World of Warships

Final review: U.S. Tier VII Premium Battleship California

The new U.S. Tier VII Premium battleship California is now fully released. For the occasion, Wargaming credited me the ship so that I can share my impression on her. Is this ship worth it or not? Here is what I think of it.

ecd83598-bd1d-11ea-8151-8cdcd4b147d4_1200x

Historical background

The California (BB-44) was the second ship of the Tennessee-class of battleships from the U.S. Navy. Launched in November 1919, the ship served at first as the flagship of the Pacific Fleet during the peacetime period.

When World War 2 started, she received the information the hard way. In fact, she was moored in Pearl Harbor on the day of the attack. The ship was hit by 2 torpedoes and a bomb which themselves didn’t cause very important damage. However, the fire that followed disabled the electrical systems of the ship, blocking the damage control party from starting the pumps to counter the flooding. In the end, after 3 days of efforts, the ship sank in the harbor with her crew suffering heavy casualties as well.

Thankfully for her, this wasn’t the end. In April 1942, the ship was refloated and underwent a full rebuild. Basically, it turned her into a completely new ship and any free space available disappeared for more and more guns. The ship returned to active service in 1944. She then spent most of the war doing shore bombardment except for the battle of the Leyte Golf where she fought with Yamashiro and sunk her with the help of West Virginia and Tenessee. She was also hit by a kamikaze attack on November 1944, killing 44 men and wounding 155.

After the end of the war, the ship traveled the world before reaching Philadelphia where she was put in reserve and then scrapped in 1959.

The Good and the Bad

The Good

  • Long main battery firing range
  • 12 guns broadside with fairly good dispersion
  • Tight turning radius
  • Great concealment
  • Great anti-air for Tier VII
  • Underwater citadel pretty much impossible to reach with AP shells and AP bombs

The Bad

  • Only 356 mm guns so limited overmatch potential
  • Terribly long reload
  • Underwhelming firing angles
  • EXTREMELY sluggish
  • E X T R A  T H I C C which means that she will be taking a lot of full penetration from AP shells
  • Covered for the most part with 26 mm armor so terribly vulnerable against HE shells

The camouflages

The camouflage of California provides the classic bonuses for tier VII Premium ships:

  • -3% to surface detectability range
  • +4% to maximum dispersion of shells fired by the enemy at your ship
  • -10% to the cost of ship’s post-battle service
  • +50% to experience earned in the battle

It is available in 2 color schemes, the standard and the alternative one:

shot-20.07.13_13.20.14-0279shot-20.07.13_13.20.08-0622

If you feel like spreading Freedom on the sea, you can also get her special camouflage that turns her into a bald eagle that has been eating too much Filet-O-Fish. It gives the same bonuses:

shot-20.07.13_13.19.51-0148

 

Modules
Hull
Engine
Gun Fire Control System
Main battery
icon_module_Hull_installedCalifornia

icon_module_Engine_installedPropulsion: 29.500 hp

icon_module_Suo_installedMk7 mod. 1

icon_module_Artillery_installed356 mm/50 Mk7

General Characteristics and playstyle

GeneralConsumables
Tier VII
Health 58 300 HP
Displacement 40 345 tons
Main Armament
Maximum Firing Range 19.900 km
356 mm/50 Mk7 4 x 3 356 mm
Secondary Armament
Maximum Firing Range 5.000 km
127 mm/38 Mk32
8 x 2 100 mm
Maximum speed 20.5 knots
Turning Circle Radius 640 m
Rudder Shift Time 14.7 s
Surface Detectability 13.5 km
Air Detectability 9.69 km
Detectability After Firing Main Guns in Smoke 11.71 km
Slot 1
Slot 2
Slot 3
Damage Control Party
Work time: 20 s
Cooldown: 80 s
Repair Party
consumable_PCY010_RegenCrewPremium
Number of charges: 4
Work time: 28 s
Cooldown: 80 s
HP regeneration time: 0.5% HP/s
Spotting Aircraft
consumable_PCY013_SpotterPremium
Number of charges: 4
Work time: 100 s
Cooldown: 240 s
Bonus: +20% maximum firing range
Fighter
Number of charges: 3
Work time: 60 s
Cooldown: 90 s
Number of planes in a squadron: 3
Patrol radius: 3 km

California is basically the antithesis of the Champagne in terms of playstyle. With Champagne, you can use her amazing mobility to get on a flank and punish broadsides. With California… well first, you will take ages to reach one side of the map and even then, you don’t really want to go too hard on that flank either for a simple reason. The moment your flank collapses, you have no way of escaping because of how slow the ship is. The worst for this is at tier IX. There, you are just dead meat if it happens.

You also can’t really push anything. With the combination of horrible speed and lack of proper protection against HE or against any 380 mm AP shell or bigger, you would just be dead before even reaching half of your journey.

With this ship, you want to keep a somewhat central position, use the great firing range as well as good ballistic and roleplay an island (Which is pretty much what the ship is anyway. An island with guns everywhere.). To punish unaware cruisers, she is still doing a decent job.

Main Battery

shot-20.07.13_13.21.47-0249

Main Battery
4 x 3 356 mm/50 Mk7
 Maximum Firing Range 19.900 km
 Reloading Time 34.2 s
180 Degree Turn Time 60.0 s
Optimal firing angles at the front 40°
Optimal firing angles at the rear 37°
Sigma 1.90 sigma
Maximum Dispersion 259 m
Shells
Type of Projectile  HE – 356 mm HE/HC Mk22
Alpha Damage 5 000 HP
Damage 3 570 HP
Penetration capacity  59 mm
Explosion size 2.01
Fire chance 30 %
Projectile Speed 861 m/s
Air Drag 0.325
Projectile Mass 578.3 kg
Type of Projectile AP – 356 mm AP Mk16
Alpha Damage 10 500 HP
Chance to Cause Fire -0.5 %
Projectile Speed 823 m/s
Air Drag 0.331
Projectile Mass 680.4 kg
Projectile Krupp 2 545
Projectile Detonator 0.033 s
Detonator threshold 59 mm

The main battery of the California is, for tier VII, really nothing great. At this tier, 356 mm guns end up dealing with a lot of cruisers with 25 mm plating, especially since you will often face tier VIII cruisers. The ship will really rely on the enemy to give you broadside to get good damage numbers. The good thing is that, overall, her HE is fairly good so when needed, it will be able to do the job while you wait for a broadside to punish.

Add to this the abysmal 34.2 s reload and overall, you end up with a somewhat lacking firepower for this tier.

Secondary battery

shot-20.07.13_13.21.56-0278

Secondaries
8 x 2 127 mm/38 Mk32
Maximum Firing Range 5.000 km
Reloading Time 6.0 s
Sigma 1.00 sigma
Shells
Type of Projectile HE – 127 mm HE Mk32
Alpha Damage 1 800 HP
Damage 380 HP
HE penetration 21 mm
Explosion Size 0.38
Chance to Cause Fire 5 %
Projectile Speed 792 m/s
Air Drag 0.347
Projectile Mass 24.5 kg

The secondaries on the California are nothing worth mentioning. You get a broadside of 8 127 mm guns without any sort of special dispersion formula or increased range.

Anti-air Armament

shot-20.07.13_13.22.08-0135

Air Defense
8 x 2 127 mm/38 Mk32
Sector range 0.1 km – 5.8 km
Hit chance 75 %
Sector’s damage 39
Sector’s damage frequency 0.29 s
Sector’s damage per second 137
Flak clouds number 5
Flak cloud damage 1 400
14 x 4 40 mm Bofors Mk2 
Sector range 0.1 km – 3.5 km
Hit chance 75 %
Sector’s damage 104
Sector’s damage frequency 0.29 s
Sector’s damage per second 364
41 x 2 20 mm Oerlikon Mk20
Sector range 0.1 km – 2.0 km
Hit chance 70 %
Sector’s damage 140
Sector’s damage frequency 0.29 s
Sector’s damage per second 490

This might be the only really good thing about the California. Her anti-air really is great for tier VII as it’s, in terms of DPS equal or even superior to the U.S. battleships at tier VIII.

Pretty much any bit of freeboard that was available on the ship was covered by an AA mount. It’s to the point where you could wonder if there aren’t additional 20 mm Oerlikons strapped to the ceiling of the kitchens.

In action, you simply shred tier VI planes and are doing fairly well against Tier VIII ones as long as you don’t get spammed too hard by HE.

The armor

general

The armor of the California is nothing great. The ship gets melted hard by HE from cruisers and AP, in general, will hit hard as well because of how wide she is.

The bow section

bow1

The external protection of the bow is 26 mm thick. It’s the classic at tier VII and considering all the 380 mm guns or bigger that she can face, it is not a good thing.

bow4

For the frontal protection of the middle section, the upper casemate is 25 mm. For the casemate in red, which includes a small part of the citadel, it is 343 mm thick. For the lower part of the citadel’s athwartship, it is 35 mm. Speaking of the citadel, it is important to note that it’s entirely below the waterline. Scoring citadels on this ship is pretty hard. I guess it somewhat compensates for the fact that she is taking full penetrations from every angle.

The middle section

mid2

The upper deck and a part of the side armor are 26 mm thick. Just like the bow, they will give little protection against AP and HE shells in general.

mid3

The lower deck that is exposed behind the superstructure is 31 mm thick. This will allow the ship to bounce AP shells from battleships unless she meets Georgia or Musashi.

The torpedo bulge is 35 mm thick and since it’s for a good part above the waterline, it will also allow the ship to bounce big caliber AP shells if it is angled enough.

For the main belt, it’s 343 mm thick for the upper part and then, there is a small 273 mm portion well below the waterline.

mid7

Finally, for the citadel, its sides are 44 mm thick and in spaced armor configuration behind the main belt. Basically, it’s pretty much impossible to reach it due to her position.

Looking at the horizontal protection now and this ship is simply impossible to citadel with AP bombs. Just below the 25 mm upper deck and 31 mm lower deck, the main armor deck is 165 mm thick under the turrets and 140 mm thick above the engine.

mid10

If that wasn’t enough, under the main armor deck is the splinter deck (which corresponds to the citadel) with 38 mm of armor. All of these layers combined with the underwater citadel mean that it is basically impossible to reach with AP bombs. That is at least a good point.

The stern section

stern1

For the stern, it’s 26 mm thick except for an extended belt of 203 mm.

stern2

Inside the stern, there is a 159 mm thick armored deck that will prevent any AP shell from reaching the citadel’s athwartship.

stern5

For the protection of the middle section, it’s like at the front. There is a 25 mm thick upper casemate and then a 343 mm thick plating, including the upper part of the citadel’s athwartship. Finally, at the bottom, the lower part of the citadel is protected by 35 mm of armor.

The superstructure

supers

The superstructure is 16 mm thick except for the secondary turrets that are protected by 50 mm of armor and the conning tower with a mix of 406 mm and 152 mm platings.

The turrets

turrets

For the turrets, the face is 457 mm thick, the sides are 254 mm thick and then 229 mm thick, the back is 229 mm thick and finally the roof is 127 mm thick.

Overall, these are well-protected turrets, especially the face which will be able to deal with large-caliber AP shells thanks to the thick armor and important slope.

Final opinion

Well, it’s simple… unless you really like the history of the ship and want it as a collection item, sure, go for it. Outside of this… I just don’t see why you would ever buy what is effectively an Arizona thrown at tier VII with the only selling point being a very strong anti-air.

The guns take ages to reload, they don’t have the best damage output of the world, even against cruisers, it’s horribly sluggish and it can only properly tank other battleships with 356 mm guns or smaller. It’s simple, save your money or take Arizona instead since she has a much better matchmaking.

Recommended build (Just in case)

During the testing of the California, I used the following captain build and upgrades:

Captain build:

Capture

  • Priority Target: Very valuable perk to know how many enemies are aiming at you and with some experience, determine who the said enemies could be. It’s also very useful against destroyers since, when a destroyer switches to torpedoes, he isn’t counted anymore so this gives you an early warning for the nasty metal fishes.
  • Expert Loader: As I said earlier, you will often end up switching between HE and AP on California so it’s definitely a useful perk on her
  • Adrenaline Rush: Basically a must-have on all ships except carriers. The lower your HP is, the faster you will fire your guns. Very useful for the late-game.
  • Expert Marksman: The turrets of the California are terribly slow so a bit of WD-40 will be nice.
  • High Alert: The ship will often attract the attention of HE spammers so a faster cooldown on the Damage Control Party is welcome.
  • Superintendent: With how much damage this ship is bound to take, you definitely want an additional Repair Party
  • Concealment Expert: The ship has, from the beginning, a good spotting range. With Concealment Expert, it goes down to 11.79 km spotting range by sea and 8.72 km spotting range by air. This will help you to get the effect of surprise on unaware cruisers.
  • Fire Prevention: It’s a battleship, It burns like a battleship and it has a large superstructure. You will, of course, want to mitigate the risks of having multiple fires raging on the ship.

Upgrades:

  • Icon_modernization_PCM030_MainWeapon_Mod_I.png Main Armaments Modification 1: There is literally nothing else worth taking in this slot. You want to keep your turrets working.
  • Wows_icon_modernization_PCM020_DamageControl_Mod_I.png Damage Control System Modification 1: Useful to mitigate the risk of being set on fire. The ship doesn’t risk losing her rudder or engine anyway unless it’s from a direct torpedo hit on one of them.
  • Wows_icon_modernization_PCM006_MainGun_Mod_II.png Main Battery Modification 2 or Icon_modernization_PCM028_FireControl_Mod_I_US.png Artillery Plotting Room Modification 1: Here, it’s up to you. Some might prefer a better turret traverse or the improved range to go for crossfire on enemy cruisers at long range.
  • Wows_icon_modernization_PCM023_DamageControl_Mod_II.png Damage Control System Modification 2: I would personally recommend this upgrade since, the ship turns well from the start and it will, once again, limit the damage from HE spammers.
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One comment

  1. Ok, so now that they modeled this, can we have it with twin 406mm guns and the name “West Virginia 1944,” PLEASE???

    How many years has it been since the WV41? One? Two? I don’t even remember…

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