Add her to your fleet when Update 0.8.1 hits tomorrow, Thursday!
Get a feel for Alaska LIVE during Thursday’s stream with Crysantos and MrConway!
(28 Feb. 18:00 CET)
Not quite a battleship and not quite a cruiser, the new tier IX USS Alaska is a Large Cruiser (CB), having a similar design approach as the battlecruisers of old. But she’s not just any old Large Cruiser: she is in fact the only one with this classification (along with her sister USS Guam) to be put into service in the United States Navy’s history.
Such a special ship needs some love, and that’s what we intend to start doing here and now with this detailed rundown of the ship’s history and unique characteristics as they appear in-game. Afterwards, it will be your turn to take the helm and do it justice.
After World War I, the first US plans for a line of battlecruisers to compete with the models being propagated in Europe were eventually scrapped due to conditions set by international naval treaties. It wasn’t until the late 1930s, after the commissioning of the German ‘Pocket Battleships’, and especially after having learned of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s plans to construct super heavy cruisers with battleship-sized guns, that the US Government took interest again in a similar project.
The history of the Alaska class (USS Alaska and USS Guam) design begins rather turbulently, as at several stages of development, the large amount of changes being made by different groups and departments put the fate of the project in doubt. When the US entered the war in 1941, the idea floated around of converting the already laid-down hulls into aircraft carriers. Finally, however, the value of a fast cruiser with battleship guns took precedence, and the Alaska class’ final design would adopt the appearance of a scaled-down classic US battleship. To highlight these ships as a new warship class altogether (CB, or ‘large cruiser’), the naming convention wouldn’t honor Cities (like US cruisers) or states (like the battleships), but US territories.
Alaska was laid down just 10 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 at Camden, New Jersey, but wouldn’t be commissioned until mid-1944, when the war in the Pacific was heating up as Allied forces inched ever closer to the Japanese mainland. Arriving in January 1945 to Hawaii to begin her tour of duty, Alaska’s first mission was to escort and provide an anti-aircraft screen for an aircraft carrier task force comprising fleet carriers USS Saratoga and USS Enterprise off the coast of Japan, and later with USS Yorktown and USS Intrepid as they approached the island of Iwo Jima to provide cover for the invading Marine Corps.
Immediately afterwards, the task force made its way towards Okinawa to test the strength of local Japanese airpower in the leadup to the amphibious invasion in April. While underway, the gun crews of Alaska fired the ship’s first shots of the war against an attacking wave of Japanese airplanes targeting the flotilla’s vulnerable carriers, and shot down two bombers. Days later, whilst escorting the damaged USS Franklin to Guam for repairs, the formation was attacked by a lone Yokosuka D4Y dive bomber, which missed its mark and fled. However, with one of the final salvoes firing from one of Alaska’s 5-inch turrets, the crew from a nearby Bofors AA battery suffered burn injuries from the flash: the only casualties the ship’s crew would suffer during the war.
Much of the remainder of the war would be spent in the vicinity of Okinawa and Kyushu islands, occasionally using her artillery on ground targets and providing anti-aircraft screening for larger fleets as they moved in to support the closing phases of the island-hopping campaign. With the end of the war, Alaska formed part of the occupation forces in Japan, Korea, and China until her return to the United States in December. Alaska was decommissioned two years later and finally sold for scrap in 1960.
The Alaska you can take command of in World of Warships represents the ship as she would have been configured in 1945 whilst deployed in the Pacific Theater. One of the first things that will strike a player familiar with the USN fleet in-game is its radical difference with other cruisers, and the similar silhouette to the country’s high-tier battleships.
Main Armament: nine 305 mm (12-inch) Mk 8 guns in three triple turrets. The turret mounts themselves were a slightly improved version of the triple 16-inch turrets found on US battleships, but the 305 mm guns themselves were designed and made exclusively for the Alaska-class cruisers: a noticeable improvement over the older 12-inch guns used on the Wyoming class battleships. They were designed to fire a new type of heavy Armor Penetrating shell that could travel 33 km in just over 75 seconds.
Secondary Armament: twelve 127 mm Mk 32 guns in twin enclosed mounts: one mount in a superfiring position over both the fore and aft main batteries, and two mounts on either side of the superstructure. These versatile dual-purpose guns could be found on most US ships of World War II, be it as the main guns of destroyers or as secondary armament on both cruisers and battleships. The Alaska’s emplacements will look similar to the main armament of destroyer Gearing and light cruiser Atlanta.
AA: thirty-four 20 mm Oerlikon machine guns and fifty-six 40 mm Bofors automatic cannons in fourteen quad mounts. This amount of anti-aircraft firepower would quickly overwhelm attacking air formations with deadly shrapnel, making for an almost impenetrable barrier.
- Alaska has good survivability stats for her tier, allowing for excellent anti-cruiser capabilities. Just remember that you may look like a battleship, but your armor doesn’t fully live up to the role, so be careful who you expose your broadside to.
- As a battlecruiser, you have a bigger caliber than most cruisers at your tier and your shells have a hefty weight to them. You will find your AP salvoes can pack a powerful punch to any badly positioned cruisers.
- You have four slots open for up to 6 consumables. Configure them to fit your playstyle: use radar and hydro for supporting your fellow captains in close quarters, use defensive aa and catapult fighter to fortify your already strong anti-aircraft defenses, or find the combination that works best for you.