Engineer’s diary: Saipan & Des Moines

Captains, it’s been some time since we introduced two American ships to the Bureau: Legendary Tier cruiser ★ Des Moines and Tier VII aircraft carrier Saipan. In the wake of Independence Day—and taking into account that more of you have completed at least one of these projects by now—we are revisiting them to take a deep dive with history info and how-to advice, including Commander builds, provided by the one and only TheSailingRobin.

USN Legendary cruiser Des Moines 

Leading a class of three heavy cruisers, Des Moines was commissioned in 1948. For the most of her career, she served as the flagship for the 6th Task Fleet in the Mediterranean. She was the first ship of her class to carry semi-automatic Mark 16 8-inch (203 mm) turrets, and had her seaplanes replaced by utility helicopters. Enviable rate of fire, American arcing shells with improved ricochet angles and Radar consumable made Des Moines one of the most awaited Legendary Tier entries.

Norman Scott definitely has the type of skills you need to optimize ★ Des Moines to your preferences. His base trait Directed Impact will make sure that your salvoes land where you want them, every 5.5s. Regarding inspirations, we’ll maintain the tradition of leaving it up to you, although we recommend going for concealment. For the rest, we went with:

No-Fly Zone to swat away any squadrons foolish enough to enter your AA defenses,

Igniter to make sure battleship captains will be anxious to remain under your rain of HE,

Punch Through to emphasize on the already excellent AP shells,

Steer Clear to compensate for the rather unresponsive handling,

and Fully Packed for the extra Repair Party, Radar, Sonar, Defensive AA fire or any other consumable you may see fit.

★ Des Moines not only embodies the essence of US heavy cruisers, it brings that notion to the extremes. Boasting withering firepower, excellent AP, shielding anti-air defenses and Radar, this ship can take on as many roles a cruiser can dream. But she doesn’t come without drawbacks: ★ Des Moines has some of the worst armor schemes for heavy cruisers at Legendary Tier, and is extremely vulnerable to 16-inch (406 mm) AP shells and above, all the while being relatively sluggish to handle. Careful positioning and map awareness is the key to success. One particularly efficient playstyle is to use terrain as cover while focusing on enemy battleships, with the rather floaty shells allowing the ship to fire over most islands, and only attempt to push once capital ships are destroyed or out of position. Play around key areas to make most use of your Radar and punish destroyers, and if possible, try to take on 1vs1 fights that you’re most likely to win due to your extremely high rate of fire. TheSailingRobin’s tip: AP shells will penetrate at surprisingly good angles. While ★ Des Moines is an excellent fire starter, its armor-piercing capabilities—even against battleships—are nothing to scoff at.

USN Tier VII Premium aircraft carrier Saipan

Saipan was the headliner of a class of light aircraft carriers, that comprised two ships, and housed 50+ aircraft, including some helicopters. Commissioned in 1946, she obviously did not see any WWII action, but much later was deployed during the Vietnam war. That, however, happened after her conversion to Major Communications Relay Ship under the name Arlington. In between military duties during that war she also joined the Manned Spacecraft Recovery Force (TF-130), serving as the primary communication ship while recovering Apollo 8, the first manned spacecraft that flew to the Moon. 

Ernest King comes as your dedicated USN Carrier commander, offering everything you need to optimize the performance of VII Saipan. His base trait I Come Prepared will boost the range of your AA guns and make sure the enemy CV isn’t too tempted to strike you early on.

Inspirations can be focused on ship speed or concealment, though we leave that to your discretion. We followed up with:

Swatting at Flies for the self-defense emphasis,

Emergency Power to increase the speed at which you close the distance with your target or get out of AA zones, 

Hidden Threat to catch your enemies off-guard,

Burn, Baby, Burn! for that extra explosive damage and fire-setting chances,

and Death from Above to boost the mobility of your HE-wielding dive bombers.

Tier VII Saipan is the first American Premium aircraft carrier to come to Legends. This ship moves quickly, defends herself well from enemy aircrafts and carries powerful planes, including high-speed dive bombers and torpedo bombers, able to drop four torpedoes at a time. On the other hand, Saipan is very lightly armored (comparing to counterpart carriers such as Tier VII Implacable or Pobeda), meaning that a single misplacement can lead to an early trip back to port. As mentioned, Saipan already does benefit from decent speed, but is not very stealthy, that’s why you should try to improve both of these aspects via inspirations if possible. In terms of gameplay, you bring the classic U.S. Navy dive bomber strength to your team, while also rivaling with the likes of Kaga in terms of torpedo volume, making Saipan a very strong asset, if used correctly. Deal with capital ships first, provide fighter support to your friendly cruisers and destroyers, and assist with the spotting of high-value targets.

Research the Bureau projects and turn the tide!

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