[Mail Call] 2017/06/25 – Morgane’s Fireside Chat #4

Or, I think this one should be titled “working with the “ship” in the term “shipgirl.”

First of all don’t mind me much. I’m still recovering from a nasty cold but I just wanted to write. It’s why fireside chats are fireside chats. They’re literally my extremely disorganized ramblings. Unfiltered.

Based on my observation around the community, there are varying degrees of character design in terms of the “shipness” of a particular shipgirl. At the strictest end we have straight-up anthro-moe, where physical properties of a ship literally translates into the shipgirl’s physical appearances. You see this quite a bit in some of the earlier KanColle designs – for instance, Furataka missing an eye or Shimakaze’s height corresponding to her actual length.

Again, I’m not overly fond of that. In fact, I’m of the opinion that the shipgirl’s physical properties should instead have purpose. This is basically a way of saying that for Pacific, due to our emphasis on the girl part of shipgirl, we tend to fit physical parameters or attributes only when it suits the design of the character. In other words, generally, history trumps design parameters/statistics.

A good example is our Enterprise, who is, well, a head or two shorter than her sisters.

Now, I’ve made the argument before – the Yorktowns were smaller ships in terms of displacement compared to their major competitors at the time. However, if we were going to go with that line of thought, then that would mean we lock Yorktown and Hornet also into shorter character designs. Instead, they’re both leggy beauties (not saying Prisse doesn’t have good legs – but she’s definitely a little shorter than the other two) that would look great as cover girls on swimsuit calendars –


Yeah, okay, sorry, I’m still a bit woozy under the effects of cold medication. PROBABLY shouldn’t be writing long updates or randomly rambling to our readers, but, hey, this is what I enjoy doing, so what the hell, right –

Right. Anyways. Back on topic. The reason for the trio’s design is really that we wanted to highlight Enterprise first and foremost. Artistically, the easiest way to do that is to give her something very obviously “different” to set her apart. Height is easy. It’s also thematically appropriate. If you look at how we wrote her and what her personality’s like, Enterprise is one who’s definitely not afraid of punching above her weight. In fact, throughout her historical lives – not just CV-6 – she’s been the underdog of underdogs.

So we thought making her a little smaller would not only be adorable, but it also shows that fighting spirit well. November calls it “contrast moe.” (He also just thought it’d be cute for her to lug around a big box-like piece of equipment – and so we kept the pavise design rather than the more streamlined Essex-gear that you’ll see later on in the book)

So. Okay. Then we sat down and thought about Hornet. What kind of a body shape do we want to give her? Should she be svelte or luscious? Tall or short?

Well, we looked a bit at her record. The overall record of CV-8 is basically “green.” Arguably the greatest contribution she made to the war was the Doolittle Raid. At Midway her score was quite poor, and her performance at Santa Cruz – her final battle – was mixed. The overall impression we got was that she should be someone who visibly looks a bit more “dumb blonde” than her sisters. So we made her tall (trust me – I’ve got long legs. Growing up felt awkward as hell sometimes), and intentionally posed her so there’s a degree of timidity or awkwardness in her art. She can often be “accidentally lewd” because again, that’s superimposing an aspect of her ship’s history (awkward derpness) onto Hornet the shipgirl.

Which now then leaves us with Yorktown. This far into the game, we already know what we want to do with her. She’s the quiet, somewhat homely big sister. Less famous than Enterprise, less explosive (in terms of the effect the Doolittle Raid had on public morale) and a lot more mature and at ease than either of them. Enterprise herself is pretty tryhard – if I can borrow a word from my moba days. Yorktown tries hard. Huge difference. As she describes herself in vol. 3, her entire experience has been a string of chances and missed chances. She doesn’t stress.

We gave her an “ordinary” hairstyle – some very simple braids – and an “ordinary” hair color (brown) to highlight that. You can tell what we’re trying to do with her body posture. We liked how “snappy” the old Yorktown looked, and even in the newer draft we want to make sure that she’s standing up – while still maintaining a sort of casualness in her posture.

We’ve spent a lot of time crafting this trio’s personalities and how they’d fit with each other. The three are sisters. They’re definitely close with each other. However, I would say that their sisterhood is more “intuitive” or “kinship” rather than strictly biological in nature. In Pacific, after some very large back and forth in STEC’s own classifications, shipgirls are classified based on their equipment’s identity. The biological data just doesn’t match consistently with what STEC thought it knew.

It’s also worth noting that the information given in the profiles and their introductions are all moments that are “frozen” in time. Hornet’s excitable and awkward but it doesn’t mean that she’s destined to forever remain awkward. Enterprise is a little cold right now but she’ll definitely be warming up (come on I’m not in this business to be edgy, after all. I like cute and happy (mostly)

It’s worth mentioning too that we’re still in the foundation stages for my vision of Pacific. Trust me, give me a few years and this tale will unravel by itself – in front of your eyes, no less!

Then we have other cases where the “role” in which the ship played was so striking that we had to take the design and run with it.

This was one that I came up with almost completely by accident. Her historical counterpart was one who meticulously recorded and witnessed pretty much every major battle as an observer. The ship’s commander wrote down not only the battle conditions, but his own thoughts and feelings. When I read through his records, I went, hell. This’ll be perfect.

She’ll be the watcher. A witness. A keeper of history and legends and a storyteller. Once I started to shape her personality around that theme, her entire design basically fell into place *snap* like that.

Then I pitched the idea to the team, and they liked it.

Then I spitballed the design at November and asked what he thinks, and he thought for a bit, and sketched one out. This design we think “works” so we’ll probably be keeping her as is. Probably’ll keep the same color scheme as she is now, too.

Well, the sun’s coming up. Guess it’s a few hours of sleep before work for me. Heh. Night everyone!

[Historical Inspirations] 2017/06/18 – the Marianas Turkey Shoot (Midway in Reverse)

We’re a day early (well, not so much over in Asia), but today I thought I’d like to touch on the Battle of the Philippines Sea that took place tomorrow and the day after, seventy-three years ago.

Colloquially known as the “Marianas Turkey Shoot,” this, more so than Midway, was what dealt the IJN a killing blow. On the first day, the USN destroyed no less than 358 Japanese planes (in a post-war account in 1945 – you’ll find numbers varying here and there due to reporting discrepancies) at a loss of 33. Taking into account the second day’s events, Japan would lose three carriers and more than 600 carrier and land-based aircraft.

The damage done to the IJN was irrecoverable. In two days Japan had lost its fleet air elements, depleted its pilots and reserve aircraft, and lost capitals ships that it could not afford to lose. While Japanese media downplayed the impact, the evidence speaks for itself when four months later, the once capable carrier task force was sent out as bait during the Leyte Gulf operation.

What went wrong?

Well, for starters, I did ask Sune – citizen of Japan, (literal) daughter of samurais, and our residential IJN expert. She had this to say.


While tongue in cheek, Sune’s assessment of the IJN boiled down to the following perspectives. It was a bit like a reverse-Midway in that this time, the IJN had several advantages that the US enjoyed. It had access to land-based aircraft. Land-bases means that the Japanese planes can strike, land at a Japanese base, refuel and rearm, and go in for another strike. The carrier force, while diminished, was in capable hands given Jisaburo Ozawa’s command. The winds were in favor of the Japanese.

Like Midway, this was a battle the IJN had to win. The Truk and Marianas “line” was Japan’s final line of defense. The reason why we went after Saipan was that through Saipan, we can launch strategic bombers at the Japanese home islands. Taking the Marianas area renders the entire Japanese force vulnerable, and the IJN was well aware of this. Not to mention, the recent string of losses were some of the first losses of territory that were previously in Japanese hands.

At the time of the Battle of the Philippines Sea, Saipan has been in American hands for only a few days. We were every bit aware that the Japanese wanted it back, and given the strong endurance of the lighter IJN (and IJA) planes, a battle was expected. Again, similarly to Yamamoto’s original thinking, Nimitz also sent a message to the fleet on the eve of battle. It read:

The officers and men of the Fleet have the confidence of the naval service and their country on the eve of a possible major surface engagement with the enemy. We count on you for a decisive victory.

In a very curious parallel to Midway, we need to remember: Admiral Mitscher was supposed to be bombing Guam. Much like how Nagumo was ordered to both destroy Midway’s garrison and the US surface fleet, Spruance was meant to reinforce and protect the Marianas invasion fleet. To that end, he was to take the opportunity to hit Japanese airfields on positions such as Guam if he could.

(I didn’t find any evidence of Nimitz telling him to attack the islands. However, Spruance is not a passive commander – so it’s entirely plausible that he’d take advantage of the opportunity if it comes up)

The Japanese, on the other hand, saw the destruction of the US carrier force as their primary goal. Here again would be an excellent parallel – just as Nimitz ordered Spruance to inflict as much attrition damage as possible, here, too, did the GHQ order Ozawa to destroy decisively the Fast Carrier Task Force.

Indeed. Spruance and Mitscher did order strikes against Guam on the morning of the 19th. However, here is where things went very differently.

First, we immediately recalled the island strike groups over Guam upon finding out the massive amount of Japanese plane readying up and taking off. Both Spruance and Mitscher were at Midway. They know exactly what happens to carriers if an enemy attack can catch them unprepared. The important thing was to get fighters in the air to interdict enemy planes.

Failing to do so would make the respotting (aircraft has to be “spotted” forward on the flight decks so the after portions of the flight deck can be free to recover incoming planes) highly dangerous since the planes on the decks themselves can be damaged and destroyed (to say nothing of the carriers themselves).

What’s more, as the fighters took off, the torpedo bombers and dive bombers were sent off in the opposite direction – just in case something was to slip through. This minimized the dangers of catastrophic explosions – the likes of which that took out the Akagi during Midway.

Like Midway, Ozawa threw group after group of aircraft at the US fleet. Totaling nine waves in all, some of which involved large groups of forty to fifty planes. On the US side? All the US carriers did was to cycle through and refuel/rearm the fighters. Terse excitement was in the air as the US forces realized upon seeing the waves and waves of attacks that this was the big one – this was it!

From about 10 to 3 the IJN attacked all day. They didn’t hit a single US carrier, and the only ship damaged was a battleship (the South Dakota). US submarines found and hit the Shokaku and Taihou, and by evening the US launched 240 planes to hit the rest of the Japanese fleet. Hiyou was sank nearly instantly, and the remaining carriers – Zuikaku, Junyou, and Chiyoda – were damaged.

That night, Admiral Toyoda ordered Ozawa to retreat. The Battle of the Philippines Sea was over. The US lost far more planes (80 in all) as a result of ditching in the water on that last attack wave than the Japanese shot down.

What happened? In no particular order…

The Hellcat happened, for one. The US had better planes this time around. The Wildcat could give the Zero a good fight (and I would actually argue that it’s better than what most people give her credit for).

Two. The US were not the inexperienced green recruits of the Hornet flying at Midway. These were veteran pilots – some with thousands of hours of flight experience and confirmed kills – flying a plane that outclassed the Zero. The Japanese had some veterans from Midway (and indeed, many would continue to survive) but the bulk of their trained pilots were shot down in this battle. Here, they were the inexperienced ones in comparison.

Three. Radar happened. The USN saw the IJN come from hundreds of miles away. Like Midway, this prompted the US carrier commanders to act.

Four. The US had better battle doctrines. Whether it’s target prioritization or layering AA fire with the escorting fleet elements or intercepting enemy air, the US held a tactical advantage over the IJN in this battle.

At this point, it might be tempted to ask. The USN was able to overcome many IJN advantages at Midway and score a miraculous victory. Was there any way for the IJN to have done the same – taking out one or more of the US fast carriers to make this battle more even?

The answer is yes. Anything is possible. However, and this brings my piece to an end here – I think it would be extremely unlikely. Leadership and discipline is the final advantage that the US had, and this advantage was paramount. The US was blessed by the twin benefits of having good officers on the field – individuals such as Mac McCampbell of the Air Group 15 – and steady fleet commanders such as Spruance.

These guys knew what they were doing and were focused on their task. The fact that the US CAP didn’t run off to chase after IJN torpedo bombers and the IJN dealing virtually no damage to the US carriers is proof of that.

For something like Midway to happen, you need luck, of course, but you also need to capitalize on any temporary advantages as well as punishing the enemy for their mistakes. The USN at Midway had all three. The IJN at the Battle of the Philippines Sea had little of the first, unsure of the second, and definitely had little to exploit when it comes to US mistakes.

In fact. I think it’s impressive that something like 130 IJN carrier planes managed to make it home out of the near-400 that sortied. The losses of the carriers (and many of these planes) after? Well, that’s incompetence, plain and simple, but one could hardly fault the pilots for that.

See you next time – and, cheer up, Zuizu. You’re still my favorite Japanese CV girl. 🙂

Silent Service XIII: Argonaut

First of all website was down yesterday. Sorry about that.

Hmph! First Dolphin, then Prisse… About time I get my sub corners back –

Wait. I’m not on for today?

Riiiiiight. Shipgirl profiles interspersed with design sections. Not to mention we’ve just fixed the website anyways…

*sigh* Another day, then. I was really looking forward to tell you about the V-boats too…

Well, it’s fine… I’m just going to go back to my room and read a book or something. It’s not like I’m lonely or anything!

How’s your day been?

Good, good. And you, commander? Gotta say I’m not used to dinner being this early, but hey, stomach’s growling and I smell something nice. So here’s hoping that a “good” day turns into a “great” day, haha.

What’s a good day? I slept in late. Soaked in the tub for an hour and got a great brunch. Then Sculpin and I built that fish tank expansion we always talked about and I got her Argonauts a few new Argonaut buddies (though I think one might have been a Nautilus… I’m not that good with sea critters). Went shooting with some of the girls from the Design Board – didn’t peg Lulu or Raleigh as a crack shot but they sure did better than me on the discs.

… It’s my day off. Hey, only workaholics like Pennsy spend every moment thinking about how to defend humanity, alright? Besides, I just got back yesterday. I’m gonna have to go out there again tomorrow. Sooner, if the little guys finish cooking up the next batch of mines.

Yeah… I think I’ve seen enough of the sea for a while. Yes, laugh if you want, but it gets awfully lonely in the depths. The submariners at least have each other for company, but us subgirls? It’s not like the little guys can talk or anything…

My, that’s not what I’m getting at. You don’t have to call me. I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself *snickers.* Besides, what are we going to talk about? I’m pretty boring compared to the colorful bunch we’ve got back home. It’d be a pretty one-sided conversation unless you want to hear me count the fishies that pass by or something.

… I’m really much better if you just talk instead. Yeah. Better listener than talker. I know any relationship’s give and take, but I just, y’know, don’t know how to start a conversation sometimes. I mean, hmm. What would my handsome commander want to hear about today? Golly gee, current events? Yeah, the four girls in the Intel division consumes enough media that I bet they can run the New York Times and the National Review outta business at the same time if they wanted to. I don’t follow sports. I really don’t play all that much either. Nautilus keeps on egging me on to find a “non-productive” hobby but I’m just not entirely sure which one I’d really enjoy.

I mean, I’m pretty happy, really. I don’t want more excitement in my life. Heck, you know what I want? I kinda miss the old days. Before Avalon. Before the fairies took care of all the grunt work. Before tech & fairy magic smoothed out all the kinks and turned STEC from a ragtag bunch of plucky ad-hoc elements into this beautifully sleek machine of counter-abyssal operations today.

… You ever need a personal maid, sir? Honestly. Don’t send me state-side for my next extended vacation. Just let me … I dunno, dust the shelves or sweep the floors or peel potatoes or something. Alright?

Aw, you’re a dear too. Thanks. I feel a little embarassed now…

What do you think of our preparation for the incoming Abyssal War?

I don’t have anything to complain about, actually. I think we’re doing all the right things. Just gotta ramp up the production.

Actually, now that you mention it. You know when they hit we’re going to be the first thing they try to take out. I’m not entirely sure if the direction we’re taking Avalon’s own design is necessarily what I’d pick. Not too fond of stealth if you get my drift. It relies on the bad guys not finding us, but I’m not sure if it’s gonna work well for us if they figure out how to crack our concealment tech.

I’d like it much better if we shifted additional manpower into developing area denial or purely defensive countermeasures instead. Concealment and intelligence and rapid deployment is good and all, but nothing beats an old fashioned beating in my opinion. Plus, we’ve got a lot of eggs in this basket and I think we absolutely need to start spread it out. Those planned Battle Platforms’ll help. So do the other stuff we’ve got rolling down the pipeline. Then there’s stuff like Project Trinity. Hoo, wow.

Like I said, I don’t have anything to complain about. Besides, that’s the nature of leadership. It’s your job to make the big calls, not me, heh.

Does your gun work under water?

Believe it or not, sir, it does!

However, it makes far more sense to use it on the surface as a close-quarters combat weapon. Honestly while my equipment appears suitable for surface warfare it still makes more sense for me to remain under water. After all, a lot of the problems that plagued the actual submarines don’t completely transfer over to us shipgirls.

Tell me a bit about your namesake.

Tautau’s done a pretty good job covering the design of the Argonaut in one of her sub corners. As far as the actual Argonaut goes, I think we need to be fair in our assessment of her performance.

“If a fleet boat were stripped of one battery, two engines, six torpedo tubes, and could use no more than 15 degrees of rudder, she would still have greater torpedo attack and evasion ability than Argonaut.”

Hey, don’t look at me. Richard O’Kane said that, not me.

Purely, objectively, statistically, mathematically, she was at best a mediocre ship. The seaworthiness of that ship was never that great, and if my memories – or should I say, the memories of the crew of the Argonaut – is correct, the ship simply wasn’t a good working environment. Her outdated construction and outdated weaponry gave her no conceivable advantages in battle, and even the refits didn’t really do much for her. Having that TDC might have helped a ton during her initial patrol, but that’s if – and that’s a big if – she could get herself into position to begin with.

I mean, she was supposed to be a minelayer, right? Well, she never laid a mine. All that gear was taken out right before the Makin Raid and she wasn’t even much of a transport submarine. Conditions were just downright nasty with all that humidity and most of the Marine Raiders got violently seasick.

Yeah. The Argo was not a Wahoo or a Tautog or a Flasher or Rasher. She had three war patrols. A maiden voyage that yielded no damage whatsoever to the enemy. A transportation mission the effects of which historians still debate to today. Her last journey was basically a valiant last stand against five Japanese ships that caught her as she tried to do her duty.

… and to think that her torpedoes prematurely detonated before reaching the Japanese destroyers. The poor Argonaut didn’t even get a good hit in because of faulty equipment, commander, and a hundred and two men died on that day. It would be the worst loss of life any single US submarine ever suffered during the war.

Those are the facts of the submarine Argonaut. An ordinary reader would stop here. To them, the Argonaut was nothing more than a machine of war. A weapon. A means to an end.

But, commander. The Silent Service was an entirely voluntary force. Consider this for a second. You were not eligible for the submarine service unless you passed with excellent qualifications. It was – and still is – extraordinarily hard to become a submariner. The emphasis is on doing right and doing well is far more important than your rank. Wearing the Dolphin is no joking matter, sir. To have that on you uniform meant that you belonged to a brotherhood of the Navy’s finest. It means that everyone else on that submarine trusts you well enough to leave the fate of their lives in your hands – if it have to come to that.

The men of the Argonaut could have been assigned to any other submarine and I bet you they would have thrived. But, fortune brought them to the Argonaut.

War is war, commander. Not everyone get to come home.

But war is what they signed up to do, and her men fought on to the end. Would you call a firefighter who died putting out fires a wasted life? How about police officers who died responding to an active threat?

No? Then I think you have your answer.

To the men of the Argonaut we simply say, they remain on eternal patrol.

Silent Service XII: The SBD Dive Bomber(!?)

Huh. Tautog’s not here. Didn’t she have to give a sub corner today?

…Looks like she left her clipboard.

Let’s see…

“Argh! Panic! K9 is a lazy bum and hasn’t given me a topic today…”

Well that’s not good…

What’s this button do –

Oooooh. I get it. This must be the magic update button. Hah! Yeah! Okay. I got this.

Hi Everyone! Welcome to Enterprise’s carrier corner! Since Morgane and Sune have been talking about Midway recently, I thought it would be nice to talk a bit about the Douglas SBD “Dauntless” dive bomber. It won us the battle after all!

The SBD was developed from the Northrop BT-1, a previous dive bomber design. The BT-1 didn’t fly very well – especially at low speeds, important for a carrier aircraft – but Northrop didn’t quite have the money to fix it. At the time, Northrop was a subsidiary of Douglas Aircraft, so Douglas Aircraft took over the job of fixing it.

The Northrop BT-1 – Kinda funny looking, but you can clearly see how this would turn into the SBD we know and love! One of the issues of the BT-1 was that the tail would buffet hard when the dive brakes were deployed. They fixed this by adding in those distinctive holes in the dive brakes that you see on the SBDs.

Douglas would heavily modify the BT-1 into a new design called the SBD-1. The new design proved to be a massive improvement in performance over the previous BT-1, and it was soon put into production. Unfortunately, the SBD-1 wasn’t very good either. It didn’t go very far, and with only two .30 caliber machine guns in the front and a single .30 cal in the back, its defensive armament was lackluster. Even worse was the fact that it didn’t have any armor or self sealing fuel tanks! Only 57 of them were ever built, and since the Navy didn’t want them, they were given to the Marines instead.

An upgrade soon came in the form of the SBD-2. This upgraded design would feature additional fuel tanks and armor plating. The two .30 cals in the front were replaced with two hard hitting .50 cals. While helpful, this did nothing to fix the slow speed of the plane. Pilots would end up calling it the “Clunk”, “Barge”, or as an ironic reading of SBD, the “Speedy.”

With the last delivery scheduled for January of 1942, the poor SBDs were declared obsolete at first. But, the Pearl Harbor attack would change all of that. The Navy ended up calling up the SBD-2 because well, an obsolete dive bomber is better than no dive bomber. So, off they went to war.

The SBD-2, to many’s surprise, prove itself capable in the Battle of Coral Sea, sinking the carrier Shohou and seriously damaging the carrier Shoukaku. Some even managed air to air kills!


SBD-2s flying over the USS Enterprise – it’s me! Or, ya know, the other me!

All this time, the Navy was working hard to make the SBD combat ready. Soon one was made. SBD-3. This version gets a more powerful engine, self sealing fuel tanks (if the enemy hits your fuel tank it won’t leak! Handy for getting home), and a twin .30 cal defensive gun mount in the back. This version would prove itself in battle soon enough – it’s what brought us the great victory at Midway.

Rugged and reliable, the SBD was a pleasure to fly. The pilots affectionately gave it a nickname. The “Slow But Deadly”. It’s the nickname that would stick to the SBD to the end of the war.

Crew loading a bomb onto a SBD. That metal cradle it’s sitting in would swing outwards, allowing the bomb to clear the propeller.

The SBD still received upgrades as the war went on. Later versions focused on improving the powerplant, but it was eventually phased out for the Curtiss SB2C. Some of you know that plane as the Helldiver. Now, while the Helldiver was an improvement over the SBD, it had some developmental issues to work out and appeared much later than the Navy had planned. The plane was hard to service, the crews didn’t like it much due to its poor handling, and its engine was also underpowered. The “Son of a Bitch, 2nd Class” just didn’t have the charm the “Slow but Deadly” had.

Hey, it was hard letting the SBD go. In the first year of the war alone, the SBD sank nearly 30% of the Japanese war fleet in total tonnage. This dive bomber, written off as obsolete, ended the war with a 3.2:1 air-to-air kill ratio. That’s higher than some fighters.

Not bad, huh? I love the SBD. It’s a lot like America during the war itself. We get written off as goofballs often enough, but we’ve always been the underdog. We didn’t always have this massive advantage in technology like we do now, but even then? The boys made do with what they have, and that’s –

Hi Prisse. I found K9. I also gave him a very stern talking to. He and Sune’s slacking off again!

Oh? Um. Hi! It’s summer. Good time to relax –

No Relaxing! Book’s out in a month. If he has time to grind out a Bismarck in World of Minsk Shipbuilder & Design he has time to get back to work.

Minsk Shipbuilder – Oh! You mean World of Waterboats.


Yeah. That! What do you think –

Slow gameplay. Terrible grind. Horrible choice of premiums. Ship designs entirely powered by Stalinium and wishful thinking. Community of players make you rapidly lose faith in humanity. Worst of all, NO SUBMARINES. 

… What kind of a naval battle game doesn’t have submarines?!

But you still play.

…Yeah. Thanks for the piece today, Prisse. Really appreciate it. The Missouri’s not going to pop into my account by magic you know!

See ya next time. 🙂