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World of Warships Final Review: U.S. Tier VIII Premium Aicraft Carrier Hornet

12 min read

Ladies and Gentlemen, Enterprise’s little sister Hornet is finally arriving in the game and she didn’t forget her B-25 Mitchell bombers. The ship will be available in the Armory for a minimum of 12 300 doubloons and in the premium shop for 40,46 € for the basic bundle. Sales will start on the 15th of April.

Is she worth it? Is she able to compete against the rest of the tier VIII carriers? Here is my opinion on it.

Historical Background

USS Hornet was the third ship of the Yorktown-class of aircraft carriers from the U.S. Navy. The ship was laid down in September 1939, launched in December 1940, and commissioned in October 1941.

While her career was a short one, it was also intense with her first major action of the war being the famous Doolittle Raid. On the 18th of April 1942, 16 B-25B Mitchell bombers that had been specially modified for the mission took off from Hornet to bomb strategic targets in Japan. While the damage from the bombing was quite low, it had a profound psychological impact on both sides.
It was at this moment Japan knew… they f*cked up. (Technically, it was more with Midway but still wanted to place that one.)

Later on, Hornet took part in the Battle of Midway during which her squadrons helped in sinking the heavy cruiser Mikuma, heavily damaging the heavy cruiser Mogami, and also damaging a destroyer. However, she also lost a tremendous amount of planes in the battle either from Japanese defenses or from them being forced to ditch in the ocean when they ran out of fuel after failing to find the enemy fleet.

By the end of September 1942, Hornet was the only operational carrier in the South Pacific. Enterprise and Saratoga were damaged in August and Wasp was sunk in September. It’s only in October that Enterprise would join the party again, right in time for the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands. Sadly for Hornet, this would be her last battle. On the 26th, she was attacked by several waves of Japanese torpedo bombers and dive bombers. She was hit by a total of three bombs, two torpedoes, and two Aichi D3As that both crashed on the ship.
At this point, the ship was dead in the water with no power. She couldn’t launch or recover planes forcing her squads to either land on Enterprise or in the Ocean. As she was towed by the cruiser Northampton and the power was about to be restored, a final wave of Japanese torpedo bombers appeared. While the first eight failed to hit Hornet or were shot down, the last one scored a hit that ruined any chance for the ship to be saved. The order was given to abandon the ship and the escorting destroyers had to scuttle her. Surprisingly, Hornet refused to go down and absorbed 400 hits from 127 mm guns as well as nine torpedo hits (although many of these failed to detonate). It would be the Japanese destroyers Makigumo and Akigumo that finished her off with four Long Lance torpedoes. She finally sank on the 27th of October 1942, bringing 140 of her 2 200 sailors to the bottom.

In World of Warships, Hornet appears as she was after her refit of January 1942. She carries two main squadrons, Torpedo bombers, and AP Dive bombers. Just like the recently introduced supercarriers, she also possesses a tactical bomber squadron composed of B-25s (although there are only 6 instead of 16).

Ship’s preview

Ship’s commemorative flag

The camouflage

The permanent camouflage of the Hornet provides the classic bonuses for tier VIII 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

You can also obtain the Doolittle Raid commemorative permanent camouflage that gives the same bonuses as the normal permanent camouflage:

For those who might be curious, the camouflage is based on a never-used pattern planned for CVE-55 U.S.S. Casablanca.

The Good and the Bad

The Good

  • Good reserves on both standard plane types
  • Good plane restoration time
  • Large attack groups of 4 torpedo bombers or 5 AP bombers
  • Torpedoes with a short arming time
  • Tactical bombers with high amount of HP
  • Tactical bombers with a circular reticule
  • Access to the Engine Cooling consumable for the tactical bombers
  • AP bombs with very high RAW penetration

The Bad

  • All planes are slow
  • The torpedo bombers and AP bombers aren’t particularly tanky
  • The tactical bombers turn like bricks
  • The AP bombers drop in carpet-bombing style
  • Poor drop angles of the AP bombs
  • Low caliber AP bombs that cannot overmatch superstructures
  • AP bombs with high arming threshold and arming time

Modules

Hull
Torpedo Bombers
Dive Bombers
Propulsion
icon_module_Hull_installedHornet

Douglas TBD Devastator

‎Douglas SBD-5

icon_module_Engine_installedPropulsion: 120 000 hp

General Characteristics and Playstyle

TierVIII
Health50 000 HP
Torpedo damage reduction28 %
Displacement25 484 tons
Dimensions
Overall length252.17 m
Beam32.0 m
Overall height (keel to the highest point on the ship)31.7 m
Freeboard16.48 m
Aircraft on deck
Torpedo Bombers16
Dive Bombers20
Tactical Bombers6
Secondary Armament
127 mm/38 Mk.12 on a Mk.24 mount8 x 1 127 mm
Maximum Firing Range6.600 km
Anti-Air Armament
127 mm/38 Mk.12 on a Mk.24 mount8 x 1 127 mm
28 mm Mk.1 on a Mk.2 mount4 x 4 28 mm
20 mm Oerlikon on a Mk.4 mount30 x 1 20 mm
Maximum speed32.5 knots
Turning Circle Radius1 060 m
Rudder Shift Time12.1 s
Surface Detectability14.22 km
Air Detectability11.02 km
Consumables
Slot 1
Slot 2
Damage Control Party
Work time: 60 s
Cooldown: 90 s
Fighter
Number of charges: 4
Work time: 600 s
Cooldown: 40 s
Patrol Radius: 3.0 km
Planes in a squadron: 4

Coming to the game as the third U.S. premium carrier at tier VIII (meanwhile, Japan still only has a single premium carrier…), Hornet ends up being… a pretty big disappointment. She isn’t something that I can call bad but the problem is that compared to all the powerhouses at this tier, she just doesn’t stand out well.

Hornet has two types of squadrons, the torpedo bombers, and the AP bombers. On top of that, she gets access to a tactical squadron of HE bombers that works like those of supercarriers. As such, you don’t need to worry about the reserves on it. The problem is that out of these 3, Hornet only really has one type of plane she can rely on consistently, the torpedo bombers. The AP bombers are absolutely horrendous except against a handful of targets and the B-25s, you only get access to them every 3 minutes (162 seconds once properly specced). This, combined with the lack of speed of the planes, leads to Hornet dragging her feet in the usual damage/kills race that is CV gameplay.

Due to how her squadrons work, she is in a somewhat similar spot to the Soviet CVs but unlike them, she doesn’t get boosters allowing for quick successions of drops and she also can’t effectively capitalize on damage controls, again, because of the lack of speed of the planes.

Overall, when possible, you will try to slap destroyers with the B-25s, and otherwise, just try to kill cruisers and BBs with them and the TBs. When they are viable, you can also go with the AP bombers. As I said though, if you forget the B-25s, you can basically do 10 times better with a Shokaku and I won’t even talk about Enterprise.

If you want to see the ship in action, here is the replay of one of my games. For once, it’s actually a commented replay. I wanted to try to add some value to it but don’t hesitate to give me some feedback.

Important disclaimer: In that replay, the B-25s are missing the last change that was made in Update 0.11.3. The Engine Cooling doesn’t refill the boosting charge on the tactical bombers as it should. Also, in 0.11.3, the boosting charge will naturally refill, acting in a similar way to standard aircraft.

If you want them, here are the post-battle results of that game.

Torpedo Bombers

Torpedo bomber – Douglas TBD Devastator

TierVIII
Hitpoints per plane1 710
Cruise speed112 knots
Maximum speed147 knots
Engine boost time20 s
Engine boost reload time40 s
Size of attacking flight4
Aircraft per squadron8
Torpedo typeTorpedo Mk.7
Torpedoes per plane1
Maximum torpedo damage4 467
Maximum torpedo range3.0 km
Torpedo speed35 knots
Torpedo arming time3.66 s
Flooding chance40%
Detectability range10.0 km
Aircraft restoration time62 s
Aircraft on deck16
Consumables
Slot 1
Slot 2
Slot 3
Engine Cooling
consumable_PCY034_ForsageBooster
Number of Charges: 2
Work time: 5 s
Cooldown: 80 s
Patrol fighter
Number of Charges: 3
Work time: 60 s
Cooldown: 10 s
Aircraft per squadron: 5
Patrol radius: 3.0 km
Repair
Number of Charges: 3
Work time: 5 s
Cooldown: 180 s
Repair speed: 10% HP/s

The torpedo bombers are going to be the main squadron of the Hornet. These bombers are quite decent at dealing damage but they have some major limitations due to the way the squadron is organized. You have eight planes divided into two attack groups and the problem is that while you will normally always get one full drop, the second one will be with two or even just a single torpedo. Because of this, the actual damage output ends up being quite limited, especially when compared to things like Kaga or Shokaku. The fact that the planes are also really slow doesn’t help either.

At least, these torpedo bombers have the interesting characteristic of being the same as those of Ranger. As such, the torpedoes have tier VI arming time, allowing you to drop very close to your target. This allows you to drop even destroyers somewhat consistently if the guys don’t get the idea of turning in or turning out.

One thing to keep in mind with these torpedo bombers is that all torpedoes don’t drop on the same line. The 2 in the middle drop further in front of the indicator so don’t get fooled and always try to drop a bit further back to be safe.

Fully aimed torpedo bombers of the Hornet on a Bismarck

Dive Bombers

Dive bomber – ‎Douglas SBD-5

TierVIII
Hitpoints per plane1 890
Cruise speed122 knots
Maximum speed157 knots
Engine boost time20 s
Engine boost reload time40 s
Size of attacking flight5
Aircraft per squadron10
Bomb typeAN-M60
Bomb per plane1
Maximum bomb damage3 600
AP penetration capacity328 mm
Projectile Detonator0.03
Detonator threshold30 mm
Detectability range10.0 km
Aircraft restoration time62 s
Aircraft on deck20
Consumables
Slot 1
Slot 2
Engine Cooling
consumable_PCY034_ForsageBooster
Number of Charges: 2
Work time: 5 s
Cooldown: 80 s
Patrol fighter
Number of Charges: 3
Work time: 60 s
Cooldown: 10 s
Aircraft per squadron: 5
Patrol radius: 3.0 km

The AP bombers of the Hornet are absolutely horrendous. On paper, they have the second-highest penetration at tier VIII behind the Graf Zeppelin but a whole lot of other parameters are crippling them.
First and foremost, these bombers are dropping in a carpet bombing style, meaning that you have no control over the drop angle. This already limits her capacity to reach the citadel of a lot of battleships because of the effective armor they need to go through.
Another problem these bombs have is the combined high arming threshold and high arming time, making them unfit against cruisers with thin armor or low deck height. May it be light cruisers such as an Edinburgh or Petro with her almost non-existent freeboard, in both cases, the bombs will go all the way through and give you a bunch of overpenetrations.
The final nail in the coffin is the caliber of the bombs. These are the smallest AP bombs in the game with a caliber of 152 mm. The closest are the bombs of the Enterprise with 254 mm. The big problem with such low bomb caliber is that they will not be able to overmatch the superstructures of your targets. Combined with the drop angle, you will end up getting a lot of bounces where it would have normally been penetrations or even citadel with other AP bombers.

In the end, outside of a handful of ships like German or Italian battleships, U.S. heavy cruisers, and such, these bombs are incredibly unreliable and shouldn’t be used too much.

Fully aimed AP bombers of the Hornet on a Bismarck

Tactical Bombers

Tactical bomber – ‎Mitchell B-25

TierVIII
Hitpoints per plane4 890
Cruise speed105 knots
Maximum speed140 knots
Engine boost time30 s
Size of attacking flight6
Aircraft per squadron6
Bomb typeAN-M64
Bomb per plane4
Maximum bomb damage7 300
HE penetration capacity42 mm
Explosion size1.58
Fire chance41 %
Detectability range10.0 km
Restoration time180 s
Consumable
Engine Cooling
consumable_PCY034_ForsageBooster
Number of Charges: 2
Work time: 5 s
Cooldown: 80 s

Hornet comes with an interesting gimmick in the form of a tactical squadron. This squadron is composed of the famous B-25 bombers used during the Doolittle raid. In World of Warships, they take the form of a squadron of 6 planes that are slow as all Hell and turn like bricks but at least, they hit pretty hard.
As you can see, these tactical bombers have an almost circular reticule which, combined with the 24 bombs per drop, is quite effective as you can approach from any angle. This is particularly useful against destroyers and while you will still be behind Lexington or Chkalov at killing DDs, at least you will have a fairly effective tool against them.

For larger targets, they obviously still do a good job as well but you need to keep in mind the 42 mm penetration. With the time you take to reach a target, you don’t want to see most of the bombs shatter on the deck.

Fully aimed tactical bombers of the Hornet on a Bismarck

Secondary Armament

8 x 1 127 mm/38 Mk.12 on a Mk.24 mount
Maximum Firing Range6.600 km
Reloading Time6.0 s
Sigma1.00 sigma
Shells
Type of ProjectileHE – 127 mm HE Mk32
Alpha Damage1 800 HP
HE penetration21 mm
Explosion Size0.38
Chance to Cause Fire5 %
Projectile Speed792 m/s
Air Drag0.347
Projectile Mass24.5 kg

The secondaries of Hornet are… less than stellar. You only have 4 peashooters per side and they don’t have improved dispersion or anything along those lines. Unless a sub somehow decides to kill themselves and nicely stay on the surface or at periscope depth, the secondaries will not do much.

Anti-air Armament

8 x 1 127 mm/38 Mk.12 on a Mk.24 mount
Sector range0.1 km – 5.8 km
Hit chance100 %
Sector’s damage25
Sector’s damage frequency0.29 s
Sector’s damage per second88
Flak clouds number4
Flak cloud damage1 400
4 x 4 28 mm Mk.1 on a Mk.2 mount
30 x 1 20 mm Oerlikon on a Mk.4 mount
Sector range0.1 km – 2.4 km
Hit chance95 %
Sector’s damage77
Sector’s damage frequency0.29 s
Sector’s damage per second270

The anti-air of Hornet is quite terrible, especially at tier VIII. If an enemy CV wanted to snipe her, they wouldn’t have much trouble achieving their objective.

The Armor

Hornet has an identical armor profile to Enterprise and, as such, is well protected against AP because of the very low citadel. Against HE though, she will easily melt.

External armor protection

Internal deck armor protection

Front and rear protection of the middle section

Citadel armor protection

Final Opinion

In the ruthless world of tier VIII aircraft carriers, Hornet just isn’t able to keep up with the major part of her contenders. She is far too slow at dealing damage and killing targets, especially due to her relying mostly on a single type of squadron that gets easily outmatched by the Japanese carriers.

The truth is that… I can’t really call her bad but at the same time, I can’t really recommend her. Of course, I’m sure that people will get her on day one because of how important she was historically but for pure gameplay… yeah, she is far from what her big sister can do.

Recommended Build

For the Hornet, I recommend using the following captain build and upgrades:

Obviously, if you have Alexander Ovechkin and don’t use him on the tech-tree U.S. carriers, I recommend using him for Hornet for the buffed Survivability Expert.

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

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