Ships-not-Tanks published an interview with Lesta World of Warships Lead Designer. Thanks to Umbaretz for posting the translation.
Source: World of Warships Reddit
Tell us about yourself.
I work in Lesta on designing large surface artillery ships (cruisers and battleships). Graduated from Leningrad Shipbuilding Institute with a degree in shipbuilding. I.e. was taught to create both civil and military ships. For two years worked in ship repair, serviced nuclear submarines. I like everything in my current work – from digging in archives to the process of recreating a ship which design sometimes have only a few lines in documentation.
I was interested in a ships for a long time, from second grade in school, when i read “Book of future admirals”, also my parents were subscribed to “Modelist Constructor” magazine and it had “Cruiser” series. For “Battleship” series I had to dig in various libraries.
When did you begin working in Lesta? How was your team assembled? Have you worked in IT beforehand?
I have been working with Lesta for a very long time, ever since “Pacific storm”, where I was involved in testing on outsource. Later, I was deeper involved in “Pacific storm: Allies”, where I advised on hit-location system, the one responsible for inner modules workings of the ship: armor, compartments, battle stations. Also, initially did the same when WoWs begun, but there I was already making objects inside the ship myself in 3D editor and made descriptions for them. Have been working in IT since 1996.
How do you begin designing paperships, where do you start?
“Paper ship” usually either descriptive part – tactical and technical elements or graphical part – usually nominal one, too simplified to make detailed 3d model based only on it. For that reason we take materials found as a basis and begin preliminary design process for the ship. As a result we get theoretical blueprint for ship’s hull, plans for bridges, decks, superstructures, ship projections, armor scheme, internal module layout – powerplant, ammo storages for various weapon system, steering system.
How do you get reference material? Do you use archives in work? If you dou – which ones?
Archives are the primary source of reference material, because they are the most trustworthy. Monographs, books are secondary sources and they are often plagued with inaccuracies and mistakes made by the author. Often the stuff written in books doesn’t match with archive data and needs cross-referencing with other sources.
What are the main stages in designing paper ship?
First we determine tactical and technical elements of the ship using sources available. elements are usually with real-world ships as the paper ships possible adversaries – to make project ship’s characteristics as close to reality as possible. Game conventions aren’t taken into consideration – we’re making a proper ship. Then, when elements are determined we search for prototype that existed IRL and has a lot of archived design documentation. Using prototype as a basis we recalculate for desired parameters length, beam and draft we get theoretical hull design and determine displacement for design waterline.
After then, simultaneously with load calculation we create armor and weapon placement schemes. Then we determine stability and distance between frames (sections), create ship projections , plans for bridges, decks, superstructures. Everything that is needed for ship creation in 3D editor, for future in-game armor and module placement. Ship proceeds to preliminary design stage.
How speed, buoyancy, manoeuvrability of paper ships is calculated?
Speed is determined using a prototype or similar ship with similar engine. Buoyancy is calculated using hydrostatics and theoretical blueprint. We can calculate manoeuvrability, but it’s one of game conventions (balance parameter – tr).
What are your plans for Alaska and Stalingrad?
We are searching for materials for Stalingrad in archives. We have everything we need for Alaska. About plans to enter them in game I can’t comment – don’t know about them.
What is the shady ship Buffalo, appearing in the client? Where can I find materials for her? What project it is?
It’s heavy cruiser project from 16 of September 1940. Called CA-B. You can find information about her here.
Why when creating IJN BB branch classical(give or take) Ishizuchi haven’t gotten into branch, but instead something crazy called Myogi now is into branch now? AFAIK ships with unique gameplay are put into premiums.
Because we got materials for Ishizuchi much later. Whole preliminary design work has been made for Myogi. It was a huge help that we could find very detailed Kongou before modernization’s blueprint in Hiiragi archive.
Why Großer Kurfürst is a lump of something and not exact project from H-40 to H-44? Where have you got triple turrets?
First, in archives we found nothing except H-class battleship project which was laid, but later cancelled. She has a lot of graphic material accompanying her. We haven’t found any data on other projects (in archives – tr). Also, there is no data on 420-mm gun. Instead we have information that during military tech cooperation Germany offered their naval weapons developments to USSR. Particularly in Russian archives we found materials about directors and artillery systems offered for sale. And it those materials we found longitudinal section blueprint of triple turret and her main weights table – armor, guns, mechanisms.
Because ship with 8 420-mm guns (parameters for which were calculated) couldn’t do anything against Yamato or Montana we decided to make a design based on “H” battleship with 4 such turrets. That’s how Kurfürst appeared. During her design materials on “H” and Bismarck were used. Also we used materials for developed (and not quite) 55-mm AA mounts and 128mm DP mounts.
Why German Destroyers have mix of 128 and 150 mm guns?
Branch shows full development of German DD’s, how they come to use 150-mm guns and how they abandoned them in their latest DD designs. So we can say that game German DD branch is grounded in history.
How long does it take to design a ships from idea to ready model?
Design can take from one month to two. It depends on quality of project materials and quality of prototype materials. Sometimes we need to design from scratch. Beginning from weapon systems – sometimes we have contradicting information about them and we have to check it using design and calculations. For model (3D – tr) it depends on how many artists are working on the ship.
Can you simply extrapolate while working on a ships branch, or are their pitfalls waiting for you?
There are a lot of pitfalls, so we can’t extrapolate.
About Soviet BB branch – what are the main problems for its assembly?
Main problem is archive material availability. Blueprints, documents. Work is proceeding, branch is turning out very interesting. (materials after 1941 are still classified – tr)
If you can tell us – what will be the branch main flavour?
If you look from realistic point of view – Russian/Soviet “artillery” (not targeting, not fire control, but guns themselves) is one of the best in the period. But its specialized for Baltic Sea and North Atlantic. A lot of stuff common with German and French ones. (you can expect good ballistics, but nothing will beat adamantium guns on Izumo – tr).
Don’t you think that Koenig and Bayern should sunk under the weight of their modernizations in top hulls?
No, we don’t. To claim that you have to show us your load and displacement calculations for the ship. We did ours and are confident in them.
Gneisenau with ELEVEN DP 2×128 guns should be … on the bottom – due to those weapons weight.
We made ship according to German modernization plans. Lenth of ship is increased by 11.3 m in forward main battery area. Displacement increase by 1500 tons. Considering known loads for Scharnhorst we achieved lowering of overload by 300 tons. That’s why Gneisenau turned out to be less overloaded if you consider hull lengthening than real Scharnorst, whose hull we checked by calculations.
Why did you “draw” catapult for German T9-10 BB between aft turrets, while on known sketches it’s behind aft turret?
It’s because of game mechanics requirements. In project plane was put on catapult using main battery turret, and her barrels acted as crane. In addition, to launch plane turret would be removed from player control. That’s why catapults, there are two of them, were put in between turrets where during launch they don’t obstruct player. Overall, this decision turned out better than German one.
Danae’s bow should be with a lift, this is a characteristic of third subgroup of this class.
Danae is a collective image of the class. It has been said many times on official forum.
Chapaev’s bow should be slanted. And Chapaev shouldn’t have torpedoes.
We made Chapaev according to factory blueprints. And bow in particular. Torpedoes are inherited from first hull.
Quintuple torpedo launchers simply wouldn’t fit in Zao’s aft. See for yourself. Also aft should break away.
According to project she has quadruple launchers. To make quintuple fit in we had to reduce spare torps quantity (he’s talking about real project, not in-game one). Load from 4 quintuple launchers is miniscule – ship’s structure and steering compartment armor weight much more.
Dmitriy Donskoi’s superstructure is as tall as Empire State Building – isn’t that height (number of floors) too much?
65’s project IRL didn’t come out of tactical and technical elements coordination stage. So when we were making a collective image of more than 40 variants, a lot of them aren’t represented in domestic literature it was decided to make her a preliminary design of project 66 cruiser, in game called Moskva. Her superstructure has less floors (lower) than Moskva’s, while ships are close in linear dimensions, although, Dmitriy’s Doskoi’s superstructure is unarmored except conning tower.
Based on what have you come up with Minotaur? Is she a Super Tiger (based on real Tiger)?
There are sources in Friedman’s book on British cruisers. Project Minotaur was considered by brits as an alternative to American CL-144 Worcester class cruisers. But as a result of designing for British weapons systems project turned out to be too expensive and wasn’t carried on, also characteristics weren’t batter than American counterpart’s. Mark XXV turret was intended exactly for this project. But after Minotaur was cancelled Tiger was born as a cheaper alternative.
What about Neptune’s DP turrets? And their number of torpedo launchers?
Project is also from Friedman’s book. Was supposed to be a further development of Town-class. Also wasn’t carried on.
Why have you draw Nikolai I the way she is in the game now? With forecastle and 300mm belt. In life she was “simpler”.
Nikolai’s belt is 270 mm, as in factory blueprints. Forecastle was considered as one of the measures to prevent excessive flooding of bow. It wasn’t implemented IRL due to metal deficit and increase in construction time. To make this ship different in architecture from other (Sevastopols – tr) we went for this assumption.
What’s your opinion on Japanese shipbuilder Yuzuru Hiraga’s works?
One of the greatest engineers of his time, he left a very rich archive after him. A couple of projects were advanced for his time.
How did you design IJN T10 CA Zao?
We had to design gun from scratch, because there weren’t 203/55 guns in Japan. Make internal ballistics calculation and check pressure. As a prototype we took Tone, to be exact – her theoretical blueprint and ship armouring approach.
Should we call ships which have a full set of construction blueprints, but haven’t been launched “paper ships”?
More correctly they should be called “not realized”, because those are very devepped and thoroughly designed projects. From materials point of view they are sometimes better than a real ship (to implement in game – tr), but those ones are exceptions. (“paper ships” with full set of documentation – tr)
Do you dabble in ship model building? For how long? Which ships have been commissioned in “home shipyard”?
I have been doing this for a long time, from school. I’ve made North Carolina, Hood and Yamato. In the process are Richelieu and KGV. Have won Russian Championship in ship models with Yamato model.
How do you explain pagoda superstructures on Japanese ships from a shipbuilding point of view?
Development of target designation and fire control systems.
Why did Americans used lattice masts for their first dreadnoughts and super dreadnoughts? Why they were later abandoned?
Because fire control mechanisms and AAA(Brownings, to be exact – tr) were placed high above. Combined they have a considerable mass (and lattice masts allow to save weight). Also they wanted to make masts less susceptible to enemy fire. Also it was considered that they’ll reduce vibrations from the hull. After all, they showed to be a complicated construct and the choice was made to make tall superstructures which allowed to place more platforms (for AAA, for example) and were sturdier and protected personnel better.
Whose archives are the hardest to work with? American, German, British, Russian? Are there any peculiarities with working with archives in different countries?
As time has shown – all archives have their peculiarities. Comrades from historical-archive departments are working with them.
What archive materials are you most interested in? Blueprints? Photos?
Blueprints, schemes, photos, various text documents – everything has a lot of necessary and important stuff for work (to work with).
How are project and construction blueprints different?
Level of detail is different. Construction blueprints show materials ships will be made of. Technical project blueprints show general idea of them. Preliminary design shows ship in general.
How reference conflicts are handled? For example, photo and blueprint don’t match.
Paper ships usually don’t have such issues, because there are no photos of them. Usually there are photos for dismantled and uncompleted ships.
Have you contacted with other historians during work? With war veterans? With military specialists?
I have contacted some historians by correspondents. But personally I do it on very rare occasions.
A great amount of work has been done gathering references, especially in case of not realized projects. Don’t you want to write a book or a series of articles?
If such book will be in demand – why not?
Which ship service history is the most memorable for you?
Are you gather materials for carrier-bases aviation as meticulously as you do for ship?
Other people are working on carrier aviation.
Talking with developers you learn a lot of unique staff, which you can’t neither in popular science nor in scientific publications dedicated to nautical themes. What do you think – why before you not a lot of people were so thorough in seeking technical information about different projects?
Naval thematic isn’t as popular in our country as it should be. In fact, our Navy history isn’t properly described.
Do you play games yourself? Which ones?
Rarely, don’t have a lot of time for games. But the stuff we make for WoWs we always watch in action.
Where do archive materials finding work begins?
By determining in which archive you have to search for materials.
Are there any cases where you have to find documentation for a ship, and it doesn’t exist at all? What do you do then?
“There are. But we have ship theory, strength of materials, External and Internal ballistics Textbook and a lot of real-world prototype ships. It’s never boring.”