How to build a powerful Navy from nothing: Operational Example

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Part 13: Proof of Concept: Accounting of the bloodshed so far... June - December 1939
Part 13: Proof of Concept: Accounting of the bloodshed so far... June - December 1939

1939 is almost over, we have the 30th December 1939.
Germany has done its usual thing: Anschluß, eating up Czechia, puppetting Slovakia, conquest of Poland.
UK and France did also the historic thing: declaring war and then... nothing.

At least for Asia and Arabia the world looks different than usual, though:

Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, India have become free and independent nations.
A big Arabic State has formed and is continuosly growing with each conquest, but missing the stubborn isolationistic Saudis.
Pakistan, Burma, Malaysia and several other regions have been freed but are still Chinese. They will gain their independence once the dissent is a bit worked down.
Australia has become Chinese, New Zealand a puppet.
The so called Dutch East Indies are still out of reach, China has no way to declare war on the Netherlands to free Indonesia so far.
Mongolia is still a puppet of the SU (but shown in green because it consists of Chinese core regions).

Cyprus and Malta have been conquered.
Tunis has become a Chinese bridgehead to free the French occupied territories of Algeria and Marocco and troops are ferried in.
A small landing force prepares to sail south to free Madagascar, Zanzibar and Cape Good.

Fleet statistics
With all those wars going on an accounting isn't that easy and some manual counting is necessary but first the fleet statistics.


Some ships were newly built, altogether the number of lost ships was astonishingly small for the Chinese Navy, manual counting of the sunk ships list results in:
1 CL, 3 HSubs, 2 TP
The list of damaged ships in the Chinse Navy is long, though, much longer than of the few remaining undamaged ships.
No save/reload was done for battles which went bad.
The list of Chinese allies has also considerably grown. After a shiny chinese military parade thru the streets of Wellington, New Zealand switched happily sides and has become the newest member of the AIC-alliance. No ally had been able to build any ships in the short time, though.

List continues but countries without ships are cut out (it were 14 countries altogether).


There are only 4 Allies left.
From manual count of the sunk ship list (losses including those due to annexation are probably much higher), the following ships were sunk by the Chinese Navy:
2 CV, 2 CVE, 8 BB, 1 BC
16 CA, 21 CL, 16 DD
10 Subs, 1 HSub
29 TP
Total: 106 sunk ships

Of those 106 ships
# 62 were sunk by 15 CVLs
# 22 by 30 HSubs (looks rather low but those HSubs were also almost completly responsible for the 450 sunk convoys and 72 convoy escorts which, in IC costs, would be roughly the equivalent of another 65 TPs sunk)
# 10 by 18 DDs
# 11 by 4 NAV-planes (a much smaller percentage than against the Japanese, the reason is the different theater, mainly Indian Ocean and further away from friendly coasts and airports).

The British and French naval presence in the Indian Ocean is basically wiped out. Even in the Mediterranean Sea there are barely any ships of the Allies' left.
They lost so many ships that even the blockade of the German ports seems to have problems.
The German Navy did sink only 1 ship of the Allies: 1 BB (and that was the Royal Oak event)

Although the remaining Allies have still more ships than the Chinese Navy, the latter has shown a clear dominance.
If this speed of sinking ships of the Allies could be kept, in one year no Allied Navy would be left. But that's not really practical if the British and French ships won't have the decency to show up in the Mediterranean Sea for getting sunk. Otherwise both sides would need to sail all the way around Cape of Good Hope to meet each other. The UK still commands Gibraltar and with this the Western entry to the Med, while China commands the Suez Canal and with that the Eastern entry.

The intention of this guide was to introduce the beginner and intermediate player to:
# How to build a Navy from nothing.
# How to cope with a vast backwardness in naval tech and low-level tech teams.
# Some introduction to strategic and tactical planning.
# Showing some rules and behaviours of seabattles with operational examples.
And it was also a proof of concept that it is very well possible to wipe the floor or rather the sea with no more than 15 CVL/DD, around 30 HSubs/FP and 4 Nav-1.

In the 2nd post of this thread I mentioned that the Allies have sent the bulk of their Navy and Airforce against China. The following stats have nothing to do with naval warfare but were so surprising that I just want to show them:

China destroyed more than 22 squadrons of fighters and 8 squadrons of bombers. Only 3.5 of those were Japanese, all the rest from the UK and France. They, indeed, send the bulk of their airforce against China, not against Germany.


While some fighters and bombers were lost in true airfights (all of the Chinese for example were due to fighter or bombers having taken damage in airfights), the majority of the French and British losses were complete losses of whole squadrons due to land conquests. The AI is REALLLY bad in rebasing their airunits in time.

Here the shocking few remains of the Allied airforce in December 1939:

What's left...
From my side I'll probably add one more finishing chapter about Fleet Maintenance and Fleet Positioning. I am also open for specific wishes or questions what should be added. And I welcome everybody to add his or her bits of knowledge about naval buildup and warfare. Or, since I am sure that I got some things wrong, everybody should feel encouraged to add corrections.
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How are your fleets organized? 15 CVL are used at the same time or are someones repaired in ports?
About repairs and fleet maintenenace I'll write something in the last chapter. Trickier than I thought to get the right balance.

The initial fleet setup I described in Part 10: Tactical planning: War, Fleet Deployment, Importance of Ports and Bases, Military Theory (Spoiler: Tactical Map).
The biggest CVL-fleet consisted of 6 CVLs but that was rather a one-time-occurence in the very beginning. Too many targets, too many ships in repairs and thus my usual "big" CVL-fleet diminished to 4 CVLs, then to 3 CVLs.
But I made sure to have always 2 CVL-fleets in one area of operations and if possible 1 ahead HSub-fleet to warn about enemy fleets and to soften them up. Two typical examples for a setup:

1) Australia
Attacked with one fleet of 3 CVL/DD + 3 TP, a secondary fleet of 2 CVL/DD + 3 TP. After establsihing a bridgehead in Darwin, the first fleet stayed in the area to guard and fight, the smaller one to sail between Singapore and Australia to ferry in more troops and as a replacement in case the first took too much damage or losses.

After having conquered Australia, the same 2 fleets switched over to New Zealand. Now using Darwin and Brisbane as base ports.

2) Mediterranean Sea
Quite a dangerous zone, rather close to the UK and very close to France. So after having conquered Egypt/Suez Canal, cleaning up some remaining enemy fleets within the closer area, in December I detached a fleet of 3 CVL/4 DD + 3 TP to attack Tunis. One advance pack of 5 HSubs did naval interdiction directly east of Gibraltar, another one was patroling the Aegean Sea and 3 DDs did, the only time during the whole war, even some ASW-duty, 2 TAC/2 NAV were patroling around Malta... my trades with Italy and Greece had dropped to 54%, so I was pretty sure that there must be an enemy fleet around and since I couldn't find one I strongly suspected enemy subs.
Since many ships had taken quite some damage, I did not operate a 2nd CVL-fleet as usual but in Alexandria were 3 in port for repairs plus 3 DDs which could had, in an emergency, sailed out immediatly for support.
Well, I didn't find the enemy fleet nor the subs but vice versa they did not find my fleets, either. Suddenly the trades were again at 100% and most likely the enemy fleet(s) had gone to port for repairs. So Tunis was successfully conquered and the usual ferry-service for additional troops started... for a moment I was strongly tempted to attack mainland France Toulon (great harbour) but by quoting to myself several times "overextension is the death of a good rolling offense" I was able to avoid this mistake.

3) Persian Gulf
A third very small task force but heavy on TPs meanwhile ferried troops from Karachi (arriving there via strategic redeployment) to Basrah and from there onward again via strat deploy to Alexandria.

So, I used rather small fleets but those always in concert and cooperation which allowed faster action and more targets (all above 3 missions happened more or less simultaneously).

Securing Bases
I also made sure to build up and guard my (conquered) forward base ports like Singapore, Colombo (Sri Lanka), Karachi, Alexandria: stationing some fighters, land units, building up static AA to at least 6, in the case of Alexandria even to 8, Radar if the production line spit out a new one and started to build up the infrastructure right after conquest. But all those preparations are better called a contingency plan or fallback option in case the primary tactic failed or ran against a wall. Primary strat was acting fast enough that the enemy stays in disarray, can't organise or group together enough defense nor for a counter-attack. But sure enough UK and France were throwing a lot of fighters and bombers in the way of the Chinese. So properly guarding the bases wasn't really optional but a necessity.

To be honest, it's completly overplanning and overdoing it when playing against the AI but I like the beauty in a proper planned and marshalled campaign... even against the "AI/scripts". I also wanted to try out some of the military theory mentioned in chapter 10 like Moltke broken down to: well planned waves which establish the bases for the next wave and each of those waves as "multiple operations, which might be conducted in parallel or successively" or "each of the operations along the front would have secondary strategic goals... (it's really funny to mix Alexander the Great, Moltke and Red Army Deep Operation stuff altogether) *grin
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Part 14: Three Different Ways to see Sunken Ships
Part 14: Three Different Ways to see Sunken Ships

There are several ways to obtain information about sunken ships (and I guess everybody loves to look them up from time to time):
  1. Statistics: Sunk Ships
    There all ships are listed which get sunk, have it been done by your own fleets, your own lost ships and even ships you have never seen belonging to countries you have no contact with. The list provides country, name of ship and ship type of the sunk ship as well as name of ship, ship type and country of the one having sunk the ship. The list can be sorted for all 6 columns and is the best and most reliable place to look things up. By showing all sunk ships, it also lifts a bit the fog of war and allows to get an impression of wars in other parts of the world you aren't taking part in and have otherwise no infos about.

  2. Statistics: Inflicted Losses (Naval), Taken Losses (Naval)
    As above it is a list which lifts the fog of war and shows accumulated inflicted and taken losses for all countries. It gives a spendid overall impression over the whole length of the game. It includes not only sunk ships but also damage. To do so, it uses not the usual unit numbers but the personel and squadron numbers (eg. 1 TP isn't taken as 1 TP but a squadron of 5 transports). This makes it sometimes a bit confusing but is the only way how to include also damage. For a breakdown how to read it, see Part 8, spoiler: The final count...

    As so often you can finetune the display of the losses to your wishes in misc.txt:
    # In-game losses logging (statistics). 0 - Disabled, 1 - Enabled (ships and convoys only), 2 - Log equipment losses too, 3 – Log equipment of captured units too, 4 – Log attrition losses too   
        4 #0

  3. Individual sunken ship list
    Surprisingly the most informative and accurate information of sunken ships is a bit hidden:

    An excellent opportunity to show off with the most successful ship of the Chinese Navy with the famous name CVL1 (any rumours that the whole chapter is just to provide this opportunity are completly unfounded):
    So, in a complete hypothetical case that there is a nerd who doesn't only want to know that a BB was sunk but also wether it was the new BB-5 you saw in that enemy fleet or only an old BB-2, and with what brigades this ship was equipped, here you can see it. The sunken ships are listed in chronological order. It works great together with the list provided by Statistics: Sunk Ships where you can look up which ship was responsible for the sinking and then go to that ship's individual list of kills.
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Part 15: Fleet Maintenance: Repairs - Formula, Mechanics, How and When
Part 15: Fleet Maintenance: Repairs - Formula, Mechanics, How and When

When a ship takes damage, it is applied to its strength value (also to its organisation but, in terms of repairs, this is of no matter here). The str value is a direct multiplyer to any units' attack values. So, if a HSub has only a str of 67 left, if it attacks its sea attack is multiplied with the str value. In a pack of 6 HSubs, when all are at 67 str, this means 6 x 67 = 402 instead of 6 x 100 = 600 when all are at full strength. It is as if you are attacking only with 4 HSubs.
Correction: According to this post (from 2015 by MartinBG and he should know) ships are handled differently in DH than land units and str is NOT a multiplyer to damage. So ships probably do damage independent of how damaged they are.
There are pros and cons to this. 6 HSubs, even when damaged, still have each full organisation. they also still provide 6 targets for the enemy fleet instead of only 4. On the other hand they also add 6 times their visibility and thus are easier to detect. And, of course, the lower their str, the higher the chance they might get sunk in the next battle.

So, there comes the time, when you should think about sending your damaged ships to port for repairs.
When, at what damage, how and where to send your damaged ships for repairs proved for the Chinese Admirality a trickier question than I had initially given thought. I noticed it when realising that my usual pattern of sending ships for repairs needed to change drastically over the course of the war.

Formula for Repairs or in DH terms: Reinforcements
But first we need to dive a bit into the mechanics of ship repairs. For those not as enthusiastic about number crunching I'll hide it in a spoiler box:
The formula for ship repairs (valid also for land and air units):

Repair time = damage_percentage x build_time x (1/(1+repair_modifier)) x reinforcement_time​

Looks scarier than it really is.
# damage_percentage: damage of your ship which means 100 - str as shown in the unit info
# build time: time it needs to produce that unit, easily looked up in your production menu (and varies over time depending on your research, ministers and policy sliders)
# repair_modifier: varies also, your present repair_modifier is listed in TECHNOLOGY: Overview (left column, down in the chapter Prodcution & Supplies, 4th line)
# reinforcement_time: defined in misc.txt, line 72: Reinforcement Manpower Cost Factor: 1.0 (1.0 is splendid because we can right away forget about it again, might vary for mods, though). Correction: Probably wrong since DH 1.03, values of misc.txt are overruled by the given values in the specific unit-files in \db\units\division\. It's a bit odd that it works out quite fine with the "overruled" values of the misc.txt. If your values are off, try adjusting the formula according to the data in the unit-files.

Example for a Chinese HSub, at 67 strength, production time 260 days, the tech overview shows a repair modifier of 165%:
Repair Time = 33% x 260 days x (1/(1+1.65) x 1 = 32.38 days (rounded up to 33 days)​
By sheer luck this means a Chinese HSub repairs exactly 1% of damage per day or in DH-terms: reinforces str by 1% a day.

A theoretic damage of 100% (theoretic because it would had been sunk) shows that it would take 98.1 days to repair 100% damage. Due to the repair_modifier reparing is MUCH faster (98 days) than building a HSub from scratch (260 days) which is basically the only reason why repairing is an interesting thing to do.

The Chinese Navy consists of only 3 types of ships: CVL, DD, HSub.
What I found quite helpful, to calculate for each ship type how long it takes to repair 1%:

First, let's shorten the formula:
Repair time = 1% x build_time x (1/(1+1.65) x 1​
Repair Time = 0.01 x build_time x 0.378​
which can be even more shortened to:​
Repair Time = 0.00378 x build_time (that's short and easy, isn't it?)​
(remember that you can't just take this shortened form but need to look up your individual variables to make your own short formula: repair_modifier and, if playing a mod, possibly also your reinforcement_time, also your buildtimes for ships will differ rather much)

CVL-1: Repair Time for 1% dmg = 0.00378 x 637 days = 2.41 days​
DD-7: Repair Time for 1% dmg = 0.00378 x 351 days = 1.33 days​
HSub-1: Repair Time for 1% dmg = 0.00378 x 260 days = 0.98 days​
Why did I find this helpful? It makes estimating the time a ship needs to be in port until fully repaired so much easier and faster and allowed me to do the following:

For each ship or fleet in port for repairs I added at the beginning of the name REPAIR plus a check: date so I can see at one glance when the ships are repaired and fit for duty again. Such a small thing but it really makes fleet maintenance so much easier and avoids looking for those ships over and over again.
And those 3 numbers, how long it takes to repair 1%, I just write down to have it handy to calculate the "check"-date.

Additional mechanics of repair:
  • Ship repair can be done only at naval bases (the big port symbol, not the small one).
  • A naval base can parallely only repair as many ships as it has levels. So a level 4 naval base can repair no more than 4 ships at the same time, the rest will have to wait.
  • For repairs to happen at all, you need to allocate resources or IC within the economy menu towards Reinforcements.
  • It is also a very good idea to set your ships to "Prioritized" to make sure that those ICs are really going to them and not to some other units.
  • Repairs or reinforcements happen at the midnight tick which also updates the reinforcement slider within the economy menu.
  • It costs more to repair/reinforce 1% from 55 to 56% than from 99 to 100% (which is the reason why the shown needed IC at the reinforcement slider change almost daily).
  • Repair time is constant (other than the cost). It takes the same time to repair from 55 to 56% than from 99 to 100%. Well, kind of constant, it is influenced by ministers, policy sliders and research but NOT by the level of the naval base, ESE or infrastructure (but those influence speed of reorg).
How to repair:
At the beginning whenever a battle occured and some of my ships had taken damage, I detached them into an own fleet and sent them to the nearest port for repairs. It's always best to have your ships in tip-top shape, isn't it?

Let's take the following example: One pack of 6 HSubs was initially tasked with naval interdiction around Cape of Good Hope. The next port available for repairs was Colombo (Sri Lanka/Ceylon). It takes an HSub 20 days to travel the distance and then again another 20 days after repairs to join its fleet again. That's 40 days plus the repair time which might had been as low as 10 days if it had only 10% damage. An extreme but true example and not as uncommon as one might think.

The Chinese Navy had rather a lot of battles, so the same happened the very next day, another HSub less in the Cape-fleet. Now it consisted of only 4 remaining HSubs. Which allowed enemy ships to focus their shots on 4 instead of 6 HSubs resulting in more damage. It escalates really fast and soon would had resulted in almost all the Chinese Navy no longer on their battle stations but lots of single ships all over the Indian Ocean heading for ports for repairs. Single ships which, of course, were also highly vulnerable when detected and getting into a sea battle. The fleets still operating but missing all those ships detached for repairs also much more vulnerable.
High time to rethink my attitude of having all ships in tip-top shape and to realize that this would instead lead directly into catastrophy.
Nowadays I handle ship repairs differently and according to the following rules:
  • Keep the operational area of a fleet as close to the base (naval base for repairs) as posssible.
    That a simple HSub-1 has already an operating range of 16500km is impressive. Is it wise to use it that far away from its base? Usually not. In the case of the Cape-fleet I shortened their ways by giving them an operational area between Madagascar and mainland Africa. A bottleneck almost as fine for a hunting ground as the Cape but only 12 days travel time away. Still a long way but better than 20 days.

  • If it is not possible to shorten the distance between operational area and base... and the operational area is deemed to be that important... try to get yourself a base closer to this important operational area.
    Sometimes easier said than done and takes quite a while even under ideal conditions: detaching TPs, land units and an escorting fleet to conquere a port which then again needs time to repair... but nevertheless it is an option one should have in mind (or even better, thought of before and included in your initial tactical planning phase).

  • Don't send damaged ships piecemeal for repairs over longer distances. It endangers the damaged ship and also the now diminished fleet which it has left.
    Instead: Send the whole fleet back for repairs when another one has arrived or is on the way to take over.
    This is probably the most essential general change I made over time. Usually not necessary in short wars but in prolonged wars with lots of battles this is a needed change which has an impact on the whole organisation of the Navy. Damage accumulates with almost each battle. And the hard reality is that after a while it is rather common than uncommon that you think it is high time for almost half of all your fleet to get some urgently needed repairs. Well, one has to accept the hard facts and to adapt to it.

    For the Chinese Navy this meant, after a few month of war, reorganising the variety of operational areas: Cutting them down, if possible getting them closer to a base and detaching roughly double the number of ships which were seen as the minimum necessary into those areas to allow an average of half the ships to stay in port for repairs.
    As a standard now fleets were forced to take the damage but to stay and fight on until a replacing fleet could be assembled either due to new ships or repaired ones. A positive sideeffect: It generates an automatic reserve which sits at port repairing and could be, albeit damaged, used in an emergency to sail out.
    This also meant that it was good practice to keep fleets together. For example even when the DDs of a CVL-fleet aren't damaged, it gives greater flexibility to let them stay with the repairing CVLs.
Whenever a ship gets damage, usually it also has lost all its organisation. While in port the rate of reorg is much higher, it is high enough even at high sea to usually replenish faster than it would take to reach the next naval base.

Damage: When to repair
It would be splendid for a guide to offer a certain treshold like "always send your ships to repair when they hit 45% damage" but it would be more misleading than helpful. It depends on too many aspects.

You'll more easily get over the loss of a HSub than a carrier. But nevertheless it is probable that a lot more of your HSubs are in port for repairs than carriers because taking damage is near unavoidable routine for subs while a successful carrier-fleet might outdistance its enemies and take considerable less damage or none at all.
While it is ok to operate a pack of HSubs with an average of 40% damage, this is counterproductive for a CVL-fleet because to be successful CVLs are much more dependent on a good ratio of combatpower to fleetvisibility. Damage reduces combatpower but not visibility. Ok for HSubs which have a such small visibility of 1.5 that the ratio really doesn't matter but a CVL has a visibility of 80 which matters a lot.

So, already just for this 2 ship types the answere differs. As a rule of thumb I send a HSub-fleet to port for repairs when the average strength gets close to around 50-60%, for a CVL-fleet when the CVLs fall below 80 strength IF the situation and their present task allows it which usually means: Is a replacement fleet available?

If no replacement fleet is available, this should lead to 2 things:
  • Short term: Think hard about reducing your operational areas, your Navy is very probably overextended and a partial tactical retreat is advisable (sometimes less is more or at least: better).
  • Long term: Better put more ships into your production lines. Since that takes rather long, much better would had been to have them already in production and soon finished.
Remember Part 10 when I sighed so heavily about "Production: Same mistake as in every game". Yes, cutting down the number of ships in production shortly before going into (an even planned) war is beyond stupidity. There are several reasons why it is very advisable to start the war with a good reserve and more ships to come from the production lines, you'll need them not only for emergencies and replacements for lost ships but the demand for fleets will in general grow during the war instead of getting smaller. This is even true when you are successfully smashing the enemy fleets. A successful war means ever widening field of operations (=more ships needed). Due to damage taken, more ships will get out of action the longer the war lasts (=even more ships needed).
Conclusion: In a planned war, you start it when you are satisfied with the number of ships you have ready. But you should make damned sure to keep them coming. And if not for the present war, you'll need them for the next one.
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This guide was so interesting to read, I had never thought CVL's could be that useful. I always thought they were like, well, trash, haha.
In so many China games in KR I've stayed in eternal war with Japan as I build enough naval bombers/nukes/transport planes and paratroops to invade Japan, but I never had the patience to build up my naval forces as I always thought "Nah, when I get CV's and their doctrines... Japan will just have plenty more", haha.

But this guide was amazing, I also lacked understanding of DH's naval combat. The section about positioning, the combat ranges, their priorities for targets... woah, fascinating. It really made me want to try taking a country and making it a naval power out of nowhere now, :p
Part 16: The Sea so vast: Fleet Deployment - Recap Naval Doctrines and Building Strat
Part 16: The Sea so vast: Fleet Deployment - Recap Naval Doctrines and Building Strat

First a recap on naval strats: I've mentioned earlier that the German naval doctrine was Indirect Approach but initially this was meant for battle cruisers and heavy cruisers and even excluded submarines. Thus DH gives BCs and CAs, quite faithfully, good boni in that doctrine tree. Weird choice by the Germans... and might demand an explanation:
The Germans have quite a romantic thing going with pirates and "Indianer" (meaning the North American natives but I am using the German word because, as a matter of fact, German "Indiander" lack any historic resemblance and came into German culture as pure fiction or rather romantic projection, mainly by writer Karl May).
The German psyche used to be of an underdog (perhaps still is). This might come a bit surprising since Germany is, while no superpower, nevertheless generally considered as one of the most powerful countries in the world. HoI-players like to stomp the world with it or vice versa unite the world against this mighty foe.
But Germany was unified as a nation as late as 1870/71. At that time the UK was the established ruler of the sea with a vast world-spanning empire, the French a close second but the leading culture and with the most beautiful language (and nobody more convinced about it than the French themselves) and the Italians, while sharing many of the same problems with Germany, had at least historically proved themselves with the Roman Empire. None of that for the Germans.
So they liked to cheer for the pirates, the "Indianer", perceived as comrade underdogs and living free and wild (which was always a romantic German dream, yeah, sometimes complete opposites have a strange attractiveness).

This explains, though in a weird way, why the Germans, when soundly defeating the French whole scale for the very first time in 1870/71, went straight away from underdog to megalomaniac. And this victory was the result of only the "Small German Solution" as the German unification was discussed in the 19th century in contrast to the "Great German Solution" which would had included also all the German speaking parts of back then quite big Austria... yes, you might see how and where the Nazis came from... underdogs with an unhealthy inferiority complex switching to megalomaniac lethal rascists striving for an ideal of the blonde beast (in stark contrast to the cultivated French... siblings choose the space which isn't already occupied).

This tremendous feeling of power what all you can achieve once united has happened to probably many nations, starting with Babylon. Unfortunately for the world and the Germans themselves, they got caught with it as late as the 19th and 20th centuries. And while somehow restrained in the late 19th century by reactionary but very smart Bismarck, then after a while Hitler came...

So, what on Earth has that do do with a Navy guide?
It's the only explanation I can think of why the German Admirality initially went for a Naval Doctrine based on battle cruisers and heavy cruisers. It's the mindset of an underdog going the pirate way because achieving and claiming naval superiority vs the mighty British Royal Navy seemed insane. The initial plan instead consisted of fast ships with a punch (BCs and CAs), operating worldwide, especially far away to hunt for British trade ships and minor fleets: Indirect Approach / Naval Interdiction, sneaky raider patrols... all doctrines you can find in DH which basically means, the German Admirality went the Pirate way.

Ever heard about the mighty Prussian Navy?
Thus the other reason being the near complete lack of experience and knowledge about anything Navy. The last times somebody had heard something about German Navies was the Hanse, trading merchants from around 1000 years ago, and, perhaps, the Saxons building a fleet to invade Britain around the 5th century.

What happened, without much change from Kaiserreich to Weimarer Republic to Third Reich, was not even a true Indirect Approach strat but mixed with bourgeois imperialistic feelings which demanded no less than battleships or as Rifal phrased it: "Of course, what self respecting imperialist superpower are you if you don't have monstrously expensive ships of doubtful value in modern naval combat?"

This led to... absolutely nothing of use. And submarines, although existing in small numbers, weren't even included into the Indirect Approach strat. Four things were necessary before subs became the main part of the German Navy strat:
# successes of subs in the war (right from the beginning)
# failure of the big surface ships (all the time)
# less resources for the Navy from on late 1941 (because the surface fleet was obviously useless)
# Dönitz replacing Raeder in 1943
And resulted in resources used for the wrong ships for the wrong doctrines and switching too late with not enough to subs.

This isn't the recommended way for you to follow in DH.

Instead of the German way the Chinese Navy went a different path. Right away heavily leaning on submarines and going the indirect approach and naval interdiction way. And instead of mixing it with BCs, CAs or even BBs they rounded it up with a very modern approach: carriers and the approbiate carrier doctrines. And due to lack of resources and time, they went with light carriers which, at least as long as you haven't maxed fleets, are arguably even better than CVs because for roughly the same price of 1 CV you can faster build 2 CVL, roughly same sea attack but double organisation, good, but also double visibility, bad.

The Chinese Navy went also a different way what subs to build:
While the Chinese admirality, against better knowledge couldn't resist using their subs also for convoy raiding, the true task for the subs was to hunt capital ships. This is the reason why China didn't build a single normal sub but only heavy submarines. In DH sea attack is the value that counts in battles vs surface ships while convoy attack is used when, well, attacking convoys. In one DH patch subs got seriously downgraded by introducing this split. You might have noticed that sea attack and convoy attack is of the same value for all ships except subs which were seen as overpowered and thus their sea attack downgraded to around 1/3. For example sub-5 from 1933 has a convoy attack of 12 but a sea attack of only 4. But the corresponding heavy sub, also from 1933, has a sea attack of 8. Still only 2/3 of the convoy attack of 12 but double the sea attack of a normal sub. Additionally heavy subs can be equipped with float plane brigades which adds +1 to sea attack and as important +3 to sea detection among other nice boni. This enables them to become sufficient capital ship killers at the low price and production time of a destroyer.

To give an impression what is meant with low price:
As usual it heavily depends on your policy sliders, ministers bla blah but it is surely possible to give rough ratios. For the price of 1 battleship (without any brigades nor escorting DD) one can build between 6-10 heavy subs (including FP-brigade). More if you include the brigades you usually attach to a BB and then even one more if you also include the escorting DD of the BB. And statistically there is no doubt which side will prevail if you continuously send around 8 HSubs vs 1 BB / 1 DD. Usually even 6 HSubs vs 3 BB / 3 DD will go badly for the BBs. Chances to loose some HSubs are high, heavy damage is nearly granted but loosing 3 HSubs for 1 sunk BB is a bargain (and fortunately we play a game and don't really send humans into their death).

Heavy subs are overpowered. Yeah, does it bother underdog China?

Isn't it completly ahistoric to use subs to hunt capital ships?
Absolutely not and was done by almost every country that used subs. Foremost were the Japanese who thought it not honourable to attack merchant ships that can't fight back and instead concentrated on warships. Many lists in the wikipdia, and a summarize for the 5 major navies of WW2 by Evie HJ.

I've hinted at it several times and above I called it "convoy raiding against better knowledge":
Convy raiding is not a bad choice in general. As far back as 2006 blue emu showed that it is entirely possible to starve out even the UK with her thousands of convoys and with quite surprising and drastic effects on the whole worldwide theater of war: Are Submarines Worthless? (very entertaining AAR from one of the best and most inventive HoI players).
It is time consuming, though, and needs really dedicated effort.

Just a little bit of convoy raiding, though... while annoying for the target doesn't serve any strategical purpose. On the contrary, when your HSubs' task is to hunt for capital ships, it is even counter productive. Your HSubs get damaged, they loose org... all better spent vs enemy capitals. There might be exceptions for small countries which have not many convoys. In the case of China vs UK the brave HSubs destoyed hundrets of British conveys but it didn't help in any way: at no time the line of logistics were really cut and British troops without supplies. To strengthen this point: The UK started the war in June 1939 with 2590 convoys / 260 convoy escorts, 6 month later they still had 2268/200 convoy/escorts. It really didn't bother them. In the mod EoD I played, I think, the UK is given more convoys to start with than in DH full vanilla to raise the difficulty, though.

So, the answere to the question "to convoy raid or not", is a clear: NO, don't convoy raid. Except you do it as a clearly defined strat and with full dedication (how to do it can be easily looked up in blue emu's thread) and then your used stacks of subs are most likely too small to go capital ship hunting.

But then again you might be like most of the Chinese submarine commanders, you see a convoy passing by and just can't resist... over and over again. And now you know that you are doing it for no purpose other than having fun in senselessly blowing up things.

The Sea so vast: Fleet Deployment
The sea is big and full of terrors.
Nay, truer would be: The sea is big and full of emptiness.
Nevertheless, this guide described how 62 Chinese war ships sunk 106 enemy ships within 180 days... a lot.
So, how to find all this ships you want to sink?

Well, the sea is vast, yes. But there are nevertheless many restrictions. The Atlantic, the Pacific, the Indian Ocean... all are huge in itself but if you want to sail from one to the other it looks completly different. Here a modern map showing ship traffic and routes across the globe (couldn't find an equally good old one):
Already at a first glance you can see obvious patterns... shipping routes.
The way from the Atlantic to the Pacific is blocked by America and there are only 2 ways: thru the Panama Canal or the long and dangerous way around Cape Horn.

Similar when sailing from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean: you sail thru the Mediterranean using the Gibraltar strait and the Suez Canal and then you have to pass thru the narrow Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden... or you go the long way around Cape of Good Hope.

Obviously, when being aware of those sailing routes, you don't sail blindly thru the sea but wait where enemy ships must (more or less) pass thru.

More or less because obviously you can also travel around almost the whole world, from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Indian Ocean and vice versa but that would take so much longer.
An example for the longest possible way: Commander Bligh on the HMS Bounty, sailing from England to Cape Horn, which used to be one of the most difficult and dangerous to sail areas, trying in vain several times to get around the Cape, then turning around to sail around Cape of Good Hope instead, crossing all the Indian Ocean, then half of the Pacific, until finally reaching Tahiti after 10 month. That's a voyage! With an unexpected ending. I better stop wandering off topic now...

Even from the Pacific into the Indian Ocean any ship must use certain straits, most notoriously the Malacca Strait near Singapore (ever wondered why the Brits did try to cling to Singapore and Aden for so long... obvious, isn't it?)

Now, in times of war the shortest route might be not the best one because it has become a very dangerous route. But while you can vary your routes on the open sea to an extent, at some point there are some choke points you just can't avoid.

And with some tactical planning and help by land forces you can narrow those paths even more down. Shut down one or even all three of the absolute most important sea paths: Gibraltar Strait by controlling Gibraltar, the Suez Canal (Suez) or the Panama Canal (Balboa) and you are forcing your enemies to sail the incredible long way around Cape Horn or Cape of Good Hope. A looong way... which also means convoy escorts and Navy ships get scattered along all this way... while you can concentrate your forces and pick your time and location to strike.

Operational examples are always helpful, so, what meant the above for operations of the Chinese Navy:
For the Chinese Navy against the British and French fleets the natural area of prey with by far the most kills was the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. After the Chinese conquest of the Suez Canal it moved to the Western Mediterranean very close to Gibraltar and the important French harbour of Toulon. When the Chinese Navy was able to enlarge its area of operation, the Cape of Good Hope was added as a hunting area but more effective proved the area between Madagascar and mainland Africa: the Mozambique Channel.

But keep in mind: The "AI" will react to your fleet movements and actions. If one route gets attacked, the "Ai" will try to switch routes, might also send out especially DD task forces for sub-hunting. Convoy route switches happen immediatly and for your subs it might be quite prudent to also slightly switch the area of operation. Until a ship task force arrives quite some time can pass, though, the way might be long (or not if one is rather nearby).

This reactive behaviour of the "AI" gave the Chinese Navy also a good second option to prey upon enemy warships: bait = our precious transports.
This can be completly catastrophic or, if you are in the habit of giving your transporters a good escort of CVL/DDs like the Chinese Navy, it opens a full new chain of attacks: enemy warships closing in on your transports. But most often, due to the superior sea detection ability of the small CVL-escorts, they detect the enemy early and initiate the sea battle on their terms which means at a long enough distance to outrange the wannabe attackers. Well, most often means not always and also not always outdistancing if you meet an enemy carrier fleet. But the Chinese Navy used the good practice of packs of HSubs in advanced positions which not only softened up incoming enemy fleets but also gave warnings of particularly dangerous and big fleets which were better to avoid by the transports regardless of their fine escorts.

In land battles every player learned to look at the terrain and to adopt, adapt and include it into battle tactics.
Basically it is no different with sea battles.
Look at the map, study it, often enough discovering that as vast as the sea is the choke points are even more prominent than on land.
And the usual happens: Fight smart, deny your opponents the advantages of the terrain, instead turn it around and use it to your advantage and... you win.

What a splendid last sentence.

And thus I'll finish this guide, initially planned as perhaps 5 chapters if I can really find enough in DH about naval warfare. Little did I know.
It was a true pleasure writing this guide and I learned a lot. Astonishing how many chapters I started with a set opinion only to discover that I needed to change it completly while analyizing it a bit.

Well, probably I'll move the
Open Question section for better access and overview down to become the last chapter which will spoil a bit this last sentences.
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This guide was so interesting to read, I had never thought CVL's could be that useful. I always thought they were like, well, trash, haha.
In so many China games in KR I've stayed in eternal war with Japan as I build enough naval bombers/nukes/transport planes and paratroops to invade Japan, but I never had the patience to build up my naval forces as I always thought "Nah, when I get CV's and their doctrines... Japan will just have plenty more", haha.
Did you play China from on 1933? Or started rather later?
I played China from on 1933 which makes it much easier to handle the Japanese from on 1937, much more time to prepare and build up. And I did not try to invade them, kicked them only off the continent. Invading Japan with its only 3 landing zones, all mountains or urban area, doesn't look easy.

I got the impression that China's biggest and most difficult foe is... China. I found the start with China extremely difficult and needed to lower difficulty to normal and even then I think I restarted 4 times to manage the first months. Once China is united, everything else seemed to become much easier in comparison. Today I gave the China 1939 scenario a short look... whoa, that looks even more difficult.

If you manage to research nukes, transport planes and paras with China... hey, building up a small but decent Navy is easy in comparison.
And while CVLs are really powerful, don't forget the HSubs. A small cost comparison:

10606 IC-days: 15 CVL-1 with LCag + AA
3949 IC-days: 15 DD-7 with ASW
14555 IC-days

5148 IC-days: 30 HSubs with FP

So, the 15 CVL with brigades plus the necessary DD to accompy them cost almost 3 times more than the 30 HSubs which are also very fast in repairing and building while combined have roughly double the punch in sea attack than 15 CVL. Nevertheless the CVLs really excell in keeping your trasnports safe. But it is very effective to use the HSubs as advance fleet to patrol and wipe the sea. I always felt that the CVL-fleets are too precious to detach them to mere patrol duty. But it was very effective to use them whenever the HSubs had pinned an enemy fleet eg in a port or narrow sea area.

Fantastic write-up, thoroughly enjoyed it all!

Really brought back memories when you linked the Are Submarines Worthless? thread,
So you had read it yourself? Back then?

And absolutely. It took me quite a while to refind the thread and then found myself reading it again for hours yesterday. It happened quite long before my own HoI/DH-time but it seems to me blue emu really hit a nerve back then after all those complains about subs useless after the downgrade and then showing the absolute opposite. Just look how many players in that thread enthusistically embrace his new strat. While I don't use standard subs and it looks like I use a completly different navy strat, I feel nevertheless heavily influenced and inspired by his general approach to play and to try out things.

The other heavy inspriation especially for this China game of mine was, of course:
Blue Sky, White Sun, And A Wholly Red Fort: Asia's Liberation Wars [EoD/Customized] by zanaikin
Like an eligthenment for me concerning how to improve game fun by mixing in a bit role-play and lots of historic read up and research. And thus I found myself encouraged as much as extremely enjoying thinking and writing up the non-guide parts like Part 9: Colonialism - the other side or this rather funny approach to the German psyche in the last chapter.
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Did you play China from on 1933? Or started rather later?
I played China from on 1933 which makes it much easier to handle the Japanese from on 1937, much more time to prepare and build up. And I did not try to invade them, kicked them only off the continent. Invading Japan with its only 3 landing zones, all mountains or urban area, doesn't look easy.
Oh, since it was Kaiserreich I started by 1936 and mostly focused on ground army to unite China. Though right now I'm trying this advice in a Yugoslavia game I have in KR as well, it's 1941 and I'm already building 6 CVL, 6 DD (from 1933) and 12 H-SS (1933). I'm mostly trying to gather a navy to bully some far away countries in my search for oil, haha. Though the research is feeling a bit slow, but it's nice, I'm some months close to deploying my first Yugoslav aircraft carriers haha.

I will try it on Vanilla later, I have a game as China starting in 1933 but since I chose Red China it's 1934 and I'm in a massive war against Japan so, I'm mostly trying to survive their assaults. :p
Thanks for this marvelous guide!
I'm already building 6 CVL, 6 DD (from 1933) and 12 H-SS (1933)
Since the destoyers take less time to build than the CVLs, you might find it interesting to first research DDs upto 1937 before putting them into production. Every research in DDs substantially empowers their anti-sub capacity with subs being the most fearful enemy of carriers. Alternatively or additionally ASW-brigades help, too. With everything else the CVLs are able to cope themselves as long as you keep up your research for LCAGs.

but since I chose Red China it's 1934
Yeah, that's, I imagine, another very tough challenge.
So you had read it yourself? Back then?

Not when it came out, but I've lurked on these forums long enough to have read many many great threads on game mechanics. Maybe three-four -ish years ago, there was an AAR writer who used a sub focused strategy as Germany in DH vanilla (if memory serves). Was a fantastic writeup with tons of detail on sub fleet compositions and positions. He absolutely decimated the allied convoy juggernaut. And, this was with 1940(?), 6 unit regular SS/torp stacks. For some reason "60 SS units total" comes to mind, but its been so long I may be mistaken.

Subs are absolutely powerful in the game post-nerf, but like everything else, requires dedicated effort to really make shine.

I really like your CVL strategy and since I'm in a Kaiserreich Imperial Russia game atm, figured I'd try it out. Still waiting on my DD screens to finish their queue and looking forward to bring the hurt on Britain's Syndy scum :). I typically use (as Japan, I've played *tons* of Japan) CVL's as capital CV screens believe it or not. For the flavor! Ready to see how they stack up as the primary naval force for a change.
CVL's as capital CV screens believe it or not. For the flavor! Ready to see how they stack up as the primary naval force for a change.
But you are also using real screens? Or do you, for the flavour, take the hefty malus for capitals without equivalent screens/escorts? Wouldn't that make winning sea battles really difficult and your carriers completly helpless against subs?
He absolutely decimated the allied convoy juggernaut. And, this was with 1940(?), 6 unit regular SS/torp stacks.
You can't use torps on subs in DH vanilla but on surface ships and there are some mods where it is possible to use them also on subs. AI-Germany, I think, even gets some subs with torps in DH vanilla.
Torps raise convoy attack quite dramatically but lower max firing distance also dramatically. I've never tried it but always wondered about the impact it would have on convoy raiding. Would the subs or ships take more damage form the defending convoy escorts due to the lowered distance? Would it be outshined by the raised convoy attack value?
But you are also using real screens?

That would be funny! My comment above requires a bit more explanation. When I say I use CVL's as CV screens, that's also in *addition* to a normal fleet comp. I've just never used a CVL-only carrier fleet. When you consider the vastly reduced build times, your strategy really makes sense for non-naval focused nations or those with poor tech teams.

Here's one of my CVL fleets in my current game:


Here's a CV/CVL fleet from a way back game:

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FAQ - Hints & Tricks - Sources
FAQ - Hints & Tricks - Sources

Further questions, answeres, clarifications, hints & tips... very much welcome.
Answered questions
  • Why weren't more (light) carrriers lost in the given naval war examples of this guide? Or what makes carriers so strong?
    In HoI2 players assumed that if all things are equal the chosen default starting combat distance in naval battles is usually determined by the ship-class with the longest shooting distance (taken from both sides). It seems this was carried over in DH. This is obviously to vast advantage for carriers since it means even at default positions BBs are not in shooting distance. Every doctrine and tech which raises positioning is worth gold. The whole doctrine tree of "fleet-in-being" gives BBs really good positioning values but the battle results showed quite clearly that China's light carriers were still able to "outposition" the enemy BBs. The reason for this is very probably the compounding effects of the much better sea detection values of carriers in combination with rather small (less visible) specialized carrier/DD fleets.
    The biggest difference to landbattles: In naval battles the contest for achieving the prefered combat distance is prime and more important than having more ships and/or more sea attack power.

  • If battle distance is so important, should heavy subs be not really bad then?
    The foremost advantage of heavy subs is their cheap price. For the price of roughly a destroyer you get a boat capable to sink a BB, CV, BC, CA, CL (all rather helpless vs subs). Subs are also an own ship-class. Neither sea attack nor sea detection work on them. It needs sub detection to find a sub, it needs the ability sub attack to harm them. Most capital ships including CAs and CLs have no or only a neglectible ability to do so. And due to their very low visibility which can rightfully be called a sneak-ability, subs are almost always in attack range in a naval battle. Only destroyers are really capable of sub-hunting (and escort carriers) and this is the ability which is raised the most with every new researched destroyer type and the various anti-sub-warfare techs until their abilites are as good as becoming the demise of subs sometime in the early 40ies. So, as powerful as heavy subs can be, their success is limited to a time-window in which you have to achieve your goals with them.

  • Naval brigades?
    Most naval brigades are split into 2 types, for screens or small ships with the preface S- (for DD, CL, CA) and capital brigades (without preface). Each ship-class can carry a different max number of brigades: DD(1), CL(2), CA(3), CVE(3), BC(4), CV and CVL(4), BB(5), Subs(1, only IH), HSubs(2, only IH and FP) and TP(0). You can either build ships with already attached brigades (recommended) or built them in an own queue (same place as land brigades, just scroll down a bit). Other than for land units naval brigades can be only attached and then stick to the ship forever (so choose wisely). Exceptions: FP and (L)CAGs which count as air brigades.
    How to improve brigades via tech is sometimes kind of hidden, here a list which brigades get activated or improved by what tech:
    • Carrier Air Group (CAG/LCAG): both via Aircraft:CAG (starting 1922, every new model should have research priority)
    • Fire Control (FC): Industrial: Computers: Analog Fire Control (1916), Adv..Comp (1942)
    • Seaplane=Floatplanes (FP): Aircraft: Seaplanes (from on 1911, FP-2 in 1914 is the first giving 5km additional firerange, FP-5 in 1928 is probably what you should research to)
    • Naval Anti-Air: Armor & Artillery: Static Anti-Air: 1930, 1938, 1940 etc.
    • ASW (for DD only): Naval: ASW (1918, 1934 etc,)
    • Torps (TM): Naval: Torpedos... activated 1870, gets enhanced 1948: new modern torpedo
    • Radar (RA): Industrial: Radar Warning
    • Impr. Hull (IH): Industrial: Manufacturing: activated 1930 (no updates)
  • What's the target priority for NAV-planes when attacking a fleet?
    Answere was provided by VTs in this post:
    As defined in misc.txt, line 573 and following:
    # Naval bombardment [1] - Chance for attacking bombers to hit the most damaged ship in fleet. [1] + [2] <= 100; 100 - [1] - [2] = chance to hit a random ship. Don't use fractions!
    50 #50
    # Naval Bombardment [2] - Chance for attacking bombers to hit the best ship in fleet. [1] + [2] <= 100; 100 - [1] - [2] = chance to hit a random ship. Don't use fractions!
    25 #25
    NAV have a 50% chance to hit the most damaged ship, 25% chance to hit the "best" ship and a 25% chance to hit a random ship.
    Thus the impression of NAV as excellent "finish off killers" is validated while NAV targetting TPs is either the result of a random target choice or that those TPs are already quite damaged.

  • What's the normal sailing range of a fleet?
    The ship with the smallest sailing range gives the range for the whole fleet. Should be kept in mind before merging very old ships with new ones. Usually newer ships have better range. The center point of the range is always the naval base of a fleet. Changing the naval base is possible via "Rebase" (very similar to planes and also drops org, the further over your range you rebase ships the higher the org loss). You can rebase to any of your own naval bases and also of your allies'.
    Within the Naval Doctrines there is one section called "Logistic Support". Each researched field in there raises the range for all ships.
    For some naval missions range is calculated differently: Convoy Raiding, Sea Transport, Sneak Move (see below)

  • Range for convoy raiding
    is doubled in DH full. The mission efficiency can be raised by researching the Naval Interdiction tree.
    Mods may handled it dfferently, you can look it up in Darkest Hour\Mods\<mod_name>\db\misc.txt, line 887:
    # _MISSION_CONVOY_RAIDING_    0     # 0 = disabled by default, 1 = enabled by default
        0.5    # Starting missions efficiency. Valid values: 0.05 to 10.0
        2.0    # Fleet range modifier
        1.0    # Chance to be detected (Chance * This / mission_efficiency). Lower the better

  • Range for Sea Transport
    is tripled in DH full. Can be done only to friendly ports.
    The org of the transported units gets seriously lowered, probably in relation to the distance.
    The chance to get discovered can be lowered by researching the Naval Interdiction tree.
    Mods may handled it dfferently, you can look it up in Darkest Hour\Mods\<mod_name>\db\misc.txt, line 905:
    # _MISSION_SEA_TRANSPORT_    1     # 0 = disabled by default, 1 = enabled by default
        0.5    # Starting missions efficiency. Valid values: 0.05 to 10.0
        3.0    # Fleet range modifier
        1.0    # Chance to be detected (Chance * This / mission_efficiency). Lower the better

  • Range for Sneak Move
    is only 75% of the normal range. The chance to get discovered can be lowered by researching the Naval Interdiction tree.
    Mods may handled it dfferently, you can look it up in Darkest Hour\Mods\<mod_name>\db\misc.txt, line 919:
    # _MISSION_SNEAK_MOVE_    1     # 0 = disabled by default, 1 = enabled by default
        0.5    # Starting missions efficiency. Valid values: 0.05 to 10.0
        0.75    # Fleet range modifier
        0.75    # Chance to be detected (Chance * This / mission_efficiency). Lower the better
Probably answered questions
  • What's the target priority in sea battles?
    (although I couldn't find anything about target priorities for ships in misc.txt, obversation of seabattles seems to strongly suggest the following order)
    Transports (TP), Capital Ships, Screens/Escorts.
    All ships try to fire on the prefered target... if they are in range. Once a target is chosen, it will stay the target until sunk (there might be an exception for targets of friendly fire, don't know for sure confirmed). The chance to choose the prefered priority target or only a random ship is shown by the percentages on both sides of the prefered combat distance. In the worst case a ship might even fire on a friendly one. See also Part 5.
    Exception: Destroyers (DDs) have subs as primary target.

  • Carrier Strike on Port (see Part 12, spoiler: CVL-Portstrike) : What attack type of the (light) carrier or rather the (L)CAG is used for this? Sea attack or air attack?
    Probably sea attack since all other carrier attacks are also sea attack based. There are still rumours that this single mission might be the exception to the rule and could be air-attack based, though. If someone finds a way to prove the one or the other would be fine, of course.

  • What's the difference between the missions "Naval Interdiction" and "Naval Combat Patrol"?
    If you have chosen "Fleet-in-Being" most likely the mission efficiency for Naval Combat Patrols will be better for you because various fields within Fleet-in-Being give stronger boni to it than for Naval Interdiction which is supported by the "Indirect Approach" tech tree. Both can be further raised by researching other fields, mainly found in the Naval Supremacy section.
    You can easily look up your mission efficiencies in the Tech Overview, left side, section "Missions".
    The tooltip mission descriptions mentioning the "larger area" of combat patrols might be outdated after DH introduced the menue where you can more or less freely choose size and area of the mission.
    Wether the expressions "engage any enemy ships entering the area" (naval interdiction) and "engage any enemy ship they encounter" (combat patrol) have to be taken literally or are just text variations... no idea.
    My recommendation would be to use the mission your efficiency is best for.
  • Does ESE, which I tried to explain in Part 7, apply to ships and sea battles?

  • A TP in port of a region which gets conquered by an amphibious landing gets destroyed (as described in Part 12, spoiler: 3 Mountain units destroying...). Is this a bug or a regular feature? Does it only happen when a region gets conquered via amphibious landings? Is it connected with the type of ship, in this case being a TP or would it also happen to a "normal" naval ship like a BB? In a very similar situation I even captured a transport.

  • Any landunit just unloaded or after battle can't move for 24h. But you can load them into a transport rightaway and sail them to somewhere. Within that 24h they can be unloaded but you can't make an amphibious landing with them.

  • Coastal region hopping: If you have just won the landbattle over a coastal region, instead of moving your units via land to conquere that region, sometimes it is much faster to just load one or several of your landunits into a transport and make an amphibious landing on the now undefended region. There is the danger, especially in contested searegions, that your transport might get attacked by enemy navy or airforce, though.

  • Mixed coastal hopping: Often enough there is no beach and you can't do a landing but perhaps there is a port. After a successful battle over this region, why not using only your fastest unit to move into the land region while ferrying in your slow ones by transport... while transports are slow in comparison to other ships they are still much faster than infantry.

  • Floatplanes (FP) and carrier air groups (CAG) are not considered naval units and they can be upgraded. Upgrade happens whenever a ship equipped with FP or CAG is in a naval base (for example for repairs). For this to happen the unit must be allowed to upgrade. It is also a good idea to prioritize the unit for repairs (and thus automatically also for upgrades) and to allocate some resorces towards the upgrade slider in the economy menu otherwise upgrading will happen only at a glacial pace.

  • Faster naval bases: It is possible to build naval bases either specifically for a province (done from the province view) but also as a long production line within the production menu. The latter allows to start production long before you have actually conquered the region where you want the naval base to be. Additionally you can make usage of the gearing bonus when you produce the naval bases in a long serial line. As soon as you have placed a naval base, it is possible to rebase right away, no need to wait until the naval base is fully built up.

  • Partly retreat in seabattles: If several of your fleets are involved in the same seabattle, it is very well possible to order just one to flee while the other fights. For example your transporters or a fleet of particularly damaged ships. Leaving a seabattle is only possible after 4h in the battle, just order your fleet to move into an adjascent sea region or perhaps even in a port or naval base within the sea region.

  • Tactical retreat in seabattles: When you loose a seabattle, your fleet will flee to... some random adjascent place. Sometimes it is much better to order your fleet manually to flee. This way you can choose where they are going.

  • Heavily opposed landings: The tech "Improved Naval Invasion" comes quite early: 1934, and is heavily recommended and allows 3 units to make an amphibious landing. The next tech, allowing 5 units, comes rather late: 1938, quite high tech level 9 and all too often you will find it difficult to research it for various reasons. 3 landing units is good vs one opposing enemy unit but almost never enough when the beach is guarded by 3 or even more units. Instead of just attacking with more units which would give all attacking units severe and accumulating mali, make a string of attacks: Once your first 3 landing units have depleted their org, replace them with the next wave from waiting trasports and so on. Handy if you can support them also with shorebombarding from your battle fleet and airforce on ground support mission.

Time to give credit where credit is well deserved: All the sources, articles and posts which somehow have contributed to this guide. And as a matter of fact there are a myriad more of single posts of various posters all over the board which I just can't list all here.
You might notice that in some cases my suggestions differ drastically from the here listed sources. Well, many are for HoI2, some are old and some have just a different approach or opinion... nevertheless I've found all of them an inspiration and interesting to read (list still in work and in no kind of order of importance):
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Mmmh, I must admit I feel a kind of emptiness.
It seems in the last weeks I got very much used to have this strat-guide in the back of my mind, pondering what to write, tackling strategical or tactical problems, how to express it in English... while taking a shower or sitting in the park or walking around.

The example China in my game has reached an important point: Fighting the Europeans, namely the French and Brits, on their own soil... or rather not. Fighting them on their own soil is an immense problem for China due to the distance. China hasn't an unbroken landchain to Africa, Gibraltar still in the hands of the UK and thus closing the Med for China on that side. I have only one idea how to get Gibraltar, far fetched, China isn't prepared for it and it would take ages. Invading the Med coast of France is rather easy, though. Nevertheless a surprisingly vast restructuring of the Chinese Navy would be needed.

On the other hand, most of the hard stuff I know about naval warfare is already in the above chapters. To continue would be rather to continue with an exercise in campaign planning and to finish the anti-imp-crusade China has begun. So I am unsure wether it is fit stuff for this thread.

Any opinions? Anybody interested to
Nothing wrong with stopping a campaign once your 'strategic' goals have been met. In this case documenting the rise of Chinese sea power (among a whole host of other naval-related topics) using a rather unorthodox strategy!

I imagine many DH players do that quite often, I know I do, for a whole host of reasons. Ultimately its a game, if you're still interested keep at it! If not, no worries, this thread will continue to be valuable regardless.

On the other hand, there's always AAR-land if you'd like to more fully explore this, or any other, play-through. Happy hunting Admiral!
Thank you for this extremely comprehensive write up. Glad people are still doing science with this game. What surprises me the most is how viable CVL are. I thought the light carriers would get stomped by normal carriers unless outnumbering them several times. Aside from that, I hadn't realized that escorting my TP might actually increase their risk due to the escort ship chosing to start combat. I guess i need to get much more used to using Sneak Move huh? It does feel like a somewhat annoying micromanagement. Also, it sounds like you rely a lot on NAVs to finish off damage ships, but you also mention they're bad at locating fleets at sea unless a battle is on- do you make an effort to time your NAV mission deployments to coincide with battles starting, and if so how?

An ideal system I guess would be for all fleets to have some sort of "engage/do not engage" toggle you could flip at will- perhaps with an option to have a pop-up happen when a navy sights a ship but does not engage. The H-sub tooltip says they're good for scouting, but because of mechancs like this naval reconnaissance is basically impossible. Your convoy raiders are smart enough to not start a fight against a fleet with 9001 escorts, I wish they could do the same with actual on-map navies.

By the way, when you start the game as a major power like Japan or the USA that already has a lot of CAs and battleships, what is the best way to use them? Or should you just turn them all into convoy escorts?

The question of how "capturing" ships work is an interesting one. Been a while since i last played a naval game, but I have occasionally had cases such as finding a lone ex-Japanese destroyer in my naval list after conquering the Philippines. Very rare though, 1 or 2 per game at most They always have very low strength- I don't know if the STR is reduced when they are captured, or if having very low STR while in port is a prerequisite for capturing a ship.

Question about convoys: how, if at all, does the amount of convoy transports needed to supply an overseas army vary with the distance the convoys must travel? supplying a force half a world away by sea always feels too easy in this game. (also, TC in general is probably off topic, but what is the "Supply distance" modifier that some techs give?)

  • What the difference between the missions "Naval Interdiction" and "Naval Combat Patrol"?
    If you have chosen "Fleet-in-Being" most likely the mission efficiency for Naval Combat Patrols will be better for you because various fields within Fleet-in-Being give stronger boni to it than for Naval Interdiction which is supported by the "Indirect Approach" tech tree. Both can be further raised by researching other fields, mainly found in the Naval Supremacy section.
    You can easily look up your mission efficiencies in the Tech Overview, left side, section "Missions".
    The tooltip mission descriptions mentioning the "larger area" of combat patrols might be outdated after DH introduced the menue where you can more or less freely choose size and area of the mission.
So you should always go for whichever one has the most Efficiency from doctines, with any other distinctions being depreciated mechanics? Interesting.

Speaking of mechanics, did HOI2 ever let you set the STR and ORG thresholds for missions separately or were they always forced to be the same value? It's hella annoying when some escort ship chips my raider's paint and also drops them to near-zero org, causing the whole fleet to sail back to port and back out in a several-week round trip.