Well, I actually got my buddy over and played 5 games yesterday. He took the Italian carrier with american planes, cruisers and destroyers. I have to say that in game the Americans have a clear advantage in Anti-Aircraft fire. Not only do the Ami destroyers have a better AA value than the Kaigun destroyers, a lot of them had the Heavy AA ability, which devastated my torpedo bombers every game. The american light cruisers also have an AA attack value better than my cruisers, the Soryu or the Haruna, and his 2 cruisers also have heavy anit-air ability, so when he uses his ‘floatila’ strategy as he calls it (putting his carrier with one destroyer then sticking the AA CL and the heavy AA/radar picket DD in the space next to it, as well as on the first turn his other AA CL is also on the other side of the carrier), my planes are cut to ribbons. In 5 games I was able to attempt an airial torpedo attack about 2 or 3 times max, and one of those was on a lone DD because I was tired of loosing planes and having them aborted.
The Americans AA is actually quite a deal better in game already. It’s base value is usually better, especailly on DDs and CLs, and they have neat AA abilities like heavy AA and other radar direction stuff. They diffinently don’t need an AA buff. While the Japanese AA is worse than the Americans, I still find it playable. Although it’s quite difficult to chase off 2 squadrons of Hell Divers. They usually can sink the Soryu by reaching critical armor value by the 2nd turn when they concentrate with land based fighter support. Still, good times. I love the game.