Have been using this EBB for a while and I would have to say, putting QV aside, it is the best UK BB for GB in which I have had tremendous fun.
I'll begin with stats anlysis where a scale of 1-10 will be used (10 being the best). The comparison is against all UK BBs (BB6 EXCLUDED).
-- As an EBB4.5, you can't complain over the DP of 27800.
-- It doesn't have enough displacement to run as an AW, but enough for reaching speed cap with AA/PHH ability.
-- All I can say is AA is usable on this ship.
AIRCRAFT SPACE: 8.0/10
-- 4 T5 scouts. Nicely controlled, they can survive the GB.
TURNING FORCE: 6.0/10
-- Has a turning force of 19, about average of all UK BBs.
GUN RANGE: 9.0/10
-- Standard BB4 range; only outranged by UK BB5.
GUN RELOAD: 10/10
-- 17.92 seconds; fastest reload time in UK BB4/5 tiers.
GUN ANGLE: 10/10
-- 30 degrees; shortest shell-flying time.
SHELL DAMAGE: 9.5/10
-- Vanguard 1946 makes impressive damage because the shells for its own 15*2 guns are heavier than that for regular Vanguard. A full salvo to any non-AW BB is around 32K to 35K, therefore it can sink any BB5 with 2 full salvos (except AW LionII), and any BB with 3.
SHELL SPREAD: 8.0/10
-- Not as converged as UK 16*3/18*3 series but definitely usable.
-- Smallest hitbox in UK BB4/5 tiers.
-- One of the fastest UK BBs; can run 25/42 knts without compromising firepower, AA ability, OH or repair rate. See screenshot below. My Vanguard 1946 setup:
Engineers * 7; basic stats = 9-11/9-10/12; late-classed; fully vetted; lvl120.
Main Gunners * 2; basic stats = Elite Repairer; late-classed; fully vetted; lvl120.
Scout; basic stats = 11/11/11; on-time classed; 100 vets; lvl120.
BO; a new sailor being levelled up;
AA Gunners *2; new sailors being levelled up
---Advantages & Disadvantages---
The only disadvantage of this ship in GB, I would say, is its BB4 range. But one should really try to leverage its advantage as a UK ship: fast repair and long OH time, due to 1 extra support slot than other nations [CORRECTION: What I meant was Vanguard 1946 has same number of support slots as other nations' BB5s], and UK national bonus on repair. Actually, because of these, Vanguard 1946 has the potential to be the best (non-BB6) BB for GB, among all nations. This makes Vanguard 1946 a monster in late games when everyone else tends to run out of OH. As shown in screenshots below, I had made comebacks, in multiple games, as one of the last few standing BBs and sunk all enemy ships (including enemy BB6). Some say a blind BB is a dead BB; I say a BB out of OH is a dead BB, too.
Why Vanguard 1946 is a better ship to play in GB than LionII in my opinion:
-- I personally prefer Vanguard 1946 to LionII, which is why you guys hardly see me in my LionII on the sea any more. Honestly they are both good ships, and I am not saying that LionII will lose a 1v1 fight against Vanguard 1946 given the same sailors and same player skills. However, Vanguard 1946 has following advantages over LionII in GB:
1) Vanguard 1946 is faster (42 knts compared to 39 knts SW LionII), has smaller hitbox, which helps it get in and out of a fight more easily.
2) Shorter shell-flying time because of 30-degree gun, hence more controllable when both rusing and run-gunning
3) Significantly faster gun reload (17.92 sec compared to 19.50 sec). Chances are that you can fire 2 salvos with Vanguard 1946, but only 1 salvo with LionII.
4) LionII is more likely to draw attention from enemies. If a LionII and Vanguard 1946 are at your enemies' range at the same time, I bet most enemies, be them SS/CV/BB players, will choose to attack LionII first (which actually they should). All I'm saying is there will be less firing opportunities for LionII because it needs to dodge SS' torps and CV's bombers more often, which also consumes LionII's OH considerably. As a matter of fact, with the same crew I put on Vanguard 1946, my LionII can still make 250K+ games, but at a rate that is much, much lower than Vanguard 1946, mostly because I run out of OH more easily and so I can't chase the easy targets in late games (e.g. enemy CVs, etc).
Three effective ways for Vanguard 1946 to make damage in GB against BB4 tier and above:
1) Regular sling-shooting against BB4s.
2) Look for enemy scouts near you and make sure enemy is blind; or make sure your target BB is shooting at someone else. Slow down your ship as necessary and pull it parallel to your enemy to maximize hit rate. With 2 full salvos, 90% of BBs on the sea will be sunken. And the internal between 2 salvos is only 17.92*0.4 = 7.2 sec.
3) Rush in zigzag and use sling-shooting when your enemy is low on OH. This works really well on BB5/BB6 with 40+ degree guns. Be careful with BBs with 30-degree guns though... Try rushing with your teammates and SS in such case.
If you have got good sailors, go for this ship. It still takes some skills, but it's worth everything it costs.
--Went for south each game;
--No smoke used (but my teammate might have thrown a smoke for me occasionally);
--No ship tuning items used;
--230K+ damage - about 1 out of every 6 games
--200K+ damage - about 1 out of every 3 games
--Average damage per game is about 150K