World of Warships is at least in some part, a historically minded game that hopes to bring the power and strength of warships from years past into the hands of we, the players. It could be discussed at length about how much, or how little, of the game elements reflect that sort of realism, but Wargaming did manage to get across to everyone involved that Aircraft Carriers are the apex of ship design. Historically, this is true. The Japanese proved this in the early years of the Second World War where they bested the might of the British and US Navies and took control of huge parts of the South Pacific and China, proving this new technology to be the newest super weapon that would define wars far into the future. Naval warfare changed drastically and permanently after the introduction of carriers. The problem that the World of Warships community and the real ships that fought against these technological terrors is that these ships made all other classes obsolete. Here, for the first time in history, a ship could attack anything from well beyond the horizon where no enemy surface attacks could cause damage. These planes, armed with new weaponry, would shape the ship tactics and designs for the foreseeable future.
The weapons carried by carrier-based aircraft ranged in size and target type, but armor piercing bombs and airborne torpedoes were among the main form of anti-ship weapons carried by aircraft (Klein 2018). The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the attack on the Bismarck by Fairey Swordfish torpedo planes are two easy examples of aircraft slaying the most feared ships of their day or delivering devastating opening attacks.
The Swordfish torpedo planes were considered by their own nation as obsolete even before the beginning of hostilities in 1939, but were sufficient in breaking through the AA curtain of the Bismarck’s AA guns and landing a critical hit on the mighty battleship’s rudder, allowing the rest of the fleet to engage the warship. Fun fact, the Bismarck was so advanced, and the Swordfish was so old and slow that the AA gunners on the Bismarck were unable to dispatch the horribly outdated aircraft before they could deliver a successful strike. On May 26, 1941, the Bismarck was attacked, finally crippled by a torpedo impacting and disabling its rudder. With the Bismarck only able to sail in circles and night closing in, British Admiral John Tovey had all forces cease fire and wait until the light of dawn to finish the attack. On the morning of May 27, 1941, 3 warships from the Royal Navy crept to within 3,000 yards of the enemy warship and opened fire. Over the 90 minutes it took for the ships to close from 16 miles to 3,000 yards, a huge firefight ensued between warships (Klein 2018). The Bismarck was eventually sunk, either by British arms or by the German crew scuttling the massive ship.
What I want you to understand is that, despite attacking the most modern ship in the Atlantic Ocean with some of the most outdated warplanes still in active service, the Royal Navy was able destroy a ship they never could have without the aid of air power. In the Pacific, the ability of aircraft to devastate anything in their path was even more evident. The United States Navy, armed with a full fleet of modern, AA focused ships to escort the task force of carriers to their destination, were unable to stop the swarms of enemy aircraft from inflicting huge damage upon them. The carrier USS Bunker Hill, CV-17, took two direct Kamikaze hits during the invasion of Okinawa that left her a burning wreck and the most heavily damaged US warship ever to survive, with some 340 sailors killed and more than 250 wounded (NHHC 2016). Even with all that modern AA, advanced ship-borne radar, and fighter support, enemy aircraft were still able to inflict massive damage on the Bunker Hill and others before their attacks finally ceased (Kalu 2019).
Ok, history lesson over. In the game, aircraft carriers function in much the same way as they did in the real world. They are the all-seeing eyes of destruction that can attack anything, within reason. No matter what ship you’re in, if a carrier wants you dead, you’re dead. It might be within the first 3 minutes of the match or at the very end, but you cannot escape your fate. Back in the days before update 0.8.0, carriers had a set number of planes. The IJN Shokaku is a great example of this. It was armed with a total of 72 planes in 3 different aircraft types of 24 planes each: fighters, dive bombers, and torpedo bombers, with 2 air group squadrons per aircraft type. Two fighter squads, two torpedo bomber squads, and 2 dive bomber squads. If any one of these plane reserves were too heavily damaged, then the carrier would be, in a way, crippled for the remainder of the match, save for the dive bombers which were universally less important than the torpedo bombers.
Of all the changes to the aircraft carrier class that were made, the removal of actual player vs. player fighter combat is the one I miss the most. Before 0.8.0, even a bad CV captain could use their fighters to spot, protect friendly ships, and hope to make their strike aircraft survive longer under enemy flak. True, many carrier captains refused to use their fighters as anything but escorts for their attack planes, the majority did use them to help the team, even if unintentional. The problem with carriers now is that they lack this function. They cannot actively engage enemy planes, making the already god-like power of carriers even less opposed.
Along with the sins of the 0.8.0 update and all those to follow, it was the complete devastation to the AA mechanics and defensive fire consumable that were the most egregious. Do you remember when ships like the Minotaur, Des Moines, and Worcester would proudly proclaim to their team that they were “full AA builds”? I remember. Until very recently, my Minotaur was a full AA build, which did sacrifice in survivability and functionality, but you understand my point. Now, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone building their ship for AA duties, even though carriers are far more common. Why is this? Because AA is just about useless.
When they changed AA, WG unified the AA ranges among most ships and change the way AA damage was dealt to aircraft. Before the CV rework, the damage to planes was a RNG mechanic, and whether or not you shot down any planes was mostly a matter of chance where the game would “roll a dice” or do a number check to see if any planes were lost. The higher your AA, the better the chance each second you could kill a plane. This was still RNG, so even an AA monster like the Worcester could still be hit by planes, but this was relatively rare. This meant that AA ships were, in most circumstances, so heavily defended against planes that most carriers wouldn’t even bother trying. Ships with low AA like the Japanese main DD line were almost defenseless against planes and were so weak that carriers can and would loiter planes over these ships for minutes on end and lose a pitiful few planes. The flak mechanic was the only thing about this rework that I could ever justify, as it did punish enemy carriers who got careless. I could go on for pages about all the ways the AA changes themselves have ruined the interaction between carriers and surface ships, but I’m not interested in beating this dead horse.
Carriers are broken, they always have been. From the moment they were introduced they were without a clear role and without a reason for existing. This is just how it is. We as a community could rage for days against Wargaming for their butchery of the carrier rework, but what good does that do? None, so let’s work together. Carriers need to be removed from the game as they are now, and there are some things that need to be done away with forever. Armor Piercing (AP) bombs need to go, so do the rocket planes. These two aircraft weapon types ruin the way cruisers and destroyers play the game. True, all classes and ships hate these weapon types, but it’s cruisers and destroyers that get hurt the most. Additionally, I feel that, plane regeneration should not exist, but that’s a different issue. Above all else, I feel carrier aircraft need a fuel timer. Fuel or shell count has never been a game play feature in World of Warships, and for good reason, but for carriers this is different. If the planes had a fuel timer, which could be modified for a *slightly* shorter rearm time and increased payload of weapons in exchange for a decrease in flight distance, then this would force carriers to position nearer the action, not on the very edge of the map. Additionally, more fuel could be added for the opposite effects, with a longer reload time and lower payload. The planes HP could also be tied to this feature, with planes having lower fuel gaining better HP. All of this is obviously my own take on things and has no data whatsoever to back it up but doing the same things to fix them don’t seem to work very well, but neither does radical thinking in some cases.
1. Klein, Christopher. “Remembering the Sinking of the Bismarck.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 26 May 2016, www.history.com/news/remembering-the-sinking-of-the-bismarck.
2. “Bunker Hill I (CV-17).” Naval History and Heritage Command, 29 Jan. 2016, www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/b/bunker-hill-i.html.
3. Kalu, Micheal Chimaobi. “Kamikaze Survivor: USS Bunker Hill CV-17 in 30 Photos.” WAR HISTORY ONLINE, 13 May 2019, www.warhistoryonline.com/instant-articles/uss-bunker-hill-aircraft-carrier.html.
*Note from the author*
The point of this is not to create more animosity between players and creators, but to make the issues more open to all, not that I should need to do that. It’s to open a dialogue so that we can work together as a community to make this game better and more enjoyable for all.