De Zeven Provincien class Battlecruiser
Figure 1 - Artist’s impression of how the De Zeven Provincien might have looked on the high seas
The Dutch East Indies were very weakly protected as only a pair of outdated Java class light cruisers and a De Ruyter light cruiser which would offer only a token of protection against any determined attack, being ineffectual as a defence force against an overtly militaristic and ambitious Japanese Empire. The Design 1047 was the Dutch Navy’s attempt at creating a battlecruiser design to form the core of its fleet to protect the Dutch East Indies from Japanese aggression in the late 1930s. The logic behind this move was that a squadron of 3 battlecruisers would be able to provide such a strong deterrence force that Japan would have had to commit enough forces to fight against them as to have “an unacceptable weakening of his capabilities in other theaters”. This assumption was based off of the presumption that since Japan’s biggest rival was the United States Navy, they would be using their biggest fleet assets of battleships and aircraft carriers against the United States Navy, leaving a force of heavy and light cruisers to attempt an attack on the Dutch East Indies.
The design process for this 3-ship class of battlecruisers started with the Dutch attempting to obtain France’s designs for the Dunkerque class, and failing that, they produced a design with the techniques they knew, which were from the First World War, and thus horribly outdated for modern design practices. After analysing the design, the Dutch Admiralty realised they were horribly outdated and decided to ask Germany for help, which they agreed to, with a series of designs going to and fro between 1939 and 1940. The Germans helped create a design similar to the Scharnhorst but refused to disclose the underwater protection system and layout, for which the Dutch sent a delegation to Italy and look at the newly built Littorio class battleships with their unique underwater protection system. They were once again unsuccessful in gathering the required scheme, but the Italians were able to provide them with the schematics for the Scharnhorst’s underwater protection system and the Dutch incorporated it into their design. The Dutch continued refining this design until the Germans invaded in 1940. The design was quite advanced and with an initial commission date of 1944, it seems as the design was just never meant to be. Twice the Dutch had attempted to build a modern capital ship, and twice had such plans ended with the outbreak of a World War, might be that this beautiful design will finally see its glory days in World of Warships.
The De Zeven Provincien would have to be implemented as extremely fast battlecruisers. I have done the following analysis assuming that the De Zeven Provincien would be slotted in the game as a Tier 5 premium Battleship for the Dutch Koninklijke Marine. For reference, this is an amalgamation of the last designs created for the 1047 design as the design process was never finished.
DISCLAIMER: I have had to provide a name for this design as it never had one and I chose De Zeven Provincien as it was traditionally assigned to the most powerful ship in the Dutch Navy. Whenever you read De Zeven Provincien, it’s just because I hate calling it Design 1047 all over the place.
31,396 tonnes – 47,925 HP
The De Zeven Provincien is on the lighter side of tier 5 as far as its displacement goes, with a full load of 31,396 tonnes it is the second lightest battleship present at tier 5, being heavier than the Konig by a measly 524 tonnes, lighter than the New York by 1,040 tonnes and lighter than the Kongo by a massive 7,371 tonnes. This displacement disparity means that the De Zeven Provincien has a rather small hitpoint pool; especially if compared to the other battlecruiser at its tier, the Kongo (it’s actually a fast battleship). Furthermore, it is important to note that the De Zeven Provincien would be the largest ship at its tier, being well over 15m longer than the Kongo which will make it a tasty target for AP barrages but with a much smaller superstructure that should ensure it has decent concealment. Overall, this is workable at tier 5, but it isn’t great.
Main Belt: 225mm + 17mm @72 degrees
Upper Belt: 40mm
Upper Deck: 20mm
Main Deck: 100mm + 15mm
Lower Deck: 30mm
Conning Tower: 150mm
Turrets: 300mm (face), 130mm (roof), 100mm (sides & rear)
Barbettes: 250-200mm (main), 75-60mm (secondaries)
Underwater Protection: 40mm longitudinal bulkhead, 5.55m deep (~25-27%)
The armour of the De Zeven Provincien was only ever meant to protect against 8” guns as its intended purpose was to fight against the Japanese heavy cruisers for control of the Dutch East Indies; as such, it has a rather thin armour belt and upper belt. The De Zeven Provincien followed the standard German practice of using a turtleback arrangement, although this was greatly reduced compared to German ships due to weight constraints. The De Zeven Provincien had a 227mm belt with 17mm of extra plating directly behind it at an angle of 72 degrees outward, this increased protection against shellfire in shorter engagements but made it more vulnerable against plunging fire that didn’t strike the belt. The inclination of the belt means that in truth, it would have been equivalent to 254mm of armour if placed vertically and to further prevent damage, a 30mm turtleback was placed behind it at such an angle that for a shell to strike the citadel from a hit against the main belt, it’d have to penetrate the equivalent of 330mm of plating. The upper belt was 40mm thick and had the same angling as the main belt, however due to its thickness, it only had 42mm of effective armour and would be easy enough to penetrate with any guns. The upper deck, or weatherdeck, had a thickness of 20mm while the main armoured deck had a thickness of 100+15mm and the lower deck which covered the citadel had a thickness of 30mm. The weakest point in this armour layout is probably the front and aft bulkheads, which had between 200mm and 40mm of thickness, with a bow protection that can be overmatched by 356mm guns or larger, bow-tanking on the De Zeven Provincien against battleships will likely prove to be a costly endeavour.
The De Zeven Provincien’s turrets have a 300mm frontal plate and the barbettes have 250mm of thickness, which should prove adequate as protection from enemy fire, however at short ranges it is likely that you’ll see them getting knocked out somewhat often. In terms of underwater protection, the De Zeven Provincien actually has a decent enough torpedo protection rating (~25-27%), being slightly better than that of the Scharnhorst and composed of multiple void layers with a final 40mm torpedo bulkhead protecting the citadel from harm. The presence of the turtleback and such a thick armoured deck (thicker than the Scharnhorst’s) means that although it might be easy to penetrate the De Zeven Provincien, getting to its citadel is a task that only the biggest guns may attempt unless you go through the front or rear bulkheads. The De Zeven Provincien’s armour will certainly prove to be a significant hurdle for cruisers to handle, but they will still be able to stack damage with regular penetrations, and battleships will no doubt see the De Zeven Provincien as a juicy target for their big guns. Overall, a good armour scheme for such a fast ship, and the torpedo defense rating is certainly nice to have.
Figure 2 - Schematics and internal armour layout of Design 1047
3x3 283mm/54.5 (11.1”) guns
The De Zeven Provincien carried a main battery composed of nine 283mm guns in three triple turrets, following the same configuration as the Scharnhorst. These 283mm guns have a reload time of 24s which results in a rate of fire of 2.5 rounds per minute, firing a 315kg shell at 900m/s towards an enemy, dealing 7,600 damage for the AP shells and 3,600 damage with an 18% chance to cause a fire for the HE shells. It must be noted that since these guns and shells are based off of the Scharnhorst’s guns, it stands to reason that the HE shell will benefit from the improved HE penetration of German battleships and as such penetrate 71mm of armour, making it far more likely to penetrate armour and cause damage than its tier-mates. This increased penetration should counteract the rather low HE damage and fire chance by ensuring that the HE shells which hit are far more likely to cause damage. The turrets themselves turn at 7.2 degrees per second, which results in a lightning-quick 25s per 180 degree turn and coupled with the high muzzle-velocity should ensure that the De Zeven Provincien is capable of reacting to new threats quickly and even hitting the targets at long range with such comfortable gunnery.
The De Zeven Provincien’s main battery would have had a maximum range of 42.6km in real life, so a long range for the ship would not be out of the question, and since this isn’t a German ship (even if they did take a lot of ideas and parts from them) then it can actually have a decent enough accuracy to exploit that long range and attempt shots at far away targets. The biggest drawbacks of this main battery are simply its low penetration when compared against other battleship guns and its low damage per minute when compared to its tier-mates. In a straight DPM fight, the De Zeven Provincien is only capable of beating the Kongo for AP damage, dealing 171,000 damage compared to the Kongo’s 163,200 damage (but these are 356mm rounds with great accuracy), and trailing the Konig’s 193,500 damage and the New York’s massive 213,300 damage. In terms of HE damage and fires caused, the De Zeven Provincien is firmly the last of the pack, with an HE DPM of 81,000 and causing 4.05 fires per minute, whereas the Konig has an HE DPM of 80,800 and causes 5.3 fires per minute, the Kongo has an HE DPM of 91,200 and causes 4 fires per minute and finally the New York has an HE DPM of 105,000 while causing 6.3 fires per minute. The De Zeven Provincien’s main battery makes a bit more sense when compared to the Scharnhorst’s, as it only has 15% lower AP DPM, 7% lower HE DPM and sets out 1.5 fires fewer than the Scharnhorst. Overall, the biggest boons of this main battery is the fact that it’s got very fast turning turrets (better than the Furutaka) in a comfortable layout, very high muzzle velocity shells, great ergonomics, high HE penetration and a fast reload. Those strengths outweigh the drawbacks of a small caliber, lower DPM and terrible fire chance to ensure the De Zeven Provincien in-game performs the role that was intended of it in real life, a mean heavy cruiser killer and thoroughly adequate for Tier 5.
6x2 120mm/50 W-F Mark 7 DP guns OR 6x2 120mm/50 Bofors M44 DP guns
The De Zeven Province design was quite clear as to what its secondary armament was going to be as it was defined early on to be six twin turrets carrying 120mm/50 DP Bofors guns, however it was never specified which model of Bofors would have been used. There were two options for this, the 120mm/50 W-F Mark 7 DP guns which had been used on Dutch destroyers of the 1920s and the 120mm/50 Bofors Model 1944 DP guns that were developed for the Ostland destroyers of the Swedish Navy. The W-F Mark 7 guns fired 10 HE shells weighing 24kg at 900m/s which dealt 1,700 damage with a 7% fire chance, while the Model 1944 Bofors fired 20 HE shells weighing 23.5kg at 850m/s which dealt 1,600 damage with a 6% fire chance; either of those secondary weapons would have a maximum range of 4.5km. In my opinion, and due to the fact that twin mounts for the W-F Mark 7 guns never existed and neither did a DP platform for them, I find it most likely that the 120mm/50 Bofors Model 1944 would have been the chosen gun for the secondary battery as they came into service in DP guns at the same time as the De Zeven Provincien would have been built and fitted out. I will assume thus that the secondary battery of the De Zeven Provincien was composed of the Model 1944 Bofors guns. The secondary battery of the De Zeven Provincien is nothing spectacular, with just 3 twin turrets to each broadside, it will output very few shells against any enemies closing, however these guns have a great rate of fire coupled with a decent range so they might just be able to hit a few times and cause a fire. It is certainly a weak secondary battery, but it is still much better than the New York’s. A secondary battery that’s workable at tier 5 for sure.
6x2 120mm/50 W-F Mark 7 DP guns (52dps @5km) * OR 6x2 120mm/50 Bofors M44 DP guns (75dps @5km) *, 7x2 40mm Bofors (86dps @3.5km), 8x1 20mm/70 Oerlikon (29dps @2km)
The AA suite of the De Zeven Provincien is affected of course by the above choice of secondaries, with the Model 1944 Bofors offering an almost 50% better performance than the W-F Mark 7 guns. Regardless of which of these two guns is used, the De Zeven Provincien carries an AA suite fitting of a tier 6 battleship, with a very healthy spread of DPS among its long and mid-range auras. The total DPS of the De Zeven Provincien (167 or 190) means that it will be well protected from air strikes and only the Texas would be able to beat it in a pure AA comparison, although the De Zeven Provincien has a long-range aura that the Texas does not have and it benefits from the Manual AA Fire skill on its larger guns. Overall, this is a good AA suite for a tier 6 ship or one of the best AA suites for a tier 6 ship if using the Model 1944 Bofors.
Disclaimer: W-F Mark 7 guns based on the 120mm DP guns used by the Aoba. Bofors M44 guns based on 127mm/38 USN guns.
Figure 3 - Basic layout of how the De Zeven Provincien might have looked if completed in 1945
34kts – 180,000hp
The De Zeven Provincien has a marked advantage over any other battleship or battlecruiser currently in game which is its speed. Capable of reaching 34 knots, the De Zeven Provincien is 1 at least knot faster than any other battleship (the Iowa) and 2 knots faster than any battleship it may encounter in its matchmaking spread (the Gneisenau); furthermore, the De Zeven Provincien is even capable of catching up to destroyers it may face such as the Isokaze or be just a bit slower than those in its matchmaking spread where destroyers with speeds of around 35 knots abound. When compared to its specified prey of cruisers, the De Zeven Provincien still provides a strong showing, equalling or outrunning most of the cruisers in its matchmaking spread with the exception of the Japanese and Soviet tier 5 and above cruisers which are notoriously fast. The speed of the De Zeven Provincien should mean that not only is it able to move with its group of allied cruisers as a cohesive unit and cover them with its AA fire, but it will also allow it to switch flanks quickly to exert pressure or shore up engagements as needed, chase enemies and behave as a sort of super-cruiser. It might have a small downside in terms of turning as it’s quite a long ship and thus might have a rather large turning circle. The De Zeven Provincien’s speed might be overall it’s greatest strength as it can outrun anything that it cannot outfight.
The De Zeven Provincien would have the standard tier 5 battleship consumables with an additional 3 charges of the Spotter Plane or Catapult Fighter consumables.
The De Zeven Provincien is in many ways the Scharnhorst’s cousin, but while the Scharnhorst is closer to a fast battleship, the De Zeven Provincien is a thoroughbred battlecruiser aching to be set upon cruisers to chase and take down. The De Zeven Provincien has several advantages that will allow it to exert a great influence on the battlefield; boasting an incredible top speed, very fast turning turrets, fast flying shells and a good AA suite means that it can quickly relocate and respond to new threats while working as an escort for friendly cruisers. The De Zeven Provincien is not without its flaws, but it has tremendous potential as it can always be supporting the team effort, just try not to get isolated from your team as your armour is only adequate against cruiser shellfire and your guns will be hard pressed to cause damage to enemy battleships at mid-long ranges. The De Zeven Provincien will be an absolute terror to enemy cruisers as it has guns big enough to penetrate them at almost any angle and with such a high speed that nothing is safe from it. It really has to be stressed that she’s like a super-heavy gun cruiser in behaviour and as such you will need to cover yourself from battleships and destroyers with their torpedoes, especially since your small hitpoint pool means that a battleship’s salvo or a few torpedoes can severely cripple you.
The De Zeven Provincien is not a monster with its potential damage per minute as it doesn’t have the gun caliber, damage or rate of fire to outmatch your battleship tier-mates, however it does have certain advantages over them which might make your damage per minute go just a bit higher. The smaller shell caliber of its AP rounds means that although it is incapable of overmatching the prow of tier 6 and above battleships, it is capable of overmatching the bow of any cruiser in its tier range, though if they angle properly, your shells will bounce from their belt; on the other hand, the smaller caliber means that you’re less likely to overpenetrate your shots and stacking those penetrations can really hurt. The De Zeven Provincien’s HE shell will likely be your last resource in most situations as its damage and fire chance is anemic, however it has a penetration of 71mm which means that shots that hit are very likely to penetrate and thus you will deal consistent damage to enemies which would otherwise be impervious to your AP shots due to angle; be aware that 71mm of penetration is enough to produce citadel hits several cruisers in its matchmaking spread.
Overall, the De Zeven Provincien is a gorgeous ship that should warrant its inclusion in the game on looks alone, but its combination of a robust AA suite, speed, quick-turning and quick-firing guns with a solid, if somewhat easy to penetrate armour layout, will mean that in the hands of a skilled player it can be a nightmare on the seas. It is in the hands of an unskilled or reckless player that the De Zeven Provincien will suffer, as much of its damage potential depends upon choosing its targets carefully, using the correct kind of ammunition and not overstretching to find yourself alone. Much like its cousin the Scharnhorst, the De Zeven Provincien is unlikely to appeal to the average player as they’ll find its guns to be unforgiving and especially weak at longer ranges, though many will surely cherish it as a dedicated heavy cruiser killer and cruiser support ship; truly a ship for the masters of the seas.
Comfortable gun arrangement
Great gun ergonomics
Good ROF and ballistics
Decent armour layout and torpedo protection
Small hitpoint pool
Small gun caliber
Poor HE shell performance
Mediocre secondary battery
Low damage per minute potential
Figure 3 - 3D Rendering of how the De Zeven Provincien would have looked