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    Head Moderator Kalinsre's Avatar
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    Azur Lane: The Ultimate Guide to CVs and Air Combat

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    This guide will detail how aircraft carriers(CVs and CVLs) work in this game. I will also talk about air combat in general.

    CV Functions
    [+] Spoiler

    Generally speaking, aircraft carriers have four functions:
    1. Dealing damage
    Self explanatory. CVs usually do damage with dive bombers and torpedo bombers.
    2. Intercepting enemy planes
    Fighters automatically launch to intercept enemy attack planes. More details later.
    3. Clearing bullets
    Every time you activate air strike you clear the existing bullets on the screen in PvE.
    4. Avoiding ambushes
    Map ambush and ambush escape chances are dependent on airpower and evasion. CV is the main provider of the former.


    CV Slots
    [+] Spoiler

    Because the game animation is rather fast it's actually possible that new players don't notice the differences in planes that get launched.
    The plane animation is NOT random. The specific plane models.numbers being shown correlate with CV slot configurations.

    Unlike other ship classes, individual CVs can be quite different. This comes from the fact that they carry planes that are different both in type and in quantity.

    1. Plane Slots Are NOT The Same
    [+] Spoiler

    As you may know, there are three types of carrier based planes in the game: fighters, dive bombers and torpedo bombers.
    A CV can carry any or all of these types in various combinations.

    Hiryuu is representative of most IJN carriers in that she has a fighter, dive bomber, torpedo bomber slot setup(FDT, abbreviations will be used in this guide from this point on).


    On the other hand, Saratoga is an example of a FDD setup, where the last two slots are both dive bombers. This means that she is incapable of using torpedo bombers.


    Similarly, fighter-specialized CVs like Illustrious have two fighter slots and one torpedo bomber slot (FFT).


    Lastly, CVs are not required to carry fighters. Ark Royal is known for carrying attack planes in all three of her slots. TTD and no fighters at all.

    CVLs often have fewer plane slots than CVs. So most of them cannot carry all three types of planes. A list of all CV/CVL setups is available in a later section.


    2. Plane Numbers Per Slot Are NOT the Same
    [+] Spoiler

    This part is a little tricky because the NUMBER of planes being carried per slot is not directly visible in the game's UI. As of now you have to deduce based on limit break data.

    Let us walk through an example. We will use Kaga here:

    The first thing to know is that every CV starts with ONE plane in every plane slot by default.
    Kaga has the fighter, dive, torpedo slot setup (FDT).
    She starts with ONE plane per slot.
    Therefore she is F1D1T1 when she has 0 limit breaks.


    Upon checking the description of the first limit break, we see "torpedo bomber number +1"(circled in red).
    This means that after the first limit break, Kaga will have 1+1=2 torpedo bombers in her torpedo bomber slot to launch.
    After this limit break, she will be F1D1T2.


    The second limit break description states "fighter number +1"(circled). As a side note, tt also states that the CV will be able to store up to 2 air strikes(the CV button will read 2/2). This is a common feature of the second limit break for all CVs.
    Back to plane numbers. This is analogous to the previous limit break except this time we are adding fighters.
    Kaga after second limit break will be F2D1T2


    Onto the last limit break. Circled text says "carrier plane number +1". This means that we are applying +1 to all plane slots this time.
    After this limit break, Kaga will gain a plane in all of her slots. Making her a F3D2T3.

    What does this all mean?
    It basically means that every time you press the CV button for Kaga, she will launch THREE fighters, TWO dive bombers and THREE torp bombers.

    To illustrate this point let us look at a screenshot.


    The box in red shows all planes in a single launch. As you can see that's three Reppuus(one of them is partially covered by the life bar), two SB2Cs and three Barracudas. These plane sprites match up exactly with the number of planes per slot we just calculated.


    3. List of CV Slot Configurations
    [+] Spoiler

    For convenience I'm attaching a table derived from limit break descriptions for easy lookup.
    (F = fighter slot, D = dive bomber slot, T = torpedo bomber slot. Numbers correspond with the numbers of planes in the slot. AA = AA gun slot.)

    Full Carriers(CVs):
    Lexington: F2 D3 D3
    Saratoga: F2 D3 D3
    Yorktown: F3 D3 T2
    Enterprise: F3 D3 T2
    Hornet: F3 D3 T2

    Ark Royal: T3 T3 D2
    Illustrious: F3 F3 T2
    Glorious: F3 T2 T2

    Akagi: F3 D2 T3
    Kaga: F3 D2 T3
    Hiryuu: F3 D2 T3
    Souryuu: F3 D3 T2
    Shoukaku: F2 D3 T3
    Zuikaku: F2 D3 T3

    Graf Zeppelin: F2 D3 D3


    Light Carriers(CVLs):
    Long Island: F3 D3 AA
    Bogue: F3 D3 AA
    Langley: F3 DD/F3 D2 (stock slot 2 is a DD gun slot. After the first limit break fighters can be equipped to the slot.)
    Ranger: T2 D3 D3

    Hermes: T3 T3 AA
    Unicorn: F3 T3 AA

    Shouhou: D3 T3 AA
    Houshou: CL F3 T3 (the first slot is a CL gun)

    Aviation Battleships(BBV)
    Yamashiro: S3 (Three seaplane bombers in the former-secondary gun slot)

    Comments:
    Some carriers have balanced slots while others are more specialized.

    For CVs:
    Illustrious is notable in that she is fighter specialized with 6 fighters in total. No other CVs in the game has this setup.
    Ark Royal is the other extreme. She carries 0 fighters, 6 torps and 2 dives. She is configured completely for damage output.
    US CVs tend to have more dive bomber focus. Most carry more dives than torps, and some(Lexington and Saratoga) carry no torps at all.
    JP CVs tend ot be more balanced with a torpedo bomber focus. Notable exception is Souryuu which actually has the opposite configuration as her sister with more dives than torps.
    Out of all the CVs that carry a normal number of fighters (aka not Illustrious), most carry 3. Graf Zeppelin, Shoukaku, Zuikaku, Lexington and Saratoga carry 2 instead. In practice for PvE purposes, these CVs have a slight edge in damage output compared to most others due to increased attack plane numbers. The current available game maps have a general lack of enemy planes(especially in mid to late maps). The -1 fighter is barely noticeable. So this is considered a worthwhile tradeoff by many.
    Glorious is currently the only CV in the game that carries fewer than 8 total planes. She also happens to have the worst overall stats.

    For CVLs:
    Most CVLs have two plane slots and an AA slot. They don't seem to have a compulsion of carrying fighters like most of the CVs so they can be more attack-focused than CVs are.
    Ranger has 3 plane slots and all of them are attack planes. This is analogous to Ark Royal's pure attack configuration among CVs.
    Hermes has a T3 T3 AA setup. In practice she is probably actually closer to Ark Royal than Ranger though.
    Shouhou also carries no fighters at D3 T3 AA.
    Langley(after first limit break) has a similar fighter-specialized setup as Illustrious with two fighter slots and one dive. Though the second slot is special in that it can be converted to a DD gun if you wish.
    Houshou can equip a CL gun. Actual usage is extremely limited as the ship has 0 firepower stats.

    Yamashiro is the only aviation battleship right now. She has a seaplane slot that carry 3 planes(she has a skill that gives extra in the first air strike of the battle, but the actual slot has a capacity of 3.)

    DISCLAIMER: Although slot number is important, slot efficiency also cannot be ignored. Carriers all have different growths after each limit break and the equipment slot efficiencies do change quite a lot. However, because these numbers are readily viewable in game, I am not going to list them here. Just be mindful of their importance when you equip your carriers.



    Air Combat
    [+] Spoiler

    Air combat has two important components: air strike and fighter interception.

    1. Air Strike
    This is the "CV" button. Once you press it, all your planes will launch(according to type and number of your slots).
    After you press it, planes will launch and the following events will happen in this order:

    a) Inherent CV Bombing
    b) Fighter Bombing
    c) Dive Bombing
    d) Torpedo Bombing
    e) Skill Bombing

    Let's go over this one by one.
    a) Inherent CV Bombing
    This took a lot of effort to be figured out. It turns out that CVs have default "bombs" independent of the planes they carry.
    Data right now are still inconclusive for the details, so I will not attempt to make claims for specifics.

    Bottom line, there are "invisible" planes that drop bombs alongside your "real" planes. In reality, the game still looks like a bunch of planes dropping a bunch of bombs. But if you recorded the game and went over it frame by frame you will notice that there are always more bombs being dropped than the number of bombs the planes carry (you can check how many bombs are carried per plane in plane stats).

    These extra bombs are apparently inherent to the CV as added bonuses to your air strikes. Testing suggest the following characteristics:
    - The damage they do correlate with either CV level or air power stat alone. It is not affected by the planes carried and other stats
    - The number of bombs being dropped correlates somewhat with limit breaks, but the specific numbers seem to vary depending on the CV and there is no hard and fast limit break to bomb number correlation.
    - So far, it is generally agreed that CVs can carry at least 6 inherent bombs. With limit breaks, the number can go up to 8. CVLs can carry at least 3 bombs at no limit breaks, and the number can go up to 6 with more limit breaks.
    - The mechanics of the inherent bombs are different from real bombs.
    Real bombs are dropped depending on the AI's perception of current enemy locations. The bombers will seek enemies in real time.
    Inherent CV bombs decide their bombing location the moment you press the CV button, prioritizing on character-enemies over generic ship-shaped enemies. They do not seek enemies in real time and are not distracted by them.
    For example, a real planes can be distracted by a fast moving suicide boat that came into the screen after they were launched. They can detect the boat and decide to chase it in real time, wasting all their bombs on it and ignoring more important enemies. Inherent CV bombs are not distracted in this manner and focus on enemies that were available at the time of pressing the CV button.

    These bombs probably won't make or break your CV performance and you most likely won't even notice them because they blend in with the real plane bombings. This is mostly just for your information.

    b) Fighter Bombing
    Some players don't know this, but if you check your fighter stats you can see that the vast majority of fighters carry bombs in addition to anti-air weaponry.

    They usually lead the air strike in the front and drop their bombs first.
    Fighter bombs are often not all that impressive and are few in number (usually 2). I can detail the bomb stats in a later update of the guide if there is a demand for it.

    c) Dive Bombing
    Self explanatory. Dive bombers are the major source of "real" bombs. As mentioned in the comparison in section a), dive bombers chase enemies in real time.
    Dive bombers carry different bombs in varying weights. The bombs dropped per plane correlate with these configurations.
    For example, if you have a CV with one dive bomber slot with a capacity of 3 (D3) equipped with a SB2C Helldiver

    The air strike will send out 3 of such planes, each carrying one 2000 lb bomb and two 500 lb bombs, which is 3x2000 lb and 6x500 lb for a total of 9 bombs.

    d) Torpedo Bombing
    Torps dropped are equal to the number of planes your CV sends out multiplied by the number of torps each plane carries(usually 3 per plane).

    Japanese torpedo bombers have the aiming attack pattern while torpedo bombers of other countires have the sweep attack pattern. These attack patterns are described in great detail in my equipment guide: http://himeuta.org/showthread.php?11...t-Basics-Guide

    e) Skill Bombing
    Some ships have special skills that lead to another round of bombs being dropped when the skills trigger. A typical example if the Doolittle Squadron skill of Hornet. This round of bombing comes last.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    2. Fighter Interception
    To be continued...


    Air Strike Cooldown
    To be continued...


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