USS Kidd’s service in World War II effectively ended when a Japanese kamikaze plane struck it off Okinawa on April 11, 1945. Its days as a warship came to a close in 1964, and the destroyer has served as a military museum in Baton Rouge for the past 34 years.
In the world of online, multi-player gaming, though, the Kidd is about to fight again.
On Nov. 10, World of Warships will introduce the USS Kidd to its fleet of military ships. It’s creators believe if a Kidd veteran sees the gaming version, it will seem like the real thing.
“People play the game because it’s fun, but inasmuch as we can make it just as perfectly correct as we can without affecting the gameplay … we will do it, because why not?” said Nicholas Moran, director of military relations for Wargaming America, which makes World of Warships.
“We do have some players that don’t really care how accurate we are, but we have the entire polar opposite (attitude),” said Trevor Smith, who manages gameplay for World of Warships.
The gaming company wanted to add a World War II-era Fletcher-class destroyer, and the Kidd provides a unique opportunity to view exactly what that looks like. Only three other Fletcher-class ships remain as military museums; others were extensively altered during the Korean War. Although World War II equipment was removed from the Kidd, it did not receive any postwar structural changes.
“That’s why we were able to back-fit to World War II,” said Tim NesSmith, ship superintendent with the USS Kidd Veterans Museum. “We’ve had about 90 tons of equipment added to her since she arrived in Baton Rouge.”
In addition to its research of photographs and archival documents, World of Warships representatives visited the Baton Rouge museum in 2013 to film and observe the ship’s details. NesSmith was impressed with the how committed they were to the intricacies of how the ship worked and asked some questions that neither he nor the ship’s former curator could answer.
World of Warships was released two years ago and pits online teams against each other. World of Warships has 24 million players worldwide.
Players can choose from close to 200 free ships and can buy premium ships to help them progress through the game’s levels. The Kidd will be one of the premium ships. Unlike the free warships, which are generic, the Kidd will be identifiable with the number 661 near the bow and the pirate painting on the smokestack, as the ship appeared during the war. Smith said the USS Kidd will cost about $40 for players.
Having an authentic USS Kidd in the game could pay dividends for the museum, NesSmith said.
“Any sort of exposure like this is always helpful because … this particular environment, war-gaming exposes us to a generation that might not have found us otherwise,” he said. "The younger generations, World War II, a lot of times, is as remote as ancient Greece. This gets them in the mindset and gets them familiar with us, and then they find out, ‘Hey, this thing really exists.’ They could conceivably go, ‘Hey, I want to go see this.’ It’s great exposure.”