Cangrande Della Scala class Battlecruiser
Figure 1 - Basic layout of how the 1933 Battlecruiser design would have looked like.
The Regia Marina was very focused on keeping control over the Mediterranean and as such, it viewed the French and Royal navies as their adversaries in any potential conflicts. The Regia Marina was invited to the Washington Naval Treaty and it was given the status of a third tier power, in parity with the French Navy. The result of this was that by the late 1920’s, the Italian and French navies had 70,000 tons of spare capital ship allotment. The Italians and French both studied several battleship and battlecruiser designs from 1928 onwards; from designs similar to the Deutschland class and light battlecruisers to fast battleships. The French finally decided to laid down the Dunkerque in 1932 and in response, the Italians started the design study for a battlecruiser capable of rivalling the Dunkerque class. Such a design was the 1933 battlecruiser design which is analysed here which had firepower to rival the Dunkerque’s eight gun broadside. They would never be built; instead the development was halted and focus shifted to designing fast battleships, resulting in the Vittorio Veneto class that we all love and the rebuilding of the four old battleships of the Regia Marina.
The Cangrande Della Scala would have to be implemented as very light and powerful battlecruisers. I have done the following analysis assuming that the Cangrande Della Scala would be slotted in the game as a Tier 5 premium Battleship for the Regia Marina. For reference, I have had to create a lot of the data here as it was never properly defined.
DISCLAIMER: I have had to provide a name for this design as it never had one and I chose Cangrande della Scala. Whenever you read Cangrande or Cangrande della Scala, it’s just because I hate calling it 1933 Battlecruiser design all over the place.
26,925 tonnes (design) – 42,630 HP
31,500 tonnes (full) * - 48,050 HP
The Cangrande della Scala is barely worthy of being a tier 5 battleship based on its displacement at full load, being 628 tons heavier than the Konig, while being 936 tons lighter than the New York. The Kongo is the only other battlecruiser at the tier, but it is 7217 tons heavier. When compared to tier 4 battleships it is heavier than all but the Myogi, which is 919 tons heavier. The Cangrande della Scala is 2335 tons heavier than the Ishizuchi, 3820 tons heavier than the Wyoming, 1800 tons heavier than the Kaiser and 3000 tons heavier than the Nikolai. In terms of size it is a bit smaller than the Kongo, but much larger than its other tiermates. Overall, the Cangrande della Scala’s displacement means that it can fit at both tiers 4 or 5, but it’s closer to tier 5.
DISCLAIMER: This ship only had a design displacement, it didn’t have a full load displacement so I’ve added one that might have been reasonable. It would’ve most likely been higher than this.
Figure 2 - Basic armour layout of the Cangrande della Scala class
Armoured Deck: 50mm + 50mm + 50mm
Barbettes: 300mm (primary), 80mm (secondary)
The only parameters we know of the Cangrande della Scala’s armour was its belt thickness, length of it and the armoured deck thickness; we can however comment on how these values are relative to other ships. The 250mm belt is nothing to scoff at since the Kongo only has a 203mm belt and nobody would argue that the Kongo is a vulnerable ship, although that is due to an additional turtleback. One of the best features of the Cangrande’s belt is that this belt covers quite a bit of the ship’s broadside and will mean that with proper angling, getting through it will be a chore for anything except battleships. The armoured belt also reaches to the prow, albeit at a reduced thickness of 100mm and 30mm plating is placed on the prow where the armoured belt doesn’t protect. The Cangrande also has a small 50mm turtleback behind its main belt and that, along with the 30mm plating on the prow, will ensure that getting citadel hits on it will be tough.
The Cangrande’s other armour specification is its triple armoured deck, with each one of them being 50mm thick. This arrangement of triple decks means that it will not be possible to overmatch it, but it doesn’t have quite the same stopping power as a single 150mm deck and thus you will receive normal penetrations more often, though it’s unlikely you will get citadelled. The Cangrande’s armour layout was not very detailed, but if we look at other Italian designs then we can expect certain things such as turrets that aren’t particularly well armoured, secondary batteries with good protection and decent all-around belt protection. Overall, the specifications are accurate enough to give us an idea that the Cangrande would be suited to tier 5, yet not so accurate as to limit Wargaming and allow them to fine-tune the design to ensure the design is balanced at the tier.
4x2 340mm/50 (13.4”) Model 1933 guns *
The Italians never designed a 340mm gun so these are just guesses of how the Italians might have designed them for use. The Italians always favoured a combination of high muzzle velocity and heavy shell that was uncommon in most other navies, except for the French one, however the Italians usually went even further than the French in this regard. These guns have great arcs as they have very high muzzle velocities and will be especially useful when attempting long-distance shots as a small lead will be required. The turrets themselves will rotate faster than any other battleship’s guns at the tier, rotating at a rate of 5 degrees per second which results in a 36 second time to rotate a full 180 degrees. That traverse speed is only slightly lower than that of tier 5 cruisers and should ensure that the Cangrande is able to react swiftly to enemies showing up unannounced.
These guns will have a real performance disparity between their shells as with all Italian guns. The AP performance will be great, with them firing a 605kg shell at 850m/s which deals 10,100 damage. The HE performance however will be disastrous, with them firing a 520kg shell at 885m/s which will deal 3,900 damage and have a measly 18% chance to start a fire. Italian HE used very small bursting charges which results in poor HE performance, especially the fire chance, however this might mean that they receive improved penetration compared to other ships. A 30 second reload time with a ~17km range in-game would ensure that the Cangrande’s guns would be fit to tier 5, providing a long range punch against distracted enemies and using HE only when absolutely necessary as it is sub-par. The small amount of guns will be an issue, however the fast turret rotation should ensure that at least bringing those guns to bear isn’t a problem.
DISCLAIMER: These are my estimations for what these guns might have been following standard Italian naval gun design practice and are not meant to be taken as if they were set in stone. Italian naval guns used very heavy AP shells with high muzzle velocity and heavy HE shells with small bursting charges with very high muzzle velocity. The HE shells might work as if they were HEAP shells in game.
6x2 152mm/53 (6”) Model 1929 guns
This is a meager secondary battery for tier 5. There are three turrets to a broadside, each carrying twin 6” guns which fire a 44.3kg HE shell at 950m/s dealing 2,200 damage with an 8% chance to cause a fire every 7.5 seconds. Don’t expect these guns to rain doom against your enemies as the low rate of fire and small number of guns mean that you won’t produce that satisfying hail of shells that other battleships deal, but the large caliber and damage mean that if they hit, they’ll hurt. The range on these guns might be decent as they’re quite far up the hull and have good fire angles, so a range of 4.5km or even 5km wouldn’t be out of place with so few guns. Overall, you will mostly forget about these guns as they’re rather feeble.
Figure 3 - The Cangrande della Scala as it might have looked with its fittings
6x2 37mm/54 AA Model 1932 guns (48dps @3.5km) *, 4x1 37mm/54 AA Model 1932 guns (24dps @3.5km) *, 8x2 13.2mm/76 Model 1931 (28dps @1.2km)
The AA suite of the Cangrande is disappointing as was the trend of all the Italian Navy, where they operated under the assumption that since they would operate in the confined waters of the Mediterranean, the Italian Air Force would handle the anti-air duties and provide cover. I have added the 8x2 13.2mm guns to the original specification as these were guns not normally included in the design data of Italian ships and would give it a little bit more punch. Italian ships will have poor AA capabilities, but with a potential DPS of 100, it will not be completely useless if planes loiter around. The biggest flaw of this AA suite is its lack of DP guns to provide a long-range aura as well as the overall weak DPS output of the suite. It would be more suited for a tier 4 battleships than a tier 5 battlecruiser, but then again, this all depends on how Wargaming implement the 37mm Italian AA guns in-game.
DISCLAIMER: I’ve estimated (very optimistically) them to be worse than the 37mm guns used by the Soviets, but much better than the French 37mm guns which were notoriously bad due to an extremely poor rate of fire.
29kts – 160,000hp
The Cangrande Della Scala Would most likely have a higher speed than design specified 29kts. Its powerplant of 160,000hp is much more powerful than the Kongo’s which produces 136,000hp. The Kongo’s powerplant pushes the Kongo at 29kts even though it is much larger and has a much bigger displacement, so I can assume that a top speed of 32.5kts wouldn’t be out of place for the Cangrande Della Scala. Should Wargaming give it a top speed of 29kts, the Cangrande will still be one of the fastest battleships in several tiers, being faster than all battleships in tiers 4-7 with the exception of the two other battlecruisers (Kongo and Dunkerque) and the Scharnhorst class ships, and this speed will help it to support its cruisers in the early engagements as well as hunting battleships and even kiting them at long range. A particular advantage of the Cangrande’s massive powerplant output is the fact that it will be able to accelerate and slow down faster than other battleships in the game, probably straddling the line between battleship and cruiser acceleration.
4 Seaplanes (IMAM Ro.43)
The Cangrande Della Scala would have the standard T5 battleship consumables with the addition of 4 charges of the Spotter Plane or Catapult Fighter consumables.
The Cangrande della Scala would not be the most powerful battleship at its tier, in fact it won’t be the best at anything when compared to its tiermates. The Cangrande’s big draw would be its great gun handling and ergonomics, paired with a hard to citadel armour scheme. The Cangrande will be a great ally to its cruisers as it’s only slightly slower than they are and behaves more like a large and heavy cruiser than a proper battleship. The Cangrande’s small hitpoint pool and thin armour will make it hard for it to go toe to toe against battleships in a straight fight and especially as it has to show its broadside to bring its full firepower to bear, however it will be great as an opportunistic fighter with its great turret rotation allowing it to rapidly react to anybody presenting its broadside.
The Cangrande will excel in its role of cruiser hunter and will even cause trouble to enemy battleships if they’re not careful. In a way, the Cangrande will be the Italian-flavoured version of the Kongo, trading a bit of speed, hitpoints, secondaries, AA and gun caliber for quicker turning turrets, faster-flying shells, a slightly thicker belt armour and a great deal more bow armour. Some would say it’s a bad tradeoff, some would like such a style, considering the Kongo is one of the best battleships tier-for-tier in the game, the Cangrande would probably be a good addition to the game at tier 5, and if it underperforms then Wargaming can fudge it to suit the game.
Fast turret rotation
Great shell velocity makes long-range shots easy
Decent belt armour with turtleback
Good bow armour
Small HP pool
Smaller gun caliber than same-tier enemies
Terrible HE shell performance
Figure 4 - Design 1933 Battlecruiser as it might have looked at the end of its design