Combat range is a factor in determining positioning. Each fleet has an optimum combat range it wants to achieve when entering combat, and if it achieves surprise it will have a good chance that its positioning will be high enough to start the battle at that range. For example, Transport Fleets will have their goal to escape, so their optimum range is 450 km. If this range is achieved, the transports will be able to retreat without taking damage. Meanwhile, a CTF needs to be in range for its planes to strike, and yet out of range of capital ship heavy guns. Finally, a SAG needs to close distance as much as possible in order to unleash all its firepower.
Given no surprise on either side, imagine a 15-ship CTF entering battle against a 30-ship BB SAG, with both fleets led by comparable leaders and composed of medium tech vessels. Since neither side is advantaged by surprise, the longest ranged ship on either side will tend to set the initial engagement distance. That will of course be the CVs whose combat range will likely be around 180km at medium tech. The next longest ranged ship is the Super Battleship, which has a range of approximately 40km. That means the BBs will have to close the distance by about 140km before they can even shoot back, all the while being bombed by the enemy planes. In HoI2, CVs ruled the seas for this reason, with the only exception of night battles and bad weather. Starting in Doomsday, however, balance was restored: with the introduction of light carriers, it became possible for an SAG with CVLs to close distance.
Combat Range in Naval battles has an optimal value. This value is believed to be calculated as described below
- CV is the highest class in calculating optimal range.
- Capital Ship or CVL is the second highest class in calculating optimal range.
- Screen Ship is the lowest class in calulating optimal range.
- Unique class's
Optimal Range will always be 90% of the maximum range of the shortest range of the highest ship class.
- i.e. If you have two Capital Ship's in a fleet. One with a range of 30 and the other with a range of 28, the optimal range will be 90% of 28.
- NOTE, Range of a lower class is ignored. If you have a Capital Ship in a fleet with a range of 28 and the rest of the fleet is Screen Ship's with ranges of 32 the optimal range will be 90% of the range of the Capital Ship (i.e. 90% of 28) The range of the Screen Ship's is ignored.