AA units a bunch of questions.

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Bonesoul
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AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by Bonesoul » Fri May 16, 2014 12:31 pm

Ok, so protecting your units from AI air attack is a major issue once you get into late 42 and onwards, this requires planes supplemented by AA units. The issue is how many and what mix?

Fighter planes have the advantage of being able to get to almost anywhere AI air power may appear and can most easily take the battle to the AI, but suffer several disadvantage's, being shot back at, not being able to get too close when AI AA units are near and at least for me almost always being back refuelling when the next wave of Russian air spawns. Planes also have the capacity when safe for them to do so, to reduce entrenchment and chip away strength from AI ground units in a way most AA units cant.

AA units refuel/rearm in place when free to do so and can get right up near enemy AA providing some air cover to units planes couldn't, they are in general cheaper than fighters given soft cap rules, but almost without exception they are one trick pony's. All they can do is shoot at AI air units when they are around, otherwise they are useless.

That said, I'm considering moving from two to three AA units now I'm heading into 1943, I currently have two 88mm towed AA units (2 and 4 stars respectively), so what do I do? I have stuck with the switchable 88's until now because they have been my most effective AT unit more than their pure AA capabilities, but with Tigers here and Panther/Elephant's around the corner, do I really want to be risking OS AA units in an AT role. If I'm not going to be using the AT capability wouldn't I be better off swapping them to SPAA, so they can keep up and not be in transport mode just when they need to be providing AA cover?

The final issue is if I'm adding one more AA unit at the start of 43, what is the best way to do it. I could convert my two existing 88's to SPAA and buy a new green 88 for upgrade maybe start 44, the new 88 would operate where possible in AT mode still to get it up to 2-3 stars fast while the upgraded SPAA would provide close air cover?

Of Course it may be that post 43 as deployment limits shrink there will be less room for AA units, no idea until I get there.

What would you do, restarting 39 and growing three rather than two 88s not being an option :).

Cheers
Bone

ThorHa
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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by ThorHa » Fri May 16, 2014 1:00 pm

The questions are quite easy to answer:

Depending on size you need 1 or 2 AA per battlegroup. They should always protect the most vulnerable units, which are by nature SP artillery. As SP AA are a magnet for enemy tanks and enemy artillery, you have to count on the fact that they get attacked and damaged, so a minimum of only 3 put you at risk. Fortunately in most scenarios of 43 between 2 and 3 experienced SP AA are provided as aux, so you need 2 to 3 more. As they have to follow the battlegroups closely and shall be your first line of defense against enemy air, this excludes 88 AA, even with a movement of 2.

Conclusion: Switch your 2 88 to SP AA, take the SdKfz with the 20 mm quadruple as it has a higher rate of fire than the single 37 mm, buy a third AA as 88 to gain experience much faster (switching roles) and upgrade this to SP after 2 stars.

The indication for efficiency: A 3 star SdKfz bites on average a 5 out of enemy IL 2, on average a 3 out of IL 4 and a 6 out of enemy LA 5 and 7. This is against 2 star units. Against the returning repaired bombers I had more than one occasion during dlc 43 where the attacking unit was completeley wiped out at strength 10. Nearly as efficient as good overstrength fighters, but able to defend (and attack) more often, the protection works as a sure deterrence after the first enemy air attack, thus protecting the whole group around it.

Regards,
Thorsten

MartyWard
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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by MartyWard » Fri May 16, 2014 2:06 pm

The problem with AA is once you gain air superiority, and you should eventually even with only 3-4 fighters, the units are useless except for the 88 and the 88 is not mobile so it will rarely be where you need it when you are on the offensive.

There are two types of units I rarely use, AA and Recon because there are other units that are more flexible that can do basically the same thing and they do.

ThorHa
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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by ThorHa » Fri May 16, 2014 5:10 pm

I had the same opinion and I was simply wrong!

From end of 42 forward enemy air gets more numerous, more experienced and more advanced (Soviet IL 2 and Yak 3 anyone?). Furthermore it gets complemented with mobile AA, the pesky T 90. So putting your own air forward is more and more risky. Furthermore you want to overstrengthen Tigers and SP arty. Now lets take a Tiger I strength 13, attacked by a simple fighter strength 12. 1 or 2 strength points are gone from the Tiger on average, costing 20% (13) plus 15% (12) of the basic price (700), adds to 245 prestige points. Let´s take a Hummel SP arty strength 13 attacked by a strength 12 IL 2. 6 to 8 strength points taken from the arty, not only costing lots of prestige but rendering the arty nigh useless for a whole turn.

Since I play with 2 or 3 SP AA for the whole of the 43 dlc I would never go back. For deployment purposes I already omitted 1 of my 6 fighters in order to let the 3rd AA stay in the fray.

What I can definitely say from pure experience - AA is a prestige saver, big time, if positioned carefully each turn.

Regards,
Thorsten

MartyWard
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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by MartyWard » Fri May 16, 2014 5:26 pm

ThorHa wrote:I had the same opinion and I was simply wrong!

From end of 42 forward enemy air gets more numerous, more experienced and more advanced (Soviet IL 2 and Yak 3 anyone?). Furthermore it gets complemented with mobile AA, the pesky T 90. So putting your own air forward is more and more risky. Furthermore you want to overstrengthen Tigers and SP arty. Now lets take a Tiger I strength 13, attacked by a simple fighter strength 12. 1 or 2 strength points are gone from the Tiger on average, costing 20% (13) plus 15% (12) of the basic price (700), adds to 245 prestige points. Let´s take a Hummel SP arty strength 13 attacked by a strength 12 IL 2. 6 to 8 strength points taken from the arty, not only costing lots of prestige but rendering the arty nigh useless for a whole turn.

Since I play with 2 or 3 SP AA for the whole of the 43 dlc I would never go back. For deployment purposes I already omitted 1 of my 6 fighters in order to let the 3rd AA stay in the fray.

What I can definitely say from pure experience - AA is a prestige saver, big time, if positioned carefully each turn.

Regards,
Thorsten
I just park my fighters in a way to guard as many units as possible and put tac or strat over units I want to protect 100% and wait. I don't lose many points to air attacks and instead of having 3 AA units I have 2-3 additional ground units to help in combat while still fighting the air war and I can back up my units with artillery instead of AA which helps reduce overall losses by allowing fewer enemy units to live :). Plus I don't play with 1.2 rules as so the cost of the odd strength point lost is not as great.

ThorHa
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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by ThorHa » Fri May 16, 2014 5:30 pm

Okay. My answer is moot without the 1.20 ruleset.

Regards,
Thorsten

captainjack
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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by captainjack » Fri May 16, 2014 11:22 pm

Under 1.14 rules AA is an option - almost a luxury - but the changes in 1.2 make both AA and AT well worth considering.

I always have at least one 88 as air defence and because it also provides very effective AT until some time in 43 East. The 128 is noticeably better for air defence and by the time it becomes available you will probably be suffering from multiple waves of powerful and experienced enemy fighters, so the ability to reliably destroy or severely weaken aircraft before your fighters move in will be important. At that time, the 88 is also starting to lose effectiveness as an AT. If I have two 88s I would probably switch one to the 128 and keep the other, and then see how things develop. There are some scenarios later in 43 where you can face large numbers of experienced fighters that are almost as good as a FW190. If your fighter tactics are starting to creak under the strain, you may find that AA becomes more important than AT at this point.

For a while I used two 88s and added an Sdkfz 7 in 41 when movement becomes useful. Recently I have started to use the fast single 20mm on the basis that a good unit in the wrong place isn't as much use as an OK unit that is in range. Because it is almost always in action, it gains experience well. My 4* single 20mm has been very effective well into 44 East in company with the 88 and a 3* sdkfz7/2.

The other benefit of AA is that you can use it near enemy AA units, whereas your prized 4* fighter can rapidly become a heap of burning scrap if within range of two or three unobserved 3* 85s. One thing that is certain is that it's a lot faster and easier to elite reinforce a ground unit costing just over a hundred prestige in the middle of combat than to drag the last strength point of your elite fighter squadron back to an airbase and restore it.

One further point - an 88 with a move hero is almost as useful as the Sdkfz 7, so if you get a move hero on a mobile AA, consider converting it to an 88 (or 128). From experience in AK a pair of 88s that both have a move hero can provide very effective cover without a mobile unit.

Bonesoul
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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by Bonesoul » Sat May 17, 2014 8:57 am

One reason for my questions about AA units is that from late 42 onwards, it becomes increasingly difficult to just park fighters to provide air cover, its more than just increased AI air power its the SPAAG (T-90 etc.). You have to be increasingly careful about where and how you use your air units, or risk serious prestige cost from damage to your OS air units. This forces you to at least consider ground based AA or risk similar prestige cost from AI air attacks on OS artillery and Tigers, all at the time that the Soft Cap rules are going to start to bite.

The problem is that the towed 88's, even with a move hero, cant keep up with your forces when you are moving at above a crawl and aren't a good choice, except if by necessity, to use in AT mode once most Russian tanks are the better quality T-34/43 and KV variants. Given this one of the German SPAAG, by the sounds of it the multi barrel 20mm one seems the best bet, with the down side being every one you have is only ever going to be of much use in a turn when the AI air force is attacking. Worse with a single SPAAG providing cover for a maximum of 6 units, in reality probably less, in 43 where deployed unit numbers start at 38 plus SE, you would need a minimum of 4 to provide reasonable AA protection to all your ground units.

38+6SE is 44 less say 10 air units gives 34, this would suggest you actually need 5-6 SPAAG for this size force. I doubt you can afford to remove this many units from the number available to actively combat the Russian ground hordes.

Cheers
Bone

PS: I'm pretty sure that the 20mm quad SPAAG was used in an anti infantry/soft target role in emergencies on the eastern front. Making it switchable and usable vs. soft targets, would at least make it possible to get a little more utility out of them and the associated experience. I would guess a lot of people find themselves where I am, considering more AA units mid war, but struggling with how to get them their first 2-3 stars in reasonable time.

ThorHa
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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by ThorHa » Sat May 17, 2014 1:05 pm

@Bonesoul:

Your calculated numbers match my experience and you actually can deploy 5 to 6 AA. A high number of 43 scenarios provide already some experienced mobile AA, namely Belgorod 3, Yakovlevo 3, Oboyan 2, Prokhorovka 2, Dnjetrepropotovsk 1 (1 that will survive), Kiev 2. Where none is provided the air threat is less pronounced.

And as a former big wing proponent I have learned to limit own air in the 43 scenarios. Normally I deploy no more than 8 units, from which 5 to 6 are fighters. The main reason is that it is much more simple to fully protect the outer perimeter of your battlegroups if you have enough heavy anti tank assets deployed.

Regards,
Thorsten

Bonesoul
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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by Bonesoul » Sat May 17, 2014 6:41 pm

Thanks Thor

What air assets to deploy is for sure relevant to the discussion though how to use AA best was my initial concern. The 10 Air units I currently deploy as pretty much standard in early 43 are 5 Fighters, 1 Stuka (Rudel), 2 Me410 and 2 Strategic bombers (both 4star and OS to 14). The strat bombers and Rudi are just too big a benefit to me at the moment for cleating out units with minimal losses, for me to feel comfortable dropping them and the 410's double as softener/finishers of ground units and finishers of AI air, when AA and my own fighters have reduced them to 1-3 strength.

If I'm going to be deploying 4-6 AA units (currently I deploy only the 2 towed 88's, I may have no choice but to drop much of the non fighter portion of my air wing, but I love those Strat bombers, especially when it comes to forcing surrenders of KV tanks. It seems that the bigger the horde of Russian units thrown at me at the same time the more opportunity to force surrenders so the less I want to loose those Strat's, the two 410's feel the least important if I have to drop something, though I would then want Rudi in either a 410 or an Fw190 ground attack variant. How far away is the Fw190 ground attack, moving Rudi to a 410 from a Stuka would be a full cost swap and a waste of prestige if the 10 is only a few scenarios away.

I know Strat bombers (Level bombers to some) need experience and OS to shine, but once you have them how can you bear not to deploy them?

Cheers
Bone

captainjack
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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by captainjack » Sat May 17, 2014 11:29 pm

I'm often fielding only four or five aircraft - Rudel, either my second stuka or a strat bomber, and one escort for each plus one or two extra fighters. Sometimes I will make do with Rudel and two or three fighters, and once I forgot to deploy any air cover - playing when tired isn't a great strategy.

With a small airforce, AA is essential but I usually manage fine with an 88 and two mobiles, plus whatever auxiliary units are available. The extra ground units can help to wipe out enemy ground forces faster or allow for pulling units out of combat for resupply which compensates for suffering a bit more air attack damage.

I don't often have a problem with keeping the AA units somewhere useful. If I have a fast moving force the fastest mobile AA travels with it, and possibly an escort fighter. For the other units, by the time you have combats, repositioning, resupply and so on, a 2 move 88 will usually be able to keep up - at least within 3 range even if not actively providing air cover. It can mount up in the halftrack to catch up when there is enough cloud cover or if you have a fighters to cover it, and your 5-move 7/1 or 7/2 should usually be somewhere useful.

My shift to small airforce and more AA was mainly driven by a few too many encounters with T90s and with massed experienced 85s in the East and with the allied air superiority in much of AK. One of the discussion threads a while back included some suggestions on managing with a small air force and I adopted some parts of this.

captainjack
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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by captainjack » Wed May 21, 2014 8:28 am

Bonesoul wrote:I would guess a lot of people find themselves where I am, considering more AA units mid war, but struggling with how to get them their first 2-3 stars in reasonable time.
I brought in a second single 20mm fast AA unit at the beginning of 42 and it's now at 3* at the end of Stalingrad Assault. You do have to use only elite reinforcements as the +2AA per * is essential for these weaker units. It should usually be sitting behind tanks or next to artillery so won't be that easy to damage or destroy. If it is damaged, at only 185 prestige you can afford elite reinforcements in combat in an emergency. However you look at it, it's a lot cheaper than elite reinforcement for a FW190!

Even if you gain air supremacy (not so easy to be sure of that with aircraft attacking in waves) it can still be useful - put it next to an unoccupied city to prevent spawning, or next to a damaged or empty unit to hinder resupply. The high move makes it useful to complete surrounding of enemy units to help force a surrender - the cheap reinforcement cost can also come in handy if you misjudge things and it doesn't surrender.

Don't forget that being there gets you a lot more experience than being just out of range so the speed pays off here. And it's cheap so gains experience faster than a more costly unit.

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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by JimmyC » Wed Jun 04, 2014 7:40 am

So the consensus is that as far as SPAA goes, the starting one (SdKfz 10/4) is better than the 7/1 and 7/2 - mainly because of the faster movement, but also the higher rate of fire. Is this correct? Where can I find the ROF info by the way?

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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by captainjack » Wed Jun 04, 2014 8:28 am

Rate of fire is in the equipment file.

For AA it only affects German units - the quad 20mm units (towed, the sdkfz7/1 and one of the later variants - all fire at 120%, so every 5 strength fire six shots. All other AA fires at 100% (one shot per strength). I started thinking about whether it's better to use a 37mm with higher damage or a quad 20mm with higher RoF but it started getting too hard. I think the quad mounts are better defensively - attacking Tac bombers and fighters have defence reduced by 5 - but when you are attacking you are probably better off with the 37mm sdkfz7/2 for the better attack. If you decide that the heavier attack of the sdkfz 7 is worth the slower move, it's not an expensive upgrade and you can change back to the cheaper unit for no cost if you change your mind later.

Other units with RoF other than 100%:
Some lighter artillery fire at 110%, and a lot of heavier artillery fires at less than 100%. 100% RoF and the larger ammo supplies are why the 10.5cm gun stays useful well into 43, despite having weaker attack than the 15cm and bigger guns.

Flamethrower tanks fire at 140% which is very good for disposing of conscript units and other overstrength soft targets but you need good air defence as enemy planes love them!

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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by ThvN » Wed Jun 04, 2014 3:42 pm

JimmyC wrote:So the consensus is that as far as SPAA goes, the starting one (SdKfz 10/4) is better than the 7/1 and 7/2 - mainly because of the faster movement, but also the higher rate of fire. Is this correct? Where can I find the ROF info by the way?
Like captainjack indicated, it's in the equipment.pzeqp file, but the combat log also shows the % increase or decrease effect on the numebr of shots. A small correction: The 10/4 has a normal RoF of 100%, like the 7/2. The only AAA with higher RoF are the Flakvierling, SdKfz 7/1 and Wirbelwind, those three all have 120%.

The extra movement of the 10/4 is nice, but because it usually follows formations around it is not that crucial I think, unless it is escorting transport trucks/halftrack or other fast units, where the extra fuel is also handy. But these are benefits that are rarely needed. It might make a difference when chasing after planes with ground AA but that is a very risky tactic.
captainjack wrote:I started thinking about whether it's better to use a 37mm with higher damage or a quad 20mm with higher RoF but it started getting too hard. I think the quad mounts are better defensively - attacking Tac bombers and fighters have defence reduced by 5 - but when you are attacking you are probably better off with the 37mm sdkfz7/2 for the better attack.
That is correct, I tried to calculate the point where the 37mm starts getting better but is seems fairly high. Since I started modding again I have started to think about the numbers very carefully, unfortunately my last interaction with statistical math was very long ago, so I'll probably make some stupid errors, but I'll give a brief summary:

Like you say, when comparing with the 7/2, the extra RoF of the 7/1 only makes it more effective when used against targets with low GD values. So with higher GD values (> 20) the extra kill chance because of the RoF advantage is very small or can even turn negative (at this point the 37mm 7/2 becomes a better choice). When firing against targets with around 23 GD their effectiveness becomes equal I think, but experience/heroes and other factors can move this point. A lot of planes have a basic GD of around 20, so it will be hard to notice the increased effectiveness of the 37mm against tough targets.

Personally, I think it would probably be better for the 7/2 to have a little higher AA value to better differentiate the advantage vs. targets with higher GD. Another method to make them more specialized (which I am trying out) is giving the 7/1 range 1 and keep the 7/2 range 2, to simulate the better firepower of the 37mm at longer ranges.

JimmyC
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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by JimmyC » Thu Jun 05, 2014 1:42 am

Thanks for the detailed response. So to summarise, both 7/1 and 7/2 are better than 10/4 in terms of damage caused (including taking into account ROF). The only benefit of 10/4 is its speed. And 7/1 is better than 7/2 against lower armoured planes.

In such a case, i suppose it would be better to use the 7/1 until later in the campaigns when you are facing tougher airplanes (ground defence of 23 or more).

wargovichr
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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by wargovichr » Fri Jun 06, 2014 1:06 am

There's the optional DLC East '44 battle (anybody remember which one?) where you can walk off with four+ AA core units after raiding the airbases. Then you got too many.

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Re: AA units a bunch of questions.

Post by Victor_K » Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:21 pm

The scenario you are referring to is "Poltava". You can access that scenario with a DV. It is part way through 1944. Those AA units you pick up are much needed and are at least 3*.

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