One of the best heavy cruisers in the world. The ship was designed using the experience gained in World War II, resulting in excellent protection and very powerful AA armament. The key distinctive feature of cruisers of this type was auto-loading main guns that had a very high rate of fire.
Only a handful of high tier cruisers are known to have absurd firing rates: Neptune, Minotaur, Worcester, Colbert, and this heavy cruiser. It is no surprise that due to her being the last all-gun cruiser made, she has all the lessons learned from her cruiser predecessors in the Second World War incorporated in her design. A very noticeable trait on Des Moines is her absurd rate of fire for a heavy cruiser, with each turret reloading at 5.5 seconds, making her extremely deadly to destroyers within radar range and other cruisers. She also can whittle down battleships quickly and, with her impressive AA suite, wipe out carrier strike squadrons with ease. However, she is extremely fragile: her thin armor makes her susceptible to penetration from most Tier IX and Tier X battleships at all ranges.
While Des Moines has impressive firepower and AA, her maneuverability is mediocre and her armor is terrible. With a standard cruiser speed of 33 kts and fast base rudder shift time of 8.6 seconds, Des Moines can evade incoming shells and torpedoes relatively well. However, while she can turn well, the speed loss on turning is massive enough to make her an easy target for any other ship with their guns loaded and ready. Additionally, with her 27mm armor belt (as opposed to Zao and Hindenburg’s 30mm or Moskva’s 50mm) this makes her very susceptible to most battleship AP shells at most ranges. Additionally, because of how flat her bow is designed in comparison to the other Tier X heavy cruisers, this makes her extremely susceptible to enemy battleship AP shells being able to penetrate her citadel through her bow.
In contrast to her weak points, the Des Moines high shell arc and gun layout gives her a unique advantage that her cruiser colleagues at her tier lack and as such she is capable of weighing anchor behind an island and lob shells over the island at distant targets with relative safety. Should the island be too tall, one can also park the ship around the corner of an island while bow on to act as a deterrent to advancing enemy ships, while presenting a relatively small profile. Exploiting this technique allows one to turn a disadvantage into an advantage. Additionally, firing AP shells at bigger targets such as battleships can deal a surprising amount of damage in such a short time. However, it is recommended to do so only when she is close enough to have the rounds deal maximum penetration or if the target is broadside.
Overall, unlike most other Tier X cruisers, Des Moines cannot fight as effectively on open water due to her thin armor, slow shell velocity, and speed loss when turning. If the player has mounted the Legendary Upgrade Enhanced Propulsion Plant (–50% time to reach full speed when accelerating / –20% rudder shift time.), then Des Moines can become a very agile ship that will prove extremely difficult to hit, provided the player can use their speed and rudder accordingly.
Fast reload – fastest out of all heavy cruisers of Tier X, which also makes up for the relatively low fire chance.
Great shell penetration – can fire her AP shells at any (broadside) ship with great efficiency.
Good AP shell angles – the higher autobounce angles for the AP shells means they can easily pen at angles where other cruiser’s AP shells will bounce, making for a devastating combination with the high shell penetration.
Good anti-aircraft armament – can bring down many planes if a carrier attempts to strike her multiple times, enhanced further with Defensive AA Fire (While active, the damage per second of large caliber anti-aircraft guns is increased.).
High shell arc – allows firing from behind island cover and consistent citadel hits on other cruisers from long range due to plunging fire.
Medium ranged and long-lasting Surveillance Radar (While active, detects all enemy ships within the specified radius, disregarding obstacles such as smoke and terrain.).
Decent side plating allows her to tank many battleships if sufficiently angled and maneuvering.
Very susceptible to HE shells.
Low main battery survivability – easily incapacitated and destroyed by other cruiser AP shells after sufficient time.
Slow shell velocity and high arc – enemies have time to maneuver and evade the shells.
High citadel – fire from other ships will easily penetrate the citadel if one is not careful
Anti-aircraft armament very easily destroyed – can quickly be rendered useless against aerial attacks.