It’s v 4.3 during the Back to Belfast Campaign, and with it the campaign headliner Tier 7 HMS Belfast (1943). In short, Belfast is an “upgraded” version of her lower tier earlier version. This ship won’t see the glowing review of her younger-self and rather sees herself more of a bogged down side-grade than a true ‘upgrade’. Belfast 43 (henceforth, 43) is a AVERAGE ship, with a HIGH skill floor and a MODERATE skill ceiling. 43 is tough, and not the kind of tough that makes her good at taking hits.
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Named for the capital city of Northern Ireland, HMS Belfast was 1 of 10 Town Class Cruisers. She was laid down in December 1936 by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Belfast would be launched on St Patrick's Day, 1938, and was commissioned into service of His Majesty's Royal Navy August of 1939.
The Town Class was developed in 1933 as a response to the Mogami Class Heavy Cruisers of the Japanese Navy, featuring a ship capable of maintaining 32 knots, surviving a direct hit from an 8" (203mm) shell, and carry 12x6" (152mm) main battery.
November 1939, HMS Belfast struck a German magnetic mine. The blast did little damage to the outer hull, however, broke and warped the keel, resulting in severe damage to decking and machinery. Over 50 sailors and officers were injured in the blast, with 1 succumbing to his injuries after hospitalization.
Damage estimates found initially the ship should be scrapped, however, significant work went into straightening and strengthening the hull. 2 years later, the ship received various and numerous upgrades to her Radar Suites, Gun Fire Control Suites, thickened armor belt, and additional Anti-Air weapons. Due to the increased topside weight, the ship was then given torpedo bulges, which both stabilized the ship and widened her beam by about 6', her draft by 1' and increased her displacement by about 1000 tons. HMS Belfast was recommissioned in 1942.
Upon return to service into World War 2, HMS Belfast saw participation and defense of Arctic Convoys to the USSR. Belfast also famously participated in the Battle of North Cape, where she used her Radar to detect German Battleship Scharnhorst, allowing her interception from Royal Navy Battleship, Duke of York.
Belfast also participated in the Normandy Invasion, D-Day, June 1944, overseeing operations for Gold and Juno Beaches.
Belfast would go on to participate in several major conflicts and wars, including the Korean War. Belfast would be modernized and recommissioned and continue to serve in Her Majesty's Royal Navy until 1963. By 1971, she would be moored along the Thames, in the heart of London. There she rests, peacefully open for the public as a Museum Ship as part of the Imperial War Museum.
I'm told that she is an absolute must-see, and I plan on holding to that. My brief theme here only scratches the surface on her exploits.
- Radar Cruiser
- Smoke Generator
- Good Concealment
- 30mm HE Penetration
- Narrow Turn Radius
- 16mm Plating
- No Individually slotted Heal
- Weak AA
- Debilitating Effective Health
First and foremost, ill do my best here to make this not a total hitjob of a review. But, and ill be totally honest, the salt will likely burst to overflow its fragile little 16mm plated container, and then left buried under the weight of all that salt. The last few were quite glowing, but now its time to unleash the inner darkness a bit.
Generally speaking, Smoke, Sonar and Radar is generally a winning combination, however, in this instance, 43 takes the hit. This more has to do with the weakness of the platform than the consumable load out. 43 is the kind of ship that can’t sit in her own smoke, can’t use her radar to gun down destroyers effectively, has horrid armor to EHP ratio, and handles like brick due to her weight.
Now, I think we all know me well enough to say I’m not exactly a doom and gloomer.. however, this ship makes a lot of compromises that severely shorten her efficacy.
Radar is great, but no armor and awful DPM.
Smoke is great, but short duration and horrid deceleration.
Torpedoes are nice, but you will get killed trying to use them due to their range and angles; and your lack of armor.
Being a CL is great, but you will be handily out DPM’d by most gun heavy destroyers, who have the penetration capacity to make your world hurt needlessly. Yep, that’s just how bad this ship is
As previously mentioned, 43 falls quite hard in terms of compromises from her expected self on paper, into practice. On paper, the dynastic combination of smoke, radar and 30mm of HE pen is a no-brainer, except, 43 walks away with a pale 45s of smoke screen cover, the shortest by far of any cruiser with access to smokes. Couple this head searing conundrum, with the simple fact of quite mediocre HE DPM courtesy of a near belligerent 10s stock reload.
This chart shows two points here, Belfast has below average reach, and below average reload. Observe the HE Chart below, which will spell out a similar point. In this circumstance, 43's relatively high HE DPM is due to her relatively high alpha strike, not high shell count or speedy reload.
While 185k HE DPM isn't theoretically bad, it's worth noting it is however the worst among CL's, specifically.
And what's worse, is that her 30mm base HE penetration isn't quite the strong suit it is made out to be, observe.
The only worse fire chance is owned by the German Cruisers, however, they in turn have the ability to penetrate 32mm of armor which is plating commonly found on battleships of the tier.
Long Story Short: Belfast 43' has poor fire chance AND poor HE penetration. While yes, she does have 5mm more penetration than the average 152mm shell, she does not cross any major thresholds the others don't as well cross (aside from 27mm, which is typically found on heavy cruisers). Furthermore, the other nations have access to Equilibrium of Power, which increases the HE penetration threshold beyond 32mm, while Belfast does not.
On its face, this means both Belfast is stuck at 30mm HE pen, cannot cross into the next major threshold and is still stuck with among the worst fire chance of any cruiser. Cleveland/Kutuzov can choose to either burn, or penetrate their targets, Belfast cannot.
The AP solution doesn't fare much better either, as Belfast has average AP alpha and rather mediocre AP DPM.
All in all, despite access to 30mm of base HE penetration, Belfast looks rather bleak here. Torpedoes she can't really use, Smoke that lasts 40s yet, takes Belfast has near dreadful stopping time. HE performance just below the mark, AP performance that is lackluster.
But hey, at least she's not over-powered with her smoke and radar combination, right?
Behold the glory of the ballistics chart. There's very little that I can add here that isn't already spelled out in a chart. Belfast 43' walks away with very average ballistics and very average AP performance. This marks a semi-steep departure from her associated tech tree line, which habitually sports among the best AP performance in game.
Furthermore, captains will be remiss to find Belfast 43 has a much faster muzzle velocity off her shells starting at 841m/s. While ordinarily this would generally be a good attribute, it actually somewhat hurts Belfast performance, as rather than greatly increasing her armor penetration values, just serves to score more over pens, again, due to that really long fuse time. It's worth noting, 0.025 isn't longer than the standard fuse duration for cruisers but is among the longer arming times for 152mm AP shells, specifically.
AVERAGE, and not a strong average; but rather more below average. Royal Navy Tech Tree CLs have only one munitions choice, AP, and it is incredible in performance values. Not only does Belfast 43' represent a deviation from the line, but she also walks in with stronger HE performance than AP performance, and her HE performance is less than desirable.
And, just one more time, another acceptable value in theory, but in practice, using these will get you killed.
Wide slow rudder shifts paired with unforgiving torpedo arcs make this a last stitch effort, often resulting in your own demise.
Average is the best this metric could discern the confounded contortion this ship represents on a dualistic scaling. Smoke and Radar are obvious winners, however, a vague 3ish salvo per radar and then atrocious stop/start times expose vital armor weaknesses veiled by a thin and impatient smoke generator.
Simply put, there's only a little to love on paper, but a lot more to lose in practice.
51k wouldn't be horrible to work with, if this heal had its own slot. Thus, this number is extremely misleading when in reality, Belfast 43 walks in with a pale 38,4k Effective health making her the worst in her tier.
It's not all bad though, at least Belfast 43 has a 16% torpedo reduction, which helps take some of the salt out of the torpedoes she will inevitably take.
Overall, this score was saved only due to the dynastic combination of smoke and radar in separate slots, otherwise, this ship fails this category miserably. Sub-par AA, atrocious armor with easily overmatch-able plating, short burst smoke, lack of an independently slotted heal forcing abysmal health values. This ship makes serious and critical compromises for the very few benefits she has.
It's no secret by now this ship has a pale 16mm plating scheme, despite handling worse and being bogged down by extra weight while lacking 30mm plating found on her more agile sister. There's no chart that I can build that will accurately detail how profoundly weak this ship is in this area. Some ships can get away with this, 43 does not.
I'll be fair here, this barely breaks the line into where you could consider this value average. However, its not a very strong average, more below average. You may get one or two planes but not a whole squad.
Belfast 43 is on the wrong side of 250 dps to be considered good here.
Here's a redeeming trait, 43 hides pretty well all things considered. Though, it's worth pointing out the trend that she is hilariously outgunned by everything around her in this immediate vicinity. While her concealment value is itself quite good, the overall platform is still quite substantially weak, even for something as concealable as she is.
Maxing out somewhere in the low 9's, (lower with Tyrwhitt) which is quite good, but not quite good enough for a GREAT rating.
Now this is another hard truth to swallow. 43 handles exactly like Edinburgh, with the vaunted exception of being nearly 10% heavier (while lacking the armor upgrade she got which increased the weight). The result is that 43 mimics Edinburgh in a lot of categories, while being marginally weaker.
43 has the same acceleration as Edinburgh but takes longer to stop and loses more speed along harder turns. This isn’t precisely rocket surgery, but basic physics.
Her acceleration isn't truly that awful, and when put on the same starting level as anyone is quite average. Belfast handles like she's weighed down, despite lacking the armor to weigh her down. Maybe Belfast is simply so self-conscious she is weighed down by her own ineptitude.
Captains, I know exactly what you're thinking here, "There's just no way..." and the truth is plain. Belfast takes a lot longer to come to a full stop and thus takes a lot more time to get going again. From the starting line, she's on par with everyone else, however, never quite does this happen where a ship is entirely stationary while actively engaging another ship.
Now, the added complication of explaining that 43 takes longer to start turning into the same size circle as Edinburgh. This is another straight shot towards this ship feels very clunky, vibes. Theoretically, AVERAGE: practically; far worse.
This is the one area that 43 shines really well. Coupled with Smoke, Sonar and Radar, 43 has a plethora of options to choose from. Belfast is a ship that lives so heavily around her consumables that the ship would otherwise be very questionable on her own. The only significant mark back here is that she must choose between having a heal or having a smoke.
While this seems minor, it is absolutely a critical failure and results in abysmal Effective Health Values. Without smoke however, Belfast makes does not survive long enough to make use of her heal. With smoke, Belfast is greatly hampered in terms of HP.
Belfast has access to a solid radar and is capable of firing off a stock value of 3 salvoes. This means she is somewhat able to capitalize on her own radar. 5 salvoes (sometimes less) are generally the magic number to cook off most spotted destroyers, depending on what you are in. 3 is ok, 4 is better, 5 means you are an incredible threat to destroyers.
43 has access to a slightly longer-range sonar than most where she graces that magical 5km boundary.
The critical flaw here in this section is the forced choice between a heal or a smoke generator.
Once again, we find a mark that is great theoretically on paper, but quite awful in practice.
Azur Lane Belfast
- While she works in theory being her namesake cruiser, AL Belfast takes the back seat here to the quirky turkey that is Belfast 43.
Inspirations: Gunichi Mikawa Clandestine (-6% Cruiser Detectability), Jerzy Swirski Hide 'n' Seek (-4% Detectability).
- Out of Nowhere: -20% detection firing main battery in smoke
- Ingenious: +1.6o/s Turret Traverse, -7% Incoming Splash Damage
- Smokescreen: +15% Smoke Radius, -10% detection firing main battery in smoke, -1 Smoke Charge
- Sponge: -5% Incoming Damage, +15% Armaments HP, -15% Armaments Repair Time
- Fixated: -5% Dispersion, +5% Sigma
- Refill Station: -10% Reload Time
- He's my go to for this soon-to-be port queen. 43 needs a lot of love to work properly, and this is no exception. I tried and tried to make AL Belfast work, but she just doesn't offer the same gel as Fraser. (I think this says more about 43 than it does AL Belfast). He is deliciously plain in the sense that he offers a touch of everything you're looking for here. A big part of making Belfast 43 work is learning very passive support play, and this requires some, but not a ton of range. More range than you can get out of AL Belfast. Plus, the access to Fully Packed is another nice addition.
Inspirations: Gunichi Mikawa Clandestine (-6% Cruiser Detectability), Jerzy Swirski Hide 'n' Seek (-4% Detectability).
- Make Haste: +3% Speed
- Beyond Range: +10% Gun Range
- Homerun: +10% Torpedo Range
- Light Fortress: -8% Incoming Damage
- Fixated: -5% Dispersion, +5% Sigma
- Fully Packed: +1 Consumables Charge, -5% Consumable Reload
- Aiming Systems Mod. 1: The obvious and meta choice here is -7% to main battery dispersion, plus all the other goodies.
- Damage Control Mod. 2: Since 43 cannot equip propulsion mod due to her built in "improved" acceleration, Steering Gears is the next logical choice besides leaving this ship in port and playing something better.
- Concealment Mod. 1: 43 is frail, slow, weak. Hiding is one thing she needs in order to survive, as such, take this mod to help somewhat by getting into position and staying concealed.
- Main Battery Mod. 3: -12% to your main battery reload time because 43's reload is just that awful. seriously. 10s on 152s. YUCK.
- Belfast 1943 is a premium ship without any researchable upgrades.
- 43 is a new ship, and as such does not appear in any bureau projects at this time.
- Keep her reload, keep her handling. Keep those dogshit damage per minute numbers. For the love of all things holy and sacred, give this ship access to the same 30mm plating found on Edinburgh, AND give her access to an independently slotted heal. Then, just maybe then, Belfast 43 will be more interesting than a mothballed port queen.
- I had largely written off this section following a string of strong ships, and with that Belfast 43' marks her own contributions, the necessity of this category.
If Weimar shouldn't be a tier 6 then Belfast 43 shouldn't be a tier 7. Let's face it, you can slap lipstick on a pig, but it will make absolutely no difference to the butcher.
It did not take very long to surmise that this ship is profoundly weak in a number of areas, and in prominent areas that Cruiser Lights typically need to tend to shine and thrive. A 10s stock reload on a T7 cruiser is fine if that cruiser is slinging 203s but will not work with 152s. 6” (152) guns generally just don't have the physics behind them to work in many other scenarios aside from dumping a lot of shells into your target. This alone holds Belfast back substantially; she outright lacks the shell count that is normally found in this specific niche in this class.
There is a very fine line strategically of having to balance that cliche jack of all trades technique that paints a lot of the USN cruisers in a more masterful light than just on paper. The classic caveat to this downfall comes from having to many focus areas to point proper analysis on a single focus area. For this, we once again dive into the classic foray of the generalist v specialist debate. One of the most critical failures of any generalist is to divert too much energy into having too many tools. Divesting energy into too many fronts leaves too little to go around and allow everything to work as they intend to and in this regard, 43 is hurting quite badly.
Sure, HE is nice, but it does not come into play at any point along the natural tech tree line, leaving captains a bit bewildered to the use and practicality of this shell on a line that has arguably greater AP functionality than HE found on most other competitors. Furthermore, 43 lacks the portable dry dock heal found on the entire line, Minotaur, Tiger 59 and so on.
Now, that’s not to say this ship is horribly inept, but rather that the average player will be heavily stacked against success in this ship. Chart topping performances will be generally relegated to the upper echelons of the player base. For those of you who were looking for a Premium version of Edinburgh, 43 misses the mark handily.