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Grathew

A buyer's viewpoint on Graf Zeppelin

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So my third installment on the Graf Zeppelin in about as many days. If you haven't read my other two posts An Argument for Graf Zeppelin and Aviation Cruiser Graf Zeppelin: Preliminary Report linked if you're interested. 

Anyway in my second post I said I was going to post a detailed buyer's guide come Monday and now the ship is no longer for sale. So instead of doing that I'm going to 'review' what I got in Graf Zeppelin and hopefully explain why I like the ship, and why I don't think it's trash, today. As the Zeppelin is going to be changing anyway. So with out further delay.

 

The Graf Zeppelin in all his majesty

Graf Zeppelin

Beauty shot aside, I'm going to start with what is bad about Count Zeppelin. The aircraft overall are either unremarkable or bad. The dive bombers feel mobile enough to be enjoyable, while slow at 135 knots they certainly don't feel too slow or sluggish like some of the lower tier American Torpedo planes. With that said the Stukas seem to fall out of the sky when faced with any meaningful AA defense, and a Air Superiority Lexington can make them perform a reenactment of the Hindenburg's last flight, falling out of the sky burning. Which is understandable because if you give Enterprise her 'unique' upgrade of air groups mod 3 those SBDs have 65 more HP. That aside they could be as bad as the fighters, I am fairly certain that there are float fighters that have better stats than these Me 109s. With the lowest health at tier 8, limited ammunition, and poor DPs. Coupled with a 4 plane squad they cannot perform at the level of another fighter squad. The hitpoints alone ruin the fighters, with Enterprise having only 20hp less than Graf Zeppelin base. To continue the comparison to Enterprise the DPS is only 5 more after modifiers, and you get 1-2 less planes a squad. AS for the loadout Graf gets 41, 20 less than Lexington,  16 less than Shokaku and 67 less than the big E. 

The next bad thing is the bombs and their drops. To start with the HE bombs the circular drop pattern is "nice", as it doesn't matter which way you come into bomb from nor does it matter what the target does as you will always have the same chance of hitting. This circular pattern is my only gripe with the bombs. Yes it is good for Destroyers but that is all it is good for. It is a 120m diameter circle. Which means a DD will fill a good amount of the bomb drop area when compared to the 142-355 of Lexington or Enterprise or the 134-335 of Shokaku. But that ellipse that all of the other bombers get mean that if you aren't attacking a Destroyer you get more area of the target you can hit. Lexington for example can hit all of an Iowa with bombs. The left and right dispersion that will miss is still there but the entire ship is inside of the target area and covers a good portion of it. With Graf Zeppelin you don't get that, you get a small circle with ship sticking out either side and bomb dispersion that will go off of either side of the ship no matter the angle of attack, what you or the target does to ensure more or less hits respectively.  Which means that the Graf Zeppelin HE bombs are extremely noob friendly. But by gaining these advantages against destroyers you loose out on so much potential against larger ships. Lexington for example uses similar bombs, with 10800 damage to Graf Zeppelin's 11100. The 1000lb bombs that Lexington has a fire chance between 69% and 110% for each and every bomb on target (I am using the equation for fire chance, and bomb fire chance found on the wows wiki). This is assuming the target is running fire prevention and Damage Control Mod 1, and the Lexington isn't using demo or fire chance flags. While I cannot find the fire chance for the Graf Zeppelin am assuming that it is similar. With Graf having either 15 or 18 bombers in the air which is better than either of Lexington's flight controls with fighters it is equal or worse than Strike Lexington. Also seeing as a on fire module can't be lit on fire again, Lexington with the larger circle has a better chance of lighting more fires across the entire per bomber run, which means more damage and more fires. Which when you add the torpedo bombers to get floods along with fires from the dive bombers the dot stacking potential of Strike Lexington outshines Graf Zeppelin with the HE bombs. Now Graf Zeppelin's damage with the HE bombs is respectable, and it is possible to pull off good damage over time with Graf Zeppelin. 

On the flip-side the AP bombs are my favorite part about the ship, with their only downside is the strange drop animation and delay between attack and impact. Sure they don't damage destroyers, and cruisers are almost impossible to hit. But when you score multiple hits on cruisers they sink, and battleships will take more damage in one strike than most carriers average in a game. The bombs are let down by the wimpy bombers and the slow travel time from committed to attack and impact. I have had way to many games where my bombers would have dropped their bombs according to the animation, then get shot down to only have all the bombs vanish.  But constituting the amazing alpha potential of 8,400 a bomb for 151,200 damage with the max 18 bombers, which you can get thanks to the 245 mm penetration and 35 mm of arming fuse. Which when top tier attacking same or lower tier battleships there isn't a bomb or torpedo I would rather use. Even tier 9 and 10 battleships will be hurt by these bombs, assuming the bombers survive to complete their drop on target. Thus the aforementioned delay and bombs getting showdown with their bombers after 'bomb drop'.  Which makes them the most inconsistent weapon I have ever seen. 

 This is what leads to the biggest problem with the ship in my opinion, it is inconsistent. Sometimes you get bombers to target and bombs hit and score a massive damage game. Other times you get stomped by hostile AA and fighters. With really no indication on how the game is going to turn out until its over. When you can get completely shut down and deal 0 damage one game and 118k the next game in similar conditions there is something wrong with the ship. Even Enterprise is consistent enough to not frustrate the player. Where as Graf Zeppelin is so frustratingly inconsistent that it gets hard to focus on playing the ship. If I had to direct Wargaming to adjust the ship in anyway it would be make it consistent. As even consistently bad is better than inconsistently amazing. Simply giving the aircraft more HP would likely fix that inconsistency, torpedoes would be another option however I think that's a rather uninteresting way to fix the ship.  

Now enough negativity, what is good about the Graf Zeppelin? Secondaries, brawling capability and armor. Which aren't usually associated with carriers I know, but hear me out. The secodaires when buffed with the flag, and module along with BFT and AFT will hit any target assuming that it is in range. With 9.4 km range when built for secondaries that makes a good no sail zone for destroyers and cruisers that want to finish you off with torpedoes. This damage output can outshine some battleships secondary batteries, and most destroyer's main armaments, although note the 105 mm guns cannot shoot over the port side of the ship which can make for some awkward situations. Moving on to armor, what there is is protecting the citadel. The citadel is almost completely submerged and hidden behind a turtle back stronger than the one on Hipper/Prinz with the hangar giving a minimal resistance to AP shells and enough resistance against smaller caliper HE to lessen their effects. Coupled with a decent HP pool makes the Graf Zeppelin able to hold his own in a duel. I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to get into secondary range, but sticking near battleships and or cruisers is far more viable than with other carriers due to these improvements over the other carriers which need to run from trouble. The count can handle him self in a spot of trouble but only in gentlemanly duels, a free for all brawl will get Zeppelin overwhelmed and killed quickly. So saving this strength for the later stages of battle can help pad out your damage totals.

I like these strengths, I find them different and fun. Yah Zeppelin is a terrible aircraft carrier. But the heavy cruiser aspects of the ship I feel make up for some of it. I never realized how nevus of being found I was in any aircraft carrier until I got Graf Zeppelin. With Graf Zeppelin I almost look forward to being stumbled upon by a lone DD or CA as I can win that fight. Pushing closer to the front lines and ambushing cap circles with secondary fire has confused more than a few battleships I've come across, as they turn around and gain distance likely looking for the Bismark that is shooting them. But its a risky strategy, and usually ends with Graf Zeppelin exploding, yet I do enjoy it. Should I like it, no I really shouldn't. As there is nothing about this ship that makes it worthy of being liked. The air wing is super weak, the secondaries are solid but usually too risky to use, and it isn't consistent at all. I think it is the potential of the ship, the fact that it could be an amazing Aviation Cruiser, blurring the line between heavy cruiser and aircraft carrier that enthralls me with this ship. So I am keeping mine, and you may see me out there with it every now and again despite it's objective failure as an aircraft carrier. 

  • Cool 5

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At last a genuine "players" review. +1

Still I disagree about the HE dbs, I find them quite durable enough and more than effective as both dd killers and general dmg dealers. Fighters, nobody disagrees, are worthless as anything more than scouts. not having really experimented with AP, I cannot really comment, but lacking the ability to switch loadout in game, I fear they would be more hindrance than help in random battles where you may end up with very few bbs to target. As for what is most important, Graf Zeppelin is drop dead gorgeous, a very fine ship/

To my mind, Grap Zeppelin is mediocre, but not terrible, but anytime she is faced with an OP IJN carrier, she is at a terrible disadvantage for now. She suffers from a terrible in game reputation which is in danger of becoming a self fulfilling prophesy. Too many of my matches begin with "NOOB, a Graf Zeppelin, we are going to LOSE, give up now!"  

We will see with the upcoming IJN CV rebalance. It is WIP.

edit : I just sank a yamato in Random with HE bombs.

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I've only played one game in mine and it was a medium damage game with nothing particularly spectacular.  I stuck to HE bombs only and did note how the fighters just melt away to any resistance.  I think with moderate buffing this could be a solid ship.

 

jw

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13 minutes ago, nuttybiscuit said:

Still I disagree about the HE dbs, I find them quite durable enough and more than effective as both dd killers and general dmg dealers. Fighters, nobody disagrees, are worthless as anything more than scouts. not having really experimented with AP, I cannot really comment, but lacking the ability to switch loadout in game, I fear they would be more hindrance than help in random battles where you may end up with very few bbs to target. As for what is most important, Graf Zeppelin is drop dead gorgeous, a very fine ship/

I, for whatever reason, cannot get the HE bombs to consistently land on target. While the opposite can be said about the AP bombs I usually land two to four strikes a game talking around 20-60 k hit points off of whatever is unfortunate enough to get hit. Giving the Graf Zeppelin a switch bomb type button for mid battle would be nice. Alternately allowing for both types of bombers to be flown at the same time. Say two HE bomber squads and one AP bomber squad.

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