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Forewords

For a long time I have been indulging myself in the luxury of aircraft proficiency and LBAS. The period between the implementation of the aforementioned mechanics and Fall 2016 Event saw few intense aerial battles where a change of plane or a change of slot can determine the air status.

Then, the storm of E-4 makes landfall and I'm thrown back to the old time, to the time when having Reppuu Kai on Kaga's biggest slot made the difference. Suddenly, I was back to the classic and, like many other admirals, found myself making meticulous tweaks to get that tiny extra bit of fighter power necessary for AS; something we haven't done since 2014.

Such was the background and motivation of writing this blog. I hope it can empower admirals out there with the knowledge to build their most optimal loadout and perhaps alternatives the next time the standard CV builds fall apart.


This blog in deck building

For further clarification and a sample of deck building, see User_blog:Fujihita/Complete_deck_building_guide_for_Spring_2016_E-2.

In the previous deck building blog for Spring 16 E-2, specifically "Ship Roles & Equipment Load-outs" section, I only showed the results and not the steps to build these loadout. This blog, therefore, will discuss in depth the equipment loadout creation: the choice of equipment, the positioning of equipment in a carrier and in a fleet.

It should be noted that unlike loadout building for normal ships, CV loadout building tends to take into account of the equipment on other ships as well. For example, from my Spring E-2 deck building guide, I had the following loadout:

Air team: CA + fast CVL

Nachi Kai Ni 99 RedGunMedium 20.3cm Twin Gun Mount
RedGunMedium 20.3cm Twin Gun Mount
Seaplane Type 98 Reconnaissance Seaplane (Night Recon)
GreenAmmo Type 3 Shell
Ryuujou Kai Ni 99 BluePlane Tenzan Model 12 (Murata Squadron)
GreenPlane Type 0 Fighter Model 53 (Iwamoto Squadron)
GreenPlane Reppuu (601 Air Group)
Ap c Skilled Carrier-based Aircraft Maintenance Personnel

HQ level: 107
Fighter Power: 93
eLoS: -31.88

The night recon on Nachi was taken into consideration when building RJ's loadout. Hence, Nachi was listed alongside RJ for "Air Team" role. In this case, she also plays the role of "Primary Boss Killer".


The Needs (and Roles)

This section presents a breakdown of what carriers do in a fleet.

1) Aerial status (Air team)
This is the most important reason to bring carriers in the first place. Aerial superiority does the following in the order of importance:
  1. Enables artillery spotting (improved by air supremacy)
  2. Prevents enemy artillery spotting
  3. Enables night scout
  4. Preserves allied fighters (improved by air supremacy)
  5. Weakens enemy preemptive airstrike (improved by air supremacy)
2) Surface shelling (Boss killer)
With the introduction of aircraft proficiency, carriers can inflict post-cap critical damage in daytime shelling, allowing them to compete with BBs in this phase of battle.
3) Preemptive airstrike (Escort killer)
There are two factors that make preemptive airstrike highly relevant:
  • A new trend has emerged in recent events; installations and event bosses are becoming increasingly vulnerable to preemptive airstrike.
  • Due to the nature of firing order and turn cancellation mechanism, the preemptive airstrike can serve as a defense against strong surface nodes pre-boss such as the notorious 4x Ru-class wall in Fall 2016 E4H.
4) Utility support (Wild card)
Carriers, especially those with 3-plane slots, are great choices for Saiun and FCF bearers as long as bringing these items doesn't hinder the goals above.
5) Anti-submarine attack (Escort killer / Wild card)
In heavy fleets, CVLs with a bomber can perform anti-submarine attacks. They are not very good at this task but they can still sink or damage Elite submarines and avoid a demoralizing D-rank defeat.


Plane Slots

Slot size
The size of a plane slot determines the effectiveness of its preemptive airstrike, fighter power and survivability against enemy AA defense.
In general, there are three sizes of plane slots
  • Big: > 24 planes
  • Medium: 18 to 24 planes
  • Small: < 18 planes
In AA-heavy maps, bombers in small slots tend to be wiped out, resulting in the CV's inability to shell. Medium plane slots can suffer complete wipe out at times but to a lesser extent. Tsu-class or Artillery Imps are notorious as they are capable of frequently emptying 20-plane slots if there are two or more of these abyssal presented.
A rule of thumbs is when sortieing to AA-heavy maps, have a bomber on one big slot or two medium slots and never on the small slots.
Slot count
Many plane proficiency mechanics, however, depend on slot count rather than slot size. In this blog, slot count refers to the number of slots of the type being discussed (see next section for more information on Types of Slot) on a given CV.


Types of Slot

The section below explains the elements of the two basic types of slots, highlights which of the above factors (slot size and slot count) affecting which elements and provides tips on how to take advantage of the knowledge.

Element Determined by
Damage (shelling) Slot count
Damage (airstrike) Slot size
Number of targets (airstrike) Slot count
Critical chance (shelling & airstrike) Slot count
Critical damage (shelling & airstrike) Slot count & position
Fighter power (base) Slot size
Fighter power (proficiency bonus) Slot count
Attack slots

Slots that contain a bomber, a secondary gun or SCAMP are known as "Attack slots".

Shelling
In shelling damage calculation, the size of the slot does not matter, only the number of attack slots does. All CVs (except for Hiryuu, full health Shoukaku and full health Zuikaku) require at least two attack slots to be effective against heavily armored targets aka hitting head-on firepower cap. This is the reason why sometimes it is better to have a fighter mule and a two-attack-slot striker who can one-shot a Ru-class flagship than two one-attack-slot strikers who can only scratch.
The position of the attack slot is also important in plane proficiency mechanics, specifically the top slot provides extra critical damage if a double chevron bomber is located there. Do take into consideration of slot size for Houshou (14) and Aquila (15) as their first slot can be wiped out easily.
Airstrike
The bigger the attack slot is, the stronger the airstrike from that slot will be. One slot will attack one ship in the airstrike so the more attack slots a CV has, the more targets can be hit by her airstrike.
Against heavily armored targets, a single, powerful blow is better. Against multiple soft targets, multiple, weak blows are better. Additionally, plane proficiency provides critical bonus damage for opening airstrike on the basis of slot count. The more attack slots, the more likely the critical will proc.
These are the factors one should consider when planning a loadout that has more emphasis on airstrike than shelling.
Fighter slots

Slots that contain a fighter are known as "Fighter slots".

The number of attack slots affects fighter power bonus from plane proficiency. Each double chevron fighter slot, regardless of size, adds a flat ~25 fighter power. The more fighter slots the fleet has, the greater this bonus is and since fighters are not affected by enemy defensive AA, they can survive better than bombers and they find good place in medium/small slots.
In rare cases, however, the best fighters can find themselves in big slots, swapping place with a bomber. This is done when proficiency bonus from fighter slots is not enough to achieve a desirable air status and the admiral wishes to gain a bit more fighter power without changing the number of attack slots.
The swap is often done on fleet basis, rather than on ship basis, but there are considerations for stats other than AA, which will be discussed in the next section.


Equipment Swap

Carrier-based planes come with a plethora of stats but they boil down to four important groups of equipment:

Equipment that helps changing air status when swapped from a smaller slot
Icon AA
Type 0 Fighter Model 53 (Iwamoto Squadron) 157 CardRe.2005 Kai 189 CardReppuu Kai 333 CardReppuu (601 Air Group) 110 Card
Equipment that helps shelling when swapped from another ship
Icon Hit Icon Gun Icon Range
Type 0 Fighter Model 53 (Iwamoto Squadron) 157 CardFw 190T Kai 159 CardType 0 Fighter Model 21 (Skilled) 096 Card
Tenzan Model 12 (Tomonaga Squadron) 094 CardSuisei (Egusa Squadron) 100 Card
Skilled Carrier-based Aircraft Maintenance Personnel 108 CardOTO 152mm Triple Rapid Fire Gun Mount 134 Card15.5cm Triple Secondary Gun Mount 012 Card
Equipment that helps preemptive airstrike when swapped from a smaller slot
Icon Torpedo Icon Dive
Tenzan Model 12 (Murata Squadron) 144 CardTenzan Model 12 (Tomonaga Squadron) 094 CardRyuusei (601 Air Group) 113 Card
Equipment that helps survivability when swapped from another ship
Icon Evasion
Type 0 Fighter Model 53 (Iwamoto Squadron) 157 CardRe.2005 Kai 189 CardShiden Kai 2 055 CardBf 109T Kai 158 Card


The secondary stats lead to some planes are better moved from one CV to another CV or from a smaller slot to a bigger slot. It is no-brainer that a CV whose sole purpose is to change air status should not hog all the fighters that provide accuracy and firepower. Vice versa, a vulnerable CVL should be equipped with evasion boosting fighters.

Another notable equipment swap is in the case of Hiryuu, she can reach firepower cap with a Suisei or a Ryuusei, her Tomonaga (or any strong bombers) is better left for weaker CV(L) who cannot reach firepower cap with two attack slots. Shoukaku and Zuikaku in their armored form also share this characteristic.

Special equipment that helps airstrike damage when replacing a bomber.
Type 2 Reconnaissance Aircraft 061 Card

Type 2 Recon provides 120% contact bonus damage to airstrike and it can be a great addition to preemptive airstrike task forces. Type 2 Recon allows airstrike to sink heavier enemies but it does not allow the airstrike to strike more enemies and the cost of running Type 2 Recon is usually an attack slot. As a result, it is usually better to bring more bombers than to bring type 2 recon.

Nevertheless, Type 2 Recon truly shines on fleets with five or more bombers, or in situations where heavily armored enemies are the target of the airstrike. Given it does trigger, of course. Unlike Saiun, the trigger rate of Type 2 Recon is determined by the size of slot, the bigger, the better.

Sample Fleet Creation (Shelling)

The assembling of a carrier fleet starts with
  1. Assessing fighter power needs. Each air battle costs ~10 fighter power in AS+ and ~20 in AS, calculate the buffer accordingly.
  2. Assessing the strength of target enemy vs. the level of attack power achieved.
  3. Determining the attack scheme (sparse or focused).
  4. Tweaking the stats distribution via equipment swapping.


Let's say I'll be building a loadout for Hiyou and Souryuu, sortie to world 3-5.

At first glance, I'll need 321 fighter power to AS at node C and 381 for Hoppo node. There are two aerial battles in total and since I'm gunning for AS, I should have a buffer of 20-30 fighter power to be safe. Therefore, I'll need 401-411 fighter power if I want AS,

Let's fill both CVs with Reppuu, see how much fighter power they can muster:

Hiyou Kai 99 GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
Souryuu Kai Ni 99 GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model

HQ level: 110
Fighter Power: 329
eLoS: -42.15

I have a base of 329 and 200 bonus from eight fighter slots, which brings me to 529 fighter power. I'll create one attack slot on each CV, see if I can still get AS.

Hiyou Kai 99 RedPlane Suisei Model 12A
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
Souryuu Kai Ni 99 RedPlane Suisei Model 12A
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model

HQ level: 110
Fighter Power: 245
eLoS: -40.07

So I'm left with 245+25x6 = 395. I'm below the AS requirement with just two attack slots in total. No room for utility equipment as well. Wow, that's bad! Let's use something with more AA than Reppuu next.

Hiyou Kai 99 RedPlane Suisei Model 12A
GreenPlane Reppuu (601 Air Group)
GreenPlane Reppuu (601 Air Group)
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
Souryuu Kai Ni 99 RedPlane Suisei Model 12A
GreenPlane Type 0 Fighter Model 53 (Iwamoto Squadron)
GreenPlane Re.2005 Kai
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model

HQ level: 110
Fighter Power: 269
eLoS: -40.07

I assign the best fighter to the biggest slot of all fighter slots in my fleet--Souryuu's second slot--and the second best fighter to the second biggest slot and so on until I run out of good fighters. I got 419 fighter power now. Phew!

One-attack-slot CVs won't be able to do much against Wo-class and Ta-class at node C, but they are enough to take care of light ships at node A and Hoppo. Without giving up AS, there are a few shelling strategies I can follow

I like that sparse shelling loadout. It's less risky and I certainly can use an extra escort killer if I want to use AACI ships. Let's take that one and make some final tweaks to the loadout, using better bombers for starters. I'll stick to reds since I don't want my CVs to shell Hoppo after all, being one-attack-slotters and all.

Hiyou Kai 99 RedPlane Suisei (Egusa Squadron)
GreenPlane Reppuu (601 Air Group)
GreenPlane Reppuu (601 Air Group)
GreenPlane Fw 190T Kai
Souryuu Kai Ni 99 RedPlane Suisei (601 Air Group)
GreenPlane Type 0 Fighter Model 53 (Iwamoto Squadron)
GreenPlane Re.2005 Kai
GreenPlane Fw 190T Kai

HQ level: 110
Fighter Power: 273
eLoS: -36.95

Now, I have 423 fighter power, (31 firepower + 13 dive bomb x 1.3) x 1.5 + 55 = 125 attack power on Hiyou and (60 + 11 x 1.3) x 1.5 + 55 = 166 attack power on Souryuu. Souryuu hit parallel attack power cap but Hiyou is still far from it. Luckily, I have 13 extra fighter power to play around so I can swap Hiyou's planes for fighters that provide more firepower for less AA.

Hiyou Kai 99 RedPlane Suisei (Egusa Squadron)
GreenPlane Fw 190T Kai
GreenPlane Fw 190T Kai
GreenPlane Bf 109T Kai
Souryuu Kai Ni 99 RedPlane Suisei (601 Air Group)
GreenPlane Type 0 Fighter Model 53 (Iwamoto Squadron)
GreenPlane Re.2005 Kai
GreenPlane Reppuu (601 Air Group)

HQ level: 110
Fighter Power: 260
eLoS: -36.95

With this final tweak, I now have (34 + 13 x 1.3) x 1.5 + 55 = 130 attack power on Hiyou and (58 + 11 x 1.3) x 1.5 + 55 = 163 attack power on Souryuu. Souryuu still has parallel cap but Hiyou is slightly better at shelling now. She also traded 2 accuracy from Reppuu 601 for 4 evasion from Bf 109T Kai. Souryuu gained 1 accuracy in this transaction. Fighter power hit the desired value of 410, no more, no less. This is the shelling loadout I would go with.


Sample Fleet Creation (Airstrike)

Okay, say if I want a strong airstrike instead of shelling, what should I do? I'll take the first loadout that hit AS value, switch the dive bombers for torp bombers and swap the bombers into the two biggest slots in the fleet (which are Souryuu's second and third slot in this case).

Hiyou Kai 99 GreenPlane Re.2005 Kai
GreenPlane Reppuu (601 Air Group)
GreenPlane Reppuu (601 Air Group)
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
Souryuu Kai Ni 99 GreenPlane Type 0 Fighter Model 53 (Iwamoto Squadron)
BluePlane Ryuusei Kai
BluePlane Ryuusei Kai
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model

HQ level: 110
Fighter Power: 255
eLoS: -37.99

Huston, we have a problem, the AS value is now at 396. Hey, remember that Tomonaga and Murata which have a shred of AA stat? Why not try them in here, see if they can get me to 401.

Hiyou Kai 99 GreenPlane Re.2005 Kai
GreenPlane Reppuu (601 Air Group)
GreenPlane Reppuu (601 Air Group)
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
Souryuu Kai Ni 99 GreenPlane Type 0 Fighter Model 53 (Iwamoto Squadron)
BluePlane Tenzan Model 12 (Tomonaga Squadron)
BluePlane Tenzan Model 12 (Murata Squadron)
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model

HQ level: 110
Fighter Power: 255
eLoS: -32.79

405 fighter power, now we're talking! Let's trade two Murata for two Iwamoto see how much more fighter power I can crank out of this. This is a really good trade since I end up with an attack slot in the first position, which gives bonus to shelling critical damage, while earning extra fighter power in process.

Hiyou Kai 99 GreenPlane Re.2005 Kai
GreenPlane Reppuu (601 Air Group)
GreenPlane Reppuu (601 Air Group)
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model
Souryuu Kai Ni 99 BluePlane Tenzan Model 12 (Tomonaga Squadron)
BluePlane Tenzan Model 12 (Murata Squadron)
GreenPlane Type 0 Fighter Model 53 (Iwamoto Squadron)
GreenPlane Prototype Reppuu Late Model

HQ level: 110
Fighter Power: 258
eLoS: -32.79

Ah ha! 408, not too shabby. Since I've realized just now that Murata has one more torp stat compared to Tomonaga, I also swapped the position of those two so that Murata is in the biggest slot. At this stage, Tomonaga is in 18-plane slot and I can swap it to Hiyou so that the shelling strategy becomes sparse shelling instead of focused.

But, seeing I still don't want one-attack-slot CVs to strike Hoppo, I would like two keep two attack slots on Souryuu so that when she does strike Hoppo, she can inflict serious damage. With the focus on airstrike, I should be able to afford one fewer escort killer.

Since Hiyou has become a Reppuu mule, any firepower or accuracy on her will be a waste. She needs evasion but the only Reppuu equivalence that provides evasion I have left is the Fw 190T Kai. I can risk lowering fighter power further and use Shiden Kai 2 for extra 3 evasions but I would rather not to.

Hiyou Kai 99 GreenPlane Re.2005 Kai
GreenPlane Reppuu (601 Air Group)
GreenPlane Reppuu (601 Air Group)
GreenPlane Fw 190T Kai
Souryuu Kai Ni 99 BluePlane Tenzan Model 12 (Tomonaga Squadron)
BluePlane Tenzan Model 12 (Murata Squadron)
GreenPlane Type 0 Fighter Model 53 (Iwamoto Squadron)
GreenPlane Fw 190T Kai

HQ level: 110
Fighter Power: 258
eLoS: -32.79

I also know Souryuu has gone way over head-on firepower cap with two attack slots and the firepower from Fw 190T Kai is going to waste. Still, I face the same dilemma as with Hiyou, I don't want to risk fighter power. I see no more room for tweaking here, this is the final airstrike loadout and it comes with focused shelling.

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