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Avitar73

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About Avitar73

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  1. Ahoy fleet, over at the Black Fleet, we have many discussions about the future of this game and especially the ships in it. A recurring topic is the possibility of a Russian BB tech tree. A bit about me... I have been a naval enthusiast since I got my first copy of Jane's Fighting Ships of WWII when I was probably 11 years old and my first plastic model kit of USS Kitty Hawk(monogram) around the same time. I have studied naval ship designs their evolution and the doctrines that were used to employ them. I have amassed a rather extensive library of more than 100 books in this area and even wrote two rather extensive papers in college on the US and CS naval fleets. I offer all of this only to encourage folks to ask me LOTS of questions as this is a passion of mine and I enjoy few things more than a good conversation on anything nautical. So... now that my tooting is over... I was delighted to be able to go to the WG Lets Battle Tour in NYC this last November. While I was there I had a great conversation with the producer of WoWs NA. One of the questions I tried to nail him down on was the possibility of a Russian BB line. He was reluctant (unsurprisingly) to give a very definite answer however, he did respond in a manner that has convinced me that there will be such a line of battle wagons at some point. Now one of the main points of the many conversations that I have had with people about this is the impression that the Russian Empire and Soviet Union never had more than a few battleships. While this argument is not far from the truth it is not the complete picture and did evoke an interesting study that I have plunged into. I wanted to share some of what I have found with the community at large as I know that the development of BB lines in the game is a hot topic. The Russian Empire under the Tsars did build or purchase several pre-dreadnought battleships given that currently WoWs has only the one T2 Mikasa pre-dreadnought or mixed caliber gun battleship in game I am going to forego any review of those ships and focus only on the dreadnought or single caliber battleships that were either completed or as is common with the Russian tree a paper design. There are surprisingly more than many folks imagined. I will not in this initial review attempt to assign or speculate placement of tiers for these ships, it would be great if folks could respond with their own ideas on these thought provoking ships. I would also like to make the point that very little of what you will see in this review has derived from wiki or any internet source, nearly all of my visuals where scanned from books published from the Naval Institute Press. Going in chronological order, let us start with the first dreadnought type battleship commissioned into the Imperial Russian Navy, the Gangut class battleships. These four ships can be characterized as the more primitive and indeed earliest design that would eventually evolve into the Imperator Nikolai I. In general compared to the current T4 premium this class is very similarly armed, more lightly armored and thus slightly faster. One major difference of note is the turret layout; with the B turret facing aft, therefore these ships would not enjoy the same ease as the Nikolai being able to maintain a good bow angle while at the same time having 75% of main guns on target. The Gangut and Sevastopol continued in service with the Soviet Red Fleet until after WWII. By the end of their respective careers these two battleships had undergone many modernizations and overhauls. Sevastopol ca. 1942 The next iteration of the Russian Imperial Navy's battleships is the Imperatritsa Mariya class. The three ships completed of this class offer improved armor over the previous class. The external armor is virtually identical to that of Nikolai, including main belt, deck, conning tower, barbettes, and turrets. Nikolai however, has a substantially improved internal protection scheme that we will review next. Armament, main battery turret lay out and speed are all nearly the same as the current OP T4 in game. Unfortunately none of these ships saw service past the mid 1920's and therefore where never provided with much in the way of improvements, such as AA guns or torpedo bulges. With the purchase of a new battleship by the Turks(which was eventually commandeered by the UK and became HMS Agincourt, as it was built in Newcastle by the Armstrong Shipyards for Brazil) the Tsar felt compelled to order an improved variation of the Imperatritsa Mariya class, this ship was named Imperator Nikolai I and was the only ship of her type. Being based on the previous class design the armament, main battery turret lay out, and exterior armor was nearly the same. The major improvements were found in the internal structure which was armored nearly 50% more than in the Mariyas. This included a turtle back behind the main belt and significantly improved bow armor which extended up to the main belt. Given this nearly 7000 tons of additional armor the Nikolai required a more robust power plant as well to achieve her 21knts speed. Another improvement was an additional deck which extended from the bow to the conning tower giving the ship better sea keeping and improved deflection of shells. By 1917 the German army had occupied the ship yard where the Nikolai was being built and naturally work was halted, after the end of WWI the allies had taken control of this area and destroyed the ship to prevent the Reds from taking possession. The last capital ship project while under the rule of the Tsar was a the 1912 Borodino class battlecruiser. More or less this class can be characterized as a further evolution of the original Gangut design. The major differences being a planned armament of 356mm(14") guns and an increased speed of 26.5kts. These ships where laid down and like Nikolai construction continued through the war until either the German invasion or the Bolshevik Revolution stopped the ships from being completed. Izmail was far enough along that she was launched in 1922 however, with the Russian armament industry in ruins there was no hope of completing the ship as planned. Talk of the Izmail being converted into an aircraft carrier was never realized and she was sold to the breakers in 1931. After 1917 there were a few issues which seem to have interfered with all but two of the Imperial era ships seeing any service within the Red Fleet. First, in 1921 many crewmen of the Baltic Fleet mutinied at Kronstadt against the Communists. This left the government very distrustful of the Navy and its leadership, considering that the fleets mutiny in 1917 and consequential shelling of the Winter Palace by the cruiser Aurora had helped bring down the Tsar, the suspicion seemed justified at the time. Second, Lenin saw capital ships as an indulgence of the west and was only interested in a defensive navy that could protect territorial waters. This lack of national interest in capital ships continued until the rise to power of Joseph Stalin in the 1930's. With the improvement of the Soviet Unions industrial capacity Stalin was interested in expanding the Soviet fleet. Many problems plagued the Soviet development of designing and building what was at the time the most sophisticated implements of war on the Earth. During the 30's the Soviets lacked many key technical necessities for this effort, chiefly a capable naval design and architecture bureau as well as a capable armaments industry to design, test and forge guns of capital ship caliber. Stalin not willing to be deterred and in the tradition of Peter the Great looked to the west for solutions. Several ship and armament designs and architectural blue prints were commissioned from Italy, Czechoslovakia, Germany and the United States. Beginning in 1932 the Ansaldo firm of Italy who had been the primary naval architects for the Regia Marina were contracted to design several ships for the Soviet Navy including a battleship, a battleship/aircraft carrier hybrid and several other smaller ships(Chapayev and Tashkent are results of this effort). The intention was to procure the designs then build the ships in the motherland. The famous Skoda Works of Czechoslovakia was contracted to design the armaments for future capital ships around this same time. Then in 1936 the US Navy and Congress agreed to allow the Baltimore firm of Gibbs & Cox to provide assistance to the Soviets in designing again both a battleship and battleship/aircraft carrier hybrid. The following are the resulting designs: The Ansaldo UP 41 design was a take off of the Vittorio Veneto class which Ansaldo had also designed. One item of note, 406mm main guns in place of the 381mm on the Italians. Perhaps the most intriguing design was the "Design B" battleship/carrier hybrid of Gibbs & Cox. This nearly 60,000 ton monster would have had both 12 - 406mm/45 main battery guns as well an air wing of some 45 aircraft. The scale of this ship is truly awesome, nearly the dimensions of the Grosse Kurfirst. As a side note no nation produced a purpose built concept such as this and the IJN being the only navy to try with the lack luster conversion of the two Ise class battleships during WWII. This brings us to the most successful of all of these plans the Project 23 battleship design for the Sovetskii Soyuz class battleships. Laid down in 1939, the planned 3 ships would have been very impressive given there heavy armor and main battery. Unfortunatly a combination of damage suffered during the war and lack of material caused work to come to a complete stop before the yards were over taken by the German invasion. After the war the hulls were broken up, some of the machinery was utilized in the Sverdlov class cruisers such as the Mikhail Kutuzov. In addition to all of these ships there was also a proposal in 1939 made after the pact between Germany and the Soviet Union were Germany was to sell plans to the Soviets for what was dubbed the Kronstadt class battlecruisers. This design was most likely very similar to the Project 1047 battlecruisers that the The Netherlands where proposing to purchase from Germany in early 1939 which shared much of the same machinery, armor and armaments as the Scharnhorst class. I hope that this review of the evolution of Russian capital ships is helpful to all. I think that when you look at what is here there may well be plenty of historically based material to build a viable Russian BB tech tree. While it is true much of it will have to be "paper ships" when you look at many other nations including the UK there are many holes that will have to be filled on nearly all other tech trees. Please comment with ideas for the tiers that you all think these designs may fit. Don't be afraid to ask any questions that you may have! Have fun! ~Avitar73 Sources: Battleships - Allied battleships of World War II; Naval Institute Press; Annapolis, Maryland 1980; ISBN 0-87021-100-5 Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946; Conway Maritime Press; London, UK 1980; ISBN 0-85177-146-7 Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921; Conway Maritime Press; London, UK 1985; ISBN 0-87021-907-3 Russian & Soviet Battleships - Stephen McLaughlin; Naval Institute Press; Annapolis, Maryland; 2003 ISBN 13:9781557504814
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