Stalingrad was not designed to fight in a battle line, instead being intended to defeat enemy cruisers and aircraft carriers at range, chasing enemies with its great speed and pummeling them with its fast-firing big guns. In-game, the Stalingrad would seem like another Scharnhorst-like ship due to its small gun bore and fast rate of fire, however the manner in which both of these ships would play is quite different. The Scharnhorst’s accuracy greatly diminishes at range, and its thick armour, heavy secondary battery and torpedo complement all mean that the Scharnhorst’s meant to get close and personal with enemies; this is not how the Stalingrad would play.
The Stalingrad’s great shell performance even at long ranges mean that the Stalingrad would use the features that make the Scharnhorst into such a mighty adversary at short range but applying them at long range. The Stalingrad’s guns would be accurate at long range and with its AP shell characteristics should be used to snipe at enemy cruisers while presenting the bow to any big-guns you can see. The 50mm extremities armour featured by the Stalingrad mean that it can’t be overmatched by any gun in-game and enemies will have to hit the few weak spots that it has in order to penetrate it when angled. The Stalingrad’s AA suite also means that it can support others or itself against air strikes and it can project a large danger zone for enemy planes if it is specced to do so.
Overall, the Stalingrad is a mighty and unforgiving war machine, it features great guns and speed that may lead you to believe that you can sink anybody, however your low hitpoint pool and thin armour means that you will be quickly punished if you are not careful. The lack of armour angling will undoubtedly mean that you are sunk and your large size will make you an easy target for torpedoes. If you can manage to avoid showing your broadside and overcommitting, the Stalingrad will prove to be a great ship for you, terrorizing the high seas with quick and accurate firepower.
Great guns with particularly good AP performance
Great minimum armour thickness (50mm)
Weak maximum armour thickness
Sub-par hitpoint pool
Figure 2 - Stalingrad battlecruiser top and side profile.