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The following is a review of San Diego, the tier VIII premium American Cruiser, brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.  To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this review are current as of patch 0.11.11.  Please be aware that her performance may change in the future.


  • Heavy armament of sixteen 127mm guns, capable of delivering a 14-gun broadside.
  • Improved ballistics.
  • She has access to semi armour piercing (SAP) ammunition.
  • Excellent gun handling.
  • Unlike most American cruisers, she has torpedoes!
  • Agile, with a small turning radius and good rate of turn.
  • Decent concealment from the sea and air.
  • Massive glut of consumables, including:
  • a Repair Party that always queues a minimum of 50% of damage received.
  • a Hydroacoustic Search on its own slot (as opposed to sharing it with DFAA).
  • a Special Defensive AA Fire consumable with a shorter reset timer and increased sustained DPS.
  • and access to a limited Main Battery Reload Booster.


  • Tiny hit point pool for a tier VIII cruiser at 27,900hp.
  • Her armour may as well be made of paper, providing almost no protection to even destroyer calibre guns.
  • Slow base reload for a 127mm armed ship of 5.5 seconds.
  • Low damage on her SAP shells for their calibre.
  • No HE shells whatsoever, so unable to start fires.
  • Limited range of 14.82km
  • Painfully short-ranged torpedoes with only a 4.5km reach.
  • When her Defensive AA Fire consumable is on cooldown, her AA is weak.
  • Her Main Battery Reload Booster only provides a 33.3% speed increase and a painfully long 180 second reset timer.
  • So many consumables to micromanage


Skill Floor:  Simple / Casual / CHALLENGING / Difficult
Skill Ceiling:  Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme

New fish: stay away.

San Diego is not a good ship for new players.  She's too fragile and too reliant on using (and abusing) spotting mechanics to stay alive.  Knowing where to setup and when to shoot or not is life and death in this ship and that's only going to frustrate inexperienced players.  Even her ammunition choice has a pitfall with her AP being heavily situational.  While I would like to think most will stick to SAP, I know there's going to be someone out there who wonders why they can't make the ship's ammo work.  And I pity the poor newbie that buys here thinking that her AA will always be strong. The only reason I didn't give this ship a Difficult evaluation is that she has heals and her SAP is pretty brainless once you learn to load it to the exclusion of all else.

For a veteran player, there's so much to know.  SAP trivializes ammunition choice, but there are times where her AP can net you more overall damage if you know when to use it  She has a ton of consumables to micromanage.  Her AA can be troll if a CV isn't prepared for it so you can lay an ambush if that's your thing.  Using and abusing concealment is huge.  So too is knowing what large calibre AP shells can and cannot fuse on your citadel at what range.  Her Hydroacoustic Search combined with her good concealment gives her some limited (but powerful) vision control too.




  • San Diego's  Damage Control Party is standard for a cruiser.  It comes with unlimited charges, a 5 second active period and a 60 second reset timer.
  • Her Repair Party comes with three charges.  It heals up to 14% of San Diego's starting HP per charge over 28 seconds.  She queues of 50% of all shell, bomb, rocket and torpedo damage received, regardless if they are citadel hits or merely penetrations.  San Diego recovers 100% of fire, flood and ramming damage.  This has a standard 80 second reset timer.
  • San Diego's Hydroacoustic Search is standard for a tier VIII cruiser.  This detects torpedoes at 3.5km, surface ships at 5km and submarines running deep at 2km.  It has a 100 second active period and a 120 second reset timer.  San Diego starts with three charges.
  • One of the ship's selling features is her Defensive AA Fire consumable.  It has a shorter active period of 30 seconds instead of the usual 40, but this also comes with a shorter reset timer of 60 seconds instead of 80 seconds.  While she doesn't get unlimited charges like Atlanta and Flint, she does get the American cruiser bonus of an additional charge.  This gives her 4 charges total instead of 3 other cruisers have.  But most importantly, San Diego's consumable increases her sustained AA DPS by 100% instead of the nominal 50%.  Her flak damage is unchanged at +300%.
  • Finally, she has access to a weird Main Battery Reload Booster.  It increases her rate of fire by 33.3% for 15 seconds, dropping her reload from 5.5 seconds to 3.67 seconds.  She comes with two charges and this has a 180 second reset timer.


Sadly, there are no AA upgrades worth taking.


  • Start with Main Armaments Modification 1 in the first slot.
  • Then move on to Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1 which will cost you 17,000Y35gE6B.png  in the Armory.  if you cannot afford that, then default to Engine Room Protection.
  • Aiming System Modification 1 is the best choice in the third slot with no competitors.
  • You have a gameplay choice in her fourth slot:
  • Propulsion Modification 1 is the best choice.  Islands will keep you safe and using the extra acceleration to make the best use of them is the smart-play.
  • If you prefer to live dangerously then you can go for Steering Gears Modification 1.
  • Concealment Modification 1 is your best choice in slot five.  Though, you can try and double-down on open-water kiting by taking Steering Gears Modification 2. Just be advised that you lose your ability to ambush aircraft.

Commander Skills

San Diego isn't starved for commander skill points like similarly armed American light cruisers.  Her lack of HE shells frees her up from the obvious Inertial Fuse for HE Shells and Demolition Expert points sinks.  Thus, you can build her for a full AA spec if you wanted to without much of a depreciation in efficiency when engaging conventional surface targets.

  • Start with Last Stand.  San Diego's rudder and engines break even from near misses from HE shells.
  • Next, you have your choice between Priority Target (my favourite pick here), Consumable Enhancements or you can get the jump on your AA build with Focus Fire Training.
  • Heavy HE and SAP Shells is the best choice at tier 3. 
  • Finish off with Concealment Expert.

If you didn't take Priority Target at tier 2, you're going to want to pick it up or Incoming Fire Alert at tier 1 ASAP.  From here, you can spend your remaining 10/11 points how you wish.  I would grab Superintendent as a priority given her reliance on consumables (though admittedly, it's uncommon for you to have a match where you'll exhaust even one of them).  If you're looking to maximize her AA build then AA Defense and ASW Expert should perhaps come before that.  Afterwards you can double back to some of the tier 2 skills listed before or grab from the following:  Consumables Specialist (1pt), Survivability Expert (3pts), Adrenaline Rush (3pts) or Radio Location (4pts).

Here's the build I settled on for my test games:




San Diego is presently sold with only her default camouflage.  However, when she was initially released, there was also a promotional 1776 camouflage available in some bundles.

The 1776 Camouflage was available in bundles when San Diego was first sold.  This was a cosmetic swap and did not provide any additional economic bonuses.

384L9mE.jpg  mK6FWcM.jpg
Her default "San Diego" camouflage can be palette swapped from white & black to grey and purply-blue upon completion of part of the American Cruisers Collection.

Main Battery:  Sixteen 127mm/38 guns in an A-B-C / P-Q / X-Y-Z layout.  A-B-C turrets superfire forwards.  X-Y-Z superfire to the rear.  P and Q are wing turrets, able to cover only one side.
Torpedoes:  Eight tubes in 2x4 launchers in wing mounts just ahead of P and Q turret on their respective sides.


Mad Mouse

I hate San Diego's guns.

I say this as someone who loves American 127mm/38s.  I have over 500 Random Battle games in Atlanta between various accounts and plenty more in various other game modes..  I love Atlanta's guns.  I was really hoping that with San Diego at tier VIII, we'd finally get to play an Atlanta-class with their historic, blistering rate of fire instead of the throttled one necessary to keep Atlanta in check at tier VII.  But sadly, San Diego doesn't inherit Atlanta's guns.  They pay only lip service to the Atlanta-class in general and frankly, her guns do not have the same fun feel of the lead-ship.  This was done to make room for the various gimmicks necessary to make San Diego behave more like Austin, the tier X ship whose game-design she borrows.

This doesn't mean that San Diego's guns aren't effective.  They are.  That, by their very definition precludes them from being Atlanta-class guns, as American 127mm/38s, with their wonky ballistics and poor penetration, are temperamental (at best!) at this tier.  But they're not Atlanta-class weapons. This is arguably a feature instead of a flaw so long as you dismiss or are disdainful of history exerting even a minor bit of influence over game play. 

fKfM1ar.jpg  enir3a2.jpg
This is 180 AP shells fired at a stationary Fuso bot at a range of 13km.  Normally I do 15km but neither ship can reach that far.  Shells are coming in from right to left (the Fuso is bow-tanking).  Both San Diego (left) and Atlanta (right) were using Aiming Systems Modification 1.  San Diego uses cruiser horizontal dispersion (range x 6.9 +33m) and 2.05 sigma instead of destroyer horizontal dispersion (range x 7.5 +15m) and 1.7 sigma like Atlanta and Flint.  Destroyer dispersion is much tighter at the engagement distances these cruisers fight, so despite San Diego's improved sigma, she's not as accurate as her sister ships.  The flatter trajectory and shorter flight time on San Diego's shells helps with aiming, but her accuracy is ever-so slightly more influenced by RNG.  The rounder shape of Atlanta's dispersion pattern comes, in part, from the steeper angle at which the shells are falling.

San Diego's ballistics have been conjured from the realm of make-believe.  Gone are Atlanta's infamous (and downright hilarious) rainbow arcs.  Instead, San Diego's shells have a ballistic quality that sits almost perfectly between Cleveland's 152mm rounds and the 203mm rounds of Baltimore.  Seriously, these 127mm guns have better ballistics than a 152mm gun.  This was made possible by throwing out any pretense of consistency with previous 127mm/38 weapons.  Wargaming artificially boosted the mass of San Diego's shells by around 10% while also their air resistance down by nearly half.  These shells are thus heavier than they should be and less affected by drag, allowing them to preserve speed over distance. For those familiar with Royal Navy 152mm ballistics on their light cruisers, they behave almost identically up to 11km with around a 0.3 second flight time difference to San Diego's maximum reach of 14.8km.  This poor maximum reach is one of San Diego's drawbacks making her very dependent upon concealment and hard cover to permit her to engage her targets.  This is nothing new for American cruisers, however.

I wasn't kidding.  San Diego's ballistics slot in right between American 152mm and 203mm shells.  They fly as if they were some imaginary 180mm round.

Their second deviation from the expected Atlanta-class norm comes in the form of their rate of fire.  For 127mm/38 guns, especially high-tier 127mm/38s, San Diego's reload is slow.  This can be temporarily amended with the use of her Main Battery Reload Booster consumable, though even this results in a slower rate of fire than 127mm/38 armed destroyers and only SLIGHTLY better than Atlanta's own rate of fire. 

Now, this is to be expected with San Diego's access to SAP ammunition.  You need only look at Italian ships to see that both their cruisers and battleships with SAP shells fire more slowly than those who sling HE.  But as we'll see, San Diego's SAP is weird.

These are approximate shell counts over 60 seconds worth of firing.  San Diego has better short-term burst than Atlanta but loses out over long-term sustained fire.  However, only Flint is truly capable of holding down the trigger reliably for prolonged periods of time thanks to her Smoke Generator. 

One Ammunition to Rule Them All

San Diego is a SAP delivery system.  Her SAP sucks butts, though, at least relative to what you might normally expect from SAP ammunition.

In World of Warships, SAP follows the following behaviours, generally speaking:

  • SAP deals higher damage relative to other shell types of comparable calibre
  • SAP has much higher penetration than HE. (HE usually has penetration equivalent to 1/6th or 1/4 of its shell diameter while SAP is slightly higher than 1/4 shell diameter plus a little extra)1

This comes with five trade-offs:

  • Guns that shoot SAP usually have a longer reload than guns that do not fire SAP.  This leads to lower DPM even once you account for the bonus damage SAP does.
  • SAP shells have a chance of ricocheting, but this is only at extreme angles.
  • SAP shells have no blast radius and thus cannot damage internal modules at all and can only damage an external module if they strike it directly.
  • SAP shells cannot start fires.

This all said, having access to SAP is an advantage.  The high penetration of SAP rounds and front-loaded damage outweighs the numerous drawbacks.  It allows ships to engage a greater range of targets effectively while simultaneously giving the ship a more potent alpha-strike. So you hit harder and you can hurt more ships directly than you could with HE.  Dealing a lot of damage early on in an engagement is usually enough to decide encounters on the short term.  Players tend to get a little squirrelly when a huge chunk of their health goes missing in a single volley.  So what's the issue with San Diego's version of SAP?

San Diego doesn't deal increased damage with her SAP.  At a maximum of 1,800 damage per hit, her SAP shells have the same alpha strike as other 127mm/38 HE rounds all while maintaining most the same list of flaws normally afflicting SAP, but not all.  If increased penetration over 127mm/38 HE shells were the only compensation, San Diego would be a very hard sell over Flint and Atlanta. However, Wargaming made some concessions.

  1. As we already discussed, San Diego was given (much) improved ballistics with her guns.
  2. She has a faster rate of fire than we might otherwise expect for a SAP armed weapon.  Yes, San Diego is slow firing for an Atlanta-class, but for a SAP firing ship, she shoots more quickly than we would expect.  She trades alpha strike from singular broadsides to a sustained burst between her quicker reload and access to her Main Battery Reload Booster.

San Diego's SAP ammunition makes her preferred prey different from Atlanta's.  Atlanta is a destroyer-hunter.  Atlanta works best scattering the roaches at suicidal close-ranges.  Atlanta's Surveillance Radar digs out soft ships hiding in smoke and her HE shells and high DPM go to work at shredding them inside of 10km.  San Diego isn't anywhere near as effective in this role.   She lacks the bug-spray consumable, for one.. Her extra penetration also goes to waste against such targets.  Her SAP's inability to break engines or lighting them on fire also makes it much easier for lolibotes to escape. Similarly, the ricochet chance of her shells can make finishing off fleeing targets frustrating. So destroyer-hunting really isn't San Diego's best fit.  She can do it, but she's not specialized for it.  What San Diego can do is front-load her damage onto bigger ships like there's no tomorrow.

Harassing cruisers and battleships is San Diego's bread and butter.  If she does catch out a destroyer, she can spank it, but she risks over-exposing herself to do it.  She has to clear cover to bring those weapons to bear and that makes her a juicy target for return fire.  Once a DD turns tail, the chances of finishing it off gets much more difficult, so why risk engaging them in the first place?  Instead, it's best for San Diego to set up shop behind an island and hose down targets of opportunity.  Punch cruisers  in the nose that tries to peak out from behind an island. If a battleship tries to push, hose them down with SAP until he turns around (he will).  Harass.  Displace.  Harass again.  That's what San Diego's guns are good for.  Unlike fire-reliant ships, San Diego's SAP is harder for battleships and high-tiered cruisers to heal through, so that's an added plus.

SAP is San Diego's mainstay.  She paid a dear price to have access to it, so you had better use it.

San Diego's torpedoes have good stats everywhere except their range.  You're only going to use them if someone (either you or your opponent) screws up.

AP Shells & Torpedoes

Any time you can use San Diego's AP shells or torpedoes effectively will be memorable.

Her torpedoes are largely a weapon of desperation.  Their 4.5km range means that they only get used when someone screws up (who that is depends on who dies in the following moments).  By and large, you can forget San Diego has them.  Those rare opportunities where they become relevant are always funny, though.

San Diego's AP rounds are a trap.  Yes, they have improved ballistics.  Yes, their penetration is much better than comparable AP shells fired from other 127mm/38 guns.  Yes, they do more damage than San Diego's SAP shells.  However, they do not have "good" penetration overall for an AP shell.  They also lack any form of improved auto-ricochet mechanics.  It's best to imagine San Diego's AP as being comparable to the AP shells off a Cleveland-class.  San Diego has better ballistics but worse penetration.  The short fuse timers on San Diego's shells makes them better (but not yet ideal) for hammering softer sections of larger ships, like upper hulls and particularly bulky superstructures.  However, this same short fuse timer makes them struggle to land citadel hits against ships whose machine spaces and magazines don't abut against the hull's exterior.  Anytime your shells ricochet or overpenetrate, that's lost damage compared to having spammed SAP at those areas instead.

If an enemy big ship like a cruiser or battleship is offering a flat broadside and has a lot of squishy places for her AP to bite in? You can try your luck in padding a bit of extra damage with AP..  The same goes for close in brawls; just be aware you don't have the improved auto-ricochet angles that your SAP rounds do.  Novice players will find San Diego's AP frustrating.  Experienced players can use it to nudge their average numbers up in the correct situation, such as punching into bunkers in operations.  And like San Diego's torpedoes, those moments when AP clinches an engagement will always be amusing.

The improved ballistics of her shells gives her AP a bit more bite, but not enough to make them particularly competitive.  If you wouldn't fire AP from Cleveland at a given target, then it's best to hold off on doing the same with San Diego's AP.



San Diego is a cruiser-killer.  Her high penetration SAP is relatively reliable at medium ranges and she can stack damage quickly, at least until saturation begins to throttle her damage.  She is less than ideal in a destroyer-hunting role and her efficacy against battleships is mixed.  She does well against battleships with softer skins like the British, French and some American vessels, but has a harder time against Soviet, Italian and German ones.  Her game play focuses around the proper use of island cover, setting up supporting fire and displacing to either follow the flow of battle or to avoid reprisals.

Opportunities to use anything other than SAP will come up on occasion.  However, you can go a full game (or three) without needing to reach for AP or torpedoes.

San Diego's gun handling is excellent, traversing at 25º/s.  She doesn't quite clone Atlanta's firing arcs.  The two ships differ slightly towards the rear with one of the forward turrets on Atlanta not quite managing to reach as far over the shoulder as the other two.  While I would have loved to have seen 300º coverage on everything but her wing turrets, it's not that much of a loss given San Diego's easily overmatched armour.  Everything thrown at you hurts, so a couple of degrees off auto-ricochet angles isn't going to ruin your day.  Overall, her fire arcs are fairly comfy and it's easy to bring most of her guns to bear with just a light touch of her rudder if needs be.

VERDICT:  Generally effective. Situationally, San Diego's guns are incredibly strong but only in her area of expertise.  Pick on larger ships.  Help out on destroyers and subs when you can, but that's not your main job.

Hit Points: 27,900
Bow & stern / superstructure / upper-hull / amidships-deck:  16mm / 13mm / 16mm / 16mm
Maximum Citadel Protection: 89mm belt
Torpedo Damage Reduction:  None

San Diego shares the soft armour profile of a "very light cruiser", like the British light cruiser tech tree.  This gives her 16mm extremities instead of the usual 25mm.  This makes her more vulnerable to all kinds of damage, most notably destroyer calibre HE and small calibre rockets.  Everything thrown at San Diego hurts.  Furthermore, her 'stepped' citadel ends up being an inconvenient shell trap, 'catching' AP shells that blast down the easily-overmatched length of the ship.  San Diego has a habit of popping very suddenly when she comes under the attention of battleship calibre guns.

The best thing that could be said about San Diego's durability is that she has access to a Repair Party consumable.  Other than that, her durability is a total disaster.

She has "very light cruiser" structural plate; a mere 16mm on her bow, stern, decks and upper hull, capable of being overmatched by any AP or SAP shell that's 229mm or greater in size.  This same, thin armour plate allows even the French 100mm HE Shells off battleship secondaries to damage her directly.  Her citadel protection is thin, but not so thin that it cannot arm any size of battleship shell presently in the game. The ship is also fat enough that, unlike Smolensk, there's enough girth amidships to allow most (but not all) battleship shells time to explode after being fused. And worse, the 'stepped' geometry of the citadel creates convenient shell traps if the hits slam down the length of the ship.  If all of that wasn't bad enough, San Diego has less than 30,000 hit points -- the second lowest base total at her tier at the time this article was written.  Oh, and she has no anti-torpedo protection either, not that this is uncommon for cruisers.

So yeah, San Diego's a total glass cannon.  As I said earlier, her only redeemable feature is her Repair Party consumable.  Even that's not really remarkable. The best thing about it is that it treats all penetration damage equally, queuing up 50% of all penetration damage taken even if it's a citadel hit.  But San Diego's heals are not the chunktacular portable-drydock version that the British Royal Navy has access to.  More shame that.  This isn't a ship where you want to trade body blows.  Your Repair Party will barely keep you in a fight through incidental, unavoidable damage.  Maybe.

This fragility dictates San Diego's play style.  Either bring a friend and borrow their smoke screens or camp islands like your life depends upon it.  Because it does. 

With FORTY cruisers at tier VIII, graphical comparisons of EVERYTHING are just a silly, cluttered mess at this point.

This is (mostly) the same info, showing the highest and lowest health along with the average and mean for both the base hit point totals and the theoretical maximum (minus unique commanders).  San Diego has the second lowest base health at her tier, though thanks to her access to heals, she sits in the upper half for overall health.

VERDICT:  Yikes.  Don't get shot.

Top Speed: 32.5 knots
Turning Radius: 610 meters
Rudder Shift Time: 7.3 seconds
4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 6.6º/s at 26kts
Main Battery Traverse Rate: 25º/s

San Diego isn't a fast ship.  Her 32.5 knot top speed is downright pedestrian and she struggles to control engagement distance ranges because of it.  At tier VIII, she increasingly needs to contend with fast battleships and faster cruisers.  Keeping a wary eye on the flow of battle is a must or she can find herself exposed.

San Diego has one of the tightest turning circle radius of any of the tier VIII cruisers, best only by Tiger '59 presently.  The Atlanta-class are quite agile at tier VII and carrying that over to a tier VIII ship, where turning circle radius begin to balloon up to ridiculous levels just exaggerates this disparity further.  She doesn't quite feel destroyer levels of agile, though.  Her rudder shift time is solid for a cruiser, but not destroyer quick, so there's a been of clumsiness to her handling still.  You can correct this by taking Steering Gears Modification 1, if you wish, but I find myself prefering Propulsion System Modification 1 given how dependant San Diego is at peeking out behind islands.  Your own mileage may vary.  Still, pair this with her excellent gun handling and it's very easy to get San Diego pointed to where she needs to.

Overall?  Good marks here but not the best.  San Diego would need some type of manoeuvrability gimmick to be truly remarkable in this category.  An Engine Boost consumable might have done it, or perhaps some of the zany acceleration or energy retention some of the British light cruisers enjoy when at full engine power.  Heck, even having a top speed in excess of 35 knots would do. She lacks any of this, so she simply remains a light cruiser with a tight rate of turn but held back by a modest top speed.

Most American cruisers have a similar top speed, with only 1 knot of variance between the slowest and fastest ships at tier VIII. Thus as their turning radius increases, their rate of turn goes down steadily.  San Diego handles so well because she has the same top speed as Cleveland and Baltimore but enjoys a tiny turning radius by comparison.  If Cleveland's turning radius seems a bit out of place, it's not just you.  Both Cleveland and Montpelier bleed too much speed in a turn, behaving like a battleship in this regard instead of a cruiser.  Cleveland should be coming about at 6.1º/s, slightly better than Wichita which owes its great handling to its higher top speed relative to most of its peers.

VERDICT:  Good turning radius and that's about it.  It'll do.

Anti-Aircraft Defence
Flak Bursts: 6 + 1 explosions for 1,540 damage per blast at 3.5km to 5.8km.
Long Ranged (up to 5.8 km):  168 dps at 90% accuracy (151.2 dps)
Medium Ranged (up to 3.5 km): 91 dps at 90% accuracy (81.9 dps)
Short Ranged (up to 2 km): 115.5 dps at 85% accuracy (98.2 dps)

AA DPS by Aura
Total AA DPS

San Diego illustrates a lot of the present problems with the current AA system in World of Warships.  San Diego's AA defences are duct-taped together by her Defensive AA Fire consumable.  Without it, her AA is pretty terrible. 

The primary issue comes down to the present AA system being overly reliant upon flak.  If flak were indeed a reliable threat to enemy CV predation, then San Diego's AA firepower would be excellent. While it may work well in PVE modes, dealing flak damage in PVP is the exception, remarkable for when it occurs (and about as hilarious as a Devastating Strike against a ship).  And because Wargaming over-values flak, the rest of San Diego's damage output suffers.

It's not that San Diego's AA is incapable of being good.  It's more of an issue on what being "good" actually means in the context of AA firepower within the game's present meta.  "Good" means you do a lot of damage to incoming squadrons.  It does not mean that it will prevent your ship from taking damage or significantly mitigate the damage done by individual attack runs.  While an enemy CV may think twice about entering San Diego's protected airspace for fear of sustained casualties, if necessary, many carriers (especially the higher tiered carriers) are still capable of bloodying this soft-skinned ship.

With this said, lower tiered carriers should fear testing San Diego's AA defences for fear that she may have Defensive AA Fire at the ready.

San Diego's Strengths

There are three redeeming elements to San Diego's AA firepower.

  1. San Diego's sustained AA DPS is front-loaded into her dual-purpose main battery guns.  Her 127mm/38 guns generate nearly 46% of San Diego's total sustained AA DPS output.  Thus, she does more damage sooner to incoming aircraft.  Secondly, it also makes her more effective at lending support to nearby allied ships.  San Diego's support is worth more than other vessels grace of this long-range damage.  Finally, her large calibre AA mounts are more durable than dual-purpose guns mounted as secondaries.  San Diego's large calibre AA guns have 2,000hp base instead of the more typical 1,200hp found on secondaries.
  2. San Diego is less "skill point hungry" than other ships, facilitating the inclusion of AA boosting skills.  As discussed earlier in the commander skill section, the lack of HE makes it easier to afford experimenting with San Diego's commander skill build.  This makes it easier to afford these skills without compromising her anti-surface warfare abilities significantly.
  3. San Diego has an improved version of the Defensive AA Fire consumable.  She receives a 100% buff to sustained AA DPS instead of just 50% like other cruisers.  In addition, the reset timer of her consumable is a mere 60 seconds instead of the normal 80.

It's point #3 that salvages everything.  But let's go over point #2. 

With Defensive AA Fire active but no other buffs, San Diego puts out comparable damage to Cleveland, Mainz or Baltimore.  Unlike these other ships, however, San Diego is more likely to have a host of the AA skill improvements (if not all of them) that buff this value further.  This only applies if San Diego has a commander with a skill build dedicated to this ship, however.  There are few other cruisers (premium or otherwise) that would work well with that build.  Thus it's hard to say how often carriers will encounter dedicated AA specialized San Diegos.  I ran one during testing, but I recognize that this may be the exception rather than the rule.  Still, the potential is there.

Actual video footage of San Diego vs Enterprise in World of Warships.  Sandy's doing something.  We're just not sure if the tier VIII carrier will actually notice...

VERDICT:  Unremarkable (and even disappointing) when stock.  Fully upgraded and with Defensive AA Fire active, she's a credible threat to incoming squadrons.  This will make her a no-fly zone to some carriers but it will not guarantee immunity from air attack.

Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 11.43 km / 9.26 km
Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 7.16 km / 5.8 km
Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 5.13km
Maximum Firing Range:  14.82km

Being a Sneaky Butt

San Diego is a stealthy momo.  There's just a handful of numbers you need to keep in mind.  When it comes to surface detection, she is:

  • The 6th stealthiest cruiser at her tier out of 40 ships.
  • She ranks 12th out of 97 cruisers when she's top tier (facing tiers VI, VII and VIII)
  • She ranks 8th out of 99 cruisers when she's middle tier  (facing tiers VII, VIII and IX)
  • She ranks 9th out of 93 cruisers when she's bottom tier (facing tiers VIII, IX and X)
  • Out of all of the cruisers presently in her matchmaking, she ranks 15th out of 140 cruisers, which is pretty damn good.

Some of these ships that are more stealthy than San Diego are much more stealthy, exceeding her best surface detection by more than 300m and as much as nearly 1km.  This is enough time for a given player to react to spotting her (though not necessarily enough to prevent being mutually detected).  This said, it's rare for San Diego to be among the screening surface vessels.  She doesn't have the speed, never mind the durability, to be in the van.  The only time she's detecting things with her face are (a) when you're being dumb and (b) when the game is almost over.  Still, it's a nice trait to have and it facilitates disengaging when things invariably go pear shaped.

More importantly, San Diego's aerial detection matches the reach of long range AA batteries. Provided she has not yet given away her position by being tripped over by an enterprising lolibote or submarine, it's entirely possible for San Diego to stage an initial interception of enemy aircraft.  If you've specialized for AA, this kind of ambush is all kinds of rewarding, especially if the poor aircraft were coming more-or-less right for you as opposed to at an angle.  They might not be able to turn away in time to avoid a mauling.

Atlanta & Flint, She is Not

As good as ambushing aircraft from concealment and not being visible from space might be, San Diego doesn't live up to her pedigree.  Yes, she has access to Hydroacoustic Search on it's own dedicated slot, and that's nice, but that's it. That's all she gets for additional vision control consumables.  She doesn't have access to Atlanta's Surveillance Radar.  She doesn't get Flint's Smoke Generator (and a sexy American Smoke Generator at that!). The only thing more fun than ambushing aircraft  is ambushing aircraft in the guise of an angry smoke cloud. And this, to me, is probably the most disappointing aspect about San Diego:  because of the lack of these radar or smoke, her game play is largely relegated to that of the rest of the American tech tree cruisers:  Hump islands, bombard ships that get too close.  But even here, she ends up losing out because she can't set those sweet, sweet fires.  Boo-urns.

Lemme be clear, San Diego doesn't need these consumables to be balanced.  She just offers less utility because of their lack.  So because of this lack, she gets a mediocre rating here.  She doesn't bring anything compelling to the table.

VERDICT:  Good surface and aerial stealth ratings, but lacklustre otherwise. 

Anti-Submarine Warfare

ASW Armament Type:  Airstrike from 0.5km to 7km (plus part of the bomb drop column)
Number of Salvos:  Two
Reload Time:  30 seconds

Aircraft:  One PBY Catalina with 2,000hp
Drop Pattern: 2 bombs
Maximum Bomb Damage:  4,200
Fire Chance: 24%
Bomb Blast Radius: 300m

Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) has changed a lot over this year.  San Diego went from dropping three bombs at 1,600 damage and 12% fire chance each to a pair of 4,200 damage bombs with a 24% fire chance.  Not only that, but her reload dropped from 45 seconds to 30 seconds.  She covers a smaller overall area with her bomb drops now, but her hits are much (much!) meatier.  Since the changes were made, I haven't run into any submarines so I can't comment with anecdotes about how much better or worse things are since.  I wasn't especially impressed with my ASW experiences in San Diego back when she was first released.

This said, in theory the combination of air-dropped ASW ordnance and access to Hydroacoustic Search makes San Diego a good cruiser to be in when you don't want to be picked on by submarines.  This doesn't make her a good sub-chaser, though.  She hasn't the range or the speed to do this well.  Theoretically, if you catch a sub on the surface, with Main Battery Reload Booster going, you could get a salvo or two into them before they dive deep enough not to worry about further damage.  However, AP and SAP are poor anti-submarine munitions, doing less damage than HE.  So I wouldn't count San Diego's guns as a particular strength when engaging submarines; just about any other cruiser will be comparable in such an ideal scenario. 

VERDICT:  Big buckets of pretty-terrible barring her hydro and not a cruiser I'd want to hunt subs in. 

Final Evaluation

World of Disappointment

USS Atlanta sold me on World of Warships as a game I had to play.  Watching PhlyDaily and BaronVonGamez derp about in Atlanta on YouTube during Closed Beta got me SO HYPED to play World of Warships.  I bought her immediately, loved her to death and she ended up being the second ship I wrote a review for back in July of 2015.  After Warspite, I've played her more than any other ship.  I love Atlanta.  I love her game play.

Fast forward a few years, I'm neck deep in the Community Contributor program and I'm in daily communication with employees from the WGNA office through the wiki staff.  Part of our semi-regular chats at the time involved which ships should be added to the game.  San Diego comes up often in these talks.  A tier VIII version of Atlanta just seems like an obvious move, especially in light of Wargaming's recent crossover with the Azur Lane franchise where San Diego is one of the most popular characters.  Lert publishes a proposal based on these discussions and several formal proposals are put forth to Wargaming when asked.  So you cannot imagine my excitement when I heard that San Diego was finally coming to the game in early 2022.

To say that what has come to World of Warships is a disappointment for me is an understatement.  I must preface this by saying that I don't think San Diego is underpowered or a bad ship.  My point of contention was how little Wargaming valued the historical performance of the ship when it came to her design in game.

While there is a lot of abstraction of when it comes to the systems and mechanics in World of Warships, savvy players could (and did!) figure out how a given ship's historical parameters would usually translate in game.  Armour profiles, Hit points, main battery firepower, torpedoes performance, anti-aircraft efficiency and speed could all be predicted with reasonable levels of accuracy.  This became even more accurate if a new vessel was a sister-ship or a vessel derived from an existing design already in game, further making new additions predictable.  And make no mistake, for those invested in the game, this was exciting!  It was easy to fall in love with what could-be. If you look back to threads in 2015, 2016 and 2017, there are tons of wish-list vessels people suggested, many of which are now in the game. The wiggle-room that Wargaming still had to play with factors like range, reload times, turning radii, consumables and concealment still allowed ships to be surprising and entirely their own beast.  But still, there was this core set of parameters that were largely predictable.

Now, there have always been the odd deviation.  These stood out as notable precisely because a given addition strayed so obviously from the norm.  Most of these were pretty tame at first. One of the earliest example of this is Murmansk, who (for whatever reason) has artificially boosted AP shell penetration despite using the same guns and the same ammunition as Omaha, the Marblehead-clones and Phoenix.  Graf Spee's AP shells were artificially buffed, Cleveland and AL Montpelier don't turn properly, Etc. But we'd begin to see more extreme examples over time.  Champagne and Florida have odd guns and odd armour.  Wargaming entirely threw out the consistency in their AA system when they reworked CVs with AA defence now being "whatever they feel like" on a per-ship basis without discernible pattern.

San Diego is one of these oddities.  For those looking for more variation in the game, this is a good thing.  There's no arguing that San Diego does not behave at all like Atlanta or Flint or Chumphon or Sejong.  She most closely resembles Austin in design, but even these two ships behave completely different in practice.  So from a variety for variety's sake standpoint, San Diego's design works and works well.  She is her own beast.  And they did this by taking an Atlanta-class hull and making it play like a 152mm armed Italian cruiser.

What boggles my mind is that there's still room for a tier VIII Atlanta-class cruiser in World of Warships; namely a glass cannon with 3 to 4 second reload, slinging the usual AP and HE without the need to make San Diego so weird.

Mouse, Nobody Cares...

I know, I know...

San Diego may not be the ship I want, but that doesn't mean it's not a decent vessel.  She lacks the utility of Flint and Atlanta, however, which largely relegates her to the role of fire support and anti-aircraft interdiction.  It's only this latter role that holds any interest for me.  I loved playing an AA escort back in the day and San Diego does allow for this.  She's not a no-fly zone, let's be clear, but she does make venturing into her AA bubble extremely costly; prohibitively so for tier VI carriers when her Defensive AA Fire consumable is available.  Outside of game-deciding plays, most CVs would be wise to stay clear. 

in terms of her gunnery?  I'm not impressed.  I don't find San Diego's gunnery particularly interesting.  As terrible as Atlanta's rainbow arcs are, at least they're at least memorable.  And it's kind of rewarding to lob spitwads onto the decks of a battleship from two islands away.  With San Diego's ballistics sitting between Cleveland's and Baltimore's, I'm inclined to compare them directly.  I would rather have Cleveland's firepower to San Diego's, even if this does force me down the route of needing to spend more commander skill points to prop up her HE.  Cleveland can engage a broader range of targets more successfully than San Diego can.  SAP should give San Diego the edge, but San Diego's SAP is pretty crappy.  There's no wow factor there with increased alpha or stupendous levels of penetration.  Any tier VIII, 152mm armed cruiser with the Inertial Fuse for HE Shells commander skill has 37mm of penetration to San Diego's 36mm.  And they can still start fires.  And they probably have more range with similar ballistics.

So yeah.  San Diego's gunnery isn't particular fun.  I guess the fourteen guns is pretty novel if you haven't played any of the other Atlanta-class derivatives before.

I would recommend players get Atlanta or Flint over San Diego.  Atlanta is just a fun ship, just not quite as unique as she was once upon a time.  But her low-tier Surveillance Radar shakes up PVP gameplay, especially in limited matchmaking environments like Ranked Battles.  Flint is easy to use with her Smoke Generator.  It lets you really enjoy pooping out those rainbow arcs.  Her workable torpedoes are a nice bonus.  These ships are just as competitive in PVE modes like Scenarios, with Flint being particularly good thanks to being able to avoid detection on demand with her smoke.  The only place where San Diego beats them there is that her increased AP penetration lets her bully bunkers from further away, which is admittedly quite nice.

So yeah, only grab San Diego if you want to see what decent AA could be like in World of Warships with a dedicated AA commander.  That's pretty fun.  But, with that said, this may be undermined or buffed in the near future with AA changes coming.  For now, I'd give her a pass and see which way the wind blows on any future AA changes.

And I was so looking forward to going full out on Sandy weebery for this review too.  I wanted you to be numba wan, Sandy, I really did, but I couldn't justify it.  Maybe they'll make an AL San Diego in the future.  I can't see them putting that much energy into rebalancing what could just be an easy reskin job, though.  Oh well.


  1. For cruisers, the SAP penetration formula appears to be { [ (Shell Diameter) * 0.24908 ] + 4.3766 }. This yields results slightly higher than the 1/4 shell diameter HE penetration found on German cruisers and way beyond the nominal 1/6th shell diameter penetration of most HE shells.



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  • LittleWhiteMouse changed the title to Premium Ship Review: San Diego (Repost)

Copied & re-posted from a topic about the San Diego rental event (August 2023)







The San Diego?  Yeah, I rented her.  🙂

Okay.  More seriously, here are some of my impressions.
I completed some in-game missions or clicked on some news article or whatever.  
In all the excitement, I lost track.  Anyway...

I played the San Diego, tonight for 5 games.
3 Co-op.  1 Random battle.  And the final game in Co-op.

As a Tier-8 Atlanta-ish USN Cruiser, the San Diego has some redeeming qualities, which are balanced by some trade-offs.

1.  Her main-gun reload boost consumable is welcome.  I was able to score lots of hits quickly with it, when I was in favorable positions (relative to red-team ships).
It wasn't difficult to exceed 100 or even 150 main-gun hits in a Co-op battle, in the right circumstances.
if you're doing a mission that requires main-gun hits, and you have nothing but a San Diego, you'll do okay.

2.  The SAP projectiles shred DD's nicely.

3.  Like the Atlanta, the San Diego's top-speed leaves a little bit to be desired. 
At Tier-8 I'd expect 35 knots instead of 32.5 knots.  But, that's just me?  Also I count the perceived lack of top-speed as one of her "balance" trade-offs.

4.  The AP projectiles, at close-range and into the broadsides of Cruisers, shred Cruisers nicely.
Also, they're useful if aiming at the secondary battery gun decks of Battleships.

5.  The trade-off of using SAP is the lack of fire-starting capability, as many of you are aware.

6.  There are no secondary-battery guns.  Every turret is a main-gun.  It's a design "feature", for good, bad or ugly.

7.  There are torpedoes!  Yay!
They have a lousy short range of 4.5 km?!?  Awww.  Dang-it.
The warheads aren't the most powerful, but they can finish-off wounded BB's and sink a number of Cruisers and DD's, if one can get into a favorable launching position.

8.  As a "something different" for the "player who has everything (else)", the San Diego is a fun ship in her own right, especially in Co-op. 
I only had one random battle with her, so that's not much to work with for evaluation purposes.
All the usual light-cruiser benefits and concerns would seem to apply, though, in randoms.

9.  Competitive concealment/detection circle.

10.  AA did shoot down some planes.
But since most of the planes were at the edge of her range for most of the time, I would want more time to evaluate the AA capability.   (Or, one could just trust LittleWhiteMouse's opinion, since she's spent more time with the San Diego).

11.  Cost.  In doubloons or cash, the San Diego is a Tier-8 ship and has a higher price-tag than the Atlanta.
     If you're not the "player who already has everything else" and has a lot of spare change, other ships compete more effectively on a "bang for yer buck" basis.
  If you have the resources to spare and want a ship for one of your Commanders who is without a 'Bote?  Then maybe consider the "more challenging career" that the San Diego can offer in terms of game-play.

12.  Did I have fun sailing the San Diego?  Yes, I did.  
Thank you for the rental experience.  It's nice to test-drive the premium ships that I'm curious about.
To be fair, I have fun in a lot of ships.  
But, the San Diego's turning circle and rudder shift and gun-turret rotation rates are enjoyable to work with when I'm wading-in among multiple red-team ships in an effort to "hit them with my sword".  🙂

Hope this helps everyone.  Thanks for reading.  🙂











Edited by Wolfswetpaws
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I played the San Diego in Concealed Maneuvers a month ago. All things considered, I think she's okay for a light cruiser. However, the one thing that I really like with the ship is her access to a Repair Party. 


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  • LittleWhiteMouse changed the title to Premium Ship Review: San Diego
  • 8 months later...

I was considering getting San Diego in the trade in. I no longer entertain such notions, thank you.

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