USS Des Moines

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VTOL | Rank 5 USA
AV-8A Harrier Pack
USS Des Moines
GarageImage USS Des Moines.jpg
StoreImage USS Des Moines 002.jpg
USS Des Moines
6.3 6.3 6.3
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The Des Moines-class, USS Des Moines (CA-134), 1948 is the lead ship of her class of three heavy cruisers, laid down in late May 1945 shortly before the end of World War 2. Derived from the earlier Baltimore-class heavy cruisers, she was the first ship in the US Navy to utilize autoloading 8-inch guns. She would not see combat, only being commissioned in 1948, with a short service life of only 13 years, being decommissioned in 1961. Notably, she did serve as the flagship of the Mediterranean fleet for 7 of those years, and as the control center for American armed forces in the Lebanon crisis of 1958.

Introduced in Update "Sky Guardians" but was removed from the Gaijin store after the War Thunder 11th Anniversary sale. The USS Des Moines is in an earlier refit compared to her sister ship USS Newport News but has a much stronger anti-aircraft battery: increased from two double 3-inch autocannon mounts on the USS Newport News to a whopping 12 double mounts, plus an additional twelve double 20 mm mounts. This means that in addition to her impressive anti-ship capabilities with a 6-second reload for her main battery, she can also serve as a protective screen for battleships and less protected cruisers against air attack.

General info

Survivability and armour

Armourfront / side / back
Citadel122 / 147 / 86 mm
Main fire tower203 / 95 / 51 mm
Hull19 mm (steel)
Superstructure17 mm (steel)
Number of section8
Displacement20 950 t
Crew1 799 people

USS Des Moines, as the lead ship of the Des Moines class, has an armour layout which is based off the Baltimore class heavy cruisers. The main benefit for the main armour belt was to provide protection for the forward magazines, increasing the protection underneath the forward turrets from 0.75 inches to 5.8 inches of armour. The main armour belt is slightly thinner as the Baltimore class has a 6-inch belt, but the extra coverage which the extended belt provides is very welcome. The fore and aft of the citadel are protected by 4.8 inches of bulkhead armour, and thin 0.75-inch bulkheads interspersed throughout the citadel. The decks above the citadel are protected by 1-inch of anti-fragmentation armour just like the destroyers in the US tree. Lower in the ship is a 3.4-inch deck armour plate to deal with incoming fire from long ranges as well; this can deal with other cruisers and lower, however battlecruisers and battleships will easily penetrate this.

Des Moines has excellent armour on the turrets, with 8 inches of armour on the turret face, angled at 34 degrees to provide extra protection. This renders the turret face essentially impervious to any cruiser or destroyer fire, so long as it is facing towards the enemy. The turret sides, with only 3.75 inches of armour, can be penetrated by all cruiser calibre and many destroyer calibre guns at close range. The roof is better protected to defeat plunging fire, with 4 inches of armour. The barbettes have less armour, with 6.1 inches of protection. These will be knocked out regularly by other heavy cruisers and every battleship. These lead into the magazines, and the second turret magazine in particular. It is placed in an exposed position above the waterline unlike the Baltimores, so every precaution should be taken to avoid taking fire to this section. When fighting the Des Moines, this is the recommended area to hit.

Similar to other American cruisers, she lacks torpedo bulges, instead relying on fuel tanks along the hull. These cover the entirety of the hull between the turrets and can absorb some smaller torpedoes, though most will easily punch through. Captains should watch out for torpedo attacks at all times. If taking a hit is inevitable, manoeuvre the ship so that it takes the hit as close to the front of bow as possible, as the bow is mostly empty space and Des Moines can survive a hit here with just some flooding. Any hits below the turrets, especially the second, should be avoided at all costs.


Speedforward / back
AB71 / 29 km/h
RB61 / 25 km/h

Possessing a flank speed of 33 kn, USS Des Moines has the same top speed as other American heavy cruisers such as the USS New Orleans or the Baltimore-class, and slightly faster than the Brooklyn class. This speed allows Des Moines to make it to capture zones and other key locations at a reasonable pace, though not quite as some other cruisers such as Voroshilov. This speed drops to 23 kn in a turn, which although leaving her as an easier target, is still faster than any of the American battleships' flank speeds.

The rudder takes roughly 2 seconds to cause the ship to begin a turn, and while USS Des Moinse is responsive, at essentially 21 tons displacement there is a limit to just how quickly she can turn. Des Moines is agile for a heavy cruiser, but captains will need to be wary when traversing narrow passages as she is unable to make many of the turns that a destroyer or light cruiser could make.

Mobility Characteristics
Game Mode Upgrade Status Maximum Speed (km/h) Turn Time (s) Turn Radius (m)
Forward Reverse
AB Stock ___ ___
Upgraded 71 29
RB/SB Stock ___ ___
Upgraded 61 25

Modifications and economy

Repair cost
AB5 645 Sl icon.png
RB6 105 Sl icon.png
Crew training10 000 Sl icon.png
Experts800 000 Sl icon.png
Aces1 500 Ge icon.png
Research Aces1 380 000 Rp icon.png
Reward for battleAB / RB / SB
Talisman.png 2 × 450 / 600 / 50 % Sl icon.png
Talisman.png 2 × 196 / 196 / 196 % Rp icon.png
Seakeeping Unsinkability Firepower
Mods new ship hull.png
Mods new ship rudder.png
Rudder Replacement
Mods new ship screw.png
Propeller Replacement
Mods new ship engine.png
Engine Maintenance
Mods ship damage control crew.png
Damage Control Division
Mods ship fire control crew.png
Fire Division
Mods engine smoke screen system.png
Mods ship anti fragmentation protection.png
Shrapnel Protection
Mods ship venting.png
Mods new ship pumps.png
New Pumps
Mods ship ammo wetting.png
Ammo Wetting
Mods new aa caliber turrets.png
Anti-Air Armament Targeting
Mods tank ammo.png
Mods new aux caliber turrets.png
Auxiliary Armament Targeting
Mods tank ammo.png
Mods tank ammo.png
Mods new main caliber turrets.png
Primary Armament Targeting
Mods ship rangefinder.png
Improved Rangefinder
Mods he frag proxi fuze ship.png
Mods he frag base fuse tank.png


Primary armament

3 х Turret3 x 8 inch/55 Mark 16 cannon
Ammunition450 rounds
Vertical guidance-10° / 41°

The primary armament of 3 x 8 inch/55 Mark 16 triple-gun mount cannons is currently the undisputed best heavy cruiser cannons. Able to fire a volley every 6 seconds (10 rpm) allows for all vessels, cruisers or smaller to be destroyed with relative ease. Like most American cannons, the shell velocity is quite low, making very large shell arches, allowing for ships to be struck whilst still behind island cover. This does however make long-range shooting a significant challenge.'

The Des Moines has 4 round types, a HE round, two SAP round types and an AP round. The explosive mass of all rounds are extremely powerful for their type. The AP round can successfully fight all heavy cruisers as well as some battlecruisers such as the HMS Glorious, SMS Von der Tan, and HMS Invincible to name a few.

Penetration statistics
Ammunition Type of
Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)
1,000 m 2,500 m 5,000 m 7,500 m 10,000 m 15,000 m
Mk.14 Common Common 110 98 80 66 56 43
Mk.21 APCBC APCBC 390 348 289 243 207 165
Mk.25 HC HE 61 61 61 61 61 61
Mk.17 SP Common SP Common 131 116 95 79 66 50
Shell details
Ammunition Type of
mass (kg)
Fuse delay
Fuse sensitivity
Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (kg)
0% 50% 100%
Mk.14 Common Common 823 117.9 0.035 9 4.84 47° 60° 65°
Mk.21 APCBC APCBC 762 151.9 0.035 9 2.21 48° 63° 71°
Mk.25 HC HE 823 117.9 0 0.1 9.49 79° 80° 81°
Mk.17 SP Common SP Common 823 117.9 0.035 9 4.61 48° 63° 71°

Secondary armament

6 х Turret2 x 5 inch/38 Mk.12 cannon, mount Mk.32
Ammunition720 rounds

The secondary armament is 6 x 5 inch/38 Mk/12 twin-mounted, dual-purpose cannons, with a max of 4 turrets being able to fire during a broadside. The max fire rate is 15-22 rpm (depending on if the first-stage ammunition is not depleted). Their cannons have terrible muzzle velocity making distant shots against maneuvering targets a major challenge. Fortunately, when fighting light cruisers and destroyers, these secondaries can cause significant damage using HE and SAP rounds. These turrets also have access to proximity fuse shells, providing superb long to medium-range defence against aircraft, including high-altitude bombers.

Penetration statistics
Ammunition Type of
Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)
1,000 m 2,500 m 5,000 m 7,500 m 10,000 m 15,000 m
AAC Mk.34 HE 36 36 36 36 36 36
AAVT Mk.31 HE-VT 36 36 36 36 36 36
SP Common Mk.46 SP Common 150 125 93 71 56 45
Shell details
Ammunition Type of
mass (kg)
Fuse delay
Fuse sensitivity
Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
0% 50% 100%
AAC Mk.34 HE 792 25 0 0.1 3,220 79° 80° 81°
SP Common Mk.46 SP Common 792 25 0.01 6 906.5 48° 63° 71°
Proximity-fused shell details
Ammunition Type of
mass (kg)
Fuse delay
Fuse sensitivity
distance (m)
radius (m)
Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
0% 50% 100%
AAVT Mk.31 HE-VT 792 25 0 0.1 457 23 3,220 79° 80° 81°

Anti-aircraft armament

12 х Turret2 x 3 inch/50 Mk.33 cannon
Ammunition3000 rounds
Belt capacity150 rounds
Fire rate50 shots/min
12 х Turret2 x 20 mm/70 Oerlikon Mark V autocannon
Ammunition3600 rounds
Belt capacity60 rounds
Fire rate450 shots/min

An important part of the ship's armament responsible for air defence. Anti-aircraft armament is defined by the weapon chosen with the control Select anti-aircraft weapons. Talk about the ship's anti-air cannons and machine guns, the number of guns and their positions, their effective range, and about their overall effectiveness – including against surface targets. If there are no anti-aircraft armaments, remove this section.

Usage in battles

Describe the technique of using this ship, the characteristics of her use in a team and strategy tips. Abstain from writing an entire guide – don't try to provide a single point of view, but give the reader food for thought. Talk about the most dangerous opponents of this vehicle and provide recommendations on fighting them. If necessary, note the specifics of playing with this vehicle in various modes (AB, RB, SB).

Pros and cons


  • Adequate speed, on par with the rest of the American ships of this level
  • Decent main firepower with an excellent fire rate of 10 rounds per minute
  • Has access to a tracking radar
  • Powerful auxiliary and AA defence with decent range and effective against both aircraft and light naval targets
  • Large crew complement allows for a decent survivability
  • Decent ammo variety for both the 8-inch and 5-inch guns including HE-VT, HE and AP type rounds
  • Overall armour is above average for a cruiser


  • Large and long vessel, quite easy to hit especially with torpedoes
  • No torpedo protection
  • Doesn't have access to a scout plane
  • Front ammo rack is easily detonated by even 8-inch AP shells from cruisers


Describe the history of the creation and combat usage of the ship in more detail than in the introduction. If the historical reference turns out to be too long, take it to a separate article, taking a link to the article about the ship and adding a block "/History" (example: and add a link to it here using the main template. Be sure to reference text and sources by using <ref></ref>, as well as adding them at the end of the article with <references />. This section may also include the ship's dev blog entry (if applicable) and the in-game encyclopedia description (under === In-game description ===, also if applicable).



See also

Related development

External links

Bethlehem Steel Corporation
Gun Destroyers (DD) 
Porter-class  USS Phelps · USS Moffett
Fletcher-class  USS Cowell
Destroyer Leaders (DL) 
Mitscher-class  USS Wilkinson
Cruiser, Light (CL) 
Omaha-class  USS Raleigh · USS Detroit
Heavy Cruisers (CA) 
Northampton-class  USS Northampton
Portland-class  USS Portland
Baltimore-class  USS Baltimore · USS Pittsburgh
Des Moines-class  USS Des Moines

USA heavy cruisers
Pensacola-class  USS Pensacola
Northampton-class  USS Northampton
Portland-class  USS Portland
New Orleans-class  USS New Orleans
Baltimore-class  USS Baltimore · USS Pittsburgh
Des Moines-class  USS Des Moines · USS Newport News

USA premium ships
Motor torpedo boats  PT-3 · PT-109 · PT-174 · Thunderbolt (PT-556) · PT-658 · PT-811
Motor gun boats  LCM(6) Zippo · USS Douglas
Sub-chasers  Carmi (PC-466)
Destroyers  USS Welborn C. Wood · USS Wilkinson · USS Bennion · USS Cowell · USS Davis · USS Moffett · USS Phelps · USS Frank Knox
Light cruisers  USS Detroit · USS Helena
Heavy cruisers  USS Des Moines
Battleships  USS Arkansas