The USS New Orleans (CA-32,) the third of that namesake, was launched April 12, 1933 and commissioned February 15, 1934. She was a Washington Naval Treaty ship, originally classified a light cruiser due to the limited armor needed to keep her under the treat's 10,000 ton limit. However, her 8" main armaments had her reclassified a heavy cruiser soon after construction began.
During her service, she earned 17 battle stars with five Navy Crosses, 10 Silver Stars and 206 Purple Hearts awarded to her crew. She was in Pearl Harbor for engine repair on December 7, 1941 and fought through the attack without power. After the attack, the engine repairs were scrapped and she immediately put to sea to defend U.S. interests against Imperial Japan. She subsequently took part in the Battle of Coral Sea, Battle of Midway, and Battle of the Eastern Solomons.
During the Battle of Tassafaronga on November 30, 1942 (the fourth battle of Savo Island,) a Japanese Long Lance torpedo, whose capabilities were still a closely guarded secret, impacted below #1 turret detonating the small arms and bomb magazines in the bow. The explosion completely destroyed everything in front of the #2 turret, one quarter of her length. Click this link to read the entire USS New Orleans (CA32) Torpedo Damage report filed November 7, 1943 for a full appreciation of the damage done.
Through the heroic actions of her crew, she did not sink and was able to limp to Tulagi 31 kilometers away. There the crew constructed a makeshift bow from coconut logs and bamboo, along with USS Minneapolis and USS Pensacola who were also hit by Torpedoes. The USS Northampton sank. The Japanese lost IJN destroyer Takanami. As a summary of that battle, I believe the Japanese commander Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka summed it up the best for both sides,
"I have heard that US naval experts praised my command in that action. I am not deserving of such honors. It was the superb proficiency and devotion of the men who served me that produced the tactical victory for us."
USS New Orleans returned to action in August 1943 with a newly reconstructed bow courtesy of the Puget Sound Naval Yard. She saw extensive service in in the Pacific during the remainder of the war, fighting in practically all major operations until wars end, and then covered the internment of Japanese ships at Tsingtao. She was decommissioned February 10, 1947.
As you have no doubt deduced, I have finally cashed in all my experience and all my credits to purchase and outfit a New Orleans class cruiser. That was one expensive ship, and I'm not talking just the 8.9 million credit purchase price. To fully upgrade the ship requires 63,000 experience as well as many millions of credits more. This caused me to break my rule about not purchasing a new ship until I can fully upgrade it in one go. Actually, I only bent it. I waited until I had enough to purchase the B hull, and either the upgraded guns or the Mk8 mod 2 fire control. I elected to take the guns as it would not take me as long to acquire the upgraded fire control. Was that a mistake? Maybe, but more on that in a bit.
The thing I really like about the New Orleans is its detection range statistic. It is lower than the main guns' firing range; the first 8" U.S. cruiser to gain that ability. Don't even ask about the Pensacola. It's a fine ship. Play it as if always visible and you'll be fine. It is my plan to make my New Orleans a stealth cruiser. As this is a tier VIII ship, I get another upgrade slot. You can either take enhanced targeting or concealment. I took concealment. That coupled with the appropriate camouflage reduces my detection range to 11.2 kilometers.
The stock firing range is 14.7 kilometers. I can get 3.5 kilometers closer before opening fire. This reduces an already low dispersion of 134 meters to deadly accuracy. That is at least the theory. And should I start taking too much damage, I can stop firing and blink out of detection range. Of course it is more complicated than that. But that's my theory and I'll stick with it until proven wrong.
Now back to that decision on main gun upgrade versus fire control upgrade. Was it a mistake? I trade a bit of traverse speed for a bit of firing rate with the main gun upgrade. I give up 1.5 kilometers of firing range by not taking the Mk8 mod 2 fire control. That brings my rate of fire more in line with my adversaries, but puts me at a range disadvantage. However, I am not easily detectable until I an well within my stock range. It doesn't really make a difference. And though my traverse is slower, it can nearly keep up in a hard turn. Had I stayed with the stock guns it would likely be able to keep up, so if there is nay regret in the choice that is it. Turning battles with DDs is not as smooth as I'd like it, but after a certain point the turrets have to turn completely around and that's much bigger issue, so I can deal with pausing a little to let the turrets line up. It just makes me pick better shots.
But there is something about the New Orleans that does have me greatly worried. I had thought about halting all my ship lines at tier VII because the higher tiers are low credit and experience earners for the average player like me. This was borne out by my first five battles, four of which my team lost. That's not to say I played well. I did not. A new ship takes some getting used to. No, what really worries me is that in a match where my ship is sunk, I have to earn a minimum of 108,000 credits to break even. That's not always easy to do when your team is pwned. This ship has the potential of being a money loser, and I'm not liking that.
But that is how Wargaming.net makes their money. If you want to play with the "big boys" with the "big boys toys" you're going to have to pay up. Half the players always lose, so half the players (at least) are faced with losing credits rather than gaining them. I wouldn't be surprised to see Wargaming.net's payout algorithm and discover it looks a lot like those employed by casino games creators. There are a lot of similarities in how you make money in a casino and how you make money in a Free-to-Play game. Or hadn't you realized that? Anyway, for those who have played it, what are your thoughts on best tactics using a New Orleans class cruiser? For those who have only played against one, what has and has not worked in your experience? Please let me know in the comments. And as always, thanks and safe sailing until we meet as opponents.