She is back my friends! The Ultimate wall of skill, the Grand Master of teamkilling, the Torpinator, the Kitakami is back! The Kitakami is a bit of a legendary ship in the game. She was present way back in the days of the closed beta in 2015 as a tier VIII premium Japanese cruiser but was removed and replaced by the well known and respected Atago. I wasn’t around back in the days but from what I understand, she was removed because of the excessive teamkilling as well as the fact that she was really a one-trick pony. More than 5 years later, possibly to fit the already apocalyptic atmosphere of 2020, Wargaming decided to bring back this ship! And now, a bit of history…
The Kitakami was the third ship of the Kuma-class, a group of 5 light cruisers of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The ship was laid down on the 1st of September 1919, launched on the 3rd of July 1920 and commissioned on 30 November 1921.
The Kuma-class was for all intends and purposes a bigger version of the previous Tenryuu-class but faster, with a great action range and heavier armament with 7 140 mm guns instead of 4 on the Tenryuu.
The first major action the Kitakami saw was during the Second Sino-Japanese war where she was assigned to cover the landing of troops in central China.
In August 1941, Kitakami returned to Sasebo to be converted into a torpedo cruiser. Her deck was made wider, 3 of her single 140 mm mounts were removed as well as her 4 twin 533 mm torpedo launchers. These were replaced by no less than 10 quadruple 610 mm torpedo launchers with 5 on each side for a total broadside of 20 “Long Lance” torpedoes per side.
As an additional drawback, her speed dropped from the original 36 knots to less than 32 knots.
Even though she is mostly known with the configuration among World of Warships players, in the end… she only had it until August 1942 and basically did nothing with it as she was either on simple escort or training duties.
From August to September 1942, she was reconverted into a fast transport. with 4 of her torpedo launchers being removed and instead, she was equipped with 2 Daihatsu-class landing crafts.
In January 1944, the Kitakami was hit by 2 torpedoes from the submarine HMS Templar and had to be towed to Angsa Bay in Malaya for emergency repairs.
Starting from August 1944, the Kitakami was fully repaired and (again) converted but this time into a Kaiten carrier. Her torpedoes and main battery were removed as well as some of her engines, dropping her maximum speed to only 23 knots. The Kaiten were manned torpedoes that were in service in the Imperial Japanese Navy between 1944 and 1945. According to the United Stats sources, only 2 ships were ever sunk by Kaiten while the Japanese Navy claimed a much higher success rate, possibly due to misidentification.
Overall, this weapon generated way more losses on the Japanese side than on the Allied side.
Kitakami’s refit was completed in January 1945 and she was reassigned to the Combined Fleet. In March 1945, she was stationed in Kure when the Task Force 58 launched a large air attack on the Japanese ships based here but Kitakami wasn’t damaged. However, in July, another attack from Task Force 38 happened. Kitakami was damaged by strafing and 32 crewmen died.
After the war, Kitakami was used as a repair tender and later scrapped from August 1946 until March 1947.
In World of Warships, we are obviously getting Kitakami as a torpedo cruiser.
Kitakami is an unusual cruiser, with her main armament consisting of 5 quadruple torpedo launchers on each side. These torpedoes can travel up to 15 km at a speed of 57 knots and deal up to 15,633 damage. Because of her relatively fragile armor, weak AA defense, and low HP pool, Kitakami has to rely on her low basic detectability – 10.6 km – and her special Smoke Generator, which has a low smoke duration time but a large number of charges. The main gameplay of the cruiser revolves around stealthy attacks using a large number of torpedoes from a safe distance. To balance Kitakami’s efficiency in the control of straights and flanks, she will only have access to narrow and “super narrow” torpedo spreads.
We will carefully watch how this unusual cruiser will prove herself in battle, and will implement the necessary changes to make playing her and against her interesting. Additionally, we understand there might be concerns about the ship dealing damage to allies, and we plan to take them into account when the ship will be released.
For the classic reminder, this is a ship in testing, anything can change so don’t look at her like she would already be released.
As you can expect, the Kitakami has paper-thin armor. However, it’s not entirely a bad thing. I think that it’s now common knowledge that Smolensk is fairly hard to citadel and is more of an overpenetration fiesta than anything. Well…
As you can see here (thank you Ch0m1n), the Kitakami is even smaller than Smolensk with, on top of that, thinner armor. Even cruisers might struggle to get her citadel.
The bow section
As a small light cruiser, her external bow plating is only 16 mm thick. This means that any HE shell she can realistically face will be able to penetrate it and any AP shells of a caliber of at least 234 mm will be able to overmatch it.
To protect the middle section, there is only the 40 mm thick citadel athwartship.
The middle section
The middle section of the Kitakami is quite awkward, to say the least. It is pretty much only a big citadel except for the enlarged deck installed to fit all the torpedo launchers.
This extended deck is 30 mm thick and, with the way it’s angled, could be quite trollish in action.
For the citadel itself, the sides are 65 mm thick except deep below the waterline where they are only 25 mm thick. While against battleships, she should be able to perfectly angle (AKA sail full broadside and get overpenetrations), against cruisers with lazy ballistics and even some destroyers… she will get demolished.
The citadel deck is also completely exposed and is 50 mm thick. This means that if your supercruiser can’t get citadel hits, you can just switch to HE and get HE citadels. The same actually goes for battleship and in their case, for 406 mm guns and above, they can also get HE citadels on the main belt.
The stern section
The stern is entirely covered with 16 mm of armor except for the bit of 13 mm superstructure on top of it.
For the protection of the middle section, just like at the front, there is only the 40 mm citadel athwartship.
The superstructure and turrets
Both the superstructure (except for the 51 mm conning tower) and the turrets/gun shields are 13 mm thick.
Well, well, well…
I will be honest, at tier X, I don’t really see how she can effectively work. Her capacity to spam torps is definitely something to be recognized but at the same time, these are the same torpedoes as on the Yuudachi and they are among the worst, even at tier VII because of the low speed and high detection range.
In terms of survivability, she is as low as you can get. She sure has the smoke on demand that will allow her to bail from risky situation but with the low speed and lack of any real armor protection, you would either need to camp as far as possible, doing torpedo attack runs whenever you can or try to go for flanking moves while calculating each move like it was the last one.
She does have the great concealment to help on that matter though.
There is finally the issue of her main armament that is… pretty much nonexistent and any decent destroyer player will be able to outgun this ship.
In the end, just for memeing around, I’m ready to play this ship buuuut… on paper right now, I don’t see anything too scary except for the potential 20 torpedoes super-narrow drop.