Until recently I never bothered with CVL and then I started to wonder why not? I mean obviously everyone wants a CV given the choice but they are cheaper and could they actually serve another purpose? Lets take a look....
Most players include a second type of core ship... other than the CVs themselves... in their CTFs, for a couple of reasons: it is less expensive than building another CV, and it will soak off some enemy fire, allowing the CVs to keep fighting longer, and thus serves as a relatively cheap force-multiplier for the more expensive CVs. A third, less important, reason is that it offers some protection if the enemy happens to close to gun range... less important, because the CTF player should really flee if that happens, not hang around and get pounded.
The soak-off ship should obviously be a capital ship, not a screen... because core hits are only distributed among the opposing capital ships... a screening ship cannot screen them against core hits.
Most players use CAs for this purpose, since they are cheaper than BBs or BCs, and are therefore more expendible and more easily replaced. CAs also have a better detection-to-visibility ratio than BBs or BCs, and therefore do not degrade the CTF's positioning rolls as much as the heavier ships would.
I have lately been trying a completely new idea, with very encouraging results: I have been using CVLs as soak-off ships in my CTFs, instead of CAs.
The logic is rather compelling: CVLs cost even less in IC-days than CAs do, and have an even better detection-to-visibility ratio than CAs... about ten times better, in fact. As an added bonus... it's quite historical. The mid-to-late war USA used CVs and CVLs in about a 50-50 ratio within their CTFs. The Battle of the Phillipine Sea (a.k.a. the Marianas Turkey-Shoot) is a well-known example.
My most recent results: in a 1936 Germany (Sealion) game, I switched to Base Strike doctrine and built a strong CTF. Three serials of two CV-IIIs gave me six CV-IIIs by April 1940... to which I added two CVLs (as core soak-off ships) and ten DD-IVs (as screens) for an 18-ship CTF.
Despite being behind in doctrines because of the switch to Base Strike, and consistantly losing the positioning roll by ten to twenty points, my British opponents never managed to close the range, even when fighting at night or in bad weather.
Against an enemy 28-ship CTF (four CVs including CV-IVs), the range never closed below 137 km, and usually not below 141 km. I sank three CVs, two BBs and one BC (all core vessels, no screens), at the cost of sustaining only 56 points of damage in total. Gratifyingly, nearly all of that damage (52 of 56 points) hit my CVL soak-off ships... only 4 points hit a CV.
They also sank two transports out of my Sealion invasion force... both of which contained HQs
In the subsequent battles between my CTF and enemy SAGs, they were never able to get closer than 141 km, and I sank several additional ships without taking a single point of damage.
A cost-comparison is worth a look:
1936 CA : 1836 IC-days
1936 CVL : 1050 IC-days
1938 CA : 2170 IC-days
1939 CVL : 1400 IC-days
1941 CA : 2920 IC-days
1941 CVL : 1680 IC-days
Not only do CVL have far better detection-to-visibility stats... they are also much cheaper. The Sea Defense is also quite comparable... in fact, the mid-war CVLs have a better Sea Defense than the similar CAs, and except for the very first (1936) model, an Air Defense almost twice as high.
Has anyone else tried out this idea?