Although naval artillery first appeared as a main armament in the days of sailing ships, it reached its highest stage of development in the first half of the 20th century. In World of Warships, military equipment revisits this historical period, and being in control of major calibre, that is to say, major artillery weapons, is an important part of gameplay.
For some classes of ship, such as battleships and cruisers, these guns are the only way to destroy the enemy. For others, such as cruisers equipped with torpedo tubes, or destroyers, they are not as important. Many aircraft carriers have no major calibre guns and their weapons are consigned to being secondary artillery weapons.
There are many different turret configurations, each of them designed for a specific task by naval architects. In some projects, the main goal was to provide maximum broadside firepower, in others – the most efficient forward firepower. The location of major calibre guns could also be dictated by technical factors like weight or other restrictions. As expected, turret configuration will affect gameplay directly and the differences between them will be obvious for players.
That is why, when you are planning your actions, you should always consider where and how turrets are located on your ship because the number of guns which can shoot at the desired target is perhaps more important than the total number of guns on the ship. If only a couple of guns have managed to aim at the target, the player will face a choice – either to wait for the readiness of all guns and give a full salvo at the enemy or to shoot with the guns that are ready (aimed/turned to the enemy) and, after a couple of seconds, fire the remaining ones which, by that time, will have managed to turn in the right direction. Which option is more efficient? Shooting a rare but powerful, full salvo or “splitting” the shots? It depends on the situation and is up to the player.
If the direction of the shot is set by turning the gun, the desired range is set by the angle of elevation. The maximum and minimum angles are directly dependent on the design of the gun. During modernisation, the elevation angles of ships were often increased to ensure maximum effective firing range. In the 1920s and 30s, many battleships experienced similar improvements, for example, on the U.S. battleship “New Mexico”, the maximum elevation angle was increased from 15 to 30 degrees, which, in combination with some other technical improvements, increased the firing range from 21 to 31 kilometers.
Besides the elevation angle, a shot depends on other factors: the mass of the shell, its initial velocity and its shape which affects air resistance. This leads to the fact that when firing different types of ammunition the maximum range may vary significantly. For example, the guns of the “North Carolina” can fire HE shells 36 kilometers or so, which is 3 kilometers more than its firing range for AP shells.
The minimum elevation angle depends on a gun’s configuration and its location. As a result, every ship has a minimum range. Between this point and the ship’s side there is a so-called “immunity zone” in which it is impossible to destroy a target.
This also means that the longer the distance of a shot, the longer it takes for the shell to fly to its target. This leads to the need of thinking in advance when shooting at long distances, taking into account the shell’s flight time and the enemy ship’s speed. If you do not think, then the enemy can escape from your attack and you will miss. For the player it’s a real necessity to take heed before shooting. The further away the enemy, the greater the need to prepare.
In general, the effectiveness of artillery fire is determined by a combination of factors not only including the number of guns and their calibre but also by the location of the turrets on the ship and the right choice of ammunition. Personal skills will also play a great role in battles because even the most powerful warship is useless without a good captain.