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Final Review: Italian Tier IX Premium Battleship Marco Polo

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Ship review

Arriving alongside the Italian battleship line, the Marco Polo is joining the fight with her 406 mm SAP shells. She will be available for coal in the Armory, in the Premium Shop and she can also potentially drop from the new Italian battleships containers.

Is she worth it? Is the loss of the Exhaust smoke compensated enough by the increased gun caliber compared to Lepanto? Here is my opinion about it.

The Historical background

Marco Polo is inspired by the design UP.41. from Ansaldo.

For the description of the design, credits to Phoenix_jz, one of our great naval history enthusiasts on Discord. I sadly lack knowledge on Italian designs but he, on the other hand, really knows a lot about them.

UP.41 was modified from an Italian design by Ansaldo to sell to the Soviets, thus creating a new design specifically for the USSR. However, that base design existed beforehand and continued to be worked on by the Regia Marina past the point that UP.41 was sent to the USSR. Rather specifically, this stemmed from the planning for the 1935/36 naval program, which sought to construct a considerably more powerful fleet by 1942, including an oceanic component from a new base in Somalia, which gave the potential for the Regia Marina to convince Mussolini on plans for 41 000 tons battleships to succeed the Littorio-class, which had already had studies undertaken since 1935. The design almost immediately grew to 42 000 tons, but had similar dimensions and machinery to UP.41 (they weren’t changed by Ansaldo apparently), with an armament of 3×3 406mm, 4×3 152/55, and 12×2 100/47. Ultimately, the ‘oceanic/breakout fleet’ program was scrapped by Mussolini, due to the drop in tensions with Britain after a relatively short war conquering Ethiopia. However, the RM kept working on the design, hoping to work it into future programs.
The design as it was in early 1936 was modified by Ansaldo and sold to the USSR, which became what we know as UP.41. However, the home-grown design continued to be worked on and modified through 1936 and beyond, growing to 45 000 tons. In December 1937 the ability to lay down two new battleships for the 1938/39 naval program was, after some debate, taken in favor of repeat Littorio’s, as the CSMM (Cavagnari) decided he wanted an already tested design that could be built quickly, due to the tense situation in the Mediterranean. Thus, the 406mm battleships lost their first chance.
They were again included in the 1939/40 naval program, to lay down after the launch of the repeat Littorio’s, but said program collapsed due to the escalating situation in Europe and then finally the outbreak of war sealed their fate, though the design was still being modified as late as mid-1941.

The Good and the Bad

The Good

  • 406 mm guns with high AP penetration
  • Italian SAP shells with 102 mm of penetration
  • High alpha damage potential per salvo with the SAP shells
  • Great ballistic
  • Fast turret traverse
  • Good firing angles
  • Good armor protection against HE and AP
  • High base speed of 32 knots

The Bad

  • 3rd lowest HP pool after Lion and Jean Bart
  • Short main battery firing range
  • Long reload time on the main battery
  • Fairly derpy dispersion with “only” 9 guns compared to Lepanto
  • Secondaries mostly armed with 90 mm guns that can’t penetrate anything
  • Bad anti-air with low DPS and short firing range
  • No Exhaust Smoke

The camouflage

The permanent camouflage of the Marco Polo provides the classic bonuses for tier IX ships:

  • -3% to surface detectability range
  • +4% to maximum dispersion of shells fired by the enemy at your ship
  • -20% to the cost of the ship’s post-battle service
  • +100% to experience earned in the battle

Modules

Hull
Engine
Gun Fire Control System
Main battery

icon_module_Hull_installed

Marco Polo

icon_module_Engine_installed

Propulsion: 191 000 hp

icon_module_Suo_installed

SDT 9

icon_module_Artillery_installed

406 mm/50 OTO 1940

General Characteristics and playstyle

Tier IX
Health 69 100 HP
Torpedo Damage Reduction 27%
Displacement 49 317 tons
Main Armament
Maximum Firing Range 19.020 km
406 mm/50 OTO 1940 3 x 3 406 mm
Secondary Armament
Maximum Firing Range 6.950 km
152 mm/55 OTO 1936
90 mm/50 OTO 1939
4 x 3 152 mm
12 x 2 90 mm
Maximum speed 32 knots
Turning Circle Radius 860 m
Rudder Shift Time 16.7 s
Surface Detectability 16.8 km
Air Detectability 12.98 km
Detectability After Firing Main Guns in Smoke 16.26 km
Consumables
Slot 1
Slot 2
Slot 3
Damage Control Party
consumable_PCY009_CrashCrewPremiumWork time: 15 s
Cooldown: 80 s
Repair Party
Number of charges: 4
Work time: 28 s
Cooldown: 80 s
HP regeneration speed: +0.5%/s
Spotting Aircraft
Number of charges: 4
Work time: 100 s
Cooldown: 240 s
Maximum firing range: +20%
Fighter
Number of charges: 3
Work time: 60 s
Cooldown: 90 s
HP
Patrol radius: 3.0 km
Number of planes in the squadron: 3

The Marco Polo, when it comes to her playstyle is quite similar to the rest of the Italian battleship, mostly working at mid-range. However, compared to the techtree ships, her speed is among the highest at tier IX, giving her more comfort and a better capacity to reposition if needed. The problem is that, unlike the Roma, her concealment is just average so she isn’t as good at flanking. Due to the lack of Exhaust smoke though, you might want to play a tiny bit more passive with Marco Polo as she won’t have a “Get out of jail for free” card and her HP pool doesn’t allow her to tank as much as you would like. You could also want to abuse Deadeye a bit more to help with her dispersion.

When it comes to her ammo choice, it’s the same story as with the others. You will be shooting SAP at targets unless you are very likely to get citadels on your target or if it’s a poorly angled German battleship and similar, in which case your SAP will shatter on its broadside.

Main Battery

3 x 3 406 mm/50 OTO 1940
 Maximum Firing Range 19.020 km
 Reloading Time 36.0 s
180 Degree Turn Time 30.0 s
Optimal firing angles at the front 30°
Optimal firing angles at the rear 30°
Sigma 1.80 sigma
Maximum Dispersion 252 m
Shells
Type of Projectile  SAP – 406 mm proiettili CS 1940
Alpha Damage 14 100 HP
Penetration capacity  102 mm
Projectile Speed 836 m/s
Air Drag 0.248
Projectile Mass 1 071 kg
Ricochet Angles 70° – 80°
Type of Projectile AP – 406 mm proiettili AP 1940
Alpha Damage 13 050 HP
Projectile Speed 836 m/s
Air Drag 0.248
Projectile Mass 1 071 kg
Projectile Krupp 2 400
Projectile Detonator 0.033 s
Detonator threshold 68 mm
Ricochet Angles 45° – 60°

Let’s make it clear first. This is an Italian battleship. As such, her guns are handled by future stormtroopers. They are at the point where they can still hit stuff buuuuuuuuuuuut…. sometimes you will wonder what happened to your shells. The vertical dispersion is far from good and the horizontal dispersion isn’t crazy either. This is further worsened by the 36 seconds base reload time making the derpy dispersion even more painful to deal with.

At least, you have the advantage of having great ballistics both for the SAP and AP. You won’t have any issue leading properly on your target.

As explained above, you will most of the time be shooting SAP at your target, unless you are sure to get citadels. This is why I really recommend Sansonetti as a captain for the Italian battleships because of his improved Gun Feeder skill. The SAP will be particularly useful against light cruisers that you would otherwise overpenetrate constantly with the AP due to the ballistic. It will also allow you to get citadel on cruisers with an exposed citadel plating of 102 mm or thinner. Another advantage of having 406 mm SAP shells is that they will be able to overmatch 27 mm platings, making it very effective against most cruisers.

Secondary Armament

4 x 3 152 mm/55 OTO 1936
Maximum Firing Range 6.950 km
Reloading Time 12 s
Sigma 1.00 sigma
Shells
Type of Projectile HE – 152 mm proiettili HE
Alpha Damage 2 100 HP
Damage 1 120 HP
HE penetration 25 mm
Explosion Size 0.51
Chance to Cause Fire 7 %
Projectile Speed 950 m/s
Air Drag 0.325
Projectile Mass 44.3 kg
12 x 2 90 mm/50 OTO 1939
Maximum Firing Range 5.000 km
Reloading Time 4 s
Sigma 1.00 sigma
Shells
Type of Projectile HE – 90 mm proiettili HE
Alpha Damage 1 300 HP
Damage 240 HP
HE penetration 15 mm
Explosion Size 0.25
Chance to Cause Fire 5 %
Projectile Speed 860 m/s
Air Drag 0.414
Projectile Mass 10.1 kg

Between her 152 mm secondaries with long reload time and her 90 mm secondaries that cannot penetrate crap, the secondary battery of the Marco Polo (and of the Italian battleships as a whole) really isn’t something to rely on.

Anti-air Armament

12 x 2 90 mm/50 OTO 1939
Sector range 0.1 km – 4.6 km
Hit chance 75 %
Sector’s damage 56
Sector’s damage frequency 0.29 s
Sector’s damage per second 196
Flak clouds number 8
Flak cloud damage 1 330
10 x 2 37 mm/54 Breda 1932
Sector range 0.1 km – 3.5 km
Hit chance 75 %
Sector’s damage 57
Sector’s damage frequency 0.29 s
Sector’s damage per second 200
16 x 6 20 mm/70 Breda 1941
Sector range 0.1 km – 2.0 km
Hit chance 70 %
Sector’s damage 59
Sector’s damage frequency 0.29 s
Sector’s damage per second 207

Short firing range, low DPS coupled with the low hit chance of battleships’ anti-air, she is really easy to strike unless you are facing a terrible CV player who will take a lot of flaks. On that part, I will give it to her, 8 flaks per salvo is not bad at all.

The Armor

Overall, the armor of the Marco Polo is really nice. She isn’t citadel-proof and chances are that you will get punished if you aren’t angled properly but when you are, she tanks very well.

General armor protection:

Internal citadel protection:

Casemate internal plating:

I’m not showing the rear athwartship because it’s the exact same in terms of plating thickness and shape.

Turrets armor protections:

Hidden armor platings:

Final Opinion

Marco Polo definitely isn’t what I would call a bad ship. Not with her armor coupled with good firing angles, not with her AP penetration and certainly not with the SAP shells that are just busted on Italian battleships. However, she is still getting dragged down by the unreliable dispersion, long reload time, short firing range and also the low HP pool.

Would the ship be worth 228 000 coal? Well… I would put her as a low-priority investment. Then again, now we don’t have to worry about Georgia and Thunderer but who knows what could arrive in the future.

Recommended build

During the testing of the Marco Polo, I was running this build with the “small” exception that I was running Deadeye instead of Emergency Repair Expert. You might be wondering why I’m not showing that build.

Basically, I’m simply considering the fact that Deadeye will possibly get removed in the near future so that’s why I don’t put it in the build.

Of course, if you want Deadeye instead and have better working guns, feel free to pick it instead of Emergency Repair Expert.

For the order, I recommend going the following way:

  • Gun Feeder
  • Grease the Gears
  • Adrenaline Rush
  • Concealment Expert
  • Fire Prevention
  • Emergency Repair Expert (or Deadeye)
  • Priority Target
  • Preventive Maintenance

This concludes my review of the Marco Polo. Thank you for reading this article!

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Have a good one and see you soon!

1 thought on “Final Review: Italian Tier IX Premium Battleship Marco Polo

  1. Polo is gorgeous. Having 32ish reload time with battery mod 3 is not bad. Better than most Soviet Battleships. Derpy dispersion is annoying. But over all a solid battleship. Sometimes the sap gives hilarious results like citadelling cruiser from ranges of 8 km.

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