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World of Warships Final Review: U.S. Tier IX Freemium Battleship Illinois

8 min read

Ladies and Gentlemen, with Update 12.2 is being added a new ship to the Research Bureau. One unlike any other that we have ever seen in the game. The Illinois, U.S. tier IX battleship will become available for 51 000 Research Points.

Is she worth it? Is her one-of-a-kind main battery offering her the firepower to stand strong compared to other battleships? Here is my opinion.

Historical background

At the end of the Second World War, the U.S. Navy found themselves in a bit of a pickle. Out of the six planned Iowa-class battleships, two were still under construction. In 1948, plans were made to convert the USS Kentucky, the most advanced of the two, into an Anti-Aircraft Battleship. For that purpose, the ship’s main armament would be replaced with the same 203 mm guns as the Des Moines-class, keeping the same auto-loading mechanism but in quadruple dual-purpose turrets. This main battery was also meant to be used as anti-air. Don’t ask me why it’s not the case in the game… As far as we know, three designs were proposed with this armament. F with only 2 turrets, G with 3, and H with 4.

When it comes to the secondary battery, it was composed of a whole lot of twin 127 mm/54 batteries with the number varying from one design to the other. Scheme F had twenty of them, Scheme G had sixteen, and Scheme H had fourteen. Due to the extra weight brought by that armament and to clear firing angles as much as possible, the superstructure, especially on Scheme G and H was reduced in size as much as possible. The anti-air would be completed with modern twin 76.2 mm AA mounts with either three of them for Scheme F or six of them for Scheme G and H.

Scheme F
Scheme F – Credits to Tzoli
Scheme G
Scheme G – Credits to Tzoli
Scheme H
Scheme H – Credits to Tzoli

Sadly, none of these designs ever came to be. Other designs would later be proposed to convert Kentucky into a guided missile battleship in the mid-1950s but at the end of the day, both her and Illinois were sold for scrap at the end of the 1950s.

When it comes to Illinois in World of Warships… Let’s just say that Wargaming got incredibly lazy. In the game, it literally is just an Iowa with the main battery turrets swapped for the 203 mm quadruple turrets and the 40 mm Bofors being replaced by 76.2 mm twin mounts. So… yeah, quite a massive disappointment here.

If you want to learn more about the Kentucky conversion proposals, here is a video from Drachinifel covering them:

Ship’s preview

Ship’s commemorative flag

The camouflages

The permanent camouflage of Illinois comes with the standard permanent tier IX economic bonuses:

  • +10% Credits
  • +100% XP
  • +100% Commander XP
  • +100% Free XP

The Good and the Bad

The Good

  • Very high rate of fire for a battleship
  • High HE and AP DPM
  • Improved AP penetration angles
  • Battlecruiser dispersion
  • Good firing angles
  • Fast turret traverse compared to other battleships
  • Strong anti-air
  • High maximum speed
  • 38 mm casemate
  • Access to the improved Repair Party of U.S. fast battleships

The Bad

  • Smallest gun caliber of all battleships
  • No overmatch capacity at her tier
  • Pretty much unable to cause a devastating strike on anything
  • Particularly squishy turrets compared to other battleships
  • Long shell travel time
  • Thin main belt armor
  • Large superstructure
  • Low HP pool
  • No consumable other than Damage Control Party and Repair Party


Gun Fire Control System
Main battery




Propulsion: 212 000 hp


‎Mk9 mod. 1


203 mm/55 RF Mk.16 in a turret

General Characteristics and Playstyle

Health68 100 HP
Torpedo Damage Reduction25 %
Displacement59 331 tons
Overall length270.43 m
Beam32.95 m
Overall height (keel to the highest point on the ship)32.95 m
Freeboard4.6 m
Main Armament
Maximum Firing Range18.480 km
203 mm/55 RF Mk.16 in a turret3 x 4 203 mm
Secondary Armament
Maximum Firing Range6.950 km
127 mm/38 Mk.12 on a Mk.32 mount10 x 2 127 mm
Maximum speed32.5 knots
Turning Circle Radius930 m
Rudder Shift Time17.16 s
Surface Detectability15.86 km
Air Detectability11.66 km
Detectability After Firing Main Guns in Smoke10.49 km
Slot 1
Slot 2
Damage Control Party
consumable_PCY009_CrashCrewPremiumWork time: 20 s
Cooldown: 80 s
Repair Party
Number of charges: 4
Work time: 28 s
Cooldown: 80 s
HP regeneration speed: +0.66%/s
Casemate damage regeneration: 50%
Citadel damage regeneration: 10%

I might surprise you by saying this but Illinois doesn’t play like a normal battleship. Due to her main armament, she plays a lot more like a big cruiser.

In the first place, the thing isn’t exactly made to tank damage. Between her low HP pool and the limited protection of the Iowa hull, she definitely will not be on frontline duty. Even with her improved Repair Party consumable, any sort of focus fire can fairly easily bring her down. Another thing that makes her vastly different from other battleships is that she doesn’t have the ability to completely nuke an enemy ship out of the water unless you get a particularly blessed RNG on a Smolensk, Minotaur, and such. Instead, she is more of a damage farmer, raining down HE or AP shells on enemy ships.
While this is pretty fun compared to the slow reload of most battleships, this limits the battle influence of Illinois quite a lot. She is reduced to a tankier than normal damage-focused cruiser. Her consumable kit is also extremely basic, she has no Hydroacoustic Search, Surveillance radar, or Main Battery Reload Booster that would help her to influence battle.

That’s really the problem with this ship though. She is a battleship without having the fear factor or tanking capacity of one and at the same time, she is a damage-focused cruiser without that extra something that most of them have.

If you want to see the ship in action, here is a commented replay of one of my games:

Main Armament

3 x 4 203 mm/55 RF Mk.16 in a turret
 Maximum Firing Range18.480 km
 Reloading Time9.0 s
180 Degree Turn Time30.0 s
Optimal firing angles at the front30°
Optimal firing angles at the rear30°
Sigma1.8 sigma
Maximum Dispersion203 m
Type of Projectile HE – 203 mm HE/HC Mk25
Alpha Damage2 800
Penetration capacity 34 mm
Explosion size12.9 m
Fire chance14 %
Projectile Speed823 m/s
Air Drag0.333
Projectile Mass118.0 kg
Type of ProjectileAP – 203 mm AP Mk19
Alpha Damage5 000
Projectile Speed762 m/s
Air Drag0.356
Projectile Mass152.0 kg
Projectile Krupp2 919
Projectile Detonator0.033 s
Detonator threshold34 mm
Ricochet Angles60° – 67.5°

The main battery of Illinois is… quite unique among battleships and that’s putting it lightly. Illinois has the smallest gun caliber of all battleships by a large margin as she carries 203 mm guns while the closest is Scharnhorst with 283 mm.

The thing is that these 203 mm guns are the same as those of Des Moines. In fact, the turrets are just a quadruple version of the Des Moines turrets as well. Don’t get your hopes too high though as there are still a few nerfs that were made. The main battery reload time was brought up to 9 seconds compared to the 6 seconds or 5.5 seconds we are used to on Des Moines, Salem, and Annapolis. Also, Illinois is stuck with a battlecruiser dispersion and she only has a 1.8 sigma.

Even with these nerfs, Illinois’s damage output is definitely nothing to ignore and her theoretical DPM isn’t too far behind Des Moines.

Generally speaking, you will be switching between HE and AP shells fairly often as both ammo types are very potent. On one side, you have the very versatile HE which, combined with the volume of fire will start fires easily on your targets, and on the other side, you have the AP with improved penetration angles for reliable damage on most targets that won’t be properly angled. Basically… it’s literally Des Moines/Salem/Annapolis but slightly altered.

Secondary Armament

10 x 2 127 mm/38 Mk.12 on a Mk.32 mount
Maximum Firing Range6.950 km
Reloading Time6.0 s
Sigma1.0 sigma
Type of ProjectileHE – 127 mm HE Mk32
Alpha Damage1 800
HE penetration21 mm
Explosion Size5.7 m
Chance to Cause Fire5 %
Projectile Speed792 m/s
Air Drag0.347
Projectile Mass24.5 kg

They are mostly there for decoration and anti-air.

Anti-air Armament

10 x 2 127 mm/38 Mk.12 on a Mk.32 mount
Sector firing range0.1 km – 5.8 km
Hit chance75 %
Sector’s damage48
Sector’s damage frequency0.29 s
Sector’s damage per second168
Flak clouds number8
Flak cloud damage1 610
16 x 2 76.2 mm/50 Mk.22 on a Mk.33 mount
Sector firing range0.1 km – 4.0 km
Hit chance75 %
Sector’s damage151
Sector’s damage frequency0.29 s
Sector’s damage per second529
24 x 2 20 mm Oerlikon on a Mk.24 mount
Sector firing range0.1 km – 2.0 km
Hit chance70 %
Sector’s damage80
Sector’s damage frequency0.29 s
Sector’s damage per second186

The anti-air of Illinois is satisfying for a tier IX battleship. The long-range anti-air has solid DPS combined with a strong flak barrage. The medium-range is particularly strong with very great DPS and a higher range than normal thanks to the 76.2 mm AA guns.
The short-range anti-air isn’t anything impressive but then again, this aura is barely useful against dive bombers and that’s about it. The planes don’t spend enough time within it for it to matter.

ASW Airstrike

PBY Catalina – Depth charge airstrike
650-Pound Depth Bomb

Reloading Time30 s
Number of charges2
HP per plane2 000
Attack range0.5 km – 10.0 km
Number of planes in the squadron1
Number of bombs in payload2
Damage4 200
Sink speed7.5-11.3 m/s
Explosion radius375 m
Fire chances24%
Flooding chances300%
Damage distribution

The Armor

The armor of Illinois is almost identical to that of Iowa. This means that in terms of tanking capabilities, she isn’t quite there. One note-worthy part of her armor is the 38 mm casemate that will effectively protect against HE from most cruisers. The only difference, when it comes to the hull, is that the citadel on Illinois is much lower, being fully underwater. This makes Illinois harder to punish when showing broadside.

Other than that, the turrets of Illinois are FAR more fragile than those of Iowa. This is the reason why I heavily recommend Preventive Maintenance as otherwise, you might get frustrating moments where unlucky shell hits cripple your turrets in a heated fight.

External armor protection:

Casemate armor protection:

Citadel armor protection:

Turrets armor protection:

Main armor deck protection:

Hidden armor protection inside the stern:

Final Opinion

Illinois or rather Kentucky Scheme G and H is something that has been heavily requested by a lot of players. While this is definitely an interesting design offering a unique gameplay among battleships, is it worth the investment?

Well… yesn’t. She is definitely pretty fun to play with her almost Des Moines-ish main battery but you are just uncomfortably sitting with one butt cheek on two different chairs. On one chair, you are like a damage focused cruiser while lacking the flexibility that most have, coming either from their high agility or concealment to get in and out when you wish to and avoid unfavorable trades. On the other chair, you are a battleship size target that lacks the fear factor and nuking ability of its main battery while also having fairly limiting tanking abilities.

Recommended Build

For the Illinois, I recommend the following commander build and upgrades:

If you have access to the commander Halsey, I can recommend using him on this ship.

This concludes my review of Illinois. Thank you for reading this article!

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