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Tier 5 Soviet Kirov-class Cruiser Preview3/11/2016 7:27:47 PM
Published By: LittleWhiteMouse
The following is a preview of the Soviet & Russian Cruiser line. It's intended to be a sneak-peak rather than an exhaustive summary of the ships in question. Please keep in mind that this is still early in the testing phase and that the stats listed here may not represent the final form of these vessels. 
 

The Tier 5 Soviet Navy's

Kirov-class Cruiser

 
Quick Summary: One of three pseudo-heavy cruisers of the Soviet line, armed with nine slow-reloading 180mm rifles. She has good range, good speed and good AA values. This comes at the price of very poor handling, large size and fragility.

Upgrading from the Tier 4 Svietlana -- will not feel comfortable for some. She shares none of the frantic, short-to-medium range frenzy found on the preceding light cruiser with her flurry of 130mm rifles. The Kirov is as extreme a departure from the Svietlana as going from the Kuma to the Furutaka.

PROs

  • Good alpha strike with her nine 180mm guns with AP or HE.
  • Excellent range of 16.3km with good accuracy.
  • Very powerful AA compliment with good range.
  • Great top speed of 35.5 knots.
  • Can combine her upgraded RangeFinder with her stock-hull float plane to temporarily reach ranges of up to 19.57km.
CONs
  • Ineffective armour with a large, exposed citadel and only a modest hit point total
  • Slow rate of fire at 4.0rpm.
  • Torpedoes are very short ranged at 4.0km.
  • Enormous turning circle at 860m with bad rudder shift at 7.8s.
  • Large surface detection range at 14.2km.
Research Tree: The Kirov comes with two researchable upgrades options.
  • Her Rangefinder upgrade increases her stock range from 14.8km to 16.3km. I would strongly recommend reaching for this first.
  • Her Second Hull Upgrade adds a little more armour, more hit points and overhauls her AA suite. Her rudder shift time gets a small improvement. All of her smaller caliber guns are replaced with a swarm 37mm automatic cannons. She loses access to her float plane when she performs this upgrade.
Consumables: The fully upgraded Kirov has access to a Damage Control Party and a Hydroacoustic Search. The latter is slightly better than the USN and IJN versions, but falls behind that of the KMS. It has a 2.67km torpedo acquisition range and a 3.72km acquisition range for surface vessels.

While she is still stock, she has access to a spotter float plane. She loses this with the upgraded hull.
 
The Kirov-class Cruiser with her B-Hull upgrade.  She loses her float plane, normally found between her two funnels and gains a whole host of 37mm automatic cannons for AA defense, replacing her outdated 12.7mm and 45mm defensive guns.
 
Primary Armament
 
On paper, the nine 180mm rifles may initially look intimidating. This is a heavy-cruiser armament at tier 5. Unlike the Furutaka, the step up to heavy-cruiser status is a little more forgiving. The turrets themselves handle well, turning at 8' per second and have a favourable arrangement, with two forward in a super firing position and one to the rear. This gives her excellent fields of fire. The Kirov looks a bit odd with how tightly packed together the guns are placed within the turrets.

Her 180mm (7") shells aren't as punchy as the IJN 203mm found on the Furutaka, but she does have more of them. This gives her a better alpha strike and DPM, even when limited by the 4rpm reload rate. This does put her well behind the Omaha and Konigsberg in DPM output. The loss of a single turret, however, is crippling to her damage output and she does lose them easily when under fire.

Lastly, the shell trajectory of the Kirov is "okay". You can see below how the shell velocity really begins to slow over distance, giving a similar feel to the Omaha 152mm. This can lead to an over 10s lead time at ranges of up to 16.3km. This can be extended further through using the stock hull and activating her float plane consumable, as the Range Finder upgrade is not tied to the hull upgrade. This can give the Kirov a very impressive reach out to 19.57km, but comes at the cost of AA power, agility and reduced survivability.
 
Shell Flight Time Estimate (in seconds) Over Distance
 
 *Only possible through use of a Float Plane found on the stock-hull, but combined with the upgraded rangefinder.
 
The gun handling on the Kirov is very forgiving.  She has good range, good accuracy and comfortable stats on her 180mm rifles.  Their only real telling weakness is their low rate of fire at 4.0rpm.

Secondary Gun Batteries & AA Compliment

 
When fully upgraded, the Kirov boasts six 100mm dual-purpose guns which form the core of her AA power and also serve as her secondary armament. As anti-naval guns, they put out 16rpm with 1400 alpha strike and a low, 6% of causing a fire. They have a 4.0km base range which is decent for tier 5.
 
As anti-aircraft armament, these same guns provide 78dps at a 5.0km range. They are backed up by a swarm of fourteen 37mm automatic cannons which add another 129dps at 3.5km. This is a tremendous weight of firepower for a tier 5 ship. This can, of course, be further boosted by Captain Skills and modules, making the Kirov a rather formidable low-tier escort for Battleships. Sadly, it cannot be further boosted with consumables as the Kirov lacks the Defensive Fire consumable or a Float Plane fighter, so she cannot provide a disruption effect against incoming attack planes.
 
For players that elect to keep her stock hull, or haven't researched her B-Hull, her AA power is underwhelming. She keeps her six 100mm rifles, but they downgrade to 15rpm. For AA power, they also downgrade, doing only 17dps out to 3.5km. The 37mm guns are gone and the Kirov has six 45mm AA guns with 12dps at 2.5km and finally some self defense 12.7mm machine guns which provide another 14dps at 1.2km.
 
This night and day difference between AA performance should be weighed carefully against the benefits of keeping the stock hull to have access to her float plane.
 
Torpedoes
 
The Kirov has two triple launchers mounted between her funnels, one to each side. These have good fields of fire. The 533mm torpedoes she comes with are fast with a 64 knot top speed, but are painfully short ranged at only 4.0km (the same as her secondary gun batteries). With a 14,400 alpha strike, these can deliver a surprising punch but are entirely situational in their use. Given that tier 5 ships occasionally end up on claustrophobic maps like Big Race and Guadacanal, it's entirely possible to set up ambush-type situations against unwary prey, but using torpedoes in this manner is not without tremendous risk.
 
Conveniently, the Kirov's secondaries and torpedoes share the same range.  Inconveniently, this is only 4.0km.
 
Maneuverability
 
The Kirov has the unfortunate distinction as being one of the worst handling cruisers in the entire Soviet line. Though she has a great top speed of 35.5 knots, her turning is just awful. Stock, her rudder shift is 11.0s, only improving to 7.8s with her B-Hull upgrade. Both both versions of the Hull have a downright punitive 860m turning circle. This is worse than the IJN Kongo-class Battleship and only better than the Carriers at her tier.
 
It's worth keeping in mind that at tier 5, the Kirov can and will end up in some rather island heavy and claustrophobic maps which makes this combination of potential high speed and shoddy handling a recipe for getting herself beached often.
The only real plus side is that she will never out turn her own turret rotation.

Durability
 
The Kirov, like all current tier 5 cruisers, is exceedingly fragile. The Kirov is a large target with a large citadel. The armour layout is utterly insufficient to allow the ship to repel any incoming fire, except for perhaps small caliber rounds while angled. I have been (and have managed) to citadel the Kirov through the bow with as small a round as the 203mm guns off the Furutaka at medium to close range. As you can expect, her engine gets knocked out frequently and if she attempts to turn to flee, you can expect to lose your steering gears rather regularly too. None of this should be any surprise, however.
 
For those who elect to continue to use her stock hull, they're even more at risk. She loses agility, armour protection and nearly 3000 hit points in the process. Combined with the diminished AA capacity, I think this far outweighs the gains made by her Float Plane consumable.
She's not stealthy either. As a large ship (in terms of length and breadth, not tonnage), she has a large surface detection range of 14.2km stock. Even with Captain Skills and camouflage, this precludes her from being able to fire from stealth in open water. When you pull the trigger, you are spotted.
 
The Kirov, crushing a tiny-baby ship beneath it's bulk.  As large as she looks, the Kirov doesn't displace a lot of tonnage, giving her a rather low hit point total and making collisions even with this small Kamikaze-class destroyer almost catastrophic.
 
Overall Impressions
 
I think everyone's first concern will be "is she balanced?"
 
The Kirov is exceedingly fragile, like most of the other tier 5 cruisers. This will make her a very unforgiving ship in inexperienced hands and make her an easy kill for those looking to score some damage for their end-game result screen. To get the most out of her, you have to play her at range, using her speed and firepower to whittle down opponents. She has great straight-line mobility to get where she's needed to continue influencing the fight. But a player needs to have good awareness, a steady aim and good target selection to have a proper impact on the game.
 
The big balancing factor for me will always be her low rate of fire. This will be the stat to keep an eye on, if nothing else. Over 4.0rpm and I think she'll become over competitive.
 
I am always weary of ships with great speed and range. Combined with any form of concealment, it opens up the meta of firing undetected from the surface. Without using the float plane consumable, the Kirov does not appear able to do this (I haven't been able to manage it myself, even with a 15 skill point Captain). This again will keep her from feeling overpowered, I think.
 
Lastly, I think that the Kirov may suffer, popularity wise, because she's so divergent from the fun ship which precedes her, the Svietlana. Other ships that are an extreme departure from the ships that came before are often ill received, especially if they're not immediately intuitive or are less-than-optimal.
 
My final verdict? If Soviet-bias is alive and well in the new cruiser line, it's not found here.
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