Hello and welcome to another article where I pretend to know what I'm talking about. This time, the Dutch Admiralen class destroyers.
HNLMS Piet Hein, an Admiralen class 'torpedojager' of the first production group. Torpedojager is short for 'torpedobootjager', 'torpedo boat hunter', the Dutch term for destroyer.
First, some history:
The Admiralen class was a class of small destroyers, built in the Netherlands between 1926 and 1931. Eight of these handsome little two-stackers were built, in two production blocks, 'first group' and 'second group' consisting of four ships each. Their design was based on the unique British destroyer HMS Ambuscade and used British armament. As befitting a class of ships called 'Admiralen', 'Admirals', The eight ships in class were named after Dutch admirals of renown:
All eight Admiralen served in WWII and were either lost to enemy action or scuttled.
Van Ghent, a base-line first group Admiralen, as built. The Dutch liked painting large, white initials on the bow sides identifying each ship.
Van Ghent: Hull ID 'GT' served in the Netherlands East Indies under Admiraal Karel Doorman's command. She ran aground and was scuttled in 1942. Evertsen: Hull ID 'EV', served in the far east. She was sunk by the IJN navy on March 1 1942, at Sunda Straight. Kortenaer: Hull ID 'KN', torpedoed by the Myoko class heavy cruiser IJN Haguro during the ill-fated battle of Java Sea. Piet Hein: Hull ID 'PH', torpedoed by the Asashio class destroyer IJN Asashio at Badung straight.
Van Galen, a base-line second group Admiralen, as built. Spot the differences.
Van Galen: Hull ID 'VG', stationed at the dutch coast at the outbreak of WWII. Was spotted and sunk by the Luftwaffe, while performing bombardments of the captured and German occupied Waalhaven airfield, near Rotterdam.
Witte de With: Hull ID 'WW', escorted a damaged HMS Exeter back to friendly port after the latter received damage during the first battle of Java sea. Witte de With herself was scuttled after receiving heavy damage during the second battle at Java Sea, which also saw the loss of Kortenaer.
Banckert: Hull ID 'BK', scuttled after being damaged by Japanese bombers at Surabaya dockyard, the Japanese later raised her but did not repair her. She was returned to the Dutch after war's end and sunk as a target in 1949.
Van Nes: Hull ID 'VN', sunk while escorting a refugee ship during a two-hour battle with Japanese airplanes. The refugee ship also did not survive.
These ships had similar displacement, main armament, torpedo armament and complement, but differed slightly in AA armament.
The main guns on the Admiralen class were four open, single mounts. The guns themselves were ballistically the same 120mm Bofors as mounted on the in-game Blyskawica, just less of them and using separated ammunition instead of unified cartridges. As such the performance of these guns is known to us. That said however, WG could easily mess around with aspects like traverse speed, range and ROF to balance the ship for whichever tier they deem appropriate.
The most interesting thing about these little boats that could is that, though too small to carry a steam catapult, they were nevertheless fitted with a floatplane. These were mounted above the aft torpedo triplets, and the class was fitted with a crane to deploy and retrieve the plane. Ofcourse, lacking a catapult means that WG would have to come up with some mechanic to launch the plane if they were to add said plane to the ship, or they could just elect not to. Both are a possibility.
Van Galen stretching her legs in the open sea.
Now, down to brass tacks. How would these ships look in game?
1316 ton standard, 1640 ton full load.
Using dseehafer and fr05tys formulas, this gives Admiralen around 10800 hitpoints. This is a low amount of health for a mid-tier destroyer in this game and suggests tier 4 placement. Tier 5 would also do, alongside ships like Minekaze which has 10900 hitpoints in game. A ship like Nicholas leaves Admiralen in the dust though, with the American fighting tin can boasting 13100 hitpoints.
This is a destroyer. We don't care about armor. Gun armament:
4x 1 120mm Bofors
These are in all ballistic aspects the same guns as mounted on Blyskawica, where they boast a 12km range, 2200 AP and 1700 HE damage, an 8% fire chance, a 6.5s reload and an 18s traverse time. Of course, things like reload, range and traverse are all subject to balancing - especially ROF since Admiralen used separated ammunition instead of a unified cartridge. Still, these are very capable guns for a low / mid tier destroyer. At tier 4, these would be a very potent gunboat armament, and at tier 5 and 6 they'd be a solid set of backup weapons for a torpedo boat.
One thing to keep in mind though is that if WG gives these guns a relatively similar firing range as the same weapons on Blyskawica, we're looking at a ship that can stealth-fire out of the box. In my opinion, this would push her to tier 5 minimum, because we really don't need stealth-firing destroyers at tier 4. Torpedoes:
2x 3 533mm
Admiralen carried two triple-tube 21" torpedo launchers, armed with British torpedoes. Which torpedoes, though? There are two likely candidates:
One source, netherlandsnavy.com, suggests the Admiralen might have carried the Whitehead Type II53 Torpedoes. These have the following statistics:
4000m range @ 42 knots 10000m range @ 28 knots 300kg warhead
Although no other ranges and speeds are listed, I'm sure that the Type II53s were capable of being tuned for ranges and speeds in between those two extremes.
The other likely candidate is the Mark X, a torpedo designed and built by the British and supplied to ships from nations taken oven by the Axis powers.
Now, I am a fan of navweaps.com as source for my ship weapon statistics, and the only 'Mk II' torpedoes listed there are WWI era ones, having very different statistics (including a much smaller warhead) from the 'Mk II53' that netherlandsnavy lists. That's not to say that I don't believe netherlandsnavy, just that there is conflicting information. For completeness sake, the Mk II listed on navweaps has a 127kg warhead, which would give it around 7700 damage.
There is precedence for Dutch destroyers carrying the Mark X, HNLMS Isaac Zweers of the Gerard Callenburgh class carried these. They were also used on Dutch submarines. These torpedoes already exist in game, mounted on Blyskawica. In game these go 8km at 57 knots and do 14400 damage. Since according to netherlandsnavy the Whitehead Mk II carried the same weight warhead that navweaps claims the Mk X does, I'm going to assume similar damage from the Mk II.
WG gives torpedoes an additional 20 knot speed (though only 18 in the case of Blyskawica's Mark X), so whichever torpedo Admiralen were to get from the ones I've listed, add another ~20 knots to get the speed that WG would give them in game.
There is at least a lot of options to choose from, from fast short range options to slow long range ones, and from 7700 damage ones to 14400 damage ones, with Admiralen's tiering changing on which torpedo option WG picks. Anti Aircraft armament:
2x 75mm 4x 12.7mm Browning
1x 75mm 4x 40mm Bofors 4x 12.7mm Browning
First group has very bad AA, with second group carrying fair to decent AA, for a mid tier destroyer. Admiralen still won't shoot down many planes, though. Speed:
The Admiralen carried a triple boiler, 31000 shaft horsepower powerplant, managing 36 knots out of her twin screws. This is a decent speed for a mid tier destroyer, and she certainly won't be made a fool by her tiermates.
I expect decent maneuverability, too. These were relatively small ships, only inches larger on all sides than a Minekaze.
I can only speculate here, and assign her concealment ratings similar to those of roughly equal sized destroyers like Minekaze and Kamikaze. So, how does 6km by sea and 3km by air sound? Gimmicks:
Admiralen carried a seaplane. They had no catapult, the crew had to slow the ship to a stop and lower the plane overboard via a crane boom attached to the rear mast of the ship. But, still, it carried a plane, and as far as I know is the only destroyer of the era to do so. It's up to WG whether they would elect to give the ship a 'catapult' and allow it to launch the plane normally, or to simply not include the plane. Either way works, but would affect her tiering.
Personally, I think that having a scout plane on a destroyer would make for some very interesting, novel and unprecedented gameplay opportunities.
Beyond that, there are sources claiming that at least Witte de With carried a form of hydroacoustic for at least part of her service period. Lo Yang already shows us how useful that can be, now imagine it on a lower tier destroyer. Conclusion:
Admiralen, a very interesting little destroyer. But where to put her? Tier 4? 5? 6? Well, let's speculate:
Tier 4: First, let us first create a base line Admiralen. Take the basic ship from first group, no gimmicks, artificially gimp her gun range to prevent her stealth firing and give her the smallest warhead torpedoes with nominal listed range. We now have a little tier 4 gunboat with decent hitpoints, rather good guns (though without stealthfire capability) and 8km torpedoes with 7700 damage. This I think is a very good tier 4 destroyer, with slow, long range torpedoes that are relatively weak. Pros would be a powerful set of guns and long range torpedoes for the tier. Cons would be low damage output on the torpedoes, and poor-to-middling AA.
Tier 5: Now take the base line Admiralen, un-nerf the firing range a little bit and exchange her baseline Mk IIs with slow reloading, short-range tuned Mk Xs, we suddenly get a very capable and dangerous tier 5 'jack of all trades' destroyer with a punchy set of fast, 5km torpedoes backed by decent guns. Basically a neutered, relatively fragile Blyskawica at tier 5 - and I don't consider this a bad thing at all. Pros would be slight stealth firing capabilities, and general all-round-ness. Cons would be low hitpoints, very poor AA and lacking volume-of-fire on the guns.
Tier 6: Now let's turn it up a notch. Take the stealth firing Admiralen of tier 5, make it one of second group for improved AA, buff the ROF on the guns, give her a usable floatplane for additional range when needed, add Witte de With's hydroacoustic and give her range tuned Mk II53s or Mk Xs for a long range knock-out punch and you have a fragile but interesting and novel tier 6 torpedo boat with a very decent set of harassing guns. Pros would be stealth firing and stealth torping capabilities with powerful torpedoes, plus a floatplane and hydro making her a very useful scout. Cons would be very low hitpoints (lowest in tier) and very low volume-of-fire from the guns.
(Note that these tierings are based on my opinion, and another combination of gun range, torpedo types and consumables may yield a valid alternative tiering)
HNLMS Banckert at sea, 1936
Finally, regardless of what tier WG puts Admiralen, it would have to be a premium ship since the Dutch navy simply doesn't have enough designs for a full tech tree. That would open the question of which Admiralen to put into the game? First group or second group? Personally I think either Witte de With or Van Nes. Witte de With gained fame escorting a damaged HMS Exeter, and Van Nes would be a suitable candidate because of her heroic last stand escorting a refugee ship. I personally favor Witte de With because of the theoretical option of fitting hydroacoustic. However, I doubt WG would call me to choose which Admiralen to immortalize, so one can only speculate.