Greetings, all. I have a couple of newbie questions about air units, as I'm near the start of my first GC, playing against the Japan AI. I'd be very grateful for any pointers you could offer; my questions probably have obvious answers, which highlights how little I know at this point. So, my questions are as follows.
1) Thinking exclusively about LBA early in the war for the moment, which aircraft(s) are well suited to the following roles:
For both ASW and Naval Search your best planes are PA (Patrol) obviously and any level bombers equipped with radar.
b) Naval bombing over a couple of hexes range
Dive and Torpedo bombers. But the pilots need to highly trained in the relevant skills and in the case of the dive bombers, the planes set to a diving altitude (10k' to 14k')
c) Naval bombing at a distance (if any)
Obviously the preceding planes would apply equally here (if they have the range) but for longer range operations medium bombers equipped torpedoes are excellent. Much later when you get attack bombers and have suitably trained pilots, you can use skip bomber tactics. Otherwise, level bombers are misued in anti-ship operations.
d) Naval recon
See (a) above. Heavy bombers and recon aircraft, with their great range are also of value. However little benefit is derived from having naval search out beyond 12-14 hexes.
e) Escorting bombers
The obvious, fighters. However note that escorting fighters are disadvantaged in combat compared to fighters on CAP. Also some much prefer to use fighter sweeps but that has it's own pitfalls, particularly for a new player who lacks any experience in coordinating air operations.
f) CAP over allied bases
Fighters. Pay careful attention to maneouvre bands. You may need to stagger your CAP at different altitudes.
g) Bombing LCUs
You remember all those level bombers I advised against using them in (c) above, this is where they should be used.
h) Bombing facilities (ports, airfields, industry)
Same as in (g).
I appreciate there could be a fair amount of "it depends" to those roles, but given the assumption that we've got large airfields, lots of supply and suitable support, what's the default choices, given what's available in the theatre at the time.
2) Any overperformers/underachievers I should take note of? Of which aircraft do you always wish you had more available?
For the Allied player, the answer is all. Your aircraft production is fixed, Japan's is not. Operational losses will be heavy for as long as your planes are being flown by pilots with <50 experience. As experienced is gained and allied aircraft production is ramped up, the situation improves. In appropriate usage often see airframe shortages unnecesssarily magnified in Patrol and Transport planes.
3) Are there any parts of the theatre that benefit in particular from the presence of certain aircraft types? So I'm thinking, long range patrol aircraft in the various island groups or supply transports in Burma/Bangladesh, for example. I ask, so I know what units I want to send where, which ones to hold back for later and so on. Apologies if this last one is a bit nebulous.
This one can only be answered with, "depends". Just don't neglect your logistics, ensure you have adequate supply for air operations, adequate aviation support staff present, and the airfield can support the total number of aircraft/air units.
Thanks in advance for any comments. Feel free to assume I'm clueless when making your responses!