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ABLA: South Dakota-class (1920)

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For my next addition to the deluge of ADLA's on these forums, I am going to take A Brief Look At: South Dakota (1920)

 

Lt3dayf.jpg

 

The South Dakotas were a class of USN battleships that were designed, approved, ordered, laid down in 1920-21, and partially completed before being cancelled in 1922-23 under the terms of the Washington Treaty. The name "South Dakota" was reused for the much better known class of 4 battleships that were actually built and served in WW2, but I'm just going to refer to the cancelled 1920 class as the South Dakota-class and assume you're smart enough to know which one I'm talking about. While the fact that these ships were never completed is a definite handicap in analyzing how they will likely function in-game, it's not as much of an obstacle as you might think. The SD-class utilized many design features either found in earlier battleship classes or tested independently, so there is hard evidence of how most ship systems would have performed. The class's similarity to other pre-treaty battleships implies that they would have been modernized in a similar manner, so there is a basis to speculate on what kind of upgrades would have been applied. It is for these reasons that I will be regularly comparing the South Dakota-class to the preceding Colorado-class already represented in-game.

 

Tonnage and Maneuverability

Tonnage: The South Dakotas were heavy compared to earlier battleships. Their design displacement was 43,200 long tons, a jump of more than 10,000 tons over the preceding Colorados. This was also a slightly greater displacement than the North Carolinas or (1939) South Dakotas, but was slightly less than the displacement of the Iowas and considerably less than that of the Montanas. You can therefore expect the South Dakota's hitpoint total to be somewhere between the 53,700 of the stock NC and the 68,100 of the stock Iowa.

 

EaED6le.jpg

 

Maneuverability: The SDs were only slightly longer and wider thant the COs, and actually had a shallower draft. Expect a slightly larger, but still very good (for a BB) turning circle. As for speed, good news! The SDs were designed to reach 23 kts, 2 kts faster than the preceding standard-type battleships. The bad news is that at 23 kts, the standard-type battleships are about the only things you'll be able to outrun. I couldn't find historical rudder shift time, acceleration, and speed loss during turns, but we can assume that being bigger and heavier than the COs will mean being even worse in all of these catagories.

 

Armor and Armament

Armor: Armor for the SD-class was essentially identical to the design armor for the CO-class, which is great for tier 7 and will still be very good for a higher tier ship. It's worth noting that this is a vertical external belt of somewhat lower quality armor, compared to the thinner (except on Montana), inclined internal belt of higher quality armor used on the NC-class onwards. As a result, the SD would have less of a belt armor advantage over other battleships than it's actual belt thickness would imply. The SDs' torpedo protection was better subdivided than the COs' but otherwise similar, and so will likely only be slightly superior.

 

rQWGxtW.jpg

 

Armament: This is what is really going to make the SDs appealing. These ships were designed with a powerful main battery of 4x3 16''/5cal Mk2 guns, each capable of firing 2 rounds per minute. These were designed to fire the "standard" 2,110 lb AP rounds, as opposed to the "super-heavy" 2,700 lb AP rounds, but would still give the SDs a broadside weight second only to the tier 10 Montana among USN BBs. The guns had a higher muzzle velocity and greater range than the guns on any other USN BB, though firing a lighter shell means that the round will bleed more speed and penetrating power as it travels. The SDs had a turret rotation of a mere 1.7 degrees/second, which will probably be buffed to a more usable, but still very slow speed. The designed secondary battery was 16 6''/53cal guns in a mix of casemate and open mounts, with 8 guns to each broadside, which would make them the only USN BBs in-game to have a secondary battery larger than 5''. Having 16 6'' secondaries is respectable, but they would only be really useful if firing HE; secondaries firing AP at destroyers are almost useless. The SDs' AA armament, as designed, was comprised of a whopping 4 (that's right, 4) 5''/50cal dual-purpose (and not very good at either) guns. These ships, if implemented with this AA battery, will not be shooting anything down.

 

Upgrades and Conclusion

Upgrades: The pitifully weak AA highlights the main obstacle to including the SDs in-game. As designed, they would have high-tier guns, armor, etc. and very low-tier AA, making them overpowered at mid-tiers but giving them a crippling weakness at high-tiers. The obvious work around for this issue is to give the SDs a hypothetical modernized hull, under the logic that, if completed, they would have been modernized like all the other completed pre-treaty battleship in service. This hull upgrade would follow the trend of greatly increasing the number and quality of AA mounts, which would reduce the weakness against air attacks to more manageable levels.

 

5jJPzKe.jpg

 

Conclusion:

 

Pros:

- Powerful main battery

- Decent secondary battery

- Faster than preceding USN BBs

- Heavy all-or-nothing armor

- Relatively tight turning circle

 

Cons:

- Useless AA as designed

- 23 kts is still pretty slow

- Slow to maneuver

- Armor layout isn't as efficient as later BBs

 

The South Dakota-class of 1920 was a natural evolution of the standard-type battleships that preceded it, and this would be reflected in-game. Powerful guns, heavy armor, and plentiful hitpoints would allow it to out-brawl most other battleships, but a lack of speed and agility would make it slow to react to anything unexpected. Incredibly weak AA would also be a major weakness, and the SD will likely need a modernized hull option in order to be competitive. If this one crippling vulnerability is addressed, though, the South Dakota would fit well at tier 8. It has effective armor and perfect tonnage (hitpoints) for the tier, its main guns are individually less powerful but less numerous than the NC's, and the lack of speed and turret rotation is compensated for with raw broadside weight. Fans of mid-tier USN BBs should look forward to the 1920 South Dakota appearing as the most powerful and highest tier incarnation of the playstyle.

 

Edited by Terran_Crusader
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Its worth noting, that metallurgical quality of a ships armor belt is not accounted for in game, just the belt thickness. As far as the game is concerned, every ship in the game is using the same metallurgical formula for its armor. So game play wise, South Dakota's armor belt would be a good bit better than Iowa's or North Carolina's. Aslo worth mentioning, its unlikely any ship turret train rate in game is going to be slower than 72 seconds for 180 degrees. Even yamato's turret train rate got buffed up to that standard, as historically it took 90 seconds to turn 180 degrees, not 72 that it does in game.

Edited by ryuukei8569

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I'd much rather have the 1940s model instead.:sceptic:

 

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Well, they managed to pull an upgraded version of the Phoenix and Myogi out of their backsides - I don't see why the same couldn't be done for the SlowDaks's - especially since they'd have all the modernized Standards to go by and come up with something believeable.

 

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Its worth noting, that metallurgical quality of a ships armor belt is not accounted for in game, just the belt thickness. As far as the game is concerned, every ship in the game is using the same metallurgical formula for its armor. So game play wise, South Dakota's armor belt would be a good bit better than Iowa's or North Carolina's. Aslo worth mentioning, its unlikely any ship turret train rate in game is going to be slower than 72 seconds for 180 degrees. Even yamato's turret train rate got buffed up to that standard, as historically it took 90 seconds to turn 180 degrees, not 72 that it does in game.          

 

The NC, 1939 SD, and Iowa used inclined internal belts, so their belts' effective thickness is closer to the 1920 SD's than the comparing actual thickness would imply. The 1920 SD would still have a somewhat stronger belt, but not enough to be a decisive advantage. The turret rotation is likely to be buffed to better-than-historical levels, true, but still kept slower than the CO and other USN BBs, i.e. slow enough to be considered a disadvantage.
Edited by Terran_Crusader

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SlowDaks

 

 

Dang, I wish I'd thought to call them that! :D It makes it a lot easier to tell which class you're talking about.

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Most likely modernized version WG would probably put in game, would be similar to the New Mex and Colorado secondarys - a mix of 5"/25's and the 6"/53's - and then a plethora of 40 mm and 20 mm guns for a "late war" version - since they would have been newer ships than the 16" Standards, doubtful they would have gotten an extensive rebuild to switch them over to a 5"/38 battery - if they had done a West Virginia-style makeover, given their size, they might have been able to carry the same secondary battery as NC and later ships, 5 dual turrets per side.

 

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I'd much rather have the 1940s model instead.:sceptic:

 

How about both?

20fxhck.gif

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Reading the writeup on these in my copy of Conways 1906-1921, the main guns were to have 40 degrees of elevation from the get-go. If WG sticks with their formula of "height of gun director=useable range", and gives them a well-under 20 km range in game like the NM and CO, you know some people are going to have heartburn over it.

 

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At 45 degrees, the guns of this ship still has greater range than the Iowa's on the same elevation.  That means throughout the usable ranges of the ship, she will have a faster shell flight and flatter arcs than the Iowa despite the lighter shell.  Penetration though does not appear to be as impressive.  Nonetheless, the ship has the fastest muzzle velocity of any 16" gun --- 853 mps.  This will give you certain advantages of playing over the Colorado or North Carolina.  

 

Rather than 1.7 degs/sec, it will probably be given a 2 second deg to bring it to the minimum envelope of playability.  2 degs/sec is the same as the Warspite.  

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I would be down to see 1920-SD.  12 16" guns is nothing to scoff at.  I would be even alright with the pathetic AA suite.  Not like there's lots of CVs in WOWS anyways with entire USN lines having great AA but no planes to shoot at.

 

How about both?

20fxhck.gif

Yes indeed.

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway

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At 45 degrees, the guns of this ship still has greater range than the Iowa's on the same elevation.  That means throughout the usable ranges of the ship, she will have a faster shell flight and flatter arcs than the Iowa despite the lighter shell.  Penetration though does not appear to be as impressive.  Nonetheless, the ship has the fastest muzzle velocity of any 16" gun --- 853 mps.  This will give you certain advantages of playing over the Colorado or North Carolina.  

 

Rather than 1.7 degs/sec, it will probably be given a 2 second deg to bring it to the minimum envelope of playability.  2 degs/sec is the same as the Warspite.  

 

​Whoops. Thanks for pointing out the incorrect range comparison, will fix the op.

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One minor nit-pick, the secondary battery that was approved for the ships was the normal 5"/51, with provisions to replace it with the 6"/53 on a 1 for 1 basis. That being said, would LOVE to see the Slowdak with 6" guns in game, both as a native of the state and a lover of glorious curtains of flame.

 

Matt

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 The 1.7 degrees per second, per Navweaps is concerning manual training. The motors are quoted to be capable of 100 degrees per minutes at maximum emergency power. That's 2.9 seconds... My best guess is between 15 and 25 degrees per minute. Or to make up the possibly short range, 30 degrees per minute.  

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Ah yes, the '20s South Dakota. A ship that would truly inspire awe if put into the game, but which has so many balancing issues that it would also probably mine as much salt as the Graf Zeppelin if not implemented properly.

I keep trying to come up with an improved proposal for a USN battleship split into fast and standard lines, but this ship and the actually built SoDak always present the biggest stumbling block. The '39 ship is easy enough to implement as a tier 8, but then there's the problem that her closest comparison is North Carolina. Sure, she's got better armor so between the two that tells you which should go in which line if you have to pick, but she's still an oddball in a "standard" battleship line. The '20 ship is even worse. Even with theoretical upgrades, unless you COMPLETELY rip out and overhaul the guts of this beast, you're looking at a very powerful tier 8. Like, a tier 8 with tier 9 firepower. The closest comparison I can think of here is making her Musashi to Montana's Yamato, but even that's a stretch and a half. And if you DO put the ship at tier 8, then what goes in the tier 9 slot? Merging the lines back together at 9 is okay, but I'm of the mind that if you can't take a line to tier 10 then it's probably not going to do so hot. Tier 10 candidates are actually easier to find in the form of Montana's various proposals. I'm personally partial to making the current Montana the end of the "standard" BB line, while using the 3x4 BB-65c concept (think if Iowa and Alsace had a baby) as the end of the "fast" line.

Meh, iDunno that's just my long and rambling two cents.

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On 6/18/2016 at 4:56 PM, ryuukei8569 said:

Its worth noting, that metallurgical quality of a ships armor belt is not accounted for in game, just the belt thickness. As far as the game is concerned, every ship in the game is using the same metallurgical formula for its armor. So game play wise, South Dakota's armor belt would be a good bit better than Iowa's or North Carolina's. Aslo worth mentioning, its unlikely any ship turret train rate in game is going to be slower than 72 seconds for 180 degrees. Even yamato's turret train rate got buffed up to that standard, as historically it took 90 seconds to turn 180 degrees, not 72 that it does in game.

But for historical accuracy, and because it hurts the ship, they would totally give it the 90 seconds. 

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