ORIGINAL: castor troy
As the Japanese player, I have had the problem of sweeps coming in late.
To counter this, I set bombers on naval strike with a secondary mission of port or airfield strike. Hence, the bombers sit out the first air phase looking for a naval target -- only with a null naval target do they conduct the other strike.
This allows, almost always, the fighters to go in first on a sweep.
this is a workaround to some extend, but you then end up doing the sweep and the bombing run in two different phases which is not that different from two different turns (except that some ac are repaired over night). One of the advantages of the sweep going in first is not just to take down enemy fighters but to disorganize the defense which makes CAP by far less effective, thus giving your escort a better chance to stand it´s own. If you sweep in the morning then the Cap in the afternoon works just fine (minus what you have shot down in the morning of course). Cap gets worse and worse the more strikes are coming in within the same phase.
As an attacker, no matter if Japanese or Allied, you want to see your sweep first and right thereafter you want to see your bombers going in with their escorts, both in the same phase. I have yet to see this constantly in my AI test game or in the PBEM. The opposite is true for me, it´s something like 1 out of 10 times for me that the fighters sweep first, it just seems like a total random with the odds highly favouring the bomb run to go first. It worked just fine in WITP, it seems (for me and obviously also for Canourebel and others) not to work in AE like it worked in WITP. Thus people have to either only sweep or only bomb, thus losing the advantage of a combined attack, which was quite substantial in WITP as follow on strikes often achieved kill rates twice or three times as high as the first attack against the CAP (or on the other way around with the kill rate of the Cap being only 1/2 or 1/3), this due to the fact that the CAP was completely disorganized and out of position (at least that´s what we´ve been told for years).
Not going to disagree too much here. I agree that it isn't exactly optimal to have morning sweeps with fighters and afternoon bomber missions. The sole advantage this tactic has is that it works pretty well if somewhat inefficiently.
However, if I may, I'd suggest your expectations for the coordination of air strikes may be a bit too strong. In real life, even today, this is difficult business. In PTO WWII, using different (often rudimentary and far flung) bases, little knowledge of the jet stream, spotty communications, fickle weather forecasts, no computerized logisitic system, and air crew and support staff that a few short months ago were farmers and factory workers -- it is kind of amazing that aircraft show up over the same target at all, and forget about the timing.
My Father was a B-17 pilot in Europe. As a teenager, and aspiring war gamer, I came to the conclusion after a little reading that if the 8th U.S. Air Force would have simply conducted 1000+ bomber raids every day, that the war in Europe could have been concluded sooner. Why not? They did conduct 1000+ bomber raids -- just do more of them! So simple! When I floated this idea to my Father, well, to say the least he was amused. After he stopped laughing, I got a little lesson in what it actually took to mount one of these massive raids. And in Europe, they had the advantage of relatively good and geographically close airfields, land-line communication and a centralized logistic system.
The frustration you (and all of us) have over coordinating air attacks is well founded. It is frustrating. However, I would also advance the notion that it is very, very realistic. In our twenty-first century culture of instant communication and internet access, such coordination seems like an easy problem to solve. However, it is not easy, not even today -- sixty five years ago in the Pacific it was geometrically more difficult, and I think the game does a pretty good job of modelling that.
Fighters in the morning; bombers in the afternoon. I think that level of coordination for a strike is probably pretty close to the precision that was historically possible in many cases. Of course you can roll the dice in the game and try to run the sweep and bombers in the same phase, it might work!, just don't have high hopes for a level of operational coordination that can easily be botched even in modern operations.