The Drake is where we start seeing big guns for the British cruisers. During 1939 and 1940, Winston Churchill asked for cruisers that would be able to take down heavy cruisers built under the restrictions of the Washington Naval Treaty. These ships were meant to carry 234 mm guns while having the armor to resist 203 mm shells. The designs saw quite a few variations with either 9 or 12 guns in triple or even quadruple turrets.
In the end, the designs were abandoned, partially due to the cost that such a ship would require.
The weird thing with Drake is that she is using older 113 mm gun turrets than the Albemarle.
The Drake is taking a big step up compared to the previous ships in terms of armor protection. Say goodbye to exposed citadels, here comes the spaced armor!
The bow section
The bow remains the classic tier IX cruiser bow with a 25 mm plating on it.
When it comes to the frontal protection of the middle section, the upper casemate is 21 mm thick. For the citadel’s athwartship and the casemates around it, the first part is 177 mm thick and the part deep below the waterline is 19 mm thick. As you can see, for a cruiser, it is very strong protection.
The middle section
The middle section is also well armored. While the upper belt is the classic 25 mm armor, the deck is 30 mm thick and the main belt is 177 mm thick. It is among the thickest main belt in the game for cruisers and yet, it’s not alone.
Behind the main belt, there is the citadel’s side armor which is 37 mm thick and as you can see it is quite narrow, especially below the turrets. If you ever have to shoot at this ship’s broadside, don’t aim for these parts.
Now… everything isn’t nice and shiny. While the vertical protection is quite amazing for a cruiser, the horizontal protection is disappointing with a simple 64 mm citadel deck. As you can imagine, it brings no real protection against AP bombs.
The stern section
The stern has the classic 25 mm armor except around the steering gears where there is an external 114 mm armor.
The protection of the steering gears is completed by a 64 mm armored deck.
The upper casemate is 21 mm thick and for the citadel’s athwartship, it’s the same as at the front. The first part is 177 mm thick and the lower part is 19 mm thick but deep below the waterline.
The superstructure is 16 mm thick and is fairly big for a cruiser.
The turrets are both well armored and terribly designed. The face is 229 mm thick but has no slope whatsoever so AP shells will have no issue to penetrate it. The sides are 127 mm thick, the back is 178 mm thick and finally, the roof is 120 mm thick.
When it comes to the barbette, it is 177 mm thick.
The Drake looks like a very strong cruiser for this tier. Great firepower, good armor, good concealment and on top of that the British improved repair party. The only big black point is the fact that the firing angles are terrible but it isn’t the end of the world.
Also, these triple 234 mm gun turrets are somehow able to make a 180° turn in 18 seconds.