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Ark Royal is Garbage..or am I missing the playstyle?

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Worst Carrier I've played. Planes too slow, damage insignificant. Its either utter rubbish, a con. or I'm missing some way of getting the best out of it. If anyone can recommend a build, tactics and captain skills, then I'd love to hear about it.

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You are missing the playstyle. While the planes are slow and quite fragile, the armament is real fun.



Just find single targets and learn how long the bombs take to drop. 

Dive bombers are excellent for hunting DDs and light cruisers, or striking lightly armoured BBs and CVs. 

Torpedos are mainly for BBs and CVs, but can be used on cruisers and even DDs.

Rockets are mainly for DDs and spotting. 


Aircraft regenerate quickly and come in pretty large groups, which make it a very potent CV. 

The dive bomber group is its specialty.

  • Cool 2

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Oh boy, I'm not the best Ark Royal player, but I do have a fair number of games in it and she is a pretty ok ship.

38 minutes ago, Akula971 said:

Planes too slow

Yes, planes are slow.

38 minutes ago, Akula971 said:

damage insignificant

This however is very questionable.


Ark Royal is not the overall best T6 CV. Ryuujou likely beats it when properly played. Ark Royal however likely is one of the best RN CVs tier for tier and when played well does give decent results. Ark Royal's almost unending plane reserves make it a decent ship for people with less CV experience, but I'd argue, that the Ark Royal still is good for those with more skill.


The planes are slow, however, their striking power is often pretty strong and thus the skill in Ark Royal is basically how to play against the clock. How do you maximise effective strikes in the time a match lasts. The ship may invite damage farming on BBs, but it's extremely potent vs DDs for a RN CV and likely the most stupid anti-DD CV at T6. Which is not a bad thing, because:

  • DDs are high impact targets. Easy to kill, great rewards, any damage has the potential to pay off fast.
  • DDs are low-AA targets. MM gives you a T8 match again? Well, BB blob is a pain to strike. That DD seperating to go into cap or pull a sneaky flank is a far better target.
  • Killing enemy DDs if your team is good will cause easy win, but if your team isn't good, it at least cuts off a lot of the enemy team's pushing potential and might give you the time to farm damage for the rest of the game.

And Ark Royal can farm damage.


If you look over the planes:

  • Skua is not great, but easy to use and fastest plane. I use them for initial scouting and for throw away strikes on enemy cruisers or superstructure if I messed up and lost other aircraft or need to strike some T8 cruiser without wanting to risk other planes. They really aren't good. Very basic rocket planes doing rocket plane tasks. Compared to Furious, the Skua doesn't even do more damage, but having more planes, they are more resistant to AA dps.
  • Swordfish bombers are the two lulzy options. In common is their garbage speed, lulzy maneuverability and while they are T4 planes, their hp pool is still very serviceable. Both types of swordfishes carry some meme-worthy armaments and large attack group gives it plenty of hp for supposedly T4 planes.
  • Swordfish TB: Anything you cannot bomb, you will want to attack with these. Actually, whenever you can get away with it, you want to use these, because torping DDs is hilarious (from CV perspective). The Swordfish TBs drop 3 fast-arming torps that combined have the most devastating alpha among T6 CVs. Given how incredibly slow these bombers are, how fast they aim and arm, you can do the most memey drops on enemies who think that you cannot possibly drop effective torps between the island they are hugging and their ship. After a successful drop, you also can easily pull a 180° turn and drop a ship from the other side with ease. Obviously British converging drop pattern, so you have a good chance to get your 2-3 hits per drop.
  • Swordfish carpet bombers may look like utter crap, but these are the reason I rate the Ark Royal the most influential RN CV among RN CVs. Any other RN CV is fundamentally a damage farm specialist with bombers that are ok to torch BBs, but suck vs any smaller ship, compared to IJN AP that devastates cruisers or USN HE that devastates DDs. Swordfish bombs have 19 mm of pen, so against T8 cruisers and T6-8 BBs, you get only superstructure pens at best. But while typically RN CVs have a BB-sized target area, the Swordfish targets a pretty much cruiser-sized area and throws 24 bombs that actually fall pretty fast, so with some dropping skill, you saturate areas pretty effectively. If you drop DDs with your typical RN CV, you often get maybe 1 hit if RNG likes you and 2 if you are lucking out. Ark Royal pretty much always gets hits, with damage often ranging from 2k if you are less lucky to up to 7k if you find a good target like some big DD or a cruiser. Like all British bombers, short aim time. You can use these on targets that you cannot pen to set fires. Very effective there.

For general usage tips:

  • Most general CV tips apply. Predrop if you have to. Slingshotting is kinda silly, because it's RN.
  • Try kill DDs first. It's really what you are good at and apart from rockets and bombs, even the torp bombers are good for combing smokes or dropping DDs who underestimate your audacity to use these against them. Also, you can create crossdrops on your own with some skill. Lastly, on Ark Royal, as everything is slow, you can basically drop most of the time even if the enemy turned off AA, because you spot and 2 km is still fine for the Swordfish to get aimed.
  • Try to always plan ahead what you strike and make the strikes count. Time is your worst enemy. Go for whatever is isolated or has no AA cover.
  • Rotate aircraft types you use. Rotate between swordfishes if it's a cruiser or BB, rotate swordfish bombers and Skuas if you need to kill DDs. Spam same type of aircraft if you have to or if returning planes allow for sending full squads, but usually alternating gives best results as you want the most strike potential when arriving (so at least two attack waves is ideal) and it maximises plane regeneration (one of AR's biggest strengths).
  • As planes are slow, the Ark Royal most of the time will not be able to abuse damage con usage of enemies with follow-on strikes, unless you find the silly BB that just damecons your first wave and allows you to strike a second time with same squad. Thus, "coordinate" with team. See this BB pushing into your team? Force their damecon. If they repair, team will be able to take advantage of it. Did they just damecon some fires from others or eat torps? Prime target for bombers.
  • Don't start attack runs at ~6 km, unless enemy pushes into you. In other CVs, starting attack runs early to get the damage reduction is valid. With slow Swordfishes, ships can outrun your planes and boosting your planes might boost them directly into flak. Sucks a lot. Just dodge for a few extra km if you drop from the rear. Or fly around to drop from side.
  • Don't continuously boost. Stagger it. Swordfish speed drops off a bit slower than normal. By staggering your boost you are a bit faster than the normal speed.

Skills I use:

  • Air Supremacy
  • extra fighter plane
  • Last Gasp
  • Improved Engine Boost
  • Torp Acceleration
  • Survivability Expert
  • Aircraft Armour
  • Demolition Expert
  • Concealment Expert

This works for me. Most are basic skills that any CV could take, but some words on the more special choices:

  • extra fighter plane (no clue how it's called): this is a filler for 19th point. And just that. This would be the last point you take.
  • Why not Improved Engines? I first ran that and frankly, it can work, but I threw it out when I went for CE. CE required me to sacrifice one more point and before sacrificing AS, I went and sacrificed IE. IE is imo one of the less useful points in exchange for the cost. I'd take AS over it, even if AS costs 2 points. IE gives your Swordfishes ~2 knots. As your planes are absolutely balanced around being slow with big alpha, there is no point in spending 2 points for 2 knots. As boost gives flat additions now, anything that adds boost is far more useful and more planes too is more useful. But you can sacrifice plane restoration for IE. It really doesn't matter that much.
  • Why Concealment Expert? Ark Royal hull concealment is garbage. Buffing it goes a good way to allowing you to move around and not get suddenly spotted and wrecked. And you cannot just hide in one place far in the rear, because your planes are too slow.
  • Demolition Expert is absolutely useful. No other CV benefits this much from it. +5% fire chance on bombs that only do 8.7% base is huge. With both signals, you get 15.7%. This is almost double what the base is. On 24 bombs per drop. It's what elevates the bombers from DD slaughterers to also being BB arsonists.

Nothing I can tell you will ever make these planes not slow as all hell. This is something you have to get accustomed to and it's acceptable to deem it boring to play. But imo, this CV sold me on British CV grind (which is why I eventually played something else again), because boy, is it fun when you arrive at your destination and just unleash your weaponry. As a DD, a well-played AR is likely one of your worst T6 opponents, which is at the very least on the level of a Ranger, because while Ranger brings devastating rockets and dive bombers, on AR, really all armament options are extremely potent against DDs and they don't even need to launch a fighter to spot, they can just come in with bombers, spot your DD, start attack run and get their easy mode carpet bombing run done, while being about as effective as the dive bombers of the USN.

  • Cool 11

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31 minutes ago, Akula971 said:

Excellent reply. Thank you. Ship modules?

Bog standard:

  • return speed
  • engine boost
  • aa buffs (though you can go with a Swordfish aim time)
  • torp bomber hp
  • Cool 2

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