alaska

A Brief History

The USS Alaska (CB-1) was the lead ship and the first of her class of large cruisers and named after the then US Territory, Alaska. [1] As a large cruiser, she was originally designed to counter the Deutchland-class­ pocket battleships like Scharnhorst. She was one of 6 originally ordered by the US Navy, though only 2 were ever completed, her and her sister ship, Guam. A third, the Hawaii, neared completion but was cancelled in 1947. [2][3] Alaska-class large cruiser hard formidable anti-air armaments, but more formidable still were her main guns, a 3×3 arrangement of 12-inch/50 Mark 8 guns, for a total of 9. She could send a 1,140lb Armor-piercing package of American made freedom out to a range of 38,573 yards, every 20-25 seconds.[4]

She was first commissioned on June 17, 1944 with Captain Peter K. Fischler at her helm. Following her standardized sea trials in the Caribbean after she departed Philadelphia on November 12, 1944, she would continue on to Pearl Harbor, reaching port on January 13, 1945. There Capt. Peter K. Fischler would be relieved by Capt. Kenneth M.Noble due to his promotion to Admiral on Jan. 27.[5] On January 29th, she would depart Hawaii for the South Pacific and would eventually join the fast carrier Task Force (TF) 58.5 where on February 10th; she would be assigned to screen the carriers USS Saratoga (CV-3) and the infamous USS Enterprise (CV-6) to provided screening for night raids on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Due to weather, the Task Force arrived undetected and unopposed, so Alaska was not able to put to use her anti-air training. However, more missions were to follow were her training and capabilities would serve her well.

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A painting of USS Alaska (CB 1) arriving in San Francisco Bay, January 1945 by artist Wayne Scarpaci.

USS Alaska would later go on to screen for carriers Yorktown (CV-10), Intrepid (CV-11), Independence (CVL-22) and Langley (CVL-27) as part of her newly assigned task group (TF) 58.4. She would partake in operations around Iwo Jima and the Japanese island of Kyushu. In late March, she would partake in the bombardment of Minamidaitō with her sister ship Guam as well as two light cruisers, which included the Flint (CL-97), and Destroyer Squadron 47, as squadron of 9 Fletcher-class destroyers. [6] The Alaska would fire 45 shells from her main guns and another 352 from her 5-in secondaries at the small island.[7] This bombardment would last less than 2-hours from March 27 until 0030 on March 28 where her observers would note “satisfactory fires” on the island.[8]

Further wartime missions would take her to a bombardment of Okidaitōjima, a search and destroy mission in the Yellow Sea off East China and to an estuary of the Yangtze River near Shanghai for a raid which included 3 battleships and 3 escort carriers. The last two of which were both met with limited success. [9] In a comment made by the commander of the Guam in regards to their mission in the Yellow Sea, Capt. Leland P. Lovette was quoted saying, “We went prepared to tangle with a hornet’s nest and wound up in a field of pansies, but we’ve proved a point and the East China Sea is ours to do with as we please.”[10] This was a testament to the effectiveness of the Allied blockade of Japan at the time.

Alaska would see the war to its end and be awarded with the following ribbons for her actions: Navy Combat Action Ribbon, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with 3 Stars, World War II Victory Medal, and the World War II Occupation Medal with Asia clasp.[11] She would later be decommissioned on February 17, 1947 and eventually stricken and sold for scrap on June 30, 1960.

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In-Game

The Alaska is an up-and-coming Tier IX, USN Cruiser. She will have a massive hit point pool of 60,800 and will be rocking those 305mm guns. If you’re up close and personal, and RNG really loves you, a full broadside could net you 80,100 damage to your foe. However, her accuracy at range will make this unlikely. Sitting somewhere between a battleship and a cruiser (similar to that of the Graf Spee the dev’s note), her maximum dispersion will be 216m with a sigma of 2.05. This should me you’ll get to see very nice groupings at times, but there will be those rounds, or even salvos that might be – somewhere else. Further, she will have the special ricochet angles for her AP, just like those of the Des Moines, so more pens – check.

Her secondary armament does not appear to be anything special, and though her AA defense is not quite comparable to that of the Des Moines or Worcester, it will be adequate enough to knock down several planes or deter a lower tier CV from an early game strike. The fore and aft armor of this ship, at 27mm, will be enough to auto-bounce 380mm guns and below, though going bow into to most of the tier 9 and all of the tier 10 battleships will certainly pose an issue. However, she does have 36mm plating over her mid-top deck. This will have the ability to auto-bounce all calibers at the right ranges. Her armor belt will be almost as good at the Kronshtadt at 229mm (compared to 230mm) and extends from the front turrets all the way to the rear turret. Coupled with a citadel that sits comfortable below the waterline and further layers of protection, she should be difficult to citadel by other cruisers at all but close range. As a large cruiser, she is not very maneuverable, but you should be able to out-turn the Kronshtadt. It is worth noting, however, that although your fire chance is slightly better than that of Kronshtadt, she does have a significantly larger HP pool and better rear gun firing angles. This means that if she can angle and position properly, she should always out DPM you. If you can get on her side though, your turrets traverse a bit faster than hers and her citadel is far more vulnerable than yours. The battle of these two titans in a 1v1 should be a good match and depend very strongly on the skill and audacity of the captains.

For her consumables, she will be able to equip Damage Control party, and Repair Party for slots 1 and 4 respectively. However, you will have to choose between Defensive AA and Hydro for slot 2 and Spotter, fighter or Radar for slot 3. Depending upon the meta when she is released, there will likely be no contest over choosing Hydro or Defensive AA as there are not many carriers and her torpedo reductions is deplorable at 13%. The choice for slot 3 on the other hand could be a bit trickier – spot lurking destroyers (they will ALWAYS out spot you with a based surface detection of 16.2km) or use the spotter plane to decimate cruisers or destroyers in smoke. With a base main battery range of 20km the spotter, though useful for hitting targets at further ranges, would be unwise to pick it for that purpose. Between your lack of maneuverability, worse than the Hindenburg, and the loft that your shells will likely have ( you have worse muzzle velocity and air-drag than the Des Moines shells), you’d be hard pressed to hit targets at that range while likely taking damage in return; an ill-advised trade.

Overall, she appears to be a decent ship. She does not appear to be too OP, on paper, for her type, and when compared to the current Kronshtadt, she should provide the proper answer. I look forward to seeing how she actually performs and what tweaks the devs have for her in the near future. Check back often for updates as they will be posted as part of the Weekly Round-ups or perhaps its own article if any of the changes are substantial enough.

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[1] https://ww2db.com/ship_spec.php?ship_id=153

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska-class_cruiser

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Hawaii_(CB-3)

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12%22/50_caliber_Mark_8_gun

[5] https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/a/alaska-iii.html

[6] http://destroyerhistory.org/fletcherclass/desron47/

[7] https://ww2db.com/ship_spec.php?ship_id=153

[8] https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/a/alaska-iii.html

[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Alaska_(CB-1)

[10] https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/a/alaska-iii.html

[11] http://www.navsource.org/archives/04/1201/040201.htm

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