Managing the Air: Swaps, Upgrades and Replacements Part I: Making more German fighters
This is part of an occasional series on the details of managing the air arm in response to a request by Zorch. More detail is being given than normal here, those wishing for a casual read of the AAR may want to skip over this post.
Relative to other aircraft Germany produces too few single seat fighters. Their losses is a key metric in the air war, and anything to boost their numbers is a plus.
During these past turns a few FW 190A fighters were available, however these will remain in the pool and will not convert or be exported and so have not been used. Instead all our fighters have been in the Bf109 line with four variants: E3, E7, F2 and F4 in that succession of upgrades. The E3 is shorter range than the others, the F4 is longer range than the others. However the F2 variant does not export or get converted. Any left in the pool we know will still be there when we want it. The E7 on the other hand will be exported, and worse to Slovakia after it no longer has any airgroups so they will remain in the pool in the game as good as lost to the end. The F4 will export much later, but at least to be used by Hungarian fighter squadrons. Nevertheless the Hungarian variant has worse stats than the German version and is flown by airgroups with a lower base morale (when we upgrade to v1.11.02+) and in a geographically restricted area. So long as the number of German fighters is a chokepoint, we would much rather these were flown by German pilots. And the E3 both converts to Rumanian fighters, with the same issues, or converts to fighter bombers which then convert to tac/dive bombers. Either way a loss to the number of German single seat fighters. Looking at the pools on turn 1 we can see there are 220 of these
When we look at the arrivals and withdrawals of air groups on turn 1 we can also see many German single seat fighter groups are withdrawing, often with the most modern variants and many soon. At the start of turn 1 in the v1.10.00 scenario data we started this game with there are already 627 single seat fighters in airgroups set to withdraw. And as some of those airgroups are below their maximum number if they are set to receive replacements many more will withdraw with them.
Occasionally you will hear the question is it possible to increase the production of German single seat fighters. My first response is why not just stop giving them away? If you can eliminate withdrawals and exports/conversions you will already have gained 847 of them, and even more if you had been allowing replacements to add to them. To do this you want to see zeros next to those withdrawing airgroups in air arrivals and withdrawls screen and zeros in the pool for those air models that export or convert.
Here is what we did
Switch off replacements to withdrawing groups This is the simplest way to reduce the number of aircraft being withdrawn - stop adding to them! Exceptions can be made for airgroups withdrawing a very long way in the future, so long as you switch off replacements with sufficient time to still allow the airgroup to finish with zero aircraft before it goes. Also beware that these aircraft will start to have low proportions of ready aircraft relative to their maximum number which could mean they miss out on automatic missions if your air doctrine is set to a higher proportion.
Prioritise withdrawing groups for operations Whenever there is an air mission to be done manually, pick withdrawing air groups first. Wherever automatic missions are more likely, put withdrawing airgroups in an airbase near by first.
Set airgroups to upgrade only option Unless withdrawing and downgraded to an earlier option or intentionally kept on an earlier version to keep aircraft of that type out of the pool, fighter airgroups have upgraded automatically and for free to Bf109F4. By turn 37 only two airgroups remains as Bf109F2.
Swap airgroups to airplanes that convert or export To stop Bf109E3s and Bf109E7s from exporting take them out of the pool and into airgroups - and in this case keep autoswap and upgrade only options off. This was largely done with withdrawing airgroups which meant we could double up with the next point.
Downgrade airgroups withdrawing soon Some fighter groups though withdraw so soon in the game that they will be leaving with some fighters still in them. In these cases we downgraded them as quickly as possible and then used them as much as possible until they did go - at least then they would leave with the older types of fighters and as few of them as possible. This has to be done by manual swaps and the the table below shows the 16 manual swaps we did with fighter groups up to turn 37 (turn number of swap on left). In some cases this included upgrading some non-withdrawing groups so that older models were then in the pool for withdrawing airgroups to downgrade to
Swap airgroups withdrawing soon to just over half their complement
Another way of reducing the number of aircraft being withdrawn is to swap withdrawing airgroups when only just over half their maximum size is in the pool. Here are some examples from this game
We started the turn with 143 Bf109E3s in the pool - enough to swap four airgroups plus one last one for only 23 aircraft
At the start of turn 5 IJG53 had 36 fighters and was set to withdraw in three turns
But after four other manual swaps to Bf109E3 IJG53 was also swapped to Bf109E3 but for only 23 of them, not 40. In other words this swap alone reduced the number of aircraft being actually withdrawn by 13!
We did a similar thing in turn 12 when we saw we had 20 Bf109E7s in the pool
To be able to swap a German fighter group with a maximum of 40 planes we need to swap it to at least over half its maximum or 21 planes in this case. But we did not quite have enough in the pool. However one of the Bf109E7 airgroups was a stab with only 3 Bf109E7s - by manually upgrading it we were left with 23 in the pool which we then used for a manual swap.
By choosing the right time for swaps, with perhaps a few swaps with stab groups to help, you can always leave any airgroup with only just over half their maximum number.
By following all these methods we have been able to drastically reduce the numbers of German single seat fighters lost to withdrawals, and also the numbers lost to conversions or exports. Instead we have a much larger pool of Bf109F2 fighters which will remain there until we want them. Most of our airgroups are now equipped with Bf109F-4s, although we do have a tail of withdrawing fighter air groups equiped with only Bf109E3 or Bf109E7s and which are far below their maximum size. As a consequnce our air OOB totals look deceptively low. Some thought has to be taken over percentage required to fly in air doctrine for these too.
Compared to an Axis player who leaves all their airgroups on the default autoswap and replacement on settings and does no manual airswaps, and given the numbers already described above, I think it is a fair estimate that we will have at least 1000 more German single seat fighters. Although this comes from simply not being withdrawn, exported or converted the effect is the same as if we had built over 1000 extra fighters for Germany!
< Message edited by Telemecus -- 8/2/2018 4:28:59 PM >