From: Kansas, USA
I usually play as the Allies in scenario 17 or 19.
It is not the total number of ships in a TF, but the quality of the ships' mounted equipment that really determines the effectiveness of defending the TF from enemy aircraft.
When I start putting together a CV TF, I will have one, and only 1 carrier per CV TF. I will then look at every available escort CA, CL, CLAA, DD, etc to determine which ship(s) or class(es) have the best AA, plus number of mounts on each escort, then I add it to the TF.
The minimum mounted equipment the escorts must have available are Oerlikon 20mm, Oerlikon 30mm twin, 25mm AAA, 20mm Bofors, or 40mm Bofors. Also note, the number of mounts (x?) and location on ship (Front, Center, R. side, L. side, Rear). So there might be an Oerlikon 20mm (x1) Front, Bofors (x2) Right side, Bofors (x2) Left side, and 25mm AAA (x1) Rear.
In addition to having the right equipment, is the effective range of that equipment. Similar to radar, with greater effective range, versus the mark one eyeball.
It is a tradeoff : add an escort ship that only has (x2) 40mm Bofors versus a ship that has (x4) Oerlikon 20mm. Oerlikons have less effective range than the Bofors.
Does having (x4) of mounted equipment, with less effective range, equal a better chance of hitting more enemy planes? OR
Does having (x2) of higher quality equipment, with greater effective range, equal a better chance of knocking down enemy planes?
I prefer to have ships with the best equipment to engage the enemy aircraft at the farthest range possible. Similar to having a CV Fighter CAP engage the enemy aircraft farthest from the carrier task force. Always have the best CV fighter squadrons, with Aces, placed on your carriers...
The Primary Task Force, that will be engaging enemy CV TF(s) or moving within range of enemy LBA, will have escorts with 40mm Bofors in the CV TF. No escort ships will be placed in the CV TF if it does not have those specified defenses. This is asking for an enemy TBD to put a fish in the side of your best carrier if you defend it with poorly equipped ships, even if you have the max number of ships available.
I will always keep my CV TF at 1 Carrier and 11 escorts. I will rotate my CV TF(s) on a regular basis to reduce total system and flotation damages.
I have CV TF 201 and CV TF 202 with 12 ships each.
I will send CV TF 201 towards Port Moresby and CV TF 202 towards Lunga.
I have the other 2 carriers and escorts disbanded in port (Noumea/Brisbane) being repaired.
As CV TF 201 and CV TF 202 start their return trip back to Noumea and Brisbane, I will form CV TF 203 and CV TF 204 to start their outbound run.
This strategy provides continual and operational CV TF(s).
I have noticed other players who group all their carriers into several TF(s), moving them around together like the Death Star. With one big Clash of the Titans, with all the carriers badly damaged, sunk, or hopefully retired back to Pearl. Some survivors may get repaired and released before the game ends. This loss of CV TF(s) greatly affects the players capabilities of launching offensive strikes or invasions of enemy bases. The waiting game for more operational carriers to enter the theater becomes monotonous.
LESS EFFECTIVE ESCORT SHIPS:
For those ships that do not get added to a CV TF, I will use as Fast Transport TF(s), or I will send them back to Pearl to get a refit in June/July. Hopefully I receive additional escort ships in return that have more endurance, 40mm Bofors, 20mm Bofors, and with numerous mounted locations and radar.
Looking at the list of available ships and their release dates, I have planned several times to send ships back to Pearl to speed up the release of other ships. In addition, I have tried to calculate the travel time of specific ships to make it back to Pearl, so they arrive prior to the historical release dates for carriers.
Before Pearl will release a CV or SC TF, there must be enough escort ships.
I have created screen shots of each class of escort ship, so I can quickly determine which ones get added to CV TF(s). I have noted on each image the approximate, historical arrival time, and which Allied Base Port they are assigned. This in effect provides a planning tool so I can have the ship(s) in their ports ready to be assigned when additional escorts arrive.