This week we get to talk about the Atlanta! I'm
u/Dr_Lord_Platypus (lrdplatypus in game) I saw
u/Tsukiumi-Chan's request for submissions and thought I'd take a shot at writing about my favorite ship in WoWS, and also just a really neat ship historically. A lot of the history section I've sourced from "Neptune's Inferno" by James D Hornfischer.
The Atlanta class was originally envisioned as a destroyer flotilla leader, being fast enough to keep up with destroyers while having the space for a command staff and communications equipment. It was thought that they'd be able to lead a group of destroyers and provide a decisive advantage against any other destroyer flotilla that they'd encounter. The class really found their niche as AA cruisers though, and the navy actually designated them as "CLAA" (anti-air light cruisers) for a time.
The first several ships of the class, including Atlanta, would be armed with 16 of the ubiquitous 5"/38 dual purpose guns in twin mounts, mounted in three super firing sets fore and aft of the super structure and an additional two wing turrets. Two depth charge racks and six depth charge projectors made up the anti-submarine weapons. Sixteen 1.1 inch and six 20mm AA guns rounded out the AA suite. The class also mounted eight torpedo tubes four to a side.
After the addition of radars and various fire control equipment the ships proved to be top heavy, and so starting with the Oakland the later ships in the class would have most of the depth charges and the two wing turrets removed. This includes the Flint which we have in game!
Atlanta was laid down on the 22nd of April 1940 and launched on 6 September 1941. She was the first ship commissioned into the US navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor, entering active service on the 24th of December 1941. During her fitting out she was equipped with the newest radar and fire control systems available at the time, and the crew practiced their use by targeting and tracking subway trains carrying oblivious commuters across Manhattan's East River bridges.
Atlanta soon joined Enterprise's TF 16 and provided AA escort during the battle of Midway. She continued to provide AA escort for Enterprise during the battle of the Eastern Solomons and was credited with shooting down 5 attackers. Afterwards she had several assignments, but ultimately would be remembered for her actions during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
Atlanta (now assigned to TG 67.4 along with the heavy cruisers San Fransisco and Portland, the light cruiser Helena, her sister ship Juneau, and eight destroyers) faced off in a night action against a Japanese bombardment force consisting of two Kongo class battleships (Hiei and Kirishima), one CL and 11 destroyers including such famous ships as Yudachi and Akatsuki.
Almost as soon as the battle started Atlanta found herself in the spotlight, literally, as Akatsuki made the mistake of illuminating Atlanta and revealing her position. Atlanta trained her massive 5inch battery on the hapless destroyer and quickly overwhelmed her. Akatsuki would lose power, drift out of action and sink with heavy loss of life.
Things would not go much better for Atlanta though, hit by a torpedo in her forward engine room Atlanta would lose all but emergency diesel power and suffer brief loss of steering control while it was transfered to the aft steering room. Almost immediately afterward Atlanta would suffer multiple 8inch shell hits from the San Fransisco, which in the confusion was trying to hit a Japanese ship behind Atlanta. Badly damaged, down by the head and listing, Atlanta was out of the fight.
Daylight would reveal the carnage. Atlanta was missing roughly a third of her crew and was drifting toward Japanese held islands. Taken under tow by the Portland, Atlanta showed she still had some fight in her when she drove off an attacking Betty with her only remaining powered 5inch turret.
Sadly, it was soon realized that efforts to save her weren't working, and the decision was made to scuttle the ship. Atlanta slipped beneath the waves at 20:15 on the 13th of November 1942 in about 400 feet of water. She had earned five battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation.
So how does she play?
Have you ever thought to yourself that catapults are obviously better than naval rifles? Are you sick and tired of rail guns that are so accurate they pose no challenge? Do you think armor is a fad and airplanes are food not friends? If so, friend I have a ship for you!
Atlanta is fundamentally a boat that likes to control the map. She's all about area denial and she does this through good use of map awareness, raw DPM, and psychological warfare. DDs will not push caps if they know an Atlanta is around, and if they choose to push anyway you get to teach them the same lesson poor Akatsuki learned the hard way. BBs will either burn down under your constant barrage of 5inch shells, or they'll decide that fighting in the shade isn't that great actually and go elsewhere. Cruisers will lament that their slower rate of fire and larger shells seem to be useless against your thin hull and ridiculous DPM.
Atlanta has huge potential to shape the battle to your liking, but she demands skillful play to unlock that potential. She's a high risk high reward kind of ship. She'll punish your mistakes harshly, and it'll probably take you a long time to really understand her, but she rewards skillful plays handsomely. Her shells are comically slow, and her range is punitively short. She makes up for this with a nicely equipped toolbox, great rate of fire, and good enough maneuverability.
So how do you play her? At the start of the game you want to find an island near a cap, preferably in radar range of the whole cap, that'll let you hide behind and shoot over it. You'll use this to control a cap without actually being in it. When the cap starts to go red you pop radar and light up the DD in there. If any BBs or cruisers start to push that cap you shell them with impunity using your high arcs. If a BB tries to rush your island you use your 4.5km nuclear suicide torps. If a cruiser tries to rush your island you can use your torps, or you can use your AP and insane DPM to get double digits worth of citadels and kill him! A well played Atlanta behind the right island is a very difficult beast to root out!
That is not to say that Atlanta is a one trick pony, or that you can just passively sit behind the same island all game and get away with it. Your range is short, so as the battle shifts you need to shift too. Also you need to be flexible, you need to adapt to the situation. There are times you need to go back to Atlanta's roots as a destroyer leader and play more like a gun boat DD. There are even times you need to play in the open water, playing at the edge of your range while maneuvering to dodge shells and keep all your guns firing. It takes a lot of games under your belt before you'll really get the hang of Atlanta. It also helps to have at least a 14 point captain. You'll need IFHE, it provides a massive damage boost. You'll also want AFT for the range. Eventually, when you have a 19 point captain you'll want concealment expert as well. The order in which you get those three skills will depend on your play style more than anything else, but they all make Atlanta a much more formidable beast.
Its ok, especially early on, to get frustrated with her and take a break. There really isn't any other ships like her so you gotta give yourself some time to get to know her. But my friend, once Atlanta clicks for you the fun doesn't stop! Feed your Atlanta a steady diet of DDs and slow BBs and be sure not to expose her to Royal Navy BBs or the Scharnhorst and she'll treat you right.
Atlanta is my most played ship, and probably the ship I've had the most fun in. She lends herself to hilarity. Nuking DDs feels great. Getting BBs with your suicide torps is hilarious. Shooting down 30 aircraft in a single battle, even after the rework, is satisfying. If you've never seen them then look up and watch Yuro's Atlanta videos. Also watch Arlios's APlanta video. Those will give you an idea of how awesome she can be in the right hands and in the right circumstances. She's a fun boat and she gets into fun and silly situations once you've developed a feel for her.
I'll leave you with this fun little story: The Atlanta had a ship's mascot, a dog named Lucky. While she was engaged in action escorting Enterprise, Atlanta was shooting so much and so fast the men on other ships said she seemed to burst into flame from bow to stern. This of course made a lot of noise, which Lucky wasn't very keen of. So he ran and found his favorite person, the assistant medical officer, who would cover Lucky's ears until the firing had stopped.
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