Azur Lane Ship Guide: Recommended Common, Rare, Elite, and SSR Aircraft Carriers For Your Fleet

The best flagships in any fleet.
Azur Lane Enterprise
Here's some recommendations for good Aircraft Carriers for your fleet of shipgirls in Azur Lane. Yostar

With the first anniversary celebration of the side-scrolling shoot ‘em up Azur Lane now in full blast, there has been some uptick in the playerbase as the game's climb in popularity continues.

Let’s take a look at some of the best shipgirls in Azur Lane with classification code CV, denoting Aircraft Carriers. You can check out a basic shipgirl recommendation guide for Destroyers (DD) here, Light Cruisers (CL) here, Heavy Cruisers here and Battleships (BB) and Battlecruisers (BC) here.

What are Aircraft Carriers (CV)?

Azur Lane Essex
Aircraft Carriers are your main source of aviation-based damage for the fleet. Photo: Yostar

In terms of raw damage, Aircraft Carriers are your best source of air superiority thanks to fighter planes and bombing runs. Aircraft Carriers are essential to any good back line, and having them paired with good Battleships make them great flagships thanks to their larger health pools. It’s important to note that Aircraft Carriers are vastly different from Light Aircraft Carriers (CVL), as the former utilizes all planes across their gear with no room for guns of any sort. This is important to consider when conducting certain exercises, as CVs can’t defend themselves that well from Vanguards should your own front line fall. Utilized properly, however, Aircraft Carriers are some of the best sources of damage from the back line seeing as they can blanket an entire enemy fleet with torpedoes, bombs, and other gunfire. Aircraft Carriers are denoted by a purple plane symbol.

Recommended Best Aircraft Carriers for your fleet

Azur Lane Lexington
USS Lexington Photo: Yostar
  • Lexington (Elite rarity) – her and her sister shipgirl Saratoga are amazing carriers, if you’re lucky enough to draw them. The only difference between them is that Saratoga has a retrofit that has a new skill to go with it, but in terms of damage you can’t go wrong with either. The Artillery Cover skill provides you with an immensely powerful burst of covering fire every couple of seconds, and improves greatly with each level. The Fleet Carrier skill increases your Vanguard’s overall damage by a flat percentage every time Lexington launches an airstrike, which is a pretty big boost overall for your front line.
Azur Lane Saratoga
USS Saratoga Photo: Yostar
  • Saratoga (Elite rarity) – Lexington’s younger sister is a better draw overall thanks to her retrofit, which gives her a new skill to play with. Barring this, both ships have similar skills, although it’s important to note that the bonuses of the Fleet Carrier skill do not stack on top of each other, so it may be beneficial to have only one of them per fleet. Saratoga acquires Witch’s Prank after her retrofit, which gives her a chance to launch an additional airstrike after launching one. This additional airstrike also deals bonus Flooding and Burn damage to enemy ships.
Azur Lane Taihou
IJN Taihou Photo: Yostar
  • Taihou (SSR rarity) – the most renowned yandere shipgirl is also notably quite powerful, and with the event going on you can try your hand at acquiring her since her rate is notably higher. That said, Taihou’s Predestined Launch gives her a chance to launch a special airstrike once she’s finished charging up her regular airstrike. This special airstrike come in different variations and have differing attacks, with one of them being able to even buff your main fleet’s damage for eight seconds. She’s also very tanky thanks to her Heavily Armored skill, which decreases the damage she takes from airstrikes and high explosive ammo by a set percentage.
Azur Lane Illustrious
HMS Illustrious Photo: Yostar
  • Illustrious (SSR rarity) – exceptional shipgirl carrier thanks to her defensive capabilities, which gives your Vanguard an incredible boost in tough spots. Her Armored Carrier skill deploys protective barriers around all of the ships in your Vanguard which last for eight seconds, and can absorb damage equal to a set percentage of Illustrious’ health.
Azur Lane Enterprise2
USS Enterprise Photo: Yostar
  • Enterprise (SSR rarity) – the pride of the Eagle Union is arguably the most powerful carrier shipgirl, all thanks to her Lucky E skill. This skill allows Enterprise a chance to deal double damage for an airstrike every time she launches one, as well as giving her complete evasion from all attacks for eight seconds. This makes Enterprise extremely tanky and incredibly dangerous at the same time, and if you’re lucky enough to draw her make sure to prioritize her in your fleet.

Special mentions

  • Essex (SSR rarity) – requires a bit of comp-fixing in order to utilize properly, but she could be worth if you’re running a full Eagle Union outfit; for instance, Laffey (DD), Portland (CA), Indianapolis (CA), plus any Eagle Union Battleship, Battlecruiser or Carrier. Two of her skills work best when paired with Eagle Union ships; Covering Formation increases her Aviation and Anti-Air stat, while Absolute Evasion reduces damage taken from torpedo bombers or dive bombers. Her Valorous Avengers skill launches an additional airstrike every time she launches one, which also deals Flooding damage, while also allowing Essex to deal bonus damage to Battleships (BB).
Azur Lane Souryuu
IJN Souryuu Photo: Yostar
  • Souryuu (Elite rarity) and Hiryuu (Elite rarity) – sister shipgirls that perform best when they’re with each other, thanks to the Nikkousen skill. This allows them both to increase their Aviation stat by a flat percentage to deal more damage. Souryuu also has a Fleet Carrier skill, which is pretty good if you don’t already have that skill in your fleet to begin with.
  • Akagi (SSR rarity) and Kaga (SSR rarity) – it takes an immense amount of luck to get these shipgirls, as they are only drop rewards and cannot be obtained via cubes. That said, having both shipgirls allow you to launch airstrikes faster than everyone else thanks to Preemptive Victory, which both of them have. This skill speeds up the first airstrike’s reload time by a set percentage, increasing in value as you level the skill up. The Ikkousen skill also increases both of their Aviation stats by a flat percentage when paired in the same fleet as each other.

While those are some of the better Aircraft Carrier shipgirls to have in your back line, it’s important to note that you can technically take other shipgirls with the same skill and use them in their stead. Try and find a combination of skills that allow you to make the most of your fleet’s damage, while at the same time giving your back line a good balance between damage resilience and output.

Stay tuned for more guides on Azur Lane. The game is now available to play for free on both iOS and Android devices.

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