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MadBadDave

The Great Ships

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I would imagine a lot of people wonder what the differences are between ships, in particular Cruisers, my preferred ship type, I’ve often wondered what was the difference between heavy and light cruisers, and having recently got the dire Awful mess (RN T8), wondered if real cruisers were so fragile.

 

There is a fantastic series called The Great  Ships on channel 181 (forces TV), at 7am GMT, every episode features a different type and with 36 episodes a lot get covered, PT botes and carriers were the best so far, today it was cruisers; 

 

Heavy ; Gun calibre of 6.2 inches or bigger 

Light ; Gun calibre of 6.1 inches or less.

 

Cruisers evolved from Frigates and were named by the french, main role (unlike WG’s Island hugging he spamming campers ), was scouting, raiding and support.

 

Btw a lot of names like Mahan and Farragut  etc get mentioned during each episode.

 

And yes even the likes of the Baltimore did indeed have crap armour.  Sadly my fave The Eugen doesn’t get a look in but the Graf Spee does

 

The series was filmed around the mid 90’s. Enjoy.

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Simply put, heavy cruisers are BBs in size, often with almost just as big guns, and larger than light cruisers because they had to carry the heavy guns/ammo.

But they were just as flimsy as the light cruisers, just a lot faster than BBs. So yeah they were:

-fragile like light cruisers; 

- a bit slower, less agile;

- easier to hit because they were bigger. 

 

The main reason to make them is you could have more heavy guns for a lower price.

They could outdamage the light cruisers, which they could not outrun.

And they could outrun the BBs, which they could not withstand. 

 

If they meet a light cruiser that they cannot outdamage... or that gets lucky... well yeah.

And if they cannot avoid the BB.... heavy cruiser will soon be a submarine. 

 

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38 minutes ago, MadBadDave said:

wondered if real cruisers were so fragile.

Yes and no. Depends what they were for, whether they were built to the terms of a treaty or whether the country involved was cheating.

 

Generally speaking... the British needed lots of capable, long-ranged ships for protecting shipping and the empire, not so many "fleet" cruisers.  Cruisers needed to be capable of independent action against surface raiders, have a compliment of Marines for boarding or land actions*, and preferably aircraft for spotting and reporting. 

 

* Providing a mobile land force was a historical role of the RN - there are numerous examples of guns being taken from ships of the line in the 19th century to be used as field artillery by marines on land - hence the historical field gun races between the RN Dockyards, based on the drills needed to move these guns. 

 

This explains the RN cruiser designs we have in game. The British were desperate to keep cruiser size down and to restrict the size and power of what could be built, fearing another arms race and also being bankrupted by the cost of other navies which only needed to build a few large raiding cruisers to provide a significant threat to shipping. 6 inch gun cruisers provided the best mix of range, endurance and gunpower - what was sacrificed was armour and habitability for the crew. If you ever go to HMS Belfast, take a look around and try and work out where 600+ rating were going to sleep on that thing. Not enough room to swing a cat. As for armour - the Director of Naval Construction once issued a memo to his designers, which said "Cruisers should not rely on armour for survival",  and boy did he mean it. 

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14 minutes ago, BLUB__BLUB said:

Simply put, heavy cruisers are BBs in size, often with almost just as big guns, and larger than light cruisers because they had to carry the heavy guns/ammo.

But they were just as flimsy as the light cruisers, just a lot faster than BBs. So yeah they were:

-fragile like light cruisers; 

- a bit slower, less agile;

- easier to hit because they were bigger. 

 

The main reason to make them is you could have more heavy guns for a lower price.

They could outdamage the light cruisers, which they could not outrun.

And they could outrun the BBs, which they could not withstand. 

 

If they meet a light cruiser that they cannot outdamage... or that gets lucky... well yeah.

And if they cannot avoid the BB.... heavy cruiser will soon be a submarine. 

 

Not a good example because it was unlucky but Hood was a cruiser as was Graf spee, aka a pocket battleship, which kicked the crap out of 3 Brit cruisers, and the Eugen had a fairly active war, Shiny Sheff did a bit as well.  And yes running (aka kiting) gets mentioned when facing anything bigger, but HE spamming and hiding behind an island doesn’t get mentioned for some reason. 😉.

 

The Mogami class (also featured), was an exception thanks to not complying with the treaty.

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3 minutes ago, invicta2012 said:

Yes and no. Depends what they were for, whether they were built to the terms of a treaty or whether the country involved was cheating.

As mentioned in follow up; mogami, essentially the Japanese ignored the treaty and did their own thing while the Germans lied. 

 

Bankruptcy and costs does indeed get mentioned in the episode. 

I agree crew sizes are amazing given the space available.

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38 minutes ago, MadBadDave said:

Not a good example because it was unlucky but Hood was a cruiser...

Nope. It was designed as a battle-cruiser (AKA a lighter-armoured, but faster BB),

but after WW1 the armour was upgraded so much that Hood had similar armour to the Queen Elizabeths.

"her design was reconsidered. Numerous changes were made including most significantly a substantial increase in armour. The thickness of the main armoured belt was raised from 9" to 12" the same as the Queen Elizabeth Class battleships.

The reworked design was approved on 4 August 1916. The new Admiral Class battle cruisers were in effect closer in armour protection to the recently built and much acclaimed Queen Elizabeth Class battleships than to preceding battle cruisers."

http://www.hmshood.com/history/construct/construction.htm

 

38 minutes ago, MadBadDave said:

...as was Graf spee, aka a pocket battleship, which kicked the crap out of 3 Brit cruisers,

Amen to that - except Spee had to find shelter else the cruisers would probably have won.

Also, Spee mostly attacked merchant vessels. The question is who kicked the crap out of who. 

 

38 minutes ago, MadBadDave said:

and the Eugen had a fairly active war, Shiny Sheff did a bit as well.  

Yes did. 

 

38 minutes ago, MadBadDave said:

And yes running (aka kiting) gets mentioned when facing anything bigger, but HE spamming and hiding behind an island doesn’t get mentioned for some reason. 😉.

The situation in WOWS bears little resemblance to real life, both in visibility of enemy ships and in the rest.

The game is really too arcade to tell if kiting, HE-spamming and island-hugging would work in real life.

 

38 minutes ago, MadBadDave said:

The Mogami class (also featured), was an exception thanks to not complying with the treaty.

Yes, and as such, it really falls somewhere in-between.

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48 minutes ago, MadBadDave said:

 Graf spee, aka a pocket battleship, which kicked the crap out of 3 Brit cruisers, 

Ah revisionist history.  WG did a balanced video on the Plate.  it is fair to call it draw / inconclusive apart from the British willingness to carry the battle to enemy , and the fact that the Graf Spee was very low on ammo and could not fight . 

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19 minutes ago, Peffers said:

Ah revisionist history.  WG did a balanced video on the Plate.  it is fair to call it draw / inconclusive apart from the British willingness to carry the battle to enemy , and the fact that the Graf Spee was very low on ammo and could not fight . 

Graf Spee did very well against the 3 Brits, but I have no doubt the Brits would have won.

However Exeter got taken out, and Ajax had only the front turrets left. Good show.

1 vs 1, my bet would be on Spee.

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20 minutes ago, BLUB__BLUB said:

1 vs 1, my bet would be on Spee. 

1v1 my bet would have been on the Hood to beat the Graf Spee.

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18 minutes ago, BLUB__BLUB said:

Graf Spee did very well against the 3 Brits, but I have no doubt the Brits would have won.

They probably wouldn't. Exeter was hors de combat, Ajax had recieved significant damage, and the only reinforcement available was Cumberland. Graf Spee held a significant advantage in range and power of main guns and her secondary armament and torpedoes were every bit a match for a Leander. What the British Force G needed was destroyers, of course, but the Admiralty has always tended to have a brain freeze about ship deployment in the South Atlantic and keeps sending completely the wrong things.

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9 minutes ago, invicta2012 said:

They probably wouldn't. Exeter was hors de combat, Ajax had recieved significant damage, and the only reinforcement available was Cumberland. Graf Spee held a significant advantage in range and power of main guns and her secondary armament and torpedoes were every bit a match for a Leander. What the British Force G needed was destroyers, of course, but the Admiralty has always tended to have a brain freeze about ship deployment in the South Atlantic and keeps sending completely the wrong things.

and  GS had no ammo reserves left.  The GS was caught whatever happened by the faster Brit (and Kiwi) cruisers; perhaps amore dangerous longer run to Buenos Aires, where a proxy ally may have allowed a re-armament.  But history shows that Langsdorff knew he was beaten.

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3 hours ago, invicta2012 said:

Yes and no. Depends what they were for, whether they were built to the terms of a treaty or whether the country involved was cheating.

 

Generally speaking... the British needed lots of capable, long-ranged ships for protecting shipping and the empire, not so many "fleet" cruisers.  Cruisers needed to be capable of independent action against surface raiders, have a compliment of Marines for boarding or land actions*, and preferably aircraft for spotting and reporting. 

 

* Providing a mobile land force was a historical role of the RN - there are numerous examples of guns being taken from ships of the line in the 19th century to be used as field artillery by marines on land - hence the historical field gun races between the RN Dockyards, based on the drills needed to move these guns. 

 

This explains the RN cruiser designs we have in game. The British were desperate to keep cruiser size down and to restrict the size and power of what could be built, fearing another arms race and also being bankrupted by the cost of other navies which only needed to build a few large raiding cruisers to provide a significant threat to shipping. 6 inch gun cruisers provided the best mix of range, endurance and gunpower - what was sacrificed was armour and habitability for the crew. If you ever go to HMS Belfast, take a look around and try and work out where 600+ rating were going to sleep on that thing. Not enough room to swing a cat. As for armour - the Director of Naval Construction once issued a memo to his designers, which said "Cruisers should not rely on armour for survival",  and boy did he mean it. 

Thanks for this interesting text. :cap_like:

I hope WG, don't put their doobloons/coil/steal taxes for accessing this post. I could imagine, some thing like: if you want to see more... change 175K coal ummm:Smile_sceptic: my English is primitive, some words could be proposed but, bad spelled) for reading full article. At least this one I own for  free.

As a mate said before, reading excellent texts like yours, with history, makes this feeling happen: I has access to a forum, where by the way has as a secondary option playing war ships.

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We’ll never know “what if “ Spee had come out to fight, bearing in mind the punishment Bismarck took (also scuttled), and that Eugen took 2 nukes, there’s no doubt Spee  would have gone down but how many, if any of the 3 Brits would’ve been left ?.

 

Battle cruiser hood was not a BB.

 

Btw the documentary and reason for the op (I thought people would be interested 😉), does mention that the Spee was such a concern that the RN committed a huge amount of resources to tracking it down.  So if it had survived it wouldn’t have been for long.

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56 minutes ago, MadBadDave said:

Battle cruiser hood was not a BB.

In RN parlance she was always referred to as a battlecruiser (the same way the Americans never used the term battlecruiser to refer to the Alaskas, although they blatantly were). However in terms of her actual specs, she was basically a bigger QE-class; in certain respects, her belt armour was thicker than Bismarck's. Essentially she was a fast battleship, although the term wasn't used to refer to her at the time.

 

5 hours ago, BLUB__BLUB said:

Simply put, heavy cruisers are BBs in size, often with almost just as big guns, and larger than light cruisers because they had to carry the heavy guns/ammo.

But they were just as flimsy as the light cruisers, just a lot faster than BBs. So yeah they were:

-fragile like light cruisers; 

- a bit slower, less agile;

- easier to hit because they were bigger. 

 

The main reason to make them is you could have more heavy guns for a lower price.

They could outdamage the light cruisers, which they could not outrun.

And they could outrun the BBs, which they could not withstand. 

 

If they meet a light cruiser that they cannot outdamage... or that gets lucky... well yeah.

And if they cannot avoid the BB.... heavy cruiser will soon be a submarine. 

 

Actually, 'heavy' (8"-armed) cruisers were all around the 10,000 ton treaty limit (albeit with one or two cheats going a thousand or two tons more), well below the size of contemporary battleships. If we get into armoured cruisers (forerunners of the battlecruiser) on the other hand, they certainly could be in excess of the tonnage of the battleships of the time as well as being quite a bit longer on average due to the need for a slimmer hull to reach those higher speeds. Pretty much everything else you said applies to armoured cruisers too by the way ;)

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3 hours ago, Peffers said:

1v1 my bet would have been on the Hood to beat the Graf Spee.

That is also the case in WOWS, but therefore Hood is T7 and Spee a T6. 

In real life, yes then as well - but Hood was quite a bit bigger than Spee, eh. 

47000 tonnes vs 16000 tons. 380mmx8 vs 280mmx6, duh. Quite a difference. 

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51 minutes ago, NobleSauvage said:

Actually, 'heavy' (8"-armed) cruisers were all around the 10,000 ton treaty limit (albeit with one or two cheats going a thousand or two tons more), well below the size of contemporary battleships. If we get into armoured cruisers (forerunners of the battlecruiser) on the other hand, they certainly could be in excess of the tonnage of the battleships of the time as well as being quite a bit longer on average due to the need for a slimmer hull to reach those higher speeds. Pretty much everything else you said applies to armoured cruisers too by the way ;)

Yep, but I just mean compared to their contemporary light cruisers and BBs.

 

53 minutes ago, NobleSauvage said:

In RN parlance she was always referred to as a battlecruiser (the same way the Americans never used the term battlecruiser to refer to the Alaskas, although they blatantly were). However in terms of her actual specs, she was basically a bigger QE-class; in certain respects, her belt armour was thicker than Bismarck's. Essentially she was a fast battleship, although the term wasn't used to refer to her at the time.

Hood was designed as a battlecruiser, but even at the warf the armour (which made her a cruiser) was improved to the level of the QE. 

So she wasn't even launched with any inferior armour to the BBs. 

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Ah yes the age-old "is it a cruiser, battleship or a battlecruiser". I've always favoured the "official" stance where we had "battlecruisers" as built during the WW1 era or so, but that the Alaskas are "large cruisers".

 

The reason why I favour the distinction is there's really a series of discontinuities between those ships both chronologically and in terms of capabilities.

 

Virtually all ships unambiguously referred to as "battlecruisers" are WW1 era or built (Hood) or left unfinished (Mackensens) immediately thereafter. They were essentially down-armoured, lengthened and faster compared to BB's of their day. Their guns were often just as big as those of same-era BB's (compare below).

 

The "large cruisers" started to come 20 years later. They were really enlarged cruisers in  basic design (e.g. Alaska basically an upscaled Baltimore). Their guns were unusually big for a cruiser, but they were NOT any longer BB grade. Alaska's 12-inchers would've been BB-grade weapons  in  WW1, but no longer in 1940's (USA was moving beyond 12 inches in BB's 20 years earlier).

 

So quite different beasts.

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7 hours ago, BLUB__BLUB said:

Simply put, heavy cruisers are BBs in size, often with almost just as big guns, and larger than light cruisers because they had to carry the heavy guns/ammo.

But they were just as flimsy as the light cruisers, just a lot faster than BBs. So yeah they were:

-fragile like light cruisers; 

- a bit slower, less agile;

- easier to hit because they were bigger. 

 

The main reason to make them is you could have more heavy guns for a lower price.

They could outdamage the light cruisers, which they could not outrun.

And they could outrun the BBs, which they could not withstand. 

 

If they meet a light cruiser that they cannot outdamage... or that gets lucky... well yeah.

And if they cannot avoid the BB.... heavy cruiser will soon be a submarine. 

 

Heavy cruisers are defined only by the size of their guns. Anything above 175mm main guns is per definition a heavy cruiser no matter the size of the ship itself... There is light cruisers that is physically much larger than heavy cruisers,

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11 hours ago, jss78 said:

Ah yes the age-old "is it a cruiser, battleship or a battlecruiser". I've always favoured the "official" stance where we had "battlecruisers" as built during the WW1 era or so, but that the Alaskas are "large cruisers".

 

The reason why I favour the distinction is there's really a series of discontinuities between those ships both chronologically and in terms of capabilities.

 

Virtually all ships unambiguously referred to as "battlecruisers" are WW1 era or built (Hood) or left unfinished (Mackensens) immediately thereafter. They were essentially down-armoured, lengthened and faster compared to BB's of their day. Their guns were often just as big as those of same-era BB's (compare below).

 

The "large cruisers" started to come 20 years later. They were really enlarged cruisers in  basic design (e.g. Alaska basically an upscaled Baltimore). Their guns were unusually big for a cruiser, but they were NOT any longer BB grade. Alaska's 12-inchers would've been BB-grade weapons  in  WW1, but no longer in 1940's (USA was moving beyond 12 inches in BB's 20 years earlier).

 

So quite different beasts.

There's certainly quite a gap between them, which means the technological levels would have been quite different and doubtless lessons learned from the previous iteration so as not to re-make a lot of the same mistakes.

 

However, battlecruisers weren't modified battleships, they were up-scaled armoured cruisers (so, like the Alaskas being up-scaled heavies); added to that, they had a tendency to have smaller main guns than equivalent-generation battleships (Tiger had 13.5" where the QEs had 15" for example), like the Alaskas.

 

Finally, the Scharnhorst class only had 11" guns, so 12" was clearly not out of the realms of possibility for battleship-grade armament at the time even if it would admittedly have been unusual (compare it to certain second-class battleships from the pre-Dreadnought era with 9.2" main armament, which was also common on larger armoured cruisers); 12" guns were certainly bigger than any 'conventional' cruiser armament.

 

Added to that, the Alaskas were designed to hunt down and neutralise the other 'large' cruisers of the day, which was a key component of the battlecruiser spec. when they were still 'large armoured cruisers'; they were battlecruisers in all but the requirement to operate as second-line units of the battlefleet, which arguably was never that important or effective a part of the battlecruiser role anyway and was certainly out of favour in British thinking of the time.

 

It's my imagining that they just didn't want to call them 'battlecruisers' so that the crews wouldn't get any jitters about massive explosions and the like in service ;)

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19 hours ago, BLUB__BLUB said:

Graf Spee did very well against the 3 Brits, but I have no doubt the Brits would have won.

 

No it didn't. It should either defeat RN force or escape from it. It failed in both.

 

Quote

1 vs 1, my bet would be on Spee.

 

Really? So your bet would be on the ship that was designed to "destroy anything that is weaker and outrun anything that is stronger than it" vs any single ship of Harvood of which all three were weaker then GS. Wow, that would one tough guess who would won 1 vs 1.

 

16 hours ago, MadBadDave said:

We’ll never know “what if “ Spee had come out to fight, bearing in mind the punishment Bismarck took (also scuttled), and that Eugen took 2 nukes, there’s no doubt Spee  would have gone down but how many, if any of the 3 Brits would’ve been left ?.

 

Or RN would just sink GS without loosing a single ship, maybe, I mean we don't know for sure but considering that previously GS failed to sink a single cruisers everything is possible. Also, what a ridicules though. Loosing GS hit German Navy far worse then would loosing all three cruisers would hit RN.

 

It is still not 100% sure if Bismarck was scuttled or not but even if it is, by the time it was decided to scuttle the ship, it was already a floating wreck. All its guns are more or less not operational, there were multiple fires raging all over the ship and its fighting capabilities were basically equal to zero. RN wanted Bismarck at the bottom of the sea and they got it at the bottom of the sea. If German scuttled ship in Baltic maybe it would matter but at that conditions it doesn't matter at all. Only thing important is that German lost one of very few BBs they possessed.   

 

Eugen surviving two nukes is showing .... what exactly? So was Pensacola and number of other ships during the testing. If anything those testing showed that nuclear weapon is not quite effective in using vs surface ships.

 

Quote

Btw the documentary and reason for the op (I thought people would be interested 😉), does mention that the Spee was such a concern that the RN committed a huge amount of resources to tracking it down.  So if it had survived it wouldn’t have been for long.

 

Tying so many resources doesn't mean a thing, simple because, RN and French Navy could afford it. Germany didn't gain anything from it, they didn't use the fact that so many ships are looking after GS in any effective way, in fact they lost one of the very few capital ships they had for basically nothing.

 

Documentary are good source of the knowledge but very far from perfect. Especially lot of older ones are not always correct.   

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7 minutes ago, fumtu said:

Really? So your bet would be on the ship that was designed to "destroy anything that is weaker and outrun anything that is stronger than it" vs any single ship of Harvood of which all three were weaker then GS. Wow, that would one tough guess who would won 1 vs 1

:Smile_trollface: yes really. 1 vs 3, well we have SEEN what happened. He could not escape, nor win - so chose to scuttle.

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So tldr; We need the battle(and large-)cruiser as an ingame class?

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10 minutes ago, TheBrut3 said:

So tldr; We need the battle(and large-)cruiser as an ingame class?

 

imo yes. But that might bring problems of its own. Scharnhorst/Gneisenau/Graf Spee comes to mind. Scharnhorst would fall into battlecruiser class then, as there would be no way to justify keeping her in the BB class. At the same time, Graf Spee would ofc move into battle cruiser class aswell, since there is no way to keep her as a cruiser when such a class exists. This would leave us with 2 almost identical ships (the different beeing guncalber) on T7 in different classes. Also, we would need a lot more battle cruisers to start such an own class. While we have quite a few on high tiers, Scharnhorst could right now only be matched with... Scharnhorst.

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14 minutes ago, ForlornSailor said:

 

imo yes. But that might bring problems of its own. Scharnhorst/Gneisenau/Graf Spee comes to mind. Scharnhorst would fall into battlecruiser class then, as there would be no way to justify keeping her in the BB class. At the same time, Graf Spee would ofc move into battle cruiser class aswell, since there is no way to keep her as a cruiser when such a class exists. This would leave us with 2 almost identical ships (the different beeing guncalber) on T7 in different classes. Also, we would need a lot more battle cruisers to start such an own class. While we have quite a few on high tiers, Scharnhorst could right now only be matched with... Scharnhorst.

If I recall, the Scharnhorst class were referred to as battlecruisers (wrongly in my humble etc.) due to the small size of the guns, they were otherwise 'proper' battleships. Graf Spee was really too small to qualify as well, even the Invincibles would have something like 5000+ tons on her.

 

29 minutes ago, TheBrut3 said:

So tldr; We need the battle(and large-)cruiser as an ingame class?

I don't think they'd need to be a full separate class, more like lines of battleships for the relevant countries (UK, Germany, Japan); battleships rather than cruisers as a) there are multiple cruiser lines for several countries already but only one battleship line for each and b) the shot scatter, concealment etc. should be more like the battleships than the cruisers.

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4 minutes ago, NobleSauvage said:

If I recall, the Scharnhorst class were referred to as battlecruisers (wrongly in my humble etc.) due to the small size of the guns, they were otherwise 'proper' battleships.

 

Its indeed a special case and I tend to agree with you.

 

4 minutes ago, NobleSauvage said:

I don't think they'd need to be a full separate class, more like lines of battleships for the relevant countries (UK, Germany, Japan); battleships rather than cruisers as a) there are multiple cruiser lines for several countries already but only one battleship line for each and b) the shot scatter, concealment etc. should be more like the battleships than the cruisers.

 

The problem (from my PoV) is, that those super heavy / battle cruisers are in the same class as cruisers. This could lead to absurd (again my PoV^^) situations, where one team has Mino, Smolensk and Seattle while they other get Alaska, Puerto Rico and Stalingrad. Creating new lines for Battleships and move those battle crusers there just shifts the problem to another class without having an answer. Imagine Stalingrad moving to this sub-BB-class - it would be concidered a bad ship all of a sudden. Not sure how a team with Puerto Rico + Stalingrad and a bunch of regular cruisers should hold its own (given equal skill level) against, say Kremlin + Bourgogne. Bourgogne is a nice example anyway, since its moving pretty close to the gun caliber / HP pool of Stalingrad but still is a lot different.

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