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I really wanted to wait and see if Pigeon was going to bring back rewards for visiting museum ships, but my groupon was running out. So I went to visit the USS Hornet yesterday and had a pretty interesting trip, including a behind the scenes tour from a surprisingly generous and knowledgeable docent. I took some pictures in glorious 4k resolution if anyone is interested in seeing them (Except of the restricted areas. I didn't want to push my luck). The album can be viewed here. I also went to the USS Iowa back in December. If anyone is interested in those they can be found here.
Well, seeing as my last one was not reviled and had some positive feedback, I guess I'll keep doing these. After all I got time and might as well put put over 20 years of independent study to some use. This time I'm covering something a bit more radical in terms of ideas, historically and for game play - USS Hornet as she was on 4-18-1942. USS Hornet (4-18-1942) (pic in spoiler for those that struggle with pics) So, Brief history time - Hornet was the third (Full sized) Yorktown-Class carrier built by the US Navy, commissioned just under two months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. After said attack President Roosevelt made it clear he wanted to hit Japan as soon as possible to help boost American Morale after the events of December 7th. The idea that eventually came to fruition - Launch Army twin engine medium bombers from an aircraft carrier. In February of 1942, Hornet set out with two B-25's, a test run to see if it was possible to get them off the deck. With it's success, the operation was green lit, and a couple months later 16 B-25's would be loaded on Hornets flight deck. She and her sister Enterprise, which was the primary defense for the task force as Hornet's fighters were stored below decks, unable to be used with the bombers still on board, sailed toward Japan going unnoticed till the last moments, spotted early and forcing the aircraft to launch sooner than expected. The raid was an overall success in regards to objectives, boosting US morale, and giving the Japanese doubts. In his address concerning the attack, FDR said the bombers were launched from "Shangri-La". An Essex class carrier would later be named for this, breaking the naming tradition, and would itself later successfully launch, and even recover, a B-25 modified for carrier operations, however the project was shelved as Land bases in range of Japan became available.All the aircraft were lost as they ran out of fuel and could not locate the airfields in China, save 1 confiscated by the soviets after landing in Russia. After the raid Hornet would serve for roughly another year, at the battle of Midway and the Solomon's where she was lost at the Battle of Santa Cruz. Size and Weight (HP) Weight - 29,114 tons (max) Length - 251.38 m (824 ft 9 in) Beam - 35 m (114 ft) Draft - 8.5 m (28 ft) The general +10-20k of CV's would put it between 39-49000 hit points. This puts the carrier firmly into the tier 6-7 range on hit points. At tier 6, it would just edge out the Ryujo for most hit points, though lacking the same stealth as that carrier. Maxed out on HP it would have a bit of an edge on the tier 7 carriers, but all things considered, not much at under 5000 points difference. Armour (It's just a flesh Wound) Belt - 63-102 mm (2.5-4 in) Deck - 102 mm (4 in) Conning tower sides - 102 mm (4in) Torpedo protection - limited While her armour may seem impressive, it is in fact while better on the deck, average for USN ships. Surprising as it may sound Independence actually has an edge in belt armour on the citadel, slight as it may be, and really is on par with most of the USN ships tier 6 and up (note: Ranger as I'm writing need to confirm actual amount of protection-don't trust Wargaming's wiki as it seems at times dated or incomplete). However of historical note that would play into balance, the Yorktown Class on a whole, particularly the down sized Wasp, proved very vulnerable to Torpedoes, with only Enterprise really fixing this with added torpedo blisters during an extensive 1943 refit. Overall, armour and protection ranks as tier 6+. Weaponry Secondary - 8x 5in (127mm)/38 cal DP guns (8x1) AA - 16x 1.1 in (28 mm)/75 cal "Chicago Piano" AA (4x4) and 30x 20 mm Oerlikon (30x1) guns While 8x 5 inch guns act as her defense at long range from aircraft and any ships that get close, they still aren't the dozen a Ryujo can level on enemy ships. With a total of 46 short-mid range AA guns, total barrels is only 6 more than Independence, and 8 more than Ryujo - to which 26 of those guns are better 40 mm guns on Inde and Ryujo has consistent 25 mm (vs the 20-28 mm of Hornet) and 4 additional long range AA guns. In reality and game, the Chicago piano's weren't exactly great, and are part of the stock builds of Independence and Ranger. These weapons tend to drag the AA down a bit, and while yes, contribute something, narrows the gap when you consider without them, Ryujo would have more AA than it, and Independence would have almost as many 40 mm guns as it has 20 mm, with the difference being the fact Hornet would have long and short range and Independence mid-short. Overall, AA might be something compared to a stock tier 7, but is still only about tier 6, maybe slightly better. Lot easier to go through when it doesn't have huge anti ship guns that make it more complex. Speed Speed - 32.5 knots What else is there to say, it's fast. Full knot faster than Independence. Concealment Surface detection range would likely be around 15 km, around rangers 14.22 at the lowest (till camo, crew skills, etc are added in). Average at tier 7, at tier 6, be akin to being in a battleship. Aviation Aircraft Carried - 72 (Normal operation), 16+ unknown number of fighters (Doolittle Raid) Aircraft type: 16x modified B-25B bombers unknown number of F4F-3 or F4F-4 fighters. The easiest part is the fighters. These exist in game as tier 4 and 5 aircraft respectively. I list both because the information I find is somewhat conflicting. Some sources seem to indicate that Hornet at the time of the raid was still operating F4F-3 fighters, the main difference from the F4F-4 being the -4 had two additional machine guns (but the same overall ammo so less per gun) and folding wings. which hurt performance a bit. Her Sister Yorktown and Lexington were still operating them in May 1942 a month later, and wasn't phased out till June at Midway. However others indicate the F4F-4 starting service and available during 1941, and that they may have been used aboard Hornet, particularly given the ship was newer and just being outfitted where as her sisters had already been outfitted a few years and jumped straight into the fight. Without clear evidence as to which version was on the Carrier during the operation, I'd suggest using the -4 model, for the sake of balance. The B-25B's are another story. With how unique they are, even for their type, it's hard to truly quantify where they would go. For a plane their size, they were particularly lightly armed as it was, 2 turrets of twin .50 cal MG's and a .30 in the glass nose. However to save weight and because it was found lacking, the bottom remote turret was removed, leaving them with the .30, the twin .50 turret up top, and a pair of broomsticks painted black to try and fool attacking fighters. In that regards, not exactly a ton of firepower vs anything in game as is. However, these would definitely be up there in durability. I'd almost argue hit point totals closer to the highest tier aircraft, giving them considerable survivability. Speed would likely be on the lower end. As far as ordnance, it generally appears that they had 3x 500 pound demolition bombs and an incendiary. Something that can't really work in this game it seems as bombs seem to be 1-1 with aircraft. However, with most of it's other performance stats being around tier 6-7, and having seen what happens with Saipan, I'm at best hesitant to give it 1000 pounds of bombs, let alone 1500. Plus damage done by the raid was relatively minimal. So I'd say a compromise of 500 pound bomb per plane, or a compromise of a 750 pound bomb equivalence if they need the bit of extra alpha, with either having a slightly higher chance of fire than normal (representing the incendiary bomb). Also given these were done at low level with the "20 cent sight" I'd say maybe give them a slightly better accuracy than DB's we have as is, but maybe not Saipan accurate. I also say this because I feel the best break up of aircraft would be 4x4 - 4 groups of 4 planes. Seems logical and will make it a little more unique at mid tiers for USN. In terms of overall aircraft, I'm thinking 36-48 total aircraft for this version - 24 B-25 (the 16 selected for the mission and the other 8 that were also modified) and 12-24 fighters (USN CV's around the time usually carried less than 20 fighters), meaning you can replace half the bombers (but high HP should mean you aren't losing too many as is) and enough to field 1-2 groups of standard numbers of US fighters and resupply total losses once (one group of 6 fighters, or two groups of 6). Obviously were stretching reality here with B-25's landing on a carrier deck, when in this case they couldn't, but it is a game, and it would be unique. The bombers would likely have a longer than normal reload for USN, or maybe average given that they have fewer planes, and while it gets potentially 2 fighter groups, like an AS loadout, the lower tier of those planes puts them at a bit of a disadvantage. Having a bomber/fighter focus but more groups than usual would make it more akin to a higher tier USN in terms of play or like a hybrid of USN and IJN. Ratings by Tier (overall) HP: 6+ Armour: 6+ AA: 6+ Artillery: 6+ Speed: 7+ Concealment: 7+ Aviation (plane type): fighters 4-5, Bombers 8+? Aviation (plane count): 6+ Overall - Tier 6 The pro's of this ship would mostly be in it's hard to down bombers for what it would see, Speed, and maybe Armour and HP, depending on exact numbers given as stated above, Independence has comparable armour. AA would likely be a bit of a middle ground, ending up average overall or slightly better. It's drawbacks would be the out tiered fighters, limited resupply, lack of stealth, size (big target at tier 6 compared to the other two) lack of solid torpedo protection, and for anyone that that's played IJN, even with a slight accuracy buff 4 bombers tend to miss quite often and so accuracy may be an issue. Coupled with what should be lower damage, these should more likely be relying on starting fires and working toward a whitherer medal. Conclusions So, anyone that made it to here is probably thinking I'm insane for suggesting a Yorktown class ship to be at tier 6. Everyone puts them at tier 8 as part of a second line and for a while I did agree, but another thing to keep in mind is that the only one to come close to tier 8 material, and even then kinda on the low end, is the only one to survive the war, Enterprise. So adding Yorktown and giving it Enterprises upgrades, it might fit at tier 8. Even Essex kinda falls more toward tier 8 were it not for the fact Forrestall-Class has been nixed from the game for reasons even with her original straight deck design so they needed a bit of a stretch. But generally, as is, Yorktown class ships Armament, size, etc, falls in line more toward tier 7, and given that Hornet is basically a stock hull (other than the the 30x 20 mm that quickly replaced the initially installed .50's) more so falls into 6. It could possibly be put at 7, but much like I covered on GZ, your talking tier 4-5 fighters against tier 7 as is, let alone Saipan's tier 9 fighters. Tier 6 gives it's fighters a fighting chance and is a better overall fit, while having enough drawbacks to not be too OP for the tier. I'm sure some people would be irked by the idea that it can launch and recover the bombers because they want this to be a sim but, well, it's not. This is one of those areas where I think we can stretch, and where at one time Wargaming had indeed stretched before (land based aircraft not really suited to CV's being on them) and let it slide. Especially because we do have Arizona in game, that is the most lasting symbol of December 7th, 1941 and is well known for it's destruction and loss of life that day, and I think it'd be nice to have the not always as well discussed answer of America going "We might be down at the moment, but not out yet" and hitting back where they thought they were just as safe. It'd also make for an interesting and different premium that, till we get some sort of split in the branch would at the least get a Yorktown Class in the game. Albeit it'd still take about a year even if it was started today. Anyway, that's my write up and analysis for USS Hornet when she launched the Doolittle raid. One of the more outlandish ideas for a premium CV and one of the few that requires some game logic or bending of reality. And to those that have read both and noticed - yes, I fully intend to have movie/TV/other references somewhere in these because I actually spend a couple-few hours typing these up and need some way to amuse myself and might as well have some fun with it (and will usually try and keep it somehow related to the ship I'm talking about)