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Avenge_December_7

A CV Captain's Guide To Defensive Fire (Non-CV Players Also Welcome, I Guess)

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So maybe you're sailing a carrier and suddenly you find that your torpedo bomber's aiming pattern has magically changed from a decently narrow corridor to a wide fan that won't hit a single thing, the oval of your dive bomber's attacks has suddenly become a giant watermelon seed instead of a pin-point, and your planes are falling out of the sky faster than normal, all the while the ships you were attacking are casually dodging your attacks.

What happened?

Quite simply, you have fallen victim to defensive fire.

Or perhaps you're a ship packing defensive AA and the enemy carrier has decided to come near you. No problem, you think, so you activate defensive fire. Unfortunately, one of the following things occurred:

  • The enemy planes only briefly skirted around your defensive AA before heading back out of range and:
    • attacking someone else on your team
    • simply retreating
    • attacking you when defensive fire is on cool-down
  • Despite being under the effects of defensive fire, the enemy bombers still hit you for a non-negligible amount of damage (more than 1 torpedo/bomb hit)

What happened?

Quite simply put, you have misused defensive fire.

What is defensive fire?

Defensive fire is a consumable which, when used, not only increases the effectiveness of AA but also—most crucially—spreads out the attack of torpedo and dive bombers so that the torpedoes are dropped in a far more spread out pattern and the bombs are dropped over a much larger area. In both cases, the likelihood of a hit is reduced, and the CV will most likely lose more planes than normal during the attack for much less damage done.

Who has defensive fire?

The following ships all can possess defensive fire:

  • All non-British and non-Italian "main-line" cruisers tier 6 and above, in exchange for hydroacoustic search
  • All carriers tier 8 and above
  • Italian cruisers
  • Ships of the American light cruiser line (Dallas, Helena, Cleveland, Seattle, and Worcester)
  • USN destroyers tier 5 and above
  • Ships of the Russian hybrid destroyer sub-line (Ognevoi, Udaloi and Grozovoi)
  • Loyang
  • Hood
  • Yubari

However, in reality, there are quite a few ships that would benefit far more from having something else, so the ships that you should expect to have defensive fire (as opposed to getting close and testing them) are:

  • All USN cruisers tier 6 and above
  • All USN destroyers tier 9 and above
  • All carriers tier 8 and above
  • Russian hybrid destroyers (Ognevoi, Udaloi, and Grozovoi)
  • Italian cruisers
  • Hood
  • Yubari

As for the rest of the ships

  • Some cruisers, but especially the German cruisers, will possess hydroacoustic search instead of defensive fire (this is just something you'll have to test if they're enemy ships or ask around if they're allied ships)
  • USN destroyers tier 8 and below have to sacrifice a turret to gain defensive fire, which is a sacrifice not many are willing to make
  • Just about every Loyang will run hydroacoustic search

In addition, take note of the following (thanks to @Akeno017 for reminding me of these):

  • USN cruisers gain an extra charge of defensive fire, and Atlanta and Flint have unlimited defensive fire (although relying on a ship to have used up all its charges of defensive fire is a terrible tactic for a CV player)
  • Carriers have a version of defensive fire that lasts much longer, but also takes much longer to recharge and has a lower DPS multiplier (IJN CVs have a slightly higher multiplier than USN CVs, but it rarely comes into play since CV snipes at tier 8+ are rare and usually ill-advised)
  • Destroyers gain a x4 multiplier to their AA DPS (as opposed to x3 for cruisers), but their defensive fire lasts 10 seconds less

How to attack ships with defensive fire as a carrier?

Well, there are a few things to note before you even consider attacking:

  • What ships do you suspect are packing defensive fire? A Charles Martel with defensive fire is a lot less intimidating than a Cleveland with defensive fire.
  • How many ships are packing it? It might not be a good idea to charge into the AA fire of multiple ships, even if their individual AA is mediocre.
  • Are there any supporting ships that, while lacking defensive fire, pack good AA? A Montana might not be able to completely blunt an attack wave by itself, nor can a lone Mogami (even with defensive fire), but the two combined possibly can completely negate a strike.
  • Are there any enemy fighters around? Even a single IJN fighter squadron can completely annihilate an entire bomber wave with the help of defensive fire, not to mention they can cut through bombers far more efficiently than ship-borne AA.
  • How much are they paying attention to your planes? A group of enemy ships that are actively keeping their bows towards you is a lot harder to attack than a group of enemy ships engaging your own team and thus having a lot more to worry about.
  • Can you attack later? A Des Moines at the start of the match may be a terrifying thing to try and attack, but a Des Moines that has eaten a few salvos of Conqueror's HE is much less so. In the meantime, try and find something more vulnerable, like a lone Musashi.

So now you've decided one of these two things:

  1. You're going to back off and attack somewhere else
  2. You're going to attack.

If you chose the second option, then a few more questions appear:

  1. Who do you attack?
  2. Do you attack all at once or delay one group?

Sometimes, it's worth it to attack all at once in the following circumstances:

  • when the enemy ships packing defensive fire in question are not particularly strong
  • there are too many ships that are possibly packing defensive fire that waiting is not a viable tactic
  • the enemy ship is isolated (and does not have very good AA)
  • enemy fighters are closing; you can't delay a strike or you'll lose all your bombers
  • you see some careless enemy sailing in a straight line, seemingly oblivious to your planes
  • you're just trying to cause flooding in order to assist your team
  • you've already won and you're just trying to get more damage done

In this case, when attacking:

  • make sure to go for a less maneuverable target: a Musashi is much easier to hit than a Minotaur, even when defensive fire is active
  • go for the careless ones: it is possible to rip off over half of a Cleveland's health with Taiho's bombers even through defensive fire, but only if he's not maneuvering at all
  • don't stick around: every second you spend readjusting a drop is not only time for the enemy AA to do its work, but also for the enemy CV to vector in fighters
  • if you ARE confidant that you can take your time, go for the cross-drop; you'll increase the chances of an enemy blundering into one of your torpedoes

In the ideal circumstance, you'll get a good number of hits on a single evading ship (like a Myoko) or you'll managed to cripple a careless enemy ship that failed to even try to evade your attacks. Here are a few examples from my time playing CVs (note that my particular gameplay style usually involves clearing out all enemy fighters before I attack):

  • As Shokaku, I'm attacking an enemy Colorado whose escort Grozovoi is using defensive AA. The Colorado fails to turn at all when I drop, resulting in his eating three torpedoes, one of which causes a flooding. Under the fire of two Allied cruisers, he consequently burns down rather quickly, and I only lost a couple of planes.
  • As Taiho, I attack a group of tier 7-9 ships that include a F. Der Grobe a Cleveland (who uses defensive fire), and a smattering of other ships. Instead of going for the obvious target that is the F. Der Grobe, I instead attack the Cleveland that has completely failed to turn at all. I lose about half of my attack wave, but also land 4 torpedoes on the Cleveland.
  • As Taiho, I attack a lone Myoko. Despite his use of defensive fire, I still manage to land around 3-4 torpedoes on him due to a cross-drop and the fact that Myoko's AA is pretty bad.

A special note about AP dive bombers: they are pretty much completely unaffected by defensive fire, so as long as you align their attack correctly and don't linger in the enemy AA, you should be able to reliably damage the enemy ships regardless. You can create some interesting tactics with them, forcing a Des Moines to choose between using its defensive fire on the AP dive bombers or on the torpedo bombers, for instance.

However, let's say you instead determine that it's better to send in your bombers in multiple waves instead of one giant attack wave (for instance, a lone Baltimore that you know is paying attention to your planes). In this case, move your bombers near the edge of the enemy AA range. From there, send in a single dive bomber squadron to attack the enemy ship:

  • If he uses defensive fire right then and there, simply wait out the duration of the consumable (usually 40s) and attack with everything else afterwards
  • If he does not, attack with the lone dive bomber and move your planes into the edge of the enemy AA range
    • If he uses it then, pull out your planes and wait out the defensive fire
    • If he does not, then you have no choice: he will not use defensive fire until you make a serious attack (ie with torpedo bombers). Just charge in and hope for the best (like if he does not have defensive fire)

How to best use defensive fire as a non-CV ship (or even as a CV)?

There are four things to remember:

  1. defensive fire will only spread out an attack, not make you completely immune to it (unless you manage to completely annihilate all of the enemy bombers)
  2. defensive fire has a limited duration and a fairly long reload time
  3. defensive fire's usefulness differs by plane and nation type (USN torpedo bombers (especially from tier 4-9) are heavily affected, for instance, while Graf Zeppelin's AP dive bombers pretty much don't care at all)
  4. you are probably trading something else for it (usually hydroacoustic search); are you willing to make that exchange?

Destroyers are a special case, since planes can spot them and thus negate their primary weapon (stealth), so in some cases it may be better to use defensive fire to wipe out any non-bomber planes. I'll be focusing on using defensive fire to repel enemy bombers.

So, let's say you have defensive fire ready and enemy bombers are closing in.

  1. Spot the enemy bombers (seriously, you don't want your first indication of an enemy carrier's attack to be twelve torpedoes appearing on your broadside)
  2. Confirm that it is not merely an attempt to bait your defensive fire (ie either AP dive bombers—if you're a ship that is vulnerable to them—or torpedo bombers)
  3. Ideally, you should already be turning to evade the enemy bombers even before they enter your AA range.
  4. In addition, try and have some terrain around you as cover: a CV that is forced to fly directly over a Zao in order to torpedo it is going to lose a lot of planes.
  5. Try to communicate with your teammates about who will use defensive fire beforehand, so that your team can maximize the amount of time an enemy CV's planes are panicked.
  6. Try to ask your CV to send friendly fighters to assist (although the effectiveness of this tactic may vary—I know I'm personally very bad at fleet defense)
  7. Make sure the proper planes are focused by your AA (you really don't want your AA focusing on the fighters when there are torpedo bombers incoming).
  8. Wait until the enemy planes close to about 3.75-4 km before activating defensive fire (basically, they're about a third of the way into your AA aura). However, if they're attacking a teammate, you may want to use it sooner.
  9. Continue turning to properly evade their attacks as defensive fire is active (ie, turn into torpedo bombers and turn perpendicular to dive bombers). If the enemy CV tries to cross-drop, make sure to slow down and adjust your rudder to continue evading.
  10. While doing all of the above, make sure you are minimizing your vulnerability to the enemy surface ships; you don't want to have avoided a Midway's attack group only to get promptly dev-struck by a Montana instead.

I hope this guide (first one I ever wrote) is helpful to you all.

tenor.gif

 

Edited by Avenge_December_7
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You have fallen prey to the... Defensive Firus, the deadly illness that causes AA mount like lumps to appear on you.

Good writeup, did you mention that CV DFAA lasts longer but reloads slower and has less DPS boost, while DDs have 100% extra compared to the CA version?
Could also be noted that USN cruisers gaub an extra DFAA to use and Atlanta (maybe Flint too?) has an unlimited number.

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48 minutes ago, Akeno017 said:

You have fallen prey to the... Defensive Firus, the deadly illness that causes AA mount like lumps to appear on you.

Good writeup, did you mention that CV DFAA lasts longer but reloads slower and has less DPS boost, while DDs have 100% extra compared to the CA version?
Could also be noted that USN cruisers gaub an extra DFAA to use and Atlanta (maybe Flint too?) has an unlimited number.

I suppose part of the reason for writing this guide was the recent influx of USN CLs (and all the defensive fire that they carry). What can I say, it's not a good time to be a CV player right now.

Hmm, good points (I didn't even realize that USN cruisers got an extra charge of defensive AA compared to all the others). Guide has been adjusted as per your feedback.

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Great guide! I wasn’t aware of the AP bombers caring less about DF.

I learned from YouTube to turn my DF off after an attack when playing CV. To increase the chance that it will be ready for a next attack.

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Good write-up! DFAA is definitely a very situational tool, but one that's always worth considering simply based on how much CVs and aircraft can change the game by their presence.

One thing I'd like to note that I've noticed is a tendency for CV players, especially those attempting a snipe on their enemy counterpart, to skirt their planes along the edge of the map in order to avoid them being seen and running into ships with loads of AA. One thing to note on this strategy though: It works best on LARGE maps. Earlier today I was able to save a pair of Musashis from what would surely have been a lot of hurt (or at least annoyance) by foiling a snipe from the enemy Hiryu. He had sent his entire air group, bombers AND fighters, to the west side of Two Brothers to sneak along past the islands. So guess who had 16 dual-purpose guns and was coincidentally headed the same way to try and sneak in some pot-shots from behind cover? Me, in my Atlanta. 12 dead aircraft and a SINGLE HE bomb hit later, the Hiryu's aircraft broke off and returned to their carrier, tails between legs, thus freeing up two tier 9 BBs to pound a Missouri and other ships into dust without fear of bombs for a brief period.

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27 minutes ago, Landsraad said:

One thing I'd like to note that I've noticed is a tendency for CV players, especially those attempting a snipe on their enemy counterpart, to skirt their planes along the edge of the map in order to avoid them being seen and running into ships with loads of AA. One thing to note on this strategy though: It works best on LARGE maps. Earlier today I was able to save a pair of Musashis from what would surely have been a lot of hurt (or at least annoyance) by foiling a snipe from the enemy Hiryu. He had sent his entire air group, bombers AND fighters, to the west side of Two Brothers to sneak along past the islands. So guess who had 16 dual-purpose guns and was coincidentally headed the same way to try and sneak in some pot-shots from behind cover? Me, in my Atlanta. 12 dead aircraft and a SINGLE HE bomb hit later, the Hiryu's aircraft broke off and returned to their carrier, tails between legs, thus freeing up two tier 9 BBs to pound a Missouri and other ships into dust without fear of bombs for a brief period.

A CV snipe works best when the enemy CV is caught completely off-guard: even a single fighter squadron can completely ruin a snipe. At tier 8 and above, the presence of defensive fire on CVs makes sniping basically an impossible tactic.

It's always amusing to foil an enemy CV's snipe; it's akin to catching your younger sibling doing something bad. That "ah-ha" moment followed by the enemy CV's visible panicking—sometimes they try and turn around, other times they futilely try to engage your own fighters with their escorting fighters but are hampered by their own bombers preventing any strafing (a tactic I call "hostage-taking"), and there are those that desperately try to head towards another target or towards you only to get strafed into uselessness.

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36 minutes ago, LemonadeWarrior said:

Great guide! I wasn’t aware of the AP bombers caring less about DF.

I learned from YouTube to turn my DF off after an attack when playing CV. To increase the chance that it will be ready for a next attack.

Yeah, it's pretty amusing watching some heavy cruisers activate defensive AA but continue sailing in a straight line, allowing me to hammer citadel hits into them.

That trick with defensive fire also applies to cruisers and other ships as well. You can probably abuse it with Atlanta/Flint to basically always have defensive fire at the ready (although a CV attacking an an Atlanta is already a very questionable affair).

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4 hours ago, Avenge_December_7 said:

A CV snipe works best when the enemy CV is caught completely off-guard: even a single fighter squadron can completely ruin a snipe. At tier 8 and above, the presence of defensive fire on CVs makes sniping basically an impossible tactic.

It's always amusing to foil an enemy CV's snipe; it's akin to catching your younger sibling doing something bad. That "ah-ha" moment followed by the enemy CV's visible panicking—sometimes they try and turn around, other times they futilely try to engage your own fighters with their escorting fighters but are hampered by their own bombers preventing any strafing (a tactic I call "hostage-taking"), and there are those that desperately try to head towards another target or towards you only to get strafed into uselessness.

I've found lower tiers you get away with a snipe more often but the higher up you climb the less chance there is and their is always signs of someone going for a snipe if you know what to look for, if i haven't seen their planes not to long after the match starts i start checking the edges and most times i spot a snipe before there even half way to me. Your right once CV get DF it's pretty much a waste going for a snipe you might get lucky and take half their health away but you lost your planes and a lot off time and didn't get the kill.

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Little known fact, the reason Graf Zepplin's DB are unaffected by AA is because, during the war, the Germans actually used a super secret program to develop incredibly smart and brawny members of the weasel family to serve as Stuka pilots. And, as we all know...

 

image.png.0a9195bd021923cf59981cb54770d84d.png

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2 minutes ago, DonKarnage2 said:

Little known fact, the reason Graf Zepplin's DB are unaffected by AA is because, during the war, the Germans actually used a super secret program to develop incredibly smart and brawny members of the weasel family to serve as Stuka pilots. And, as we all know...

 

image.png.0a9195bd021923cf59981cb54770d84d.png

tumblr_mibvxpt8cm1rwv2mgo1_500.gif

German science is the best in the world!!!

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13 hours ago, Avenge_December_7 said:

A CV snipe works best when the enemy CV is caught completely off-guard: even a single fighter squadron can completely ruin a snipe. At tier 8 and above, the presence of defensive fire on CVs makes sniping basically an impossible tactic.

It's always amusing to foil an enemy CV's snipe; it's akin to catching your younger sibling doing something bad. That "ah-ha" moment followed by the enemy CV's visible panicking—sometimes they try and turn around, other times they futilely try to engage your own fighters with their escorting fighters but are hampered by their own bombers preventing any strafing (a tactic I call "hostage-taking"), and there are those that desperately try to head towards another target or towards you only to get strafed into uselessness.

At mid and low tiers, if my snipe gets detected I'll break off the snipe and pick on a BB cowering in the back away from the CA's. This works real well on New Mexico's, Bayern's, and Colorado's... because they have the handling characteristics of a Chevy, they're like a rock.

3 minutes ago, Avenge_December_7 said:

tumblr_mibvxpt8cm1rwv2mgo1_500.gif

German science is the best in the world!!!

image.png.fd46d4af32fd65207629578dc9d62a8f.png

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22 hours ago, Avenge_December_7 said:

Yeah, it's pretty amusing watching some heavy cruisers activate defensive AA but continue sailing in a straight line, allowing me to hammer citadel hits into them.

That trick with defensive fire also applies to cruisers and other ships as well. You can probably abuse it with Atlanta/Flint to basically always have defensive fire at the ready (although a CV attacking an an Atlanta is already a very questionable affair).

With the Ap bombers do's the drop pattern affect it at all as US and IJN have a oval shape and the Graf Zepplin's is a circle or is the effect of DF the same for all 3

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