Currently, the Graf Zeppelin seems to be suffering from a bit of an identity crisis. Her excellent secondaries, 5.2 km range AA, and relatively low count of fragile, yet fast planes makes her suited for the roll of an Escort Carrier (that of trailing friendlies at around the three to five km range for AA and secondary support), yet she has the highest surface visibility of all CVs in her bracket @ 15.71km, except for the Midway @ 15.86km base. This high visibility forces her into what I would consider the Fleet Carrier play style: that of hanging 10+ km behind whatever ship she’s supporting to avoid taking fire from red BBs and CAs. This unfortunately means the friendly ships she’s supporting don’t gain any benefit from her secondaries or AA.
My proposal is to make appropriate changes to turn her into a true Escort Carrier, one that can operate closer to the front with more success than other CVs (especially considering her strike planes aren’t as effective on average compared to other T8 and 10 planes). This can be accomplished in a couple different ways.
- Reduce her base surface and air visibility by 20% (to 12.56 and 8.84, respectively). This way, with all appropriate concealment buffs applied, her surface visibility will be around 10km and air around 7km, if my maths are correct. This would result in only a 1km gap between when a surface ship spots her before secondaries start firing instead of the current 3.5km gap. AA vs air visibility gap would be 1.8km versus the current 3.7 km with max concealment. This would allow her to be close enough to allies to provide secondary and AA coverage at her current ranges with less risk.
- Buff both her base secondary and AA range to 8km. This way, with all appropriate range buffs, her secondary range would be around 12km, just 0.73 km shy of current max concealment, and red planes would still have a chance to turn away before coming under fire from her AA after breaking her current max air concealment with a 0.63km “safe zone”. This would allow her to hang at that 8-to-10 km mark and still be able to support allies with secondary fire and long-range AA.
- Make no changes and drop her to Tier 7. This way, her current max concealment isn’t as much of an issue since her armor is comparable to an average T6 cruiser and her 52.6k base HP gives her good staying power at that tier. Her guns will definitely make reds re-consider closing to knife fighting range against any ship she is covering for. This would also mean her planes would be indirectly buffed since she wouldn’t be competing against tier 10 AA. *Edit: if there's more T6 CVs than T8s waiting in MM queue, they may have to do something to make MM favor stacking her against T8 CVs more than T6s.
These are just a few ideas I’ve been mulling over, and they’re by no means the best or only ways to do it. I would prefer options 1 or 2, but option 3 would be the easiest. Ultimately the idea is to allow her to get more regular use out of her secondaries and better chances of providing AA coverage to allies that doesn’t involve suicide or camping behind a mountain waiting for a red to come around the corner.
Constructive feedback appreciated. Other ideas welcomed. Thank you for your time.
*Edit 1: maybe the Saipan would be another good candidate for an Escort Carrier?
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