How to build a powerful Navy from nothing: Operational Example

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Part 1: Purpose and starting situation
  • Altruist

    9 Badges
    Sep 13, 2011
    • Darkest Hour
    • Stellaris
    How to build a powerful Navy from nothing: Operational Example for KMT China

    Part 1: Purpose and starting situation
    Part 2: Strategy: Defining goals
    Part 3: Strategy: What kind of Navy is needed, what is affordable
    Part 4: A plan is better than no plan but...
    Part 5: Operational Naval Warfare: Mechanics of Seabattles, Amphibious Landings
    Part 6: Operational Naval Warfare: NAV Port Strikes, Transport special rules
    Part 7: Excursus: TC (transport capacity), ESE (effective supply efficiency)
    Part 8: Sunk ships statistics for the 2nd Sino-Japanese War... evaluation and conclusions
    Part 9: Colonialism - the other side
    Part 10: Tactical planning: War, Fleet Deployment, Importance of Naval Bases, Military Theory
    Part 11:
    Transports: to escort or not to escort?
    Part 12: Examples: Seabattles, Carrier Strike on Port, Amphibious Landing
    Part 13: Proof of Concept: Accounting of the bloodshed so far... June - December 1939
    Part 14: Miscellaneous: Open Questions, 3 Ways to see Sunken Ships
    Part 15: Fleet Maintenance: Repairs - Formula, Mechanics, How and When
    Part 16: Fleet Deployment - Recap Naval Doctrines and Building Strat

    Some countries start as naval powers... others not.
    This guide is for the latter, the upstarts, who start with barely anything. This example will assume that you have many other pressing problems and can only afford as less as possible for your Navy but that your strat nevertheless involves the need for a Navy. And that this Navy needs to face established naval giants like the UK or Japan or even both plus the whole of the Commonwealth and France.

    In general this guide tries to introduce the beginner or 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.
    At some points I might explain the obvious but usually guides aren't for the experienced but for new players and we can all remember the steep learning curve Darkest Hour demands.

    This example is for Darkest Hour Full 1.05.1. No mods, so no upgrading of ships which some mods allow and what would make it much easier. Later images will involve a mod (because I was playing EoD) but hopefully I'll be able to leave out any mod-specifics so it stays fully compatible with DH Full played without mod.

    Country: Nationalist China, also known as the 1st Republic of China, led by the Kuomintang Party.
    Start: 1933
    China starts in a nearly hopeless state, action right from the beginning with many conflicts, a tiny useless Navy good only for scrapping but quite the potential to become a superpower and on the way to there with a pretty good chance that it must fight the naval powers of the time even before WW2 starts.
    China is NOT for the beginner, it is really tricky and if you aren't an advanced player you'll likely fail with China. but it is an excellent example how to build a Navy from nothing. And that knowledge can be transfered to any other country. I have also played China recently, so it is easier for me to use it as an example. I'll also refer ONLY to Navy buildup and nothing else. There are many ways to world domination and Naval power, so take my lines as inspiration and not as the one and only way to do things.

    Hint: If you are keen on playing China, my recommendation, though, would be, wether you want to go the Kuomingtang or the Communist way, to play with a good mod like Edge of Darkness (EoD) since it adds lots of spice and events... but for a kind of guide it is always best to refer to the main game without mods.
    21 ships.
    The majority from 1895 with a sailing range of 1500 and no good for nothing. May they be destroyers (DD), light cruisers (CL) or heavy cruisers (CA) we'll need to do what needs to be done: Scrapping them or rather converting them into convoy escorts which puts them to better use than keeping them.

    Especially the new player might think: "What a waste! Aren't they of some use? At least as cannon fodder?"
    This old ships have no range, are slow, their gunnery gets outdistanced in every fight and they only use up supplies and fuel better saved. Keeping them is like bringing spears to a fight where the other side uses machine guns. We get 102 convoy escorts out of the 18 ships we convert, that's quite good and useful. The convoy escorts won't cost us any upkeep and they will automatically upgrade their abilities with tech we are going to research (to be exact: your convoy escorts represent destroyers 1 level lower than your researched DD-tech while "Convoy Escort Efficiency" is enhanced by researching the "Naval Supremacy" tree on the left side in the Naval doctrines).

    Only the 2 best light cruisers (CL-4) will be of use and we'll keep them, additionalyl the lone transport (TP-1) which we'll scrap as soon as we have better transports. This shrinks the Chinese Navy to 3 ships.

    Why keeping those CL-4? (btw: They are better than anything China has tech for, so I assume they shall indicate that China bought those cruisers from the ugly round eyes.)
    They have a sailing range of 7500, max speed of 34 and a max firing distance of 20... this is very similar to some ships we plan to build later on and thus they can get integrated into our future fleet without slowing it down, reducing sailing range or lowering the firing distance... all other ships we have scrapped would had done so and thus rather hindered and crippled our future fleet while being too weak to serve any purpose to group them all into one "old fleet"-stack.

    Hint when playing a mod like EoD: You'll want to convert to convoy escorts only your destroyers and save light and heavy cruisers and transporters for later upgrade to light carriers.

    Tech situation:
    To start with barely nothing... literally:
    You have almost no Naval tech to start with. To make things worse, to the left you can see China's "best" 3 Naval tech teams. And yes, you start out with no more than 3 tech slots. (And since the other tech fields look quite similar, before you start any naval tech there are really more pressing things to research before going for your first naval tech... apart from the small problem starting out with only 4 IC and a dissent of 40% which will get even higher soon.)

    No ship fights well without the corresponding naval doctrines:
    Let's look at it the positive way: a blank sheet with a free choice which way to go... and lots of stuff to research. Again to the left some of your very modest tech teams at your disposal.

    This doesn't look exactly like the coming naval superpower to strike fear into the Japanese Navy and the Royal Navy might miss a shot here and there while rolling on deck laughing (RoDL) about the Chinese Navy.

    • Because it is shorter "advantages" will be usually refered to as bonus (plural: boni) and "disadvantages" as malus (plural: mali). Both are originally from Latin and yes, it also sounds so much more academic and smart.
    • Usually, whenever I list production times and costs or refer to sea attack etc., I will not cite the plain figures as given in the tables or in the unit files but those in-game for "my" China which will also include "my" policy sliders, ministers and assume having researched approbiate parallel techs like eg. Torpedo which raises sea attack of HSubs, NAV or CAGs.
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    Part 2: Strategy: Defining goals
  • Altruist

    9 Badges
    Sep 13, 2011
    • Darkest Hour
    • Stellaris
    Part 2: Strategy: Defining goals

    Well, to be honest, China could do quite well without any fleet at all, so we have to invent a purpose. Generally speaking Darkest Hour is an event-driven sandbox game (although it wouldn't be wrong to call it a WW2 simulator rather than a game, either), but it is usually a good idea to throw in some role-playing. Even if you are not into role-playing, it helps to define your goals in the game. It gives you direction what to do and how. Of course, your goal might be total world domination but, let's face it, it gets a bit boring after a while and tedious and Darkest Hour has relatively strong mechanics against it.
    Game lore: Only national provinces give you full access to the resources and industry capacity in it, from all other provinces you get only a fraction, additionally you get partisan activity in many areas in the world. The exact values you can see in ..\Darkest Hour\Mods\Darkest Hour Full\db\misc.txt under the lines
    "IC Non-National Province Multiplier": 0.2
    "IC Non-Owned"=occupied: 0.1, both awfully low
    better for resources: 0.9 multiplier for non-national and 0.8 for occupied.
    Numbers might differ when you are playing a mod.

    1. Unification of China which starts ridden by warlords and the antagonistic Communist movement that also tries to unify China.
      This is very event driven, starts right from on 1933 and keeps you quite busy for a while. Neither have you time to build a Navy nor would it be really of any use.
    2. Fencing off the Japanese.
      Although they have already conquered quite a part of China, the true action will start also event driven around 1936/37.
    3. Not only fencing off the Japanese but kicking their ass by freeing Shanghai, the North of China: Manchukuo and Korea... but not conquering Japan itself.
      Having a fleet helps but is not absolutely necessary. But I really like to smash their fleet to teach those brother and sisters that they aren't the only ones to successfully stand up against imperialistic aggression and that they have chosen the wrong path by not only standing up against the Imperialists but by becoming some themselves. Having a capable fleet also helps getting back Taiwan from Japan.
    4. Anti-Imperialistic Crusade: While I haven't got much sympathy for the Kuomintang I do appreciate their strong anti-imperialistic stance. And there is only one language the Imperialist powers understand, one way how to earn their respect and this is war and beating them.
      a) Working with that and the coast of China still littered with what the roundeyes call concessions, there are events to seize back Macao and Hongkong.
      b) Especially the latter, when done before WW2 starts, might lead the UK to recklessly declare war upon China. And with them is allied the whole Commonwealth plus France. Yeah! Now we get going. And we will bring armageddon to those megalomaniac racists who think they can just divide a big chunk of Asia inbetween them and the whole of Africa. Short-time goal: Getting back all of China.
    5. Mid-time goal is freeing Indochina from the French, India from the British.
    6. And while we are at it, the longterm goal will be freeing the Arab contries.
    7. Then the whole of Africa... (Abyssinia/Ethopia was the last and only independent country in Africa until the conquest by Italy, then ALL of Africa was occupied by the UK, France, Belgium, Portugal, Italy and Spain.)
    • Non-national provinces/countries must be truly freed which means after occupation/annexation, liberating them as puppets and then giving them full independence. Exceptions are allowed for very small countries until China has enough power to handle the dissent which comes with giving annexed areas independence (sadly this dissent, as logically it is for imperialist powers, applies to all and everyhwere).
    • China won't bother with WW2. Shall the Imperialists kill each other. China won't ally with the Axis, the Allies nor the ComInternational. Instead it will create a big 4th alliance: The Anti-Imperialistic Alliance (AIA) and every freed territory is welcome to join as a free and independent country.
    • Only "Western" countries like Australia, New Zealand or, although not planned, European countries...may be annexed long-term. They shall learn and experience what this means.
    • Policy sliders shall be set first to make China powerful, then to allow war declarations also against colonial powers like Netherlands and Belgium. Italy would be nice but difficult, their dirty chemical warfare against Abyssinia or Spain's against Marocco won't be forgotten (or have you?).
    • No doomstacks of submarines but a limit to no more than 6 in one fleet (this is to raise the difficulty).

    Obviously the Anti-Imperialistic crusade has a dire need for a Navy. China needs to fight some of the strongest naval powers in the game. And China will commence quite some amphibic warfare while also needs to secure its lines of logistics and reinforcements. The Chinese Navy will be also the main defense the newly freed countries have against the imperialistic aggressors until they have enough time to build up their own military and play their part in the alliance.

    Sidenote: Interestingly enough, even after WW2 starts, France and the UK don't seem to bother about Germany but send the bulk of their airforce and fleets against China. Yeah, that fits.

    Sidenote 2: As you can see, a bit of role play really adds some spice *grin

    To come: Part 3: Strategy: What kind of Navy is needed, what is affordable.
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    Part 3: Strategy: What kind of Navy is needed, what is affordable
  • Altruist

    9 Badges
    Sep 13, 2011
    • Darkest Hour
    • Stellaris
    Part 3: Strategy: What kind of Navy is needed, what is affordable

    From the above defined goals and the time schedule we can conclude that China will have quite a busy time but also until 1936/37 to build up a "somehow" Navy when it clashes with Japan and upto 1938/39 when it gets serious and finds itself fighting against roughly half of the world: the Allies consisting of UK, Commonwealth plus France. Hopefully not the USA... if China manages to weaken Japan's Navy enough they might not attack Pearl Harbour, US not joining WW2 and not becoming part of the Allies.

    What kind of Navy
    In general there are 3 main ways you can go which, no surprise, are mirrowed by the available naval doctrines:
    Fleet-in-being: Battleships (UK, France, Italy)
    Carrier Tactics: Carriers / Light Carriers (Japan/US)
    Indirect Approach: usually seen as Submarines but actually it favours the most battlecruisers and heavy cruisers (the latter the initial German approach, the first what they switched to).

    In reality and in-game those 3 options are often quite mingled with each other. The reason for this is that as clear cut as it looks for us today, it wasn't for the planners back then. The Japanese having perhaps the truest carrier doctrine and strategy but also wasting huge resources on building BBs like Yamato, the UK having lots of BBs but also some carriers and the US only learning after having lost many of their BBs that there is quite some power in still having carriers.

    In-game "Fleet-in_Being" and "Indirect Approach" are doctrines which exclude each other, so you can only choose the one or the other, you can still always build subs and BBs nevertheless. Carrier Tactics as a doctrine is not exclusive but can be researched and used with both of the other major doctrines... so no wonder those doctrines, usage and application overlap. And out-of-game historically you can see it as the powers slowly learning, mostly the hard way, that the era of battleships was fading, carriers coming and those without the means forced into the depht of the sea to strike from there... but most of the time, since ship building takes such a long time, all were using whatever they had: old and outdated, shiny and new, fitting into doctrines or not or inventing new doctrines and ideas on a monthly base like in the Atlantic sub-war.

    Another reason is that different ship-types serve different purposes. You wouldn't escort transports with BBs nor with submarines, the first much to valuable, the latter not able to. But you would use BBs to accompy amphibious landings on a large scale to protect as well as for heavy shore bombardment (see Normandy landing). Submarines were seen as a mainly convoy raiding ship-class but latest after the war some analyzing showed that they were, on all sides, also surprisingly successful against battleships and carriers.

    As a new naval power China has the advantage that it knows what it is fighting... not really. Due to the mixup described above and because taken altogether: Japan, UK and France, they have really plenty of each ship type, even submarines although none of them has taken the indirect approach way. Mmmh.

    Let's approach it then from the perspective what our Navy needs to do:
    We want to smash the Japanese Navy... at least a bit, to teach them a lesson and to make them forget Pearl Harbour.
    We need to escort our troop transporters the short way to Taiwan, later to Ceylon.
    And when China tries to free the Arabs and all of Africa there is no landway because we can't/don't want to conquere already existing/free Afghanistan and Iran, so our transports, lots of transports, will have to sail over the Arabian Sea into the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and perhaps as far as the Cape of Good Hope. Well, Cape of Good Hope sounds a bit overambitious.

    This means:
    • Troop transports, the more the better.
    • A means to escort them, best for escort duty is a mix of light carriers and destroyers (historicallly as game wise).
      The minimum escort I use is around 2 light carriers with 2 destroyers per 3 troop transporters. I always use light carriers at least in duos, never single. If that one light carrier gets targetted, looses organisation and can't shoot anymore, your own admiral switches combat distance to the next ship which would be a destroyer (which usually means all your transporters get into perfect shooting range for the enemy). Having 2 light carriers not only lowers chances for this unfortunate situation but also raises considerably your chance that already 4h have passed after wich you could manually leave the battle if it goes badly (by marking your fleet and ordering it into an adjascent seazone or a port in the same seazone).
    • Convoys and convoy escorts to supply our troops !!! (the 3 exclamation marks are to remind us because they are so easily forgotten and nevertheless so crucial).
    • A means to achieve localized sea superiority to get safely to Arabia and Africa. Fighting enemy fleets is best done by the heavy hitters: Carriers or battleships.
      The minimum of a somehow safe seazone one would wish for when coming from India would roughly encompass the area inbetween Ceylon and the Horn of Africa upto the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea (Suez Canal). Even when our troop transporters are escorted we want them to fight actual battles only if we can't avoid it. Fighting sea battles is much less risky when our troop transporters aren't part of it.
    What can we afford
    The question of what we can afford has several aspects: industrial capacity, building time of ships and the ability and time to research those ship types and the fitting doctrines.

    Let's approach one problem after another:
    1. Industrial capacity:
      To cut it short, the process of unifying China added by building more IC will enable us to an industrial base of over 100. Even when subtracting IC for consumer goods and supplies that is (barely) capable of building a limited fleet although we need to minimize spendings where- and for whatever we can.

    2. Building time (differs greatly depending mainly on your policies, I'll use the one for "my" China)
      There are 5 classes of capital ships: BBs, BCs, CVs (Carriers), CVLs (light carriers) and CVEs (escort carriers). All of them need to be escorted at least 1:1 by escorts or face serious disadvantages. Escorts include CAs (heavy cruisers), CLs (light cruisers) and DDs (destroyers). Esorts are often also refered to as "screens". Submarines and transports are each on their own and don't belong neither to capitals nor escorts.
      • Battleship: would take 1650 days to build, newer ones longer. That's almost 5 years. If we could start right away in 1933 they'd be finished around 1937/38. But we can't start right now, no resources nor research. A single battleships, again the oldest and cheapest, would cost 1730 IC... Well, battleships are hereby ruled out. We also know how they fared in WW2.
      • Carriers were the ruling ship-class in WW2 but unfortunately they take only slightly less time and resources than battleships... no way China will pull that off in time. This leaves us without the usual means to achieve local sea superiority.
      • Battlecruisers: Fighting battleships with advanced battlecruisers equipped with fire control and floatplane to enhance their combat distance is possible... against older ships and doomed when they face advanced battleships equally equipped. And same problem as before: building time is too long, expensive and their ability to achieve sea superiority is questionable.
      • CVEs are kind of special but more for reconnaissance than for battle in DH.

        Building a historic formidable battlefleet takes not only vast resources but also an awfully long time.

      • Light Carriers: Still need long to build, a bit over 2 years, but that's the shortest in comparison to the first 3 capital classes, also the cheapest. We could and probably will and need to use them not only for escort service but also for direct battles. But they are our only means to escort, China won't be able to build all too many of them, thus the need to share the role of achieving sea superiority between them and "the poor man's battlefleet" and that is:
      • Submarines: We will follow the Japenese example by building "Heavy Submarines", those are the subs with the farthest sailing range and the only ones which can be equipped with float planes enhancing some of their abilities considerably.
      • Destroyers: The cheapest and fastest to build of all escort-class ships, the right thing for China. Also the weakest in direct ship combat. Always try to have a few more than capitals, either in the fleet or as reserve/repairing, therefore you don't miss the 1:1 ratio with capitals.
    3. Naval research
      We must streamline and minimize our research as best as possible. That's probably always true or at least what you should aim for but compared with Germany, France, UK... heck, those imperialists are spoiled with starting tech, blueprints and tech teams of level 9... China's best tech team is level 4 and for naval it's 2(!). In this case streamlined means concentrating on the absolute necesseties.
      But at least now we have an idea what ships we want to build and the task of choosing those necessities is a lot easier.
      In red priorities, in green what's nice if we can manage. I've marked only tech upto around 1937, everything later isn't unimportant but comes too late for our wars. The finetune of priorities is simple, what takes longest to build needs to be researched first: Light Carriers, Destroyers, Subs and transports somewhere inbetween because there can always be unexpected situations where you need transports and then having none is... awkward. Also the reason why we kept the lone old transport.

      The first heavy submarine type comes at 1924, 2nd improved type in 1933.
      Our target for light carriers is 1929, only then comes the first true light carrier that can also equip a LCAG (light carrier air group). The ones before can't.
      (Troop-)Transports are the slowest ship-class, the first crawls at a speed of 12, 1925-type at 15, 1936-type at 18. You really always want to priorize this research. Faster means less time vulnerable at sea or more trips possible to carry troops.
      Torpedo research improves the attack of heavy subs and NAV-planes, also convoy attack including that of DDs. Quite good and not really of secondary importance. Nevertheless this improvement can be researched at any time while our ship-research needs to be done before we can even put those ships into the production line.

    4. Naval doctrine research
      As important as doctrines are, they have in general lesser priority than ship-research: similar reason as with torpedos, important but can be researched and "added" at any time. Thus we must first research our ships and when we have finished this and started the lengthy ship-production, there is still time to do the doctrines, hopefully.

      Engagement tactics: Prime because they give the highest and most boni. Obviously we will go with Indirect Approach.
      Carrier tactics: Next come the doctrines which enhance the chance of carriers to be at their optimal combat range because that's what makes them work or die while subs often enough are automatically in range even when the other side dictates the combat range.
      Amphibious Warfare: Unfortunately after having identified how important the above 2 sections are, for what we have planned Amphibious Warfare is even more important. Without it we just can't do landings and we do want to take Taiwan. The first tech there gives us the ability to make an amphibious landing with 2 units, the second tech with 3 units... which is usually just enough to succeed against 1 defending unit and fortunate if that is only a garrision and not at full strength. In practice you can do landings with more units than you have researched for but then all of them get horrible mali/disadvantages. (Some info about units, brigades and amphibious landings.)
      Naval Interdiction: The initial 2 naval interdiction techs are underwhelming but necessary prerequisites for the 2 later ones which give your subs the edge to rock.

    5. Having mentioned LCAGs and float planes (FP) this needs 2 additional things to research:

      As an exception I marked all of the available tech for carrier air groups. It's ok to use your first and oldest carrier ship models but you ALWAYS want to have up-to-date CAGs or LCAGs because each further tech gives you better range and more firepower (good but not as important as the better range). In-game mechanics treat neither seaplanes (=float planes) nor carrier air groups as naval which means the usual rule that ships can't upgrade does not apply. The rule that you can't unequip brigades fitted to a ship does also NOT apply. Instead you can happily detach and attach FP and (L)CAGs and they will also upgrade which happens often enough automatically during the periods you have those ships and HSubs in port for eg. repairs.
    What we are going to build for our Chinese Fleet are light carriers (CVLs), destroyers (DDs) and heavy submarines (HSubs)... nothing else... besides the always necessary transports, convoys and convoy escorts. For China there is basically no other (good) way but let me explain a bit why this is not only out of necessity but also quite a good combo to build which you might even want to pick for other countries. Besides the not to underestimate advantage of having especially your naval research more concentrated.

    Light carriers (CVLs) and also carriers in general have less shooting power than BBs or BCs but have shown historically and in-game their superiority due to their much better range. While this makes them good at combat, it let's them excell in the role of escorts where their main role is not destroying the enemy ships (good, of course, when they do) but to keep them at bay to ensure the security of the transports. Transports are the most vulnerable ships and get targetted with the highest priority which makes sense: a good part of your fleet is only there to ensure your troop-transporters get successfully where they shall go. If those transporters are sunk, your whole campaign is delayed or worse, if you have no transports to replace the lost ones, your whole campaign is stopped. While transports escorted by light carriers are still in danger from other carriers, all other ship-classes can't reach them as long your carriers can maintain their prefered combat distance. And that prefered combat range is the same for carriers as for light carriers because as an exception to the norm, their combat distance is not determined by the ship but by its equipped CAG (carrier air group) or LCAG and both share the same tech slots and the same range.

    CVL-1 (1929) with LCAG-3 (1934):
    Destroyers (DDs) as escorts are good. Their weaker combat stats in comparison to cruisers they make good with their lower cost, faster build and better ability to detect and fight submarines which again are THE weakness of battleships and carriers (CVEs are an exception but lack CAGs, the in-game description of carriers as good sub-hunters is a bit misleading and would be better placed only for CVEs).

    DD-6 (1933) with FC-1 (1916):
    What submarines (Sub/HSubs) makes quite formidable is that they change the main factor of sea battles which was range. Longest range usually won, especially obvious with carriers or why BBs got bigger and bigger guns. But submarines sneak and thus they are the ones dictating the range... or not if they fail to sneak but even than they might still be in range to cause havoc because the combat range versus subs is not determined by the capital ships (which usually have no sub-attack or only a very low one) but by their escorts.
    Sneak in game terms means broadly sea detection vs visibility: HSubs have a visibility of 1.5, for comparison BBs have 90, DDs 50.
    Heavy subs equipped with float planes have a combat range of 25 and theoretically even outdistance every destroyer. In practice most of the time the combat range of the 1st round when initiated by subs is 5. Not sure wether this is a glitch, nerf or wether it shall simulate the tactics of German U-boats to strike not from outside but from the inside of a convoy/fleet. Whatever, it means that, as formidable as HSubs are, they usually get hit themselves also quite a lot. But since they are dirtcheap, cheaper than DDs and for the price of 1 BB you can even build around 10 HSubs, losses are, as generals and admirals like to say: acceptable.

    HSub-1 (1924) with FP-5 (1928)

    Additional/alternative reading:
    # Naval Primer for HoI2 (so a bit old and here and there a bit off for Darkest Hour, very recommended the chapter about positioning, combat range...)

    To come: Part 4: A plan is better than no plan but...
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    Part 4: A plan is better than no plan but...
  • Altruist

    9 Badges
    Sep 13, 2011
    • Darkest Hour
    • Stellaris
    The idea to wrote something about fleet building and operations occured to me only midgame, so from now on it will get a bit difficult for me because soemtimes I lack the saves, I now wished I had and especially some more fleet battle images and reports. To make things worse, I didn't play DH full vanilla but enhanced by the afore mentioned mod Edge of Darkness. I'll still try to keep it as much vanilla as possible and I hope to manage neither to get myself nor the reader confused if I might mingle stuff up nevertheless. So in my game, due to the mod, I had no need to really build CVLs but was able to get them via upgrading transports and CLs. I had to do the same research, though.

    So, in vanilla I would had needed to put something like this into the production line:

    I have no save to get the production dates right and above dates show that they would had been finished too late for the war against Japan. If I had played without a mod, I should had put those CVLs into production in spring 1935 and actually 8 of them. They need 735 days to finish, a relatively short time when it comes to capital ships, still looong. So with 8 of them in production China should had had 8 of them for the war against Japan and 16 around the beginning of WW2.

    A word about brigades and ships:
    I used to put brigades into an own production line because due to the gearing bonus it is cheaper which is true. The other reason was that the construction costs are shown only with 1 digit behind the dot and from this I assumed some brigades weirdly expensive which is wrong. The production slider on the right hand side (not shown in above image) has 2 digits behind the dot and at one point I calculated the exact figure it was going up when putting something into production and realized that I had fallen for a simple rounding but the game itself calculates it correct and with at least 2 digits behind the dot.
    Nowadays, whenever possible, I produce units with their brigades already attached. Yes, it's slightly more expensive but I keep a much better overview and more important, your TC (transport capacity) doesn't get cluttered with all the brigades waiting until the units are finished or the other way around, units you need to keep in mind for sending back to port at one time to get their later finished brigades. And while you may be able to afford a cluttered TC in peace, certainly not when at war.
    There are exceptions as for the example above. One reason, it took an eternity to research the LCAGs supposed to go with those CVLs.

    The research time of the earliest old LCAGs was ok but the closer I got to the present and the smaller the research bonus the longer it took. The cream of the Chinese airforce tech teams is level 2 and it took them more than 10 month right until July 1936 to research a 1934 tech. So let me rephrase that, capital ships take long enough to build that the world and your tech might have changed a lot when they are finally ready, so you might always produce brigades for capitals extra.

    Part 4: A plan is better than no plan but...

    We'll forward to 1st July 1937, the Japanese feel strong and made up an incident, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, to declare war upon China:
    Is China ready for war?
    Well, the army is.
    The fleet not, or not as I had it wanted to be.
    Yes, there were 2 warlords more than I had anticipated who needed to be convinced at the barrel of a gun that unification of China is a splendid thing. And due to a development event every war for China means a -50% nerf on IC which is really crippling and makes a rednumbered horror out of your TC-load. But China could had coped with that, mainly it was I who blundered it. I had read up about the Marco Polo Incident, I knew that it was very likely to trigger in summer 1937... to then somehow mingle the dates in my mind and thinking it would come 1935 which it didn't... weird I thought but it looks like I'll have time until summer 1939 then, good (and was too lazy to look it up again). Luckily I still put the army where you can see them above and thought, well, a good fleet building plan is still a good plan, so I left most untouched but not all.
    The good, this way it is much closer to real life because usually, even if you have a feeling that war is coming, you certainly don't know exactly when. So I was honestly surprised when above war showed up. A feeling as rare in DH that I kind of appreciated it... after having been finished swearing at myself. And for a kind of guide text it is always good to have blunders in it (I would had wished for a few less, though).

    The original plan was to have something like upto the following for summer 1939 (for the Anti-Imperialist Crusade):
    30 HSubs-1
    16 CVL-1
    15 DD-7
    3 DD-6
    2 CL-4
    20 transports
    and to use whatever already available against the Japanese (initial plan, then this 1935 number infested my memory and I thought, no way to get up a fleet until then).

    So with all this bungled up plan, what China had as a Fleet at the start of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War: 27 ships
    12 HSubs
    3 CVL
    2 CL-4
    3 CL-3 (which I had called useless before, in upgrade to CVL, only possible due to the mod, and just 2 days before they would had upgraded I remembered to stop it to have at least some escorts for my CVLs, low range, slow... but better than nothing)
    7 transports
    with 3 DD-6 and shiny new 9 DD-7 to be finished (too late) in mid-July and mid-August. Fortunately I had at least 3 LCAGs for my small CVL-fleet.

    The Japanese Fleet: 105 ships
    2 CV (with the newest CAGs)
    1 CVL (with the newest LCAGs)
    3 CVE
    6 BB IV-VI (quite good and new ones)
    4 BC
    21 CA, 20 CL, 21 DD
    15 subs
    12 transports
    And when I look at the save now, it seems the Japanese Navy was as surprised as I about the start of the war (which, I think, is historically correct because it was mainly the deed of the ultra-imperialistic Japanese occupation force of Manchukuo (NorthChina) who, kind of a loose cannon, tried to force a war without orders).

    The Japanese were also quite up-to-date with their doctrines (to the left Japan, to the right China):

    You see that 1 researched Logistic Support tech for China: "Fuel Oil Logistics"? And perhaps remember it wasn't marked as necessary in the "plan" above? I learned it the hard way. It's a nice and useful tech but now I regretted it because it meant 1 important doctrine less for China. Make a plan, stick to it, don't let yourself get lured away like a stupid bird not able to resist a shiny ring (or tech).
    And having researched naval interdiction-doctrines over carrier doctrines was questionable to say the least.

    I mentioned that the era of BBs was fading and carriers showed to be the ruling ship-class in WW2 and winning or dying by their doctrines, let me illustrate a bit by comparison:

    The range (maximum firing distance) of the CVL is absolutely superior 145:39 but so is the sea attack of the BB 20:7. You can imagine what happens when the BB gets into shooting range... and may I point your eyes to the stats for naval vulnerability, the lower the better or the sturdier (you could see it as a kind of multiplier for the incoming sea attack or a percentage of what gets thru the armour).

    And finally, look at the organization: Japanese BB with 66%, Chinese CVL with 35%. Another result of Japan having researched already good doctrines for BB (mainly fleet-in-being) and China almost none yet for carriers.

    In practice this means, if the BB gets into shooting range it will rip apart the CVL. So, the expression "fading era of BBs" doesn't mean that they aren't bloody dangerous... IF they manage to get into shooting range.

    And if I usually say, go sparingly with brigades for army units and reserve them for special cases, it's the other way around for BBs, use all available brigades possible (the building time is that long, you won't be able to replace a lost BB in a current war). Thus the Japanese BB would be even deadlier in the hands of a player giving it not only a float plane (although this is by far the most important brigade) but also at least FC and AA and, that's questionable wether the price is really worth it, improved hulls.

    to come: Part 5: Operational Naval Warfare: Seabattles, Amphibious Landings
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    Part 5: Operational Naval Warfare: Mechanics of Seabattles, Amphibious Landings
  • Altruist

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    Part 5: Operational Naval Warfare: Mechanics of Seabattles, Amphibious Landings

    In my head I had lowered my wargoals vs Japan from "kicking their fleet" to "let's try to get Taiwan at least". Last I had scouted it, it had shown 1 garrison for each of the 2 possible landing zones. If HSubs are the poor man's battle fleet than the poor man's amphibious landing units are Mountain units equipped with engineer brigades (Mtn/eng) instead of Marines with amphibous armor. I had 3 Mtn/eng standing by and rushed them and my fleet to Taiwan. Meanwhile the Chinese army started attacking crack Japanese forces in Shanghai and all over the board to free Manchukuo and Korea (which will be the last mention of it because this is about fleet operations).


    It's the first hour of the battle, all ships without a picked target yet and this makes it a good situation to formulate first principles of seabattles.
    1. Combat Range of Seabattles: Capital vs Capital
      Each admiral strives to reach a combat-distance equal to his capital ship with the lowest firing distance multiplied with 0.9.

      On the Japanese side involved capital ships include BB-5 Ise, firing range 39km, and BC-2 Hiei with a firing range of 32km.
      Thus the ideal combat distance for the Japanese admiral is 32 x 0.9 = 28.8km.

      On the Chinese side all capitals are CVL-1 with a firing range of 145km, thus the Chinese admiral strives for a combat range of 145 x 0.9 = 130.5 km

      It's night (-50% for BB, -80% for CVL) and all sides can barely see each other but the Chinese CVL are even worse at night than BBs. Battle starts at a distance of 59.8km. Most likely the Chinese were too busy with shore bombardment to look around while their armada of 18 ships are a target no Japanese sailor is able to miss and thus Japan attacks, China is the defender.

    2. Positioning: Target priority and chances
      At the top, inbetween the 2 flags, to the right and left of the shown battle distance, you can see 2 different given percentages, called positioning. Primarily this shows the chance of each fleet to hit prefered targets (when in range).

      Targetpriority in order: Transports, Capitals, Escorts, (and DDs would go for subs first)
      So Japan has a 74% chance to actually shoot at the transports (which you can't see but are at the lower end of the Chinese ship list). From those transports the brave Chinese Mountain units are trying to make their very difficult landing on Taiwan. It would be highly unfortunate to loose those transports.
      The Chinese CVLs only with a 43% chance to hit one of their primary targets which would be the Japanese BB and BC. As a sad matter of fact their chance is rather high, in the confusion of the night and their lack of proper carrier doctrines, to shoot at their own ships.

    3. Admiral level and trait, ship stats and speed, day or night, weather, naval doctrines... and thrown in quite a big randomizing factor probably all or most of them somehow are attributes playing a factor how well your fleet gets into best combat distance and how well they shoot and pick targets. The exact formula of how all this data interacts with each other isn't published.
      Btw: If you look at historic sea battles, the role of plain chance is as big that it can be only called ridiculous, especially when considering how important they were: Battle of the Coral Sea, Battle of Midway, Battle of Jutland. Meeting in a friendly pub and throwing some dice looks about as "strategically".

    4. Which fleets take part in a sea battle?
      Once a battle is initiated, all fleets in the sea zone get involved into the sea battle (if they like it or not).

      You might notice that on the Chinese side 18 ships take part in the battle. Those are actually divided into 4 different fleets: 3 CVL/3 CL + 2 CL + 6 HSubs + 3 Trans.
      Similar rules as in land battles apply: the highest ranking admiral takes command. In this case it is a Grand Admiral. If it would be a Rear Admiral (lowest rank), all ships over the command limit would get severe mali. Which ships would get this mali isn't set but randomized. With one exception: transporters, those are always taken into account last. Leader traits of admirals count for those ships under their direct command. If those ships are chosen as being over the command limit, leader traits are nullified.
    It's a bad situation for the Chiense: Shortly before this battle the Chinese saw Japanese transporters hiding into a port at Taiwan and the HSubs had just arrived to support the CVLs in destroying those transporters should they dare to come out. But now those HSubs are just adding to the already high stacking malus of the Chinese Fleet making it a horrible -24%. Any other constellation would had been better. The Chinese HSubs on their own, especially at night, would had brought pain to the Japanese fleet. It would be THE ideal situation: capitals escorted by CAs, no single ship with a serious anti-sub capacity. What a pity. And it is unlikely that the battle-distance will get as short as allowing the HSubs to take part.

    Praise to Grand Admiral Chen! Kissed by luck he not only managed to keep the distance but the Japanese flee the battle to also hide in a Taiwan port. Japanese BB Ise was seriously damaged. No single Chinese sailor got wounded.

    Pencil scratching over paper: 4 Tp, 1 BB-5, 1 BC-2, 3 CA-2... now all hiding at Port Gaoxiong, Taiwan.

    The bad news about those previously sighted Japanese transporters, they seemed to have brought reinforcements. Taiwan's landing spots are now defended by 2 units each: Garrison 1939 and Infantry 1936, both with artillery brigades. It looks near hopeless to defeat them with 3 Mountain units from 1925 equipped with Eng-1 brigades. It seems more than prudent to support the two Chinese fighter-planes doing constant daylight ground support over the landing-battle with another 2 TAC (abandoning their support of the Shanghai battle which runs extremely well).
    And... that's not good planning but an extremely lucky day for the Chinese, the commander of the landing troops succeeds with a breakthrough action and turns the tide.


    Some hints about amphibious warfare or landings:
    • They are difficult (as you might have guessed form the long list following).
    • You get a rather heavy malus on it, for China 40% (you can look up how well you do it in the overview tables within the tech-section under "Amphibious Assault", on the left).
    • Additionally you can use only a limited number of troops to take part in it, for China 3 units (defined by your advances in the "Amphibious Warefare" tech in the Naval Doctrines), any more troops inflict an additional severe malus onto the whole landing corps.
    • Terrain of the landing zone plays also an important role, so if you have the chance to choose, you'll take the plain over the mountain landing.
    • Wether you can do a landing at all you can see when a province is marked with a small beach circle on the main map or a shown beach in the province view, otherwise the terrain is not suitable and forbids landings.
    • To start the landing you use the "Amphibious Assault" order with the transports having loaded your troops. Those transports need to stay not only for the whole time of the combat but until your troops have actually reached the province. Moving them before, stops the whole process. So better NOT to order them to to "disengage from battles" but guard them with a (separate) combat fleet. Also a good idea to tell your transporters not to leave a battle because they are low on org but to set this to zero.
    • Some units do better than others: Marines are best at 80%, Mtn and Paras at 60%, Inf at 40%, most others even worse at 20%.
    • Researching Marines comes with the additional advantage of each level also raising your "Amphibious Assault Efficiency" by 5%... which is fine but for China and many other countries nevertheless difficult due to missing fitting tech teams and a lot other pressing tech which needs researching.
    • Attaching brigades can enhance your attacking units or make them even worse, best are Amphibious Light Tanks which come with the Improved Light Tank 1939 tech and quite good are the very cheap engineering brigades at any level who give a 10% bonus and perhaps some more depending on the terrain while artillery brigades often enough make things worse with a -15% malus. That's why I called Mtn units with Eng-brigade the poor man's marines, early in tech and rather cheap.
    • If possible try to support your landing with:
      • a fleet in the adjascent sea area doing shore bombardement and guarding your transports
      • whatever planes you have with some soft attack doing "ground support" (CAS, TAC, Fighters, even NAV)
      • a good offensive or commando commander for the landing troops, but not neccessarily your best commander, though, because it is a high risk mission and you can easily loose your whole landing corps (above the Chinese were quite close to it due to a sea battle, lost transporters=lost units=chance for the commander to die)
      • and usually it also gives your landing corps quite a bonus if you give them "offensive supply"
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    Part 6: Operational Naval Warfare: NAV Port Strikes, Transport special rules
  • Altruist

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    Part 6: Operational Naval Warfare: NAV Port Strikes, Transport special rules

    Something was nagging in the back of my mind until I remembered: Yes, there were those 4 NAV (naval bombers) I had produced. And those Japanese transporters, BB, BC and CAs hiding in port, that called for a "Port Strike". My expectations were low, I had researched and produced only the weakest and earliest level of naval bombers (NAV-1), even had regretted it because tech team and resources were probably better spent otherwise.

    First attack was rather a fiasco, unexperienced with NAV I had sent them alone and they lost all their org more or less in the very first hour of the attack and retreated without having done real damage. So the next time I sent them in a mixed group together with my more modern TAC-5 which have a lowly naval attack of 1 but a better "ground vulnerability" which is the defense value of planes in air-sea battles. The result was astonishing:

    Well, the BB was already quite damaged from the previous sea battle vs my CVLs but seeing my 2 NAV/2 TAC wiping it out in the very first hour of the attack was a surprise nevertheless. In the remaining time of the attack they concentrated on the transports and sunk one of those, too. Splendid. That could be repeated...

    Not an exciting sea battle, yet, but a good example to demonstrate a special case.


    The Chinese Admiral is aiming for a combat distance of 20.7km. Although on the Chinese side capital ships are involved, he is obviously trying to get not only his capital ships but all ships into shooting range. Wise choice since the transporter can't do any harm.
    • Combat Range of Seabattles: Capital/Escorts vs Transports
      Attacking admiral will aim for a combat distance fitting to get not only his capital but also his escort ships into firing range with the usual 0.9 multiplier.
      Admirals of transport ships only, will always try to stay as far away as possible (aiming for 450km distance) and leave the battle as soon as possible (after 4h).
    But before the transport can be sunk, already in the 2nd hour of the battle the remains of the Japanese fleet hiding in port show also up and the Chinese Admiral switches right away back to best capital combat distance 130.5km:

    Night falls and apart from a little damage to the Japanese ships nothing interesting happens before they flee again into their port. Fleeing a sea battle is possible after 4h, the AI uses it a lot. If things go wrong, you should, too.

    While initially as surprised as annoyed by this highly unjapanese behaviour of fleeing into port after every sea battle instead of fighting it out, after a while routine set in:
    Japanese fleet moving out of port, getting damaged by my waiting CLVs, fleeing into port, getting decimated by the naval bombers, fleeing out of port into sea, getting defeated by my CVLs... after 2 weeks all initial Japanese ships were sunk. But the friendly Japanese admirality kept on sending (small reinforcements) with whom the whole game could be repeated.


    Naval bombers are mighty killers. Although not as deadly as the statistics might indicate because often enough they did only the very last finishing off of ships highly damaged from previous fleet battles. At one time a CVL made one shot of friendly fire which inflicted minimal damage, so far the only damage for the Chinese Fleet.
    Yes, we are back to plan 1: kicking the Japanese fleet.
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    Part 7: Excursus: TC (transport capacity), ESE (effective supply efficiency)
  • Altruist

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    Part 7: Excursus: TC (transport capacity), ESE (effective supply efficiency)

    TC and ESE are one of those variables heavily influencing many things within DH but are usually beyond understanding for the beginner (it surely was quite a black box for me). TC is a global variable influencing nearly everything.

    Fortunately the war between China and Japan provides us with 2 images which show in the most drastic way how it can change and what follows out of this change.

    To the left China's TC a few days before war started with Japan. The numbers shown are 219/328. The 2nd number 328 is your max transport capacity and when hovering over the icon it shows you how it is calculated and what influences it. The first number shows how much of your TC is used at the moment. The green colour indicates that everything is fine, you are below your max TC, every unit gets sufficiently supplied.

    maxTC = IC x 1.5 x (TechModifier + otherModifier)
    for China this would be:
    328 maxTC = 142 IC x 1.5 x 1.54 TechModifier

    Depending on your situation it might be a bit more complicated. I don't want to make it overcomplicated but nevertheless it needs at least mentioning:
    • everything what's in your strategic redeployment pool has a drain on your TC: simple units 10, brigades 3, static anti-air/radar 3, bases like airports or naval ports 100 (so better deploy them always at once)
    • every supply or fuel your units need drains your TC (1 supply = 1 TC needed, 1 fuel = 1 TC needed)
    • Partisan activity impacts your TC (because your supply lines is usually what those partisans love to attack)
    • "occupied province TC modifier": provinces you occupy will have an additional drain on your TC
    • some ministers have a positive, some a negative influence on your TC
    Nothing is hidden, all will be listed in the tool-tip when hovering your mouse over the TC-icon.
    Tech-Modifier play quite an important role and the techs responsible for it are usually seen as that important that they come right after those raising your research-ability, your general IC and then I'd already sort in TC-enhancing techs (which you can find in the tech-section for infantry in the lower right corner under the heading "Supply"). The best minister to lower your TC-load is the "Bread and Butter" Chief of the Army lowering it by 10-15% (if one is available I almost always use one).

    So, let's look at the right image, just a few days after the war started. What the hell happened? It's horrible! And red, very red, as a matter of fact China's effective supply efficiency has dropped to 49%. The direct results are drastic:
    • All land units move only at 49% of their speed which means they are crawling, they need more than double the time to reach the next province. Actually 49% speed is even only their theoretically best speed, the real average speed is even lower if moving in low-infra provinces (and that this will happen is for sure, every time a province is conquered, its infra gets halfed and only repairs itself very slowly over time... if ownership of a province switches several times it will half the infra every time, a 100% infra province going to 50%, then 25%, then 12.5% and so on).
    • All units regain organisation only at a much lowered speed.
    • All land units also fight much worse (no wonder if supplies and fuel can't reach them anylonger in sufficient numbers, and supplies presenting an abstracted name for ammunition, food, cloth whatever a unit needs).
    • Exactly how much worse a single unit fights is expressed by ESE (effective supply efficiency). You might have noticed that number when looking at a unit's stats or showing up in the combat tables. Generally speaking, when TC or to be correct supply efficiency is the global variable, ESE is what it means broken down on individual units where it also takes into account the infrastructure of the province. DH provides us with excellent data (if we know where to look for it):

      In this case the effective supply efficiency is better than just our global supply efficiency because this unit has additional boni due to a nearby HQ (+6%) and a commander with the logistics trait (+10%). You can also see what role the infra of the province plays. The result, ESE, is then a DIRECT multiplyer to your unit's combat stats... and that, we all agree, is very important.
    So, again, the question, what happened to China or how can I call myself an experienced player if I allow to get my so important TC to such shambles:
    • Well, you might also have noticed that China's IC has almost halfed and IC being an important variable of TC this leads directly to China's max TC being almost halfed. The reason is a China-specific event still active which fired years ago. Actually an event taken from real history in which China tried with an admirable zeal to modernize: to build up its industry capacity, infra, education, medicine, military and it did so at an astonishing speed and with commitment. In DH event terms this was translated into a bonus for building infra and IC and a hefty malus of -50% IC should China get into war. At some time during the war with Japan this event and its effects will be stopped and China, fighting for survival, will concentrate on war instead. And as sad as it was, all the commitment and investments of nearly 20 years into building up the nation were then, during the war with Japan destroyed and even a lot more. Just another grisly reminder that what we play for fun, is hell in real life. Not only the work of a whole generation gone to shambles but most of this generation also dying in war.
    • But not only the max TC has diminished a lot, the used TC has risen also a lot, from 219 at peace to 363 now at war. One reason is simple, a not deployed base, an air base, is putting a hefty drain of 100 on TC (and should be deployed immediatly, actually it has been already deployed but the numbers for TC update only once a day at midnight).
    • The other reason is war and what it means to usage of supplies and fuel. To illustrate here a MOT from left to right: stopped, moving, in combat:

      Stopped the MOT uses: 1.3 supplies + 0.5 fuel = 1.8 drain on TC
      Moving the MOT uses: 1.3 supplies + 5 fuel = 6.3 drain on TC
      In combat the MOT uses: 2.7 supplies + 6.3 fuel = 9 drain on TC

      At this time China has only 3 MOTs and you can guess why. China at war has just not the necessary TC to support many units very hungry for fuel and supplies. And at war, nearly ALL your units will be either fighting or moving.
    The bitter truth we've just learned, while DH provides you with good data, your peace TC data might be quite misleading to what happens when you are at war and that's where you need a good green TC the most. Well, you could try to calculate what your true TC drain (often refered to as TC-load) is when at war and that would probably drive you crazy. Instead, what is good practice, if you want to have an impression of your expected TC at war, shortly before midnight order all your (fuel-hungry) units to move, write down your TC-load before and after the midnight tick update and then stop all your units again. It would be good not only to be still in the green but allow also a margin for the additional drain when many units are in combat.
    But remember that not only China but the country you are playing might be also effected by one or several events firing when the diplomatic situation gets hot. If a country goes to war or is forced into it, it is always a dramatic turning point and it is rather the usual than the exception that this goes along with also quite dramatic events. Some good, some bad.

    What could had China done better to avoid getting into such a miserable situation with its transport capacity:
    • building more IC (well, not really, China really tried to build as much additional IC as possible, actually it is still building IC while at war)
    • building less supply and fuel hungry units (the 3 MOTs are borderline but it is a low number and the tactical advantages of having a few of those very fast units are vast... nevertheless keep this example in your mind when you think about building especially lots of motorized units and tanks.
    • researching more TC-enhancing techs (China worked hard and succeeded to get uptodate with those techs)
    • disbanding units (China actually did disband its most supply hungry units, even some HQs and many brigades and when knowing a war is coming there is a point where you can't convince yourself anylonger to disband even more units)
    Well, sometimes all you can do is just not enough and you have just to live/play with it. Or in the case of China, we'll have to wait until the event fires which frees us from the war induced -50% IC malus. And that's what China (or I) was actually aiming for when planning army, airforce and navy and then China's TC will be fitting. Otherwise, yes, I would disband even more units because there is, indeed, something like having a too big army for your own good and a supply efficiency of 49% is stupid to have.

    What about Navy and ESE?
    Ironically I honestly don't know. Each ship shows a line for its ESE but other than for land combats, there is no mentioning of it in sea battles. So I really don't know wether in DH it was forgotten to show the influence of ESE in sea battles or wether it might play no role. All I can say, it surely does play a role for amphibious landings. And that supplies and fuel for ships do add their load to TC but at a discount rate. While supplies and fuel for land units drain TC at a 1:1 ratio, supplies and fuel for ships do so only at a 1:0.33 ratio.

    Sidenote: From time to time there are complains that logistics in DH aren't properly implemented. Well... I disagree. It's abstracted, as it must be in a game and it is in my humble opinion really well abstracted, logically and implemented with influence and impact all over the game. It might look a bit complicated but only if your really want to dive into it which you don't really need to do, for playing it is sufficient to have read about it once and to keep some principles in the back of your mind. I don't know another game which does it as well.

    Additional/alternative reading:
    # Transport Capacity and Supply Efficiency FAQ (excellent in depth article for HoI2, most if not all still true for DH)
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    Part 8: Sunk ships statistics for the 2nd Sino-Japanese War... evaluation and conclusions
  • Altruist

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    Sep 13, 2011
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    For those curious about the previously mentioned event:

    While the +10% for building IC and infra was very useful and even more so the +15% research modifier, I gladly take back 50% of my IC which vanishes whenever China is at war. And with that China's TC is fine now.

    Part 8: Sunk ships statistics for the 2nd Sino-Japanese War... evaluation and conclusions

    Let's forward to the end of the war which was a rather short one lasting from 1st July to 28th August 1937. Less than 2 month then Japan had lost all provinces it owned on the continent, the Fading Sun event triggered, Shanghai and Manchukuo was Chinese again, Korea freed and Japan offered peace.


    That table confused me for quite a while until I learned how to read it.
    • Transports and Escorts: Refers to convoys and convoy escorts
    • TP: Refers to "real" transport ships (or troop-transporters) and does not mean that China really managed to sink 67 transporters as they show up on the map as single icons but, well, it is easiest explained by another image:

      DH sometimes refers to ships as squadrons of ships and in the tooltip we see what is meant with that. When we produce one transport, we can load it with only 1 army-unit, but the tool-tip shows that it actually consists of 5 transport ships.
      So if the above table lists 67 TP as lost, it actually might be 67/5=13 and at least another is damaged or less than 13 sunk but several damaged.
      In the case of China we lost only 1 true TP but several others were heavily damaged.
      I find this way of listing rather confusing.
    • DD and Subs: same logic as with TP, the shown numbers need to be divided by 5.
    • All other ships including HSubs are single sunk ships.


    Not bad. The small Chinese Navy managed to sink almost half of all Japanese capital ships, 14 of their 41 cruisers and almost all transports, the 2 remaining survived with much luck and severly damaged.

    The Chinese Navy lost only 1 CVL and 1 Transport (the 2 missing cruisers were actually converted/upgraded to CVLs which was only possible due to the played mod). But almost all ships took damage. One light cruiser managed to get out of a sea battle only by luck and with almost 80% damage.

    The biggest sea battle raged over several days and sea provinces and involved a big Japanese fleet which included their 2 main carriers and several BBs and CVEs. It was there that the Chinese lost their CVL. But also where the Japanese lost both of their carriers. Once those were discovered, they were hunted and engaged in several sea battles over and over again by CVLs as well as stalking heavy submarines and NAV-planes (the latter whenever they were in range and with enough organisation)... until finally the Japanese carriers and many other ships were sunk. A fine example of combined arms at sea.

    Sea battles are the only ones I really watch full time and with great joy. From this I would conclude and evaluate the following:
    • The used ship types: CVLs, DDs, HSubs have in a very small margin all about the same sea attack stats of 7-8 which seems to be misleading.

    • CVL-Fleet initiated by far the most contacts with enemy fleets which is surely because they have the best sea detection (and even if they don't initiate combat on their own, they are also by far the best seen and thus detected by enemy fleets).
    • The damage inflicted by CVL-fleets was small in each combat but added up due to the many combats. At night the damage inflicted was almost not noticable due to their heavy night mali but still they almost always managed to at least force the Japanese fleet to flee.
    • The biggest surprise was that the CVL-fleet even without proper doctrines managed to keep sea battles at a distance where BBs, BCs and CAs couldn't hit it. This failed only once. But perhaps the missing doctrines explain why they inflicted in general not that much damage (having only 3-4 CVLs is, of course, also a major factor).

    • DDs: There isn't much what can be concluded about the DDs. They were needed as escorts and did their job, sinking even some transports. Contact with enemy subs was made only once, then they dealt with them quick and deadly while staying themselves out of range of the rather old and low-range enemy subs. If at that time my CVLs would had been still escorted by old CLs with barely any anti-sub-attack it could had gone badly for my CVLs, though.

    • The heavy submarines managed to initiate combat considerably less often than the CVL-fleet but when they did, they usually inflicted quite heavy damage. Most deadly the HSubs were at night. Not only are subs the only ship type getting a bonus instead of a malus at night but this also means that at night all Japanese ships were severly handicapped at doing proper anti-sub-measures and thus usually all HSubs inflicted damage over the whole length of the battle. But even during the day the HSubs did rather fine. While they had to endure the most damage to themselves then which often enough led to several HSubs loose their organsisation and ability to shoot already in the first battlerounds, even 2 out of 6 remaining HSubs still in fighting shape might result in sinking 1 or even 2 capital ships.
    • It was rare that the HSubs equipped with float planes could play out their advantage in firing range (25) vs enemy DDs (always lower than 25). Usually the HSubs even themselves initiated combat at a much shorter range (often as close as range 5km). So the main advantage of the float planes seems to be the +1 on sea attack and especially the much enhanced sea detection. Without that very probably they would had been able to initiate combat only even fewer times.

    • NAV: The most kills were done by the only 4 NAV-planes China possessed. In the very most cases those were finishing kills of already heavily damaged ships. But they really seem to excell in this finisher-role and I got the impression that they choose their targets, indeed, according to what ship has the most damage or is the easiest to finish off.
    • NAV-planes searching for enemy fleets in the open sea seem to have a high chance NOT to find a fleet (even when there must be one). But they do find their targets when a sea battle is already ongoing. NAV-planes are at their best when doing port-strikes. Although they often enough attack not all but only a portion of the enemy fleet hiding there, this is even for the better because it concentrates their attacks. The exception being when those ports are defended by static anti-air which, even in 1937 at only 25 or 30% efficiency, takes quite a toll on the NAV-planes and let's them accumulate damage fast and loosing their complete organisation often enough within the very first strike-hour. Sending mixed air-fleets of NAV/TAC or NAV/FTR helps but only to an extent.

    • Attacking enemy convoys: Sigh, I do like to blow up things. So I always ordered my fleets when doing naval interdiction also to attack enemy convoys. But I have to admit, it is NOT smart to do so. At least mostly. The Chinese fleet is much too small, the Japanese number of convoys much too big and the war was too short. The 45 sunk convoy ships inflicted a minimal cost upon Japan but served no tactical nor strategical role. At no point it really threatened the Japanese supply lines. On the other hand on several occasions my CVL-fleet as well as the HSubs lost considerable organisation from the defending convoy escorts and thus made them more vulnerable in sea battles vs the Japanese Fleet.
    One interesting conclusion: Combined arms warfare is really quite an efficient thing also in naval warfare.
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    Part 9: Colonialism - the other side
  • Altruist

    9 Badges
    Sep 13, 2011
    • Darkest Hour
    • Stellaris
    Part 9: Colonialism - the other side

    Forward to 1939...
    Hongkong is still a British "concession" and since several years China was offered the in-game decision to negotiate over it with the UK or to just seize it. The UK again had the option to just decline any negotiations (what they did) and to answere a Chinese seizure of Hongkong with war (they did). Still a bit anxious about the prospect of war with the UK, the whole Commonwealth and France, China timed it in a way that this events would occure only several month before a possible breakout of WW2.

    As much as China was anxious about this war, yes, even feared it, China nevertheless wanted war. The reason for this is founded in historically based role-play, something needed to be corrected which had gone fundamentally wrong in the world.
    Apart from the economic reasons for the Imperialistic era/colonialism this went together with something really ugly.
    If one continent goes off to subdue all other continents it does so not only by the power of its cannons, although those are needed and help a lot. In the short run you can rule by the power of your cannons... but not in the long run. Every lasting rulerships needs also founding in ideology, for the subduers as much as for the subdued. Always. And the ideology of colonialism was a mix of plain racism and, more complex, an ideology of superiority. Superiority of race, superiority of culture, of civilisation, of industry.

    This allowed the Europeans not only an excuse for conquest, for slavery, for ripping apart whole continents, societies, for destroying cultures... no, it went as far as becoming in their minds a kind of holy mission often described as "the burden of the white men". Which wasn't an ironic expression nor meant cynical but to describe the hard work of the white men to convince people on 4 continents that their culture, their history, their beliefs were... shit and only worth to be eradicated, to express it very simply, and to be replaced by the enlighted culture and religion of the Europeans.

    So subdueing whole continents by military power always went hand in hand with telling the subdued that they were worthless, lower beings, most likely not even able to embrace the European fruits of culture and civilisation but probably should better find a way to be just content to look up to the new masters and admire them.

    If you do this long enough to people, they even start to believe it.

    And those who didn't believe it, those who rebelled, fought back... were mercilessly slain. And not just with any riff-raff military but usually the Europeans showed up with their best and most modern equipment, be it ships, machine-guns, bombers or chemical warfare. There was quite a logic to this, too. Sending expeditionary forces around the globe was/is expensive, so you try to minimize your sent forces. But the implied message of: "See our superiority, now despair and accept your lot", was also fully intentional.
    In this ongoing war of subdueing and breaking the spirits of the majority of mankind, China is in a unique situation. China is old. As old and aware of herself back to a time when Europeans don't even know what was back then on their soil. No Chinese can ever truly be convinced that they are supposed to have no culture. In the thousands of years of China's history they have faced conquerors often enough. And what are centuries. Finally those foes were either defeated or integrated... always. Those Europeans will be no different.
    And China is not only big but there are more Chinese than there ever will be Europeans. Yes, concesssions, some coastal areas needed to be ceded to them. Yes, the Opium War lost vs the British who desperately tried to find a way to get out of their negative trade balance with China and, more recently, the humiliation of the failed Boxer Rebellion. Nevertheless, finally the European conquerors have found an area they were never able to fully conquere, never able to convince the Chinese that they are only sub-humans.

    But it nevertheless looks dim.
    In this timeline China has unified (again) and risen to power earlier than historically. Which on its own won't make the Europeans stop. And so only 2 solutions seem approachable: To kill them all. Or to earn their respect and thru their respect to force them to rethink their ideology.
    Unfortunately the respect of Europeans isn't earned by a well written poem with the exact correct historic allegories and metaphors (in which Chinese bureaucrats are so welll schooled in). They seem much more inclined to show respect to those who are of military prowess and with the ability to beat them soundly.
    This will be the aim of the Chinese Anti-Imperialistic Crusade (AIC).
    Enfolding now and starting with the UK's unwillingness to give back that one city of Hongkong to China but instead declaring war. Little do they know...
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    Part 10: Tactical planning: War, Fleet Deployment, Importance of Naval Bases, Military Theory
  • Altruist

    9 Badges
    Sep 13, 2011
    • Darkest Hour
    • Stellaris
    Part 10: Tactical planning: War, Fleet Deployment, Importance of Naval Bases, Military Theory

    The UK declared war upon China on the 20th June of 1939. Which included a war declaration of their allies... many, the strongest: France, Canada, Australia, Union of South Africa...
    The next day the puppets of the imperialists followed suit: British Raj, Indochina, Oman...
    Altogether 14 countries and puppets.

    China has allies, too: Siam and Korea.
    China really tried to convince Afghanistan and Iran of the cause and to bring them in but even at relations of 200 they remain stubborn isolationists and refused an alliance or military access many times. Inconvenient. But managable. They are neither puppets nor allied with the imperialists, so China won't attack them.

    China was very busy in the last years and has reached an industrial capacity of 237, more than the UK or France but much less than the combined power of those Allies.

    The Chinese Fleet, while still only a fraction of the combined Allies forces, nevertheless has become quite formidable. We almost reached our initially planned numbers:
    The Allies' fleet is considerably bigger: 10 carriers (some of them hopefully only CVEs), 20 BBs... altogether 257 ships. But after having defeated the Japanese Navy the Chinese admirality has an immense confidence in its abilites, hopefully it makes them not too reckless.

    There are more "Allies" but I cut off those without any ships.

    I zoomed out the map at max and still it shows only a few of the countries China is now at war with... does China feel a bit awed? Yes. But instead we will use this map to show that for a splendid naval war you also need naval bases. And boldly we won't build naval bases but conquere them.

    The Chinese Navy is basically on the same path as once the Royal Navy was, only backwards. And at once it becomes obvious, why the Royal Navy deemed Hong Kong, Singapore, Colombo, Alexandria as so important and why those provinces have fully established ports of level 10. Those ports are essential for any navy as bases, to refit, to repair, to take up supplies if you are an European power and want to project your power upon Asia... and vice versa *evil grin

    "No plan survives contact with the enemy" (Moltke) but a plan is neverthelss much better than having no plan:


    Red circles: First wave of simultaneous amphibious landings.
    Red text: Operational areas of fleets. CVL includes usually also 3 transports in a separate fleet loaded with Mtn + engineer-brigades.
    Biggest CVL-fleet with 6 CVL/4 DD/2 CL guards Singapore. Although we couldn't detect any so far, we strongly suspect that there will be something like a strong British combat-fleet nearby or in port guarding South-East-Asia and the most important port for the British in that area.

    Which leaves only 2-3 CVL each for the other fleets escorting transports to their landing zones.
    Colombo and Male are both strategically important for further operations, each with ports of level 10 and also big airports. It's the absolute maximum range for our transports to operate. Thus, after a successful conquest of those ports, they will immediatly rebase to them. Newer transporters, in this case TP-3s from 1936, not only mean better speed but also bigger range. With TP-2s we couldn't pull this off.

    The HSubs, operating in packs of 6, are deployed as a kind of ahead-force, preferable at bottlenecks like the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden or the Malacca Strait, trying to engage enemy fleets before those get near to our CVL/transport landing operations. Often enough those bottlenecks are also the perfect location to stalk convoys.

    The first wave asks a lot from the Chinese fleet with many tasks, areas of operation, thin-stretched and without reserves. But it's the start of the war and all ships are fully operational and without any damage. Most likely this will be also the last time for a long time and we must make the most out of it. Battles will occure, damage and losses taken, ships detached for repairs and out of action for months... after this first wave, we'll very probably need to completly reorganise our fleets.
    Never have no reserves! Yes.
    And as a matter of fact, China has hidden reserves. The most crucial of all the operations is: Indochina and Singapore. Just imagine Chinese Navy operations along the Indian or even African/Arabian coast while Singapore would be still British, Indochina still French... suicidal, it's a strategic bottleneck which MUST be secured.. And thus we have no less than 3 CVL fleets and 2 HSub packs operating quite close together there. Each fleet has its own mission but if things go wrong, they can support each other within a very short time. Same is true for transports and amphibious forces in that area. And if things don't only go wrong but develop into a true catastrophe, the last fall back plan is too conquere Indochina/Saigon and Malaysia/Singapore via land (forces are marching at the same time, but via amphibious landings it would be so much faster).
    Something similar is true for the Colombo/Male operations area. As a matter of fact, we have 8 different fleets but only 1 is truly operating on its own (ahead HSub pack at the Gulf of Aden/Red Sea), all the other fleets are deployed in a way they they are either supporting each other automatically or could do so rather fast.

    Advice: Whenever you think you are finished with planning, force yourself to think about reserves. It automatically changes your perspective on your plans. Suddenly you don't look at the map with a gleam in your eyes seeing one success after another, but with a furrowed brow thinking: Mmh, what do I do if they run into the following problem, if this task force fails... and you start developing support plans or contingency plans: good.

    Green circles: Opportunistic secondary strike targets. If we detect that those landing zones are undefended, we'll use that opportunity.

    Orange circle: There is only one, Egypt or to be specific, the Suez Canal and Alexandria with surrounding provinces. It's a main future target after above targets are concluded and after we get an impression how well or badly the campaign in Indochina and the British Raj develops. The reason is obvious: Who controls Suez, controls the Suez Canal. Together with Gibraltar and Balboa (Panama Canal) THE 3 strategic targets on the map for naval warfare. Unfortunately so far we see no way how to attack Gibraltar (only possible via landway from Spain which needs either military access, an alliance or war with Spain and China has no clue how to get the one or the other).

    But "alone" closing the Suez Canal would be a great deed and crippling the Aliies' abilites immensely.

    Alexandria is another big strategic port, allowing access to Cyprus and Malta (yellow circles).
    Karachi, once secured, allows ferrying troops into the Gulf of Persia towards Basrah (yellow circle).
    1. We need ports to rebase our ships to enlarge their range (TP-3: 6000km). The exception being our deadly stalkers, the heavy submarines, with an immense range (HSub-1: 15500km) allowing them even when based at a Chinese port to reach as far as Gibraltar or Cape Good.

    2. We'll need ports for repairs and those ports are best as close to the front as possible (well, not too close because it would be of advantage to keep out of NAV-plane strike range). But directly after conquest, most infra and all port-level and airports are destroyed and take time to get repaired (another reason why to take strategic ports as soon as possible). The bigger the port the better, the higher the infra the faster everything repairs after conquest. When regularly sending ships to port for repairs, you will want big ports, otherwise it becomes a nightmare to keep a somehow overview. Best done by centralized and specialized ports: one for HSubs, one for CVL/DD, so you can see at a glance which are repaired and fit for duty again. This "centralizing of repairs" also allows to send out repaired ships not in single ones which would them quite vulnerable but in fleets of 2 or even 6 as an own task force with new orders.
      If those ports can be reached by enemy NAV which have quite a long range, you should make sure to have also an airport there with stationed fighters or interceptors. I usually also put radar and some static AA into the port region. Your ships in port are usually damaged, ideal for NAV to finish them off, so beware and prepare. Static AA, radar and airfield bonus help your interceptor/fighters to win the fight/lower the enemy planes' organisation as fast as possible to minimize their bombing time.

    3. Every port we conquere, is one base less for the Allies.
      This sounds a bit lame without explaining it further. China basically tries to repeat with the British what Alexander the Great did to the Persians. Alexander's navy was too weak to defeat the Persian Navy in the Mediterranean. On land, though, the Macedonian army was near invincible. Thus he defeated the Persian Navy not in open battle but by conquering all their ports in the Mediterranean. No ports, no navy. That was the reason why the Macedonians first went all around the Mediterranean from Greece to Egypt and only then into the heart of Persia. Otherwise the Persian fleet would had always been a threat to cut the Macedonians line of logistics via ships or across the Bosphorus.
      We plan to do something similar on a slightly larger scale with all British/French ports along the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.

    And I did the same mistake as in every game. I am not exaggerating, I really do it every game:

    There is a point when I think: "Whoa! So many HSubs already built. You should cut your production of HSubs down from 6 to 3."
    And every time I regret it a few month later and put them back into production, having, of course, lost all the gearing bonus. Why I regret it? I'll show later...

    Perhaps, by writing this down, I might free myself from this stupid reoccuring behaviour... perhaps.
    I doubt that there will be much changes in the future, the typical Chinese CVL-fleet we were aiming for looks like this:

    Each CVL with LCAG and Anti-Air-brigade (AA), the modern DD-7 each with Anti-Sub-Warfare-brigade (ASW). In my humble opinion the best well rounded fleet one can strive for:
    # the far reaching strike-range of the CVLs is the best protection against most other capital ships or cruisers with the exception of enemy carriers
    # the AA-brigade boosts the already quite good anti-air capabilities of the CVLs (but NAV-planes are deadly enough that there can't be enough boosting of AA)
    # and the ASW-brigades for the DD-7 makes them true sub-killers... and subs being the deadliest enemy of carriers.
    In general we apply the principle of strengthening strengthes.

    It took China quite a while to research those AA upto modern standards and we are damned proud of them.
    So far undecided but at one future day, when we manage to research good radar-brigades, those perhaps could be also added as brigades to the CVL to keep them at an advantage when it comes to sea detection and thru this keeping the initiative in starting sea battles which usually comes with a starting combat distance closer to the prefered ideal.

    Viable alternatives would be:
    # Instead of DDs to use as escorts semi-modern light cruisers (or a mix of DDs and CLs) which would even more enhance the fleet's AA-capabilities (and that's what CL excell in and is their main role) but a fleet of CVL and CL only would be wide open for any sub or HSub-attack... so it depends what you expect to fight. For China the usual restriction was that CLs are also considerably more expensive, take longer to build and even the DDs were almost not finished in time.
    # AA or Fire-Control (FC) as brigades for the DDs instead of ASW, again it depends what you expect to fight... China's intel on the allies claims that they have 27 subs and thus I feel more confident with ASW. (Whow, after opening the save for the UK to show their fleet listing here, I just realize that China's intel was quite good, the Allies have 30 subs. The chinese intel-chief is a truly creepy figure but a genius in his job).
    Another reason for ASW: DDs are the only ship-class that can equip ASW and I think it is probably never a good idea to throw away your only option to enhance your anti-sub capability.

    My 3 older DD-6 are equipped with FC-brigades, though. They were only an interim design and the FC raises their fire-range so they remain fully compatible also with newer DDs. Otherwise a single DD-6 inbetween 5 other DD-7 would lower the fire-range of all escorts in combat.

    With a ratio of 3 DD-6 (1933) and 15 DD-7 (1937) the Chinese Navy's escorts are probably the most modern in the world. Times change.

    Some more ranting about military theory:
    Moltke and the beginnings of Auftragstaktik
    For those interested in military theory, the above already cited Moltke the Elder, 1800-1891, (and the English wikipedia entry is IMHO better than the German) is someone interesting to read about. Apart from being a well-travelled man with experiences in the Danish, Prussian, Ottoman and German army, he was the one who introduced Auftragstaktik in the Prussian/German army. The English Mission-type tactics is a poor translation and probably rather misleading. I guess it comes from being reserved for special forces in most armies until recently. The better translation for the German Auftragstaktik would be "leading by task" (contrary to "leading by orders").
    Most will know "Auftragstaktik" as a doctrine probably from the WW2 Wehrmacht but as a matter of fact it started more than 70 years before with Moltke. It is a completly different way of commanding and operating. Auftragstaktik as a leading doctrine not only for highly trained special forces but for an whole army asks a lot from your officer corps, from the General down to the platoon leader. WW1 saw an initial decline back to leading by orders on the German side until they hit the wall with it and reinitiated Auftragstaktik with the development of "Sturmtruppen" or "Stoßtrupps". During the Weimar Republic it then fully bloomed as a consequence of the officer corps tasked with analysing the failures of WW1. So, you don't just decide and apply Auftragstaktik but it needs decades of development and training until it can be applied on a large whole army scale like in WW2. And... no Blitzkrieg without Auftragstaktik without a highly trained officer corps without leading from the front without...

    No plan survives contact with the enemy
    What I applied in above tactical map is another thesis of Moltke:
    While it is absolutely necessary to prepare and plan well for a war, after a while "fog of war" and "no plan survives contact with the enemy" take on such dimensions that it would be folly to think that one could just follow a pre-made plan without adaption and changes. This also changes how to plan a war towards putting a more flexible focus on actively trying to achieve options, bases, situations from which one can continue/strike further in the 2nd or 3rd stage and/or exploit detected weaknesses on the enemy side (no direct citation, rather a mix plus my own words to cut it short).

    The weakness of such an approach: If you overdo it, though, you might fall into the trap of starting things which look and go great in the beginning and then you hit a wall (Germany in WW1 and 2 being a perfect example: masters of military operations and tactics, lousy strategists)..

    So all the while a concept or image of the overall scenario needs to be in your mind to be able to re- and countercheck what you are planning to do. Moltke calls it: "The main task of military leaders consists in the extensive preparation of all possible outcomes." Well, he surely asked for a lot in his military leaders. He was chief of staff for 30 years in Prussia/Germany (and I bet not the easy-going type).

    Blitzkrieg and Deep Operations Doctrines
    Everybody uses some kind of Blitzkrieg tactics nowadays, I, too, and also usually try to adapt some Red Army Deep Operation doctrines, for example: "not to deliver victory in a single operation; instead, multiple operations, which might be conducted in parallel or successively" or "each of the operations along the front would have secondary strategic goals, and one of those operations would usually be aimed towards the primary objective"... and some more of it which is too long to cite here.

    All of it, of course, and even some fallback as far as Alexander the Great a bit transformed and adapted to the mix of Naval based warfare China wants to undertake. As an alien I would be deeply troubled how much human history and development seems to go parallely to warfare... so there is much to dive into, to get ideas from and to apply.

    Additional/alternative reading:
    # Concepts Of Warfare by Mikkel (the best shortest introduction to military campaign planning I know and universally applicable)
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    Part 11: Transports: to escort or not to escort? New
  • Altruist

    9 Badges
    Sep 13, 2011
    • Darkest Hour
    • Stellaris
    Part 11: Transports: to escort or not to escort?

    Your troop transporters are your most precious and most vulnerable ships. When on a mission and fully loaded, never send them out without protection.
    At least this is what common sense would dictate. In the following chapter we will strengthen this point as well as completly ripping it apart.

    As far as I know, one of the few cheats of the AI in DH gives them full awareness of all your ships (can't remember, though, where I read this). So, if you are pressed and in a risky mood, you might try and hope for the best when sending empty transporters back without escort (often this means towards a home port and away from enemy fleets) but I definetly wouldn't advise this if they are loaded with probably some of your best and expensive troops and most likely moving towards the enemy.

    Above I already wrote that a radical view on the purpose of all your fleet is that they have only one purpose: safety of your troop transporters. Everything else like sinking enemy ships, having wonderful big fleets cruising the oceans... is just a means to ensure you get your troops via sea where you want them.

    No surprise then that escort duty is important... and tedious, boring and really quite a hassle.
    There are many naval missions you can order your fleets to do. Unfortunately the mission of "escort the following ship..." is not existing in DH.

    Additionally there are a few more caveats:
    # Transport ships (henceforth TP) are your slowest ships. TP-3 (tech 1936) moves at a speed of 18. A simple destroyer (tech 1937) sails at more the double speed of 33, the earliest CVL (tech 1929) has still a speed of 28.
    # As soon as you load your TPs with troops, all ships in a fleet with a loaded TP are locked. That means you can't split the fleet or reassign some of your ships within this fleet to form another fleet. You are stuck with that fleet composition until the troops are unloaded.

    This leads to the following problem:
    Best would be to have your TPs in an own fleet and the escorting ships in another. This allows you to freely order those fleets independently from each other. For example in a battle to order your TPs to flee and your battle-fleet to fight it out. Or after a battle to reassign some of your damaged ships to a new fleet to sail to port for repairs. In a fleet composed of TPs with other ships you cannot do so due to the locked status.

    But if you have TPs in one fleet and the escorting ships in another fleet, they have both completly different sailing speeds. And if you order both your fleets, TPs and escort, to a target 5 regions away, the escorts will reach it in half the time the TPs need and thus the TPs sailing alone and without protection for most of the way nevertheless. Even when ordering your 2 fleets only to move 1 region and then again for another region, the same happens: your escort arrives in the next region much faster and in that time your transports are still in the starting region defenseless.
    So, here some examples and suggestions how to cope with the problem of escort duty in DH:
    1. Slow down your escort fleet by adding a single ship with the same speed of your TPs. This might be a HSub-1 (speed 18) or an empty TP. This is probably the best hasslefree way and if you need to speed up your escort fleet for whatever reasons, you can just drop the slow ship into an own fleet.
      (Sigh, I wished I had thought or rather remembered this option for my China-game. But in the first phase of war I had no free subs or TPs but all assigned to important tasks and later, having not played DH for several years, I had somehow forgotten this option which led me to several other not hasslefree or dangerous ways how tro handle escort duty. The merits of trying to write a guide, you remember and/or learn quite a few things yourself).

    2. Send your TPs without escorts and shy away from all the hassle and take the risk. It is a bit suicidal for your TPs but not 100%. You might, for example, be pretty sure that you have cleared this part of the sea and no enemies can possibly be there. Or the TP is empty. Or there is no escort around, you don't want your TP to sit idle waiting for an escort and so on.
      Giving your TPs a good admiral with the Blockade Runner trait gives them an extra chance in battle to keep the fighting distance towards 450km (which is, as previously already above seen in an example what admirals of TPs choose as their prefered fighting or rather non-fighting distance). If the enemy admiral is lucky, better or with good doctrines and manages to get the TPs into his fighting distance they are usually dead, though. It might help, if you have an abundance of resources and TPs, to put more TPs in the fleet than troops to transport. Even if a TP gets sunk, the others might survive and flee after 4h. Nevertheless risky.

    3. Exact move-orders per region:
      The option I mostly used especially for important missions wasn't hasslefree at all (after I remembered it I won't use that anylonger and switch to above option 1 but it is still a good one if you can't spare the slowing ship or have no free one nearby):
      Order both your fleets, TP and escort, to move to the next region and notice the given arrival time and the difference in hours. Then you redo the move order for your escort fleet but this time by using ctrl-RMB which opens the move menue:


      You can and should modify some of the default variables:
      Both: moving at night and day
      Str and Org: for escort duty I set both to zero (in case of a battle I'll order the fleet manually to flee if the need arises)
      Disengage from combat: Same as above, I rather do this manually than let it be done automatically but if you hate the micro (I bet not otherwise you wouldn't play DH *grin) you can set it to auto-disengage... which doesn't mean that this fleet will avoid battles which would be a great option to have but only that the fleet will leave the battle as soon as it can = after 4h. For fleets of only TPs it is definetly good to choose this option, though.
      Infinite mission time: The default is 1 month, plenty to reach the next region, but it might be not this default because for some other tasks you might have set it to a much shorter time and your last setting is remembered. Simply choosing "infinite mission time" just overwrites whatever the right timer, the until timer, is set to. This doesn't mean that the fleet will move or need an infinite time to the next region but just that it has infinite time to do so and won't stop the mission midway because the timer has run out.

      Now for the escort duty. You remember the difference in arrival time for TPs and escorts... let it be escorts arriving 7h faster than the TPs. And thus you set the left timer, the starting time of the mission to 7h in the future. This way you have syncronized both fleets, the escort fleet will start 7h later and arrive at the same time as the TPs. And, well, yes, you would need to do so for every single region again. I said it is not hasslefree.

    What ships to use for escort duty:
    At first glance one might say, any ship is better than no ship. No, it is not. As much as I am ranting about the importance of protecting your TPs, IMHO there is only a single ship type fit for escort duty: Carriers or light carriers. With all other ship types, your TPs are probably better off/safer sailing on their own. From the information given in earlier posts you might have come already to this conclusion.
    • Target priority: Transports, Capitals, Escorts
      This means whenever a seabattle occurs in which both sides are in shooting range, your TPs will always get targetted first (at least the enemy ships will try to, it still might be that they mess up their positioning and targetting and accidently aim for other ships). So it would be wise to use for escorts ships (light) carriers which have a very high chance to achieve a single-sided battle with only them in shooting range but not the enemy... except you meet an enemy carrier-only fleet or loose the positioning contest and the enemy dictates the fighting distance.

    • General combat-fleet behaviour
      A normal combat-fleet will always look around and, when successfully detecting, engage an enemy fleet and thus endangering the TPs to enemy fire. The only exception are lone TPs. Since they have no combat ability they can't and won't engage enemies on their own. Basically this means whatever combat-ships you use for escort, you'll raise the probability of a battle occuring... exactly the opposite of your intention.

    • Visibility and detection
      A lone TP has a visibility to other ships of 30 (this, as many other data, are shown in the tooltip for ships when you hover your mouse over the cross). Any additional ship adds its visibility to the overall visibility of the fleet. A whole escort fleet has quite a big overall visibility which means the more ships in a fleet the higher the chance an enemy fleet detects it... leading again to a higher probability to get into a sea battle. It works also the other way around, the more ships in your escort fleet and very probably their ability to detect enemy fleets gets also higher which, again, raises the chance for a battle.

    This all leads to the rather surprising conclusions:
    Either use (light) carriers (together with their approbiate screens/escorts, of course) for escort duty or no ships at all.
    Only (light) carriers can get somehow safely for the TPs into a sea battle.
    TPs on their own and without escorts are very vulnerable but with the best chance not to get forced into a sea battle (in which they would be always top targets).

    Exceptions (aren't there always some)
    If you know what kind of enemy-fleet is cruising the area where you want your TPs to sail thru, you might be able to finetune your escort-fleet. This is especially true against enemy subs. Escorting your TPs with good destroyers, best with ASW brigades, can get the subs organisation down rather fast, so they might shoot only in the first battleround. Nevertheless you are also raising the chance that those subs will find your TPs if accompied by DDs, so it is still a trade-off. And if you are instead hitting any other enemy fleet composition than subs... well, that will be bad. So we are back to the point that it would had been best either to use CVLs/DDs as escort-fleet or none.

    Sneak Move
    After given it some more thought, there is one more exception, the naval mission Sneak Move. I use it quite often for damaged ships, especially single ones, to sneak back to a port for repairs. It can be also used for a fleet escorting TPs or lone TPs. As far as I know a fleet on sneak move will NOT engage in battle on its own initiative. It takes slightly longer to reach the destination.


    This is an extremely fine example to demonstrate several points:
    • Battledistance: Remember my bold statement that subs often enough get automatically into good battle distance even without the right doctrines? Well, in this case they have recently good doctrines but the British CAs are the attacking fleet, the battle distance is nevertheless in favour of the HSubs. Probably because it is just really difficult to detect subs at all. CAs have extremely bad sub detection. This CAs are eqipped with FPs (you can conclude it from their gunnery distance of 31km, CA-4 have only a range of 26km, the missing 5km can be only the bonus from eqquipped FP-brigades). FPs give a considerable raise to sub-detection, otherwise the CAs would had probably passed by without even noticing the subs. During the whole battle, as so often, the CAs don't manage to get into their prefered combat distance which would had allowed them to outdistance the HSubs.

    • Endangering the transports: The primary task of the British CAs is to escort the 3 TPs. Initiating an attack is actually endangering them. In this battle example, the 3 TPs without escorting CAs would had just slipped by.

    • Shape of the HSubs: You might notice that all 6 HSubs start the battle already damaged, 3 even with almost completly depleted org. That's because, against better knowledge, they were also tasked with attacking convoys. By now the British are sending out their supply-convoys only quite heavily guarded by convoy escorts. This HSub fleet had been busy and successfully sunk a few convoys and convoy escorts lately. But paying a rather heavy toll for it. Without this they would be in a much better shape to fulfill their primary task: closing the strait thru Madagascar-Africa and stopping British naval reinforcements into the Indian Ocean.

    • Attacking only during night: Due to the bad shape of the HSubs I had changed their orders just a few minutes before to "Naval Interdiction only during night" and once again I realized that this order isn't really recommandable. At first glance it surely makes sense because HSubs have a considerable bonus at night and this setting works fine when it comes to convoy hunting but against a real enemy fleet it rather endangers the HSubs to get attacked during daylight when they are sitting idle like in the above example. I think, altogether it is probably better to set whatever fleet to act day and night. This way they might get a malus due to night or day in a battle but at least they also gain the chance of initiating the battle which gives them a bonus for achieving their prefered combat distance.
    But even in this bad shape the HSubs, and bad luck for the British night is also approaching, they wipe the floor with the British CAs, sink one and damage the rest quite severly. The British fleet flees towards the North. The HSubs are tasked to follow and are, as a matter of fact, even a bit faster than the TP-2s. Perhaps they are able to find the British fleet in the next searegion to engage them again.
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    Part 12: Examples: Seabattles, Carrier Strike on Port, Amphibious Landing New
  • Altruist

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    Sep 13, 2011
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    For those having already read the previous posts, I edited them a bit, introduced more links and really want to advertise the best shortest introduction to military campaign planning I know and which is IMHO universally applicable:
    # Concepts Of Warfare by Mikkel
    (probably older than 20 years, so one can wonder about the choice of colours and backgrounds; I kept them to stick to the tradition of one of the best strategic games: Stars!, and its best strat forum, the forum long gone now)

    Part 12: Examples: Seabattles, Carrier Strike on Port, Amphibious Landing

    It has been some time since the last chapters and I was pondering on what should be coming next. I felt somehow forced to a chapter about Naval Missions available in DH, started a few times, lost the parts written due to some misunderstanding on my side how the "save drafts" functions in this forum (not satisfyingly) and generally I found it... boring. This guide is as much about my fun to write it, so scrap it and continue instead with some more battles, blasted fleets and in the next chapter an accounting of the boodshed so far, yeah.

    Here we have a battle right in front of the Gulf of Aden/Red Sea. You can see 2 Chinese HSub packs and to the South 1 CVL-fleet arranged almost in a halfcircle. Shortly before the Chinese fleet encountered a bigger French fleet and 2 smaller British ones in the Gulf of Aden but the battle happened during night and thus the French and British were able to flee into several directions without much losses. In hot pursuit the Chinese fleets tried to seek & destroy them in the surrounding sea regions.

    Instead of the intended prey 2 French subs were caught. Good enough. Those subs are as elusive as annoying and it is always fine to catch them. Unfortunately it was night again, the surface ships of the Chinese with a hefty malus of -50%, additionally it was raining. But it was a bad night for the French nevertheless:


    In the very first hour the combat distance was a mere 5km, ideal for the French subs. But this CVL-fleet, rather unusual, was accompied by no less than 6 DD-VII, all equipped with ASW-brigades: true subkillers, each with a subdetection of 13, a sub-attack of 14 and outranging the subs. Thus the French subs lost all their org within the very first battlehour. In the 2nd battlehour the Chinese admiral lengthened the combat distance to his ideal distance of 17.1km and the 2 subs were soon afterwards sunk.
    • If one fleet in a seabattle consists only of subs, the other side will use a prefered combat distance NOT for their capitals but for their escorts.
      You can see it quite clearly, the Chinese prefered combat distance is 17.1 which is the usual 90% of the max firing range of the escorting destroyers (firing range 19km). Which, by the way, is exactly 100m too far for the older French standard subs to fire. they have only a max range of 17km.
    A fine example that the right ships with the right brigade in sufficient numbers can do a job fast and well even under adverse conditions: night + rain and when fighting only at 44% effectiveness. Sometimes a bit overwhelming force is quite good to wield.

    Aaah, at last some of the missing British/French fleets are found. Something is hiding in Suqutra, a small isle in front of the Gulf of Aden. Previously it wasn't possible to see it because HSubs (and subs in general) can't see anything on landor in port. Thus Oonly when the CVL-fleet passed Suqutra, I noticed that the port symbol of Suqutra was blue which means that some ships are in there.

    Too far away for any of the old Chinese NAV-1-planes but perhaps the right time for a CVL-portstrike (or to be exact: Carrier Strike on Port)?
    Let's look what's hiding there...


    A British fleet of 2 CA-IV and 3 TP-II...
    And thus the most successful portstrike I've ever watched started in which all ships were sunk with the very first portstrike. The different images try to capture how the ships got damaged and decimated with every hour of the portstrike which lasted for around 6h.

    A fine example that even at sea DH offers quite a variety of actions to cope with different situations. And also that hiding in a rural local port isn't really helpful. It is no real naval base, so no repairs happen, usually it has also no additional defenses like static AA or whatever which means that NAV or carrier-portstrikes can be commenced nearly without opposition.

    Another battle in the Gulf of Aden.

    It shows a rather rare occurance: Right from the beginning the HSubs/FP take advantage of their superiour firing range. Usually they rather start a battle as close as at a 5km distance. Notice how the Chinese commander is grinning upon realization that his HSubs outdistance the light cruiser...


    Most likely the British cruiser wasn't even equipped with FP and firing control (FC), thus completly outdistanced and not able to shoot back. At 115% positioning all 6 HSubs took aim at the cruiser to immediatly sunk it within 1 hour.

    Even under ideal conditions for the cruiser... as poor as they are in fighting subs, no chance. At least not for an as old one as this one. Even more modern CL equipped with FP and FC have but one chance: outdistancing attacking subs. But it needs at least a fully equipped CL-5 (1930) to outdistance even the oldest HSubs/FP.

    A battle from Feb. 1940.
    Madagascar was conquered shortly before. A necessary step to get a naval base for the TPs to rebase to get the range needed for the attack against South Africa/Cape of Good Hope. And even then the range of the TPs wasn't enough and another naval base had to be taken: Durban.
    There is quite some action illustrated in this image:
    • A few hours ago 3 MTN/eng had just succeeded in conquering Durban with an amphibious landing. The battle had raged for days with an uncertain outcome. So I was relieved to see my troops finally landing and taking Durban.
    • Only to get immediatly attacked by 5 INF from Johannesburg...
    • To the right you can see a pack of 6 HSubs sailing around the landing task force to get into a position in front of them to shield them against possible attacks from fleets coming around the Cape... too late.
    • A British fleet has moved in to fight my small CVL-fleet and the altogether 5 TPs accompying it. The British Admiral is really good with a skill level of 5 and manages to get into his ideal combat range right away.
    • The image shows the 5th hour of the battle. China has already lost 1 TP, by pure luck an empty one. The other TPs were ordered to flee into the harbour of Durban and have left the battle.
    • The Chinese fleet is outgunned, the British CAs are all equipped with FPs and FCs and are doing quite some damage. It would be smart for the Chinese fleet to follow their TPs and to also flee the battle. But there is a reason why not... the Chinese Admiral is greedy and lusting for glory. The British fleet, consists not only of the 6 warships you can see but an additional 17 TPs!!! This are almost all the TPs the UK still has...

    But as a matter of fact, the TPs in the British fleet are rather an hinderness. The Chinese warships, instead of neutralizing first the dangerous British warships, shoot happily at the TPs.

    The 6th hour of the battle starts... with the Chinese TPs having left, the CAs concentrated their fire on one poor Chinese DD. A hit into the magazines, the destroyer explodes and sinks within minutes, no survivors.

    7th hour: Finally the Chinese Admiral manages to widen the combat range to 28km... not enough, the British CAs can still fire.

    8th hour: The British fleet flees... mmh, whyever, the battle was actually going quite well for them.
    The Chinese Admiral sighs: He has lost 2 ships precious ships but at least he wouldn't need to report to Chiang Kai-Shek that he fled the battle.


    This is the amphibious landing to conquere Tunis from the French: Three Mountain units with engineer brigades.
    A separate fleet of 3 CVL with 4 DD-escorts is guarding the area.

    The French were using 2 NAV-bombers in the area and I was hoping to perhaps catch those in Tunis:


    What I hadn't expected: Upon landing and conquering Tunis, 1 Transporter unit (shown as a squadron of 5 transports) was also destroyed.
    While it is quite common to catch planes when conquering a region (the AI is really bad at rebasing them in time), this was the very first time I have seen a ship getting destroyed. Normally they just leave the port when the region gets conquered.

    I can only speculate:
    Perhaps there are special rules for amphibious landings?
    Or special rules for transports especially if not accompied by warships?
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    Part 13: Proof of Concept: Accounting of the bloodshed so far... June - December 1939 New
  • Altruist

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    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 CVLs (15)
    # 22 by HSubs (30) (plus almost completly responsible for the 450 sunk convoys and 72 convoy escorts)
    # 10 by DDs (18)
    # 11 by NAV-planes (4) (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).

    France and the UK together also lost 450 convoys and 72 convoy escorts but that's merely a small dent in the number of convoys especially the UK has.

    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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    Part 14: Miscellaneous: Open Questions, 3 Ways to see Sunken Ships New
  • Altruist

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    Part 14: Miscellaneous: Open Questions, 3 Ways to see Sunken Ships

    Fleet maintenance and fleet positioning on the map still needs to wait a bit, first I slip in a chapter of misc things.

    Open questions
    While writing this chapters I met a few things I plainly don't know and perhaps others might have answeres (the list is most likely to get edited and to grow):
    1. Does ESE, which I tried to explain in Part 7, apply to ships and sea battles?

    2. 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?

    3. 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?

    4. 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
      Which gives NAV 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. The latter a common occurence since TPs are high on the target list in sea battles: Navy vs Navy (although I couldn't find anything about target priorities for ships in misc.txt, obversation of seabattles seems to strongly suggest this).
    Sunken Ships Lists
    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...

    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 New
  • Altruist

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    Part 15: Fleet Maintenance: Repairs - Formula, Mechanics, How and When

    This obviously simple topic of repairs caused to be much trickier than I thought. Yeah, I am hinting at the chapter having gotten a bit longer...

    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.
    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)

    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 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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    Part 16: Fleet Deployment - Recap Naval Doctrines and Building Strat New
  • Altruist

    9 Badges
    Sep 13, 2011
    • Darkest Hour
    • Stellaris
    Part 16: 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 (probably still is) of an underdog. 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. Many lists.

    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 but against giants like the UK starting with more than 2000 convoys it is as entertaining as fruitless. 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.
    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.

    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 (couldn't find an equally good old one) showing ship traffic and routes across the globe:
    Already at a first glance you can see obvious patterns or routes.
    The way from the Atlantic to the Pacific is blocked by America and there are only 2 economic ways: Panama Canal or around Cape Horn.

    And when sailing from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean there are also only 2 economic ways: Either 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 around Cape of Good Hope.
    This gives you a really good focus.

    I called it "economic" ways because both examples have a looong alternative: Obviously you can also travel around almost the whole world, from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Indian Ocean and vice versa.

    And you can narrow it down to even less ways: If you control Gibraltar or Suez or the Panama Canal you are effectively closing it. Which cuts the possible sea routes down to one long and one very long one.

    Even from the Pacific into the Indian Ocean any ship must use certain straits.

    Now, in times of war for obvious reasons the shortest way might not be the most economic one because it has become a very dangerous route. You can vary which choke point to sail thru, you can vary your routes on the open sea but some choke points you just can't avoid.

    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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