Here we are, top of the line: Tier X German aircraft carrier Manfred von Richtofen. A ship with a name of this pedigree deserves to be fearsome, so let’s root around under the hood and see what we get.
+ Most of the T10 CVs we have in the game are very clearly purpose-built designs. Just as clearly, Manfred von Richtofen is not. You can see she’s built on top of a battleship hull; in this instance, it’s the hull of an H-class battleship, represented in game as Tier IX Friedrich der Grosse. Her health pool is right where you’d expect in the mid 60’s. Surprisingly, she is the stealthiest Tier X aircraft carrier, with an aerial detection radius larger than her surface detection. In fact, her aerial detection is downright huge, something like 2km higher than any other Tier X carrier. I honestly think there’s a typo or some transposed numbers here.
+ Armor-wise, Richtofen has a surprising amount of protection for an aircraft carrier, seemingly based on the battleship hull she’s built on top of. Her belt armor is 150mm – which still trails Midway’s 178mm – but is nothing to sneeze at. Additionally, she carries an armor belt of some kind all the way to the bow, where it drops off to 60mm. Also, unlike all of the other German carriers to this point, Richtofen invests some armor in her flight deck, moving from the 25mm we’ve seen up to this point to 50mm here at Tier X. Interestingly enough, she still lags behind most other Tier X carriers in this department: Midway’s flight deck is 87mm, Hakuryu’s is 95, and Audacious’ is 102mm over the citadel of the ship (though it tapers off to 25mm at the fore and aft end). Before you ask: yes, she retains the famous German turtleback, though you have to play some funky games with her armor layout to see it: there we go, 150mm there on the angle inside the 150mm belt.
+ Her secondary armament is comprised entirely of the same dual-barreled 105mm turrets we saw previously on Parseval. They are finally off the flight deck, as Richtofen packs six of these just below each side of the flight deck, each with a range of 7.2km. You should be able to buff these out to around 10km or so, but let’s get into testing to see if she or any of the others have the improved secondary dispersion that Graf Zeppelin does baked-in to the hull. I’ll wager they don’t.
+ As you would expect of a top tier carrier, Richtofen’s AA aura is appropriately punishing. She moves up to quite a few of these double-barreled 55mm Gerats like those found on Kurfurst and Hindenburg. Man, I wish they’d slap a few of these things on Z-52.
+ Hey, would you look at that: low plane health. Yup, Richtofen’s Messerschmitt attack planes trail even Hakuryu’s Mitsubishi’s in terms of health. They’re pretty quick, though, 172 knots, which is good; they’ll need it in order to survive runs against the cruisers these AP rockets are designed to harass. This is a tier where you run into Minotaur and Worcester; I can’t imagine it being much fun to drive planes with this little health into those AA bubbles. Guess we’ll see in testing. The interesting part is that these AP rockets now move up to BIG HIT numbers: 5k per rocket, with 6 rockets in each salvo. These things now hit like Hindenburg shells. Consider me intrigued, but it’s still all about the penetration values and reticle size and bounce angles and such, so there are still a ton of question marks here.
+ The torpedo planes are Focke-Wulf TA152s, just like those found on Graf Zeppelin; and, just like Graf Zeppelin, the planes themselves are crazy fast for the tier, blowing out every other nation by around 30 knots of speed. Unfortunately, the ordnance they are carrying to target is still these bizarrely slow 25 knot torpedoes. Oof. I really do like the idea of aerial torpedoes that hit hard with a good flood chance on fragile planes; the sort of attack you save for big moments in a game or punishing bad positional mistakes. But these torpedoes are so slow, I still have no idea how players are expected to land hits reliably, if ever.
+ Lastly, the dive bombers. I kvetched pretty hard about Parseval’s AP bombers being strictly inferior to Shokaku’s down at Tier VIII, and for the moment, that is true. Moving up to Tier X it might still look that way… BUT, as with her torpedo planes, Richtofen’s dive bombers are Focke-Wulf Ta152s, and they are STUPID fast. This gives them an interesting advantage over Hakuryu’s dive bombers: Richtofen’s bombers will spend far less time hanging around in AA auras and can get around the map quicker. This is good, because these planes have a radically low amount of health. These are like Ryujo dive bomber levels of plane HP. They need all the advantages they can get, since the bombs do less damage than Hakuryu’s.